Lanyon Quoit, Cornwall
©
The Heritage Trust

The Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN) are holding their Pathways to the Past 2014 (8th year) event on Saturday, 24 May and Sunday, 25 May 2014. The event is titled A weekend of walks & talks amongst the ancient sites of West Penwith.

Details here.

 

 
Trethevy Quoit shrouded in mist
©
Littlestone
 
Access to Trethevy Quoit (if travelling by car) is from a nearby off-road parking area, through a farm gate, followed by a two minute walk across a privately owned field. The parking area is big enough for four or five cars. The cromlech is poorly cared for and deliberate ground disturbance has occurred very close to it in the past (see video here). There are information boards close to the parking area but not by the monument itself, and there are no warning signs that it may be unsafe and not to climb on it.
 
Administrative authority: English Heritage. Managed by the Cornwall Heritage Trust.
 
The Heritage Trust Cared for Rating  *  (out of 5).
 
Suggested improvements: Extend the no ploughing area to at least five metres round the monument. Create and maintain a pathway from farm gate to monument. Install clear signs instructing visitors not to climb the monument. One or two benches where people could pause and reflect on the monument and its setting.
 
For more on Trethevy Quoit see Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece by Roy Goutté.
 
 
Subhashis Das at the megalithic site of Rola, India
 
Gargi Gupta, writing for the Diligent Media Corporation Ltd on Sunday, 30 March, reports on the plight of megalithic structures in Chhattisgarh, India -
 
They look like large stone boulders plonked randomly on the red, mineral-rich soil on the outskirts of Chitarpur town in Chhattisgarh’s Ramgarh district. To look at, no one would think these are remnants of an Iron Age settlement, and date back to between 1000 BC and 1500 BC. Rough-hewn and uncarved, these large stones called megaliths lack the grandeur of the temples, tombs and palaces built by our ancient kings and emperors, the sophistication of the Indus Valley Civilisation’s urban system or the obvious aesthetic appeal of the sculptures or rock art of Ajanta caves. Neither are they as distinctive as Stonehenge in Britain, arguably the most famous megalithic structure in the world.
 
So you can’t really blame the owner of the brick-kiln near these menhirs (standing stones) in Chitarpur who has slowly been encroaching on the field where the stones lie scattered. “We are not very sure how many, but some of these megaliths have already been lost,” says Rituraj Bharti, a conservative architect with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which is preparing a plan to document and preserve megalithic sites in Chitarpur and Hazaribagh (in neighbouring Jharkhand). An interpretation centre to spread awareness about these structures among visitors and locals is also planned.
 
This would be the first time an official body is taking steps to conserve the megalithic heritage of Chhattisgarh, says Subhahsis Das, a Raipur resident who has also been documenting megalithic structures in and around Hazaribagh and campaigning to preserve them for the past two decades. Sadly, the Archaeological Survey of India has not excavated and does not preserve all but a handful of the most well-known megaliths such as Junapani in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, the unique ‘umbrella-stone’ megaliths of Cheramanganad in Thrissur, Kerala and Burzahom in Kashmir. His website megalithindia.in is the single largest repository of information on the subject.
 
Full article here. Read more about Subhashis Das here.
 

The excavation of Carchemish (1912-13) with Leonard Woolley (right) and T E Lawrence (left)

In an impassioned piece of writing for The Wall Street Journal, Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund, says -

This winter, the film “Monuments Men” told the story of how, over two years, with virtually no resources or support, a ragtag division of 345 volunteers from 17 countries working under the aegis of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) program rescued six million stolen artworks from Nazi depots, including some of the world’s most esteemed masterpieces, and saved hundreds of historic buildings, objects and archival collections from destruction in Europe and Asia.

Yet there has been no sequel to the work of the Monuments Men. Time and again, major cultural treasures have been destroyed, museums looted and archaeological sites despoiled during conflicts. Even after civil law was re-established in Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq, the destruction has continued under the noses of authorities. In Syria, cellphones have captured the obliteration of the historic center of Aleppo. The director general of antiquities in Syria reports that 420 monumental sites have been damaged in the two years since the civil war began, many in the cities of Aleppo and Homs. The costs of reconstruction would run to the hundreds of millions of dollars and require highly specialized technical capabilities. Also troubling is the widespread looting that has occurred in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Yemen during the past decade. Estimates of antiquities looting and theft in Egypt and Syria since 2011 run into the billions of dollars; but sadly, we’ll never know its full extent.

Cultural heritage links us to our history and identity through structures, objects and traditions. It gives places meaning through references to the past. It enriches our quality of life, contributes to a community’s economic well-being and is fundamental to a healthy society. People in places under siege are no less concerned about their heritage than those who watch from the outside. But people caught in these circumstances are often powerless to intervene, which is why we need a dedicated effort on their behalf.

This article is well worth reading in full. See also our earlier feature here.

   

Heritage of Wales News announces that -

On Wednesday, 9 April, there will be a rare opportunity to purchase a wide range of books, journals, maps and guidebooks, relating to archaeology, architecture and the built heritage. There will be over 1000 titles in this sale of surplus and duplicate stock from the Royal Commission’s library in Aberystwyth. Titles include a complete set of Archaeologia Cambrensis and other standard archaeology journals, numerous off-prints, books on pre-history, the Romans, industrial archaeology, Gwent and Glamorgan County Histories, and other historical and archaeological volumes and much more. There will also be a selection of O.S. 6-inch maps of various editions, a small collection of 1:10,000 and Landranger maps. Selected current Royal Commission publications will also be on offer with a discount of up to 30%. Information Services Manager, Penny Icke, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to acquire hard to find and often out-of-print historical and archaeological material.
 
More here.
   

 Video credit National Archaeological Museum of Spain

Yahoo News reports on the reopening of Spain’s National Archaeological Museum -

Spain’s National Archaeological Museum reopens to the public on Tuesday after a massive six-year overhaul that aims to offer a state-of-the-art space for its collection of ancient artefacts. The redesign of one of Madrid’s largest museums, housing items from prehistoric times until the 19th century, began in 2008 and cost 65.2 million euros ($89.8 million).

One of the star attractions is a celebrated Celto-Iberian bust from the fifth century BC known as “The Lady of Elche” depicting the bust of a woman wearing elaborate headgear.

The museum also features a reconstruction of Spain’s Altamira Caves and their prehistoric wall paintings of bison, horses, deer and animal-headed humans. The room housing a replica of the remains of 3.2-million-year old female hominid known as “Lucy” features videos that show what life was like during the period when she lived. The fossilised remains were discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia by US scientist Donald Johanson and they are considered one of the world’s most significant archeological finds.

Full article here.

 

  

 
The summit of Crook Peak looking northeast towards Compton Hill, Somerset, England
Source Wikimedia Commons © George Evans
 
Wired Gov, the UK’s No.1 government & public sector news alerting service, reports that -
 
Illegal off-roading by 4×4 vehicles on one of England’s most special places, the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), has caused substantial damage to the historic landscape at the Charterhouse lead works in Blackmoor Reserve, near Blagdon, Somerset. English Heritage staff have discovered deep ruts and surface erosion to delicate surfaces forming part of the former lead and silver mining complex, which is protected both as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Scheduled Monument.
 
Hugh Beamish, Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage said: “We hope by highlighting the damage caused that it will discourage others from carrying out the same mindless act. Heritage crime erases history, defaces the landscape, threatens the viability of churches, defiles the memory of our war heroes and melts away our great art and artefacts.”
 
Heritage crime such as this is defined as ‘any offence which harms the value of England’s heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations’. It includes offences such as architectural and metal theft, illegal metal detecting, graffiti, and vehicle nuisance. English Heritage, the Police (through the Association of Chief Police Officers), and the Crown Prosecution Service are currently spearheading a national programme to tackle Heritage Crime.
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
Recently discovered at a cemetery at Abydos in Egypt, and dating back some 3,300 years, this tomb served as a base for a small pyramid estimated to be 7 metres high
Image credit Kevin Cahail
 
Owen Jarus, Live Science contributor, reports that -
 
A tomb newly excavated at an ancient cemetery in Egypt would have boasted a pyramid 7 meters (23 feet) high at its entrance, archaeologists say.
 
The tomb, found at the site of Abydos, dates back around 3,300 years. Within one of its vaulted burial chambers, a team of archaeologists found a finely crafted sandstone sarcophagus, painted red, which was created for a scribe named Horemheb. The sarcophagus has images of several Egyptian gods on it and hieroglyphic inscriptions recording spells from the Book of the Dead that helped one enter the afterlife.
 
More here.
   

Portable wooden shrine from Ethiopia?
Front 10.5cm x 8cm x 2.5cm approx. when closed
Private collection Great Britain

Portable wooden shrine showing (centre) the Archangel Michael?
11.5cm x 10.5cm x 2.5cm approx. when open
Private collection Great Britain

Portable wooden shrine
Back 10.5cm x 8cm x 2.5cm approx. when closed
Private collection Great Britain

 

Hadrian’s Wall

Nick Clark, Arts Correspondent for The Independent, reports that the Hadrian’s Wall Trust is due to fold within six months due to lack of funding -

Hadrian’s Wall Trust revealed it is to close this week, with a series of organisations scrabbling to put funding in place to ensure one of Britain’s most famous monuments can be adequately maintained in the long term.

Linda Tuttiett, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We hope and pray resources can be found to keep the heritage site safe” after confirming that funding cuts had forced the trustees to close the seven-year-old organisation. “The future is uncertain. Everyone is committed to finding a solution, but it has still not been finalised and nobody has got any money.”

Full article here.

   

 

REMNANTS – 2k DCP – OFFICIAL TRAILER – 01 from GRANT WAKEFIELD

In one of the longest continuous cultural developments ever known, for nearly 3000 years the people of the Neolithic era constructed some of the most enduring monuments in the world – standing stones and stone circles. Having been dismissed for centuries by much of academia as the work of “illiterate barbarians,” research in the 20th and 21st centuries by a handful of persistent investigators has revealed these Megalithic sites to be not only amongst the oldest, but perhaps the most profound.

Little is known of this civilisation, and its people have all but vanished without trace. All that is left are their remnants, and they too, in the crush of ‘progress’ are disappearing.

Photographed throughout the UK and Ireland, and set to an original 5.1 music score by Thorsten Quaeschning (of Tangerine Dream and Picture Palace Music), REMNANTS captures the essence and austere beauty of these sites, suggests and reveals their purposes, and poses an important question to our own contemporary position.

History has proven repeatedly that no civilisation can last indefinitely. Is it not unlikely that we shall share the same fate?

Read more here. The film can be seen at the Palace Cinema in Devizes, Wiltshire England on Saturday, 19 April 2014. Doors open at 12:45pm and the screening will start promptly at 1pm. Director Grant Wakefield will answer questions about the film after the screening. For details and booking visit the Wiltshire Heritage Museum website here.

Every year the International Council on Monuments and Sites celebrates the International Day for Monuments and Sites, the establishment of which was approved by the 22nd UNESCO General Conference in 1983 -

The aim of the International Day for Monuments and Sites is to encourage local communities and individuals throughout the world to consider the importance of cultural heritage to their lives, identities and communities, and to promote awareness of its diversity and vulnerability and the efforts required to protect and conserve it.

The 18 April is celebrated all over the world by a wide range of organisations and many ICOMOS National and International Scientific Committees. Events include scientific conferences and symposia, exhibitions, photography competitions, excursions, press conferences, the awarding of prizes, releasing press releases, publishing magazine articles and projecting films, among others.

The theme for this year’s celebration is Heritage of Commemoration. More here.

  

 
Buckle from a sword belt found in Mound 1 of the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
Anglo-Saxon, early 7th century ce
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
Room 41 at the British Museum is now open. The refurbished gallery, Sutton Hoo and Europe AD 300–1100, has been made possible through a generous donation by Sir Paul and Lady Jill Ruddock and will display the British Museum’s unparalleled early medieval collections, the star of which includes the famous Sutton Hoo treasure. It is the first full refurbishment of the gallery since 1985, involving replacement of the flooring and roof, and renovation of the internal architecture.
 
Marking 75 years since their discovery, the gallery’s centrepiece will be the finds from the Sutton Hoo ship burial in Suffolk, one of the most spectacular and important discoveries in British archaeology. Excavated in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, this grave inside a 27m-long ship may have commemorated an Anglo-Saxon king who died in the early AD 600s. It remains the richest intact burial to survive from Europe. Many of its incredible treasures, like the helmet, gold buckle and whetstone have become icons not only of the British Museum, but of the Early Medieval as a whole. The project coincides with the BP exhibition: Vikings: life and legend in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery.
 
Admission free.
Opening hours 10.00-17.30 Saturday to Thursday, 10.00-20.30 Fridays.
 
An accompanying publication is available from the British Museum Press entitled Masterpieces: Early Medieval Art by Sonia Marzinzik. A volume exploring the history of Europe and the Mediterranean from the end of the Roman Empire to the twelfth century, as told through objects in the British Museum’s collection. Hardback, £25. Please support the British Museum by buying directly from them.
 
More here.
 
Perthi Duon in 1802 by the Reverend John Skinner
 
The University of Bristol has announced the excavation of a 3,500bce chambered tomb on the Welsh island of Anglesey -
 
An archaeological excavation of Ynys Môn’s least known Neolithic chambered tomb – Perthi Duon, west of the village of Brynsiencyn on Anglesey – has begun. The work is being carried out by a team from the Welsh Rock Art Organisation under the direction of Dr George Nash of the University of Bristol and Carol James.
 
Perthi Duon, considered to be the remains of a portal dolmen, is one of eighteen extant stone chambered monuments that stand within a 1.5 km corridor of the Menai Straits. The antiquarian Henry Rowlands reports in 1723 that beneath the large capstone were three stones, possibly upright stones or pillars. However, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the monument was in a ruinous state, incorporated into a north-south hedge boundary, itself now removed. Perthi Duon was visited by the Reverend John Skinner, parish vicar and amateur archaeologist, during his ten day tour of Anglesey in 1802.  He sketched the site, then called Maen Llhuyd, and described how its cap stone and three supporters remained on the spot but had “long since been thrown prostate on the ground”.
 
More here.
 

The Staffordshire Hoard: Unveiling the story so far…
Video History West Midlands

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. In this film we find out about the first stage of conservation work on the artefacts …and what secrets have been revealed.

From History West Midlands. See also the Staffordshire Hoard website. Though not connected directly to the Staffordshire Hoard this may also be of interest (click on photo for details) -

An example of Anglo-Saxon folded (woven) sword steel in the Sutton Hoo Exhibition Hall at Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge (see LS’ comment above)
Image
The Heritage Trust

One of the ‘subsumed’ stones under the south-east buttress of St John the Baptist Church, Pewsey, Wiltshire England. Did this stone once form part of a stone circle?
©
The Heritage Trust

Solace in Stone

Seek them out, search out the Ancient Ones. Stones of Salutation. Solstice and Symmetry
Stones of Mystery. Millenniums and Magnetism. Stones of Ancients. Augurs and Alignments
Stones of Loneliness. Lunar and Leys. Stones of Ghosts. Gnomic and Geometry
Stones of Destiny. Druids and Direction. Stones of Elementals. Equinox and Equations
Stones of Ceremony. Celts and Chronology. Stones of Hypocrisy. Hedonists and Harmonics
Find their Sanctuary, find their Solace. Pitted with time, grey and ochre patched
Yet smooth as silk where hands have rubbed. In fields, woods, valleys, bog, bracken and bramble
Standing, fallen, broken, smashed by the Church. No matter their magic felt through centuries and time
For they have seen death, life and the stars. Sit in their majesty, turn and look back
See the horizons. Mothers, mapped out. Look on in wonder, best all alone
For then you will find Solace in Stone

T J Ackley

 

The ancient site of Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey
Video the Global Heritage Fund

The Global Heritage Fund reports that -

Göbekli Tepe is an Early Neolithic site of enormous significance, featuring 5-meter-high monolithic pillars carved in relief and dating to 10,000 or more years ago. Erected within circular “temple” structures, the latest excavations have revealed that these structures likely covered the entire hillside and could number as many as 20 in total. Göbekli Tepe has been interpreted as the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered. Until excavations began, a complex on this scale was not thought possible for a community so ancient. The massive sequence of stratification layers suggests several millennia of activity, perhaps reaching back to the Mesolithic. The oldest occupation layer (stratum III) contains monolithic pillars linked by coarsely built walls to form circular or oval structures. So far, four such buildings, with diameters between 10 and 30m have been uncovered. Geophysical surveys indicate the existence of 16 additional structures.

However, the site and its extant remains are threatened by looting, exposure and insufficient management of the site and its resources. GHF’s goals at Göbekli Tepe are to support the preparation of a comprehensive Site Management and Conservation Plan, construction of a shelter over the exposed archaeological features, training local community members in guiding and conservation and aiding Turkish authorities in securing World Heritage Site inscription.

More here and here (PDF).

 
The Bartlow Burial Mounds, Cambridgeshire, England in the late 18th century
 
The Heritage Trust will be holding its Outreach Event in Cambridgeshire this year. The event will begin with lunch (for those wanting one) at the 17th century Three Hills Inn in Bartlow Village on Saturday, 21 June (the summer solstice). We’ll meet at the Three Hills Inn around 12:00pm, leaving there around 1:30pm for the short walk to the Bartlow Burial Mounds.
 
There’s no charge to attend (and lunch, transportation etc is not included in the Event) just an opportunity to share ideas and socialise with likeminded people. Follow our Forthcoming events link at the top of the page for further details.
 
 
The Bartlow Burial Mounds today
Kite Aerial Photograph by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation
All rights reserved, used with permission
 
 
 
A gold bead found at Rendlesham, Suffolk. The bead measures approx. 1cm in length
 
BBC News Suffolk reports on the possible discovery of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of the kings of East Anglia -
 
A village at Rendlesham in Suffolk, which would have included a royal hall, was mentioned by the historian the Venerable Bede in the 8th Century. Suffolk’s county archaeologists have been studying a 120-acre (50 hectare) area about 5 miles (8km) from the Sutton Hoo burial site.
  
An exhibition of some of the coins and jewellery opens at the Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre near Woodbridge today, 15 March, and runs until 31 October 2014.
 
Full article and video here. See also the report on the partial looting of the site here.

   
 
Fars News Agency (FNA) of Iran claims that -
 
According to the Palestinian Department of Antiquities, there are 944 archaeological sites in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while the number of monuments hit 10 thousand, PIC reported.
 
Antiquities expert Dr Hamdan Taha said that the occupation is committing the most dangerous crime against the antiquities, with the aim of changing and falsifying the history of Palestine. He noted that the construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank has led to the annexation of more than 270 archaeological sites and about 2,000 archaeological and historical landmarks, in addition to dozens of archaeological sites that were destroyed for the construction of the wall.
 
The Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage also pointed out that more than 500 archaeological sites and over 1,500 monuments in the West Bank were stolen or destroyed by looters, supported by the occupation forces. Researcher Mohamed al-Jamal said that the theft of antiquities is managed by Israeli officers, traders and dozens of semi-organized groups who are carrying out illegal archaeological excavations.
 
Jamal noted that “according to statistics, one hundred thousand archaeological pieces are being smuggled abroad every year.”

Full article here.
   

 
9,000 year-old mask decorated with paint from the Nahal Hemar Cave, Judean Desert
Image credit Elie Posner © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
 
Ilan Ben Zion, writing for the The Times of Israel, reports on the exhibition Face to Face: The Oldest Masks in the World which is now on show at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and which features twelve limestone Neolithic cult masks never before displayed together -
 
Weighing in at one or two kilograms apiece, each of the artifacts represents a oval visage with glaring ocular cavities, toothy maws, and a set of holes along the outer edge. They were likely painted in antiquity, but only one has remnants of pigment. Each of the 12 is unique, and possibly depicts individuals. Some of the faces are old, others appear younger. One is a miniature, the size of a brooch. They may represent ancestors venerated as part of an early Stone Age religion.
 
“It is important to say that these are not living people, these are spirits,” said Dr. Debby Hershman, curator of prehistoric cultures at the Israel Museum, who organized the exhibit. She was reluctant to place a mask from the exhibit over her face out of reverence for bygone traditions.
 
The 12 masks will be on display from March 11 until September 13 in the Israel Museum’s archaeology wing. In keeping with the Neolithic theme, Snyder compared the display to England’s Stonehenge. Twelve glass pillars arranged in a circle will hold the masks at eye level so visitors can see them from all angles.
 
Full article here.
   

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