Category Archives: ENGLAND

Medieval building found in Llandaff under public toilets

Medieval building found in Llandaff under public toilets

Located next to Llandaff’s Old Bishop Castle in the 13th century, the site tells experts that there would have been an important person who lived there.

A public dig began in September and participants quickly discovered an unearthed fireplace, chequered floor tiles, animal bones, and old horseshoes.

About 200 schoolchildren and 35 other volunteers assisted in the search, starting with excavations around the public toilets as they were turned into a community heritage site.

Archaeologists said they think the building dates back to around 1450. The toilets were built in the 1930s in an area known as the Pound – a reference to its housing stray animals since the 17th century.

Dr. Tim Young, a lead archaeologist, said: “This was a surprise to find a high-status building.” The house, around 10m in length, could be regarded as prestigious, according to Dr. Young.

This comes as Bath stone had been used to construct the fireplace, a distinctive appearing limestone notable for its warm honey colour. The stone was not commonly used at the time, though, it can be found at Llandaff Cathedral.

Despite the researchers not currently knowing who lived at the house, they said it was likely someone of high status because of its close proximity to the Old Bishop’s Castle, with bishops at the time holding manorial rights.

Dr. Tim Young unearthed several items

Counting tokens were widespread in the medieval world through to the 1600s and were used as counters for calculations on a counting board, similar to an abacus.

They also found uses in games, similar to modern casinos, in what we would now identify as poker chips.

The medieval building will be blanketed in a protective covering to make way for the construction of a new community venue set up by Llandaff 50+, a charity promoting social inclusion of over 50s in the community.

The toilets next to the ruins of the Old Bishop’s Castle are being converted into a community centre
Two sides of a 14th Century jeton counting token found at the toilets

Several theories of who may have lived in the building have floated since its discovery. Among them, a housekeeper for the nearby Manor of Llandaff or an official of the Llandaff Cathedral.

Dr. Young said: “The site is known as the pound as it was the animal pound for Llandaff and we have evidence of that dating back to about 1607.

“It had always been assumed that the area was also the pound before that so the discovery of a medieval dwelling on the site was quite unexpected.”

Items discovered from the site will now be sent to experts at Cardiff University and other national museums for analysis. This will, hope researchers, provide more details about who may have once lived there and what their life entailed.

Although, Dr. Young admitted: “It won’t be for another six months or even a year until we could come to any sort of conclusion.”

The community dig project was granted funding by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Cardiff YMCA Trust. In August, researchers uncovered a number of historic items of significance at a separate site in Cardiff.

Nestled in the Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely, shale bracelets were found at an Iron Age hill fort.

It was thought to once be the powerhouse for the city more than 2,000 years ago, with previous excavations have uncovered evidence of houses.

‘One of the greatest finds’: experts shed light on Staffordshire hoard

‘One of the greatest finds’: experts shed light on Staffordshire hoard

A collection of Anglo-Saxon gold artifacts known as the Staffordshire hoard has been hailed as ‘one of the greatest finds of British archaeology’ by researchers.

The archaeologist believes the booty originated in a series of Dark Age battlefields, during conflicts between rival English kingdoms. now they believe they were captured in several big mid-seventh century battles.

The gold, dubbed the Staffordshire Hoard, may have been recovered at up to six major military encounters. It is said that this treasure was taken from Northumbria, East Anglia and possibly Wessex by the English Midland kingdom of Mercia.

The collection-the greatest golden treasure ever found – is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in Britain.

'One of the greatest finds': experts shed light on Staffordshire hoard
Dr. Fern believes the items were taken from Northumbria and East England by Mercian armies from a kingdom in the center of what is now England, The Guardian reports

In an area in south-eastern Staffordshire, archäologists will publish a complete account after ten years ‘ detailed research of hundreds of high-status gold and silver artifacts that a metal detector found a decade ago.

The resulting book, published by the world’s oldest historical organization, describes all of the hoard’s 700 objects, including 4kg of gold items and 1.7kg of silver.

The ancient artifacts amazingly do not seem to reflect the wide range of gold and silver artifacts that would have existed in Anglo-Saxon society.

Research instead suggests the material is almost exclusively military in nature.

Even one of the small number of ecclesiastical objects in the hoard appears to have been of a potential military character. Highlights of the Staffordshire Hoard include golden fittings from up to 150 swords, gold and garnet elements of a high-status fighting knife.

Other notable items include a spectacular gilded silver helmet, an impressive 30cm-long golden cross, a beautiful gold and garnet pectoral cross, a probable bishop’s headdress and what is thought to have been a portable battlefield shrine.

A reconstruction of a gold helmet from the period.

An extraordinarily ornate bishop’s headdress is the world’s earliest surviving example of high-status ecclesiastical headgear.

Dating from the mid-seventh century AD, its presence in an otherwise predominantly military hoard suggests its religious owner may well have been performing a supporting role on a battlefield.

The headdress bears no resemblance to later medieval or modern bishops’ miters and will likely trigger debate among historians as to its stylistic origins, due to its similarity to those worn by early medieval clerics.

The discovery may, therefore, prompt scholarly speculation that the style of headwear worn by senior Christian priests in the early medieval period could have been at least partly inspired by perceived biblical precedent.

The headdress, crafted in gold and inlaid with garnets and white and dark red glass, dates from the period when Christianity was being re-established across many of the local kingdoms that would eventually become England.

It represents the status and prestige of the Church – but, significantly, it is decorated with typical pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon semi-abstract animal designs as well as seven Christian crosses.

If indeed the archaeologists are right in believing it to be potentially an early-to-mid-seventh century bishop’s headdress, it would have been worn, perhaps during royal or other ceremonial events, by the first or second generation of clergy involved in the re-Christianisation of what is now England.

The portable shrine, potentially presided over by the owner of the headdress or a similar senior cleric, was probably designed to be carried into battle on two horizontal poles. Only seven elements of the shrine, all made of gold, have survived.

11,000-year-old Spiritualized Deer Masks Whisper Tales Of A Forgotten World

11,000-year-old Spiritualized Deer Masks Whisper Tales Of A Forgotten World

The headdresses are the star exhibits in A Survival Story – Prehistoric Life at Star Carr which gives visitors a fascinating glimpse into life in Mesolithic-era Britain following the end of the last Ice Age.

At the time people were building their homes on the shore of Lake Flixton, five miles inland from what is now the North Yorkshire coast, Britain was still attached to Europe with climates warming rapidly.

As well as the spectacular headdresses, made of red deer skull and antlers, the exhibition features other Mesolithic-era objects such as axes and weapons used to hunt a range of animals such as red deer and elk.

One of the three Mesolithic deer skull headdresses from the new exhibition.

Also going on display is a wooden paddle – used to transport settlers around the lake – as well as objects for making fire. Beads and pendants made of shale and amber also provide evidence of how people adorned themselves, as do objects used for making clothes from animal skins.

Most of the objects on display are from MAA. They were recovered from excavations conducted at the site by Cambridge archaeologist Professor Grahame Clark. More recently, excavations have been conducted by archaeologists from the Universities of Chester, Manchester, and York.

It is also the first time so many of the artifacts belonging to MAA have been on display side-by-side. Many of the objects are very fragile and can’t be moved, meaning it is a unique opportunity to see such a wide selection of material from the Star Carr site.

Exhibition curator Dr. Jody Joy said: “Star Carr is unique. Only a scattering of stone tools normally survive from so long ago; but the waterlogged ground there has preserved bone, antler and wooden objects. It’s here that archaeologists have found the remains of the oldest house in Britain, exotic jewellery and mysterious headdresses.

“This was a time before farming, before pottery, before metalworking – but the people who made their homes there returned to the same place for hundreds of years.

“The most mysterious objects found at Star Carr are 33 deer skull headdresses. Only three similar objects have been discovered elsewhere – all in Germany.

Someone has removed parts of the antlers and drilled holes in the skulls, but archaeologists don’t know why. They may have been hunting disguises, they may have been used in ceremonies or dances. We can never know for sure, but this is why Star Carr continues to intrigue us.”

As well as the headdresses, archaeologists have also discovered scatters of flint showing where people made stone tools, and antler points used to hunt and fish. 227 points were found at Star Carr, more than 90pc of all those ever discovered in Britain.

Closer to what was the lake edge (Lake Flixton has long since dried up), there is evidence of Mesolithic-era enterprise including wooden platforms used as walkways and jetties (the earliest known examples of carpentry in Europe) – where boats would have given access to the lake and its two islands.

First discovered in 1947 by an amateur archaeologist, work at Star Carr continues to this day. Unfortunately, recent artifacts are showing signs of decay as changing land use around the site causes the peat where many artifacts have been preserved naturally for millennia to dry out. It is now a race against time for archaeologists to discover more about the site before it is lost.

“Star Carr shows that although life was very different 11,500 years ago, people shared remarkably similar concerns to us,” added Joy. “They needed food, warmth, and comfort. They made sense of the world through ritual and religion.

“The people of Star Carr were very adaptable and there is much we can learn from them as we too face the challenges of rapid climate change.

There are still many discoveries to be made, but these precious archaeological remains are now threatened by the changing environment.

“As they are so old, the objects from Star Carr are very fragile and they must be carefully monitored and stored. As a result, few artifacts are normally on display. This is a rare opportunity to see so many of these objects side-by-side telling the story of this extraordinary site.”

Artist’s impression of Star Carr 11,000 years ago: The climate was warming and people were making masks, or headdresses, out of red deer skulls
Mesolithic hand axes – Star Carr, Yorkshire

A Survival Story – Prehistoric Life at Star Carr is on display at the Li Ka Shing Gallery at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Downing Street, Cambridge, from June 21 to December 30, 2019. The entry is free.

Ancient Roman sarcophagus found at London building site

Ancient Roman sarcophagus found at London building site

LONDON, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that a 1,600-year-old Roman sarcophagus with an opened lid was unearthed at a construction site on Swan Street in central London.

An infant’s bones and a broken bracelet were found in the soil near the sarcophagus.

The 1,600-year-old coffin found near Borough Market is thought to contain the remains of a member of the nobility.

Archaeologists have been unable to identify the body as the stone coffin has been left filled with soil after being robbed, experts believe.

The sarcophagus will be taken to the Museum of London and the bones will be analyzed.

The coffin was found several meters underground with its lid slid open, which indicates it was plundered by 18th-century thieves.

Experts discovered the coffin six months into the dig as they were due to finish their search
The coffin was found on Swan Street.

Gillian King, senior planner for archaeology at Southwark Council, said she hoped the grave robbers “have left the things that were of small value to them but great value to us as archaeologists”.

The grave owner must have been “very wealthy and have had a lot of social status to be honored with not just a sarcophagus, but one that was built into the walls of a mausoleum” Ms. King said.

She added: “We always knew this site had the potential for a Roman cemetery, but we never knew there would be a sarcophagus.”

The location is a prime spot for historical finds
The sarcophagus will now be taken to the Museum of London’s archive for analysis

The coffin was found on Swan Street after the council told developers building new flats on the site to fund an archaeological dig.

Researchers discovered the coffin six months into the dig as they were due to finish their search.

Experts at the Museum of London will now test and date the bones and soil inside.

The well that turns objects to STONE: Mysterious site in Yorkshire is rumored to be cursed by the Devil

The well that turns objects to STONE: Mysterious site in Yorkshire is rumored to be cursed by the Devil

A weird phenomenon takes place in Knaresborough city of North Yorkshire, England. It houses a petrifying well that can make items into stone tremendously. Every year, millions of tourists come to this rather curious attraction.

The petrifying well was mentioned by John Leyland in 1538, an ancient to King Henry VIII, according to the Amusing Planet.

Leyland noted that the well was said by locals to have magical properties and healing powers, which he reported in his writings. This marked the beginning of legends that would surround the petrifying well for a long time.

The petrifying well is located inside a cave known as Mother Shipton’s Cave. The name of the cave comes from a local woman believed to be a witch, Ursula Southeil, whom the locals referred to as Mother Shipton.

Amusing Planet reports that according to the legends, Mother Shipton — the daughter of a prostitute and the devil — was born in the cave. While she was supposed to have been hideous due to who her father was, she gained fame as a prophetess.

Mother Shipton’s Cave.

Mother Shipton is believed to have predicted several events such as the defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588, the Great Fire of London of 1666, and even the invention of cellphones!

While the story of Mother Shipton gave the petrifying well a terrifying reputation, it also enjoyed a more flattering legend.

Mother Shipton in Knaresborough.

As John Leyland reported, the well was believed to have magic healing powers and would be visited by locals because of these reputed curing abilities.

According to Oddity Central, a physician examined the petrifying well in the early 1600s.

The results of his findings led him to conclude that the waters running through the well were a miracle cure for any type of sickness. With this kind of reputation, the petrifying well became an ever-growing popular attraction.

The Petrifying Well at the Matlock Bath Aquarium with objects that have been coated by minerals from the water.

But the most interesting feat of this well is its capacity to transform objects into stone. Contrary to the legends surrounding Mother Shipton or the healing powers of the well, this feat was all-natural, even if it was believed to be part of the magic of the well for a long time.

According to Force To Know, the petrification of an object in this well happens because of high levels of mineral content in the water.

Through a process of evaporation and deposition over time, objects appear to turn into stone, as they are covered by solidified minerals.

That process was for a time attributed to Mother Shipton as one of her magic tricks. Because of her reputation of being a witch, she was supposed to turn objects into stone herself.

The terrifying aspect of the well is reinforced by the fact that when viewed from the side, the cave looks like a giant skull. Locals and visitors perpetuated these frightening legends, but the stories only increased people’s curiosity.

Everyday objects have been hung in the water of the Petrifying Well, slowly being covered by minerals. The Petrifying Well is the oldest tourist site in the UK.

When the Royal Forest was sold by King Charles I to Sir Charles Slingsby in 1630, the cave was well known, with many people wanting to witness this strange petrifying process for themselves.

The new owner decided to profit from it by selling guided tours to the visitors coming onto his land. By doing so, Slingsby had just created England’s first-ever tourist attraction.

Today, the well is known to have no magic powers but is still visited by millions of tourists yearly because of its capacity to apparently petrify objects.

The magic properties attributed to the petrifying well of Knaresborough may have been proven wrong, but this curious location still holds a strong ability to attract visitors