Recent Archaeomags

Current Archaeology #266 (May) has a big feature on the Medieval and Renaissance version of Saint Paul’s cathedral in London. The current one designed by Christopher Wren, I learned, re-uses none of the earlier edifice’s fabric and is not even orientated on the same axis. It was the world’s first purpose-built Protestant cathedral, completed in 1710. What happened to the old cathedral? Well, first the Reformation, then a century of neglect while only the chancel remained consecrated, and then in 1666 the Great Fire of London. Finally Wren’s building crew tore down whatever was left.

Then a feature on the Late Roman cemetery of Lankhills at Winchester, where stable isotope analyses are advancing an old question of where in the Empire certain of its inhabitants came from. They were buried according to unusual rites along with uncommon foreign-looking belt fittings and brooches. The most recent excavations at the cemetery took place from 2000 to 2005, and in 2004 I heard Nick Stoodley talk about the isotope results at the Sachsensymposium in Cambridge (I wrote about it in Fornvännen). Nick suggested that the men with odd material culture were foreign-born and the women local, being their wives or daughters who wore foreign fashions. Now the report volume on these excavations is out, occasioning the feature piece. Turns out that yes, some of the Lankhills people came from various foreign parts (possibly including the suspected Pannonia), but their points of origin don’t correlate with the funny metalwork. Instead the men’s gear is now interpreted as status markers of officials at Winchester’s Imperial textile mill – a diverse group of people with both local and foreign roots.

From Current Archaeology #267 (June) I learned about a Bronze Age hoard found by an upstanding detectorist at Boughton Malherbe in Kent last August. Dating from the Ewart Park phase c. 900 BC, the hoard is Britain’s third largest, consisting largely of axes (socketed and winged) and domed ingots plus a generous sprinkling of sundries. It is the first member of a characteristic French class of hoard to surface in southern England. I wish we got these finds in Sweden too! But our laws allow no honest detectorists to operate without endless red tape. The last time anyone found a multi-object BA hoard in my part of Sweden and told an archaeologist was in 1980 when the military swept the Järvafältet shooting range for undetonated shells.

British Archaeology #124 (May/June) has six pages of reader responses to the acrimonious break-up of the Time Team television team. Good to see that people care! I’ve only watched one episode myself. And in another case of double coverage, six pages on Saint Paul’s. Apart from that, not much to catch my personal interest this time.

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