Stonehenge druids 'mark wrong solstice'

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor

(Filed: 21/06/2005)


Modern-day druids, hippies and revellers who turn up at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice may not be marking an ancient festival as they believe.


The latest archaeological findings add weight to growing evidence that our ancestors visited Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice.


Analysis of pigs's teeth found at Durrington Walls, a ceremonial site of wooden post circles near Stonehenge on the River Avon, has shown that most pigs were less than a year old when slaughtered.


Dr Umburto Albarella, an animal bone expert at the University of Sheffield's archaeology department, which is studying monuments around Stonehenge, said pigs in the Neolithic period were born in spring and were an early form of domestic pig that farrowed once a year. The existence of large numbers of bones from pigs slaughtered in December or January supports the view that our Neolithic ancestors took part in a winter solstice festival.


The revellers at Durrington Walls, the largest ceremonial site in the country and even larger than Avebury, are also thought to have feasted on cattle and aurochs - an extinct wild ox - before going to Stonehenge while fires burned on cliffs or hill tops. Prof Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield university, who leads the project, said: "We have no evidence that anyone was in the landscape in summer.''


Up to 20,000 people were expected at Stonehenge last night with visitors being allowed in from 10pm. The site will be closed from 9am today for the whole day so that the area can be cleaned up.




Archaeologists figure out mystery of Stonehenge bluestones

Jun 24 2005

Staff Reporter, Western Mail


ARCHAEOLOGISTS have solved one of the greatest mysteries of Stonehenge - the exact spot from where its huge stones were quarried.


A team has pinpointed the precise place in Wales from where the bluestones were removed in about 2500 BC.


It found the small crag-edged enclosure at one of the highest points of the 1,008ft high Carn Menyn mountain in Pembrokeshire's Preseli Hills.


The enclosure is just over one acre in size but, according to team leader Professor Tim Darvill, it provides a veritable "Aladdin's Cave" of made-to-measure pillars for aspiring circle builders. Within and outside the enclosure are numerous prone pillar stones with clear signs of working. Some are fairly recent and a handful of drill holes attest to the technology used. Other blocks may have been wrenched from the ground or the crags in ancient times.


They were then moved 240 miles to the famous site at Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.


The discovery comes a year after scientists proved that the remains of a "band of brothers" found near Stonehenge were Welshmen who transported the stones. The skeletons were found by workmen laying a pipe on Boscombe Down and chemical analysis of their teeth revealed they were brought up in South West Wales.


Experts believed the family accompanied the stones on their epic journey from the Preseli Hills to Salisbury Plain.


Now Prof Darvill, colleague Geoff Wainwright, a retired English Heritage archaeologist, and six researchers and students from Bournemouth University have confirmed where exactly they uncovered the stones.


The team have spent the past three years on the project.


They scoured a 3km-square area in the highest points of Carn Menyn where they made the amazing discovery.


Prof Darvill said, "When we came across the enclosure we couldn't believe it. You dream about finding things like this but don't really think they exist. We have done geological and chemical tests which are still ongoing but show the quarry is the exact place.


"Geographically, the bluestones are very distinctive and could have only come from a very certain area. We already knew it was in the Preseli Hills but the geological tests combined with the chemical test results make us sure we have found it.


"Nobody can be sure why the stones were taken from there to Salisbury but I believe it is because they were regarded as holy or to do with a deity of some kind.


"This is a great discovery and opens up the door for many more.


"Hopefully in the future we will be able to trace the exact holes where the stones were extracted from. It isn't going to be a massive hole in the ground as we understand a quarry to be these days.


"In 2500 BC things were a lot more primitive so the builders would have looked for rocks which were naturally displaced.


"They then would have put them on a river and taken them to Stonehenge that way.


The "band of brothers" found last year, were a family unit of three adults, one teenager and three children buried in the same grave 4,300 years ago, at the start of the metal age.


The family were found on Boscombe Down and were soon christened the "Boscombe bowmen."


The burials were found near to the site where the famously wealthy "Amesbury archer" was uncovered three years ago.


Prof Darvill's discovery will be published in the July-August edition of British Archaeology.


He has been researching Stonehenge for the last 10 years.



Ancient 'Bog Body' Unearthed in Germany  


A body found in a peat bog in northern Germany, first thought to be a murder victim, turned out to be a sensational archeological find: the 2,700 year old mummified corpse of a teenage girl.


At first the police thought the body of a teenage girl they were alerted to was evidence in an unsolved murder case. But upon closer examination, it turned out the suspected victim of foul play found a peat bog in the town of Uchte, Lower Saxony, was actually slightly older than first thought, some 2,700 years older.


Many of the body's hundred-odd parts were first dug out of the moor in 2000. At the time, the police homicide unit was assigned to the case, but when they failed to solve it, the file was archived and the moor body forgotten.


Different case


Then in January of this year, a local worker discovered a shriveled hand in the bog while digging turf. The police were once again put on the case, but this time, they recognized that the body was an archeological find rather than a criminal one.


On Monday, scientists said radiocarbon dating showed the bog body belonged to a teenage girl -- her age is estimated between 16 and 20 -- who lived around 650 BC. The State Authority for Historic Preservation in Lower Saxony called the body "one of the most meaningful archeological finds of the past forty years."


A unique find


According to Henning Hassmann, the state archeologist of Lower Saxony, all the parts of the corpse appear to have been found except for one shoulder blade, though much of it was strewn about by modern digging equipment. Even the hair on the corpse's head was intact.




The State Museum of Lower Saxony said it is the only extensively preserved human body dating from the pre-Roman iron age to be found in Europe north of the Alps. Other bog bodies have been found, but they are typically older -- dating usually from around the time of Christ's birth. Only one body, found in the Netherlands, came from the Bronze Age. It is about 1,000 years older than the current find, which is being called "The Girl of the Uchter Moor."


Technological developments have made the discovery of intact bog bodies increasingly rare. Whereas people used to dig peat by hand, today huge machines make deep furrows in the dried out moors. Thus small, mummified body parts -- which are almost the same color as the peat -- remain undiscovered. A mummified body was last found in Lower Saxony 50 years ago.


Corpse on exhibit


Paleobiologist Andreas Bauerochse said the "Girl of the Moor" will be examined for clues to life 2,000 years ago. The find will keep scientists busy for a long time, he told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung newspaper in an interview. "Today we have a handful of questions. In a week it will probably be two handfuls," he said.


Starting this Thursday, the body will be on display for a short time in the State Museum, where the public will have a chance to see the body before scientists begin testing.


DW staff (jen



Archaeological wonders are under the sea

June 24 2005 at 09:39AM 

By Eleni Colliopoulou


Athens - The recent discovery of the remains of a shipwrecked 4th century BC vessel, nicknamed Kythnos I after the Greek island near which it was found, is the latest testimony of the archaeological riches still submerged in Greek waters.


It also demonstrates the technological advances that underwater archaeology has made in this country in recent years.


Greece has no shortage of skilled archaeologists. But when it comes to underwater research, it is only recently that the Greek ministry of culture has begun mixing academic knowledge with hi-tech wizardry.


'This collaboration has spurred on efforts to chart underwater treasures'

Collaboration with the national centre for maritime research (Elkethe), and increased state funding from 2000 onwards, have enabled the culture ministry to open a broad - and still potentially untapped - archaeology frontier under the waves.


Elkethe, which operates under the development ministry, has given the culture ministry access to its specialised resources, including a 42m oceanography boat (the Aigaio), a submersible (the Thetis), two remotely-guided craft and a team of expert divers.


"This collaboration has spurred on efforts to chart underwater archaeological treasures, as did three laws on protecting such finds and preventing their pillage," ministry director of underwater antiquities Katerina Dellaporta said.


Pooling their resources, the ministry and the research centre have located more than 30 shipwrecks from Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times, at depths that can reach 550m.


Ministry archaeologists have so far recovered objects from only a few of these wrecks.


In September 2004, an ancient bronze statue was discovered

In March 2004, two groups of amphorae were discovered at a depth of 45m off the coast of Samos, in the eastern Aegean Sea. They came from a ship believed to have sunk between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.


Two days later, at a short distance to the north, the sonar picked up another pile of amphorae at a depth of 67m off the coast of Chios. The second group of storage vessels dated from between the 5th and 4th centuries BC.


In September 2004, the discovery of an ancient bronze statue in a trawler net off the island of Kythnos in the western Aegean led ministry experts to examine the area more closely.


A few months later, armed with a geophysical study carried out by a 16-strong team of experts in March, the crew of the Thetis submersible found a concentration of amphorae at a depth of 495m belonging to the ship, subsequently named Kythnos I.


Despite intensive fishing in the area, the amphorae were preserved in seabed mud and remained in good condition.


This summer, the ministry team will relocate to the waters off Evia island, in the eastern Aegean, in a bid to pinpoint the remains of the Persian fleet of King Darius, wrecked by a storm in the 5th century BC during a seaborne invasion of Greece.


The search will be carried out with the assistance of the Canadian Archaeological Institute of Athens.


Another group of researchers, the Hellenic Institute of Marine Archaeology (IENAE), has been providing expertise in underwater archaeology for the past 30 years thanks to both state and private funds.


The institute was founded in 1973, at a time when Greece had no equivalent state authority in the field. In 1975, the centre joined the team of renowned French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau for a search of Greek waters. The culture ministry's own underwater antiquity department was only formed a year later. IENAE's most important discoveries to date include two shipwrecks from the 23rd and 13th centuries BC, found in the 1990s in the Gulf of Argolid, in the northeastern Peloponnese. - Sapa-AFP



Italy rediscovers Greek heritage 

By David Willey

BBC correspondent in Rome 


Hundreds of rare and beautiful pieces are on display.

A world-class archaeological exhibition opened this week in Calabria, in the toe of Italy.


Its subject is Magna Graecia, or Greater Greece - the name given to parts of southern Italy colonised by the ancient Greeks 2,500 years ago.


The migrations of modern Europe are nothing new.


But for the ancient Greeks, southern Italy was their America.


Long before the Roman empire flourished, they sailed west in search of new lands.


They settled around the hospitable coastline of Calabria and Sicily, dominating local tribes, building huge temples to their gods and founding Greek-speaking colonies.


However, their cities and culture were later destroyed by the Romans. Only very recently have archaeologists been able to reconstruct their history.


It is a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces still missing.


Salvatore Settis of the University of Pisa, one of Italy's leading archaeologists, has brought together in Catanzaro, Calabria's regional capital, more than 800 pieces of sculpture in marble and terracotta from Magna Graecia.


They were originally dug up or recovered from the sea all around the coasts of southern Italy, but are now scattered in museums and private collections around Europe.



There are also gold and silver coins, ancient maps, books, inscriptions and Greek vases, as well as portrait busts and votive offerings to Greek gods whose shrines once dotted the Italian landscape.


Some of Europe's finest Greek temples are still to be seen at Paestum, south of Naples.


The area around them has delivered up some stunning archaeological discoveries, including wall paintings, elaborate bronze containers for honey, wine and oil, and inscriptions which provide important clues about this now almost vanished world.


Two large sheets of bronze, known as the Tablets of Heraclea, dug up in 1732 and now in the Naples museum, are also on show in Catanzaro.


They bear ancient inscriptions on one side in Greek and, on the other, a text dating from several hundred years later in Latin.


They provided some of the first documentary evidence about the lives of the Greek-speaking ancient inhabitants of this part of the Mediterranean.


Mr Settis told me that as a native of Calabria, he had first become fascinated by an unexpected legacy of Magna Graecia - the large number of ancient Greek words that have survived more than 2,000 years in his local dialect.


This figure of a woman with a lotus flower dates from about 500BC


"It was English aristocrats who first became infatuated with the Greek sculptures dug up in southern Italy in the late 18th Century.


"Your consul in Naples, Sir William Hamilton, was one of the first serious collectors of Greek art from Italy," Mr Settis said.


"Italian archaeologists and collectors began to get interested during the 19th and 20th centuries. The memory of this long-forgotten world is now being resurrected."


Catanzaro, situated right down in the toe of Italy, is a rather dull and ugly provincial capital built on two sides of a deep gorge, and does not normally figure on Italian art city tours.


However, the local authorities are hoping that foreign visitors who come to visit the new exhibition may also be interested in seeing the recently uncovered remains nearby of the city of Scolacium.


That was the city the Romans built when they conquered Magna Graecia, and founded their colonies on the ruins of former Greek settlements.


The house of a former big landowner has been converted into a small museum with some fine pieces of Roman sculpture on show, dug up during recent excavations.



Temple titan with carnal carvings

- Ancient complex bigger than Nalanda found near Raipur 



One of the Buddha vihars found during the excavations 

Raipur, June 20: An ancient temple complex four times bigger than Nalanda with stone carvings not seen even in Khajuraho has been discovered at Sirpur, a town on the Mahanadi near here.


About 200 mounds, 100 Buddha vihars, four Jain vihars and more than 100 Shiva temples spread across 25 sq km were found during excavations that began in February but have had to be suspended for the monsoon.


While this makes it the biggest temple complex of the sixth and seventh centuries to be uncovered so far, the finding is significant not for size alone.


For the first time, stone carvings depicting sexual activity among animals have been found. “This is the rarest of carvings seen in Indian archaeology,” said K.K. Muhhamed, superintending archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India. These are not seen even at Khajuraho and Ellora, he stressed.


A.K. Sharma, who supervised the digging on assignment from the state government, called for Sirpur’s inclusion in Unesco’s World Heritage List. “There are many unique features that give Sirpur a distinct identity on the Indian archaeological map,” he said.


The town about 80 km east of the Chhattisgarh capital is one of a few medieval heritage sites in India with specimens of Shaiva, Vaishnava, Buddha and Jain architecture, Sharma added. A 1.8-metre Shivalinga, believed to be the tallest in the state, has been found during the recent excavations.


The digging was to have been started in 2000, but got delayed when Sharma was directed to lead a team that conducted the excavation in Ayodhya following a court order to search for remains of a Ram temple at the disputed site.


Agreeing with Sharma, Muhhamed said Sirpur gave temple architecture in India a turning point. The Laxman Temple here is one of the country’s finest brick temples and the only one of its time, after Bhitargaon in Kanpur, that has a shikhara.


The shikhara or kailash was not seen in temples built before the 7th century and its construction was a turning point in temple architecture, Muhhamed iterated.


Sirpur was an important centre of Buddhism from the 6th to the 10th century, and Chinese scholar and traveller Hiuen Tsang visited it in the 7th century.


A Buddha vihar with underground rooms and a six-foot Buddha statue was discovered here during earlier excavations. Mahashivgupt Balarjun, the most famous ruler of South Kosal of which Sirpur was the capital, was a Shaivaite but patronised the Buddha vihar.


The Chhattisgarh government is now planning to develop Sirpur as a tourist destination and has proposed a fund of Rs 4 crore. The Centre is offering another Rs 5 crore. Japan and other countries where Buddhism spread will also be tapped.




Archaeologists start digging for Hun settlements in Russia



LIPETSK, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - Major archaeological excavation work has started in the Lipetsk region's Zadonsk and Khlevnoye districts (Central Russia), where Hun settlements used to be in ancient times.


"Four archaeological expeditions, involving a hundred people each, have started excavation work on the banks of the Don and the Voronezh rivers on the sites of former settlements of the Huns," Mikhail Ryazantsev, an archaeologist at the State Department for Cultural Heritage Protection, told RIA Novosti.


The Huns were nomadic tribes between the second and fourth centuries A.D.


Experts of Lipetsk's Arkheolog scientific and social organization and Lipetsk State Educational University arranged the expeditions. Schoolchildren and students will assist the archaeologists.


Excavation work has been going on in this region since 1995. Archaeologists have found bone artifacts dating back seven thousand years and bone-carving workshops from the Iron Age. A Scythian settlement, the furthest north ever found, and a Slav settlement dating back to the fifth century A.D. were also discovered. Moreover, the digs revealed archeological objects from the Bronze Age and the resting-place of a Hun maiden. Ryazantsev said only several tombs like this had been discovered in Europe.



Fort shows what we did for Roman army Jun 21 2005

Sam Burson, Western Mail


Ancient Welsh history has been turned on its head by the discovery of a huge Roman fort.


Archaeologists using special equipment to scan underneath the countryside have confirmed that a 2,000-year-old settlement at Dinefwr in Carmarthenshire would have been a huge centre of Roman military might.


Spanning an area greater than two rugby pitches, it indicates controlling our ancestors was far harder work than had previously been believed.


Emma Plunkett Dillon, the National Trust in Wales's archaeologist, said, 'At Dinefwr we appear to have one of the most significant Roman archaeological landscapes in Wales preserved under the turf and invisible on the surface.


'The forts are shown to be associated with roads, a civilian settlement and a possible bathhouse and the quality is remarkable.


'The site has the potential to enhance and possibly rewrite our understanding of the Roman conquest of Wales.'


Remains were initially discovered in 2003, but only now has it been brought to light just how large the settlement is.


Two overlapping Roman forts at the site almost certainly date to the 1st century AD.


The later fort was surrounded by an impressive set of defences. The earlier fort was even bigger and could be the largest garrison fort ever found in Wales.


The forthcoming dig is part of a project to restore the landscape of Dinefwr Park and Castle.


Gwilym Hughes, of Cambria Archaeology, said, 'The discovery could transform our understanding of the Roman conquest of South-West Wales and our intention is to determine the character of the buried archaeology through this work.


'Although we can tell a lot from the geophysical survey, excavation will provide the critical dating evidence from items such as coins and pottery that may confirm when the forts were built and abandoned.'


The organisation's Dr Nikki Cook added, 'We knew about the Roman settlements in the area, but this means the idea that most of the Welsh were happy about Roman occupation does not ring true.


'They wouldn't have had such a huge military facility, with the ability to contain so many legionaries, if they didn't need them.


'Most of the population were eventually Romanised, because there were a lot of benefits to it, but it may not be until a lot later than we had thought.'


Tony Robinson and the Time Team will be filming live from the excavation on July 2 and 3 as part of their 'Big Roman Dig' week.


There will also be two public open days, on Saturday, July 9, and Saturday, July 16.



Major excavation at Roman forts 


The forts have been discovered at Dinefwr Park

Three weeks of digging to excavate what could be the largest Roman garrison fort in Wales start on Monday.

The site, which dates from the first century AD, was first found at Dinefwr Park, near Llandeilo, in 2003.


Experts said the south Wales discovery could rewrite our understanding of the Roman conquest in the area.


Recent surveys confirmed the site, which is invisible from the surface, is much larger than first thought and is made up of two overlapping forts.


Emma Plunkett Dillon, archaeologist for the National Trust in Wales, said their teams would be digging nine trenches across the site.


"It is lifting the lid off selected areas of part of the site, to determine the character of what is buried beneath the soil because there is nothing to see on the surface," she said.


  Excavation will provide the critical dating evidence from items such as coins and pottery


Gwilym Hughes, Cambria Archaeology


"We are all very excited about what we have discovered, and we look forward to taking the investigation a bit further.


"In work in 2003, we discovered a small fort, with sides about 100m in length - and we found just a small section - a tantalising hint - of a much bigger structure which appeared to be beneath this smallish fort."


Ms Plunkett Dillon said they think the larger fort, which underlies the smaller one, is around 3.9 hectares in size.


She said that, as well as the forts, the site also contained a civilian settlement, two roads, a possible bath house and "other enigmatic structures which we have yet to explain".


'Unique opportunity'


She added that the site could mean that the Roman conquest could be "a much more complicated story than has hitherto been understood".


"The discovery of this much larger structure really makes us all very excited, and makes us think we have discovered a different chapter, or a different interpretation into the invasion of south west Wales," she said.


Gwilym Hughes of Cambria Archaeology, which is undertaking the archaeological work in partnership with the National Trust, said the excavation was "a unique opportunity".


"Excavation will provide the critical dating evidence from items such as coins and pottery that may confirm when the forts were built and abandoned," he said.


There will be two open days at the site on 9 July and 16 July.



The strange case of the woman left hanging

THE skeleton of a woman executed by hanging around 800AD and left suspended by her feet has been found in the county.


Archaeologists made the discovery at a Saxon site being excavated in Kings Meadow Lane, Higham Ferrers.

An analysis of the skeleton has been carried out by Oxford Archaeology, the largest independent archaeological practice in Europe.

It is believed the woman was of high status and was killed amid an unsettling political period following the death of a Mercian king who had ruled Higham Ferrers.

A book called The Roots Of An English Town, published by Oxford Archaeology, and the latest edition of BBC History Magazine, due out on Tuesday, both tell the story of the find.

BBC History's editor Dave Musgrove said: "Skeletons are found regularly in England but so much can be shown from this one. We are suggesting that the woman might have been executed as political reprisal after the death of the Mercian King Offa.

"Higham Ferrers at the time was the Royal Estate belonging to the Mercian king."

Annsofie Witkin, from Oxford Archaeology, worked on the excavation which took place between 1994 and 2003.

She said: "The skeleton was found in 2003. The head, neck and both arms were missing.

"Her legs were tightly folded up against her body, as though they were bound.

"After her execution her body was suspended by her feet and then her head and arms."

Paul Blackhouse is responsible for the book which is available from Higham Ferrers Bookshop and most county libraries, costing £6,50.

He said: "The body splits at a certain point when hanging. The bones were examined and the skeleton had fully separated in a particular way."

Oxford Archaeology will reveal its finds at a Roman site in Kings Meadow Lane, Higham Ferrers, in a book due to be published in two years.


25 June 2005




10:30 - 25 June 2005


Treasure hunter Christopher Baker is now the proud owner of a seventh-century sword hilt he found in a field - which could be worth £100,000.


Mr Baker discovered the sword hilt - which is made of gold and encrusted with jewels - while he was using a metal detector in a field 10 miles from Lincoln.


The hilt, thought to have belonged to a high ranking Anglo-Saxon warrior from the ancient Kingdom of Lindsey, has been declared treasure at an inquest.


It will now be valued by the British Museum in London - which is then expected to decide to keep it and pay compensation to Mr Baker.


Unemployed Mr Baker (36), who has been metal-detecting since he was 10, will split the proceeds with Kevin Walker, the owner of the land.


"The field was alongside a Roman road and close to a stream, so there was always a chance that something would be there," said Mr Baker, of Queen Mary Road, Ermine, Lincoln. He said the hilt had been found in six pieces.


"I found the first two pieces together and kept searching in the same area," he said.


"Within a week I had found all the pieces - all of them were eight to 10 inches down. They were only 10ft from the stream. One reason they might have been there is that swords were often thrown into rivers as offerings."


Mr Baker made the find in October 2002 and first took the pieces to Scunthorpe Museum.


The pieces were passed on to the British Museum, which identified them and indicated it would be interested in purchasing them after a treasure trove inquest.


Lincoln Coroner Roger Atkinson has now declared the items treasure after a 20-minute hearing and said they were "obviously interesting and very highly valued".


Angela Care-Evans, a curator at the British Museum, described some aspects of the find as "unique" in the context of Anglo-Saxon discoveries.


"The parts of the hilt are up to 86 per cent gold and decorated with garnet gemstones, indicating the sword was made for someone of high status," she said.


Kevin Leahy, an Anglo-Saxon specialist at Scunthorpe Museum, who also examined the hilt, said: "It's a very important and very exciting discovery.


"The sword belonged to a warrior who was a member of the ruling elite - probably even a king. It's a super object - absolutely breathtaking.


"We have very few swords of this quality from this period.


"It is a superb and important discovery that compares with the very best in Europe."


The British Museum has yet to put a final valuation on the find, but experts have suggested it could be worth anything up to six figures.


The exact location of the find is being kept secret to protect the site, which was recently featured on the BBC programme Hidden Treasures.



Sleuths join ancient dig Jun 23 2005

By Ron Quenby, Daily Post


MERSEYSIDE and Cheshire police have joined diggers at an archaeological site to learn how to identify burial plots and handle skeletons.


Teams of crime scene investigators have helped retrieve scores of skeletons at the remains of a medieval chapel where a 5,000-year-old wooden ritual circle similar to Stonehenge has been discovered.


The unique partnership - the brainchild of Bernard Roberts, Head of Forensic Investigations at Cheshire Police - is designed to give the CSIs hands-on experience.


Techniques picked up during courses run for them specially at the dig at Poulton near Chester will help the police experts in locating and then preserving buried bodies in murder investigations.


They are being taught by site director Mike Emery and his colleagues how to:


Identify burial plots by reading the signs of previously disturbed ground


Use ground penetration radar to show them how far they can dig without disturbing a body


Follow rules when lifting a skeleton. There is a precise order in which the bones should be lifted


Preserve the skeleton properly, so it is not damaged for the post mortem.


Mr Roberts said: "The course gives the CSIs a learning experience and is of great practical use. Previously, if we found a body in an underground location, we would have to buy in archaeological expertise to help us maximise the evidence. Now our staff will have the practical knowledge themselves.




Revealed: our friends the Romans did not invade Britain after all

Astonishing new archaeological finds reveal they were already our countrymen 50 years before Claudius spun his way into the history books. Steve Bloomfield reports

26 June 2005


The history of Britain will have to be rewritten. The AD43 Roman invasion never happened - and was simply a piece of sophisticated political spin by a weak Emperor Claudius.


A series of astonishing archaeological findings of Roman military equipment, to be revealed this week, will prove that the Romans had already arrived decades earlier - and that they had been welcomed with open arms by ancient Britons.


The discovery of swords, helmets and armour in Chichester, Sussex, dates back to a period between the late first century BC and the early first century AD- almost 50 years before the supposed invasion. Archaeologists who have studied the finds believe it will turn conventional Roman history taught in schools on its head. "It is like discovering that the Second World War started in 1938," said Dr David Rudkin, a Roman expert leading the work.


The discoveries in Sussex will be revealed on Saturday during a Time Team special on Channel 4 analysing the Roman invasion. Tony Robinson, presenter of Time Team, said: "One of the frustrating things with history is that things become set in stone. We all believe it to be true. It is great to challenge some of the most commonly accepted pieces of our history."


Dr Francis Pryor, president of the Council for British Archaeology, said it would prove controversial. "It turns the conventional view taught in all the textbooks on its head," he said. "It is going to cause lively debate among Roman specialists."


The AD43 Roman invasion is one of the best-known events in British history. More than 40,000 Roman soldiers are believed to have landed in Richborough, Kent, before carving their way through the English countryside.


The evidence unearthed in Sussex overturns this theory. Archaeologists now believe that the Romans arrived up to 50 years earlier in Chichester. They were welcomed as liberators, overthrowing a series of tyrannical tribal kings who had been terrorising clans across southern England.


Sussex and Hampshire became part of the Roman Empire 50 years before the invasion that historians have always believed was the birth of Roman Britain.


The findings and their implications will be published by Dr Rudkin later this year. The discoveries have centred on Fishbourne Roman Palace in Sussex. Artefacts found there in a V-shaped ditch include part of a copper alloy sword scabbard fitting that archaeologists have dated to the period between the late first century BC and early first century AD.


Dr Miles Russell, a senior archaeologist at Bournemouth University who has studied the evidence, said: "All this talk of the Romans arriving in AD43 is just wrong. We get so fixated on the idea of a single invasion. It is far more piecemeal. In Sussex and Hampshire they were in togas and speaking Latin five decades before everyone else."


According to Dr Russell, it was in Emperor Claudius's interest to "spin" the invasion of AD43 as a great triumph against strong opposition. Claudius had become emperor two years earlier but his position following the death of Caligula was tenuous. A bold military adventure to expand the empire would tighten Claudius's grip in Rome and prove his credentials as a strong leader.


"Every period of history has its own spin doctors, and Claudius spun the invasion to look strong," Dr Russell said. "But Britain was Roman before Claudius got here."


Julius Caesar first tried to conquer Britain during the Iron Age in 55BC, but storms on the journey from Boulogne, in France, to Dover caused Caesar's two legions to turn back. A force of five legions tried again in May 54BC and landed in Dover before marching towards London, defeating Cassivellaunus the King of Catuvellauni in Hertfordshire. News of an impending rebellion in Gaul caused Caesar to retreat, but not before he had made his mark.


Britain at this stage in history was not one unified country, rather some 25 tribes often at war with each other. Not all tribes joined the coalition to fight Caesar. For example, the Trinovantes appealed to Caesar to protect them from Cassivellaunus who had run a series of raids into their territory.


Dr Francis Pryor said that the findings in Sussex prove that relationships between tribes in southern England and the Romans continued after Caesar's attempted invasion. "The suggestion that they arrived in Chichester makes plenty of sense. We were a pretty fierce force but the Romans had a relatively easy run. This would have been a liberation of a friendly tribe - not an invasion."


Oxford historian Dr Martin Henig, a Roman art specialist, said that the whole of southern England could have been a Roman protectorate for nearly 50 years prior to the AD43 invasion. "There is a possibility that there were actually Roman soldiers based in Britain during the whole period from the end of the first century BC," he said.


Time Team will unveil their findings in a live two-hour special on Saturday evening on Channel 4. It will form part of the biggest ever archaeological examination of Roman Britain running over eight days and involving hundreds of archaeologists at sites across Britain. The series will investigate every aspect of the Romans' rule of Britain, from the supposed invasion to their departure 400 years later.