Another archaeological find for Leicester


Just months after the skeletal remains found beneath a Leicester car park were revealed to be those of Richard III, the team behind the excavation has made a new discovery in the city: a 1,700-year-old Roman cemetery. The site, believed to date back to AD 300, once existed just outside the walls of Roman Leicester and has revealed a variety of burial traditions, including a possible pagan burial. Some 13 sets of remains have been found at the site, along with hairpins, belt buckles and other personal items.


Hanging Gardens of…Nineveh?

The fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon, long revered as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, may not have actually existed in Babylon at all, according to a British academic. Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University, who has spent 18 years deciphering Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform scripts and reinterpreting later Greek and Roman texts, believes that the gardens were actually constructed at Nineveh, in modern-day Iraq. To date, no evidence of the gardens has been found at Babylon (also in modern-day Iraq), but recent excavations near Nineveh have uncovered traces of aqueducts, which, Dalley believes, would have carried mountain water from streams 50 miles away to the hanging gardens.

Druid calls for fake bones at Stonehenge

Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon has issued an open letter to English Heritage, urging the organisation not to display real human remains at the new Stonehenge visitor centre, which opens at the end of the year. Pendragon, who claims that the c5,000-year-old cremated remains of more than 40 bodies found at Stonehenge five years ago are the remains of a “priest caste” or “royal line”, has called for fake bones to be displayed instead. A spokesperson from English Heritage, however, has said that the remains of three of the burials will be displayed at the visitor centre, stating that the “vast majority of museum visitors are comfortable with, and often expect to see, human remains”.

‘Forgotten’ Philip Larkin handwritten poem auctioned

A handwritten poem by 20th-century poet Philip Larkin has sold at auction in London for £7,500. The poem, Love, which was written in December 1962 and published in the journal Critical Quarterly in 1966, is the only handwritten piece by the author to have come to auction. A letter written by Larkin in 1969 to Brian Cox, co-founder of Critical Quarterly, revealed that the poet had forgotten writing the work at all: “A publisher wrote recently to ask if he could reprint a poem Love from Critical Quarterly,” Larkin wrote. “I had forgotten writing such a poem, much less publishing it. I thought it rather good…”

Alleged former Auschwitz guard arrested

A 93-year-old man has been arrested in southern Germany after prosecutors concluded that there was “compelling evidence” to suggest he had been a guard at Auschwitz prison camp. Hans Lipschis, who claims he was only a cook at the extermination camp, was named as number four on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted Nazis only last month, but denies participating in the mass murder of inmates at Auschwitz between 1941 and 1945. However, wartime identification papers have revealed that Lipschis belonged to an SS company deployed as guards in Auschwitz. An indictment against him is currently being prepared.

House clearance portrait of Elizabeth I to go on show

A postcard-sized portrait of one of Britain’s most famous monarchs, discovered in a house clearance sale, is to go on show at the National Portrait Gallery later this year. The 16th-century portrait is attributed to painter Isaac Oliver, and depicts Elizabeth I in a classical scene based on the Greek myth The Judgement of Paris. Elizabeth, holding an apple and appearing alongside the goddesses of marriage, war and love, takes on the role of Paris. The painting was spotted in a house clearance sale in south-east England last year and was later purchased by the gallery at auction. The miniature, believed to be in its original frame, will go on show in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 October.


And finally…

Two Cold War bunkers at the former Loring Air Force Base in Maine, once a key asset for the US Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, are in service once again: providing refuge for US bats from the potentially killer disease ‘white-nose syndrome’. The airbase, which was closed in 1994, later became the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, and the bunkers now provide winter homes for 30 hibernating bats, including roosting places and CCTV.

Image credits: Two Roman burials under excavation © University of Leicester; Philip Larkin poem © Bonhams Auctioneers; Elizabeth I portrait © National Portrait Gallery