A huge array of previously unknown archaeological monuments is being revealed on farms by Google Maps imagery taken during last summer’s drought.

Monuments, dating from several centuries to several millennia ago, are visible in satellite imagery taken in June 2018 but only added to Google Maps in recent days.

Some are Bronze Age barrows (graves) up to 4,000 years old, while others are Iron Age ringforts and medieval enclosures.

Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland has discovered a huge number of previously unknown monuments, most located in tillage farms in south Meath, parts of Dublin and Co Kildare.

A substantial ringfort measuring 100m in diameter at Boherkill, Co Kildare, with surrounding field system. \ Mythical Ireland

There is also a previously unrecorded enclosure on Teagasc’s Oak Park site in Co Carlow. The monuments became visible when crops were starved of moisture.

“The ditch features retain whatever trace moisture is in the ground a little more effectively than the surrounding soil, and so the crops growing out of the archaeological features tend to be a tiny bit greener and healthier,” Murphy told the Irish Farmers Journal.

A complex system of ancient fields at Greenogue, Co Meath. \ Mythical Ireland

“In many cases, these monuments will have no surface trace, so the farmers and landowners will be unlikely to know they even exist,” said Murphy, who famously discovered a late Neolithic henge at Newgrange using his drone last summer.

“Some are small ring-ditches, maybe 20m or 30m in diameter, but there are some truly enormous structures like ringforts and enclosures, in some cases measuring 100m in diameter and more,” he said, adding that the biggest is a 350m-wide structure in Co Dublin.

A complex field system, possibly dating to medieval times, at Tippeenan Upper, Co Kildare. \ Mythical Ireland

The images show medieval field systems, much smaller holdings than modern farms.

“People have been farming the land in Ireland for around 6,000 years. The evidence of their settlements, and indeed their farms and their burial grounds, is literally everywhere.”

Discover more

The discoveries will be added to the National Monuments Service database and a gallery of images is available at www.mythicalireland.com/MI/blog/

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