Anglo-Saxon

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Weaning ourselves off bone for isotopic analysis?

With the remarkable potential of isotopic analysis making recent headlines (see p.18), it seems apt to talk a bit more about this technique. Among the wealth of archaeological questions isotope analysis can help to answer are: where was an individual born and raised, did they migrate during their lifetimes, what did they predominately eat, and when were they weaned? As this is a relatively new and ever-evolving methodology, though, some of the wrinkles are still being ironed out – and one of the biggest questions currently being explored is whether bone is as effective as teeth in reflecting the isotopic values that a person accumulated in life.

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Sleeping by the riverside

An excavation on the edge of Trumpington, Cambridgeshire, has uncovered a cluster of intriguing Anglo-Saxon graves, including the rare remains of a young woman lying on a wooden bed, accompanied by lavish grave goods. Carly Hilts reports.

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Current Archaeology 343

As I write, with a mid-August downpour hammering on the roof, this summer’s sweltering heatwave already feels a lifetime ago. During those drier times, though, the parched ground yielded a wealth of archaeological secrets as the ghostly outlines of buried features became strikingly clear. Hundreds of monuments, settlements, and other sites have been captured in […]

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Current Archaeology 342

Even a brand new town can hold ancient secrets. That is certainly the case at Sherford, currently under construction outside Plymouth, where wide-ranging excavations have revealed a wealth of clues to much earlier occupation spanning thousands of years. Some of the Sherford structures are enigmatic, but the estate covered in our next feature is downright […]

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A West Sussex execution victim?

Post-excavation analysis of a grave discovered on a hillside just north of Shoreham-by-Sea suggests that its Anglo-Saxon occupant may have met a violent end. The human remains were found by Archaeology South-East (the contracting division of the Centre for Applied Archaeology, University College London), who were working in advance of construction for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm within an area of the South Downs Way known for its prehistoric burials.

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Second inscribed stone found at Tintagel

A stone inscribed with 7th-century writing has been discovered during excavations at Tintagel Castle. Found during a five-year project commissioned by English Heritage and undertaken by Cornwall Archaeological Unit (CAU), the two-foot-long piece of Cornish slate appears to have been used as a window ledge, and it is etched with an eclectic combination of Latin writing, Greek letters, and Christian symbols.

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Review – Viking Nottinghamshire

Once part of Mercia, Nottingham was a key Anglo- Saxon settlement that became one of the five Boroughs of the Danelaw. It is therefore surprising that – according to a foreword by eminent Viking scholar Professor Judith Jesch – this slim volume is the first to be dedicated to Viking Age Nottinghamshire, but it is an informative guide to the region’s early medieval heritage, and an enjoyable read.

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Deciphering the Anglo-Saxon diet

The 6th and 7th centuries in England were defined by great social change. Along with the gradual conversion to Christianity in many areas, there is also evidence for increasing social stratification, most clearly seen through the emergence of prominent princely burials such as Sutton Hoo. It seems the rich were getting richer, and the poor poorer. A new study by Emma Hannah (Queen’s University Belfast) and Susanne Hakenbeck (University of Cambridge) has analysed how this upheaval may have affected diet during this period. Early Christian proscriptions involving meat suggest that, as more of the population converted, they may have become increasingly reliant on fi sh. At the same time, with the development of a clear social hierarchy, a distinct dietary difference between social classes may also be expected.

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Review – A Gazetteer of Anglo-Saxon & Anglo-Scandinavian Sites: Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire

The reader needs to be aware of the author and his previous county-based gazetteers to know what this book covers. The subject matter is not broadly archaeological, as the ‘sites’ mentioned in the title are almost entirely churches with extant pre-Norman fabric, alongside carved stonework found in and around these structures. The only non-ecclesiastical/ monastic sites mentioned are the Cambridgeshire Dykes, the reserve collection of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge, and a few objects from the Peterborough and St Neots museums.

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Review – Water and the Environment in the Anglo-Saxon World

Focusing not so much on marine environments (as the title might suggest) as on wetlands and inland waterways, this book is the latest addition to a series of multi-author volumes exploring the environment of the Anglo-Saxons. Rivers, marshes, landing places, and sacred springs were just some of the important watery places that existed in early medieval England. The nine chapters of this volume explore these features, focusing on some fairly well-researched topics, such as inland waterways, towns, and fishing, and some less familiar ones, like water in Anglo-Saxon poetry and fenland frontiers.

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