News of a search for a second circle and another lost castle:
THE secrets of a 14th century castle and a second stone circle could soon be unveiled near Keswick.
Remains of the mystery 14th castle, which was abandoned over 500 years ago, and a prehistoric stone circle are being hunted out in an investigation at Castlerigg on the eastern outskirts of the town.
The search is set to take place over the coming months with English Heritage’s permission.
Led by Grampus Heritage and Training, Unlocking Hidden Heritage is a Bassenthwaite Reflections community landscape project.
An invitation has been thrown out to history seekers to take part in what promises to be a significant and exciting study, designed to show how ancestors lived and help shape the area.
Leading the Castlerigg survey, Mark Graham said interest had been kindled after a farmer found an area in his field, which he thinks may be the manorial site. Aerial photographs and ground searches have revealed markings of two potentially important sites.
He said: “There are 14th century references to the castle, which was abandoned around 1460. Notes written in 1770 state the ancient seat of the lords of the manor of Derwentwater went into ruins.
“Also, a second Castlerigg Stone Circle was mentioned by William Stukeley in his book Itinerarium Curiosum, published in 1776. He said there seemed to be ‘another larger circle in the next pasture toward the town’.”
Castlerigg Stone Circle was built around 3000BC and is one of the earliest structures of its kind in Britain.
Mr Clark said: “Although we are not working on sites of proven archaeology, we are searching for proof of two specific features. We hope anyone with some time on their hands and an interest in the past will join us.
“Many of our findings relate to past industry and illustrate people’s impact on the Bassenthwaite area. This project offers a great opportunity to discover new sites and consider the lives of those who have lived and worked here in the past.”
Large Roman settlement unearthed by builders
A HUGE early Roman settlement unearthed in Cirencester is the most significant historical discovery ever made in the town, archaeologists said this week.
The encampment which covers several hectares, dates back to the late-Iron Age in the 1st century ad, and was likely to have been occupied by the first Roman settlers in Cirencester.
Alongside the exciting discovery at the Kingshill development on the A417, Oxford Archaeologists unearthed a Bronze Age burial mound dating back to 2,000 bc containing a skeleton.
County archaeologist Charles Parry said when the proposal to build 270 houses and a shop on the land came up his team recommended an excavation to retrieve the town’s lost past.
“It is one of the most significant and interesting sites discovered in Cirencester. We knew that there was important archaeology there as it is very close to the major road system of the Roman town of Cirencester,” he said.
“There are known to be a scatter of such farmsteads across the Cotswold landscape but what is remarkable is the size of the settlement as it is quite large and the activity on it was unusual.”
The settlement enclosure contains lots of pits probably used for grain storage.
Archaeologists are now trying to find out if the settlement dates back to just before or after the Roman conquest.
Senior project manager at Oxford Archaeology, Ken Welsh said the team of 15 have found evidence suggesting there were round houses there and textile making took place.
So far they have found some loom weights made of stone and pottery and a weaving comb.
Mr Parry said: “This is one of the largest excavations in Cirencester as it covers several hectares. It seems to have been a settlement which went through various changes over time which is unusual.”
The prehistoric round barrow burial mound found near to the settlement contained a central pit where what is thought to be a male skeleton was found buried with a pottery vessel known as a beaker from the late-Neolithic and early Bronze Age.
An array of prehistoric material has been found at the site including flint from various tools, polished stone axes and tools made from bone and antlers as well as highly decorated pottery.
Mr Welsh, said: “It may have been an area people came back to again and again and perhaps these materials were placed as some type of thanksgiving.”
Oxford Archaeologists are hoping their painstaking research will unearth the history of who may have once lived or worked in the area.
The team, who finish their dig commissioned by Robert Hitchens and Redrow housebuilders tomorrow (Fri), will review all of the finds which will eventually go to Cirencester’s Corinium Museum.
A 2,100-year-old “computer” found in a Roman shipwreck may have acted as a calendar for the Olympic Games, scientists report in Nature journal.
The Antikythera Mechanism has puzzled experts since its discovery by Greek sponge divers in 1901.
Researchers have long suspected the ancient clockwork device was used to display astronomical cycles.
A team has now found that one of the dials records the dates of the ancient Olympiad.
This could have been to provide a benchmark for the passage of time.
The device is made up of bronze gearwheels and dials, and scientists know of nothing like it until at least 1,000 years later.
Tony Freeth, a member of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, said he was “astonished” at the discovery.
“The Olympiad cycle was a very simple, four-year cycle and you don’t need a sophisticated instrument like this to calculate it. It took us by huge surprise when we saw this.
“But the Games were of such cultural and social importance that it’s not unnatural to have it in the Mechanism.”
The technique of X-ray computed tomography gave the researchers a 3D view of its 29 surviving gears. High-resolution imaging provided them with a close-up of tiny letters engraved on the surface.
The device’s “subsidiary dial” was once thought to be a 76-year “callippic” calendar.
However, Mr Freeth and his colleagues have now been able to establish from its inscriptions that it displays the 4-year Olympiad cycle.
Instead of one Olympics as there is today, the ancient Olympiads, called the Panhellenic Games, comprised four games spread over four years.
The four sectors of the dial are inscribed with a year number and two Panhellenic Games: the “crown” games of Isthmia, Olympia, Nemea and Pythia; and two lesser games: Naa (held at Dodona) and a second game which has not yet been deciphered.
In addition, the team was able to identify the names of all 12 months, which belong to the Corinthian family of months.
Corinth, in central Greece, established colonies in north-western Greece, Corfu and Sicily, where Archimedes was established.
Archimedes, whose list of exploits included an explanation for the displacement of water and a screw pump that bears his name today, died there in 212 BC.
The Antikythera Mechanism was “almost certainly made many decades” after his death, according to Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York, US.
If it came from Syracuse, the dial could have been made by the school of scientists and instrument-makers he inspired.
The priceless artefact was found by a sponge diver amid other treasures on a wreck near the tiny island of Antikythera between Crete and the mainland. It is on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Return to Antikythera: Divers revisit wreck where ancient computer found
Site where oldest computer lay for thousands of years may yield other treasures and even another Antikythera mechanism