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Mick Aston is one of our most highly respected and celebrated archaeologists. Over the last 6 months he has left Time Team and received a lifetime achievement award at the British Archaeological Awards. Now he shares the highs and lows of his archaeological journey. From Mick’s earliest site visits (while bunking off school), to his […]

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When thousands of bodies were discovered in Medieval mass graves at Spitalfields cemetery, the Black Death was believed to be responsible. Then the radiocarbon dates came back. These placed the burials almost a century before the plague. Seeking an alternative explanation for the deaths, the archaeologists found historical accounts of a famine, and a tantalising […]

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Shakespeare’s Curtain theatre is a major discovery. Immortalised in Henry V as ‘this wooden O’, it was here that Romeo and Juliet’s star-crossed love first played out. As well as premiering these masterpieces, all the signs point to the Curtain being the best preserved of Shakespeare’s playhouses. With its gravelled yard, knucklebone floor and surviving […]

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Orkney has been called the Egypt of the north. Studded with spectacular prehistoric monuments, the ancient landscape remains a powerful presence. Yet excavations continue to surprise. The island of Wyre was thought to be devoid of prehistoric activity until recent fieldwalking harvested a wealth of Neolithic finds. Wondering if this could be another Skara Brae, […]

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The traditional image of a Medieval leper is a familiar one. Tainted by spiritual pollution, they were outcasts shunned by society. Yet excavations on the site of St Mary Magdalen leper hospital in Winchester are revealing a different picture.   Here the afflicted were cared for in substantial structures, before being laid to rest in […]

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Medieval St Paul’s would have been a striking sight. Its central tower and spire, completed around 1220, rose to a height of over 400 ft, making it the tallest steeple in Europe. But it was not to last. In June 1561 a lightning strike brought down the spire, and just over a century later the […]

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RMS Titanic is more than just a wrecked liner. The human toll of her loss is well known, with some 1,500 of the 2,200 on board perishing in the early hours of 15th April 1912. Yet ever since her resting place was located in 1985, Titanic has been at the forefront of questions about the […]

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  February is the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth. Revered for his vivid descriptions of Victorian London, he is also applauded for drawing attention to the plight of the poorest in society. One of the slums he visited was Jacob’sIsland, which became the backdrop to the thrilling dénouement of Oliver Twist. Yet while the level of […]

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In December I was fortunate enough to stand on the Nene riverbank in 1300 BC. Beside me were the stumps of prehistoric willow trees. Beneath me was a channel choked with the detritus of Bronze Age river life. Perfectly preserved eel traps, fish weirs and boats — six of them — still lay where they […]

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The most exciting thing about archaeology is the way fresh discoveries can overturn established theories in the  blink of an eye. Witnessing how a new consensus emerges  from these is also thrilling, and the sight of scholars  with opposing views scoring and conceding points is  a conference staple. Ultimately this debate forges our  perceptions of […]

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