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Once again, the Day of Archaeology is being held next month. This year, it falls on the 24th July.

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If you’ve ever wondered what archaeologists around the world get up to on a ‘normal’ working day, then the Day of Archaeology was designed just for you! All around the world on the designated day, people working, studying or volunteering in archaeology are invited to submit photographs, videos and written blog posts covering the work they’ve been involved in during the day. The various submissions are then added to the Day of Archaeology web site, producing a varied record of the vast range of work being undertaken across the world in all fields of archaeology.

The project was founded by Matt Law and Lorna Richardson in March 2011, and has been held every year since, although the specific date varies from year to year. Run entirely by volunteers, participation in the project is completely free and past entries have encompassed the full gamut of archaeological activities. The whole Day of Archaeology relies on goodwill and a passion for public engagement, and contributions, no matter how large or small are always welcomed. The idea behind the project is to raise public awareness of the archaeological profession and it’s relevance and importance to societies around the globe.

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.

If you’re not involved in archaeology, think it’s just about the digging, but are intrigued to know what else goes on during an archaeologist’s ‘typical’ day, why not expand your horizons by keeping an eye on the project web site and Twitter feed? You might just learn something interesting!

A recent press release from the University of Reading:

Our knowledge of the people who worshipped at Stonehenge and worked on its construction is set to be transformed through a new project led by the University of Reading.

This summer, in collaboration with Historic England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Wiltshire Museum, archaeologists are embarking on an exciting three-year excavation in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire.

Situated between the iconic prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, the Vale of Pewsey is a barely explored archaeological region of huge international importance. The project will investigate Marden Henge. Built around 2400 BC ‘Marden’ is the largest henge in the country and one of Britain’s most important but least understood prehistoric monuments.

Marden Henge photographed on 06-DEC-2006. © Historic England

Marden Henge photographed on 06-DEC-2006. © Historic England

Excavation within the Henge will focus on the surface of a Neolithic building revealed during earlier excavations. The people who used this building will have seen Stonehenge in full swing, perhaps even helped to haul the huge stones upright.

Dr Jim Leary, from the University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology and Director of the Archaeology Field School, said: “This excavation is the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Stonehenge and its surrounds. The Vale of Pewsey is a relatively untouched archaeological treasure-chest under the shadow of one of the wonders of the world.

“Why Stonehenge was built remains a mystery. How the giant stones were transported almost defy belief. It must have been an astonishing, perhaps frightening, sight. Using the latest survey, excavation and scientific techniques, the project will reveal priceless insight into the lives of those who witnessed its construction.

“Marden Henge is located on a line which connects Stonehenge and Avebury. This poses some fascinating questions. Were the three monuments competing against each other? Or were they used by the same communities but for different occasions and ceremonies? We hope to find out.”

The Vale of Pewsey is not only rich in Neolithic archaeology. It is home to a variety of other fascinating historical monuments from various periods in history, including Roman settlements, a deserted medieval village and post-medieval water meadows. A suite of other investigations along the River Avon will explore the vital role of the Vale’s environment throughout history.

Dr Leary continued: “One of the many wonderful opportunities this excavation presents is to reveal the secret of the Vale itself. Communities throughout time settled and thrived there – a key aim of the dig is to further our understanding of how the use of the landscape evolved – from prehistory to history.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, added: “Bigger than Avebury, ten times the size of Stonehenge and half way between the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites, comparatively little is known about this fascinating and ancient landscape. The work will help Historic England focus on identifying sites for protection and improved management, as well as adding a new dimension to our understanding of this important archaeological environment.”

The Vale of Pewsey excavation also marks the start of the new University of Reading Archaeology Field School. Previously run at the world-famous Roman town site of Silchester, the Field School will see archaeology students and enthusiasts from Reading and across the globe join the excavation.

The six week dig runs from 15th June to 25th July. Visitors are welcome to see the excavation in progress every day, except Fridays, between 10:00am and 5pm. Groups must book in advance.

There will also be a chance for the public to visit the site at two exciting Open Days on Saturday 4th July and Saturday 18th July. To visit the excavation follow Sat Nav SN10 3RH.

Ok, so this one has snuck up on us as it passed under our radar, but this coming weekend 13th June, the Institute of Archaeology are holding their ‘World Festival of Archaeology: Passport to the Past’ event as a precursor to the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of British Archaeology to be held in July (of which more later).

The festival will involve lots of activities taking place in Gordon Square, London and in the Institute of Archaeology building for families and all members of the public, on Saturday 13 June from 12pm-5pm.

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Tours of the Institute’s world-renowned collections and object handling-sessions will be available while archaeologically-related activities for adults and children alike will also be on offer as well as displays of experimental archaeological techniques.

All activities are drop-in, there is no need to book (but see below re tours) and all are welcome!

Activities in Gordon Square Gardens should include:

  • Sandpit Archaeology: Learn how to excavate and unearth the past
  • From Skin to Leather: See how animal hides are transformed into leather
  • Meat: the Ancestors: see how our ancestors processed meat
  • Make it in Stone: See how to work flint into tools (flint knapping)
  • Conservator for a day: Be a conservator for the day: take part in aspects of conservation
  • Pace Yourself: Learn some basic archaeological surveying techniques
  • Tinder and Steel: Making fire in the Middle Ages
  • Fragmented Frescoes: Create a wall painting and help create a story from the past
  • Lighting up the Past: make a lamp: Make a working Roman/Greek lamp just like they did 2,000 years ago
  • Lets do the Time Warp: Learn an ancient weaving technique
  • Cave creations: Try making paints and see what kind of cave art you can create. Help make an art work for the Institute
  • Connect four stratigraphy: Connect the layers of time and race the other team
  • Meet the Alchemist: Turn your copper into gold
  • Fish mummification: Make your own mummified fish just like the Egyptians did
  • Underwater Archaeology-DSI-Deep Sea Investigation: Dive into the world of ancient shipwrecks
  • Whose Poo: Find out what people in the past had to eat by dissecting their poo

Indoor activities will include:

  • Conservation Laboratory – piecing together the past: See what’s involved in conserving objects for display in museums. Find out what we discover during conservation
  • When Bad Things Happen to Good Books: Come and see how damage and decay affect our books. Learn book mending and basic conservation techniques
  • Egyptian Rituals: Make your own servant to work for you in the Egyptian afterlife. Wax modelling and painting of Shabtis
  • Maya you have a Happy Birthday: Discover the Maya calendar and your birthday secrets
  • Scenes from the Past: Be inspired by archaeologists’ travels. Make your own greetings cards inspired by your archaeological expedition at the Institute
  • Sherds through Time: Create a timeline using Ancient Egyptian material from the Institute’s collections
  • What’s my Stuff: Use the Institute’s X-ray flourescent equipment to find out what your jewellery is made of
  • Petrie Museum: Try making your own pot inspired by the Petrie Museum’s collections
  • Film screening: View archival films from the archaeological record

In addition there will be tours and children’s trails throughout the afternoon – some booking may be required as tour spaces are limited.

For full details, see the Institute’s web page.

The annual Heritage Journal Megameet – for members, friends and supporters of the journal – will return once again this year to the Avebury WHS.

As in previous years, the rendezvous point will be located near to the Cove in the NE quadrant (or the Red Lion if inclement) but attendees will be encouraged to perambulate among the various components of the WHS and tell of their discoveries on their return to the main group. There should be plenty of experienced people present to provide some guidance and advice for those new to the area.

The Cove at Avebury,  © Copyright Shaun Ferguson and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

The Cove at Avebury, © Copyright Shaun Ferguson and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

So mark Sunday July 26th in your diary – we’ll be congregating for the usual chat and banter from midday onwards – and don’t forget to bring a book or two along for the bookswap! 

We look forward to meeting lots of new friends on the day.

Now here’s a great idea! You’ve all heard of book clubs, where members all agree to read a particular book by a given date, and then meet to discuss the merits of said book? Well extend that idea to archaeological papers, throw in some technology to negate the need to physically meet but still allow real-time discussion and what you end up with is the Archaeology Reading Group, a new group set up to accomplish exactly that.

reading group

It’s early days at the moment – the first meeting is set for June 16th – and due to the technological constraints of Skype, each meeting is limited a maximum of 25 attendees, but there’s no reason that the group shouldn’t be a success despite that.

There are many different interests within the group, from Neolithic to Bronze Age, Viking to Medieval. Each month they intend to look at a different topic and/or period, so you can be sure there will be something of interest for just about everyone.

It’s a small group at the moment and consists mainly of archaeology students and enthusiasts. But regardless of background, everyone is more than welcome to join and share some thoughts. The only commitment is to read the selected paper before the meeting so that you can participate fully.

The first two monthly meetings are already scheduled. Even if you can’t make the meeting, the papers look to be of sufficient interest for anyone with an interest in the past, but it’s a shame that the paper selected for the first discussion is not freely available, requiring a £25 fee for those not blessed with academic (Shibboleth/OpenAthens) library accounts. But that aside, we wish the group every success for the future.

The Council for British Archaeology’s Local Heritage Engagement Network are holding an event in London on 20th June, entitled ‘Activism, Advocacy and Supporting your Heritage’. The event is designed to help attendees gain skills and confidence to begin to engage in local advocacy and activism to support their local historic environment, or to increase the impact of their present advocacy work.

Speakers will provide up to date background information to threats facing local authority archaeology and heritage services. They will discuss what can be done to protect and advocate for these services, as well as present examples of best practice from community groups currently engaged in campaigns. The programme also includes workshops which will allow for discussion of attendee’s present work and how it could be adapted or used for advocacy impact and will provide information on how to get in the media, and get your message across to members of the public and decision makers.

Anyone is welcome to attend this event – you do not need any previous experience of heritage advocacy. There is a small cost to attendees (£5), to cover refreshments during the break and speakers travel expenses.

Bookings can be made via the Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/local-heritage-network-training-activism-advocacy-and-supporting-your-heritage-tickets-16747136135 web site, but be quick! Tickets are going fast!

Once again, CASPN‘s  ‘Pathways to the Past’ event, a weekend of daytime walks & evening talks among the ancient sites of West Penwith is rapidly approaching. 2015 is the ninth year of this event, which has only gone from strength to strength. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several of the previous year’s walks, but sadly my holiday dates don’t coincide this year – poor planning on my part!

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There is a good mix of items this year, so to help you plan your time, here’s the full line-up for the weekend of May 30th/31st 2015:

Saturday May 30th

10.00-12.30pm Catching the light of the sun and moon

A guided circular walk with Cheryl Straffon & Lana Jarvis to visit prehistoric sites that were aligned to the sun and moon, including the Mên-an-Tol, the Nine Maidens barrow & stone circle and Bosiliack barrow.

Meet at Mên-an-Tol layby beside Madron to Morvah road [SW418 344]

2.00-4.30pm Living at the Edge

A guided walk with archaeologist David Giddings to visit the lesser-known Nanjulian courtyard house settlement, perched at the edge of the land between St. Just and Sennen.

Meet at Nanjulian off the B3306 St.Just to Sennen road [SW360 294] TR19 7NU

8.00-10.00pm Hot Metal: the discoveries that changed the world

An illustrated talk by Paul Bonnington about the invention of metal making and the effect this had on the Bronze, Copper and Iron Age societies.

At the Count House at Botallack. TR19 7QQ

Sunday May 31st

11.00-12.30pm Sites on the Scillies

An illustrated talk by archaeologist Charlie Johns, exploring some of the unique and beautiful ancient sites on the Isles of Scilly and the prehistoric people who built them.

At the Count House at Botallack

2.00-4.30pm Stories in the Stones – the Merry Maidens and more

A guided walk with archaeologist Adrian Rodda to sites in the Lamorna area, including the Merry Maidens stone circle, associated standing stones and Tregiffian entrance grave.

Meet at Boleigh farm on the B3315 Penzance to Lamorna road. [SW436 349] TR19 6BN

8.00-9.00pm Community Archaeology

To round off the weekend, Richard Mikulski will chat about community archaeology projects. At the North Inn, Pendeen.

Each individual event is £5 but free to members of FOCAS (Friends of Cornwall’s Ancient Sites). You can join FOCAS (Friends of Cornwall’s Ancient Sites) at the beginning of the individual event, by telephoning 07927 671612, or by e-mailing: focus@cornishancientsites.com

Once again, the annual two-day archaeology-fest that is the CA Live! Conference organised by Current Archaeology magazine and sponsored by the Institute of Classical Studies is rapidly approaching. Held on February 27th and 28th in the stately setting of University of London’s Senate House, this year’s timetable looks as exciting as ever, and as in recent years, the Heritage Journal will be there again to live Tweet the proceedings.

CALive

This year’s conference kicks off with a session looking at Anglo-Saxon Settlements, with contributions from Neil Faulkner, Andrew Reynolds and Helena Hamerow.

The World Archaeology session, sponsored by sister magazine Current World Archaeology, features Brian Fagan talking on ‘Tutankhamun and Lord Carnarvon’, Richard Hodges on ‘Rome’s Great Treasures’ and Ian Hodder with ‘Neolithic Çatalhöyük‘.

There is then a session Rescuing the Past, with Neil Holbrook, Ann Crone and Roger Bland, before the keynote speaker, Martin Biddle. This is followed by the now traditional drinks reception and Current Archaeology Awards ceremony. All winners will be decided by a readers’ vote – nominations for the four categories can be viewed on the Current Archaeology web site and you can cast your vote in each category there too.

The conference continues on the Saturday with our favourite session In Search of the Prehistoric, chaired by Julian Richards. Talks include Chris Stringer describing the work at Happisburgh, David Jaques on Blick Mead, and Jim Leary – ‘Silbury Hill and massive monuments’

A session on Boats in Archaeology then follows, with Karl Brady on ‘The Lough Corrib logboats’, Robert Van de Noort ‘Building Morgawr’ and Mark Jones ‘Conserving the Mary Rose’ taking us to the lunch break.

Finally, a session on Roman Frontier Life follows, chaired by David Breeze. Lidsay Allason-Jones tells us about Housesteads and Matthew Symonds explains the Passage aAcross the Frontier.  Finally the conference concludes with a talk on ‘The Imperial War Museum and WW1′ by Paul Cornish.

There are some pretty enticing topics, and as usual, something for everyone no matter which particular period of the past piques your interest! And don’t forget the marketplace, with stalls selling publications, courses, tours and other items of interest

Tickets are going fast, so don’t forget to reserve yours as soon as possible! If you’re there, why not come up and say Hello!

It’s that time of year again. With just 3 months to go before the Current Archaeology Live! conference in London, the nominations for the Current Archaeology Awards have been released.

CALive

The awards are designed to celebrate some of the stories and people featured in the magazine throughout the course of the year. There is no panel of judges, the only votes that count are those from the readership in the public vote via the website, so it really is just down to you (collectively) as to who the winners are.

As in previous years, there are four main categories to vote for:

  • Research Project of the Year
  • Archaeologist of the Year
  • Rescue Dig of the Year
  • Book of the Year

The nominees in each category are as follows:

Research Project of the Year

  • How to build a dolmen: exploring Neolithic construction at Garn Turne
  • Maryport’s mystery monuments: investigating gigantic timber structure from the imperial twilight
  • Rethinking the Staffordshire Hoard
  • Exploring Anglo-Saxon settlement: the origins of the English village
  • The logboats in the lake: Bronze Age wrecks and Viking-style battle axes from Lough Corrib, Ireland

Archaeologist of the Year

  • Michael Fulford
  • Neil Holbrook
  • Simon Thurley

Rescue Dig of the Year

  • First impressions: discovering the earliest footprints in Europe (the Happisburgh Project)
  • Neolithic houses: exploring a prehistoric landscape at Kingsmead Quarry
  • The many faces of Silbury Hill: unravelling the evolution of Europe’s largest prehistoric mound
  • The sacking of Auldhame: investigating a Viking burial in a monastic graveyard
  • Buried Vikings: excavating Cumwhitton’s cemetery
  • Bodyguards, corpses, and cults: everyday life in the Roman military community at Inveresk

Book of the Year

  • Time’s Anvil: England, archaeology, and the imagination (Richard Morris)
  • Religion in Medieval London: archaeology and belief (Bruno Barber, Christopher Thomas and Bruce Watson)
  • The Secret History of the Roman Roads of Britain (Michael Bishop)
  • The Great Archaeologists (Brian Fagan)
  • The History of Archaeology (Paul Bahn)
  • Home: a time traveller’s tales from Britain’s prehistory (Francis Pryor)

I’ve already made my choices and voted. Now it’s your turn. Just visit the website or pick up issue 298 of the Current Archaeology magazine (available from 5th December) to read more about each of the nominees, and place your votes for each category.

We’ve just received the following Press release from our friends at the Sustainable Trust, announcing the official end of the Carwynnen Quoit project.

‘The Restoration of Carwynnen Quoit’ commemorative book to be launched. 

The Sustainable Trust’s award winning community project will be completed soon. A non-academic record of the project is being published and will be available from Troon Church Hall, Treslothan Road on Saturday December 6th between 6 & 8pm.

All aspects of the project are described from excavations and finds to the ‘Ballad of Carwynnen’, poems, oral and local history.

Short films about the Quoit will be shown, refreshments will be available and there will be an opportunity to buy a print of the 2014 recreation of the 1925 Old Cornwall Society’s picnic.

Pip Richards from the Sustainable Trust said “We have chosen to hold this event at the nearest community building to the quoit, hoping that some of the more elderly residents of Troon may be encouraged to attend. We are grateful to them for sharing their memories with us and look forward to a future project in the area.”

The suggested donation of £6 for the book will help cover printing costs and fund Sustrust’s next project.

email pip.sustrust@gmail.com to reserve a copy.

Recently the restoration was awarded the Council for British Archaeology’s Marsh Award for community archaeology, a national award. The project manager, was also the first lady recipient of the Sir Richard Trant Heritage Champion award from the Cornwall Heritage Trust.

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