Saturday 27 March 2010

Second dig on Staffordshire Hoard site to learn more about the treasure

A SECOND dig at the site of the Staffordshire Hoard has finished as archaeologists try to learn more about the Anglo Saxon treasure.

The dig, led by Staffordshire County Council’s principal archaeologist Steve Dean, was an attempt to find out why the Hoard was left in a field for an amateur metal enthusiast to discover centuries later.

Five trenches and ten test pits were dug to find clues about the landscape at the time the £3.3 million treasure was buried.

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Friday 26 March 2010

Lichfield Cathedral to be part of Staffordshire Hoard’s Mercian Trail

Lichfield Cathedral will be part of a new Mercian Trail, being created as part of plans to showcase the magnificent Staffordshire Hoard on Anglo Saxon gold treasures.

And as part of the celebrations to mark the announcement that the Art Fund has saved the largest archaeological Anglo-Saxon find ever unearthed for the nation; the Cathedral has been chosen for an exclusive advance preview of a National Geographic film about the Hoard’s discovery.

The film Saxon Gold: Finding the Hoard will be shown on Friday night at 7.30pm.

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Team digs for clues at Staffordshire Hoard site

EXPERTS have spent the week digging up the Hammerwich field where the Staffordshire Hoard was found. But the archeologists say there is definitely no more gold on the site.

They have been examining the land off Barracks Lane, pictured below, in an attempt to find out more about its history.

Staffordshire's county archaeologist Stephen Dean said: "Last July we were very much looking to recover material, but we knew we needed to come back.

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Wednesday 24 March 2010

Staffordshire Hoard saved for the nation

The collection - the largest ever find of Anglo-Saxon gold - was unearthed on Staffordshire farmland by a metal detector enthusiast last year and later valued at £3.3 million.

Today the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the Government's fund of last resort for heritage items at risk, pledged £1,285,000.

The grant, added to the amount already raised during a nationwide fundraising drive, means that the hoard can now be purchased and displayed permanently in the UK.

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Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire hoard saved by £1.3m heritage grant

The Staffordshire hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure found last year will receive a £1.3m Heritage Memorial Fund grant to allow it to remain in Midlands museums

A grant of £1,285,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) will keep the glittering treasures of the Staffordshire hoard, the most spectacular heap of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, in the region where an amateur metal detector found it last summer after it spent 1,300 years buried in a nondescript field.

The grant goes to Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent museums, which will share the treasure, having raised the £3.3m necessary to pay Terry Herbert, who found the gold, and farmer Fred Johnson, the owner of the field where it was discovered.

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Tuesday 23 March 2010

Staffordshire Hoard saved for the West Midlands

The Staffordshire Hoard is to remain in the West Midlands after the £3.3m purchase price was met.

The Anglo Saxon treasure was found in a field in Staffordshire by a metal-detecting enthusiast last July.

A grant of £1.285m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has been added to the money raised by a campaign led by Stoke and Birmingham councils.

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Monday 22 March 2010

Ridgeway Vikings exhibition attracts huge crowds

THOUSANDS gathered at an exhibition in Weymouth to see the archaeological treasures unearthed during building of the town’s Relief Road.

The Pavilion Ocean Room was transformed into an Aladdin’s Cave of ancient bones, Iron Age pottery, jewellery and other finds.

Crowds filled the hall keen to learn more about the discoveries, including the Viking remains found in a mass grave at the top of Ridgeway.

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Friday 19 March 2010

Fresh dig at Staffordshire hoard treasure site

Another dig is to be held at the site of where the UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure was discovered.

The original find of 1,500 gold and silver pieces was made by metal detectorist Terry Herbert in a farmer's field in Staffordshire in July 2009.

Experts say the new dig is not expected to turn up any more gold, but could reveal how the original items came to be there.

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Thursday 18 March 2010

Weymouth ridgeway skeletons 'Scandinavian Vikings'

Fifty-one decapitated skeletons found in a burial pit in Dorset were those of Scandinavian Vikings, scientists say.

Mystery has surrounded the identity of the group since they were discovered at Ridgeway Hill, near Weymouth, in June.

Analysis of teeth from 10 of the men revealed they had grown up in countries with a colder climate than Britain's.

Watch the video...

Illegal metal detecting crackdown

Archaeologists are to team up with police in a bid to crack down on illegal metal detecting in Norfolk.

Norfolk has the highest number of recovered artefacts in the country declared treasure and a successful long-established working relationship with legitimate metal- detecting enthusiasts.

There were 109 cases of items found in Norfolk being declared treasure in 2008-09. Recent finds include a hoard of 24 Henry III short-cross pennies in Breckland, and an early Saxon gold spangle from south Norfolk.

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Previews of Staffordshire Hoard film to be shown in Stoke-on-Trent

Special preview screenings of a National Geographic film about the Staffordshire Hoard are to take place at The Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent

Saxon Gold – Finding the Hoard is narrated by Bernard Hill of Titanic and Lord of the Rings fame, and two screenings will take place on March 26 at 3pm and 6pm.

Richard Belfield, the film’s executive producer, will be at the museum’s Forum Theatre to give an introduction.

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Wednesday 17 March 2010

51 Headless Vikings in English Execution Pit Confirmed

Naked, beheaded, and tangled, the bodies of 51 young males found in the United Kingdom have been identified as brutally slain Vikings, archaeologists announced Friday.

The decapitated skeletons—their heads stacked neatly to the side—were uncovered in June 2009 in a thousand-year-old execution pit near the southern seaside town of Weymouth (United Kingdom map).

Already radio-carbon dating results released in July had shown the men lived between A.D. 910 and 1030, a period when the English fought—and often lost—battles against Viking invaders. (Related: "Viking Weapon-Recycling Site Found in England?")

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Teeth tests show victims from mass war grave in Weymouth pit could have been Swedish

"Painstaking" analysis of teeth from ten of the executed corpses found in a mass grave on the Weymouth Olympic Relief Road last summer has revealed the slaughtered remains may have belonged to Vikings from Scandinavia and the Polar regions.

Isotope tests showed the men had grown up in a cold, non-chalk climate with a predominantly protein-based diet, nodding to research collected on bodies from Swedish and Arctic Circle sites.

Strontium and oxygen samples were used to determine the local geology and climate of their native countries, supported by carbon and nitrogen investigations reflecting their likely eating patterns.

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Weymouth Relief Road archaeology day school

Spaces are still available on the Weymouth Relief Road archaeology day school this Saturday, 20 March.

Tickets cost £12, and the day includes presentations by Oxford Archaeology, Wessex Archaeology and Dorset County Museum, as well as having access to the exhibition.

To book a space call Dorset County Council senior archaeologist Claire Pinder on 01305 224921, you will then be able to pick your ticket up on the door.

Limited space – over 200 tickets sold so far!

If you don’t book, you can’t come in!

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Saxon object mystery for Canterbury experts

A Saxon object which was uncovered in an archaeological dig in Kent cannot be identified by experts.

The circular silver, bronze and wooden disk was found in a Saxon burial ground at The Meads, Sittingbourne, in 2008.

Despite using microscopes, X-rays and reading articles about burial grounds, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) has been unable to identify it.

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Monday 15 March 2010

Visitors queue to see return of Staffordshire Hoard in Birmingham

CROWDS of new, intrigued visitors have flocked to see previously unseen items from the Staffordshire Hoard in Birmingham.

They spoke about their fascination with the hoard as part of it returned to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

A selection of about 60 items has gone on display including helmet fragments, a crumpled gold cross and parts of animal ornaments.

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Archaeological finds at The Meads, Sittingbourne

Archaeologists are puzzled over a mystery object uncovered at The Meads, Sittingbourne.

The item, which was found during a dig of the site in 2008, was put on public display along with several other items including swords and shield bosses at the Forum Shopping Centre on Friday.

It could take months of research before the team working on the project discover what the item is.

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Sunday 14 March 2010

Decapitated Viking Skeletons found near Weymouth

The archaeological news recently has been full of articles concerning the decapitated skeletons found during the excavations for the Weymouth Relief Road.

With so many news reports it is often difficult to separate the journalistic hyperbole from the facts, and one often has to look at several reports even to begin to get the full picture.

This website draws together the important facts and gives links to informative press releases. The last page contains links to a video and collections of pictures of the excavations.

You can find the website here…

The long battle for the Staffordshire treasure hoard

For 1,400 years, a stash of Anglo-Saxon artefacts remained buried — until it was found last year by a man with a metal detector. It throws fascinating new light on clashes in the Dark Ages, but now we must win the fight to keep this precious hoard in Britain

It’s a misty dawn in Middle England, some time in the 7th century. A small band of armed men struggle up a wooded hill. At the summit they pause. While one keeps watch, the others tip their loot on to the ground. They divide up the jewels and coins, then they turn to the rest of the booty: swords, crosses, saddle fittings, which are mostly gold and exquisitely made. They hammer at them with stones and the hilts of their knives, they rip the pommels from the swords and stuff the blades into their jerkins, smash the helmets and bend the arms of the crosses until they look like nothing more than twisted pieces of metal. They stuff the small gold and bejewelled fragments into leather pouches, grub out a hole in the earth, and bury their cache. Then they disappear over the hill as swiftly as they came.

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Saturday 13 March 2010

Ridgeway Viking grave: Historian's hope

HISTORIAN Stuart Morris is hoping the bones will shed more light on when Vikings were first believed to have arrived on the British Isles at Portland in 787.

He said Anglo Saxon chronicles have shown that on their arrival the Shire Reeve, or sheriff of Dorchester, travelled to Portland to meet and trade with the Vikings but was killed.

And Mr Morris is hoping the discovery of the bones on the Ridgeway might reveal what happened when the Shire Reeve met them.

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Ridgeway Viking grave: Finds to go on display

FINDS from the Viking grave and other archaeological sites unearthed along the route of the Weymouth Relief Road are going on display later this month.

The Pavilion Ocean Room will be turning into an Aladdin’s cave of archaeological treasure as exhibits are laid out.

During the free event, ancient bones, Iron Age pottery, shale jewellery and many other finds will be on display.

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1,000-Year-Old Massacre Uncovered in England

A macabre and forgotten episode from the Dark Ages has been uncovered by British researchers after they examined dozens of beheaded skeletons.

Mystery surrounded the identity of the victims since they were discovered by accident last June near Weymouth, Dorset, England, when workers at a 2012 building site, stumbled across a burial pit.

The grave contained a mass of bones and 51 skulls neatly stacked in a pile.

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Beheaded Vikings found at Olympic site

They were 51 young men who met a grisly death far from home, their heads chopped off and their bodies thrown into a mass grave.

Their resting place was unknown until last year, when workers excavating for a road near the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, England, unearthed the grave. But questions remained about who the men were, how long they had been there and why they had been decapitated.

On Friday, officials revealed that analysis of the men's teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago. They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.

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Unseen Staffordshire Hoard treasure back on display in Birmingham

Helmet fragments previously unseen in Birmingham will go on display when items from the world’s largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure returns to the city tomorrow (Saturday).

A selection of 59 items will be on display including helmet fragments with animal decorations and warriors. Other artefacts to be displayed include

fragments of decoration of eagles and ducks, a crumpled gold cross and a red garnet stud.

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Friday 12 March 2010

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

Exploring Roman Britain (starts April 2010)

Origins of Human Behaviour (starts April 2010)

Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman World (starts May 2010)

Ritual and Religion in Prehistory (starts April 2010)

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (starts May 2010)

Click on the course title for further details.

Decapitated bodies found in Dorset burial pit were executed Vikings

Fifty beheaded young men found in a burial pit last year were probably executed Vikings, archaeologists revealed today.

Teeth samples from 10 of the decapitated warriors discovered in Weymouth, in Dorset, show that they were Scandinavian invaders who fell into the hands of Anglo Saxons.

Dating back to between AD910 and AD1030, the mass war grave is among the largest examples ever found of executed foreigners buried in one spot.

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Weymouth ridgeway skeletons 'Scandinavian Vikings'

Fifty-one decapitated skeletons found in a burial pit in Dorset were those of Scandinavian Vikings, scientists say.

Mystery has surrounded the identity of the group since they were discovered at Ridgeway Hill, near Weymouth, in June.

Analysis of teeth from 10 of the men revealed they had grown up in countries with a colder climate than Britain's.

Read the rest of this article...

See also In pictures: Burial pit (BBC)

Archaeologists uncover headless corpses of 51 Vikings executed by Saxons in Dorset killing field

They knelt and cowered together - a once proud and fearless band of raiders stripped and humiliated by their Saxon captors.

One by one, their executioners stepped forward, uttered a prayer and brought their axes and swords crashing down on the necks of the Viking prisoners.

The axes fell until the roadside was sticky with blood from the decapitated corpses of the 51 men, most barely in their twenties.

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Wednesday 10 March 2010

Staffordshire Hoard returning to Birmingham with unseen items

UNSEEN relics that form part of the Staffordshire Hoard will be added to a display returning to Birmingham this Saturday.

Helmet fragments will be featured alongside 59 items from the world’s largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure.

Huge crowds are again expected as the city is hit by a second ‘gold rush’.

And the new display announcement comes as it was revealed that the appeal to raise enough funds to bring it permanently to the Midlands has hit £1.5 million.

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Tuesday 9 March 2010

Saxon pottery at Wisbech playground site

Archaeologists have unearthed Saxon pottery at the site of a new adventure playground in Cambridgeshire.

Further excavations will now take place at the site in Waterlees, Wisbech.

A dig took place ahead of the £800,000 project, which will not be delayed by the discovery, Cambridgeshire County Council said.

Archaeologists are expected to carry out more digs in the Roman Bank end of the site, the opposite end to where construction is due to begin.

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Monday 8 March 2010

Staffordshire Hoard display in Stoke-on-Trent closes

A temporary public display of the Staffordshire Hoard has now closed.

A selection of 118 gold items have been on display at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent for the past three weeks.

The Museum said it had welcomed its 50,000th visitor to see the treasure on its final day of exhibition on Sunday.

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Sunday 7 March 2010

Change in Blog Address

As you will have noticed, the address for this blog has changed.

This is because Blogger are phasing out their FTP service.

If you have been using an RSS feed for this blog, then you will need to change the address. Simply click on the “Subscribe to Posts [Atom]” at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.

Similarly, if you have been receiving email notifications, you will have to register again using the form in the right-hand sidebar.

Sorry for the inconvenience,

David Beard

Friday 5 March 2010

Staffordshire Hoard gets crowds, award

Over forty thousand people have visited the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, England, to see a fraction of the famous Staffordshire Hoard. It is another sign that discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure is still drawing in massive interest.

A total of 1,852 people passed through the doors on Wednesday, taking the total number of people who have queued to see the Hoard to 41,447 over 19 days. Over 3700 people visited the collection on its opening day in mid-February.

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Wednesday 3 March 2010

Staffordshire Hoard team wins award

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Sport, Cllr Martin Mullaney, today congratulated the Staffordshire Hoard team after it scooped a top archaeology award.

The team that recovered the Anglo-Saxon treasure, including staff from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, have won the Current Archaeology award for ‘The Best Rescue Dig of the Year, 2010’.

And Cllr Mullaney believes it is a richly deserved accolade. He said: “This was a team effort from day one and everyone involved deserves credit. A number of organisations have played a part and things have run smoothly – from the excavation right the way through to the fundraising campaign.”

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