The eastern mole (Scalopus Aquaticus). Source Wikimedia. Image credit Kenneth Catania

Moles have played a significant role in the history of Britain, as the Jacobean toast to The little gentleman in velvet recalls. Recently English Heritage has been keeping a careful watch as volunteers sift their way through hundreds of molehills at Epiacum - an isolated Roman fort close to the Cumbrian border and 12 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall. Epiacum is a scheduled ancient monument and, as such, unauthorised excavations there are banned. That isn’t stopping the little gentlemen in velvet from doing a bit of interesting digging of their own however. The Northerner Blog of The Guardian reports that -

Digging is what moles do, and when they live on a scheduled ancient monument that can be quite helpful, at least to the Birley-minded school of thought. Take Epiacum, which was a Roman fort some 12 miles south of the wall at present-day Whitley Castle on the 1000-acre fields of Castle Nook farm.

Moles have been so busy there that English Heritage has drafted in 37 volunteers to sieve through their molehills and carefully take out anything ancient which has been brought to the surface. So far, they have found a bead from a jet necklace, pieces of earthenware pots and a quarter-inch-long shard of rarer and more valuable Samian ware pottery.

Full article here.