More Iron Age gold has been found in north-west Norfolk. Our lead story this issue comes from my own site at Sedgeford. Set up as an Anglo-Saxon dig in 1996, not only have we now hit the Iron Age, we have hit treasure – not once but twice, first with a hoard of 39 gold staters inside an animal bone, then with the end of a gold tore missing for 40 years.
Then we come south to London and enter the Roman period. In CA 182 we reported the discovery of one of the most important Roman inscriptions found in London, famed for its reference to ‘Londoners’. Now we report on the site from which it came – Tabard Square in Southwark. There, archaeologists have found what looks like a major religious complex, complete with two Romano-Celtic temples, a “pilgrims’ rest-house”, and a wealth of apparent offerings, including an unopened pot of moisturising cream.
Also from London we have a report by Jonathan Foyle, the guest expert on one of the most successful of all Time Team digs. Syon Park is famous for the great 16th-century house that stands there, but it was originally the site of an abbey – the only one in England belonging to the Order of St Bridget. It turns out this was no ordinary abbey: built by kings in the fifteenth century, it was the size of Westminster Abbey and one of the most spectacular sires on the Thames in Lancastrian, Yorkist and early Tudor times.
Then we turn to Anglo-Saxon swords. With another spectacular find – a set off five gold handle fittings from a riverbank in Lincolnshire – weapons expert Heinrich Harke of Reading University gives us a round-up. What do we know about who owned swords, how they were used, and what was their significance as status-symbols in Anglo-Saxon England?
From the glitter of gold to the pollen in peat-bogs. Using the humble evidence of pollen samples, archaeologists at Exeter University have gained new insights into the lives off farming folk during the Roman and Norman periods, and have made discoveries about changes in the Iron Age and the Dark Ages.
Finally, we join the celebration of Surrey Archaeological Society’s 150 years of digging. Here, we offer a selection of images from the archive – including perhaps the first excavation photograph in history!
– Neil Faulkner
With this issue, volume XVI of Current Archaeology is complete, and we conclude with an index. May we also thank all those who have helped us in this volume – the contributors, the ‘sources’, the photographers, the illustrators, the issue editors and all those who have made the articles possible. And our thanks too, to you, our readers, for your support, stimulus and inspiration!