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Stonehenge © Littlestone

“Visitors to Stonehenge in Wiltshire rarely experience the historic site without the rumble of traffic noise from the nearby A303. But UK researchers have managed to recreate the sound of a ritual there, as heard by our ancestors 4,000 years ago. The research – which starts in an echo-free recording chamber and uses latest computer modelling techniques – has also been used to recreate the acoustics of Coventry Cathedral before it was destroyed in World War II.”

Hearing the Past can be heard on BBC Radio 4 at 1102 BST on Monday 12 September, and on BBC iPlayer.

Hunter-gatherer tribes, “…first inhabited the Hebrides 10,000 years ago but have left little for archaeologists to study. Professor Steven Mithen tells… how years of going there to excavate have brought him a deep appreciation of the islands and their present day people.”

More here – (10:50 minutes in).

First broadcast in August of this year, “Sandi Toksvig takes listener Sonia Mabberley’s advice and travels on the 49 Bus route from Swindon to Devizes on market day calling at Avebury on the way.” Before leaving Swindon, however, Sonia draws Sandi’s attention to one of Ken White’s murals on the side of a terrace house.*

“Ken White is one of Britain’s [and certainly one of Wiltshire’s] most successful artists. Perhaps best known for his murals that are sited all over the world in all sorts of different locations, exterior and interior works, to date he has painted over 100 murals. He was also for many years the personal artist for Virgin Boss Richard Branson and has completed works for him in many Virgin establishments throughout the world, including record shops, hotels and airport lounges. With the launch of Virgin Atlantic in June 1984, Ken produced what is probably his most well-known work – the ‘Scarlet Lady’ emblem which features on all the airline’s aircraft.

“A man of undeniable talent and vision, he has also composed several collections of paintings that are widely varied in their inspiration. These include the railway yards where he worked as a child and Ancient Egypt, with his Akhenaten series.”

The Long Way Home by Ken White

Ken’s current exhibition is at the Panter & Hall Galleries in Mayfair; on show are paintings with instantly recognizable Wiltshire backgrounds. The exhibition runs through to 12 November 2010. See –

Ken’s website is at –


Silbury by William Stukeley
11 July 1723
In an interview* with Evan Davis yesterday, on Radio 4’s Today programme, Jim Leary makes (and repeats several times) the extraordinary statement that, “The received wisdom that we had when we went into the tunnel in 2007, was that the hill was constructed as a single construct…”
What! A single construct! I’m no expert, but anyone with even a passing interest in Silbury knows it was constructed in at least three phases. Perhaps Leary means he was surprised at how many phases it was constructed in, but that isn’t the impression he gives here. He’s certainly keen to push his book though (see here) and the interview concludes with Leary urging millions of Radio 4 listeners to go out and buy a copy…


Boudicca and her daughters
Statue by Thomas Thornycroft (1815-1885) on Westminster Bridge
Image © Heritage Action

Bettany Hughes, writing on page 123 of next week’s RadioTimes, says, “One of my favourite moments of the summer spent at the digs took place in the finds’ shed at Calleva. The director of excavations pulled out a first-century AD terracotta roof tile. Left to dry in the sun it had on it the imprints of a Roman hobnailed boot… Apart from immediately short-circuiting you into the fury of a [British] craftsman whose afternoon’s work had been ruined by these vandal travellers [the Romans], the marks seemed to stand for the Romano-British experience.

“It is little surprise, perhaps, that the Romans had a name for us – Britunculii – “pathetic little Brits.”

The Romans in Britain. Sunday, 24 October from 9:30pm on Radio 3.

A History of the World in 100 Objects  is BBC Radio 4’s outstanding programme tracing the fascinating journey of human evolution through ‘places and times, cultures and experiences’ and which began its final six-week run yesterday. The programme is a year-long project to tell  A History of the World in 100 Objects.  Presented by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, the fifteen minute episodes started in January this year with a 2 million-year old stone chopping tool from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, and has since looked at manmade objects from all cultures and all periods of human history.

“Attendance figures at the British Museum have increased over the year, and research suggests this is due to the programmes.

“But it’s also been a terrific showcase for what British radio can do. There were some grumbles early on that this sort of survey would have worked better on television, but the episodes have been so well written – great contributors coupled with MacGregor’s ability to tell a good story and paint pictures – that this complaint soon fizzled away. It helped that the programmes have been paired with an interactive website of dazzling comprehensiveness: you can see the objects, read more about them, upload your own objects, dip into other museum collections, and download all the previous episodes. It couldn’t be more thorough and user-friendly, but the programmes are the real stars. They are rich, intelligent, memorable slivers that take you on a fascinating journey to places and times, cultures and experiences. Not much comes close to so completely embodying the values and value of Radio 4.”

A History of the World in 100 Objects is broadcast on Radio 4 at 9.45am, 7.45pm and 12.30am on Tuesday. More here –


The first (1888) reconstruction of Neanderthal Man. Credit Wikmedia Commons

Melvyn Bragg, in Radio 4’s programme In Our Time, discusses with his guests how Neanderthals lived and how we are related to them. Guests include the geneticist Professor Steve Jones. The progamme will be broadcast on Thursday, 17 June from 9:00-9:45.


Boadicea Haranguing The Britons

John Opie (1761-1807)

“Melvyn Bragg and guests Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Juliette Wood and Richard Hingley discuss the life and mythologisation of Boudica.”

To be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, 11 March at 09:00. See also –

Listening to Pagans.

Well according to Mike Pitts –  Digging Deeper blog, he should be on Radio 3 tonight (thursday, 4th March) on Night Waves  at 9 pm, talking about the issue of Pagan reburial with Piotr Bienkowski (the Manchester Museum) and Emma Restall Orr (founder of Honouring the Ancient Dead).  Should be interesting.

The article can be found here.

Can be found on BBci player here about 18 minutes into the programme.

In Pursuit of Treasure
Sunday 7 Feb, 13:30 on BBC Radio 4

“Archaeologist and broadcaster Mike Pitts delves into the sometimes murky world of the metal detector, from harmless amateur history buffs to criminal nighthawkers, and discovers how metal detecting is changing our national heritage. He hears stories of in-fighting within the metal detecting community, bust-ups between landowners and detectorists and battles inside the archaeological establishment. And Mike hears from the man who found a multi-million pound Saxon hoard.”

The Voices Who Dug Up The Past
Episode 1
Monday 8 Feb, 11:00 on BBC Radio 4

“Broadcaster and archaeologist Mike Pitts delves into the question of why different archaeologists can dig the same sites yet reach completely different conclusions. Mike visits Britain’s biggest Iron Age hill fort, Maiden Castle, and, through archive, diary excerpts and interviews, relives two seminal digs that took place there in the 1930s and 1980s. Is it a monument tied up in Roman warfare and invasion, or a structure symbolising power and exclusion from the outside world? Featuring interviews with Niall Sharples, Beatrice de Cardi, Ian Armit and Chris Sparey-Green.”

The Voices Who Dug Up The Past
Episode 2
Monday 15 Feb, 11:00 on BBC Radio 4

“Mike visits Sutton Hoo, with Lady Clark and Martin Carver among others.”

Source, Mike Pitts.


June 2023

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