British

Archaeology

The voice of archaeology in Britain and beyond

Cover of British Archaeology 88

Issue 88

May/June 2006

Contents

news

Meadowsweet flowers in prehistoric graves

Strange fish

"Find of several lifetimes" – cathedral archaeologist

Oldest houses in Scotland

Archaeologists mourn loss of two popular colleagues

In Brief

features

End of the line: St Pancras Station
How many graves would you have saved? Phil Emery rescues French revolution refugee history.

The floors that Rome built
Stephen R Cosh and David S Neal are recording every Roman mosaic.

Protests at Bling King's grave
What can the Prittlewell protesters hope to achieve?

on the web

Recommended websites

letters

Views and responses

CBA news

Headlines from the CBA office.

 

ISSN 1357-4442

Editor Mike Pitts

on the web

Gateway to information paradise

Caroline Wickham-Jones picks up some free press.

The web is a great source of information. Amongst the endless variety of sites, are the free newspapers of the internet. Like the papers, many of these websites rely on information provided by others: but if they do not often break news, they can still be very helpful reading aids that cover more than just news.

The British archaeological jobs resource or BAJR (www.bajr.org), perhaps the best known information source for the professional archaeologist, fields enough data to make it an originator, not just a messenger. The name is off-putting to non-archaeologists, as well as archaeologists who feel themselves happily employed, and it was a while before I started to penetrate its mysteries, but it is worth it. BAJR contains a wealth of material, from a who's who of archaeology, and guidance notes for developers to educational material and addictive games. Not to mention jobs: prospective digger or consultant, there is something for you here.

Another good source of information is Online Archaeology (www.onlinearchaeology.co.uk). This is a newcomer compared to BAJR (18 months and seven years old respectively), but it provides a variety of information, mostly managed through links to other sites, with dedicated material such as articles posted by members. There is also the US-based Archaeology About (archaeology.about.com) which includes some interesting articles, often presented from a different point of view and reflecting other priorities. At the time of writing the home page is concerned with the possibility that palaeolithic cave art may have resulted from the behaviour of (bored?) teenage males. That aside, there are links to a wealth of information from around the world.

For something more dynamic visit the Archaeology Channel (www.archaeologychannel.org) which offers a regularly updated series of videos on archaeology from around the world, as well as audio material, news and resources. The Stone Pages (www.stonepages.com) offers regular news podcasts as well as text based news. As its name suggests Stone Pages primarily provides a resource concerning megaliths (in Europe). It is of high quality, well informed and highly imaginative – try out the prehistorama, and do not forget to visit the shop. The Megalithic Portal (www.megalithic.co.uk) is also worth a visit with photographs, articles, maps and much, much more from around the world.

Back to text based sites, it is important not to forget Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) the freely-edited, freely available encyclopaedia. It contains plenty of archaeological material, including a dedicated portal to a veritable parallel universe of related information (created by users, the quality of its archaeology is largely up to archaeologists). Based in Scandinavia, but publishing in English, there is Aktuel Arkeologi (zinken.typepad.com). The emphasis here is on the early stone age (palaeolithic and mesolithic): it provides a good idea as to why so many people find that period fascinating.

With so much good stuff, could it be that some of the major organisations appear not to bother about their own presentations because they feel they could not compete?

Information sites worth the search

  • British Archaeological Jobs Resource - www.bajr.org
    • Not so much a website more a way of life. Do not try the online games unless you have time to spare!
  • Wikipedia - en.wikipedia.org
    • There should be more sites like this, which integrate archaeology into the subject matter of everyday life. It is easy for professionals to wax lyrical, but important not to be isolated
  • The Megalithic Portal - www.megalithic.co.uk
    • The home page says it all – packed with a huge variety of information from emperor Theodosius II to a discussion of the Thornborough henge news story (featured Nov/Dec 2005)
  • Stone Pages - www.stonepages.com
    • Another highly personal glimpse of the world of archaeology
  • Archaeologica - www.archaeologica.org
    • News, views and links from around the world – and that means around the world

Exploring the past beneath Thetford Forest

Paul Brooker's imaginative website is about more than just finding flints.

Thetford Forest, on the Norfolk–Suffolk border, is a modern state-planned lowland pine forest of some 21,000ha, set in the Brecklands of East Anglia. Before forest planting during the early 20th century, the Brecklands consisted of open sandy heaths, sheep walks, rabbit warrens and abandoned farmland. The district was famous for its sand-blows and inland sand dunes.

The Grime's Graves late neolithic flint mines lay central to the Brecklands, and the area attracted late 19th and early 20th century flint tool collectors and amateur enthusiasts known as the flinters. However, all too often they did not keep good records. I hope to provide an alternative record by applying fieldwalking techniques to exposed soils in Thetford Forest. I share this experience online at Thetford Forest Archaeology (www.spamandchips.net/archaeology).

Despite being set in a forest, this is essentially an amateur field-walking website – although pages of aerial photography and earthwork survey are also included. One of the aims of the website is to provide an online taste of the fieldwalking experience. A recent addition to the website is the flake identification guide, an image gallery tour that uses photographs of flint finds, taken where they are found in the forest, rather than the usual washed, bagged and tagged examples. The ideal is to take the visitor into the field itself, to experience the feeling of excitement at spotting and recognising archaeological finds where they have laid in the forest's sandy soils. Another new feature is the archaeoblog, which incorporates many of the project's fieldwalking reports, with a regularly updated online diary. Ideas are discussed in this blog: recent examples include the use of handheld GPS receivers during fieldwalking, reviews of receivers and software, and the redesigning of the sampling method (to replace much finds removal by onsite recording using forms and digital photography).

Planned new sections include pages discussing Grime's Graves flint mines, and prehistoric monuments in and close to Thetford Forest, such as the nearby Fornham Cursus ritual landscape. Lithics and late prehistory are central discussions in a website set in the Brecks, though there are also pages dedicated to manure-scattered ceramics and Roman and medieval periods.

Thetford Forest Archaeology is also an online account of my voyage from collector to amateur surveyor. This has led to some unusual approaches to fieldwalking, with original methods for sampling single-handedly in a pine forest and producing comparative data across the surveys. Fieldwalking techniques and ethics of artefact removals are regularly discussed, and a code of conduct for field walkers is provided.

This has been described as an image-rich website, with more than 160 images – not including the many thumbnails. There is a gallery of non-archaeological photos of the modern forest, and plans, drawings of flint and ceramic finds, satellite views and aerial photos. All images are compressed and resized in .jpeg format for easy downloading. Thetford Forest Archaeology presently includes four thumbnail image galleries, each leading to a tour of images set in web pages.

Since the site's original launch in 1999, it has moved server and been relaunched. This is not a small website: so far, it consists of more than 140 web pages and is still growing. I have typed the entire script into a text editor, and then coded and validated it as frame-free CSS (cascading style sheets) and XHTML (eXtensible HTML), compatible with the most modern generation of browsers. Navigation is good, with navigation panels written for each page, and a link to a site-map.

Paul Brooker thanks Forestry Enterprise, Suffolk Archaeology, Norfolk Landscape Archaeology, Colin Pendleton, Kate Sussams, Peter Robins and everyone else who has supported the project. He is an "amateur enthusiast" who works in a local biomass power station; he developed a keen interest in prehistory and field archaeology after finding a flint axe.

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