Reviews

The-World-of-the-Newprt-Ship

Review – The World of the Newport Medieval Ship

This is an absorbing account of medieval shipping, prompted by and focusing on the Newport ship – discovered in 2002 while building an arts centre near the River Usk in Newport, south Wales. It was a ‘big ship’, about 30m long and capable of carrying the equivalent of about 160 tuns (barrels) of wine. Dendrochronology indicates that it was built after 1449, almost certainly in the Basque Country; it was brought into Newport for refit or repair in the late 1460s and subsequently abandoned.

The-Old-Stones

Review – The Old Stones: a field guide to the megalithic sites of Britain and Ireland

‘Power to the people’ and all praise to ringmaster Andy Burnham! In 2012, veterinarian Olaf Swarbrick published his gazetteer of standing stones, which, although a heroic effort showing what a single researcher, standing outside the financially constrained academic ring, can contribute, lacked the ‘kerb appeal’ achieved by Burnham and his circle of friends.

Henry-VII-funeral-effigy-head,1509

Review – Westminster Abbey

New displays in Westminster Abbey’s eastern triforium (the gallery above the nave) explore the long history of the church, its royal links, and its importance as a national monument. Lucia Marchini takes a look at the recently opened Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries.

Archaeology-of-Oxford

Review – The Archaeology of Oxford in 20 Digs

This enjoyable little book takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of the buried heritage of one of Britain’s iconic historic cities. Each chapter addresses a key excavation or discovery that illuminates a particular aspect of the city’s past, and the development of antiquarians’ and archaeologists’ efforts to understand it.

Ragstone-to-Riches

Review – Ragstone to Riches

Ragstone was quarried from the upper Medway valley in Kent on a vast scale during the Roman period: the walls of Roman London were built with it, and the Blackfriars ship sank with a cargo of the stone. Little is known about the industry, though, and Simon Elliott’s survey is therefore hugely welcome.

Roman-science

Review – The Science of Roman History: biology, climate, and the future of the past

The Science of Roman History is an innovative book, bringing together many different areas of archaeological science to comment on the Roman Empire. It is an enormous undertaking to synthesise over 500 years of human history, spanning regions as far apart as the Levant and the British Isles, and obviously many nuances must be abridged or omitted. Nonetheless, the editor and contributors make a valiant effort to create a foundation on which to build and are ultimately successful in creating a baseline of knowledge.

Reindeer-hunters

Review – Reindeer Hunters at Howburn Farm, South Lanarkshire

This fascinating volume focuses on a Scottish settlement site that has its origins in the Late Upper Palaeolithic (LUP), inhabited at a time when the glaciers in northern Europe were in retreat. The book presents the results of a large excavation where a considerable lithic assemblage was recovered.

Sacred-Britannia

Review – Sacred Britannia: the gods and rituals of Roman Britain

What did the Romans do for us? Aside from sanitation, roads, and many other technological and engineering innovations that were introduced to these shores during imperial occupation, their arrival also transformed Britain’s religious landscape. With the Roman army came not only knowledge of the Classical pantheon, but also more exotic mystery cults and gods from the eastern fringes of the empire – including Christianity.

Witch bottle (c) Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford copy

Review – Spellbound

Would you walk under a ladder? Could you stab the image of a loved one? A new exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford brings together artefacts, documents, and artwork to explore the magical thinking behind questions like these over the centuries. Lucia Marchini went along to find out more.

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