Two prehistoric villages are among 1500 lost landmarks which have been discovered in Britain since the heatwave.

Historic England has been taking advantage of the exceptionally dry weather to send up reconnaissance planes to hunt for outlines of long-forgotten monuments, buildings and burial chambers, which normally lie hidden beneath vegetation.

Archaeologists say this summer has brought a bumper haul of 'cropmarks', which occur because grass or crops grow differently on top of old sites, causing ancient walls and enclaves to emerge like ghostly blueprints.

The new findings date from the Stone Age, some 5000 years ago to 16th Century Elizabethan England, the Daily Telegraph reports.

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Among the discoveries are two Bronze or Iron Age settlements from Lansallos in Cornwall and Stoke by Clare in Suffolk, in which the outlines of roundhouses, animal enclosures and burial mounds can be seen.

And two mysterious Neolithic 'cursus' monuments, which may once have been used in processions during ancient rituals have appeared near Clifton Reynes, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

The long rectangular mounds are among the oldest megalithic structures in Britain and most of the 100 plus cursus monuments known in England were discovered through aerial survey as few survive above ground level.

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 cropmarks are much better defined when the soil has less moisture.

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

Two Neolithic cursus monuments near Clifton Reynes, Milton Keynes. They are one of the oldest monument types in the country, usually dating from between 3600 and 3000BC.
Two Neolithic cursus monuments near Clifton Reynes, Milton Keynes. They are one of the oldest monument types in the country, usually dating from between 3600 and 3000BC.

"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."

Historic England said this summer's heatwave, which has seen scorching temperatures for weeks on end, is perfect for spotting cropmarks because they become far more obvious as the soil dries out.

When archaeologists flew over Yorkshire the outlines of four Iron Age square barrows in Pocklington near York. Previous square barrows found in the Yorkshire Wolds have contained exotic grave goods such as chariots.

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Four prehistoric farms, were also spotted in Stogumber, Somerset, while burial mounds from the Bronze Age were uncovered in Scropton, Debyshire, overlain by evidence of Medieval farming practices.

At Bicton in Devon, a Roman farm was found while in St Ive in Cornwall an Iron Age settlement and Bronze Age barrow was seen from the air.

Meanwhile at Tixall Hall, in Staffordshire details of lost Elizabethan buildings and gardens dating from when the mansion was built in 1555 are now visible.


"This is the first potential bumper year in what feels like a long time," said Helen Winton, Historic England Aerial Investigation and Mapping Manager.

"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 1500 sites, with most on the claylands of eastern England."

The aerial survey also rediscovered outlines which have not been seen for decades were also uncovered once more by by the hot weather, including a prehistoric ceremonial landscape near Eynsham, Oxfordshire.

The cropmarks reveal buried remains of later Prehistoric dating circa 4000BC -700BC funerary monuments, together with a settlement. The site was already known and is protected as a scheduled monument.

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 cropmarks."

Iron Age Round, St Ive, Cornwall Rounds were widespread in Cornwall in the Iron Age. These settlements consist of a circular bank and outer ditch with a single entrance.
Iron Age Round, St Ive, Cornwall Rounds were widespread in Cornwall in the Iron Age. These settlements consist of a circular bank and outer ditch with a single entrance.
Iron Age square barrows, Pocklington, Yorkshire.
Iron Age square barrows, Pocklington, Yorkshire.
Prehistoric settlement, Lansallos, Cornwall.
Prehistoric settlement, Lansallos, Cornwall.