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Highland (Mainland)

Rare Neolithic or Bronze Age rock art in Ross-shire

Seeing as nobody else has posted it... ;)

"A rare example of prehistoric rock art has been uncovered in the Highlands.

Archaeologists made the discovery while moving a boulder decorated with ancient cup and ring marks to a new location in Ross-shire.

When they turned the stone over they found the same impressions on the other side of the rock. It is one of only a few decorated stones of its kind.

John Wombell, of North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS), said: "This is an amazing discovery."

Susan Kruse, of Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), first discovered the stone at Heights of Fodderty several years ago when out walking.

The second set of cup and ring marks were uncovered recently when archaeologists were moving the stone to a new site at nearby Heights of Brae Neil Gunn Viewpoint.

From the Neolithic or Bronze Age, the art was created between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago."

Full story and pics:

Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse (Hillfort)

Westbury white horse to be cleaned for Queen's Jubilee

Not megalithic, I know, but part of the landscape, and I know some folk out there will be interested...

"A greying white horse hillfigure in Wiltshire is to be cleaned in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Westbury white horse has "deteriorated substantially over the last 12 months" and is a "matter of local concern", said the local council.

It is maintained by English Heritage and last underwent a £20,000 refurbishment in 2006.

A £10,000 grant has been awarded by Westbury Town Council and Westbury Area Board to clean the "grubby" horse.

Area board chairman, Julie Swabey, said the horse had become "so grey and dirty" it was "hard to distinguish it as a landmark".

"It is sad to see her in such a poor state," she said.

"But, hopefully working together with the town council and groups who have offered to help with its brush up will see the horse finally white again."

'Natural weathering'

English Heritage was originally approached, and whilst appreciating the landmark had been affected by "natural weathering" said it was "not at risk of serious damage or disrepair".

"English Heritage continually monitors its condition and regularly removes graffiti from it," said Stuart Maughan, property manager for Wiltshire.

"We care for over 100 historic sites in the South West alone and, therefore, funding is limited.

"So we are delighted that Westbury Town Council has offered to raise funds to repaint the white horse. We are working closely with them to share our expertise to ensure this much-loved local landmark is continually cared for."

Once restored, the town council is planning to illuminate the carving with searchlights as part of Westbury's Jubilee celebrations.

Westbury's horse is said to be the oldest in Wiltshire. It was restored in 1778, but many believe it is far older than that.

It is thought to have been originally carved in 878 AD to commemorate King Alfred's victory over the Danes at the Battle of Ethandune."

Danebury (Hillfort)

Mainly Danebury Exhibition @ Andover Museum

Mainly Danebury; Paintings inspired by the Iron Age Hill Fort A collection of artwork by local artist Nat Lewis For many years I have been fascinated by Danebury, not only its history and the artefacts in the Museum, but also by the atmosphere inherent in the location... Ancient Danebury became relevant to the 21st century inspiring a series of Abstract paintings ..The paintings progress through various styles and represent my artistic development over a period of nearly ten years.

Ness of Brodgar (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Another award for the Ness of Brodgar excavations

The excavation on the Ness of Brodgar has been named the winner of the 2012 Andante Travels Archaeology Award.

The Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology/Orkney College UHI project was runner-up in the international award scheme in 2008, and went on to take the Current Archaeology Research Project of the Year title last year.

Previous winners of the annual Andante Award include the Via Consolare Project in Pompeii; the Stonehenge Riverside Project and Kerkenes Dag, Turkey.

Excavation director Nick Card commented: “Once again, it is really wonderful for Orkney, highlighting that our archaeology is up there among the best in the world. Congratulations to the whole team.”


Stone Age Pebble Holds Mysterious Meaning

Slightly out of TMA's geographic remit, but some may find this interesting:

"The colorful pebble bearing a sequence of lines dates back 100,000 years and may be the first evidence of abstract art.

A colorful pebble bearing a sequence of linear incisions may be the world's oldest engraving.

The object, which will be described in the April issue of the Journal of Archaeology, dates back approximately 100,000 years ago and could also be the world’s oldest known abstract art. It was recovered from Klasies River Cave in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

“Associated human remains indicate that the engraved piece was certainly made by Homo sapiens,” co-author Riaan Rifkin of the University of Witwatersrand’s Institute for Human Evolution told Discovery News.

Rifkin and colleagues Francesco d’Errico and Renata Garcia Moreno performed extensive non-invasive analyses of the object. Methods like X-ray fluorescence and microscopic analysis enabled the researchers to examine every minute detail of the ochre pebble, which appears to have split off from a once larger piece."

Full story:

Sardinia (Island)

Prehistoric cybermen? Sardinia's lost warriors rise from the dust

An elite force of prehistoric
warriors – carved from solid rock in the western Mediterranean 2700 years ago –
is rising from oblivion.

Archaeologists and conservation experts on the Italian island of Sardinia have succeeded in re-assembling literally thousands of fragments of smashed sculpture to recreate a small yet unique army of life-size stone warriors which were originally destroyed by enemy action in the middle of the first millennium BC.

It’s the only group of sculpted life-sized warriors ever found in Europe. Though consisting of a much smaller number of figures than China’s famous Terracotta Army, the Sardinia example is 500 years older and is made of stone rather than pottery.

After an eight year conservation and reconstruction program, 25 of the original 33 sculpted stone warriors – archers, shield-holding ‘boxers’ and probable swordsmen – have now been substantially re-assembled.

The warriors were originally sculpted and placed on guard over the graves of elite Iron Age Sardinians, buried in the 8 century BC. The stone guardians are thought to have represented the dead individuals or to have acted as their eternal body-guards and retainers.

However, within a few centuries, the Carthaginians (from what is now Tunisia) invaded Sardinia – and archaeologists suspect that it was they who smashed the stone warriors (and stone models of native fortress shrines) into five thousand fragments. It’s likely that the small sculpted army - and the graves they were guarding - were seen by the invaders as important symbols of indigenous power and status.

The site was abandoned and forgotten. Carthaginian control of Sardinia gave way to Roman, then Vandal, then Byzantine, Pisan, Aragonese, Spanish, Austrian, Savoyard and finally Italian rule.

The thousands of fragments were rediscovered only in the 1970s – and were excavated in the early 1980s by Italian archaeologist Carlo Troncheti. Two of the statues were then re-assembled – but the vast majority of the material was put into a local museum store where it stayed until 2004 when re-assembly work on the fragments was re-started by conservators in Sassari, northern Sardinia.

Sardinia’s newly recreated ‘stone army’ is set to focus attention on one of the world’s least known yet most impressive ancient civilizations – the so-called Nuragic culture which dominated the island from the 16 century BC to the late 6 century BC. Its Bronze Age heyday was in the mid second millennium BC - roughly from the 16 to the 13 century BC, when it constructed some of the most impressive architectural monuments ever produced in prehistory.

Even today, the remains of 7000 Nuragic fortresses (the oldest castles in Europe) still dominate the landscape of Sardinia. Several dozen have stood the test of time exceptionally well – and give an extraordinary impression of what Sardinian Bronze Age military architecture looked like.

The re-assembled stone army is expected to go on display from this summer at southern Sardinia’s Cagliari Museum, 70 miles south-east of the find site, Monte Prama in central Sardinia.

Many of the stone warriors are armed with bows or protected by shields – and wear protective carved stone armour over their chests and horned stone helmet over their heads. Some of the fighters – those believed to portray boxers – carry shields in their left hands, held aloft over their heads. These ‘boxers’ may well have represented or embodied shield-bearers serving the high-ranking members of the Sardinian Iron Age interred in the adjacent graves.

There were also a series of at least ten model Nuragic castles of different designs – some single-towered and others sporting more elaborate ‘multi-tower’ fortifications.

It’s likely that the models represent the actual monumental buildings (Bronze Age fortresses transformed into Iron Age ‘ancestral’ shrines) associated with each buried individual’s immediate family.

The ruling elite of this part of Sardinia may well have been a relatively tightly knit group of closely related individuals. For scientific work carried out on the skeletal material at a laboratory in Florence, suggests that most of the dead individuals were from just two generations of a single extended family.


'Orkney Held Me Close' Exhibition by Nicki MacRae.

Because she's too modest to post it herself... ;)

"‘Orkney Held Me Close’ is an exhibition of work created following my stay on Orkney in February 2011. I travelled to study the megalithic remains as part of my ongoing work, painting the ancient places of the UK - however Orkney enchanted me and inspired me into a hugely prolific period and I created a large body of work. I am delighted to have the chance to show a selection of paintings, landscapes and abstracts, at For Arts Sake, Kirkwall."


"9th March - 10th April 2012
'Orkney Held Me Close'
an exhibition of landscape and abstract paintings,
For Arts Sake Gallery, above the VAO, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall, Orkney. Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 2pm."

Looks fab. I'd be there like a shot if it were at all possible... :)

G x

Avebury & the Marlborough Downs (Region)

EXHIBITION: Landscape with Stones: paintings and woodcuts by Nick Schlee

An exhibition of oil paintings and woodcuts by British landscape artist Nick Schlee, focusing on Avebury and the Ridgeway.

This new exhibition features some of Nick Schlee's most bold and vivid work portraying the ancient monument of Avebury and the nearby Ridgeway. 

80 year old Nick says of the exhibition: 

"More than half of the pictures in the exhibition feature those mysterious ancient stones that mean little to most of us, but must have meant a great deal to our forebears. 

Painting them, without being able to share the feelings they engendered for the people who erected them, is a problem. I can only describe their outside appearance. The spirit within is closed to me. It is as if I were recording the skin of a peach without any idea of its taste, its texture and delicious succulence. 

We are probably all aware of the difficulties and dedication that went into bringing these stones to where they stand today. This is what, to my mind, contributes to making them so unnerving. Their presence disturbs me in the same way the purposeful ditches of Avebury disturb me. 

When I paint their portraits, from close up or afar, I am trying to find a place for them in the powerful rhythms, space and colour of the natural landscape. The result is that they take on the role of rugged, weather-battered statues. 

Because I find it impossible to find an understanding of them that matches my own experience I deliberately inject a febrile nervous energy into my drawing of them. I hope that in this way I will convey to viewers the former power they held for early inhabitants of the area. I tremble. But at what I am not sure. 

In contrast, the vast panoramas along the Ridgeway move me more directly. Here I feel more confident that I do not miss anything important. What I see of the rolling landscape with its sky and clumps of trees resonates powerfully in way that reaches inside me today as they must have always done to others over the centuries. 

I use heightened colour and emphasised rhythmic line in my paintings to try make sure that those looking at them share the excitement the Wiltshire landscape creates in me." 

Although this is the first time Nick's work has been exhibited at the Museum, he has had many solo exhibitions, including at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Gallery 27 in London and the West Berkshire Museum. He has also participated in many group exhibitions including Templeton College, Oxford and the Modern Artists Gallery. His work is held in public collections, including the City of London Guildhall Gallery, the Wessex Collection at Longleat House and Southampton City Art Gallery. 

More information about the artist and his work can be found on his website

*Exhibition runs from 14 January to 2 September 2012.*Cost:   Usual Admission Charges Apply

G x


9,000-year-old stone tools found in Mexico

"The objects were found at an archaeological site known as El Coyote, located in the Los Cabos region, the INAH said, adding that they "bolster the hypothesis" that the first colonists of the hemisphere populated the region via watercraft migration, following coastlines from northeast Asia southward into the Americas.

The researchers found cut and polished seashells, fishing devices and stone tools used for cutting and scraping (choppers, percussive devices, planes, scrapers and knives) that date back between 8,600 and 9,300 years."

Article: (links through to full story on Fox News, which I didn't feel inclined to link to)

G x

Peloponnese (Region)

Pavlopetri – The City Beneath the Waves

This looks good!

"Just off the southern coast of mainland Greece lies the oldest submerged city in the world. A city that thrived for 2000 years during the time that saw the birth of Western civilisation. An international team of experts uses the latest technology to investigate the site and digitally raise it from the seabed, to reveal the secrets of Pavlopetri.

Led by underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson, the team use the latest in cutting-edge science and technology to prise age-old secrets from the complex of streets and stone buildings that lie less than five metres below the surface. State-of-the-art CGI helps to raise the city from the seabed revealing, for the first time in 3,500 years, how Pavlopetri would once have looked and operated."

Full article:

Bit more with a link to the related podcast here:

Ring of Brodgar (Stone Circle)

Do survey results show a massive prehistoric monument under the water of the Stenness Loch?

This could be pretty exciting if anything comes of it!

"Survey work in the Loch of Stenness has revealed what could be a massive prehistoric monument lying underwater to the south of the Ring of Brodgar.

The underwater "anomaly" has come to light in a project looking at prehistoric sea level change in Orkney. The project, The Rising Tide: Submerged Landscape of Orkney, is a collaboration between the universities of St Andrews, Wales, Dundee, Bangor and Aberdeen.

But although it is tempting to speculate that the ring-shaped feature, which lies just off the loch's shore, is the remains of a henge — a circular or oval-shaped flat area enclosed and delimited by a boundary earthwork (usually a ditch with an external bank) — or perhaps a prehistoric quarry, at this stage the project leaders are urging caution."

Full article:

Alton Priors (Christianised Site)

Guided walk - the history of Alton Barnes and Alton Priors

Local Historian David Carson is starting local history walks of Alton Barnes and Priors – the first one is on Wednesday the 2nd of November, and then every Wednesday throughout November. This is something that David has done before, both for Devizes Festival and for local history societies, under the banner of 'A Tale of Two Villages'. You will learn a host of fascinating facts covering the two Ancient churches, what the villages used to look like, the Civil War, and the machinery riots. Full booking details can be found on the Barge Inn website, but here are some of the details. Booking is made by phoning The Barge (01672 851705) . The walks start from St Mary's Church in Alton Barnes (car parking is available at the church, and also at the Barge Inn) at 11am, and finish at about 12.30 at The Barge Inn. The cost of the 'walk and talk' is a modest £10 for adults, and £7.50 for the under 16′s (not really suitable for youngsters under 11) to be paid in cash on arrival at the church – lunch is an 'extra' and you should book a table at The Barge when booking your place on the tour. Numbers are restricted to 15 people on each walk, and may be subject to cancelation due to weather conditions.".

Full article:


Sada Mire: Uncovering Somalia's heritage

Another one slightly outside TMA's geographical remit, but may be of interest to some:

" Sada Mire fled Somalia's civil war as a child, and lived as a refugee in Sweden. But now she is back in the Horn of Africa as an archaeologist, making some incredible discoveries.

Sada Mire is only 35, but she has already revealed a dozen sites that could be candidates for Unesco world heritage status.

The most stunning of Ms Mire's discoveries is a vast series of rock art sites in Dhambalin, outside the seaside town of Berbera..."

Full article:

G x

Ness of Brodgar (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Dig diary: Friday 29th July 2011

From Twitter:

@orkneyjar: "Pic now online. Behold the "Brodgar Boy" - Neolithic figurine unearthed at Ness of Brodgar dig."

Pic of the figurine -

Full article -

G x


Oldest open-air cemetery in the UK found

Somerset was the site of the UK's oldest open-air cemetery, the county council says.

Recent radiocarbon dating of two skulls found at a sand quarry in Greylake nature reserve near Middlezoy in 1928 revealed them to be 10,000 years old.

The council said the find was made under its Lost Islands of Somerset project by a team investigating the archaeology of the Somerset Levels.


Germany (Country)

Stone Age erotic art found in Germany

"Researchers in Germany have discovered Stone Age cave art in the country for the first time including carvings of nude women that may have been used in fertility rites.
Archaeologists working for the Bavarian State Office for Historical Preservation came upon the primitive engravings in a cave near the southern city of Bamberg after decades searching, a spokeswoman for the authority said.
The spokeswoman, Beate Zarges, confirmed a report to appear in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit that the engravings were believed to be around 12,000 years old, which would make them the first Stone Age artwork ever found in Germany."



2,000-year-old Greek Antikythera mechanism rebuilt in Lego

I'm really struggling with this one! I'm *sure* it's within TMA's remit, but it just seems somehow a bit too out there! Ah well. It's within the timeline at least. There's been far less relevant stuff posted here, and it's REALLY interesting! So here goes! :D

"The world's oldest known computer, a 2,000-year-old Greek-built astronomical calendar, has been brought back to life in Lego form.

The Antikythera mechanism is a sophisticated, scientific instrument built in Ancient Greece around 100 BC. It was then lost for 2000 years in a Roman shipwreck below the seas off Antikythera island, until divers discovered it in 1901.

But while historians and archaeologists were fascinated by its complexity and precision, the amount of corrosion and number of missing parts meant its exact purpose was still unconfirmed for another century.

In 2006, archaeologists used high resolution X-ray tomography to peer behind the layers of filth and rust to read and translate more Greek inscriptions. The findings led historians to realise the computer was actually an incredibly accurate celestial calendar, capable of predicting solar and lunar eclipses.

And now Apple software engineer Andrew Carol has knocked up a faithful recreation of the machine out of Lego. He received the recreation request after building a Babbage Difference Engine in Lego.

The plastic Antikythera mechanism took just 30 days to design, prototype and build, and uses 1,500 Lego Technic parts and 110 gears. Slightly more than the original machine, but Carol had to work with the sizes that the Danish toy maker produced.

The final contraption is an incredible feat of engineering, with four separate gear boxes all linked up to a central pair of clocks that can tell you, to an accuracy of two hours, the exact time and date of upcoming solar and lunar eclipses. According to the machine, the next solar eclipse is due at 4:30 GMT on 8 April, 2024.

The remake is a fitting tribute to the relic, which remains as one of the forefathers of modern computing and mechanics. The ancient computer predated devices with such complexity and design by several centuries, as similar astronomical mechanisms didn't crop up again until the 14th century AD in Europe. The original Antikythera mechanism is kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens."

Goffik, if you are confused I suggest you read this page, particularly the 'primary concerns'.

Avebury (Stone Circle)

Summer Solstice 20 - 22 June

"The summer solstice observance at Avebury is expected to be very busy and there will be limited car parking as a result.

From Monday 20 June until mid afternoon on Wednesday 22 June there will be a temporary campsite alongside the car park, opening at 9am on Monday 20 June and closing at 2pm on Wednesday 22 June. There will only be 93 tent spaces, allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. They are expected to be in high demand.

There will be no camping available on the weekend before the Solstice.

We would advise anybody planning to come to celebrate the solstice at Avebury to consider both finding accommodation in official campsites nearby and to visiting by public transport. The main celebrations will take place on the evening of 20 June and at Sunrise on 21 June.

The National Trust is part of the Avebury Solstice Planning Group and works closely with police, the local councils, residents, the fire brigade and other safety groups to ensure that this is a peaceful and safe event for those who wish to celebrate the solstice here."

Full information:


Early Bronze Age battle site found on German river bank

"Fractured human remains found on a German river bank could provide the first compelling evidence of a major Bronze Age battle.

Archaeological excavations of the Tollense Valley in northern Germany unearthed fractured skulls, wooden clubs and horse remains dating from around 1200 BC.

The injuries to the skulls suggest face-to-face combat in a battle perhaps fought between warring tribes, say the researchers.

The paper, published in the journal Antiquity, is based primarily on an investigation begun in 2008 of the Tollense Valley site, which involved both ground excavations and surveys of the riverbed by divers."

Full article:


Flint axe found on Orkney shore predates the Ice Age

"A flint axe, recovered on a stretch of shore in St Ola, looks like being the oldest man-made artefact found in Orkney to date.

Dating from the Palaeolithic period of prehistory, the axe could therefore be anything between 100,000 and 450,000 years old."

Full story:
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