Articles

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Archaeology Festival Cardiff 2009

After only two years, we are already beginning to establish some Festival traditions. One is to tackle a ‘difficult’ subject. Last year Alex Bayliss, of English Heritage, explained Bayesian statistics; at each step in her idiots’ guide, instead of declaring QED, she said ‘woof, woof’, like a school teacher keeping her class alert and amused. […]

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Roman Villas in Britain: Farms, temples, or tax-depots?

We think of villas as the grand farmhouses of the Roman countryside. But were they? Bryn Walters takes a fresh look at the evidence and comes to some radical conclusions. In the mid 20th century, Sir Ian Richmond, following on R G Collingwood, argued that for too long there had been a bland acceptance that […]

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Roman Wrawby: a site that can’t decide its status

When is a Roman villa not a villa? The term villa covers many different structures, ranging from a palatial country house down to a jumped-up small farmstead. At Wrawby, we have discovered what appears to be a villa at the lower end of the range — a farmstead with pretensions.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]