Category Archives: ENGLAND

Wooden Shield Dating to Iron Age Discovered in England

Wooden Shield Dating to Iron Age Discovered in England

 The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths.
The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths.

In Leicestershire, the only example of its kind ever found in Europe, a “surprising and unparalleled” 2,300-year-old shield made of tree bark was discovered.

Archaeologists say the discovery of the shield, made between 395 and 250BC, has completely overturned assumptions about the weapons used in the iron age, sparking breathless reactions among experts of the period.

“This is an absolutely phenomenal object, one of the most marvelous, internationally important finds that I have encountered in my career,” said Julia Farley, curator of British and European iron age collections at the British Museum.“So often it is gold which grabs the headlines, but this bark shield is much rarer.”

The shield was discovered in 2015 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service in a site close to the River Soar.

Organic objects from the period very rarely survive, but the shield was preserved in waterlogged soil and may have been deposited in a water-filled pit, according to Matt Beamish, the lead archaeologist for the service. 

Bark shields of the period were entirely unknown in the northern hemisphere, and the assumption was that the material may have been too flimsy for use in war. However, experiments to remake the weapon in alder and willow showed the 3mm-thick shield would have been tough enough for battle but incredibly light.

It was likely that, contrary to assumptions, similar weapons were widespread, Beamish said. The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths, described by Beamish as “like a whalebone corset of split hardwood”, and surrounded by a rim of hazel, with a twisted willow boss.

“This is a lost technology. It has not been seen before as far as we are aware, but presumably it is a technique that was used in many ways for making bark items.”

The malleable green wood would then tighten as it dried, giving the shield its strength and forming the rounded rectangles into a slightly “waisted” shape, like a subtle figure of eight.

That was significant, said Farley, because it was exactly the shape of the ornate Battersea shield, which was dredged from the Thames in the mid-19th century and dates from the same period.“So it is possible this incredibly rare organic object is giving us some little hints about why we see what we see when we look at the metal objects.

The Battersea shield might be pretending to be a shield like this.”Because so little organic material survives from the period, she said, “we are left with the earthworks, the shiny metal work, some of the ironwork, but we don’t really see the everyday world of these people: the wooden houses they lived in with their thatched roofs, their clothing … and so really the visual world of the iron age is lost to us.

But something like this is just a little tiny window into that, which for me is fabulous and so exciting.”The shield has been donated to the British Museum where Farley said she hoped it would go on display next year.

Large Roman Building Uncovered in England

Large Roman Building Uncovered in England

Archeologists celebrate the scale of a 150-ft-long, uncovered Roman building in Faversham.

The structure — the largest of its kind in the county — was uncovered by the Kent Archeological Field School (KAFS), which has now undertaken final excavation work on the Abbey Farm site off Abbey Fields.

Its location had been identified several years ago during a field walk from Canterbury to Rochester, but only now has the building realized its scale and complexity.

An idea of what the building would have looked like
An idea of what the building would have looked like

Dr Paul Wilkinson, of KAFS, says it would have had several uses.“What we found on stripping the topsoil off was a profound and amazing building – the largest Roman agricultural building found so far in Kent,” he said.“It is absolutely enormous at 150ft long by 50ft wide.

“It was divided into zones of activity, so the west end was a bath house with the furnace, and then as you moved to the east it turned more into the agricultural activity.

The site was investigated by more than 20 students
The site was investigated by more than 20 students 

“The work has shown that the survival of the building was amazing, with stone walls, polished terracotta floors, underfloor hypocaust heating, all untouched, and covered by tons of ceramic roof tiles and the collapsed stone walls covering huge amounts of box flue tiles, which were used to direct hot air up the interior walls.

Painted plaster from these walls is mostly white but the hot sauna room on the north side of the building had plaster walls decorated in green, red and yellow panels.

“In the 5th century, it had been extended another 15 meters, with what could be an internal Christian altar.”

An idea of what the building would have looked like
An idea of what the building would have looked like

The building was investigated by more than 20 students, in what has been described as a “unique experience” by Dr Wilkinson.

The team’s next step will be to write a report, which will join documentation for other Roman villa estates in the historic environment record kept by Kent County Council.

“It’s an extremely exciting building,” Dr. Wilkinson added. “It was in the landscape for at least 400 years and had a variety of purposes.

The team on site
The team on site 

“We are finding that because of investigation of the landscape taking place now prior to the building of housing estates that the Romans were very thick on the ground indeed, and this was almost unknown of 20 years ago.“We have found they had profound activity in the countryside and it was densely populated.”

Rare Roman Coin Uncovered in England

An extremely Rare Roman Coin Uncovered in England

Dr Julian Bowsher examines the rare coin.
Dr Julian Bowsher examines the rare coin.
Archeologists working on the upgrade of the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge discovered an extremely rare coin showing a Roman emperor who reigned only for two months.
This is only the second coin of Emperor Laelianus to be discovered in England.

This is only the second coin of Emperor Laelianus to be discovered in England.

Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus ‘ “radiate” coin is only the second to be found and is named after the emperor’s radiate crown.

The find is important because Laelianus, who was killed in the siege of Mainz, ruled a breakaway empire from Rome for only a short spell in the 3rd century and there is little evidence of his reign.

Archaeologists believe the coin only arrived in Britain after the emperor’s demise.

Dr Steve Sherlock, archaeology lead for the A14 on behalf of Highways England, said: “Discoveries of this kind are incredibly rare.

This is one of many coins that we have found on this exciting project but to find one where there are only two known from excavations in this country that portray this particular emperor really is quite significant.

This Celtic coin dates back to around 57 BC, and would have likely helped fund the resistance to Caesar’s legions.

This Celtic coin dates back to around 57 BC, and would have likely helped fund the resistance to Caesar’s legions. 

“I look forward to seeing how the analysis of this find, along with numerous other Roman remains that we have found on this project, help us better understand our past.”The coin was found in a ditch on a small Roman farmstead.

Julian Bowsher, a coin specialist at archaeology firm MOLA Headland Infrastructure, said: “Roman emperors were very keen to mint coins.

Laelianus reigned for just 2 months, which is barely enough time to do so. However, coins were struck in Mainz, Germania.”

The fact that 1 of these coins ever reached the shores of Britain demonstrates remarkable efficiency and there’s every chance that Laelianus had been killed by the time this coin arrived in Cambridgeshire.”

An even older coin, dating back to 57 BC has been found on the A14 dig and it is believed to have come from France where it was thought to have been minted to help fund resistance to Julius Caesar.

Pioneering work on the A14 upgrade, which has seen archaeological excavations its 21 mile length, won the rescue project of the year award at the Current Archaeology Awards. Thousands of items of interest have been discovered.

The upgraded road is expected to open to traffic in December 2020.

Source: bbc

‘Viking Queen’s bones’ found in Winchester Cathedral royal chests

‘Viking Queen’s bones’ found in Winchester Cathedral royal chests

The six chests have been found to hold the remains of at least 23 individuals
The six chests have been found to hold the remains of at least 23 individuals

Scientists believe they may have discovered the remains of an English Queen of the 11th century in the “first royal mausoleum” discovered in the cathedral of Winchester.

Scientists at Bristol University evaluated 1,300 human bones from Hampshire Cathedral in order to match the remains with the names of eight kings, two bishops and one queen whose names are on six mortuary chests.

'Viking Queen's bones' found in Winchester Cathedral royal chests
‘Viking Queen’s bones’ found in Winchester Cathedral royal chests

The researchers believe that some of the remains may belong to Queen Emma of Normandy who died in 1052 in Winchester.

The conservation project was launched in 2012 and 3 years later, radiocarbon dating carried out by experts from the University of Oxford confirmed the bones were from the late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman periods.

It is thought the remains of Queen Emma are among those found in Winchester Cathedral
It is thought the remains of Queen Emma are among those found in Winchester Cathedral

The team of biological anthropologists from Bristol have since been attempting to assess whether the bones related to the historical burial records.

A cathedral spokesman said: “This process involves recording the contents of the chests and determining the number of individuals represented, along with their sex, age at death and physical characteristics.

“Working in the Lady Chapel at Winchester Cathedral, which became a temporary laboratory, the researchers reassembled over 1,300 human bones, with the aim of restoring the identity of the kings, one queen, and several bishops traditionally thought to be within the chests.”

The spokesman explained that 23 partial skeletons had been reconstructed which is more than the remains of 15 people thought to have been contained in the chests.

Experts said Emma’s family ties provided William the Conqueror with a measure of justification for his claim to the English throne
Experts said Emma’s family ties provided William the Conqueror with a measure of justification for his claim to the English throne 

The spokesman said: “The ability to identify the sex, age and physical characteristics of these individuals has resulted in some exciting discoveries, including the remains of a mature female dispersed within several chests.

“It is not yet certain, but these bodily remains could be those of Queen Emma, daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, the wife of two successive kings of England, Ethelred and Cnut, and the mother of King Edward the Confessor and King Hardacnut.

“She was a powerful political figure in late Saxon England, and her family ties provided William the Conqueror with a measure of justification for his claim to the English throne.

“Completely unexpected was the discovery of two juvenile skeletons, adolescent boys who had died between the ages of 10 to 15 years in the mid-11th to late 12th-century.

“Their presence in the chests was not recorded and their identity is still unknown, but they were almost certainly of royal blood.”Professor Kate Robson Brown, who led the investigation, said: “We cannot be certain of the identity of each individual yet, but we are certain that this is a very special assemblage of bones.”

The cathedral spokesman added: “These discoveries could place Winchester Cathedral at the birth of our nation and establish it as the first formal royal mausoleum.”

Four Families Detected in Late Neolithic Burial in Poland whose Bodies Were Buried with Care

Four Families Detected in Late Neolithic Burial in Poland whose Bodies Were Buried with Care


Archaeologists found the remains of 15 people who were murdered about 5,000 years ago during the late Neolithic. Here’s what they may have looked like at the time of burial.

When 15 of them were brutally murdered — killed by vicious blows to the head— in what is now Poland about 5,000 years ago, an extended family met a grim end. But although these victims were violently killed, a new study shows that anyone who buried them did so carefully, placing mothers side by side with children and siblings.

In other words, it was far from random to place bodies in this burial. The burial shows “children next to parents, brothers next to each other[ and] the oldest person near the center,” said study co-lead researcher Niels Nørkjær Johannsen, a professor at Aarhus University’s Department of Archeology and Heritage Studies in Denmark.

Archaeologists learned about the late Neolithic burial during the construction of a sewage system in 2011, near the town of Koszyce in southern Poland.

The grave in Koszyce, southern Poland, holds the remains of 15 people and the grave goods that were buried with them.
The grave in Koszyce, southern Poland, holds the remains of 15 people and the grave goods that were buried with them.

This is far from the first large grave filled with ruthlessly murdered victims from the Neolithic; the remains of 9 brutally murdered people dating to 7,000 years ago are buried in Halberstadt, Germany, and 26 murdered individuals are buried in a 7,000-year-old “death pit” at Schöneck-Kilianstädten, Germany.

But the newly described burial is unique because the individuals were related to one another and weren’t buried haphazardly, according to a genetic analysis on the remains.”We are dealing with what you might call an extended family.

“We were able to show that there are four nuclear families present and emphasized in the burial, but these individuals are also related to one another across these nuclear families — for example, being cousins.”

The genetic analysis also revealed that the group, which was part of the Globular Amphora culture (named for their globular-shaped pots), had one male lineage and six female lineages, “indicating that the women were marrying from neighboring groups into this community where the males were closely related,” Johannsen noted.

It’s impossible to know who buried the victims, but whoever did wasn’t a stranger. “It is clear that lots of effort has gone into this [burial] and the people who buried them knew the deceased very well,” Johannsen said.


This graphic shows how the Neolithic victims were buried and how they are related to one another, according to a genetic analysis.

Even so, it’s interesting that these 15 people were buried together, rather than separately.”Perhaps the people who buried them were in a hurry?” Johannsen said. “But they nonetheless took care to bury individuals next to their closest family and also equipped the dead with funerary gifts, such as ceramic amphorae [jugs], flint tools, amber and bone ornaments.”

The burial doesn’t hold the remains of any of the family’s fathers, so maybe the victims were massacred when the fathers were away, Johannsen said. “[Perhaps] they returned later, found their families brutally killed and subsequently buried their families in a respectful way.”The massacre is tragic, but unsurprising given the time period.

During the late Neolithic, European cultures were being heavily transformed by groups migrating from the steppes, to the east. “We do not know who was responsible for this massacre, but it is easy to imagine that the demographic and cultural turmoil of this period somehow precipitated violent territorial clashes,” Johannsen said.

The finding is remarkably similar to 4,600-year-old burials from the Corded Ware culture (named for their corded pottery designs) found near Eulau, Germany. At that site, “violently killed people were also carefully buried according to their familial relationships,” said Christian Meyer, a researcher at OsteoARC, Germany, who was not involved in the study but who has worked on several other sites of Neolithic mass violence.

If anything, the Koszyce burial “is further evidence that lethal mass-violence events occurred at times throughout the Neolithic of Europe,” Meyer said. “These events could be catastrophic for the targeted communities, which were apparently built upon overlapping social and biological kinship ties.

“However, while the researchers of the new study call the Koszyce finding a “mass grave,” Meyer said he sees it differently. “The people were buried very carefully, received grave goods and were positioned according to their immediate kinship ties,” he said. “We should maybe call this a large ‘multiple burials’ rather than a ‘mass grave,'” in which bodies are typically buried in a disorganized heap.

Source: archaeology.org