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Science Notes – Hidden in the soil: assessing the chemical composition of graves

In the early days of archaeology, human remains were often treated as an afterthought, deemed unable to tell us much about past populations. As we are well aware today, though, this could not be further from the truth, and in more recent decades the study of human bones has become a major component of archaeological research. But, despite this skeletal success, there is another key aspect of burials that remains relatively under-researched: the grave soil.

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Digging Bronze Age Drumnadrochit

Bronze age cists were discovered in the Kilmore area of the village in 2015 and 2017, and excavation this year has once again shown how rich the region’s prehistoric landscape is, with a third example found during an investigation ahead of a new care-housing development.

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Hiding in plain sight: a ‘lost’ medieval tower in Derry?

New evidence, brought to light by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and local historians from the Derry Tower Heritage Group, suggests that a ‘lost’ medieval round tower may in fact have been hiding in plain sight in the heart of Derry City for centuries.

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Possible birthplace of Henry VII brought to light

Excavations at Pembroke Castle in Wales have revealed the foundations of a large medieval domestic building within the outer ward of the complex. With the dig uncovering evidence for a slate roof with green-glazed ceramic ridge tiles, a curving staircase, and two walls measuring 1m thick, it would have been a building fit for a king. Indeed, Pembroke Castle expert Neil Ludlow, who carried out the project with archaeologists from Dyfed Archaeological Trust, believes that it might be the birthplace of the first Tudor king, Henry VII.

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Revealing the Roman dead in North Lincolnshire

A large Roman cemetery has been unearthed near Winterton, North Lincolnshire, five miles northeast of Scunthorpe. With excavations ongoing, over 60 burials believed to date to between the 2nd and 4th century AD have been revealed so far.

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Stirling Blackfriars found

The foundations of the medieval Dominican friary of Stirling – and evidence that the lives of its occupants were far from frugal – have been discovered on the outskirts of the medieval burgh during recent excavations by GUARD Archaeology.

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Investigating the prisoners of Spike Island

An ongoing project by University College Cork (UCC) is revealing the living conditions of convicts imprisoned on Spike Island – a small island in Cork Harbour – during the 19th century.

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Science Notes – Researching residues: the detection of opium in a Bronze Age juglet

In the last decade or so we have experienced a revolution in archaeological science, and one of the most exciting aspects of this is the extraordinary level of detail that we can glean from everyday objects. But while we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can discover from archaeological remains, we are also constantly reminded of the constraints we still face. This dichotomy is well evidenced in a study, recently published in the journal Analyst, on the detection of opioids in archaeological contexts.

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Early Roman settlement found in East Yorkshire

One of Yorkshire’s earliest high-status Roman settlements may have been discovered. While many Roman 3rd- and 4th-century sites have been found in the area, this is one of only a handful found from the earliest roman settlers in Britain.

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