CA 189

2 mins read

ca189-1Have the Treasure Hunters won? For the past generation, treasure hunters  have been the bête noire of archaeologists, yet suddenly, everything seems to  be going their way. There is a new Treasure Act; the BBC puts on a much  criticised series; there are two new books and even the British Museum has  put on a lavish exhibition on treasure. Just what is happening? We set out  to review the books, the exhibition and the programmes, and to try to  disentangle some of the varied feelings and emotions of archaeologists  today.

The three great henge monuments in North Yorkshire known as the  Thornborough Henges are perhaps Britain’s least known major  archaeological site. Yet today they are threatened by quarrying and a group,  known as the Friends of Thornborough, has been set up and they claim that  if the present proposals go through, these three huge henges will be left  isolated on islands in the middle of a lake. Since 1997, Jan Harding of  Newcastle University has been excavating at the henges. What has he  discovered? Are the threats real? Should the site be preserved? Current  Archaeology investigates the full story: Certainly every reader of Current  Archaeology who has not been to Thornborough should try to get there in  2004 and see the site for themselves.

There are many new discoveries in this latest issue. At Mellor, on the  outskirts of the Manchester conurbation, a new hillfort has been discovered,  lurking unseen in the gardens of The Old Vicarage. In 1998 Ann Hearle  looked out of her kitchen window and saw a parch mark in the field  opposite. Here we have the full story of how the Hearles’ garden is being  dug up, flower bed by flower bed, to reveal this new earthwork enclosure.

Then up to Howick in Northumberland where a Mesolithic house has  been discovered – and another in East Lothian. These are not just paltry huts  but major houses, clearly intended for long term occupation. One of them  has been reconstructed, and we look at how the Maelmin Heritage Centre  was set up, and what has been reconstructed there.

We then return south, to Creeting St Mary, a little village in Suffolk,  which in the Middle Ages had no fewer than three churches. St Mary’s still  survives; All Saints lay in the corner of St Mary’s churchyard; but where was  St Olave? Its name suggests that it was 10th century, but Nigel McBeth has  been tracking it down and thinks he has found it, more than a mile away  from the main village.

Finally, we move further south still, to Guernsey. Here Heather Sebire, the Island’s archaeologist, has been busy on all fronts. There are at least five  Medieval sunken ships in the harbour mouth, lying directly under the path  of the modern ferries and there is the magnificent but decaying Castle  Cornet. She has been excavating a medieval priory on the little off shore  island of Lihou, reputedly built to frighten away the witches; and last but  not least she has found the westernmost example of the Linear Band  Keramik pottery that is ubiquitous in Germany in the earliest Neolithic.

Another full issue, therefore, reflecting some of the many activities that  make up archaeology in Britain.

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