Current Archaeology 315
A recent excavation campaign at Binchester Roman fort concluded with a spectacular discovery. A trench revealed part of a bathhouse that may be one of the best-preserved structures surviving from Roman Britain. Traces of garish frescoes still cling to walls standing above head height, which bear witness to refurbishments that kept pace with the garrison’s demand for creature comforts. We discover how a facility dedicated to cleanliness ended up choked with dirt.
Also in this issue, we pay a visit to Alderley Edge to learn the results of a survey unearthing the secrets of a landscape that has attracted miners and myths in equal measure. From a Bronze Age shovel that became a schoolboy’s talisman to a 19th-century landowner’s revenge on the commuter settlement that had appropriated the name of his family seat, this weird and wonderful landscape is fertile ground for stories.
The devil is in the detail, they say, and for medieval churches and cathedrals this adage is especially apt. A fascinating study of graffiti is giving voice to generations of congregations and clergymen who whiled away the hours incising fears, fancies, and frustrations into the masonry. These frequently crude compositions of ships, windmills, music, and demons bring their creators’ worlds to life with extraordinary power.
A lost landscape has been brought to light in the Biddenham Loop, where archaeologists have dug a huge tract of land bound within a river meander. What they found was a place where monuments evolved over thousands of years, keeping past generations’ decisions very much in the present.
IN THIS ISSUE:
ON THE EDGE
The story of Alderley from prehistory to the present
Mining on Alderley Edge dates back to at least the Bronze Age and continued into the 20th century. How was this picturesque sandstone outcrop transformed from a hub of mining activity into Manchester’s first commuter community?
Creature comforts in the military north
Unearthing Binchester Roman fort started two centuries ago, with the discovery of a bathhouse after the ground gave way beneath a horse and cart. In recent years, major excavations have exposed one of the best-preserved surviving Roman buildings in Britain. How do the two bathhouses compare, and what can they tell us about life in and around the military base?
Recording England’s early church graffiti
A survey of medieval graffiti in Norfolk’s churches has revealed tens of thousands of illicit engravings. What do these reveal about the people who left their mark on the church walls?
LIFE IN THE LOOP
A landscape 6,000 years in the making near Biddenham
Excavation near Biddenham in Bedfordhire has uncovered a wealth of features ranging from the Neolithic to the Saxon eras. How did so many successive generations occupying the same land develop the landscape of their forebears?
AVERTING EVIL IN ROMAN BRITAIN
Phallic carvings on the frontier
Depictions of phalluses can be found across the Roman world. How did these images find their way to Britain, and what did the island’s residents think of them?
150 Anglo-Saxon graves found at Bulford; Bear bones story rewrites Irish prehistory; Major Roman villa discovered in Wiltshire; Scourge of Rufford Abbey found?; Remains of Partick Castle rediscovered; Deer DNA sheds light on prehistoric seafaring; Relic of Romano-British religion found in London
Continuing excavations in north-west Wales have uncovered the remains of the area’s first multi-house early Neolithic settlement. With a range of enigmatic features preserved, this is an exceptional find.
Blood of the Celts: The New Ancestral Story; The Archaeological Excavation Dictionary; Latin Inscriptions
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
Dry Stone Walling Association