Author: Kathryn Krakowka

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Revealing the archaeology of Ramsey Island

Just off St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire, Wales, lies Ramsey Island. It is currently owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), as the island is home to many avian species and, in particular, is a Special Protection Area for the chough. Historically, though, Ramsey Island was also home to humans – and a new study involving detailed airborne laser-scanning technology (LiDAR; see CA 215) is revealing this intricate archaeological landscape, highlighting the island’s use over the past 5,000 years.

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Early evidence for St Albans Cathedral emerges

The decision to build a new visitors’ centre at St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire – part of the Heritage Lottery-funded project, Alban, Britain’s First Saint – offered the excellent opportunity to explore some of the site’s archaeology. From August 2017 to February this year the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, with Professor Martin Biddle, carried out extensive excavations between the current presbytery and the south-east transept. In the process, they revealed the cathedral’s long history, from its foundations as a Norman abbey in the 11th century through to its restoration and conversion to a proper cathedral in the modern era.

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Living at Star Carr in the face of climate change

New research analysing palaeoclimate data in conjunction with archaeological findings has provided evidence for how resilient the community of Star Carr – the famous Mesolithic occupation site in North Yorkshire (CA 282) – was in the face of extreme climate change.

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Meticulous metric survey of the Antonine Wall

A detailed LiDAR survey of the Antonine Wall – the Roman military structure that ran east–west between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde (see CA 215 and 289) – was recently carried out in a collaborative research project between Canterbury Christ Church University and Historic Environment Scotland.

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Mathematically modelling Bronze Age hoards

There has been a longstanding debate among archaeologists over the purpose of Bronze Age (c.2500-800 BC) hoards, particularly those including objects that appear to have been deliberately broken. early theories suggested that they were purely functional: created either for temporary storage, recycling, or for actual ‘hoarding’ in times of strife. More recently, though, many archaeologists have ascribed a more ritualistic meaning to the practice: perhaps buried as religious offerings or as displays of social status. until now these ideas have mostly been based on the descriptive analyses of hoards’ characteristics. A new study, however, addresses this debate using mathematical modelling.

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Science Notes – Palaeolithic cave art and uranium-thorium dating

In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we are discussing yet another form of dating: uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating, also known as uranium-series dating. Readers may already be aware of the technique, as it has featured a few times in research covered by CA over the years (see CA 83, 93, and 259), but recently it made international headlines for its use in determining that cave paintings in Iberia pre-date the presence of modern humans.

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Medieval ‘suburbs’ of Dublin uncovered

Dublin is known for the exceptional anaerobic conditions that have preserved swathes of medieval archaeology there (see CA 328), and a recent dig at Dean Street in the Coombe area, just to the west of the city centre, was no exception. An investigation in advance of the construction of a new hotel had indicated that the site was likely to be archaeologically significant, and in October, when Aisling Collins Archaeology Services (ACAS) were brought in to fully excavate the site, this was proved correct after the remains of medieval building foundations were uncovered.

Writing-Britain's-Ruins

Review – Writing Britain’s Ruins

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Reformation and the Civil War reduced a great many of Britain’s abbeys and castles to ruins – or, as they are described by a number of 18th- and 19thcentury poets, ‘piles’ of a ‘venerable’, ‘stately’, ‘stupendous’ or ‘lowly’ variety, or even ‘dismal Heaps’. These monuments have formed part of the country’s cultural consciousness, and their impact can be felt particularly keenly in Gothic fiction and Gothic Revival architecture.

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Review – The Ness of Brodgar: digging deeper

Perched on a peninsula in the heart of the Orkney archipelago, the Ness of Brodgar is a truly remarkable site. Long-running excavations there are bringing a wealth of discoveries to light, illuminating the life and death of a sophisticated Neolithic community (see CA 335).

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Review – Recollections of a Female Archaeologist: a life of Brenda Swinbank

With a mixture of personal and archaeological anecdotes, this short book gives a real insight into the life and studies of Brenda Swinbank. As a woman researching in a very male-dominated field, the support she received from more established scholars is a credit to her work. Despite this support, she struggled to get a permanent academic job. Perhaps things were not so different 60 years ago…

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