Thursday 24th January 2013
Archaeologists investigating a 19th-century burial ground in West Bromwich have discovered what is thought to be evidence of grave robbing. The team, working at the former site of the town's Providence Baptist Chapel, discovered a mortsafe - a metal cage fixed around a coffin designed to prevent people from stealing the body - as well as empty coffins intended to deter potential body snatchers.
Frank Caldwell, Sandwell Council's Museums Manager, said: "The body protected by the mortsafe belonged to a young woman who we found suffered from a disfiguring skin and bone disease. It meant that her remains would have fetched a premium for the body snatchers and that would be why her body was protected by the mortsafe - her family were concerned that it would be stolen."
Project models face of Welsh Roman citizen
A portrait of a Roman citizen who lived in south Wales in approximately AD 200 has been created using archaeological and forensic techniques. The remains of the man, who is believed to have been roughly 40 years of age when he died, were discovered in Caerleon in 1995 and have been on display at the village's National Roman Legion Museum since 2002. The painting can now also be viewed by visitors to the centre, alongside further evidence gained as a result of the project.
Gamma ray burst 'hit medieval Earth'
Radiation that hit the Earth during the Middle Ages may have been caused by a gamma ray burst, according to a new theory. The explosion, one of the most powerful known to take place in the universe, has been suggested as the reason for the presence of unusually high levels of carbon-14 and beryllium-10 isotopes created between AD 774 and AD 775. Although the explosion would have had no visible effects, a similar event today could disrupt satellite communications if it occurred sufficiently close to the planet.
'Ancient Sri Lankan moonstone' used as garden step
An artefact that it is believed could be a rare Sri Lankan moonstone has been found in the garden of a bungalow in Devon. Although the Sandakada Pahana, which is similar to those found in temples dating from between c400 BC and c1000 AD, has not yet been confirmed as being authentic, it is set to go up for sale at Bonhams auctioneers on 23 April.
No Spitfires buried in Burma, archaeologists believe
A team of archaeologists searching for Spitfires thought to have been buried at the end of the Second World War has concluded that no such aircraft exist. The project to unearth the planes, led by aviation enthusiast David Cundall, began digging on 7 January but has found no evidence of the supposed 124 Spitfires that it is claimed were interred once the conflict ended.
Storm washes up Second World War lard
Sutton Hoo power lines set to go underground
Overhead power lines around the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk are set to be removed and replaced with underground cables. The project, which required special allowance from industry regulator Ofgem, will be supervised by an archaeologist and is expected to take four weeks.
Museum artefacts 'once used as toilet roll'
A set of Roman disc-shaped artefacts held at Fishbourne Roman Palace and previously believed to be gaming tokens may have been used as toilet paper, according to a new report. The ceramic discs, discovered near the museum in Chichester in 1960, are the subject of an article in the British Medical Journal which proposes that they may instead have served a rather different function.
Image credits: Headland Archaeology (grave-robbing); National Roman Legion Museum (Roman face); Bonhams (moonstone); Scottish Natural Heritage (lard)