Wednesday 21 December 2011

Experimental pig husbandry: soil studies from West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, Suffolk, UK

Pig husbandry is practised across the world and often identified in the archaeological record from bones, sometimes also supported by insect and parasite egg studies (e.g. on the Anglo-Scandinavian occupation deposits at Coppergate, York; Kenward & Hall 1995: 759, 778) as well as by coprostanol analysis. Where bones, insects or parasite eggs are not preserved, pig management is less easy to recognise. Nevertheless, soil features and faecal residues may provide micromorphological and chemical indicators of the former presence of pigs and their impact on archaeological stratigraphy.

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Thursday 8 December 2011

Skeletons under patio

A COUPLE were shocked to discover a number of bodies under their patio during construction work at their home in Ratley last week.

Builders were digging up the patio of keen historians Stephen and Nicky West when the discovery of at least four bodies was made and the couple promptly called archaeology experts from Warwickshire County Council.
The archaeologists identified the remains as the bodies of two adult females, a young male and a child aged between ten and 12.

It was determined that the find was of considerable historic importance and that any foul play had taken place a very long time ago.

An archaeological survey was carried out and radiocarbon dating showed the remains date back to about 650-820AD, known as the middle Saxon period.

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Archaeologists unearth 7th-century house in Yorkshire Dales

Humanity's long attachment to Yorkshire has notched up another piece of early evidence with the discovery of the first 7th-century house to be recorded in the Dales national park.

Volunteer archaeologists dug down into an outcrop of stones on the flanks of Ingleborough fell, one of the Three Peaks famous for walks and marathon runs, where settlements were thought to exist but none had been excavated owing to shortages of time, expertise and funds.

The team revealed two chamber rooms with charcoal remains and pieces of chert, a hard flint knapped in ancient times to make tools.

Carbon-dating of the charcoal has placed the use of the building at between AD660 and AD780, when Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were consolidating in northern England.

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Thursday 24 November 2011

Saxon burial ground under Warwickshire couple's home

A Warwickshire man has described the moment builders found human bones under his patio.

Stephen and Nicky West were having their home redeveloped when one of the builders unearthed the remains.

Mr West said: "There was a tap on the door and the builder said 'Stephen, I think there's something you need to see'.

"He had a skull in his hand and I thought 'oh my goodness'."

The couple have lived at their house in Ratley, a village in south Warwickshire, for nearly seven years.

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Sunday 23 October 2011

Archaeology Courses at the Oxford Experience 2012

1 July to 11 August 2012

The Oxford Experience is a residential summer school held at the college of Christ Church, University of Oxford.

The programme consists of 6 weeks of courses and participants attend for one or more weeks.

It offers a choice of twelve seminars each week over a period of five weeks. Participants do not need any formal qualifications to take part, just an interest in their chosen subject and a desire to meet like-minded people.

You can also find details of the various archaeology courses offered at Oxford Experience here...

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Staffordshire Gold Hoard

One day, or perhaps one night, in the late seventh century an unknown party traveled along an old Roman road that cut across an uninhabited heath fringed by forest in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Possibly they were soldiers, or then again maybe thieves—the remote area would remain notorious for highwaymen for centuries—but at any rate they were not casual travelers. Stepping off the road near the rise of a small ridge, they dug a pit and buried a stash of treasure in the ground.

For 1,300 years the treasure lay undisturbed, and eventually the landscape evolved from forest clearing to grazing pasture to working field. Then treasure hunters equipped with metal detectors—ubiquitous in Britain—began to call on farmer Fred Johnson, asking permission to walk the field. "I told one I'd lost a wrench and asked him to find that," Johnson says. Instead, on July 5, 2009, Terry Herbert came to the farmhouse door and announced to Johnson that he had found Anglo-Saxon treasure.

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Sunday 9 October 2011

Bicester Anglo-Saxon skeletons re-interred

Fifteen Anglo-Saxon skeletons unearthed in Oxfordshire last year have been re-interred in a church memorial garden.

A requiem mass was held on Saturday before a wicker coffin containing all the remains was buried at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Bicester.

The Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, whose diocese covers Bicester, led the Roman Catholic ceremony.
The burial led to a disagreement with the church and local archaeologists, who wanted the bones put in a museum.

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Friday 7 October 2011

Converting the Isles

On Friday and Saturday 23 - 24 September 2011, the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (University of Cambridge) hosted a two-day interdisciplinary conference on conversion to Christianity in North West Europe. It featured papers by an international group of historians, archaeologists and philologists, who were given a unique forum in which to explore conversion comparatively by focusing on different parts of Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and Iceland in the early and central middle ages. The combination of places chosen for the discussion reflects our wish to establish a wide comparative framework, covering areas that are of significance to the study of conversion in both the pre-Viking and the Viking era. The talks were recorded and audio podcasts will be posted online soon.

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Monday 3 October 2011

Loftus royal treasure attracts 28,000 to Redcar museum

A collection of 7th Century treasure found in Loftus has attracted more than 28,000 visitors after being put on display in Redcar.

The artefacts, on display since May, were found between 2005 and 2007 at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in north-east England.

On show at Kirkleatham Museum, they have been hailed by archaeologists as some of the rarest discovered.

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Tuesday 27 September 2011

Das »Internationale Sachsensymposion« lockt rund 100 Experten ins Landesmuseum Hannover

Das »Internationale Sachsensymposion« lockt rund 100 Experten ins Landesmuseum Hannover 

Archäologen, Historiker und Anthropologen aus ganz Europa widmen sich derzeit während einer fünftägigen Konferenz der interdisziplinären Erforschung des frühmittelalterlichen Stammesverbands der Sachsen und ihrer Nachbarvölker im ersten Jahrtausend.
Die Sachsen des frühen Mittelalters haben die politischen und historischen Abläufe in Europa entscheidend geprägt. Am Landesmuseum Hannover bildet die landesgeschichtlich orientierte »Sachsenforschung« einen Schwerpunkt der wissenschaftlichen Forschungsarbeit im Bereich der Ur- und Frühgeschichte. Dabei steht zum einen die Erschließung der umfangreichen Sammlungsbestände des Hauses zur Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends in Niedersachsen im Vordergrund. Zum anderen werden die Entstehung und Entwicklung des frühmittelalterlichen Stammesverbandes erforscht.

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Tuesday 13 September 2011

Historic Leper Hospital

Archaeologists have uncovered further evidence of one of the country's earliest hospitals, built specifically for people with leprosy. They've been working in a field on the outskirts of Winchester. And, they've been able to find out more about how patients were treated. In his report David Woodland spoke to Dr Simon Roffey from Winchester University. Watch the video...

Sunday 11 September 2011

Life in a Saxon hall

The re-enactment society Regia Anglorum is reconstructing an early medieval Saxon hall in Kent using materials and construction methods of the time. Regia Anglorum is a re-enactment society that aims to recreate as accurately as possible life in Anglo-Saxon and Viking Britain. Over the past 10 years, we have been building the Wychurst project – a fortified manor hall, using materials and construction methods of the time – on three acres of land in Kent. We have a rotation of 60-odd people who work on the project in the middle weekend of each month. The hall is 30ft high, 60ft long and 30ft wide, and is based on the West Hall at Cheddar, built around 850. No buildings of this type from the period have survived, so we did an enormous amount of research from archaeological dig reports and written accounts. It is built entirely in English oak, mostly sourced from within a mile of the site, which makes it a very accurate reconstruction. It is a great hall, where the local lord would have lived with his family and a few of his men. It would have served as town hall, law court, police station and as a place for protection. Read the rest of this article...

Sunday 4 September 2011

Amateur treasure-hunter's haul

We take a look at what amateur treasure-hunter David Booth found...

An ANGLO-SAXON STRAP-END and three ANGLO-SAXON COINS, found near Dumfries, have been allocated to Dumfries Museum.

The fragmentary strap-end, above, dates from the ninth century. Such items are not uncommon finds in southern Scotland, but this example is all the more significant in being recovered alongside three Anglo-Saxon coins, which also date from the ninth century.

Medieval experts say this small group of finds is a substantial reminder of the cultural ebb and flow which constituted the Scotland of the Early Historic period.

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Wednesday 3 August 2011

Sapphire ring 'belonged to Anglo-Saxon or Viking royalty'

A unique gold and sapphire finger ring, found by a metal detectorist and just purchased by the Yorkshire Museum, almost certainly belonged to Anglo-Saxon or Viking royalty, very senior clergy or a leading member of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy, say historians.

Of very great historical importance, it is the only Anglo-Saxon era sapphire ever found in the ground in Britain. The only other sapphire from the period is the one that the Queen wears in her Imperial State Crown, used at the opening of Parliament. Known as St. Edward’s sapphire, this latter gem was once part of King Edward the Confessor’s finger ring and is now the oldest gem in the British crown jewels.

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More 'medieval' skeletons found in Kempsey

Another 16 graves have been found in a Worcestershire village where new flood defences are being built.

The 16 are in addition to the 12 uncovered in Kempsey last week next to St James Church.

It is thought that some of the skeletons could date back as early as 500 AD.

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Friday 29 July 2011

Yorkshire Museum buys rare sapphire ring

A rare sapphire ring, discovered by a metal detector enthusiast, has been bought by the Yorkshire Museum.

The museum has raised £35,000 to purchase the piece of jewellery, which archaeologists described as a "spectacular" find.

The ring, found near York and measuring 2.5cm across, could have been made as early as the 7th Century.

It was found by Michael Greenhorn from the York and District Metal Detecting Club in April 2009.

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Tuesday 26 July 2011

Langstone Harbour Saxon logboat in Portsmouth display

A 1,500-year-old logboat found buried in the mudflats of a harbour in Hampshire has gone on display.

The Saxon boat excavated from Langstone Harbour in 2003 can be seen in an exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum.

The hollowed out oak tree formed a wooden canoe, which was probably used by local people around 500 AD.

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Sunday 24 July 2011

Sad News

I am sad to report the death of our former colleague Dr David Hill yesterday, less than a year after his marriage to (another former colleague) Margaret Worthington.

David was a member of our Extra Mural Studies Department, and latterly in the English Department. He was one of the great figures of our time in medieval archaeology, and a great personality too. Since retirement from the University he has remained very research active, and despite his appalling health problems -- which he bore cheerfully for many years -- his death was unexpected, and peaceful.

He will be sadly missed by colleagues and his army of disciples -- many of them former students of his Anglo-Saxon Diploma and MA classes.

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Thursday 7 July 2011

Weymouth Relief Road dig reveals dental discovery

A GRUESOME dental discovery has been unearthed during analysis of the Viking burial pit remains found during construction of the Weymouth Relief Road.

Experts analysing the findings have come across a filed pair of front teeth to add to the unravelling story about the beheaded victims.

The burial pit containing 51 decapitated skulls with their bodies strewn nearby was discovered on the Ridgeway in June, 2009, an experts have been busy examining the remains.

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.New discovery shows Vikings used to cut 'army stripes' into their teeth

Viking warriors may have given a new meaning to the expression 'cutting your teeth in battle' after archaeologists discovered the Norsemen filed stripes into their incisors to show their fighting status.

..The distinct grooves would have been made using a form of chisel to show the Viking was a proven warrior – similar to the various army stripes denoting rank of today, archaeologists believe.

The teeth were discovered in a mass grave containing 54 headless bodies and 51 skulls of Vikings which were unearthed two years ago by workers building a relief road near Weymouth, Dorset.

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Wednesday 6 July 2011

Weymouth burial pit shows Vikings filed their teeth

Archaeologists have discovered that teeth belonging to a Viking warrior, found under the Weymouth relief road in Dorset, had been filed.

They were among remains found in a burial pit which was discovered two years ago. The pair of front teeth have deep horizontal grooves cut into them.

Experts are not sure why the teeth were filed, but believe it may have been to frighten opponents in battle or to show their status as a great fighter.

Watch the video...

Dorset burial pit Viking had filed teeth

Archaeologists have discovered one of the victims of a suspected mass Viking burial pit found in Dorset had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Experts believe a collection of bones and decapitated heads, unearthed during the creation of the Weymouth Relief Road, belong to young Viking warriors.

During analysis, a pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Archaeologists think it may have been designed to frighten opponents or show status as a great fighter.

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Tuesday 5 July 2011

Grab the Viking Quiz!

Our Viking Quiz seems to have proved popular.

If you wish, you can add this link button to your site:

Viking Quiz

Go here to grab the code…

Sunday 3 July 2011

Viking Quiz

What do you know about the Vikings?

Try this online quiz. It loads 10 randomly selected questions from a large database, so each time that you return to the site you get a different set of questions.

You can find the Viking Quiz here…

Exhibition of Staffordshire Hoard of gold goes back on display

SPARKLING pieces from the Staffordshire Hoard are on display as conservationists uncover more of secrets of the treasure.

This month 44 pieces from the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found are on show at the Shire Hall Gallery, in Stafford.

Archaeologists researching and conserving the Hoard have removed the soil, revealing the glistening garnets and gleaming gold. Now these cleaned pieces are on show, transporting visitors back to the Seventh Century.

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Staffordshire Hoard 'to help rewrite history'

A haul of Anglo-Saxon gold discovered beneath a Staffordshire farmer's field could help rewrite history, experts say.

Historians believe the Staffordshire Hoard could hold vital clues to explain the conversion of Mercia - England's last great Pagan kingdom - to Christianity in the 7th Century.

The hoard was found buried on a farm in Staffordshire in July 2009.

The 1,500 pieces of gold are thought to be the spoils of an Anglo-Saxon battle.

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Saturday 25 June 2011

Behind the scenes with the Staffordshire Hoard

BURIED away deep within Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a room which houses scenes which could come straight from a CSI police show.

Working there, with the diligence of forensic experts, are archeologists and conservators, cleaning, cataloguing and studying the breathtaking 3,500 piece collection which makes up the Staffordshire Hoard. These modern day time detectives are using a mixture of the latest technology and Mother Nature to try to solve its many riddles. Neil Elkes reports

THERE was a eureka moment when conservator Deborah Magnoler realised that there was something familiar about the ancient gold cylinder decorated with garnet stones she was cleaning.

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Thursday 26 May 2011

Anglo-Saxon feast on the menu at Kirkleatham Museum

FOOD fit for a princess is being served up at a Teesside museum cafe to celebrate a ground-breaking exhibition.

The amazing story of the life and death of an Anglo-Saxon princess will be told at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, when a new exhibition opens on Saturday.

The display showcases unique archaeological finds, unearthed in Loftus between 2005 and 2007.

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Monday 16 May 2011

Loftus royal treasure display attracts crowds

An exhibition showcasing Teesside's links to Anglo-Saxon royalty attracted almost 1,700 people over five days.

The 7th Century artefacts, described as "unparalleled" were found in Loftus at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in north-east England.

After a battle to keep them in the region they will go on show at Redcar's Kirkleatham Museum from May 28.

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Sunday 15 May 2011

Pottery fragments from Glastonbury Abbey cast new light on Dark Ages

Archaeologists are gearing up to share their discovery that the history of Glastonbury Abbey site reaches right back to the Dark Ages. Previous studies of the Abbey’s pottery had identified early Roman, Anglo-Saxon, medieval and later material. Now, a one-day symposium hosted by Glastonbury Abbey, exploring exciting new research into the historic excavation archives 1908 – 1979, will show that human activity took place there as early as the third or fourth centuries BC.

John Allan, Consultant Archaeologist to Glastonbury Abbey, and one of the speakers at the Symposium, said: ‘We now realise that the Abbey site had a much longer history than previously known, reaching right back into prehistory and including the mysterious Dark Ages. We hadn’t realised these periods were represented in the excavated pottery, until this project.

‘A scatter of exotic Saxon, Norman, medieval and later ceramics attests the great wealth of the abbey. Scientific analysis has now established the precise origins of some of these finds; the most distant come from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.

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Glastonbury Abbey's pottery link to Dark Ages

Pottery fragments from an excavation archive of Glastonbury Abbey have shown the site dates back to the Dark Ages, which is later than previously thought.

The research project into the 1951-1964 excavation archive have shown humans occupied the site in the late 4th or 5th centuries.

Archaeologist John Allan said: "We hadn't realised these periods were represented in the excavated pottery."

Other finds include "exotic" pottery from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.

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Thursday 5 May 2011

Anglo Saxon jewellery from Loftus burial site goes on show

A UNIQUE collection of Anglo-Saxon jewellery found in the North-East is set to go on display to the public for the first time.

The seventh century treasure trove sheds light on the extraordinary life of an Anglo-Saxon princess living in east Cleveland.

The artefacts were found in a farmer's field near Loftus between 2005 and 2007 at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in North-East England.

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Anglo-Saxon princess pendant at Kirkleatham

Add a commentRecommend SHE was buried with her jewellery about 1,400 years ago in East Cleveland - and now her story is being graphically told in a world first for Teesside.

A stunning collection of 7th Century treasure, shedding light on the life of an Anglo-Saxon princess, is about to go on display at Redcar’s Kirkleatham Museum.

The artefacts - hailed by archaeologists as some of the rarest ever uncovered - were found in Loftus between 2005 and 2007 at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in North-east England.

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Thursday 28 April 2011

Historic Church's Subterranean Secrets Revealed

Researchers from Kingston University in London have carried out a full scientific survey of an historic churchyard widely believed to be the site of the crowning of at least two Anglo-Saxon kings. The team used an earth resistance meter to survey a graveyard at the site where possibly as many as seven kings were crowned, during the 10th Century, including Athelstan, the first king of a unified England in 925, and Ethelred the Unready in 978-9.

An archaeological team from Kingston University in South West London has gone beneath the surface of the historic churchyard at the borough's All Saints Church to try to find out more about its history. The team carried out a full scientific survey of the site in the heart of Kingston's town centre, with local people and school children also taking the opportunity to get involved.

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Anglo-Saxon hall unearthed at Bamburgh Castle

An archaeological research team in Northumberland has unearthed a medieval hall underneath Bamburgh Castle.

Bamburgh Castle Research Project dug up a small trench under the inner courtyard at the core of the castle and discovered an Anglo-Saxon hall.

The team believes that the discovery probably dates back to medieval times.

The dig was carried out after the researchers invited Channel 4's Time Team to the castle to help them with their latest archaeological project.

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Monday 11 April 2011

Achaeologists excitement over an old plough found at Lyminbge in Kent that reveals how farmers worked in the 7th Century

An archaeological discovery is set to shed new light on the history of farming.

Dr Gabor Thomas of the University of Reading and his team have found a 7th Century iron plough coulter during excavations at Lyminge .

A coulter is a vertical soil slicer mounted like a knife to cut through the soil ahead of a plough share to improve the plough's efficiency.

Unlike the small fields associated with earlier light ploughs they cultivated the land in long narrow strips making the large open fields which would become a standard feature of the medieval countryside.

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Friday 8 April 2011

Anglo-Saxon 7th Century plough coulter found in Kent

An archaeological discovery by the University of Reading is set to shed new light on the history of farming.

Dr Gabor Thomas and his team have found a 7th Century iron plough coulter during excavations at Lyminge, Kent.

A coulter is a vertical soil slicer mounted like a knife to cut through the soil ahead of a plough share to improve the plough's efficiency.

The coulter, one of the defining features of a 'heavy plough', transformed the landscape of England.

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Tuesday 29 March 2011

Archaeological Dig At UKCMRI Site Behind British Library

Construction work will soon begin on a world-class medical research centre behind the British Library. The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) will bring together scientists from Cancer Research UK, UCL, Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council in a brand new facility.

Before the builders are let loose, an archaeological dig will scrabble about on the site looking for remnants of yore. Public tours of the dig will be available on 16, 18, 18, 20 and 21 April. An on-site exhibition about the UKCMRI will also be open on 31 March.

So what might the archaeologists find? The land was most recently for industrial goods, including a fish shed and coal depot. Before that, dense rows of housing occupied the site. Perhaps more intriguingly, the area sits very close to the Saxon (possibly Roman) site of St Pancras Old Church, and beside the former banks of the River Fleet. It’s quite possible that ancient remains might lay beneath the top soil.

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Sunday 27 February 2011

The Long Twelfth-Century View of the Anglo-Saxon Past

Dr David Woodman and Dr Martin Brett are hosting a two-day conference on 29th - 30th March on 'The Long Twelfth-Century View of the Anglo-Saxon Past' at Robinson College, Cambridge, in association with the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, and the British Academy. Registration is £20, and details on how to register can be found here.

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Saturday 26 February 2011

Anglo-Saxon site will be unearthed

New archaeological digs are to take place at the site of an Anglo-Saxon burial ground in Oakington.

The village sits on the site of a sixth-century settlement described as “one of the most significant archaeological sites you could have”.

Two digs will take place later this year.

Archaeology students, led by Dr Duncan Sayer, a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Central Lancaster, will undertake a two-day excavation on April 12 and 13.

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Friday 18 February 2011

Searching for Saxons in West Langton

IN A FIELD near West Langton, under the cover of 100,000 square metres of oil seed rape, the secrets of a society long gone lay hidden for century after century.

All it took to bring these secrets to the surface was a determined team of archaeologists, a funeral pyre in the style of the Anglo Saxons and an agreeable farmer willing to allow the clearing of his crop.

Time Team visited the site in West Langton in the summer of last year.

Over the years, the fields they visited have produced a huge amount of Anglo Saxon finds.

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Friday 14 January 2011

Your Favourite Archaeological Sites in Europe

Which sites in Europe have you most enjoyed visiting? A new Archaeology in Europe website allows you to post descriptions and photos of archaeological sites that you have visited, and to give ratings and comments for sites that are already in the database.

The site is very much in its infancy at the moment, and I would welcome contributions and feedback. It is envisaged that the site will grow into a useful source of up to date information for those planning to visit sites in Europe.

You can find the site at:

The site runs on Phile – a brilliant application developed by Mike Schiff and Sho Kuwamoto. Phile can be best described as a combination of an online database and a social network site, and it allows people with similar interests to share much more detailed information than the usual social network sites.

I am sure that Phile has tremendous potential for archaeological societies, fieldwork studies and other work groups. Take a look at

Wednesday 5 January 2011

New book throws light on Middle Saxon Shift in East Sussex

The later Anglo-Saxon settlement at Bishopstone: a downland manor in the making by Gabor Thomas is the latest CBA Research report (no 163) to be published.

Well known for the Early Anglo-Saxon settlement previously excavated on Rookery Hill and its impressive pre-Conquest church, Bishopstone has entered archaeological orthodoxy as a classic example of a ‘Middle Saxon Shift’.

This new volume reports on the excavations from 2002 to 2005 designed to investigate this transition, with the focus on the origins of Bishopstone village. Excavations adjacent to St Andrew’s churchyard revealed a dense swathe of later Anglo-Saxon (8th- to late 10th-/early 11th-century) habitation, including a planned complex of ‘timber halls’, and a unique cellared tower. The occupation encroached upon a pre-Conquest cemetery of 43 inhumations.

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