Current Archaeology 389

3 mins read

Built in 1744 and captured from the French three years later, HMS Invincible was considered one of the finest ships in the Georgian Royal Navy. Its innovative design gave it many technical advantages over British vessels, and it was eagerly copied by shipwrights – but in 1758, the Invincible sank off Portsmouth. The wreck was undisturbed for over 200 years, but now archaeologists exploring its well-preserved hull – still packed with provisions and the possessions of its crew – are illuminating life on board an 18th-century warship.

From underwater archaeology to underground labour, 6,000 years ago the site now known as Cissbury Ring in West Sussex was home to almost 300 shafts dug by Neolithic flint-miners. The landmark’s long history is now being showcased through an innovative interpretive trail, and CA went to try it out.

The Cissbury Ring trail is intended to encourage care for the site by fostering better understanding of its archaeological features, and our next article also highlights efforts to safeguard historic structures: this time in Canterbury, by SAVE Britain’s Heritage. We next visit Butser Ancient Farm, a Hampshire-based experimental archaeology centre that celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Our article traces the past and present of this influential site, and shares memories from some of the people who have been involved with, or inspired by, its work.

Finally, we take a trip to Burlington House, home of the Society of Antiquaries of London and its collections of more than 130,000 books and 40,000 objects. A new Affiliate Membership aims to make these resources more open to the public, so CA dropped by to learn about the Society’s history and holdings.

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In This Issue:



Excavating a Georgian time capsule
Archaeological investigations of the wreck of HMS Invincible, which sank off Portsmouth in 1758, have revealed what life was like on board one of the finest warships in the Georgian Royal Navy, and one of the best-preserved ships of its kind in UK waters. Now the story of Invincible’s loss, rediscovery, and excavation is being retold at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.


Neolithic flint-mines in the digital age
Excavations at Cissbury Ring hillfort, carried out in the 1950s, transformed our understanding of Neolithic flint-mining. Seventy years on, an innovative new interpretive trail has been launched at the West Sussex landmark, which is also home to a number of Bronze Age barrows and Romano-British fields, as well as traces of Tudor and Second World War defence systems. 


Saving heritage with new approaches to urban development
Saving heritage with new approaches to urban development Canterbury’s streets, buildings, and views are under threat from the scale of new buildings proposed for the city centre. CA reports on a manifesto published by SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which recommends a more historically sympathetic approach to urban development.


Celebrating half a century of experimental archaeology
Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire is marking its 50th birthday this year, offering an opportunity to look back over half a century of the site’s pioneering experimental archaeology and public educational work, and to share the memories of those who have contributed to the site’s development over the years. 


Exploring the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of London
With the Society of Antiquaries of London launching a new affiliate membership to make its collections more accessible to the public, we visited Burlington House to learn more about its eclectic holdings and more than three centuries of antiquarian activity.


Stone circle discovered inside Cornwall henge; Historic royal shipwreck found off Norfolk coast; Anglo-Saxon cemetery found in Buckinghamshire; Burials uncovered at Leicester Cathedral; Glasgow’s 1988 ‘Garden Festival’ rediscovered; Science Notes; Bronze Age spearhead found near Cirencester; Finds Tray


On the edge of empire: exploring indigenous experiences on the Roman frontier


Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive

At first light: Jodrell Bank, Cheshire

Territoriality and the Early Medieval Landscape: the countryside of the East Saxon Kingdom; The Romano-British Villa and Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Eccles, Kent; Seasonal Settlement in the Medieval and Early Modern Countryside; Warrior Treasure: the Staffordshire Hoard in Anglo-Saxon England; Buried: an alternative history of the first millennium in Britain; Scenes from Prehistoric Life: from the Ice Age to the coming of the Romans

The Florence Nightingale Museum, London 

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions

A selection of events, activities, and digital resources running as part of the Festival of Archaeology this July

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

CAER Heritage

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