Posts Tagged ‘England’

On this day ten years ago…
via Theatregoers in Shakespeare’s day ‘enjoyed peaches, figs and oysters’

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Source: Where’s the Beef? – Archaeology Magazine

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The remains of a high-quality Romano-British butcher’s business and centre for crafts have been unearthed by archaeologists in Devon. Photograph: Handout

The guardian.com
By Steven Morris

The remains of a high-quality Romano-British butcher’s business and centre for crafts have been unearthed by archaeologists in Devon.

Experts believe the fourth-century abattoir was set up to prepare the best cuts of beef that were transported to customers miles away along a Roman road found at the site.

They suggest the butchers at Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot in south Devon, worked alongside a string of talented craftspeople specialising in deer antler, leather and textiles.

Previous digs at Ipplepen have unearthed Roman coins, a stretch of Roman road and the remnants of vessels from France and the Mediterranean once full of wine, olive oil and garum – fish sauce.

The site is significant because it has undermined the notion that ancient Rome’s influence had not stretched further south-west in the British Isles than Exeter, 20 miles to the north of Ipplepen.

During the latest dig, the focus has been on a spot away from what is thought to be the centre of the Ipplepen settlement. They did not find scraps of pottery that suggest homes but a ditch full of 1,700-year-old cattle bones.

The remains are mostly just the heads and feet of cattle – analysis suggests that cattle were raised locally and butchered when they were at the prime age for producing high-quality beef.

Prof Stephen Rippon, from the University of Exeter, who is leading the archaeological work, said that if the cattle had been raised and slaughtered by peasant farmers nothing would have been left of them.

“They would have boiled down the bits that have been thrown away and made something like brawn out of them,” he said.

The age of the animals is another big clue. “The normal practice would have been to keep the cattle into old age, pulling ploughs and so on. Our cattle were one and a half to two years old – which fits in with the idea of this being professional beef production.

“We think they were preparing good meat joints and perhaps storing them in barrels of salted water and taking them somewhere else. This is the first time we have found evidence of commercial farming and butchery in the south-west of Britain.

“They would have been taken to market somewhere along the major Roman road we have found here. It is really rare to get animal bones preserved on rural archaeological sites in the south-west as its acidic soils normally dissolve the bones.”

The team also came upon a piece of sawn deer antler, possibly used for making objects such as awls, needles, combs and hairpins. This is the first time that evidence for Romano-British bone or antler working has been discovered in Devon outside of Exeter.

Waste from the smithing of iron found during the excavation indicates that there was a blacksmith’s forge nearby, while the discovery of a stone weight may have been used in the weaving of textiles. Though no direct evidence was found, Rippon believes the cattle hides would have been turned into leather at the site.

“This all builds up a picture of Ipplepen as a settlement that is not a normal farming community but a place where craftsmen are making all sorts of things,” he said.

National Lottery funding has allowed the University of Exeter to expand its work with local communities at Ipplepen. This year, the excavation is playing host to 40 local volunteers, pupils from Ipplepen primary school, and members of the Somerset and Torbay Young Archaeologists’ Clubs.



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Researchers searching for proof of ancient royal household end 15-year search with surprise findings

An archeological search for an ancient royal manor lasting over a decade has reached its climax beneath a beer garden.

A team of scientists launched a hunt for the Anglo-Saxon house 15 years ago, curious to uncover the knowledge it held into how people lived at the time.

Initially there were doubts that the residence, thought to belong to an age-old King of Kent, even existed.

But when the owners of a Kent pub allowed diggers into their beer garden for two weeks in July a “royal rubbish heap” was found under the grass, surfacing items researchers thought were long gone.

“Masses” of wild boar and deer bones, thought to be leftover from royal feasts, were discovered beneath the grass at the Market Inn in Faversham.

Remnants of “grass-tempered” pottery, a unique production method used only in early-Anglo Saxon England, were also found in the rubbish mound alongside possible iron ore, suggesting the site was once used to craft materials.

Dr Pat Reid, who the project for the Faversham Society Archaeological Research Group, was overwhelmed by the ancient findings which could shine new light on this “massively neglected” historical period.

“After spending 15 years looking for proof of the manor, I am absolutely delighted. The whole thing is very exciting,” she said.

“We found an undisturbed rubbish dump with masses and masses of wild boar, deer and cattle bones. These are so-called ‘feasting meats’.

“The king would stop over at the manor and entertain guests with huge feasts, and this is where the bones would end up.


“There is nothing better for an archaeologist than a rubbish dump. Tidy people who recycle and sweep up leave us nothing.”

A team of 20 volunteers from the research group conducted the excavation between 13 July and 28 July and celebrated following the findings.

Archaeologists landed in a Kent beer garden after 15 years of searching for an ancient royal manor (KMG /SWNS.COM)

Faversham has often been on the radar of historians, with records tracing the area back to a pre-Roman settlement.

It has a strong connection with royalty, known as the King’s Town, and several royal charters including the Magna Carta have in previous centuries granted the town permission to govern itself independently to the rest of the country.

David and Sue Potts, managers at The Market Inn, were taken aback by the centuries-old secrets lying beneath a seemingly inconspicuous place for the community to gather.

“I knew that these guys had been looking for Saxon finds in Faversham for a while, in particular the so-called Kings Manor,” Mr Potts said.

“I suspected there might be some evidence of human activity near the pub, but I don’t think anybody expected anything on this scale.”

For Dr Reid, the pub remaining open during the dig provided a highlight as the research mission concluded.

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“It is really lovely that the find is in the pub garden,” she said. “It means we can get the public involved. We love that community feel and it’s wonderful to have the children watching.”

Researchers now hope to clean the remains ready for preservation at Faversham Museum.


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Source: Migrant Farmers May Have Replaced Britain’s Hunter-Gatherers

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From Reuters


Road workers have uncovered what is thought to be the earliest evidence of beer being brewed in Britain, dating back more than 2,000 years.

Experts found “tell-tale signs of the Iron Age brew” during work on improvements to the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

It is believed the find could date back as far as 400BC.

Archaeobotanist Lara Gonzalez said it was “incredibly exciting to identify remains of this significance”.

Highways England said the find was uncovered in fragments of charred residue from the beer-making process.

Ms Gonzalez added: “I knew when I looked at these tiny fragments under the microscope that I had something special.

“The microstructure of these remains had clearly changed through the fermentation process and air bubbles typical of those formed in the boiling and mashing process of brewing.”

She said the fragments were similar to bread, but showed “evidence of fermentation and contains larger pieces of cracked grains and bran, but no fine flour”.

Dr Steve Sherlock, archaeology lead, said: “It’s a well-known fact that ancient populations used the beer-making process to purify water and create a safe source of hydration, but this is potentially the earliest physical evidence of that process taking place in the UK.”

A Highways England spokesman said further finds showed “the locals also had a taste for porridge and bread”.

The £1.5bn roadworks have already uncovered the Ice Age remains of a woolly mammoth which could be at least 150,000 years old.

‘Incredible discoveries’

It has also unearthed prehistoric henges, Iron Age settlements, Roman kilns, three Anglo-Saxon villages and a medieval hamlet.

Dr Sherlock added: “The work we are doing on the A14 continues to unearth incredible discoveries that are helping to shape our understanding of how life in Cambridgeshire, and beyond, has developed through history.”

The work includes creating a new bypass to the south of Huntingdon and upgrading 21 miles of road.




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Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the earliest large-scale celebrations in Britain – with people and animals traveling hundreds of miles for prehistoric feasting rituals. The study, led by Dr. Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University, is the most comprehensive to date and examined the bones of 131 pigs, the prime feasting animals, from four Late Neolithic complexes. Serving the world-famous monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, the four sites hosted the very first pan-British events.

Source: Prehistoric Britons rack up food miles for feasts near Stonehenge

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