The search for the lost monastery where the Book of Deer – a tome containing the earliest surviving Gaelic writing – was written and illuminated – continued this summer. Digging in the walled garden of Pitfour Estate near Old Deer in Aberdeenshire, where the monastery is thought to have been located, the excavation uncovered a number of interesting finds. One of the most notable was a game board that may have been used to play the Norse strategy game hnefatafl.
A well-preserved prehistoric hearth has been discovered 5ft below the surface during a commercial watching brief on a pipe trench in St Clement, southeast Jersey, which was carried out by the Société Jersiaise’s Field Archaeologist Robert Waterhouse.
The latest excavation season in Orkney has uncovered a cornucopia of finds. these include what may be the oldest wooden bowl yet discovered in the archipelago, unearthed at the cairns, South Ronaldsay, by a team from the UHI Archaeology Institute.
In this month’s Science Notes, we turn to one of the most immediately recognisable monuments in the world – Stonehenge – examining how the origin of its bluestones was taken for granted for so long, and how it shows why research is ever evolving, and never absolute.
A Pictish coppersmith has left his prints – literally – on the remains of his workshop, recently excavated on Rousay, Orkney. This discovery was made at the Knowe of Swandro, a multiperiod site that includes a Neolithic chambered tomb as well as subsequent Iron Age, Pictish, Viking, and Norse settlements, but which is slowly slipping into the sea. In a race against the tide, the Swandro-Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust, along with a host of partners, is working to excavate and record the site before it is too late.
Archaeological work near Woodbridge in Suffolk has revealed the rare remains of a Neolithic wooden trackway and platform. The waterlogged timbers were found towards the end of an 18-month project carried out in advance of the installation of underground cables to connect ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm to the National Grid.
Post-excavation analysis of a grave discovered on a hillside just north of Shoreham-by-Sea suggests that its Anglo-Saxon occupant may have met a violent end. The human remains were found by Archaeology South-East (the contracting division of the Centre for Applied Archaeology, University College London), who were working in advance of construction for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm within an area of the South Downs Way known for its prehistoric burials.
A community project at Thusater Burn near Thurso – the most northerly town of mainland Scotland – has revealed possible evidence of far earlier occupation of the area. Traces of what is thought to represent an Iron Age settlement were uncovered during an event organised by the Caithness Broch Project – a charity that aims to promote and preserve archaeological sites in Caithness by training the public in fieldwalking, geophysical survey, and excavation techniques (see CA 322).
Extensive archaeological work during Highways England’s A14 improvement scheme in Cambridgeshire has revealed a wealth of features spanning thousands of years (see CA 339). As the excavations draw towards their close, further finds are continuing to emerge.
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.