Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gardener unearths Anglo-Saxon carving in job lot of rockery stone


Looking for some natural stone for a rockery in his garden, John Wyatt thought he had found a bargain when he saw a job lot advertised for £50.
He was more right than he knew. For when he took the ton and a half of rock home he discovered that it contained an ancient stone carving worth thousands of pounds.
Mr Wyatt, 32, was cleaning mud and moss off the pieces when he spotted one with a Celtic cross carved on one side and a mythical birdlike beast on the other.
He had the 21 by 15in piece examined by an expert, who told him it dated from Anglo-Saxon times.
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Monday, 1 December 2014

EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland and the Isle of Skye


EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland 
and the Isle of Skye
2 - 8 April 2015

The 2015 EMAS Easter Study Tour is to the North of Scotland, including one day on the Isle of Skye.

We will travel from London Embankment by coach, staying overnight at Carlisle on the 2nd and 7th April.

We shall be based at a hotel in Inverness, which is a very good central point from which to explore the region.

The itinerary includes a wide range of prehistoric and medieval sites, including some of the famous Pictish symbol stones.



Saxon skeleton among discoveries in Aylesham

A Saxon skeleton, Bronze Age urns and Roman domestic objects were unearthed during a dramatic excavation in Aylesham this week. 

The Saxon skeleton was unearthed in Aylesham  [Credit: Canterbury Times] 

The discoveries, some of which are likely to date back more than 2,000 years, were made by archaeologists at the building site of the Aylesham expansion. 

A well-preserved skeleton thought to be from the Saxon era - therefore up to 1,500 years old - was lifted from an ancient burial ground by experts. 

Also found were middle Bronze Age cremation urns and Roman ditches full of domestic items.

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Sword’s Secrets Revealed


The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon sword this summer was cause for great excitement at the Barrow Clumpexcavation. We were keen to learn as much as possible about this 6th-century weapon, although the degree of corrosion on the sword and the fact that it was contained within the remains of its wood and leather scabbard meant that we would need to use an x-ray machine to do so. 

Being 85 cm in length, the sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities here at Wessex Archaeology, so the Army, through Captain Doe and Sergeant Potts, kindly offered to undertake the work using equipment based at a Field Hospital Unit in Aldershot. Transportation of the sword was closely supervised by our Conservator, Lynn Wootten, and the Project Manager for Barrow Clump, Phil Andrews. 

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

HAS ONE OF HARALD BLUETOOTH’S FORTRESSES COME TO LIGHT?


In September 2014, archaeologists from the Danish Castle Centre and Aarhus University announced the discovery of a Viking fortress in a field belonging to Vallø Manor, located west of Køge on the east coast of Sealand. This was the first discovery of its kind in Denmark in over 60 years. Since then, archaeologists have been waiting impatiently for the results of the dating of the fortress. Now the first results are available, and they will be presented at a seminar at Aarhus University on 18 November.

“When the discovery was published back in September, we were certain that we had found a Viking ring fortress, but since then there have been intense discussions online and amongst archaeologists about whether we were right. Now we know without doubt that we have found a fortress from the 10th century,” says archaeologist Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Centre.

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X-rays reveal secrets of Anglo-Saxon sword


Archaeologists have used an army field hospital’s x-ray machine to examine a corroded steel sword, confirming the pattern of the weapon alongside a spearhead and shield core found at a burial site on Salisbury Plain. 


Archaeologists have enlisted the help of the army to x-ray a sword found in Salisbury  during the summer [Credit: © Wessex Archaeology] 

The 85 centimetre blade was found with the grave goods at Barrow Clump, a 40-metre cemetery where 27 bodies – including the remains of Anglo-Saxon warriors – were discovered in 2012. 

“The sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities,” reflects Laura Joyner, of Wessex Archaeology, who says the sword caused “great excitement” at the excavation.

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Anglo Saxon graves found during excavation of Burwell Road, Exning


Twenty one skeletons of Anglo Saxon people have been found – just one foot under the ground – during an archaeological dig in Exning.
The skeletons were found on land at Burwell Road in Exning, alongside a spear, a glass bowl, gold plated brooches, a cloak pin, and a dagger, some of which is thought to have come from as early as 7AD.
The dig was carried out by Archaeological Solutions on behalf of Persimmon Homes, who have outline permission to build 120 homes on the site.
Andrew Peachey, post excavation manager for Archaeological Solutions, said: “The focus of the dig was of 20 Saxon graves. In those, we found 21 remains with one being a double burial.
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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Major dig planned at Battle of Hastings sites


One of the world’s top battlefield archaeologists is to lead an ambitious project which aims to finally unearth remains from the Battle of Hastings. 


Battle of Hastings re-enactment, Battle Abbey [Credit: Steve Hunnisett] 

Although the current site at Battle Abbey has been accepted as the correct location for the bloody clash for centuries, no archaeological evidence associated with the battle has ever been found on the site. 

Now English Heritage has asked Dr Glenn Foard, of Huddersfield University, to develop a project proposal with the hope of carrying out a major dig on the site. 

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Monday, 16 June 2014

Preserving the Battle of Hastings from contamination


The Battle of Hastings is regularly fought all over again by enthusiastic re-enactors, before large crowds of spectators. The problem is that they are depositing material that could compromise the archaeology of the historic site. But now the University of Huddersfield's Dr Glenn Foard -- one of the world's leading battlefield archaeologists -- is developing a unique project designed to unearth whatever genuine material survives from 1066. 


The East Sussex 1066 site gets the vote as one of the world's 10 best historical re-enactments.  Hastings is described as "the most-remembered armed conflict in British history" and  the re-enactments every year now involve thousands of participants and spectators  around the world [Credit: University of Huddersfield] 

The first stage, likely to take place in spring 2015, would be to spend a week machining away the top layers of soil at a substantial area of the battlefield, in order to eliminate modern artefacts. Then there would be a search for genuine remains from the battle of 1066. 

An important dimension of the project would be public involvement. Trained archaeologists would carry out the actual survey, but there would be parallel sessions nearby, partly aimed at children and parents, which would provide insights into archaeology, including the use of metal detectors to survey a site.

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Decoding Anglo-Saxon art

Silver-gilt square-headed brooch from Grave 22, Chessell Down, Isle of Wight. Early Anglo-Saxon, early 6th century AD

One of the most enjoyable things about working with the British Museum’s Anglo-Saxon collection is having the opportunity to study the intricate designs of the many brooches, buckles, and other pieces of decorative metalwork. This is because in Anglo-Saxon art there is always more than meets the eye.
The objects invite careful contemplation, and you can find yourself spending hours puzzling over their designs, finding new beasts and images. The dense animal patterns that cover many Anglo-Saxon objects are not just pretty decoration; they have multi-layered symbolic meanings and tell stories. Anglo-Saxons, who had a love of riddles and puzzles of all kinds, would have been able to ‘read’ the stories embedded in the decoration. But for us it is trickier as we are not fluent in the language of Anglo-Saxon art.
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Skeleton executed by sword blows to head poses questions on Norman Conquest

A potentially groundbreaking discovery has been announced as part of the 750th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Lewes in Sussex
© Courtesy Sussex Archaeological Society

An unusual set of battlefield burials have led to the skeleton of the first ever human discovery directly related to the 11th century Norman Conquest

A brutally-murdered man, executed by six sword blows to the back of the skull during a vicious 11th century battle on hospital grounds in Sussex, is compelling archaeologists to reconsider Norman war burials after becoming the first ever skeleton to be related to the 1066 invasion.

Originally discovered during a dig at a former medieval hospital more than 20 years ago, the individual has been carbon dated to within 28 years of 1063.

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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

DORSET VIKING AGE MASS BURIAL PUBLICATION


In 2009 during the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology made one of the most exciting, and disturbing, archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years. Around 50 skeletons, predominantly of young adult males, were found in an old quarry pit. All had been decapitated. Their bodies were thrown into the grave, while their heads were placed in a pile located at one edge.

Archaeologists knew they had found something special as they uncovered the tangle of human bones, but it was only as the scientific analysis of the skeletons progressed that the full international significance of the discovery became clear. What the archaeologists had found was a mass grave of executed Vikings.

Rare find

Oxford Archaeology Project Manager David Score said: “To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development. Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual.”
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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Burg der Zurückgelassenen


In den "dunklen Jahrhunderten" des frühen Mittelalters war nicht viel los zwischen Elbe und Weser - glaubte man. Doch neue Funde in Stade zeigen, dass es an der Schwinge in diesen Jahrhunderten keineswegs so dunkel war.

"Was haben die hier bloß gemacht?" fragt Stadtarchäologe Andreas Schäfer und schaut nachdenklich auf das Gras unter seinen Gummistiefeln. "Wozu brauchten die so eine große Burg?" Mit "die" meint er die Sachsen des Frühmittelalters, die zwischen Weser und Elbe lebten. Eigentlich, so waren sich die Forscher bisher einig, war in dem Gebiet nicht mehr viel los, seit die meisten Sachsen sich ab dem 5. Jahrhundert in Richtung England abgesetzt hatten, um gemeinsam mit den Angeln die Insel zu besiedeln. Während die Verwandten in England erste Königreiche gründeten, herrschten über die letzten Daheimgebliebenen lediglich so genannte Satrapen. Ihre Dörfer waren nicht mehr als ein paar zusammengewürfelte Höfe.

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Vikings Online Course


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers 

12 May to 25 July 2014


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers is an online archaeology course run by the University of Oxford's Department of Continuing Education.
The course runs for ten weeks and successful completion carries an award of ten CATS points. Students write two short assignments as part of the course.
Online forums for each unit enable students to discuss the topic being studied, and help from the online tutor is always available
You can find more details here...
You can find details of other online archaeology courses here...

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Skeletons of foetus, heavily pregnant woman and crammed men found at York church

The foetal skeleton found at All Saints in York © Courtesy All Saints Church

The bones of a foetus and its heavily pregnant mother have been found in a chamber of All Saints church in York, where three men were found “shoved” into a tomb with grave markings designed to ward off evil spirits during the early 13th century.

Ancient serviceable drains, pottery fragments dating from Roman times to the 18th century, entrenched Viking pottery and Anglian pieces with possible links to the baptism of St Edwin, the 7th century King of Northumbria, have also been discovered in the Lady Chapel, where a medieval-style tile pavement has been laid in an English parish church for the first time in 500 years.


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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Offa's Dyke evidence at Chirk suggests earlier build

The border between England and Wales closely follows much of the dyke's route

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence which suggests that Offa's Dyke may have been built up to 200 years earlier than thought.
Samples from Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust excavations on a stretch of the dyke have been radiocarbon dated to the second half of the 6th Century.
Historians have always associated the dyke with King Offa who ruled the kingdom of Mercia in the 8th Century.
But now archaeologists believe it might have been in use before he ruled.
The trust said it was a "tremendously exciting discovery".
The excavations were taken from a section of the protected ancient monument at Chirk near the Shropshire border.
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Monday, 17 March 2014

The Staffordshire Hoard - Unveiling the story so far


The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. In this film we find out about the first stage of conservation work on the artefacts …and what secrets have been revealed.

Watch the video...

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Royal settlement linked to Sutton Hoo treasures


Finds from Rendlesham in Suffolk will go on display for the first time this week at the National Trust's Sutton Hoo visitor centre

The burial mound at Sutton Hoo, one of Britain's most important archaeological sites, where Anglo-saxon treasures were found. Photograph: Garry Weaser/The Guardian

The home of the Anglo-Saxons who built the world famous burial mounds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, where a king was laid with golden treasure heaped around him, has been discovered on nearby farmland a few miles from the site.
The finds from Rendlesham, which will go on display for the first time this week at the National Trust's Sutton Hoo visitor centre, include fragments of exquisite gold jewellery comparable in workmanship, if not in scale, to the Sutton Hoo treasures, pieces of gilt bronze horse harness, Saxon pennies and metal offcuts from a blacksmith's workshop.
The 50-hectare (123.5-acre) site, four miles north-east of Sutton Hoo, was discovered by archaeologists after a local landowner, Sir Michael Bunbury, became concerned about nighthawks – treasure-hunting thieves who use metal detectors. The archaeology unit of Suffolk county council has for five years been surveying his fields, using aerial photography, soil analysis, ground-penetrating radar and metal detecting, eventually pin pointing the 50 hectare Anglo Saxon site within 160 hectares of farmland.
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Royal Anglo-Saxon settlement found

The excavation in the 1930s of the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk

A lost settlement which housed the Anglo-Saxon royalty who created the famous Sutton Hoo burial mounds has been unearthed.
Archaeologists say they have found conclusive evidence of the high-status settlement in fields near the village of Rendlesham, Suffolk.
It is thought fragments of gold jewellery, Saxon pennies and weights associated with trade, are evidence of the "the king's country-seat of Rendlesham" mentioned by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century.
Professor Christopher Scull, of Cardiff University and University College London said: "The survey has identified a site of national and indeed international importance for the understanding of the Anglo-Saxon elite and their European connections.
"The quality of some of the metalwork leaves no doubt that it was made for and used by the highest ranks of society.
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800-year-old monk found poking out of cliff face


The thigh bones of a medieval monk have been found poking out of cliffs at Monknash in South Wales which was a former burial ground in the Middle Ages

The remains of an 800-year-old monk that have been uncovered after his legs were spotted sticking out of cliff in Monknash, South Wales Photo: Wales News Service

The legs of an 800-year-old medieval monk have been discovered, poking out of a cliff face in Wales.
Although badly damaged and missing their knees, shins and feet, the thigh bones were found after the fierce recent storms caused severe coastal erosion.
They were spotted by rambler Mandy Ewington, who sent a photograph to coastal archaeologist Karl-James Langford.
Mr Langford, 39, said "I thought she must have been mistaken but I went down to see for myself and thought: "Bloody hell,this is amazing!
"You can clearly see a grave has been eroded into the sea.
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