thinking about archaeology

A British Archaeology for the holidays

Cover with Spine

The front cover of the new British Archaeology is inevitably a bit sombre, but it’s a reminder of how fortunate we were to have had Mick Aston among us. I run an obituary-listing feature at the end of every year (about 60 individuals in the last one); and very occasionally deaths will be noticed of particularly well known and influential archaeologists during the course of the year. But the only archaeologist who has appeared in their own right on the cover before was Mick himself. I doubt there will be another while I’m still editing.

Greg Bailey has written about Mick and broadcasting, I created a My archaeology column by bringing together fragments from various texts Mick had written for the magazine over the years, and there is Mick’s own final Travels column – on the Isle of Purbeck. And I wrote a short appreciation. “If we care”, he said of archaeologists, “we should organise ourselves better”. None cared more than Mick.

It’s also worth noting that the Council for British Archaeology has put all of Mick’s columns online for free access.

Then there’s all the usual stuff, good archaeology, including these five features (and more), book reviews and so on. The excavation feature on Broxmouth, a hillfort near Edinburgh excavated in 1970s, was picked up by BBC Scotland.

ARTICLE

ARTICLE ARTICLEI do rather like a short News story about Stonehenge. Not only does it report an apparent conclusion to something that has been debated for over two centuries – whether or not the great sarsen circle was ever complete – but the discovery and reporting were down to two English Heritage monument stewards. Things have changed from the distant custodian days, when it was not unknown for on-site staff to care little about the monuments they would rather the public kept away from. Stewards are often much better placed than archaeologists to get really familiar with sites we all like to think we know well.

The story is in the magazine, but here are some photos I took on my visit there to check it out. The short but wonderfully hot and dry summer created a rarely seen degree of parching in the grass at Stonehenge, revealing stone pits in the stone circle that geophysics has not yet been able to reach.

parch marks

parch marks

Stonehenge car park

And work continues in preparation for the new facilities, here an archaeologist from Wessex Archaeology watching the removal of a modern bank along the edge of the car park. I talked about the changes briefly for an Open Country programme on BBC Radio 4 which came to Salisbury Plain.

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