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Cover of British Archaeology

Issue 78

September 2004

Contents

news

Third Neolithic longhouse found in Scotland

Rare Medieval track excavated

Decorated shears trimmed Celtic hair

Iron Age 'bender' in Margate

Barrow saved from walkers

In Brief

features

Pagans
Robert J Wallis and Jenny Blain report from the other side

Boscombe grave
The truth behind the latest Stonehenge Beaker finds

Digging up art
Clive Waddington reveals first dates for British rock art

Bronze bog hoard
Surprising objects in prehistoric hoard in Armagh

Seahenge story
Mark Brennand excavates on the beach

Forest fire
Peter Fowler describes new discoveries in the Languedoc

letters

Ethnicity, mysticism, Roman disputes and hedges

opinion

Peter Drewett bemoans the lack of field skills

Spoilheap

Neil Mortimer fights stone circle power on Ebay

books

Past Poetic: Archaeology in the Poetry of WB Yeats & Seamus Heaney by Christine Finn

Antiquaries: the Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain by Rosemary Sweet

Trethurgy: Excavations at Trethurgy Round, St Austell: Community & Status in Roman & Post-Roman Cornwall by Henrietta Quinnell

Urban Growth & the Medieval Church: Gloucester & Worcester by Nigel Baker & Richard Holt

Behaviour Behind Bones: the Zooarchaeology of Ritual, Religion, Status & Identity by Sharon Jones O’Day, Wim Van Neer & Anton Ervynck

Public Archaeology by Nick Merriman

The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Stafford vol IX: Burton-Upon-Trent by Institute of Historical Research

Archaeology, Ritual, Religion by Timothy Insoll

Charter Quay: the Archaeology of Kingston’s Riverside by Wessex Archaeology

Melrose Abbey by Richard Fawcett & Richard Oram

Places of Special Virtue: Megaliths in the Neolithic Landscape of Wales by Vicki Cummings & Alasdair Whittle

Human Evolution Cookbook by Harold L Dibble, Dan Williamson & Brad M Evans

CBA update

tv in ba

Looking back on a season of wars and battles

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

Spoilheap

Got the return blues

Following the ‘Boscombe Bowmen’ news, Dr Robyn Lewis, Archdruid of the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards, wrote to the Daily Telegraph: ‘Since the Stone of Destiny was returned to Scotland a few years since, and it is clearly only a matter of time until the Elgin Marbles are returned to Greece, may I express a request that Stonehenge be returned to Wales?’ Dr Lewis’ appeal, made ‘on behalf of my fellow druids, bards and the rest of my Welsh compatriots’, is not without precedent. Welsh pressure group Carreg Glas made a similar claim on Stonehenge in 2002, which turned out to be a prank to publicise a play called ‘Bringing Back the Bluestones’. Carreg Glas’ mad scheme won real-life supporters, so perhaps Archdruid Lewis’ voice won’t be a lone one.

Barbarians take Rome

Readers fortunate enough to have visited Rome recently may have noticed that many of the Eternal City’s ancient monuments have gained a new lease of life as advertising billboards. InterPromos displays adverts in return for fees used, in theory, to fund restoration work. Apparently it works so well that one palazzo in the Piazza Venezia has been restored three times in as many years. Despite protests, InterPromos’ spokesman Carlo Sinopoli believes that the adverts will help make Rome ‘all new and shiny’. Countering complaints that the 1st century ad Pantheon was next in line, Mr Sinopoli said: ‘We hope that, if the Pantheon project goes well, we can do the same with the Colosseum. And, who knows, maybe the leaning tower of Pisa one day’. Perhaps Spoilheap readers might like to suggest advertisers to vulgarise the monuments of our own fair land?

Alien visits

A glider en route to Glastonbury made a successful forced landing by the West Kennet Avenue, Avebury in July. A happier result than achieved by the recent helicopter attending a heart-attack victim who lived in the stone circle: an ambulance had to drive out after tuned-in visitors chased off the chopper.

Hot rods

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a stash of dowsing rods and you need to sell ’em quick. But however hard you try, you just can’t get rid of the damn things. So you hit on a unique sales gimmick, and hey presto – they’re flying off the shelves. Step forward Ebay seller ‘thedowser’ (Positive Feedback: 97.6%) and his ‘chrome steel stainless steel dowsing rods with wooden handles to facilitate comfort and ease of use. These rods have been “charged” on a stone forming part of a Bronze Age stone circle known as the Hurlers on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, an area full of earth energies’. With three days to go, the highest bid for these powerful tools stood at £17.52 but Spoilheap was unable to see the auction through to the end due to an unfortunate case of suddenly losing the will to live.

Careers in ruins

The Times’ ‘Questions Answered’ column is an excellent forum for readers to show off their arch wit, and recently Spoilheap was impressed with two answers to the question ‘What is the difference between an archaeologist and a graverobber?’. Chris Miller, Ipswich came up with ‘One decrypts ancient phials. The other defiles ancient crypts’, while Philip Duke, Helsby hit paydirt with ‘An archaeologist lives for digging. A graverobber digs for a living’.

Cup and satellite

An exciting theory of British rock art to be found on the web at www.thesignthesis.moonfruit.com is unlikely to find favour amongst even the most progressive of archaeologists. The Sign Thesis, by Mr Tim Bennett, concerns an example of art at Gardom’s Edge, Derbyshire, and proposes that the enigmatic carvings are ‘based on the beliefs of the ancient Greeks, who believed that your soul and mind is bounced off our orbiting satellite and the Sun before reincarnation’. The panel consists of two dotted circles and a concentric circle of rings, which Mr Bennett believes represent the Earth, Moon and Sun respectively. A central, smaller spiral represents ‘God’, naturally. The beautifully designed website features a discussion area where like-minded souls can confer on the implications of this cutting-edge theory, although it must be said that at the time of writing the number of messages posted to the forum totalled a tad disheartening zero.

Parthenoff

You can admire classical statuary without having to dress like them, is what archaeologist Keep-the-Marbles-in-London Dorothy King told Playboy (or something like that) according to the Observer. Is this a first?

Send your centrefold priority claims to spoilheap@britarch.ac.uk

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