ca323_cover_smallOur cover feature takes us inside a well-appointed Roman villa in Dorset. There we find many of the sumptuous, if occasionally garish, decorative touches favoured by the elites in Roman Britain. Alongside the mosaics, painted wall plaster, and showy roofing are more intimate details. One mosaic had to be patched after it was worn down, perhaps by the feet of a couch, while possible fireplaces suggest humble measures to take the edge off chilly weather.

Seeing beyond the luxury is also important to understanding country houses from more recent centuries. Although the no-frills approach to servants’ quarters can leave them looking like much of a muchness, the enthusiasm with which newly developed mod cons were employed to assist their chores varied considerably. We examine the collision between technology and tradition.

At Aldeburgh, in East Anglia, it is the collision between pagan and Christian traditions that has been under the microscope. The region is renowned for clinging to the old gods, and excavation of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery has revealed that Christian graves may lie beside an earlier burial conducted according to traditional rites.

Trying to determine when, where, and how one prehistoric language evolved into another is also fiddly, as there are by definition no written clues to guide the way. Attempts to reconstruct the emergence of the Celtic family of languages, though, could revolutionise our view of prehistoric Europe by pointing to the existence of a remarkable Bronze Age lingua franca.

Finally, we travel to Halton, where two burials have been discovered in the castle bailey. Why might people have been laid to rest there?

Matt Symonds

IN THIS ISSUE:

FEATURES

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS INNOVATIONS

Exploring the use of technology in Britain’s country houses
How did the owners of country houses respond to technological change? Recent surveys show a variety of approaches, from embracing gas, electricity, running water, and central heating at an early stage to outright rejection of dastardly innovation.


DRUCE FARM VILLA

Luxury living in Roman Dorset
The discovery and excavation of a villa with well-preserved mosaics in Dorset presents an opportunity to reconstruct the rise and fall of one of Roman Britain’s high-status dwellings.


OPENING EDWINA’S BOX

Investigating an unusual Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Barber’s Point 
What may be one of the earliest Christian Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in East Anglia has been revealed beside the River Alde. We explore what these graves can tell us about the transition from pagan to Christian.


CELTIC FROM THE WEST

In search of the archaeology of a language
We look at how a cutting-edge collaboration between linguists, archaeologists, and geneticists is transforming our knowledge of Bronze Age Europe in its investigation of the possible cradle of the Celtic family of languages.


THE BODIES IN THE BAILEY

Uncovering enigmatic graves at Halton Castle
Two graves were recently discovered at Halton Castle, much to the excavators’ surprise. How much can we say about who these individuals were?


NEWS

Royal Rendlesham revealed?; Fountains Abbey graves discovered; Civil War hoard found in Lincolnshire; Limited utopia in Manea; A fish tale from Iron Age Orkney; Neolithic life at Llanfaethlu; New clue from Sutton Hoo; Finds tray


REGULARS

Comment
Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive

Context
Discovering wartime Wales from the sky

Reviews
Care in the Past; Art in England; The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain; Hunters, Fishers, and Foragers in Wales; Tiny Churches; Prehistory without Borders

Exhibition
Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Preview
Andrew Selkirk on Jorvik Viking Centre’s reopening

Conference
The latest details about Current Archaeology Live! 2017, including a reminder of how to vote and who has been nominated for this year’s CA awards

Sherds
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

Odd Socs
The Norfolk Historic Buildings Group

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