Ancient warnings on stones uncovered amid Europe's record-breaking drought

·Environment Editor
·3-min read

Chilling centuries-old warnings have been uncovered as river levels drop across Europe.

Germany’s ominous hunger stones, known locally as Hungerstein, are visible in the Rhine river once more due to ongoing drought.

Historically the stones have served as a warning that famine was imminent, and years when they previously became visible have been etched on their surface.

Hunger stones have been uncovered in Germany's Rhine River. Source: Reuters
Hunger stones have been uncovered in Germany's Rhine River. Source: Reuters

Truth behind viral hunger stone image revealed

Video shot by Reuters this year shows rocks dating back to 1947, 2003 and 2018 that have been uncovered due to low water levels.

An image of a much older stone in the Czech Republic's Elbe River is dated 1616 and warns “If you see me, weep”.

While pictures of that hunger stone are going viral this year, they do not reflect current conditions.

That particular stone has been visible an average 126 days of the year since a damn was constructed in 1926.

The picture was also taken in 2018.

This hunger stone made worldwide headlines during the 2018 drought. Source: AP
This hunger stone made worldwide headlines during the 2018 drought. Source: AP

Forgotten villages uncovered by drought in UK

Experts have warned Europe could experience its worst drought in 500 years, adding it has the potential to impact 47 per cent of the continent.

Across the Channel conditions are also grim, with England experiencing a declared drought. The country reported its driest July since 1935.

Bridges, gardens and churches are among the ruins that have been uncovered since water levels receded.

Included in the newly exposed ruins are villages in Derwent and Ashopton which were destroyed in the 1940s to make way for the construction of a reservoir.

London's once green Hackney Marshes are now brown. Source: Reuters
London's once green Hackney Marshes are now brown. Source: Reuters

The drought is also affecting sporting grounds, with the once lush green soccer, rugby and cricket pitches at London’s Hackney Marshes now brown.

England and Wales Cricket Board has also issued advice on preparing pitches amid water restrictions.

Climate change causing extreme weather

Climate change is resulting in longer periods of weather extremes around the globe.

Europe and the United States have battled severe wildfires amid a Northern Hemisphere which has seen temperature records tumble.

Over 2019-2020, during what is now known as Black Summer, Australia battled what were likely its worst recorded bushfires.

The blazes burned more than 24 million hectares, directly caused 33 deaths and claimed the lives of close to 450 more people through smoke inhalation.

A number of species including koalas and greater gliders also had their extinction threat status upgraded.

Australia is the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuels, and while the federal government has strengthened a commitment to reducing emissions that cause climate change, critics say the country must agree to stop funding new coal and gas mines.

with Reuters

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