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Rites before romanitas: Reconstructing Britain’s Iron Age beliefs

We are all familiar with the Classical gods who were imported to these shores with the arrival of the Roman army, but the beliefs and religious practices of Britain’s Iron Age inhabitants are far more shadowy. Miranda Aldhouse-Green explores how far archaeology can help to illuminate this enigmatic picture.

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Out of the Ashes: Seeking the origins of the first people of Stonehenge

In a research project originally published in Scientific Reports, Dr Christophe Snoeck and researchers from the University of Oxford, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Université libre de Bruxelles, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, and University College London have used isotope analysis to examine some of the cremated human remains excavated at Stonehenge, with fascinating results. Their findings highlight not only how mobile some Neolithic populations were, and how important Stonehenge was to them, but also the lengths to which they may have been willing to go to bury their dead on the site.

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Sherford communities old and new: Exploring millennia of settlement in Devon

The creation of a new town on the eastern side of Plymouth has afforded a rare opportunity to investigate a wide multi-period archaeological landscape, revealing the hidden secrets of the people who lived there centuries before. Gareth Chaffey and Matt Kendall explain how these discoveries are pushing back the boundaries of our understanding of southern Devon’s past.

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The die is cast: Investigating Icenian coinage

In a period that is largely defined by the Romans and their written histories, thanks to a relatively poor archaeological record, coinage offers one of the best ways of learning about Britain’s sometimes elusive Late Iron Age tribes. A ten-year study of the coins of the East Anglian Iceni by John Talbot has delved into the production, distribution, and characteristics of their currency, illuminating previously unknown aspects of their culture. Here, he explores questions of identity, and hunts for hidden faces.

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Fishbourne at 50: Celebrating half a century at a unique Roman palace

This month marks 50 years since Fishbourne Roman Palace, one of the great archaeological discoveries of the 1960s, opened its doors to the public. The site continues to hold wide appeal for visitors and researchers alike. Here, Betina Blake and Katrina Burton explore how our understanding of the Roman structures has evolved, and how the anniversary is being celebrated.

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Prehistoric pop culture: Deciphering the DNA of the Bell Beaker Complex

More than 4,500 years ago, a hugely popular cultural phenomenon – today known as the Bell Beaker Complex – captured the prehistoric imagination, flourishing across much of Europe. Archaeologists are still deliberating over how this Complex, first identified in the 19th century, developed so quickly and effectively. Now the largest ancient DNA study to-date has shed revolutionary new light on the question, with surprising implications for our understanding of ancient populations – particularly that of Britain, which seems to have undergone an almost complete genetic turnover in just a few centuries.

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Normal for Normans? Exploring the large round mounds of England

Most of England’s monumental mounds are assumed to be Norman castle mottes built in the period immediately after the Conquest – but could some of them have much earlier origins? Jim Leary, Elaine Jamieson, and Phil Stastney report on a project that set out to investigate some of these mighty constructions.

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