Buried Ancient Treasures in Britain at Risk Due to Climate Change
Britain's buried treasures may be in danger as changing weather patterns dry out some peatlands that protects these ancient objects from rotting.
Archaeologists warn this could affect how we understand the past, as about 22,500 UK archaeological sites may be at risk due to climate change. A Roman toilet seat, the world's oldest boxing glove, and the oldest handwritten letter by a woman are some of the ancient, extraordinary objects uncovered by British peatlands.
Peats contain very little oxygen which is why organic materials like wood, leather and textiles can survive for thousands of years when preserved by the stable anoxic chemistry of the soil.
However, if the soils dry, oxygen can enter the system and kick-start the process of decomposition, making artefacts buried beneath quickly rot away.
As per the IUCN, peatlands cover about 10% of UK, and excavating these huge sites could take millions of pounds and decades. Artefacts may have already been badly damaged by then.