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There's a sad lesson about urban planning in the trend of major archaeological finds turning up under parking lots in the United Kingdom. Or maybe it's a happy lesson. It's hard to tell.

Archaeologists just announced the discovery of headstone bearing the marks of nobility at the site of a new building being constructed in Edinburgh. Though they've yet to analyze the remains, they believe the knight was buried sometime in the 13th century. "This find has the potential to be one of the most significant and exciting archaeological discoveries in the city for many years, providing us with yet more clues as to what life was like in medieval Edinburgh," said Richard Lewis, a member of the City of Edinburgh Council, in a statement.

Funnily enough, the site of the discovery is a parking lot once used by the University of Edinburgh's archaeology department. This is even funnier when you consider the fact that the long lost remains of King Richard III showed up underneath a parking lot in Leicester. On one hand, the tandem discoveries show that the Brits paved over a lot of important piece of land to build parking lots. On the other hand, the fact that these remains were well preserved and untouched in modern times also suggests that parking lots work as pretty good shields from earth movers. 

It turns out that a lot of great archaeological treasures are found under parking lots. They are, after all, both plentiful and protective. And the recent discovery also shows that the Brits are giving due diligence to having archaeologists on hand when they break ground. While not everybody is thrilled about what historian Edward Tenner refers to as an "exhumation craze," it's encouraging to see workers take care to treat the ground beneath historical locations gingerly.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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