Stephen Twigge, head of modern domestic records at The National Archives, said: “The files include several highlights, one of which reveals the decision taken by the then home secretary to authorise the interception of the telephone communications of King Edward VIII between Buckingham Palace, his country home at Belvedere and continental Europe, just days before his abdication. The episode shows just how far the government was prepared to go in order to keep the abdication a secret until it was certain.”
Bahrain dig finds evidence of ‘one of the oldest civilisations’
Remains at a site in Bahrain could be those of one of the oldest known trading civilisations, according to archaeologists. Little is known about the culture that lived in the area, now given the name Saar in reference to the closest modern village, although it is thought that the location could have been home to the Dilmin civilisation that had commercial links with Syria, Turkey and Oman.
Archaeologists uncover cave paintings in Mexico
A team of archaeologists working in the Mexican region of Burgos has found a series of 4,926 cave paintings across eleven different sites. Although the mountainous area in the north-east of the country was not previously thought to have been inhabited by ancient cultures, the art suggests that it was home to least three separate groups of hunter-gatherers.
Manchester Cathedral staff ‘sell fossils to raise money for heating’
Staff at Manchester Cathedral are selling tiles from its floor, some of which contain fossils, in order to raise money towards a new £2m heating system. The fossils are thought to be those of crinoids, or sea lilies, and although members of the congregation have expressed interest a spokesman said that the cathedral “does not expect to make a lot of money” from the sale.
Climate change helped trigger human advances, study suggests
Sudden changes in climate in Africa helped to trigger cultural and technological advances in early modern humans, according to new research. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, analysed the core of marine sediment drilled off the coast of South Africa, which provides a record of climate variablity across the past 100,000 years. The evidence suggests a correlation between periods of increased rainfall and the development of major Middle Stone Age tool industries.
Richard III interred in ‘badly prepared grave’
Richard III was buried in a badly prepared lozenge-shaped grave that was too short to hold his body in a conventional manner, according to a new paper by academics from the University of Leicester. Inspection of the remains, which were discovered beneath a car park in 2012, also shows evidence that the king’s hands may have been tied at the time of burial.
Beatles documents ‘preserved for nation’
A collection of documents chronicling the career of The Beatles has been donated to The British Library by the band’s biographer Hunter Davies. The records, which include letters, postcards and early versions of song lyrics, have been valued at just under £1m and will allow Davies to claim tax breaks under a new scheme.
Image credits: INAH Mexico (cave painting); University of Leicester (Richard III)