Craddock Moor stone circle to undergo a complete clearance and re-exposure of its buried stones where detected.

Text and images © Roy Goutté.



Living as I do on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall I spend as much time as I can tramping about visiting everything it has to offer, which archaeology wise, is a great deal!

Quite often one comes across a site that has suffered at the hands of those that should know better or wandering livestock, or in fact the very land itself that it is built upon!

One such example is Craddock Moor stone circle (SX248771820), just a stone’s throw away from Cornwall’s iconic triple stone circles the Hurlers at Minions. Erected on peaty soil during, it is believed the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze-Age, it has slowly but surely been returning to Nature and is now a totally recumbent circle of stones due no doubt to a combination of that peaty soil and wandering livestock pushing them over or using them as rubbing stones. Also subjected to nearby quarrying activities and intensive peat workings it has not had an easy ride.

Many of the fallen uprights have totally succumbed to the peaty soil and are now lying buried whilst others are gradually becoming strangled and covered by the chain-mail type gorse, turf and other vegetation that proliferates on this part of Craddock Moor and extremely difficult to work your way through. (See main photo above).

This of course is a huge problem for those responsible for the upkeep of these circles and because of a shortage of funding, not something that can be attended to as regular as they would wish to.

This is where we can and should help out whenever possible. This is our heritage and if we want future generations to have the pleasure that we ourselves are having, then we should offer our services and ‘put something back’ in appreciation of what our great ancestors left behind for us to wonder at.

With this in mind I have been working quietly with our excellent Heritage at Risk officers and reporting back to them when I see damage being done to a site or the likes of a fence needing repairing or environmental problems during my tramping about over the moor. As many of the sites I visit are way off the beaten track I always carry a small hammer/nails/staples/saw in my rucksack to make emergency repairs then report it back on my return in case it needs further work.

This has been very much appreciated and a trust gained. Personally, it has led to me being invited to take part in archaeological excavations and surveys, something I thought I would never do, and recently, with a small team of equally dedicated friends, carry out a clearance of discovery at Louden stone circle.

The work we were trusted to do at Louden was very successful and appreciated and we were able to reveal far more about this Scheduled Monument than was previously known (see here).

I and the team have now been granted permission to carry out similar work at Craddock Moor circle and feel very privileged and thankful for the opportunity.

The approved plan is to firstly carefully remove all the turf/gorse/general growth off the now recumbent stones so that those above ground are clearly visible to the public who at the present time give up the will to live seeking the circle out! Once done, the ‘missing’ or buried stones that we have detected will be neatly exposed to their upper surface (not below) so that they can be recorded. If no more than an inch or two beneath the surface they will be left exposed, but if much deeper and a danger to livestock and walkers alike, will be re-covered on the completion of the work once a full survey has been carried out. The important thing is that we will then know far more about this circle than we previously had.

I have already photographically recorded the site prior to work commencing with digital stills and a video and yesterday (the 3rd October) made my first working visit in preparation and anticipation of our start next week (weather permitting).

Whilst I was there I just had to reveal a stone not fully seen for years. For me, that moment when an apparently shapeless stone just breaking the surface also sees the full light of day is rather magical as it turns from being ‘just a stone’ to a stone that was once selected by our ancestors some 4,000 years ago to fulfil a purpose that we may never get to fully understand!

From this…


To this!

As I mentioned earlier, the chain-mail type gorse/turf mix covering many of the stones is a devil to cut through and quite time consuming but well worth the effort if we can once again have something worthwhile to see and learn from. As they say… watch this space for updates…

In the meantime…

If you would like to get your hands dirty and join our small team during our work on the circle before winter really sets in you would be most welcome. Just leave your details on the Comments page and I will get back to you ASAP.

Just a word of warning though for the faint hearted. Before any work can be done we have a half-mile walk with our tools to get there… and back again, with no shelter if the weather turns foul on us, so our working days will be carefully selected!!

Roy Goutté.

Originally posted on Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper:

Last year Northampton Council sold an Egyptian statue of Sekhemka for a lot of money. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has deferred a decision on the export licence application for a second time, now giving themselves until March 29 2016. It seems there is a realistic chance that someone will buy it back for Britain. The DCMS has received “notification of a serious intention to raise funds to save the Sekhemka statue for the UK,” and thus “ensure there will be public access to the statue.”

This apparently good news came a few days ahead of the launch of the new British Archaeology, which has two features on the statue (see above, available online on October 7, and in shops on October 9). Stephen Quirke and Alice Stevenson review the sale and future implications, and I ask about the man thought to have brought the statue to…

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By Roy Goutté
On the 17th September 2015 I finally got to see the ‘Jersey Hoard’, a fantastic hoard of mixed silver and copper coins discovered in Jersey back in 2012 and said to weigh three-quarters of a ton! It was my first re-visit to my homeland for 5 years.

The hoard has recently been moved and now housed in the museum at La Hougue Bie. Since its discovery, by two metal detectorists, conservators have been removing on average about 500 coins per week out of the estimated total of possibly 50,000! But it’s not only coins making up this most amazing mass, for once coins started being removed, gold torcs and jewellery began to reveal themselves and to date seven torcs have now been exposed! An estimated value of the whole package has been put at over £10m which is a phenomenal amount! Even though they were just recording on the day I was there, you are able to observe the conservators at work as they painstakingly take the hoard apart, cleaning and conserving the contents as they go.

A notice informs you that the coins are made from a mix of silver and copper and why they are now dark green

Also hidden in Jersey’s eastern countryside at La Hougue Bie and within its grounds, lies one of Europe’s finest prehistoric monuments. At the heart of this tranquil site stands a medieval church atop a prehistoric mound under which lies a 6,000-year-old Neolithic Cruciform Armorican Passage Grave. Without a doubt this is the Channel Islands jewel in the crown and an absolute ‘must see’.

Now that the hoard is safely housed in the purposely built lab it is more reason to pay the site a visit. You certainly won’t be disappointed that’s for sure, but do take a torch along with you to view the inside of the passage grave as the lighting is minimal! Alternatively, check out this excellent website that displays the chambered tomb superbly.

Jersey Heritage itself has a very informative website here and here. Within the museum is a fascinating geology and Ice-Age area aside from other coin hoards, axes, swords and spears belonging to Jersey’s Neolithic community.

Just a part of the Ice-Age exhibition

As a reminder of more recent times, especially to the islanders (not that they need reminding that is) is a command bunker built during the German Occupation of Jersey and turned into a memorial dedicated to the slave-workers brought to the Channel Islands by invading Nazi forces during the Second World War and treated abominably. Personally, I chose not to enter this ‘museum in its own right’ as I find it too depressing and in a way not in keeping with the wonder of the other exhibits. Family memories and all that!

That aside, there is a large picnic area where you can enjoy a day out amongst the beautiful surroundings of this mainly peaceful and spiritual site.

A closer look at the hoard through the glass screen of the purposely built lab

A fantastic aerial view of the church atop the mound. The entrance to the passage grave can be observed to the left of the mound

The wonderfully constructed entrance to the passage grave

Both the grave and the church are orientated east/west, the tomb entrance facing east in common fashion. And just when the excitement of discovering the Celtic hoard at Grouville couldn’t have been more, this was then discovered at Trinity …again by a metal detectorist!

Say what you like about metal detectorists but without a doubt they have been responsible for re-writing much of our history by the finds they have made. In many cases it has been in areas not even considered by archaeologists so unlikely to have ever been discovered without their help. Such a shame that they are not given the credit due to them because of a small minority not playing by the rules and getting more attention than they deserve in certain quarters.


The ancient site of Palmyra, parts of which have now been destroyed by Daesh vandals Reuters/Mohamed Aza

Lancaster University has asked us if we’d reblog this article by Professor Natasa Lackovic. Here are the first three paragraphs of Professor Lackovic’s article; the rest can be found here.

“Details are still emerging of the scale of destruction  on the heritage site of Palmyra in Syria. Now work is beginning by archaeologists at Oxford and Harvard, determined to create a digital record of the ancient sites that remain. They are planning to get thousands of 3D cameras into Syria and Iraq that can be used by people on the ground to take 3D images of the countries’ cultural heritage.

“This work is part of a growing trend to create heritage archives that can be used to support young people learning about world cultures. Online photo banks of heritage artefacts are growing. In the UK, there are quite a few heritage–based visual resources that can be used in the classroom, such as  The British Museum’s project “teaching history with 100 objects” and the Wessex Archaeology collection.

“Recently, special attention has been placed on 3D heritage visualisations, especially in the emerging area of 3D printing for education. The start-up project Museofabber  aims to 3D-print museum collections and use them in the classrooms, inviting teachers to send in requests for objects to be printed. Other 3D printing initiatives include 3D miniatures made by the Virtual Curation Laboratory and 3D printed bones at the University of Western Florida.”

A Saxon church in the village of Archita, Transylvania, before its ‘restoration’
Image credit and © DW/W. Blacker
Luke Dale-Harris reports from Sibiu, Transylvania, that churches, some at least 800 years old, are being “brutally revamped” using European Union funds. Original features have been stripped in restoration projects mired in conflicts of interest –
Standing to face a room full of angry conservationists, the Romanian Evangelical Church lawyer Friedrich Gunesch looks red faced and shaken. Over the last four hours he has faced accusations of corruption, ineptitude and the deliberate destruction of historical monuments, as restoration specialists and investigative journalists put forward evidence against his office. They are all trying to establish the same thing: How did an EU funded, multi-million euro restoration project end up wrecking many of Romania’s most treasured churches?
More here.
An artist’s impression of a section of the newly-discovered stone circle discovered in southern Britain
Image credit Ludwig Boltzmann Institute
An unknown stone circle, close to Stonehenge, may be the largest intact prehistoric monument ever built in Britain. BBC News reports –
Standing stones found buried near Stonehenge could be the “largest” intact prehistoric monument ever built in Britain, archaeologists believe. Using ground-penetrating radar, some 100 stones were found at the Durrington Walls “superhenge”, a later bank built close to Stonehenge.
The Stonehenge Living Landscapes team has been researching the ancient monument site in a five-year project. Finding the stones was “fantastically lucky”, researchers said. The stones may have originally measured up to 4.5m (14ft) in height and had been pushed over the edge of Durrington Walls.
The site, which is thought to have been built about 4,500 years ago, is about 1.8 miles (3km) from Stonehenge, Wiltshire. The stones were found on the edge of the Durrington Walls “henge”, or bank, an area which had not yet been studied by researchers.
More here and here.
The 1st century Temple of Bel at Palmyra before its destruction by Daesh
Image credit Bernard Gagnon. Source Wikimedia Commons
The United Nations says a satellite image has confirmed that the Temple of Bel, the main temple in the ancient city of Palmyra in northern Syria, has been destroyed by Daesh.
More here.
Late ninth or early tenth century fragment of an Anglo-Saxon knot-work cross. The cross is embedded in the east-facing wall of St Gregory’s Minster, Kirkdale, North Yorkshire
Image credit Moss.
More on Kirkdale here.
The British Museum has just announced plans for a new exhibition entitled Egypt: Faith after the pharaohs.
The exhibition begins in 30 BC, when Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire after the death of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and continues until AD 1171 when the rule of the Islamic Fatimid dynasty came to an end. The remarkable objects in the exhibition have been uniquely preserved in Egypt’s arid climate, and many have never been on display before. Their survival provides unparalleled access to the lives of individuals and communities, and they tell a rich and complex story of influences, long periods of peaceful coexistence, and intermittent tension and violence between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The changes in people’s private lives are shown through everyday objects – delicate fragments of papyrus preserve some of the earliest surviving Jewish scriptures and lost Christian gospels. Colourful garments and accessories show what people wore, and soft-furnishings show how they dressed their homes.
Together, the objects in the exhibition show how the shift from the traditional worship of many gods to monotheism – the belief in one God – affected every part of life. Egypt’s journey from Roman to Islamic control reflects the wider transformation from the ancient to medieval world, a transition that has shaped the world we live in today.
The exhibition runs from 29 October 2015 – 7 February 2016. More here.
The Temple of Baal-Shamin in Palmyra, Syria
Image credit Bernard Gagnon. Source Wikimedia Commons
The ancient temple of Baal Shamin in the Unesco-listed Syrian city of Palmyra, has been destroyed. Maamoun Abdulkarim, the country’s antiquities chief, has said that the, “Daesh placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin … and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple.”
More here.
The Temple of Baal-Shamin (circa 1900) by Theodor Wiegand (Berlin 1932)
Archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, 82, was interrogated by so-called ‘Islamic State’ thugs for a month before he was beheaded yesterday in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra
He’s shown here, in 2002, in front of a rare first century sarcophagus from Palmyra depicting two priests
Image credit Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Kareem Shaheen in Beirut and Ian Black in London Report for The Guardian
The brutal murder of Khaled al-Asaad, 82, is the latest atrocity perpetrated by the jihadi group, which has captured a third of Syria and neighbouring Iraq and declared a “caliphate” on the territory it controls. It has also highlighted Isis’s habit of looting and selling antiquities to fund its activities – as well as destroying them.
More here. See also our earlier feature on Palmyra here.
Entrance to the Amphipolis Tomb near Amphipolis, Central Macedonia, Northern Greece
The Tomb was discovered in 2012 and first entered in August 2014
Philip Chrysopoulos, writing for the Greek Reporter, states that due to a lack of funding  and interest –
The first year anniversary of the Amphipolis tomb discovery finds the archaeological site in danger of being buried again in dirt, and oblivion.
It was a year ago when the discovery of the ancient tomb was heralded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in history, as it was initially thought to be the burial ground of Alexander the Great. The findings were unveiled on a daily basis and the world was watching the search unfolding with bated breath. But the grave did not belong to Alexander the Great. Later, some archaeologists claimed it could be the tomb of Alexander’s mother, Olympias. That could not be confirmed though.
The interest faded as the Culture Ministry said it would take three months to find out the identity of the skeletons discovered inside the grave. Further excavations stopped and the site was almost abandoned. Since the January elections very little has been done to protect the monument from natural elements.
Read more here.

Changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act saw protesters at the Australian State Parliament last year
Image credit and © ABC News: Katrin Long

Laura Gartry, writing for ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), reports that –

A proposed new West Australian heritage bill highlights a “disturbing racial differentiation” between the level of protection offered between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal sites, archaeologists say. It comes after the State Government released for public comment the draft Heritage Bill 2015, aimed at modernising heritage regulation.

The draft bill oversees the protection of all WA heritage sites except Aboriginal sites of significance, which come under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (AHA), itself also the subject of proposed changes by the Government. The draft Heritage Bill 2015 has been welcomed by the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA), the peak national body for the profession. But spokesman Professor Ben Smith from the University of Western Australia said the discrepancies and contradictions between the two proposed sets of changes were “untenable”.

“There is a perhaps unintentional but nonetheless very disturbing racial differentiation between the two types of heritage,” Professor Smith said. He noted how in the new Heritage Bill, the decision to add or remove a site will remain with the minister for heritage, while in revisions to the Aboriginal Heritage Act the decision will be left with a senior public servant.

“So here we have a very interesting contradiction where a site of state significance is Aboriginal, it will be a civil servant that decides whether it goes on [or off] the register. If the site is non-Aboriginal — that is settler, colonial — it is the minister that decides … the minister is the highest authority possible,” Professor Smith said.

“We have watering down of the Aboriginal Heritage Act whereas we have continued strength of non-Aboriginal preservation.”

“We seem to want to protect white fella heritage, better than we want to protect black fella heritage” adds AACAI WA Chairperson Phil Czerwinski.

Full article here. See also our earlier features on Australian heritage issues by keying in Australia in the search box above.

The vandalised Rune Stone at Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar
BBC News NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland, reports on the recently vandalised Rune Stone at Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar –
A tour guide discovered the initials ‘AA 2015’ scratched into one of the stones while visiting the site. Police Scotland and Historic Scotland have both been informed of the vandalism. It is believed it took place sometime between Monday and Thursday [last week].
The Ring of Brodgar – the third largest stone circle in the British Isles – is regarded as one of Western Europe’s most impressive prehistoric sites.
More on the vandalism here.
The Staffordshire Hoard
Birmingham Museums Trust
The Art Fund has announced that –
Although all Treasure Plus funding has now been awarded, we’re running a conference in October 2015 to support curators working with archaeological collections. The aims of this fully funded conference are to share best practice, discuss solutions for common challenges with other curators and sector experts, and to network with colleagues. Specialist and non-specialist curators and other museum professionals working with archaeology collections are all welcome.
Tuesday, 13 October 10am to 4pm (with a drinks reception and extended access to the Staffordshire Hoard Gallery until 6pm. Thinktank, Birmingham. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Places are fully funded, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to curators working in UK public collections.
The conference will be held at Thinktank, but Birmingham Museums Trust has kindly offered to extend the opening hours for the Staffordshire Hoard Galleries for conference attendees. In addition, a limited number of participants will be able to take part in a tour of the conservation studio, where items from the Hoard (pictured) are still being conserved. Transport from Thinktank to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be arranged by the Art Fund.
More here.


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