Podcasts

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.


PREVIOUS EPISODES

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.

Episode #1: In the lap of luxury: the history of ornamental lakes

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 oCurrent 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.

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Episode #20: The valley of death: how archaeology is shedding new light on the Glencoe Massacre

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.

Episode #19: Bridge over troubled water: Roman finds from the Tees at Piercebridge and beyond

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.

Episode #18: Valkenburg’s Roman fortress: a springboard for the conquest of Britannia?

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.

Episode #16: Nelson’s greatest victory: Why Trafalgar was the climax of a naval revolution

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.

Episode #15: Back aboard HMS Belfast: restoring the historic warship in the heart of central London

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.

Episode #13: Dover Castle: the fascinating and usual history behind an imposing coastal fortress

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.

The hoard has come to prominence again recently as part of the new British Museum exhibition on the life of the Roman emperor Nero. You can read much more about the exhibition and the Fenwick find.

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’.

Episode #8: Understanding Hawaiian temples. Plus: Becket at the British Museum

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.

Episode #7: Nazi strike: Barbarossa – the biggest invasion in history

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.

Episode #6: Hadrian’s Wall: how the Roman frontier created division

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.

Episode #5: Time Team returns: Carenza Lewis on how an archaeological institution rose to dig again

“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.

Carly also discusses her article on Butser Ancient Farm. You can check out their website, as well as Butser Plus, which allows you to explore the farm whilst supporting their work.

Episode #4: The Riddle of the Rosetta: deciphering the Stone’s Egyptian hieroglyphs

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.

Episode #3: Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint

“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.

Episode #2: The Mary Rose: behind the sinking of Henry VIII’s doomed warship

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.

Episode #1: What The Dig got right and wrong about archaeology

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.