Thursday, 8 February 2018

Ancient artefacts found during Hornsea Project One wind farm work

Thousands of artefacts and archaeological remains have been found during work to bury underground cables for an offshore wind farm.
Coins, brooches, pottery and evidence of an Anglo-Saxon settlement are among the finds unearthed during preparatory work for Hornsea Project One.
Other discoveries include two bodies dating as far back as Roman times.
The wind farm will be off the Yorkshire coast, but a 25-mile onshore cable will reach a North Lincolnshire substation.
From 2015, excavations have taken place along the cable route from Horseshoe Point, east of Tetney, to North Killingholme.

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Monday, 5 February 2018

Radiocarbon dating reveals mass grave did date to the Viking age

A team of archaeologists, led by Cat Jarman from the University of Bristol's Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, has discovered that a mass grave uncovered in the 1980s dates to the Viking Age and may have been a burial site of the Viking Great Army war dead.

One of the female skulls from the Repton charnel [Credit: Cat Jarman]

Although the remains were initially thought to be associated with the Vikings, radiocarbon dates seemed to suggest the grave consisted of bones collected over several centuries. New scientific research, published in Antiquity, now shows that this was not the case and that the bones are all consistent with a date in the late 9th century. Historical records state that the Viking Great Army wintered in Repton, Derbyshire, in 873 A.D. and drove the Mercian king into exile.

Excavations led by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe KjĂžlbye-Biddle at St Wystan's Church in Repton in the 1970s and 1980s discovered several Viking graves and a charnel deposit of nearly 300 people underneath a shallow mound in the vicarage garden.

The mound appears to have been a burial monument linked to the Great Army.

An Anglo-Saxon building, possibly a royal mausoleum, was cut down and partially ruined, before being turned into a burial chamber.

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This Mass Grave May Belong to 'Great Viking Army'

Bones are yielding new clues about the massive, mysterious Viking forces that invaded England.

A photo taken at a 1982 excavation of the gravesite shows remains from what may belong to the Great Viking Army. 

For years, archaeologists were stumped. What happened to the Great Viking Army, a massive force that seized great swaths of England in the 9th century but left barely a trace?
Archaeologists now report that a mass grave in England may contain nearly 300 Viking warriors—the only remains of the Great Viking Army’s warriors ever found.Archaeologists first uncovered the burial site in the 1980s, in Derbyshire, England, and thought it might contain remains from the Great Viking Army, also known the Great Heathen Army. But there was one problem—radiocarbon dating of the site revealed that the remains were too old to be Viking invaders.
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Friday, 2 February 2018

Canterbury artefacts 'may have been stolen by metal thieves'

Two suspected metal thieves are believed to be behind the theft of an archaeological hoard including hundreds of Anglo-Saxon beads and iron age coins, having apparently stumbled on the artefacts while scavenging for copper pipes and wiring.
Canterbury Archaeological Trust is appealing for the public’s help in scanning online sale sites such as eBay for any sign of the artefacts stolen in three raids last month at its warehouse, in the north-east of the city.
The trust is also furious with its landlord, Canterbury city council, because it claims the council failed to inform it, or the police, about metal theft on an adjacent derelict site.
The trust’s archive manager, Andrew Richardson, is devastated by the loss of at least 1,500 items, including Anglo-Saxon brooches and coins each worth thousands of pounds.
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Thieves steal hundreds of priceless artefacts from Canterbury charity

Priceless artefacts including 850 Anglo-Saxon beads have been stolen from an archaeological charity in Canterbury during a series of break-ins.

Thieves broke into the store of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which undertakes excavations and research and educates the public about archaeology, twice last week and once over the weekend.

As well as the beads, large quantities of coins and metal artefacts, and an assortment of bone objects have been stolen.
The charity has put on an appeal asking the public to look out for the historical items being offered for sale.

The trust’s outreach and archive manager Dr Andrew Richardson told the Guardian: “It’s been pretty distressing for everyone at the trust, not only because of the lost items but also the scale of the damage.

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Monday, 27 November 2017

Archaeologists uncover ancient Viking camp from the 870s in village of Repton

University of Bristol students excavated a Viking camp dating to a winter in the 870s (PA)

A Viking camp that dates back to the 870s has been been unearthed by archeologists in the small village of Repton in Derbyshire.

The new discoveries were located at a campsite in the village, which has been known about since the 1970s.

Techniques including ground penetrating radar were used to reveal evidence for workshops and ship repairs over a much larger area.

A team from the University of Bristol also discovered structures, dating from the winter of 873-874, such as paths and possible temporary buildings.

Excavations showed these to be gravel platforms that may have held temporary timber structures or tents.

There were fragments of Saxon millstones and a cross fragment from the monastery, as well as broken pieces of weaponry including fragments of battle-axes and arrows.

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New Research on Viking Army Camp at Repton

(Courtesy Cat Jarman)

Archaeologists have turned up new evidence about a ninth-century Viking overwintering camp in the Derbyshire village of Repton, according to a report from Yahoo News. The site, which was occupied by a Viking army in the winter of 873-4, was previously excavated starting in the 1970s and was thought to have been limited to a fortified D-shaped enclosure measuring just a few acres. Now, a team from the University of Bristol has found evidence of structures and activities including metalworking and ship repair in the area outside this enclosure. Among the items found there were lead gaming pieces, fragments of battle-axes and arrows, and nails with roves, which are a telltale feature of Viking ship nails. The finds show that the Viking camp was larger and host to a wider range of activities than had been previously known, said Cat Jarman of the University of Bristol. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, when the Vikings arrived in Repton in 873, they drove the Mercian king Burghred overseas. The researchers also confirmed that a mass grave at the site containing at least 264 people dates to the time of the overwintering camp and likely holds Viking war dead. For more on the Vikings in England, go to “Vengeance on the Vikings.”

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Using parchment to reveal the ancient lives of livestock

A page from the York Gospels. Eraser rubbings left over from cleaning the pages of this manuscript revealed the ancient genomes of the animals used to produce the parchment. 
(Image: York Minster)

Innovative ways of utilising ancient protein and DNA analysis have revealed new information about medieval parchment and the animals from which they are made.

A group of researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the University of York have taken eraser rubbings – left over from the cleaning of medieval manuscripts – and extracted DNA and proteins from the waste. This method means that parts of the manuscript no longer need to be removed for destructive testing.

The group recently used this technique to analyse the pages of the York Gospels, an Anglo-Saxon book (c.1000 AD) containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, a letter from King Cnut, and land ownership documents. The experiment yielded some interesting results.

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Monday, 16 October 2017

UK’s north-south divide dates back to Vikings, says archaeologist

A division 1,000 years in the making? Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

The north-south divide has been the butt of jokes in Britain for years, but research has shown the Watford Gap, which separates the country, was in fact established centuries ago when the Vikings invaded Britain.

According to the archaeologist Max Adams, who made the discovery while researching his new book, the Northamptonshire-Warwickshire boundary known as the Watford Gap is a geographic and cultural reality that can be traced back to the Viking age.

Adams was struck by the absence of Scandinavian placenames south-west of Watling Street, the Roman road that became the A5. “There might be one or two names, but I don’t think there are any, and there are certainly hundreds and hundreds north-east. Clearly the Scandinavian settlers stopped at Watling Street,” Adams said.

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

'Exceptionally rare' crucifix found by metal detectorist in England

An "exceptionally rare" ancient crucifix has been unearthed by an amateur metal detectorist. The 2cm (0.78in) tall lead object, which depicts Christ on the cross, was found in the village of Skidbrooke, Lincolnshire, by Tom Redmayne. It is thought to date from between AD 950-1150.

The 2cm artefact depicts Christ on the cross [Credit: Adam Daubney]

Archaeologist Adam Daubney, from Lincolnshire County Council, said it is one of only three known examples in the country.

Mr Redmayne, who found the crucifix on Sunday, said he did not initially realise the significance of his discovery. He said he knew it was a crucifix, and was possibly old due to its crude design.

However, he said it was only when he researched the item online he realised it was something special. Despite the artefact having little monetary value, he said, it offers a unique insight into the lives of ordinary people at the time.

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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Uncovering the Galloway Viking Hoard, layer by layer

Hold on to your Viking helmet; you’re about to dig, layer by layer, into one of the most extraordinary Viking hoards ever found on the British Isles – the Galloway Hoard – with Dr Martin Goldberg, Senior Curator at National Museums Scotland

The team of metal detectorists had been working this field in Galloway for some time, but what they eventually found was way beyond their expectations.

The top layer contained eleven ingots and eleven silver arm-rings that had been flattened into bullion. They would have been made from the type of ingots they’re buried with. There’s a nice variety of decoration, with lots of punched lines and hatches. This type of arm-ring is normally found in hoards in Ireland and there are some from North Wales and from Lancashire – all around the Irish Sea, but we don’t have a lot of this particular type in Scotland. This hoard completes the circle around the Irish Sea.

They’re called a Hiberno-Scandinavian type of arm-ring and obviously the Scandinavian is the new element added to the cultural mix at the time, but they’re given that Hiberno- prefix because they’re normally found in Ireland. For me it is always the hyphen between these cultural labels where the interesting things are happening.

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Archaeologists Return to Legendary Birthplace of King Arthur

Archaeologists have completed the first stage of a major five-year study of the archaeology of the Tintagel headland in Cornwall, in the southwest of England. In English folklore, the site is thought to be the birthplace of King Arthur.
Credit: Emily Whitfield-Wicks/English Heritage

Archaeologists are back at the legendary birthplace of King Arthur.

Last summer, researchers discovered traces of early medieval life at Tintagel in Cornwall, on England's southwest coast, where the legendary British monarch was said to have been born.

Now, they've returned to the site for another round of digging, to further explore buried buildings dated from the fifth to the seventh centuries. 

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1,100-year-old coin found in royal Pictish power centre

The 1,100-year-old coin found at an archaeological dig at Burghead Fort. Picture: PA

A 1,100-year-old coin is amongst a series of discoveries made at what experts believe was a royal power centre of a northerly Pictish kingdom.

The coin was found along with the remains of a longhouse at Burghead Fort near Lossiemouth, which was thought to have been largely destroyed by the development of a new town during the 19th century.

Now archaeologists from Aberdeen University hope further significant findings will be revealed at the site – a probable seat of power of Northern Pictland between 500AD and 1000AD, given the fresh discoveries.

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Casting light on the Dark Ages: Anglo-Saxon fenland is re-imagined

What was life in the fens like in the period known as the dark ages? Archaeologist Susan Oosthuizen revisits the history of an iconic wetland in the light of fresh evidence and paints a compelling portrait of communities in tune with their changeable environment. In doing so, she makes an important contribution to a wider understanding of early medieval landscapes.

Highland Cattle grazing in the Wicken Fen [Credit: © Wicken Fen]

The East Anglian fens with their flat expanses and wide skies, a tract of some of the UK's richest farmland, are invariably described as bleak – or worse. Turn the clock back 1,000 years to a time when the silt and peat wetlands were largely undrained, and it's easy to imagine a place that defied rather than welcomed human occupation.

Historians have long argued that during the 'dark' ages (the period between the withdrawal of Roman administration in around 400 AD and the Norman Conquest in 1066) most settlements in the region were deserted, and the fens became an anarchic, sparsely inhabited, watery wilderness.

A new interdisciplinary study of the region by a leading landscape archaeologist not only rewrites its early history across those six centuries but also, for the first time anywhere in Europe, offers a detailed view of the settlement and agricultural management of early medieval wetland landscapes.

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Southampton Water fish trap dated to Saxon times

The trap was found by chance close to the Fawley oil refinery by archaeology students more than 10 years ago.

A timber fishing trap exposed on the Hampshire coast dates back to Saxon times, it has been confirmed.
The weir, built as a permanent wooden structure to catch fish as the tide ebbed, was found by chance on the shore of Southampton Water in 2005.
Radiocarbon dating has shown it was built in the 8th or 9th centuries.
Experts from Exeter University said the results were "thrilling" and provided new insights into the process of coastal erosion in the area.
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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Archaeologists discover mound next to Slough car park is 'prestigious' Anglo-Saxon monument

Archaeologists have found that a 20-foot high mound in Slough, thought to be a Norman castle motte and for centuries the centrepiece of a bizarre Eton College ceremony, is actually a rare Saxon monument, built 1,500 years ago.
University of Reading archaeologists say that Montem Mound in the Berkshire town, now surrounded by Municipal buildings and car parks, dates roughly to the same time as the famous burial mounds of Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, and the nearby burial  at Taplow. It is likely to mark the resting place of someone of high status and could contain artefacts.
The discovery of the 'Sutton Hoo of Slough' is a remarkable finding as only a handful of mounds from this period are known about. The findings go against the previous assumption that it was a Norman Conquest-era 'motte and bailey' castle.
Dr Jim Leary, the University of Reading archaeologist who led the investigation in December 2016, said: "Conventional wisdom placed the Montem Mound 500 years later, in the Norman period. But we have shown that it dates to between the 5th and 7th centuries, not long after the collapse of Roman Empire.
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Sunday, 16 July 2017

One of the most important buildings in history of Christianity discovered off Scottish coast

Archaeologists have located one of the most important buildings in the history of Western European Christianity – but it’s not a vast cathedral or an impressive tomb, but merely a humble wattle and daub hut on a remote windswept island.
Using radiocarbon dating techniques and other evidence, the  scholars –  from the University of Glasgow – believe they have demonstrated that the tiny five-metre square building was almost certainly the daytime home of early medieval Scotland’s most important saint, St Columba.
Located on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, the unprepossessing hut was probably the first administrative hub of the monastic community he founded – and whose monks, over succeeding centuries, went on to establish similar monasteries in mainland Scotland, in north-east England, in Belgium, in France and in Switzerland.
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Tintagel excavations reveal refined tastes of medieval settlers

 Archaeologists conducting the first research excavations at Tintagel in decades. 
Photograph: Emily Whitfield-Wicks/English He/PA

Early Cornish kings feasted on a diet of oysters, roast pork and fine wine, eating and drinking from bowls imported from Turkey and glass goblets from Spain, a new dig at Tintagel Castle has suggested.
Discoveries made by the Cornwall archaeological unit (CAU) support the view that Tintagel was a royal site during the 5th and 6th centuries, with trading links reaching as far as the eastern Mediterranean.
Perched on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, Tintagel has for centuries been associated with the legend of King Arthur. Over the past 18 months, its custodian, English Heritage, has been accused of putting too much emphasis on the stories of Arthur and Merlin, rather than focusing on the site’s true, ancient Cornish heritage. The excavations, the first at Tintagel for decades, may help redress the balance.
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Tintagel excavations reveal refined tastes of early Cornish kings

Tintagel is intricately bound up in the legend of King Arthur 
[Credit: Emily Whitfield-Wicks/English Heritage Trust]

Discoveries made by the Cornwall archaeological unit (CAU) support the view that Tintagel was a royal site during the 5th and 6th centuries, with trading links reaching as far as the eastern Mediterranean.

Perched on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, Tintagel has for centuries been associated with the legend of King Arthur. Over the past 18 months, its custodian, English Heritage, has been accused of putting too much emphasis on the stories of Arthur and Merlin, rather than focusing on the site’s true, ancient Cornish heritage. The excavations, the first at Tintagel for decades, may help redress the balance.

The excavation also uncovered stone-walled structures on the southern terrace of Tintagel’s island area, with substantial stone walls and slate floors, accessed by a flight of slate steps.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

One of Britain’s oldest churches discovered on Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Archaeologists have discovered one of Britain’s oldest churches.
The find – on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the Northumberland coast – is of great historical importance because the newly discovered ancient church may originally have been built in or shortly after the mid 7th century AD as part of the monastic spiritual epicentre from which much of northern and central England was eventually Christianised.
It’s also important because it is likely to have been a key site at the spiritual heart of the early 8th-century monastic community that made Britain’s most famous early medieval illuminated manuscript – the Lindisfarne Gospels.
The evidence suggesting that this could be the site of one of Holy Island’s original early Anglo-Saxon period churches – perhaps even one built by the founder of Lindisfarne, St Aidan – is complex but persuasive.
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