Archaeologists find First World War soldiers in preserved trenches

A
a
-
Archaeologists find First World War soldiers in preserved trenches
Engineers excavating for a new road near Carspach in the Alsace region of France have uncovered a First World War trench network containing the remains of 21 German soldiers. The men were entombed in the 300-foot trench, 18 feet beneath the surface, in 1918 when an Allied bomb exploded above the tunnel.
 
Archaeologists called to the scene found the skeletal remains in the same positions the men had been in at the time of the collapse. Some were discovered sitting upright on a bench, one was lying in his bed and another was in the foetal position, having been thrown down a flight of stairs. Workers were able to recover 13 of the bodies, but the remaining eight were left behind for fear of new mudfalls.
 
With very little light, water or even air penetrating the site, many items were extremely well-preserved. Boots, helmets, weapons, wine bottles, spectacles, wallets, pocket books and even the skeleton of a goat were found – this last assumed to have been present for the purpose of providing fresh milk for the men. Archaeologists also uncovered the wooden sides, floors and stairways of the shelter, big enough to shelter 500 men and occupied by the 6th Company, 94th Reserve Infantry Regiment.
 
 

Origins of the Buxton Mermaid under investigation

A team of researchers from the University of Lincoln is conducting tests to determine the origins of the Buxton Mermaid.The mermaid, an exhibit at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, looks to be an example of the creatures that fishermen in Japan and the Far East made and then sold to supplement their income. Exhibits of this sort were hugely popular at London side-shows in the mid-19th century.
 
The team has already completed some tests on the mermaid, and believe that until 1982 it was twinned with a merman at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, in London. They have also concluded that the mermaid’s hair is human, while the upper body is layered upon a structure of wood and wire. The teeth are carved bone while the eyes are mollusc shells, although the composition of the torso is yet to be determined. Monkey, often used in these cases, has been ruled out. The mermaid will be reunited with her mer-mate for an exhibition at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery from 19 March–13 May 2012.
 
 

Hampshire’s Stone Age boatyard

Archaeologists have discovered that an underwater site near Bouldnor is an 8,000-year-old boat-building site. The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology has been working on the site since 1999, but has only recently uncovered evidence that pieces  previously thought to have belonged to a single boat are actually part of a much larger and more important discovery. The boatyard, which sheds new light on the day-to-day lives of people in the Mesolithic period, has been preserved by silt in the water, and is attracting international interest.
 
 

Prisoner photo books restored

A restoration project is underway in Wales to preserve photos of prisoners taken between the 1860s and the 1890s. The books were formerly owned by Denbighshire Constabulary, which was created in 1848 and is now North Wales Police. They were used by officers to keep track of people with criminal records. The two books are mainly photos and descriptions of men, but several women are featured, including one who posed as a collector for charities but then kept the cash.
 
 

Plans to reopen Edward Heath’s home

The campaign to reopen former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath's Salisbury home as a tourist attraction has been given a boost by the backing of Lord Geoffrey Howe. Arundells, the historic house in Cathedral Close where Sir Edward Heath lived for the last 20 years of his life, was left to the nation and opened to the public in 2008. It is currently closed despite attracting more than 45,000 visitors in less than four years, after trustees of the Edward Heath Charitable Foundation maintained that it was not financially viable. In a letter to the council supporting the application to reopen Arundells, Lord Howe said it was “important for these symbols of our recent political history not to be destroyed. I have in mind, as a parallel, the former home in France of their comparable political leader, General de Gaulle.”
 
 

Treasure in Suffolk

Roman silver and gold coins found by a father and son on farmland near Mildenhall in October last year have been declared as treasure by local coroner Dr Peter Dean. A treasure trove inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard they dated to between cAD 355–402, and the coins will now be valued by experts. The discovery of Roman gold and silver coins on farmland in Suffolk are thought to suggest “relatively high status people” lived in the area.
 
 

Archaeologists tracking Queen of Sheba's wealth

An enormous ancient goldmine, together with the ruins of a temple and the site of a battlefield, have been discovered in northern Ethiopia by a British archaeological team. It is thought that the mine, on the high Gheralta plateau, was the source of the Queen of Sheba’s immense wealth. Sheba was a powerful incense-trading kingdom that traded with Jerusalem and the Roman empire. The queen is mentioned in both the Koran and the Bible.
  
 

Unique find near Gloucester

Metal detectorist Maureen Jones has discovered a unique medieval coin from the reign of William the Conqueror in a field near Gloucester. Experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme said the find filled a gap in the dates the Gloucester mint was known to have been operating. Until the coin was discovered, there were no known examples of William I coins minted in Gloucester between 1077–1080. The discovery proves the mint was in operation throughout the reign of William I.

 

Charlotte Hodgman

 

Charlotte Hodgman is Features Editor for BBC History Magazine 

Relativity explained
previous blog Article
Goldwynisms
next blog Article