What a difference a month makes! As I sit down to write this letter, I have recently returned from my first post-lockdown trip to a museum and, all being well, by the time you read this I will have seen two more and visited my first research excavation since March. It is wonderful to see more of the heritage world opening up again, and it has been hugely impressive to see the efforts that museums and heritage sites have made, both to provide online content while their doors were closed, and to make their spaces safe for returning visitors.
It is to a museum that we venture for our cover story: the Museum of London Docklands, where an innovative new exhibition tells the story of the Havering hoard. Its c.453 tools, weapons, and other objects represent the third-largest Late Bronze Age hoard found in Britain (and London’s largest) – but why was it buried?
Staying with Bronze Age burials, we next explore a study suggesting that fragments of human bone that are sometimes found placed in later graves or scattered around settlements of this period may have been deliberately curated for years after death.
Speaking of settlements: how did the early medieval landscape evolve, and how far does evidence suggest that the layout of the emerging villages was deliberately planned?
We are also marking the 80th anniversary of the Blitz, with articles exploring civilian heroism and unexpected legacies in London; stories from museums around the UK; and research working to identify the remains of bombed-out buildings on a Liverpool beach.
Finally, we end with a 2,000-year-old object with an intrepid story to tell: a Roman funerary urn linking a fort just north of the Antonine Wall with Egypt.
In This Issue:
REST IN PIECES
Exploring evidence for Bronze Age curation of the dead
A recent study suggests that Bronze Age communities retained fragments of human bones for years after an individual’s death, before burying them in later graves or in features associated with settlements.
‘LANDSCAPE PLOTTED AND PIECED’
Examining early medieval planned settlements
New evidence suggests that the medieval transformation of the English countryside into nucleated villages was not mere happenstance, but the result of deliberate planning.
Eco-archaeology and echoes of the Blitz
Eighty years after the onset of the Blitz, archaeologists are still uncovering surprising aspects of this well-known episode in London’s history.
MEMORIES FROM MUSEUMS
Remembering the Blitz around the UK
To help explore the impact of the Blitz on towns and cities around the country, we invited museums to share an object from their collections with a powerful story to tell.
Reconstructing wartime Liverpool from Crosby Beach
After the war, rubble from bomb-destroyed buildings in Liverpool was turned into sea defences. Erosion is now exposing this material, and with it, stories of the Blitz.
LOST AND FOUND
An Egyptian urn from Roman Scotland
The chance find of an unusual urn within the stores of National Museums Scotland sparked a scholarly journey to trace its origins, linking Camelon – a fort near the Antonine Wall – with the quarries of ancient Egypt.
Confirmation of Britain’s first Viking helmet; Somerset’s first timber circle found; Christian chalice found at Vindolanda; Sacristy uncovered at Westminster Abbey; A road to discoveries in County Cork; Science Notes; Ancient smallpox strain in Anglo-Saxon Oxford; Finds Tray
Conserving 18th-century shoes, National Museums Scotland
Staffordshire Hoard: an Anglo-Saxon treasure; Stories from the Edge: creating identities in early medieval Staffordshire; Secret Britain: unearthing our mysterious past; My Life as a Replica: St John’s Cross, Iona; The Later Saxon and Early Norman Manorial Settlement at Guiting Power, Gloucestershire; Historic England: Dorset
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
Cerne Historical Society
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