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Cover of British Archaeology

Issue 77

July 2004

Contents

news

Coins find could test ancient monuments law

Restoration 2

Pipes may be oldest wooden musical instrument

Medieval quay found

Henge update

Roman graves and mosaics in danger

In Brief

features

Black wall
Richard Benjamin has a special interest in Hadrian's Wall

White man
Martin Bell and Ronald Hutton on the Wilmington mystery

For the children
Jo Catling and Towse Harrison find archaeology can inspire

Must-have accessories
Justine Bayley and Sarnia Butcher on a major Roman study

letters

Roman fort, teeth,place names and Prittlewell kings

opinion

Emma Restall Orr wants a spiritual side to archaeology

spoilheap

Neil Mortimer prepares Lycra battle with English Heritage

books

Bronze & the Bronze Age: Metalwork & Society in Britain c 2500-800 BC by Martyn Barber

Medieval Archaeology: Understanding Traditions & Contemporary Approaches by Christopher Gerrard

Voices in the Past: English Literature & Archaeology by John Hines

Excavations on Copa Hill, Cwmystwyth (1986-1999) by Simon Timberlake

Fiskerton.
An Iron Age Timber Causeway with Iron Age & Roman Votive Offerings by Naomi Field & Mike Parker Pearson

Roman Carmarthen: Excavations 1978-1993 by Heather James

TRAC 2002: Proceedings of the 12th Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Canterbury by Gillian Carr, Ellen Swift & Jake Weekes

Medieval Building Techniques by Günther Binding, trans Alex Cameron

Monastic Landscapes by James Bond

The Archaeology of Reformation by David Gaimster & Roberta Gilchrist

Barley, Malt & Ale in the Neolithic by Merryn Dineley

The Archaeology of Twentieth Century Tameside by Michael Nevell & John Walker

CBA update

tv in ba

Columnists find Time Team harder than it looks

science

Chief archaeological scientist Sebastian Payne's new column

my archaeology

Philip Beale left his job for an archaeological experiment

 

ISSN 1357-4442

Editor Mike Pitts

Missing fort

From BJ Philp

Readers hopefully saw the Time Team programme (Channel 4, 1 February) where the target was the first Roman fort ever built in Britain, at Syndale, near Faversham, Kent! Local man Paul Wilkinson claimed he had found ditches of a fort there in four trenches. The considerable resources of Time Team were brought to the site in March, 2003. However, in spite of extensive trenching and geophysical surveying no continuation of the ditches could be found! They concluded that the few features found related to a Roman farming settlement.

The following is extracted from a letter by me published in the Association for Roman Archaeology Bulletin 10, three years before:

‘The rampart discovery by Mr Wilkinson was cut through by a pipeline in 1994 and shown to be a major ploughbank, one of thousands known in Kent. The ditch containing first-century pottery is typical of many others in Kent, mostly interpreted as early farmsteads and its position 60 feet in front of the alleged rampart is quite unacceptable in military terms. Therefore the alleged discovery of Roman roads (a small patch of pebbles) and wooden buildings (small doubtful post holes), within the alleged rampart (now a ploughbank), should be sufficient reason to strike the fort from the record …’

The question now is how did Time Team researchers miss this and reports in Kent Archaeological Review (9 and 43) that the Roman town of Durolevum was found in 1965 and 1966 by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit (CIB) and the Faversham Archaeological Group?

John Gater’s survey did not reveal the east and west ditches claimed to have been found before. He need not have worried for the geophysics was correct. At least this firmly knocks on the head the claim that a Claudian fort has been found at Syndale.

Yours sincerely,
BJ Philp
Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit


Teeth wanted

From Michael R Young

Recently qualified archaeologists in search of work seems to be a perennial problem. I also want to work in archaeology. I am a dentist by profession, educated to Masters level, but at the ripe old age of 50 I have hung up my drill and so now have the time to do the things I want to do rather than the things I have to do. I am a keen amateur archaeologist who wants to share his in-depth knowledge of teeth, dental and oral anatomy, and dental diseases with archaeologists in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Anyone who would like to explore this matter can contact me on mikeandlindayoung.troy6@virgin.net.

Yours sincerely,
Michael R Young
Leeds

PS There is a chronic shortage of dentists, so out of work archaeology graduates should consider re-training! (only joking)


Revolting Brits?

From Bernard James Mulholland

It was interesting to read that ‘One of the greatest acts of defiance in Roman Britain is buried almost out of sight in the account of Constantine III, when a coup drove out the Roman administration in AD 409 and set up an independent state’ (Books, May).

Given that at this time the Visigoths had gone steaming across Europe into Gaul and Spain to disrupt Roman administration, and the Ostrogoths were to steamroller the Romans in northern Italy before sacking Rome in AD 410, the onus must surely lie on those that support the thesis of an English revolution to prove that a Roman administration was capable of surviving these other events intact?

The whiff of ‘revolution’ might be more appealing, but the events of AD 409/10 read more like devolution to me (under pressure from the Goths, not the English).

Procopius’ description of the English province’s leader setting out for Rome, only to be trounced by the Goths and beheaded for his trouble, surely suggests that he was going to the aid of Rome rather than leading a revolt?

And if he had indeed set out for Rome with all the fighting men he could muster, then their defeat on the continent would help to explain why the Saxons were able to settle the East of Britain and the Irish the West (kept apart only by the Pennines) as exemplified by the distinct distribution pattern of imported goods supplied through two separate trade routes.

Yours sincerely,
Bernard James Mulholland
Portadown


Well hard steel

From Nigel MacBeth

On reading articles in British Archaeology about Stonehenge and its status as a World Heritage Site, I wondered whether the manufacturer of the ubiquitous diggers’ tool realised its future potential.

Yours sincerely,
Nigel MacBeth
Nigel@macbethsunny.freeserve.co.uk


League of nations

From Felicity Crow

I very much enjoyed your excellent article on Thornborough (‘Yorkshire’s Holy Secret’, March). However, as a linguist, I would like to point out that the river name Ure like the Aire and its French counterpart the Eure were all originally an Ebora like Spain’s Ebro and Thraki’s Hebros, Russia’s Dn-iepr and Khoper, and northern Mesopotamia’s Khabur. It is the same word as ‘Hebrew’ and the folk are archaic Hebrews, long pre-Abraham and the Jews. Their original country was Iberia (now Georgia) at the east end of the Black Sea.

‘My Lord Essex’ (May) of the Prittlewell burial chamber may in all probability be neither Angle nor Saxon. In our own day the great conurbation of Southend/Westcliff-on-Sea appears to be the ‘important’ town that overwhelms little Prittlewell. To my Lord Essex Westcliff and Southend were non-existent. Prittlewell was the important place. His place. It bears the name of his nation, the Praeti or Braeti, the true Brits or British folk. Brits as well as Saxons can affiliate with Angles, and by the time J Caesar and Co arrive this particular League of Nations or soviet is known as the Praet-Angi, in Welsh Pretanni, in Latin Britanni, whence Britannia or Praet-Angle-land.

Yours sincerely,
Felicity Crow
Stroud


Prittlewell who?

From P J Huggins

It was good to see the beautiful illustrations of the objects from the Prittlewell tomb (‘My Lord Essex’). But the headline on the cover about Essex being a godless land, seems entirely inappropriate. Today, with once-full churches now near empty, Essex could well be so described; God has been superseded in the minds of Essex man and Essex woman, who now worship the delights of Southend and Ibiza.

The 7th century was a time of getting to know a new all-powerful God. If the finds in the Prittlewell tomb remain dated to the period c 600 to 650, then, if Christian, the burial must surely be limited to the East Saxon bishopric of Mellitus (604-616). Saebert should have been buried at St Paul’s in his metropolis, not Prittlewell. The excavator includes as a possibility, for the burial, a later king, Sigeberht II stated to have been murdered in 653. But there appears to be confusion here with Sigeberht I called Parvus. Sigeberht II called Sanctus actually came to the throne in 653, according to Keith Bailey (Essex Journal 23, 34-40), so is outside the suggested date range.

It remains to consider why there was a ‘royal’ burial at Prittlewell, and why all such burials were not at St Paul’s. The answer probably comes from the practice of partible inheritance, there being at times more than one East Saxon king. There is no agreement on how this system worked, but it would appear that several kings, some of whose names are lost to us, could reign at one time, with minor kings being limited to the control of particular geographical areas. The area around Prittlewell presumably being one of these. So the burial ought to be of one of the minor members of the royal house.

Yours sincerely,
P J Huggins
Waltham Abbey


Points

  • I thought peer reviews were supposed to be critical? Simon James on John Collis (Books, May)? Please, let’s have some balance. (Or is objectivity too the dated preserve of ‘traditionalist scholars’?)
    Chris Preece, chrispreece@stilldigging.fsnet.co.uk
  • I discover that Gayhurst has migrated to Northamptonshire (‘Riding into History’, May). It is in fact in Buckinghamshire, and a report on the Bronze Age barrow is to be found in South Midlands Archaeology 29 (1999).
    B E Baldwin, Newport Pagnell
  • Just a line to say how much I enjoyed your new TV column—given the chuntering about accuracy of archaeological TV programmes that goes on, that’s got to be well-received.
    Dave Musgrove, Bristol
  • Just to say how much I like the changes in BA—keep up the good work.
    John Malam, Winsford

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

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