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

News Items by danielspaniel

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Wolstonbury (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Big gorse clearance on top of Wolstonbury

They have cleared all of the (quite substantial) gorse within the enclosure, revealing a lot more lumps and bumps. Worth a look if you are in the area.

Chauvet Cave (Cave / Rock Shelter)

Don’t fall for a fake: the Chauvet cave art replica is nonsense

Picture this. Visitors to the Vatican arrive in St Peter’s Square and are shepherded into a modern reception centre cleverly hidden under Bernini’s colonnades. After looking at a display on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes, they are filtered into a full-scale replica, with a ceiling that is a giant photograph of the famous artwork.

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Stonehenge (Circle henge)

Will Self: has English Heritage ruined Stonehenge?

The summer solstice, King Arthur, the Holy Grail … Stonehenge is supposed to be a site of myths and mystery. But with timed tickets and a £27m visitor centre, does it herald a rampant commercialisation of our heritage?

Neolithic homes reconstructed for Stonehenge visitor centre

English Heritage recreates prehistoric houses in Wiltshire based on local excavations that will be rebuilt for outdoor gallery

Uffington White Horse (Hill Figure)

Vet's dog theory over ancient Uffington White Horse

The Uffington White Horse has been caught up in an identity battle after it was suggested it could be a dog.

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Cerne Abbas Giant (Hill Figure)

Why has there been a fertility surge in the famous carving's vicinity?

Just a bit of fun:

My mum did find out she was pregnant with me a few days after visiting the Giant, but that's another story!


Original thinking

The Guardian 27/10/09

'The booming interest in archaeology suggests a new quest for identity in a time of rapid change'

Question Time descended into pure farce when Nick Griffin was challenged by Bonnie Greer to define what he meant by the "indigenous" peoples of Britain. It must have been the first time that the Ice Age had been dragged into the heat of contemporary political debate.

What emerged from their conversation was riddled with absurd notions, and no doubt had Britain's considerable army of amateur archaeologists tearing their hair out. For we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented archaeology boom, the public appetite for the subject – TV programmes, museum and site visits and 180,000 metal detector enthusiasts – never having been higher.

There was a comparable surge in interest in the subject during the middle decades of the 19th century; it was the period that antiquarianism – the collecting of quaint objects – began to develop into the academic discipline of archaeology and the pioneers were the barrow-diggers. Often clerics, these men dug their way through hundreds of barrows. In North Yorkshire, Canon William Greenwell dug 400 mounds in 50 years and ended up selling his collection to the British Museum. Alongside them sprung up the county historical societies which began the work of analysing and recording this new area of study.

Full Article

Stonehenge (Circle henge)

Barton's Britain: Stonehenge

As druids and revellers prepare for the weekend's solstice, Laura Barton watches the sun set on this magical monument


Archaeologists find skulls on route of new road

The skulls of scores of young men have been found in a burial pit on the route of a new road in Dorset.

So far 45 skulls, believed to be almost 2,000 years old, have been found, and more may be found as the pit is emptied. Archaeologists have called the discovery extraordinary, saying it could be evidence of a disaster, a mass execution, a battle or possibly an epidemic.

The bones recovered so far are still being examined but most appear to be of young men, and are believed to date back to the late iron age or early Roman period. They may be evidence of a fatal encounter between the invaders and the local population, buried at a site which had ritual significance for thousands of years before they died.

David Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology, said: "There are lots of different types of burial where skeletons may be aligned along a compass axis or in a crouched position, but to find something like this is just incredible.

"We're still working on carefully recording and recovering all of the skeletons, which will be taken back to our offices in Oxford for detailed analysis, and trying to piece together the extraordinary story behind these remains."

As well as the skulls, the archaeologists found torso and leg bones buried in separate sections of the pit.

"It's very early days, but so far, after a visit to the site by our head of burial services, the skulls appear to be predominantly those of young men," Score said.

"At the moment we don't fully understand how or why the remains have come to be deposited in the pit but it seems highly likely that some kind of catastrophic event such as war, disease or execution has occurred."

The Oxford team completed the main excavation at Ridgeway Hill last year, uncovering a series of earlier burials, including cremated remains, skeletons and a man buried with a dagger under a round barrow. This year they had been monitoring the site as roadworks began, but the discovery a fortnight ago, was a complete surprise.

Construction work has stopped, the site has been fenced off and is under 24-hour security, and Dorset county council has appealed to the public to stay away and let the archaeologists get on with their work.

The pit is on the outskirts of Weymouth, where a new relief road is being built, but stands by one of the oldest roads in Europe, the Ridgeway. The site was used for ritual burials for thousands of years before the young men died: the archaeologists had already found burials from neolithic to Roman times, as well as pottery, animal bones and flint tools.

Stonehenge (Circle henge)

Scientists seek fresh chance to dig up Stonehenge's secrets

The Observer - 25 July 2005

Stonehenge has always mystified. Julius Caesar thought it was the work of druids, medieval scholars believed it was the handiwork of Merlin, while local folk tales simply blamed the devil.

Now scientists are demanding a full-scale research programme be launched to update our knowledge of the monument and discover precisely who built it and its burial barrow graves.

Click here for full article:,6903,1535032,00.html
Originally from Weymouth in Dorset, I now live in Hurst, West Sussex.

Would be pleased to meet up with folk in the area to visit and discuss local sites.

I have a particular interest in the mysterious collections of Sussex sarsens at various sites and the enigma of Wolstonbury Hill.

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