Pindus reveals its prehistoric past

Team of archaeologists discovers Paleolithic remnants in several areas of central Greek range

The Greek-Italian team has found 25 Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic sites on the peaks of Mt Smolikas.

By Iota Myrtsioti - Kathimerini


The Pindus mountain range that runs down the middle of mainland Greece has revealed further interesting archaeological finds. In total, excavations taking place over the past three years have unearthed 25 Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic locations nestled in the high peaks of Mt Smolikas, the lakes of Valia Calda and along small paths.


Farming tools found at the sites confirmed that the mountains of central Greece, which have not been extensively examined from an archaeological perspective, have many interesting things to yield, while also contributing to a shift in views about the role mountainous communities had in the overall history of the country.


The excavations that brought these finds to light were the first to be held at such a high altitude — 1,800 meters — in Greece. Conducted by a team of Greek and Italian archaeologists — Prehistoric Archaeology Professor Paolo Biagi from the University of Venice, specialist Dr Vassiliki Elefandi and Associate Professor Nikos Efstratiou from the University of Thessaloniki — they have opened a new chapter in history.


Shifting views


“The overriding opinion in [Greek] archaeology up to now was that groups of Paleolithic hunter/gatherers, as well as the first Neolithic farmers and livestock farmers were restricted to the plains and low altitudes,” explained Efstratiou.


“Furthermore, taking into account the fact that even the most well-known mountainous Paleolithic locations — such as at the Vikos Gorge in Epirus — are no higher than 600 meters, the results of these excavations have been very surprising indeed,” he added.


The team’s efforts began somewhat tentatively some three years ago. Examining the areas in and around the villages of Samarina, Smixi, Philippi, Polynerio, Panorama and Lavda, around small lakes and passes on foot, the team found numerous open prehistoric sites that contained signs of their very ancient past, such as shards of stone tools. Around the area of Samarina, they found evidence suggesting the resting places of nomadic groups from the mid-Paleolithic period, while it is even possible that these groups were Neanderthals.


“We found what little there was left of camps and places where hunters stopped to rest or spend the night near springs, or constructing tools near sources of flint.


“The chronological order of these sites reveals that these few and constantly moving Paleolithic and Mesolithic groups roved the Pindus range until 8000 BC following prey such as deer, boar and hares. There is also evidence of Neolithic hunters who, as early as 7000 BC, began leaving their permanent villages, their livestock and fields on the plains and headed into the mountains occasionally to hunt.”


What is interesting is that many of these locations were found at passes still used by herders and livestock farmers today.


“One of the most attractive things about these excavations in the Pindus is the fact that we can see that the practices of the people who live here go back thousands of years,” says Efstratiou. “The Paleolithic and Neolithic gatherers that moved around in search of materials to produce tools gave way to occasional farmers from nearby settlements on the plains who went into the mountains to hunt and gather berries and seeds. Today, we have the nomadic livestock farmers who continue to give life to the mountains of Western Macedonia.”



South Carolina

Posted on Sat, Aug. 06, 2005

Unearthing the past, looking to the future

Pieces of history


Staff Writer


When Croatan Chief Ricky Bruner had timber cleared for his property this year, arrowheads fell from the roots.


That’s when he knew he had discovered a piece of history.


Bruner discovered artifacts that belonged to a different tribe that lived on the property as many as 10,000 years ago.


Bruner, also known to many as Chief Running Wolf, had been clearing the land for construction of an outdoor American Indian museum.


Now, he plans to house the artifacts being found on the property in the museum.


This week, a team of archaeologists from North Carolina were excavating the 10-acre tract in Orangeburg.


“The oldest stuff is around 8,000 to 10,000 years old,” said Bobby Southerlin, president and archaeologist at Archaeological Consultants of the Carolinas Inc.


Among the artifacts found were several generations of arrowheads, bits of pottery and part of a knife.


“What we really hope to find is a fire pit or the groundwork of a house,” he said.


Southerlin didn’t know which American Indian tribe had left the artifacts.


There were also European artifacts, such as pipe fragments and fired musket balls from more recent history.


The musket balls “were shot in a cluster,” Southerlin said. “You wouldn’t normally expect that. I’m wondering if there could have been fighting here, like the Revolution.”


Southerlin and his team returned Friday to North Carolina. Once they finish examining the pieces in the lab, they may return to excavate more of the site.


Wilbur Cutter, 10, a member of the Croatan tribe, was helping.


“This is basically the first archaeological dig I’ve been to,” he said.


The dig is “very interesting. I get to find a lot of artifacts dealing with our culture.”


The outdoor museum is expected to be completed in two to three years. It will include a cultural center, a powwow arena and a living village.


“This way, we are preserving and protecting” the site, he said. “It also brings in tourism.”


Reach Smith at (803) 771-8597 or cesmith@thestate.com.



Italian lake yields Stone Age canoe

(ANSA) - Rome, August 7

Italian archaeologists have uncovered a Stone Age canoe like those probably used by Europe's first farmers at a lake near Rome .


The 8,000-year-old pirogue - a canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk - was discovered on the bed of Lake Bracciano at a depth of just 12 metres .


The lake is a popular destination for modern-day Romans who go there during summer weekends to swim, sunbathe or hire a pedal boat when they want to avoid the crowded beaches on the coast .


The experts who carried out the excavation, led by local Prehistory Superintendent Antonietta Fugazzola Delpino, said the find will reveal a great deal about Neolithic sailing and boat-building .


Archaeologists think the Stone Age inhabitants of the area did not use pirogues just to move around Lake Bracciano - a large expanse of water filling an enormous volcanic crater. They say they were also used to take to the high seas .


Indeed, some argue Europe's first farmers arrived from the more advanced Near East by sea in these canoes. Their arrival ushered in the Neolithic Age as it changed the hunting and fishing societies bordering on the Mediterranean into agricultural ones. The founders of the Neolithic village of Marmotta, the site the pirogue was found at, are thought to have been among the first to make this trip .


The settlers probably chose this area because, with the lake and surrounding forest, there was plenty of food and wood for boats and houses .


Marmotta was a huge village-on-stilts at the time - a sort of Neolithic Venice. Archaeologist say something mysterious happened in the 53rd century BC and the settlement was abandoned .


As well as boats, underwater excavations have uncovered a wide variety of tools, ceramics and utensils in recent years .


Only a fraction of the village has been excavated so far. The pirogue, which is 9.5 metres long, is not complete. This has led experts to surmise there was a boat yard in the area at the time .


A similar vessel was found in the lake in 1994 .


The new find is currently being treated with special substances to conserve it, now that it has been taken from the muddy home which looked after it so long. Officials said the pirogue will be officially presented to the press in September, at the opening of a new archaeological centre. "The restoration will be undertaken by a specialist firm," said Carmelo Capone, an executive councillor of the nearby town of Anguillara .


"But it will be possible to organize special visits and school excursions, so people can see the restorers at work." 



Published: 12th August 2005 10:20 CET

Swedish Iron Age burial ground discovered

Archaeologists digging near Strömnäsbruk in Småland have uncovered a burial ground with some twenty graves thought to date back to the Iron Age.


"We didn't expect to find so many," said Alexandra Nylén who, with her colleague from the Småland museum, Peter Skoglund, has been working in the area for the last two weeks.


"The grave field shows that there was a permanent settlement with cultivation here in the Iron Age, from 500 BC to 500 AD. This is from the end of the Iron Age," she said.


The archaeologists knew that there was a so-called 'ship's barrow', a type of grave with a large stone on top, at the location. But the dig revealed many other graves identified by piles of stones.


"This gives a new aspect to the history of this area," said Alexandra Nylén.


The local council must now decide whether to perform a thorough investigation of the area and whether to keep the settlement as it is.



Ancient Roman temple found

 Digs are in the same area where busts of Caesar,Titus found

(ANSA) - Rome, August 10 - An ancient Roman temple dating to the first or second century AD has been unearthed by archaeologists in the southern island of Pantelleria .


They have already dug up a three-metre portion of one of the walls of the temple, situated on a hill known as Cossyria .


In ancient times Pantelleria was a major trading and cultural crossroads between Italy, Africa, Greece and Asia Minor .


It had a flourishing Roman colony whose wealth and sophistication have produced rich pickings for archaeologists .


The archaeologists hit gold in the same area two years when they brought to light the marble busts of Caesar, the emperor Titus and a high-born court lady .


The busts were in an extraordinary state of preservation, allowing them to be immediately identified .


However, there are still some lingering doubts about whether the woman's head is that of Antonia Minor or her daughter-in-law Agrippina Major, since female sculpture in the early imperial age differed from the lifelike images produced for men .


Instead, models of ideal beauty were preferred, topped with the elaborate and trendy hairstyles that were in vogue among the aristocratic women of the time .


The woman's head is therefore without doubt that of an important member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (14-68 AD), but there is still a slight question mark as to whether it is Agrippina, daughter of the Emperor Claudius .



Medieval wine cellars found in Georgia

Aug. 11, 2005 at 11:51PM

Medieval wine cellars, a grape press and the remains of an irrigation system have been excavated along a pipeline in southern Georgia.

      Novosti reports the discovery has halted work on a section of the South Caucasian pipeline linking the cities of Baku, Tbilisi, and Erzurum. Construction will resume once archaeologists are finished with the site.

      Vakhtang Licheli, the archaeologist supervising the work, said the functional grape press and other finds shed a lot of light on early winemaking in the region.

      A total of $2 million has been allocated for archaeological exploration along the South Caucasian gas pipeline and an oil pipeline between Baku, Tbilisi and Ceyhan.




Medieval cliff cemetery unearthed 


Polly Groom with one of the stone lined graves found at the site

A medieval cemetery, along with remains of some of those buried there, have been unearthed near cliffs in Pembrokeshire.

Archaeologists are now speculating the site at West Angle Bay may house an even older burial ground and possibly the remains of an ancient chapel.


They believe the cemetery dates back to around 900 to 1000 AD but are waiting for the results of carbon dating tests.


Students from Cardiff University helped with the excavation.


  The graves are inter-cutting each other so the cemetery was obviously in use for some time and was getting quite full


Polly Groom, archaeologist


The team started the dig two weeks ago after a skeleton was found close to the cliff face.


It had long been thought the site was home to a pre-Norman cemetery but Pembrokeshire Coast National Park archaeologist Polly Groom said they did not get off to a promising start.


"Our initial investigations, close to the cliff bank where stone graves had originally been noted, did not reveal anything," she explained.


"When we moved to a new location a little further from the cliff we made several significant discoveries."


She said they found at least six stone-lined graves and believe both adults and children were buried there.



The dig took place on the cliff-top at West Angle bay


"The graves are inter-cutting each other so the cemetery was obviously in use for some time and was getting quite full," she said.


Ms Groom said why the site was chosen for a cemetery was "the million dollar question".


"We've got some evidence, but it is very early to say, that it was already an existing cemetery site so what we are speculating is that there was an earlier cemetery there so it was already seen as a holy site.


"It is possible that some remains of the chapel building is still there.


"There is so much local legend that there was a chapel there it would be lovely to prove or disprove that."


The dig, a joint project between the National Park and Cambria Archaeology, was funded by Cadw.


The site is now being backed filled but the team hope to return for further investigation.




The medical world of medieval monks 

By Jane Elliott

BBC News 


All that remains of the hospital

Anaesthetics and disinfectants are thought to be a modern medical invention but evidence is coming to light that medieval doctors knew of them too.


Evidence found at the ancient Soutra Hospital site, in Scotland, suggests the medieval Augustine monks also knew how to amputate limbs, fashion surgical instruments, induce birth, stop scurvy and even create hangover cures.


The excavations at Soutra have also unearthed fragments of pottery vessels that were once used for storing medicines such as an analgesic salve made from opium and grease and treatment for parasitic and intestinal worms.


Dressings have also been found, some still with salves or human tissues attached and the scientists have discovered a mixture of Quicklime (calcium oxide) which scientists believe was used as a disinfectant and a deodorant.




The hospital, high in the Lammermuir Hills, near Edinburgh, was dedicated to looking after the poor, travellers and pilgrims as well as the sick and infirm.


Dr Brian Moffat archeo-ethno-pharmocologist and director of investigations for the Soutra Project, studies clumps of seeds from the site.


  We are in the unprecedented position to evaluate this system of medicine recipe by recipe - and ask, did all of it - or any of it - work?


Dr Brian Moffat


He said the scientists trawl literature of the period to try and identify remedies the herbs could have been used to create.


They then search the site to find medical waste evidence to support their theories.


He said that, using these methods, they had made a number of extremely significant finds and are regularly turning up new evidence about how ailments were treated during medieval times.


"We reckon we have stumbled upon a means of reconstructing medical practices."




He said that the methods used were considered controversial by some archaeologists, because they do not find direct evidence of the medicine in use, but their findings were always corroborated by other experts.


When ergot fungus and juniper berry seeds were found at Soutra scientists were intrigued about their use.


Searching the historical texts suggests they were used to help induce birth, despite a ban on men in holy orders assisting in any aspect of childbirth.


"When we looked at the site we found the still-born bodies of malnourished babies nearby so it is impossible not to link them," Dr Moffat said.


  We began to think that the watercress was being used to ease scurvy


Dr Brian Moffat


"There was a ban on men in holy orders from interfering in childbirth, so any pregnant woman was left in the hands of an experienced village woman, but this would have been unacceptable to certain powerful people who wanted their wife or daughter to be looked after by physicians."


Another find revealed clumps of watercress lying close to a pile of teeth.


"There was no sign of forcible extractions on the tooth.


"So we searched the waste to see what might have been thrown out alongside the teeth and we found a small mass of watercress.


"We realised that watercress is very rich in vitamin C and we began to think that the watercress was being used to ease scurvy.


"Then we found one of the medieval texts which said loose teeth can be 'fastened or secured' by eating watercress.


"We consulted the World Health Organization who confirmed that a boost of vitamin C would stop teeth falling out from a bout of scurvy."


"They had noticed that scurvy is reversible if they took certain vitamins."




One of the exciting finds was of the abundance of hemlock in the drains. Scientists think the monks had used this as a painkiller before carrying out amputations.


Next to this they found the remains of the heel bone of a man.


Tony Busettil, regus professor of forensic medicine at Edinburgh University who corroborated the Soutra find, said the bone had ridges on it, which indicated that the man had walked on the side of his foot.


"It showed that the person appears to have had a limp so they could have been suffering from some sort of congenital palsy.


"Next to it they found evidence of very strong pain killers."


Dr Moffat said the monks' knowledge of herbs was so great it could be used to influence medicine today.


"You would not bother with strange plants at a monastery unless they were going to be used and these medieval brothers knew what to do. They knew more about plants than anyone alive today," he added.




Archaeologists explore mystery ship




The ocean is often reluctant to reveal its mysteries, but archaeologists from both sides of the Atlantic are busy trying to unravel the secrets of an unknown wooden ship. The ship once measured 25 meters long by 10 meters wide and, although it was a merchant ship — possibly a British packet boat — it was fully armed with a cannon. Between 1740 and 1760, the ship crashed on the reef and foundered about two miles southwest of where Carysfort Light Tower sits today. Like many of the 1,000 or so shipwrecks off the Florida Keys, the name, nation and the details of its final moments are lost. It no longer sports cannon. In fact, just about everything that could identify this ship has been looted or washed away by time and tide. But the Anglo-Danish Maritime Archaeological Team, headed by co-founder and director Simon Q. Spooner, has laid out a grid along the wreck site where students of underwater archaeology have been surveying the bottom in an attempt to identify the ship. They hope to solve the riddle of the "Button Wreck," so named because a number of silver and pewter uniform buttons have been found amid the wreck debris. "It's like trying to piece together a giant, underwater, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle without a picture of the finished product," Spooner said Wednesday morning, just before holding his dive mask and dropping backwards off a boat to dive the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, offering 150 feet of horizontal visibility. Below, gathered in small working groups of two and three divers, archaeology students from Europe and the U.S. survey the wreck site under the direction of Spooner, who also teaches at Bristol University's Centre for Maritime Archaeology and History in England. Young archaeologists come to the Upper Keys for two weeks at a time and local residents house them. For many of the student volunteers having their lodging costs covered makes the trip financially possible. A grid of two-inch white and orange PVC pipe, coupled at the corners to form three-foot connected squares like a checker board, covers the bottom between anchored boats, all flying dive flags. On the bottom, divers gently brush away sand from between heavy timbers that have been recently exposed. The work is slow and the volunteers are meticulous, recording measurements on white, underwater slates. Spooner holds up a piece of bone that bears two knife marks. "Perhaps some sailor's last meal," he said. A long orange marker delineates the keelson of the ship. Spooner points out a lower bow assembly and the pump well. Later he inspects a gudgeon, one of three steel fixtures that once connected the rudder to the ship. "We suspect this was an American vessel captured by the British and manned by a British crew," Spooner said. "We have found no diagnostic artifacts that would help identify it. Apparently local leeches [looters] have paid a visit." But Spooner said teaching budding maritime archaeologists is his primary educational purpose. "We find that archaeology students were not getting the hands-on experience that they really need, so we started a non-profit [organization] in order to try to identify these historically precious artifacts and encourage the next generation," he said. "Just because they're British or French or Spanish ships doesn't mean they are not an integral part of your American historical heritage. After all, they wrecked in your waters." Spooner praised local volunteers as well, saying his programs are funded through grants alone. He noted the efforts of J.J. Kennedy, a retired airline pilot who was familiar with the wreck site and volunteers his time and his boat to provide support for the project. When the study has concluded Spooner will report his findings to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. He said ADMAT will provide interim reports before a final report is issued in about two years. He said those reports will be provided to the Florida Archives so that future students would be able to read them. Steve Beckwith, the sanctuary's Upper Keys manager, drove a group of journalists to the wreck site Wednesday and introduced them to Bruce Terrell, a senior archaeologist for the sanctuary, who was there for technical assistance. Terrell is responsible for issuing permits to survey wreck sites in the sanctuary and said he fully supports Spooner's work. "Not only do we want to preserve the natural resources within the sanctuary, it is important to also preserve the archaeological resources such as the great wrecks off our coasts," he said. "Part of our Marine Heritage Program is to manage historical resources such as the Button Wreck. "People are fascinated by archaeology and history, so we want to bring in new people who want to read the past." Terrell said the wreck was found in the 1960s by treasure hunters. It was lost again until Jimmy Longendyke located it in the 1970s. Terrell said sand shifts in the wake of storms and can bury shipwrecks for many years until they are uncovered once more.




Archaeologists Seek Buried NYC Settlement

By RICHARD PYLE, Associated Press Writer

Wed Aug 10, 4:55 PM ET


NEW YORK - Archaeologists are digging with electronic fingers into the soil of Central Park to learn more about Seneca Village, a vanished 19th-century settlement of poor folks — blacks, Irish immigrants and others — that existed before the park landscapers arrived in the 1850s.


A team of scientists from Barnard College and City College of New York launched the two-day effort Wednesday, using ground-penetrating radar to probe selected areas of the site that once covered roughly two blocks and was home to as many as 260 people.


The radar, or GPR, transmits ultra high-frequency radio impulses into the ground that are reflected back by buried objects or differences in rock density to form a digital image on a screen, without any physical disturbance of the site. Pulling the wheeled device along like a little red wagon, a GPR technician can probe as far as 15 feet below the surface.


The five-acre site that was the heart of the village was previously probed last fall, when 100 core-sample borings down to three inches recovered pieces of ceramics, glass, pipe stems and other items reflective of daily life of the time, and narrowed the area to be examined further.


"We are trying to get a sense of how people lived in what was really a middle class African-American settlement of the mid-19th century," said Nan Rothschild, a Barnard archaeologist and co-director of the project, as the GPR equipment surveyed an area marked off in a grid with white tape. The project is sponsored by the schools.


She said any decisions to physically excavate the site would be based on what the radar discovered.


"Seneca Village has always been a part of the history of the park, and we are always interested in more information, but that is far down the road," said Linda Blumberg, vice president for communications at the Central Park Conservancy, which manages the park.


The "noninvasive" GPR technology has been used in recent years in many archaeological explorations around the globe, including Port Royal, Jamaica, destroyed by a 1692 earthquake, lost cemeteries and battlefields of various wars. The U.S. military uses it in MIA crash site searches in Indochina, and ground-penetrating radar also has been used to locate buried land mines.


Often described as one of several "squatters camps" of huts and shacks that were displaced by the building of Central Park, Seneca Village actually was a more permanent and well-ordered community, with three churches, a school and some inhabitants who owned their property, experts now say.


Although founded by free blacks, it later became a multiethnic settlement that included Irish and German immigrants and possibly some native Americans, according to various historical sources.


A show in 1997 at the New-York Historical Society and a 1992 book, "The Park and the People," by Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar, traced Seneca Village to about 1825 when 18 lots were acquired by two free blacks.


In 1856, the city, through eminent domain, displaced some 1,600 people from the 843-acre area destined to become Central Park, including Seneca Village, which stood on the west side between what is now Central Park West and the Great Lawn. Property owners were paid but did not attempt to re-establish the village.




Archaeologist in plea to save the Maze from bulldozers

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent

Friday August 12, 2005

The Guardian


Aerial view of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. The site is the size of a small town. Photograph: PA


It is one of the most notorious prisons in Europe, soon to be transformed into a sports stadium to host football matches for the London Olympics.

But a British archaeologist warns today that the multimillion-pound redevelopment of the Maze prison in Northern Ireland will see hundreds of acres of buildings bulldozered before crucial historical research has been carried out.


Laura McAtackney of Bristol University argues in British Archaeology magazine that the Maze "remains in limbo, at an uncomfortable crossroads between the present and past, between history and heritage".


The prison, which housed some of Northern Ireland's toughest paramilitaries, saw political protest, gun murder and the death of ten republican hunger-strikers.

The site, which is the size of a small town, is to be developed into a sports complex. Fifteen acres of the 365-acre site will become the International Centre for Conflict Transformation, preserving isolated fragments including the hospital building where hunger-strikers died and a section of perimeter wall.


Ms McAtackney acknowledges the politics surrounding the Maze's future but says lack of access has thwarted proper historical research.


Although the last prisoners left four years ago, the prison is still under high security. "There has been limited academic investigation, and few have had unlimited access," Ms McAtackney warns.


She says that the "piecemeal" remains to be kept for the new centre will "create a collection of isolated artifacts" - but not enough to create a comprehensive history.


Around 100 acres of the site have not been allocated a new purpose and will not be used for 15-20 years.They have also been ordered to be "cleared and decontaminated".


"Why clear such an iconic site, much discussed but little researched or understood, before necessity dictates?" Ms McAtackney asks.


Her argument comes as Northern Ireland debates what to do with the architectural legacy of the Troubles while post-ceasefire society rushes to reinvent itself.




Introducing the September/October issue of British Archaeology


Stories embargoed until publication day Friday August 12

We can provide full texts and further contacts (see end)




Artefacts of fear – and why we should preserve them

As peace comes to Northern Ireland, over 300 buildings at HM Prison Long Kesh/Maze – home of the infamous H Blocks – stand empty. A consultation panel has recommended demolition of all but a select sample.

Laura McAtackney asks, why the haste?


LRM McAtackney, department of Archaeology, Bristol University






*           We send Sir Bernard Crick the Amazing Pop-Up Stonehenge

“In the beginning of history… [Celtic tribes] built Stonehenge and their priests were the Druids”. This was a theory invented by John Aubrey in the 17th century. To help the citizenship panel get up to date, British Archaeology has sent chair Sir Bernard Crick a copy of English Heritage’s new Amazing Pop-Up Stonehenge


*           Stone plaque is first neolithic face in over a century

Excavations at Rothley Lodge Farm, Leicestershire, have uncovered a large neolithic pit (3000–2000BC) containing thousands of artefacts, amongst them a unique stone plaque engraved with a human face


Patrick Clay, director University of Leicester Archaeological Services


0116 252 2848


*           Requiem for a lost age

Conventional wisdom said medieval Christian graves held little interest for archaeologists. Now cemetery excavations revealing thousands of graves have shown an extraordinary world of fear, superstition, care and mourning. Roberta Gilchrist reports on a major new study


Professor Roberta Gilchrist, University of Reading



*           Saving Llangors crannog

A unique artificial island in a Welsh lake, built for a medieval royal hall, was threatened by changing lake levels and pleasure boat wakes. Engineers and archaeologists mounted an unprecedented rescue project


Gerry Wait and Simon Benfield, Gifford Consulting Engineers & Archaeologists, Southampton


023 8081 7500


Colin McKewan, Maritime Archaeological Research Consultants/MARC


*           Orkney dig first to date gold and amber jewellery

Archaeologists in Orkney excavating a barrow first explored 150 years ago have found gold and amber jewellery and human bone, offering a rare chance to radiocarbon date a classic rich grave of the early bronze age (2050–1500BC)


Jane Downes, department of archaeology, Orkney College


01856 569320


Alison Sheridan, head of early prehistory, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh


0131 247 4051


*           Silbury Hill to be saved?

After extensive research following a collapsed shaft at the Avebury World Heritage Site prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill, Wilts, English Heritage will reopen an old tunnel so that archaeological evidence can be fully recorded and the tunnel properly backfilled. Research had revealed that the tunnel, dug by archaeologists and the BBC in 1968–9, was threatening the mound’s structure and uniquely preserved evidence for ancient ecology


English Heritage press office

020 7973 3855



*           Artist and archaeologists explore ancient Scottish site

Artist Sara Bowler worked at the excavation of stone rows at Battle Moss, Caithness, placing specially cast glass blocks in areas of geophysical interest. Archaeologists say the art helped them understand the 4,000 year old stones


Sara Bowler, University College Falmouth


01326 253636


Kenneth Brophy, department of archaeology University of Glasgow


0141 330 4339


Amelia Pannett



*           Questioning the midget theory of history

In his regular Science column, Sebastian Payne says it is a myth that people in the past were much shorter than us. Height can be estimated within an inch or so using longbone measurements. Changes in this country in the past 6,000 years have been slight


Sebastian Payne, chief scientist English Heritage


0207 973 3321

07889 808 183


*           Fay Godwin

In one of her last interviews, the photographer spoke to British Archaeology about Avebury, Bill Brandt, English Heritage and the photos that archaeologists take


*           Converting the British landscape

A church and houses surrounded by fields with woods and moorland beyond – the archetypal British village. Yet Roman and prehistoric countrysides were quite different. Sam Turner argues a key force for change was the new religion: Christianity




*           On the web

Excavation diaries on the internet and a new site for Isle of Skye dig

*           In view

Autopsy on Time Team’s Big Roman Dig

*           Spoilheap

Archaeological gossip you may have missed

*           Books

Our choice is a book that re-invents the Dark Ages

*           Opinion

Olympics 2012 is a unique opportunity for British archaeology

*           Briefing

The comprehensive listing of archaeological activities, with exhibition news

*           Letters

Peter Fowler on Hadrian’s Wall erosion and the footnote scandal

*           Council for British Archaeology News

National Archaeology Week success and henge news


British Archaeology magazine

The largest, brightest, most forward-looking and talked about UK archaeology magazine ever published


Mike Pitts, editor


09740 591422


Archaeologists reveal signs of bloodier times for Western Isles

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered a medieval fortified settlement on a sea stack on the Western Isles, it was revealed today.


A team of archaeologists from the University of Glasgow made the finding on the north-east coast of the Isle of Lewis. They believe the natural fortification is evidence of bloodier times for the site's history.


The researchers think the discovery of musket balls, a lookout tower and a defensive wall around the perimeter of the island point to battles between the rival clans of Morrison and Macaulay.


Rising out of the Atlantic, the inter-tidal sea stack Dun Eistean is thought to have been the stronghold of the Clan Morrison during the late medieval period, between 400 and 800 years ago.


Rachel Barrowman and her team found a square tower buried beneath a mound of rubble during a recent dig at the site. The tower is situated on the highest point of the stack and looks out across the Minch, the rough waters between the islands and mainland.



"The square tower was probably a lookout, defending the settlement on the stack," Barrowman said. "Excavations have begun to uncover evidence for the bloodier episodes in the site's history, including finds of musket balls and a defensive wall around the perimeter of the island."


The team also discovered evidence of a gatehouse and other small buildings defending the entrance to the stack.


Historically and archaeologically the Western Isles in the medieval period differed from mainland Scotland, being culturally Scandinavian and politically part of Norway during the period 800 to 1300. With the demise of the Norse political control of the Hebrides in the 13th century, powerful competing clans emerged.


The local traditions and stories relating to Dun Eistean, and the rival clans of Morrison and Macaulay in particular, emerge from this volatile and often violent period in Lewis' history.


"The results from this first short season of excavation have been very promising and have confirmed the archaeological potential of the site," Barrowman noted.


"Further investigations are currently under way for the next six weeks, and a series of seminars will be held this winter in Ness, to provide a chance for all the specialists on the project to meet up and discuss the first year's results," she said.


This article: http://heritage.scotsman.com/news.cfm?id=1786432005


Last updated: 15-Aug-05 14:12 GMT