Days of Beer and Iron

Ipswich, in Suffolk in eastern England, is a town brimming with archaeology. Anglo-Saxon evidence is particularly abundant, as Ipswich’s urban origins can be traced back to the 7th/8th century AD, when it was Gipeswic, one of a small number of specialist craft and trading centres (wics or emporia) that arose in Anglo-Saxon England at this…

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We’re going on a bere hunt

Cereal farming emerged around 11 or 12 thousand years ago, in the so-called Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Over the next 5 or 6 thousands years, arable farming ploughed its way westwards and northwards across mainland Europe, over to the British Isles, up into Scotland, even unto Orkney, Shetland, and the somewhat less fertile…

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An unusual use for ale

George Ewart Evans (1909-1988), British folklorist and oral history pioneer, has left a rich legacy of insight and information concerning rural life in England before the mechanisation of farming. His books and recordings are chock-full of golden nuggets, anecdotes and rustic remarks from ways of life that are increasingly beyond living memory. Most of his…

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A brief history of my breakfast

So there was Earth. And on Earth formed the oceans. In the oceans grew simple-celled life, and these are the prokaryotes. From the prokaryotes grew complex-celled life, and these are the eukaryotes. From the eukaryotes grew multicellular life, some of which photosynthesised, and thus came plants to grow on the land and in the waters…

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The History of the Countryside

Of course I had consulted it. Of course I’d cited it. But it’s taken a while to sit down and read it – properly, finally – from cover to cover. And it feels like a literary pilgrimage. What am I taking about? None other than “Rackham’s Countryside”, or more formally: Rackham, O. 1986. The History…

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The Ghost of the Sea

Max Planck (1858-1947) was a trailblazer of quantum theory, that confusing branch of physics which describes the inherent unpredictability of the very small. It’s kind of appropriate, then, that researchers at his namesake foundations – two of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany – are shedding uncertainty in the tiny world of molecular archaeology. It’s…

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Fashionably early?

After a long pause, the blog is back – and it’s a blog of surprises. These particular surprises reached my attention through both British Archaeology magazine and the online news pages of Science. For those of you lucky enough to have full-blown access to Science, the reference is this: Smith, O., Momber, G. et al.…

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The Hidden Mysteries of Midden Histories

It’s been a while since I last blogged, and especially since I last blogged about the Lyminge Archaeological Project – a fantastic research excavation undertaken by Reading University which I’ve been following with great interest. I popped back down to visit the dig in sunny Kent this summer to catch up with the 2014 campaign…

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Bringlish Landscapes

“That’s a classic,” said the man in the Oxfam shop, tapping the front cover of the little paperback. I nodded in agreement. “I thought it was about time I bought a copy.” There was a pregnant pause. “That’ll be one ninety-nine,” he intoned. And so it was that I bought a copy of a true…

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