‘Seahenge’

Aardvarchaeology has recently posted New Age vibes at Archaeological Sites about Newagers’ attraction to ancient sites. It puts me in mind of the drama of moving  ‘Seahenge’.

This site of international importance, formed by 55 oak timber posts completely encircling an upturned oak tree, has generated much public and media interest since its discovery was announced in January 1999. The beach on which it was found is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the wildlife that feeds and breeds there is of international importance.

To much local and national controversy, English Heritage decided that the best option for the future of the 4000 year-old timber circle at Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk was to record fully the site, then lift and analyse the upturned tree mark and circle of timber posts. The whole structure, lying on the shore line of the dynamic Norfolk coast, was at risk of being severely damaged by the sea and visitor pressure. Valuable information about the Bronze Age period would have been lost forever.

The ‘Seahenge’ controversy

The Time Team Seahenge Special featured a number of Druids and other protesters opposed to the removal of the monument. What was perhaps not made clear, however, was that, in June 1999, a meeting took place involving English Heritage, local archaeological and wildlife groups and the main protesters. At this meeting, which went on for five hours, agreement was reached about how to proceed. We have reproduced the minutes of that meeting here in full to provide further background and to give a flavour of the issues discussed.

There are a lot of examples of monument re-use in Britain, and New Age adoption of ancient sites seems to be a continuation of this age-old fascination with ancient sites.

Ancient attitudes to ancient monuments

This long tradition of ritual activity at ancient monuments represents a strand of continuity in social life in Britain, across the Roman–medieval transition, when so many other practices underwent drastic change.

Winchester’s Saxon hanging bowl is home!

Over 75 years after its original discovery, the ‘Winchester hanging bowl’ is back in the city and will be on permanent display at the City Museum in The Square, Winchester.

Wintonians have Hampshire County Council – the owners of the bowl – to thank for requesting its return from the British Museum, to whom it had been lent since its discovery, and who have generously co-operated in lending it to Winchester City Council on long term loan.

A VIP unveiling of this famous local artefact will take place at 2pm on Wednesday 25th July, when a glass will be raised to the lecture-goer who prompted its return.

In August 1930, local archaeologist W J Andrew was excavating at Oliver’s Battery, a few miles south-west of Winchester, trying to discover the origins of the earthworks. However, he encountered a totally unexpected find – the grave of a young Saxon man who had been buried with a javelin, a short hunting sword or ‘seax’ and a beautiful bronze bowl. The bowl, decorated with spiral red enamel designs, and with suspension hooks and fittings in the form of aquatic birds, proclaims the man’s high social status, perhaps even that of royalty.

Experts, noting similarities in decorative style between the bowl and Irish illuminated manuscripts, believe the bowl may have been made in Ireland in the late 7th century AD or perhaps commissioned from an Irish craftsman.

Winchester Hanging Bowl

The Anglo-Saxon man from Oliver’s Battery

Bronze Age skeleton is dug up in quarry

ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they may have unearthed a Bronze Age cemetery near Peterborough after digging up the remains of a 3,500 year-old skeleton.

Experts who made the find at Bardon Aggregates’ Pode Hole Farm quarry in Thorney, near Peterborough, say they expect to come across further burial sites as excavations continue.

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