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Antisocial behaviour means ancient Iron Age Worlebury hill fort is now ‘at risk’
An ‘outstanding’ ancient monument in Weston-super-Mare has been placed ‘at risk’ by Historic England after falling victim to antisocial behaviour.
The Iron Age Worlebury hill fort, in Weston Woods, is thought to have been created some 700 years before the Romans arrived in Britain as a form of defence.
Historic England says it is an ‘outstanding example’ of its type and is also unusual, as few of these forts were created along the coast.
It has previously been listed by Historic England as being in a ‘vulnerable’ condition, but it has now been re-registered as ‘at risk’ after people camped nearby and moved parts of the structure.
A Historic England spokesman said: “Historic England made a recent visit to the hill fort in response to concerns from volunteers working on the site.....
Dartmoor stone circle undisturbed for hundreds of years being excavated
AN undisturbed stone circle which has been buried in the peat since its abandonment in prehistory has been lovingly excavated.
Sittaford Stone Circle, discovered in 2008 by Alan Endacott, a local amateur archaeologist, appeared to have remained undisturbed. It was revealed by the actions of peat cutters in more recent centuries and then a moorland fire in 2008 enabled Alan to spot some of the stones poking out of the surface.
A stone circle which has remained undisturbed is highly unusual. Many of Dartmoor’s stone circles have been subjected to various degrees of disturbance, ranging from ‘mining’ of the sites for stone, to investigation by antiquarians and early archaeologists.
Dartmoor National Park Authority archaeologist Lee Bray said: ‘This lack of disturbance is one of the facts that makes the site special. That this hasn’t happened at Sittaford — as far as we know — makes the site of national significance as it has the potential to shed light on stone circles which is unclouded by the activities of intervening periods.’
The monument itself is located about 300m south west of Sittaford Tor at over 520m elevation, on the summit of the ridge separating the catchments of the North Teign and East Dart. It consists of 30 stones, all of which are currently recumbent, arranged in a circle with a diameter of in excess of 30m.....
A 9,000-year-old axe sheds light on burial practices
Analysis of an axe that is more than 9,000 years old, found at Ireland’s earliest burial site, in Co Limerick, has shed light on the ancient burial practices of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Archaeologists believe the highly-polished stone axe, known as an adze, was made especially for the funeral of a very important person, whose remains were cremated and then buried at the site.
Microscopic analysis has revealed the shale tool, believed to be the earliest fully polished adze in Europe, was only used for a short time, and then deliberately blunted.
Situated on the banks of the river Shannon at Hermitage, Castleconnell, the burial site, dating back to between 7,530 and 7,320 BC, is twice as old as Newgrange.......
Pristine pressed flower among 'jaw-dropping' bronze age finds
3,000-year-old complete pressed flower is among the “absolutely jaw-dropping” late bronze age finds unearthed in Lancashire.
The thistle flower appears to have been deliberately placed inside the hollow end of an axe handle and buried with other weapons, jewellery and ornaments, many in virtually pristine condition. Other axe handles in the hoard had been filled with hazelnuts, as part of a ritual offering.
Dr Ben Roberts, a lecturer at Durham University and the British Museum’s former curator of European bronze age collections, described the pressed flower as unique for a votive offering of its time.
BU archaeologists uncover 6,000-year-old long barrow in the Cotswolds
A 6,000-YEAR-OLD PREHISTORIC BURIAL MONUMENT HAS BEEN UNCOVERED NORTHEAST OF CIRENCESTER IN THE COTSWOLDS BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS FROM BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY.
Believed to be around 1,000 years older than Stonehenge, the massive mound 60m long by 15m wide, was carefully built of soil and stone by the first farmers living in the area around 4000 BC. It provided a resting place for the dead and a symbol of identity for the living.
The barrow was first noticed about ten years ago and has since been studied through a wide range of geophysical surveys and evaluations that confirmed its identification. In the summer of 2016 proper excavations began with a team of around 80 students, graduates and archaeologists from across the world working to explore the stonework of the mound and define possible chambers inside the structure that might contain burials. Traditionally, up to 50 men, women and children were buried in such monuments over a period of several centuries, long before the discovery of metal working....
The Old Wife’s Well lies under the dreaded heading ‘Site of Disputed Antiquity’ and of course it is but its location next to a flint Mesolithic site and an old Roman road??? - See below for another explanation - gives it validity, and anyway it is a source of local water for those who have lived or passed this way over the moors, not forgetting the way marking, very probably prehistoric stones, that can be found a couple of miles on along this lonely stretch of moor and also of course the burial cists that can be found under the stone track way.
It is difficult to find the well though it is only a few yards from the road but buried inside the forestry trees. There is a forestry track way where you can park on the right just out of the village of Stape, walk along here if you want to see Mauley Cross. To find the well, turn left on the road towards the village and walk a few hundred metres along it, to your left you will see a faint path which will lead to the well. The well has it ‘clouties’ hanging on nearby trees, so does have visitors. Before the vast swathes of the forests were planted around the 1920s on the moors, this would have probably been farm land…… So maybe the spring of water with its unusual inscription may in fact be part of a much earlier prehistoric history…..
As the Roman Road/causeway does not appear on TMA here is the explanation for the Wheeldale Linear Monument being interpreted as a Neolithic boundary structure, and mentioned by Fitz..
“here are some objections to the interpretation of the structure as being a road at all, including the fact that several burial cists along the structure's course protrude through its surface by up to 0.4m, highly unusual for a road surface. Since 1997, authorities including English Heritage have accepted the possibility that the structure may not be a road. Archaeological consultant Blaise Vyner suggested in 1997 that the structure may be the collapsed and heavily robbed remains of a Neolithic or Bronze Age boundary wall or dyke. There are other Neolithic remains on the North York Moors, including boundary dikes, although Knight et al. report that the later Neolithic is very poorly represented archaeologically in the North York Moors area] and neolithic use of the moors was likely very limited in extent. Bronze Age presence in the moors, including earthworks, is well represented generally in the archaeology of the area, and therefore is a more plausible origin. Evidence against the identification of the causeway as an early Neolithic structure includes the statement by Elgee in 1912 that the causeway had been identified as cutting across an earlier British earthwork just north of Julian Park, suggesting that it must post-date it. One possibility that could explain several of the anomalies in trying to definitively identify the site is the suggestion by Knight et al. that it was commonly observed practice in the area for dykes to be reused as track ways.
To account for the uncertainty regarding the structure's original function, the term "Wheeldale Linear Monument" was introduced in the 2010s to refer to the structure. English Heritage in 2013 stated that the balance of opinion had swung to favour a prehistoric, rather than Roman, origin for the structure. As of 2013, the uncertainty regarding the monument's purpose and origin is reflected by the information board at the end of the Wheeldale section of structure, where it meets the modern road. The original sign, pictured in 1991 states that the structure is a Roman road, whereas new signage installed in 1998 admits that the origin and purpose of the structure are unknown.”
UK's best bronze age site dig ends but analysis will continue for years
One winter some 3,000 years ago, a development of highly desirable houses was built on stilts over a tributary of the river Nene in Cambridgeshire, by people whose wealth and lifestyle would still have seemed enviable to medieval peasants. Then six months later it was all over.
Disaster overwhelmed the people and they fled, leaving their clothing and jewellery, tools and furniture, their last meals abandoned in the cooking pots as they tumbled through the burning wicker floors into the water below. Nobody ever came back to retrieve the tonnes of expertly carpentered timbers and the masses of valuable possessions lying in shallow water, which over the centuries all sank together, hidden and preserved by the oozy silt......
Neolithic discovery: why Orkney is the centre of ancient Britain
Drive west from Orkney's capital, Kirkwall, and then head north on the narrow B9055 and you will reach a single stone monolith that guards the entrance to a spit of land known as the Ness of Brodgar. The promontory separates the island's two largest bodies of freshwater, the Loch of Stenness and the Loch of Harray. At their furthest edges, the lochs' peaty brown water laps against fields and hills that form a natural amphitheatre; a landscape peppered with giant rings of stone, chambered cairns, ancient villages and other archaeological riches.
This is the heartland of the Neolithic North, a bleak, mysterious place that has made Orkney a magnet for archaeologists, historians and other researchers.
For decades they have tramped the island measuring and ex- cavating its great Stone Age sites. The land was surveyed, mapped and known until a recent chance discovery revealed that for all their attention, scientists had completely overlooked a Neolithic treasure that utterly eclipses all others on Orkney – and in the rest of Europe.....
The dig has just started.
A panoramic view with a 'panono' ball camera
Leskernick Stone Circles and Stone Row Clearance
Clearing both North and South Circles and the stone row. Clearance to be interpreted as stated here..
"the aim of the clearance would be to bring the hidden parts of the circles and stone row ‘back to life’ by sympathetically removing the vegetation and turf ‘carpet’ off the stones without damage taking place and without any soil being removed below the exposed top surfaces"
"The language of these things was established in the early 20th Century when we were fighting a lot of wars: hillforts, guard chambers," Gale says, a little ruefully. "We're stuck with these terms. But I think they were much more complicated than just being military or defensive."
Loughton I/A fort
Ambresbury Bank I/A fort
Wimbledon I/A fort
St.Ann's Hill I/A fort
Uphall Camp I/A fort
Caesar's Camp Keston I/A fort
The Ancient Copper mines dug by children
From the summit of the Great Orme, the landscape looks as peaceful as it is striking – all rolling green hills and farmland stretching out to the blue Irish Sea.
But the headland that rises over Llandudno, Wales has a secret, one that lay buried for thousands of years.
More than five miles (8km) of tunnels run beneath the hill's surface. Spreading across nine different levels and reaching 230 feet (70m) deep, some are so narrow that only children would be small enough to access them.
These are the tunnels of a copper mine: one that was first dug out some 3,800 years ago and that, within a couple of centuries, was the largest in Britain.
The first in a new series highlighting Cornwall’s megalithic masterpieces. One: Boscawen-un Stone Circle. Roy Goutte.
Cairn building walkers are dismantling the heritage of Yorkshire Dales
The tradition of building cairns and wind breaks in the Yorkshire Dales has begun to put the area’s history at risk according to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).
Robert White, Senior Conservation Officer for the YDNPA, says the rocks walkers are using are sometimes being taken from ancient sites including burial mounds, which has led to problems at a number of historically-important sites within the National Park, including Beamsley Beacon near Bolton Abbey.” .
“During the Bronze Age, some 4,500 years ago, a large stone mound was built there, probably to mark the burial place of a local chieftain and to act as a territorial boundary marker,” explained Robert.
“Much of this cairn, which is now about 11m in diameter, still survives but in recent years it has suffered a lot of disturbance due to people using stones from it to make modern cairns and wind breaks. Another smaller historic cairn lies further along the ridge at Old Pike and that has also lost some of its stones.”
And so it goes on.....
'Hugely important' iron age remains found at Yorkshire site
Update on an archaeological dig at Pocklington....
Almost 2,000 years after being buried, the remarkably well-preserved remains of 150 skeletons and their personal possessions have been discovered in a small market town at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds.
The remains of the burial ground that contained skeletons of people from the middle-iron age Arras culture in Pocklington, east Yorkshire is being hailed as one of the largest and most significant iron age findings of recent times.
Some of the 75 square barrows – burial chambers – contained personal possessions such as jewellery and weapons. Archaeologists have also discovered a skeleton with a shield.
It is believed the site dates to the iron age, which in Britain lasted from 800BC until the time of the Roman conquest, which started in AD43.
Stone Age Britons may have had prehistoric secret code
Stone Age Britons may have developed a prehistoric secret code.
Mysterious markings engraved on an 11,000 year old pendant found in Yorkshire suggest that the area’s ancient Mesolithic inhabitants used a system of long and short lines to represent events or objects in numerical form.
The markings appear to have been inscribed on the pendant in a deliberately faint way – and archaeologists suspect that that may have been in order to render many of them almost invisible when not being examined closely.
The site they were discovered on – at Star Carr in the Vale of Pickering – was used for ritual activities – probably ceremonial dances performed by prehistoric shamans.
Stonehenge tourist bosses demand visitors stop chipping stones and selling them on eBay
"To take fragments from Carn Menyn is to violate a part of our heritage which has been valued for over 4,000 years" Geoffrey Wainwright
A quarry which scientists have recently identified as being the source of Stonehenge’s famous rocks is being plundered at a “terrifying rate” by thieves selling them on eBay for £8, tourism bosses say.
Preseli bluestone can only be found on the Preseli Hills which runs the spine of Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
The stones were cut from rock and transported 160 miles to Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain to form the iconic circle around 5,000 years ago still stands today.
Bronze Age wheel at 'British Pompeii' Must Farm an 'unprecedented find'
A complete Bronze Age wheel believed to be the largest and earliest of its kind found in the UK has been unearthed.
The 3,000-year-old artefact was found at a site dubbed "Britain's Pompeii", at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire.
Archaeologists have described the find - made close to the country's "best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings" - as "unprecedented".
Still containing its hub, the 3ft-diameter (one metre) wooden wheel dates from about 1,100 to 800 BC.
The wheel was found close to the largest of one of the roundhouses found at the settlement last month.
More on the Bronze Age wheel discovery
Its discovery "demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscape's links to the dry land beyond the river", David Gibson from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation, said.
A Bill To Make History – Legislation To Protect Wales’ Past To Become Law
Summary of the Bill’s provisions
To give more effective protection to listed buildings and scheduled monuments
Extension of the definition of a scheduled monument
The Welsh Ministers will be able to recognise and protect any nationally important sites that provide evidence of past human activity.
Amendments to the criminal offences and defences for damage to scheduled monuments
The Bill will make it easier to bring cases of unlawful damage or destruction of scheduled monuments to prosecution by limiting the defence of ignorance of a monument’s status or location. The accused will have to be able to show that all reasonable steps had been taken to find out if a scheduled monument would be harmed or destroyed by their actions.
Powers of entry for the archaeological investigation of ancient monuments in danger of damage or destruction
If an ancient monument is at immediate risk of damage or destruction, the Welsh Ministers will be able to authorise archaeological excavations without the owner’s consent. This new power, which will help to rescue valuable information about Welsh history, will only be used in exceptional cases.
Introduction of enforcement and temporary stop notices for scheduled monuments
Temporary stop notices will give the Welsh Ministers powers to put an immediate halt to unauthorised works or other damage to scheduled monuments. They will be able to use complementary enforcement notices to order repairs to monuments or the fulfilment of scheduled monument consent conditions without going to court.
The following was written in May 2011, and therefore is an old blog. All I can say though is that they had built a huge building over it by the time we had left!
Today we visited Springfield Lyons just up the road. Set in the centre of business and retail centres this late Bronze Age enclosure has something of a wow factor close up. From the road you can see the large banks (spoil heaps from the excavation) that surround an inner ditch broken by 6 causeways. So a 'causewayed enclosure' maybe, but it must not be forgotten that it was also used by early Saxons as a pagan cemetery and later as a settlement.
A description of this site must begin with its half wild aspect, today you approach through thickets of blackthorn and briar roses, the banks loom large covered with similar material. The central rounded area is grass eaten down to the root, rabbits must run amok, if their pellets are anything to go by. LS also glimpsed a fox, in excellent condition, his restaurant was well stocked!
The ditches had some water in them and reeds testified to their marshyness, but of course in these drought months we are experiencing the ditches are drying out.
It has been excavated in the past several times, and the ground is full of holes in which regenerating elm tries to take hold. The explanation given for the late Bronze Age occupation, (approximately 800 bc) is that it may have been a fortified stronghold for a local chief. Excavation has shown that there is a large central hut facing the gateway with an elaborate porch, which would probably have been his home. There was also a working area and it was here that two moulds for making swords were found at the terminals of one of the causeways, of a type called Ewart Park, but no metal elsewhere.
There was also evidence of Iron Age recognition of the site, a 'broken' sword was found in the centre of the circular area in a pit and further to the west of the pit a horse skull was found with an iron bit and two studs. Presumably a ritual burial of some kind.
The banks are in fact very large spoil heaps, the actual bank would have been inside the segmented ditches. There would have been a wooden type 'verandah, all the way round the bank, giving a roofed walking/working area. Looking at the interim report on the excavation, and an artistic representation shows a very neat settlement set in an idyllic pastoral countryside. There is also an early photograph of the fields before development took place and it descended into what we see today. The area had been ploughed flat over the centuries before the excavation, so what we see now is the excavated ditches.
The pagan Saxon cremation cemetery had the usual range of intricately worked Saxon brooches also metalwork, including a funny rounded hat and of course beads, twelve strings were found, and it is though that the beads hung between pairs of the brooches; the brooches of course clasping the dress at the shoulder. There were some 225 certain or possible burials,of which 103 were certain inhumation burials but the cremation pots had been buried very close to the surface, and the surface was to a degree ploughed out.
Given its close proximity to houses, there is a lot of rubbish around, some dumped in the ditch, and the site looks distinctly uncared for. Not sure of its scheduling as far as a monument goes, but it is in grave danger of being built over.
Just down the road, and starting from the Asda car park is a Neolithic cursus, excavated about 30 years ago, when this area of suburban houses was being built, it followed the line of the river before you reach the mill at the Fox and Raven pub.
Interesting in itself but not part of this blog. Now whether this earlier monument had anything to do with the settlement at Springfield Lyons is a matter of conjecture.
Edit - a link;
Solar farm sparks fears for 'Stonehenge of the North'
A GOVERNMENT service which champions England's heritage has condemned a scheme to site a 960-panel solar farm near the most important ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands.
Historic England said the small-scale renewable energy scheme at East Tanfield, near Ripon, could harm the neighbouring Thornborough Henge Scheduled Monument complex, which featured ritual structures, massive circular ditches and banks dating back 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.
North Yorkshire County Council archaeologist Lucie Hawkins has called for the application to be withdrawn, stating she was disappointed the plan had been submitted to Hambleton District Council without any assessment of the impact on the historic environment.
Development consultants Arrowsmith Associates said Richard Alton, the owner of Rushwood Hall, once the seat of the Nussey baronetcy and home to Teesside steelworks artist Viva Talbot, was seeking to provide energy for the crop services business based at the hall and a number of cottages.
A spokesman for the firm said the application site, 500 metres from the henges and medieval village, was not close enough to either of these to have any impact on them.
He added the solar panels would be completely screened by trees and their impact on the landscape, which also includes East Tanfield deserted medieval village, would be negligible.
He said: "What public views would exist would be seen in the context of an ever increasing acceptance that such sites are part of the modern rural landscape, as supported by government policy."
Objecting to the scheme, Historic England said the solar panels would represent "a distinctly modern intervention" in a sensitive landscape of regional, national and international historical significance, with the henge complex being "one of the pre-eminent prehistoric landscape complexes in Britain".
Its ancient monuments inspector Keith Emerick said: "The henges are part of a ritual landscape that extends beyond the surrounding wetlands to Catterick in the north and south to Ferrybridge.
"Only four henge sites in the British Isles are larger, all in Wiltshire and Dorset, and nowhere else are there three closely-spaced and identical henge monuments. The northernmost henge is believed to be the best-preserved henge monument in the country."
Mr Emerick said part of the site's importance was that it was located within a bowl, which had a lack of "overtly modern intrusion".
Proposals to screen the site, he said, a regional hub in the social, economic and religious life of many widely dispersed groups in the Neolithic era, were temporary and changeable.
This autumn Plas Glyn-y-Weddw is delighted to present an outstanding group of views in Snowdonia by John Piper from the collections of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.
On to the 13th December 2015
Duddo Stone Circle wind turbine bid refused by government minister Greg Clark
Picked up from the 'Stone Pages' Good news it seems.
Plans for a wind turbine close to Northumberland’s answer to Stonehenge have been thrown out by the government.
The proposal less than two miles from the 4,000-year-old Duddo Stone Circle has been rejected by minister for communities and local government Greg Clark.
The decision follows a lengthy planning battle which saw the government opt not to defend a planning inspector’s decision to give the turbine the go-ahead in the High Court, following a protest led by a cross-party group of North East peers and the Bishop of Newcastle.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVER BRONZE AGE ‘SAUNA HOUSE’ IN ORKNEY
ARCHAEOLOGISTS IN ORKNEY HAVE UNCOVERED THE REMAINS OF OVER 30 BUILDINGS DATING FROM AROUND 4000 BC TO 1000 BC, TOGETHER WITH FIELD SYSTEMS, MIDDENS AND CEMETERIES.
The find includes a very rare Bronze Age building which experts believed could have been a sauna or steam house, which may have been built for ritual purposes.
EASE Archaeology recently made the exciting discovery on the periphery of the prehistoric Links of Noltland, on the island of Westray in Orkney, next to where the famous ‘Westray Wife’ was found in 2009, which is believed to be the earliest depiction of a human face in Britain.
Stonehenge researchers 'may have found largest prehistoric site'
Standing stones found buried near Stonehenge could be the "largest" intact prehistoric monument ever built in Britain, archaeologists believe.
Using ground-penetrating radar, some 100 stones were found at the Durrington Walls "superhenge", a later bank built close to Stonehenge.
The Stonehenge Living Landscapes team has been researching the ancient monument site in a five-year project.
Finding the stones was "fantastically lucky", researchers said.
The stones may have originally measured up to 4.5m (14ft) in height and had been pushed over the edge of Durrington Walls.
The site, which is thought to have been built about 4,500 years ago, is about 1.8 miles (3km) from Stonehenge, Wiltshire.
The stones were found on the edge of the Durrington Walls "henge", or bank, an area which had not yet been studied by researchers.
Lead researcher, Vince Gaffney said the stones were "lost to archaeology" but found thanks to modern technology.
National Trust archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall said: "In the field that lies to the south we know there's a standing stone which is now the only standing stone, now fallen, that you can go up to and touch in the whole of the Stonehenge landscape," he said.
"It's called the Cuckoo Stone.
"If there are stones beneath the bank... they're probably looking at stones of pretty much the same size as the Cuckoo Stone."
Dr Snashall added there was a "sense" of one area set aside for the living and another for the dead at Durrington Walls - and that had changed over time.
The findings are being announced later on the first day of the British Science Festival being held at the University of Bradford.
Ancient Irish were first to record an eclipse – 5,355 years ago
Our ancient Irish ancestors carved images of an ancient eclipse into giant stones over 5,000 years ago, on November 30, 3340 BC to be exact. This is the oldest known recorded solar eclipse in history.
The illustrations are found on the Stone Age “Cairn L,” on Carbane West, at Loughcrew, outside Kells, in County Meath. The landscape of rolling hills is littered with Neolithic monuments. Some say that originally there were at least 40 to 50 monuments, but others say the figure was more like 100.
“Cairn L” received a mention in Astronomy Ireland’s article: “Irish Recorded Oldest Known Eclipse 5355 Years Ago.” They write that the Irish Neolithic astronomer priests recorded the events on three stones relating to the eclipse, as seen from that location.
Neolithic house discovery at Avebury stone circle dig
Archaeologists believe they may have found the remains of a house where people who built Avebury stone circle may have lived.
The three-week Between the Monuments project is researching the daily lives of Neolithic and Bronze Age residents at the Wiltshire site.
The dig is being led by The National Trust and Southampton and Leicester University archaeologists.
The National Trust said if it is a house they will have "hit the jackpot".
Spokesman Dr Nick Snashall said: "I could count the number of middle Neolithic houses that have been found on the fingers of one hand.
"This site dates from a time when people are just starting to build the earliest parts of Avebury's earthworks, so we could be looking at the home and workplace of the people who saw that happening."
The Mesolithic settlement of Star Carr in North Yorkshire has fascinated archaeologists for decades. Nicky Milner and her digging team from York University are embarking on their final ever excavation on site to unlock the secrets of this mysterious landscape.
Sun-disc from the dawn of history goes on display in Wiltshire for summer solstice
Stonehenge sun-disc from the dawn of history goes on display in Wiltshire for summer solstice
Wiltshire Museum will exhibit a gold 'Stonehenge sun-disc', which may have been worn on clothing or a head-dress
Marking this year’s summer solstice an early Bronze Age sun-disc, one of the earliest metal objects found in Britain, has gone on display for the first time at Wiltshire Museum.
Archaeologists believe the disc was forged in about 2,400 BC, soon after the great sarsen stones were put up at Stonehenge. It is thought it was worn on clothing to represent the sun.
The sun-disc, one of only six such finds, was discovered in a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh, just 20 miles from Stonehenge.
It was found during excavations by Guy Underwood in 1947 along with a pottery beaker, flint arrowheads and fragments of the skeleton of an aWe have the best Bronze Age collections in Britain and we are delighted to be able to display this incredibly rare sun-disk through the generosity of the donors,” said David Dawson, Museum Director.
Preserved by Dr Denis Whitehead since its discovery, the sun-disc was seen by the museum's archaeologists the first time was when he brought it to the opening of the Prehistory Galleries in 2013.
It joins and unparallelled collection of Bronze Age treasures at the Museum dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle. Chief among them are the famous golden Bush Barrow treasures found in the Normanton Down Barrows less than a mile from Stonehenge.
The sun-disc is a thin embossed sheet of gold with a cross at the centre, surrounded by a circle. Between the lines of both the cross and the circle are fine dots which glint in sunlight.
Pierced by two holes, it is thought the disc, which is the size of a two pence piece and not much thicker than aluminium cooking foil, could have been sewn to a piece of clothing or a head-dress.
Until recently it had been presumed that early Bronze Age gold may have come from Ireland, but thanks to new scientific techniques developed at Southampton University evidence suggests the gold may have originated from Cornwall.
Presented to the museum in memory of Dr Whitehead, it has now been cleaned by the Wiltshire Council Conservation Service and placed on display in time for this year’s mid-summer solstice.
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Yet they were made of earth and fire as we,
The selfsame forces set us in our mould;
To life we woke from all that makes the past.
We grow on Death's tree as ephemeral flowers.
So let our broken circle stand
A wreck, a remnant, yet the same,
While one last, loving, faithful hand
Still lives to feed its altar-flame!
Taken from 'The Broken Circle' by O.H.Holme