Engineers have uncovered the remains of what is believed to be a 17th century ‘witch’s cottage’ in the village of Barley, Lancashire. United Utilities had called in archaeologists to survey the area when the building was found hidden beneath a grass mound. The cottage was even complete with a mummified cat, thought to have been bricked into the wall to ward off evil spirits. The engineering project has been put on hold as excavation work continues on the site close to Pendle Hill, known for its historic association with the Lancaster witch trials.
The discovery of a 7th-century house in the Yorkshire Dales has furthered archaeological interest in the area. Volunteers uncovered the remains of two chamber rooms hidden beneath the flank of Ingleborough fell, near Upper Ribblesdale. Charcoal remnants embedded in the floor have been carbon dated to the Anglo-Saxon period, making it one of few finds in the north of England to orginate from between the Roman occupation and the Norman Conquest. It is likely to bring greater historical significance to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and has prompted further digs at suspected settlement sites nearby.
An extensive collection of church court records dating back to the 14th century is now available online. Following a substantial grant from the JISC, the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York has digitised papers from ecclesiastical court cases dating from between 1300 and 1858. The documents demonstrate the power of the ecclesiastical courts in the diocese of York. Like many other courts across the country, they were responsible for legal services now widely considered secular. To browse the archive, visit www.hrionline.ac.uk/causepapers
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have found evidence that medieval knights feared post traumatic stress. Far from being the ruthless killers portrayed in books and the big screen, the SAXO Institute has concluded that concerns about violence were no different to those experienced by soldiers in combat today. The researchers have used modern military psychology and related it to the highly personal writings of knights such Geoffroi de Charny, who was killed at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.
A graphite drawing bought at an auction is believed to be a lost portait of the famous English novelist, Jane Austen. It was previously thought that there were just two approved images of the author: an 1810 sketch by Austen’s sister, Cassandra, and an adaptation of the same picture made 60 years later. However, Dr Paula Byrne’s discovery has led both scholars and forensic analysts to believe that it is not an ‘imaginary portrait’ but a genuine depiction of the author, who died in 1817. A BBC Two documentary on the find will be shown on Boxing Day.
Britain’s most iconic civil engineer may have his place in history secured, but one man argues that Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s achievements should be outweighed by his failures. After months spent studying Brunel’s private letters and diaries, Norfolk railway signalman Adrian Vaughan claims that the brains behind the Great Western Railway made serious errors and plagiarised the work of others in his most famous projects. According to Mr Vaughn, the Clifton Suspension Bridge would have “fallen down” had Brunel’s actual plans been carried through.
A 2,000 year old Roman ring has been given to a Welsh museum, close to where it was originally found. The silver artefact was picked up earlier this year by a man and his metal detector on Cefn Brithdir, in the heart of the Darren Valley. After negotiations between the British Museum and the National Museum in Cardiff, it was passed onto the curator at the Winding House museum. The former colliery, which is based in Caerphilly, hopes to put it on display shortly.
Hundreds of gatherers attended a ceremony in Hawaii this week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. The Japanese bombing raid on 7 December 1941 claimed the lives of nearly 2,400 Americans and brought the country into the Second World War. Speaking at the event, President Barack Obama praised the few surviving veterans and spoke of drawing “strength from the example set by [the] patriots”.
Captain Scott’s ill-fated return from the South Pole is the subject of a new exhibition that opened in Cambridge yesterday. The story of the Terra Nova expedition is told through papers and journals from the University of Cambridge Polar Museum’s archive, put on public display together for the first time. In addition to Scott’s handwritten diaries, These Rough Notes and Our Dead Bodies features previously unseen artefacts left by other members of the ship’s crew. It also focuses upon the largely forgotten Northern Party, who were stranded in a cave for 21 months when the ship could not make it through ice to reach them.
A Church of England cathedral in Newcastle has been awarded £250,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. St Nicholas’s Cathedral, which is the second-tallest religious building in the city, contains many unique examples of civic memorials dating back to the 17th century. It is hoped that new multimedia technology will bring scores of new visitors and help them to learn about the history of the cathedral, which has its origins in the 11th century. On Tuesday, the unique lantern-shaped church tower was lit for first time since the 1970s.
The Heritage Lottery fund has also granted £10,000 to a Worcestershire history project. Unknown Upton will look at widely neglected areas of Upton-upon-Severn’s past, engaging members of the local community in the search to find out more about the town’s links with agriculture and the river trade. Historians will also focus on burial grounds just outside the town, which sits in the Malvern Hills.