Tuesday 18 December 2012

Staffordshire hoard site yields further 90 fragments

Staffordshire hoard: part of a helmet was among the pieces unearthed in the Hammerwich field last month. Photograph: Staffordshire county council/PA

Gold and garnet cross and eagle-shaped mount among latest items unearthed by archaeologists in Hammerwich field

More gold and silver, including a gold and garnet cross, an eagle-shaped mount, and what could be a helmet cheek piece, have been churned up by ploughing in Staffordshire in the same field which three years ago yielded one of the most spectacular Anglo Saxon hauls.

When archaeologists first scoured farmer Fred Johnson's field in Hammerwich and discovered the hoard, which comprised more than 3,500 fragments of metalwork including sword, shield and helmet mounts inlaid with pieces of garnet and enamel, they left convinced they had emptied it of every scrap of treasure. Now a 90 further pieces have been found.

The workmanship in the new finds appears identical to pieces from the original haul; the helmet cheek piece appears to match one found three years ago.

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Staffordshire Hoard: Gold fragments found in Hammerwich

About 90 more pieces of gold and silver believed to belong to the Staffordshire Hoard have been found.

The discovery was made by archaeologists in the same Staffordshire field at Hammerwich where 3,500 pieces were found in 2009.

Some of the new pieces are fragments that fit with parts of the original hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver.

They include a possible helmet cheek piece, a cross shaped mount and an eagle shaped mount.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday 17 December 2012

Saxon graves uncovered at St Margaret's

Five Saxon graves have been discovered by archaeologists at St Margaret’s. The graves were unearthed at The Droveway by Keith Parfitt, of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, who also discovered Dover’s Bronze Age Boat 20 years ago.

Items found in the graves, including a warrior’s shield, are now being cleaned so that they can be studied more closely. It is hoped they might be put on display at Dover Museum.

Mr Parfitt and his team had been called ahead of plans to build on the site and initial excavations indicated there may well be graves there.

A few weeks ago, before the builders moved in, the archaeologists carried out a more thorough excavation and found five graves. One was believed to have been that of an elderly woman where a brooch was found and another was of a warrior who was buried with his shield.

“The graves were quite widely spaced apart, unlike the Anglo Saxon cemetery which we uncovered at Buckland,” said Mr Parfitt.

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Sunday 16 December 2012

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

Now is the time to enrol for Hilary term online courses in Archaeology.

Each courses lasts for 10 weeks, with the expectation of c. 10 hours study a week.  Students submit two short assignments.   

Successful completion of the courses carries a credit of 10 CATS Points.

CATS Points from these courses can now be used as part of the requirement for the new Certificate in Higher Education offered by the University of Oxford.

The following courses are available: (click on the title for further information)

Greek Mythology                  Origins of Human Behaviour               Pompey and the cities                                                                                                         of the Roman World

Ritual and Religion in Prehistory                          Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers

You can find general information about University of Oxford courses here...

Monday 26 November 2012

Anglo-Saxon treasure reveals west Norfolk cremation

Fragments of an early Anglo-Saxon silver brooch found in Norfolk has given archaeologists new evidence of a cremation burial in the area.

Experts say the 6th Century brooch, found near West Acre, could possibly have originated in mainland Europe.

The brooch, along with a Medieval copper coin-like medal known as a jetton and a Middle Anglo-Saxon sword belt mount, has been declared treasure.

An expert from the British Museum said the 13th Century jetton was "unusual".

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday 18 November 2012

Summer Courses in Archaeology

Oxford Experience Archaeology Courses

The Oxford Experience Summer School offers weekly introductory courses in the Sciences and Humanities.  Participants stay in Christ Church, the largest and one of the most beautiful Oxford Colleges.

You can find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

Monday 5 November 2012

Archaeologists reveal rare Anglo-Saxon feasting hall

A rare Anglo-Saxon feasting hall has been spectacularly uncovered by a team of archaeologists from the University of Reading working at Lyminge in Kent. The Guardian have today featured this amazing discovery in the newspaper and on their website.

This is the first discovery of a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon ‘Great Hall' in over 30 years and one of only a handful of such major buildings to be excavated in its entirety. Large enough to accommodate up to 60 people and forming part of a formal complex of buildings, the hall would have been used as a venue for royal assemblies attended by the king and his armed entourage.

The current excavations, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with support from project partners Kent Archaeological Society and staff from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, are designed to shed new light on Lyminge as a key site for understanding the origins of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England.

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Saxon find in Lyminge has historians partying like it's 599

A still from the 2007 motion-capture film Beowulf. The epic poem featured a great hall of its own, Heorot, whose ‘radiance shone over many lands’. Photograph: Paramount/Everett/Rex Features
The foundations of a spectacular Anglo-Saxon feasting hall, a place where a king and his warriors would have gathered for days of drinking and eating – as vividly described in the poem Beowulf – have been found inches below the village green of Lyminge in Kent.

There was one last celebration by the light of flickering flames at the site, 1,300 years after the hall was abandoned, as archaeologists marked the find by picking out the outline of the hall in candles, lighting up the end-of-excavation party. Heaps of animal bones buried in pits around the edge of the hall bore testimony to many epic parties of the past.

The unexpected find, by a team from the University of Reading funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and working with local archaeologists and villagers, is exceptionally rare. Digging under the curious gaze of drinkers in the garden of the Coach and Horses pub a few metres away, it is the first great hall from the period to be discovered in more than 30 years.

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Anglo-Saxon hall found in Kent is 'tip of the iceberg'

An Anglo-Saxon feasting hall unearthed beneath a village green in Kent could represent the "tip of the iceberg", according to archaeologists who believe it lies amid an entire complex of ancient buildings. 

The rare 7th to 9th century hall, which would have accommodated up to 60 people during royal feasts, was the first to be discovered in more than 30 years when it was excavated by Reading University experts this summer. 
But further developments are expected over the coming years as researchers plan to scour the surrounding area in the hope of finding an entire network of other buildings. 
Feasting halls like the one uncovered in Lyminge, which contained jewels, animal bones and a broken horse's harness, were always part of a larger complex of houses built for accommodation and other ceremonial purposes during royal visits, experts explained.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday 15 October 2012

The Anglo-Saxons are coming!

Producer Beaty Rubens introduces a new, extended series of The Essay on Radio 3 – three blocks of ten episodes stretching in to 2013, the first series beginning on Monday 15th October.

I was interested in the Anglo-Saxons – that wasn’t the problem.  In fact, I had attended a primary school called King Alfred’s, and even today could sketch you the school logo – a wonky little line drawing of Alfred, seated on a throne, wearing a sort of Anglo-Saxon dress and pointy shoes and holding up a book to show off his passion for education.  Which is ironic, really, because education – or my lack of it – on the subject was exactly why I felt so unqualified to produce a 30-part series called Anglo-Saxon Portraits.

I knew something about the Celts and the Romans and the Tudors, but the half millennium between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans was a shocking blank.  Perhaps the Anglo-Saxons just weren’t much taught in the 50 years after the War, when the idea of Aryan and Germanic invaders wasn’t all that fashionable. 

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Thursday 11 October 2012

Archaeology Summer Courses in Oxford

The Oxford Experience, Christ Church, Oxford

The Oxford Experience summer school offers one-week introductory classes in the humanities and sciences, including a number of archaeology courses.

You can find details of the Oxford Experience summer school here...

You can find a list of the archaeology courses here...

Thursday 4 October 2012

Oxford Experience on Facebook

The Oxford Experience - an Oxford University summer school that offers many courses in archaeology and history - now has a Facebook site.

You can find the site at: www.facebook.com/OxfordExperience

You can find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

Thursday 27 September 2012

Westminster Abbey staff clean floor around Edward the Confessor's tomb

Conservation staff at Westminster Abbey clean the Cosmati pavement surrounding the tomb of Edward the Confessor and asses it for conservation on Sept. 24 in London, England.

The highly decorative stone pavement is formed of small precious stones such as onyx and porphyry on a base of dark limestone, known as Purbeck marble.

A shrine was erected in 1163 following the Confessor's canonisation and St Edward's body was brought in on October 13, 1269 to its new resting place.

The Cosmati pavement provides the flooring around Edward the Confessor's tomb behind the High Altar of Westminster Abbey where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge signed their marriage register.

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Monday 10 September 2012

Ipswich waterfront Saxon dig unearths 300 graves

An archaeological dig at Ipswich waterfront has unearthed 300 skeletons and evidence of an old church.

The excavation is taking place before 386 homes are built on Great Whip Street by Genesis Housing Association.

It is believed the Saxons occupied the site in the 7th Century and burials are believed to have taken place there until the 16th Century.

Rubbish pits were also uncovered during the dig, led by Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology.

Paul Murray, senior project officer with Oxford Archaeology, said: "A certain amount of historical research was done before we got here, so we had a general idea of what to find, but this has exceeded our expectations.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Soldiers injured in Afghanistan make surprise find on UK archaeology dig

Remains of an Anglo Saxon warrior, buried with his spear and a bronze-bound drinking cup, after he was was discovered by modern soldiers on a rehabilitation programme. Photograph: Ministry of Defence
An excavation on Salisbury plain has proved an unusually emotional experience for the volunteer archaeologists, as soldiers recovering from injuries received in Afghanistan have made a surprise discovery: the remains of warriors who died more than 1,400 years ago.

Led by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and the Army, partners from Wessex Archaeology were astonished by the haul. Operation Nightingale is an award-winning project to give soldiers new skills and interests as part of their rehabilitation. The excavation was expected to produce modest results after earlier digs had turned up empty army ration packs and spent ammunition. Instead, they revealed their ancient counterparts, including an Anglo Saxon soldier buried with his spear and what must have been a treasured possession, a small wooden drinking cup decorated with bronze bands.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Discovery of early medieval royal stronghold in southwest Scotland

Trusty's Hill Pictish carving. Image: Galloway Picts Project

A recent Heritage Lottery funded archaeological excavation has discovered a hitherto forgotten early medieval royal stronghold in Scotland.

Pictish symbols

Trusty’s Hill, near Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, is best known for the Pictish Symbols carved into a natural rock outcrop at the fort’s entrance.  However, in recent years, many historians have begun to doubt whether these carvings were genuine, some even suggesting that the carvings are forgeries. The Galloway Picts Excavation, led by the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society and funded in part by the Heritage Lottery Fund, sought to find out why there are Pictish Carvings here, so far from the Pictish heartlands in the north-east of Scotland, and if the carvings are indeed genuine.

Under the direction of two members of the Society, over 60 local volunteers, assisted by professional archaeologists from GUARD Archaeology Ltd, spent two weeks discovering new archaeological evidence that establishes a clear archaeological context for the Pictish Symbols at this vitrified fort.

Christian burial ground unearthed in West Cumbria

When excavation work started on Camp Farm adjacent to the Senhouse Museum archaeologists believed they were looking at late Roman buildings. Their recent find of four graves and what appears to be a church shows how life evolved after the fall of the Roman Empire. 

Site director Tony Wilmott said the find uncovered 'Maryport's missing centuries' and is of national significance.

The graves are believed to have been from the 5th or 6th century. The team to be able use the fragments of teeth and bone found buried to accurately date the site using carbon dating. 

Thursday 26 July 2012

Work starts on Easter Ross's Nigg cross-slab

Detail on the Nigg cross-slab which dates from the 8th Century AD

Conservation work has started on an intricately carved Pictish stone from Easter Ross.

The Nigg cross-slab dates from the 8th Century AD and features snakes and a depiction of monks receiving bread from a raven sent by God.

Nigg Old Trust received grants towards the £180,000 restoration project.

The monument has been taken to a workshop in Edinburgh and will eventually be put back on display at 16th Century Nigg Old Church.

The cross-slab is one of Scotland's greatest art treasures, according to the trust.
The stone's entry in the Highland Historic Environment database described it as being intricately carved.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Climate in Northern Europe Reconstructed for the Past 2,000 Years: Cooling Trend Calculated Precisely for the First Time

An international team that includes scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has published a reconstruction of the climate in northern Europe over the last 2,000 years based on the information provided by tree-rings. Professor Dr. Jan Esper's group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC. In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling.

"We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low," says Esper. "Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today's climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods." The new study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Was the climate during Roman and Medieval times warmer than today? And why are these earlier warm periods important when assessing the global climate changes we are experiencing today? The discipline of paleoclimatology attempts to answer such questions.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Oakington: Life and death in the East Anglian Fens

Anglo-Saxon skeletons have been surfacing for almost a century in the fields of Oakington. Now a new project has laid bare the trials and tragedies of a small 6th-century Fenland community. Duncan Sayer, Richard Mortimer and Faye Simpson bring flesh to the bones.

 In 1926 four early Anglo-Saxon burials, one equipped with a spear, knife and shield boss, were discovered in an Oakington village field, in Cambridgeshire. Described as ‘[south] of the church’, the land had just been bought by Alan Bloom for his nursery garden. His interest piqued, Alan dug dozens more holes, only abandoning the hunt for further bodies when he hit undisturbed subsoil. Yet there were more to find. Construction of a children’s playground in the 1990s brought 26 burials to light, excavated by Cambridgeshire’s Archaeological Field Unit, while 2006 and 2007 saw Oxford Archaeology East recover 17 more. In 2010 and 2011 students and researchers returned to the site, opening new trenches on either side of the playground and revealing 27 further burials – including a pregnant woman, a warrior and, most exceptional of all, a large number of child burials from a period when they are notoriously scarce.

With several seasons left to go, Oakington is fully established as a substantial 6th-century Anglo-Saxon cemetery. But there is more to the site than that. Capitalising on the longer view that a research and community project provides, test pits and whole trenches have been excavated in gardens and open spaces throughout the village. The tantalising results point to an early enclosed community – a Middle Saxon Burh – on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fen.

Cow and woman found in Anglo-Saxon dig

Archaeologists excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire say the discovery of a woman buried with a cow is a "genuinely bizarre" find. 

Archaeologists described the find as "unique in Europe" [Credit: BBC]
The grave was uncovered in Oakington by students from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. 

At first it was thought the animal skeleton was a horse. 

Student Jake Nuttall said: "Male warriors might be buried with horses, but a woman and a cow is new to us." 

He added: "We were excited when we thought we had a horse, but realising it was a cow made it even more bizarre." 

Co-director of the excavation, Dr Duncan Sayer, from the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Animal burials are extremely rare, anyway.

Monday 21 May 2012

Anglo-Saxons and hand-saex

As an invitation to explore the wonders of Old English, hand-saex is certainly arresting.

The Dictionary of Old English, based at the University of Toronto (doe.utoronto.ca), offered hand-saex as last week’s “word of the week.” Reader Susannah Cameron spotted it and sent the reference to Word Play. “Have to admit it caught my attention,” she said.

Sadly for anyone expecting new insight into the intimate practices of Anglo-Saxons between the years 600 and 1150, the word refers to a knife or dagger. The knife was a saex, also spelled seax and (yes) sex, and a hand-saex was a weapon held in one hand. The word for hand in Old English was hand. Very handy.

Saex comes from a Germanic root (sah or sag) meaning to cut. It survives today only in the narrowly defined word sax, a tool used to trim roofing slates. But before the Norman Conquest of 1066 reshaped the English language and gave us Middle English – a process that took about a century to filter down to ordinary folks – saex was all the rage.

New Look for the Current Archaeology Website

Current Archaeology now has a dedicated news editor in-house, and the news articles are now posted on our website as the stories break rather than simply published in the magazine.  You can also subscribe to receive an email newsletter, and there are RSS feeds for your newreader as well.

Go to the Current Archaeology Website...

NEWS RSS: http://www.archaeology.co.uk/category/articles/news/feed
Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/#!/CurrentArchaeo

The Current World Archaeology website has also been updated.

Go to the Current World ArchaeologyWebsite...

NEWS RSS: http://www.world-archaeology.com/category/news/feed
ARTICLE RSS: http://www.world-archaeology.com/category/features/feed
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/#!/WorldArchaeo

Sunday 13 May 2012

Abbey excavations reveal Saxon glass industry

New research led by the University of Reading has revealed that finds at Glastonbury Abbey provide the earliest archaeological evidence of glass-making in Britain. 

Professor Roberta Gilchrist, from the Department of Archaeology, has re-examined the records of excavations that took place at Glastonbury in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Glass furnaces recorded in 1955-7 were previously thought to date from before the Norman Conquest. However, radiocarbon dating has now revealed that they date approximately to the 680s, and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey undertaken by King Ine of Wessex. Glass-making at York and Wearmouth is recorded in historical documents in the 670s but Glastonbury provides the earliest and most substantial archaeological evidence for glass-making in Saxon Britain. 

The extensive remains of five furnaces have been identified, together with fragments of clay crucibles and glass for window glazing and drinking vessels, mainly of vivid blue-green colour. It is likely that specialist glassworkers came from Gaul (France) to work at Glastonbury. The glass will be analysed chemically to provide further information on the sourcing and processing of materials.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Glastonbury Abbey excavations reveal Saxon glass industry

(Phys.org) -- New research led by the University of Reading has revealed that finds at Glastonbury Abbey provide the earliest archaeological evidence of glass-making in Britain.

Professor Roberta Gilchrist, from the Department of , has re-examined the records of excavations that took place at Glastonbury in the 1950s and 1960s.

furnaces recorded in 1955-7 were previously thought to date from before the Norman Conquest. However, has now revealed that they date approximately to the 680s, and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey undertaken by King Ine of Wessex. Glass-making at York and Wearmouth is recorded in historical documents in the 670s but Glastonbury provides the earliest and most substantial for glass-making in Saxon Britain.

The extensive remains of five furnaces have been identified, together with fragments of clay crucibles and glass for window glazing and drinking vessels, mainly of vivid blue-green colour. It is likely that specialist glassworkers came from Gaul (France) to work at Glastonbury. The glass will be analysed chemically to provide further information on the sourcing and processing of materials.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Glastonbury Abbey excavations find Saxon glass industry

New research on glass fragments found at Glastonbury Abbey in the 1950s reveals the earliest archaeological evidence of glass-making in Britain.

Researchers from the University of Reading carried out radiocarbon dating on finds from the digs.

Clay crucibles and pieces of vivid blue-green window glass were tested.

The results show the pieces date from the 680s and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey by King Ine of Wessex.

Saturday 5 May 2012

Graves unearthed in Caistor dated to seventh century

An exciting excavation in Caistor could prove to be "sensational" should carbon dating results prove it contains remains from late Roman to Middle Saxon times. 

Site supervising archaeologist Fiona Walker works on a full length skeleton found at the old Talbot Inn site in Caistor prior to the building of the Co-operative store opened in late 2010 [Credit: Grimsby Telegraph]
As reported, the Talbot Skeletons were found during a dig which took place before the building of the Caistor Co-operative store two years ago. 

Carbon dating on two of the skeletons has revealed they are not from the Roman era as originally believed, but from the seventh century, which was during the Anglo Saxon period.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

The University of Oxford's online courses in archaeology for Trinity term are now open for enrolment.

"Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.
"Our courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past."
You can find the full list of courses here...

Monday 23 April 2012

York Minster tantalises archaeologists with hints of Saxon church

What happened after the Romans left and the Vikings of Jorvik arrived? Two post holes and a jumble of bones may hold a clue

Field archaeologists Ian Milsted and Jim Williams in the dig site at York Minster
Field archaeologists Ian Milsted and Jim Williams in the dig site at York Minster that hints at Saxon remains. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

When the great west doors of York Minster swing open on Thursday and the Queen makes her way along the nave of the packed church for the ancient service of distributing Maundy Money, she will also be walking towards a small pit from which human bones have been pouring by the barrow load, the remains of some of the earliest Christians to worship on the site.

Tantalising finds include 30 skulls and a jumble of bones used to backfill a trench by the medieval builders of the present cathedral, and a man whose stone-lined and lidded grave was chopped off by Walter de Gray's 13th-century walls, leaving only his shins and feet in place.

Potentially the most significant finds are two nondescript round holes, with groundwater bubbling up through the mud. They are post holes that could date from the time of the earliest Christian church on the site, after the Roman empire disintegrated in the 5th century and before raiding Vikings arrived in the 8th century and the Normans in the 11th century.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Loftus Anglo-Saxon artefact haul wins cultural award

Jewellery on display at the exhibition  
Some of the jewellery on display at the exhibition
A collection of Anglo-Saxon artefacts discovered in East Cleveland has won a top prize at an Arts Council-sponsored cultural awards ceremony in Durham.

The treasure, found at a grave site in Loftus between 2005 and 2007, has been displayed at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, since May 2011.

It includes a gold pendant as well as iron knives, pottery and other objects.

The collection beat Newcastle's Great North Museum and the Beamish Museum to claim the Renaissance Museum Award.

Monday 16 April 2012

Ridley Hall dig reveals Roman and Saxon finds

Archaeologists have found Roman and Saxon jewellery and tools in the grounds of a theological college in Cambridge.

The dig is in advance of the construction of a £9m extension at Ridley Hall. Archaeologists say animal bone and pottery suggest it was a settlement dating back to the Iron Age.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Scientists find runes on ancient comb

Archaeologists have found the oldest engravings of letters ever to be discovered in central Germany, officials from the area announced on Thursday.

 The ancient letters, called runes, were scratched onto a 12.5 centimetre-long comb by Germanic settlers in the second century, scientists working on the site in Saxony-Anhalt believe.

The letters spell out “Kama”, meaning comb, the president of the state Heritage and Archaeology Management Office, Sven Ostritz, said on Thursday.

It is the oldest ever example of runic writing to be found in that part of the country, he added.

Monday 26 March 2012

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers - Online Course

University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education
Mon 14 May to Fri 27 Jul 2012

Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens - the Vikings are usually regarded as bloodthirsty seafaring pirates, whose impact on Europe was one of fear and terror. As they plundered the British Isles and the north Atlantic, these pagan invaders were seen by their Christian victims as a visitation from God.

Yet the Vikings were also traders, settlers and farmers with a highly developed artistic culture and legal system. Their network of trade routes stretching from Greenland to Byzantium and their settlements, resulted in the creation of the Duchy of Normandy in France, the foundation of the Kingdom of Russia in Kiev and Novgorod as well as the development of Irish towns including Cork, Dublin and Limerick.

This course will use recent findings from archaeology together with documentary records, to examine these varied aspects of the Viking world and to give a detailed and balanced view of this fascinating period.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Photos: Bejeweled Anglo-Saxon Found in Christian "Burial Bed"

The skeleton of a young Christian noblewoman, who was laid to rest on a "burial bed" some 1,400 years ago, is giving archaeologists precious clues to the earliest days of the English church.

Unearthed in 2011 in a village near Cambridge (map), the teenager wore the badge of her faith in the shape of an exquisite gold-and-garnet cross, found on her chest and just visible in the picture above.

The ornate treasure marks the grave as one of the earliest known Christian burials in Anglo-Saxon England, researchers from the University of Cambridge announced last week.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday 18 March 2012

Remains of dark ages princess found in field in Cambridge

Cambridge University Archaeological Unit 
  view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The remains of a mysterious Anglo-Saxon princess, who died  thirteen and a half centuries ago, have been found in a field three miles south of Cambridge.

Aged just 16 when she died, and buried lying on a special high status funerary bed, she was laid to rest with a small solid gold, garnet encrusted, Christian cross upon her chest.

Her exact identity is as yet a complete mystery. However, it’s likely that she was a member of one of the newly Christianized Anglo-Saxon royal families of the period.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday 17 March 2012

UK experts find 7th-century teen buried in her bed

Archaeologists excavating near Cambridge have stumbled upon a rare and mysterious find: The skeleton of a 7th-century teenager buried in an ornamental bed along with a gold-and-garnet cross, an iron knife and a purse full of glass beads.

Experts say the grave is an example of an unusual Anglo-Saxon funerary practice of which very little is known. Just over a dozen of these "bed burials" have been found in Britain, and it's one of only two in which a pectoral cross _ meant to be worn over the chest _ has been discovered.

One archaeologist said the burial opened a window into the transitional period when the pagan Anglo-Saxons were gradually adopting Christianity.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday 16 March 2012

Cross and bed found in Anglo-Saxon grave shed new light on 'dark ages'

Archaeologists in Cambridge thrilled to discover grave with body of young woman on a bed with an ornate gold cross

The dead are often described as sleeping, but archaeologists in Cambridgeshire have uncovered a bed on which the body of a young Anglo-Saxon woman has lain for more than 1,300 years, a regal gold and garnet cross on her breast.

Three more graves, of two younger women and an older person whose sex has not yet been identified, were found nearby.

Forensic work on the first woman's bones suggests she was about 16, with no obvious explanation for her early death. Although she was almost certainly a Christian, buried with the beautiful cross stitched into place on her gown, she was buried according to ancient pagan tradition with some treasured possessions including an iron knife and a chatelaine, a chain hanging from her belt, and some glass beads which were probably originally in a purse that has rotted away.

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Anglo-Saxon Christian grave find near Cambridge 'extremely rare'

An Anglo-Saxon grave discovered near Cambridge could be one of the earliest examples of Christianity taking over from Paganism, archaeologists said.

The skeleton of a teenage girl was found buried on a wooden bed, with a gold and garnet cross on her chest.

The grave is thought to date from the mid-7th Century AD, when Christianity was beginning to be introduced to the Pagan Anglo-Saxon kings.

It was uncovered at Trumpington Meadows by Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

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New TV drama – “Vikings” – to be filmed in Ireland and Northern Europe

The History Channel in the US and History Television in Canada have announced they will be airing a scripted drama series, Vikings. The series will chronicle the extraordinary and ferocious world of the mighty Norsemen who raided, traded and explored during medieval times. Set to premiere in 2013, the series will be filmed in Ireland and throughout picturesque locations in Northern Europe. Shaw Media will be the broadcast partner in Canada, airing the show on HISTORY Television in Canada. The announcement was made by Nancy Dubuc,

“This is an amazing crossroads for HISTORY embarking on our first scripted series,” said Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager of History. “People think they know about the Vikings – we see references to them all the time in our popular culture from TV commercials to football teams – but the reality is so much more fascinating and complex, more vivid, visceral and powerful than popular legend. We will explore the mysteries of the Vikings – the adventures they took and the people who led them. And we will start to understand a past that is very much part of our collective DNA today.”

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Earliest Christian burial in UK found

One of the earliest Anglo-Saxon Christian burial sites in Britain has been discovered in a village outside Cambridge. The grave of a teenage girl from the mid 7th century AD has an extraordinary combination of two extremely rare finds: a ‘bed burial’ and an early Christian artefact in the form of a stunning gold and garnet cross. 

Anglo-Saxon bed burial with gold cross [Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit]
The girl, aged around 16, was buried on an ornamental bed – a very limited Anglo-Saxon practice of the mid to later 7th century – with a pectoral Christian cross on her chest, that had probably been sewn onto her clothing. Fashioned from gold and intricately set with cut garnets, only the fifth of its kind ever to be found, the artefact dates this grave to the very early years of the English Church, probably between 650 and 680 AD.

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Thursday 15 March 2012

Professor Ray Page (1924 - 2012)

The Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic is sad to announce the death on 10 March 2012 of Professor Raymond Page, Emeritus Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow and former Librarian of Corpus Christi College.

Born in 1924, Professor Page was an undergraduate at the University of Nottingham, and came to Cambridge in the 1960s. He became Fellow and Librarian of Corpus Christi College, and was for many years Lecturer and then Reader in Old Norse language and literature in the Department of ASNC.

From 1984 until his retirement in 1991 he was Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon. He will be fondly remembered by many for his teaching of Old Norse and of Scandinavian history in the Viking Age, and as the ‘silver-haired librarian’ of Corpus. His funeral will take place in the chapel of Corpus Christi College on Thursday 22 March at 2 p.m.

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Thursday 8 March 2012

Mildenhall Museum gets RAF Lakenheath warrior and horse

Anglo-Saxon warrior and horse, RAF Lakenheath  
The warrior and horse were found at RAF Lakenheath in 1997

Mildenhall Museum is set to double in size to help display the remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior and his horse.

The warrior, who is thought to have died about AD 500, was found buried at RAF Lakenheath in 1997 with a horse, bridle, sword and shield.

Forest Heath council has announced it will provide a grant of £789,813.

Peter Merrick, chairman of the Mildenhall Museum Society, said: "We're obviously delighted as lots of hard work has gone into it."

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Monday 5 March 2012

History of castle from the Saxons to Cromwell

THE February meeting of Henley Archaeological and Historical Group welcomed an expert on the history of Wallingford and the founder of Wallingford Museum.

Judy Dewey gave a presentation on the work being undertaken at Wallingford Castle. She gave the background to the history of the castle dating back to Saxon times and described what has been found during the last four to five years of a research project which is now beginning to make sense of the site.

Wallingford was an ancient walled town with fortifications, being the prime town in Berkshire in the Domesday Book. It retains its Saxon street pattern, as illustrated from an early view where the bridge can be seen on the site of what was a ford.

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Friday 10 February 2012

Time Team: Mary-Ann Ochota quits Channel 4 archaeological show

Time Team has been thrown into disarray after Mary-Ann Ochota became the second presenter to leave the Channel 4 archaeological programme. 

Mary-Ann Ochota, 30, who holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University, has left the show after a row with Prof Mick Aston, the archaeologist.
Her leaving the show comes after Prof Aston, 65, also quit the show after producers hired Ms Ochota, a former model, as the programme’s co-presenter with Tony Robinson.
Prof Ashton, who has been on the show for 19 years, said he had been left “really angry” by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter and some archaeologists being axed.

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Thursday 9 February 2012

Reply to my complaint to Channel 4 concerning Time Team Changes

As expected, a wishy-washy response - but the more people who write in, the better!

"Dear Mr Beard,

Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries regarding TIME TEAM.

We are sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the new format of the show and that Prof. Mick Aston has decided to leave. We are saddened by Mick 's decision to leave, he has been a fantastic member of the Time Team team and we wish him well in the future.

Please be assured your complaint has been logged and noted for the information of those responsible for our programming.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate all feedback from our viewers; complimentary or otherwise.


Doug Masterson

Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries"

Please take the time to send your own comments to Channel 4.  Use the link here...

See the original story " Mick Aston quits Time Team after producers hire former model co-presenter"...

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Mick Aston quits Time Team after producers hire former model co-presenter

Mick Aston, the archeologist, has quit Time Team after producers hired a former model as the programme’s co-presenter. 

The 65-year-old, who has been on the show for 19 years, said he had been left “really angry” by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter Mary-Ann Ochota and some archaeologists being axed.
In an interview with the magazine British Archaeology, Prof Aston, the show’s former site director, said: “The time had come to leave. I never made any money out of it, but a lot of my soul went into it. I feel really, really angry about it.”
He was responding to changes first proposed by producers at Channel 4 in late 2010, which included a new presenter to join Tony Robinson and decisions to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology”.

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Click here to contact Channel 4 to tell them what you think of their decision.

Monday 30 January 2012

Find Roman history and Anglo Saxon remains under your feet

BUDDING archaeologists need to pick up a trowel and get digging in their back gardens.

A new project, funded by a £40,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been launched to uncover the history hidden underfoot in Kingsholm.

At the launch of History on Your Doorstep on Saturday, Jean Ashmead, of Dean's Way, said she barely has to scrape the surface of her garden to uncover Roman relics. She arrived at the event laden with Roman pottery and an unidentifiable animal's jaw.

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Friday 27 January 2012

Archaeology Courses at the Oxford Experience 2012

The Oxford Experience Summer School

1 July to 11 August 2012

The 2012 Oxford Experience Programme is now online.

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...

Thursday 26 January 2012

Mass grave belonged to Viking mercenaries

The burial site, containing the bodies of 54 young men, was unearthed at Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth in 2009 ahead of the construction of a new road, but the identity of the bodies within has mystified experts.
Because the men's severed heads were piled up on one side of the pit, it was assumed they had been the unfortunate victims of a mass execution.
Radiocarbon dating showed that the men had been killed some time around the year 1000, and isotope testing on their teeth found that they were from Scandinavia, suggesting they may have been Viking invaders.
Now an archaeologist from Cambridge University has put forward a theory that the men were a gang of Viking mercenaries who were murdered on the order of the English king Aethelred II.

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The Viking death squads who got a taste of their own medicine: Mass grave shows how the Anglo-Saxons hit back at invaders

A mass grave found in Dorset contains the bodies of an elite ‘hit squad’ of invading Viking warriors, experts claim. 

All decapitated and buried alongside their severed heads, the 54 skeletons were discovered in 2009 by workmen digging a road.

Archaeologists dated their bones to around the year 1,000 but had few other clues as to the identities of the men who met such a sticky end.

Now a researcher at Cambridge University claims to have pieced the story together in a documentary to be screened tonight.

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Viking mass grave linked to elite killers of the medieval world

A crew of Viking mercenaries – some of the fiercest and most feared killers in the medieval world – could be the occupants of a mysterious in the south of England, according to a new theory.

The intriguing hypothesis is being put forward in a documentary, Viking Apocalypse, which will premiere on National Geographic UK on Wednesday, 25 January, and attempts to piece together the identities of a group of men who were apparently the victims of a horrific mass execution around the turn of the 11th century.

Their burial pit, at Ridgeway Hill, Dorset, was found in 2009 while archaeologists were working in the area ahead of the construction of a new road. In it, researchers made the gruesome discovery of the decapitated bodies of 54 young men. All had been dumped in the shallow grave, and their heads had been piled up on the far side.

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Skeletons found in Dorset mass grave 'were mercenaries'

A mass grave in Dorset containing 54 decapitated skeletons was a burial ground for violent Viking mercenaries, according to a Cambridge archaeologist. 

The burial site at Ridgeway Hill was discovered in 2009.

Archaeologists found the bodies of 54 men who had all been decapitated and placed in shallow graves with their heads piled up to one side.

Carbon dating and isotype tests revealed the bodies were Scandinavian and dated from the 11th Century.

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Wednesday 25 January 2012

Outreach and widening participation

Applications are now open for our annual Sutton Trust Summer School in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, which will take place on 13th-17th August. The Sutton Trust is an organisation which seeks to promote social mobility through education, and each year participants in our Summer School are given the opportunity to experience life as a Cambridge undergraduate: staying in a College, attending lectures and seminars, and receiving one-to-one or small group 'supervisions' on the languages, literatures, and history of medieval Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. More information on how to apply is available via the University's webpages.

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