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Heatwave reveals new evidence of ancient settlements

The sites documented from the air by a team from Historic Environment Scotland are usually hidden under the plough soil.

Ancient settlements, burial sites and waterways have been revealed by aerial surveyors studying crop marks during the summer heatwave.

The sites, documented by a team from Historic Environment Scotland, are usually hidden under the plough soil but have been made visible as the crops respond to recent dry conditions.

New discoveries include Iron Age souterrains in the Borders, a rare find in this part of Scotland, and a Roman temporary camp discovered in the known Roman complex of sites at Lyne near Peebles.

Roman temporary camp and ancient water courses (HES/PA)

The conditions have also allowed the aerial team to document known sites that have not been visible for many years, including Iron Age burials, Neolithic pits and prehistoric settlements, as well as long-infilled rivers and streams.

More than 9,000 buried sites have so far been discovered by the aerial survey team, which searches Scotland from the sky in order to understand and record the historic environment.

Dave Cowley, aerial survey project manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Aerial surveys of Scotland have been carried out since the 1930s, with each year usually adding a little more to the patchwork of our knowledge.

Souterrain or Iron Age underground passage (HES/PA)

“We depend on dry years to bring out the buried remains in the crops, so we are currently out hunting for new clues from the skies while the good weather lasts.

“The conditions this year are showing us many sites that we knew were there, but may not have seen in recent damp summers, as well as revealing new archaeological sites that add to our ability to see into the past to tell Scotland’s story.”

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