Current Archaeology 372

Cover Story

Artists on the edge of the world: exploring the British Isles’ earliest art at Les Varines, Jersey Archaeologists excavating a 15,000-year-old campsite at Les Varines, Jersey, have recovered ten fragments of stone decorated with hundreds of interweaving lines. Recently published analysis of these ‘plaquettes’ suggests that they may represent the earliest artworks yet identified in the British…

Features

Keith Marischal: searching for a lost castle and Renaissance palace The imposing aristocratic residence of Keith Marischal, in East Lothian, has changed dramatically in appearance over recent centuries. What can archaeological investigations funded by the Castle Studies Trust, together with…
Green fingers and golden finds: how lockdown gardening led to a host of new discoveries Between March and June of last year, many of us found ourselves spending a lot more time at home – and, if you are lucky enough to have outdoor space,…
In search of sunken ships: reflections of Britain’s colonial past Britain’s involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade and the historical injustices of colonialism and the British Empire have been much in the news in recent months. In Britain and the…
Neanderthal neighbours: tracing evidence for our closest hominin relatives in Britain Neanderthals have long been stereotyped as our less-capable cousins, but advances in archaeological research have given fascinating new insights into the lives of our closest hominin relatives and the world…

News

Assessing the accessibility of Atxurra Cave painting is one of the earliest forms of human culture, one of the first outlets of our creativity. But the meaning that these paintings had to the communities who…
Reviving Ousdale Broch A recent conservation project has breathed new life into an Iron Age broch in northern Scotland. The Ousdale Broch, just south of Berriedale in Caithness, used to be considered one…
Evidence of Roman reprisals in Essex? A recently revealed Iron Age settlement in Cressing, near Braintree in Essex, appears to have been almost completely destroyed during the second half of the 1st century AD. Dating to…
Great Pyramid artefact found in Aberdeen In December 2019, a small fragment of cedar, which had been missing for more than 70 years, was rediscovered within the collections of the University of Aberdeen. The fragment may,…
Caistor Roman Project gets a boost Caistor Roman Project (CRP) – a community archaeology group centred around the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at present-day Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk – received an unexpected morale-booster in…
Bronze Age monument uncovered in the New Forest Community excavations on the Beaulieu Estate in the New Forest have uncovered an enigmatic Bronze Age monument, as well as evidence for Mesolithic activity, greatly adding to our knowledge of…
Unusual burial discovered in Leith A recent excavation along Constitution Street in Leith, in advance of an extension to the Edinburgh tram line to Newhaven, has uncovered hundreds of human remains from a late medieval…

Views

Mare nostrum, Old Basing, Hampshire The Picture Desk The handful of sculptures and mosaics depicting this god that are known, however, include one on the pediment of the temple of Sulis Minerva in Bath.
Heritage from home: February Culture, What's on As we find ourselves back in lockdown, the vast quantity of resources available online seems more valuable than ever. Amy Brunskill has put together a selection of some of the…
The future of planning Comment As every archaeologist knows, listed buildings and scheduled monuments represent the tip of the heritage iceberg.
The Fairground Heritage Trust Groups Fed up with being locked down? You could do worse than escape for an hour into the brightly lit and colourful world of the fair, courtesy of the richly illustrated…
Excavating the CA Archive: Black Country Comment From Birmingham's industrial heritage to a Roman riding school: Joe Flatman explores half a century of reports from the West Midlands
Letters from CA February 2021/March 2021 Letters Your thoughts on the London Blitz, Cerne Abbas Giant, and Dad's Army
Finds tray – Iron Age swan neck pin Objects This is a complete copper-alloy ‘swan’s neck’ pin, a kind of artefact generally dated to the Iron Age. It comprises a circular flathead, which appears sub-rectangular in cross-section with rounded…
Current Archaeology Live! 2021 Conference What's on It is almost time for Current Archaeology Live! 2021, which will run from 26 to 28 February. While this year’s event will be entirely online, and things will look a…

Reviews

Heritage from home: February As we find ourselves back in lockdown, the vast quantity of resources available online seems more valuable than ever. Amy Brunskill has put together a selection of some of the…
Leprosy: past and present More than a decade in the making, this book was well worth the wait. It is a thorough compendium of knowledge on not only the history and (bio)archaeology of leprosy,…
The First Kingdom: Britain in the Age of Arthur ‘The past lies in fragments… one might just as well try to reconstruct the idea of a tree from its leaves, or an ocean wave from a dripping tap.’ So…
Burying the Dead: an archaeological history of burial grounds, graveyards, and cemeteries This book provides a brief history of how humans have dealt with their dead over the centuries – mainly focusing on the early medieval period through to the modern day.…
50 Finds of Roman Coinage: objects from the Portable Antiquities Scheme This latest book in the ’50 Finds’ series from the Portable Antiquities Scheme is the first to focus on a specific artefact type rather than on a region or period.…
Classical Caledonia: Roman history and myth in 18th-century Scotland Classical Caledonia explores the antiquarian rediscovery of Scotland’s Roman remains, and how these have influenced and continue to influence Scottish identity, impacting on our interpretation of Roman Scotland today. Various…
Sheffield Castle: archaeology, archives, regeneration, 1927-2018 Sheffield Castle is a rare archaeological treat put together by a university team working with local authorities and professional archaeologists. It is about a place that has topographical and historical…
Current Archaeology Live! 2021 Conference It is almost time for Current Archaeology Live! 2021, which will run from 26 to 28 February. While this year’s event will be entirely online, and things will look a…

From the editor

Fifteen thousand years ago, nomadic hunter-gatherers set up camp at Les Varines, Jersey. Their existence was no hand-tomouth search for subsistence, though: they also had time to engrave enigmatic patterns on fragments of stone. Our cover story explores recent analysis of these fascinating finds, hailed as the earliest art yet identified in the British Isles.

Prehistoric pioneers also feature in our article exploring evidence for Neanderthals in Britain. What can modern archaeological research and scientific advances tell us about their lives and experiences within these shores?

Neanderthals left fewer archaeological footprints in Britain than on the Continent, and elusive clues form the focus of our next feature, too. Keith Marischal, East Lothian, is an imposing baronial house – but one whose appearance is largely the result of relatively recent remodelling. How far is it possible to reconstruct its 16th- and 17th-century glory?

This latter period also witnessed the beginnings of Britain as a major sea power, heralding prosperity and exploration, but also the exploitation of enslaved peoples. We survey evidence from shipwrecks and standing remains to reflect on Britain’s colonial past.

Our last feature delves into domestic gardens, where many of us have been spending much more time during lockdown. Have you uncovered anything while digging at home? Some of the garden discoveries recently announced by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, including a Tudor hoard, have been spellbinding, as we explore this month.