Heat wave uncovers remains of a Roman farm near Budleigh Salterton

PUBLISHED: 17:09 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:09 15 August 2018

The image of the Roman farm at Bicton discovered by Historic England's flying archaeologists

The image of the Roman farm at Bicton discovered by Historic England's flying archaeologists

© Historic England

Remains of a Roman farm have been discovered near Budleigh Salterton by Historic England’s flying archaeologists.

The summer heat wave and parched ground has helped aerial archaeologists pinpoint crop marks in the soil and produce archaeological maps, which help to determine the significance of buried remains.

Over the past few months, Historic England’s archaeologists in the skies have been looking for patterns in crops and grass that reveal thousands of years of buried English history.

The search for buried remains has uncovered Roman farm at Bicton after crop marks in a field of grass cut for silage were revealed, showing different phases of activity.

Historic England said the aerial image of a central enclosure ‘may’ have contained farm buildings, fields and paddocks attached to a central area - showing a form of settlement that ‘probably’ dates to the Roman period.

Mysterious Neolithic ceremonial monuments, Iron Age settlements, square barrows and the Roman farm at Bicton were all newly discovered by Historic England’s flying archaeologists.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England said: “This spell of very hot weather has provided the perfect conditions for our aerial archaeologists to see beneath the soil as crop marks are much better defined when the soil has less moisture.

“The discovery of ancient farms, settlements and Neolithic cursus monuments is exciting.

“The exceptional weather has opened up whole areas at once rather than just one or two fields and it has been fascinating to see so many traces of our past graphically revealed.”

Helen Winton, Historic England aerial investigation and mapping manager, said: “This is the first potential bumper year in what feels like a long time. It is very exciting to have hot weather for this long.

“2011 was the last time we had an exceptional year when we discovered over 1,500 sites, with most on the clay lands of eastern England.”

Damian Grady, Historic England aerial reconnaissance manager, said: “This has been one of my busiest summers in 20 years of flying and it is has been very rewarding making discoveries in areas that do not normally reveal crop marks.”

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