Sunday 22 December 2013

Vikings Online Course

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers 

22 January to 5 April 2014

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

Thursday 19 December 2013

New evidence for Battle of Hastings site considered

The Bayeux Tapestry depicts the Battle of Hastings and the death of King Harold

New evidence that questions the traditional site of King Harold's death during the Battle of Hastings is being considered by English Heritage.
Battle Abbey in East Sussex is said to stand on the spot where King Harold died when the English army was routed by the Normans in 1066.
But Channel 4's Time Team claims he fell on the site of what is now a mini roundabout on the A2100.
Abbey curator Roy Porter said the theory would be taken into account.
English Heritage runs 1066 tours of the traditional site of the Battle of Hastings but the actual location has been disputed before.
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1066 and all that

The traditional location for the Battle of Hastings - the site of Battle Abbey - has been called into question.

New research by the Time Team shows that the Battle of Hastings was not fought on the site where it was believed to have taken place. In recent years other theories have been put forward to suggest where the battle took place, but work by the Time Team has shown good arguments for a new location.

Trevor Rowley will discuss the new information in his Oxford Experience course 'William the Conqueror' and incorporate it into the field trip to the battle site. This which will mean that Trevor's students will be amongst the first visitors to the new location.

You can register for Trevor's 'William the Conqueror' course here...

Battle of Hastings 'fought at site of mini roundabout'

Channel 4's Time Team believe they have identified the site of the Battle of Hastings and death of King Harold - now occupied by a mini roundabout

It might seem an inauspicious spot for one of the most seminal moments in the nation’s history.
But new research suggests that the death of King Harold in battle against William the Conqueror’s men actually occurred, not on the site of the high altar of Battle Abbey, where it is commemorated, but on a mini roundabout.
The precise location for the Battle of Hastings has long been in dispute, with competing historians making claims for three rival sites.
Now, an investigation by Channel 4’s Time Team has concluded the battle – and the death of England’s last Anglo-Saxon king – was actually centred on a fourth site: a road junction on the A2100 in East Sussex.
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Thursday 5 December 2013

Building is underway at The new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, The Salisbury Museum

Anglo-Saxon satchel mount c.700 AD. Gold and Silver foils with repoussé decoration. 
Found with the burial of an Anglo-Saxon ‘princess’ at Swallowcliffe, Salisbury.
Amesbury Archer Gold Hair Tresses - 2,300 BC. The oldest gold objects found in Britain, 
Copyright Ken Geiger/National Geographic.
Polished macehead made from gneiss found with a cremation burial at Stonehenge,  3,000 – 2,500 BC.

Building is underway at The new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, 
The Salisbury Museum

Building has begun on the new Wessex Gallery at the Salisbury Museum, which will make it clear for the first time exactly why Salisbury and it’s nearby World Heritage Sites hold a unique place in British history.

The new gallery will be of international importance, telling the story of Salisbury and the surrounding area from prehistoric times to the Norman Conquest. Realm Projects, the Nottinghamshire based builders who worked on the Hepworth Wakefield and The Jewish Museum, have been contracted to complete the works.

“By Christmas this year the major construction work will be complete,” said museum director Adrian Green with a gleam in his eye. “In roughly seven months, the new Wessex Gallery will be ready.”

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Tuesday 26 November 2013

Ancient board game piece unearthed at Lyminge dig

A 7th century board game piece, the first discovery of its kind for 130 years, has been unearthed in Kent by University of Reading archaeologists.

Ancient board game piece unearthed at Lyminge dig
The piece is made from a hollow cylinder of bone and has a central bronze
rivet [Credit: University of Reading]
Researchers believe the hollow bone cylinder found at the Lyminge dig belongs to an early backgammon or draughts-type games set.

It was found in the remains of an Anglo-Saxon royal hall where board games were traditionally very popular.

Project leader Dr Gabor Thomas called it a "wonderfully evocative discovery".

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Gambling of high-living Anglo-Saxons revealed by archaeological find

The Anglo-Saxon gaming piece found in the Kent village of Lyminge.
Photograph: Design and Print Studio/University of Reading
It would have been a very expensive toy, expertly crafted and imported across the Channel – and archaeologists say it provides a glimpse of the luxurious life of Anglo-Saxon nobles in 7th-century Kent.
The little gaming piece is the only one discovered at an Anglo-Saxon habitation site, although many cruder examples have been found in graves. It is the first piece of such quality found since the excavation of a princely grave in Buckinghamshire in the 1880s.
"This piece comes from a high-end – Harrods – backgammon set," the Reading University archaeologist Gabor Thomas said. "Not only high-end but quite possibly Italian – Ferrari – high-end, as the best parallels outside England are from the 6th-century Lombard kingdom. If such pieces are indeed of Lombardic manufacture, then the implication is that the kings of Kent enjoyed the latest fashions in gaming culture, courtesy of their far-reaching continental contacts."
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Wednesday 13 November 2013

Peterborough solar farm: Archaeologists unearth Roman finds

Roman pottery, evidence of a Roman settlement and "possibly Saxon" artefacts have been found at a proposed solar farm site near Peterborough.
The land at Newborough is being excavated ahead of a city council decision about the solar farm plan.
Richard O'Neill, from Wessex Archaeology, described the finds as "locally and regionally significant".
Work is expected to continue for three weeks, after which the council will consider the archaeologists' report.
Plans for the solar energy farm at three council-owned sites at Newborough, Morris Fen and America Farm were put on hold after English Heritage stepped in suggesting the area could be "nationally important".
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Sunday 29 September 2013

Mildenhall Museum ready for Anglo-Saxon warrior & horse

The warrior and his horse are being displayed as they were found in the grave at RAF Lakenheath

A Suffolk museum has taken delivery of the skeletal remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior and his horse.
The remains were found in 1997 at RAF Lakenheath and they are going on display at nearby Mildenhall Museum.
The warrior is thought to have died in about AD 500 and the find included a bridle, sword and shield.
The bones are being displayed under glass in the same position they were found in and the public will be able to see them next month.
Suffolk Archaeological Service has been in charge of the skeletons, which were part of a cemetery containing 427 graves.
The warrior is believed to have been born locally and was about 30 years old when he died.
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Archaeologists unearth section of an Anglo Saxon cross in Weardale

Paul Frodsham, of the AONB Partnership, shows off the section of an Anglo Saxon cross unearthed during a dig in Frosterley

ARCHAELOGISTS excavating a medieval church in a dales village have found further evidence that the site was an Anglo Saxon settlement.
A carved section from an eighth century stone cross was unearthed during a dig at St Botolph’s field in Frosterley in Weardale this week.
The discovery was met with great excitement from the archaeologists and volunteers who were digging on the site as part of the Altogether Archaeology project.
Paul Frodsham, historic environment officer at the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, which is leading the project, said: “This is not the kind of thing that happens every day
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Tuesday 24 September 2013

Norfolk dig uncovers Anglo-Saxon oven

The oven could be used for at least three tasks - to bake bread, malt barley and dry out grain

A structure uncovered by archaeologists in Norfolk has been confirmed as a 1,300-year-old "rare, multifunctional oven".
The Anglo-Saxon oven was found during an annual dig in Sedgeford, near Hunstanton.
Supervisor Dr John Jolleys said it would have been used to bake bread, malt barley and dry grain.
A second oven and a Saxon pot have also been discovered.
The volunteers initially thought the oven dated back to the Roman times, but the discovery of part of the Ipswich ware pot dated the oven to between 650 and 850 AD.
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Monday 9 September 2013

Saxon remains to be reburied after dig

Saxon remains found during an archaeological dig at an abbey in Warwickshire are being reburied at a church service later.

Saxon remains to be reburied after dig
Radiocarbon dates for the remains should be known in the next
three months [Credit: Peter Ralley/BBC]
Archaeologists working on a three year dig at Polesworth Abbey found up to 15 ancient burials. The dig has uncovered the pre-Norman abbey and a Saxon church.

Father Philip Wells, who is conducting the service, said it was not clear yet if the remains were those of nuns from the original abbey.

The results of radiocarbon dating on the remains should be known within the next three months.

A team of local volunteers have carried out the dig, supervised by professionals from the Northamptonshire Archaeological team. The work has been paid for by English Heritage.

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Saxon graveyard unearthed in Suffolk

A team of archaeologists has returned to a Suffolk river bank to complete a dig at an early Christian burial site.

Saxon graveyard unearthed in Suffolk
The team has returned to the north bank of the River Alde
for a three-week dig [Credit: BBC]
A three-week excavation has begun at Barber's Point near Aldeburgh at a 7th Century Saxon graveyard. The team believes it is one of the first to reveal Christian rather than Pagan burial customs.

New funding has meant they hope to be able to complete work at the site after previous digs in 2004, 2007 and 2010 where 12 graves were discovered.

David Rea was among the volunteers forced to leave the site when funding ended.

"You could clearly see, etched against the wall where we were digging, that there was another grave, but it was the last day so we had to pack up and leave. But I told 'him' we'd be back and here we are and next week we shall be in there."

The team has been able to return because of a £24,000 boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund's Touching The Tide scheme.

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Friday 16 August 2013

Oxford Experience 2014

The programme for the Oxford Experience Summer School is now online.  Registration will not begin until late September, but now is the time to start planning your courses for next summer.

You can find the programme here...

Saturday 27 July 2013

Traces of 'lost village' found in Nottinghamshire

Experts say the presence of Medieval pottery suggests the presence a community that possibly dates from before the Norman conquest

Remains of what archaeologists believe is a "lost village" have been found beneath a Nottinghamshire town.
Experts say the presence of cobbled surfaces and Medieval pottery found in the Burgage area of Southwell suggests the presence a community that possibly dates from before the Norman conquest.
Archaeologist Matt Beresford said the work was ongoing and they hoped to find more conclusive evidence.
The dig was backed by a £5,800 Heritage Lottery grant.
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Possible Saxon bread oven found in Norfolk

A 1,300-year-old bread oven could have been discovered by a group of volunteer archaeologists in Norfolk.

Possible Saxon bread oven found in Norfolk
The suspected oven could have been used to provide bread for the community [Credit: BBC]
The annual dig in Sedgeford, near Hunstanton, has had about 100 people a week looking for signs of the village's past.

Supervisor Dr John Jolleys said the clay object, which he believes to be a Saxon bread oven, was found about 4ft 11in (1.5m) underground.

"It's rare and very exciting," Dr Jolleys said.

Excavation of the object will continue for the remainder of the dig, which finishes on 16 August.

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Friday 5 July 2013

Barrow Clump 2013: Phil's Round-up Week One

Following on from the fantastic success of the Operation Nightingale excavation at Barrow Clump last summer, the soldiers have returned for a second year. The 2013 excavations will explore new areas of this Bronze Age burial mound and aim to identify the extent of the Saxon cemetery.
Site Director, Phil Andrews has agreed to produce his popular weekly round-ups for the blog again this year, starting with week one below:
Here we go again!
A year passes very quickly and we started again at Barrow Clump last week, this time for five weeks until the end of July. Site camp was established, nettles cleared and trees trimmed, whilst the badgers appear to have temporarily vacated the site.
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Tuesday 2 July 2013

Saxon skeleton discovered in Lincoln Castle

A Saxon skeleton believed to be a king or bishop has been discovered in Lincoln Castle.

The Saxon skeleton was in a stone sarcophagus believed to date from about AD900.
Its sarcophagus has not yet been opened but an endoscopy revealed the remains were buried alongside other objects, such as gold.
Mary Powell, from Lincoln Castle, said: "We think it's somebody terribly important, possibly a bishop or a Saxon king.
"At the moment, we can see the side of the coffin, but not the lid. It's going to be incredibly challenging to get it out, so we are being very careful.
"There is a danger it could disintegrate because of the change in environmental conditions.
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Tuesday 25 June 2013

The Sutton Hoo Online Exhibition

In 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, an archaeologist named Basil Brown excavated the largest of 18 burial mounds in the grounds of a country house at Sutton Hoo in the east of England. What he discovered turned out to be a spectacular undisturbed burial. 

Placed inside a vast ship, were the extraordinarily rich belongings of a high-ranking Anglo-Saxon man, possibly even a king...

View the online exhibition...

From Sutton Hoo to the soccer pitch: culture with a click

Museums, libraries and galleries are a tourist staple of the summer holiday season. Often they’re the first place we head to when visiting a new city or town in order to learn about the heritage of that country. Though only a lucky few have the chance to travel to see these treasures first-hand, the Internet is helping to bring access to culture even when you can’t visit in person. 

At the Google Cultural Institute, we’ve been busy working with our partners to add a range of new online exhibitions to our existing collection. With more than 6 million photos, videos and documents, the diversity and range of subject matter is large—a reflection of the fact that culture means different things to different people. What the exhibitions have in common is that they tell stories; objects are one thing but it’s the people and places they link to that make them fascinating. 

The British Museum is the U.K.’s most popular visitor attraction and the 4th most visited museum in the world. It’s well known for housing one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made—the 1,400 year old Anglo-Saxon burial from Sutton Hoo, untouched until its discovery in 1939. Their online exhibition “Sutton Hoo: Anglo-Saxon ship burial” explores the discovery of the ship, featuring videos of the excavation and photos of the iconic helmet and a solid gold belt buckle. All this tells the story of how the burial and its contents changed our understanding of what Anglo-Saxon society was like.

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Sunday 2 June 2013

HaNoA - Häfen im Nordatlantik

Der Hafen von Búðasandur, Hvalfjörður, Island. Die Überreste eines Handelsplatzes befinden sich in der Bildmitte, das mittelalterliche Hafengebiet (rechts) ist heute versandet (Foto N. Mehler).

Fast alle bedeutenden mittelalterlichen Häfen des nordeuropäischen Festlandes waren Teil größerer Siedlungen, aus denen sich häufig Städte entwickelten. Viele dieser Häfen hatten spezielle Einrichtungen wie z. B. Kaianlangen, Landebrücken und Lagerhallen, die einen gut entwickelten und organisierten Schiffsbetrieb und Warenumschlag ermöglichten. Völlig anders ist die Situation im Nordatlantikraum zu dieser Zeit. Im marginalen Siedlungsgebiet von Island, Grönland, Shetland und den Färöer Inseln gab es in der Wikingerzeit und im Mittelalter keine Städte. 

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Tuesday 14 May 2013

High-tech dig finds Roman farmstead

A high-tech research park is going to be built on land that once housed a Roman farmstead. An archaeological dig on the site of what will become the Haverhill Research Park has revealed traces of activity from the Iron Age through to the 1840s.
High-tech dig finds Roman farmstead
James Newboult said the size of the dig helped reveal the site's extensive history [Credit: BBC]
An Anglo Saxon hall and several pieces of jewellery were also found during the excavation, which covered 4.5 hectares.

Headland Archaeology said the dig had provided a "really interesting window" into Haverhill's history. The research park is being built on the A1307, the main road to Cambridge from Haverhill, and will also include a hotel and housing.

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Friday 26 April 2013

Online Courses in Archaeology

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology
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.
These 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.
The following courses are available:

Sunday 21 April 2013

The Battle of Fulford: War breaks out over 'forgotten' Yorkshire battlefield

Local historians say it's the site of the curtain-raiser to Hastings in 1066. The council wants to build hundreds of houses on it

Combatants are squaring up to do battle over the fate of a Yorkshire field more than 1,000 years after they say an earlier battle was fought there that helped to change the course of British history. Rival groups have issued a call to arms over the future of what some historians claim is the true site of the "forgotten" Battle of Fulford in September 1066. Local historians are fighting a rearguard action over developers' plans to build 600 homes on a field near York which they say is the site of the historic battle.

The Battle of Fulford is where an invading Viking army defeated an Anglo-Saxon force led by the northern earls, Edwin and Morcar. Historians say the battle is important because the defeat forced the Anglo-Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, to march his army north to fight and defeat the invaders at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later. Although victorious, Harold's forces suffered losses at Stamford Bridge and were exhausted after the march, and the campaign in the north diverted the king's attention away from the south coast, where William of Normandy launched his invasion.

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Monday 15 April 2013

Northampton Castle dig reveals Saxon past

A "rare" Saxon brooch, a medieval harness, pottery and animal bones are among items found by archaeologists at Northampton's medieval castle site.A survey of the land is taking place ahead of work to build a new £20m railway station in the town.
Northampton Castle dig reveals Saxon past
Excavation work in Northampton [Credit: ITV News Anglia]
Tim Upson-Smith, from Northamptonshire Archaeology, said the team had discovered elements of the site's Victorian, medieval and Saxon past. He said he hoped the finds could be displayed in the new station.

Archaeologists are expected to remain at the site on Black Lion Hill for eight weeks before West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) can begin work on the first phase of the new station.

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Friday 12 April 2013

Northampton Castle dig reveals Saxon past

A "rare" Saxon brooch, a medieval harness, pottery and animal bones are among items found by archaeologists at Northampton's medieval castle site.A survey of the land is taking place ahead of work to build a new £20m railway station in the town.
Northampton Castle dig reveals Saxon past
Excavation work in Northampton [Credit: ITV News Anglia]
Tim Upson-Smith, from Northamptonshire Archaeology, said the team had discovered elements of the site's Victorian, medieval and Saxon past. He said he hoped the finds could be displayed in the new station.

Archaeologists are expected to remain at the site on Black Lion Hill for eight weeks before West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) can begin work on the first phase of the new station.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday 7 April 2013

Unmarked grave dug up in hunt for England's King Alfred the Great

Archaeologists dug up an unmarked grave in a quiet English churchyard in search of remains of King Alfred the Great, a ninth century monarch credited with fending off the Vikings.

The exhumation was apparently triggered by fears that interest over the recent discovery of the skeleton of Richard III could lead grave robbers to dig the area for his bones.

Alfred the Great is known to generations of schoolchildren through a popular legend that tells of his scolding by a peasant woman for letting her cakes burn while he watched over them.

He was at the time preoccupied with the problem of how to repel the Danes, who had captured swaths of Anglo-Saxon England.

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Saturday 23 March 2013

Online Viking Course

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers

University of Oxford Online and Distance Learning

8 May to 21 July 2013

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. 

A wide variety of online resources including Google Maps and Google Earth as well as specific Viking web pages, are used in conjunction with text books and specially designed online interactive media to create an exciting insight into the world of the Vikings.

Further details...

Friday 15 March 2013

Staffordshire hoard of treasures to be displayed in Birmingham gallery

The Staffordshire hoard, the UK's largest collection of Anglo Saxon treasure, includes sword mounts and fragments of processional crosses. Photograph: Getty Images
The museum in Birmingham where thousands queued for hours to seethe Staffordshire hoard of Anglo Saxon gold is to create a gallery to display some of the most spectacular pieces, helped by a £705,000 grant from the heritage lottery fund.
"The Staffordshire hoard is our Tutankhamun," Simon Cane, director of the Birmingham Museums Trust said.
In 2009 a nondescript field near Lichfield, of no known historical interest, yielded one of the most spectacular hoards of Anglo Saxon gold ever found.

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Bronze Age settlement unearthed in SW England

Wick Barrow beakers [Credit: Somerset County Council]

Excavations at the Hinkley C site have revealed the remains of a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age settlement.

Archaeologists have also discovered the first Saxon grub hut to be found in Somerset, and a number of Roman features and artefacts, including a grain drier, quern stones, a stone anchor, fishing net weights, jewellery and graves.

The work was funded by EDF Energy as part of its site preparations and carried out by Somerset County Council.

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Monday 25 February 2013

Exhibition preview: Capital of the North, Yorkshire Museum, York

© Gareth Buddo

"From the fifth century, for 1,000 years, York was the northern city,” says Natalie McCaul, the curator of archaeology at the museum doing this history justice several centuries later.

“It was the place from which the powerful ruled. Kings ruled the country from here. Archbishops led the church from here.

“Traders and merchants made fortunes. This exhibition will look at how York became so powerful, and the men and women who made it that way.”

Started with a film triggered by a coloured bookmark – one for adults, one for kids – this chronological run-through is divided into eight periods.

They include Anglian and Viking throwbacks, the House of York and the Tudor ages, symbolised by glitzy objects such as theEsrick Ring and theMiddleham Jewel, and depicting the likes of Richard III, Henry IV and William the Conqueror in cartoon form.

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How a distaste for 'pagan food' first put the British off horsemeat

The paper does not attempt to explain how the fashion for eating horsemeat re-emerged in other European countries, notably France Photo: Alamy

A new study of the eating habits of the Anglo Saxons suggests that they may have developed a strong distaste for horsemeat because they saw it as a “pagan” food.
The findings, published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology, could help explain the level of revulsion at the recent revelations that consumers have been eating horsemeat uwittingly.
Evidence from animal bones found at settlement sites across England shows that horses appear to have been eaten on special occasions in the early Anglo Saxon period.
But as Christianity was gradually reintroduced to Britain between the Sixth and Eighth Centuries the custom became increasingly rare.

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