As we write this, many parts of the UK are in different stages of lockdown, and it is uncertain how COVID-19 restrictions will affect the opening of museums and heritage sites in the coming weeks. Whatever happens, though, there are still many ways to get involved in heritage, history, and archaeology-related activities from home. Amy Brunskill has gathered a wide variety of options below.
There are some places so rich in archaeological remains and so cherished is their history that, in my run of county reviews, I have been nervous to tread there. One such location, Yorkshire, is the focus of this issue and the next – though two columns seem the least possible space needed to do justice to an incredible archaeological story. I will take a chronological approach, featuring all of the historic counties: North Yorkshire, including the Dales and Moors; the East Riding, including the Humber Estuary and Wolds; and South and West Yorkshire.
Wood can be a difficult, and costly, archaeological material to preserve. This is nowhere better highlighted than by the enormous efforts put into place to help conserve the Mary Rose. When the remains of Henry VIII’s warship were lifted out of the Solent in 1981 (see CA 218 and 272), little was known about how best to preserve the wreck once it had been removed from the protective anoxic conditions under the seabed. But over the past three decades, multiple techniques have been developed to keep the ship, and other wooden artefacts recovered from archaeological contexts, from degrading before our eyes. In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we explore the latest of these preservation techniques.
Scientific analysis of a human skeleton discovered at Tarrant Hinton in Dorset has shed new light on life – and the transmission of infectious disease – in Iron Age Britain. The remains were originally found during excavations at a small Iron Age/Romano-British settlement between 1967 and 1985. Examination and radiocarbon dating of the skeleton indicated that it was that of a man, aged between 30 and 40, who had died between 400 BC and 230 BC.
Many miles of Hadrian’s Wall survive beneath turf and rubble, unexplored and often under threat from erosion, people, and animals. A recent excavation at Walltown Crags in Northumberland, undertaken in advance of fixing some of this damage, revealed sections of the Wall that had not been seen for centuries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.