Introducing the July/August 2013 issue of British Archaeology
On the cover: Researching the Staffordshire Hoard
The discovery of a huge Anglo-Saxon hoard at Hammerwich in 2009 caused a sensation: the gold coursing through the Beowulf poem was seen to be no vain boast. For those conserving and researching the treasure, the sense of wonder and revelation continues. Exclusively for British Archaeology, the archaeologists and conservators working on the hoard describe what has been happening – and what they have found.
- UNIQUE EARLY MEDIEVAL HELMET REVEALED
An early armourer’s work has been brought back to life by a combination of artistry and advanced technology. It was so corroded that it was at first thought to be a bowl. When conservation was finally completed in the British Museum, the iron object – looking like a moth-eaten woolly hat – was revealed to be Britain’s oldest medieval fighting helmet, and the only one in continental Frankish style.
- HUNTER-GATHERER AXE IS FIRST FROM NORTH SEA
In the winter of 1988 Aart Wolters joined his crew on a commercial fishing expedition in the North Sea. They usually worked close to shore, but cold weather had affected the catch, and they decided to head out to deeper waters near an area known as the Brown Bank. He trawled up a stone axehead. Now retired, he took the axe to the National Museum in Leiden. Archaeologists recognised it as the first mesolithic flint axe found in Doggerland, the rich world of shore, marsh, rivers and forest frequented by Europe’s last hunter-gatherers that now lies under the North Sea.
- DEATH PITS AT CLIFFS END
An excavation nearly ten years ago at Thanet, Kent, uncovered extraordinary evidence for ancient bronze age burial and ritual – not least a large pit containing the remains of an elderly woman, male body parts and children, and animals. Scientific analysis added to the mystery by showing that many of the people had been born far from south-east England.
- SILBURY SPRING
After years of low rainfall and extraction by water companies, Wiltshire’s chalk springs and rivers were failing. That all changed at the end of 2012. As the river Kennet burst dramatically into life, record rainfall brought a rare opportunity for Steve Marshall to explore ideas about Silbury Hill, an enigmatic mound raised in Wiltshire over 4,000 years ago.
- DELLER IN VENICE
Jeremy Deller’s work for the 55th Biennale has a curiously strong archaeological component. I interviewed Deller and Museum of London curator Caroline McDonald, just before they went out to Venice.
- HOW ALFRED SAVED ENGLAND FROM THE VIKINGS
A famous figure of Anglo-Saxon England, Alfred the Great was in the news in March when it emerged that his supposed remains had been excavated from a known burial site in Winchester. One of his achievements is to have stood up to Viking armies, building defences across southern England. John Baker and Stuart Brookes have been researching the evidence on the ground.
- BRAN BRENT FLEAM & DEVIL
Rural Anglo-Saxon earthworks are commonly called dykes, a name deriving from the Old English word for ditch. Jim Storr, who wrote the British Army’s analyses of military operations in Iraq and Northern Ireland, casts a particular eye on four them in Cambridgeshire.
- EXPERIENCING THE NEOLITHIC AT STONEHENGE
English Heritage’s Stonehenge improvement project, officially started in July 2012, will be finished in summer 2014. A new visitor centre will open this December. Susan Greaney describes a part of the scheme that underlines quite how different it will all be.
Plus regular features:
- Mick’s travels
Mick Aston visits Bodmin Moor
What will we do when the old Stonehenge car park’s gone?
- Greg Bailey on TV
BBC4’s archaeology season
Politicising human remains, a skeleton in Leicester and trees
- My archaeology
What drew Philippa Langley to that car park
Arthur’s worlds and mesolithic wildwoods
The UK’s only archaeological events listing, with exhibition reviews
Challenge Funding helps local research
Nuclear Dawn mural, Brixton