Current Archaeology 399

3 mins read

Around 4,000 years ago, a teenaged girl was laid to rest in what today is Northumberland, about 12km north-west of Newcastle. She would not be alone for long, as the ring- ditched monument in which she lay would soon accommodate the remains of at least five more individuals. Now the sequence of these burials and other insights into the area’s prehistoric past have been revealed, as our cover story reports.

We also visit rural outposts of empire to explore the latest thinking on Romano-British villas. What light can new discoveries and interpretations shed on their role in the cultural and religious landscape – and is it possible to devise a definition that fits them all?

Remaining in the Roman period, we next visit Richborough Roman fort, which reopened to the public last month. The site museum has been completely transformed, showcasing Richborough’s astonishing wealth of finds: what new stories can these objects tell about the fort and the people who lived and worked there?

Our fourth feature spotlights a Shropshire site where a significant example of later prehistoric rock art was uncovered during the digging of a trench for a new fence. We consider the Whixall Stone’s motifs, its contribution to our understanding of ancient artistry, and its uncertain future.

Finally, what does the past smell like to you? Heritage attractions often tap into our sense of smell to help bring history to life, and years after visiting together, my sister and I still use ‘like the JORVIK Viking Centre’ as shorthand for a particular wood-smoky aroma. This month’s ‘In Focus’ features AromaPrime, the company behind many of these scents, which has just celebrated its 50th birthday.

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In This Issue:



Rethinking the role of villas
Were Roman villas solely rural farmsteads, or did they have diverse functions in the social and ritual landscape? We explore a new volume bringing together excavated evidence from sites across Britain.


Tracing life and death on the edge of the Northumberland Coastal Plain
The recent excavation of a ring-ditch in Ponteland has uncovered a complex sequence of early Bronze Age burials, as well as giving wider insights into life in prehistoric Northumberland.


Reimagining Richborough Roman fort
Richborough is often regarded as a key link between Roman Britain and the Continent. What has a recent transformation of the site’s museum collections revealed about this influential place?


Tracing a later prehistoric engraved stone from Shropshire
What can a rock carved with motifs of concentric circles and cup-and-ring designs, found near Whixall in Shropshire, add to our understanding of rock art in this part of the country, where other examples are notably scarce?


How ancient odours can bring the past to life
For the last 50 years, AromaPrime – and its predecessor Dale Air – have been creating specialist scents to capture both memory and imagination. Today, their customers range from amusement parks to museums, all hoping to transport their visitors to a specific period of the past through smell.


Multi-period cemetery discovered in West Yorkshire; Domesday pottery location excavated in Gloucestershire; Bronze Age and Roman occupation found near Newquay; Roman mosaic uncovered in Buckinghamshire; Major Roman bathhouses revealed in Carlisle; Science Notes; Earliest-known true tartan identified; Finds Tray


Anglo-Saxon ivory: exploring exotic artefacts from Scremby’s early medieval cemetery


Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive

Deciphering the Stone of Destiny: The Engine Shed, Stirling

Doggerland: lost world under the North Sea; Whispering Walls: First World War graffiti; Signalling and Performance: ancient rock art in Britain and Ireland; Rethinking Roundhouses: later prehistoric settlement in Britain and beyond; Tarradale Through Time: community archaeology on the Black Isle; The Public Archaeology of Treasure

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions

Rendelsham Revealed: the heart of a kingdom AD 400-800 at Sutton Hoo

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

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

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