Current Archaeology 281

Tracking the movement of ancient armies is notoriously difficult. On those occasions when a mobile force threw up a bank and ditch for temporary shelter traces of the defences may survive. Otherwise, detection is dependent on vague clues in any written records and tantalising finds scatters in otherwise innocuous fields. This was the challenge facing […]


Current Archaeology 280

Comparisons with Pompeii or Tutankhamen’s tomb are easily overused when attempting to convey the excitement of a new archaeological discovery. Recent media reports labelling an excavation at the new Bloomberg Place in the heart of London the ‘Pompeii of the North’ could risk dooming the results, however exciting, to disappointing comparisons with the Bay of […]


Current Archaeology 279

What was life really like for Medieval peasants? Renowned as the epitome of poverty, they appear as stock images performing hard manual labour in the margins of illustrated manuscripts. With the squalor they faced memorably lampooned by Monty Python, among others, it has always been assumed that the ramshackle hovels they called home have long […]


Current Archaeology 278

The Irish Potato Famine, or Great Hunger, took a terrible toll. Between the million who died and the million more who emigrated to escape, it cost Ireland a quarter of its population. Now, excavations at the former Kilkenny Workhouse have unexpectedly unearthed a cluster of long-forgotten mass graves holding famine victims. Providing a rare opportunity […]


CA 277

So it really is him, then. Unusually for archaeology all the strands of evidence point to the same conclusion. And what a conclusion it is: the skeleton found in Leicester Grey Friars carpark is that of Richard III ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ Archaeology is normally poorly suited to recover a specific object or individual. Dependent on […]


CA 276

Prehistoric standing stones are famously enigmatic, but some monuments may have more secrets in their past than was previously supposed. Recent excavations at Trefael indicate that a supposedly Bronze Age standing stone was deliberately recycled from a Neolithic tomb. Was this a knowing refashioning of a sacred landscape? Salt may be a seasoning taken for […]


CA 275

Orkney could be an open-air archaeology museum. Sites such as Skara Brae and Maes Howe fire the imagination with their spectacular preservation. Yet while many of the archipelago’s big-name sites were dug in the first half of the 20th century, fieldwork has not rested on its laurels. Today, Orkney continues to play a leading role […]


CA 274

Covering the end of Time Team feels like writing an obituary. The programme has been there for much of my personal journey through archaeology. I first stumbled across it in 1996 as a channel-hopping schoolboy hoping to delay my homework a little longer. Stunned by the team’s discoveries at Stanton Harcourt, watching the episode was […]


CA 273

HMS  Namur  brings a new meaning to ‘ship burial’. Conjuring images of Sutton-Hoo style splendour, the boat is normally just an eye-catching status-symbol for the deceased. But not at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. The discovery of a quarter of a Royal Navy warship buried beneath flooring has puzzled archaeologists for over a decade. Now that […]


CA 272

Every school pupil knows Richard III’s apocryphal cry of ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’. But what happened next? This school pupil was taught that after being dragged through the streets of Leicester the slain king’s corpse was pitched into the River Soar. Not so, it seems. While the tradition that Richard […]