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Archaeologists reveal traces of Henry VIII’s Otford Palace

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A team of community archaeologists have conducted a survey in Kent, England, revealing traces of Henry VIII’s Otford Palace, also known as the Archbishop’s Palace.

The site of Otford palace lies in the parish of Otford, Kent, a few miles south-east of Greater London and adjacent to the Pilgrims Way.

The origins of the present site can be traced back to the Saxon period, however, the first documented mention of a structure on the site was by Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, which was valued at £60 in the Doomsday survey of 1086.

Over the course of the following 400 years, the original manor house underwent significant expansions under the remodelling efforts of Archbishop William Courtenay. He transformed the house into a stunning edifice with a great hall in the late 14th century.

Image Credit : Darent Valley Landscape Partnership

150 years later, William Warham, Courtenay’s successor, made a lasting impact on Tudor building design with the construction of a building that can be seen as a precursor to Hampton Court and many styles of Tudor architecture.

In 1514, Warham embarked on a complete redesign of Otford, creating a palace that was fitting for a prince of the church, and which conveyed a clear expression of his power and status. He demolished most of the existing buildings and constructed a new lavish palace that established the current layout of Otford Palace.

Cardinal Wolsey took Warham’s place as the key political leader in Tudor England and intensified a rivalry that was to continue until Wolsey’s death.

When we look at the plan and design features of Otford Palace, and compare them to Wolsey’s edifice at Hampton Court, we can see a glimpse of the rivalry and dislike that existed between both men. Both buildings were built over existing manor houses and they shared common architectural features.

Otford Palace was designed and laid out on such a scale that it compares favourably with any of the largest contemporary palaces in England. At over 163m by 98m, it covered an area greater than the later renaissance influenced Nonsuch Palace, or the moated area of Eltham Palace.

As part of the English Reformation, Henry VIII acquired Otford Palace and it became a Royal Palace with the title The Honour of Otford in 1537. Despite some investment by Henry, the upkeep was insufficient, and the condition of the building gradually worsened.

From 1553 to 1558, Cardinal Reginald Pole, the final Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, resided at the palace. He was the last of 56 Archbishops of Canterbury to occupy the Palace before it fell out of use.

Image Credit : Darent Valley Landscape Partnership

As part of a community led project by the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership, an organisation that works to conserve and enhance the distinctive heritage landscapes of the Darent Valley, community archaeologists have conducted an electrical resistance survey across Palace Field adjacent to the surviving palace ruins.

The survey measures the pattern differences as electrical current is passed through the ground, revealing archaeological features which can be mapped when they are of higher or lower resistivity than their surroundings.

The study has revealed the NW tower of the palace and the western range, showing the higher resistance where the wall foundations lie, in addition to sections of the palace layout.

The Hidden Palace – Otford’s own Hampton Court project is working alongside the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust to help safeguard the Palace’s future and make it more accessible to the local community.

Darent Valley Landscape Partnership

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

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Archaeology

Megathrust earthquakes possible cause of Teōtīhuacān decline

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A new study, published in the journal Science Direct, suggests that a series of megathrust earthquakes led to the decline and possible abandonment of Teōtīhuacān.

Named by the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs as Teōtīhuacān, and loosely translated as “birthplace of the gods”, Teōtīhuacān is an ancient Mesoamerican city located in the Teōtīhuacān Valley of the Free and Sovereign State of Mexico, in present-day Mexico.

The development of Teōtīhuacān can be identified by four distinct consecutive phases, known as Teōtīhuacān I, II, III, and IV.

It was during phase II (AD 100 to 350) that the city population rapidly grew into a metropolis and saw the construction of monuments such as the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest ancient pyramid after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza), the Pyramid of the Moon, the Avenue of the Dead, and the Ciudadela with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (also known as Temple of the Quetzalcoatl).

An analysis of several pyramids within the city has revealed evidence of Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAEs), potentially linked to seismic loading. The study has focused on the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Old temple and New temple), and the Sun and the Moon pyramids, in which visible EAE’s can be observed.

According to the researchers, the EAE’s are likely caused by megathrust earthquakes, for which five destructive ancient earthquakes have been estimated to have struck Teōtīhuacān between the Tzacualli – Miccaotli (AD 100–150), and Metepec (AD 600 ± 50) stages, by matching EAEs and archaeological dates.

Based on the spatial pattern of the EAEs and the orientation of the dipping broken corners (DBC) or chip marks, it is theorised that a series of seismic shocks struct the city from the SW to the NE, indicating a possible origin of a seismic source in the Middle American Trench caused by repetitive megathrust earthquakes.

At least, two strong destructive earthquakes (Intensity VIII-IX) affected Teōtīhuacān in antiquity that impacted the development of the architectural styles. The first one occurred between the years AD 1–150 (Miccaotli phase), and the second one occurred in AD 455 ± 50 (Late Xolalpan-Early Metepec phase).

This was followed by three further damaging earthquakes, for which the latter two occurred around AD 650 before the abandonment of the city the following century.

“This proposal does not conflict with other existing theories for the Teotihuacan abrupt collapse, considering that the sudden overlapping of natural disasters like earthquakes could increase internal warfare (uprising), and civil unrest,” said the study authors.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Science Direct | Teotihuacan ancient culture affected by megathrust earthquakes during the early Epiclassic Period (Mexico). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2024.104528.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Excavations uncover traces of Kraków Fortress

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A team of archaeologists conducting archaeological works at the S52 construction site have uncovered traces of the Kraków Fortress in the Polish city of Kraków.

S52 is a Polish highway being constructed in the Silesian and Lesser Poland voivodeships, which upon completion will connect the border of the Czech Republic in Cieszyn with Kraków.

Kraków Fortress refers to a series of Austro-Hungarian fortifications constructed during the 19th century. The fortress included the 18th century Kościuszko Insurrection fortifications, the medieval Wawel Castle, and the Kraków city walls. Of the over 50 post-Austrian forts in Krakow, 44 structures have been preserved in their entirety or with minor changes.

Excavations in the area of ​​the northern bypass of Krakow have revealed the remains of earthen structures related to the network of military units being established around the city, whose task was to turn Krakow into a modern border fortress.

The team also uncovered traces of earth embankments and moats, as well as the infrastructure for draining rainwater from the infantry entrenchment area and a wooden shelter from a dugout measuring 25 by 7.5 metres.

A press statement by the Republic of Poland, said: “During the research, objects related to the everyday life of soldiers were discovered. These include a tin enameled mug with a signature on the bottom depicting a double-headed imperial eagle with the inscription Austria and the initials H&C 1/2.”

“The preserved marking allowed us to determine that the mug is a product of the Haardt & Co. factory located in Knittelfeld, Austria. Enamellierwerke und Metallwarenfabriken AG. Founded in 1873 by Friedrich Wilhelm Haardt, the factory produced embossed enamelled dishes, including orders for the then Austrian army.”

Header Image Credit : Republic of Poland

Sources : Republic of Poland

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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