Legend has it that the Rothwell charnel chapel was discovered when a grave digger tumbled into an underground vault stacked with bones. This alarming incident brought to light a rare example of an intact medieval ossuary in England. Our cover feature explores why the dead were assembled in this manner, and how common the practice was.
Two of the dead at Portmahomack, today a small Scottish fishing village, seem to have been brutally slaughtered during a Viking attack. A major research project has pieced together the remarkable story of this settlement, and evidence for a Pictish monastery that attracted the raiders.
Archaeologists have also been examining the rise and fall of a community on the Llŷn peninsula in Wales. Here, an open prehistoric settlement developed imposing defences, before fading into obscurity once more.
Ever since Sellar and Yeatman wrote their spoof 1066 and All That, it has been widely appreciated that there are two memorable dates in English history: 55 BC and AD 1066. But has this focus on the invasions of Caesar and William the Conqueror unjustly eclipsed a third memorable date? In 1016, Cnut’s Vikings secured dominion over the country, but how much survives from this forgotten conquest of England?
Finally, celebrities are often said to seem shorter in the flesh, but the difference of 790 feet between Hadrian’s Wall and its icy counterpart in Game of Thrones must be a record. We tackle the cultural afterlife of Rome’s most famous border.
IN THIS ISSUE:
PICTS ON THE PENINSULA
Known for its Pictish carved stone monuments, Portmahomack in north-east Scotland has undergone many major transformations over time. Excavations at the fishing village’s church and burial ground have unravelled the settlement’s story from the 6th to the 16th century.
The life and death of an Iron Age community in Wales
The Llŷn Peninsula is home to many defended prehistoric settlements, but few of these have been investigated. We take a look at ongoing excavations at Meillionydd, where seven seasons of digging have so far uncovered a quarter of the large double ringwork enclosure.
1016 AND ALL THAT
Excavating the Viking conquest of England
Fifty years before the Battle of Hastings, Cnut defeated Edmund II at Assandun, capturing England. What archaeological evidence remains of the Viking conquest 1,000 years on?
Exploring the Rothwell charnel chapel
Work at Rothwell, one of only two sites in England where a medieval charnel chapel and its contents are preserved, is giving new insights into why bones were placed in these ossuaries.
BEYOND THE ARCHAEOLOGY
The cultural afterlife of Hadrian’s Wall
From the Byzantine historian Procopius to Game of Thrones, how have writers over the centuries reimagined this iconic Roman frontier?
Meeting Londinium’s migrant population; Mesolithic dog’s long walk; Vindolanda’s 2016 collection; Long barrow excavated in the Cotswolds; Halifax residents revealed; Home from Rome in Bedford?; Teeth reveal prehistoric travel; Pistil Meadow myths laid to rest; Finds tray
Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive
Expanding a Neolithic landscape at Dorstone Hill
Finding Shakespeare’s New Place; Hidden Histories; The Tale of the Axe; The Use and Reuse of Stone Circles; Roman Derbyshire; Moving on in Neolithic Studies
Opus Anglicanum at the V&A
Digging for Britain with Alice Roberts
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
The Welsh Perry and Cider Society