The voice of archaeology in Britain and beyond

Cover of British Archaeology 102

Issue 102

Sept / Oct 2008



Windfarm dig finds boat in style of Sutton Hoo

Prehistoric village under Isle of Man runway

Rare house continues first farmers debate

In the press

In Brief & Phase 2


Hadrian in London
The 'Hadrian: Empire and Conflict' exhibiton is impressive

Hadrian's Wall
Abandoned after three centuries, but still alive

New WHS, the Antonine Wall
David J Breeze tells how to make a successful bid to UNESCO

THE BIG DIG: Stonehenge
Mike Pitts sorts out the technical data

additional content
Reading about the Archaeology of Stonehenge

The Stonehenge Olympics
Plans for the stones to get the new facilities ready for 2012

on the web

Recommended websites
Caroline Wickham-Jones explores the realms of archaeological fiction and a look at Barwick-in-Elmet Historical Society's website


your views and responses


a piece about Bonekickers with no archaeological puns!


Seeking what is best for buried bones, Sebastian Payne looks at new leglislation

CBA correspondent

Campaigns, comment and communications from the CBA
Gill Chitty on the stones, the bill and beyond


ISSN 1357-4442

Editor Mike Pitts


Star Letter

Star Letter – Grey community

Barry Lane

Gary Lock (A professional mockery, Jul/Aug feature) proposes some tough questions to contractor archaeologists and the local authorities who require their services under PPG16. However it is time that we treated the excavation, fieldwork and research undertaken by community groups and local societies the same way. Their work is usually undertaken for research reasons, rather than to mitigate commercial developments, is often conducted under less time pressure and is frequently completed to professional standards. The majority of short-listed projects for the Marsh Award for Community Archaeology received public funding and professional staff support. Unless reports from such groups are submitted and accepted by county journals the most likely public result will only be short newsletter pieces written in a journalistic style or web pages designed for public "access" but not for scholars or researchers.

If proper reports were written following English Heritage guidelines they could easily be made widely available via web technology. As far as I know, OASIS welcomes such reports from community projects, just as they do from contractors. I would like to see my region providing encouragement, training and perhaps some resourcing to bring more community group and local society reports to the wider world.

Barry Lane, chairman CBA South West

• See On the web for more on OASIS

Sign of the Green Man

Angela Lanyon

Your recent article and letters about the Green Man have interested me greatly (feature, May/Jun and Letters, Jul/Aug). On the Thything in Worcester up to 18 months ago there used to be a pub called The Green Man, which displayed a distinctive sign. Both the building and the sign are listed. The pub has been done up and renamed (appropriately) The Marwood, but the sign has vanished. I offered to buy it but no one seemed to know its whereabouts, and the local planning authority showed no interest in tracking it down. I assume the Portable Antiquities Scheme covers small items of this type. Pub signs are a part of our heritage, sadly neglected when traditional names are increasingly replaced with The Slug and Lettuce etc. An inn in the same area is now up for sale. The Lamb and Flag has been an ale house since the late 1500s.

Angela Lanyon, Worcester

Rita Wood

I would take the criticism of the Green Man industry further than Richard Hayman: "greenmen" are Christian and about death, yes, but they are not bodies in decay. The message was resurrection, not dissolution. The simplest examples of greenmen, from the 12th century, are pictures of men in resurrection. They are breathing out the new life, which was symbolised by foliage. Some years ago I published a short paper, "Before the Green Man" (Medieval Life 14 [2000], 8–13), and have recently published a detailed analysis of a coherent sculptural programme at Liverton in the North Riding which includes a "greenman" (Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 78 [2006], 111–43). These papers test this interpretation and, I think, vindicate it.

Rita Wood, York

Pagan voices

Yvonne Aburrow

The exhibition of Lindow Man at Manchester Museum prompted a Spoilheap column (Jul/Aug) complaining about the way the exhibition was planned, with little educational content about iron age people, or interpretation around the different theories of how and why Lindow Man died; instead the exhibition focuses on the reburial controversy. I am as annoyed about this as the anonymous author of Spoilheap.

The article complains that 12 Pagans were involved in the discussions around the exhibition, because it says Pagans are only a small group. On the other hand, several archaeologists and museum curators were involved, and the article claims that they represent everybody. I'm not sure that they do "represent everybody", as not everyone subscribes to the Enlightenment discourse that they represent. My main complaint is this, however: why weren't Pagans who don't want remains reburied consulted? Manchester Museum is aware that we exist (I hope I left them in no doubt about that when I attended the Respect conference there) so why weren't we included?

When I wrote about this issue (Letters, Sep 2004), my letter was edited so that it was not apparent that I am a Wiccan, thus negating the point I was trying to make, that many Pagans, perhaps most, support archaeological and historical understanding and investigation of the past.

Why is my position, which is that of a reasonable Pagan, being ignored by British Archaeology? Is it because representing Pagans as irrational sells more magazines? I completely disagree with reburying remains, and want them to be available for archaeologists to study, so that the ancestors of all of us can be remembered and memorialised by recovering their stories, to the benefit of everyone who wants their identity rooted in the past.

Yvonne Aburrow, Bristol

• Spoilheap referred to reburial, but it was not suggested that that was the exhibition's main focus. See also Phase 2, this issue.

Ancient Glamorgan

Debbie Bardo

I read with great interest Mick Aston's article on the early monasteries in Glamorgan (Mick's Travels, Jul/Aug). The subject is close to home and my heart, and my post-grad MA thesis is on Early Medieval Churches and Norman Land Acquisition in the Vale of Glamorgan.

I have researched five different churches in a small geographical area. Two of them are at Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major) and Llancarfan: not because they are two of the major earliest monastic settlements / churches, but because of the way they are integrated into our landscape. I agree with Aston that continuity is one of the major reasons, although I believe that it was not just from the Roman period. Continuity seems to stretch through the prehistoric period, as there is evidence at both these sites for iron age settlements. At another early site at Llanmaes (also dedicated to St Cadog) we have bronze age as well as iron age evidence. One of my theories is that there is also some purpose or ritual (close to water / rivers / springs and erected in natural groves or hollows), perhaps an acknowledgement to their historic past, and that is why certain areas in the landscape were chosen.

Debbie Bardo

Kate Dunbar

I was very interested in Jon Cannon's article on travels through Glamorgan, having lived there for some time. However, I was astounded that Dinas Powys castle was not included, being a mere stone's-throw from Llandough.

Kate Dunbar

Mystery mound

Anne Payton

I noticed that English Heritage has spent £1.66m on Silbury Hill (News, Jul/Aug). The costs cover the stabilisation of this important mound. I have always been puzzled why nothing is done nor even mentioned about its sister mound just a few miles down the road at Marlborough College? There are mature trees growing all over it and at the top a disgusting water tower that looks as if it were placed there in the 1960s next to a dilapidated brick chimney. If, like Silbury, it is so old and significant why is it in such a disgraceful state? The Egyptians do not have water towers plonked on top of the pyramids!

Anne Payton, Reading

Data privacy

David Gordon

Bernard J Mulholland (Letters, Jul/Aug) is right to draw attention to the archaeological potential of chips and other memory devices. However before we start to influence their design on behalf of future archaeologists, we need to address the challenges of data protection. Many of these devices hold personal information: for example cars will probably soon hold details of distances, speeds and locations visited, while the archaeologist investigating a dumped computer may well find personal accounts, bank details, compromising emails or photos, etc.

The Data Protection Act makes it illegal to store information about people without their consent. The mere fact that someone has, probably unknowingly, thrown away information concerning themselves or third parties does not automatically place it in the public domain.

A second concern is the increasing public pressure for limits on the length of time for which data – for example CCTV pictures – can be held. With increasing moves to introduce legal time limits for the holding of data, there is a need to agree a plan for the retention of a perhaps random sample of such data. It may be necessary to protect retained data with something akin to the historians' "50 year rule".

Similarly, if we are to examine what may well be intimate personal or commercial records, there must be a code of practice for us to follow, not only to protect the originators and any third parties but also to protect ourselves against legal action. Unwitting release of, for example, corporate data found on a discarded hard disk, might be seen as industrial espionage.

Finally, we must ensure that we retain the means to read any data which may turn up in the future. One problem with interpreting existing electronic records is that the equipment to read them may no longer be available, even though they were created specifically as data banks for future research (BBC Domesday Project anyone?). This problem is likely to be greater with records created for specific non-public purposes, and which may be encrypted or only accessible via a very limited reserve of specialised equipment.

David Gordon, London


Aidan Woodger

Whatever the inhabitants of copper age Britain were drinking (Parker Pearson, feature, Jul/Aug) it seems unlikely it was cider. It is generally thought that the sweet apple was brought to these shores by the Romans, although there is apparently no direct evidence of its cultivation in Roman Britain. The earliest record of cyder dates to the reign of King John (1199–1216).

Aidan Woodger, Halifax

You put your heart and soul into this kind of work, and I'd had such high hopes for the project—but it had turned into a treasure hunt. Frank Pope excavating a wreck off Mozambique when gold was found, C Hunt-Grubbe, Sunday Times Jun 8

Please send your ideas for the magazine: we may not publish them all, but we will read and take notice. Ed

We welcome letters from readers. They may be emailed to Mike Pitts the Editor at or faxed to 01904 671384. They may be edited.

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