Experts believe that human remains found in a bog near Portlaoise in County Laois could be up to 3,000 years old and may have been the result of a ritual sacrifice. The head and torso of the body, which is believed to be a woman, are thought to have once been enclosed in a leather bag, while the legs were found preserved by chemicals in the peat. This particular bog has yielded other finds over the years, including leather shoes, axe heads and bog butter – a waxy substance thought to have been buried in bogs as a type of refrigeration technique. The remains have been transferred to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin for further analysis.
Thirty-five male skeletons aged between 16 and 25 discovered in Oxford in 2008 could be evidence of a brutal massacre of Vikings in the city, according to experts. Analysis of the bones, which were unearthed in a mass grave beneath the quadrangle at St John’s College at the University of Oxford, revealed wound marks; the remains are believed to date from AD 1002. Many of the wounds found on the bones would have been fatal: one of the victims had puncture wounds to his pelvis that suggest he was attacked from behind and from the side, while his skull revealed substantial blade wounds. Isotope analysis of the bones has shown that the men were eating a diet high in seafood, an unusual fact considering Oxford’s distance from the sea.
You can read more about Vikings in the British Isles in our October issue – out soon.
Excavations in Silchester near Reading have revealed what archaeologists believe could be the first pre-Roman planned town discovered in Britain to date. Evidence of an Iron Age town built on a grid system was found beneath the Roman town, along with indications that inhabitants drank wine and used imported ingredients such as olive oil and a fermented fish sauce known as ‘garum’. Professor Mike Fulford, an archaeologist at the University of Reading, believes the finds show that the people of Iron Age Silchester had adopted an urbanised way of living long before the Romans arrived, an idea at odds with the traditional view that the Romans brought civilisation to Britain.
Mike Fulford will be talking to Dr Alice Roberts in the latest series of Digging For Britain on BBC Two in September.
Archaeologists in East Anglia believe they may have found a timber-made Iron Age road buried in peat for 2,000 years, which may have been part of a route across the River Waveney and surrounding wetland at Geldeston in Norfolk. Although the exact age of the road is unknown, tree-ring evidence has suggested it could date back to 75 BC, more than 100 years before the Roman invasion, and may have been built by the local Iceni tribe. The tribe, and its leader Boudica, led a revolt against Roman rule in Britain in AD 60 but was eventually defeated.
Find out more on the new series of BBC Two’s Digging For Britain, to be aired in September.
The RAF Museum in Hendon, London, has launched an appeal to raise the funds required to salvage a German bomber from its seabed where it has lain since being shot down during the battle of Britain in August 1940. The twin-engined Dornier 17, which crashed on Goodwin Sands off the coast of Deal in Kent was part of a large formation of German aircraft that were intercepted by RAF Defiant fighters above the English Channel – it is believed the plane’s wings clipped the water causing it to land upside down as the pilot attempted an emergency landing. The pilot and his observer were captured, while two other passengers died in the crash.
The remains of an ancient burial cist containing a ceramic Beaker vessel, have been discovered at the building site of a new health centre on Skye. A cairn-like structure, together with a grain-drying kiln, underground stone-lined passage were also found, and archaeologists believe the site could date to the Iron Age. Further excavations will be carried out before work on the health centre can continue.
A Rembrandt drawing stolen from a hotel in California earlier this week has been found in a church 20 miles away from its original location. The Judgement, which is valued at more than £153,000 and dates to around 1655, was being shown as part of an exhibition staged by The Linearis Institute in San Francisco. The quill pen and black ink work, which measures 28cm by 15cm, is signed by the artist but was not fastened down during the exhibition. It was stolen when the exhibition’s curator was distracted by a guest.
An 18th-century house is currently on the market in Sweden, complete with a tomb and skeleton, visible through glass, in its cellar. Built in 1750 in Visby on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, the house is sited on the foundations of a Russian church, which was abandoned in the Middle Ages. The basement can be accessed via a spiral staircase from the courtyard. If you fancy a skeleton housemate, the starting price for the three-bedroomed property is £390,780.
The remains of what archaeologists believe could be a 1,500-year-old stone house have been found at Gunwalloe on the Lizard in Cornwall. The site may have once been home to St Winwaloe from Brittany who, according to records visited the site in the 6th century, perhaps to bring Christianity to Cornwall. Small pots from the early medieval period have been discovered, as well as a trench that is believed to have been used as an early medieval landfill for household waste. The find is the first example of a stone house of this period found in Cornwall.
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