Bedlam. It is a word that evokes the casual brutality of early healthcare. It was also a real institution, tending real patients. Now the hospital’s former cemetery is being excavated, and the bodies within have been excitedly labelled as former patients by the press. Yet the truth is far more complex, and reveals a world where medical treatment could double as popular entertainment.

Richborough is a key site for Roman Britain. While debate still rages about whether Claudius’ invading army first made landfall here, there  is little doubt that the site’s great triumphal arch celebrated Rome’s dominance over Britannia. Yet such symbolism turned sour when the monument was levelled to help shore up Rome’s wavering control of the waterways.

In the 1970s a group of enthusiasts discovered a prehistoric cairn. But their energetic digging was not followed by publication, and the archive was left to gather dust. Saved from a garage in 2000, expert finds analysis and modern excavation have finally laid bare the lives and luxuries of those interred on Mellor Moor.

Finally we examine the remains of a Medieval hall discovered during demolition in the 1960s. Study and restoration of the structure helped usher in new approaches to  preservation. Such foresight paid off, and Newton Hall is still surrendering insights into a building tradition that some believe stretches back to the dying days of Rome.

FEATURES

BEDLAM BURIALS

Unearthing an English institution

The cemetery associated with Britain’s most notorious hospital is under excavation. But were ‘men deprived of reason’ really buried there?

RICHBOROUGH

More than a Roman fort

The ‘gateway to Roman Britain’ is put to the trowel, revealing a thriving port town. Is this where Claudius landed?

SHAW CAIRN REVISITED

The dead of Mellor Moor

An old dig archive, and fresh excavation campaign tell the story of a prehistoric sepulchre, and a Peak District ‘princess’.

REDISCOVERING NEWTON HALL

Rescue, Restoration and Reconstruction

How the chance discovery of a Medieval hall immured in an 18th-century barn prompted a new approach to preservation.

NEWS

Silbury’s little sister; Colchester coin hoard; An archaeological education; Anglo-Saxon warriors; Glastonbury Abbey publication approaches; Portable Antiquities success; Hackney Eagles returned.

REGULARS

Festival of British Archaeology

A taste of events from the Council for British Archaeology organised festival.

Context

Capturing the barracks of the Roman fort at Vindolanda.

Reviews

Late Roman Towns in Britain: Rethinking Change and Decline; Prehistoric Britain; Gladiator: the unofficial Roman fighter’s manual.

Sherds

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues.

Last Word

Andrew Selkirk goes in search of the Easter Island statues.

Odd Socs

Association for the History of Glass.

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