Archaeologists have discovered one of Western Europe’s oldest ritual burial chambered monuments in an isolated field in Wales. The Neolithic portal dolmen contained the remains of human bones and shards of decorated pottery. Archaeologists intend to radio carbon date the site in the hope that the results will offer clues about our early farming ancestors.
Structurally it is thought the tomb was built from giant boulders. Experts believe that random patterns of dozens of circular holes gouged into the surface of capstone are indicative of Neolithic or Bronze Age ritual burial activity.
The Cutty Sark will reopen in Greenwich at the end of April after it was almost destroyed by fire nearly five years ago. At the time of her launch in 1869 the Cutty Sark was built to carry tea from China. As part of a £50 million restoration project, the last remaining tea clipper has been raised by 11ft onto new steel supports that will help to relieve the stress that was threatening to tear apart the ageing iron frame and wooden hull. Despite the fire, nearly 90 per cent of the of the original fabric and fittings have been preserved.
UN cultural agency UNESCO is to protect the wreck of Titanic and prevent unscientific or unethical exploration of the site. Once it passes the 100th anniversary of its sinking on 15 April 2012, the ship will fall under the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which protects vessels that sank more than a century ago. Titanic, built in Belfast, sank on its maiden voyage after setting off from the British port of Southampton and more than 700 divers have visited the vessel since the discovery of the wreck in 1985. Located around 400 miles off the coast of Canada, the site has become a memorial to the many people who lost their lives in the tragedy.
Recently discovered notes written by army psychiatrist Dr Henry Dicks have revealed how the British analysed the mind of captive Rudolf Hess in a bid to understand the motivations of the Nazi Party. Hess was detained in Britain on 10 May 1941, after his solo flight to Scotland in what he said was a peace mission. One to one meetings between Dr Dicks and the second in line – after Hermann Goering – to succeed Adolf Hitler drew profound insights. Dr Dicks found contrasts between the strong Hess presented in Nazi propagandist media and the man he referred to as "the schizoid psychopath". Hess was later sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg trials and died in 1987 at the age of 93.
A study has revised the widely accepted death toll of the US Civil War and argued that the long held estimate of the war’s death toll could have undercounted the dead by as many 130,000 – more than double the total US fatalities in Vietnam. Historian J David Hacker attributes his findings to advances in sophisticated statistical software enabling him to study newly digitised US census records from 1850 to 1880. The study sheds light on the insufficient measures of record keeping in the 1860s. During this era there was no comprehensive system of registering births and deaths. This helps explain the possibly distorted outcome of the original death toll figure from one of America’s bloodiest periods in history.
A Victoria Cross (VC) medal, the highest award for gallantry, is expected to fetch up to £130,000 when it is sold at auction next week. The medal was awarded to Corporal Arthur Cross for his single-handed assault on enemy forces in the First World War. Armed with only a revolver, Corporal Cross attacked and recaptured a British position, taking seven Germans prisoner along with two machine guns. According to a citation in the London Gazette, the Victoria Cross was awarded for "most conspicuous bravery and initiative." A total of 1,356 VCs have been awarded since 1856 to 1,353 men. Since the end of the Second World War the original VC has been awarded only 13 times.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed an export ban on a music manuscript. The 1945 manuscript in question, Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, was put up for auction in November 2011 with a reserve price of £50,000. The British Libary was among those outbid by an anonymous overseas buyer, who bid £220,000 for the precious work. However, the temporary export ban gives UK institutions and private individuals a two-month deadline to make an equivalent offer to keep it in the UK. After raising the necessary amount, the British Library intends to make the score public to commemorate Britten's centenary in 2013.
A total of 1.5 million pages of ancient texts are to be jointly digitised by Oxford University and the Vatican libraries and made available free online. The digitised collections will centre on three subject areas: Greek manuscripts, 15th-century printed books and Hebrew manuscripts and early printed books. According to the libraries the chosen areas are significant for the strength of their collections and their importance for scholarship in their respective fields. Approximately two-thirds of the digitised material will come from the Vatican and the remainder from Oxford University's Bodleian libraries. The initiative was facilitated by a £2 million award from the Polonsky Foundation.