Britain’s rich maritime legacy is under threat from commercial treasure hunters who are accused by experts of plundering and destroying the nation’s underwater heritage.
A group of leading archaeologists and historians warn that unless the government intervenes to protect scores of historically significant wrecks lying beyond the country’s territorial waters, sites including the graves of those lost at sea could be exploited and lost for good.
On Monday the group, which includes leading scholars from Oxford University and the British Museum, will call on the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to sign up to a United Nations treaty on protecting underwater remains. Read more.
Human remains dug up from an ancient grave in Oxfordshire add to a growing body of evidence that Britain’s fifth-century transition from Roman to Anglo-Saxon was cultural rather than bloody.
The traditional historical narrative is one of brutal conquest, with invaders from the North wiping out and replacing the pre-existing population.
But a new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, hints at a more peaceful process. Dr Andrew Millard, from Durham University, is one of the study’s authors.
'The main controversy over the years has centred on how many Anglo-Saxons came across the North Sea,' he says. Read more.
A new look at a cache of baby bones discovered in Britain is altering assumptions about why ancient Romans committed infanticide.
Infant girls were apparently not killed more often than baby boys, researchers report in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
"Very often, societies have preferred male offspring, so when they practice infanticide, it tends to be the male babies that are kept, and the female babies that are killed," said study researcher Simon Mays, a skeletal biologist for English Heritage, a non-governmental organization that protects historic sites.
Though ancient Romans indeed preferred boys, there is no evidence they went as far as infanticide to skew the sex ratio, Mays told LiveScience. Read more.
A trio of archeologists has found that a human femur unearthed in a cave in the early 1990s, in northern Britain dates back to over 10,000 years ago. The combined team of researchers from the University of Nottingham and Liverpool John Moores University has documented their findings in a paper they’ve had published in Journal of Quaternary Science.
Up until now, remains from humans living in Britain during a warming spell at the end of the last Ice Age, have been confined to caves in the south. Tools and other artifacts have confirmed that people were living in the north as well, but up till now, none of their remains have been found. The bone piece-part of a femur, was found in a cave almost 25 years ago in Cumbria (Kents Bank Cavern) and has since been housed at the Dock Museum. Read more.
EXCAVATION in Somerset have revealed a gruesome glimpse of Iron-Age Britain.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a massacre involving hundreds, if not thousands of people, with some of the slaughtered bodies being stripped of their flesh or chopped up.
Human remains unearthed from an ancient site near Yeovil have cut marks, often in multiple rows, and occurring at the ends of important joints.
"It is as if they were trying to separate pieces of the body", according to Dr Marcus Brittain, the Cambridge archaeologist and head of a major excavation of Britain’s largest Iron-Age hill fort, Ham Hill. Read more.
Archaeologists are drafting a volunteer army to help map every ancient hill fort across Britain and Ireland.
It is part of a project to create an online atlas of around 5,000 of these Iron Age monuments.
Prehistory enthusiasts are being asked to identify and record features such as ramparts, ditches and entrances.
Prof Gary Lock, of Oxford University, said: “We want to shed new light on why they were created and how they were used.”
Despite their large numbers there has been little academic work on hill forts, how they were used and how they varied across Britain and Ireland, the researchers say. Read more.
Windsor may have been popular with royalty rather earlier than generally thought.
Archaeologists, excavating near the Royal Borough, have discovered the 4400 year old gold-adorned skeleton of an upper class woman who was almost certainly a member of the local ruling elite.
She is the earliest known woman adorned with such treasures ever found in Britain.
The individual, aged around 40, was buried, wearing a necklace of folded sheet gold, amber and lignite beads, just a century or two after the construction of Stonehenge some 60 miles to the south-west. Even the buttons, thought to have been used to secure the upper part of her now long-vanished burial garment, were made of amber. She also appears to have worn a bracelet of lignite beads. Read more.
Four early Neolithic houses dating back to 3700 BC have been unearthed by archaeologists at Cemex’s Kingsmead Quarry in Berkshire.
They are thought to be even older than Stonehenge, which is dated to around 3000 BC.
The discovery is unprecedented on a single site in England and challenges current understanding of how people lived more than 5,700 years ago.
The find gives archaeologists a rare opportunity to learn more about the earliest permanent settlements in prehistoric Britain and how such sites developed as people switched lifestyle from hunter-gather to settled farmer. Read more.