thinking about archaeology

Archive for August, 2010

Romans at Silbury Hill

English Heritage testing the geophsysics plots.

There are now some good films about Silbury Hill itself on the web.

English Heritage 2007

Four short videos (total 35 minutes) about the recent conservation work, including a fabulous tour of the section exposed inside the tunnel with Jim Leary – every excavation should have records like that.

Fachtna McAvoy has put a video on YouTube that is a longer version of the first of these films made for English Heritage by Chris Corden.

BBC 1968

The Chronicle film made by David Collison and Paul Johnstone of the BBC-sponsored dig.

And a soundtrack:

Dongas Tribe 1999

Field recordings made by Dave Prentice (Nusphere) of summer solstice celebrations on Silbury Hill and in the henge at Avebury.


Fascinating photo essay with human skulls


“Skulls everywhere” at Life, from that lovely mawkish daguerrotype to Stonehenge, with some pretty shocking images in between (and I never knew that Jonathan Swift’s tomb in St. Patrick’s Cathedral displayed a cast of his skull)


“So what are we going to do about it?” Here’s one answer, David

Delighted to see that David Cameron is such a strong supporter of tourism. We have a long way to go to break the cultural snobbery that separates the staples of the UK industry – catering, accommodation, tour guides, campsites, postcards, guidebooks, souvenirs and so on – from middle class respectability. It’s better than it was, but sometimes it seems that the shame of engagement can only be tempered by calling it art, and littering the countryside with half-baked works whose cost might have been more creatively and productively deployed by addressing the needs of tourists instead of interfering with their experiences.

Anyway, as Cameron said in his speech yesterday, “Tourism is a fiercely competitive (more…)


Extraordinary find at Marden henge

And so to Marden. There are four large henges in Wessex, at Avebury, Marden and Durrington Walls (near Stonehenge), all in Wiltshire, and Mount Pleasant near Dorchester, Dorset. Avebury and Durrington have both been subjected to new excavation and survey, with dramatic results. Excavation by Geoffrey Wainwright at Marden in 1969 showed that like the others it was built at the end of the neolithic around 2500BC. But compared to his work at Durrington and Mount Pleasant, Wainwright’s Marden project was small, and the overlooked site has been much in need of new and more extensive study.

The recently concluded English Heritage excavation (directed by Jim Leary, whose full report on his Silbury Hill excavation is expected soon) came at the end of a two-year (more…)


Analysing the new site near Stonehenge

There have been two really interesting discoveries in the Stonehenge area over the past few weeks. One is at Marden, the great henge earthwork in the Vale of Pewsey near the source of the river Avon. I’ll write about that in my next post, but first I’d like to add a few words to the extensive media coverage of the geophysics survey that, according to National Geographic, revealed Stonehenge’s “long-lost twin” close by (otherwise identified as Stonehenge’s “sister” – the site is in front of the bank of trees in the photo above, on the horizon on the far right).

Sister or twin, that’s quite a claim, and it’s no surprise that it came hot on the back of a press release (from the communications department at the University of Birmingham), that was embargoed till June 22 when the story suddenly broke. Nowadays we hear about (more…)