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Once again, it’s time to decide who gets your vote in this year’s Current Archaeology Awards, which celebrate both 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.

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As always, 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:

We were pleased to see the Megalithic Portal‘s book, The Old Stones has been nominated for this year’s Book of the Year, and have cast our vote in that category accordingly.

Voting closes on 11 February 2019, and the winners will be announced at the special awards ceremony on 8 March at Current Archaeology Live! 2019. Entry to the awards reception is included as part of the ticket for CA Live! – for more details, see the conference web page.

As autumn draws to a close, and winter moves in, so the archaeological world moves indoors and the lecture and conference season begins.

One weekend at the start of next month looks to be quite busy and a popular date for one-day conferences.

Saturday November 10th sees several lecture events around the country.

Firstly, at St Fagan’s National Museum of History near Cardiff, there is an event; Archaeology in the Severn Estuary. Tickets and Agenda are available on the Eventbrite website.

Meanwhile, in Truro, The Cornwall Archaeology Society is holding a symposium on the same day; Archaeology in Cornwall. Tickets and programme available from the society web site

Across country in Surrey, the CBA South East are holding their AGM and Conference in Chertsey, with a range of talks themed around Structured Deposits.

Much further north in Stirling is Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference, again bookable via EventBrite.

Meanwhile, in Norwich the Prehistoric Society is co-hosting a lecture with the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society; Living with Monuments: settlement, monumentality, and landscape in the Neolithic.

And finally, in Devizes the Wiltshire Museum are presenting a lecture; the Scandinavian Flint Axe Type in Britain by Dr. Katharine Walker, discussing the connections between Scandinavia and the British Isles in the Neolithic period.

I’ll be at the Truro event, which one are you going to?

As the archaeological digging season comes to a close, so the lecture season begins. We’ve received notice of an upcoming series of talks which will be of interest to those in the NE of England.

Robin Daniels of Tees Archaeology will be doing a short series of three talks on the Archaeology of the Area at Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees. Each talk will look in detail at one of the major excavated sites in the area and set it within its period.

The series of talks is headed ‘Meet the Neighbours’, and will cover three separate time periods: The Iron Age, The Romans, and the Saxons:

  • Tuesday 18 September 2018 – Noisy Neighbours (Horses, Dogs and Blacksmiths): The Iron Age settlement at Thorpe Thewles (Tomorrow! Free!)
  • Tuesday 16 October 2018 – Posh Neighbours (Central Heating, Baths and Wine): The Roman Villa at Ingleby Barwick
  • Tuesday 20 November 2018 – Quiet Neighbours (Bones, Bracelets and Burial Goods): The Saxon Cemetery at Norton

All talks take place from 10.00-11.00am in the Music Room. Please book in person or by ringing 01642 527375. £2.00, including refreshments (no charge for September talk).

Via Twitter, our attention was recently drawn to a project that looks to be of interest, primarily to those in the north of the UK, but also to anyone with an interest in the cultural overlap between Britain and Scandinavia.

The NATUR: North Atlantic Tales project is:

looking for people, projects and institutions who would be interested in working with an artist from overseas and who have stories to tell that connect Northern English and Scottish cultural heritage with any of Iceland/Norway/Denmark (and vice versa) including:

  • Professional museums and archives
  • Personal collections and archives
  • Music, moving image and photography collections (both catalogued and hoarded)
  • Societies, groups and communities that can trace those connections
  • Researchers working across our partnering countries
  • Academics and academic departments connecting our partnering countries
  • Personal Testimony

It seems to us to be a worthwhile project, and the highlighted item above could well be a chance for our metal detecting friends (responsible or otherwise) to share some of the knowledge of what they’ve found or otherwise obtained. From our own perspective, we’re thinking primarily of ‘Viking’ related materials but the project’s scope seems to far beyond just the physical artefact connections:

The first NATUR project will broadly interrogate 7 themes through the archives of each country that shaped and continue to forge a shared Northern identity – folklore and language, merchants, fisheries, industrialisation, conflict, oil, and women’s history.

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So if you have any collections or other input which may fit the scope of the project, why not contact them through their website and offer to share your knowledge?

Hundreds of voices set to ring out from iconic Shropshire hillfort at annual heritage hug

-Community prepares to send out big message about heritage and greenspace for Valentine’s week-

Oswestry will be displaying its affection for local heritage and greenspace in a landmark initiative as part of annual celebrations devoted to Old Oswestry hillfort.

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The town is aiming to encircle the 3,000-year-old Iron Age monument with a 1 km long chain of people and string of hearts with messages of appreciation for the hillfort from all parts of the community.

The ‘Hearts Around the Hillfort’ project is set to provide an eye-catching focus to this year’s hillfort hug on February 12, organised by the HOOOH Community Group.

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“Red hearts are going out to schools, groups and organisations, as well as shops and public outlets,” said HOOOH member, Kate Clarke. “We are hoping that as many individuals as possible, from young to old, will donate a heart-felt message about the hillfort for this super-long bunting.”

She added: “It means that anyone unable to attend the hug in person can still play a part, especially older residents who may be less able to get out. Many of us have fond memories of the hillfort which this project aims to capture.”

The group is also keen for hearts in support of local greenspace and heritage in general.

John Waine of HOOOH said: “As the ancient heart of the town, the hillfort is an outstanding attraction presiding over Oswestry’s northern gateway. But it also forms part of a precious network of green environment, recreation fields and historical fabric vital to preserving Oswestry’s character and quality of life for residents. The bunting is an opportunity to reflect the importance of all of these assets and the community’s concerns that they are respected in local decision-making.”

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HOOOH estimates that around 650 people will be needed to form a complete human chain around the hillfort top. The group stresses that the event is being organised and stewarded with due care for the monument and people’s safety.

Now in its third year, the hug is part of a weekend of events taking place February 11 and 12 celebrating one of the country’s largest and best preserved hillforts. Old Oswestry has been acknowledged by eminent academics as the ‘Stonehenge of the Iron Age’ due to its importance to the archaeological understanding of Celtic Britain.

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A full day’s seminar will be held in Oswestry Memorial Hall on February 11 examining wider aspects of the hillfort’s role, including its natural heritage and ecology. Family workshops with a wildlife theme and an evening of live performance are also planned at Hermon Chapel. Further events exploring the hillfort’s flora and fauna are set to follow through 2017 under an educational initiative called the ‘Hillfort Watch’.

Allied group, Artists Hugging the Hillfort (AHH!), is currently showing a retrospective of hillfort initiatives and artwork called ‘Heritage Matters’ at the Oswestry Heritage and Exhibition Centre. Running until the end of February, it traces HOOOH’s evolution from campaign to community group working in the broadest interests of the hillfort.

Shops, outlet, groups and organisations who would like to participate in the ‘Hearts around the Hillfort’ initiative by making or collecting hearts should contact HOOOH on 01691 652918 or via its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OldOswestryHillfort)

It’s time once again to cast your votes for the annual Current Archaeology Awards.

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This is especially important if you’re a regular reader of the magazine as the awards are designed to reflect the interests of the readership, but if you’ve not read the magazine, happily that doesn’t preclude you from casting a vote!

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

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

The nominations for each award are as follows:

Research Project of the Year

  • Britons abroad: the untold story of emigration and object mobility from Roman Britain – Tatiana Iveleva, Newcastle University (see issue 311)
  • Writing Mucking: lives in land – Chris Evans and Sam Lucy, Cambridge Archaeological Unit (see issue 311)
  • The mystery in the marsh: exploring an Anglo-Saxon island at Little Carlton – University of Sheffield/PAS (see issue 313)
  • Medieval voices: recording England’s early church graffiti – Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey (see issue 315)
  • Bullets, ballistas, and Burnswark: a Roman assault on a hillfort in Scotland – The Trimontium Trust (see issue 316)
  • Rethinking Durrington Walls: a long-lost monument revealed – Stonehenge Riverside Project/Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project/National Trust (see issue 320)

Information and articles on the above nominees can be found here.

Rescue Dig of the Year

  • The Must Farm inferno: exploring an intact Late bronze Age settlement – Cambridge Archaeological Unit (see issue 312 and issue 319)
  • Fast track to the past: celebrating Crossrail’s archaeology – Crossrail (see issue 313)
  • Wales in the vanguard: pioneering protection of the past – Welsh Archaeological Trusts (see issue 314)
  • Letters from Londinium: reading the earliest writing from Roman Britain – MOLA (see issue 317)
  • Buried between road and river: investigating a Roman cemetery in Leicester – ULAS (see issue 319)
  • Because I’m worth it: Apethorpe preserved – Historic England (see issue 320)

Information and articles on the above nominees can be found here.

Book of the Year

  • Celts: art and identity – Julia Fraley and Fraser Hunter
  • St Kilda: the last and outmost isle – Angela Gannon and George Geddes
  • Bog Bodies Uncovered – Miranda Aldhouse-Green
  • The Home Front in Britain 1914-1918 – C. Appleby, W Cocroft, J Schofield (eds)
  • Images of the Ice Age – Paul Bahn
  • Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods: an examination of ritual and dress equipment from Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age graves in England – Ann Woodward and John Hunter
  • Hidden Histories: a spotter’s guide to the British Landscape – Mary-Ann ochota
  • The Tale of the Axe: how the Neolithic revolution transformed Britain – David Miles

Information and articles on the above nominees can be found here.

Archaeologist of the Year

  • Richard Bradley, University of Reading
  • Mark Knight, Cambridge Archaeological Unit
  • Taryn Nixon, former Chief Executive of MOLA

Information and articles on the above nominees can be found here.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the magazine, a special one-off award has been added to the roster for this year only:

Archaeological innovation of the last 50 years

  • 3D modelling as exemplified by Scottish Ten (see issue 271 and issue 289)
  • Bayesian modelling as exemplified by Gathering Time (see issue 259)
  • Dendrochronology as exemplified by Queen’s University Belfast dendrochronology laboratory (see issue 73)
  • Digital data as exemplified by the Archaeological Data Service (see issue 155)
  • DNA as exemplified by the Grey Friars Project (see issue 277)
  • Geophysics as exemplified by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project (see issue 296)
  • Isotope analysis as exemplified by the beaker people project (see issue 265)
  • LiDAR as exemplified by the New Forest National Park Authority (see issue 285)

So, once you’ve read about all the nominees, pop along to the voting page and cast your votes for your favourites! Winners will be announced at the Current Archaeology Live 2017 Conference at the end of February next year.

Following the news of the completion of the recent Verulamium Survey, a second “Archaeology in Hertfordshire” conference has been announced for November 26th, to be held in Hitchin Town Hall.

Their previous regional conference which we reported on in 2012 was a very interesting event.

The current outline of speakers and topics this year, subject to last minute changes, is as follows:

  • Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews: Odd pots and foreigners: forgetting Romanitas, becoming Angelcynn
  • Isobel Thompson: New clues to the conquest: how Hertfordshire entered the Roman Empire
  • Andrew Fitzpatrick and Colin Haselgrove: Searching for Julius Caesar
  • Kris Lockyear and Ellen Shlasko: Surveying Verulamium
  • Emily Esche, Clare Lewis, Kris Lockyear and Tony Rook: Lower Rivers Field
  • Murray Andrews: Coins, commerce, and Christianity: money in late medieval Hertfordshire
  • Gil Burleigh: 118+ Tons of History: results from community test pitting and other fieldwork in Pirton
  • Karin and David Kaye: Roman Ware: A River-Crossing Settlement
  • Chris Green: Puddingstone querns from Hertfordshire and elsewhere
  • Mike Smith: The medieval manor of Wheathampstead

We’ve been asked to mention that tables will be available for local groups to have small displays (if arranged in advance via Kris Lockyear). There is no charge for a table, but the people manning it will need to have a ticket!

Full details including how to purchase tickets for the conference (£15, or £12 for WAS members) will be included on our Events Diary page when available.

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (5 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Last month we questioned why Historic England had invited lots of prominent archaeologists to discuss “developments in conservation” (see here). To associate them with the idea conservation has changed and driving new roads over the World Heritage Site is now valid? Perhaps, for the word was then dropped and they’ll now be talking instead about “research and the potential for further discoveries” (see here).


But it’s not just archaeologists being manoeuvered. ICOMOS has been wrongly characterised as pro-short tunnel (see here) and the public are being as well (see here). Historic England’s guidelines have been unilaterally changed to say destruction is OK if there are “important planning justifications” (see here). More recently English Heritage seems intent on misleading the public by offering free balloon flights (see here) “to get a sense of how the removal of the A303 from the landscape would transform the World Heritage Site” but not mentioning it would involve cutting massive new roads over another part of the site (the elephant in the landscape as Stonehenge Alliance calls it). We suspect doing that offends every conservation instinct of EH personnel but it’s up to them to deny it.


You may well feel 5 yowling moggies are now out of the bag, each one designed to further the Government’s wishes. Will there be more? Probably, since the plain truth is that massive new roads inside the WHS cannot be justified without further disreputable tactics by Britain’s main conservation bodies. Future historians may view this as a shameful era.

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[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

PAS is staging yet another conference praising metal detecting. (Why, when they were set up to cope with it not promote it? A biscuit to anyone who knows!) It’s titled “Can Detectorists be Archaeologists?” The answer is simple: NO, for the nature of the activity precludes its participants from adhering to the archaeological  practices, aims and ethics developed to maximise knowledge and minimise cultural loss which real archaeologists have to! Why would you need to stage a whole expensive conference to explain that, unless you were trying to pretend short changing the community is acceptable?

The title of the conference is all the more perplexing because the BM specifically told us recently that they’d endeavour to ensure “misinterpretation cannot be inferred from our use of language in the future” and for our part we highlighted Rule 1.4 of the Institute for Archaeology: “A member shall not undertake archaeological work for which he or she is not adequately qualified”. No, metal detecting can never be Archaeology for a multitude of reasons. It’s endlessly claimed by both metal detectorists and PAS that archaeologists shouldn’t be elitist. They’re right. But Archaeology should be.

If it’s not, and if it isn’t done right, it’s one of many inferior ways of interacting with the past of which metal detecting is merely one. By what right does our national museum, uniquely in the world, imply otherwise? The whole bloody farce reminds us of 2011 when Diana Friendship-Taylor, chair of Rescue, wrote witheringly of a previous similar attempt:“We are, frankly, astonished, that the British Museum is prepared to lend its considerable weight to the furtherance of a method of historical inquiry which belongs in the distant past, and which has as much relevance to the practice of modern archaeology as the use of the cranial trepanation has to modern medicine.”

Five years later another million recordable artefacts have been dug up and not recorded yet PAS is STILL promoting something which "has as much relevance to the practice of modern archaeology as the use of the cranial trepanation has to modern medicine.”

Five years later, a further MILLION recordable artefacts, that’s 1,000,000, have been dug up and not recorded and are now lost to science yet PAS is still promoting something whichhas as much relevance to the practice of modern archaeology as the use of the cranial trepanation has to modern medicine.”

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This year’s Day of Archaeology will take place next week, on 29th July, and judging by the comments on their sign-up page will include many new participants this year!

For those that aren’t aware, the Day of Archaeology project aims to provide a window into the daily lives of archaeologists from all over the world. The project asks people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate in a “Day of Archaeology” each year in the summer by recording their day and sharing it through text, images or video on the website.

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The project is run by a team of volunteers who are all professional archaeologists, and taking part in the project is completely free. The whole Day of Archaeology relies on goodwill and a passion for public engagement!

The project has been running since 2011, and last year we documented some of our thoughts on the year’s events.  It will be interesting to see if anything has changed for this year’s coverage.

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