Animal habits

One common motif is that of a knight in armour engaging in combat with a snail. Another is that of the killer rabbit, shown wielding sword, axe, or bow and arrow as it fights against those hunting it.…

Pagans and folklore

I was conscious of being several decades older than most of the other graduates, but as Rosemary Cramp said when I told her about my plans, ‘Nobody under 50 should study for a PhD because they don’t have enough experience to make an original contribution.’…

The Offa’s Dyke Association

The Offa’s Dyke Association (ODA) – one of the many heritage bodies that have recently celebrated their half century – was founded in 1969 by Frank Noble, a school teacher and archaeologist based in Knighton, Powys, at the midpoint along the Dyke. Noble gathered a group of like-minded enthusiasts to…

Jubilee listings and haunted homes

Woodchester Mansion is considered to be one of the UK’s most haunted buildings, and people pay large sums to spend the night in the freezing cold mansion with their ghost-detecting cameras and radar equipment.…

From scandalous sculptures to Selfridges

The objectionable trough has survived, though the figures are so eroded that you need advanced powers of imagination to see anything erotic or outrageous in these maenads – female followers of the wine god, Dionysus.…

The Faversham Society

‘Widening access’ and ‘access for all’ are two of the slogans that characterise today’s heritage practice, but the community-minded people of Faversham have been doing access for half a century. Open House, held almost every July since 1982, sees the doors of many of the Kentish town’s 500-plus listed buildings…

Ancient aquifers and a sovereign spirit

The death of Prince Philip was marked on Tanna with traditional rites and tribute ceremonies: the consensus among members of the sect is that the Duke’s spirit has returned to its island home...…

The British Sundial Society

The British Sundial Society is compiling a register of all the Mass dials (also known as scratch dials) in the country. So far, 5,500 examples have been recorded and the society is keen to hear from anyone who can help them find more. A typical Mass dial consists of a…

Scanning the Elgin Marbles

The story was seen as a further blow to the argument that the Marbles must stay in London – replicas ‘accurate to a millimetre’ could be displayed at the British Museum and few visitors would know the difference.…

Victorian vents and Roman roads

Inventive Vents has a clever way of engaging younger people with scatological anecdotes, in the style of Horrible Histories. Thus we are told that the innocuously named Carting Lane was known colloquially as ‘Farting Lane’ because of the smell of sewer gas.…

DNA denouements and coining a phrase

People investing in DNA ancestry kits should be aware that they might not get the answers they were expecting: people who want to know if they have Viking DNA or are related to Richard III might instead discover an awkward family secret.…

‘Hippy’ archaeologists

The ‘hippy generation’ prefers to tell archaeological narratives that paint our ancestors as egalitarian, caring for weaker members of society and welcoming migrants for the new skills and ideas.…

Iron Age and Roman Settlement at Highflyer Farm, Ely, Cambridgeshire

This well-produced collaborative volume (with 12 subsidiary authors and two illustrators) presents – very timeously – the results of the 2018 excavation of c.4.5ha of development land on the outskirts of Ely. While intermittent use is attested from the late Neolithic, the periods dominantly represented extend from the middle Iron…

Victorian architecture

There is a growing realisation that the solution to the climate emergency is to retrofit existing buildings, with all their embodied carbon and energy, rather than to build new ‘environmentally sustainable’ structures in place of old.…

Celebrity beasts

The statues of five elephants surrounding this part of the cemetery have led to the belief that these and other circus animals are buried here along with the human victims of the Hammond circus train disaster of 22 June 1918.…

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