Parched English Fields, Known as Crop Marks, Reveal Ancient Sites

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LONDON (REUTERS).- The exceptionally dry early summer months in Britain have revealed the ghostly outlines of several hundred previously unknown ancient sites buried in fields across the English countryside. From Roman forts to Neolithic settlements and military remains dating to World War Two, English Heritage has been busily photographing the exciting discoveries from the air. Known as crop marks, the faint outlines of unseen buried structures emerged because of the length of the dry spell, leading the national conservator to label 2010 a vintage year for archaeology. The outlines show up when crops grow at different rates over buried structures. Shallower soils tend to produce a stunted crop and are more prone to parching, bringing to light the new features. “It’s hard to remember a better year,” said Dave MacLeod, a senior investigator with English Heritage. “Crop marks are always at their best in dry weather, but the last few summers have been a