Mapping: 3D Laser Scans of Britain Reveal Ancient Roman Roads


For the past 18 years, the U.K.’s Environment Agency has used a remote sensing methodcalled LIDAR (short for Light Detection and Ranging) to scan and map 72 percent of England’s surface. The 3D terrain images are used to monitor changing coastlines and model floods. But the maps recently revealed something else: an exciting archaeological find. Within the images, experts spotted miles upon miles of ancient Roman roads that may date back as far as the first century CE.

Roman squads who invaded Britain in 43 CE constructed a series of roads that crisscrossed the country, allowing soldiers to travel hundreds of miles to far-flung forts and settlements. These routes helped solidify Rome’s control over the country’s native Celtic tribes. While some of these paths remain today, many eroded over the centuries, or were obscured by new structures or vegetation.

History buffs regularly search for these “lost” routes, the Times of London reports. Among that group was a 70-year-old retired road engineer named David Ratledge, who has spent almost five decades researching vanished highways in the northwest county of Lancashire.

After the Environment Agency made its LIDAR data sets public via the Survey Open Data Website in 2013, Ratledge examined the maps and spotted a Roman road that connects the towns of Ribchester and Lancaster. According to LiveScience, he previously spent years looking for this particular route, to no avail. Thanks to LIDAR —which can detect differences in the land’s height as little as five centimeters (about 2 inches)—the mystery was finally solved.

“Previously in Lancashire we only had aerial photographs from the 1940s and 1960s to go on, but with photographs features only show up after a drought and we don’t get many of those!” Ratledge said in a press release. “With LIDAR, once you know what to look for, it’s blindingly obvious—you just know you’ve found a road.”

Meanwhile, two archaeologists, Hugh Toller and Bryn Gethin, have used LIDAR data to locate other lost highways, including swaths of a Roman route called the Maiden Way. The Maiden Way once connected the village of Kirkby Thore—which was home to a Roman cavalry camp—with a Roman fort in Low Borrowbridge, Cumbria. Eventually, Toller and Gethin hope to find even more Roman roads using images captured by remote sensing technology. These discoveries may help historians gain a fuller understanding of how Rome once conquered and controlled England.


It’s cold outside! 5 Tips for How to Stay Warm

“Don’t get cold in the first place.”

Winter has finally joined us, with a frigid -2F / -19C today (14 FEB 2016), to celebrate a frosty Valentine’s Day in Ohio. Here are science-based 5 tips for how to keep warm while enjoying the outdoors, whether that’s running, orienteering, hiking, or just playing in the snow!

1. Stay dry

In an interview with the Calgary Herald, globe-trotting adventurer Sharon Wood revealed her golden rule for keeping warm (and therefore alive) in less-than-kind wintry climates: “Don’t get cold in the first place.”

That’s obvious, you say. But is it? The cold can sneak up on you, especially if you’re tromping through icy puddles or sweating in that big parka. So stay dry, especially by dressing in layers. Backpacker recommends layering with a “synthetic, wicking base layer to pull the moisture off your skin.” Then on top of that, you’ll need a layer that insulates. Base layers — tights, leggings, form-fitting undershirts, etc. — are lightweight, easy to throw on underneath your normal work clothes, and most importantly, keep you toasty with minimal discomfort. Try not to let cotton (which can absorb sweat) touch your skin, if you can help it.

2. Protect your core

The average human core temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit; hypothermia occurs when body temp dips below 95 degrees. Obviously, keeping your torso insulated is the best thing you can do to keep the rest of you warm and humming along, especially if you pack on a few extra winter pounds.

For example, when people lose fingers, toes, and other extremities to frostbite, at work is one of the body’s natural self-preservation systems: It simply stops sending blood out in order to protect the vital organs. So, as counterintuitive as it sounds, keeping your torso warm is the number one way to keep your hands and feet feeling warm, too. (More on that in a bit.)

3. The “winter hat” might be a myth

Good news for people with great hair: The assumption that 70 percent of a person’s body heat escapes through their head is patently false. University of Michigan professor Andrew Maynard debunks the popular “dancing naked with a winter hat” myth, and explains that body-heat loss relates to “how much skin is exposed, not which part of the body you’re exposing.” That said, wearing a warm hat can and definitely will help you keep warm. (The more skin you cover up the better.) But a hat shouldn’t be depended on in lieu of down coat or jacket with good insulation.

4. Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves

Protecting your core should be your number one priority. But you need to cover your skin to keep it from getting frostbitten. Remember: The less skin you have exposed the better. If you don’t mind having less mobility in the cold, mittens may be preferable to gloves, since clustering the fingers together helps to produce more insulating body heat.

5. Drink water

Summit-trekking adventurers agree: Water is actually “amazing” for retaining body heat. Simply put, the more you have in your system, the easier it is to keep warm. Stay hydrated — especially before you dash out into the frozen slush every morning.


Get Your Own SPORTident Stick

If you’ve been around orienteering or a while, you’ve probably seen the e-punch system we use to collect electronic timing for runners on various courses. (Ready to get one? Skip to the bottom of this post for the links!)

In short, the e-punch system allows the event to collect accurate start and stop times, with split timing at each control. This is how we break out all the data you see from the events. Yes – the data can be quite complex, but for the serious runner, it’s helpful to be able to study each leg of a race, and compare to others. Coupled with a GPS system, it’s hard to beat. Note – for an A-level race, you’re not allowed to use GPS, so the e-punch sticks are vital.

Ready to get your own? It’s easy, and not too expensive. The quickest way is to simply contact SPORTident directly. They’re a German company that manufactures all kinds of timing solutions, including the SI-Card that’s typically used in the United States for orienteering.


The latest model is the SI-Card11. Here’s more about it from their website:

The SI-Card11 belongs to the third generation of SI-Cards. SI-Cards11 register the data record in 60 ms. This is twice as fast as SI-Card8/9. All full set of card owners personal data can be stored in the chip.

In general SI-Card11 offers a more smart user experience. SI-Card11 features an integrated electronic module. There is an optical feedback signal (flashing LED) indicating the finished registration process. There is exactly one feedback signal cycle from the SI-Station. The next feedback signals will be transmitted by the SI-Card within some seconds. The number and the rhythm of the optical feedback signal can be configured by the user. This feature is supported by SI-Config+.

SI-Card11 feedback signals are powered by battery. Power consumption is very low. Based on calculations there is enough power to activate up to 30,000 flashing cycles. The SI-Card11 features a fall back option. If the battery is empty the device works like the passive SI-Card10. So any risk is eliminated.

SI-Card11 comes with a chromium plated tip and transparent body. The flashing LED illuminates the SI logo in the tip.

The SI-Card11 runs about 45 Euros + shipping – total about 50 Euros (about $57). You can register / reserve your own custom number within the number range, and add your name and details to the stick itself. That way, when you use it for events, your info will print out on the receipt, and be included in the data file.

Go here to register / reserve your stick. Shipping takes about a week, and customer service was very good, with plenty of communication from the company. Paying with PayPal was easy, but they take other formats as well.