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TOPIC: Ancient Britains


L

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The Beaker people
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Researchers at a Scottish university are to carry out a major study to shed new light on the mysterious Beaker people, who flourished across Europe more than 4,000 years ago.

The north-east of Scotland has one of the highest concentrations of Beaker burials - prehistoric skeletons laid to rest beside distinctive, high-quality pots - anywhere in Britain.
It is hoped that the new research - the most detailed local study of the Beaker culture ever carried out in Europe - will begin to solve many of the questions that have puzzled archaeologists for generations.
The new research by archaeologists at Aberdeen University has been made possible with a 70,000 funding grant from the Leverhulme Trust.
The cash will be used to analyse more than 20 Beaker skeletons found throughout the north-east and the grave goods that accompanied many of the remains.
The Beaker culture flourished throughout Europe in the early Bronze Age. The Beakers, who are believed to have built Stonehenge, got their name from the distinctive small clay pots or beakers buried with their dead, suggesting an early belief in the afterlife.
Beaker burials in the North-east are also associated with the area's recumbent stone circles.

Source

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L

Posts: 131433
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Ber Street Bronze Age round barrow
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Bronze Age round barrow found in Norwich

An excavation in Ber Street unearthed findings of the one of the most significant discoveries in Norwich (England) for more than 60 years. They are believed to come from a 4,000 year-old Bronze Age Round Barrow - also thought to be the first ever found in the heart of the city.

"The monument would have measured up to 20m in diameter, consisting of a central burial or cremation covered by a circular mound surrounded by a ditch and bank. Flint tools and sherds of Bronze Age pottery known as Beaker pottery have been recovered from the site. Such beakers are generally found in association with burials in eastern England and may have originally been used in the consumption of a drink similar to mead" - Giles Emery, project officer for NAU which is part of Norfolk Property Services (NPS).

A team of four archaeologists has been working at the site for two weeks but, because of the discovery, has been given an extra week to continue searching and recording. It was only discovered because the Norwich Housing Society has applied to develop the site and, as part of planning permission, has to have an archaeological study.
Although much of the barrow, including the burial or cremation, has most likely been destroyed by previous development, the experienced team are thrilled with what they have been able to find.

"Such barrows would have formed part of a sacred landscape and were placed as obvious landmarks on ridges surrounding valleys and are often discovered in groups within sight of each other. This particular barrow also lies within sight of the confluence of the Rivers Tas and Yare - an area known for its prehistoric activity including the Arminghall henge" - Giles Emery.

Source EDP24

Latitude: 52.624214 longitude: 1.297612

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L

Posts: 131433
Date:
English Channel Flood
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Scientists have found that Britain owes its island status to a catastrophic flood that swept away in less than 24 hours the hills that once joined the land mass to France.

The flood, which took place between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, instantly turned Britain from being a peninsula of continental Europe into a separate entity, changing forever the way it would develop.
The finding has emerged from an advanced sonar survey of the sea bed of the English Channel that revealed huge scour marks, deep bowls and piles of rock that could have been created only by a giant torrent of water. If confirmed, it will force an important revision of British prehistory.
It had been thought the Channel had formed by slow erosion combined with rises in sea level that took place over millions of years, rather than by a sudden, biblical-style catastrophe.

"This could have been one of the most powerful flood events ever known on earth. It would have cut through the chalk hills joining Britain to Europe and created a Niagara-style waterfall 300ft (91.5m) to 400ft high" - Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London.

Professor Stringer has been overseeing the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project, which brought together researchers from a range of disciplines to trace how Britain first became populated. Among the researchers were a team from Imperial College, in London, led by Sanjeev Gupta, who used sonar to survey the sea floor several kilometres off the Sussex coast.
The equipment is able to see through thick layers of sediment to the sea bed lying beneath. The team was surprised to find the remains of a huge valley, partly hidden by accumulated mud, running southwest from the Strait of Dover.

"In places this huge, underwater valley is more than seven miles (11km) wide and 170ft deep, with vertical sides. Its nearest geological parallels are found not on earth but in the monumental flood terrains of the planet Mars. This suggests the valley was created by catastrophic flood-flows following the breaching of the Dover Strait and the sudden release of water from a giant lake to the north" Dr Gupta said in an abstract published at an academic conference.

In the scenario, there was a high chalk ridge linking Britain and France running roughly between Dover and Calais.
Northeast of this ridge the land sloped down until it met the North Sea, which was much smaller then and was bordered by a shoreline that ran from Norfolk to northern Germany.
Several European rivers, including the Rhine, Seine and Thames, ran northwards to this shore, emptying into the sea.
Between 400,000 and 100,000 years ago, northern Europe suffered repeated glaciations. During one of these, an ice cap up to 1.6km thick reached so far south it stretched from Scotland to Denmark, damming the North Sea. This turned it into a freshwater lake that, fed by rivers, deepened over thousands of years.

"The lake would have been hundreds of feet above then sea level. One day it just overflowed the top of the chalk ridge and started pouring over. Once the torrent started it would have ripped through the chalk and poured down towards the Atlantic" - Professor Stringer.

Global sea levels were far lower then than now because so much water was locked up in the ice caps. This meant that Britain was joined to France all the way along its south coast - and the cascading water had to carve its way across the landscape.
The discovery of the Channel flood may help to solve one of the enduring mysteries of British archaeology - the apparent abandonment of the British Isles by humans for 120,000 years.
Researchers have found that humans first arrived in Britain at least 700,000 years ago. They were driven out by repeated glaciations but returned whenever the land warmed up. They vanished completely between 180,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Source

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L

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Date:
Ancient Scots
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"From various writings of ancient chroniclers we deduce that the nation of the Scots is of ancient stock, taking its first beginning from the Greeks and those of the Egyptians." - Walter Bower, Scotichronicon

Walter Bower wrote his compendium of Scottish history, Scotichronicon, in the 1440s. This sweeping Latin text aimed to set down the history of the Scottish people from the earliest times and by so doing to show what race of people we were.
He referenced his chronicle from ancient texts and oral history. What he recorded was astounding.

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RE: Ancient Britains
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Eight times humans came to try to live in Britain and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions.

Scientists think they can now write a reasonably comprehensive history of the occupation of these isles.
It stretches from 700,000 years ago and the first known settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk, through to the most recent incomers just 12,000 years or so ago.

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Bears lived alongside humans in Ireland for thousands of years, according to new research using radiocarbon dating.

It had been thought that bears disappeared from the island in about 5,000BC, but a forensic study of bones found in Leitrim has established that they survived until at least 2,000BC, millenniums after people arrived and long after the introduction of farming.
When man first arrived in Ireland, in about 8,000BC, the island was covered with dense elm, hazel and pine forests that were home to bears, lynx and wolves. The brown bears were the same species as the aggressive grizzly of North America, which can weigh more than 700kg and feeds on roots, berries and fish, but also deer and livestock.
The bones of what may have been the last Irish bears were found in 1997 in the Glenade valley in Leitrim, in a cave on an almost-vertical cliff that was probably a wintering den. The bones are now on display at Marble Arch caves.

Source

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The heatwave has revealed fleeting traces of early settlements to historians taking a bird's eye view of Scotland. The conditions this summer have proved ideal for aerial archaeologists who document the buried sites, which appear in ripening crops or scorched grass. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland said it was one of the best in its 30 years. Discoveries have included various prehistoric settlements.

"Bits of the Borders, some of the Cheviot foothills, parts of Fife and the Moray Plain have produced previously unknown sites. Town Yetholm through to Morebattle have been producing material, which is parched out in grass. We have seen various types of prehistoric settlements usually as circular or rectangular enclosures and burial sites" - Dave Cowley, the aerial survey manager at the RCAHMS.

Archaeological sites become visible most commonly on farmland during the summer months.

"In the lowlands, in particular, ancient sites and monuments have been levelled out by agriculture, and while these sites are not usually detectable, during hot spells they can become visible from the air. When cereal crops are planted on the top of these sites, different rates of growth and ripening can cause buried features to reveal themselves. Crops will often grow taller and greener above ancient ditches because extra water and nutrients are found there, while buried walls or paths can deprive plants of nutrients, showing up as yellow patches, known as parching" - Dave Cowley.

Because of the farming calendar, archaeologists face a race against time to get all the information catalogued.

"We have to conduct all our investigations August, as we have to photograph as many sites as possible once the crops have come up, but before they are harvested. The sites are no longer visible and won't be until the next spell of hot weather" - Dave Cowley.

The RCAHMS aerial survey has undertaken about 1,000 flights, using a four-seater Cessna aircraft from its base in Edinburgh, and it has produced more than 100,000 images of the country since 1976.

"Sites become visible every summer to varying degrees, but for the past few years we have had fairly poor summers. This year, ideal conditions meant that sites became visible of which we had been completely unaware, including a prehistoric settlement near Melrose, and an Iron Age enclosure at Letham. In addition, existing sites have appeared in much greater detail. The information will now have to be analysed thoroughly and will be made available to the public on the Canmore Database. This is what gives future generations access to information and records on every aspect of our built environment. We can only speculate at the moment as to what this year's findings may tell us, but one key thing is that we have discovered more Iron Age locations" - Dave Cowley.

Sources BBC News

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Help is at hand for the millions of people around the world who claim to be Scottish.
A new test will be able to prove if that's just wishful thinking or if someone really has a Caledonian connection.
A leading scientist has developed a "Scottishness" test that searches people's DNA to trace their origins.
Geneticist Dr Jim Wilson is offering the 130 diagnosis, which determines how Scottish people are.
He has identified a genetic pattern which can determine whether a person is descended from Scotland's ancient inhabitants, the Picts, and can test people for traces of their genes.
Dr Wilson says he wants to target Americans eager to seek out their Scottish ancestry.
The test involves checking a saliva sample against 27 genetic markers.
Dr Wilson, of Edinburgh University, already runs a company which can check for Norse and Anglo Saxon genes.

"We started work a few years ago, looking at the Norse component and we proved that a large proportion of people in Orkney are descended from Vikings. Now the markers have moved on massively and we have discovered that we can trace back the component of the indigenous Picts by looking at the unique grouping of their Y-chromosome. We believe that this would have been found only in Scotland" - Dr Jim Wilson.

Dr Wilson said the test will appeal to people in the US and Australia who want to confirm their Scottish roots.
But it is also aimed at people in the British Isles who want to find out whether they have Pictish, British, Anglo Saxon or Viking roots.

Source

-- Edited by Blobrana at 13:02, 2006-08-25

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The summer drought has unearthed a treasure trove of finds for historians taking a birds eye view of Wales. Heatwave conditions, which have parched the Welsh countryside, proved ideal for aerial archaeologists. They were described as the best for at least decade with a host of buried sites revealed from the air.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales made major discoveries using light aircraft to survey the Welsh landscape.

"It has been absolutely astounding. Discoveries have been made across Wales visible both as cropmarks in ripening crops and scorched grassland" - Royal Commission spokesperson.

They include two early Neolithic causewayed enclosures, built in Wales 6,000 years ago, of which only three were previously known. One was spotted in Radnorshire and the other in the Vale of Glamorgan. Other significant discoveries include a Bronze Age ritual enclosure, near Aberystwyth, and scores of prehistoric hillforts across the entire country.

"Cropmarks first began appearing from the air during June, in Gwynedd, Montgomeryshire, and the Vale of Glamorgan. But into July and August we have seen stunning results from all parts of Wales. As the hot weather has progressed some remarkable sites have been discovered. From the Bronze Age we have scores of round barrows, once used for burial, visible as plough-levelled circles in fields. Sometimes the central grave pits are still visible. At Goginan, near Aberystwyth, a great circular enclosure was discovered with a barrow close by, likely to be a bronze age temple which may once have contained a circle of upright timber posts. Previously unknown hill-forts and prehistoric farms have been found in considerable numbers across the southern Llyn peninsula, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Montgomeryshire, telling us where pre-Roman Iron Age communities lived and farmed.
It has been a hugely successful year for aerial archaeology in Wales and we may not see another like it for a decade. I know I have some months of work ahead of me to work through the discoveries, notifying local archaeologists and ensuring some of the most remarkable are visited on the ground and further studied.
" - Dr Toby Driver, Project Manager for the Aerial Survey programme at the Royal Commission.

Source: icNorthWales

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L

Posts: 131433
Date:
Church Hole cave
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Experts are searching a northern beauty spot for clues about Ice Age artists who etched pictures of animals on to cave walls some 13,000 years ago. The engravings of animals were found at Church Hole cave, Creswell Crags, at Welbeck near Worksop, England, three years ago and are evidence the limestone gorge near Worksop is one of the most northerly areas explored by man in the Ice Age.
A team from the University of Sheffield and the British Museum started digging outside the cave in the hope that over the next two weeks they will unearth more major findings at the site. It is the first major excavation at the site since the 1920s.

"We know that Church Hole was excavated very rapidly by the Victorians in the 1870s and very little is known about the animals and people who inhabited this cave during the Ice Age. Many of the bones and stone tools would have been thrown away and now lie within the Victorian spoil heap directly outside the cave's entrance. Our plan is to excavate this spoil heap and find the original Ice Age sediments below which contain bones and other artefacts from the period" - Dr Paul Pettit, Sheffield University's Department of Archaeology, who is leading the dig.

"The excavations are also likely to show just how much archaeology has developed in the last 80 years. What were then considered of no interest are now crucial scientific clues to life in the gorge 13,000 years ago and more" - Jon Humble, inspector for ancient monuments with English Heritage.

"This is once again a wonderful opportunity to highlight one of the regions major cultural sites and invite visitors to experience the process of archaeology in action. There will be opportunities to talk to the excavation team and view the recent finds. The museum will also be running a series of activities alongside the excavation including regular tours to Church Hole and Robin Hood Cave" - Ian Wall, director for Creswell Heritage Trust.

Source: Yorkshire Post Today

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