The granddaughter of Charles Lightoller, Second Officer of the ill-fated Titanic, has claimed that the ship’s sinking in 1912 was due to confusion in steering orders, which resulted in the ship turning towards the iceberg instead of away from it. Lightoller was the only survivor to know of the mistake and the incident was allegedly covered up in the subsequent enquiry.
Staying at sea, rarely seen crew diaries written 150 years ago by sailors onboard the HMS Trincomalee are to be reunited with their vessel, which is currently berthed in Hartlepool. The journals will be removed from their current home at the Royal Navy Archives in Portsmouth and incorporated into the new National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Elsewhere, a British archaeologist has discovered prehistoric rock art created up to 5,000 years ago at 100 sites in Somaliland on the Gulf of Aden in eastern Africa. One of the paintings depicts a man on horseback, which, at around 4,000 years old, is thought to be one of the first depictions of a mounted hunter. Other images include giraffes, horned cattle and geometric signs.
In other history news, researchers have suggested that stone age tools discovered in the Arabian Peninsula and in India could indicate that migration from Africa to South-East Asia and Australia could have taken place up to 120,000 years ago – up to 60,000 years earlier than previously thought. Tools found were mainly spearheads and scrapers and were discovered in layers of sediment.
Back in England, Britain’s oldest working window frame, built around 1,000 years ago, has been unearthed in a tiny Saxon church in Boxford near Newbury. The window, which is two foot tall and one foot wide, is one of only five dating back to before the Norman Conquest and is thought to be the only one with a working shutter.
Meanwhile, an archaeological dig exploring Anglo-Saxon graves at Cambridge University has unearthed evidence that the site was once a Roman village. As well as Roman pottery, the remains of a 16th-century farmhouse were also discovered at the site.
In Bulgaria, a Roman villa consisting of six buildings linked by paved paths as well as slave quarters and a barn has been discovered between two apartment blocks in the Sofia borough of Hadji Dimitar. The find is thought to date to the third century AD and it is believed the villa was burned around the time of the great Gothic invasion of 270-275.
In auction news, historical artefacts including Second World War memorabilia, medieval manuscripts, and even a chastity belt found in the home of late antiquarian, scholar and author Arthur Henry Stamp are to go under the hammer next week. Stamp, who died last year, aged 88, left the contents of his private museum to charity. Earlier this month, police and bomb squad officers were called to the house in Conwy after a Second World War bomb, grenade and German gas canister were found hidden in a drawer.
And finally, a collection of 19th-century photographs of Argentina left outside an Oxfam shop in Tyneside have raised £14,000 for the charity. The images, originally taken by French photographer Esteban Gonnet, were spotted by a shrewd Oxfam volunteer and sold to an anonymous bidder.