Roman

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Glastonbury Abbey: the archaeological story

Excavators were repeatedly drawn to Glastonbury Abbey during the 20th century, but the fruits of their labours rarely made it into print. Roberta Gilchrist is spearheading a major project to separate archaeological fact from the rich mythology the abbey attracts.   The site of Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset is inscribed with legends that are at […]

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Current Archaeology 320

Glastonbury has a knack of attracting stories. It is a place where legends of a once and future king and feet in ancient time provide a beguiling backdrop to remarkable archaeological remains. The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey enticed a succession of investigators in the 20th century, but all of them left their endeavours incompletely published. […]

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Hadrian’s Wall: 3 days, 300 people, 40 years of research

More than 300 people came along to celebrate 40 years of Hadrian’s Wall research at our special conference on 2-4 September, organised in partnership with Durham University and sponsored by Andante Travels. The celebratory weekend began on Friday with a tour to Vindolanda and Housesteads with Andante Travels, led by expert guides Mark Corney and David […]

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The archaeology of the domestic cat

Of mousers and men When did cats graduate from convenient pest-control to one of the world’s most popular pets, and how can you tell the difference in the archaeological record? The answer, John Buglass and Jennifer West suggest, may lie in Roman Yorkshire. Today, the image of a pet cat purring on its owner’s lap […]

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Worlds apart?

The Romans in Ireland Ireland has no known Roman forts, villas or planned towns, but a recent project designed to investigate Ireland during the first five centuries AD found plenty of evidence for interaction between Ireland and the Roman world, as Chris Catling now reports. History in Ireland traditionally begins with the arrival of St […]

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Letters from Londinium

Reading the earliest writing from Roman Britain Among the remarkable artefacts recovered by MOLA archaeologists on the site of the new Bloomberg headquarters in London were 405 writing tablets. Of these, 87 have now been deciphered, providing a tantalising insight into the lives and legal wrangling of the first Londoners. Roger Tomlin and Sophie Jackson […]

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Current Archaeology 317

The early years of London seem both uncannily familiar and unimaginably distant. Today, no one would bat an eyelid at Tacitus’ description of a settlement heaving with ‘businessmen and commerce’. Accounts of reckless loans, eye-watering debt, and advice to maintain a stiff upper lip (or at least ‘not to appear shabby’) in the face of adversity reinforce a sense that some […]

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Current Archaeology 316

The true nature of the events that played out at Burnswark in the 2nd century AD has long excited speculation. Two Roman camps were aggressively positioned to hold a former native hillfort in a vice-like grip, but does this dramatic arrangement testify to a desperate siege, or a rigorous military training regime? Now an ingenious new approach to studying the […]

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Bullets, ballistas, and Burnswark

A Roman assault on a hillfort in Scotland The ancient author Josephus once observed of the Roman military that ‘their training manoeuvres are battles without bloodshed, and their battles manoeuvres with bloodshed’. The difficulty in distinguishing between these states is well illustrated by the residue from a Roman artillery barrage at Burnswark. Were they aiming […]

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Earliest written reference to London found

The earliest-known written reference to London was revealed today (1 June) by MOLA archaeologists, as part of Britain’s largest, earliest, and most significant group of Roman waxed writing tablets. The reference forms part of an address – Londinio Mogontio, ‘To Mogontius [a Celtic personal name], in London’, and appears on a writing tablet dating from c.AD […]

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