Current Archaeology #287 (February) has news of a roundhouse foundation that really caught my eye. English Iron Age roundhouses are usually visible simply as a circular ditch or a post circle. This house, at Broadbridge Heath in Sussex, had a foundation ditch shaped like a slightly open number 6: a spiral! I also enjoyed Nadia Durrani’s eight-page feature on the historical archaeology of Early Modern London theatres and bear-baiting rings.
Chris Catling asks an interesting question regarding the ownership to land and to any ores under that land in the UK: these can and often do belong to different people, but it isn’t quite clear who owns the archaeological deposits between the land surface and the ores. So who pays the archaeological contractor when the land owner wants to develop land that sits on ore deposits belonging to someone else? “If I don’t get to profit from the minerals under my lawn, then why should I have to pay for the archaeology there?”
Current Archaeology #288 (March) has an eight-page feature on recently identified Lower to Middle Palaeolithic sites eroding out of the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk. The site name to remember is Happisburgh (pronounced Hazeburra), and the media interest is due to a major new exhibition on Palaeolithic Britain at the Natural History Museum in London.
Current Archaeology #289 (April) returns to Hazeburra with news about the much-publicised find of human footprints from 900,000 years ago, preserved in fossil mudflats from the mouth of an ancient version of the River Thames.
In September of 2011 I wondered about the floor plan of a major post-borne wooden building at the Roman port of Maryport on the Irish Sea. It post-dates the departure of the legions and has altars to Jupiter used as ballast stones for the posts. Now we get a five-page feature about continued fieldwork at the site, which has begun to hint that what succeeded the Roman fort may have been a well-funded ?monastic Christian community. My Chester colleague Meggen Gondek and her Aberdeen collaborator Gordon Noble, meanwhile, report on their continued fieldwork at the mid-1st Millennium Pictish elite site of Rhynie.
I was fascinated to learn from Tim Tatton-Brown’s piece that there was a High Medieval stonework industry in Germany where people quarried the thick and solid calcium carbonate layers inside the area’s Roman aqueducts! There are pillars made of the stuff in the cathedrals of Canterbury and Rochester! Reminds me of the portable altars they made about the same time from reused porphyry tiles quarried in the ruins of Roman bath houses. We get those all over Scandyland.
British Archaeology #135 (March/April) inevitably also covers Hazeburra and the Palaeolithic exhibition, but they’ve done something fun: talked to the Dutch Kennis brothers about the making of two amazing wax models for the exhibit (picture above). They’re a Neanderthal and an early modern human, incredibly lifelike and nothing at all like the ugly mugs most of us are used to from media and museums.