The clothes worn by archaeologists on site provide a vivid record not only of how the discipline has evolved over time, but of the personal experiences of people working in this field. An exhibition currently running at National Trust Sutton Hoo documents some of these sartorial snapshots. Carly Hilts went along to find out more.
Author: Carly Hilts
Over 2,000 years ago, in what today is West Sussex but at the time lay within the territory of the Iron Age Regni tribe, an elaborate funeral was taking place. The man being laid to rest was an important and seemingly well-respected individual, with his mourners sending him to the grave accompanied by an extraordinary array of warrior regalia – a rare honour in a region where, at this time, cremation was the norm.
Two decades of archaeological research have shed vivid light on an Anglo-Saxon community that lived at Bamburgh 1,400 years ago, revealing a surprisingly diverse population. With the findings now presented in a detailed ‘digital ossuary’, what has been learned about these pioneering people?
In his introduction, W B Bartlett denies he is making any attempt to write a ‘definitive history’ of the great sweep of the Viking Age. Instead, his aim is simply to explore some of the key events and figures involved. But, despite this modest framing, he has achieved a wide-ranging and very informative overview of this eventful period of history – and an interesting read, too.
Archaeological sleuths Clare Hills, David Barbrook, and Margaret Bockford return in Nicola Ford’s cleverly constructed crime novel, a sequel to The Hidden Bones (see CA 340). This latter book featured a research dig on a barrow cemetery, but its successor dives into the world of commercial archaeology.
The tidal reach of the River Thames is the longest archaeological site in Britain, its rhythmically rising and falling waters exposing a wealth of material spanning millennia of human activity along its banks. For the last decade, thousands of features and objects have been recorded by the Thames Discovery Programme and its volunteers – but people have also been exploring the foreshore and its finds on a more informal basis for centuries.
Built in 1071, Oxford Castle was an imposing fortification with one of the largest mottes in the country. Largely abandoned by the late 16th century – though it was briefly refortified in the Civil War – the castle ultimately evolved into a prison that operated until 1996. When this institution closed, redevelopment of the site gave Oxford Archaeology the opportunity to carry out a decade of investigations between 1999 and 2009 – uncovering finds spanning the 11th century to the present day.
In 2003, an excavation by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) discovered a spectacular Anglo-Saxon burial chamber at Prittlewell, near Southend-on-Sea. Since then, expert analysis of the burial and its contents has indeed yielded a vast array of new information – the result of which is this absorbing monograph, which is packed with insights from the scientific studies that have been undertaken on the finds.
The most-famous date in English history is said to be 1066 – but what was the immediate impact of the Norman Conquest? We explore a recently discovered coin hoard, the largest of its kind, buried in Somerset c.1068. What can it tell us about the first years after the Battle of Hastings?
This summer marks 80 years since the Sutton Hoo ship burial was discovered, revolutionising our understanding of the Anglo-Saxon period. The site has just reopened to the public following a £4 million investment. Carly Hilts paid a visit to see how a celebrated story had been presented anew.