News in brief: Second World War graffiti and treasure found in Wales

A round of some of the latest archaeological news stories from the UK.

Treasure in Wales

A Bronze Age hoard containing 20 artefacts – including a large spearhead, three small spear fragments, a bracelet fragment, nine ribbed socketed axes, two plain socketed axes, one faceted axe, two sheet bronze fragments, and a casting jet – has been declared treasure by Paul Bennett, Acting Senior Coroner for Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

The hoard, which dates from 1000-800 BC, was found by Richard Trew while metal-detecting in Llanddeusant Community, Carmarthenshire, in November 2020.

IMAGE: © Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

According to investigations carried out by Dyfed Archaeological Trust and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (with funding from Cadw), the items were buried together in a specially dug pit, far from any Bronze Age settlement.

Frog mystery

Excavations at an Iron Age to early Roman settlement at Bar Hill in Cambridgeshire, carried out by MOLA Headland Infrastructure as part of the National Highways A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme between 2016 and 2018, yielded almost 700kg of animal bone – including over 8,000 amphibian bones, representing at least 350 frogs and toads.

MOLA archaeozoologists are now seeking an explanation for the unusually high number of amphibian bones, mostly found in a 14m-long ditch on the western side of a middle-to-late Iron Age roundhouse.

They are considering a range of options: there is evidence for amphibian consumption in prehistoric Britain, but the bones have no cut or burn marks on them indicative of cooking. They could have been boiled, of course, but, alternatively, the frogs may have come seeking food themselves – the settlement, a site of crop-processing, was bound to attract insects. It is possible, though, that the frogs got stuck in the ditch while migrating, or that they died due to disease, or from cold while hibernating in winter.

Second World War graffiti

English Heritage has identified the names of six Polish special forces trainees scrawled on the wall of a candle store at Audley End House in Essex in the 1940s.

The 17th-century mansion became the ‘finishing school’ for the Polish section of the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, when elite paratroopers – known as the Cichociemni (or ‘Silent Unseen’) – undertook their final training there before heading off to fight for their country by dropping behind enemy lines in occupied Poland.

A memorial to the Cichociemni stands in the house’s grounds, and now English Heritage has launched a new display (running until 31 October) to tell the stories of these elite soldiers, featuring wartime artefacts, personal possessions, documents, and photographs. For more information, see