Category Archive 'Archeology'

15 Feb 2021

Stonehenge Moved From Wales and Rebuilt?

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The Guardian reports on an interesting new discovery concerning Stonehenge.

An ancient myth about Stonehenge, first recorded 900 years ago, tells of the wizard Merlin leading men to Ireland to capture a magical stone circle called the Giants’ Dance and rebuilding it in England as a memorial to the dead.

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account had been dismissed, partly because he was wrong on other historical facts, although the bluestones of the monument came from a region of Wales that was considered Irish territory in his day.

Now a vast stone circle created by our Neolithic ancestors has been discovered in Wales with features suggesting that the 12th-century legend may not be complete fantasy.

Its diameter of 110 metres is identical to the ditch that encloses Stonehenge and it is aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise, just like the Wiltshire monument.

A series of buried stone-holes that follow the circle’s outline has been unearthed, with shapes that can be linked to Stonehenge’s bluestone pillars. One of them bears an imprint in its base that matches the unusual cross-section of a Stonehenge bluestone “like a key in a lock”, the archaeologists discovered.

Mike Parker Pearson, a professor of British later prehistory at University College London, told the Guardian: “I’ve been researching Stonehenge for 20 years now and this really is the most exciting thing we’ve ever found.”

The evidence backs a century-old theory that the nation’s greatest prehistoric monument was built in Wales and venerated for hundreds of years before being dismantled and dragged to Wiltshire, where it was resurrected as a second-hand monument.

Geoffrey had written of “stones of a vast magnitude” in his History of the Kings of Britain, which popularised the legend of King Arthur, but which is considered as much myth as historical fact.

Parker Pearson said there may well be a “tiny grain” of truth in his account of Stonehenge: “My word, it’s tempting to believe it … We may well have just found what Geoffrey called the Giants’ Dance.”

The discovery will be published in Antiquity, the peer-reviewed journal of world archaeology, and explored in a documentary on BBC Two on Friday presented by Prof Alice Roberts

RTWT

It may be that the British policy of relocating antiquities like the Elgin Marbles goes back farther than anyone ever realised.

04 Jan 2021

Celtic Coin Hoard Found By Birdwatcher

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Smithsonian reports on another British coin hoard. Metal detectors really work, don’t they?

This September, a British birder who’d stopped on the edge of a farmer’s field to watch a buzzard and a pair of magpies stumbled onto a trove of 2,000-year-old Celtic coins worth an estimated £845,000 (around $1,150,000 USD).

As first reported by Julian Evan-Hart of Treasure Hunting magazine, the unnamed bird-watcher—who is also an amateur metal detectorist—unearthed the stash of some 1,300 gold coins in a field in the eastern English countryside. Dated to between roughly 40 and 50 A.D., the cache is the largest hoard of Iron Age Celtic coins found in the United Kingdom since 2008, when a car mechanic excavated a stash of 850 ancient staters, or handmade money, in Suffolk.

“I saw the glint of gold and realized it was a beautiful Celtic gold stater, which made me sit down in sheer shock,” the birder tells Treasure Hunting, as quoted by the Daily Mail’s Luke May. “I then spotted the second coin two feet away and rushed home to get my [metal detector].”

Upon his return, the man found that his detector produced a “really strong” signal—a sure sign that more treasures lingered below the surface. Digging down about 18 inches, he extracted a copper vessel brimming with gold coins dated back to the era when Celtic queen Boudica led a massive uprising against the Romans.

“I had to sit down to get my breath back,” the treasure hunter says. “I had only come out for a walk and found a Celtic hoard.”

Once the man overcame his initial shock, he filled two large shopping bags with the cache of coins and returned home. Then, he promptly contacted local authorities to report the find. If experts deem the discovery treasure, they will offer it to a museum and potentially offer a share of the reward to the finder. (Current guidelines define treasure very narrowly, but as Caroline Davies reports for the Guardian, the U.K. government is working to expand these parameters in order to better protect the country’s national heritage items.)

“The coins form a substantial if not enormous contribution to our academic numismatic knowledge and will undoubtedly be subject to much assessment over the coming year,” says Jules Evan-Hart, editor of Treasure Hunting, in a statement quoted by the New York Post’s Hannah Sparks. “It is possible that [the coins] may form a deposit as a ‘war chest’ for Boudica’s eastern campaigns.”

RTWT


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