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.