If you think of the monastery that was founded on Iona in AD 563, your imaginings are probably tinged with tragedy, evoking an island community all-but extinguished by vicious Viking raids. Increasingly, though, research suggests that the religious site was much longer-lived than previously thought, as our cover story reports.
Turning to more secular settlements, archaeology can establish where medieval peasants lived, and what their homes were like – but how far can we uncover their sense of identity? A wide-ranging project focused on south Oxfordshire has revealed intriguing clues.
Leaping forward to the present day: as this issue rolls out, the UN Climate Change Conference is under way in Glasgow. Can improving our understanding of the past help ameliorate the current climate crisis? Research on Mersea Island, Essex, suggests so. Speaking of green matters (which I know from my inbox concern many of you), a quick reminder that the polythene that wraps subscribers’ copies can be fully recycled at larger supermarkets and in some household collections. We are actively looking into biodegradable packaging, though, and are determined to switch when financially viable.
Our next article explores the history of archaeological illustration, before we cover a site that is really changing images of the past: Blick Mead in Amesbury has flipped the balance of Mesolithic finds in the Stonehenge landscape, producing tens of thousands of pieces of worked stone and evidence of feasting. I visited the project in October to hear the latest news – and, while prehistoric finds still abounded, the team also had a colourful medieval discovery to share.