Research by the University of Oxford has revealed that fatal accidents were more likely to take place in the agricultural peak season during the 16th century, making summertime the most dangerous time of year for Tudors. Historian Steven Gunn, who has studied some 9,000 coroner reports from the period, found that between 1558 and 1560, almost three-quarters of fatal accidents took place during the summer, with cart crashes, dangerous harvesting techniques, horse accidents and windmill mangling just some of the causes of death listed. In one case, a five-year-old pig herder from Huggate, Yorkshire, was killed in an accident with his animals. Horses were found to be responsible for more than nine out of 10 fatal animal-related accidents.
New research carried out on 37 skeletons found in the grounds of St John’s College in 2008 has shown they could have been Vikings rather than massacred Danes as previously thought. Chemical analysis of the skeletons – mostly men aged between 16 and 25 – revealed they had eaten a vast amount of seafood, which could suggest they were raiders and not local people of Danish descent who had been killed in the 1002 St Brice’s Day Massacre. Some of the remains also showed evidence of older scars, which could have been inflicted in previous battles. The bones were also found to be similar in chemical make-up to the Viking raiders found dismembered in a burial pit at the Weymouth Ridgeway in Dorset.
A pair of 5ft long johns belonging to Frederick Kempster, who was thought to be the tallest man in England at the turn of the 20th century, are to be auctioned in Leyburn, North Yorkshire. Kempster, who stood at a 8ft 4in, weighed 27 stone and toured Europe with Astely and Co’s American Circus during the First World War before being captured in Germany and taken as a prisoner of war. Kempster, who was so tall he could stand on a street and shake hands with someone in an upstairs window, died in 1918 at the age of 29. The long johns, and a nightshirt belonging to Kempster, are expected to sell for between £150 and £250.
A pilot scheme to record items and wrecks discovered by fishing vessels has been launched in Sussex by English Heritage. Around 400 fishing boats sail from the county’s nine ports daily and about half of these craft dredge up a historical item every other day, a fact that has led English Heritage to launch a scheme to order the many historical finds unearthed by fishermen. According to archaeologist Simon Davidson, there are around 46,000 recorded shipwrecks, crashed aircraft and sites of archaeological finds in English waters, a figure he believes makes up just 10 per cent of the total number. If the scheme is successful, it will be launched across the country.
A 4ft-tall statue thought to date to the 6th century BC has been deemed a fake following closer examination. The statue, which depicts an archaic maiden, was discovered in a sheep pen north-west of Athens, but moulding marks and bubbles have identified it to be a cast rather than an original sculpture. Two men are currently awaiting trial after attempting to sell the fakery for around £417,000.
National Museum Wales has announced its best visitor figures to date, since it introduced free entry to its museums 11 years ago. The organisation received a total of 1.69 million visits to its seven museums in 2011–12 and claimed visitor numbers increased by 88 per cent in the 12 months after the introduction of free entry.