Our cover feature takes us to the lofty attic spaces of a grand country house: Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, where ambitious conservation work has revealed a wealth of fragile finds spanning 500 years, including the astonishing illuminated manuscript page that appears on the front of this issue.
Some 200 miles from Oxburgh’s red-brick splendour stands an equally imposing but rather more ancient construction: the Neolithic remains of Stonehenge. Last month, we discussed the latest thinking about the Welsh origins of the monument’s bluestones – now cutting-edge scientific research has pinned down the most likely source of its larger sarsens.
From towering trilithons to magnificent mosaics, we also pay a visit to the 4th-century Roman villa that once stood at Dewlish in Dorset. Its ornate floors included a strikingly realistic depiction of a leopard, now threatened with export. We discuss the fragment’s unusual imagery, and the quest to save the ancient artwork for the nation.
There are dramatic stories to tell in our fourth feature too; 2,000 years ago, an Iron Age community in the north-west Highlands fled a fire that was consuming the stone tower, or broch, that they called home. Beneath the resulting wreckage, though, a time capsule of undisturbed material was preserved for modern archaeologists to explore.
Our fifth feature (a bumper issue of CA this month!) traces literal pathways through the past, considering how prehistoric populations interacted with their natural surroundings, and how far we can reconstruct their journeys.
Finally, we conclude our two-part exploration of Anglo-Saxon studies, discussing their current resonance and future relevance.
In This Issue:
SOURCING THE SARSENS
A Stonehenge mystery solved?
New scientific research has identified the most likely origin of Stonehenge’s large sarsen stones, confirming suspicions that they were sourced much closer to the monument than the smaller bluestones.
Underfloor archaeology at Oxburgh Hall
A diverse array of fragile finds – from scraps of manuscripts to pieces of cloth – have been discovered underneath the floorboards of a Norfolk country house, offering insights into 500 years of history and the experiences of the people who lived there.
THE DEWLISH LEOPARD
The quest to save Britain’s earliest, truly naturalistic animal ‘painting’
Found in Dorset, a 2,400-year-old Roman mosaic depicting realistic exotic animals is now being threatened with export. Mosaic expert Anthony Beeson examines its imagery and explains what makes it so special.
A UNIQUE GLIMPSE INTO THE IRON AGE
Excavating Clachtoll Broch
A highland broch burned down 2,000 years ago, sealing remarkable evidence of its final occupation inside. Now a decade of excavations has uncovered its story.
HAVE YOU COME FAR?
Measuring human mobility in prehistory
Questions about the movements of prehistoric people and their relationships with the landscape are key to understanding how they lived. To answer them, it is vital to try to identify the routes by which they travelled.
Anglo-Saxon studies in 2020 and their prospects
Last month, we considered the modern use of the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and what it meant in early medieval England; in Part 2, we continue the discussion, looking at what the future holds for the field of Anglo-Saxon studies.
New clues at Navan Fort; Searching for the Storegga tsunami in Doggerland; Iron Age activity at Wintringham Park; Discovering a lost Viking waterway; Medieval fairground found at Latton Priory; Science Notes; Examining Norman nutrition; Finds Tray
The Roman Baths, Bath
Planning in the Early Medieval Landscape; Roman Britain and Where to Find It; Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards in Britain; The Graveyards and Cemeteries of Edinburgh; Kindred: Neanderthal life, love, death, and art; Mercia: the rise and fall of a kingdom
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
The Mechanics’ Institution Trust
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