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Saturday, 16 July to Sunday, 17 July. 11:00–16:00.

Step back in time and meet our ancient ancestors by cave painting or by designing your own stone circle. Linked to the BBC’s Hands On History –The Ancients and the Stonehenge: henge diggers exhibition.

Location: The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester. Check out  http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/yourvisit/travel/ for options.

Org: The Manchester Museum
Name: Anna Bunney
Tel: 0161 2752648
Email: anna.bunney@manchester.ac.uk
Web: www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/

Saturday, 23 July. Talk 10:00–11:00. Site visit 13:00–16:00 (Exhibition 20 Jun–20 Aug).

Exhibition and lecture illustrating the work of a community archaeology project investigating a Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age landscape on local moorland, followed up with a site visit and conducted tour.

1. Exhibition detailing the background to and work of the Stanbury Hill Project, a community archaeology project investigating a Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age landscape on local moorland: travelling around various local museums and libraries in towns surrounding the moorland immediately before, during and after the Festival, though the posters, etc. will be in display simultaneously at all of them.

2. Lecture/Open Day detailing the background to and work of the Stanbury Hill project, a community archaeology project investigating a Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age landscape on local moorland: a morning lecture of 1 hour approx, with time for questions, followed by a visit to and conducted tour of the site.

Booking required for lecture and Open Day/site visit (lecture maximum 50). Alternative contact: Project Director: Dr. Keith Boughey, 01274 591736, keith_boughey@hotmail.com

Stanbury Hill Project is a joint venture between Bingley and District Local History Society and Division of Archaeological, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, University of Bradford.Location: Exhibition: assorted local libraries; Lecture: Church House, Old Main St., Bingley. Site location on booking.. For lecture: main road A650 Bradford-Keighley, then B6265 to centre of Bingley. Travelling from Bradford turn left signposted to Harden then immediately right in front of Church House.

For Open Day/site visit: apply directly Project Director or Secretary (see below)

Org: Stanbury Hill Project
Name: Dave Spencer
Tel: 01274 585886
Email: idle.moor@gmail.com
Web: sites.google.com/site/stanburyhill

Sunday, 10 July. 14:00–16:00.

Explore Eaton Camp, now the focus of a community archaeology research initiative, and be at the start of a voyage of discovery. Stout footwear advisable. (Park at Eaton Bishop village Hall).

We will track through lovely Herefordshire woods along the River Wye in the company of archaeologist Chris Atkinson, to explore the little known hill-fort at Eaton Camp and its hinterland.

Meet at Eaton Bishop Village Hall 2.00pm.

Free! Location: Village Hall, Eaton Bishop. From Hereford take Abergavenny Road A465, then B4349 towards Madley. Turn on right leads to Eaton Bishop after about 2 miles. The Hall is on the left on entry to the village.

Org: National Trust & Herefordshire Archaeology                   
Name: Nancy Saldana
Email: Saldana100@aol.com
Web: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Saturday, 16 July. 10.00–12.00.

Guided walk from Mavis Grind to the Neolithic landscape at Islesburgh to see the heel-shaped chambered cairn, and circular and D-shaped prehistoric enclosures.

Mavis Grind is the narrowest strip of land on Shetland’s Mainland separating the Atlantic from the North Sea so the tomb at Islesburgh would have been on an important route for both land travel between the north and south, but also for portage of boats between the two bodies of water. The location also probably had symbolic significance for journeys of a different kind between the realms of the living and the dead and it is these that the walk will be exploring.

Free. Location: Meet at Mavis Grind, at the site of the Geopark. Parking on the A970 roadside at Mavis Grind, at the site of the Geopark. Starting out from there at 10am an easy 15 minute walk half a mile northwest to the tomb and then the enclosures. Tomb grid reference HU 3345 6845.

Org: Sheltand College UHI
Name: Simon Clarke, Esther Renwick
Tel: 01595 771278
Email: simon.clarke@shetland.uhi.ac.uk
Web: communities.uhi.ac.uk/sh01sc/weblog/3852.html

Saturday, 16 July. 14:30–15:30.

Gallery talk by David Griffiths and Jane Harrison on HLF funded East Oxford community archaeology and history project.

Since 2010 the Heritage-Lottery Funded East Oxford Community Archaeology and History Project has been up and running, providing a way for people of all ages and backgrounds to get actively involved in researching the landscape and history of the ‘other’ Oxford, east of the Cherwell, where few tourists venture (as yet!) but which is full of hidden and not-so hidden archaeological and historical interest. Targets so far have included studying historic villages, earthworks, a medieval leper hospital, a collection of prehistoric flints, and excavating a Victorian bottle dump.

Free. Location: Pitt Rivers Museum, Entry via Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PW.

Org: Pitt Rivers Museum
Tel: 01865 270927
Email: prm@prm.ox.ac.uk
Web: www.prm.ox.ac.uk

Wednesday, 6 July. 13:15–14:00.

A free lunchtime talk at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in association with the Festival of British Archaeology & the Fitzwilliam exhibition Treasure under your Feet.

Lucilla Burn, from the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam presents a talk “Brethren of the quill’ on antiquarians of eighteenth-century Cambridge and East Anglia.

Location: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge.

Org: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Tel: 01223 332900
Email: fitzmuseum-enquiries@lists.cam.ac.uk
Web: www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

A guided walk seeking out the archaeology of Exmoor’s moorlands from prehistoric times to the 19th century will be held on Thurday, 26th May. This 6km guided walk over rough moorland will be led by a National Park archaeologist.

Porlock Vale from Porlock Hill © Sean Hattersley under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

For more information and contact details, see the Heart of Exmoor web site.

OK, so here we are a short time on from the HA Cornwall Minimeet. What did we learn from the event?

  1. Make sure you have some form of identification (even if it’s only a megalithic themed book in plain sight. Apologies to Mike for not spotting him earlier…) and ensure you’ve met at least one person previously – or at a pinch have seen a photo of someone before the meet.
  2. If possible, make the meeting somewhere known, that’s easy to find – we struggled to get enough seats in what was actually quite a small bar.
  3. Try to ensure a good mix of people, so that discussion is as varied as possible.
  4. Make sure there is enough to see locally. We only covered the Hurlers, the Pipers and Rillaton Barrow during the meet, but Trethevy Quoit and a host of other sites were all available locally if time had permitted.

So how did it go? All in all, the meet was successful. Several of us (plus my partner and two doggy companions) met on the day, and conversation ranged from discussion of why the sites were built, how they could have been used and whether they’ve changed significantly in layout and construction since first being built. Conservation and neglect were also discussed and ideas were exchanged on how to find some of the more obscure local sites, for later use. A small book swap was negotiated, and a draft of a possible future book about Trethevy Quoit was passed around for comment. Although I was on holiday, I’m fairly certain that those people local to the meet will be arranging to get together again to continue the discussions, and to visit some of the sites together again, forging new friendships.

Some Minimeet attendees at the Hurlers © Alan S.

If Cornwall is too far for you, why not try to organise a meet in your local area, or an area you’re holidaying in? It’s much simpler to arrange than you’d think, and Heritage Action would be happy to help publicise it for you. All it takes at a basic level is to decide where and when your meeting will be held. The Cornwall meeting location and date was arranged on some of the ‘stoney’ internet forums. Once you’ve decided when and where, advertise the Minimeet on the various forums (see the Links menu on the left), and let us know about it so we can mention it here too.

The meetings can be any format of course, but our most successful meets have been held in pubs close to a cluster of ancient heritage sites. After a drink or two, walks can then be taken (weather permitting) to actually see some of the sites that may have been discussed. If you have a local archaeological/history society, try contacting them in good time before the date. They may be willing to send someone along to give a short 5-10 minute talk on a relevant topic, or just to offer local advice within the discussions. We were lucky enough to have Mark, a Blue Badge Guide and HA member, attend and give us the benefit of his experience and knowledge of the area when asked.

Although our annual Megameet attendance increases in numbers each year, a Minimeet really has no minimum number below 3 people. So why not give it a go, and let us know how you get on?

Pastscape describes Castilly Henge in Cornwall thus:

An oval earthwork enclosure 70 metres by 60 metres featuring a bank with internal ditch, and opposed entrances to the north and south. Excavations in 1962 recovered very little artefactual material (some flint flakes and a few Medieval potsherds), but suggested that while the northern entrance was an original feature, the southern was not. It was suggested that the site had originated as a henge, and had been remodelled in the Medieval period as a plain-an-gwarry. Further possible use as a Civil War gun emplacement was also suggested.

You would think that a site with such a vast range of history, encompassing the Neolithic, Medieval and Civil War periods would be of some importance, but the site today is overgrown and seemingly forgotten. It can be seen from the A30 as a clump of greenery just southwest of the junction with the A391.

The henge from the north
 © Alan S

Looking closer, the bank and ditch are still very much in evidence, and the northern causeway is still traversable – though the bracken is quickly sprouting and will doubtless be impassable in high summer. The ditch is still quite substantial but completely overgrown, even in springtime when I visited. I suspect it will be completely hidden from view later in the year.

 The NW ditch
© Alan S

It would be nice to think that the landowner could find the time (and local volunteer labour?) to perform a bit of land clearance so that this heritage site could be seen in all it’s glory, rather than, as at present, a shabby piece of scrub ground.

Looking in from the N causeway
© Alan S

Figsbury Ring, NE of Salisbury is an enigmatic monument in dire need of some care. Partially excavated by the Cunningtons in 1924, based on that excavation the site was classified as an Iron Age Hill Fort. But within the extent of this hillfort is an enigmatic inner ditch, separated from the outer rampart by a berm of up to 30 metres in width. It seems likely that the site is actually much earlier and may have begun as a late neolithic henge monument, or an even earlier Causewayed Enclosure.

When Figsbury was considered within the context of the wider landscape and a range of other nearby monuments it appeared possible that the site may have begun as a Causewayed enclosure. This may then have been modified into a Henge monument in the later Neolithic or Early Bronze Age. There is certainly sufficient evidence to state with some degree of confidence that the site was occupied, (albeit temporarily or intermittently) towards the middle of the third millennium BC. Further modification of the site appears to have taken place during the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. – Wikipedia

The site can be clearly seen on Google Earth.

Look to the East and NorthEast of the monument, at the inner ditch. See all that white stuff? That’s chalk, dug out and spread by the present incumbents of the inner ditch, a large colony of rabbits. Some of the burrows are large, implying that this is a long standing problem. Also, where the dog-walkers climb the outer bank, the soil is badly eroded, exposing some of the earlier attempts at damage limitation – the use of buried chicken wire in an attempt to stabilise the surface.

Figsbury Ring inner ditch, looking SW © Alan S

Figsbury Ring rabbit burrows © Alan S

Figsbury outer bank damage © Alan S

Today, the site is in the ‘care’ of the National Trust and is mainly used by dog-walkers exercising their animals. Access to the site is free and largely unrestricted (there is a gate on the access path but I’ve never seen it locked on the several occasions when I’ve visited the site). I say it’s in the NT’s ‘care‘ advisedly, as the name of the organisation also includes the word ‘Trust‘, implying that the public have placed our trust in the organisation to look after our nation’s heritage. Just how often do the NT visit/inspect the site, are they aware of the problems, and do they have any plans to tackle them?

Of course, the main issue may be lack of finance. That’s not to say that there should be a charge for entrance, but the money generated by some of the properties owned by the NT – stately homes etc. – should perhaps be spread more widely to maintain and preserve all our heritage, not just the revenue-generating sites.

But back to Figsbury. Whilst grubbing about in the spoil from the burrows, I chanced upon a round chalk boulder, about the size of a large egg. This was completely out of character from the rest of the spoil, which was mainly broken chalk marl with some flint included.

Figsbury 'egg' © Alan S

This was the only one I saw and it intrigued me enough to pocket the item for FLO inspection. Was it a possible slingshot weapon? Or even an offering of grave goods from a very early burial (remember the Causewayed Enclosure suggestion)? Sadly no. The ‘official word’ is that it’s a natural flint nodule. A bit disappointing, but it will now be returned to the site on my next visit.

But the question still remains: can we trust the National Trust to care? The damage has been reported but there has been no response to emails to date…

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