Archaeology

Archaeology and related sciences

"Astonishing" find in St. Bartholomew's Church

In 2006, St Bartholomew's Church in Much Marcle, England received UK£500,000 for restoration of the church. During the project, workers discovered a lead coffin in the tomb chest of Blanch Mortimer, daughter of 14th century traitor Sir Roger Mortimer, who overthrew King Edward II. English Heritage described the find as "astonishing." (photos, video)

A violent end for the Finnish swordsman

In November 2013, archaeologists working near Hyvikkälä, Finland discovered the grave of an unknown swordsman dating to the Middle Ages. Recent tests showed that the well-fed, fit individual died a violent death from skull injuries.

Who's buried in Charlemagne's tomb?

In 1988, bones were secretly removed from the tomb of the Emperor Charlemagne for study and for possible identification. Now the results show that the remains are... probably Charlemagne's. (photos)

King Alfred found?

Researchers from the University of Winchester believe they may have found the pelvis of England's King Alfred the Great in a box of bones stored in the city's museum. The bone may also be from Alfred's son King Edward the Elder. The 9th and 10th century Saxon kings are best known for protecting their people from Viking raids.

"Not a pretty picture" painted by pit of Roman skulls

In 1988, 39 skulls of adult men were discovered near the Museum of London. The skulls dated to Roman times and now are believed to have been gathered by "head hunters" who retrieved the heads of those who died in the nearby amphitheater. "It is not a pretty picture," said Rebecca Redfern, from the centre for human bioarchaeology at the museum of London.

Investigation of Shakespeare's last home to enter phase 2

Archaeologists have been working on the site of New Place, William Shakespeare's last home in Stratford-upon-Avon, since 2009 and have now discovered "as much as they can" about the site, which was demolished in the 18th century. (photos)

Raising a horn with the Vikings

For centuries, the Norse used animal horns as drinking vessels, many of which had decorative metal terminals and mounts. Proof of this has been found in grave sites, although the actual horns have long decayed. A new book by Vivian Etting entitled The Story of the Drinking Horn – Drinking Culture in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages tells the long story of the custom. (photos)

Archaeologists surprised by medieval remains at Gallo-Roman site

The last thing that archaeologists working on the Roman site of Intaranum near Entrains-sur-Nohain, France expected to find was a mass grave in a well dating to the 8th-10th centuries.

Symposium scheduled to pinpoint location of Battle of Brunanburh

In 937, a deciding battle was fought which changed the course of British history forever. The Battle of Brunanburh, one of the UK's bloodiest, was fought between the Scots and the Saxons, establishing England's identity. Unfortunately, no one knows where the battle took place.

Keeping current on Stonehenge

It's been a momentous year for experts at Stonehenge, as well as those who visit the Neolithic monument, including the grand opening of its new visitor center. The Culture24 blog offers a wrapup of 2013 for the world Heritage site. (photos, map)

Altopascio skeletons show history of disease in Europe

For several years, biological anthropologist Giuseppe Vercellotti of The Ohio State University has led a field school in the Badia Pozzeveri Churchyard in Altopascio, Italy, where he and his students unearth and study the skeletons hoping "to read the history written in the bones." Of particular interest was a mass grave covered with a layer of lime. (photos)

Harlech remains may date to Wars of the Roses

Workers constructing a new visitor center at Harlech Castle in Wales were surprised to find the remains of three people, possibily dating to the time of the Wars of the Roses. Medieval foundations were also discovered, which may mean the site was once a churchyard.

The mystery of Longforth Farm continues

In a feature article for Current Archaeology, Matthew Symonds discusses recent discoveries at Longforth Farm with Bob Davis of Wessex Archaeology. Longforth Farm is a huge medieval complex near Wellington, England. (photos, map)

Mass medieval burial found near Durham Cathedral

Archaeologists are endeavoring to puzzle out the significance of a mass grave discovered during renovation of Durham University's Palace Green library. Instead of defined burials, the remains of 18 individuals seem to have been "tipped" into the grave.

Technology uncovers medieval defences and settlements in Poland

New studies using LiDAR (aerial laser scanning), electrofusion and magnetic prospection, soil analysis and other technologies have revealed new perspectives on six medieval sites in Poland: Chełm, Rękoraj, Rozprza, Stare Skoszewy, Szydłów and Żarnowo.

Pope Francis displays bones of St. Peter

For the first time ever, the relics of St. Peter, discovered in the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica in 1939, were displayed during mass, and prayed over by the Pope. The relices include nine pieces of bone. (photos)

Researchers create "virtual villa" using video game technology

Researchers at Indiana University, leading an international collaborative team, have used the Unity 3D game engine to create an interactive digital model of Hadrian's Villa, a Roman ruin located near Tivoli, Italy, for research and educational purposes.

Multi-period grave swords puzzle experts

Archaeologists working at the site of a 12th century crusader grave in Hyvikkälä, Janakkala, Finland were puzzled to find the remins buried with two swords from different historical periods.

Leicestershire lead coffin opened

A team of experts from Archaeology Warwickshire and York University have opened the 1,700-year-old lead coffin discovered recently near Hinckley, England, and have begun examination of its contents.

Archaeology fan? Wales has an app for that

Wales has introduced the Archwilio app, which will allow smartphone and tablet users to "access information about archaeological sites on maps covering the whole country." The free app will also let users connect and post their own updates.

Eggshells and pipes highlight 16th century Swedish kitchen

Swedish archaeologists were recently given the rare opportunity to excavate a portion of the Södermalmstorg area in Stockholm. The excavation revealed a complete 16th century kitchen, including intricately-carved tobacco pipes and an unexplained pile of eggshells. (photos)

Newborough dig may stall energy construction

Archaeological digs on a farm near Newborough, England have unearthed several layers of history from Roman to Saxon times. The excavations were commissioned before the land could be used for proposed renewable energy parks.

16th century blacksmith shop found in Norway

The discovery of an old forge, an iron arrowhead and utensils has led archaeologists to believe that they had found an area used by blacksmiths dating to the 1500s. The site was unearthed under Klosterenga in Oslo, Norway.

Wooden pillars puzzle experts in Old Uppsala

Archaeologists working on the site of a railway line in Old Uppsala, Sweden are trying to puzzle out the purpose of two rows of large wooden pillars near a 5th century pre-Viking burial ground and religious center. (photos)

Archaeological forensics not like CSI

The public has learned to expect DNA testing to answer all archaeological questions, but this is not always the case according to Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer for LiveScience. One good example is the mummified head, long believed to be that of King Henry IV of France, the investigation of which has led experts on a merry chase.

Leicester car park mystery continues

Archaeologists are puzzled by the revelation that the occupant of a lead coffin found yards from the grave of Richard III in Leicester, England might be a woman. The grave was believed to have been that of Sir William de Moton.

Battlefield discovery inhibits rail construction

Riders of a English railways will have to wait a little longer for the HS2 line thanks to the discovery of a previously "lost" site of a Wars of the Roses battlefield. The site of the Battle of Edgecote between the Earl of Warwick and King Edward IV, fought July 26 1469 in Northamptonshire, lies along the route of the high-speed rail link.

Archaeologists ponder Swedish "murder mystery"

"It's like Pompeii: Something terrible happened, and everything just stopped," said Helene Wilhelmson, a researcher from Sweden's Lund University about the recent discovery of a well-preserved fort on the island of Öland, just off the Swedish coast, which contained a number of skeletons.

Roman skulls unearthed by "lost" London river

The Walborn River used to run through London until it was paved over in the 15th century. Recently the river made it's presence known when 20 skulls, dating to the 3rd or 4th century, were discovered washed from a Roman burial site.

Horse and rider return to Mildenhall

In 1997, the remains of an Anglo Saxon warrior and his horse were discovered, along with over 400 other graves, at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England. Now the horse and rider have come home for display at the Mildenhall Museum.