Current Archaeology 318

2 mins read

CA318_CoverNeolithic tombs are often seen as ‘houses for the dead’. Striking similarities between the residences of the living and repositories for the deceased have long suggested a symbolic link, but could it be the other way round? Evidence from Orkney suggests that the departed were being laid to rest in their cairns for about 300 years before homes began to mimic their design. What can these ‘tombs for the living’ tell us?

A crucial question for understanding hillforts is ‘what were the defences really for’? These imposing monuments are renowned for the serried ranks of ramparts that often tower over their entrances. Any attacking force that took the time to scout out the rear of the Cardigan Bay hillforts, though, might well discover far weaker defences or more vulnerable entrances. So who were their occupants trying to impress?

Rumour had it in 1666 that the Great Fire of London was kindled to prepare the way for an invasion. Although reports of foreign soldiers pouring into the capital proved to be false, a Frenchman ended up taking responsibility for the inferno. As a new exhibition opens at the Museum of London, we examine the myths and mysteries surrounding this epochal event.

Finally, the hunt for the long-lost design of a Victorian guard’s wagon led investigators to a derelict chalet wreathed by woodland. What followed may be the first archaeological excavation ever mounted on a railway carriage!

Matt Symonds




The hillforts of Cardigan Bay
The mid Wales landscape is home to more than 100 atypical hillforts. How were these unusual monuments built? And what was their purpose – defence or display?


How London burned in 1666
To mark 350 years since fire broke out in Pudding Lane, the Museum of London is staging a major exhibition examining how events unfolded. What light can the archaeological evidence shed on the historical accounts of those infernal days?


Excavating the Rudyard Lake brake coach
We take a look at how the discovery of a vandalised holiday chalet is helping a local railway charity get an accessible heritage train on the tracks.


Investigating the evolution of house societies in Orkney
What do the findings from the Cuween-Wideford Landscape Project reveal about the Orcadian Neolithic? Was there an abrupt break between distinct ‘early’ and ‘late’ phases or a gentler transition between the two?


Exploring the archaeology of the domestic cat
Today, cats are one of the world’s most popular pets, but how and when did these pest-control experts first become beloved members of the household?


Rare Roman belt buckle found in Leicester burial; Site of King Harold’s 1066 death relocated; Roman signals at Whirlow Hall Farm; Neolithic figurine rediscovered in Orkney; Extending the Roman frontier at Ipplepen; Vindolanda yields barrel of finds; Cannonball finds shoot for Pontefract’s past; Recording the Formby footprints; Scotland’s earliest known farming; Darwin’s bedroom restored


The Mound in the Dark Grove
Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey


With Hadrian’s Wall: 40 years of frontier research just around the corner, this special section brings you the latest details on our specialist speakers, timings, and how to book


The Later Prehistory of North-West Europe; The Celts; Creating Material Worlds

Featured review

Bearsden: A Roman fort on the Antonine Wall by David J Breeze

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

Odd Socs
Edinburgh World Heritage


  1. I’m a subscriber and have lost my copy of the current issue 318. How can I purchase another copy, please?

  2. I make comments of your articles in my radio programs -in spanish tough- at 107.7 ulafm, University of Los Andes, Merida, Venezuela,, saturdays 7/8 am and sundays 9/19 pm, local time. Very useful info. Appreciate it. Thanks.

  3. Announcing my new broadcasting space in 107.7 ulafm -University of Los Andes, Merida, Venezuela- “Descubrimientos” (Discoveries) on different aspects of Science and Technology, every sunday from 7:30 to 8 am, together with the already said “El Caminante” -the Voyager- on Saturday mornings 7 to 8 am, and Sundays 9 to 10 pm, where I comment some of your magazine´s valuable and aprreciated information and articles. Interested in contact . Myself did some digging at Tell el Hamma in the Jordan Valley, at Babilon, and Sumerian places in Ur and Eridur, as well as research at Tiahuanaco of ancient Aymara in the mountains of Bolivia, near Peru.

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