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Just to remind you. On Sunday 14th September you have a choice:
You can pay £13.90 to slowly circumnavigate Stonehenge at a respectful distance with thousands of others in a scene reminiscent of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow but less cheerful…
Or you can pay just a pound to walk right inside the much more complete, much more atmospheric Rollright stones and then sit down next to them for a picnic of quails eggs and truffles (maybe) and a chinwag and book-swap with a bunch of fellow megalith enthusiasts.
Tough choice. Up to you. And whilst Stonehenge is the focal point of a World Heritage Site, don’t forget that the Rollrights also has a wealth of prehistoric sites within easy reach.
Please be at Stonehenge or our Rollrights picnic about midday.
As July rolls on, it’s time look again at the ‘Festival of Archaeology‘, co-ordinated once again by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) running this year from 12th to 27th of July, and preceded by this year’s Day of Archaeology on Friday 11th, where archaeologists from all over the world blog about what they’ve been up to, showing the sheer diversity of activitities in the archaeological world – it’s not just about digging!
The CBA has been organising an annual UK-wide celebration of archaeology and heritage since 1990. The ‘Festival for British Archaeology’ grew out of ‘National Archaeology Week’ (NAW). Before that, the event took place over one weekend and was called ‘National Archaeology Days’ (NADS).
The Festival includes hundreds of special events individually organised and held by museums, local societies, national and countryside parks, universities, and heritage organisations across the UK. The Festival presents everyone the opportunity to learn about their local heritage, to see archaeology in action, and to get involved, from formal lecture sessions to hands-on archaeology to family fun events.
To this end, the CBA have once again updated their website for the festival, allowing searching for events across the country. The headline suggests over 1000 events are available to chose from, but the actual number from the search results seems to be down on my recollections of previous years. Running an open search on a region by region basis shows a total a little shy of 600 events, so unless the total (‘over 1000′) includes multi-day events such as museum exhibits, there is something wrong once again with the search algorithm.
The region with the biggest number of events is the SouthWest with 109 – no surprise there as I suspect it’s the biggest region – followed by the East Midlands with 73. I could find no results for Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man.
Looking at our main focus here on the Heritage Journal – Prehistory, there are 152 events listed across the country, which is a good percentage compared to previous years!
Once again, the range of events is wide, from talks, walks and excavation visits, through re-enactments, demonstrations and exhibitions to hands-on activities and family fun. So there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Why not take a look at the website and see what’s on in your area?
There are just two months to go before this year’s Day of Archaeology, which this year falls on July 11th.
The idea behind the Day is for those working, studying or volunteering in archaeology to submit photographs, videos and written blog posts covering the work they’ve been involved in during the day. In this way, a picture can be produced, showing the vast range of work being undertaken across the world in all fields of archaeology – it’s not just about the digging, after all! In this way, those behind the project hope to raise public awareness of the archaeological profession and it’s relevance and importance to societies around the globe.
Now in it’s third year, the Day was first mooted by Matt Law and Lorna Richardson whilst attending a Day of Digital Humanities conference in March 2011. Others were brought on board, and the first Day was held on July 29th, 2011. Run entirely by volunteers, participation in the project is completely free. The whole Day of Archaeology relies on goodwill and a passion for public engagement.
So. If you are involved in an archaeological project in any capacity – working, studying or volunteering – please consider taking part this year and help make the project a success. It’s simple to register as a participant and contributions can be as long or as short as you want. Here at the Heritage Journal we certainly look forward to reading the posts from this year’s event!
And. If you’re not involved in archaeology, but are intrigued to know what goes on during an archaeologist’s ‘typical’ day, why not keep an eye on the project web site and Twitter feed? You might just learn something interesting!
Starting next week, the next stage of the project to restore the Giant’s Quoit at Carwynnen will be taking place. The plan is that on Friday 2nd May the remaining two supports, or orthostats, for the capstone will be raised. The public are welcome to watch this event, which should start at about 11am.
The completion of the raising of the uprights will mark the culmination of a week of education events at the quoit – the capstone itself will be raised and placed later in the year (this is currently planned for Midsummer, Saturday 21st June).
Five schools will be visiting the quoit during next week, when the students will be taught a little about the archaeological processes of excavating, searching, sieving, and cleaning finds by professional archaeologists from the Historic Environment Service. They will be taught about the importance of Neolithic monuments in the Cornish Landscape, the age and weight of the stones and how the ancients made use of their surroundings to live, eat and clothe themselves. Art activities will take place in the marquee, along with an exhibition and quiz. A basic snapshot of the activities each day is as follows:
- Guess the Weight of the Stones – An introduction with all the team
- Gory Neolithic Demonstration – by Experimental Archaeologist Sally Herriet
- Honeysuckle Rope-making – by Experimental Archaeologist Jacqui Woods
- Sieving, Searching and Trowelling – with Community Archaeologist Richard Mikulski
- One Timeline, One book, One Spinning Image – with Artist and Designer Dominica Williamson
- Time Capsule Brainstorm – with Project Leader Pip Richards
Finally, on Sunday May 4th, Julian Richards, “Archaeologist and Broadcaster” will be de-mystifying the ancient art of moving large stones, utilising wooden levers, sledges, rollers and honeysuckle ropes. This will be a free workshop starting at around 10am. If you would like to participate, please register your interest with firstname.lastname@example.org or ring the Sustainable Trust on 01209 831718 – safety or stout boots and a hard hat will be required for all those taking part.
“The Sustainable Trust is grateful for the support of The Cornwall Heritage Trust, Sita Cornwall Trust and The Heritage Lottery Fund who are currently financing this work. We also thank all the volunteers who have made this project possible.”
There are now less than two weeks to go before the Current Archaeology Live conference, to be held at Senate House in London in league with the UCL Institute of Classical Studies, on February 28th and 1st March. Once again, the Heritage Journal will be present and live-tweeting the event (#CALive) across the two days. This will be our third year covering the event in detail.
The line-up for this years event, as previously, covers a range of time periods. The Friday morning session starts with the prehistoric period, covering the sites at Starr Carr in Yorkshire, Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire and Garn Turne in Pembrokeshire. The Roman session will take us up to lunch, looking at the Roman countryside (Neil Holbrook), the Durtriges Project digs by Bournemouth University and the work at Caerwent carried out by Operation Nightingale.
The Friday afternoon session looks at ‘Rescuing the Past’ with Mesolithic Ronaldsway, Kingsmead Quarry, Horton and London’s Pompeii all covered before the keynote speech by Francis Pryor, which leads into the Current Archaeology Awards ceremony in the evening (voting is now closed!)
The conference continues on Saturday with a session on the Archaeology of the First World War (sponsored by sister magazine Military History Monthly), a Current World Archaeology session entitled ‘Back to the Beginning’ which includes a look at Early Hominins (topical with the current exhibition on Neanderthals at the Natural History Museum in London), Gobekli Tepe and Early Domestication.
After lunch, Early Medieval England gets a look in, with Martin Carver talking about Sutton Hoo and talks about Spong Hill and Torksey thrown in for good measure!
Finally to wrap up, John Gater will be telling us all about Time Team and Geophysics.
All in all, an interesting two days of talks lined up, with hopefully something for everyone, not forgetting the Archaeology Fair held during the conference, where there will be a dozen stalls packed with books, equipment, and much more for everyone to browse between sessions. It’s not too late to book your tickets! We’ll see you there…
Next month in Worcester there’s a Practitioners Forum on Prehistory and the National Curriculum. It is “An initial meeting open to everyone who is interested in supporting schools in delivering the the National Curriculum topic of Prehistory for Key Stage 2. This is a big leap for schools, especially since most teachers will never have learned prehistory themselves.” More prehistory in schools is a theme we’ve been banging on about since the day we were formed (see Reclaiming Prehistory which pretty much comprises our founding statement, written by one of our members in May 2004, almost 10 years ago) so it’s great to see some of the developments that have come about in the past few years (excluding PAS’s reprehensible resource showing kids how they can use a metal detector to grab stuff of course).
A few years ago in our Inside the Mind series we asked Julian Richards what he’d say to Parliament if he could address them for 30 seconds and he said “I would ask why school pupils in this country are taught nothing about their pre-Roman heritage”. At about the same time English Heritage’s draft Research Strategy for Prehistory explained how education about sites is key to their preservation ….
The same document also quoted the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group which noted that prehistory didn’t feature in the English school national curriculum and remarked that “the UK is the only European state to neglect prehistory in this way”. But now thank goodness things are changing and there are a number of initiatives connected with educating children about their local prehistory. It was interesting to see there were children amongst the attendees at Oswestry Town Council’s recent meeting about Oswestry Hill Fort and even the Council welcomed the fact. Maybe the Heritage Cycle is working!
There are also some great Prehistory teaching resources out there, things to excite kids of any age, including us. Perhaps the best is “a Teachers Index on Prehistory” called “Show Me” which says “We show you the FUN stuff from the UK’s museums and galleries”. Who could resist some of their news stories – “Woolly Rhino Skull Found In A Digger Bucket”, “Could Hobbits Have Been Real After All?” and “Should the setting of Oswestry Hill Fort be messed up?”.
That last one’s a lie of course, but it does beg the question, just how political should education about local prehistory be? English Heritage says education promotes preservation (“by understanding the historic environment people care for it”) so should the National Curriculum be actively promoting preservation or coyly skirting round the issue of whether building houses close to monuments is damaging them? Maybe the Worcester Forum will issue a closing statement on the question!
Every year, the Current Archaeology Awards celebrate the projects and publications that have made the pages of Current Archaeology magazine over the 12 months, and the people judged to have made outstanding contributions to archaeology.
The nominations have been public for a while now, and there are only a few days left to register your vote, as voting closes on the 7th February!
There are four categories to vote in, and winners are decided purely on the number of public votes received. Click the following links to see the nominees in each category:
Winners will be announced at the Current Archaeology Live! 2014 conference, to be held on the 28th Feb – 1st March at Senate House, London. The Heritage Journal intends being at this event once again (our third attendance), to tweet, report on the talks, mingle, and attend the awards. So say hello if you see our ‘blue dolmen’ logo. See you there!
The eagle-eyed among you will notice a new item in the navigation bar above, a link to an Events Diary. This new page displays our Google Diary entries, and lists on a monthly basis the various prehistory-based events that we’ve uncovered as being of potential interest to our readership.
It is our intention to populate the calendar each month with basic details of the following types of events:
- Site Clearups
- Community Events
- Open Days
However, we cannot possibly check every archaeology or museum web site to collate information, so that’s where you come in! If you are an events organiser, or involved with a local archaeology society and would be prepared to help us by adding your own prehistory events, please contact us and let us know. We can talk through the process if necessary, and thus potentially increase the audience for your events. Similarly, if you’re a regular speaker and would like some exposure for your talks, get in touch.
If you have a Google account and would like to copy an existing event to your own calendar, just click on the event to see the details, and then click on the ‘copy to my calendar’ link provided.
The Events Diary will not totally replace our regular ‘Diary Dates’ postings, which are maintained by Sue Brooke, and will continue to highlight events such as exhibitions which may open across a range of dates (weeks or months).
Our monthly listing, compiled, as always, by Sue Brooke.
‘In September 1992, archaeologists from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust working alongside contractors on a new road link between Dover and Folkestone discovered the remains of a large wooden prehistoric boat thought to be some 3,000 years old, belonging to a period known to archaeologists as the Bronze Age. It was a find of both national and international significance which will shed new light on early seafaring and woodworking skills in Northern Europe. The boat is now displayed in a glass case as the centrepiece of a whole floor in the museum devoted to archaeology.’
Please note: the museum will be closed on Sunday’s from 1st. October 2013.
The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a leading national archaeology society, with a history dating back to 1844. Its interests span all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles. Monthly Lectures take place from October to May and are held at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. These are given by visiting speakers on recent research, current archaeological projects and new discoveries.
Date: 8 January 2014: the RAI debate – How and why did Britain become Neolithic?
Dr Alison Sheridan will debate with Professor Alasdair Whittle
Venue: Lectures are held in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London at 5 p.m. preceded by tea at 4.30 p.m.
The Neolithic period marks a fundamental shift in lifestyles and settlement, one of the most important transformations to have occurred in the history of these islands. Hunting and gathering ceased to play a significant part in food procurement and farming was adopted, pottery was introduced and the stone tool kit changed. Were these novelties brought by incoming farmers from the Continent, where farming had been already been practised for many centuries, or did indigenous communities decide to take up a new way of life? These issues still engender heated debate amongst prehistorians; the three leading specialists of this period will air their views at the RAI!
Note: Members are welcome to bring a guest to lectures. Non-members are welcome to attend lectures but should contact the Administrator in advance.
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Gallery talk: Thursday 9 January 2014 at 13:15 to 14:00
Slowing down the damage: preventive conservation at the museum
Melanie Keable and Capucine Korenberg.
Gallery talk: Friday 10 January 2014 at 13:15 to 14:00
Iron Age religion – Jody Joy
Gallery talks are free – just drop in.
Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas day
Opening times from 18 December 2013 to 15 March 2014
Monday to Sunday – open from 9:30 to 17:00
Gold from the time of Stonehenge – Telling Wiltshire’s Story
500,000 years of Wiltshire’s story told in a brand new £750,000 gallery featuring high quality graphics and leading-edge reconstructions.
On display for the first time are dozens of spectacular treasures dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle.
‘Britain’s greatest treasures from the mysterious golden Age of Stonehenge are to go on permanent display for the first time ever. This will be the largest collection of Early Bronze Age gold ever put on public display in England. In a move that will transform public understanding of the Stonehenge era, the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, 15 miles north of Stonehenge, is exhibiting 500 Stonehenge period objects, including 30 pieces of gold treasure which have rarely been seen by the public before.
Amongst the ancient Stonehenge era treasures placed on permanent display for the first time, are a beautifully decorated gold lozenge, a magnificent bronze dagger with a gold- covered hilt, a golden fitting from a dagger sheath, a ceremonial axe, gold beads, necklaces, ear-rings, pendants and other items of gold jewellery, a unique jet disc (used to fasten a luxury garment), rare traces of ancient textiles and two of the finest prehistoric flint arrow head ever found’
Museum opening times:
Tuesday – Saturday -10am to 17:00, Sunday – 12 noon to 16:00.
Open throughout the year.
Closed: Mondays from January to March (except half term)
Lecture: Romanised Egyptian Mummies by Professor Brian Sparkes
Date: 11 January 2014. 14:00 – 16:00
Location: Headley Road, Woodley
Date: 8 January 2014 – 13.05.
Archaeology Lunchtime Talk – ‘What lies beneath: The analysis of early Anglo-Saxon non-ferrous metalwork’ Matt Nicholas, PhD student, Cardiff University School of History, Archaeology & Religion.
Date: 22 January 2014 – 13.05.
Archaeology Lunchtime Talk – ‘Cardiff in the early post-medieval period: new finds from excavations at Mill Leat, Bute Park’
Date: 28 January 2014 – 13.05pm.
Behind the Scenes: Archaeology – Conservation Laboratory: Latest Work
These events are free but please book on your arrival. Some tours may be unsuitable for visitors with restricted mobility so please contact email@example.com for more detailed information.
If your local society or museum has an event that you’d like included in our listings, please contact us with the details, at least one calendar month in advance and we’d be pleased to include them.
Last weekend saw the culmination of a successful community project in Cambridgeshire, led by the Meldreth Local History Group. The project was inspired by the Michael Woods TV programme “The Great British Story”, and two of the local historians, Kathryn Betts and Joan Gane led the project with the help of Dr Carenza Lewis, gaining HLF funding of just over £7000 under the ‘All our Stories’ initiative.
The who!e community got involved, coming together for the digs over three weekends during the summer, and Meldreth Village Hall was packed to the rafters with local people looking to view the various finds from 32 test pits dug throughout the village, clustered around a two-mile stretch of road just west of the River Mel, a tributary of the River Cam.
When we arrived slightly early, we were greeted by Kathryn and her colleagues, and made to feel most welcome. A short film about the project, made as a digital record of the project was on continuous loop in a side room and we took the opportunity to watch this as background info, in relative peace before the main crowds arrived.
In the main hall, the finds from the 32 test pits were laid out on display, each pit showing a map and photographs, with the finds divided by context (depth). The vast majority of finds were of pottery sherds or animal bone, the outstanding find being a metallic ‘badge’, initially identified by the experts (including the PAS) as a Medieval Pilgrim Badge, which within the last week has now been correctly identified as a medieval mirror casing. In fact, this was possible due to an almost identical find from Billingsgate in London, dated to the late 14th century. This was so identical in fact, that it’s highly possible that the same mould was used to create the two items.
On cue, the hall was cleared and seating arranged in time for Carenza’s talk. She gave an overview of the test pitting procedure, and explained that everyone was given the opportunity to get involved, either by digging their own pit, helping dig someone else’s pit, sieving spoil, bagging finds, or just by keeping the diggers refreshed with food and drink!
Some of the pits and finds were then highlighted, and the correct identification of the mirror case was announced, showing that even the experts get it wrong sometimes!
Next some charts and maps were shown, putting the project’s finds into a regional context. The comparatively large amount of Bronze Age pottery was deemed unusual – it’s possible there were two or more small settlements or housing groups in the area. This starkly contrasts with the complete lack of Iron Age finds, although the amount of Roman material shows that the area was settled toward the end of the IA. There was then a gap, with no early Anglo Saxon finds until the 9th Century. Moving through the middle and later medieval periods, Meldreth was obviously an important and thriving centre, with many finds, some of which from the area of the manor indicate high status, and it seems the settlement was sustained (or at least not curtailed nearly as much as other nearby population centres) throughout the period of the Black Death.
Following on from the late medieval, the finds tailed off, with very little from the pre-Victorian and Victorian periods. It was interesting to see the pattern of finds through time, indicating the ebb and flow of the village’s fortunes.
Meldreth today is a commuter village, with a population close to two and a half thousand people, with many new houses, and a thriving community. The possibility exists, now that the History Group have the materials, for further test pitting to take place in the future, though this will depend to an extent upon further funding being made available. But for a small village just south of Cambridge, there is obviously more of the story to be told, and I suspect the community spirit and will is there to push the project forward even further.
Drinks and cakes were available for those who wished to stay behind and investigate the finds further, to chat with Carenza or to watch the films, but we made our way to the door, for the journey home to London.
Many thanks to the project organisers for putting on such a great display, to all those who took part in the dig, and to everyone on the day who made us outsiders feel welcomed.
If you have a Community Archaeology project or event upcoming, please let us know about it in the comments, and if we can, we’ll try to come along and say hello!