Rarely does an archaeological discovery change accepted history. The traditional story of the Roman invasion of Britain usually has Vespasian, later the Roman Emperor, at the time commanding the Second Augusta Legion, conquering the West Country. But did he? A new legionary tombstone from the Roman fort at Alchester has rewritten the story, moving Vespasian to the Midlands. Excavation director Eberhard Sauer presents the evidence.
Our second story also concerns a famous historical figure: Mad King George III. He stayed much of the time at Kew Palace. The old house is now being done up, and archaeologists have been at work peeling back the layers to reveal traces of paint and paper that show how the house looked in George III’s time. Lee Prosser of Historic Royal Palaces describes the project.
Then we revisit the site of one of the first digs on an Anglo-Saxon settlement site: Bishopstone. The old dig was on Rookery Hill, but the settlement here was abandoned in the 7th century. Why? And did people move straight-away to the current village site? Anglo-Saxon specialist Gabor Thomas has been excavating there to find out – and seems to have found the residence of a Saxon lord next to the parish church.
What was samian ware used for? The usual answer is that it was best table ware for special occasions. But Roman pottery expert Edward Biddulph has been eating his cornflakes out of replica bowls to find out how the wear patterns on excavated vessels formed – and now samian does not look so special after all.
Then, in My Time, we go back out into the field to hear from Carenza Lewis about a fascinating Time Team dig at Northborough near Peterborough, where a Neolithic causewayed enclosure has just been found.
We finish with another profile of one of our leading practitioners: Brian Philp, pioneer and veteran of Kent rescue archaeology, where he has explored over 700 sites in a career spanning 50 years.
We also have all our regulars – News, Diary, and Books. In Diary we debate two big national events planned for the summer. Which sounds best to you? In Books we review Francis Pryor’s trilogy of Seahenge, Britain BC, and Britain AD. Has Francis got it right?