It has long been assumed that the technique of spinning thread has a lengthy and robust history. New evidence, though, suggests that a different way of making thread – called splicing – was instead the norm throughout most of Europe and the Near East during prehistory.
Recent excavations at the Theatre, the playhouse where most of Shakespeare’s early plays were first performed, have uncovered evidence from the first stages of its use, when it was remodelled from Holywell Priory into an Elizabethan performance space.
The remains of a Roman villa and aisled hall have been discovered during a Cambridge Archaeological Unit excavation in advance of the new University of Cambridge development at Eddington, a new district of Cambridge.
Kinneil House in Bo’ness, just outside Falkirk, is not only a striking 16th- to 17th-century structure, once the principal seat of the wealthy Hamilton family: its estate preserves a rich historic landscape that is also home to a stretch of the Antonine Wall and the only visible example of an Antonine Wall fortlet, as well as the workshop where James Watt perfected the steam engine.
With the remarkable potential of isotopic analysis making recent headlines (see p.18), it seems apt to talk a bit more about this technique. Among the wealth of archaeological questions isotope analysis can help to answer are: where was an individual born and raised, did they migrate during their lifetimes, what did they predominately eat, and when were they weaned? As this is a relatively new and ever-evolving methodology, though, some of the wrinkles are still being ironed out – and one of the biggest questions currently being explored is whether bone is as effective as teeth in reflecting the isotopic values that a person accumulated in life.
Over the summer, archaeology students descended on Kilmartin, Argyll, to record the numerous examples of prehistoric rock art found in the Glen. Trained by staff from Edinburgh University and the Scotland’s Rock Art Project (ScRAP) team, and supported by the Kilmartin Museum, the students noted the location, orientation, scale, and various other notable characteristics of each carving, as well as creating 3D models using photogrammetry techniques (pictured above).
The series looking at the stories behind the objects from the Portable Antiquities Scheme continues with Worcestershire. Victoria Allnatt, the Finds Liaison Officer for West Staffordshire and the South West Midlands, has selected objects from across the chronological range that are representative of the material routinely recorded (weapons and tools that characterise the Bronze Age records give way to coins and brooches in the Iron Age) or are in some other way special.
This volume describes the results of some 20 years of investigation at a site near Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. The work revealed a pit alignment and cremation burial dating to the Bronze Age or Iron Age, a middle-to- late Iron Age settlement, two Roman-period settlements, and an early-to-mid- Saxon cemetery. Finds included 12 Iron Age coins, early Roman pottery from 14 kilns, a Roman casket burial, and a Saxon buckle with preserved textile.
In this fascinating book, geneticist David Reich reveals the origins of modern populations through the study of DNA. The results of analysis of hundreds of bone samples thanks to the ‘ancient DNA revolution’ are remarkable and have the potential to overturn long-held beliefs about identity and cultural change.
Review – Kingdom, Civitas, and County: the evolution of territorial identity in the English landscape
Conventional wisdom has it that very little of the English landscape can be traced further back than the Anglo-Saxon period; and while DNA and isotopic analyses are starting to identify post-Roman Britons in ostensibly Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, it has long been held that British populations in large parts of England were replaced almost entirely by Germanic settlers. In Kingdom, Civitas, and County, Stephen Rippon demolishes these views, demonstrating that territories and administrative boundaries have endured in some form since prehistoric times and that Britons were key to their survival.