I hope you’re all keeping well. What a different world we find ourselves in since I wrote last month’s letter! They say that ‘the past is a foreign country’, and it certainly seems bizarre that only a few weeks ago we were compiling our annual ‘Digs Guide’ listings of summer excavations.
But while many outdoor activities are, for now, somewhat curtailed, there are still plenty of opportunities to get your heritage fix without setting foot outside your door. In lieu of our usual museum and listings pages, we have put together a special section with a wealth of ways to explore the past from your home. From podcasts and radio programmes to online lectures and heritage sites that you can visit virtually, I hope you will find plenty to enjoy.
As for this month’s features, we begin with a trip to Iron Age East Yorkshire to encounter the remarkable Arras culture, whose distinctive funerary customs (including elaborate chariot burials) tell a fascinating tale of continental connections.
We next visit Spitalfields Market in East London, a site that in the medieval period hosted a small monastic hospital that flourished into a major institution ministering to the poor and sick. The urban poor also feature in our third feature, which examines Avon Street in Bath. This area was designed to attract wealthy spa-goers, but became a notorious 18th-century red-light district. What can we learn of its inhabitants?
Off the coast of Southend, we dive into the 17th century to explore the wreck of the London, and an ambitious campaign to save its remains.
Our final article takes us to the Roman frontier to pose the question: was Hadrian’s Wall completed within the reign of the emperor whose name it bears?
In This Issue:
BRING ME MY CHARIOT
Investigating burial practices in Iron-Age Yorkshire
The Arras Culture of East Yorkshire is renowned for its remarkable chariot graves. Where did these customs and skills originate from? A new interpretation highlights the diverse nature of life and death in the British Iron Age.
THE MONASTERY BEFORE THE MARKET
Spitalfields’ medieval chapter revealed
The Augustinian priory of St Mary Spital was London’s first religious house founded by Londoners. Excavations have revealed how it developed from a small hospital into a large institution caring for the capital’s medieval poor and sick for over 300 years.
Illuminating Bath’s lost quayside district
Archaeological investigations between Bath’s old city walls and the River Avon have uncovered traces of what was once a notorious slum and red-light district, home to 10,000 of the city’s poorest residents in the 18th to 20th centuries.
REVISITING THE LONDON
Exploring the campaign to save a 17th-century warship
An ambitious initiative to raise and preserve the wreck of the London, a unique time capsule of the Cromwellian and Stuart era, has been launched. The 76-gun warship sank after exploding off the coast of Southend, and archaeologists and divers are racing against time to record the wreck’s deteriorating remains.
AN UNFINISHED FRONTIER?
Was Hadrian’s Wall completed in his lifetime?
A key question about the northern Roman frontier is when the construction of Hadrian’s Wall was finished. What light can archaeological evidence shed on the fortifications being completed during the reign of the eponymous emperor?
DNA analysis sheds light on whalebone use in Iron Age Orkney; Urban insights at Leeds’ Tetley’s Brewery; 12th-century lead pollution visible in Alpine ice; Alderney’s concentration camp uncovered; Medieval carvings found in cave near Guildford; Science Notes; Reconstructing a moated site near Tewkesbury; Finds Tray
Church House Farm, Herefordshire
Twelfth-century Sculptural Finds at Canterbury Cathedral; A Prehistoric Burial Mound and Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Barrow Clump, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire; Manufactured Bodies: the impact of industrialisation on London health; Exploring Megalithic Europe; London’s Lost Rivers: a walker’s guide – volume two; Time Team’s Dig Village
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
Association of British Counties
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