Showing 1-20 of 22 news posts. Most recent first | Next 20
Drowned Landscapes exhibition at Royal Society 3 - 8th July
A huge area of land which was swallowed up into the North Sea thousands of years ago has been recreated and put on display by scientists.
Doggerland was an area between Northern Scotland, Denmark and the Channel Islands. It was believed to have been home to tens of thousands of people before it disappeared underwater. Now its history has been pieced together by artefacts recovered from the seabed and displayed in London. The 15-year-project has involved St Andrews, Dundee and Aberdeen universities.
The results are on display at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London until 8 July.
Watch the Transit of Venus from Mam Tor
On 6th June there will be a very rare astronomical event: a transit of the planet Venus across the face of the Sun. The last transit of Venus occurred on June 8th in 2004, and the next one visible from the UK will occur on 8th December 2125 (although there is another transit in 2117 which won't be visible from the UK). The 2012 transit of Venus will be in progress by the time the Sun rises in the UK at 4:50am, and will be over by 5:55am. This means that only the very final stages of the transit will be visible from the UK, weather permitting.
The National Trust has given permission for representatives of the Peak District National Park Authority's Dark Skies project to observe the 2012 transit of Venus from the summit of Mam Tor. Several astronomers will be on hand from 4:30am with telescopes and special glasses to allow members of the public, weather permitting, to view the transit of Venus.
Children dig into the past
Published on Tuesday 17 April 2012 09:00
Digging into the past have been pupils from primary schools around Buxton who have taken part in an archaeological project.
The dig has been taking place in a bid to uncover more about the history of the area around the henge of Arbor Low and Gib Hill situated near to Monyash.
The Arbor Low Environs Project, set to take place over the next five years, is a collaboration between archaeologists, students, volunteers and farmers.
It is being co-directed by Drs Ian and Catherine Parker Heath, independent research archaeologists and Dr Hannah Cobb of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Manchester.
Several test trenches, about a metre square, have been dug as experts try and find out more about the history of the site.
Running alongside the main dig Dr Catherine Parker Heath, of Enrichment Through Archaeology, has been ensuring that members of the local community can get involved.
Mike PItts reviewing the Heelstone - Pit news
Let's have a dispassionate look at the latest Stonehenge news. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project (University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection) continues its geophysical survey. So what's new?
The press release is titled "Discoveries provide evidence of a celestial procession at Stonehenge", which is pretty much what all the journalists who reported it said (often just copying the release). It includes a "podflash" interview with Vince Gaffney, and there is a video visualisation of the theory here.
The Independent really went to town, using words like "extraordinary" and "massive", suggesting the discoveries might "turn the accepted chronology of the Stonehenge landscape on its head", and that "Stonehenge site's sacred status is at least 500 years older than previously thought". The project as a whole is going to "transform scholars' understanding of the famous monument's origins, history and meaning". Golly.
I couldn't see where all this came from, so I contacted the Birmingham University press office, who very kindly gave me these geophysics plots. As no other news media anywhere as far as I can see has used them, I thought it would be helpful to post them here. Then we can see what is being talked about.
I mostly leave it to others to look at these plots and comment on the interpretations (please do). What I will do here is describe what Birmingham team found, and add a bit of context.
They pick on two geophysical anomalies, which they call pits, just south of the northern line of the Cursus:
Click through to see the pics
Mass burial suggests massacre at Iron Age hill fort
Archaeologists have found evidence of a massacre linked to Iron Age warfare at a hill fort in Derbyshire.
A burial site contained only women and children - the first segregated burial of this kind from Iron Age Britain.
Nine skeletons were discovered in a section of ditch around the fort at Fin Cop in the Peak District.
Scientists believe "perhaps hundreds more skeletons" could be buried in the ditch, only a small part of which has been excavated so far.
Construction of the hill fort has been dated to some time between 440BC and 390BC, but it was destroyed before completion.
The fort's stone wall was broken apart and the rubble used to fill the 400m perimeter ditch, where the skeletons were found.
A second, outer wall and ditch had been started but not finished.
Oldest evidence of arrows found
Researchers in South Africa have revealed the earliest direct evidence of human-made arrows.
The scientists unearthed 64,000 year-old "stone points", which they say were probably arrow heads.
Closer inspection of the ancient weapons revealed remnants of blood and bone that provided clues about how they were used.
Cyclist attacked by men and dog on Hackpen Hill
An 18-year-old cyclist suffered severe facial injuries after being attacked by three men and bitten by their dog.
The teenager was riding up Hackpen Hill near Broad Hinton, Wiltshire, on Sunday afternoon when he stopped at the top to have a cigarette.
Police said three men in their 40s approached him and punched and kicked him. Their dog, described as large and brown, then bit his arm and face.
The men stole his mountain bike before running off towards a nearby car park.
London's historic views 'under threat'
Through the carefully trimmed foliage, St Paul's majestic dome appears no larger than a thumbnail.
Seen from 10 miles away, London's iconic cathedral seems to hover in the distance like a mirage, shimmering in the heat.
This unique "viewing corridor" from King Henry VIII's Mound, down a specially maintained tree-lined avenue, has been a feature of Richmond Park in south-west London, since the early 1700s.
With the surrounding modern buildings carefully hidden by the holly hedging, this "key hole" view of the 18th Century landmark from the park is like a window to London's past.
But heritage campaigners fear new planning laws - introduced by Mayor Ken Livingstone and rubber-stamped by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly - mean Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece could end up crowded out by sky-scrapers.
Under the new planning rules, the so-called viewing corridor has been narrowed from a width of 150m to 70m.
Ancient hill's holes to be filled
Plans to stabilise the ancient Silbury Hill mound in Wiltshire have been unveiled by English Heritage.
The man-made monument, believed to date to the Neolithic period, developed a hole at the top five years ago after the collapse of infilling in a shaft.
There are proposals to remove an inadequate backfill from this and other cavaties and replace it with chalk.
English Heritage said it would preserve the long-term stability of the hill while minimising further damage.
Surveys have confirmed that the overall structure is stable, although there are pockets of instability resulting from tunnels dug in 1776, 1849 and 1968.
English Heritage is drawing up a brief for contractors to come forward with their proposals for how the work should be done.
The organisation is also looking at how to fund the project.
From the beeb: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/4477192.stm
Stonehenge tunnel plan cash blow
The government is to re-examine plans for a road scheme aimed at diverting traffic away from Stonehenge after the cost of the project doubled.
The scheme, which includes building a tunnel for the A303 near the ancient Wiltshire site, was estimated to cost £183m when it was announced in 2002.
But now the government says the project will cost around £470m
A detailed review of the tunnel plan, as well as other road proposals for the site, will now be carried out.
More at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/4699477.stm
DNA project to trace human steps
A project spanning five continents is aiming to map the history of human migration via DNA.
The Genographic Project will collect DNA samples from over 100,000 people worldwide to help piece together a picture of how the Earth was colonised.
Full story on the beeb
Arrest Over Stone Attack
A man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage to the 3,500-year-old Rollright Stones, near Chipping Norton, which were vandalised with yellow paint.
The 26-year-old has been questioned and released on police bail until March 19.
The attack on the ancient stones caused £50,000 worth of damage on April 1, last year. A £1,000 reward was offered by the Pagan Society in a bid to find the person responsible. The stone circle, which has about 70 stones, is known as the King's Men, while another five across a field are known as the Whispering Knights. On the other side of the road is the King Stone.
They are the third most important stone circle in the country, after Stonehenge and Avebury, both in Wiltshire.
Coate development gets government go-ahead
CONTROVERSIAL plans to turn fields near Coate Water into houses and a university campus have taken a huge step forward.
A Government report published this week by an independent panel has given the go-ahead to the divisive development.
It says that the development of the new campus for the University of Bath in Swindon along with 1,800 new house on land between the Great Western hospital and Coate Water is appropriate and provides a good basis for development over the plan period of 1996-2016.
Nb: Apparently any development has to keep the circle but presumably will change its surroundings completely.
Swastika Stone is Actually a Carving of a Boomerang
A top children's writer is suggesting that the boomerang was invented in West Yorkshire rather than Australia.
Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories series, got the idea while out jogging on Ilkley Moor and spotted the famous Swastika Stone. The four-armed Bronze Age image is thought by most experts to have been used in the worship of sun or fire. But Mr Deary said: "It's the earliest representation of a boomerang. There's nothing else it could be."
The writer says the first boomerangs would have had four arms as it was easier to get them to return. But over time, the two-armed boomerang was developed. Mr Deary also sees his claim as something of an act of revenge.
"Australians have sent us Rolf Harris and Kylie Minogue. It's payback time," he said.
Stonehenge replica being built in... New Zealand
"The whole idea of the henge is that people can come out here and learn real basic astronomy, the real foundations of what astronomy is all about," says Richard Hall, the infectiously enthusiastic and indefatigable project manager and president of the Phoenix Astronomical Society, which is building the Kiwi henge.
The aim of the project, funded by a grant of NZ$56,500 from the Royal Society of New Zealand, is to generate interest in science among people who might not normally be keen on the subject.
"We came up with the idea of Stonehenge because it doesn't matter who you are -- everyone looks at the Pyramids and Stonehenge and structures like that (and asks) who built them, why did they build them?" says Hall.
A henge is a roughly circular flat area surrounded by a ditch and a bank of earth, sometimes with a ring of stones or wooden posts within the circular ditch. The New Zealand Stonehenge, due to open June 5, won't merely replicate what is in the Northern Hemisphere; the aim is to create an astronomical calendar for the southern skies.
"The original Stonehenge was very accurate," says Hall, "because, remember, they built that over a thousand-year period. You can see where they've actually had to move things, where things worked OK for a while and then they came out of adjustment. We've got a one-shot here. We're going to get it right."
One of the first jobs when the project started in earnest last September was to accurately survey the site, explains Kay Leather, the project's construction team manager.
"You have to work out, as (the stars) come up, where they will actually appear, as against where a computer says they'll appear, because they are not on the sea horizon," says Leather. "The lintel is actually governed by the hill line so that you've got the stars and things happening at the right point and the rest of the henge happening at the right point."
After the team finished surveying, it took months to fence, excavate and level the site. Late February's torrential rains in Wairarapa, in the southern half of the North Island of New Zealand, didn't help. The ditch kept collapsing. "I guess we dug heavy, sloppy, hard clay about three times, my daughter and I," says Leather, laughing now at the memory of the bad weather. "There were ducks swimming around over there."
Next they erected the pillars and lintels, hollow structures constructed using wood and cement board (hewn stone would have been too expensive and time-consuming to erect). But in a nod to the old, the finished henge will be coated with cement and covered in plaster sculpted to look like stone. Inside the "stones" will be some modern accoutrements: wires to allow a sound system to be installed. "We've already got two couples who want to get married out here," says Hall.
An obelisk inside the stone circle will mark the passage of the year as the shadow of the obelisk moves in a figure eight on a mosaic of 18,500 tiles below. The tiles will display the date and the constellations of the zodiac. Outside the circle, three pairs of standing stones will show where the sun will rise and set for each of the solstices and equinoxes. "So you can see the enormous distances the sun actually travels along the horizon," says Hall.
Every key point will have a plaque denoting its significance. "It may be a simple phrase like 'midsummer solstice sunrise.' The ones that are more seasonally oriented will have something like 'time to harvest the kumara (sweet potato),'" says Leather.
To make the henge truly of Aotearoa (the Mâori name for New Zealand), the astronomers have ensured that their creation links to the stars that Polynesian navigators used to cross the Pacific Ocean. "We've also turned this henge into a huge Polynesian star compass so people will see how people used the stars to navigate by," says Hall.
For those who want to learn even more, the Wairarapa site is home to the Phoenix Astronomical Society's recreational telescope and will eventually house a research observatory as well. But even if visitors only meander amid the Kiwi henge, the hope is that they will learn something new.
Says Hall: "We've got the ancient here, where our ancestors started from, which is just as valid as it was 10,000 years ago, and then we are going to have the modern astronomy here as well."
South Korean Rock Art Hints at Whaling Origins
Stone Age people may have started hunting whales as early as 6,000 BC, new evidence from South Korea suggests.
Analysis of rock carvings at Bangu-Dae archaeological site in Ulsan in the southeast of the country revealed more than 46 depictions of large whales.
They also show evidence that humans used harpoons, floats and lines to catch their prey, which included sperm whales, right whales and humpbacks.
Details of the research are published in the journal L'Anthropologie.
"You have representations of dolphins and whales, with people on boats using harpoons and lines. It is a scene of whaling," co-investigator Daniel Robineau told BBC News Online.
For example, one scene shows people standing in a curved boat connected via a line to a whale.
The rock engravings, or petroglyphs, seem to have been made at a range of different times between 6,000 and 1,000 BC.
At nearby occupation sites dating to between 5,000 and 1,500 BC, archaeologists have unearthed large quantities of cetacean bones - a sure sign that whales were an important food source for populations in the area.
Other species represented on the rocks at Bangu-dae include orcas (killer whales), minke whales, and dolphins.
Dr Robineau and Sang-Mog Lee, of the Museum of Kyungpook National University in Bukgu Daegu in South Korea, suggest whaling played an important role in social cohesion in the lives of the people who made the petroglyphs, similar to that which has been observed in historic Inuit populations.
Some of the depictions of whales also bear what appear to be fleshing lines, where the hunters divided up the meat after capturing and killing the mammals.
Norfolk Schoolboy's Neolithic Discovery
(originally posted by ironman feb 2003)
Norfolk schoolboy's neolithic discovery
Story from EPD24 News
Schoolboy Craig's voyage of discovery
February 7, 2003 05:30
When young Craig Barnard joined a wildlife and history group, he was hopeful of spotting a rare bird, digging up a few bits of old pottery or maybe even finding out how our ancestors made spears.
But deep in the woods on a field trip, the 11-year-old made a find that was to overturn one of the county's historians' most popular beliefs.
The ancient arrowhead unearthed by Craig and his friends led to the discovery of that a Neolithic and Iron Age site described by experts as "without question of the most important of its kind found in Norfolk".
Historians had long believed that the site in Breckland had been covered in woodland for an aeon, but the discovery made by youngsters from the Watton-based Wayland RSPB Wildlife Explorers' and Wildlife Group proves that more recently it was open land favoured by Neolithic and Iron Age settlers.
These important finds were put on public display for the first time at Watton Junior School yesterday alongside brooches, Roman coins, spearheads and even second world war shellcases– all found by the Wayland children's group set up by keen historian Sean O'Reilly.
Mr O'Reilly, said the exhibition – during which he also gives practical demonstrations on how Iron Age man made his spears and lit fires with two sticks or Romans drilled holes – would now be taken to all schools in the Wayland area.
Craig, a pupil at the junior school, told the EDP yesterday that he had joined the wildlife group to find out more about birds and just liked finding things.
He made the discovery during a field-walking trip, led by Mr O'Reilly, of Watton.
"We were looking at trees and how old the moss was and I looked on the ground and saw a piece of arrowhead. Then we carried on looking and found all these flints. It was very exciting," Craig said.
But when The Norfolk Archaeology Unit confirmed that the surface finds suggested that the site had been extensively used during the Neolithic and Iron Age period, that was even better, he added.
Dr Andrew Rogerson, from Norfolk Landscape Archaeology based at Gressenhall, said it was a major find.
"The exciting thing about it is that it was found in what was thought to have been an ancient wood.
"We normally find a settlement site would have been situated by open land.
"This find was in a wood thought to have been there since year dot, challenging long-held ideas.
"It is just conceivable it is not a normal settlement site and if so, it would be the first ever wooded site, although that is unlikely."
He said all the finds would be documented on the Heritage Environment Record, a database at Gressenhall, thanks to the group's careful cataloguing of the finds.
"The beauty of this is not the finding of it, but the plotting and placing of it and most importantly, the recording of it in a place appreciated by all now and in the future."
The driving force behind the youngsters was Irish-born Mr O'Reilly, who used his skill at making things and through his artistic talents brought the ancient world to life.
Mr O'Reilly said: "My father always used to show us countryside crafts in Ireland and old skills that have disappeared.
"When I moved to Wayland I fell in love with the landscape and I thought it would be fantastic to bring wildlife and the old crafts together.
"We were out field-walking when we found the Iron Age site. We came across a tree stump in this wood and Craig spotted this flint. We quickly realised how important it was."
Yesterday he was at the launch of the new exhibition and after its local tour, Mr O'Reilly hoped to find funding to set up a roadshow to take it to a wider audience.
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