The Reigate Witch Bottle

How do you deal with a witch? In 17th century England, the answer was obvious: you prepare a ‘witch bottle’, with contents equally as bizarre as those in the cauldron of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Witch bottles were white magic devices, that is they were used not by witches, but against witches:…

The Land between the Oceans: The Making of Modern Europe (Part Three)

Geography made a unitary empire embracing the Mediterranean and temperate Europe inherently unstable; but the wreckage of the Roman Empire contained the building blocks of modern Europe. In the third and final part of our series based on Cunliffe’s new book, Europe between the Oceans, we chart the changes from…

A Roman clock at Vindolanda

In CA 224 we reported a splendid new discovery from Vindolanda. The excavators – and just about everyone else – thought it was part of a calendar. Not so, says leading ancient technology specialist Michael Lewis. It is something much more spectacular. The 8cm-long bronze fragment turns out to be…

Roman frontiers: on the edges of empire

The former frontiers of the Roman Empire are set to become the world’s biggest single archaeological site. UNESCO World Heritage Site status is now in prospect for the frontiers as a whole. Historic Scotland’s David Breeze is a leading advocate of the move. Neil Faulkner asked him to explain why…

Bamburgh Castle: digging the home of Northumbria’s kings

The Bamburgh Research Project is picking up the pieces of the archaeological work started by legendary eccentric Dr Brian Hope-Taylor, who had left virtually no record of his excavations – or so it was believed. The story of Bamburgh is two-fold: before properly investigating the site, the team must first…

The Dissolution of the Monasteries: heritage in ruins

Apart from his red hair, beard, giant girth and his equally gargantuan appetite for wives, the one thing we all associate with Henry VIII is the event that the authors of 1066 and All That called, with an eye for a memorable spelling mistake, ‘the Disillusion of the Monasteries’.…

This old house: excavations at Chiswick House

In the early 18th century, Palladian style ruled England as the most fashionable for a British country house or public building. The man responsible, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), designed the building that started this architectural revolution. English Heritage archaeologists have recently had a rare chance to investigate…

Taboo!

The Gods of the Pacific are powerful gods. Some have called them idols - more have called them art. And the Gods of the Pacific have had an enormous influence on European art throughout the 20th century. The Gods were powerful, and their power could be dangerous as well as…

Before Stonehenge: village of wild parties

Stonehenge is merely one part of a much wider sacred landscape represented today by the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The evidence is mounting that Stonehenge itself represented a domain of the ancestors, and, as such, a place in which the final rites were performed in elaborate ceremonies marking the passage…

Alchester: in search of Vespasian

Eberhard Sauer reports on the incredible discovery of a tombstone in Alchester, Oxfordshire; and not just any tombstone, but one which could rewrite the history of the Roman invasion and conquest of Britain.…

Japanese Jomon

CWA takes a picturesque look at Japan's prehistoric Jomon Culture, encompassing their exquisite pottery, Neolithic/Mesolithic economy and ritual beliefs.…

The Brochtorff Stone circle, at Xaghra, Malta

The great Neolithic temples on Malta are among the oldest temples in the world, most of them erected before even the pyramids were built. Yet what were they and how did they work? The most important and illuminating excavations of this period were those that took place at the Brochtorff’s…

The Storegga disaster: in search of squashed Mesolithic people

Around 8000 years ago a huge underwater landslide off Norway triggered a tsunami (‘tidal wave’) that wreaked destruction along the coasts of Norway, Iceland and eastern Scotland. An archaeologist considers the contemporary (Mesolithic) Scottish scene in the next article. Here geographer David E Smith describes what Quaternary scientists know…

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