A stone inscribed with 7th-century writing has been discovered during excavations at Tintagel Castle. Found during a five-year project commissioned by English Heritage and undertaken by Cornwall Archaeological Unit (CAU), the two-foot-long piece of Cornish slate appears to have been used as a window ledge, and it is etched with an eclectic combination of Latin writing, Greek letters, and Christian symbols.
While we have talked a lot about ancient DNA (aDNA) in ‘Science Notes’, it has mainly been in the context of decoding ancient human genomes. We have not really delved into the other applications of the methodology, including the detection of ancient pathogens. However, this is a quickly emerging area that could have a huge impact on how we are able to study health and disease in the past, and deserves some unpicking.
It is well known that the Industrial revolution led to a staggering shift in the global nitrogen cycle – a key process that supports life by circulating nutrients between the land, atmosphere, and oceans – but human-linked impacts on the environment in earlier periods of history are far less well understood. A paper recently published by an international team of researchers led by the University of British Columbia and the Institute of Technology, Sligo, is set to change that, however, showing that humans may have had a significant impact on the nitrogen cycle in Ireland during the Bronze Age.
Almost a decade ago, the crumbling remains of Reading Abbey – once one of the most important medieval religious centres in northern Europe – were closed to the public. Now, following major conservation work, the site has reopened. Carly Hilts paid a visit.
In this latest excavation of the CA archive, I continue to explore some of the ‘great excavations’ reported on over the years by the magazine. Last month, CA 340 included news of a York Archaeological Trust (YAT) oral history project, which is capturing memories of the 1976-1981 Coppergate excavations; fittingly, it is to this site that I now turn, by any standards a ‘great’ excavation in terms both of its discoveries and its public engagement.
In a period that is largely defined by the Romans and their written histories, thanks to a relatively poor archaeological record, coinage offers one of the best ways of learning about Britain’s sometimes elusive Late Iron Age tribes. A ten-year study of the coins of the East Anglian Iceni by John Talbot has delved into the production, distribution, and characteristics of their currency, illuminating previously unknown aspects of their culture. Here, he explores questions of identity, and hunts for hidden faces.
The Picts remain one of the more elusive early medieval kingdoms of Britain, and our knowledge of their culture is still rather limited. But archaeological work and post-excavation research at Burghead, near Lossiemouth in Moray, is helping to illuminate these enigmatic people.
A recent study, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology at the Museum of London and Durham University, has looked into the diet of Roman London. Children were of particular interest to the team, as they may have had a different diet to that of adults due to their lower social status in Roman culture.
The long-lost moat of Newark Castle has been rediscovered during a £60m project led by Severn Trent to upgrade Newark’s sewers. The discovery was made while the engineers were working in Castlegate Street, just to the south-east of the remaining castle ruins. Subsequent excavations by Trent & Peak Archaeology showed that the moat, found at a depth of 3m below the current street level, contained animal bones and green glazed pottery, broadly dating to the 13th and 14th centuries.
CITiZAN, a community archaeology project focused on vulnerable intertidal and coastal sites, has won the Arts, Culture, and Heritage prize at the Charity Awards 2018 – Civil Society Media’s annual awards programme to recognise organisations for their commendable charitable work.