Features

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Prehistoric settlement uncovered in Aberdeenshire

Evidence for an extensive settlement, possibly dating to either the Bronze Age or Iron Age, has been uncovered on the outskirts of Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire, on a site overlooking the North Sea. It is the first major prehistoric site to be identified near Cruden Bay, making it an important discovery to add to our growing knowledge of Aberdeenshire during this period.

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Witch marks discovered in Stoke Mandeville?

Unusual graffiti have been discovered among the ruins of the medieval church of St Mary’s in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire. Archaeologists from Fusion JV have been carefully excavating and deconstructing the church ahead of HS2-related construction. The building was supposedly demolished after it was decommissioned in 1866, when a new church was built closer to the village, and so it came as a surprise to the team to discover that the walls of St Mary’s actually survived to a height of c.5ft, with the floors almost completely intact.

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Spectacular prehistoric discoveries from County Sligo

COVID-19 restrictions have not stopped the Sligo Community Archaeology Project, which can boast of some very exciting prehistoric discoveries in the county over the past few months. This initiative (undertaken in partnership with the Heritage Council) aims to connect archaeologists and members of the public in order to properly record chance finds within the county.

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Judicial facial mutilation in Anglo-Saxon England?

Anglo-Saxon law codes speak of facial mutilation as a punishment for certain crimes, but until recently no archaeological evidence had been found for it in England. Now the skull of a young woman discovered in Oakridge, Basingstoke, has been identified as the first possible example. It also suggests that this brutal practice had a longer history than had been previously thought.

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Review – The Isle of Man: Stone Age to Swinging Sixties

Within its 225 square miles, the Isle of Man boasts an impressively diverse historic landscape spanning some 10,000 years of human activity. In this compact but wide-ranging book, our guide is Matthew Richardson, curator of social history at Manx National Heritage.

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Review – Great Cloister: a lost Canterbury Tale

Among the 856 heraldic shields emblazoned on the ceilings of the cloister of Canterbury Cathedral is hidden a story of the social and political history of 14thand 15th-century England. In this large and intensively researched volume, Paul A Fox sets out to unravel the connections between the families and individuals recorded here, and the man behind its construction, Archbishop Thomas Arundel.

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Review – Old Oswestry Hillfort and its Landscape: ancient past, uncertain future

Sharing elements with a standard regional study of a hillfort in geographical context, this series of papers is distinctly wider in scope. It is neither underpinned by recent excavation, nor by reassessment in detail of the 1930s interventions. Instead, ten authors tackle three themes in 14 chapters. They examine the detailed configuration and Iron Age regional setting of the hillfort, before assessing aspects of its cultural biography and that of its surroundings over more-recent centuries, continuing through to military impact during the World Wars. A critical examination of the planning framework and decision-making in regard to housing developments that threatened (and seemingly still threaten) to encroach on the site’s setting follows.

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Review – The Life Biography of Artefacts and Ritual Practice: with case studies from Mesolithic to early Bronze Age Europe

Within the context of burial and ritual, archaeologists have found it near-impossible to understand why mundane objects became the focus for ritual deposition. I suppose it is all too easy to look at anthropology and ethnography to get some of the answers, especially when we look at our own throwaway society. Clearly, objects in late and early prehistory took on several roles through the duration of their use: from utilitarian tool to a venerated item that would have possessed supernatural power and provided essential help for the afterlife (and beyond).

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Review – 1520: the Field of the Cloth of Gold

Published 500 years after the event took place, this book serves as a quincentenary celebration of the legendary first meeting between Henry VIII, the English king (r. 1509-1547), and Francis I, the French king (r. 1515-1547). Known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the festivities were held over the course of two weeks in June 1520 and served as an attempt at brokering a friendship between the two often-combative nations.

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