You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2012.

Stripping away the black epidermis from the white bast fibre of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia kajinoki Seib) or kozo in Japanese. Kozo bast is the main ingredient in the manufacture of Japanese paper.
Illustration from one of the earliest Japanese books on papermaking, the Kamisuki Chohoki by Kunisaki Jihei, which first appeared in Osaka in 1798
ICCROM announces that –
Many collections all over the world house Japanese paintings, calligraphic works and other paper–based artefacts. The purpose of this course is to offer those caring for such collections outside of Japan an insight into the materials and techniques of the Japanese paper-mounting tradition, and to the principles guiding the care of such collections in Japan. Through improving their understanding of the basic characteristics of the Japanese paper tradition, the participants will be in a better position to make decisions concerning the care of Japanese artefacts in their collections. The course aims also at offering opportunities to build bridges between the Japanese and the Western paper conservation traditions and to assess the applicability of the Japanese approach, materials & techniques also to non-Japanese cultural heritage.
The papermaking village of Kurodani in western Japan
The Heritage Trust
Dates for the course are: 26 August – 13 September 2013.

Place: Tokyo, Japan.


National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.

ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property).
Details here.
Subhashis Das at the megalithic site of Rola
Subhashis Das was born on 16 July 1956 in the State of Assam, North East India. He attended St. Xavier’s School, Hazaribagh, in the State of Jharkhand, East India. Subhashis graduated in history from St. Columba’s College, Hazaibagh, University of Ranchi. He obtained a Bachelor of Education degree from Annamalai University and subsequently worked in marketing for 25 years. Although Subhashis was not particularly interested in megaliths to begin with, general history, ancient races and civilisations, Indian tribes and their ancient myths interest him immensely. A sudden discovery of  a dolmen near his hometown changed him altogether and he left his job to become a full-time ‘megalith explorer’. To support himself during these activities he served as a principal in a high school for some 10 years.
His first book, Sacred Stones in Indian Civilization was published in 2009 and is the first book detailing megaliths in his home state of Jharkhand, and one of the first of its kind published in India. His next book, The Unknown Prehistory of Primitive India, is slated to be released in July or August 2013 and will include a few complimentary pages by Dr Terence Meaden. Subhashis Das’ website, Megaliths of India is the only one of its kind in the country and was created in August 2010.  Subhashis once engaged in professional music and played the guitar; age, however, ‘taking the better of me’ as he puts it, he is now more involved with the spiritual songs of Rabindranath Tagore (known as Rabindra sangeet). He is also interested in spiritualism itself, photography, writing poems and also loves to sketch. In his own words he will, “Walk miles with the wind on me. Walking in the rain or under the blue sky. Enjoying the sunshine, the call of the doves, talking to myself and meditating.”
Among his other accomplishments, Subhashis Das has discovered countless primitive megaliths across India, many of which are his own study sites. 16 years ago he found that not all megaliths were used for sepulchral purposes but that many were created for astronomical observations, and even to function as calendars. About the same time he discovered the astronomical significance of the megaliths of Punkri Burwadih, and also that the monument was used to observe the equinoxes and the summer solstice sunrises. He revived the ancient tradition of equinox viewing at this megalithic complex. Hundreds of people from all over the country gather to view the equinox sunrises at Punkri Burwadih twice every year, thus making Punkri Burwadih the only megalithic site in India used today for this phenomenon.
For a sample of Subhashis Das’ contributions to The Heritage Trust please enter Subhashis Das in our search box at the top of this page.
 The 500 year-old reliquary engraved with the names of the Magi and images of Christ and St Helena
Trustees of the British Museum.
A story to start the festive season: Writing in The Guardian on Friday, 21 December, Maev Kennedy reports that –
A 500-year-old gold reliquary, beautifully engraved with the names of the Magi and images of Christ and St Helena, which was found by a four-year-old playing with his father’s metal detector, has gone on display for the first time at the British Museum. It would once have been brilliantly coloured, with enamel work filling in the letters and decoration, and may once have contained a relic of the cross. It probably dropped from the neck of some wealthy and pious person, and lay undiscovered in the field for half a millennium.
James Hyatt, from Billericay, was four when he found the pendant two years ago one Sunday afternoon in Hockley, Essex, while he was out with his father Jason. The little locket was jammed shut when found. After conservation work by Marilyn Hockey at the museum, the back panel slid open again for the first time in centuries – but there was nothing inside except some fibres of flax, probably once grown locally. James’s find was genuine buried treasure though. It was officially declared treasure by a coroner’s inquest, and has now become one of the permanent treasures of the British Museum’s medieval gallery.
Full article here. And with that, wishing a –

Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year to all Our Readers

William Stukeley’s 1724 Groundplot of Avebury. Click for details
 !cid_F63A61B6360B4C1AB2976F01C4EF809A@HP (2)
The National Treasure Twelve Devas and the World of Esoteric Buddhist Rituals
In Jowa 1 (834), the Shingon master Kukai (774-835) began the Rites and Austerities of the Latter Seven Days, (Goshichinichi no mishiho), in the Imperial court. This ritual to pray for national protection at the beginning of the year continues to be practiced at the Shingon temple To-ji in Kyoto to this day. The Kyoto National Museum has a complete set of twelve deva paintings. This exhibition features this set in its entirety along with related paintings…
The exhibition runs from Tuesday, 8 January to Monday, 11 February 2013 in the Special Exhibition Hall of Kyoto National Museum. More here.
Eric Ravilious, The Wilmington Giant, 1939 (V&ADACS)
The Wilmington Giant by Eric Ravilious (1903-42). Painted in 1939 and housed at the Victorian and Albert Museum, London
The second largest hoard of Roman solidi (gold coins) ever found in Britain
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, is record as saying on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website that –

It is clear from the discoveries reported this year that the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme goes from strength to strength. The ITV series this year shows just how much these finds have captured the public’s imagination and changed our understanding of the past. It is a scheme which is envied the world over. I am very grateful to the Department for Culture Media and Sport for continuing to support the Scheme and to Treasure Hunting magazine who have continued to publish PAS reports. And to other generous funders such as The Headley Trust, Institute for Archaeologists and the Heritage Lottery Fund who support staff to ensure that the Scheme can continue its vital work. As well as the funding bodies who have helped acquire Treasure finds.

Richard Abdy, Curator of Roman Coins as the British Museum, writes of the second largest hoard of Roman gold coins (shown above) ever found in Britain that –

The discovery was made by a metal-detectorist near to St Albans, Hertfordshire, and reported to his local Finds Liaison Officer. In October 2012 the findspot was excavated by a team of archaeologists from St Albans City and District Museums Service and altogether 159 coins were recovered. The coins date to the late 4th to early 5th century AD (after AD 408 regular supplies of Roman coinage to Britain ceased) and were mostly struck in the Italian cities of Milan and Ravenna and issued under the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II, Theodosius I, Arcadius and Honorius. The largest hoard of Roman solidi was found at Hoxne in Suffolk in 1992 and comprised 565 solidi. Richard Abdy said: “This is a hugely exciting find. During the period of the Roman occupation of Britain, coins were usually buried for two reasons; as a religious sacrifice to the Gods, or as a secure store of wealth, with the aim of later recovery. The late date of the coins suggests their burial could have been associated with the turbulent separation of Britain from the Roman Empire c. AD 410″.

The Hoard will be on view in the Citi Money Gallery at the British Museum from 4 December. More here.


A guest feature by moss.
A section of Holme Beach where Seahenge was originally sited
The Heritage Trust
Seahenge of course is not a henge, not even a stone circle, but was built with wooden posts around the spring of 2049bce. The diameter of the circle was 21 foot (6.6m) with 55 closely fitting posts, the circle averaging out at about 10 foot high. The land on which it stood would have been different, saltmarsh protected from the sea by sand dunes and mud with a mixed oak woodland nearby. Tis a place of sacred unknowingness, you may laugh but that central upturned trunk, its roots reaching out to the sky, must hold some sort of secret. The archaeologists think that it was used for excarnation, either for a great chief, or maybe for the small group or clan who lived here.
The central upturned tree trunk
The Heritage Trust
When I first saw the upturned tree, my initial reaction was that it was somehow a dinosaur, not quite dead, still throbbing with slow life. It has PRESENCE this tree, blackened and deeply fissured with age and with a few model carrion crows perch  menacingly on the edges of the mock-up wooden circle help create the drama. The tree stands in its glass cage watching over the recovered wooden posts of the circle as they curve round on their stand backed by a large photographic representation of the beach on which the circle was found.
Section of the circle
The Heritage Trust
The beach at Holme-Next-to-the-Sea must be your first port of call, drive down to the village and turn left at the crossroads, (where it says Peddars Way) and there is a car park further on. Walk over the wooden boardwalk by the dunes, the sand stretches for ages down to the sea, and on the horizon about 50 sea wind turbines stand like ghosts, blades idly turning. No mention of where the posts were found on the information boards, and I suppose if you were lucky and walked further on and the tide was out you may find the second wooden circle, called Holme 2.
There are several theories mooted on the boards that accompany the timbers, one is to do with the stripping and non-stripping of the bark off the posts, most timbers had their bark left on but one had been stripped, this one called ‘timber 30’ had its outward facing bark stripped, maybe to represent an important person, maybe because it had been struck by lightning thereby leaving a white bark.  Firstly, it was said that the closeness of the posts could be that the whole site was supposed to represent a tree stump, or maybe each individual post represented a person, there were 55 posts in all. The orientation of the first timbers sunk was to the Midwinter sunset in the south-west and the Midsummer sunrise in the northeast.
About half the timbers were placed upside down, it could have been due to the fact that if driven into the ground right way up the circle would have leant inwards towards the centre.  By placing them upside down they cancelled this inversion, but there again at other Bronze Age sites inverted objects were associated with death and human remains.
The narrow ‘entrance’ double pronged timber
The Heritage Trust
The narrow ‘entrance’ double pronged timber was labelled 35/37 in the initial excavation because it was thought to be two separate posts, there is a blocking timber 36 in front of the entrance. The great central oak stump, over 50 axes were used on this tree, and 3 holes bored into its lower trunk show where it was dragged by honeysuckle ropes. Measuring about 2 and half metres high by approximately the same width, think I read somewhere it was 150 years old, there are two suggestions for why it was used, one being the excarnation theory the other “a symbolic representation of the fruits of the earth and the magical powers of trees, or perhaps a gateway to the underworld.”
What to make of it all? Firstly, one has to agree with the decision of digging the timbers up, if only to help keep them for future reference at Lynn Museum in Norfolk, and safe from further destruction by the sea, and because of their special uniqueness. The heart does stop for a few seconds as you view these old monster wooden posts, my first impression was of the old wooden Scandinavian gods found in the bogs – strange twisted and  shaped…  Alien, scary and dark!  Imagination can run easily with Tibetan ‘sky burials,’ especially as part of the exhibition houses another upside down tree trunk to make the point that the roots easily cradle a human being.
Lynn Museum, in King’s Lynn, can be found to one side of the bus station, so simply head for the train and bus station and park in one of the car parks round there.
Tollund Man from the village of Tollund, Denmark. Circa 2,000bce
On May 6, 1950, Viggo and Emil Højgaard from the small village of Tollund were cutting mud to find peat for their stove in the Bjældskovdal peat bog, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west of Silkeborg, Denmark. As they worked, one of their wives, who was there helping to load the peat on a carriage, noticed in the peat layer a corpse so fresh that they could only assume that they had discovered a recent murder victim, and after much deliberation among the workers, she notified the police in Silkeborg. The find was reported to the police on Tuesday May 8, 1950 and they were baffled by the body, and in an attempt to identify the time of death, they brought in archaeology professor P. V. Glob. Upon initial examination, Glob suggested that the body was over two thousand years old and most likely the victim of a sacrifice.
The Tollund Man lay 50 meters (160 ft) away from firm ground, buried under approximately 2 meters (6.6 ft) of peat, his body arranged in a fetal position. He wore a pointed skin cap made of sheepskin and wool, fastened securely under his chin by a hide thong. There was a smooth hide belt around his waist. Additionally, the corpse had a noose made of plaited animal hide drawn tight around the neck, and trailing down his back. Other than these, the body was naked. His hair was cropped so short as to be almost entirely hidden by his cap. There was short stubble (1mm length) on his chin and upper lip, suggesting that he had not shaved on the day of his death.
Source Wikipedia.


An unusual 6th century Anglo-Saxon brooch. Portable Antiquities Scheme

BBC News Norfolk reports on the 26 November that –

Fragments of an early Anglo-Saxon silver brooch found in Norfolk have given archaeologists new evidence of a cremation burial in the area. Experts say the 6th Century brooch, found near West Acre, could possibly have originated in mainland Europe. The brooch, along with a Medieval copper coin-like medal known as a jetton and a Middle Anglo-Saxon sword belt mount, has been declared treasure.

An expert from the British Museum said the 13th Century jetton was “unusual”. The objects were found by metal detector enthusiasts close to West Acre, Flitcham and Great Dunham. Erica Darch, from Norfolk Historic Environment Services, said: “The really important thing about these finds is the location.

More here.


Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. Photos and Video © Graeme Field

Composed mainly of chalk and clay excavated from the surrounding area, the mound stands 40 metres (131 ft) high and covers about 5 acres (2 ha). It is a display of immense technical skill and prolonged control over labour and resources. Archaeologists calculate that Silbury Hill was built about 4,750 years ago and that it took 18 million man-hours, or 500 men working for 15 years (Atkinson 1974:128) to deposit and shape 248,000 cubic metres (324,000 cu yd) of earth and fill on top of a natural hill. Euan W. Mackie asserts that no simple late Neolithic tribal structure as usually imagined could have sustained this and similar projects, and envisages an authoritarian theocratic power elite with broad-ranging control across southern Britain.

The base of the hill is circular and 167 metres (548 ft) in diameter. The summit is flat-topped and 30 metres (98 ft) in diameter. A smaller mound was constructed first, and in a later phase much enlarged. The initial structures at the base of the hill were perfectly circular: surveying reveals that the centre of the flat top and the centre of the cone that describes the hill lie within a metre of one another. There are indications that the top originally had a rounded profile, but this was flattened in the medieval period to provide a base for a building, perhaps with a defensive purpose.

The first phase, carbon-dated to 2400 BC ±50 years, consisted of a gravel core with a revetting kerb of stakes and sarsen boulders. Alternate layers of chalk rubble and earth were placed on top of this: the second phase involved heaping further chalk on top of the core, using material excavated from an encircling ditch. At some stage during this process, the ditch was backfilled and work was concentrated on increasing the size of the mound to its final height, using material from elsewhere. The step surrounding the summit dates from this phase of construction, either as a precaution against slippage, or as the remnants of a spiral path ascending from the base, used during construction to raise materials and later as a processional route.

According to legend, Silbury is the last resting place of a King Sil, represented in a lifesize gold statue and sitting on a golden horse. A local legend noted in 1913 states that the Devil was carrying a bag of soil to drop on the citizens of Marlborough, but he was stopped by the priests of nearby Avebury. In 1861 it was reported that hundreds of people from Kennett, Avebury, Overton and the neighbouring villages thronged Silbury Hill every Palm Sunday.

Source Wikipedia.


Earthenware fragments containing what are believed to be among the oldest examples of Hiragana (one of two Japanese phonetic scripts)
The Mainichi Newspapers
The Mainichi Newspaper reports on the 30 November that –
Earthenware vessels bearing what are believed to be some of the oldest examples of hiragana characters in Japan have been recovered from the remains of the residence of ninth century noble Fujiwara Yoshimi (813-67) in Kyoto.
It had been held that hiragana were perfected sometime between the mid-ninth century, and the time the “Kokin Wakashu” (Anthology of ancient and modern waka poetry) was compiled in 905, but surviving examples were sparse. The latest discovery, announced by the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute on Nov. 28, has been called a valuable find, filling a gap in research on how hiragana came to be formed. “Not only is this among the oldest hiragana material, it makes literary references and contains advanced unbroken lines of characters, making it a precious find,” commented Kyoto University professor Ryohei Nishiyama, a specialist in ancient Japanese history.
Full story here. See also our earlier feature on The Kyoto City Archaeological Museum (京都市考古資料館).


Caedmon’s Cross showing Christ, David, Abbess Hilda and the poet Caedmon in four panels
The Heritage Trust
This beautiful cross, carved  from Northumbrian sandstone in a semi-Celtic style, was erected in 1898 to commemorate Caedmon, England’s first recorded poet. The cross stands at the top of the 199 Steps (made famous by Bram Stoker’s reference to them in Dracula) and in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Whitby, North Yorkshire. The Cross however stands perilously close to the edge of East Cliff, part of which fell away on Thursday (see our feature below) and perhaps should now be moved elsewhere for safety.
Another cross, dating from the 14th century, presently stands near the entrance to Whitby Abbey; somewhere in this area would be the logical choice to relocate Caedmon’s Cross before it is too late.
The 199 Steps leading to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey
The Heritage Trust
The Heritage Trust urges the appropriate authorities to examine the stability of Caedmon’s Cross without delay as the surrounding area is obviously unsafe. Should the Cross fall it could not only shatter but might also cause injury, not to mention damage, to people or properties that lay in its path.


December 2012
Follow The Heritage Trust on
%d bloggers like this: