Introducing the July/August edition of British Archaeology, available from Friday, 10 June. This edition includes The Festival of British Archaeology booklet free

Quoting from the press release –



Gabor Thomas has been directing major excavations of Anglo-Saxon remains at Bishopstone, East Sussex, and Lyminge, Kent. He compares the results of the two projects, and asks what light they throw on the origins of villages and the English landscape.


Exclusive details of the discovery that a mound in the grounds of Marlborough College, Wiltshire, is the exact contemporary of Silbury Hill. It is the second largest mound known from prehistoric Britain, and a major addition to the neolithic landscape that includes the stone circles at Avebury.


A major research project – the largest of its kind anywhere, by far – has opened up radically new perspectives on early Britain. It shows in unprecedented detail how farming and associated new technologies first spread across the British Isles, paving the way for modern times. There are also profound implications for archaeology around the world: radiocarbon analysis is now so precise that events occurring within single generations can be dated, allowing histories to be written when there was no writing. 

In details published here for the first time, Alasdair Whittle, Frances Healy and Alex Bayliss argue that farming first reached Britain with small-scale colonisation in the Thames estuary a generation or two before 4000BC. Over the next 200 years the new practices spread across the rest of Britain and Ireland, and hunting-gathering seems to have disappeared as a major way of life. The first monuments were long burial mounds, from at least 3800BC and serving a few dominant families rather than the wider community. Of bigger impact were “causewayed enclosures”. These marked off large areas of land, typically on hilltops, for periodic communal gatherings. They are first seen just before 3700BC in the south-east, and then across most of Britain for a further two centuries. Before the new study, archaeologists had been unable to distinguish when or where these changes occurred as separate events.


First sight – our full page photo of a new artefact – features the detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Colored vases, in the UK for the first time. Ai is arguably the world’s most important practising artist, and his controversial use of antiquities is deeply archaeological.

Heritage Action would suggest that Ai Weiwei is among the world’s most important practising artists; given his destructive use of Chinese antiquities however the last line above should perhaps read, “…his use of antiquities is deeply controversial.”