Previous News Stories

11th April 2008
Skull returns to final resting place

A rare 2,000-year-old Roman skull has been returned to the cave beneath the Yorkshire Dales where it was discovered by divers in 1996.

Archaeologists were called in after cave divers unearthed human bones in what is believed to be one of the most important cave discoveries ever made.The skull dates to the 2nd Century and is that of a local woman in her 50s.It was stored at Sheffield University for carbon-dating and recently returned to the cave, which has now been sealed.

There are other human remains in the cave which date back to the Bronze Age - more than 1,000 years before Roman Britain. Animal remains, including horses and dogs, have also been excavated. Cave burials from this period are rare so this site is considered an archaeological treasure trove.

Experts believe the cave could have been a tomb, but that some of the deaths may have been through sacrificial ceremonies. Tom Lord, research fellow at Lancaster University, has studied ancient bones in caves for more than 20 years and believes there is more to be unearthed in the cave.

Mr Lord calls the cave an "ancient time capsule" because of the many different remains inside. He believes the cave was considered a sacred place for centuries because of its supposed entrance to the underworld. He also referred to the cave as an "ancient crime scene" because it may have been the scene of forced sacrifices.

Ancient bodies have also been discovered in what are thought to be sacrificial caves in East Yorkshire. The skulls excavated from East Yorkshire show the bodies suffered blows to the head, and were therefore sacrificed by force. Unfortunately the recently-returned skull is only a partial skull and there are not enough remains to determine how the Roman woman died. One theory is that she may have been a high-born figure from the local area who voluntarily sacrificed herself, believing she would enter the underworld. Other factors could, however, point to the woman wanting to escape Roman hardship.

The skull has been laid to rest under a shelf in the cave where it is hoped it will remain undisturbed. Mr Lord said that if archaeologists chose to reinvestigate the cave in the future, much more could be unravelled.For now though, the cave has been shut, disguised with earth and rock and sealed completely.

Story from BBC News

2nd April 2008

The secret of Stonehenge
By David Keys

It is half a century since the inside of the mysterious circle was last excavated. Now a fresh dig has begun, aimed at solving a mystery which continues to baffle archaeologists

The two-week project will try to establish the precise dating of the "Double Bluestone Circle", the first stone structure to have been erected at the site thousands of years ago. A research team will hand-dig a trench, eventually measuring 3.5m wide and 1.5m deep, in a previously excavated area on the south-eastern quadrant of the Double Bluestone Circle, with the hope of retrieving fragments of the original bluestone pillars to be carbon-dated.

"The bluestones hold the key to understanding the purpose and meaning of Stonehenge," said Dr Simon Thurley, the chief executive of English Heritage. "Their arrival marked a turningpoint in the history of Stonehenge, changing the site from being a fairly standard formative henge with timber structures and occasional use for burial, to the complex stone structure whose remains dominate the site today."

Previous research by Professor Wainwright and Professor Darvill, two of the country's most knowledgeable Stonehenge experts, has shown the Preseli Hills were a centre for ceremonial and burial in prehistoric times. They now believe that Stonehenge was initially built as a major healing centre, the prehistoric equivalent of Lourdes or Santiago de Compostela.

In their re-evaluation of Stonehenge's original purpose, they believe it is far more associated with water sources which traditionally were imbued with healing properties, than has been previously thought. In ancient, medieval and even later times, all over Britain and throughout continental Europe springs were identified with healing. Yet until now, the only water link to Stonehenge was that the monument was connected to the River Avon by a two-mile processional avenue.

Researchers now believe that, long before the avenue was extended down to the river, its first 500m were constructed specifically to connect Stonehenge with a spring at the head of a valley, known today as Stonehenge Bottom. If true, it would explain for the first time why the processional avenue does not take a direct route to the River Avon, which is just one and a half miles away.

A six-year research project Professors Darvill and Wainwright mounted in south-west Wales now suggests that, for thousands of years, the Preseli mountain range was home to a series of magical healing centres. Springs bubbled out of the rock in many places in the Preselis and some were enlarged over the millennia by local people and holy men who burrowed into the rock to create dozens of holy wells. The archaeologists now believe that the Preseli Hills have the densest concentration of such healing centres in south-west Britain, an estimated 30 to 40 holy wells. Their work proposes, for the first time, why the builders of Stonehenge went so far afield in 2600 BC to obtain the stones for their great monument, despite much nearer sources of good stone.

They also argue that Stonehenge's healing role is actually in line with long-lost folklore.

Arthurian legend, recorded by the medieval writer Geoffrey of Monmouth, has it that Stonehenge was indeed a healing centre where the stones had been imported by the wizard Merlin, precisely for their healing properties. The monument's stones were regarded as having magical healing powers as late as the 18th century, when visitors to the site often chipped bits off to take away as talismans. A further study by the two archaeologists into prehistoric human skeletons buried in the Stonehenge area, is also beginning to suggest that a larger than normal percentage of them suffered from particularly bad health problems.

This, they argue, would be consistent with Stonehenge having been an ancient healing centre attracting huge numbers of sick Neolithic and Bronze Age pilgrims from all over Britain and continental Europe. They point out the high incidence of small exotic artefacts from prehistoric continental Europe and even the ancient Mediterranean world found in the Stonehenge area.

Stonehenge may also have doubled as an important oracle, thus attracting even more pilgrims. The archaeologists believe that the great stone monument may have been a temple to the sun god, described by the BC classical historian Diodorus Siculus citing the fourth century BC Greek geographer, Hecataeus of Abdera, in a key 1st century classical source.

A classical legend associated with the Greek Oracle of Delphi may also be relevant to Stonehenge's past. The legend states that the oracle at Delphi functioned for only part of the year because, for three months around the winter solstice, the site's oracular deity (the sun god Apollo) went to the "land of the hyperboreans" (literally "the land of the people beyond the north wind!"), which is generally believed to be Britain. Significantly, Stonehenge is aligned with the winter as well as the summer solstice.

"The evidence we have gathered has led us to a totally new interpretation of why Stonehenge was built and why people went there," said Professor Darvill. "It opens up completely new avenues of investigation, which need to be followed up within the Stonehenge landscape."

Full article at Independent

9th January 2008

Charnwood Displays Some of Britains Earliest Metal Objects

Some of the earliest metal objects ever found in Britain have gone on display for the first time at Charnwood Museum in a new display running until March 28 2008.

Neolithic and Bronze Age jewellery, Roman glass, and Anglo-Saxon garnets are among the archaeological treasures on show in a makeover of the displays, which Leicestershire Museum Service’s Archaeology team worked on over the Christmas holidays.

Rare jewellery, newly acquired by Leicestershire Museum Service, has been put on public display for the first time. These treasures include late Neolithic jewellery from 4,000 years ago – among the earliest metal objects ever found in Britain.

A selection of pieces from the Bronze Age prehistoric burial mounds excavated near Cossington is also featured, including an extremely rare early Bronze Age bead necklace.
photo of an oval pendant mounted with a purple coloured stone

Full story and details of opening times at 24 Hour Museum

Secrets of Roman town unearthed

New hi-tech investigations of a Roman town in Norfolk have revealed it to be one of international importance, leading archaeologists have said. A high-resolution geophysical survey was carried out at the buried town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund. It has shown detail never seen before, including a semi-circular building which looks like a Roman theatre.

The site was first discovered in July 1928 when the crew of an RAF aircraft took photographs in the area. The town is already well-established as the most important Roman site in northern East Anglia

The exceptionally dry summer meant details of the Roman town were revealed as parched lines in the barley. The survey has produced the clearest plan of the town showing the town's water supply system and public buildings, including the baths, temples and forum.

Life at Roman Caistor was thought to have ended in the 5th century AD, when Britain was abandoned by the Romans.

David Gurney, principal archaeologist of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, said: "This is a fantastic discovery, and it goes to show that Caistor Roman town still has a great number of secrets to be disclosed in the years ahead through surveys or excavations.

Full story at BBC News

Remains are identified as cattle

Animal remains found buried in a pit on farmland in East Sussex were cattle, not horses, as was first believed. The three skeletons were found during work to lay a 7km (4.3 mile) water pipeline between Newhaven and Barcombe.

South East Water said the remains, which had no wounds of knife marks to indicate they were used for food, were the most bizarre of a series of finds.Other artefacts included a spindle whirl used for making thread and a wet stone used to sharpen iron tools.

Remains of mussel and oyster shells from food supplies were also discovered, along with Iron Age pottery and a Roman underfloor heating tile near Glynde.

Full story from BBC News

10th May 2007

Roman Clues Found at Ancient Hill

Archaeologists have found traces of a Roman settlement at a 5,000-year-old landmark man-made hill in Wiltshire. English Heritage believes there was a Roman community at Silbury Hill about 2,000 years ago.

The 130ft Neolithic mound near Avebury - one of Europe's largest prehistoric monuments - is thought to have been created some 3,000 years earlier. Experts carrying out a project to stabilise the hill say the site may have been a sacred place of pilgrimage.

English Heritage geophysicist Dr Neil Linford said: "We are really excited by this discovery because we had no idea that a Roman village of such a size lay this close to Silbury Hill." The evidence suggests the Roman community was based on an area the size of 24 football pitches at the base of the hill.

English Heritage regional director Dr Bob Bewley says it will be "exciting" to try to find out more about the Roman presence. Without further investigation it is difficult to say, but it could be that what we have here is something like a roadside village, where Roman travellers would have changed horses and stayed overnight on the way to Bath, but also a place of pilgrimage focused on the hill," he said.

More at BBC News

Bronze Age Life by Airport Runway

Archaeologists have published findings of an important Bronze Age settlement at Manchester Airport. The dig, which was part of the multi-million pound development of Runway 2, uncovered Early Bronze Age artefacts at Oversley Farm in Styal.

The finds - which include flint arrowheads, pottery and tools - will go on display at Chester Museum. Experts at the dig said they had made a "significant discovery" about pre-historic life in Cheshire.

The site is the first excavated example of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age life in the county and the details have been published in a report by archaeologist Dan Garner. Speaking about the finds, Mr Garner said: "The building of the second runway at Manchester Airport created a unique opportunity to excavate a 3km long corridor.

"We made some exciting finds such as Bronze Age pottery, a tanged flint arrowhead and other tools and, of course, the footprint of the farmstead. "We were very pleased to discover a prehistoric site of regional significance."

The artefacts have been radiocarbon dated to confirm their authenticity. Manchester Airport supported the archaeological investigations as part of a £17m package of environmental works.

The report is available from British Archaeological Reports (B.A.R).

Story from BBC News

Sacrificial Offerings Worth Every Penny

Three thousand years ago a spectacular collection of gold bracelets was buried deep in the Somerset earth by a warrior chieftain as a sacrificial offering to appease his pagan gods.

This week, the county's biggest ever hoard of Bronze Age treasure came home after a £38,000 fundraising campaign saved it from sale on the open market.

Every one of the high-status objects had been deliberately bent and twisted before being sunk into the ground in what experts believe was a sacrificial ritual performed by a chieftain between 1,300 and 1,100BC.

More at Western Daily Press

Gladiators 'Fought in Cheshire'

Gladiatorial games, the bloodiest of ancient Rome's traditions, were probably held in the heart of genteel Cheshire, archaeologists say. Experts have unearthed evidence in the remains of Chester Amphitheatre which suggests gladiators appeared there.

It was previously thought the arena was only used for ceremonial activities. But archaeologists have found a stone block with iron fastening, suggesting that victims - human or animal - were chained up for gladiatorial spectacles.

Two similar blocks were found in the northern half of the arena, which is one of Britain's largest Roman amphitheatres, in the 1960s. Experts believe the latest found in the centre is significant because it forms a row of anchor points along the axis of the arena for chaining victims.

Dan Garner, an archaeologist with Chester City Council, said: "Up to now, we have found human and animal remains to suggest that gladiatorial games may have taken place, but the discovery of the third chain block puts that suggestion almost beyond doubt. "I dare say that people met a rather brutal end in Chester's arena some 1,900 years ago."

More from BBC News

Romans’ Second Fort a Thrilling Idea
Western Mail

A SECOND Roman fort has been found in Monmouth, in what the town’s archaeological society describes as one of the most thrilling Roman discoveries in South-East Wales for many years.

Archaeologists have long known of the existence of a large, “vexillation” fort in the town centre, dating from about AD50, but excavations over the past 25 years have hinted at a smaller, later, second fort. Now its existence has been confirmed thanks to earthworks for a building on land owned by the chairman of Monmouth Archaeological Society, Steve Clarke.

The “auxiliary” fort may have housed up to 500 soldiers. It was built about AD100, after the Romans had suffered heavy casualties in a 30-year war against Welsh guerrillas. It may still have been occupied alongside the industrial town of Blestium (Roman Monmouth) in the 3rd century.

Story from IC Wales

4th November 2006
Catholic marchers turn on Glastonbury pagans

In scenes reminiscent of medieval witchhunts, Catholic pilgrims in Glastonbury have attacked pagans and threatened to "cleanse" them from the town.

Local pagans were pelted with salt and branded witches who "would burn in hell" during a procession organised by Youth 2000, a conservative Catholic lay group. The Magick Box, a pagan shop on the route of the march, was also singled out and attacked.

Maya Pinder, the owner of the shop, said: "We've had to hear comments such as 'burn the witches', we've had salt thrown in our faces and at our shop, people were openly saying they were 'cleansing Glastonbury of paganism'.

"It was as if we had returned to the dark ages. This is hugely damaging to Glastonbury ... it is hard enough to trade in Glastonbury as it is, if you were to take away the pagan element it would be a dead town." The Somerset town is known for having a large population of resident and visiting pagans.
The archdruid of Glastonbury, Dreow Bennett, said: "To call the behaviour of some of their members medieval would be an understatement. I personally witnessed the owner of of the Magick Box being confronted by one of their associates and being referred to as a bloody bitch and being told 'you will burn in hell'."

Father Kevin Knox-Lecky of St Mary's church said that after meeting representatives of the pagan community he had decided not to invite Youth 2000 to the town again.

He said: "A family appeared who we don't know, who were very destructive not only in the town and to the pagan community, but were also swearing at our parishioners as well."

He said the majority of Catholics taking part in the procession had been well-behaved and respectful of the pagans.

The retreat was organised last week to mark the 467th anniversary of the beheading of the last abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Richard Whiting, and fellow martyrs.

Youth 2000 describes itself as "an independent, international initiative that helps young adults aged 16-35 plug back into God at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church".

It was set up 10 years ago by a disenchanted Catholic barrister who wanted a return to the traditional teachings of the church for young people.

Charlie Conner, the managing director of Youth 2000, said: "There were several incidents that happened that same weekend that were linked to people who had come to Glastonbury for the retreat. This was in direct contravention of the general spirit of Youth 2000 and its express instructions. The young man who was fined was not in fact registered on the retreat, although he did attempt to attend it.

"Youth 2000 does not condone or encourage this kind of behaviour from anyone. We fully agree that differences on matters of faith cannot and should not be resolved by any kind of harassment."

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police confirmed a youth had been arrested at Magick Box on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm or distress.

Two women were also given cautions and warned about their future conduct.

From the Guardian Unlimited

26th September 2006
Druid accuses Oxford 'grave robbers'

Robin Turner, Western Mail

A Welsh druid spent the lightning-lashed weekend in a Gower cave to highlight his claim that academics from Oxford are "grave robbers".

Retired engineer Chris Warwick, who became a druid some years ago, wants an ancient skeleton known as the Red Lady of Paviland returned to its burial place in Gower's Paviland Cave. Despite being uncovered on Gower, the remains have been on show at Oxford University's natural history museum for decades.

Mr Warwick said, "The more we find out about our ancestors the better, but what I object to is the grave robbing that goes on. "Whichever way you put it, that's what it is.

The "Red Lady" was discovered in 1823 by clergyman archaeologist the Rev William Buckland who mistook the skeleton for that of a woman because it was dyed red and covered in ornate jewellery. It was later discovered the skeleton, by this time widely known as the Red Lady of Paviland, was in fact that of an important male chieftain and dated back an incredible 26,000 years.

It was a hugely important discovery giving clues to life in a little known era. The skeleton far outdates Stonehenge which was built around 4,000 years ago.

Chris Warwick says places like Paviland Cave should be treated the same way as modern graveyards. He says the skeleton should be returned and buried "with due reverence". He spent the weekend in the limestone cave to highlight his "Dead to Rights" campaign and to try to "balance the spiritual energies".

An Elgin Marbles style campaign to secure the return to Wales of the Red Lady was begun two years ago by Swansea councillor Ioan Richard. His campaign was backed by the Gower Society and by Tourism Swansea who believe the Red Lady could become a prized tourist attraction.

Tourism Swansea spokesman Geoff Haden said, "We are suggesting an interpretive visitor centre near Paviland Cave or possibly at the Gower Heritage Centre, which would be a wet weather and an all-year-round attraction. This is something we must follow up." But administrator at the Oxford museum Wendy Shepherd said there was "not a chance" of bringing the remains back home. She said, "This goes back to the days when the archaeologists who made finds had the final say on where they should be exhibited."

Story from IC Wales

21st September 2006

Fell Ponies Face Extinction

A rare breed of pony in Cumbria's Lake District is under threat, a scientist has claimed. David Murray, a conservation scientist who studies Britain's native ponies, said the fell herds were facing extinction as more breeders retire.

There are only about 400 fell pony mares in Britain, and Mr Murray said it would only take the demise of two herds to put the breed in jeopardy. He said more breeders were needed to recognise the value of the ponies. He said: "Basically we have around 400 or so fell breeding females registered in and around Cumbria and one or two other parts of Britain.

"Due to the gradual erosion of blood lines these ponies are now regarded as rare and vulnerable. It is really important we find a way of protecting these herds in the next century or so. They have been around for 2,000 years plus before the Romans, yet we could see their gradual demise."

Fell ponies are usually 13 to 14 hands high, with a stocky build, a full mane and tail and feathering on the legs. The ponies are predominantly black, but can also be bay, brown and grey.

Mr Murray added: "They are good for grazing, they don't eat wild flowers or heather and are a bit more selective in what they eat. "They are often preferred to sheep as grazers on the fells, yet many people do not recognise their worth for helping to maintain biodiversity."

Story from BBC News

29th August 2006

Historians claim to have found fabled lost city
Rin Simpson, Western Mail

WELSH historians believe they have uncovered the site of a 2,000-year-old city which they say is the most important location in ancient British history.

The Ancient British Historical Association (ABHA) claims that a field at Mynydd y Gaer near Pencoed is the fabled fortress city of King Caradoc I, or Caractacus, who fought the Romans between 42-51 AD.

The Roman leader at that time was the Emperor Claudius, immortalised by Derek Jacobi in the TV series and film I, Claudius, alongside Welsh actress Sian Phillips as his aunt Livia.

Historians Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett used old manuscripts to narrow their field of search and aerial photos obtained from Google Earth, which provides maps and satellite imagery, to find the exact spot.

Their findings have yet to be verified but the team are positive they have found the long lost site.

More at icWales

29th August 2006
Dig unearths round table evidence at Windsor Castle

By Chris Greenwood

Evidence of a building linked to the myth of King Arthur and the knights of the round table has been found at Windsor Castle.

The circular structure was built by Edward III in the 14th century to house the round table intended to seat the original 300 Knights of the Garter. Archaeological proof of the building was uncovered by members of Channel 4's Time Team in the castle's quadrangle.

Although the stones have been removed, rubble in-fill where they were originally located remained in place. The show's presenter, Tony Robinson, said the discovery could help settle years of debate among historians over the existence of the building. "The round table building is one of our most significant ever archaeological finds. It is something that helped to establish Arthurian legends of the knights of the round table.

"We set out to uncover the walls of the building, and they are just where we hoped. Experts have speculated about the structure for centuries, but they have never been able to find the actual building."

It was one of several remarkable finds made by archaeologists given unprecedented access to three Royal residences.

At Buckingham Palace, finds ranged from a small piece of pre-Roman flint to a gold earring or piece of necklace, possibly from the Victorian era. Experts also found a stoneware beer mug probably thrown away by workmen landscaping the gardens in about 1700.

At Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official Scottish residence, a 17th or 18th century seal, probably used to stamp wax on documents, was uncovered.

The digs were allowed to go after months of negotiations with representatives of the Royal family. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said all the findings will be catalogued and the survey results will be added to the Royal archive at Windsor.

Evidence of a building linked to the myth of King Arthur and the knights of the round table has been found at Windsor Castle.

The circular structure was built by Edward III in the 14th century to house the round table intended to seat the original 300 Knights of the Garter. Archaeological proof of the building was uncovered by members of Channel 4's Time Team in the castle's quadrangle.

Although the stones have been removed, rubble in-fill where they were originally located remained in place. The show's presenter, Tony Robinson, said the discovery could help settle years of debate among historians over the existence of the building. "The round table building is one of our most significant ever archaeological finds. It is something that helped to establish Arthurian legends of the knights of the round table.

"We set out to uncover the walls of the building, and they are just where we hoped. Experts have speculated about the structure for centuries, but they have never been able to find the actual building."
It was one of several remarkable finds made by archaeologists given unprecedented access to three Royal residences.

At Buckingham Palace, finds ranged from a small piece of pre-Roman flint to a gold earring or piece of necklace, possibly from the Victorian era. Experts also found a stoneware beer mug probably thrown away by workmen landscaping the gardens in about 1700.

At Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official Scottish residence, a 17th or 18th century seal, probably used to stamp wax on documents, was uncovered.

The digs were allowed to go after months of negotiations with representatives of the Royal family. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said all the findings will be catalogued and the survey results will be added to the Royal archive at Windsor.

Story from the Independent Online

19th July 2006
Haunting Secrets of Rollrights are Revealed

The haunt of witches for centuries, and a site shrouded in mystery, the Rollright Stones near Long Compton may have some secrets revealed this weekend and next weekend as part of National Archaeology Week.

Visitors on both weekends will enjoy free admission and guided tours by archaeologists including the chairman of the Rollright Trust, George Lambick, formerly director of the Council of British Archaeology, and Dr Gill Hey of Oxford Archaeology.

This weekend will also include a storyteller and next weekend a dowser will be giving lessons in the ancient art of water divining.

"This is an ideal opportunity to find out about the history and legends of one of Oxfordshire's oldest monuments," said trust spokesman Dohn Prout. The stones, including a stone circle, a group of stones and a solitary rock, are said to date back to 3,800BC, making them older than Stonehenge.

Legend has it that a witch turned a king and his men into the stones and herself into a tree, and the site has been a meeting place for witches since the Tudor times. Visitors will also be allowed to see the ghostly images on an inside wall of the site hut that left by a fire earlier this year.

From This is the Cotswolds

23rd June 2006
Obituary for Professor Leslie Alcock

Professor Leslie Alcock will be most widely remembered for his book Arthur’s Britain, which made a lasting impact on the scholarly community and was hugely popular, and for his excavations at the hill fort of South Cadbury-Camelot, Somerset, which attracted worldwide attention. These were the popular highlights of a career that had a profound influence on the practice of archaeology in Britain and on the study of early medieval Britain in particular. As a native Mancunian Alcock counted himself among the Gwr y Gogledd, “men of the North” and consequently developed a lifelong interest in the Celtic history and archaeology, which he pursued in Cardiff and later in Glasgow.

Much more at Times Online

19th June 2006
Ancient monument aligned to sun

An archaeologist has discovered that the passage into a burial mound on Anglesey was built to catch the rising sun on the summer solstice. Steve Burrow said he was "elated" when the sun filtered in through trees as he sat in the Bryn Celli Ddu chamber.

Carbon dating on the site has also revealed it may contain the oldest building in Wales. Mr Burrow, the curator of Neolithic archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, said he had to visit the site twice before his discovery. On the last day of his second visit he said he was "absolutely elated" when the sun filtered through nearby trees and entered the chamber along the five metre-long entrance passage.

"The emotion of seeing something that was put there deliberately 5,000 years ago was amazing," he said. "I was the first person to be recording the event so I was trying to record it with stills and digital cameras as well as on a video camera, but I was jumping up and down."

Testing has discovered that post holes outside the entrance to the chamber are 3,000 years older than the tomb itself. This could point to the site having the remains of the oldest building in Wales, added Mr Burrow.

A video of the sun rising and entering the Bryn Celli Ddu chamber can be viewed as part of an exhibition called Death in Wales 3,000-4,000 BC, at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff until 24 September.

Story from BBC News

16th June 2006
New Glacier Theory on Stonehenge

A geology team has contradicted claims that bluestones were dug by Bronze Age man from a west Wales quarry and carried 240 miles to build Stonehenge. In a new twist, Open University geologists say the stones were in fact moved to Salisbury Plain by glaciers.

Geologists from the Open University first claimed in 1991 that the bluestones at one of Britain's best-known historic landmarks had not come from a quarry, but from different sources in the Preseli area. The recent work was conducted by a team headed by Professor Olwen Williams-Thorpe, who said she and her colleagues had used geochemical analysis to trace the origins of axe heads found at Stonehenge and this backed up the original work.

"We concluded that the small number of axes that are actually bluestone derive from several different outcrops within Preseli," she said. "Axes found at or near Stonehenge are very likely to be from the same outcrops as the monoliths, and could even be made of left-over bits of the monoliths."

Dr Brian John, a geomorphologist living in Pembrokeshire, said he always thought the idea that Bronze Age man had quarried the stones and then taken them so far "stretched credibility". But he said the debate would go on until someone was able to prove beyond doubt what happened one way or the other. "This is very exciting, and it moves the bluestone debate on from the fanciful and unscientific assertions of the past," he said.

"Much of the archaeology in recent years has been based upon the assumption that Bronze Age man had a reason for transporting bluestones all the way from west Wales to Stonehenge and the technical capacity to do it. "That has been the ruling hypothesis, and there has been a great reluctance to allow facts to interfere with a good story. "

Glaciers may move very slowly, but they have an excellent record when it comes to the transport of large stones from one part of the country to another."

Story from BBC News

26th May 2006
Voyage of Discovery

A group of scientists are preparing themselves for the first ever comprehensive search for the mythical land of Cantre'r Gwaelod. Preparations are underway for a group of marine biologists to dive off the coast of Borth who will amongst other things, try and discover remains of the supposedly fortified settlement that is said to have existed over 1,000 years ago.

"There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Cantre'r Gwaelod existed, the most obvious are the tree stumps that poke out of the water at low tide. This is not an archaeological dive, as we are a purely scientific team, but this site has never been examined properly so who knows what we might find."

The legend of a lost civilisation off the coast of Cardigan Bay has been told for nearly 1500 years but has only been known as Cantre Gwaelod since the 17th century. Before then the mythical land was known as Maes Gwyddno.

Local legend speaks of bells ringing out at sea whenever a storm approaches off the coast between Aberdyfi and Borth. Ancient woodland can also be seen poking out of the water, giving strength to the idea that the land was once above sea level.

Dylan Davies, Cambrian News.

26th May 2006
Is Boudicca buried in Birmingham?

The burial ground of Queen Boudicca could be next to a burger restaurant in Birmingham, it has been claimed.

An excavation is to take place at the site in Kings Norton after evidence it has Roman remains buried there. Queen Boudicca, who led ancient tribes in battle against the Romans, died in 62 AD, possibly in the Midlands. It would be a "world-shattering" find, said Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn.

But experts warned there is no evidence the site is linked to Boudicca. "We are hoping that there will be an archaeological exercise next to the McDonalds site in Kings Norton in order to uncover the possible last battle of Queen Boudicca and Seutonius Paulinus," said Mr Douglas Osborn, a member of Birmingham City Council.

More at BBC News
Additional news stories at Birmingham Post and Telegraph

21st May 2006
Spectacular brooch find may unlock secrets of Hadrian's Wall

A 'spectacular' small brooch has been uncovered at a Roman fort that may reveal secrets about the men that built Hadrian's Wall. The discovery of the legionary soldier's expensive and prestigious cloak brooch has excited archaeologists in Northumberland. Experts have discovered that the brooch belonged to soldier Quintus Sollonius who would have been stationed at the forefront of the Roman empire 2,000 years ago. Historians are continuing to examine the artefact and believe it could reveal more secrets behind the men who helped build Hadrian's Wall.

It was found at the Vindolanda Roman settlement, near Bardon Mill in Northumberland. Quintus Sollonius painstakingly cut a set of small incised dots to make up his name. Next to the name was the inscription CUPI. It is believed that those four letters refer to Cupius, the centurion in command of the soldiers sent by the Second Legion Augusta to help build the wall in AD122. The brooch, which is just under 2in in diameter, incorporates the figure of Mars, the Roman god of war, wearing body armour and sandals, standing alongside two wide shields.

These shields could mean Quintus Sollonius was a veteran of campaigns against the Dacians in what is now Romania conducted by the emperor Hadrian's predecessor Trajan.

More at

21st May 2006
Rampart Find Excites Historians

A dig near Malmesbury town walls has uncovered a substantial stone-fronted defensive rampart and a deep ditch which could date to the Iron Age. Archaeologists believe the prehistoric hill fort would have had impressive multiple defences rising above the valley of the River Avon. English Heritage said the results were very exciting and showed how important the town's defences were. The work was said to bring a new dimension to the story of Malmesbury.

A project spokesman said it was the first time that the area outside of the line of defences has been examined archaeologically. The finds add to discoveries recorded during the previous investigation carried out during November 2005 during restoration work on the walls, that revealed new evidence about the nature of the town's defences.

When the collapsing stone of the wall was removed, substantial clay deposits almost 3m (10ft) high were found. Archaeologists identified these as the upper rampart of the Iron Age hill fort on which Malmesbury was later built. It is believed the whole of the Eastgate Bastion is an artificially constructed fortified gate (barbican) built to extend the area of the former hill fort and to provide substantial and impressive stone-built defences.

Investigations revealed evidence of a further rampart against the outer face of the lower levels of the town wall. This consisted of burnt material including a large quantity of slag. Archaeologists consider that this burnt material is probably Late Saxon and may date from the 8th or 9th Centuries AD. If confirmed, it would add support to Malmesbury's claim to be the oldest borough in England.

Story from BBC News

14th May 2006
Brutal Lives of Stone Age Britons

By Paul Rincon

A survey of British skulls from the early part of the New Stone Age, or Neolithic, shows societies then were more violent than was supposed. Early Neolithic Britons had a one in 20 chance of suffering a skull fracture at the hands of someone else and a one in 50 chance of dying from their injuries.

Details were presented at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology and reported in New Scientist magazine. Blunt instruments such as clubs were responsible for most of the traumas. This is not the first time human-induced injuries have been identified in Neolithic people; but the authors say it is the first study to give some idea of the overall frequency of such traumas.

Rick Schulting of Queen's University Belfast and Michael Wysocki from the University of Central Lancashire looked at 350 skulls spanning the period from 4000 BC to 3200 BC. "We generally think of Neolithic people as living peaceful lives - they were busy looking after cereal crops and rearing livestock," Mr Wysocki told the BBC News website. "But it was a much more violent society."

More at BBC News

14th May 2006
Nun's ghost a crowd puller

A ghost called the White Lady is being turned into a tourist attraction at a local resort. It is hoped she will be one of the stars of this year's Prestatyn Walking Festival from May 19-21.

The apparition, thought to be a nun, is one of the spooky characters to be featured in a Ghost Walk, researched and developed by historian Harry Thomas.

This year the festival is benefiting from marketing and promotional expertise provided by Tourism Partnership North Wales. It will last three days and features a total of 16 walks, ranging from a leisurely 45 minute stroll to a 20-mile marathon along the Offa's Dyke long-distance path from Moel Famau to Prestatyn. And Harry is hoping that some uninvited guests will join the throng during the 90-minute walk, called "Dead Time Stories", on the evening of May 19.

He said: "The White Lady is the most familiar apparition and has been seen most often."

More at News Wales

13th March 2006
Carving of 'northern god' found

A 2000-year-old carving of a so-called "northern god", adopted by the Romans for protection and good luck, has been uncovered in Northumberland. The 40cm high figure, holding a shield in one hand and spear or sword in the other, was discovered near Chesters Fort on Hadrian's Wall.

Experts say the find is exciting as it helps shed light on how people used local idols for protection. The carving is thought to be that of Cocidius, a Romano-British warrior god.

Rock art expert Tertia Barnett said: "This is a completely unexpected discovery. "It shows how much there is still to discover about Northumberland's ancient past." The carving was uncovered by a team of volunteers looking for prehistoric rock art as part of the Northumberland and Durham rock art project.

The rock has now been covered again to protect it. Research by the volunteers is on-going.

Story from BBC News

1st March 2006
New view of Mr Boudica

by Rachel Buller

For centuries, he has remained in the shadow of his famous wife, the warrior Queen of East Anglia's Iceni tribe. But while Boudica outshines him in history, new research shows that Prasutagus was not quite the down-trodden husband previously suggested. For it was he, and not his wife, who graced the coinage of the period.

Until now, Prasutagus has only existed in historical conjecture and myth as King of the Iceni, the tribe occupying East Anglia, which was ruled with Boudica under Roman authority. However, new studies on a batch of silver coins found at Joist Fen in Suffolk more than 40 years ago have provided the first archaeological evidence that he existed, and was a man of some importance. The coins, which would have been buried in the first century AD, bear the words SVB Ri Prasto and Esico Fecit and show a Romanised head on one face with a horse on the other.

It is believed the wording was a mixture of Celtic and Latin - to be translated as “under King Prasto, Esico made me”, with Esico the local metal worker who made the coin. This conclusion fits in with earlier work by the 19th century antiquarian Sir John Evans who, with great foresight, had suggested that if any coins were discovered of Prasutagus - whom he described as “a mere creature of the Romans” - they would probably look Romanised.

Following Sir John's writings, similar coins from the neighbouring Corieltauvi tribe, bearing very similar writing, were discovered in south west Norfolk that cast doubt on the suggestion that the figure on the original hoard was Prasutagus. However, extensive new research by Iceni expert Amanda Chadburn, featured in the latest edition of British Archaeology magazine, affirms the original theory of historians - that the portrait on the Suffolk coins found in 1960 is that of Boudica's husband.

John Davies, chief curator at the Norwich Castle Museum, said: “This research is reclaiming this coinage as archaeological evidence to link with the known historical figure who was the husband of Boudica. To find archaeological knowledge of a known historical figure is so very rare. It helps to confirm a part of the very exciting and compelling Boudica story. “The Iceni didn't write, so we have nothing before that has had a name on it; so to get something which ties in with both an individual and that time is almost unique and very exciting.” He said that he had always believed that the Joist Fen coins were evidence of Prasutagus. “Of course spellings change as language develops over time but it is so close that is has to be Prasutagus.”

The findings brought colour and life to the legendary story, which saw Queen Boudica lead the revolt against the Romans after Prasutagus died. “The study of Boudica is very, very dear to the people of this area and this gives real flesh on the bones. It tells us something very interesting about him as a person because on the coin he is depicted as a Romanised individual who has embraced Roman dress and culture.

Although the Iceni lived in simple terms, he is shown as far more than an agricultural man. “It shows the wider influence that the Romans had at that time in this region, when previously it was felt that this area was a bit of a backwater, away from the influence. This was in fact quite a Romanised area and these coins are very important evidence for that. It shows the royal family of the Iceni was very Roman.” One of the coins is in the Boudica gallery of the Castle Museum in Norwich.

Story from EDP News

22nd February 2006
Carmarthenshire Cairn Reveals Links with Bronze Age Scotland

New research on an excavated Bronze Age burial mound in south Wales has revealed links to funeral sites as far away as the Orkney Islands. The burial mound on the Black Mountain in Carmarthenshire was unearthed by Cambria Archaeology in 2004 after it was feared that the weather and visitors to the area were causing permanent damage to the site.

Archaeologists discovered a large rectangular stone cist at the centre of the mound containing the cremated bones of a young child, a pottery urn, a bone pin and several flint tools. The cist also contained the cremated bones of two pigs and what is though to be a dog. Research revealed that second later burial took place at the site, which was added to the side of the mound.

New analysis on the soil surrounding the site, undertaken by the University of Lampeter, has identified microscopic pollen grains, indicating that the burial was accompanied by a floral tribute of meadowsweet. The same burial rituals, with cremated bone, pottery and meadowsweet flowers in a stone cist, have been found as far away as Orkney and Perthshire in Scotland.

More information and pictures at 24 Hour Museum

21st February 2006
Thornborough Decision - Monument quarry plans thrown out

Campaigners have won a battle against plans to increase quarrying near an ancient monument in North Yorkshire. They argued the area is of national archaeological importance. Councillors agreed and rejected the plans.

Tarmac said it would appeal against a decision to refuse its plans to quarry tonnes of sand and gravel at Ladybridge Farm, near Thornborough Henges. The land could cope with the quarrying said Tarmac, adding it hoped factual evidence would prevail at its appeal. North Yorkshire County councillors voted 6 to 3 to reject the application at a planning meeting on Tuesday.

Tarmac's estate manager Bob Nicholson said the decision threatened the livelihoods of more than 50 people and had serious implications for the supply of sand and gravel to the construction industry. He said excavations on the site had found limited evidence of prehistoric activity and it did not meet the criteria to qualify as being of national importance. "Our proposal for Ladybridge, which actually moves quarrying further away from the henges than our current operation, poses absolutely no threat to the ancient monument, which is protected by law. "Yet throughout this anti-quarrying campaign, protestors have, through misleading statements and images, claimed that the monument is threatened. "We maintain that our application is both justified and reasonable and we will mount a robust case for its approval at appeal, when we hope that factual evidence will prevail over mythical invention."

The henges are believed to be one of Britain's largest ritual gathering places from the Neolithic period. Local campaign group Timewatch collected more than 10,000 signatures for a petition against the scheme, which it said would contribute to the permanent loss of nationally important archaeology. US-based conservation group the Landmarks Foundation also voiced its concern at the quarry proposals, describing them as a tragedy.

Councillor John Fletcher, who chaired the planning meeting, said: "Because of the well articulated arguments from all sides it was a very hard decision to make. "However, the right decision was made."

Story from BBC News

28th January 2006
Blaze Destroys Stone Circle's Hut

The visitor hut at a prehistoric stone circle has been burnt to the ground in what police say was an arson attack. The hut, at the Rollright Stones on the border of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, was completely destroyed in the blaze on Sunday. It had been used to store visitor guides and merchandise.

Police said the fire was unrelated to an incident in March 2004 when 70 of the Neolithic stones were splashed with yellow paint.

Flames were spotted by a passing motorist in the early hours. Pc Tony Auden said the fire had "caused a significant amount of damage". He said arsonists had forced their way through a door and set the hut alight. Dohn Prout, site manager, said he could not believe the Rollright Stones had suffered further "bad luck".

He told the BBC News website: "I'm slowly getting over it, we've had a lot of bad luck because we had the paint attack too. "What's the matter with people - we don't harm anybody, the public enjoys coming here." He said the future of the hut would be decided at a meeting of the Rollright Trust on Saturday.

In the meantime, he said its absence was being felt. "At this time of year we have people there on Saturdays and Sundays and dowsing rods, guides and t-shirts would be sold from the hut. "You've seen the weather - would you want to be outside in it for hours?"

To make donations to the Rollright Trust, visit their website

From BBC News

13th January 2006
Bid to rename peak after princess

A society dedicated to the memory of a Welsh princess, daughter of Llewelyn the Last, wants the name of a north Wales mountain changed in her honour.

The Princess Gwenllian Society would like to see Carnedd Uchaf in the Ogwen Valley renamed Carnedd Gwenllian. The National Trust, which owns part of the peak, said changing the name might affect the safety of walkers and cause practical problems in updating maps. Walkers in the area also disagreed with altering the centuries-old name.

Princess Gwenllian was born in 1282 in Abergwyngregyn, near Bangor. Her mother died in childbirth and just six months later Gwenllian was orphaned when her father Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was killed in battle with Edward I at Cilmeri near Builth Wells. To stop her becoming a threat, Edward I had Gwenllian snatched and she was taken to a convent in Lincolnshire. She was kept prisoner as a nun for the rest of her life and buried at Sempringham Abbey after her death, aged 54, in 1337. The Gwenllian Society now want a proper memorial for her in Wales.

More at BBC News

13th January 2006
Funding blow for castle revamp

A restoration project at Carmarthen Castle has stalled after the final phase failed to win lottery funding. Since work began at the landmark, the remains of a drawbridge and a network of medieval walls have been uncovered.

Over £1m was spent on improved access and structural repairs and it was hoped a visitor centre would complete it. The Heritage Lottery Fund, which had funded most of the work, has rejected a bid for £900,000 but Carmarthenshire Council said the project would proceed.

The castle was founded in 1109 by Henry I and became the centre of Norman control in south west Wales. Much of the building was destroyed by the Owain Glyndwr rising in the 15th Century but was subsequently strengthened in the 1600s.

More at BBC News

5th December 2005

Rosslyn Chapel's Extraordinary Carvings Explained

The doors of Rosslyn Chapel have shut behind the cast and crew of The Da Vinci Code. But grail tourists will continue to travel to this place of 21st century pilgrimage and walk in the footsteps of the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail.

Behind all the fantastical nonsense there are lone voices asking us to put aside the hype, look inside the chapel and open our eyes to what it really is. They don't see heretic knights and ancient secrets but an important remnant of medieval architecture deserving of serious study that has been prostituted on the altar of commercialism.

Just in case you've been asleep (or abducted by aliens) you may need a quick re-cap on current "theories" re Rosslyn. Revisionist historians consider Rosslyn to be a grail chapel. Built by Sir William Sinclair in 1446 as a copy of the Temple of Solomon, its intricate carvings hint at secrets passed down to the family since the fall of the Templars in 1307. Depending on your inclination the chapel is the final resting-place for Jesus's head, Templar treasure or any number of outlandish ideas.

According to the new book Rosslyn and the Grail by Mark Oxbrow and Ian Robertson, it is none of these things. The authors place the chapel firmly in its 15th century context and finally reveal the true meaning of the carvings. In doing so they seek to revisit the history of the Sinclair family and cast doubt on those who paint a 14th century William Sinclair as a Knight Templar.

Article by Diane McLean

More at

17th November 2005
Trust buys part of ancient forest

Campaigners fighting to save Wales' largest ancient wood have bought more than half the forest. The Woodland Trust/Coed Cadw hopes to buy the rest of Wentwood Forest near Newport by the end of the year.

It raised £1.5m with "unprecedented support" from 250,000 members, local people, and celebrities such as writer Bill Bryson and actor Dame Judi Dench.

Restoration on a site described as Wales' rainforest equivalent, will start within months.

More at BBC News

Site of pagan well to be restored

One of Wales' oldest wells, thought to be a pagan site rededicated by early Christians, is to be restored. Ffynnon Rhedyw in Llanllyfni, near Caernarfon, is believed to be older than nearby St Rhedyw's church, which dates from 600AD.

Gwynedd Archaeological Trust hopes the project will set a precedent for similar projects around Wales.

More at BBC News

2nd November 2005
Comhaltacht Draiocht opens its doors

We are excited to announce the formation of Comhaltacht Draiocht (pronounced. Ko: lt?xt Dri: ?xt) meaning Druidry Fellowship. We are a religious and spiritual fellowship of people who adhere to a revival of polytheistic Celtic cosmic religion.

The official start date of November 5, 2005 will mark the first Samhain celebration by Comhaltacht Draiocht as a fellowship and the culmination of a decade and a half of work in developing this organization based on a combination of vital spirituality informed by the latest research in Celtic and religious studies and nearly three centuries of more general work toward Celtic spiritual revival.

We are made up of a group of long established local congregations and individuals who are coming together in a common spiritual journey and we invite all who share our path to join us.

Anyone interested in more information for spiritual or academic reasons may visit us at comhaltacht-draiocht or contact us at: Comhaltacht Draiocht Registration
P.O. Box 388
East Bridgewater,
MA. 02333-0388

18th October 2005
Yorkshire team find ancient road

A team of archaeologists from Sheffield University have revealed significant new insights into the role of Stonehenge after discovering a prehistoric ceremonial road. It proves there was a walkway between a henge at Durrington Walls and the River Avon, three miles away, blowing a hole in the theory the standing stones at Stonehenge were a one-off feature.

The new find supports the team's theory that Stonehenge was in fact just one part of a much larger complex of stone and timber circles linked by ceremonial avenues to the river.

Radiocarbon dates indicate the henge was in use at the same time as the sarsen stones were erected at Stonehenge. The newly-discovered roadway, with its rammed flint surface, is wider than most modern roads and more substantial than any other Neolithic track in Europe. It runs for about 100 metres (328ft) from the timber circle within the great henge to the river. Analysis has shown that the avenue was heavily trampled by prehistoric feet, and archaeologists have unearthed numerous finds along its edge.

Prof Mike Parker Pearson, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Archaeology, believes Stonehenge and Durrington Walls, together with its adjacent site of Woodhenge, were linked by the river to form a single complex. He has suggested the entire complex was a funerary monument. The work was filmed for a Channel 4 Time Team special, to be screened next year.

Story from Yorkshire Post

17th October 2005
Would you survive life in the Iron Age?

Find out whether you have the skills to make fire, bake bread and spin cloth and so survive the Iron Age. Fun quiz and information at BBC History

6th October 2005
'Finch effect' helps harps develop

Former Royal harpist Catrin Finch is making the instrument "exciting" to play again, claims a manufacturer. Harp maker Allan Shiers said the "Finch effect" was having an impact on sales and those learning to play the traditional Welsh instrument.

Ms Finch opened Wales' first large-scale production factory in Llandysul, Ceredigion, on Wednesday. Mr Shiers hopes to make 80 Celtic harps in the first year and then start producing folk and pedal harps too. His project, Telynau Teifi (Teifi harps), already has a workforce of eight and will be run by the community.

More at BBC News

Trust's £750,000 bid for Skokholm

A wildlife trust is launching an appeal to buy a west Wales island that was the first bird observatory in the country.

The owners of Skokholm Island have put the 247-acre wildlife haven up for sale and the Wildlife Trust of south and west Wales has been given first option. It has managed the island three miles off the Pembrokeshire coast for 50 years but now needs £750,000 to own it. The charity is looking to a range of funding bodies, businesses, its members and the public for help.

The island is home to around 30 different species of breeding birds, migratory birds, seals, rabbits and variety of other animals.

More at BBC News

20th September 2005
Ancient drowned forest discovery

Underwater archaeologists in Perthshire have made the incredible discovery of a drowned forest, thought to date from the neolithic period some 5000 years ago. Stunned divers spotted the ancient wooded area as they worked in Loch Tay.

The eerie find is sure to excite scientists of all disciplines as it could represent the earliest surviving remains of Scotland’s native woodland.

Preliminary surveys in the 14 mile long loch—carried out by the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology (STUA) over the weekend—have identified well preserved fallen oak and elm trees as well as a series of oak upright trunks embedded in layers of gravel and silt. Many of the fallen trees have survived in odd shapes, creating a spooky landscape protruding from the loch bed.

Timber samples taken by the STUA dive team yesterday produced radiocarbon dates of 3200BC and 2500BC.

More at The Courier

3rd August 2005
Spelling row could see Cornish go west

The government money is on the table and the political will in Whitehall and Europe is apparently growing to help Cornish speakers turn their native tongue into a viable, living language. But there is one stumbling block: Cornish speakers cannot agree on how their language should be spelt.

Three main groups who have driven forward the revival of Cornish are at loggerheads over how the language should be written. The issue has become so divisive that yesterday two of the groups called for an independent panel of linguists to be appointed to referee the row.

A conference is being organised in September at which the warring factions will again try to agree on how Cornish - or, depending on your fancy, Kernewek, Kernowek, Kernuak or Curnoack - should be spelt.

More at Guardian Unlimited

19th July 2005
Save Wentwood Forest

Wentwood Forest once stretched from the Usk to the Wye Valley and is mentioned in texts dating to the Dark Ages. It is still the largest ancient woodland in Wales.

900 acres of Wentwood Forest are now up for sale to the highest bidder and the sales particulars are targeted at the commercial forestry sector. There is an immediate need to ensure the preservation of this ancient woodland before it is lost forever.

The Woodland Trust is asking for pledges to help buy the wood in order to protect this irreplaceable habitat. An extra £100,000 is needed to make a successful bid.

To make a pledge or for more information, visit
Save Wentwood Forest

25th June 2005
Stonehenge quarry site 'revealed'

A university professor believes he has solved one of the oldest Stonehenge mysteries - the exact location in Wales where the bluestones were quarried. Tim Darvill has found what he thinks is an ancient quarry at Carn Menyn high in the Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire. The bluestones - which form the inner circle of Stonehenge - were transported over 240 miles to Salisbury Plain. Local archaeologists say Professor Darvill had made a "convincing and compelling" argument.

Gwilym Hughes, Director of Cambria Archaeology, the south west Wales archaeological trust, said Mr Darvill still had some work to do to prove his theory beyond doubt. But he said: "They have put forward a very reasoned argument which I found very convincing and very compelling.

More at BBC News

21st June 2005
Celebrations for summer solstice

A Celtic midsummer myth is being revived at a moorland park in Cornwall on Saturday night.

Six giant sculptures will be brought to life with fire as part of an event to celebrate the summer solstice. The organisers of the Midsummer Music and Burning Festival said it is an opportunity for people to get in touch with their 'inner Celt'. The event, at Colliford Lake Park on Bodmin moor, will include a pagan 'beast' dancing round a bonfire.

More at BBC News

21st June 2005
Swan Pit Update

The excavation at Saveock, Cornwall has just finished its fourth season and is situated on the south-facing slope of a sheltered river valley. Its main phases range from a Mesolithic platform to an18th century votive spring. It was into the Mesolithic platform, subsequently covered by marsh rushes, that the feather-lined pits were cut.

For a detailed description of the pit contents and some dubious speculation on pagan practices, see Saveock Water Archaeology

23rd May 2005
Archaeologists Unearth Britain's Own Miniature Coliseum

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Britain’s own miniature Coliseum, it was revealed today. The two-tier stone built structure, in Chester, which dates back to 100AD, hosted gladiatorial contests, floggings and public executions. Experts say the amphitheatre is the only one of its kind in Britain and the new evidence proves that Chester must have been an important site within the Roman Empire.

Dan Garner, senior archaeologist for Chester City Council, said: “Previous findings have suggested that the amphitheatre was a two-tier structure, but it was always believed the second tier was made of timber. “We have now discovered the upper level was actually made of stone and stood about ten metres (33ft) high. “It would have looked like a mini Coliseum and had a seating capacity of around 10,000 to 12,000. “The extra tier would have been added as the popularity of the amphitheatre grew, a bit like adding an extra tier at Old Trafford. “It would have been a very impressive structure.”

More at Scotsman

15th May 2005
Iron Age shoe unearthed at quarry

A shoe thought to be at least 2,000 years old, and the oldest in the UK, has been dug up at an English quarry. The Iron Age relic was found in a hollowed tree trunk at Whiteball Quarry, near Wellington, Somerset.

Archaeologists say the shoe is the equivalent of a size 10 and is so well preserved that stitch and lace holes are still visible in the leather. It has been sent for conservation to Wiltshire and should be displayed at Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

A team from Exeter Archaeology, led by Stephen Reed, unearthed the shoe when they were excavating at Town Farm, Burlescombe. As far as we know, this is the oldest shoe ever found in the UK Stephen Reed. "What we have now found is a Bronze Age 'industrial' site consisting of two mounds of burnt stone - dated to 1460 to 1290 BC - and two water-filled troughs," he said. "Close by were two timber-built wells, preserved by waterlogging and probably dating from the early part of the Iron Age."

More at BBC News

4th May 2005

Road dig reveals Iron Age remains

Archaeologists have discovered iron age remains under the route of a new bypass around the village of Leybourne.

In a dig before the construction work, ditches containing pottery, burnt daub, charcoal and animal bone were found. Kent County Council archaeologist, John Williams, said the remains suggested there were Iron Age farming settlements in the area more than 2,000 years ago.

The finds, near the A20 and M20, also included an Anglo-Saxon cellar possibly dating back to the sixth century.

More at BBC News

11th April 2005
Medieval works found at LNG site

Archaeologists working on the site of a natural gas terminal in Pembrokeshire have uncovered what they believe may be a medieval metal works. The team was working at the site of the controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Milford Haven when they found the works, which may date from 800AD. Experts said little was known about this period, and the find could be a sign of early industrialisation.

Full story at BBC News

21st March 2005
City Druids line up to put a spring in their step

It was an incongruous sight: 40 hooded Druids staging a fertility ritual next to the Tower of London, while customers from an adjacent fast-food restaurant looked on in bewilderment.

Yesterday was the spring equinox, one of two dates each year when day and night are of equal length. Since the earliest times this has been celebrated by pagan festivals, with Druids and others gathering round the bonfire to chant, sing, dance and leap through the flames, while praying for a bountiful harvest.

More story and dubious information from Times Online

13th March 2005
The Iron Age warrior gives up his secrets

Ancient chariot burial in Yorkshire may have contained leader of national significance, say archaeologists.

Buried with full honours in Yorkshire, his final resting place became a shrine to the nation. And the man whose remains and chariot were discovered while digging roadworks in West Yorkshire could have been so revered that thousands visited his grave 400 years after his death to stage a feast in his honour. Archaeologists from Bradford who are now studying the astonishing find of a skeleton buried with an intact chariot believe his grave may have became a focus for national pride still remembered during the Roman colonisation.

Story from Yorkshire Post - full text also on our articles page

Henges Campaigners Hit Out

Campaigners have hit back at claims by quarry company Tarmac over the threat of job losses if it is not allowed to expand its operations close to the Thornborough Henges.

In a statement last week Tarmac warned the local economy would suffer if quarrying had to cease and said tourism would not compensate for the loss of some £2.3m resulting from its present operations at Nosterfield Quarry. Responding to the claims this week, the Friends of Thornborough campaign group insisted that quarrying did not provide long-term jobs.

Tarmac is applying for planning permission to quarry further land close to the henges, at the Ladybridge Farm site.

Source: Knaresborough Today

2nd March 2005
Experts' Joy Over Iron Age Relics

28th February 2005
Mysterious 'Swan Pits' Found in U.K.

28th February 2005
Mystery of 49 headless Romans

9th February 2005
Ancient Engravings Found in Somerset Cave

4th February 2005
Rare Bronze Age Ring Find

2nd February 2005
Proposal to end Nine Ladies and Stanton Moor quarry threat
Eroding Iron Age fort is repaired