Friday 16th December 2011
Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be a Neolithic ‘earth mother’ figurine in the ruins of a Neolithic kiln on the banks of the river Somme. The 6,000-year-old statuette, which was fired from local earth clay, is thought to have broken into five or six pieces during the firing process in around 4300–3600 BC, but is still being hailed as one of the most complete and well-preserved examples ever found. The figurine stands at eight inches high with ‘imposing buttocks and hips but stubby arms and a cone-like head’. The find, which has been named the ‘lady of Villers-Carbonnel’, resembles other figurines with similar, stylised female bodies previously found around the Mediterranean.
Boats, spears and clothing dating to the Bronze Age have been discovered at a quarry in Whittlesey, Cambridge, perfectly preserved in peat and silt. The 3,000-year-old objects, which include ropes, buckets and wooden spoons together with swords and spears with their handles intact, were found at a site that lies along the old course of the River Nene. Six boats hollowed from the trunk of an oak tree, some with extensive carvings, were also found, along with the remains of a nettle stew in a wooden bowl.
The masts on the Cutty Sark, the 19th-century tea clipper that was gutted by fire in 2007, are to be raised for the first time since the incident, which was caused by an industrial vacuum cleaner left switched on for two days. Damage to the ship was estimated at £10 million but following extensive conservation work the vessel will be officially reopened by the Queen in late April 2012.
A metal detectorist in north Lancashire has unearthed evidence of a previously unknown Viking king according to experts. Some 201 pieces of silver, including arm rings and coins, were found in a lead box in a field near the village of Silverdale, with one coin bearing the name Airdeconut – thought by some to be the coin maker's struggle to get to grips with the Viking name Harthacnut. The Airdeconut coin would also appear to show that the Vikings started to colonise permanent settlements in Britain in the 870s. The letters DNS, for Dominus–Rex, arranged as a cross on the reverse of the coin are thought to indicate that Viking kings had allied themselves to the Christian god by this point.
An unpublished manuscript written by author Charlotte Bronte at the age of 14 has sold at auction for £690,850 at auction – a new auction record for a manuscript by any of the Bronte sisters. The miniature magazine, dated 1830, contains 19 pages, each measuring 35mm by 61mm and is entitled Young Men's Magazine. The manuscript was one of six hand-written editions of the magazine and contains a story that is thought to be a precursor to the passage in Jane Eyre in which Mr Rochester's insane wife sets fire to his bed curtains. The Bronte Parsonage Museum, which owns four of the six copies of the magazine, lost its bid for the piece to The Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris.