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Archive for the ‘Iron Age’ Category

This rich archaeological landscape offers a wealth of prehistoric temples, Neolithic harvest hills for fertility rituals and communal tombs. Visit mysterious Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest artificial mound, the Neolithic communal tomb of West Kennet Long Barrow, Old Sarum, Overton Hill Sanctuary, Avebury, Britain’s largest henge and Stonehenge. These tours depart from Bath but can be organised from Salisbury or even London

At Wessex Guided Tours we aim to provide the best planned, best led and altogether the most fulfilling and enjoyable archaeological tours available.  Our private day excursions offer the best opportunity to explore and experience some of Britain’s most iconic and significant ancient sites, guided by our archaeologist guides.

We specialise in archaeology tours, and as a result we believe we offer an excellent Stonehenge Access Toursspecialist service.

Private Tours:

Our itineraries are original, imaginative, well-paced and carefully balanced. Knowledge of the subject matter and the destinations combine with detailed attention to practical matters to ensure an enriching and smooth-running experience.

If you are travelling as a small group, you can design your own day trip or simply select one of our regular itineraries but have exclusive use of the vehicle for the day. We will collect you from any location within central London, Bath or Salisbury. The duration of your vehicle hire is 8-10 hours depending on the places that you are visiting and traffic conditions on the day.

Our most popular tours include:

Stonehenge, Bath and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour: Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites.

Stonehenge, Salisbury and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour: Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites. Britain’s most beautiful landscapes. Visit one of England’s most impressive Cathedrals at Salisbury.

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The major Roman fort complex was spotted on parched grassland near Brecon, Powys, and the marching camp near Caerwent in Monmouthshire.

A tip-off from Dr Jeffrey Davies studying coin finds in central Wales led to this discovery of a previously unrecorded Roman fort complex

A tip-off from Dr Jeffrey Davies studying coin finds in central Wales led to this discovery of a previously unrecorded Roman fort complex

Aerial archaeologist Toby Driver said he could not believe his eyes when he spotted the fort fromthe air.

Scores of Iron Age farms and forts were also found in Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The crop of summer discoveries follow similarly exciting Bronze Age ones made during last winter’s snow.

Dr Driver, from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW), said 2013’s spell of hot weather has left him reflecting on some of the most significant finds since 2006.

‘Rare discovery’

He targeted reconnaissance flights in a light aircraft to where the drought conditions were most severe across the length and breadth of Wales.

When crop marks show in drought conditions Dr Driver said the Royal Commission’s aerial survey only has a few weeks to record the sites before rain or harvest removes them.

The Roman fort complex discovery near Brecon was a “rare discovery for Wales” and was made following a tip from Dr Jeffrey Davies, who he has been working with on another project – the Abermagwr Roman villa excavations near Aberystwyth.

“Jeffrey Davies noticed an anomaly in Roman coin finds near Brecon, reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS),” explained the aerial archaeologist.

“He had a hunch that the coins, of the Emperor Claudius, could indicate a lost early Roman fort, and passed a grid reference to me the day before a flight into central Wales.

Iron Age settlement

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when the pilot and I approached the location and saw fading crop marks of a major Roman fort complex, lost beneath fields and a road for nearly 2,000 years.”

Between Caerwent and Chepstow, the aerial survey pinpointed only the second Roman overnight marching camp in Monmouthshire which Dr Driver said appears to show a small expeditionary force on manoeuvres, perhaps in the years around 50 AD.

“Because the campaigns against the tenacious Silures were documented by Roman historians, we expect more camps in south east Wales than we currently know about,” he added.

West of Caerwent, a “remarkable” Iron Age settlement was also revealed.

In Pembrokeshire, one of the largest and most complex Iron Age defended farms in Pembrokeshire was found at Conkland Hill, Wiston, while in the Vale of Glamorgan more Iron Age settlements were discovered close to the Roman villa at Caermead, Llantwit Major.

Dr Driver added: “Given the decades of aerial survey in the region around Caerwent, these surprise discoveries show the continuing need for aerial archaeology in Wales.”

In the winter, surveys in the snow uncovered Bronze Age burial mounds in the Vale of Glamorgan and a moated site at Llangorse lake, near Brecon.

The Royal Commission will now begin cataloguing and mapping the discoveries to make the information more widely available online.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-23628630

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Archaeologists have unearthed a charred stone that suggests the Mediterranean diet came to these islands during the Iron Age

Professor Mike Fulford at the dig in Silchester. The latest find is an olive stone that dates back to Iron Age Britain. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Professor Mike Fulford at the dig in Silchester. The latest find is an olive stone that dates back to Iron Age Britain. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Iron Age Britons were importing olives from the Mediterranean a century before the Romans arrived with their exotic tastes in food, say archaeologists who have discovered a single olive stone from an excavation of an Iron Age well at at Silchester in Hampshire.

The stone came from a layer securely dated to the first century BC, making it the earliest ever found in Britain – but since nobody ever went to the trouble of importing one olive, there must be more, rotted beyond recognition or still buried.

The stone, combined with earlier finds of seasoning herbs such as coriander, dill and celery, all previously believed to have arrived with the Romans, suggests a diet at Silchester that would be familiar in any high street pizza restaurant.

The excavators, led by Professor Mike Fulford of Reading University, also found another more poignant luxury import: the skeleton of a tiny dog, no bigger than a modern toy poodle, carefully buried, curled up as if in sleep. However it may not have met a peaceful end.

“It was fully grown, two or three years old, and thankfully showed no signs of butchery, so it wasn’t a luxury food or killed for its fur,” Fulford said. “But it was found in the foundations of a very big house we are still uncovering – 50 metres long at least – so we believe it may turn out to be the biggest Iron Age building in Britain, which must have belonged to a chief or a sub chief, a very big cheese in the town. And whether this little dog conveniently died just at the right time to be popped into the foundations, or whether it was killed as a high status offering, we cannot tell.

“The survival of the olive stone, which was partly charred, was a freak of preservation. But there must be more; we need to dig a lot more wells.”

Fulford has been leading the annual summer excavations at Silchester, which bring together hundreds of student, volunteer and professional archaeologists, for half a lifetime, and the site continues to throw up surprises. It was an important Roman town, but deliberately abandoned in the 7th century, its wells blocked up and its buildings tumbled, and never reoccupied. Apart from a few Victorian farm buildings, it is still open farmland, surrounded by the jagged remains of massive Roman walls.

Fulford now believes that the town was at its height a century before the Roman invasion in 43AD, with regularly planned, paved streets, drainage, shops, houses and workshops, trading across the continent for luxury imports of food, household goods and jewellery, enjoying a lifestyle in Britain that, previously, was believed to have arrived with the Romans.

This sodden summer have driven the archaeologists to despair, with the site a swamp of deep mud and water bubbling up in every hole and trench.

“Conditions are the worst I can ever remember. Ironically, the wells are the easiest to work in because we have the pumps running there,” Fulford said.

The tiny dog is one of dozens that the team has excavated here over the years, including one that was buried standing up as if on guard for 2,000 years. A unique knife with a startlingly realistic carving of two dogs mating was another of the spectacular finds from one of the most enigmatic sites in the country.

Visitors can observe the archaeologists’ trench warfare this weekend, when the site opens to the public as part of the national festival of archaeology, one of thousands of events across the country.

Article by: Maev Kennedy guardian.co.uk,
Full Story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/19/olive-stone-pre-roman-britain

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