Community Archaeology Radiocarbon Dating fund applications open

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The Community Archaeology Radiocarbon Dating (CARD) fund, sponsored by Archaeological Research Services Ltd and Scottish Universities (SUERC) funded 20 dates across nine projects across Britain in its 2017 funding round. Read on for some of the highlights – and how to apply for the 2018 cycle.

The St Helen’s Chapel project has been searching for the ‘lost’ medieval chapel of St Helen’s at Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Radiocarbon dates obtained from charred cereal grains that were recovered from within the nave, as well as charcoal from beneath a mysterious upturned gritstone slab (also within the nave), produced 13th-14th-century dates, confirming the medieval origins of the building under investigation.

The grave of a late Roman male, from an extramural cemetery near Venta Icenorum (Caistor St Edmund)

Meanwhile, another beneficiary of the fund is the long-running Caistor Roman Project which is investigating life in and around the walled Roman town of Venta Icenorum, near Norwich (their latest excavation, exploring a possible corridor villa and temple in a field just outside the town, is featured in the latest issue of CA, #344). There, radiocarbon dating placed the first Roman grave to be excavated on what may prove to be the edge of a Roman cemetery AD 258-422. The burial was that of a young adult male and was aligned east/west suggesting he may have been part of an early Christian community.

Earlier prehistoric projects were also assisted by the CARD fund in the last funding cycle. The Tameside Archaeological Society uncovered a cobbled hearth together with worked flint which contained charcoal that was dated to the middle of the Mesolithic period, c.6613-6473 calBC (95.4%). This provides helpful modern dating for developing the chronology of the Mesolithic in the Pennines.

One of the rare Beaker period clay disc beads found in the Hollins Cross pit. Beads such as these are usually found accompanying female burials.

Over at Hollins Cross, in the Hope Valley, Peak District, a pit containing significant quantities of charcoal, tiny burnt bone fragments, chipped flints, and two small and very rare fired clay disc beads suggestive of a heavily truncated cremation burial had occupied a location below a burial mound at the iconic viewpoint where ancient trackways cross at a natural ‘nick’ along the ‘Great Ridge’.  Dating of hazelnut fragments from this pit produced two dates of c.2121-1892 calBC (95% probability) and 1928-1750 calBC (95% probability).

In Snowdonia, the Glaslyn Prehistory Project uncovered a midden at the head of the Glasyn estuary. It contained a significant deposit of shell, as well as smashed bones from cattle, pig, and sheep/goat, along with many burnt and heat-shattered stones and the remains of burnt wood, suggesting the preparation and heating of a lot of food. Two radiocarbon dates from limpet shells of 346-26 BC and 325 BC- 18 AD (95% probability) indicated a late Iron Age date.

Finally, in Scotland a radiocarbon date for the North Clyde Archaeological Society proved that they had uncovered Early Bronze Age burnt mounds at 1772-1629 BC, as well as the first regional evidence for medieval iron smelting sites with a date of 1352-1399 AD in an area of felled forest.

The 2018 funding round is now open and volunteer/community groups/projects are warmly invited to apply before the closing date of 30 November. For more information, as well as to make an application, visit   

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