Front cover of Current Archaeology issue 357

This month we are putting the ‘art’ into ‘artefact’, showcasing a number of exciting discoveries that are as beautiful to look at as they are important to our understanding of the past.

Our cover story unpicks the details of the Boxford mosaic, a 1,700-year-old floor lavishly decorated with scenes from Classical legend, which has been hailed as ‘the most exciting mosaic discovery made in Britain in the last 50 years’.

Classical motifs also abound in the elaborately carved figureheads depicting monarchs and mythical figures that once adorned the bows of 19th-century warships. A cutting-edge conservation project has restored 14 monumental examples to their former glory – and uncovered some surprising secrets in the process.

Taking a more literal approach to creative endeavour, we are also celebrating the art (or science?) of archaeological illustration, exploring the line between imagination and objectivity, and how the way we present the past influences our interpretations. Our final archaeological artwork is the Bacton Altar Cloth, an exquisitely embroidered Tudor textile that for over a century has hung in a small Herefordshire church. Expert research suggests that it has a rather grander origin, however, as part of a dress once worn by Elizabeth I.

Moving from art to anniversaries, in this issue we also mark 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. The tragic events of a peaceful protest that ended in bloodshed have entered notoriety. What can archaeology tell us about the wider context of this episode, and the industrial landscape that the campaigners knew?

Carly Hilts

PS. Save the date! CA Live! 2020 will be on 28-29 February, for tickets and more details click here. 

In This Issue:

FEATURES

EXCAVATING MYTHS AND MONSTERS

How one of Britain’s finest mosaics emerged at Mud Hole Roman Villa
A extraordinary 4th-century mosaic depicting detailed scenes from Classical mythology has been uncovered in Boxford, Berkshire. What do its motifs mean?


VOYAGE OF RECOVERY

Conserving 19th-century naval figureheads
Cutting-edge techniques have restored a colourful collection of ships’ figureheads to their former glory, uncovering some surprising secrets about their design along the way.


DIGGING PETERLOO AND THE MANCHESTER ‘SPRING’

An archaeology of power and protest
Two centuries after the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, what can excavations at a number of sites associated with the tragedy reveal about its wider context?


ILLUSTRATING THE PAST

‘Between art and science’
We explore the evolution of archaeological illustration, discussing the different approaches taken by artists in reconstructing the past.


THE BACTON ALTAR CLOTH

A dress fit for a Tudor queen?
An intricately embroidered silk altar cloth that has hung in St Faith’s Church, Bacton, for over a century is thought to be part of a dress once worn by Elizabeth I. We trace the story of this unique textile.


NEWS

HS2 dig uncovers Birmingham’s 19th-century inhabitants; Summer of finds at Lindisfarne; Life at Roman Ipplepen; 1,200-year-old Pictish cross slab found; Galloway Hoard’s Anglo-Saxon ‘owner’ identified?; Science Notes; Dairy consumption in Neolithic Britain; Finds Tray


REGULARS

Comment
Joe Flatman excavates the
CA archive

Context
Fit for a Bishop: Auckland Castle, County Durham

Reviews
Hadrian’s Wall 2009-2019: A summary of recent excavation and research prepared for the Fourteenth Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall, 2019; Time, Please: lost inns, pubs, and alehouses of the Yorkshire Dales; Roman Gardens; Yorkshire: a story of invasion, uprising and conflict; The Slate Industry; The Ancient Ways of Wessex: travel and communication in an early medieval landscape

Museum
Great North Museum: Hancock

Calendar
Our selection of exhibitions and events

Sherds
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

Odd Socs
The London Appreciation Society


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