The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Ivinghoe Beacon (Hillfort)

The hand axe in the photos above is actually a cast taken from a mould originally made in the mid-seventies for Luton museum who hold (but don't currently display) the actual axe.

It is a beautiful thing but most wonderful is the way it fits perfectly into your hand with places for each finger.
A truly aesthetic pleasure.

Lud's Church (Natural Rock Feature)

Alan Garner's latest novel Boneland features this as an important location. Drawing on its probable provenance as the place that Gawain meets the Green Knight in Hugh Massey's mediaeval poem, he has speculated that it will prove to be a major site of pre-historic rock art.

He discovered a 19th century document describing the descent of a miner into a crevice now hidden by earth movement. The miner reported seeing significant 'druidical remains'

Vauxhall Cross (Ancient Trackway)

The dig is here in their Bronze Age Compilation:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team-digs/4od#2927032

Standing at Vauxhall cross - a large busy intersection of railway lines, an underground station, bus station a traffic roundabout and the home of MI5 - it is difficult to imagine that this is a site of some prehistoric significance. But take the ramp down to the relative peace of the Thames foreshore at low tide and things become clearer.

In 1999, following the discovery of neolithic axe heads by a member of the public, the remains of a bronze age timber structure were found - revealed by the eroding river bank. The site was partially explored further by Time Team in 2002 (Series Nine Episode 1) who found further axe heads and investigated one of the posts. The structure is considered to either be an early bridge across the river or possibly a jetty intended to connect the shore with an island which is now lost. The Thames at the period in question would have been much shallower and many such Eyots - raised gravel mounds - exist under the water. Bronze spears were also discovered - apparently intentionally placed into the river bed.

This location is topographically significant - it is the point where the tidal Thames turns - where salt water meets fresh and the place where the rivers Effra, on the south bank and Tyburn, on the north, (both now subterranean) empty into the greater river. These outfalls can also be seen at low tide.

As these rivers were once navigable, it is likely that the area was a focus of some activity and it appears that several ancient routes converged upon it - as their contemporary equivalents still do. A southern projection of the Roman Watling street reaches the river on the bank north of Vauxhall.

In this analysis: http://www.johnchaple.co.uk/medieval.html
the author attributes Kennington lane as being on the route of a raised pre-roman trackway between the site of the original Kennington settlement (on a gravel hill above the Thames flood plain) and Vauxhall. The timber bridge / jetty would then be a continuation of this route - linking the Kennington settlement either with the 'holy' island or the north bank of the Thames.

There are two rows of about twenty stumps - leaning inwards and giving an estimated jetty width of about four meters. Each is approximately 400mm in diameter.

The structure may be soon gone because now exposed, it is subject to erosion - although Time team established that the posts are deeply grounded. The mystery is at least as much as how timber can survive for thousands of years - particularly in a situation like this.

For further info, refer to:
http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba46/ba46news.html

The Sweet Track (Ancient Trackway)

The Sweet Track is an ancient causeway in the Somerset Levels, England. It is one of the oldest engineered roads known and the oldest timber trackway discovered in Northern Europe. Tree-ring dating (dendrochronology) of the timbers has enabled very precise dating of the track, showing it was built in 3807 or 3806 BC. It has been claimed to be the oldest road in the world.
The track was discovered in the course of peat digging in 1970, and is named after its discoverer, Ray Sweet. It extended across the marsh between what was then an island at Westhay, and a ridge of high ground at Shapwick, a distance close to 2,000 metres (about 1.24 miles). The track is one of a network of tracks that once crossed the Levels.
Built in the 39th century BC, during the Neolithic period, the track consisted of crossed poles of ash, oak and lime (Tilia) which were driven into the waterlogged soil to support a walkway that mainly consisted of oak planks laid end-to-end. Curves at the bases of the poles show that they were from coppiced woodland.
Due to the wetland setting, the components must have been prefabricated elsewhere.
Most of the track remains in its original location, and several hundred metres of it are now actively conserved using a pumped water distribution system. Other portions are stored at the British Museum, London, while a reconstruction can be seen at the Peat Moors Centre near Glastonbury.
Since the discovery of the Sweet Track, it has been determined that it was actually built along the route of an even earlier track, the Post Track, dating from 3838 BC and so 30 years older.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Track
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12617212.800-science-the-day-the-sweet-track-was-built.html

Stonehenge (Stone Circle)

Can be had out of hours for £17.50 via English Heritage website:

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.878

Central London

This newish exhibition at The Museum of London has an amazing collection of mesolithic, neolithic, bronze and iron age artefacts - together lots of very good information on the periods and the history of the Thames Valley and the area of the city in particular.

See:

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/archive/lbl/default.asp
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