Episode #12: From leper hospital to royal court: the evolution of St James’s Palace
The eyes of the world were on St James’s Palace on 10 September 2022 when David White, Garter King of Arms, read the Accession Proclamation formally announcing the succession of King Charles III following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. If royal palace expert Simon Thurley had been watching or listening, he might well have been frustrated to hear the BBC commentators say repeatedly that ‘very little is known about the history of the palace’.
Along with two co-authors, Rufus Bird and Michael Turner, Thurley had completed an account of the 800-year history of the palace, based on primary sources and a study of the surviving building fabric, some three years previously. On this episode of The PastCast, Chris Catling discusses what this book brings to our understanding of the palace and its place in British monarchical history.
Catling is also the author of an article on the palace. On this episode, he spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson. Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts also joined Calum to discuss what else is in the latest issue, as well as share exciting details about the upcoming Current Archaeology Live! 2023 conference on 25 February at the UCL Institute of Education, London.
Episode #11: African Queen: how an intact royal burial from Egypt reveals new insights into cultural connections
A landmark year in Egyptology, 2022 marks 200 years since the decipherment of hieroglyphs and 100 years since the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Now, new research on another intact royal burial group from Egypt, dating to about 275 years before the burial of Tutankhamun, is demonstrating the importance of reassessing historic museum collections. The burial group of the ‘Qurna Queen’ (c.1600 BC), now at National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh, dates to a less well understood period of Egyptian history, a time of political turmoil.
On this episode of The PastCast, Margaret Maitland – Principal Curator of the Ancient Mediterranean at National Museums Scotland – explains why recent analyses of the objects are offering new perspectives on Egypt’s relationship with its southern neighbour, Nubia, in what is now northern Sudan and the southernmost area of Egypt. This dimension, Maitland explains, helps us to move on from an understanding of Egypt’s ancient past that has been coloured by colonial-era biases, in particular the misrepresentation of Egypt’s African context.
Maitland is also the author of an article on the Qurna Queen in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, which is out now in the UK. It is also available to read in full here. On this episode, she spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson. Meanwhile, Current World Archaeology editor Matthew Symonds tells us what else readers can look forward to in the latest issue of the magazine.
The ‘miracle of Dunkirk’ is lauded in British history, celebrated each year with a profusion of TV documentary veteran accounts and memorial services. German soldiers, too, constantly referred to the ‘wunder’, or ‘miracle’, of reaching Dunkirk in wartime letters back home. But there the resemblance ends. For the British, it was a miracle of survival and deliverance; for the Germans, it was one of achievement. They had reached the sea in May 1940 in fewer weeks than it took years for their fathers not to succeed in 1914-18.
Historian Robert Kershaw argues that the lack of a German perspective means we have only a partial understanding of the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’. On this episode of The PastCast, he explains what new research tells us about a battle that changed the tide of the Second World War.
Dunkirk is also the subject of an article by Kershaw in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, which is out now in the UK and in early December in the US. It is also available to read in full on The Past website. On this episode, Robert spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
Robert Kershaw’s latest book is called Dünkirchen 1940: The German View of Dunkirk and is published by Osprey Publishing. You can buy a copy here.
Archaeology is the study of people and their actions, preserved through the physical traces they left behind. How, then, could we not appreciate the detailed insights into individuals, communities, and populations provided by their very DNA?
On this episode of The PastCast, Professor Duncan Sayer explains how, by combining excavated evidence from early medieval burials with genetic information, we can gain powerful insights into patterns of population movement, and ideas of identity and integration.
Professor Sayer is the author of an article on the study of ancient DNA in the most recent issue of Current Archaeology magazine, itself a special edition delving into a new research study centred on migration and genetic evidence for early medieval England. You can access the article (and the full magazine) on The Past website. On this episode, Professor Sayer spoke with Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
For over 700 years between c.1196 and 1848, public executions were an inescapable part of the experiences of anyone living in London. Hangings, burnings, boilings, and beheadings were wielded as a way to protect the city’s ever-expanding population, to deter crime and rebellion, and to show justice being viscerally, visually done – but they also hammered home the power of the crown, church, and state over the lives and deaths of ordinary citizens.
On this episode of The PastCast, Carly Hilts – editor of Current Archaeology magazine – reports on a new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands which provides poignant and powerful insights into the seven centuries when London hosted more public executions that anywhere else in Britain and acquired the nickname the ‘City of Gallows’.
As well as discussing what else readers can look forward to in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, Carly also shares her thoughts on the new film The Lost King, which dramatizes the discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a Leicester carpark in 2012. On this episode she spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
The Jomon peoples of northern Japan were unusual among foraging societies for being great monument builders. They constructed a range of such sites, including stone circles, settings of wooden pillars, shell middens, and bank-enclosed cemeteries or embankments containing large quantities of material remains, all of which represented an ability to undertake significant investments in labour and probably also a high degree of forward planning.
But how and why were these monuments built? On this episode of The PastCast, Simon Kaner examines what these enigmatic structures can tell us about a key period of Japanese prehistory.
The Jomon stone circles are also the subject of an article in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, which is out now in the UK and next month in the US. It is also available to read in full on The Past website. On this episode, Simon spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
The exhibition, Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japan is at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre until August 2023. More information about Jomon archaeology is included in An Illustrated Companion to Japanese Archaeology edited by Werner Steinhaus, Simon Kaner, Shinya Shoda, and Megumi Jinno. Details about the Jomon Sites of Northern Japan UNESCO World Heritage designation can be found here.
The Armada – and in English history there is only one – set sail from Lisbon on 28 May 1588, tasked with eliminating the Protestant Queen Elizabeth and restoring Catholic worship throughout England. Its creator, Philip II, ruler of Spain and Portugal, had at his disposal ‘the greatest and strongest combination that was ever gathered in all Christendom’. The fleet consisted of 130 ships, 2,431 guns, and 30,000 men.
And yet the Armada’s story was one of almost constant misfortune. On this episode of The PastCast, historian Geoffrey Parker, co-author of a major new history on the doomed campaign, explains what really happened in 1588.
The Armada is also the subject of an article in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, which is out now in the UK and in early October in the US. It is also available to read in full on The Past website. On this episode, Geoffrey spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
Geoffrey Parker’s book (co-authored by Colin Martin) is called The Spanish Armada: England’s deliverance in 1588 and is published by Yale University Press. It will be available to buy in the UK from December 2022. You can pre-order a copy here.
Twenty-five years ago, a cargo of millions of pieces of Lego was washed off the ship Tokio during a storm off Land’s End. The cargo was en route from the company’s factory in Billund, Denmark, to North America, where it was to be made-up into sets. To this day, tiny pieces of plastic are still being found on Cornish beaches – and by a strange quirk of fate, much of this Lego is sea-themed.
On this episode of The PastCast, Tracey Williams, whose fascination with collecting the Lego washed up on her local beaches has driven her to publish a book, discusses the story of the lost cargo, the subsequent recovery efforts, and the environmental implications of the phenomenon.
Her book on the Lego lost at sea formed the basis of an article by Joe Flatman in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, which is also available to read in full on The Past website. On this episode, Tracey and Joe spoke with Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson. Carly also explains what readers can look forward to in the latest issue.
Tracey’s book, Adrift: the curious tale of the Lego lost at sea, is published by Unicorn and is available to buy here. You can follow the project online by searching for @LegoLostAtSea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. A related paper on drift matter/drift archaeology by Þóra Pétursdóttir is available to read here.
It is 1,900 years since the Roman emperor Hadrian made landfall in Britain. His presence marks a departure from business as usual, as the island was not a standard destination for imperial inspections. The sparse surviving Roman accounts tell us little about Hadrian’s activities in Britain, and nothing at all about his motive for visiting in 122. It is certain, though, that the island was convulsed by unrest during his tenure.
On this episode of The PastCast, Matt Symonds discusses the context and construction of the emperor’s most significant legacy in the British Isles, Hadrian’s Wall, and the enduring mystery of its true purpose. Could the extraordinary scale of this fortification be explained by the contemporary military situation in Britain?
Hadrian’s Wall is the subject of a special article in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, which is out in the UK on 14 July and the following month in the US. It is also available to read in full on The Past website. On this episode, Matt spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
The Past brings together the most exciting stories and the very best writing from the realms of history, archaeology, heritage, and the ancient world. You can subscribe to The Past today for just £7.99. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider liking it, subscribing, and sharing it around.
Matt’s book, Hadrian’s Wall: creating division, was published by Bloomsbury Books in 2021 and is available to buy here.
Just as the Titanic’s ‘unsinkable’ nickname proved to be somewhat hubristic, naming a ship Invincible might be seen as similarly tempting fate. This latter designation was intended to intimidate, however, as it described a mighty warship that was among the most technically advanced of her day. And although she sank off Portsmouth in 1758, Invincible remains the best-preserved 18th-century warship known in UK waters.
On this episode of The PastCast, Dr Daniel Pascoe, who headed recent excavations of the wreck, describes her history up until her unfortunate sinking, the subsequent recovery efforts, and a new exhibition at Chatham Historic Dockyard which brings together some of the ship’s most fascinating artefacts.
The wreck and the exhibition are the subject of an article in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, which is out in the UK on 7 July, and is also available to read in full here. On this episode, Dan spoke with Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson. Carly also explains what else readers can look forward to in the latest issue, including articles on Canterbury’s history, Cissbury Ring, Butser Ancient Farm, and the Society of Antiquaries of London’s new affiliate membership scheme.
And you can keep up with Dr Daniel Pascoe’s work by following him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. A video on his current project – on the 70-gun Northumberland sunk off the Goodwin Sands – is available here.
When Henrietta Howard (née Hobart) built her Thames-side country house in Twickenham in the 1720s, it represented so much more than a fashionable escape from the bustle of court life: it was a refuge from her abusive marriage, and a sign of hard-won independence.
With the house and its grounds now restored to their Georgian glory, and the site reopening to the public, Carly Hilts, editor of Current Archaeology magazine, visited to find out more. Carly joined this latest episode of The PastCast to discuss the life of Howard, her beautiful home, and the many achievements of the restoration project. Carly spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
As well as Marble Hill, Carly also explains what other fascinating British archaeological sites and projects are featured in the latest issue of Current Archaeology. The magazine is on sale in the UK from 2 June and is also available to read in full on The Past website.
The newly released, star-studded British movie Operation Mincemeat tells the remarkable story of a Second World War deception plan. A dead body disguised as a naval officer would be floated off the Spanish coast, in the hope that the Axis powers would come across fake documents on the body and accept misleading information about the impending Allied invasion of Sicily. It was a daring plan full of risks that could go wrong at several points. As indeed it did.
On this episode of The PastCast, broadcaster and author Taylor Downing discusses his thoughts on the film, its cast, and previous on-screen depictions of the Mincemeat story. He has also reviewed the new film in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, which is also available in full on The Past website. On this episode, he spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Taylor’s latest book, 1942: Britain at the Brink, has recently been published by Little, Brown. You can read an exclusive extract from it here.
Just to the south of Hadrian’s Wall, and at around the same time as the frontier fortifications were being built, the Romans constructed a fort on high ground overlooking the Solway estuary. Then, the site was known as Alauna Carvetiorum – today we call it Maryport – and it formed part of a chain of forts safeguarding the Cumbrian coast, which also represented an important communications and supply network.
Perhaps the most famous finds from the fort are a collection of freestanding stone altars dedicated to the god Jupiter, which were found buried in a series of large pits on the highest point of the local landscape. Between 2011 and 2015 these enigmatic objects formed one of the key foci of investigations on the site by Professor Ian Haynes and Tony Wilmott, but the story of their discovery actually dates back centuries earlier.
On this episode of The PastCast, Tony and Ian discuss their research in more detail with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson. Their article on Maryport in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, as well as the entirety of the magazine (and exclusive related archive features), are also available in full on The Past website.
First airing in 1994, Time Team went from humble roots to become a celebrated British institution, with over 230 episodes and countless spin-offs and specials produced during its original 20-year run. And while the recent pandemic posed serious problems for archaeological fieldwork, it sparked a global renaissance for Time Time, as locked-down fans began to reconnect with old episodes or discover them anew on YouTube.
Now, thanks to the support of thousands of fans, Time Team has premiered two brand new, three-part episodes on the internet. And that’s just the start, with two partnerships set to shed light on Sutton Hoo, and more potential sites currently in development for excavations this year.
On this episode of The PastCast, Time Team’s ‘geophys whizz’ John Gater discusses the return of the show – what’s changed and what’s stayed the same, some of the highlights of the newest digs, and the vital role of the pub in the show’s production schedule. Gater spoke with Current Archaeology editor (and former Time Team researcher) Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
There is also an article by Felix Rowe on Time Team’s return in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, out in the UK on 7 April. The article and magazine are also available in full here, as well as exclusive related archive features. And make sure to check out Time Team’s YouTube and Patreon pages to enjoy episodes old and new.
The Greek city of Apollonia, founded in 650 BC, today lies on the sea floor between the mainland of Libya and a chain of offshore islands, 200km east of Bengazi. In 1958, an archaeological team set out to undertake a trailblazing survey of the submerged ruins. It was led by Dr Nicholas Flemming, whose experiences shaped his career as a marine archaeologist.
On this episode of The PastCast, Nic Flemming describes the history behind the survey, why Apollonia is such a unique site, and how his experiences in the Special Boat Service (SBS) assisted with the reconnaissance. Flemming has written an article on Apollonia in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, which is also available to read here. On this episode, he spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Nic Flemming’s book, Apollonia on my Mind, has also recently been published and is available to buy from his website. And make sure to also check out the Dive & Dig Podcast from the Honor Frost Foundation, on which Nic is also appearing as a guest this week.
Episode #9: The Golden Fleece Paradox: why did gold disappear for centuries from ancient societies in the Caucasus?
The Caucasus mountains have had, for millennia, a legendary association with gold. According to the myths recounted by Greek and Roman writers, the legendary hero Jason was sent there on an impossible quest to seek the Golden Fleece, a task so difficult that it was assumed he would never return.
But despite an association between gold and the mountains that became so strong it was woven into mythology, gold artefacts more or less disappeared from a large part of the region for a period of some seven centuries. Nathaniel Erb-Satullo, a Lecturer in Archaeological Science at Cranfield Forensic Institute, has been investigating why.
Nathaniel has written about his research and findings in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, which is also available to read here. On the latest episode of The PastCast, he spoke with regular presenter Calum Henderson about his research.
Waterloo Uncovered, a registered charity, has combined the archaeological exploration of the site of Napoleon’s final defeat with a support programme for Veteran and Serving Military Personnel (VSMPs). Every summer, the charity assembles an international team of archaeologists, students, and VSMPs to survey and excavate various sections of the site in modern-day Belgium. In 2019, the team focused their attention on three farms which played a key role in the fighting.
The results of the 2019 excavations are the subject of an article in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine. Author Euan Loarridge, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow who has been involved in Waterloo Uncovered’s work, explains what was found, and how archaeology can be surprisingly therapeutic for serving military personnel and veterans. On this episode, Euan spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
You can keep up to date with the work of Waterloo Uncovered via their website and through their social media platforms (such as their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages). The article, and the full magazine, as well as exclusive related archive features, are available on The Past website.
The British photographer Anthony Kersting was the most prolific and widely travelled architectural photographer of his generation. He travelled extensively across the Middle East throughout the 1940s and 1950s to document the architecture and people of the region. And upon his death in 2008, he donated his archive – containing some 42,000 photographic prints and negatives – to the Conway Library at the Courtauld Gallery in London.
On this episode of the PastCast, Tom Bilson, Head of Digital Media at the Courtauld, discusses a new exhibition showcasing a selection of Kersting’s photography from Kurdistan. He also describes the digitisation project currently being undertaken to preserve the Conway Library’s extensive archive for future generations. Bilson spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Located in the Caucasus, a meeting point between Europe and Asia, Armenia boasts of being the first state to have adopted Christianity around the year AD 314, followed by its neighbour Georgia twenty years later. Various encounters between this region’s indigenous peoples and many other groups led to centuries of church building across the landscape of narrow mountain valleys that stretch between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
On this episode of The PastCast, Christoph Baumer describes how the faith spread in the region, separating the myths – such as of a king who had been saved after being turned into a boar – from the facts. Baumer is the author of an article on the subject in the latest issue of Minerva magazine, which is also available to read here. On this episode he spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Christoph’s book, The history of the Caucasus, volume 1: at the crossroads of empires has been published by Bloomsbury and is available to buy on their website.
What might a pigsty, a chimneybreast, a rock garden, and a font all have in common? An obvious answer would, of course, be that they can all be made of stone – but for a special few there is a particular claim to distinction.
Over the last three years, members of the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust-funded Elusive Sculptures team have been looking beyond the obvious in their quest to locate and interpret Romano-British art preserved in unlikely – and, at times, somewhat precarious – places in the North of England, and important examples have been recorded at these sites and more.
On this episode of The PastCast, Elusive Sculptures team member Professor Ian Haynes discusses the project’s background and findings. Ian is the co-author of an article on the subject in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, which is also available in full on The Past website. On this episode he spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
An immense communal effort, continental connections, and exotic materials travelling long distances for people to gather and marvel at: this could be a summary of the story of Stonehenge, but it also describes the creation of a new exhibition opening at the British Museum this month, and the challenges of organising hundreds of international loans during a pandemic.
On this episode of The PastCast, Dr Jennifer Wexler, project curator of ‘The World of Stonehenge’, describes how the exhibition puts the famous monument in its wider context, exploring the natural and material landscapes that its builders would have known; the transformative technological, cultural, and social changes that the celebrated stones witnessed over the course of 1,500 years; and the ideas and identities it was intended to express.
Wexler contributed to article on the exhibition in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, which is out now, and which is also available in full on The Past website. On this episode she spoke with Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson. Carly also told Calum what else readers can look forward to in the latest issue.
The recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow has helped concentrate many minds on climate change. Projections of future temperatures and their impact on world sea-levels pose complex challenges for the present. At the same time, a new study by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals that our past is also at risk.
The report presents chilling scenarios about the impact of sea-level rises on great archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. These projections are spurring decision makers to ponder a fundamental question: can we seek to confront it? At the ancient city of Butrint in Albania, plans are afoot to achieve exactly that.
On this episode of The PastCast, two of the architects of the Butrint Integrated Management Plan, Dr David Prince and Dr Richard Hodges, explain its proposals and why they are so necessary. They are also co-authors of an article on the subject in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, which you can read here. On this episode they spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
An ancient oasis and caravan city, Palmyra lies in the middle of the Syrian Desert, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. Sadly, over the last decade most of the news from the site has concerned heart-breaking loss, of both people and archaeology, during the devastating civil war in Syria.
Thousands of ancient inhabitants’ portraits once graced lavish family tombs in cemeteries just beyond the desert city. On the latest episode of The PastCast, Professor Rubina Raja of Aarhus University in Denmark discusses what recent research into these funerary portraits tell us about ancient life in Palmyra.
Raja is the co-author of an article on the subject in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, which you can read here. On this episode she spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson. Calum also caught up with Current World Archaeology editor Matt Symonds to find out what else is in the latest issue.
Medieval warfare is sometimes caricatured as a matter of crude frontal collisions lacking in finesse. But the period also saw what has been called a ‘revolution in military affairs’, which coincided with the long struggle between the French and English otherwise known as the Hundred Years’ War. Spearheading this revolution on the English side was King Edward III and his son, The Black Prince.
On this episode of The PastCast, historian and teacher Graham Goodlad charts the military careers of the king and his heir, a young man who eventually became his father’s leading military commander, heading major expeditions in France and Spain. What was it about their combined genius that delivered English victories as renowned as Crécy and Poitiers?
Graham is the co-author of a special feature on this subject in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, which is also available to read in full here. On this episode he spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Born into a cultured and well-connected bohemian family in London, the painter John Craxton (1922-2009) yearned from a very early age to live and work in Greece. He achieved his goal and enduring joy coloured his ensuing pictures – radiant images of a world where myth survived in everyday existence
On this episode of The PastCast, Ian Collins discusses his article in the latest issue of Minerva magazine (also available on The Past website), in which he surveys the life and work of Craxton, an artist with ‘a genius for being in the right place at the right time.’ Ian spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Ian’s book, John Craxton: A Life of Gifts is published by Yale University Press.
Domitian has gone down in history as one of Rome’s worst emperors. When he met his violent end in AD 96, subsequent writers did everything they could to demolish his reputation.
But a new exhibition at Leiden’s Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) uses a broad palette of sources to present a considerably more layered and varied history of the emperor than the exceedingly negative one that followed his death.
On this episode of The PastCast, two of its curators, Nathalie de Haan and Eric M Moormann, discuss their article on Domitian and the new exhibition in the latest issue of Minerva magazine (also available on The Past website). They spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
The exhibition, God on Earth: Emperor Domitian runs at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden between 17 December 2021 and 22 May 2022. See the museum’s website for more details.
Located in the Outer Hebrides, the prehistoric settlement of Cladh Hallan is best known for the Bronze Age mummies found buried beneath its roundhouses. As well as these insights into how the dead were treated, though, the dwellings have also yielded illuminating insights into the world of the living.
On this episode of the PastCast, Mike Parker Pearson discusses his co-authored article in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine (also available on The Past website), which takes an in-depth look at the most recent research into this remarkable settlement. He spoke with Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
Calum also spoke with Carly about what readers can look forward to in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, and the magazine’s upcoming conference at the end of February 2022.
Episode #9: Looking ahead to Current Archaeology Live! 2022: meet the nominees for Archaeologist of the Year
The annual Current Archaeology magazine conference, Current Archaeology Live! 2022, is fast approaching. Taking place online over the weekend of 25-27 February, an exciting line-up of expert speakers will cover the latest news on the most important discoveries and leading research projects in the archaeology of the British Isles.
In addition to the sessions, Julian Richards will be announcing the winners of the 13th annual Current Archaeology Awards via the magazine’s YouTube channel. There are three nominees for 2022’s ‘Archaeologist of the Year’, whose achievements reflect the diverse work taking place within the field.
On this episode of the PastCast, Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts speaks to each of the nominees – Professor Martin Bell, Raksha Dave, and Dr Peter Halkon – to find out more about them and what got them into archaeology. Carly is joined by regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
You can keep up to date with the conference and how to vote in the awards on the Current Archaeology website. Voting will be open until 7 February 2022.
Humans and jungles are often seen as a poor combination. It is easy to write off the environment as challenging at best and a ‘green hell’ at worst. But could it be that tropical forests have repeatedly helped rather than hindered humanity’s progress?
On this episode of the PastCast, Patrick Roberts discusses his article in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine (also available on The Past website), in which he explains why it is time to rethink the archaeology of the jungle. Patrick spoke with regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Patrick’s book, Jungle: How Tropical Forests Shaped the World, is also available to buy.
Marking the bicentennial of Peru’s independence, a fascinating new exhibition at the British Museum, subtitled ‘a journey in time’, explores the history, beliefs, and culture of six different societies who lived in the region from around 2500 BC to the arrival of the Europeans in the 1500s.
The exhibition is the focus of a special feature in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, out now in the UK. On this episode of The PastCast, Current World Archaeology editor Matt Symonds caught up with the exhibition’s two curators, Cecilia Pardo and Jago Cooper, to discuss its themes and artefacts in more depths.
Matt also spoke with regular PastCast presenter Calum Henderson to discuss what else readers can look forward to in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology (all of which is also available on The Past).
It signalled a new age of empire – an age of armed intervention by industrialised European armies. The Scramble for Africa had begun. In the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, editor Neil Faulkner analyses the events at Tel el-Kebir, the 1882 battle in which Victorian Britain destroyed an Egyptian nationalist movement and took possession of the country.
The battle and its wider consequences are the subject of Neil’s latest book, Empire and Jihad: The Anglo-Arab Wars of 1870-1920, published by Yale University Press. On this episode of The PastCast, he discusses both his article and book with regular presenter (and Military History Matters assistant editor) Calum Henderson.
As the COP26 climate change conference takes place in Glasgow, we ask if studying past coastal change can help us to ameliorate the climate crisis facing us today. A project undertaken by the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN) and focusing on Mersea Island in Essex may have the answer, as three members of the network’s team explain.
Oliver Hutchinson, Danielle Newman, and Lawrence Northall wrote about their findings in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, which is out now. Their article is also available online at The Past. On this episode, they spoke with The PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
The traditional story of Iona’s early medieval monastery ends in tragedy and bloodshed, with the religious community essentially wiped out by vicious Viking raiders. Increasingly, though, the archaeological and historical evidence does not support this persistent ‘zombie narrative’.
On this episode of The PastCast, Adrián Maldonado discusses an article he has co-authored for the latest issue of Current Archaeology (also available on The Past), in which this new evidence is examined in detail. Maldonado spoke with Current Archaeology editor Carly Hilts and regular PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Calum also caught up with Carly to discuss what else readers can look forward to in the latest issue.
Episode #3: Gold and the Great Steppe: what a recently discovered burial mound tells us about an ancient culture
On this episode of the PastCast, two curators from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge discuss its recently opened exhibition, Gold and the Great Steppe. The exhibition looks at the history of the Saka, a nomadic people from Eastern Kazakhstan who lived around 2,500 years ago.
To accompany the exhibition, curators Rebecca Roberts and Saltanat Amir have written an article in the latest issue of Minerva magazine, which comes out in the UK on 21 October. You can also read it online at The Past website. Rebecca and Saltanat spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Episode #2: Excavating an Anglo-Saxon community at Cookham. Plus: behind the new galleries at the Imperial War Museum
In the 8th century, Cookham Abbey was the focus of a decades-long power struggle between early medieval kingdoms, but over time the religious community’s location faded from memory, despite its association with a powerful Anglo-Saxon queen. Now, excavations in Berkshire are thought to have brought its remains to light once more.
On this episode of the PastCast, Dr Gabor Thomas discusses his write-up of the excavations in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine (also available on The Past website). Thomas spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Also on this episode, curator Kate Clements discusses the new Second World War and Holocaust galleries at London’s Imperial War Museum, which open to the public on 20 October.
For a visitor to a late 18th-century country seat, the most striking feature of the landscape, apart from the house, would have been the lake. For that reason, it is all the more surprising these bodies of water have had such little attention from garden historians and archaeologists.
Calum also spoke with Current Archaeology Editor Carly Hilts about what readers can look forward to in the latest issue.
On this episode of The PastCast, Christopher Catling discusses his article in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, in which he takes a look into why ornamental lakes have received such little recognition. He spoke with The PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
On this episode of the PastCast, Derek Alexander discusses the notorious Glencoe Massacre of 1692 and how recent archaeological fieldwork has shed new light on the 17th and 18th century remains in the area. Alexander is the Head of Archaeology at the National Trust for Scotland. He spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Glencoe is one of the most famous and beautiful valleys in Scotland but is also notorious for an episode of extreme violence in 1692, when dozens of members and associates of the Glencoe MacDonalds were killed by Scottish Government forces. While the area’s history has been studied in detail, the physical remains of the early settlements have only just begun to be investigated.
On this episode of the PastCast, archaeologists Hella Eckardt and Philippa Walton discuss Roman finds made at Piercebridge, on the River Tees near Darlington. Between the mid-1980s and 2018, two divers excavated more than 3,600 objects from the site, before passing them on to Walton. Now, thanks to a two-year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the entire assemblage of finds will be published.
Eckardt and Walton are the authors of Bridge over troubled water: the Roman finds from the River Tees at Piercebridge in context, which is available to buy from the Roman Society. An Open Access version is also available here, while all the items from Piercebridge are catalogued on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.
Be sure to check out their article on Piercebridge here on The Past.
On this episode of the PastCast, archaeologist Wouter Vos discusses his involvement in recent excavations at Valkenburg in the Netherlands. Valkenburg is already renowned for its Roman archaeology, thanks to an auxiliary camp excavated there after the Second World War.
But now, new research has uncovered evidence of a larger and more significant legionary fortress, which may have played a role in the Roman invasion of Britain. Vos shared these findings with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Vos is co-author of an article in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, in which the findings at Valkenburg are discussed in-depth. The magazine is out now in the UK and in the rest of the world in August. It is also accessible online at The Past website.
Episode #17: The Antikythera Mechanism: an Ancient Greek machine rewriting the history of technology
A seemingly unassuming lump of corroded bronze has confounded investigators for more than century, ever since it proved to contain precision gear wheels that simply should not have existed in the Ancient Greek world. Now, a new study into the Antikythera Mechanism, named after the island off which it was found, has used cutting-edge techniques to reveal what this machine could do, and how it did it.
On this episode of the PastCast, Professor Tony Freeth discusses his involvement in this study, as well as what researchers made of the mechanism when it was first uncovered, and what it tells us about the technology of the Ancient Greek world. Freeth is joined by PastCast presenter Calum Henderson.
You can read more about the Antikythera Mechanism and the recent research in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology, out on 22 July in the UK and in the rest of the world the following month, as well as here.
On this episode of the PastCast, Dr Graham Goodlad discusses how Horatio Nelson cemented his status as a British naval hero in October 1805 when the fleet he commanded defeated the combined forces of the French and Spanish navies at the Battle of Trafalgar, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. Graham spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Nelson’s tactic was to ‘break the line’, which involved cutting through and manoeuvring his fleet as close to the enemy’s as possible and destroying their ships one by one. This devastating strategy was developed by previous generations of British admirals, but was used most decisively at Trafalgar, the event which also claimed Nelson’s life.
In the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, out now in the UK and in the United States and Canada in August, we have a special feature on Nelson exploring his upbringing, his early successes, and the key factors that made Trafalgar the victory it is still remembered as today. You can also read the entire special feature online at The Past website.
On this episode of the PastCast, presenter Calum Henderson visits HMS Belfast, the historic warship moored on the Thames in the heart of London and maintained by the Imperial War Museum, ahead of its reopening to the public after 16 months of closure.
Calum speaks to Robert Rumble, an IWM curator and expert on the history of the ship from its construction in the 1930s to its conversion into a floating museum in 1971. He also talks to Daniel Schnable, Branch Operations Manager at HMS Belfast, on the renovations that have taken place during the pandemic and how the ship has been made safe for the visitors of the future.
HMS Belfast reopens to the public on 8 July 2021. You can find out more about how to visit the ship by visiting the IWM’s website.
Episode #14: Behind the scenes at Butser Ancient Farm and the fascinating world of experimental archaeology
On this episode of the PastCast, archaeologist Claire Walton discusses life at her unusual office: Butser Ancient Farm, where she can turn up to work to find that a goat has escaped or that the weather has torn away some of the buildings.
Located in the Hampshire South Downs, the experimental archaeology centre at Butser explores the past by engaging with ancient tools and building techniques. The latest addition to the site is a reconstructed Neolithic House, based on excavations by Wessex Archaeology in Horton. Claire discusses the complex construction process, as well as life on the farm in general: the weather, the animals, and the wonders of the natural environment. She is interviewed by PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
You can read Claire’s article on the Neolithic House at Butser in the latest issue of Current Archaeology magazine, out on 1 July. Subscribers to The Past can read it before the magazine hits the newsstands, and can also access loads of extra content, include fascinating archive material on experimental archaeology.
Claire also discusses Butser Plus, a new website launched during the pandemic to allow visitors to explore the work of the farm remotely. Be sure to check that out too.
On this episode of the PastCast, Chris Catling discusses the history of Dover Castle, a vast coastal fortification with some idiosyncratic features, particularly its Great Tower, built by King Henry II as an imposing national landmark. Chris, who is an archaeologist, author, and contributing editor of Current Archaeology, spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
You can read Chris Catling’s article on the castle in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, out on 1 July. Subscribers to The Past can read it before the magazine hits the newsstands, and can also access loads of extra content, include fascinating archive material on castles both in Britain and abroad.
Chris also references a new book published by English Heritage relating to the subject. The Great Tower of Dover Castle: History, Architecture and Context is edited by Paul Pattison, Steven Brindle, and David M Robinson, and is available to buy on its publisher’s website.
Episode #12: Gold strike: Philip Crummy on discovering the Fenwick Hoard and what it tells us about the Boudiccan rebellion
Gold!!! On this episode of the PastCast, Philip Crummy, director and principal archaeologist at The Colchester Archaeological Trust, discussed the 2014 discovery and excavation of the Fenwick Hoard.
This fascinating stash of gold and silver jewellery was buried in Colchester in AD 61, around the time that Boudica, queen of the Iceni tribe, launched her fiery rebellion against Roman rule in Britain. Crummy spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
Episode #11: Why archaeology matters: Dr Hugh Willmott on the fight to save Sheffield University’s department from closure
On this episode of the PastCast, with Sheffield University’s longstanding Archaeology department facing closure, Dr Hugh Willmott makes the case for the discipline’s vital importance as a field of academic study. Willmott spoke with PastCast presenter, Calum Henderson.
You can read Hugh Willmott’s article for us, Don’t Underestimate Archaeology, here. And make sure to sign the official petition against the potential closure of the department at the Change.org website. There’s also plenty of extra content on The Past website on the future of archaeology.
Episode #10: Iron in the time of Anarchy. Plus: how a D-Day landing craft tank was restored to its former glory
On this episode of the PastCast, Julie Franklin of Headland Archaeology discusses the 12th-century smithy excavated in Cheveley in Cambridgeshire in 2015, and what the site’s date, and that of its abandonment, suggests about a dark period in the history of the Fens. Julie spoke with PastCast presenters Calum Henderson and Carly Hilts.
Calum also spoke to Andrew Whitmarsh, curator at the D-Day Story Museum in Southsea, Portsmouth, about the recovery and restoration of LCT 7074, a craft used to land tanks during D-Day on 6 June 1944. Whitmarsh describes the lengthy process by which the craft was restored and how it has come to form the fascinating new centrepiece of the museum.
Episode #9: Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard. Plus: behind the scenes at the British Museum’s new Nero exhibition
On this episode of the PastCast, Dr Martin Goldberg discusses the latest research into the Galloway Hoard, Scotland’s earliest-known Viking Age hoard, ahead of a new exhibition on the fascinating collection at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Martin spoke with PastCast presenters Calum Henderson and Carly Hilts.
Calum also spoke to Francesca Bologna, project curator at the British Museum, about their new exhibition on the Roman Emperor Nero. Francesca reveals how the exhibition was put together during the pandemic and how it seeks to challenge the image of Nero as a tyrant who ‘fiddled while Rome burned’.
On this episode of the PastCast, Calum Henderson spoke to Professors Clive Ruggles and Patrick Kirch about their study of several fascinating temple sites at Kahikinui on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Ruggles and Kirch discuss what their research revealed about these ancient ritual ruins.
You can read more about their findings in the latest issue of Current World Archaeology, out on 20 May in the UK and in the US and Canada in late June. Subscribers to The Past will be able to read the magazine, as well as exclusive extra content from our archives, before it hits the newsstands.
Calum also spoke to Current World Archaeology editor Matt Symonds, who checked out the much-anticipated new British Museum exhibition on Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered on the orders of King Henry II in December 1170.
On this episode of the PastCast, Calum Henderson spoke to Neil Faulkner about Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union, the 80th anniversary of which falls this June.
Neil discusses the terrifying build-up to the invasion, the attack itself, and the Nazis’ deceptive success. A campaign that was seemingly unstoppable ultimately collapsed and turned the tide of the Second World War in Europe.
You can read a special feature on the invasion (written by historian David Porter) in the latest issue of Military History Matters magazine, of which Neil Faulkner is the editor. It is out on 13 May in the UK and in the US and Canada in late June. Subscribers to The Past will be able to read the magazine, as well as exclusive extra content from our archives, before it hits the newsstands.
On this episode of the PastCast, we spoke to Matt Symonds about one of Britain’s most famous historical landmarks, Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Roman emperor in the north of England to separate his people ‘from the barbarians’.
Matt discusses the wall’s complex history, the fate of those affected by its construction, and its place in Britain’s national story. Presented by Calum Henderson and Carly Hilts.
You can buy Matt’s book, Hadrian’s Wall: Creating Division, published by Bloomsbury Academic, on their website. Matt also discusses Current World Archaeology, of which he is editor, and what readers can look forward to in the next issue, out in the UK on 20 May and in the US and Canada in late June. Subscribers to The Past will be able to read the magazine, as well as exclusive extra content from our archives, before it hits the newsstands.
“Now that the show is coming back, there’s almost the feeling that it had never actually gone.” On this episode of the PastCast, we spoke to Carenza Lewis about the long-awaited return of Time Team. After eight years off air, the legendary archaeology show is returning this summer for a pair of exciting new digs.
One of Time Team’s professional archaeologists and presenters, Carenza shares her memories of the show in its original format and what she’s looking forward to when it returns. Presented by Calum Henderson and Carly Hilts.
You can read Felix Rowe’s article on the return of Time Team in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, out on 6 May, as well as online at The Past. Make sure to check out Time Team’s Patreon page and its official YouTube channel, on which the new episodes will appear later this year.
In this episode of the PastCast, Calum Henderson speaks to Diane Josefowicz about the Rosetta Stone, ‘the key’ to unlocking the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The results of Jean-François Champollion’s work on the Stone’s inscription may be well known, but as Josefowicz explains, other scholars – with different attitudes towards ancient Egypt – also took up the challenge.
You can read Diane’s article on the Rosetta Stone (co-authored by Jed Buchwald) here, as well as in the latest issue of Minerva magazine, out now. Diane and Jed have also authored a book on the subject, The Riddle of the Rosetta: how an English polymath and a French polyglot discovered the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphs, published by Princeton University Press.
“Almost a true crime drama.” In this episode of the PastCast, Calum Henderson speaks to Lloyd De Beer and Naomi Speakman, two curators of the British Museum’s upcoming exhibition on the life, death, and legacy of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop infamously murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in December 1170 and later canonised as a saint.
The exhibition is due to open in mid-May after the government’s lockdown restrictions are eased. Accompanying it is a new book by Speakman and De Beer, published by British Museum Press. You can find out more about the exhibition and the book on the British Museum’s website.
In this episode of the PastCast, Calum Henderson spoke to archaeologist Peter Marsden to discuss what the latest research tells us about the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s doomed warship.
Peter’s book, 1545: Who Sank the Mary Rose? is published by Seaforth Publishing.
In the first episode of the PastCast, we discuss Netflix’s new film about Sutton Hoo. Calum Henderson speaks to Neil Faulkner about the archaeology in the film, and to Carly Hilts about the role of the pioneering women in the real excavation.