Current Archaeology 396

3 mins read

The island of Rousay is only around four miles long, but it boasts such an extraordinary richness of archaeological remains – with sites almost outnumbering people – that it has earned the nickname ‘the Egypt of the North’. Our cover story this month represents the concluding part of the Orkney trilogy that we have been running, drawing on my visit to the archipelago last summer. During this trip, I went to see the excavation at the Knowe of Swandro, an impressively long-lived site, but one whose stonework is being rapidly eroded by the sea.

A relatively more recent feat of masonry is the focus of our next feature: St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, today hailed as London’s oldest surviving parish church. As this ecclesiastical edifice marks its 900th birthday, we trace its history back to its earliest origins as the brainchild of an ailing ex-jester.

We then explore Arminghall Henge in Norfolk, home to a mighty timber monument that was described as a ‘second Woodhenge’ when it was discovered in 1929. The site was first excavated in 1935, and last year archaeologists reopened this original trench, revealing glimpses of the timbers’ fiery end.

Finally, our regular contributor Joe Flatman guides us through the myriad roles fulfilled by archaeologists within the National Trust, and updates us on recent research concerning some of its sites.

I hope to see lots of you at our annual conference, which returns as an in-person event later this month; click here for the latest details of the event (and how to book your ticket if you haven’t already done so!).

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In This Issue:



Excavating eroding archaeology on Rousay
In the third part of our Orkney trilogy, we visit a multi-period site on Rousay. The Knowe of Swandro spans the Neolithic, Iron Age, Pictish, and Norse periods of Orkney’s past, but archaeologists are in a race against time and tide to document its remains before they are lost to the sea.


Tracing the history of London’s oldest surviving parish church
One of the few buildings in the City to have survived the Great Fire of London, St Bartholomew the Great began its life as a priory and hospital, founded by Henry I’s minstrel and courtier Rahere, after he fell sick on a pilgrimage to Rome. Here, we explore its 900-year history.


A burnt timber circle from prehistoric Norfolk
What can the re-excavation of a trench, first dug by Grahame Clark at Arminghall Henge almost a century ago, tell us about the site’s monumental timber circle and its fiery end?


Exploring archaeological pathways in the National Trust
The role of a National Trust archaeologist is diverse and ever- evolving. Joe Flatman delves into the many responsibilities of this position, touching on recent research that NT archaeologists have been involved in, as well as the different routes into the profession.


Bronze Age goldworking toolkit revealed; Neolithic axe-grinding site discovered near Stirling; Elizabethan- era ship discovered in Kent quarry; Further finds along the A428; Mysterious ‘Eadburg’ etched into early medieval manuscript; Science Notes; Medieval market town revealed in County Kilkenny; Finds Tray


Ritual remains: excavating a Bronze Age barrow and a Roman ‘shrine’ in Overstone


Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive

Defending the dreaming spires: Civil War ramparts discovered in Oxford

Canterbury Cathedral, Trinity Chapel: the archaeology of the mosaic pavement and setting of the shrine of St Thomas Becket; Wroxeter: ashes under Uricon; Waterlands: prehistoric life at Bar Pasture, Pode Hole Quarry, Peterborough; The Book of the Skelligs; Heritage Dynamics: understanding and adapting to change in diverse heritage contexts; Excavations at Chester: Roman land division and a probable villa in the hinterland of Deva – excavation at Saighton Army Camp, Huntington, Chester

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions

Gladiators: a cemetery of secrets at the Corinium Museum, Cirencester

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

Roman women: tracking down female archaeologists of the Roman frontiers

The latest details of Current Archaeology Live! 2023

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

The British Cartographic Society

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