Current Archaeology 405

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Our cover story travels to Llanddwyn Island, off the coast of Anglesey, where archaeologists have been documenting traces of two remote and self-sufficient communities: a medieval monastery, and the lighthouse keepers and their families who overlooked the Menai Strait in more recent centuries.

We next travel to Stonehenge to share a little-known episode of this world-famous monument’s past:
the colourful dahlia festivals that saw crowds of up to 10,000 people flocking to the site in the 1840s.

Eagle-eyed readers might spot that we don’t have a museum or exhibition review this month; this is because two of our features focus on recently opened heritage attractions. The first is Ad Gefrin in Northumberland, which tells the story of the early medieval kingdom of Northumbria and the royal centre at Yeavering; the other is Avalon Archaeology, an innovative open-air museum in Somerset.

You will also doubtless have seen the sad news about the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree. We have taken this as a springboard to explore three different perspectives: how ideas of ‘iconic’ views of Hadrian’s Wall have changed over time, the archaeological context of the tree itself, and how its loss can help us to reflect on current environmental issues.

Finally, tickets are now on sale for the next Current Archaeology Live! – join us in London on 24 February for our annual conference, featuring a full day of talks from leading experts about the latest discoveries and research. See for more information.

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In This Issue:



Celebrating ‘dahlia-mania’ at Stonehenge
Stonehenge has long been associated with mass gatherings, but the Victorian dahlia festivals that, for a brief window in the 1840s, drew crowds of thousands to the stones have been almost forgotten.


The archaeology of Llanddwyn Island
A decade-long investigation on a small island off the coast of Anglesey has illuminated the remote religious community that lived there for over 1,000 years, and the ruins of a 12th-century church.


Distilling the spirit of Northumbria’s Golden Age
Yeavering was once a palatial royal centre associated with the early medieval kingdom of Northumbria. What can a new attraction opened nearby, together with recent excavations, add to its story?


Exploring ‘icons’ of the Hadrian’s Wall landscape
Inspired by reactions to the recent felling of the Sycamore Gap tree, we explore how different sections of the Roman frontier have attracted artistic interest as the key view over the centuries.


An archaeological history of Sycamore Gap
Continuing on our theme, we examine the archaeological and landscape context of the Sycamore Gap tree itself.


A cultural ecology of the Sycamore Gap tree
Completing our triptych of articles inspired by the Sycamore Gap tree, we consider it in the light of current environmental issues.


A new open-air archaeological museum in Somerset
How did an experimental archaeology project, intended to engage volunteers in traditional building and craft techniques, evolve into a new open-air archaeological museum?


Stonehenge Altar Stone is probably not from Wales; Pair of rare Roman-era swords found in Gloucestershire; Revealing the lives of Iron Age and Roman farmers in Nottinghamshire; ’Glencoe Massacre’ coin hoard discovered; Brownfield site yields unexpected finds in Cambridge; Science Notes; Second World War catapult found in Oxfordshire; Finds Tray


Highlights from the CARD Fund: community radiocarbon-dating fund delivers fresh results


Joe Flatman excavates the CA archive

Clearing the cairns: Carn Glas, Inverness

The Bone Chests: unlocking the secrets of the Anglo-Saxons; Ballynahatty: excavations in a Neolithic monumental landscape; The Forgotten Cemetery: excavations at Ranelagh, Co. Roscommon; The Archaeology of Ironbridge Gorge in 20 Digs; Roman Towns; The Living Stone: stories of uncanny sculpture, 1858-1948

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.

Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues

Pipe up for Pipe Organs

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