Back to the Drawing Board: Vasa

The early 17th century marked a period of rapid growth in warships as the galleons of the previous century began to give way to the ship-of-the-line, which would dominate naval warfare for the next 250 years. One of the first such vessels was the English 55-gun Prince Royal, completed in…

Wartime Christmas

Christmas at the front was about making do. Here, for instance, British soldiers have gathered in a shell hole around a makeshift table. Some are sitting on the ground, others on what appears to be rolled-up sheets of wire.…

The Kilvert Society

The Reverend Francis (Frank) Kilvert (1840-1879) died as a result of peritonitis at the age of 38, days after returning from his honeymoon in Scotland. Although greatly mourned by his widow, family, and parishioners, he would nevertheless have been an obscure figure but for the publication 60 years after his…

Finds tray – early Roman axehead

Last December, a metal-detectorist discovered this cast of a socketed axehead near Boynton in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Made of copper-alloy, it is perfectly complete but has been made in miniature, measuring only 23.9mm long. While it was probably deposited in the late Iron Age or early Roman period…

Bar brawl in Pompeii

Two gladiators wearing helmets with abundant, bristling crests are immortalised in paint in this Roman fresco, recently discovered at Pompeii. On the left, a murmillo stands tall and holds his large shield high in victory, while his vanquished opponent, a thraex (or Thracian), falls to the ground, blood pouring from…

Letters from CA May 2020/June 2020

Early insights into Callanish Site XI I was an active amateur archaeologist on the Isle of Lewis between 1975 and 1984, working with Margaret Curtis, who was then my wife. She remained on the island when I relocated to my native Hampshire. Our studies mainly focused on the Standing Stones…

Association of British Counties (ABC)

The Royal Mail (see Sherds, p.64) no longer regards county names as part of your postal address, a fact that the Association of British Counties – set up ‘to promote awareness of the continuing importance of the 92 historic (or traditional) counties of the United Kingdom’ – regards as a…

Letters from CA April 2020/May 2020

Remembering Richard Carlile I thought this little-known fact about the Peterloo Massacre (see CA 357) really important when I came across it recently. It raises the whole issue of how / why people are remembered, and the frequent unfairness of it all. Everyone with an interest in this shocking event…

Community spirit: Hadrian’s Wall, Cumbria

For Historic England, Hadrian’s Wall has always been a site needing active research – many questions about the frontier remain unanswered, and only by the kind of refreshed understanding that research brings, and by addressing the interests and concerns of the public, can the frontier remain relevant.…

War Reporters: William Howard Russell

Widely regarded as the first modern war correspondent, Russell was a globetrotter with a wide purview, reporting on the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the American Civil War, the coronation of Tsar Nicholas I, the Franco- Prussian War, and the Zulu War among many other key events of the tumultuous 19th…

War Reporters: Jean Froissart

Froissant claimed to have born witness, during his travels, to many of the battles that took place during the Hundred Years War, committing all he had seen and heard to writing in the form of elaborate illustrated manuscripts. Seema Syeda examines battlefield scoops through the ages.…

Object Lesson – ‘Ahu ‘ula

What is it? This glorious 18th-century Hawaiian cloak, measuring 175cm in length and c.223cm in width, is made of olona¯ fibre and black rooster feathers, with a border of yellow feathers from the now-extinct ‘o‘o (a honeyeater) and red ones from the ‘i‘wi (a honeycreeper) arranged into triangles. High-status feathered…

War Reporters: Julius Caesar

He was a charismatic leader, a seasoned military veteran, and a formidable politician. It is little wonder that he is rarely thought of as being an ancient example of the modern-day war reporter. Seema Syeda examines battlefield scoops throughout the ages.…

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