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Artist impression of the seventh century Koyamada Burial Mound Moat
Image credit the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara
Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for the Asahi Shimbun, reports last week that archaeologists in Japan have unearthed the remains of a possible mid-seventh century imperial burial mound (kofun 古墳). The remains of the Koyamada Mound were discovered on the site of a school in the Askua area of Nara Prefecture, central Japan. Asuka was one of the early capitals of Japan before being relocated to Nara and then Kyoto (see our earlier feature, Asuka, Japan: An introduction to its megalithic sites).
“The mound is highly likely the first burial site of Emperor Jomei (593-641), described in the ‘Nihon Shoki’ (The Chronicles of Japan) as the place where his body rested until it was later transferred to another location,” said Fuminori Sugaya, the director of the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. The researchers made the estimate based on the ruin’s location, size and unique construction method.
The excavation site contains what is believed to be part of a moat lined with boulders along one of its slopes, according to the researchers. The remnants of the moat measures 48 meters in length and 3.9 to 7 meters in width. While 40-centimeter quartz diorite boulders line the northern slope of the moat, the bottom is covered with stones measuring 15 cm to 30 cm. The southern slope is covered with flagstones made of two-step chlorite schist that are topped with special flagstones known as “Haibara,” a type of rhyolite stone, stacked in a staircase pattern. The total number of steps in some areas is 10.
Full Asahi Shimbun article here.
Sutton Hoo and Europe, AD 300–1100. Room 41. The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Image © The Trustees of the British Museum
In 1939, archaeologist Basil Brown investigated the largest of many Anglo-Saxon burial mounds on the property of Mrs Edith Pretty in Sutton Hoo. He made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time – an undisturbed burial of an important early 7th-century East Anglian. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the excavation, come to the British Museum for a lecture on Friday 25 July where John Preston, nephew of Mrs Pretty, will relate the story behind the excavation.
The National Trust are celebrating the anniversary with a grand 1930s garden party on Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 July at the National Trust Visitor Centre at Sutton Hoo. There’ll be music, entertainment, tours of the mounds, cream teas, vintage cars, and much more!
The remarkable treasures are on display in the Museum’s newly refurbished Room 41. You can also learn more about the Sutton Hoo ship burial with a tour on Google Cultural Institute.
Source: The British Museum.
The Bartlow Burial Mounds, Cambridgeshire, England in the late 18th century
Just a reminder that The Heritage Trust will be holding its Outreach Event this year at Bartlow, Cambridgeshire, England on Saturday, 21 June (the summer solstice).
The Trefael Stone
BBC News South West Wales reports yesterday that a ritual burial site in Pembrokeshire may have been in use 10,000 years ago – almost twice as far back as expected –
The Trefael Stone near Nevern was reclassified as a Stone Age burial chamber after its capstone was studied. But a three-year dig [headed Dr George Nash] has since found beads dating back much further, perhaps to the Neolithic or Mesolithic periods.
For centuries the Trefael standing stone was largely disregarded as just one of hundreds of similar Bronze Age monuments. Yet closer analysis of its distinctive cup marks now indicate that they loosely match the pattern of stellar constellations. This would only make sense if, rather than standing upright, it had originally been laid flat as a capstone which would have once been supported by a series of upright stones.
Dr Nash believes the Trefael Stone in fact topped a Neolithic burial chamber, probably a portal dolmen, which is one of western Britain’s earliest burial monument types. “Many years ago Trefael was considered just a simple standing stone lying in a windswept field, but the excavation programme has proved otherwise,” he said. “It suggests that Trefael once lay in the heart of a ritualised landscape that was in operation for at least 5-6,000 years.
The Sutton Hoo ship burial mound, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England
The Heritage Trust
A new display of the British Museum’s early medieval collections, including the famous Sutton Hoo treasure which was excavated in 1939 from a ship burial mound in Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England, is scheduled to open this March in Room 41 of the Museum. Made possible through a generous donation by Sir Paul and Lady Jill Ruddock, 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.
Early seventh century Anglo-Saxon purse-lid from the Sutton Hoo ship burial
The Trustees of the British Museum
Replica/reconstruction of the purse-lid in the Sutton Hoo Museum, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
Image: The Heritage Trust
More on the British Museum website here.