The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Stonehenge and its Environs

What Lies Beneath Stonehenge?

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, is a four-year collaboration between a British team and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria that has produced the first detailed underground survey of the area surrounding Stonehenge, totaling more than four square miles. The results are astonishing. The researchers have found buried evidence of more than 15 previously unknown or poorly understood late Neolithic monuments: henges, barrows, segmented ditches, pits.
Acheron Posted by Acheron
30th August 2014ce

Stonehenge (Stone Circle)

Stonehenge 'complete circle' evidence found

From BBC News...

"Evidence that the outer stone circle at Stonehenge was once complete has been found, because a hosepipe used to water the site was not long enough.

Parch marks in the grass, in an area that had not been watered, have revealed places where two "missing" huge sarsen stones may once have stood.

The marks were spotted by an English Heritage steward who alerted archaeologists to their existence.

Previous scientific techniques such as geophysics failed to find any evidence."

More here...
1speed Posted by 1speed
30th August 2014ce

Castle-an-Dinas (St. Columb) (Hillfort)

Castle An Dinas

PDF Reoprt on Management and Restoration of Hillfort - illustrated by Jane Stanley.
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
21st August 2014ce

Jane Stanley Paints Castle An Dinas

Follow link to see the artwork.

Jane Stanley is an extremely talented archaeological reconstruction artist, based out of Cornwall. Castle-an-Dinas is an Iron Age fort in the middle of that county, a six-acre site second only, in terms of its natural charisma, to South Cadbury in Somerset. Put Jane and Castle-an-Dinas together and you get some of the best historical fiction around, though historical fiction by brush stroke.

Cornwall Council commissioned Jane to do a series of paintings of Castle-an-Dinas. What makes this series (to the best of my knowledge) unique is that they are not just different aspects of the site (a deer kill, a burial, a hosting…) They are the site over perhaps twenty five centuries. We put them up here with a link to Jane’s facebook page, hoping that neither she nor Cornwall Council will send a cease and desist order: they are available in a pdf online; also given the quality of Jane’s work we take pleasure in pointing out a recent book, A Brush with the Past. Beach’s credit card has presently maxed out but as soon as everything is back up and functioning… The image at the head of the post shows the creation of the two bronze age tombs at the head of Dinas: the second picture immediately below shows, instead, the Iron Age fort that followed on. As is typical of these sites the Iron Age was all too happy to leave the Bronze Age in place. The stronghold was crowned by two tombs from centuries before.

So far this is the normal fare of archeaeological art (albeit it at the best end of the market). Now though we turn to more recent times. In the first days of March 1645 a mauled Royalist army camped out in old Iron Age vallum. Cornwall was an overwhelmingly Royalist area, but here the decision was made to surrender. The fight was impossible by this date and two days later the Royal Standard was given up to the Parliamentarians at Bodmin: a black day. Britain would labour under the ‘Protector’ for fifteen wasted years.

The next picture is a curiosity. Cornwall is mining country, but it was not until Britain’s straitened circumstances in the First World War that the decision was made to sink a shaft here in search of Wolfram of all things. Love the combination of Edwardian industrial might and Iron Age landscape.

Then my favourite picture of them all. In the 1960s a Pennsylvanian archaeologist, Bernard Wailes carried out a multi-year professional dig at the site. Bizarrely, though this sometimes happens in archaeology, he never got his act together to actually publish the findings. There were two brief notes in a Cornish journal. Castle-An-Dinas waits another archaeological hero, preferably one though that has time to dig and write.

Here are the pictures that Jane missed or that Cornwall Council did not commission. First, there are Arthurian rumours about the fort: a bit of desperate Romano-British sheltering might have been fun. Second, the fort was used by smugglers in the modern period: barrels being rolled out of the way of excise? Third, there are reports of great furze fires in the modern period at night. By all accounts the whole countryside could see Castle-an-Dinas in flames for miles around.
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
21st August 2014ce

Argyll and Bute (Mainland)

Remains of at least two bodies found in ancient grave

This is a tentative guess for this news item in Ardnamurchan...

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of at least two bodies in a Bronze Age burial cist in a remote area of the west Highlands.

They were previously aware of one body in the ancient grave on the Ardnamurchan peninsula but they have now found more bones than could belong to another person.

A skull found during an earlier archaeological dig at Swordle in 2010 was dated as being from around 1700BC.

And the bones discovered during the Ardnamurchan Transition Project team’s visit to the area this summer have now been sent away for radiocarbon dating.

Team leader Ollie Harris, who is a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Leicester, described the latest discoveries as both “interesting” and “exciting”.

He said: “In the majority of Bronze Age cists, we would expect to find one person buried in a crouching position on their side, but examining the remains in this cist strongly suggests the presence of two or more people.

“This was an exciting find. One of our main aims this year was to find out about what we thought was a single body, so to come back and find probably two people is very interesting as it offers a different perspective on Bronze Age burials.”
He added that they also found another jet bead in the grave. Three were found in 2010 and they are believed to be part of a necklace.

They also unearthed a flint scraper, which they believe to have been used for removing fat from hides, and small pieces of flint debitage, which is the waste material produced in the making of early stone tools.

The cist was found under a pile of rocks known as Ricky’s Cairn.

While at Swordle this year, the team also excavated the Neolithic tomb of Cladh Andreis, a 200ft long mound of rocks leading from the tomb, which they describe as the tail of the monument, and a small Bronze Age cist cut into the side of the tail.

Mr Harris said the small Bronze Age cist had been a new find this year.

He said: “This cist had been heavily robbed. There were just a few scraps of bone in it, but we are hoping we can get a radiocarbon date from them.”

He added that they had previously worked on Cladh Andreis, which was built around 3,700BC, from 2006 to 2010.

“This year we found bits of teeth, human remains from various bodies and a leaf-shaped arrowhead,” said the archaeologist.
moss Posted by moss
19th August 2014ce


Archaeologists compare Neolithic Kent site to Stonehenge, find Bronze Age funerary monument

A Neolithic ditch which became a huge funerary monument when it was enlarged with an outer ring during the Bronze Age has been found on housing development grounds in Kent.

Archaeologists suspect a “sacred way” could have led to a henge 6,000 years ago at Iwade Meadows, to the west of the Kent industrial town of Sittingbourne.

Positioned on a north-west slope, the 30-metre diameter structure is one of several prehistoric monuments on a north-west slope above the Ridham fleet stream running through the centre of the site.

“Its purpose is not known,” says Dr Paul Wilkinson, of excavators SWAT Archaeology.

“But it may be that the monument was reused as an enclosure for stock management at this time or could formally have been used as a ‘sacred way’ leading to the Neolithic ‘henge’.

“The monuments are in a location that would have formerly had extensive views to the Swale Estuary and the Island of Sheppey beyond.

“The archaeological evidence suggests that the outer ditch may have originated in the Neolithic and been later transformed in the Bronze Age into a funerary monument with the addition of the inner ring.”

Archaeologists now hope to determine the exact date, phasing and character of the monuments.

“The outer ring has an entrance facing north-east suggesting that it may have originated as a henge-type monument – a ceremonial gathering place of which Stonehenge is our most well known example,” says Dr Wilkinson.

“The inner ring appears to be later and is an unbroken circuit. This may be associated with a Bronze Age burial, as a barrow, though no burials have yet been found.

“A second smaller monument lies close to the larger rings and may be a secondary barrow dating to the Bronze Age.

“While the monuments may have fallen out of use for their primary function by the middle Bronze Age they seem to have still been significant landscape features, as a track from the north-east is seen to have been extended to the causeway entrance of the outer ring.

“The importance of the location in the Neolithic period is reinforced by the rare findings of a series of pits close to the monuments that may indicate the area was being used before the construction of the monument or represents activity associated with it.”
moss Posted by moss
13th August 2014ce

Silbury Hill (Artificial Mound)

Silbury in August's Edition of Current Archaeology

In August's edition of Current Archaeology, Jim Leary talks about his theory first aired in 'The Story of Silbury Hill'. Did our ancestors build Silbury to mark the source of the Thames. I've always liked this theory.
tjj Posted by tjj
9th August 2014ce
Edited 10th August 2014ce

Hambledon (Hillfort)

Hambledon Hill fort in Dorset acquired by National Trust for £450,000

An Iron Age hill fort has been bought by the National Trust for £450,000.

Built more than 2,000 years ago, Hambledon Hill, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, stands at 190m (620ft) and spans the size of 50 football pitches.

The trust, which takes over management of the site, said its historical uses included communal occupation, farming, feasting, conflict and burial.

Money to buy the hill fort came from a Natural England grant and a legacy gift left to benefit Dorset countryside.


Hambledon is the first hill fort acquired by the trust in Dorset for 30 years and joins its six other sites, including Hod Hill, Lamberts Castle, Badbury Rings and Pilsdon Pen.

It had been owned for the past 30 years by conservational charity Hawthorn Trust, which was looking to sell, and managed by Natural England as a National Nature Reserve.

The National Trust said it decided to buy the site to secure its future and ensure maintenance and access for the public was maintained.

Jerry Broadway, a National Trust volunteer working on Hambledon Hill, said: "When I come here I feel like someone would when they go into St Paul's Cathedral.

"When there is no-one else around and I sit on the top of the hill looking at the view I feel very privileged. And to play a small part in looking after the hill is a good feeling."

The nationally-important chalk grassland is also home to at least five species of orchids, while 28 species of butterfly have been recorded at the site over the years.

From its summit visitors can see across three counties - Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.
moss Posted by moss
7th August 2014ce

West Kennet Avenue Settlement Site (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Update on second year dig at Avebury WK Avenue

Archaeology students mostly from Southampton and Leicester universities have re-opened one trench from last year’s dig and opened another major area of investigation in West Kennet Avenue. This involves moving tons of turf and soil and getting down to a level of soil that has never been ploughed (“intact soil”) and so holds flints and other artefacts such as pottery shards, where they were dropped.

This part of the Avenue was chosen because it had been investigated by the marmalade millionaire Alexander Keiller in the 1930s and he had located a gap in Avenue’s stones. Such a gap must have been left for a reason – perhaps because there was a building or other special structure that had to be preserved.

Among these finds are several flint arrowheads – including one miniature barbed and tanged arrowhead (photo left) which the project's experts say is deliberately miniaturised. Whether it was made as a gift, a toy or for a ritual purpose is another matter altogether. Whatever the reason for making it, the workmanship is extraordinary.

This dig is part of the long term Between the Monuments programme which aims, as National Trust archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall puts it, “to put the people back into the Avebury site.” Finding out more about the routine lives and residence of the people who built and used Avebury’s henge and avenues should help understand why these monuments were made and why this site was chosen.

It is a collaborative research project between the University of Southampton (Dr Josh Pollard), University of Leicester (Dr Mark Gillings), Allen Environmental Archaeology (Dr Mike Allen) and the National Trust (Dr Ros Cleal & Dr Nick Snashall.)

On Tuesday (August 5), with only two full days to go before the dig had to finish and with some rain showers during the morning, people from the surrounding villages were shown over the site and heard about the project’s progress.

Despite the buckets, wheelbarrows and spades (there was even someone spotted wielding a pick axe – albeit on the upper layers of soil), archaeology makes use of all the latest technology. This year laser measuring equipment has been used on the site.

Dr Mark Gillings & soil samplesDr Mark Gillings & soil samplesAnd those plastic bags behind Dr Gillings (photo left) contain soil samples which will be analysed and may reveal tell-tale signs of plant life, what animals were about and so on. This is important as the soil is so acidic that snail shells and bones are not found – but pollen and chemical residues will be preserved and identified in the analysis.

Another recently available technique allows scientists to tell what different sizes and shapes of flint cutting tools were used for. This high-magnification process has shown one tool found last year was used to cut nettles – from which string and cords were made.

Another exciting find in one of last year’s trenches is what looks to the experts like the remains of a ‘possible hearth’. It was nearby in this trench that they discovered in 2013 twelve certain or probable stake-holes in a pattern that could justify the theory that they were part of a dwelling of some sort: it is very tempting to add two such finds together to make a dwelling.

And then, just when the students thought they had unearthed some really good and significant finds from many centuries BC, someone finds a mediaeval coin. Mind you, this coin far smaller than our five pence piece and paper thin, so spotting it amidst the soil and recognising that it was anything at all worth keeping from the spoil heap, is a testament to these students’ growing expertise and enthusiasm.

As ever, it is a matter of funding being available to allow a third year’s dig to reveal even more of the evidence of the human lives that flourished in between Avebury’s stones.
tjj Posted by tjj
6th August 2014ce

Kirkhaugh (Round Barrow(s))

Boys strike gold with ornament dig

Seems a second gold 'earing', this one interpreted as a hair ornament, that looks akin to the one found at Kirkhaugh in 1935.

Makes it one of the oldest bits of metal in Britain, dating back to the chalcolithic, around 2,300BCE.
Hob Posted by Hob
5th August 2014ce
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