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A chance to meet Stonehenge ancestors. Neolithic long barrow burial mound discovered between Stonehenge and Avebury.
A “house of the dead” dating from more than 5,000 years ago could contain the remains of the ancestors of people who lived around Stonehenge, archaeologists have said.
A Neolithic long barrow burial mound in a place known as Cat’s Brain, in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, is being excavated by experts and students from the University of Reading in the first full investigation of such a monument in the county for 50 years.
The barrow, which is in the middle of a farmer’s field halfway between the important monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge, was spotted by aerial photography and assessed by geophysical survey imagery.
It consists of two ditches flanking what may be a central building covered with a mound made of the earth…
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An ancient “square stone circle” has been discovered under the Neolithic stones at Avebury in Wiltshire.
The “surprising find”, which is 30m (98ft) wide, was made by archaeologists from Leicester and Southampton University.
The square of megaliths also appears to have been erected around the remains of a Neolithic house, which sat at the centre of the colossal stone circle.
It is thought to be one of the site’s earliest structures.
The discovery of previously unknown megaliths inside the monument has been greeted as a “great surprise”.
Read the full story on the BBC website
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A Bronze Age ‘beaker culture’ invaded Britain 4,000 years ago: Intruders forced out ancient farmers that built famous relics such as Stonehenge
- New research carried out one of the biggest ever studies of ancient genomes
- It found that beaker people forced prehistoric Neolithic farmers out of Britain
- DNA analyses found that Britain underwent a 90 per cent shift in its genetic make-up when the beaker folk arrived
One of the biggest ever studies of ancient genomes has found that a Bronze Age ‘beaker culture’ invaded Britain around 4,000 years ago.
The immigrant group, named after the famous bell-shaped pots they carried, likely forced out native Neolithic farmers.
These ancient British farmers were famed for leaving behind massive rock relics, including Stonehenge.
THE BEAKER CULTURE MYSTERY
Beaker folk lived about 4,500 years ago in the temperate zones of Europe.
They received their name from their distinctive bell-shaped beakers, decorated in horizontal zones by finely toothed stamps.
The decorated pots are almost ubiquitous across Europe, and could have been used as drinking vessels or ceremonious urns.
Believed to be originally from Spain, the Beaker folk soon spread into central and western Europe in their search for metals.
But the sheer variety of beaker artefacts across Europe has made the pottery difficult to define as coming from one distinctive culture.
The new study suggests the beaker culture did not always pass from a single migrating entity.
DNA samples from beaker folk in Iberia and Central Europe were found to be genetically distinct.
To me, that’s definitely surprising,’ Dr Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study, told Nature News.
‘The people who built Stonehenge probably didn’t contribute any ancestry to later people, or if they did, it was very little.’
Around 4,500 years ago bell-shaped pottery became popular across much of prehistoric Europe.
The Bronze Age trend has been debated by archaeologists for over a century.
Some argue that it was simply a fashion trend shared by several distinct cultural groups.
But other suggest that an immense migration of ‘beaker folk’ spread across the continent.
The new ancient genome research suggests that both theories are true.
The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, analysed the DNA of 170 ancient Europeans.
They compared this DNA to the genomes of hundreds of other modern and prehistoric Europeans.
Ancient skeletons found in the Iberian peninsula were found to share little genetic connection with bones found in central Europe.
By HARRY PETTIT FOR MAILONLINE
Read the full story n the Daily Mail online
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Major archaological find in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire: metal detectors’ Roman hoard gives up rare evidence about ancient plant life
Mick Rae, Rob Abbott and their friend Dave were detecting in a field in the Vale of Pewsey in October 2014 when they came across a hoard of eight metal vessels – including a cauldron and four small pans from weighing scales.The vessels were buried in a pit beneath about 350 millimetres of top-soil and, as one would expect, were in varying states of disrepair.
The find was quickly identified as Roman. The discovery was reported to Richard Henry who is Wiltshire’s Finds Liaison Officer. His role is to record archaeological finds made by members of the public – mostly metal detectorists, but also by people who are just walking in fields or digging in their back garden.
Most of the cauldron survives and a large copper-alloy vessel had been placed upside down into the cauldron – forming a sealed cavity. What was inside?
There were no gold necklaces or bronze coins in this hoard of Roman vessels. But what was found inside is worth its weight in gold to archaeologists – remains of plants preserved by the copper vessels’ own micro-environment.
Among the remains of the dried plants were heads of common knapweed and pieces of bracken. They also found seeds of cowslips or primrose, milkwort, lesser hawkbit, sedges, clovers, vetches and sweet violet, fat hen, knot grass, black bindweed, buttercup and corn spurrey. They may be what is left of some careful packing.
Remains of the flowers and bracken are now on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Organic matter never survives if buried unprotected in the Pewsey Vale’s greensand – so to find dried plants and pollen this old provided the scientists with many opportunities for research.
The find did not count as ‘treasure’ so remains the property of the finder and the landowner. The detectorists donated the organic material to Wiltshire Museum – the scientific processes used to test it with would ultimately destroy it.
Richard Henry led the quest to discover more about the find. He brought in a team to excavate the site of the discovery, led by David Roberts of Historic England with the Assistant County Archaeologist, members of the Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group and the finders. They found shards of domestic and imported ceramics and ceramic building materials.
The project to analyse the plant remains has been led by the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme and supported by Historic England, Southampton University, the Association for Roman Archaeology and Wiltshire Museum.
The scientists discovered that the plants were dated between AD380 and AD550. Theybelieve the hoard was hidden sometime in the fifth and sixth centuries – during the early Anglo-Saxon period. And interestingly, the find was within striking distance of the major Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered in Blacknall Field – finds from which can be seen in the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.
But if the age in years is a little speculative, the state of the plants reveals pretty accurately that they were picked and packed away in late summer soon after the harvest – late August to early October.
When their own kind of Brexit happened, the Romans obviously left much more behind them than roads, mosaics, villas and hoards of coins.
Wiltshire Museum’s Director, David Dawson, is thrilled they can display this important material: “Richard Henry has led this remarkable partnership project, drawing specialists from across the country to piece together the fascinating story of the burial of Roman bronze cauldrons that took place on a summer’s day 1,500 years ago.”
Richard Henry said “Such discoveries should be left in situ to allow full archaeological study of the find and its context. The finders did not clean or disturb the vessels which has allowed us to undertake detailed further research. If the vessels had been cleaned none of this research would have been possible.”
It is very tempting to imagine how this hoard came to be made so long after the vessels were first used. It is as though someone today decided to bury the Victorian kitchen pots Aunt Bertha inherited – and packed them with plants.
Why they were buried remains a matter for speculation. Does the careful packing of the metal vessels mean they were the antiques of their day? Were they, so long after the Roman era, still valued as useful cooking pots? Or was this some kind of votive offering?
Marlborough.News understands that metal detector Dave aims to have the vessels professionally conserved.
Ruth Pelling and Stacey Adams will be talking about their research on the flowers and other recent Wiltshire discoveries at the Archaeology in Wiltshire Conference on April 1 in Devizes. Their talk is titled “Bake Off and Brewing in Roman and Early Saxon Wiltshire: recent archaeobotanical finds.”
Article written by Written by Tony Millett and published on the Marlborough News Online Website
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The 9th annual Current Archaeology Awards celebrate the projects and publications that made the pages of CA this year, and the people judged to have made outstanding contributions to archaeology. Research Project of the Year category includes;
Rethinking Durrington Walls: a long-lost monument revealed
(CA 320 – Stonehenge Riverside Project / Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project / National Trust)
Ongoing research at Durrington Walls has revealed a massive and previously unknown palisaded enclosure beneath the banks of the famous Neolithic henge. It is a discovery that is set to rewrite the site’s history.
Voting closes 6 February 2017
Durrington Walls, two miles from Stonehenge, is named after the Neolithic henge that calls the location home. But with ongoing research revealing a massive and previously unknown monument hidden beneath its banks, the site’s history is set to be rewritten. Carly Hilts spoke to Vince Gaffney, Mike Parker Pearson, and Nick Snashall to find out more.
Around 4,500 years ago, hundreds of people gathered two miles from Stonehenge to build another massive monument, at a location known to us as Durrington Walls. The spot they had selected lay within sight of the celebrated stones, and had previously been home to a village that may have housed the community that erected them (CA 208). But now the short-lived settlement lay abandoned, and – perhaps motivated by a desire to commemorate its presence – the new group of builders punched through the living surfaces and midden material of their predecessors to complete their work.
Their efforts were not focused on raising the imposing earthworks of the henge that gives the site its modern name, however. Instead, their labour created a previously unknown earlier phase whose full extent is only now being revealed by ongoing research: as many as 300 huge wooden posts, evenly spaced 5m apart in a ring almost 450m across. It would have been an arresting sight, yet within a maximum of 50 years the monument had been decommissioned once more, its posts removed and their sockets filled in, before being covered over by the henge that we see today. All trace of the post circle would lie hidden beneath the banks of its successor for millennia – until it was brought to light once more by a series of excavations and the largest geophysical survey of its kind. Why did the site undergo such a sudden change in design, and what can we learn about the rise and fall of a long-lost monument? As analysis continues, intriguing clues are beginning to emerge.~
Full story here
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Hollywood film crews have descended on Wiltshire to film the latest blockbuster from the Transformers franchise.
Scenes from the sci-fi epic – Transformers: The Last Knight are being filmed in Wiltshire using the famous Stonehenge monument.
There is no doubt that the spin-offs of such a big budget movie could be enormous and will be felt throughout the local tourism industry and economy. History proved this much when Harry Potter was filmed in Alnwick. At present there are an estimated 200 crew members staying in accommodation in the area and spending money in local shops and restaurants. In the longer run, the film will bring the type of international publicity for the area that no amount of advertising could buy. It is fantastic that they have chosen our beautiful county as a film location.
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Painter’s 1831 work completed after his wife’s death is centrepiece of new exhibition at Salisbury Museum.
After 185 years, the trees around Salisbury Cathedral have grown taller and thicker, shrouding all but the magnificent tower and spire. But, remarkably, the water meadows are still as lush and unspoilt as they were in John Constable’s day.
This is the view, including the shallow stream that draws the eye toward the magnificent cathedral, painted by the acclaimed British artist in one of his most important and best-known works, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. And for the next six months, there is a rare opportunity to compare masterpiece and present-day view within a few minutes’ walk.
The painting, finished in 1831, is going home to the city for which Constable had a special affection, as part of a five-year tour, taking in Wales, Scotland and East Anglia. From Saturday, people will be able to see it at the Salisbury Museum in the cathedral close, alongside dozens of other paintings, watercolours, etchings and drawings of one of the country’s most awe-inspiring buildings.
“We are very excited that we’re displaying Constable’s masterpiece in the city that inspired him,” said Adrian Green, the museum’s director. “The museum is located opposite the cathedral, backs onto the water meadows and is adjacent to where Constable stayed in the close – so one can literally walk out into the canvas and see a landscape that has changed little since Constable’s time.”
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows is one of a series of 6ft canvases painted by Constable. Encouraged by his close friend and archdeacon John Fisher, who lived in the cathedral close, he began to make sketches for the painting while grieving for his late wife Maria.
“Constable drew Salisbury Cathedral many times from different viewpoints,” said Gracie Divall of the Tate, which owns the painting and organised its tour around the UK. “It was the place he visited most outside his home in Suffolk. But this painting is seen as one he poured his emotion into, rather than just depicting what he saw in front of him.”
The turbulent sky provoked much comment when the painting was first exhibited; one Morning Herald reporter remarked that “the sky is in a state of utter derangement”.
Meteorologists have pointed out that the rainbow depicted in the painting would be impossible given the cloud formations. However the Tate has commissioned new meteorological research, to be published this year, which suggested that a rainbow over the cathedral was not beyond the realms of possibility.
“Constable was using the weather to tell a story,” said Divall. Some have interpreted the storm clouds as a reflection of the painter’s turmoil at his wife’s death; others suggest they reflect the storms surrounding the Anglican church – in which Constable was an ardent supporter of tradition against reform – at that time.
The painting was bought by the aristocratic Ashton family in 1850 but was on loan to the National Gallery for many years. When the family decided to sell a few years ago, the National Gallery was already committed to buying works by Titian in the most expensive purchase in its history.
The Tate stepped in, raising £23.1m to buy the Constable, described by the gallery’s director, Nicholas Serota, as “one of the great masterpieces of British art”.
A delicate cleaning process in 2013 “made a huge difference to the vibrancy of the work”, said Divall. “There was a lot of staining, mostly nicotine, from when it was in private ownership and from when people were allowed to smoke in galleries. The painting wasn’t glazed.” The cleaning process had revealed details such as a cow in the bottom left of the painting, she added.
The painting has returned to Salisbury once before, in 2011, when it attracted about 36,000 visitors. The new exhibition runs until 25 March.
Article extracted from The Guardian