Ancient Stones on Old Postcards by Jerry Bird

Victorian and Edwardian age postcards of Old Stone monuments and prehistoric remains in the English countryside presented for the first time. Every page has a full-size reproduction of an original card with an essay on the subject shown and map references and description of how to find the site arranged by areas. Written with enthusiasm and full of lively commentary, descriptions of both famous and little-known sites are enhanced with local mythology, superstitions and folklore. These are the best from Jerry Bird’s classic collection which he has spent a lifetime building. For the traveller to England this will be an ideal companion for the Antiquarian explorer, Pilgrim or Druid, as well as the everyday enthusiast.

A beautiful book based on a splendid idea: Ronald Hutton.
Will delight the intrepid antiquarian: Geoff Ward, author of Spirals.

Paperback. 226 pages. Published in 2011 by Green Magic. ISBN 9780956188632.

 
One of the 4,000 year-old gilded bronze masks from the Sanxingdui archaeological site in Sichuan, China
Image credit: momo – Flickr: Gold Mask (黄金面罩). Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
New three-part series beginning on BBC4 TV from 9:00pm, Wednesday 30 July.
 
Andrew Graham-Dixon pieces together the spectacular recent discoveries of ancient art that are re-defining China’s understanding of its origins. He comes face to face with an extraordinary collection of sophisticated alien-like bronze masks created nearly four millennia ago and travels to the Yellow River to explore the tomb of a warrior empress where he discovers the origins of calligraphy.
 
Always seeking to understand art in its historical context, Andrew visits the tomb of the first emperor and comes face to face with the Terracotta Army. He ends his journey in western China, looking at the impact of the arrival of Buddhism from India on the wondrous paintings and sculptures of the Dunhuang caves.
 
More on the BBC website here.
   
 
“What has it got in its pocketses?” hissed Gollum to Bilbo in the Riddles in the Dark chapter of J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit. We all know what it was – the ‘One Ring to rule them all.’ It was Gollum’s obsession with the One Ring that eventually led to his fall into the fiery depths on Mount Doom.
 
And that, in a nutshell is it. The obsession to ‘own’ something (or someone) and in so doing control its destiny. There’s something even worse than just ‘control’ however, it’s the owning of something and the not sharing of it with the rest of humanity. The denying to humanity its common heritage. We saw that recently with the sale at Christie’s in London of the Egyptian Sekhemka statue which was taken from the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and sold to a private collector who now wishes to remain anonymous (the statue hasn’t been seen in public since the sale and may never be seen by the public again).
 
 
The Meiyintang “Chicken Cup” from the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
 
And now we have the curious case of the Shanghai-based art collector Mr Liu Yiqian who recently spent some £21 million ($36 million) at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on a tiny porcelain cup decorated with a rooster, hen and their chicks. Mr Liu bought the cup at the Sotheby’s auction last week during a bidding war that lasted seven minutes. He paid the hammer price of $36.3 million by swiping his American Express card 24 times through the card reader and then took a celebratory sip from his new purchase. Images of Mr Liu sipping away went viral last weekend and sparked condemnation from Chinese observers. One Weibo user wrote, “You think you can drink from the cup and become immortal? Or that it will extend your life? In fact, isn’t it just a way to satisfy your vanity?” The same can be said for all who would satisfy their vanity by denying the rest of humanity their common heritage (whether art, wildlife or the natural world) and perhaps such people should remember the words of Gollum as he plunged to his death in the fires of Mount Doom -
 
‘Precious, precious, precious!’ Gollum cried. My precious! o my precious! And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone.
 
Let’s hope Mr Liu (and others like him) will do the noble thing and donate, or put on permanent loan, his new acquisition. Shanghai Museum’s splendid Gallery of Chinese Ancient Ceramics might be the place to start. There, both his countrymen and people from around the world could, metaphorically speaking, also drink from the Meiyintang cup and toast the man who was willing to share it with them.
 
 
The tomb of a priest discovered just 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the Great Pyramid at Giza
From LiveScience.com. Photo by Photo courtesy of Maksim Lebedev
 
Yahoo News reports -
 
A wall painting, dating back over 4,300 years, has been discovered in a tomb located just east of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The painting shows vivid scenes of life, including boats sailing south on the Nile River, a bird hunting trip in a marsh and a man named Perseneb who’s shown with his wife and dog. While Giza is famous for its pyramids, the site also contains fields of tombs that sprawl to the east and west of the Great Pyramid. These tombs were created for private individuals who held varying degrees of rank and power during the Old Kingdom (2649-2150 B.C.), the age when the Giza pyramids were built. The new painting was discovered in 2012 by a team from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which has been excavating these tombs since 1996.
 
Full article here.
    
We highlighted this issue earlier in the year here and here. On the Letters’ page of today’s Telegraph the issue is raised yet again. The time to ratify the convention is now long overdue and should be done without further delay. The letter, and the signatories to it, are as follows -
 
SIR – In 1954, the international community agreed the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, following the devastating impact of the Second World War on some of Europe’s most valued heritage, including paintings by Van Gogh and Caravaggio; the St Petersburg amber room; and architecture such as St Mary’s Church, Lübeck, and the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino.
 
After the looting in 2003 of museums and archaeological sites in Iraq, Britain announced its intention to ratify the convention. A decade later, we have yet to honour this commitment.
 
Britain is the most significant worldwide military power not to have ratified the convention, the United States having done so in 2009.
 
In 2008 a draft Cultural Property Protection (Armed Conflict) Bill passed through parliamentary scrutiny with only minor revisions suggested. Ministers of successive governments have pledged their commitment to ratification as soon as parliamentary time can be found.
 
This commitment is to be applauded, but continuing failure to ratify is mystifying. It has all-party support. Protecting cultural property in conflict is seen by the Armed Forces as a “force multiplier” – something that makes their job easier.
 
The latest Queen’s Speech left ample parliamentary time free to pass additional legislation in the current session. So the Government should delay no further in introducing the necessary legislation to ratify this important treaty.
 
Earl of Clancarty
London SW1
 
Professor Peter Stone
Secretary General of the Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield; Head of the School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University
 
Sir Laurie Magnus
Chairman English Heritage
 
Sir Simon Jenkins
Chairman National Trust
 
Lucy Worsley
Chief curator Historic Royal Palaces
 
Michael Palin
 
David Anderson
President, Museums Association; Director General, National Museums Wales
 
Dan Snow
President, Council for British Archaeology
 
Amanda Foreman
 
Dame Rosemary Cramp
Professor Emeritus, Durham University
 
Sir Adam Roberts
Senior Research Fellow in International Relations, Oxford University
 
Dame Fiona Reynolds
Master, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
 
Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn
Chairman, all-party parliamentary archaeology group
 
Lady Antonia Fraser
 
Sir Barry Cunliffe
 
Loyd Grossman
Chairman, Heritage Alliance
 
Sir Tony Robinson
 
David Starkey
 
Bettany Hughes
 
Baroness Andrews
 
Lord Stern of Brentford
President, British Academy
 
Lord Cormack
 
Peter Hinton
Chief Executive, Institute for Archaeologists
 
Dame Margaret Drabble
 
Sue Cole
International Council on Monuments and Sites UK
 
Lord Howarth
 
Gillian Slovo
 
Baroness Bonham-Carter
 
Professor Stephen Shennan
Director of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London
 
Lord Maclennan of Rogart
 
Dr Neil Curtis
Convenor of University Museums in Scotland
 
Nick Poole
Chief Executive Officer Collections Trust
 
Baroness Young of Hornsey
 
Professor Mike Robinson
Director, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage
 
Dr Eleanor Robson
Chairman, British Institute for the Study of Iraq
 
Sir Bob Russell MP
 
Dr Mike Heyworth
Director, Council for British Archaeology
 
Kamila Shamsie
 
Lord Roper
 
Professor Andrew Wilson
Head of the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
 
Glenda Jackson MP
 
Iain Watson
Director Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
 
Susan Ronald
 
Peter Trowles
Mackintosh Curator, Archives and Collections Centre, Glasgow School of Art
 
Lord Collins of Highbury
 
David Mander
Chairman, Archives and Records Association
 
Professor Nicholas Thomas
Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
 
Baroness Butler-Sloss
 
Dr Jonathan Tubb
Keeper at the Middle East Department, British Museum
 
Dr Robin Skeates
Director, Museum and Artefact Studies, Durham University
 
Professor Niall Sharples
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Cardiff
 
Dr John Schofield
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of York
 
Lord Colville
 
Peter Ride
Research Fellow in Visual Culture, University of Westminster
 
Dr Joshua Pollard
Head of Archaeology, University of Southampton
 
John McDonnell MP
 
Dr Dominic Perring
Director Centre of Applied Archaeology, University College, London
 
Dr Mark Pearce
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham
 
Dr Alan Outram
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter
 
Lord Redesdale
 
Dr Nick Merriman
Director, Manchester Museum, University of Manchester
 
Dr Antoinette McKane
Programme leader, Museum and Heritage Studies, Liverpool Hope University
 
Dr Sam McGuiness
Head of School of Education, University of Ulster
 
Professor Tom Jackson
Director of Centre for Information Management, Loughborough University
 
Professor Audrey Horning
Head of School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, University of Belfast
 
Professor Carl Heron
Head of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford
 
Professor Roberta Gilchrist
Head of School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading
 
Professor Chris Gerrard
Head of Department of Archaeology, Durham University
 
Dr Allen Foster
Head of Department of Information Studies, University of Wales
 
Dr Andrew Flinn
Director, International Centre for Archives and Records Management Research, University College, London
 
Professor Keith Dobney
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen
 
Professor Tim Darvill
Director, Centre for Archaeology, University of Bournemouth
 
Dr Vicki Cummings
Reader in Archaeology, School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences, University of Central Lancashire
 
Professor Jim Crow
Head of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
 
Dr Gillian Carr
Director of Studies in Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
 
Professor Stuart Campbell
Head of School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester
 
Dr Alexandrina Buchanan
Chair of the Forum for Archives and Records Management in Education and Research; Co-director, Centre for Archive Studies, University of Liverpool
 
Dr Andrew Bracey
Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, University of Lincoln
 
Professor Graeme Barker
Director McDonald Institute for Archaeology, Cambridge University
 
Professor Douglas Baird
Head of Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool
 
Dr Ian Anderson
Coordinator of Museum Studies, University of Glasgow
 
Adrian Sanders MP
 
Mike Williams
Secretary of the Nautical Archaeology Society
 
Hafed Walda
Archaeologist, King’s College London
 
Dr Lutgarde Vandeput
Director, British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara
 
Bijan Rouhani
Vice-president, International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness
 
Julian Radcliffe
Chairman, Art Loss Register
 
Dr Nigel Pollard
Swansea University
 
Jan Picton
Secretary of the British Association of Near Eastern Archaeologists
 
Suzanna Pembroke
Arup
 
Fiona Macalister
 
John Lewis
General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Society of Antiquaries of London
 
David Lakin
Arup
 
Paul Fox
University of York and University College London
 
Peter Clayton
 
Hugo Clarke
UK National Committee of the Blue Shield
 
Dr Neil Brodie
Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow
 
Dr Suzanne Macleod
 
 
Bizen-ware pot containing more than 40,000 15th century Japanese coins
Image credit Tsuyoshi Sato
 
Tsuyoshi Sato, Staff Writer for The Asahi Shimbun, reports on the 9 July that construction workers in Kyoto’s central Kawaramachi shopping district had unearthed a huge Bizen-ware (備前焼) pot containing more than 40,000 coins. The coins date from the 15th century and were found during work for an apartment complex.
 
The 66-centimeter-tall Bizen ware pot was found 50 cm below the surface in the city’s Shimogyo Ward. The site lies toward the southern side of Takashimaya Kyoto Store. The coins, each drilled through the center, are tied together in bundles of 97 by thongs. It was customary during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573) to count a bundle of 97 coins as 100, Ibisoku officials said
 
The coins are estimated to be worth some 4 million yen (£23,000) and the Kansai (western Japan) branch of the Ibisoku Archaeological Research Company has announced that it is considering putting the find on public display.
 
   
  
Iron Age coin die (late 200ce)
©
Portable Antiquities Scheme
 
In an interview with Jennifer Jackson, the Finds Liaison Officer for Kent, Ben Miller, for Culture24, reports on Jennifer’s choice of three formidable archaeological discoveries. The first is an Iron Age coin die (above). The second is the extraordinary Boughton Malherbe hoard of 1,150-600bce which is the -
 
…third-largest Bronze Age hoard ever found in Britain. It was found in 2011 but it’s very recently been acquired and gone on display at Maidstone Museum – not all of it, because it’s 252 objects, but the highlights are on display there at the moment so people can go and see it. Most of the objects are broken in some way. It’s got things like the moulds to make the axes, which are made of copper alloy – the same metal as the axes, but with a slightly different composition. It shows how ancient metal skills were so sophisticated. They could make moulds that would hold metal of a different temperature and mould it 2,500 years ago. They weren’t messing around: they were highly efficient metal workers. You can see how they create three-part moulds for an axe, with a hole in the middle.
 
Jennifer Jackson’s third choice is a medieval finger ring. Full Culture24 article here.
   
 
On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe
 
Her [Silbury] base covers five acres of Wiltshire turf, the equivalent of three football pitches. Five acres that have not seen sunlight or stars for some 4,300 years and will never see sunlight again until, possibly, the ice of the next Ice Age to extend as far as southern England scratches her away like a pimple. In her day she must have been almost unimaginably colossal, since nothing else man-made came anywhere near. She was probably as white, when completed, as the dome of the Taj Mahal – not with marble, but with ungrassed chalk. To visitors seeing her for the first time, she would have seemed otherworldly, miraculous, impossibly smooth and symmetrical…
 
Adam Thorpe
 
More here. See also the review by Paul Farley in the Guardian.
   

Originally posted on Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper:

Salisbury Museum

Salisbury Museum

Is anyone watching out for early depictions of Stonehenge? Like illustrations of Easter Island, they come and go through salerooms, and every so often something pops up that can help us understand part of the story. My friend Paul Stamper has directed me to a new catalogue from RG Watkins Books & Prints in Somerset. Among the lots are an early photo of Stonehenge, and two little sepia and wash sketches.

The latter (no 132, £250 the pair) are described as “Signed, titled and dated ‘S. Wilson R.M. Academy 5 April 1845 and 16 Nov 1845”. Sylvester Wilson, says Watkins, was appointed cadet at the Royal Military Academy in 1843, but was “discharged at the request of his friends” in July 1846. So he would have been in the army when he drew Stonehenge, based in Woolwich, London. “It is scarce”, says Watkins, “to find early dated…

View original 176 more words

Sutton Hoo and Europe, AD 300–1100. Room 41. The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Image © The Trustees of the British Museum

In 1939, archaeologist Basil Brown investigated the largest of many Anglo-Saxon burial mounds on the property of Mrs Edith Pretty in Sutton Hoo. He made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time – an undisturbed burial of an important early 7th-century East Anglian. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the excavation, come to the British Museum for a lecture on Friday 25 July where John Preston, nephew of Mrs Pretty, will relate the story behind the excavation.

The National Trust are celebrating the anniversary with a grand 1930s garden party on Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 July at the National Trust Visitor Centre at Sutton Hoo. There’ll be music, entertainment, tours of the mounds, cream teas, vintage cars, and much more!

The remarkable treasures are on display in the Museum’s newly refurbished Room 41. You can also learn more about the Sutton Hoo ship burial with a tour on Google Cultural Institute.

Source: The British Museum.

   

On Friday, 11 July, the Art Fund released a statement on the sale of the Sekhemka statue. In part it reads -
 
The Art Fund supports careful collections management, which includes responsible deaccessioning, ideally with an item being freely transferred to another body so it can remain on public display. However, in line with the Museum Association’s Code of Ethics for museums, we remain strongly opposed to deaccessioning any item for financial reasons except in exceptional circumstances, where the funds will directly benefit the museum collection and only after all other options have been explored.
 
This is not the case with the sale of Sekhemka and as such, having gone against the sector’s ethical guidance, it risks being stripped of its accredited status. This is therefore a financially as well as morally harmful decision for Northampton Borough Council to take. Not only will they receive only 55% of the final hammer price of £15.8m, but Northampton Museum and Art Gallery will no longer be eligible to apply to us and other major funders for funding for acquisitions, capital projects (including the planned £14m extension), and artistic or educational programming.
 
Selling items from collections, as Northampton and Croydon have both done in recent months, does not just impact on one particular museum and its visitors; it reduces public trust and risks lessening donors’ desire to give items to museums for their long-term safe-keeping.
 
Full statement here. See also Mike Pitts’ feature Six things about Sekhemka, and our earlier feature here.
    

Every year the Council for British Archaeology encourages people, young and old alike who love history, to explore their local area and get hands-on experience through a series of events held across the country. This year the Festival of Archaeology 2014 runs from Saturday, 12 to Sunday, 27 July. More here.

See also moss’ comment above on Kitty Knowles’ article in The Independent: Britain must dig deeper to save its archaeology.

The Egyptian Sekhemka statue (2,400-2,300bce)

BREAKING NEWS: The item sold for £15,762,500. High price, low morals. Shame on them. Read the feature by Andy Brockman in HeritageDaily here.
 
While Britain seems poised to enter yet another scandal centred around Westminster, and other sectors of the Establishment, so serious that it threatens to shake our society to its roots, we learn today that Northampton Borough Council is not above doing a bit of stooping itself, and is about to sell off one of the objects held by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. The object is the 2,400-2,300bce year-old Egyptian Sekhemka statue of a priest (or court official) and is said to be worth up to £6m. It will go under the hammer at Christie’s in London today (10 July). The sale begins at 7pm British Summer Time.
 

Northampton Borough Council claim that the sale is to help fund a £14m extension to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. However, ignoring protestations from Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty, and concerned bodies and individuals in Britain (the Museums Association  has sent a final warning to Northampton Borough Council saying it will review the authority’s membership status if it sells the statue), a spokesperson for Northampton Borough Council is reported as saying, “We contacted the Egyptian government two years ago regarding our plans to sell Sekhemka. According to Unesco’s 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, Egypt has no right to claim the recovery of the statue.”

Our understanding is that Egypt is not claiming ‘recovery’ of the statue at all; it is objecting (and rightly so) to the sale by Northampton Borough Council of a statue held by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, a statue that was gifted to the Museum by the 4th Marquis of Northampton in 1880. We learn, too, that if the sale of the statue does go ahead the proceeds will be shared with the present Lord Northampton (the Eton-educated peer whose fortune is estimated at £120m and which includes two stately homes, land, valuable paintings, furniture and a disputed Roman treasure hoard) who will receive some 45% of the proceeds.

This is another example of a dangerous trend in the selling off of public property (see also Croydon Council’s sale of Chinese ceramics last year here) and must be stopped before it is too late. If you feel that the sale of the Sekhemka statue should be halted please consider signing the Save Sekhemka Action Group petition here and the STOP THE SALE OF SEKHEMKA BY NORTHAMPTON COUNCIL petition here.

See also the Culture24 article and video here.
 
 
 
Before heavy ploughing threatened our past. Ploughing 51 B.C. by W M Goodes
 
In his thought-provoking articles on the pros of metal detecting (In praise of metal detecting 1-10) John Hooker writes -
 
Even since the adoption of the tractor, agricultural machinery has been getting much heavier and this has resulted in speedier soil compaction. A hard layer will form in the earth where water will not drain easily. If all of this was not bad enough, the actions of fertilizers and pesticides also destroy the equilibrium between the interior of an object and its environment… in certain environments, freeze and thaw cycles can also attack the integrity of the object once it gets to within five to three inches of the surface. Monoculture and the absence of allowing fields to fallow adds to the problem…
 
Thus, the detectorist automatically becomes an environmentalist and conservator by their very actions. The idea that the archaeologists will eventually save everything, and do this faster than nature can destroy it is an absurdity…
 
Sadly, there are activities by some metal detectorists that are illegal and which are also damaging our past. We must not, however, ignore the fact that objects can and are being destroyed by both intensive farming practices as well as through other manmade (and natural) land disturbances. Nor should we ignore the fact that, without the contribution of responsible metal detectorists, we would not now be gleaning so much information (not to mention cultural appreciation) from finds such as the Staffordshire and Bedale Hoards.
 
 
Before heavy ploughing threatened our past. Ploughing 1950ce
 
Above, tractor driver Tom Rout holding a gold torc from the Snettisham Hoard. Tom discovered the Icenian torc at Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk, south-east England while ploughing there in 1950. The Iceni were a British tribe who inhabited (1bce-1ce) an area corresponding (approximately) to modern-day Norfolk. Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire in 60ce or 61ce, during which an estimated 70,000-80,000 British and Roman lives were lost.
 
 
The Great Torc from the Snettisham Hoard, now centrepiece of the Snettisham Hoard display at the British Museum
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
See also our earlier feature, The Mildenhall Treasure by Roald Dahl, where Roald Dahl, in the preface to his book, The Mildenhall Treasure explains how, in 1946, he read a newspaper article about the remarkable find of a hoard of 4th century Roman silver unearthed by Gordon Butcher, a ploughman, in a field in Suffolk, England (the Mildenhall Treasure is now also on permanent display at the British Museum).

 

 
Kings House, Salisbury Museum. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
The new Wessex Gallery at the Salisbury Museum opens its doors on Saturday, 12 July. Anthropologist and TV presenter Dr Alice Roberts will open the Museum’s new world-class Wessex Gallery of Archaeology at its Grand Opening in The Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire at 10am. The new £2.4 million Wessex Gallery, will house one of Europe’s most extensive collections of Stonehenge and prehistoric artefacts including the Amesbury Archer and the Wardour Hoard. “To mark the event the Museum will be hosting an admission-free day of action-packed celebrations, special events, exciting living history displays and demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts. There will also be other celebrity guests including Channel 4 Time Team presenter and field archaeologist Phil Harding, who will be demonstrating flint knapping…”
 
The new gallery replaces the old Stonehenge, Pitt-Rivers and Early Man galleries and was funded with a grant of nearly £1.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Wessex Gallery Grand Opening is on Saturday, 12 July from 10am to 4pm at Salisbury Museum, The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN. For further visitor information ring 01722 332151 or visit: http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk  
 
Admission is free on the opening day.
 
 
Seahenge II
©
NPS Archaeology
 
Victoria Woollaston, writing in the Mail Online yesterday, reports that -
 
…research by Norfolk County Council’s historic environment team has confirmed that Seahenge’s sister circle was made from trees felled in the spring or summer of 2049BC.
 
David Robertson, historic environment officer with Norfolk County Council, said: ‘The felling date on them is the spring or early summer of 2049 BC. Those trees were felled at exactly the same time. Having one was fantastic – and having two just adds to the story. We have to try to understand not just why they were built, but what were they used for.’
One theory is that the upturned stump was the final resting place of an important person after death, where his or her body would be allowed to break down in the open air. The second circle could have been the burial place, or mound, where the wooden posts acted as a revetment, or sloping structures, into which soil was placed on top of the body.
 
Tree ring dating, or dendrochronology tests, were carried out on samples from the second circle last summer. While the results confirm it was almost certainly built by the same people as Seahenge, Robertson said the second structure would not be excavated. ‘Since 1999 it’s been visible at some times and covered by the sand at other times,’ he said. ‘There are no plans to dig it up. It’s been decided with the second circle to let nature take its course. Over the years, the sea has claimed parts of the structure.’
 
Erosion and the loss of its timbers prompted the dating project, the results of which are expected to be published soon.
 
Full article here. See also our earlier features The Seahenge Gallery, Lynn Museum and Seahenge.
   
 
The central bole from Seahenge I. Now in the Seahenge Gallery, Lynn Museum, Norfolk
Image
The Heritage Trust
 
 
Edward Simpson, alias Bones, Flint Jack, Fossil Willie and Snake Billy
 
Almost 200 years ago, Whitby [north-east Yorkshire] was a vibrant centre for geological discovery. Ammonites allowed Lewis Hunton to devise his geological theory that would transform palaeontology, while all along the coast ancient artefacts were being uncovered. This was the golden age of Victorian geology and museums and collectors were furiously snapping up any items they could find. Into this world was born Edward Simpson, a Sleights resident of no remarkable birth or education, but who possessed a talent that would make him famous as a rascal and forger.
 
Aged 26, and having achieved a good reputation in the local area, Edward was approached by a dealer who showed him a flint arrow head and asked whether he could make one like it. Discovering a natural talent for forgery, Edward embarked upon a 30-year career that would have earned him a modest fortune, had he not fallen foul of a liking for drink. To supply his cravings for liquor he set about forging hundreds of flint arrow heads and a variety of other ‘artefacts’, including pottery, a Roman milestone and even a Roman breastplate made out of a metal tea tray. But the sale of these items could not compensate for his need for alcohol and the vagrant Edward squatted in cliffs near Bridlington or lived in the woods of Staintondale – where he could set up a pottery and manufacture more artefacts.
 
Source: The Whitby Gazette. Full article here.
   

One of the largest dolmens in the Jungnim-ri dolmen group in Maesan Village, Gochang County, North Jeolla Province, South Korea
Image credit Steve46814. Source Wikimedia Commons

The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen sites contain the highest density and greatest variety of dolmens in Korea, and indeed of any country. Dolmens are megalithic funerary monuments, which figured prominently in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures across the world during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. Usually consisting of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone, it is generally accepted that they were simply burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of deceased worthies. They are usually found in cemeteries on elevated sites and are of great archaeological value for the information that they provide about the prehistoric people who built them and their social and political systems, beliefs and rituals, and arts and ceremonies.

Source UNESCO Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites.

   

Young gallery visitors examine artwork with real depth
 
 
The Hurlers Stone Circle. The Cheesewring formation is just visible on the skyline
©
The Heritage Trust
 
The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) wound up the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting yesterday (26 June 2014) in Portsmouth, England. The meeting was held jointly at Guildhall and the University of Portsmouth Park and King Henry Buildings, and was sponsored by the RAS, STFC, SEPnet and Winton Capital. Of interest to archaeologists and researchers of prehistoric monuments was a discussion of -
 
…a developing field of research that merges astronomical techniques with the study of ancient man-made features and the surrounding landscapes… From the ‘Crystal Pathway’ that links stone circles on Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor to star-aligned megaliths in central Portugal, archaeo-astronomers are finding evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age people were acute observers of the Sun, as well as the Moon and stars, and that they embedded astronomical references within their local landscapes.
 
“There’s more to archaeo-astronomy than Stonehenge,” says Dr Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University, who [presented] updates on his work on the 4000-year-old astronomically aligned standing stone at Gardom’s Edge in the UK’s Peak District. “Modern archaeo-astronomy encompasses many other research areas such as anthropology, ethno-astronomy and even educational research. It has stepped away from its speculative beginnings and placed itself solidly onto the foundation of statistical methods.  However, this pure scientific approach has its own challenges that need to be overcome by embracing humanistic influences and putting the research into context with local cultures and landscape.”
 
 
The Crystal Pavement during excavation last year showing the original reddish ground surface beyond it
©
Roy Goutté
 
Brian Sheen and Gary Cutts of the Roseland Observatory have worked together with Jacky Nowakowski, of Cornwall Council’s Historic Environment Service, to explore an important Bronze Age astro-landscape extending over several square miles on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. At its heart lie Britain’s only triple stone circles, The Hurlers, of which two are linked by the 4000-year-old granite pavement, dubbed the Crystal Pathway. The team has confirmed that Bronze Age inhabitants used a calendar controlled by the movements of the Sun. The four cardinal points are marked together with the solstices and equinoxes.
 
 
The Pipers
©
The Heritage Trust
 
“The Pipers are standing stone outliers to the main circles. When standing between the stones, one to the right and the other to the left, one looks north & south; when lining both up, one faces east & west,” says Sheen.  “We also think the three circles that comprise The Hurlers monument may be laid out on the ground to resemble Orion’s Belt. Far from being three isolated circles on the moor they are linked into one landscape.”
 
Read the full Royal Astronomical Society’s press release here. See also our earlier feature, The Hurlers: Mapping the Sun event and the ‘Crystal’ Pavement. Update 2 by Roy Goutté here.
   

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