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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.




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)
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.
Reconstruction of Jomon Period roundhouses at the Yayoi-Kan Museum in Fukuoka, Japan
Image credit and © Winifred Bird
Writing in the Japan Times, Winifred Bird reports that –
Back in the late 1970s, the city planners of Karatsu, a fishing community on the northern coast of Kyushu, decided to build a new road. This provided a rare opportunity for local archaeologists. One day, they mixed a scoop of soil with water to separate out the pollen, and something unexpected floated to the top: a handful of tiny black discs. It turned out to be carbonized millennia-old rice that would soon lead them to the oldest paddy fields ever discovered in Japan. [See our earlier feature here].
Wild rice does not grow in Japan; the tall wetland plant that eventually became the squatter Japonica variety farmers grow today was first domesticated in China 8,000 or more years ago. Over the course of several millennia, the techniques evolved and spread — eventually to the Japanese islands, although the route and timing of their arrival remains controversial.
Kazuo Miyamoto, a professor of archaeology who studies that complex question at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, says immigrant farmers from the Korean Peninsula most likely arrived by boat around the eighth century B.C., making landfall somewhere around present-day Karatsu, and then on the broad plain where Fukuoka is now. They established rice paddies and probably shared their techniques with local hunter-gatherer communities, who already grew some vegetables, grains and beans in dry fields. Population grew, leaders emerged, conflict arose — and Japan was on its way toward “modernity.”
Full article here.
10th century fragment of a mural painting from Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan) showing monks and Bodhisattvas listening to a sermon by the Buddha
105cm x 90cm approx. State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia 
From 1 March 2014 onwards, the Hermitage Amsterdam will offer visitors a glimpse of the long-lost civilizations along the legendary Silk Road. Until 5 September 2014, the exhibition Expedition Silk Road will present treasures from the Hermitage: 250 exceptionally beautiful objects, such as murals, sculpture, precious silks, silver, glass, gold, and terracotta, excavated by Russian expeditions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visitors will follow in the footsteps of the explorers who mapped the routes of kings and merchants, and of the Buddhist monks who went before them. Like the caravans that crossed this inhospitable region ages ago, passing through oases, kingdoms, and monasteries, visitors will travel the trade routes from west to east or east to west, and discover spectacular ancient treasures along the way. Among the many highlights will be a more than nine-metre-long mural of a deity in battle with predators from the royal palace in Varakhsha (7th–8th century, present-day Uzbekistan). This prized work of art has never left the Hermitage before, but after its restoration, made possible by crowdfunding by the Friends of the Hermitage, it will be on display in Amsterdam for more than six months.
Details here.
The British Museum has announced that –
Tickets are now on sale for Viking Adventures from the British Museum – a lively, interactive, educational film designed to enhance cross-curricular learning for Key Stage 2 students. The show is related to the BP exhibition Vikings: life and legend [which begins today, 6 March 2014] at the British Museum, and will support a broad range of curriculum subjects at KS2, including History, Geography, English, Art and Design, Design Technology and RE.
Viking Adventures will be screened in selected cinemas across the UK and Ireland in the week beginning 2 June 2014. Explore the world of the Vikings in their Scandinavian homelands and as they travelled across the seas to create a trading network that spanned four continents. Find out about Viking ships, daily life, Norse gods and goddesses, and ancient sagas. Raiders and traders, sailors and settlers – the story of the Vikings will amaze, surprise, enthrall and fire your students’ imagination!
The broadcast is approximately one hour and screenings will take place in selected Odeon, Vue, Cineworld, Picturehouse, Empire, Curzon and independent cinemas.
Tickets are on sale now, so book early to avoid disappointment.
An Edward VI shilling. The coin was minted in London between 1551 and 1553
Following on from the astonishing history and culture-expanding artefact finds by members of the public in Britain (the Staffordshire Hoard and the Silverdale Hoard to name but two) Yahoo News reports yesterday that –
An amateur treasure hunter with a hand-held metal detector has turned Canadian history on its head after finding a 16th century shilling buried in clay on the shores of Vancouver Island. The 435-year-old coin discovered in western-most Canada has rekindled a theory that a British explorer made a secret voyage here two centuries before it was discovered by Spanish sailors. Official historical records show the Spanish were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Canada’s British Columbia province in 1774, followed four years later by British Royal Navy Captain James Cook.
According to conspiracy theorists and some historians, the silver coin (produced between 1551 and 1553) is evidence that English explorer Sir Francis Drake travelled as far north as Canada’s Pacific Coast during an expedition to California in 1579, in search of the famed Northwest Passage. But he covered it up at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I, who supposedly wished to avoid confrontation over the new territory with Spain.
Full article here.


March 2014
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