News in brief

British Museum launches protective platform

PHOTO: The British Museum
PHOTO: The British Museum

The British Museum has launched a global platform called ‘Circulating Artefacts’ (CircArt) to fight against the looting and trafficking of antiquities. This initiative combines a restricted object database with an online public service where users can notify specialists about artefacts that they feel require investigation. CircArt is currently focused on ancient objects from Egypt and Sudan and offers a training programme for heritage professionals. The project enables a range of people, including museums, government agencies, collectors, sellers, and the general public, to share information and help to counteract the trade in ancient artefacts; so far, over 4,700 objects with provenance issues have been identified. For more information, see our-work/departments/egypt-and-sudan/circulating-artefacts.

First attempt to scientifically date Cerne Abbas Giant

The National Trust is undertaking tests to determine the true age of an enigmatic chalk figure on the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset. The origins of the Cerne Abbas Giant have been the subject of debate for many years. Now, a century after being given the site by the Pitt-Rivers family in 1920, the National Trust (working in collaboration with the University of Gloucester) is attempting to establish when the figure was first created. Small trenches were excavated to allow samples of soil to be extracted from points on the giant’s elbows and feet. These samples were then dated using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). The results of these tests are expected in July and it is hoped that they will offer a date range that will improve our understanding of the landmark – watch this space for more information on the giant in a future issue of CA.

Roman Fort given to the nation

Carrawburgh Roman Fort is one of 16 forts along Hadrian’s Wall. Located between Chesters and Housesteads, and built c.AD 122, the fort housed a garrison of approximately 500 soldiers responsible for defending the frontier of the Roman Empire. The remains of the fort’s walls and other surviving structures lie beneath turf cover, and a temple to the god Mithras, built by the resident soldiers, stands nearby, but relatively little archaeological investigation has taken place at the site. The fort has been owned by Jennifer Du Cane’s family since 1950, but she has recently decided to donate it to the nation. Legal ownership has now transferred to Historic England, and Carrawburgh will be cared for by English Heritage as part of the National Heritage Collection, making it the first acquisition since English Heritage became a charity in 2015.