British Archaeology – Back Issue 125 (Jul/Aug 2012)

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DIGGING FOR  THE 2012 OLYMPICS

Archaeologists were among the first on site at the 2012 Olympic Park. Recently the area had been a dump for inner London, so not only was it big, but it was covered in up to 9m of made ground. High groundwater and flooding (compounded by wet weather), chemical contamination and modern services were frequent hazards. This was not archaeology that people would pay to join on a holiday – staff had to wear coveralls, gloves, goggles and masks. How did they work with the Olympic Delivery Authority to get it right – the largest excavation was on the site of the Aquatic Centre, built on time? What did they find? And what was a toothbrush from one of London’s most prestigious hotels doing amongst the marsh, railways, gasworks and abandoned factories of four London boroughs?

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ON THE COVER

DIGGING FOR  THE 2012 OLYMPICS

Archaeologists were among the first on site at the 2012 Olympic Park. Recently the area had been a dump for inner London, so not only was it big, but it was covered in up to 9m of made ground. High groundwater and flooding (compounded by wet weather), chemical contamination and modern services were frequent hazards. This was not archaeology that people would pay to join on a holiday – staff had to wear coveralls, gloves, goggles and masks. How did they work with the Olympic Delivery Authority to get it right – the largest excavation was on the site of the Aquatic Centre, built on time? What did they find? And what was a toothbrush from one of London’s most prestigious hotels doing amongst the marsh, railways, gasworks and abandoned factories of four London boroughs?

AMONG OTHER STORIES

A SCHEME FOR OCHRE PLAQUES

In March a plaque was unveiled in London to trumpet a fictional rock star. Official blue plaques mark the houses of politicians, artists and bankers – and archaeologists. But where are the nameless people from over half a million years of history? Which ten individuals excavated by archaeologists around the UK should we commemorate with ochre plaques?

EAR STUDS POPULAR IN BRONZE AGE

The chance discovery of a double grave in a Norfolk quarry has highlighted a little remarked ancient fashion. For several generations in the bronze age, women – and occasionally men – wore studs in their ears. Archaeologists have found two such studs, in Whitby jet, by the head of a female skeleton at Norton Subcourse, 12 miles south-east of Norwich. The woman died around 3,500 years ago. These finds bring the total known from the UK and Ireland to 43 – mostly from eastern England, with none further north than Yorkshire.

ROGER GROSJEAN AND THE STONE MEN OF CORSICA

Fighter pilot, MI5 agent and discus-throwing record holder: Roger Grosjean was no ordinary archaeologist. And settled in Corsica, he made extraordinary discoveries.

THE VIKING BURIED AT SWORDLE BAY

A year ago, archaeologists were digging in the far west of Scotland and made a dramatic and unexpected discovery, that will change the way stories of people in the past are told.. They describe what happened

THE ANGLO-SAXON MYSTERY OF PRIOR’S HALL

Prior’s Hall, in Widdington, Essex, is a remarkable building. It is made of stone in an area where most old houses are timber-framed, and it was already old when it was listed in Domesday Book in 1086. Yet it may be more curious still – is it the oldest standing stone house in the UK, or an unrecognised church?

HOW CLIMATE MADE US – AND COMPETITION KILLED THE REST

There is only one human species on Earth – us. Yet over the past five million years there have been many hominins, often more than one at the same time. Why so many? And why did they die out? Matt Grove thinks he has an explanation

REGULARS INCLUDE

  •  Mick’s travels

Mick Aston visits monasteries and big houses in Leicestershire

* Spoilheap

It’s archaeology, Jim, but not as we know it

* Greg Bailey on TV

Digging in pubs

* Letters

Confronting alternative energy sources

* My archaeology

Charles Thomas, Cornish archaeologist and writer

* Books

Tessa Verney Wheeler and mammoths in Norfolk

* Briefing

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

* CBA Correspondent

Celebrating British archaeology

* Threatened buildings

Dudley Zoo

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