CA 397 Letters – March

Your views on issues raised in Current Archaeology.

Surveying signage

The ‘Odd Socs’ article on Ministry of Works signage (CA 392) brought back many memories. Those cast-metal signs were so much a part of visits to castles and abbeys, identifying rooms such as the keep, refectory, or dorter, or warning visitors not to climb on the walls or to deface the monument.

A favourite was at Dolforwyn Castle, sited in a commanding position on a ridge overlooking the Severn Valley, between Welshpool and Newtown, and excavated by Lawrence Butler in the 1980s and 1990s (CA 120). The sign, replaced by more informative interpretation panels, is no longer there, alas, with its splendidly terse final lines (pictured below).

Barney Bell
Presteigne, Radnorshire

A novel approach to St Bartholomew the Great

Thank you for the St Bartholomew the Great article in the March issue (CA 396), not least the splendid photographs. Although I have visited many times, my initial interest was fired by Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Witch’s Brat (1970), in which Lovel, rejected by his village, is befriended by Rahere [St Bartholomew the Great’s founder], and witnesses the early days of both Hospital and Church. Written for a younger readership, as always with Sutcliff, her work has resonances which all can appreciate.

Carlos Hood
Gravesend, Kent

Arguing against the Angles

Rod Staples (‘Letters’, CA 395) seeks to replace the Saxons with Frisians in the history of England. ‘Sacson’ is the ancient Welsh word for their neighbours. It seems to me that ‘Angle’ is a more suspect name for a tribe. They could just have been Saxons who lived by the sea and went in for angling. Tacitus mentioned ‘Anglii’, but he also mentioned six other tribes who were never heard of again.

People from Dorset first went fishing off Newfoundland, then settled there when things became difficult at home.

Richard Durrant
Portland, Dorset

Delighted with Dings

Delighted to be up to speed with reading your current Current Archaeology, as I am normally a few mags behind – what with reading them always cover to cover; but only at night in bed.

I found myself strangely drawn to the article on Dings Villa (CA 394), even doubling back for some reason, to reread the bit about the three Roman spindle-whorls in the photograph: with no particular interest beyond curiosity. Yet… the very next day – the very next day – not three paces into our neighbouring farmer’s field, walking the dogs, I found myself staring at one (above). Rather, it was staring at me. There, propped in amid the emergent winter barley covered in mud – it looked like a brown washer, save I could see the hole and that it was of stone.

If it wasn’t for your article, that telling turned hole would have remained a conundrum to me. But, eerie… a little bit beyond coincidence. The ones in your picture seemed completely turned; my one, however, is a found stone with turned hole: 30-33mm diameter. Simply wonderful and adds further proof to my local Roman pottery and roof tile. Now all I have to do is find the farm.

Incidentally, the small map locating Dings, particularly pinpoints Brislington – colour coded among other locations of significance? – but doesn’t mention it in the print. As my daughter lives there, I would love to know why or rather what it is noted for.

Thank you for your very good publications; thanks Cotswold for your continued excellence. More in-depth articles on pottery and its fabric, please!

Julian Dakowski

Reply to Julian Dakowski

Thank you, Julian, for your interest in the Dings Crusaders site. The lack of explanation of the points on the map was my error: Brislington is the location of another winged-corridor-type villa, to which Dings bears some similarities, as is Kings Weston; Lyde Green is another local villa site. The villa at Dings Crusaders clearly sat within a network of sites.

Dr Clare Randall
Cotswold Archaeology

History of Harpole

As a keen, elderly archaeologist living in Harpole, not far from the site where the necklace that you featured in CA 395 was discovered, I found Dr Alice Roberts’ programme Digging for Britain very informative of the parish we live in. Here is a photo taken on a dig of what is now under the dual carriageway, opposite the truck stop between Harpole and the M1 motorway (above). It was about 50 years ago when I found myself working on this Harpole dig, alongside a Mr William Westwood, who turned out to be the Bishop of Peterborough, and a Mrs Brown, who at the time was our county’s leading archaeologist.

Also, about the same period in time, being a fully trained diver, I helped to retrieve several hundred medieval stone fishing weights from off the riverbed of the Ouse at Stony Stratford (above). They are now in Milton Keynes Museum for all to see, along with all my diving logbooks, etc. The late Lady Joan Wake took a great interest in these finds, along with showing me where many disused medieval fish ponds once were within our county.

Stan Clark
Harpole, Northamptonshire

The results are in!

We are pleased to share the winners of year’s CA Awards, announced on 25 February at Current Archaeology Live! 2023.

Archaeologist of the Year:
David Jacques

Research Project of the Year:
Prehistoric pioneers: how female migrants changed the face of Bronze Age Orkney (University of Huddersfield/EASE Archaeology)

Rescue Project of the Year:
Archaeology adrift? A curious tale of Lego lost at sea (The Lego Lost at Sea Project)

Book of the Year:
Landscapes Revealed: geophysical survey in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Area, 2002-2011 (A. Brend, N. Card, J. Downes, M. Edmonds, and J. Moore)

Edible archaeology

Found at a Lidl in the United States. Shared by @Clonehenge, with image courtesy of Joanna Casey.

CA online

Dr Tom Horne @HorneSupremacy
Thanks to @carlyhilts and @CurrentArchaeo for featuring our rather spectacular Coquet Valley site, which is looking like a C6th/7th Northumbrian settlement of high(est?) status, with later use by the #VikingGreatArmy (or an element thereof). It’s SO COOL.

HE Archaeology @HE_Archaeology
Assessment of excavation results is ongoing, but for interim conclusions head over to YouTube to watch Tom Cromwell talk about the Bowling Abbey ( & Rachel Cubitt talk about finds from the Grotto ( @EH_MarbleHill @CurrentArchaeo

Paddy Lambert @PaddyLambert14
Check out my latest update in the new @CurrentArchaeo on the wonderful #romanvilla estate at Priors Hall, Corby. We uncovered some rather lovely things, including the #Romanroad! My two-year-old thought it was ‘Dada, Blippi’. So you know it’s gotta be good… #RomanBritain

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