Category Archives: ENGLAND

Anglo-Saxon gold pendant found in Norfolk declared treasure

Student’s Lucky Find Worth £145,000 Is Rewriting Anglo-Saxon History

A student in Norfolk certainly never dreamed that he could rewrite Anglo Saxon history with a finding of a female skeleton wearing a pendant – but experts say that the “exquisite” gold piece is doing just that.

“A discovery of a female skeleton bearing a gold pendant imported from Sri Lanka with coins bearing the marks of a continental king is prompting a fundamental reassessment of the seats of power in Anglo Saxon England.”  Stated by the Telegraph.

The items are known as the Winfarthing Woman’s treasure An examination of grave objects, i.e. two inscribed coins, suggests that the grave’s owner was buried between 650 to 675 AD and was an elite member of society, possibly even royalty.

One of the large gold pendants found on the skeleton is inlaid with hundreds of tiny garnets. That artifact alone has been valued at £145,000 (almost $190,000).

A delicate gold filigree cross found in the burial suggests that the woman may have been one of the earliest Anglo Saxon converts to Christianity. Other items found in the grave included two identical Merovingian gold coins which had been made into pendants and two gold beads.

Senior Curator of the Norwich Castle Museum Dr. Tim Pestell said the craftsmanship of these objects is “equal” to the famous Staffordshire Hoard.

The Anglo-Saxon pendant found at the rich grave in Winfarthing, Norfolk.

In an amusing turn of events, the discovery was made at a site that has been overlooked by archaeologists over the years due to the poor soil.

But Thomas Lucking, who found the site in 2015 decided that the location was worth an examination. “We could hear this large signal.

We knew there was something large but couldn’t predict it would be like that,” he said, “When it came out the atmosphere changed.”

The Guardian reports the first artifact unearthed was a bronze bowl placed at the feet of the skeleton when the human remains were noted Lucking paused the dig to call the county archaeology unit in.

Excavating the Anglo-Saxon grave in Winfarthing, Norfolk.

Work continues at the site first identified by Lucking as it has been identified as a cemetery, possibly with a settlement located nearby as well. Mr. Lucking now works as a full-time archaeologist.

Two other interesting discoveries described at the launch of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure annual reports at the British Museum include two Bronze Age hoards and a Roman coin collection.

One of the Bronze Age hoards consisted of 158 axes and ingots while the other consisted of 27 axes and ingots. Both were found in Driffield, East Yorkshire, and date to around 950-850 BC.

The Roman coins numbered more than 2,000 and were discovered inside a pottery vessel in Piddletrenthide, Dorset.

Some of the artifacts found in the Driffield hoard.

Brain dead: 2600-year-old perfectly preserved British brain found

Brain dead: 2600-year-old perfectly preserved British brain found

In England, a 2 600-year-old human skull discovered was less surprising than what it was: the brain. The discovery of the yellowish, crinkly, shrunk brain led to questions about the survival of such a fragile organ and the intensity of its preserving.

Except for the brain, all of the skull’s soft tissue was gone when the skull was pulled from a muddy Iron Age pit where the University of York was planning to expand its Heslington East campus. 

“It was just amazing to think that a brain of someone who had died so many thousands of years ago could persist just in wet ground,” said Sonia O’Connor, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Bradford. O’Connor led a team of researchers who assessed the state of the brain after it was found in 2008 and looked into likely modes of preservation.

Speaking two years ago, Sonia O’Connor, research fellow in archaeological sciences at the University of Bradford, said: ‘The hydrated state of the brain (pictured) and the lack of evidence for putrefaction suggests that burial, in the fine-grained, anoxic sediments of the pit, occurred very rapidly after death’

“It’s particularly surprising because if you talk to pathologists who deal with fresh dead bodies they say the first organ to really deteriorate and to basically go to liquid is the brain because of its high-fat content,” O’Connor said.

When it was found, the skull – which belonged to a man probably between 26 and 45 years old – was accompanied by a jaw and two neck vertebrae, bearing evidence of hanging and then decapitation.

Cut marks on the inside of the neck indicate that the head was severed while there was still flesh on the bones, O’Connor said. There is, however, no indication of why he was hanged, and the rest of his remains have yet to be found.

More than a decade earlier, O’Connor was involved in the discovery of 25 preserved brains within medieval-era remains from Kingston-upon-Hull in England. Aside from the brains, only bones remained, and all other soft tissue was gone.

In this regard, the so-called Heslington brain and the medieval remains are quite different from mummies, frozen bodies, or intentionally preserved remains because in these cases other soft-tissue – skin, muscles and so on – is preserved as well. None of the recently discovered remains showed any signs that they were intentionally preserved.

The Heslington remains, along with others O’Connor has discovered, appear to have been buried quickly after death in wet environments where the absence of oxygen prevented the brain tissue from putrefying.

But while the oxygen-free environment seems key, it is not possible to rule out other factors like certain diseases or physiological changes, such as those that accompany starvation, that might predispose the brain to be preserved this way, according to O’Connor.

After being deposited in the water-logged pit, the Heslington brain began to change chemically, developing into a durable material and shrinking to a quarter of its size. The chemical details of the new material are still under investigation, she said.

In a study in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, O’Connor’s team amassed a list of other, similarly preserved brains found since 1960.

Reports like these typically fly under the radar and do not appear in the mainstream archaeological science publications and when archaeologists do discover a preserved brain, they tend to think it is the first of such a find, she said. This is why collections of science publications and articles are so important, but also why it is so important for archaeologists and other scientists to be keeping up to date with new ones. They can always Request a PubMed article from libraries here if they don’t know where to access them.

“I think part of the problem is archaeologists are very happy to deal with humans’ skeletal remains but as soon as there is any hint of soft tissue it is psychologically very, very different. You are no longer dealing with a skeleton, you are dealing with the remains of a corpse and, of course, a corpse is a dead individual,” she said.

The skull has been dated to some time between 673 and 482 B.C.; Romans, meanwhile, arrived in the area in A.D. 71, according to Richard Hall, director of archaeology at the York Archaeological Trust, which the university hired to assess the site and handle the excavation in Heslington.

The Heslington skull as found.

This appears to have been a permanent settlement with ditches that divided the area into fields and walled parkways through which cattle could be driven, Hall told to BBC.

Archaeologists have also found at the site circular features they believe were probably thatched-roof houses, as well as a pond-like feature probably used for water storage, he said.

At this point, the purpose of pits like the one in which the skull was found isn’t clear, he said. No other human remains have been found on the site.

Perched Over 2,000-Year-Old Roman Mosaics and Ruins, This Hotel Takes a Bold Approach to Historic Preservation

Amazing World’s Largest Mosaic Piece Made By 13 Different Ancient Civilizations discovered At Museum Hotel Antakya in Turkey.

Normally, modern architecture and archaeology do not go hand in hand. Nevertheless, the two mixed in an unprecedented way when ancient ruins were found beneath what was to become Turkey’s Antakya Museum Hotel.

The Venture started when Turkish entrepreneur Necmi Asfuroğlu set about constructing a luxurious hotel in downtown Antioch on nearly 200,000 square feet of land.

His south-eastern land is rooted in history and is located close to St. Peter’s church, the iconic pilgrimage site.

As his team started digging for a cellar, a number of archeological remains were discovered below the site dating back to the 3rd century B.C. and included traces from 13 different civilizations.

 Asfuroğlu still wanted to build his hotel but could not compromise the ruins he had discovered, so he brought in Emre Arolat Architecture (EAA) and the firm’s New York director, Özge Ertoptamış.

Through the glass reveals in the hotel lobby, visitors can glimpse rubbled walls and an ancient streambed in addition to the mosaics.
Through the glass reveals in the hotel lobby, visitors can glimpse rubbled walls and an ancient streambed in addition to the mosaics.

“We were excited by the opportunity to do something that has never been done before,” said Ertoptamış. “But we also had our doubts whether something could actually be done around the exquisite findings.” 

Site after the archaeological excavation

EAA’s outlook changed when the firm discovered an area within the site where there were no ruins. That’s because it was the former location of the Parmenius Creek riverbed.

“That is the point where we had the idea, that we could build something, not in it, but above it, by supporting the structure on minimal points where there are no ruins,” said Ertoptamış.

EAA now had a plan to marry two different typologies — a public museum where archaeological preservation could continue and a private hotel. 

Ertoptamış explained, however, the design was constantly evolving and took about three years. She told BBC about an incredible discovery when they were digging for a well, which forced her team to rework their calculations.

The excavations site

“There are 66 columns that the building is rising on, and each point is calculated to be on a spot with no ruins, and there are wells to support each of the 66 pillars that are dug underground by hand,” said Ertoptamış.

“At one point, however, there was a discovery of a great mosaic in a location where we were going to place a column.”

The mosaic they found dates all the way back to the second century A.D. and includes exquisite panels with a myriad of mythological figures.

Well and discovery of the mosaic.

“We had to redo all of our calculations and find a new place for the pillar, but it was worth it because it is one of the most exquisite pieces in the collection,” said Ertoptamış.

Ertoptamış explained that while her team ran into challenges, the project and history inspired her.

“The building is a product of today, a product of the present, but within it, you are always living together with history in an unprecedented way, and that is the most challenging and rewarding part of this project,” said Ertoptamış.

Mosaic discovered during well-digging.

Rogue Metal Detectorists Stole $3.6 Million Treasure

Rogue Metal Detectorists Stole $3.6 Million Treasure

During the years, metal detectorists make numerous remarkable finds in Britain, with a large crowd of 2,600 coins discovered a few months ago.

Yet archeological discoveries by detectorists are subject to stringent rules. Currently, four people are being held guilty of conspiring to disguise and illegally sell a treasure with metal detectors by the British courts.

Two metal detectorists have been jailed for stealing the “emblematic” Viking-era Leominster Hoard of coins and priceless jewellery worth up to £12 million – much of which is still missing.

George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, failed to declare an “invaluable” collection of buried treasure dating back 1,100 years to the birth of a united English kingdom, during the time of Alfred the Great.

The items, many of which were Anglo Saxon but are typical of a Viking burial hoard, were dug up on Herefordshire farmland on June 2, 2015.

(L-R) George Powell, Simon Wicks, and Layton Davies were jailed on Friday

It is thought the trove was buried by someone within the Great Viking Army in either 878 or 879, which by then was being forced back east by an alliance of Saxon forces.

Powell, who was described as having the “leading” role, was jailed for 10 years while caretaker Davies received eight-and-a-half years.

A coin which was part of the £3 million Viking hoard

Both were also convicted alongside two other men, 60-year-old Paul Wells and Simon Wicks, 57, with conspiring to conceal the find. Sentencing at Worcester Crown Court on Friday, Judge Nicholas Cartwright said they had “cheated” not only the landowner but the public of “exceptionally rare and significant” coins.

He said: “90% of the coins or thereabouts remain hidden to this day.

“All four defendants played their respective parts.

“You, Simon Wicks, were part of a conspiracy to conceal the stolen treasure and to sell it.

“Paul Wells, who will be sentenced an on a future occasion, was part of a conspiracy to conceal part of the stolen treasure.”

He added: “The irony in this case is if you, George Powell, and you, Layton Davies, had obtained the permissions and agreements which responsible metal detectorists are advised to obtain, if you had gone on to act within the law after you found this treasure, you could have expected to have either a half share, or at very worst a third share of over £3 million to share between the two of you.

“But you wanted more.”

Among the priceless hoard was a ninth-century gold ring, a dragon’s head bracelet, a silver ingot, a crystal rock pendant dating to the fifth century and up to 300 coins, some dating to the reign of King Alfred.

The treasure hoard included a crystal pendant that dates to around 600 AD.

Only 31 of the coins have been recovered, although mobile phone photographs on Davies’s phone – later deleted, but recovered by police – showed the larger hoard, still intact, in a freshly dug hole.

Only 30 coins have been recovered by the police.

Five of the coins are examples of the exceptionally rare Two Emperors penny, valued at up to £50,000 apiece, and so-called as they depict King Alfred and a lesser-known monarch, Ceolwulf II, who reigned in the old kingdom of Mercia, sitting together.

Expert analysis of all the jewellery and coinage recovered to date and now held at the British Museum returned a valuation of at least £581,000.

Wicks, Powell, and Davies were also found guilty of converting their ill-gotten gains into cash, after police traced several coins that had been sold on to private collectors, hidden away or left with expert valuers.

Powell, of Kirby Lane, Newport; Davies, of Cardiff Road, Pontypridd; Wells, of Newport Road, Cardiff, and Wicks, of Hawks Road, Hailsham, East Sussex, were also convicted after trial of ignoring the law stating such finds must be properly declared.

1,400-Year-Old Anglo-Saxon Burial Unearthed in Canterbury

1,400-Year-Old Anglo-Saxon Burial Unearthed in Canterbury

On a university campus in Canterbury, the extraordinary remains of a young Anglo-Saxon woman, buried with luxuriant jewels and a knife.

While Archeologists working at Christ Church University at the site of its new £65 million STEM building they Unearthed the burial, which is due to open in September next year.

The female, who had thought she was in her 20s, was found buried with a silver, garnet-inlaid, Kentish disc brooch.

She was also wearing a necklace of amber and glass beads, a belt fastened with a copper alloy buckle, a copper alloy bracelet and was equipped with an iron knife.

Experts say that together, the items found in the grave suggest the woman was buried between AD 580-600.

They believe she would have been a contemporary, and likely acquaintance, of the Kentish King Ethelbert and his Frankish Queen Bertha, whose modern statues can be seen nearby at Lady Wootton’s Green.

The bones have been studied by Dr. Ellie Williams, Lecturer in Archaeology at the University.

The stunning broach found with her

“The discovery of another ancient burial on our campus is extremely exciting,” she said.

“It demonstrates the richness of the archaeology that surrounds us, and contributes important new evidence to our understanding of life and death in Canterbury around 1,400 years ago.”

Dr. Andrew Richardson, outreach and archives manager at the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which made the discovery, says the discovery is “particularly significant”.;

“It suggests that relatively high-status burial was taking place on the site in the years shortly before the establishment of the Abbey.

“One of the primary roles of the Abbey was as the burial place of Augustine and his companions, Archbishops and members of the Kentish royal dynasty.

Cremation urns were also discovered

“This find suggests that this may represent a continuance of existing practice at the site, rather than a completely new development and has implications for our interpretation of this World Heritage site.”

Scientific testing on similar finds has shown the garnets are likely to have come from Sri Lanka rather than a nearer source.

Such brooches, crafted in east Kent from exotic materials, were produced at the behest of the Kentish royal dynasty and distributed as gifts to those in their favor.

The woman’s bones will be retained for further scientific study, which it is hoped will provide insight into her life, death, and burial.

UK family finds Indian treasure worth millions looted under British rule lying in the attic

UK family finds Indian treasure worth millions looted under British rule lying in the attic

An auction for around 107000 pounds was made of a collection of rare objects found by a couple of years later in the English county of Berkshire and identified as artefacts from Tipu Sultan’s weapons.

The most impressive item was a silver-mounted 20-bore flintlock gun and bayonet from the personal arms of Mysore’s last ruler. Proved hugely popular as it attracted 14 bids before going under the hammer for 60,000 pounds.

“Unlike other Tipu Sultan guns, this one exhibits clear signs of having been badly damaged in its past…rather than being taken directly from the rack after the fall of Seringapatam it appears to have been collected from the battlefield,” the lot description notes.

Tipu’s battle-damaged flintlock musket
The war booty was brought back to Britain by Major Thomas Hart of the British East India Company

The other highlight lot, a gold-encrusted sword and suspension belt ensemble believed to be one of Tipu Sultan’s personal swords, attracted as many as 58 bids before being sold to the winning bidder for 18,500 pounds.

The two centrepieces formed part of a collection of eight items brought back by Major Thomas Hart of the East India Company after the Tiger of Mysore’s defeat at Seringapatam in 1799.

This golden snack box was home to some 220-year-old betel nuts
Major Thomas Hart’s solid gold seal ring

Alongside the arms, an intricately designed Betel Nut Casket (17,500 pounds) and a Gold East India Company Seal ring (2,800 pounds) belonging to Major Hart, believed to have passed down generations before landing in the hands of the current owners, were among the other big sellers for sale.

Berkshire-based Antony Cribb Ltd auctioneers, who specialise in arms and armoury related sales, had announced the auction following the “exciting discovery” earlier this year and said that majority of the buyer interest had come from Indian based.

The Indian High Commission in London was made aware of the artefacts by the India Pride Project, a worldwide volunteer network set up to track “India’s stolen heritage”, and attempted to convince the auction house to consider voluntarily restoring the items to India.

The India Pride Project, which was instrumental in the restitution of a 12th century Buddha statue stolen from Nalanda in Bihar last year via the Indian High Commission in London, said it would continue lobbying for such artefacts to find their way back to India.

“You haven’t really decolonised a nation unless you’ve given back what’s theirs,” said Anuraag Saxena, founder of the India Pride Project.

However, the auction house insisted that no laws were being broken and also confirmed that the beneficiary family had decided to make a sizeable donation to a school in India from the money generated from the auction.

“The family is not motivated by money and sincerely hope these items find their way back to India, maybe to a museum, for future generations to have access to it,” said Antony Cribb of the auction house.

An Indian miniature painting of Tipu Sultan, the famous Indian freedom fighter

The latest cache of Tipu Sultan related artefacts, which included three further swords from the ruler’s armoury and a lacquered leather shield, was described as special because of its rare discovery under one roof after nearly 220 years.

The items bore the trademark tiger and tiger stripes associated with the Tiger of Mysore as proof of their provenance.

The lots came to light in this year when the couple who made the discovery of this innocuous family heirloom contacted Antony Cribb Ltd about a sword they had in their attic.

After an evaluation, a gold “Haider” symbol found on the sword confirmed that the sword belonged Haider Ali Khan Tipu Sultan’s father. The three other swords bearing similar gold markings were found soon after, along with the other items.

2,500-Year-Old Chariot Found – Complete with Rider And Horses

2,500-Year-Old Chariot Found – Complete with Rider And Horses

In Yorkshire, a Chariot from the Iron Age was found, making it the second such find in two years.

In a small town in Yorkshire named Pocklington, on a construction site, houses were built. The discovery was made.

There has now been a delay in construction on the homes as a new dig begins in October.

Interesting is that not only the chariot is discovered but the horse’s skeletons are also found that pulled up the wagon and the driver’s human remains.

2,500-Year-Old Chariot Found – Complete with Rider And Horses

The managing director of Persimmon Homes in Yorkshire confirmed that an archaeological discovery of significant importance had been made. That discovery is a horse-drawn chariot from the Iron Age.

He went on to say that excavation is ongoing by archaeologists who will date the find along with detailing it.

During the Iron Age, it was common practice to bury chariots. What the archaeologists were not expecting to find was the remains of the rider of the chariot and the horses that pulled it.

The find dated back to 500 BC and at the time it was the only find of the kind in 200 years. To date, there have only been 26 chariots excavated in the UK.

Archaeologists said that it was unusual for horses to be buried along with the chariot and human remains.

Paula Ware the managing director of MAP Archaeological Practice Ltd said:

“The chariot was located in the final square barrow to be excavated and on the periphery of the cemetery. The discoveries are set to widen our understanding of the Arras (Middle Iron Age) culture and the dating of artifacts to secure contexts is exceptional.”

In the Iron Age, the chariot was seen to be something of a status symbol owned by those with money.

Including horses in the burial of human remains of such a person is unknown. It is something that has the researchers puzzled.

The Dig Revealed Numerous Artifacts

Archaeologists found pots, shields, swords, spears, and brooches among the many findings.

These all gave researchers a good look into the lives of the people who lived more than 2,500 years ago.

Yorkshire has been a good spot to find the remains of the Arras culture, which have been very well preserved.

Around 150 skeletons were found in the region during 2016, with researchers believing the skeletons were those of the Arras culture.

The skeletons along with their possessions were found in the Yorkshire Wolds, a small market town.

Medieval building found in Llandaff under public toilets

Medieval building found in Llandaff under public toilets

Located next to Llandaff’s Old Bishop Castle in the 13th century, the site tells experts that there would have been an important person who lived there.

A public dig began in September and participants quickly discovered an unearthed fireplace, chequered floor tiles, animal bones, and old horseshoes.

About 200 schoolchildren and 35 other volunteers assisted in the search, starting with excavations around the public toilets as they were turned into a community heritage site.

Archaeologists said they think the building dates back to around 1450. The toilets were built in the 1930s in an area known as the Pound – a reference to its housing stray animals since the 17th century.

Dr. Tim Young, a lead archaeologist, said: “This was a surprise to find a high-status building.” The house, around 10m in length, could be regarded as prestigious, according to Dr. Young.

This comes as Bath stone had been used to construct the fireplace, a distinctive appearing limestone notable for its warm honey colour. The stone was not commonly used at the time, though, it can be found at Llandaff Cathedral.

Despite the researchers not currently knowing who lived at the house, they said it was likely someone of high status because of its close proximity to the Old Bishop’s Castle, with bishops at the time holding manorial rights.

Dr. Tim Young unearthed several items

Counting tokens were widespread in the medieval world through to the 1600s and were used as counters for calculations on a counting board, similar to an abacus.

They also found uses in games, similar to modern casinos, in what we would now identify as poker chips.

The medieval building will be blanketed in a protective covering to make way for the construction of a new community venue set up by Llandaff 50+, a charity promoting social inclusion of over 50s in the community.

The toilets next to the ruins of the Old Bishop’s Castle are being converted into a community centre
Two sides of a 14th Century jeton counting token found at the toilets

Several theories of who may have lived in the building have floated since its discovery. Among them, a housekeeper for the nearby Manor of Llandaff or an official of the Llandaff Cathedral.

Dr. Young said: “The site is known as the pound as it was the animal pound for Llandaff and we have evidence of that dating back to about 1607.

“It had always been assumed that the area was also the pound before that so the discovery of a medieval dwelling on the site was quite unexpected.”

Items discovered from the site will now be sent to experts at Cardiff University and other national museums for analysis. This will, hope researchers, provide more details about who may have once lived there and what their life entailed.

Although, Dr. Young admitted: “It won’t be for another six months or even a year until we could come to any sort of conclusion.”

The community dig project was granted funding by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Cardiff YMCA Trust. In August, researchers uncovered a number of historic items of significance at a separate site in Cardiff.

Nestled in the Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely, shale bracelets were found at an Iron Age hill fort.

It was thought to once be the powerhouse for the city more than 2,000 years ago, with previous excavations have uncovered evidence of houses.