News

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That old chestnut: how sweet chestnuts came to Britain

It has long been thought that sweet chestnut trees were introduced to Britain by the Romans – a belief popularised by 18th-century writers – but new research assessing archaeobotanical samples from this period has now cast doubt on such assumptions.

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Medieval projectile found a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle

A large carved stone that was probably launched from a medieval catapult or trebuchet has been excavated at Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. Similar in size and appearance to a cannonball, it was contextually dated to the 13th century – 200 years before the introduction of gunpower and cannons to Scotland. AOC Archaeology, who made the discovery, believes that it could have been used as a projectile, and its location suggests that the stone may have been propelled either from or towards the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.

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Roman road unearthed in Lancashire

A section of the Roman road that runs between Wigan and Walton-le-Dale has recently been uncovered – a noteworthy discovery, as its precise location has been debated for more than a century. The route was identified by a team from Salford Archaeology (University of Salford), led by Oliver Cook, who were working on behalf of Lancashire County Council and Maple Grove Development Ltd ahead of major development in Cuerden, Lancashire.

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Deviant burials discovered near Bury St Edmunds

This month has brought a flurry of Roman news (as you can see on preceding pages), and one more discovery of this period is a 4th-century cemetery from Suffolk that was home to an unusually high number of ‘deviant’ burials.

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Marylebone cold case

Given the recent cold weather, the discovery of a massive underground ‘ice house’, unearthed next to Regent’s Park in London, seems rather fitting. Built in the late 18th century, the subterranean chamber escaped damage during the Blitz bombings that destroyed the houses that stood above it, as well as local rebuilding in the 1960s. It was recently rediscovered by MOLA archaeologists working on behalf of Great Marlborough Estates during the residential development of Regent’s Crescent.

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Exploring the lives of London’s 19th-century poor

A cemetery excavated on the site of New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms, near Battersea, is illuminating the lives of some of 19th-century London’s poorest inhabitants. The investigation, which uncovered nearly 100 burials, was carried out by Wessex Archaeology as part of modernisation work on the site by the VINCI St Modwen, in partnership with the Covent Garden Market Authority.

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Roman lead coffins recovered in Surrey

Two decorated Roman lead coffins have been uncovered during recent work at a quarry in Surrey. Only a few hundred burials involving such caskets are known from the whole of Britain, with these latest examples discovered by Wessex Archaeology during work on behalf of Sibelco, a raw materials company.

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Cernunnos in Cambridgeshire

A figurine thought to be Britain’s only known example depicting the Celtic god Cernunnos has been found during the excavation of a late Iron Age/early Roman settlement in Cambridgeshire.

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The mystery of Leochel-Cushnie’s modern monument

When a strikingly well-preserved example of a Recumbent Stone Circle was identified in Aberdeenshire farmland (shown above), archaeologists were intrigued by its unusual design. After further investigation, however, the reason behind the Leochel-Cushnie monument’s quirks became all-too-apparent: rather than being an ancient site, the stone circle was built only 20 years ago.

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