Protecting, Preserving and Enhancing Our Cultural Landscape


For immediate release, 4/6/04



This is a sad day for the Thornborough Henges Complex, which English

Heritage has called "the most important prehistoric site between Stonehenge

and the Orkneys". Already half the setting of the only triple henge complex

in the world has been destroyed by open-cast quarrying and, now, despite

being made fully aware of its national significance, Tarmac has applied to

quarry yet more of this sensitive landscape at Ladybridge Farm.


The management of Tarmac Northern attended a recent conference at which

eminent archaeologists emphasised that, in order to understand this unique

henge complex, it is vital to study in depth the landscapes in which they

are set ~ and that what remains at Thornborough is a minimum sample that

ought to be protected for future research and public enjoyment.


Employing their own tame archaeologist to hastily record any buried

archaeology immediately in advance of the diggers, as has been done at the

existing quarry, will prevent future experts using new technology to learn

more about the settlement and evolution of this ritual landscape than is

possible with currently available methods. Open-cast quarrying destroys

forever, not only the fragile evidence of early man's activities, but the

entire agricultural landscape and leaves deep water-filled pits as our

inheritance for future generations.


Jon Lowry, Chairman of the Friends of Thornborough said, "It is appalling

that a company which attempts to project itself as a supporter of

archaeology is prepared to sacrifice yet more of this national treasure for

the sake of its own profits. I can assure Tarmac that it is in for a long

fight and call upon all citizens of this country to join our demand, by

writing to their MPs, that the Government takes immediate action to protect

this outstanding example of our national heritage by declaring it an Area of

Archaeological Importance."



Note for Editors:

The Friends of Thornborough is a voluntary group dedicated to saving for the

nation the surviving setting of the Thornborough Henges Complex near Ripon

in Yorkshire. People can join our campaign by contacting


For further information on this press release, contact our Publicity Officer

on 01609-777480 or Jon Lowry on 07947-690089




10 June 2004

Oxford ArchDigital Provides Stonehenge Mapping Site


When English Heritage and Wiltshire County Council wanted to create a virtual tour of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, they chose Oxford ArchDigital for their expertise in map based websites.


Funded by the New Opportunities Fund (NOF), the new microsite goes live on 11 June as part of the English Heritage website, www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge.


The interactive microsite, designed to be a pop-up from the enquiry site, describes an area centred on Stonehenge, about 5 miles North to South and 3 miles East to West, that includes a number of associated archaeological sites of interest including: The Cursus, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, King Barrows, The Avenue, Winterbourne Stoke Barrows, North Kite Enclosure, Vespasian’s Camp and, of course, Stonehenge itself. Visitors can navigate around the map to discover more about the monuments.


For each archaeological monument there is a feast of multimedia content including: text description, photographs, reconstruction drawings, antiquarian drawings, artefacts, old photos, 360° panorama and video clips produced by microlite fly-pasts, all of which help bring these fascinating sites to life. A ‘time travel’ section also allows visitors to trace back a timeline that starts in Neolithic times and explains how subsequent developments in the Bronze and Iron Ages added to them.


Isabelle Bedu, Stonehenge World Heritage Site Coordinator at English Heritage explains: “We want to help visitors appreciate the context of Stonehenge, which is the centre of an area which has many other interesting prehistoric sites. The aim of the interactive map is to bring to life the whole World Heritage Site and its many mysterious monuments. Oxford ArchDigital have done a great job by producing an accessible and fun microsite. We hope that many people around the world will enjoy their virtual tour.”



Satellite images 'show Atlantis'

By Paul Rincon

BBC News Online science staff


A scientist says he may have found remains of the lost city of Atlantis.

Satellite photos of southern Spain reveal features on the ground appearing to match descriptions made by Greek scholar Plato of the fabled utopia.

Dr Rainer Kuehne thinks the "island" of Atlantis simply referred to a region of the southern Spanish coast destroyed by a flood between 800 BC and 500 BC.

The research has been reported as an ongoing project in the online edition of the journal Antiquity.

We have in the photos concentric rings just as Plato described

Dr Rainer Kuehne, University of Wuppertal

Satellite photos of a salt marsh region known as Marisma de Hinojos near the city of Cadiz show two rectangular structures in the mud and parts of concentric rings that may once have surrounded them.

"Plato wrote of an island of five stades (925m) diameter that was surrounded by several circular structures - concentric rings - some consisting of Earth and the others of water. We have in the photos concentric rings just as Plato described," Dr Kuehne told BBC News Online.

Dr Kuehne, of the University of Wuppertal in Germany, believes the rectangular features could be the remains of a "silver" temple devoted to the sea god Poseidon and a "golden" temple devoted to Cleito and Poseidon - all described in Plato's dialogue Critias.

Temples of the sea god

The sizes of the "island" and its rings in the satellite image are slightly larger than those described by Plato. There are two possible explanations for this, says Dr Kuehne.

First, Plato may have underplayed the size of Atlantis. Secondly, the ancient unit of measurement used by Plato - the stade - may have been 20% larger than traditionally assumed.

If the latter is true, one of the rectangular features on the "island" matches almost exactly the dimensions given by Plato for the temple of Poseidon.

The features were originally spotted by Werner Wickboldt, a lecturer and Atlantis enthusiast who studied photographs from across the Mediterranean for signs of the city described by Plato.

"This is the only place that seems to fit [Plato's] description," he told BBC News Online.

Mr Wickboldt added that the Greeks might have confused an Egyptian word referring to a coastline with one meaning "island" during transmission of the Atlantis story.

Commenting on the satellite image showing the two "temples", Tony Wilkinson, an expert in the use of remote sensing in archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, UK, told BBC News Online: "A lot of the problems come with interpretations. I can see something there and I could imagine that one could interpret it in various ways. But you've got several leaps of faith here.

Metal trading

"We use the imagery to recognise certain types of imprint on the ground and then do [in the field] verification on them. Based on what we see on the ground we make an interpretation.

"What we need here is a date range. Otherwise, you're just dealing with morphology. But the [features] are interesting."

The fabled utopia of Atlantis has captured the imagination of scholars for centuries. The earliest known records of this mythical land appear in Plato's dialogues Critias and Timaios.

His depiction of a land of fabulous wealth, advanced civilisation and natural beauty has spurred many adventurers to seek out its location.

One recent theory equates Atlantis with Spartel Island, a mud shoal in the straits of Gibraltar that sank into the sea 11,000 years ago.

Plato described Atlantis as having a "plain". Dr Kuehne said this might be the plain that extends today from Spain's southern coast up to the city of Seville. The high mountains described by the Greek scholar could be the Sierra Morena and Sierra Nevada.


"Plato also wrote that Atlantis is rich in copper and other metals. Copper is found in abundance in the mines of the Sierra Morena," Dr Kuehne explained.

Dr Kuehne noticed that the war between Atlantis and the eastern Mediterranean described in Plato's writings closely resembled attacks on Egypt, Cyprus and the Levant during the 12th Century BC by mysterious raiders known as the Sea People.

As a result, he proposes that the Atlanteans and the Sea People were in fact one and the same.

This dating would equate the city and society of Atlantis with either the Iron Age Tartessos culture of southern Spain or another, unknown, Bronze Age culture. A link between Atlantis and Tartessos was first proposed in the early 20th Century.

Dr Kuehne said he hoped to attract interest from archaeologists to excavate the site. But this may be tricky. The features in the satellite photo are located within Spain's Donana national park.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2004/06/06 14:25:43 GMT



Dig uncovers a Roman bath house

A Roman bath house thought to be part of a large villa has been found by archaeologists digging on a building site in Maidstone.

The bath house was found centimetres below the ground surface on land due to have five houses built on it.

The experts think the villa was probably constructed towards the end of the first century AD.

Artefacts found there are being held in safe keeping until a permanent place for them to be displayed is found.

Sunken rooms

Maidstone Council brought in the archaeologists after experts at Kent County Council recommended the site, in Bower Lane, be investigated when planning permission for the houses was given.

The county council's monuments record had indicated Roman pottery finds in the area.

The bath house site is to be preserved under the car park being built for the new homes.

In a month working on the site the archaeologists have uncovered parts of two sunken rooms - a plunge bath and a steam bath.

They have also found footings outlining a small suite of heated and unheated rooms, drainage ditches, pottery, mosaic fragments and painted plaster.

Beneath the villa a series of Iron Age ditches have been discovered, thought to be associated with a pre-Roman farmstead.

'Just incredible'

The farm and the villa would have been on a hill overlooking a bend on the River Medway - considered an important strategic position.

The archaeologists think the villa was probably owned by a well-off farmer or someone else of high status in the first century.

Developer Don Crosbie, whose property company is to build the houses on the site, said: "Literally the first spade in the ground went in about three or four inches and came up against hard ground.

"The archaeologists scraped away a little bit and found a Roman roof tile and that was it, within one minute of the dig on the site.

"It was just incredible that it was found that early."

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2004/06/03 15:12:09 GMT



Roman 'industrial estate' found

Experts who unearthed the best preserved example in Wales of a medieval track, have now found what they believe is the equivalent of a Roman 'industrial estate.'

Amazingly they found the Roman relics underneath the same excavation site near Borth, where they made their original discovery of a 1,000 year old track.

The small team of archaeologists claim the discovery could date back to the second or third century AD.

This would make it at least 600 years older than the track which is thought to date back to 900 or 1020AD.

Project manager Nigel Page, of Cambria Archaeology, said the Roman sites were rare because archaeologists had no way of prospecting for them.

"We've discovered what we think is a Roman kiln under the medieval track so we know that pre-dates it," he added.

"We think we're starting to uncover an example of a Roman industrial site that probably did some sort of smelting because there are examples of charcoals and other heavily burnt items.

"I estimate that the new discovery could date back to the second or third century, but we'll be sending some charcoals for radio carbon dating to give us a more accurate picture.

"This is an ongoing and evolving story and we may have different information tomorrow, but it's possible there has been Roman activity that pre-dates the track.

"This development has changed our excavating strategy somewhat, but we are still planning to leave on June 18 and then everything will be covered back up."

Students from the University of Birmingham, lecturers from Lampeter University and experts from Cambria Archaeology, from Llandeilo, have been working on the project for seven days.


Of the track, Gwilym Hughes, of Cambria Archaeology, said: "We are excavating a timber trackway at Llancynfelyn, near Talybont, which is very close to Borth.

"The trackway was first examined in March when radiocarbon dates were obtained from two wood samples.

"It is the best preserved medieval track in Wales and that's because it's been preserved by the peat bog.

"It's very unusual to find a medieval track in such a well-preserved state and we've uncovered about 200 metres of the track although it probably would have stretched 2kms.

"The trackway is on edge of Cors Fochno (Borth Bog). This is an area of wetland containing both tidal and freshwater marshes and it is a site of great ecological importance."

"Timber trackways of the kind identified at Llancynfelyn have been recorded and excavated in many areas of Britain and Ireland and have a wide date range from the early Neolithic (over 5,000 years ago) through to the Medieval period.

There will be an open day at the site on Saturday between 11am and 4pm. Directions and more details of the event will be posted on Cambria Archaeology's website.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2004/06/09 09:21:26 GMT




East: Modern-Day Vikings Retrace Sailing Trip Through The Caucasus

By Antoine Blua 05/06/2004 01:19


A group of modern-day Vikings is currently sailing the Black Sea en route to the Caspian via the Rioni and Kura rivers in the Caucasus. They are retracing part of a trip that Scandinavian explorers might have made nearly 1,000 years ago.


Prague, 4 June 2004 (RFE/RL) -- In 1036, the Viking chief Ingvar den Vittfarne, or "Ingvar the Far-Traveled," is believed to have led an expedition from Sweden to the far-flung Caspian Sea.

Almost a millennium later, a crew of nine modern-day Vikings -- sailing in a replica Viking ship -- is retracing part of what was believed to have been the original route.


"We are [tracing the path] of the Viking king named 'Ingvar the Far-Traveled,' and we are trying [to find out] which way he went from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea," said Hakan Altrock, the expedition's leader. "There are several ideas about how he managed to get [there]."


The expedition began about a month ago from a village on the Dnieper River in Ukraine, not far from the city of Kherson. It has already passed the Crimean Peninsula. The Vikings intend to follow the Russian and Abkhaz coasts to the Georgian port of Poti.


From Poti, the expedition will proceed to the village of Zuare via the Rioni River and its tributaries. The Vikings will then have to haul their boat on logs -- most probably using oxen -- and relaunch it in the Kura River that flows to the Caspian Sea. The final destination is Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.


Altrock pointed out the expedition has already suffered delays because of bureaucracy and suspicion from local authorities in Ukraine. Initially, the Vikings had hoped to reach the Russian port of Novorossiisk at the end of May, Poti in mid-June, Tbilisi in early July, and Baku by mid-August.


Nevertheless, the expedition's leader remains optimistic.


"[There have been] some complications," Altrock said. "Probably the old [communist] system is still living in some way. But mostly it's okay. The people of Ukraine we have met were very friendly -- everybody. And we hope it will be the same in Russia."


Swedish archaeologist Mats Larsson says stories from Vittfarne's original expedition can still be found on runic stones in Sweden.


"The runic stones tell about their fight to the east [from Sweden], probably for some Russian prince," Larsson said. "[It] was very, very common for Swedish warriors to go to Russia and fight as mercenaries. They also say they went to the south to a place called 'Serkland,' which probably is the land of the Saracens -- the Muslim areas around the Caspian Sea."


Some 20 years ago, Larsson presented a theory saying the expedition might have reached the Caspian Sea via the Rioni and Kura rivers. He based this belief on descriptions enclosed in the Icelandic saga. Larsson said the saga mentions a place that resembles Kara-Boghaz, on the Caspian shore of today's Turkmenistan.


Larsson explained the possible motivations for Vittfarne to travel to the region.


"It could be to find trade routes. But it could also be connected with the wars between Russia and Constantinople at that time," Larsson said. "The Georgian king was [also] an enemy of the Byzantine state. Ingvar and his men would [have gone] to Georgia to fight for the king."


Larsson said this theory is based on an old Georgian chronicle that says a Scandinavian armed force came to the Rioni River in the beginning of the 1040s.


After an agreement had been made with the Georgian King Bagrat, the military expedition proceeded further east and took part in a battle near Tbilisi. The Georgian king lost the battle and the Scandinavian force retreated west.


Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org


Ancient map shows egg-shaped England

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent

Sunday June 6, 2004

The Observer


It is known as a catalogue of 'marvel for the eyes' and tomorrow the public will be able to judge for themselves at last.

A previously unknown medieval Arabic map with the earliest representation of an identified 'England' - a tiny, egg-shaped lump - is to go on public display in Oxford. The unique and, until now, unseen map is part of a manuscript called the Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels, which was originally put together, probably in the Nile Delta region, at some point before AD1050 and was then copied around 150 years later in Egypt. It reflects the achievements of the classical age of Islamic civilisation and gives an unrivalled picture of the relationship between east and west in that period.

The exhibition at the Bodleian Library will include most of the illustrated folios of the Book, or Kitab Ghara'ib al-funun wa-mulah al-'uyun, to give it its Arab title, including a key page which shows England as a small, oval island labelled in Arabic as Inghiltirah or 'Angle-terre'. This, researchers believe, is the earliest depiction of the British Isles in connection with that name.

The unbound manuscript is on display for the first time following its purchase by the library two years ago with grants made to them by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Art Collections Fund. The funds which helped to secure the Book were also provided by Oxford Colleges, the Friends of the Bodleian Library, individual donations and the Saudi Arabian and American company Aramco.

According to Jeremy Johns of Wolfson College, one of two scholars in charge of the exhibition, the manuscript itself is a copy of an anonymous work compiled in the first half of the 11th century, probably by a citizen of Tinnis in the Nile Delta. He believes the treatise is 'extraordinarily important for the history of science'.

Lesley Forbes, Keeper of Oriental Collections at the Library, said the exhibition will also reveal new evidence for the paths of international trade and commerce in the 11th century, particularly of the movements of Islamic merchants trading in the eastern Mediterranean. But the main appeal will be its astonishing array of medieval maps.

'Apocalypse and pilgrimage maps are shown alongside diagrammatic maps which were produced at the same time,' said Forbes. 'For example, the Rectangular World Map in the Book of Curiosities is of a type previously completely unknown, and, we believe, unique to this manuscript. There is a rare illustrated discourse on comets and a unique illustrated guide to stars used in navigation and weather prediction.'

The Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting a two-year project to understand and interpret the significance of the Book of Curiosities and to increase public access to its pages. The work will include an edition of the Arabic text and an English translation.


• The exhibition 'Medieval Views of the Cosmos' is open from 7 June to 30 October, Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.45pm, Saturday 9.30am to 12.30pm, at the Bodleian Library, Old Schools Quadrangle, Oxford.



Archaeologists uncover 1,000-year-old roadway

Jun 9 2004

Daily Post

 ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a 1,000-year-old timber roadway preserved in a peat bog in mid Wales.

Tests on the wooden beams indicated that they date from between 900-1020.

The digging team at the site in a farmer's field in Llancynfelyn, near Talybont, yesterday found even earlier remains believed to be Roman industrial workings.

Gwilym Hughes, from Cambria Archaeology based in Llandeilo, said: "What makes this so special and almost unique is that it is so well preserved.

"It is the oldest example of such a mediaeval trackway in Wales and possibly in Britain," he said.

The track was discovered on the edge of Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) in an area of wetland.

"It could be the original activity in the area dates to the Roman period and the track would link a Roman lead mine to the industrial activity near Talybont."

Students from Birmingham university and lecturers from Lampeter university have also been working on the project for six days.

The dig was started after farmer Dilwyn Jenkins discovered a timber box while creating a drainage ditch.

The team will stage an open day at the site on Saturday between 11am and 4pm.

Directions and more details of the event will be posted on Cambria Archaeology's website, www.acadat.com




09:52 - 07 June 2004


Archaeologists will soon be diving into a lost medieval world when they explore the lake at one of England's finest 18th century gardens. Yesterday it was announced that experts from the Nautical Archaeological Society will be at National Trust-owned Stourhead in Wiltshire from Saturday until June 17 to try to discover secrets hidden beneath the water since the estate's 18th century owner blocked the River Stour.


The lake was created by Henry Hoare II, who dammed the medieval fishponds as part of his grand designs for a glorious landscape garden. He inherited the estate from his father in 1741 and the garden became his absorbing interest for the next 40 years after losing both his wives.


But while much is known about his house, very little is known about the valley, the lake's construction, its history or even its depth.


In March, the NAS divers spent two days at Stourhead carrying out exploratory work but they will now be undertaking the proper investigation.


Gary Calland, house manager at Stourhead, said; "We are really excited about this investigation. This is the first time we have had the chance to find out what's really underneath the lake, what plant life was here before its creation, any structures that might have been flooded and whether the lake holds any other mysteries.


"We hope that the live experience will encourage our visitors to explore other archaeological aspects of the estate."


Throughout the week, visitors to Stourhead will be able to see the divers at work, meet them and learn about underwater archaeology and any discoveries they make.


Next weekend, there will be a special events programme looking at archaeology on the estate. Activities will include a small land excavation near the water's edge and the opportunity to handle, identify and sort archaeological finds.


The exploration culminates in a lecture on June 16 at 6pm in the Memorial Village Hall, Stourton, next to the Spread Eagle pub. Places for this free lecture need to be reserved through the National Trust Estate Office on 01747 841152.



Experts go potty over rare find

A chamber pot thought to date back to just after the English Civil War has been unearthed in Devon.

The pewter pot, which is described as being very rare by archaeologists, was discovered during work on the new flood defence scheme at Ottery St Mary.

Pewter was very costly in the 17th Century, so few were made and just a handful have survived.

Other items found include dress-making pins and cow horns, but archaeologists say the pot is the most important.

Steve Reed, from Exeter Archaeology, said: "If you had one that was damaged or wasn't needed anymore it would be reused.

"This means these artefacts are quite rare because they don't survive, it's a reusable material."

No value has yet been put on the pewter pot.

Once it has been cleaned up by specialists it will go on public display.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2004/06/09 15:17:55 GMT




Wonder as 1 000-year-old padded bra dug up

June 10 2004 at 06:24AM


Hong Kong - Archaeologists have dug up a thousand-year-old padded bra in Inner Mongolia, China, a news report said on Thursday.


The gold-coloured bra was found in tomb in the province's Aohan region, according to the South China Morning Post.


Archeologist Shao Guotian said the bra dated back to China's Liao dynasty and described it as made of fine silk with shoulder and back straps.


"It is just like brassieres of today," he said. "It's a pity most of the cotton padding in the cups has already decayed." - Sapa-dpa