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The Corbett Society

Harold James Dyos, late Professor of Urban History at the University of Leicester, wrote that London underwent three distinct periods of growth: an increasingly dense build-up of the population in the centre, its spill-over into the outer districts of London, and the development of the outer suburbs of Greater London…

Saving landmarks and ancient traditions

Why not mark the start of the other calendric festivals and their associated deities with holidays?... Time to bring back bonfires, dancing at dawn, May Day frolics, and the dressing of rivers, springs, and wells.…

DNA, diets, and dealing with the weather

Svante Pääbo is the second member of his family to be elected a Nobel laureate: his father, Sune Bergström (1916-2004) shared the same Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1982. Is there a gene, one wonders, for Nobel-Prize-winning science?…

Ancient DNA and ‘Anglo-Frisians’

I have a personal dislike of the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ to describe the people and culture of southern and eastern Britain from the 4th to the 8th centuries because it is anachronistic – it implies homogeneity where I see much more interesting diversity…

Heritage on the River Thames

I was reminded of his contempt for journalism during the summer, when the BBC and scores of newspapers that consider themselves serious reported that the drought was so severe that the source of the River Thames had dried up.…

Ministry of Works Signage Appreciation Society

What is it about Ministry of Works signage that motivates so many people to share images via social media? Partly it is just the fact of their survival, as reminders of a simpler age of heritage tourism before the era of virtual reality and QR codes. Many of the signs…

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.…

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