A mass grave containing only women and children has been discovered in the Peak District and is believed to date from the Iron Age. Nine skeletons were found in the ditch of Fin Cop Hillfort and experts believe hundreds more may be buried in the area as a result of Iron Age warfare. Fin Cop was constructed between 440 BC and 390 BC and unlike other hill forts, which are assumed to have been used as displays of power and prestige, appears to have been hastily built to defend against attack. It is thought that the women and children in the first segregated grave from the period may have been killed after the capture of the fort.
Archaeologists in Syria have found evidence of early over-hunting and the mass slaughter of animals. Communities living in Northern Syria 6,000 years ago built killing pits and walled enclosures in which to funnel entire herds of gazelles. Nearby rock paintings depicting the mass slaughters suggest that the hunting was part of a spiritual social practice after which the animals would have been consumed or traded. The killing of so many gazelles would have had a disastrous impact on the Syrian animal population at the time. The killing enclosures can still be seen from the air and became known as ‘desert kites’ when British air force pilots flew over them in the early 20th century.
The body of former Chilean President Salvador Allende is to be exhumed on his family’s request in an attempt to finally determine whether he was killed by Augusto Pinochet’s soldiers or took his own life during the 1973 coup. The investigation into his death is just one of 726 cases in an inquiry into the historic rights abuses committed during Pinochet’s rule. Allende’s body was found in the Presidential Palace after it had been subjected to a ground and air attack. Despite an official post mortem confirmed by a doctor, that stated Allende had committed suicide, some of his supporters still believe Allende was killed by soldiers. It is thought by some, however, that digging up the past in this manner could rouse old tensions in a population that was divided in their opinion of the socialist ruler.
A treasure-trove of gold coins discovered in the garden of a Hackney home has been traced back to a Jewish man who fled Nazi Germany. The ‘double eagle’ gold dollars, with an estimated value today of £80,000, were smuggled into the country by Martin Sulzbacher after selling his family possessions in Germany. The jar of coins was hidden in the London garden before Martin’s parents and siblings were killed during the Blitz and the location has remained a secret since. On his return to England, Martin was unable to locate the coins, although some identical coins were found at the property in 1952 and he was able to claim them. All the coins, minted between 1854 and 1913, except for one which has been donated to Hackney Museum, have been given to Martin Sulzbacher’s son Max, now 81, who will use proceeds from their sale to reward the finders and to restore his family’s gravestones in London.
A rare medieval tap has been unearthed in Lincolnshire on the former site of a 12th-century priory. Excavations took place at the Crown Estate in Sempringham over a period of seven weeks after aerial surveys of the land suggested the layout of a priory. The tap, one of only six ever discovered in the country, was found among thousands of other medieval artefacts now being housed at the Lincolnshire Archives. The priory was built by Saint Gilbert of Sempringham in 1139 and would have been stripped during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, making the number of artefacts found even more remarkable.
A statue of Charles II, believed to have been created 325 years ago by Dutch sculptor Grinling Gibbons, has been returned to Edinburgh’s Parliament Square following a £60,000 renovation project. The restoration, which took six months, included cleaning the lead, replacing missing parts and covering the imposing statue with wax to prevent corrosion. The statue shows Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, as the Roman Emperor astride his horse, and has been an important monument in Edinburgh for many years.