Iron 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.