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.
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.
Whether you are an academic reviewing the history of lime kilns across Britain or simply an enthusiast who is interested in understanding more about how your local lime kiln functioned and how it fits into the wider historic landscape, this book is an easy and enjoyable read. David Johnson’s passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for these historic structures is evident throughout.
Clifton Quarry is a key site for the prehistory of the West Midlands. The outstanding discovery was an early Iron Age settlement, dating from a short period in the 6th to 4th centuries BC, consisting of numerous four-post structures, but curiously with no clear evidence for roundhouses. Charred grain and charcoal from the post-holes of the four-posters suggest that they burnt down and supports the idea that such structures were granaries.
Asked to think about catacombs, our minds might initially turn to the grand subterranean ossuaries of, say, Rome or Paris. However, London is not without its own underground burial places. In this brief but enjoyable book, authors Robert Bard and Adrian Miles take readers on a tour of former and extant catacombs and other hidden structures within and below some of the best-known cemeteries in the capital.
Robin Derricourt’s book is an overview of current and past research on the nature of the evidence for children in prehistory. As he points out, children are likely to have comprised about 50% of the population of most prehistoric societies, and so it is high time they were studied to the same degree as adults.
Over the recent past there has been a flurry of literature concerned with the Neolithic of the British Isles, each book promoting a new interpretation on the life and death of its people. This book is no exception. The literature has clearly shown that the Neolithic is a complex world of social relations and entanglement with ramifications to our present: we are products of this significant period in our history.
The decades leading up to the Roman conquest of Britain must have been a dynamic and turbulent time, a period of tribal manoeuvrings, with alliances made and loyalties tested in the face of increasing political and material influence from the Continent. From an archaeological perspective, however, the period can be frustratingly bland, with many sites in southern Britain lacking closely dated ceramics, giving only a hedge-betting chronology either side of AD 43. That late Iron Age Calleva presents solid evidence for pre-Conquest occupation, with more than a hint of the political and social complexities, is just one of the aspects that makes this a welcome and exciting volume.