The Land between the Oceans: Part 2. Ships, metals and warriors

In the second part of our mini-series based on Barry Cunliffe’s new book Europe between the Oceans, our focus is the period c.2800-140 BC. We see the rise and fall of great civilisations, and a looming clash between a Mediterranean-based superpower and the Celtic peoples of Iron Age Europe. Once again, it is the movement […]


Bloody Stone Age: war in the Neolithic

The perception that much of prehistory was relatively peaceful is changing. New research has identified evidence of violent assault in the Neolithic. What does this tell us about Stone Age life as a whole? Forensic archaeologist Martin Smith explains.Whilst many Neolithic burials have been excavated during the last 150 years, they have received only limited […]


Rewriting the Age of Arthur: the Dark Ages brought to light

Did 9th century Anglo-Saxon propaganda distort the records for the turbulent 5th and 6th centuries? Rather than Briton versus Anglo-Saxon — as in the myth of Arthur — was it simply a murderous struggle between rival British warlords? Archaeologist Miles Russell has been re-reading Dark Age history books.


The Mildenhall Treasure: a secret history

The British Museum’s Richard Hobbs has been playing detective — investigating the 60-year-old mystery surrounding the spectacular Mildenhall Treasure and here he reports on the outcome of his enquiries. One of the most celebrated hoards ever recovered from British soil, the Mildenhall Treasure consists of 34 pieces of exquisitely decorated Roman silver tableware of the […]


Excavating the slums of Belfast

A neglected and deprived part of Belfast has been excavated by archaeologists to reveal its transformation from 17th century farmland to squalid, overcrowded 19th century urban slums.In 1853, the Rev. W M O’Hanlon, Congregationalist minister for Upper Donegall Street Church, published a series of letters in the Northern Whig, a Belfast newspaper, detailing the filth […]



The Staffordshire Hoard has thrown up a problem. It is it is all very well to say the finder or the landowner should receive an award, but when that award is £3.3m, who is going to pay for it? The museum that receives the hoard? The British Museum has already declined any interest, but local […]


Hadrian’s Wall: 30 years on

Thirty years ago, David Breeze and Brian Dobson wrote a history of Hadrian’s Wall from the archaeological evidence. Still in print in a revised edition, it is one of the most successful archaeology books ever written. With a major British Museum exhibition devoted to Hadrian opening this July, we asked David Breeze to take a […]


The Lingering Death of Roman Britain

In the centuries while Eastern England succumbed to Germanic takeover, Britannia Prima still flew the flag for Rome. Only in 1278, when Edward I captured Caernarfon, did this last outpost of the Western Roman Empire fall to a ‘barbarian’ king. Roger White of the Ironbridge Institute, University of Birmingham, describes how Romanitas endured on the […]