CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY LIVE! 2023
Join us on 25 February at the UCL’s Institute of Education – a stone’s throw from our previous venue, Senate House – to hear from the foremost archaeological experts on the latest finds and groundbreaking research.
Conference tickets are now on sale. We are offering an early bird rate of £35 for subscribers and £45 for non-subscribers until1 January, after which prices will rise to £50, so book now! Student tickets available – please enquire. To book, visit www.currentpublishing.com/shop or call 020 8819 5580.
It was a bold decision to focus issue 392 so exclusively on early medieval migrations, but it succeeded brilliantly. I just wanted to offer one thought on the analysis there.
Inevitably, all the evidence sampled comes from cemeteries associated with settlement sites. But if there is any truth in Gildas’ version of events, there was a large-scale flight of the existing British population in the face of post-Roman invasions, with many having ‘no chance of being buried, save in the ruins of houses, or in the ravening bellies of wild beasts and birds’. Gildas would probably have regarded the British ‘WBI’ elements who remained in the settlements and their cemeteries as collaborators or worse!
So I entirely agree with Schiffels and Gretzinger that we need more data from the centre and west of Britain, but suggest it needs to be studied using isotopic analysis as well as aDNA. That way we might be able to see if there was any significant displacement of existing WBI people from east to west in the face of CNE incomers, and so check out the scale of Gildas’ fugitive population.
Your article on the long history of old London Bridge, with its shops and houses (CA 391), concluded that by the 1830s it was demolished and gone. That is almost correct.
At the head of the Walton Backwaters in north-east Essex lies the remote Beaumont Quay, now quietly sleeping on the edge of its creek (ABOVE). When it was constructed in about 1832 by Guy’s Hospital (which owned the land there), the quay would have been busy with sailing barges collecting farm produce for the London market and, by 1869, agricultural lime from a quayside kiln. Incoming coal for the lime kiln and outgoing hay for the many thousands of metropolitan horses were important commodities. Barges would have approached the quay and its small brick warehouse along a new ‘cut’ through the muddy saltings.
The quay itself, still there, is constructed from large blocks of dressed stone salvaged from the demolition of the old London Bridge: a handy and cheap source of stone for a Southwark-based institution like Guy’s Hospital. A plaque, itself of some age, had been set into the warehouse to record this, but the warehouse is now long gone and the quay is in a poor and deteriorating condition. Indeed, four of the facing stones have recently toppled into the mud.
So London Bridge lives on – but, unhappily, it is still falling down.
I found the Early Medieval Special Issue (CA 392) particularly interesting, and here is my own little story to tell about the Oakington cemetery. As a local volunteer, I spent a few days helping Oxford Archaeology East when they were excavating some of the graves in 2007. On the last day of this campaign, I was given the task of digging a section of a shallow ditch that was some distance from where the ‘regulars’ were busily engrossed in recording and bagging grave goods before finishing on site. This shallow feature had been notably devoid of finds until a beautifully fashioned, tanged and barbed flint arrowhead emerged, sitting on the very bottom of the ditch. I was just about to pack up myself. Scooping it up gleefully, I walked over and handed it to the site director, which then caused a little stir of excitement among the team.
I have often wondered whether this arrowhead had been someone’s cherished curio that had been deliberately ‘killed’ (noting that the tip of one barb is missing) before depositing it during a cemetery closing ceremony. If so, might this act be linked to a particular culture?
‘Sherds’ in CA 392 brought to mind a childhood memory of Michael Bentine’s TV comedy programme It’s a Square World, in which explorers followed a river to its source, which turned out to be a dripping standpipe tap in a field!
Cradley Heath, West Midlands
The cake recreates a rather fanciful sketch by Stukeley of the view along the A46, the former Roman Fosse Way towards the Roman town of Crococalana (Brough), from Potter Hill, the site of the scheduled villa. The barrow mound in the middle of the road is probably ‘artistic licence’, and the figure on the horse to the right of the mound is Stukeley himself, who was known for ‘photobombing’ his own sketches!
Director, Allen Archaeology
Love this cutaway view by Peter Urmston of two mid-17th-century properties on #LondonBridge, published in the latest issue of @CurrentArchaeo! #TotallyThames #TidalTuesday @ThamesDiscovery Image: © Dorian Gerhold
Kimberley Teale @surveylikeagirl
Enjoyed reading about #DinasDinlle in @CurrentArchaeo this morning after hearing so much about this @CHERISHproj site from @LouBarkerLou1 @Toby_Driver1 and @rjulianw! Need to fit a visit in next year #archaeology #hillfort #wales
David Gill @davidwjgill
@CurrentArchaeo features #heritagesignage in the ‘Odd Socs’ column. Examples from sites in the care of @EnglishHeritage @welovehistory
Paul Jeffery @HeritageMedic
There is one of the ‘Avoid Accidents’ signs at @cadwcymru #ConwyCastle. Sound if rather obvious advice!
Current World Archaeology Photo Competition 2023
SEND YOUR ENTRIES (maximum FIVE per person)
Images must be high resolution
By email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: CWA PHOTO COMPETITION 2023
Closing date: 1 February 2023
Write to us at: CA Letters, Current Publishing, Office 120, 295 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 4HH, or by email to: email@example.comFor publication: 300 words max; letters may be edited.