Category Archives: ENGLAND

Timbers of Fifteenth-Century Newport Ship Analyzed

Timbers of Fifteenth-Century Newport Ship Analyzed

Tree-ring analysis has been able to date a medieval ship found in a Welsh riverbank within a few months. The wreck of a 15th Century ship was found in the mud of Newport’s River Usk in 2002 and experts believe it is as significant a find as the Mary Rose.

Now researchers have found timbers from the hull of the former wine-trading vessel were made from oak trees that were felled in the winter of 1457-58.

“It helps us refine when the ship was built,” said ship curator Toby Jones.

It is another major development for the Newport ship conservation project who have been working for more than 20 years to conserve and ultimately rebuild the vessel, which is a century older than the Mary Rose.

Earlier this year, the team working on the £8m project finished the conservation process of the 2,500 pieces of wood uncovered in the banks of the River Usk by workers building Newport’s Riverfront Theatre. Experts believe the 30m (98ft), 400 tonne, medium-sized boat was having a refit in Newport in 1468 or 1469 following a voyage from the Iberian Peninsula to Bristol when its moorings broke.

After collapsing into an inlet of the River Usk, its 25-tonne hull was found more than 550 years later preserved in a wet, muddy riverbank.

Timbers of Fifteenth-Century Newport Ship Analyzed
The Newport ship was uncovered in 2002 when constructing a new theatre on the banks of the River Usk.

Archaeologists are planning the world’s largest attempt to put an archaeological ship back together which historians have called the the world’s largest 3D puzzle.

TV historian Dan Snow has said the Newport ship was “one of the most interesting and important shipwrecks found in British waters in a generation” and was of “global significance and interest”.

In another breakthrough, experts now know when the ship was built using oxygen isotope dendrochronology – an advanced study of tree-ring data – to determine an estimated date when it was built.

“We do know it came into Newport in 1468 or 1469 but we now know the ship was in existence for not quite a decade,” added Dr Jones.

This is how historians think the Newport ship may have looked as it docked in south Wales in the 15th Century.

“It allows us to really focus on that 1457-58 period for historical research but it shows this type of analysis has real potential to refine various parts of the construction sequence of the Newport ship.”

Research by University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea University suggests the vessel was constructed soon after the oak trees were chopped down in the winter of 1457-58.

The research, published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, also suggested the vessel had a working life of about 10 years before coming to Newport for repairs in the late 1460s.

The ship would have been moored on the River Usk in Newport in about 1468

Previous research has shown that the ship timbers originated from forests in the Basque Country in northern Spain and that the ship was likely built along the Basque coast.

Tudor king Henry VIII’s flagship naval vessel the Mary Rose is perhaps the most famous 16th Century ship on display while the Vasa in Sweden is the 17th Century equivalent.

Now historians say the Newport ship could become the only 15th Century maritime exhibit on show anywhere in the world when it is restored. Historians have undertaken painstaking 20-year conservation work including drying out, freeze drying treating the oak timbers before beginning to focus on rebuilding.

Researchers used pioneering oxygen isotope dendrochronology to help date the timbers of the Newport ship

Archaeologists had thought the ship may been 10 years older than the new analysis proves – and the research may possibly help experts rebuild the vessel.

“It allows us to focus our resources on that specific season,” said Dr Jones.

“We can cut out anything from early 1450s now so narrow it down to a smaller window we can be more effective in our research to identify the ship.

“We can start to do this analysis on many of the timbers and if it gets really precise, we can start to determine the construction sequence and what timbers were harvested when and when they were added to the ship – so we can put dates on every timber.”

The 2,500 planks from the Newport ship were held in wax for four years as part of the restoration process

Dr Jones said the pioneering dating of the Newport ship was “stunning” because of what the wood has been through.

“The Newport ship has been through a lot,” he said. “More than 500 years underground, gone through cleaning, conservation, soaked in wax and freeze-dried – and yet these isotope signatures are still in the timbers.

“I wouldn’t have thought that was possible but this analysis has proved that information is still locked away in those tree rings.

“It’s great for us, it’s great for the Newport ship but also means we can do it on other vessels and timber structures that previously didn’t date with traditional ring dendrochronology can now potentially be dated with oxygen isotope or stable isotope dendrochronology.

A third of the Newport ship – coloured in brown in this image – remains

“It’s really exciting, not just for ships and ship archaeology but for anything made of wood that’s old.”

Experts used oxygen isotope dendrochronology to estimate when the timbers were harvested which has been called a “revolutionary” development in dating wood, like the advent of DNA technology in criminology.

“This process is only five to 10 years old and allows us to find answers today that we couldn’t get before,” said Prof Nigel Nayling, University of Wales Trinity St David’s chair of archaeology.

“It’s a complex process that takes a long time, days and days of work, and a lot of resource but it is a game-changer for archaeologists, it’s a significant innovation.”

Roman Coin Hoards Found In The Conwy Valley Declared Treasure

Roman Coin Hoards Found In The Conwy Valley Declared Treasure

The two Roman coin hoards were discovered by metal-detectorists David Moss and Tom Taylor in Caerhun Community, Conwy, during the winter of 2018-2019.

Roman Coin Hoards Found In The Conwy Valley Declared Treasure
Larger Roman coin hoard found in ceramic vessel. Credit: Museum Wales

The larger hoard (Treasure Case 19.01) was found in a ceramic vessel. It contained 2,733 coins, a mix of silver denarii minted between 32 BC and AD 235, as well as silver and copper-alloy radiates (also known as antoniniani) struck between AD 215 and 270. The copper-alloy coins appear to have been put loosely in the pot, but most of the silver coins were held in two leather bags, which were placed at the very top of the hoard.

The smaller hoard (Treasure Case 19.03) comprises 37 silver denarii, ranging in date from 32 BC to AD 221, which were found scattered across a small area in the immediate vicinity of the larger hoard.

When the finders Tom and Dave discovered the larger hoard, they remembered what they had seen on Time Team and carefully excavated the pot, before wrapping it in bandages and reporting both hoards to Dr Susie White, Finds Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru) based at Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives.

David Moss, one of the finders of the coin hoards, said: “We had only just started metal-detecting when we made these totally unexpected finds. On the day of discovery, just before Christmas 2018, it was raining heavily, so I took a look at Tom and made my way across the field towards him to tell him to call it a day on the detecting, when all of a sudden, I accidentally clipped a deep object making a signal. It came as a huge surprise when I dug down and eventually revealed the top of the vessel that held the coins.”

“People do not realise the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes at the national museum, from excavating the coins, to looking after them and identifying them so they can be reported on as treasure……. it’s a huge process to be able to see the work unfold……to be involved at first hand as finders is an incredible experience.”

The hoards were then taken to Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales for micro-excavation and identification.

“In the conservation lab, investigation at the top of the pot quickly revealed that some of the coins had been in bags made from extremely thin leather, traces of which remained. It is very rare for organic materials such as this to survive in the soil. The surviving fragments, which included two fragments of a stitched seam, were preserved and will provide information about the type of leather used and how the bags were made,” Louise Mumford (Senior Conservator of Archaeology at Amgueddfa Cymru) said in a press statement.

TWI Technology Centre Wales in Port Talbot kindly offered to CT-scan the larger hoard in the ceramic vessel, to see whether more information could be gleaned before extraction of the coins began.

Consultant engineer at TWI, Ian Nicholson, said: “Our main focus is to provide our services for industry. However, we also like to support non-industry projects and offer a wider benefit. Radiography was the only inspection technique that had the potential to volumetrically reveal the inside of the coin hoard without damaging it.

Our state-of-the-art Computer Tomography inspection equipment uses high X-ray energy to penetrate thick metals, which is typically four times greater than the X-ray energies that dentists and hospitals use. We found the inspection challenge interesting and valuable when Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales approached us – it was a nice change from inspecting aeroplane parts.

Using our equipment, we were able to determine that there were coins at various locations in the bag. The coins were so densely packed in the centre of the pot that even our high radiation energies could not penetrate through the entire pot. Nevertheless, we could reveal some of the layout of the coins and confirm it wasn’t only the top of the pot where coins had been cached.”

The scan of the larger hoard found no evidence of further bags in the pot below the two visible at the top, and this proved to be correct as the pot was emptied. Along with the CT scans, a series of photographs and 3D models were created during the micro-excavation of the hoard. These will be used in further research, publications and displays.

Taking the coins out in layers revealed that the older coins were generally closer to the bottom while the last coins of the hoard were found in the upper layers. The hoard was probably buried in AD 270 at a time when the Roman Empire was split between the Central Empire and the Gallic Empire, which included Britain. The final coins in this hoard were issued during the reigns of Quintillus (AD 270) and Victorinus (AD 269-271).

Alastair Willis (Senior Curator: Numismatics and the Welsh Economy at Amgueddfa Cymru) said: “The coins in this hoard seem to have been collected over a long period of time. Most appear to have been put in the pot during the reigns of Postumus (AD 260-269) and Victorinus (AD 269-271), but the two bags of silver coins seem to have been collected much earlier during the early decades of the third century AD.”

The smaller hoard was probably buried in the AD 220s. The two hoards were found close to the remains of a Roman building which was excavated in 2013 and identified as a possible temple dating to the third century AD. The discovery of these hoards supports this suggestion.

It is very likely that the hoards were deposited here because of the religious significance of the site, perhaps as votive offerings, or for safe keeping under the protection of the temple’s deity. The coins may have belonged to soldiers at the nearby Roman fort of Canovium (located near Caerhun).

Llandudno Museum holds collections from Canovium fort and are keen to acquire these two important hoards with the support of Conwy Culture Centre and Amgueddfa Cymru.

Silver coins are found in the smaller hoard. Credit: Museum Wales

Dawn Lancaster, Director of Amgueddfa Llandudno Museum, said: “This is very exciting news for Amgueddfa Llandudno Museum. The opportunity to purchase these important coin hoards which are associated with Kanovium Roman Fort will allow future generations to see and experience a significant collection of ancient silver coins dating from 32BC and representing 50 rulers.”

“Llandudno Museum holds all previous finds from the excavation of Kanovium Roman Fort sited at Caerhun in the Conwy valley, so it is fitting the hoard is put into context along with the rest of the artefacts. Working with Amgueddfa Cymru we can share the story of their discovery and the importance to Welsh cultural heritage of our area these amazing finds represent.”

Amgueddfa Cymru belongs to everyone and is here for everyone to use. We are a charity and a family of seven national museums and a collections centre, located across the country. Our aim is to inspire everyone through Wales’ story, at our museums, in communities and digitally.

The two Roman coin hoards were declared treasure on Monday 9th October, by the Assistant Coroner for North Wales (East & Central), Kate Robertson.

Traces of Colorful Paint Detected on Parthenon Sculptures

Traces of Colorful Paint Detected on Parthenon Sculptures

This section from the Parthenon Marbles is now white, but it was painted when it was first crafted in the fifth century B.C.

The Parthenon Sculptures, also called the Elgin Marbles, were crafted by ancient Greeks 2,500 years ago to decorate the outside of the Parthenon temple in Athens. Now housed at the British Museum in London, they, like many old sculptures, are a muted mix of white, gray, and beige. 

But a new study reveals that the famous sculptures’ hues weren’t always so drab — in fact, they were once painted with vibrantly colored and intricate patterns.

Bright Egyptian blues, whites and purples once covered the statues depicting deities and mythical creatures guarding the fifth-century-B.C. temple.

The colors were used to represent the water that some figures rose from, the snakeskin of a mysterious sea serpent, the empty space and air in the background behind the statues, and figurative patterns on the robes of the gods, the researchers wrote in the study, which was published Wednesday (Oct. 11) in the journal Antiquity. 

“The Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum are considered one of the pinnacles of ancient art and have been studied for centuries now by a variety of scholars,” study lead author Giovanni Verri, a conservation scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago, said in a statement. “Despite this, no traces of colour have ever been found and little is known about how they were carved.”

As paint often doesn’t last long on marble and the sculptures’ surfaces weren’t prepared to enable adhesion from substances like paint, archaeologists long assumed that ancient Greek artists intentionally left the statues white. This even led historical restorations to remove past traces of paint found on the sculptures, the researchers said.

To investigate the statues’ past, archaeologists used luminescent imaging, a technique that causes trace chemical elements from hidden paint on the sculptures’ surfaces to glow. The team quickly discovered hidden patterns emerging on the statues’ surfaces, revealing floral designs and smudged figurative depictions.

Four pigments were primarily found: a blue that was first created by the Egyptians and was the main color used by ancient Greeks and Romans, a purple tint made according to an unknown recipe (most purple was made with shellfish from the ancient Mediterranean, but this one wasn’t), and two whites likely derived from the mineral gypsum and bone white, a pigment made from bone ash.

It’s likely that these colors were “as visually important as the carving,” the researchers wrote in the study, as “it was what the viewer saw.”

“The elegant and elaborate garments were possibly intended to represent the power and might of the Olympian gods, as well as the wealth and reach of Athens and the Athenians, who commissioned the temple,” Verri said.

The researchers found traces of paint on the backs of the sculptures, meaning they were “certainly contemporary to the building” and likely were painted first and then placed on the temple.

The 17 sculptures, once part of a 525-foot-long (160 meters) marble frieze depicting classical Greek myths, were brought to the U.K. in the 19th century after being ripped from the walls of the Parthenon by Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin and Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. His involvement initially gave the sculptures their “Elgin Marbles” nickname.

Bruce sold the statues, which constituted roughly half of the surviving sculptures, to the British government in 1816. Now kept in the British Museum, the sculptures have been the subject of a formal repatriation controversy between the U.K. and Greece since 1983.

As the marbles are primarily fragments, the story they tell isn’t completely clear. But they include sculptures of gods reacting to the birth of Athena, who is said to have burst from Zeus’ swollen head after a mighty blow from the axe of Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths.

15th-Century Theater Floorboards Uncovered in Norfolk

15th-Century Theater Floorboards Uncovered in Norfolk

A theater in Norfolk believes it has discovered the only surviving stage on which William Shakespeare performed. St George’s Guildhall in King’s Lynn is the oldest working theater in the UK, dating back to 1445.

William Shakespeare acted as well as writing some of the greatest works of English drama

During recent renovations, timber floorboards were found under the existing auditorium, and they have been dated back to the 15th century. The theater claims documents show that Shakespeare acted at the venue in 1592 or 1593.

At the time, acting companies left the capital when theaters in London were closed due to the plague. The Earl of Pembroke’s Men, thought to include Shakespeare, visited King’s Lynn.

“We have the borough account book from 1592–93, which records that the borough paid Shakespeare’s company to come and play in the venue,” explains Tim FitzHigham, the Guildhall’s creative director.

15th-Century Theater Floorboards Uncovered in Norfolk
Dr Jonathan Clark showing Colin Paterson the original floorboards

The floorboards were uncovered last month during a renovation project at the Guildhall. They had been covered up for 75 years after a replacement floor was installed in the theater.

Dr. Jonathan Clark, an expert in historical buildings, was brought on board to research the venue. “We wanted to open up an area just to check, just to see if there was an earlier floor surviving here. And lo and behold, we found this,” he says, pointing through a temporary trapdoor.

A couple of inches below the modern floor are what he believes to be boards trodden by the Bard, each 12 inches (30cm) wide and 6 inches deep.

Dr. Clark used a combination of tree-ring dating and a survey of how the building was assembled (“really unusual as the boards locked together and were then pegged through to some massive bridging beams”) to date the floor to between 1417 and 1430 when the Guildhall was originally built.

“We know that these [floorboards] were definitely here in 1592, and in 1592 we think Shakespeare was performing in King’s Lynn, so this is likely to be the surface that Shakespeare was walking on,” he says.

“It’s this end of the hall where performances took place.”

St George’s Guildhall in King’s Lynn is hosting a discussion about the discovery

Dr. Clark believes this is a hugely important discovery because not only is it the largest 15th-century timber floor in the country, but it would also be the sole surviving example of a stage on which Shakespeare acted.

“It’s the only upper floor, which is in something of its original state, where he could have been walking or performing,” he says.

There has been much academic debate over the years about whether Shakespeare did act in King’s Lynn, but experts say the discovery is significant.

Tiffany Stern, professor of Shakespeare and early modern drama at the University of Birmingham, tells the BBC: “The evidence he was there has to be patched together but is quite strong.”

It was “very likely” that he was a member of the Earl of Pembroke’s Men because they performed his plays Henry VI and Titus Andronicus, and they did visit King’s Lynn in 1593, she says.

Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, says: “The uncovering of the actual boards really trodden by Shakespeare’s troupe during their tours of East Anglia should be far more significant to archaeologists of the Elizabethan theatre than is the conjectural replica of the Globe theatre erected near the real, long-demolished Globe’s foundations in central London in the 1990s.”

Upstart crow

Back at the venue, FitzHigham believes a number of theories strengthen the argument that Shakespeare performed there.

Shakespeare’s comedian Robert Armin was born just one street away, he notes, while a Norfolk writer called Robert Greene famously described the Bard as an “upstart crow” in what was essentially a bad review in 1592.

The debate will continue. On Thursday, the discovery will be discussed at a talk at the venue called Revealing the Secrets of the Guildhall. Finally, FitzHigham takes me underneath the stage, making us squeeze between beams and using a torch, to allow a closer look at the huge expanse of medieval floorboards, which he explains is the size of a tennis court.

“600 years old,” he says with a real sense of wonder.

“Not just Shakespeare’s trodden on it, but everyone in between and we’re trying to make that safe and share it with everybody for the next hundreds of years going forward.”

Golf course workers dig up 4,000-year-old tree-trunk coffin with warrior skeleton holding axe

Golf course workers dig up 4,000-year-old tree-trunk coffin with warrior skeleton holding axe

Archaeologists in England have analyzed a half-ton coffin dating to the early Bronze Age that was found under a golf course in Lincolnshire County.

Golf course workers dig up 4,000-year-old tree-trunk coffin with warrior skeleton holding axe
York Archeological Trusts Ian Panter moves part of the tree coffin into its preservation bath.
One end of the tree coffin has a notch cut out, which scientists removed in order to determine the tree’s age using dendrochronology, but as it was a fast-growing species only carbon-14 dating would work.

The coffin, cut from a single oak tree and thought to be about 4,000 years old, contained human remains, a hafted axe, and a bed of plant material meant to cushion the body in its eternal slumber.

Maintenance workers discovered the burial in July 2019 while tending to a water hazard at the Tetney Golf Club in Grimsby. The coffin was under a gravel mound, a special situation that indicates a certain amount of community involvement in the burial.

As is standard for objects of historical significance found in England and Wales, the find was reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which processes such reports and ensures that the objects are properly handed.

Objects made of old wood (think shipwrecks, coffins, and even ship burials) are prone to disintegration when they are removed from water or soil after millennia and exposed to sunlight and air. To prevent that from happening to the find, the excavated objects were immediately put in bags filled with groundwater, and the coffin was put in cold storage for a year.

Afterward, the coffin was moved to the York Archaeological Trust, where conservators have been working on it and the associated artifacts, including an axe.

Ian Panter works on the 4,000-year-old oak coffin.

“The man buried at Tetney lived in a very different world to ours, but like ours, it was a changing environment; rising sea levels and coastal flooding ultimately covered his grave and burial mound in a deep layer of silt that aided its preservation,” said Tim Allen, a Sheffield-based archaeologist for Historic England, in a York Archaeological Trust press release.

An interesting component of the work was the environmental analysis of the plant bedding.

Hugh Willmott, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield who participated in the excavations, said on Twitter that moss, yew or juniper, hazelnuts, and leaf buds were found in the coffin.

The types of floral remains indicated that the burial likely took place toward the end of spring, some four millennia ago, when a few woolly mammoths still survived. Willmott said in an email to Gizmodo that the hazelnuts may have been a food offering, while the moss could have been a sort of bed for the deceased.

Not much is currently known about the human remains, though the archaeological team suspects it was an individual of some social importance.

Willmott said that initial attempts to extract DNA have been unsuccessful. Dating the coffin is still ongoing—the archaeologists need to do a combination of dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating, which they can cross-reference to find out the year the tree was felled, give or take a couple of years.

The long-shafted axe found in the coffin has a small head.

A shockingly well-preserved axe was found with the person; the handle looks like it could have been varnished yesterday. The axe head is a combination of stone and fossilized coral.

Based on the object’s shape and size—the axe head is less than 4 inches across—the team believes it was a symbol of authority rather than a practical tool. There are very few such axes known in Britain, perhaps only 12, according to the York Archaeological Trust, making this one of the most eye-catching elements of the discovery.

The wooden coffin joins some 65-odd objects like those found around England. Preservationists said in the same release that the axe should be fully preserved within the year, but the coffin will take at least two years to fully treat due to the object’s size.

This research comes on the heels of the University of Sheffield’s decision to close its archaeology department, as reported by the BBC in July, and the University of Worcester announcing the closure of its archaeology department, also reported by the BBC.

The Campaign to Save British Archaeology was launched in response to the closures. This trend is a troubling one. Had the Sheffield archaeological team not been close by when the Bronze Age coffin was unearthed, the cultural heritage could’ve quickly deteriorated.

Thanks to the quick thinking of the nearby archaeologists, the objects are being preserved and will be displayed at the Collection Museum in Lincolnshire.

Two Roman Britain swords unearthed – first time two have been found in the ground together

Two Roman Britain swords unearthed – first time two have been found in the ground together

Two Roman Britain swords have been unearthed—the first time a pair has been found together, experts say. The 2,000-year-old ‘rare and important’ Roman cavalry swords, along with wooden scabbards and fitments, were discovered in the Cotswolds.

Two Roman Britain swords unearthed - first time two have been found in the ground together
The Roman Cavalry Swords were found near Cirencester

They were discovered near Cirencester by Glenn Manning during a metal detectorist rally. Experts say they ”can’t think of finds of more than one sword being deposited in any similar circumstance from Roman Britain”.

The swords were appraised by Professor Simon James from Leicester University who says they are middle imperial Roman swords commonly referred to as a spatha.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold District Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture, and Health, and Emma Stuart, Corinium Museum Director with the Roman Cavalry Swords. Release date September 18, 2023. See SWNS story SWMRsword. Two Roman Britain swords have been unearthed – the first time a pair have been found together, experts say. The 2,000-year-old ‘rare and important’ Roman cavalry swords along with wooden scabbards and fitments were discovered in the Cotswolds. They were discovered near Cirencester by Glenn Manning during a metal detectorist rally. Experts say they ”cant think of finds of more than one sword being deposited in any similar circumstance from Roman Britain”. Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, said: People famously asked, What have the Romans ever done for us?. ”Well, they have just given us some amazing examples of weapons used almost 2000 years ago when Cirencester was the second biggest town in Britain.’ ”This is truly a remarkable archaeological find and I can’t wait for visitors to see them on display in the years to come. The swords were appraised by Professor Simon James from Leicester University who says they are middle imperial Roman swords commonly referred to as a spatha. They were in use in the Roman world probably by the 160s, through the later second century, and far into the third century AD.

They were in use in the Roman world probably by the 160s, through the later second century, and far into the third century AD.

Their considerable length suggests that they are cavalry weapons – meaning they were intended for use on horseback.

Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, said: “People famously asked, ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’.

‘Well, they have just given us some amazing examples of weapons used almost 2000 years ago when Cirencester was the second biggest town in Britain.’

”This is truly a remarkable archaeological find and I can’t wait for visitors to see them on display in the years to come.”

It was not illegal for civilians to own such weapons and to carry them for travelling because Roman provinces were plagued with banditry.

Proffessor James, said: “In terms of parallels, I can’t think of finds of more than one sword being deposited in any similar circumstance from Roman Britain.

”The closest that springs to mind was a pair of similar swords found in Canterbury—with their owners, face down in a pit within the city walls, clearly a clandestine burial, almost certainly a double murder.”

Soon after the discovery, Kurt Adams, Finds Liaison Officer, deposited the finds with the Corinium Museum to ensure their preservation.

Historic England is assisting the museum by arranging for the swords to go for further analysis under x-ray.

An archaeological appraisal at the dig site in the north of the Cotswolds may follow to help put the swords into context, as we don’t know why they ended up buried in the Cotswolds.

Rare 2,000-Year-Old Roman Hoard Discovered In Suffolk

Rare 2,000-Year-Old Roman Hoard Discovered In Suffolk

Archaeologists report a rare discovery of late Roman pewter plates, platters, bowls, and a cup that have been made in Euston, in the west of Suffolk, UK.

The remains of the vessels were buried in a pit and carefully stacked, suggesting that they were placed as a single group, possibly for safekeeping or an offering.

The Euston hoard being lifted.

They have just gone on display at the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Museum, near Bury St Edmunds, until January 2024.

The hoard was discovered in Autumn 2022 by local metal detector user Martin White whilst taking part in an East of England Rally – an organized detecting event.

“I’ve been detecting for about 10 years, and this is the most high-profile find I’ve made so far, it was very exciting! We quickly consulted with the Archaeological Service so that the items could be removed and recorded without being damaged.

It was a privilege to be involved in the whole process, from discovery to excavation to seeing the finds go on display,” White said.

“It is amazing to think that this fragile hoard has survived thousands of years, and being discovered by Martin, that adds to the Suffolk story,” Councillor Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro, Suffolk County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Protected Landscapes and Archaeology said.

Rare 2,000-Year-Old Roman Hoard Discovered In Suffolk
The Euston hoard after conservation.

“This is a significant discovery. The larger plates and platters were used to allow food to be served communally and the octagonal bowls may have a Christian reference. Similar hoards are found across southern Britain, including from the nearby large Roman settlements at Icklingham and Hockwold,” Faye Minter, Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Archives and Projects Manager, said in a press statement.

“We are very grateful for the kind donation of this hoard to West Stow Anglo-Saxon village and Museum and thrilled to be able to put it on display for local people to see. It adds a new strand to the story of our past in this area in the later Roman period – at a time just before the settlement at West Stow was beginning,” Cllr Ian Shipp, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture at West Suffolk Council, which runs West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village said.

A 2,000-year-old wooden bridge that once linked England and Wales discovered

A 2,000-year-old wooden bridge that once linked England and Wales discovered

A 2,000-year-old wooden bridge that once linked England and Wales discovered

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Roman and Anglo-Saxon fortifications in the town of Chepstow in the United Kingdom.

Surprisingly, however, the town was also home to an ancient bridge that connected England and Wales before the formation of the two countries.

Archaeologists discovered the wooden structure while looking for evidence in the shadow of a 950-year-old Norman castle on a muddy bank on the Wye riverbank. Known as the gateway to Wales, Chepstow is a border town steeped in history.

This wooden structure – believed to have been built by the Romans 2,000 years ago – was found preserved in mud following a race against time to uncover it during an ‘extreme low tide event’.

Simon Maddison, of the Chepstow Archaeological Society (CAS), said, “The team were able to locate upright timbers in a tidal pool on the location of the Roman crossing.

Until the results come back, we won’t know for sure the period of the structure. We are thrilled with what we were able to achieve and await dating results with keen anticipation.”

Archaeologists had just a two-hour window to dig it out and had to be assisted by specialist rescue teams because of the perilous nature of their task.

The ancient crossing links a route between Wales and England from around half a mile upstream of Chepstow to the village of Tutshill in Gloucestershire. It served as a vital link between these regions for centuries, long before modern transportation networks existed.

Experts from CAS were given assistance by members of the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA).

Discovery was chanced upon by the Chepstow-based archaeology team due to a fortuitous 2-hour ‘extreme low tide event’. Due to the tidal event, these ‘upright timbers’ were located in a tidal pool just off the riverbed.

Two of the timber remnants, thought to be from a Roman bridge of the River Wye, between what is now the border of England and Wales.

“Excavating around these we were able to expose very substantial timbers and beautiful joints that are probably part of an original pier and cutwater.

We took timber samples for dendrochronological and possible Carbon-14 dating, but until the results come back, we won’t know for sure the period of the structure,” added Maddison.

The bridge was previously discovered and partially excavated in 1911 by Dr. Orville Owen. It also appeared on an old Ordnance Survey map at around the same time but has been buried in mud ever since.