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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Corn-dryers!

Yes, corn-dryers! There, I’ve said it, and there’s no going back. Familiarity, as the old saw goes, breeds contempt – or at least indifference. I think that sometimes that holds true for archaeology as much as anything else: there are certain topics that feel done, perhaps even overdone. Topics with which you feel you’ve spent…

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Makin’ hay

OK, so there I was, strolling leisurely through the Tyrolean countryside in Austria on a beautiful sunny day, when out pops a bit of striking agricultural heritage. “Hello,” thought I, “this could be a little something for the ol’ blog back home.” And so it proves. Ladies and gentlemen, meine Damen und Herren, meet the…

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Domesticated Bliss

Happy February, readers! I hope you’re not too wet. Now, I was lucky enough to receive as a Christmas present this excellent volume: Cunliffe, B. (2012). Britain Begins (Oxford University Press; Oxford). The prolific and erudite knight Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe probably needs no introduction for the readership of this blog but, for the curious,…

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Dropping by and oats and rye at Lyminge

What better way to spend a fine summer’s day than visiting the fine fields of south-east Kent? Where the fields are ripe with swaying golden corn, and Anglo-Saxon archaeology? Yes, it’s Lyminge, and it was well worth spending seven+ hours on the train to visit this year’s dig. As ever, you can follow the story…

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The Mists of Time

The writing of this post was only ever a matter timing – a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’. Once I’d started an occasional series of blog posts about the origins of agriculture, I knew I’d have to write one (or several) about the very beginnings, the true origins – the first farming in the history…

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Spelt… wrongly?

Q: What do you call a spelt grain in an Anglo-Saxon pit? A: Residual OK, so it’s not going to win any prizes at the Edinburgh Festival. Indeed, it’s not even a joke – it almost makes a serious point. You see, it’s all about the shadow – the spectre, even – of residuality that…

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Dung Awareness Day

Yes, it’s Dung Awareness Day (and I bet you didn’t even send a card). I don’t know if this will become an annual feature – probably not – but this time around it’s been inspired by the arrival of the new issue of Environmental Archaeology. It’s a special issue devoted to bioarchaeological research on animal…

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A cast of thousands

In the last thrilling instalment, I introduced my tangential involvement with the Lyminge Archaeological Project, and described how I spent a substantial slice of life examining large quantities of charred plant remains. So, what did I find? Well, the most striking thing about my assemblage is Sample 24 which, not to put too fine a…

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Curse of the Black Spelt

It was a cold, darkling evening in winter, and the Institute of Archaeology lay safely at anchor in Oxford harbour, sheltered in the lee of the Ashmolean. As the clock struck 7 bells, a visiting Captain – I mean, lecturer – took his stand upon the quarterdeck and delivered an engaging Powerpoint presentation. The subject:…

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