Taj Mahal “could collapse within five years”

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Campaigners have warned the Indian government that the country’s 358-year-old Taj Mahal could collapse within five years unless essential work is carried out to shore up its foundations. Created by Mogul emperor Shah Jahan following the death of his wife, the Taj Mahal is built on mahogany post foundations sunk into wells fed by the nearby Yamuna River. The river, however, is now dry, and this is thought to be causing cracks to appear in parts of the tomb, and making the four minarets surrounding the monument tilt. According to Ramshankar Katheria, the MP for Agra who is leading the campaign, no one has been permitted to venture into the foundations for the past 30 years.

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Castle inscriptions ‘ward off evil’

Scratchings uncovered on slates believed to be from a late-12th-century cut-stone entranceway to Nevern Castle in Pembrokeshire were probably made to protect against evil, according to archaeologists. Experts believe that the scratchings, which include stars, were made by a serf, labourer or soldier when the castle was being built, between 1170–1190. The marks were discovered during a three-week excavation of the site and offer a rare insight into the beliefs and ideas of medieval working men.

Boulton and Watt to feature on £50 note

The Bank of England has announced the introduction of a new £50 note on 2 November, picturing entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and James Watt, Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer. Both men were key figures in the Industrial Revolution, The new note will be the first time that two portraits havel appeared on the reverse of a Bank of England banknote.

Prehistoric etchings created by small children

Researchers from Cambridge University believe that prehistoric etchings discovered at the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths in Rouffignac, France, were created by children as young as three. The etchings, known as ‘finger flutings’ feature alongside other cave art dating back some 13,000 years, and researchers have now developed a method of identifying the gender and age of the artists involved. Experts examining the flutings believe that they have identified four individual children by matching up their marks – the most prolific child is thought to have been a five-year-old girl. The eight-kilometre cave system was first discovered in the 16th century and one of its caverns is thought to have been used specifically by children due to the amount of fluting on its walls.

Wartime bunker discovered at Lang Craigs site

A Second World War bunker that once controlled decoy lights designed to trick German air crews into dropping bombs away from population and industrial centres has been unearthed on moorland above Dumbarton. The discovery was made during plans to plant 200,000 trees at the site, which was once a top secret site during the Second World War. The bunker, which was part of a network known as ‘starfish’ bunkers – after the wartime code for ‘secret fires’ – consisted of two rooms that were buried beneath a mound of earth and concrete.

Roman artefacts discovered at Camelon

Archaeologists working at a Tesco building site in Camelon near Falkirk believe they have uncovered evidence of at least two Roman forts after bones, jewellery and coins were discovered there. It is thought that the forts date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD; other artefacts found include leather shoes, ceramics and ovens. According to chief archaeologist Martin Cook, the site would have been situated at the north-west frontier of the Roman empire and would have had a “significant strategic role”.

Heritage Lottery grant for Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park Trust has announced a grant of £4.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the regeneration of Bletchley Park that will allow the restoration of iconic Codebreaking Huts 1, 3 and 6 and the building of a new visitor centre. During the Second World War, Bletchley Park was used as a secret cypher base at which the German Enigma codes were broken. The wooden huts that were erected in 1939 on the lawn of the mansion of Bletchley Park were at the heart of the operation to break these codes.

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You can read more about the Bletchley Park in our extract from the BBC book 100 Places that Made Britain, by David Musgrove