Excavation of Neolithic chambered tomb on Anglesey begins

ARCHAEOLOGY March 26, 2014


An archaeological excavation of Ynys Môn’s least known Neolithic chambered tomb – Perthi Duon, west of the village of Brynsiencyn on Anglesey – has begun.


The work is being carried out by a team from the Welsh Rock Art Organisation under the direction of Dr George Nash of the University of Bristol and Carol James.


Perthi Duon, considered to be the remains of a portal dolmen, is one of eighteen extant stone chambered monuments that stand within a 1.5 km corridor of the Menai Straits.


The antiquarian Henry Rowlands reports in 1723 that beneath the large capstone were three stones, possibly upright stones or pillars.  However, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the monument was in a ruinous state, incorporated into a north-south hedge boundary, itself now removed.


Perthi Duon was visited by the Reverend John Skinner, parish vicar and amateur archaeologist, during his ten day tour of Anglesey in 1802.  He sketched the site, then called Maen Llhuyd, and described how its cap stone and three supporters remained on the spot but had “long since been thrown prostate on the ground”.


For the current excavation, two trenches have been dug based on the results of a geophysical survey undertaken by the team in early 2012. The probable orientation of the entrance is east-west, with its concealed chamber at the western end.  During Neolithic times, the dead would have probably entered the monument via the small entrance, before being deposited within the chamber, either as a cremation or as disarticulated remains.


The international team of archaeologists have so far uncovered several significant features including areas of compacted-stone cairn that would once have formed a kidney-shaped mound, surrounding the chamber of the monument.


Team director, Dr George Nash said: “This discovery, along with other excavated features clearly show this monument to be a portal dolmen, one of the earliest Neolithic monument types in Wales, dating to around 3,500 BC.


“More importantly, the architecture of Perthi Duon appears to be a blueprint for other portal dolmen monuments within what is termed the Irish Sea Province.  We hope, by the end of this excavation to gain a better understanding of the burial and ritual practices that went on at this site, some 5,500 years ago.”

Header Image : Perthi Duon before 1960c – Credit : University of Bristol


Contributing Source : University of Bristol



Does An Ancient Tablet Tell the Real Story of Noah’s Ark?



As Darren Aronofsky and Russell Crowe unveil “Noah” in U.S. cinemas this week, British archaeologist Irving Finkel offers a new perspective on the story with his book “The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood.”


In his book, published in the U.S. by Doubleday, Finkel tells the story of how he managed to get his hands on a cuneiform tablet, which was part of the flood story. As a curator for the British Museum, he relies on members of the public bringing artifacts to him for inspection.


He was on duty one afternoon in 1985 when a man named Douglas Simmonds showed up “with a small collection of stuff. He poured it out on the table and asked me to have a look at it. It contained two or three pieces of cuneiform, lamps, coins, a few seals, a sort of miscellaneous group.”


There was also a virtually complete tablet, which Finkel assumed to be an ancient business letter. It was made of clay and about the size of a smartphone. “It turned out to be a piece of literature, which was obvious to be part of the floods story. It’s an important aspect of Mesopotamian literature and it circulates in more than one composition,” he said.


Think about it this way: Humans passing this story for hundreds of years and at some point in time an anonymous person putting it in writing and then other anonymous authors writing their own version of the story at different points in time.


“It would be something that would be copied and then recopied but the names of the contributors, the poets whose input was there was never recorded. All this literature is anonymous,” Mr. Finkel explains.


And there was a great discovery in the text, which was written roughly four thousand years ago. According to the scripture, “the instructions from the god were to build a boat which was round, the size of half of a [soccer] pitch and dimensions were given. This was an extraordinary matter. Sitting in the middle of London you don’t think that boats can be round but in ancient Iraq like in modern Iraq, they had many round boats.”


Based on this technical specifications, Mr. Finkel, who has worked at the British Museum since 1979, is now working with researchers on building a real version of the boat that resembles the specifications as close as possible. “They are building it and it’s something like half the size of the original,” says Mr. Finkel, who is going to India, where the boat is being built, the third week of April. “Sooner or later they are going to have to push into the sea and see what takes place.”


So is the version in the tablet that you saw a more polished one?


When you read it it is a finished piece of literature. And right in the middle of the narrative, which is a mythological story, you have a long run of text which is about technical matters with quantities of materials and what to do with them.


This might be the only factual bit of the story?


It might be the only factual bit of the story. My argument is that the story tellers regularly found themselves being asked by listeners who sometimes were rather impertinently and sometimes rather impatient because they would want to know about this stuff.


What do these discoveries of several version say about the flood story in the Bible?


By 2,000 BC there is a well-established written narrative about the flood story in Mesopotamia that there is more than one version in Mesopotamia and that the story itself originated there. This is a landscape where flooding is a general matter and it is flat. The impetus of the existence of the literary motif is based on a kind of tsunami situation in very remote times. When you look at them together from a literary point of view only, it seems to me that they are closely related.


Do several versions of the flood story question people’s faith?


This have nothing to do whatsoever with the matter of faith. I see this as a matter of literature and ideas.


How can you divide faith and religion? Isn’t faith based largely on literature?


Yes but in my view, real faith, which has built within it a grasp of ideas, can be communicated with crude language, poetic language. I wrote my book about this very carefully because I don’t think it tampers with anything to do with religious faith. Everybody must conceive when you read the Bible that there is internal evidence in many of its pages that the imagery or the forms of the words derives from something older.


What are some of the overlapping elements of imagery in the different versions of the story of the flood?


The whole topic of mankind as vulnerable and the gods for one reason or another deciding that they had enough of them and that they were going to destroy them and the use of water to bring this about and the last minute rescue by one man that collects all the species in a boat.


Like the Ark story, we have different version of how humans came about or their imminent destruction.


You have to collect all these versions together and lay them all one by one on the biggest possible table and then read them all and then see which one goes with which one and then you have a family tree probably.


What do these stories say about human interest and curiosity?


Man, wherever he is on the globe and probably since the beginning of time, has always had at the back of his mind questions which are never going to be possible to answer. This is the human condition.



Beachy Head Lady was young sub-Saharan Roman with good teeth, say archaeologists

By Ben Miller | 28 March 2014 | Updated: 27 March 2014


Was this Sussex’s first sub-Saharan resident? Heritage Officer Jo Seaman reveals the quest for the Beachy Head Lady in Eastbourne


 “We had over 300 different individuals – most skeletons, but some cremations. The idea was to go back through all those. We had some information about some of them but others we had nothing on.


They were held in the basement of the town hall, where I keep my archaeology collection. They came primarily from two main Saxon cemeteries that were excavated – one in particular had over 200 graves.


The majority were excavated between 1992 and 1996, on and off, but others were excavated way back in the 1890s and have been in the collection since then. The idea is to give back some sort of life story to each of those people.


During that process we came across two boxes which said ‘Beachy Head, something to do with 1956 or 1959’, and that was about it.


We opened it up and inside there was a very well-preserved human skeleton which, on initial inspection from our osteoarchaeologist, was a female, fairly small, sort of 5”1, 5ft, and fairly young.


She was intriguing because there were a number of elements about her which didn’t sort of fit. We X-rayed her jaw and we found that she was missing her wisdom teeth, for example.


That immediately made us a little bit worried because I suddenly thought, ‘uh-oh, if she’s had her wisdom teeth out she’s going to be fairly modern.’  And the fact that it said Beachy Head as well, we thought, ‘oh God, we’ve got some granny or aunt here.’ It seemed unlikely but it was a possibility.


We had also secured money to scientifically test about 12 of these individuals, both for radiocarbon dating and radio-isotope analysis, which could give us a place of origin for each person.


We spent about £12,000 to test 12 people fully. It’s quite a lot of money but it’s well worth it because you can get so much information out of those, down to their diet and everything.


Beachy Head Lady was an intriguing one because we knew nothing about her. With the others we generally knew where they’d been excavated. We even had fairly good records for some of them, particularly the ones from the ‘90s.


The other thing about the box that she was in was that it had an English Heritage label on it. We found that it had indeed gone there at some stage, but nobody had any record of any testing that she had had done to her.


She seemed to have been returned to the collection in the early 1990s. I did some investigating into the ‘50s and again drew a complete blank.


I went through coroners’ reports which again should show us anyone dug up, basically. I followed up a few reports about a body being dug up in an ex-army camp, but they all seemed to be false. We were left a bit stumped by her.


We thought, ‘let’s test her and follow the leads’. One of the first things that she was sent off for was facial reconstruction. She was so well-preserved.


The facial reconstruction was done by Caroline Wilkinson from Dundee University, one of the country’s foremost reconstructors. She doesn’t come cheap, but we thought this one individual was such a mystery that she had to become one of the main people we studied.


Straight away on seeing this girl, Caroline said, ‘oh my, you realise you’ve got a sub-Saharan African here?’


Our osteo hadn’t picked that up, but Caroline subsequently had it looked at by two more experts who agreed, without being prompted, that this individual showed so many traits of being a sub-Saharan African person.


They were 100% sure that this was the origin of this lady. There are certain features of the skull that you can tell are Caucasian or African.


We didn’t know her carbon date at that stage or anything about her, so again it just deepened the mystery. They reconstructed her, and as they did so her African origins came out in the features of her face.


At that stage it was a bit of a worry because we didn’t know anything about her. Obviously because of being African, depending on the time period that she lived in, she would have been either very rare or just worrying, because if she was 17th century onwards she was likely to have been a slave.


If she was earlier than that it was really interesting. As I say, the whole ethos behind this project was to give people stories.


The radiocarbon dating came back with a firm Roman date – around 200 or 250 AD. That was a relief. It’s not without precedent to find Africans from this date in Britain, such as the famous African bangle lady in York.


It was very rare and unusual, nonetheless. She’s sub-Saharan African – she’s not North African, which was part of the Roman Empire, so she’s beyond the Roman Empire, to the south.


We still couldn’t really say anything, because we were waiting to get the radio-isotope analysis back. We still didn’t actually know where she came from.


It said Beachy Head on there but we could find no evidence that she was from that area at all. She could have been from a Victorian collector who just said she was from Beachy Head. She could have been an African skeleton from Africa.


If she’d come back as African origin we wouldn’t have been able to say any more about her – that would have been it. But it came back as south-east England origin.


Even more intriguingly, she seems to be someone from the Eastbourne area, Roman, with very firm sub-Saharan ancestry. Whether that means that she’s first generation we don’t know. She could possibly have been born in Africa and brought over here at a very young age, but it’s just as likely that she was born here.


It’s a brilliant story straight away, but then you have the two camps: she was a slave or she wasn’t. There’s no way to prove either way at the moment, other than that the skeleton was very well preserved. She was obviously treated very well in the grave, because she was virtually complete.


Without seeing the grave, though, it’s very difficult to say much about her social status. Her teeth were in good nick, her bones were in good condition, but again, that doesn’t mean she was of higher status or a slave – it could be either. If she was a favoured slave she would be in pretty good condition.


Looking through 19th century reports of skeletons being dug up in the area, there is one intriguing one from 1891 which talks about three skeletons being excavated from a Roman cemetery. It said it was on the west side of Beachy Head, in the village of East Dean. We think we’ve identified exactly where that excavation was.


It mentions that one of the skeletons was found with a number of bangles on their arms. In Roman times that would mean a woman.


It doesn’t say anything about the skeleton, it just says the bangles were kept by the museum. But that museum was then bombed by the Germans in the Second World War and the bangles were lost.


If she is from there, which is possible, it could be the lady with the bangles, in which case she is probably of higher status and there’s gonna be an unknown Roman building nearby.


That hadn’t been on our radar. We think we know roughly where the cemetery is and hopefully later this year we’re gonna go and try to find it, just because we may be able to find other individuals there.


If we’re really, really lucky we may find another African if it’s a family buried there. That’s highly unlikely but it’s worth a go. If we find another burial of a similar age it may point to her coming from that cemetery.


The process we’ve had to go through has been amazing, intriguing and incredibly frustrating. You think you’ve suddenly made a breakthrough and then you realise you haven’t.


Probably the most moving part of it was when the facial reconstruction came back. When you actually see the face of someone that you’ve been investigating so carefully and you know that it is 75% accurate to two or three millimetres – that it is very likely to be a person who lived 2,000 years ago – you start really wondering.


I am quite hard-nosed when it comes to skeletons. I’ve come across a lot of them and worked with lots of them. I don’t get emotionally attached to them, I’m not ultra-religious or anything so I don’t sort of have a spiritual belief which links me to them.


But as an archaeologist, when you’re excavating skeletons, sometimes you do go through these moments where you suddenly think, ‘oh blimey, yeah, this is a person.’


When her face came back, that was one of those moments where you think, ‘wow, you really did live.’


When we put her in the exhibition, which features her face and a number of reconstructions which, I’ve got to say, are equally stunning, and you see her next to her skull – it’s quite moving.


You do realise the humanity in there, and you start wondering what on earth brought them here. You almost hope that she did have a good life.


She died when she was very young – probably only about 20,21 – and we don’t know how she died. There’s no evidence of disease or any wounds or anything.


In the future we could get DNA analysis which might tell us a bit more about how she died. At this stage the funding’s run out, although we are doing some more fundraising.


I want to go back and find a bit more out about her, I think she deserves it.


We’ve succeeded in what we wanted to do, which was to give a basic story to all of these skeletons, but then you start delving into these skeletons and you want to give them more because they’re remarkable, absolutely remarkable.


Most of the samples that we sent off are supposedly Anglo-Saxon but not one has come in as being foreign. Nearly all of them are local.


One was from the east coast – probably East Anglia – the other guy was from the Pennines or more likely Wales, which again is odd. It’s not what you’re taught in the history books.


He’s early, from the 450s – the first wave of settlers. There are a number of other individuals who have similar bone defects and congenital traits.


I want to find out if he came as a lone person – a sword-for-hire or something like that – or just as a chancer, chancing his arm in the south, or as a family group, settling down here.


He was buried in quite a rich burial. He had his swords, shields, spear. Swords at that stage were so expensive.


Quite a high level of medical skill seems to be shown among the skeletons, particularly from the Anglo-Saxon period.


There’s a guy who’s had his lower arm, just above the wrist, amputated with the bone knitted back together. The muscle growth around it seems to indicate that he carried on using his arm.


He was buried with a spear and a knife, but nothing particularly to mark him out as being special. He could have been the one individual who had his hand amputated but didn’t die. We just don’t know.


It’s absolutely fascinating opening up these stories. It’s really putting flesh on the bones.


Archaeology that isn’t interpreted is just data, it’s no good to anyone. That’s completely pointless – we want people to understand what we do and why we do it.


It’s certainly not dumbing it down but it’s making it accessible to lots of people. We’re trying to get people who wouldn’t normally go to a museum to come and see the exhibition.


The archaeology of Eastbourne is phenomenal, we’ve got huge amounts. Like most places in Britain, if you delve under the surface it’s absolutely chock-a-block with stuff.


Around here most people just go on about the Victorians and Georgians and seaside resorts. Actually that’s just a tiny, tiny part of the story.


We’ve had people living here for thousands of years. There’s evidence for animals living here hundreds of thousands of years ago. We’ve got elephant’s teeth and things like that from the interglacials.


Most archaeological museum collections hold these things but never do anything with them. Whether it’s in the military museum or in the fortress, it’s all about telling these stories.


We have a donations box and all the money that goes into that box goes directly back into the project.


When we get 300 quid we can get a carbon dating done on another individual, those sort of things. People have been very generous.”


Eastbourne Ancestors is at the Redoubt Fortress until November 16 2014. Open 10am-4pm Thursday-Sunday (10am-5pm daily from April 1). Admission free (donations welcome). Visit the exhibition online.



Sunday 30th March 2014

By Krista Eleftheriou


New research shows Crossrail’s Charterhouse skeletons were Black Death victims

Radio carbon dating and ancient DNA evidence shows London burial ground used for plague victims for at least 100 years

New geophysics techniques have located evidence of more Charterhouse burials

Channel 4’s Secret History strand to explore London’s Black Death plague

New research on skeletons found during construction of Europe’s largest construction project in London reveals many died of plague during the 14th Century Black Death pandemic, while others died during later plague outbreaks.


Twenty-five skeletons were uncovered in London’s Charterhouse Square in Farringdon during Crossrail construction works in March 2013. It provided the first evidence of the location of London’s second Black Death emergency burial ground established in 1348 and referenced in historical records as being in what is now modern day Farringdon.


Due to the burial ground’s historical importance to London, exceptional levels of research analysis has taken place on the skeletons to understand the life and death of Londoners affected by the Black Death.


From the skeletons’ teeth, scientists have found traces of the DNA of the Yersinia pestis bacterium which was responsible for the Black Death plague, confirming the individuals had contact with the deadly disease prior to their death.


Key radio carbon-14 dating has revealed at least two distinct periods of burials, the earliest is within the period of the Black Death in 1348-50, followed by a later period dating from the early to mid 1400s. Archaeologists observed the different layers of burials during excavation. Together with the presence of the plague-causing Yersinia pestis bacterium in skeletons across both layers of burials, it shows the cemetery was used for two separate plague events between 1348 and the 1430s.


Historical records suggest tens of thousands of people were buried in this emergency cemetery. In a bid to understand just how many people are buried there, Crossrail approached the University of Keele to undertake a forensic geophysics survey, a science usually used to locate mass graves and murder victims. Initial results suggest possible burials extend across Charterhouse Square and a possible building foundation, a likely chapel, in the middle of the square. This is a new application for this type of science and a further Charterhouse Square dig in July of this year will seek to confirm the geophysics results.







Crossrail Lead Archaeologist Jay Carver who is heading up the research, said: “Analysis of the Crossrail find has revealed an extraordinary amount of information allowing us to solve a 660 year mystery. This discovery is a hugely important step forward in documenting and understanding Europe’s most devastating pandemic. Historical sources told us that thousands of burials of Black Death victims were made in the 14th Century in the area that is now modern day Farringdon, but until Crossrail’s discovery, archaeologists had been unable to confirm the story. Ancient DNA work is complex and still in development but the results do confirm the presence of the deadly plague bacterium preserved in the teeth.


“What’s really exciting is the bringing together many different lines of evidence to create a picture of such a devastating world event as the Black Death. Historians, archaeologists, micro-biologists, and physicists are all working together to chart the origins and development of one of the world’s worst endemic diseases and help today’s researchers in ancient and modern diseases better understand the evolution of these bacteria.


“The forensic geophysics results are really intriguing and potentially an important breakthrough in burial ground research. We will undertake further excavations in Charterhouse Square later this year to confirm some of the results.”


Osteologist Don Walker, from Crossrail’s archaeology contractor MOLA said:


“The skeletons discovered at Crossrail’s Farringdon site provide a rare opportunity for us to study the medieval population of London that experienced the Black Death. We can start to answer questions like: where did they come from and what were their lives like? What's more, it allows for detailed analysis of the pathogen, helping to characterise the history and evolution of this devastating pandemic.”


Scientists have analysed the bones and the Isotope levels in the skeletons’ bones and teeth to gain an insight into the birth, life and diet of Londoners during the 14th and 15th Centuries. The results showed that:


Many of the skeletons appear to suffer signs of malnutrition and 16% had rickets.

40% of the those tested grew up outside of London possibly as far north as Scotland – showing that 14th Century London attracted people from across Britain just as it does today.

The later skeletons from the 1400s had a high rate of upper body injury consistent with being involved in violent altercations.

One individual had become a vegetarian later in life which is something a Carthusian monk would have done during the 14th Century.

13 of the skeletons were male, three female, two children, the gender was undetermined in the other seven skeletons.

Research is consistent with the burial ground being used by poorer Londoners.

High rate of back damage and strain indicating heavy manual labour.

The Black Death was the largest pandemic in history, killing millions of people as it swept across Europe in the early 14th Century. It reached England in 1348 and claimed the lives of up to 60% of the population at the time. The disease’s devastation across Europe provided Britain with warning of the impending disaster and London’s leaders purchased additional ground outside the city walls for a burial ground in preparation for the Black Death’s arrival. This orderly planning may be evident in the burials themselves, with the skeletons neatly laid out in Christian burials rather than being placed in mass graves. London’s first Black Death plague cemetery was found in the 1980s in east Smithfield.


The latest announcement comes ahead of Channel 4 airing the documentary Return of the Black Death: Secret History on 6 April, 8pm which follows the Charterhouse Square discovery and looks and the history of the plague in Britain.



Osteologist Don Walker lays out a Black Death victim in Charterhouse _132066

Osteologist Don Walker lays out a Black Death victim in Charterhouse _132066

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132076

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132076

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132078

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132078

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132107

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132107

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132108

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132108

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132126

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132126

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132128

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132128

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132130

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132130

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132208

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132208

Crossrail Lead archaeologist Jay Carver inspects a rib bone of a Black Death victim in Charterhouse_

Crossrail Lead archaeologist Jay Carver inspects a rib bone of a Black Death victim in Charterhouse_

Crossrail Lead Archaeology Jay Carver with a Black Death Victim_132205

Crossrail Lead Archaeology Jay Carver with a Black Death Victim_132205



Osteologist Don Walker lays out a Black Death victim in Charterhouse _132066

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132076

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132078

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132107

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132108

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132126

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132128

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132130

Skeletons discovered at Charterhouse Square confirmed as black death victims_132208

Crossrail Lead archaeologist Jay Carver inspects a rib bone of a Black Death victim in Charterhouse_

Crossrail Lead Archaeology Jay Carver with a Black Death Victim_132205





Download photos of the skeletons.


For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or 0786 059 3040 email pressoffice@crossrail.co.uk


Channel 4 Press contact: Yad Luthra Publicity Ltd, 01273 472 196, 07932 682780, yadluthra@talktalk.net


Notes to editors


Return of The Black Death: Secret Historyis a True North production for Channel 4. Transmission: 8pm on 6 April on Channel 4. Channel 4’s Secret History strand showcases the best in historical journalism.


The construction of Crossrail through the heart of London is resulting in one of the most extensive archaeological programmes ever undertaken in the UK.  Since Crossrail construction began in 2009, more than 10,000 archaeology items, spanning more than 55 million years of London’s history, have been found across over 40 construction sites.


About Crossrail


The total funding available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 40 stations and run more than 100 km (62 miles) from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.


When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.


Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.



Association Wreck Gets Official Protected Status

Added by Andy Hargreaves on March 25, 2014.


Divers wanting to visit one of Scilly’s most famous shipwrecks will need a licence in the future, following the award of special status to the site last Friday.


The remains of the HMS Association have been designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act.


The wreck of the Association was discovered back in 1967 and it’s surprising it hasn’t been protected earlier.


Terry Newman, English Heritage’s Assistant Designation Officer says it was one of only four vessels of its type, built in the late 1690’s, so it’s historically very important.


And its wreck, along with three other navy vessels, and the loss of over 2,000 sailors, eventually led to the introduction of more accurate ways to measure longitude.


The new designation was the result of a review by English Heritage of all ships predating 1840.


Visits to the site will now be controlled by licences issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which can be obtained for free from English Heritage.


They’ll allow different levels of access, from a simple “look but don’t touch” trip through to a full survey.


But Terry admits the system is difficult to police, especially for wrecks located out of sight and away from shore.


He says it’s not intended to stop people visiting the site, but it will allow English Heritage to monitor the area to ensure the artefacts aren’t disturbed.



Secret desert camp used by First World War hero Lawrence of Arabia is discovered intact with rum jars and a campfire

·         Academic stumbled upon a sketch map of the camp by RAF pilot from 1918

·         Archaeologists found gin bottles and spent cartridges still in Jordan desert

·         TE Lawrence stayed in the camp to launch guerilla raids on Turkish troops

·         British wanted Arab forces to beat the Turks, who were allied with Germany

·         Modern conflict archaeologist: It's our equivalent of Tutankhamun


PUBLISHED: 10:38, 23 March 2014 | UPDATED: 16:32, 23 March 2014


A secret desert camp used by Lawrence of Arabia has been found intact almost 100 years after he left it.

The hideout in modern-day Jordan was still littered with spent cartridges and broken gin bottles when a team of archaeologists found it - thanks to an RAF pilot's vaguely-sketched map.

It was used as a vital base by Thomas Edward Lawrence, the British intelligence officer who would pass into legend for his guerilla raids against Turkish forces in the First World War.


Find: British archaeologists have found a secret desert camp used by TE Lawrence, pictured, almost 100 years after he left it with a campfire and empty tins of food still intact. His biographer called it a 'time capsule'


Evidence: The men returned to excavate and discovered spent cartridges and a broken SRD bottle

But the camp would have gone unnoticed for many years more had it not been for a chance discovery in the National Archives.

John Winterburn, an archaeologist at Bristol University, found a loosely-sketched map from 1918 by a pilot who recalled the camp from memory after a reconnaisance flight.


He scoured through images on Google Earth to find a part of the desert which matched the drawing in a 10-year investigation called the Arab Revolt Project.

Finally he found the small camp, which Lawrence said was 'behind the toothed hill facing Tell Shahm station', in November 2012 exactly where he predicted it would be.

Accompanied by project directors Nicholas Saunders and Neil Faulkner, both based at Bristol, he found ashes still in a camp fire and broken biscuit boxes strewn across the 100-yard square.

Mr Faulkner told MailOnline: 'When you're talking about the field of modern conflict archaeology, it's the closest we can get to finding Tutankhamun's tomb.


Clues: The archaeologists tracked down the ashes from the soldiers' brushwood campfire, pictured

'What was extraordinary was that we didn't expect to find anything on site. Our assumption was that we'd go there and find nothing but at least we knew where it was.

'We were looking up at the landscape rather than down, then suddenly John said: "I think that looks like a broken rum jar".

'The whole site was meticulously excavated and recorded and we pieced together fragments of the rum jar into a whole.

'It was incredibly exciting to be there and so very, very close to where Lawrence himself was.

'In his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom he has this very vivid description of eating bully beans and biscuits and drinking tea with condensed milk, watching the sparks rising into the night from the brushwood fire.

'We even found the ashes from that fire. It was astonishing.'

Mr Winterburn said finding the camp took him four years from start to finish.

The breakthrough came, he said, when he combined the sketch map with a photograph of soldiers standing with armoured Rolls-Royces next to a distinctive hill.


'I immediately recognised what it could be and put the pieces together,' he told MailOnline. 'I then used Google Earth to find a location precisely, and we logged the co-ordinates.

'We punched the data into a GPS receiver and marched across the desert, and there it was, exactly where we predicted. It's easy when you know how'.

He added: 'This camp had been used as a staging post for many for the epic raids on the Hejaz Railway at Tel Shahm and Mudawwara.

'Scattered in the desert floor was the remains of their last meals of rusty tin cans from Lowestoft and fragments of rum jars and gin bottles.'

Lawrence's authorised biographer Jeremy Wilson told the Sunday Times: 'It's a time capsule. Unlike on the western front, in the empty areas of the Middle East it just stays there.

'So you get a remarkable picture as if you have walked in the day after they left.'

TE Lawrence stayed at the camp in 1917 and 1918 and was joined by British officers who were used to a higher standard of accommodation - having driven across the desert in armoured Rolls-Royces.

The period in the desert would see some his most cunning attacks on Turkish supply routes, which provided a crucial distraction to Ottoman troops and allowed an Arab revolt to be victorious.

Drama: Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), starring Peter O'Toole (right) as the officer who disrupted supply routes      +15

Drama: Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), starring Peter O'Toole (right) as the officer who disrupted supply routes



During the First World War the Turks, allied with Germany and facing the end of their old empire, were beset by an Arab revolt which Britain wanted the Arabs to win.

Gifted operator TE Lawrence would become a crucial part of that plan.

Born in north Wales in 1888, he learned Arabic on an archaeological dig in Syria.

As he spent three years there in the run-up to the war he became sympathetic to the Arab people, who had lived under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman empire for centuries.

When the war broke out in 1914, Lawrence became an intelligence officer based in Cairo and two years later the hostilities spread into an Arab revolt.

The British Colonel became the adviser to the son of the revolt's leader, Sherif Hussein of Mecca.

Renowned for his cunning tactics, Lawrence's small band of forces hit supply routes which distracted Turkish troops from the fighting they were supposed to be doing.

His efforts were vital in helping Sherif Hussein's forces win a victory which enabled them to establish a unified state spanning large parts of the Arabian peninsula.

The story would later be immortalised by Peter O'Toole in the epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

After the war Winston Churchill appointed Lawrence as an adviser, but he quit the role as he hated the publicity it gave him.

The war hero died aged 46 in a motorcycle accident just three months after he left the RAF.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2587193/Secret-desert-camp-used-First-World-War-hero-Lawrence-Arabia-discovered-intact-rum-jars-campfire.html#ixzz2xU4IaNkZ

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