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.
For this month’s ‘Science Notes’, CA’s Deputy Editor Kathryn Krakowka visited the ancient DNA (aDNA) lab at the Natural History Museum in London, to talk to Professor Ian Barnes and Dr Selina Brace about the history of aDNA research, the functions of the lab at the NHM, and what projects they are currently working on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Several previous ‘Science Notes’ have featured osteological analysis tangentially (see CA 337, 338, 342, and 344), but we have not explored it in depth – until now. This month’s column considers the effects of vitamin D deficiency, how it can be identified in skeletal remains, and what it can tell us about past populations.
Some 65 years after it concluded, the results of Brian Hope- Taylor’s excavation of the Mote of Urr – a motte-and-bailey castle near Dalbeattie in Dumfries and Galloway (shown above) – have finally been published.