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Archaeologists have discovered 81 “extremely rare” tree-trunk coffins at a “previously unknown” early Christian Anglo-Saxon community’s cemetery.

saxon-grave

Historic England believes the finds will “advance our understanding of Middle-Saxon religious beliefs”

Found at Great Ryburgh in Norfolk, their “remarkable preservation” was due to the waterlogged conditions of the river valley.

The Historic England excavation was carried out ahead of the construction of a lake and flood defence system.

Chief executive Duncan Wilson said the graves were “a significant discovery”.

Anglo-Saxon coffins seldom survive because wood decays over time.

James Fairclough, an archaeologist from the Museum of London Archaeology which led the dig, said: “The combination of acidic sand and alkaline water created the perfect conditions for the skeletons and wooden graves to survive, revealing remarkable details of Christian Anglo-Saxon burial practices.”

Archaeologist Matt Champion made the initial discovery.

Landowner Gary Boyce had asked him to put in trial trenches ahead of the planning application for the lake and flood defence system. These revealed high status Anglo-Saxon pottery and Roman Samian Ware.

He said it was all the more remarkable because prior to the dig “all the evidence suggested the field had never been developed”.

They decided to carry out a full excavation in January – and within an hour found the first of over 80 human burials. The dig was completed in June but its findings have only just been released to the press.

Historic England said other important finds included six “very rare” plank-lined graves “believed to be the earliest known examples in Britain” and evidence of a timber structure thought to be a church.

Historic England believes the burials date from between the 7th and 9th Centuries AD and were “the final resting place for a community of early Christians”.

Research is continuing to find out where the bodies came from, how they were related and what their diet and health was like.

Some of the finds will go on display at Norwich Castle Museum.

Article Source (BBC)

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An ancient village dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii” was just a few months old when it burnt down, it has emerged.

pompeii

The beads found at Whittlesey show this Bronze Age village of the ancient Fens was nevertheless tied into a trade network that may have stretched to the Middle East

Analysis of wood used to build the settlement suggests it was only lived in for a short time before it was destroyed.

Despite this, archaeologists said the site gives an “exquisitely detailed” insight into everyday Bronze Age life.

Evidence of fine fabric-making, varied diets and vast trading networks has been found during the 10-month dig.

At least five circular houses raised on stilts above the East Anglian fens have been found.

David Gibson, of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, University of Cambridge, said the site allowed researchers to “visit in exquisite detail everyday life in the Bronze Age”.

“Domestic activity within structures is demonstrated from clothing to household objects, to furniture and diet,” he said.

“These dwellings have it all, the complete set, it’s a ‘full house’.

The level of preservation at the site, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, has been compared to that seen at Pompeii, a Roman city buried by ash when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.

What the excavation reveals:

  • The people living here made their own high quality textiles, like linen. Some of the woven linen fabrics are made with threads as thin as the diameter of a coarse human hair and are among the finest Bronze Age examples found in Europe
  • Other fabrics and fibres found include balls of thread, twining, bundles of plant fibres and loom weights which were used to weave threads together. Textiles were common in the Bronze Age but it is very rare for them to survive today
  • Animal remains suggest they ate a diet of wild boar, red deer, calves, lambs and freshwater fish such as pike. The charred remains of porridge type foods, emmer wheat and barley grains have been found preserved in amazing detail, sometimes still inside the bowls they were served in
  • There were areas in each home for storing meat and a separate area for cooking
  • Even 3,000 years ago people seemed to have a lot of stuff. Each of the houses was fully equipped with pots of different sizes, wooden buckets and platters, metal tools, saddle querns (stone tools for grinding grains), weapons, textiles, loom weights and glass beads

BBC History – Bronze Age Britain

Evidence, including tree-ring analysis of the oak structures, has suggested the circular houses were still new and had only been lived in for a few months.

The homes were, however, well equipped with pots of different sizes, wooden buckets and platters, metal tools, saddle querns (stone tools for grinding grains), weapons, textiles, loom weights and glass beads.

Archaeologists say beads found at the site originally came from the Mediterranean or Middle East.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “This has transformed our knowledge of Bronze Age Britain.

“Over the past 10 months, Must Farm has given us an extraordinary window into how people lived 3,000 years ago.

“Now we know what this small but wealthy Bronze Age community ate, how they made their homes and where they traded.

“Archaeologists and scientists around the world are learning from Must Farm and it’s already challenged a number of longstanding perceptions.”

Must Farm was named best discovery at the 2016 British Archaeological Awards

Full story: BBC

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Archaeologists have begun exploring two locations in Bath which have been hidden from view for more than half a century. (BBC WEBSITE)

roman-baths

The hidden baths will form part of a new interpretation centre at the Roman Baths

The dig, in part of the Roman Baths complex, was partly excavated in the 1960s but then sealed up and left.

Archaeologists will investigate the masonry and also examine the materials used to backfill the baths.

The site will eventually become part of an exhibition at the new Archway Centre which is expected to open in 2019

Archaeologist Simon Cox said it is a “really rare opportunity” to examine the world heritage site.

“We don’t get to do that sort of stuff everyday, a lot of what we do look at is fairly mundane…to come down and work in the heart of one of the most significant Roman bathing complexes is remarkable and exciting,” he said.

One of the baths will be given a protective lining and filled with earth so it can be used as a digging pit for school groups, where children can uncover a variety of replica Roman objects.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones said it was a milestone in the development of the Archway Centre and will provide “access to Roman remains that have never before been on display.”

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The site of the decisive follow-up to the Battle of Hastings has been discovered, it has been claimed.

Nick Arnold says the battle of 1069 took place in this field between Appledore and Northam battlefieldbbcBest-selling author Nick Arnold said a field between Appledore and Northam, in Devon, played host to the bloody battle of 1069.

Mr Arnold, who wrote the Horrible Science series of books, described the clash as the “sequel” to the Norman victory of 1066.

Academics have described the find as “significant” to British history.

Mr Arnold started research into the battlefield, inspired by a story from his grandfather, five years ago.

Map
Image caption Around 3,000 people died in the battle according to Nick Arnold

He said the sons of the vanquished King Harold came back for a bloody “rematch” in North Devon three years after his defeat at Hastings.

More than 3,000 people died in the resulting clash, Mr Arnold said, after 64 longships “crammed with armed men” led by Godwine and Edmund arrived at Appledore on 26 June 1069.

Their army, which arrived from Ireland, met a fighting force made up of Normans, Bretons and English.

They were met and roundly defeated by forces led by Brian of Brittany in a day-long battle.

“The showdown settled once and for all who would rule England,” he said.

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The Norman Conquest

January 1066 – Edward the Confessor dies. Harold gambles and makes a bid for the Crown, supported by all the magnates of England

14 October 1066 – Harold is defeated by William at the Battle of Hastings

October to December 1066 – A state of war continues until a deal is struck in December between William and the English magnates in which he guarantees their positions in return for their support.

25 December 1066 – William is crowned King of England in London

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Mr Arnold said he was confident he had successfully narrowed down the correct site.

“By combining scientific data on the estuary with accounts of the battle it’s possible to locate the fighting in a small area,” he said.

“The amazing cast of supporting characters include a treacherous Abbot, a conscience-stricken Queen and a headless saint.”

Mr Arnold went back to original sources including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and consulted histories of the landscape.

He also looked at times of high water and sundown and said all of the available evidence pointed to one location.

Bayeux Tapestry
Image caption The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry

The Devonshire Association has published Mr Arnold’s research paper which is being republished by the Battlefields Trust.

Dr Benjamin Hudson from Pennsylvania State University in the US said the research was “a significant contribution to the history of medieval Britain”.

Elisabeth van Houts, Professor of Medieval European History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, said Mr Arnold had carried out “an exemplary piece of lucid writing, research and detective work”.

Article source: BBC Website

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