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Snails help date Britain's last three million years

From PlanetEarthonline

Scientists have built the most comprehensive timeline yet for working out the exact order in which geological and archaeological events happened in Britain over the last three million years. And they've done it using fossilised snails.

The mammoth 11-year project, published online in Nature, is the most comprehensive of its kind and clears up a number of archaeological and geological debates.

It shows that our ancestors lived in Britain during most of the warm periods of the last few million years. But it supports the idea that they were absent in the most recent warm period – or interglacial – 125,000 years ago. During this time, the climate was warm enough for hippopotamuses to have roamed the British Isles.

'It's possible that the warm climate contributed to higher sea levels and people just couldn't get across the Strait of Dover,' says Dr Kirsty Penkman from the University of York, lead author of the study.

...The timeline is so complete that any debate over the timing of human occupation in Britain or past geological events should now be dead in the water.

Gebla ta' Sansuna (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Gebla ta' Sansuna scheduled

From Stonepages

Maltese prehistoric site scheduled to stand

The MEPA (Malta Environment & Planning Authority) board confirmed the scheduling of a prehistoric site and turned down appeals to have the scheduling reconsidered.
In the area around Ħagra ta' Sansuna in Xagħra lie the remains of a prehistoric temple. A man who owns nearby land said that the buffer zone negatively affected the value of his land, while another compared the scheduling to expropriation, and cited antiquity scholars John Evans and David Trump who expressed doubts about the site.
But the Heritage Planning Unit representative pointed out that land value was not a consideration when sites were scheduled, and pointed out that Evans and Trump doubted what the site was, (i.e. whether it is the remains of a Neolithic temple or a Bronze Age menhir/dolmen), but not its archaeological value. It should also be pointed out that in the 1968 National Ordinance Survey Maps, the site is indicated as a Neolithic Monument.
HPU also said the objector is incorrect in stating that there are no associated finds. During the widening of Triq Ġnien Imrik in 1946, a stone mortar used for corn grinding together with a number of prehistoric sherds were discovered and hastily re-buried. The MEPA board subsequently unanimously voted to keep the scheduling as is.

Central London

7,000-year-old timbers found beneath MI6 Thames headquarters

Archaeologists hail oldest wooden structure ever found on river, despite security services' armed response to researchers.

When MI6 set up home on the banks of the Thames one secret escaped its watchful eyes. The oldest wooden structure ever found on the river, timbers almost 7,000 years old, have been discovered buried in the silt below the windows of the security services' ziggurat headquarters at Vauxhall, south London.

The archaeologists who uncovered the six hefty timber piles had to explain to the security services what they were up to when armed police turned up after they were spotted pottering about on a foggy day in the mud, armed only with tripods, cameras and measuring equipment – not, as one spectator had apparently reported, shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.

"They accepted there wasn't much damage we could do with a tripod," said Gustave Milne, the archaeologist who leads the Thames Discovery programme that has been surveying the entire prehistoric foreshore, uncovering centuries of ancient wharves, fish traps, jetties and ship timbers.

The timbers, partly scoured bare by erosion of the river bed, the largest up to a third of a metre in diameter, were discovered in work during exceptionally low tides last February, but carbon dating work – revealed in the new edition of London Archaeologist journal – has only recently been completed, proving that the trees were felled between 4790 BC and 4490 BC.

Full story in The Guardian

Formby (Ancient Trackway)

5000 year old footprints found on Formby beach

More prehistoric human footprints have been found along a 4 km strip of coast between Formby and Ainsdale that date back some 5,000 years.

Archaeologists today dubbed the discovery 'sensational', claiming it is one of the most significant historic footprint finds the country has seen.

Full article in Champion

Trefael (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Standing stone may have guided the ancients through 'sacred landscape'

A solitary stone in a windswept Welsh field has helped shed light on how our neolithic ancestors came together in worship thousands of years ago.

A recent excavation programme at a standing stone known as Trefael, near Newport in Pembrokeshire, has revealed at least two unique episodes in its early history.

Archaeologists say as well as being a portal dolmen (a tomb made of giant stones) the standing stone was probably used as a ritual marker to guide communities through a sacred landscape.

Bristol University lecturer Dr George Nash, archaeologist and specialist in prehistoric and contemporary art, said the stones acted to create a precinct of sacred ground in the county.

The idea was that our neolithic ancestors could follow an organised pattern of worship, similar to that of church-goers in modern times.

What we have got is human communities who were very similar to ourselves. The neolithic communities had designated landscapes that were special and sacred, said Mr Nash.

Read More at WalesOnline

Ecclesall Woods (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Council worker stumbles across 3,000-year-old carving

From The Star (South Yorkshire):

"PREHISTORIC art 3,000 years old was discovered by chance in woodland by a council worker while carrying out routine maintenance work.
John Gilpin, a woodlands officer in the Parks and Countryside department, stumbled upon the find in Ecclesall Woods.

He discovered a boulder with a series of markings, lines and cuts - which, after being examined by experts, has been declared a significant archaeological find.

Jim McNeil, of South Yorkshire Archaeological Service, said: "I was called in and recorded the discovery, taking photographs.

"I have taken advice from a specialist who considers this to be an important piece of prehistoric rock art. This is the second example of such rock art from Ecclesall Woods, although other examples are known from the Peak District and further north in the Pennines."

Read more

United Kingdom

British ancient forests were patchy

From PlanetEarth online

What were Britain's primordial forests like before humans started tampering with the environment? The latest clues from a study of fossil beetles suggest that the ancient forest was patchy and varied in density across Britain.

Scientists have long debated the nature of Europe's ancient landscape and hesitated between a nightmarish, close-canopied forest and a pasture woodland of oak and hazel trees, similar to the modern New Forest, which is kept open by grazing animals.

This is not just an academic question. 'If we want to manage our forests and species to keep them as natural as possible, we have to know what natural is,' says Dr Nicki Whitehouse, a palaeoecologist at Queens University Belfast.

'The traditional view is that the original Holocene woodland in Europe was quite dense with a closed canopy,' she says. 'But this is probably too simplistic and nowadays the debate is more about the degree of openness of the ancient forest and the role of grazing animals in maintaining this structure.'

Together with Dr David Smith, a specialist on environmental archaeology at the University of Birmingham, Whitehouse decided to look for clues in an overlooked source: ancient beetle remains.

Beetles are a good source of environmental data because it's easy to tell species apart and each type of beetle is specific to a given habitat. Some thrive in dense forests, others prefer sparse woodlands and grassland areas, while dung beetles are usually found in areas grazed by large herbivores. The proportion of beetle species in a given period of time 'allows us to reconstruct past habitats with detail,' explains Whitehouse.

Whitehouse and Smith looked at 26 beetle assemblages from different parts of Britain, from Thorne Moors in Yorkshire to Silbury in Hampshire, and looked at how beetle communities changed over 7000 years, since the end of the Ice Age until 4000 years ago.

They found that the history of the original British forest is not as straightforward as previously thought.

Between 9500 and 6000 BC, the fossils were mostly from open and pasture beetle species, with moderate contributions from forest types and hardly any dung beetles. This suggests open patches of oak, hazel, birch and pine forests of variable tree density, similar to modern pasture woodland.

Around 6000 BC forest beetles become more abundant, grassland species decline and 'we see an overall closing of the forest canopy in the insect record,' says Whitehouse.

By 4000 BC, everything changes. This was the time that humans started pursuing an agricultural way of life, raising animals for meat and dairy products. Dung beetles become more abundant, while the other types of beetles decrease.

'The transition to the Neolithic was rather abrupt,' says Whitehouse. The dense forest gave way to pasture woodlands and open landscapes, kept open by the increasing number of grazing animals feeding on saplings.

The beetles turn the history of the British forest into a complex tale. Instead of a continuous closed canopy forest, Britain was covered by uneven patches of forest, with different levels of openness driven by local phenomena such as storms, forest fires or floods. But grazing animals apparently did not play a role until the beginning of agriculture.

The beetle findings, published last week in Quaternary Science Reviews, largely agree with the data collected from the study of ancient pollen. But 'pollen studies have probably over-estimated the abundance of closed canopy trees and under-estimated the more heterogeneous nature of the landscape at this time,' says Whitehouse. 'The Holocene forest was probably patchier than we though: open areas were of local significance and important features of the landscape.'

Republic of Malta (Country)

Cart Ruts Mystery Solved

From The Portsmouth News:

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth believe they have solved an ancient Mediterranean mystery.
The mystery of how 2ft deep tracks were cut into the rock of Malta has been a puzzle for years.

Now Professor Derek Mottershead, of the university's geography department, has followed generations of scholars to unravel the mysteries of the Maltese landscape.

The tracks, or ruts, were almost certainly caused by carts because the rock was not strong enough to support the wooden wheels of loaded carts.

They are up to 2ft deep and more than 30km of them run in pairs criss-crossing the island.

Professor Mottershead's team came up with a design of a cart to fit the field evidence, estimated its weight and calculated the stresses involved.

They discovered that in some places the rock was so soft that after heavy rain a single passage of a cart could cause the rock to fail.

Professor Mottershead said: 'The ruts have been studied and talked about for centuries and though it is obvious they are related to vehicles nobody understood how they were made or even when.

'The underlying rock in Malta is weak and when it's wet it loses about 80 per cent of its strength.

'What is unique to Malta is the sheer number of ruts. For years they have attracted the attention of archaeologists but until now we didn't have a convincing explanation of the mechanics of how they could have been formed.'

The team included Dr Alastair Pearson and Martin Schaefer, also of the University of Portsmouth. Their research was published in the journal Antiquity.


Horses domesticated 1000 years earlier than previously thought

From the Natural Environment Research Council:

"The earliest known evidence of horse domestication has been unearthed in Kazakhstan in central Asia. New research suggests the Botai Culture have been riding horses and using their milk for the last 5500 years.

This is around 2000 years before horses were domesticated in Europe and 1000 years earlier than previously thought for Kazakhstan.

The findings could point to the beginnings of horse domestication and the origins of the horse breeds we know today. Archaeologists argue that it was the domestication of horses that opened the way to trade, warfare, transportation, agriculture and many other aspects of human civilisation."

Full story

Stonehenge and its Environs

Stonehenge visitor centre in balance

From the Telegraph:

"Plans to build a £20 million pound visitor centre at Stonehenge in time for the 2012 Olympics are under threat because of a major row between Britain's two leading heritage organisations.

The National Trust and English Heritage, who are part of a committee set up to ensure the centre is built in time for the games, have clashed over the proposed location for the new building.

English Heritage, the government body, which is responsible for the day to day running of the World Heritage site wants to build the new visitor centre and car park on a piece of land known as the Fargo plantation.

But the National Trust, which owns a large chunk of the land surrounding the 5,000-year-old site is refusing to support the proposal because it says that the installation of such a significant construction would breach the site's World Heritage status.

It wants to build the centre on a site called Airman's Cross which is further away from the stones. Under this proposal visitors would be ferried to the stones via a new transit system.

The row is a major blow for the Government which announced last year that a new centre would be built in time for the expected influx of visitors in 2012.

Barbara Follett, the Heritage Minister had been expected to announce the proposed location last week but has now postponed the decision to January because of the deadlock.

Supporters of the new centre are adamant that if it is to be built on time than a planning application must be lodged with Salisbury Council within the first three months of next year.

If both heritage bodies fail to reach a compromise than either side could force a planning inquiry which would add further delays to the proposals.

Supporters of the new proposal believe that the money for the project will not be forthcoming if it can't be completed in time for the games."

Callanish (Standing Stones)

Footpaths to be removed

From the Stornoway Gazette:

More natural setting for Calanais Stones

SOME of the modern footpaths at the Calanais Standing Stones are to be removed to create a more natural setting and allow visitors to wander more freely.
It is hoped that the move will further improve the enjoyment of visitors to one of the country's most celebrated prehistoric monuments.

The work is timetabled for November and will involve replacing the chipped stone paths with turf.

Stephen Watt, Historic Scotland district architect, said: "We believe that visitors will prefer a more natural setting for the stones and a greater sense of freedom to wander among them.

"The path from the visitor centre to the site will remain in place for easy access and the grass around the stones will be kept short."

The Calanais Standing Stones date from around 3,000 BC and are an important attraction for the Isle of Lewis.

Stanton Moor

No more quarrying on Stanton Moor

From the BBC:

Deal is agreed in park quarry row

A dispute over quarrying in the Peak District has finally been settled.

The park authority had been battling Stancliffe Stone over future extraction at the Lees Cross and Endcliffe quarries, near Bakewell.

Now the company has agreed to give up its planning permission for the site in return for permission to work Dale View quarry.

The authority said the deal would protect a valuable part of the park and surrounding heritage sites.

The authority said that following extended negotiations with landowners and quarry operators, the final legal documents were completed this week.

The case had seen years of controversy, court cases and and a protest camp.

Lees Cross and Endcliffe lie close to the pre-historic Nine Ladies Stone Circle, burial mounds and cairns on Stanton Moor.

Stancliffe has promised to manage biodiversity habitats in neighbouring hay meadows and woodland throughout Dale View quarry's 21-year active life.

Cruester (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia)

3,500-year-old 'sauna' saved from destruction

From The Scotsman

A BRONZE Age structure thought to have been used as a sauna has been saved from destruction by the sea after a team of archaeologists moved the entire find to a safer location.

The building, which dates from between 1500BC and 1200BC, was unearthed on the Shetland island of Bressay eight years ago. It was found in the heart of the Burnt Mound at Cruester, a Bronze Age site on the coast of Bressay facing Lerwick.

But earlier this summer, because of the increased threat of coastal erosion, local historians joined archaeologists to launch a campaign to save the building and to move it somewhere safer. A third of the mound had already been lost to sea erosion.

The central structure was carefully dismantled and each stone numbered before being moved to a site a mile way next to Bressay Heritage Centre.

And today, following the completion of the unusual removal scheme, the Bronze Age building will be officially opened at its new location by Tavish Scott, the MSP for Shetland.

Douglas Coutts, the project officer with Bressay History Group, said the structure was one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in the Northern Isles.

The building was hidden in a mound of burnt stones and is thought to have been used for feasts, baths or even saunas.

The structure comprises a series of dry-stone, walled cells, connected by two corridors. At the end of one corridor is a hearth cell, thought to have been used for heating stones, and at the other end is a tank sunk into the ground which is almost two metres long, more than a metre wide, and half a metre deep.

Mr Coutts said: "Burnt mounds don't usually consist of very much more than a hearth and a tank and a heap of burnt stones. But in Shetland, we seem to have much more complex structures with little rooms or cells leading off from a main passageway which connects the hearth and tank.

"We have approximately 300 burnt mounds on Shetland but only four or five have been excavated and, of those, the Cruester mound is the most fascinating and complex. It looks as if it has been in use for anything between 500 to 1,000 years."

He added: "We think these cells may have originally been roofed over in a beehive shape.

"One theory is that these structures may have been used for cooking meat or tanning hides.

"But it is possible they could have raised steam by heating the water and that these little cells could have been used as saunas."

Tom Dawson, a researcher at St Andrews University who also worked on the removal project, said coastal erosion was threatening thousands of archaeological sites around Scotland.

"The local group here came up with a novel idea for dealing with the problem," he said.

"It is great to have had the chance to give new life to this particular site and make it accessible to future generations, while also learning something new, not just about Cruester, but about burnt mounds in general.

"This structure is important in world terms. There are thousands of burnt mounds in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia but only a handful are known to have structures within them."

Mr Scott praised the partnership between the local history group and outside archaeological bodies.

He said: "This exhibition will be a great asset for visitors to Bressay and local people. The more we understand about the past, the better informed we are about the future."

The Isle of Man

Isle of Man unearths a prehistoric tragedy

From IOM Today

ARCHAEOLOGISTS may have unearthed evidence of a prehistoric tragedy at Isle of Man Airport.
They are working on a theory that fire could have razed a Bronze Age village to the ground in a cataclysmic conflagration in the area known as Ronaldsway.

Prehistoric remains including three human skeletons, discovered during earthworks for the airport runway extension project, made headlines around the world.

The excavations have been completed some two weeks ahead of schedule and the site, equivalent to about 20 football pitches, cleared ready for construction work to resume.

It was initially thought that pottery fragments, found under the route of a proposed taxiway extension in the north east of the airfield, dated back some 4,000 years to the late neolithic era.

But following a further study of the artefacts, experts from Lancaster-based Oxford Archaeology North have provisionally revised that chronology by some 500 years.

It is now believed that what has been uncovered is a further part of a Bronze Age settlement first discovered when the runway was built in the 1930s.

Several of the half-dozen circular structures unearthed at the site featured charred earth indicating evidence of burning.

The experts now believe these are Bronze Age homes dating back 3,500 years that appear to have burnt down.

Two cairns, in which were found the human skeletons, appear to be slightly more recent. One of the burials contained fragments of a ring or bangle which had been worn around the upper arm.

Andrew Johnson, field archaeologist at Manx National Heritage, said: 'We now think these circular structures are Bronze Age homes. It certainly seems possible that some of these buildings have in some way been burnt down.

'The site stretches from a south west to a north east direction and it does seem likely that if fire took hold in the south west then, given the direction of the prevailing wind, the possibilities of disaster are obvious. It's an interesting speculation.

'The cairns appear to have been built slightly later, potentially after the conflagration. Perhaps in what psychologists would now describe as a process of closure, the settlement's use was changed from a living community to a place of the dead.'

Hundreds of pottery shards and pieces of worked flint were recovered, together with domestic rubbish in the form of shellfish and bones.

Mr Johnson said the age of the remains had been revised after a much more detailed look at the pottery fragments. Radiocarbon dating may be used to get a more accurate date for the human skeletons.

He said: 'We are certainly not disappointed that we are now looking at Bronze Age rather than neolithic remains, absolutely not. Slight revision of working theories goes with the territory.

'This dig has been an enormous success in terms of working with the airport and the construction team. It has been quite a difficult job but everyone involved in it can feel justifiably proud.

'By providing a body of new evidence on the Bronze Age period, it will probably contribute several important pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. But it also gives us an opportunity to completely reassess the excavation that took place in the 1930s when the site was being developed as an airfield. It will take us forward some significant distance.'

All artefacts have been removed for study and conservation and a preliminary report will be prepared by Oxford Archaeology. It is likely that the team will return in the spring when construction work moves to the eastern end of the airport where the promontory is to be built out to sea.

Airport director Ann Reynolds said: 'I understand that no archaeological project of this scale and complexity has been undertaken in the Island before in the course of a major construction contract. It has been a major achievement for all concerned.'

Mrs Reynolds confirmed the runway project had not been delayed and was scheduled for completion by December 2009.

County Donegal

Ancient stone chamber unearthed in garden

From the Derry Journal

An ancient underground chamber which could date back 2,000 years has been unearthed near Clonmany in Inishowen.
Discovered by Clonmany man Sean Devlin, the previously unrecorded structure appears to be an underground tunnel or souterrain.

Mr Devlin revealed yesterday that he first discovered the underground chamber several years ago while landscaping his front garden, but didn't make much of a fuss about his amazing find at the time. The historic significance of the tunnel only became apparent recently after Mr Devlin showed it to amateur archaeologist friends.

"I knew it was an exciting find and I did show it to some people but never to any real experts," Mr Devlin, owner of Devlin's Fireplaces in Bridgend, told the 'Journal'. "I had been doing my lawn and dug it out accidentally with a digger. It was a big round circle with a tiny dark tunnel leading off it which seems to go quite far."

Souterrains are underground man-made drystone built structures roofed with large lintels, comprising of one or more chambers linked by tunnels called creepways. Their entrance is concealed at ground level. They are usually found in locations near to ringforts, cashels and early ecclesiastical sites. Interestingly, Clonmany means 'the meadow of the monks'.

Mr Devlin says he may try to improve the underground chamber: "My children couldn't believe it when we found it - it was great. And the tunnel seems structurally safe and dry so eventually I might do it up and maybe try and put some kind of lights in there to make going in there a bit easier."

Derry man and long time amateur archaeologist Eddie Harkin, who visited and examined this fascinating structure with colleagues Tommy Gallagher and Brian MacNeachtain, confirmed that it has at least three chambers with a creepway linking each one.

In one chamber Mr Harkin says there is a quantity of bones - which may or may not be human - deposited in niches along one side of the souterrain wall. He also found part of a quern stone as well as a quantity of shells.

According to Mr Harkin, archaeologists believe that sounterrains were used as places of refuge, as many of them have defensive features such as low set lintels built into their roofs. They may have also been used for storing food. Indeed, it is possible that this souterrain continues and may be connected to the sixth century monastic site across the road.

A member of his local heritage group, Mr Devlin says he is delighted to have discovered this ancient monument in his garden and he hopes to learn more about it when an archaeologist from Dublin examines it some time soon.

Stonehenge and its Environs

King Arthur continues Stonehenge protest

From Thisiswiltshire

A SENIOR druid is gaining worldwide attention as his protest at Stonehenge continues into its second month.

Demonstrating on behalf of the Council of British Druid Orders, King Arthur Pendragon has vowed to remain at the site, living in his caravan, until the historic site is opened fully to the public.

He said: "I've been here five weeks now. I'm very cold and very wet but I'm staying here."

"I'm getting a lot of response from foreign tourists. They agree with me and say it's too expensive."

Pendragon, 54, has been camping close to the World Heritage Site since the Summer Solstice on June 21 and is hoping his protests will encourage the Government to remove the fences around the monument, build a tunnel under the A303 and grass over the A344.

He said: "The thing that really annoys me is that not only have they spent so much money on public inquiries and doing nothing with it, but it is a sacred site. It's not a cash-cow."

A public inquiry was set up in 2004 to look at ways of improving the traffic flow in and around the Stonehenge area.

Among the many options that were discussed were a new dual carriageway and a 2.1km bored tunnel.

The plans were scrapped in December last year after ministers decided the costs, which had spiralled from £223m to £470, could not be justified.

The Stonehenge Cursus

Cursus dated

From The University of Manchester:

'Cursus' is older than Stonehenge

Archeologists have come a step closer to solving the 285-year-old riddle of an ancient monument thought to be a precursor to Stonehenge.

A team led by University of Manchester archaeologist Professor Julian Thomas has dated the Greater Stonehenge Cursus at about 3,500 years BC - 500 years older than the circle itself.

They were able to pinpoint its age after discovering an antler pick used to dig the Cursus – the most significant find since it was discovered in 1723 by antiquarian William Stukeley.

When the pick was carbon dated the results pointed to an age which was much older than previously thought - between 3600 and 3300 BC – and has caused a sensation among archeologists.

The dig took place last summer in a collaborative project run by five British universities and funded by the Arts and Histories Research Council and the National Geographic Society.

Professor Thomas said: "The Stonehenge Cursus is a 100 metre wide mile long area which runs about 500 metres north of Stonehenge.

"We don't know what it was used for – but we do know it encloses a pathway which has been made inaccessible.

"And that suggests it was either a sanctified area or for some reason was cursed."

Professor Thomas believes that the Cursus was part of complex of monuments, within which Stonehenge was later constructed.

Other elements include the 'Lesser Stonehenge Cursus' and a series of long barrows - all built within a mile of Henge.

He added: "Our colleagues led by a team from Sheffield University have also dated some of the cremated human remains from Stonehenge itself.

"That's caused another sensational discovery and proves that burial cremation had been taking place at Stonehenge as early as 2900 BC – soon after the monument was first built.

"But what is still so intriguing about the Cursus is that it's about 500 years older than Henge – that strongly suggests there was a link and was very possibly a precursor.

"We hope more discoveries lie in store when we work on the Eastern end of the Cursus this summer.

"It will be a big step forward in our understanding of this enigmatic monument."

Stonehenge (Circle henge)

Heel Stone vandalised

From the Salisbury Journal:

"VANDALS used a hammer and screwdriver to damage the Hele Stone at Stonehenge between 9pm and 10pm on Thursday.

Police are appealing for witnesses after two men climbed over the fence surrounding the area and caused the damage, before driving off in a red Rover 400.

The suspects were caught on CCTV going to the stones on another day but were chased off."

Salisbury Journal

More details from The Independent

Peacehaven Heights (Round Barrow(s))

Grave robbers strike Sussex tomb of Bronze Age chief

From The Telegraph:

"Archaeologists excavating an enigmatic burial mound in Sussex believe that grave robbers beat them to the prize of finding the remains of a Bronze Age chief.

Racing against time to date a burial mound on the cliffs at Peacehaven Heights in East Sussex before it collapses into the sea, they have found evidence of human occupation of the site spanning back to 8,000 years BC.

But the prize was to find the remains of the warrior chief who was placed there in the Bronze Age, when the burial mound was built some 2000-3000 years ago, around the same time as the famous stones were erected at Stonehenge.

Many such mounds were built in the Bronze Age, often in high places, to mark the burial of a local chief.

With him would have been placed grave goods such as beads, bone pins, pottery, even gold artefacts.

However, the team found pottery and a clay pipe dating from the 1700-1800s, which suggests that robbers had excavated the mound then, said Susan Birks, who has led the effort by the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society and the Mid Sussex Field Archaeological Team."

Full story

Cwm Mawr Stone Axe Factory (Ancient Mine / Quarry)

Axe factory site to be surveyed

From BBC News:

"Archaeologists are hoping to unearth evidence of what they believe to have been one of Bronze Age Britain's largest axe-making "factories".

Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) said the axes, made from a distinctive type rock - known as picrite - had been found throughout the country.

A three-week survey at the 4,000-year-old site will start soon in Hyssington, near Welshpool, Powys.

The trust's Chris Martin said it may have been a large industrial centre.

The trust carried out a preliminary survey last year, but it did not uncover the factory site.

However, it said test results from 2007 proved that picrite had been mined in an area known locally as Cwm Mawr, and a study in the 1950s had suggested it was an area where axes had been made."

Full story

UPDATE: Bronze Age axes found in Powys

A HOARD of Bronze Age axes has been discovered by archaeologists.

A three-week survey is under way by Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust to find out more about the weapons' origins. They were unearthed at a site in Hyssington, near Welshpool.

The trust said the axes were made of picrite, a type of rock mined in the area.

From icWales
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