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British Archaeology – Back Issue 120 (Sep/Oct 2011)

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WHO BUILT ROMAN ROADS?

“The rolling English drunkard”, wrote GK Chesterton, “made the rolling English road”. Then along came Roman engineers to straighten things out with martial efficiency. Thus one of the great premises of British history and popular culture. But it may be quite wrong. Tim Malim and Laurence Hayes give full details of the Shropshire dig that found a prehistoric metalled road.

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ON THE COVER

WHO BUILT ROMAN ROADS?

“The rolling English drunkard”, wrote GK Chesterton, “made the rolling English road”. Then along came Roman engineers to straighten things out with martial efficiency. Thus one of the great premises of British history and popular culture. But it may be quite wrong. Tim Malim and Laurence Hayes give full details of the Shropshire dig that found a prehistoric metalled road.

AMONG OTHER STORIES

PROFESOR MUNAKATA’S ADVENTURE

A manga comic story about a violent plot against the British Museum sold 200,000 copies in Japan. Now it has been translated into English, and we have exclusive extracts from the book to be published by the BM in October. We reveal how the artist Hoshino Yukinobu was inspired by a British archaeologist who dug at Stonehenge in 1901 – and which of two modern theories about Stonehenge that recently went head to head in the media is adopted in the book

FIRST SCOTTISH GOLD LUNULA IN OVER 100 YEARS

Scraps of gold found by a detectorist in Dumfries & Galloway will focus attention on the mystery that is the lunula, a flat, crescent-shaped neck ornament thought to date from around 2300–2200BC, and described by some archaeologists as a symbol of power.

COMPLETE PREHISTORIC SWORDS EXCAVATED IN FENS

In the first century BC two iron swords were cast into a river in what is now Cambridgeshire. With echoes of the mythical Arthur’s sword Excalibur being thrown into an enchanted lake, such events seem to have been common. What is highly unusual is that in this case, the two swords were carefully excavated by archaeologists, and found to be almost complete, with their wooden handles and scabbards still intact.

SACRED WATERS

Jim Leary and David Field have worked at several of Wiltshire’s great neolithic monuments, not least Silbury Hill and the henge at Marden (where Leary has recently directed important excavations). Noting that these are sited by springs and streams, they here take a wider view of the religious significance of fresh water in Britain some 5,000 years ago. Was the Thames once a sacred river to rival the Ganges?

LOST DARK AGE POWER BASE FOUND

Archaeologists believe their excavations beside the famous Pictish engraved stones at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, have identified a previously unknown Dark Age power centre, comparable in significance to royal sites in Scotland such as Dunadd, seat of the Scots, or Tintagel in Cornwall, whose rulers may all have been killed in battle before AD1000

7 ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETIES

As one celebrates its 40th anniversary, another its 50th and a third its 150th – and a fourth looks back on its 300th – British Archaeology honours the regional archaeological society

THE LAW OF THE LAND

Government and law are shadowy features of the past, leaving subtle traces that present a difficult challenge for landscape archaeology. Yet, say Stuart Brookes, Andrew Reynolds and John Baker, recognising how pre-modern societies governed is crucial to understanding their worlds. Archaeology has much to say on the subject

THE BULLDOZER, THE SCHEDULER & THE COUNCIL LEADER

Archaeology and heritage are suffering as the country tries to pay off its debts. Perhaps we shouldn’t worry – it will get better. But will it? Three cases show how bad things can be, while some archaeologists are hopeful. Is this the beginning of the end? Or can imaginative action now lead to a glowing future?

REGULARS INCLUDE

* My archaeology

Mayan archaeologist and Times archaeology correspondent, Norman Hammond

* Letters

Detectorists are not all bad

* In view

Greg Bailey found BBC TV’s Planet of the Apemen in search of a voice

* Science

Is archaeology a science?

 * Mick’s travels

Mick Aston celebrates the life and work of the late Philip Rahtz

* Books

Great digs, Roman mosaics and Anglo-Saxon metalwork

 * Briefing

The UK’s only archaeological events listing, with exhibition reviews

* CBA correspondent

Mike Heyworth defends England’s new planning policy

* Spoilheap

How archaeologists might reach the drinking public

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