Current Archaeology 394

3 mins read

Following the recent accession of our new king, Charles III, it seems a good time to explore the history of one of the most-senior but least-well-understood royal residences in London: St James’s Palace. This month’s cover highlights the splendour of its buildings, but its story is turbulent and often surprising, beginning on the site of a medieval leper hospital, later serving as a 17th-century army garrison and prison, and remaining the official base for the royal court today.

From palaces to Roman villas, a site-type that is also often associated with luxurious living, excavations near Bristol have provided a rare opportunity to explore the entire outline of one such complex of buildings, shedding fascinating light on how these estates may have functioned.

We next take a tour of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney (the first of a planned trio of articles drawing on my recent visit to the islands; watch out for the others in subsequent issues!). There, a graffiti survey has recorded over 600 markings, reflecting the activities of centuries of worshippers, pilgrims, and secular visitors.

Finally, we take to the skies to celebrate the work of the late Harold Wingham, an unsung pioneer of aerial photography. Almost 2,000 of his images documenting ancient monuments, historic buildings, and relics of industry and infrastructure have recently been made available online for the first time; in this month’s ‘In Focus’, we survey his life and archaeological impact.

Speaking of celebrating: I’m delighted that CA Live! 2023 will return as an in-person event on 25 February next year. Voting is now open for the 2023 CA Awards, too; click here to find out more about the conference and here to see the nominees.

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In This Issue:



Tackling a previously unknown Roman villa at Dings Crusaders RFC
Discovered beneath disused rugby pitches in Stoke Gifford, just north of Bristol, the buildings of a Roman villa estate were excavated by Cotswold Archaeology between 2016 and 2018. What has post-excavation analysis revealed about life in this part of Gloucestershire during the Roman period?


Exploring historic graffiti in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall
A recent survey of historic graffiti at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall has highlighted the lives of the everyday people – from local Orcadians to those from further afield – who came to pray, work, or otherwise visit this site over the centuries.


The evolution of St James’s Palace from leper hospital to royal court
While Buckingham Palace has been the main London residence of British monarchs since the Victorian period, St James’s Palace, on the other side of The Mall, remains the official seat of the sovereign. Despite this, little had been known about its history until now. Here, we explore a new, in-depth account of the 800-year history of this often-overlooked royal palace.


Surveying the aerial photography of Harold Wingham
Harold Wingham was a largely unsung champion of the use of aerial photography in archaeology. We explore his life and work through his images, which were recently made available to the public online for the first time in a new Historic England project.


New dietary evidence for The Cairns ‘Elder’; The first Palaeolithic DNA from Britain successfully sequenced; Roman villa and bathhouse unearthed in Kent; Historic England announces its 2022 Heritage at Risk Register; Ogham inscription discovered on Pictish cross found near Doune; Science Notes; Rare investigation in Verulamium; Finds Tray


Highlights from the CARD Fund: community radiocarbon-dating fund continues to unlock new secrets


Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive

‘One of the most valuable women that ever lived’, Bath Abbey

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: the Roman frontiers in Wales; Dying Young: a bioarchaeological analysis of child health in Roman Britain; The Watlington Hoard: coinage, kings, and the Viking Great Army in Oxfordshire, AD 875-880; Clachtoll: an Iron Age broch settlement in Assynt, north-west Scotland; The Marlborough Mound: prehistoric mound, medieval castle, Georgian garden; Walking the Antonine Wall

Highlighting hieroglyphs at the British Museum and the Petrie Museum

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions

Our selection of exhibitions and events, as well as historical, archaeological, and cultural resources from around the world that are still available online.

Details about Current Archaeology Live! 2023, including the nominees for our annual awards

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

The London Gasketeers

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