Our 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?
IN THIS ISSUE:
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.
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?
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
Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive
Discovering wartime Wales from the sky
Care in the Past; Art in England; The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain; Hunters, Fishers, and Foragers in Wales; Tiny Churches; Prehistory without Borders
Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Andrew Selkirk on Jorvik Viking Centre’s reopening
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
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
The Norfolk Historic Buildings Group