ca191-1Iron Age warriors are in the news again, and three sites in quite different  regions of Britain allow us to compare and contrast burial practices and  equipment. At Brisley Farm, near Ashford in east Kent, two very late Iron  Age warriors seem to have been revered for years into the Roman period,  making us wonder who they were and why their memory lasted so long. At  Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire, a warrior was buried in a complete chariot,  and we ponder how an East Yorkshire burial custom comes to be found so  far west. At Alloa, near Stirling in the lowlands of Scotland, a warrior lay in  a stone cist in an Early Bronze Age cemetery older by fifteen hundred or  more years. Coincidence – or connexion?

Experimental archaeology has a particular fascination, for allowing us to  see how things could have been done in the past, even if it does not prove  that they were done that way. The expertise of naval architects is brought  to bear on the question of whether the plank-built ships of the Bronze Age  were seaworthy, and we have the results of the construction of a half size  model of the famous  ship fragment from North Ferriby on the river  Humber, and its sea trials on the Solent.  And some curious Bronze Age pottery vessels, hitherto thought to be  for making cheese, work very well as primitive Bunsen burners for  soldering metals.

Ceremonial feasting appears again. Following the mass of animal bones  at the Leicestershire Iron Age cult site we featured in CA 188, we report  something similar at a Bronze Age barrow at Gayhurst in  Northamptonshire. Our Ferrybridge chariot burial site, too, has a mass of  animal bones in its surrounding ditch.

Finally, we have the rediscovery of a vast and splendid Roman villa at  Cotterstock in Northamptonshire.

 

Accompanying this latest CA is the new Handbook – the annual Guide to  Archaeology in Britain.

This has been completely re-thought from previous years, and it is now  arranged by category: there has always been a mass of information, but to  make it more easily comprehensible, it is now arranged thematically.

There are also several introductory features. David Miles, the English  Heritage Chief Archaeologist, begins by telling us about the new English  Heritage Beacon programme; then the Time Team‘s Carenza Lewis tells us  how she began digging; there is advice on how to apply to go on a dig;  two introductions on studying archaeology; and some straight-down-the-line  advice on whether you should become an archaeologist. And then  there is a look at the mysteries of PPG 16, and SMRs, and how  professional archaeology works in this country.

And finally the market place – where you can buy a trowel, find an  obscure book or journal, or how to go on your travels.

Inevitably there will be omissions and inconsistencies in this new  layout: please let us know what you think, and how it can be improved in  future years.

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