Science: An Epic Find

Barley and Beowulf at site of 6,000-year-old Scots building

For the sheep and dairy farmers of northeastern Scotland, the summer of 1976 was unusually harsh. Prolonged drought had parched the countryside, ruining crops and turning flourishing grasslands into brownish straw. But for archaeologists of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the dry spell was something of a bonanza. It had created ideal conditions for observing so-called crop marks, telltale patches on the ground that usually indicate buried remains of ancient building, farming or other activity. Flying over the...

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