You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2013.

 
Sixth century Anglo-Saxon warrior and his horse, discovered at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, will be displayed as they were found at the newly extended Mildenhall Museum
 
BBC News Suffolk reports yesterday that –
 
A Suffolk museum has taken delivery of the skeletal remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior and his horse. The remains were found in 1997 at RAF Lakenheath and they are going on display at nearby Mildenhall Museum. The warrior is thought to have died in about AD 500 and the find included a bridle, sword and shield. The bones are being displayed under glass in the same position they were found in and the public will be able to see them next month. Suffolk Archaeological Service has been in charge of the skeletons, which were part of a cemetery containing 427 graves. The warrior is believed to have been born locally and was about 30 years old when he died.
 
The Museum has been doubled in size to house the new exhibit using £789,813 provided by Forest Heath District Council. The display will be open to the public from 2pm on Wednesday, 9 October 2013.
 
Full article here. See also our earlier features on the Mildenhall Museum here and here.
 
NB. This week, from 9:45am – 10:00am daily, BBC Radio 4 is paying tribute to Seamus Heaney, “Nobel Prize-winning poet, internationally recognised as one of the greatest contemporary voices who passed away earlier this month at the age of 74.” by broadcasting a recording of the poet reading from his translation of Beowulf.
 
More here.
 
 

 

Natalie McCaul, Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, with the gold torc (right) that the Museum is hoping to buy and reunite with one found metres from it at Towton (left) already in the Museum’s collection

Dan Bean, writing in The Press yesterday, reports that –

GOLD jewellery thought to be 2,000-years-old could leave North Yorkshire, if essential funds can not be raised. The gold torcs, or bracelets, are currently on show at the Yorkshire Museum, and are the first items of Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England. Both pieces were discovered in Towton, near Tadcaster, by metal detectorists in 2010 and 2011, and are believed to have belonged to an extremely wealthy member of the Brigantes tribe, which ruled most of North Yorkshire at the time.
 
The first torc was bought by the museum in January 2012 for £25,000 raised through a public appeal, and the second torc has just been valued at £30,000. About half the funds have already been donated through a local charity, but the museum has until the end of October to raise the rest and keep the items together in North Yorkshire.
 
Full article here.
 
Both torcs will be on show at the Yorkshire Museum until 13 October 2013. To donate to a fund to keep the torc in Britain please visit the Yorkshire Museum website or phone (01904) 687671.
 
 
 
The new Stonehenge Visitor Centre by Anglo-Australian architects Denton Corker Marshall
 
An article in today’s Telegraph outlines some of the concepts behind the new Stonehenge visitor centre (due to open in December 2013) this, in the last paragraph of the article, is especially encouraging –
 
English Heritage is continuing to push for the A303 to go into a tunnel eventually. But for the time being the road has been resurfaced with a noise-reduction coating in the hope that the sound of constant traffic might be less intrusive when the visitor is contemplating the stones and asking the big questions of how and why they were put here in the first place.
 
Of course we’ve heard it all before but is this a sign that Stonehenge will one day get the (isolated) ambiance it so richly deserves – here’s hoping. Meanwhile, the noise-reduction coating to the A303 is good news as that (the traffic noise) really was a distraction to anyone who just wanted to sit on the grass and contemplate the monument. More good news also appeared in This is Wiltshire today with the report that –
 
Devizes Passengers is urging people to use a new shoppers’ service between Devizes and Salisbury. The A360 will be run commercially by Hatts Coaches and stops at Potterne, West Lavington, Tilshead and Shrewton. It leaves Devizes Market Place at 9.25am, arriving in Salisbury just after 10am, and returns from Salisbury at 1.50pm, arriving in Devizes at 2.40pm, Monday to Friday.
 
Jasper Selwyn, chairman of Devizes Passengers, said: “If the service is successful it could expand to an hourly frequency serving the new Stonehenge Visitor centre when it opens at the end of this year. This would make it easy for tourists to come from Stonehenge to Devizes, visit the Wiltshire [Heritage] Museum and then continue to Avebury on the number 49 bus.
 
More here.
 
Update: The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald reports that –
 
English Heritage announced today [30 September] that the first phase of the long-awaited improvements to the setting and visitor experience of Stonehenge will be launched to the public on Wednesday, December 18.
 
More here.
 
 
 
The Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes, Wiltshire England
Image credit Willow
 
The Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire, England has announced the opening, on the 14 October 2013, of its new prehistory galleries  –
 
Gold from the time of Stonehenge: new prehistory galleries at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Opening on 14 October, a completely new display over 4 galleries will tell the story of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.
 
On display for the first time are dozens of gold items dating to the time of Stonehenge. Many were found [in] Bronze Age burial mounds within sight of Stonehenge, and were worn by people who worshipped inside the stone circle. These nationally important objects have never been on permanent display, and are now on show as part of this £750,000 gallery development at the Wiltshire Museum – home of Britain’s richest Bronze Age collection.
 
The centrepiece of the stunning new displays is Britain’s most important Bronze Age burial. The Bush Barrow chieftain lived almost 4,000 years ago and was buried in a barrow overlooking Stonehenge wearing the objects that showed his power and authority – including a gold lozenge, a ceremonial mace and a gold-decorated dagger.
 
More here.
 
 

One year after the death of astronomer and Sky at Night presenter Sir Patrick Moore, the BBC is reviewing the future of the programme. The plans to potentially axe the iconic show have caused outrage among the stargazing community

Karen Barker, in her petition, writes –
 
We started as a group of Open University students, who were made aware that the BBC was planning to cancel The Sky At Night.  This is something to which we strongly object. Since starting the campaign to save S@N, the BBC has stated that it is still in discussions about the future of the programme.
 
We are also concerned that once (if) the programme is brought back, its format will have been detrimentally changed.  We want to see it continue in much the same way as it always has: pitched in a scientific manner towards people who are knowledgeable on the subject, whilst retaining its accessibility for newcomers to the hobby with items aimed at them.  We believe that it should be presented by professional scientists and/or highly regarded amateurs, bringing the latest news and information on the subject to the people who want it.  We do not want to see it fronted by a generic television presenter, or a ‘celebrity’ with no connection to the hobby.  It is a specialist, scientific programme and should be treated as such and with respect to its origins and longevity.
 
Sign the petition here.
 
 

Hurler’s Update: 22 September 2013 by Roy Goutté

The northern end of the pavement petering out well short of the northernmost circle
©
Roy Goutté

Finally I got to visit personally what I had been waiting months to see and take part in… the excavation at the acclaimed quartz pavement or walkway first discovered back in 1938 between the two northernmost of the three stone circles known as The Hurler’s at Minions in Cornwall. However, I was in for a couple of surprises, for once fully exposed, the pavement proved to be predominantly of locally sourced granite stones and not quartz at all. Further to that, the pavement did not extend to either circle, falling short by some 12-15ft to the southern end and some 25-30ft to the north. After speaking at length to Cornwall Historic Environment Projects archaeologist James Gossip, I felt this was not expected and has now cast doubt on its real purpose!

A mid section of pavement showing very lumpy ‘locally’ sourced granite stones and not quartz as expected
©
Roy Goutté

James is a very enthusiastic and open minded archaeologist who it is a pleasure to talk to and work alongside and always up for a challenge, something that now seems much more likely at the Hurlers because, as the following short video clip will show, the ‘pavement’ would be quite a challenge in itself to survive without turning an ankle or two if trying to walk its length.

Uncovering the pavement while James Gossip comments on the work
©
Roy Goutté

On viewing the clip (which is just a small part of a more extensive one) you will notice the red sweater draped over the closest stone to the southern end of the pavement and the distance between it and the end of said pavement. It is a purposely finished end indicated by the clean cut of the stones and just beyond it an area has been cleared exposing the original untouched surface level. Soil analysis is taking place today (23 September) with material taken for dating if available. The vid clip will show a much taller pointed upright stone set amongst the pavement stones and it is possible that a section may be removed here for further study on the day. A metre either side of the original 1938 trench was opened up this time and in quite a few places areas of ‘activity’ could be seen with different coloured soils evident amongst sections of stones which all adds to the mystery as to what exactly we have here.

 The precise southern end termination of the ‘pavement’ showing the original reddish ground surface beyond it
©
Roy Goutté

I would like to thank James personally for allowing me to enter the site and film at will and to discuss things with him and also to Ann Preston-Jones, Senior Archaeologist, Historic Environment (Projects) Cornwall Council, for keeping me informed as to the various projects taking place in this area. This was my first day out after my recent health problems and I couldn’t think of a more pleasant way to spend an hour or two and to meet up with James again. Thanks James and also to my son Oliver who accompanied me on my first tentative steps out.

Roy Goutté

 
The Mold Gold Cape circa 1,900-1,600bce
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 
BBC News North East Wales reports today that –
 
An archaeological dig on the site where a priceless Bronze Age gold cape was found has unearthed new finds. It had been thought nothing was left at the site at Mold, Flintshire after it was last excavated in 1953. But a community dig led by archaeologists has now turned up tiny burned fragments of bone and small pieces of pottery. They could turn out to be older than the Mold Gold Cape which was made 3,700 years ago from a single sheet of gold. The cape, which was discovered in 1833, is one of the British Museum’s most prized artefacts and it has been on show at Cardiff and Wrexham this summer. It was found with a skeleton in a burial site.
 
 
How the Cape may have been worn
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 
The latest discovery could mean the site had some significance further back than many expected, according to archaeologist Mark Lodwick, who is finds co-ordinator for Wales for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
 
Full article here.
 
 

Update by Roy Goutté.

 
Lifting the turf covering the crystal pavement
Image credit Mike Honey
 

After two wet and windy days at Minions, the weather was to relent yesterday (18 September) which coincided nicely with the commencement of the excavation for the quartz pavement. Due to health issues I was unable to attend the dig as previously arranged so am very grateful to Mike Honey for generously providing me and the Trust with the following video clip which is copyright.

I hope to follow this later with a selection of still photographs provided again by Mike and further video clips as the dig progresses.

Roy Goutté.

Video courtesy Mike Honey
©
Mike Honey

Quartz stones begin to reveal themselves
Image credit Mike Honey

 

See also our earlier feature here.

 

 
Stonehenge
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Writing in Spears today, William Cash quotes Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, as saying –
 
‘They [the labour Government under Gordon Brown] were going to announce that the Stonehenge project was cancelled; that was what George Osborne wanted to do as well,’ recalls Thurley. ‘I was literally on the phone to the Treasury as Danny Alexander was heading into the chamber of the Commons to stop him from saying that the project would be cancelled. I got him to say that “No public money would be used”.
 
Which was all fine — but if he wanted the project to proceed, he had to find the money from somewhere and prove that English Heritage could indeed fund its projects. The only good news was that Thurley did have £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further million from a private donor. Only £21 million to go.
 
‘So, we had to go out and raise every single penny of it from somewhere else, and the Stonehenge project that is breaking ground later this year will be built without any government money, and I think that was quite a lesson for the government.’
 
How did he pull it off? ‘There were a small number of very wealthy individuals who had private trust foundations who gave us money, and the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to double their grant. We had to undertake one or two commercial activities. We sold some land actually, sold some property. And we’ve managed to get it all to stack up.’
 
Is this the future of Heritage GB or is there an alternative?
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
Beyond El Dorado: power and gold in ancient Colombia
Organised with Museo del Oro, Bogotá and on show at the British Museum from 17 October 2013 – 23 March 2014

 

The myths of El Dorado

For centuries Europeans were dazzled by the legend of El Dorado – literally ‘the golden one’. Many different stories were told of El Dorado – sometimes it was imagined as a lost city of gold, sometimes as a man covered in powdered gold who plunged into the middle of Lake Guatavita (near modern Bogotá). The exhibition uncovers the fascinating truth behind some of these myths. Unlike in Europe, gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia. Instead it had great symbolic meaning, facilitating all kinds of social and spiritual transformations. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank, both in life and in death.

Details here.

 

Welcome to our new feature – Putting you in touch.

Why have we started this? Well, we’re constantly astonished by the variety and very high standards that you, our Followers, maintain in your own blogs, campaigns and endeavours. You may be a large institution, or an individual working alone, but the dedication you show to your core interests is truly inspiring.

You are scattered across the globe, from Alaska to New Zealand, and your interests range from the general history of your region through to art, archaeology, poetry, photography, conservation and many other interests in-between. One thing however that you have in common is that you follow The Heritage Trust – thank you – and because of that we thought we’d like to do something in return by putting you in touch with each other.

So, starting with Paige Doerner from Rochester, New York who joined us just a few hours ago, here is a list of the first twenty of our most recent Followers. Over coming months we’ll publish more links and feel sure that among them you’ll find many other bloggers with similar interests to your own.

paigedoerner
http://pagepaige.blogspot.com
  5 hours, 48 minutes ago
English Heritage
http://heritagecalling.wordpress.com
  20 hours, 56 minutes ago
bbyac
http://bbyac.wordpress.com
  3 days, 17 hours ago
englishmediacoverage
http://IranEnglishRadio.wordpress.com
  1 week, 5 days ago
thebettermanprojects
http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com
  1 week, 6 days ago
Man of many thoughts
http://keithgarrettpoetry.wordpress.com
  1 week, 6 days ago
projectlighttolife
http://projectlighttolife.wordpress.com
  2 weeks, 3 days ago
Sterling Arthur Leva
http://letterstodionysus.com
  2 weeks, 3 days ago
poetreecreations
http://poetreecreations.wordpress.com
  2 weeks, 3 days ago
Monique
http://crumpetsincamelot.wordpress.com
  2 weeks, 5 days ago
Erik van Rossenberg
http://mattermatters.wordpress.com/
  3 weeks, 5 days ago
laurabullivant
http://rocdam.wordpress.com
  3 weeks, 6 days ago
Fernando Ortiz Jr.
http://stillnessofheart.wordpress.com
  1 month ago
Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger
http://thepublicblogger.com/
  1 month ago
juliansherman
http://juliansherman.net
  1 month ago
dstevens21
http://darrenstevens21.wordpress.com
  1 month, 1 week ago
History Kicks Ass
http://historykicksass.wordpress.com
  1 month, 1 week ago
thepomnechy
http://thepomnechy.wordpress.com
  1 month, 2 weeks ago
benedictjsayers
http://myromanbritain.wordpress.com
  1 month, 2 weeks ago
howveryromanian
http://howveryromanian.wordpress.com
  1 month, 2 weeks ago
 
The Hurlers, Cornwall
©
The Heritage Trust
 
The Hurlers: Mapping the Sun event begins today (see our earlier feature here). Simon Parker, writing in This is Devon on Saturday reports also that –
 
A Bronze Age crystal pavement described as “unique” by archaeologists is to be uncovered for the first time since the 1930s. The monument, at the Hurlers stone circle on Bodmin Moor, is believed to be the only one of its kind in the British Isles. Scientists and historians hope that by studying it they will gain a better understanding of early civilisations.
 
 
The crystal pavement as it looked when last uncovered by a Ministry of Works’ excavation of the Hurlers in 1938
 
The only time the 4,000-year-old causeway is thought to have been uncovered since it was originally laid took place 75 years ago, when workmen stabilised the site and re-erected a number of stones. The existence of the quartz pavement only came to light again when Cornwall archaeologist Jacky Nowakowski was undertaking unrelated research at an English Heritage store in Gloucestershire. As she looked through files, Jacky came across an unpublished report and photographs from the Ministry of Works’ excavation of the Hurlers in 1938. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’d certainly not seen anything like it before. A feature such as this, which suggests a possible linking of the circles, is very unusual. The pavement is nationally unique as far as I know.”
 
Internationally renowned for its line of three impressive stone circles, the Hurlers’ original use has long been the subject of speculation and argument. Some believe its alignment mirrors the celestial bodies that make up Orion’s Belt, while others claim it was used for religious purposes. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that it was of major importance to the people who inhabited the moor 4,000 years ago.
 
ICCROM is looking for bloggers to cover the ICCROM Forum on Science in Conservation.
 
The ICCROM Forum will gather 80 leading conservation practitioners, scientists, educators and managers from around the world to define future science challenges in cultural heritage conservation on a global scale. The results will identify tools and approaches to anticipate cultural heritage conservation needs and develop relevant and impactful conservation science projects.
 
If you want to be part of the discussion, if you want to provide others with a unique view inside the Forum, and if you believe that science, conservation and social media can work together for a brighter future, just click on this link and apply to be an official ICCROM Forum blogger!
 
The application deadline is the 5 October 2013.
 
 

New finds from the Staffordshire Hoard

Aethelflaed (eldest daughter of Alfred the Great), the Lady of the Mercians, will be honoured in a special ceremony in Tamworth Castle Grounds today, September 15th.

It is 1100 years since the Lady of the Mercians built a fortified settlement or burh in Tamworth. These defences stopped the Vikings from conquering Mercia and imposing Danelaw in 913. The ceremony, which will see her statue rededicated and a new inscription added, will start at 12.45pm with Saxon re-enactors carrying out a ritual march to honour the Lady of the Mercians.

This is just one of many events and activities taking place as part of Tamworth’s Heritage Open Day, which sees Tamworth’s heritage on view for all to see and for free. Visitors to Tamworth Castle will be able to see pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard on display and learn more about its Saxon heritage.

More here. Please consider donating to the Staffordshire Hoard Appeal so that work on conserving and researching the new finds, along with the remainder of the treasure, may continue and enable their display across the region and beyond. The video below gives some idea of the work conservators are carrying out on the Hoard and the interest shown in the project by the public.


This video shows the conservation cleaning event which took place in the Activity Zone at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th August. The Staffordshire Hoard conservation team cleaned some of the newly acquired Staffordshire Hoard finds in view of the public and visitors had the opportunity to see the thorns in action
[thorns are used to clean objects such as those that form the Staffordshire hoard] and experience the excitement of objects being revealed after more than 1400 years.

 

 
 The Church of St Oswald, Lythe, North Yorkshire
 
St Oswald’s is an ancient church with an internationally renowned collection of Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones. With the help of Heritage Lottery and Nortrail funding, a selection of the ancient stones at St Oswald’s Church are now displayed in a permanent exhibition, which was opened by the Marquis of Normanby in 2008.
 
 
The permanent exhibition of Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones at the Church of St Oswald
 
The exhibition displays both the Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones and the post Conquest Anglo-Norman stones. The Anglo-Scandinavian pieces date from the 9th and 10th century and are all funereal monuments, or fragments thereof, indicating a major burial ground on this site. Tantalisingly, among the group of Anglo-Scandinavian pieces which have been catalogued are two pieces which have been identified as dating from the 8 century. These pieces might constitute evidence for a stone Church prior to the arrival of the ‘Vikings’ and contemporary with the abbey at Whitby (Streoneshalh).
 
 
Artist’s impression showing how the graveyard at Lythe may have looked in the 10th century
Illustration Peter Snowball
 
The stones which do not find a place in the exhibition are systematically stored on purpose built shelving in the (modem) crypt and can be accessed on request. The purpose of Lythe PCC in sponsoring this heritage project was to conserve and secure the collections for future generations and to provide a display which interpreted the significance of what is here.
 
Those in the church are in a display second to none. The area lights up automatically as you enter, and turns itself off as you leave. The carved stones can be examined close up and there are well-written and informative explanations to both the stones and the general history of the church and surrounding area, accompanied by either photographs or the beautiful illustrations by the artist Peter Snowball.
 
Well done to the Church of St Oswald, Lythe PCC and all those involved in bring the project to fruition.
 
Text in italics from the Church’s website. More here.
 
 

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