King Henry VIII letter discovered

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A document announcing the birth of the future Edward VI in 1537 and a letter written by King Henry VIII asking landlords to recruit troops from their tenants to go into battle against the Scots, have been found among papers at Dunham Massey near Altrincham. The letter concerning the birth of Henry VIII’s only male heir appears to have been written on behalf of the king’s third wife, Jane Seymour, who died less than two weeks after Edward’s birth. The letter containing Henry’s call to arms is dated 1543. The authenticity of both documents has been confirmed. George Booth Esq, the recipient of both letters, was the grandfather of Sir George Booth who built the first house at the site in 1600.

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Bronze Age ring declared treasure

A Bronze Age gold ring found by a Winchester artist in a field at Headbourne Worthy in Hampshire has been declared as treasure by a coroner. The 3,000-year-old ring was found in February 2010 by Alan Cracknell, who initially thought the piece was an old bottle top. The ring, which measures 16mm in diameter, is thought to have been used to hold hair together. Winchester Museum is hoping to purchase the object following its valuation by the British Museum.

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Archaeologists unearth slave burial ground

Archaeologists from the University of Bristol believe they have unearthed a unique slave burial ground on the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena, which once acted as the landing place for many of the slaves captured by the Royal Navy during the suppression of the slave trade between 1840 and 1872. Around 26,000 freed slaves were brought to the island during this period, but conditions aboard the slave ships meant that many did not survive their journey. Some 325 bodies in a combination of individual, multiple and mass graves have been found with only five buried in coffins: one adolescent and four still or newborn babies. The remainder had been placed (or thrown) directly into shallow graves, before being covered. In some cases mothers were buried with their presumed children. Osteological analysis has revealed that 83 per cent of the bodies were those of children, teenagers or young adults, while examples of dental modifications, achieved by chipping or carving of the front teeth, indicate that many hailed from rich cultures. Scurvy was widespread on the skeletons while several bodies showed indications of violence; two older children appear to have been shot.

Cutty Sark to reopen to the public

The 19th-century tea clipper Cutty Sark is to reopen to the public on 26 April, five years after it was gutted by a fire caused by an industrial vacuum cleaner. The 143-year-old ship, which left London on its maiden voyage in February 1870, made eight journeys to China as part of the tea trade and was later used for training naval cadets during the Second World War. The fire caused an estimated £10 million of damage to the vessel, which has been berthed in Greenwich since 1954.

Nelson items stolen from Norfolk museum

A gold mourning ring worth £25,000 and a box of medallions once belonging to Admiral Lord Nelson are among artefacts recently stolen from Norwich Castle Museum. The items, which are collectively valued at around £36,800, were reported missing in February after an off-duty officer discovered an insecure display cabinet. Five days before the theft, four men had attempted to take a rhino’s head from the castle during opening hours, after forcing open a display case, but were thwarted in their attempts by museum staff. It is unknown whether the two incidents are related. Police are currently analysing CCTV footage and are appealing for witnesses.

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And finally…

A three-year-old McDonald’s chicken nugget resembling first US President George Washington has sold on internet auction site eBay for £5,108. Its former owner had kept the piece in her freezer after spotting the likeness during a visit to the restaurant in 2009.