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Archaeologists uncover giant Bronze Age barrow cemetery



Archaeologists from Cotswold archaeology have uncovered a giant Bronze Age barrow cemetery in the suburbs of Salisbury, England.

Excavations were in preparation for a housing development project, where the researchers found evidence of round barrows that have been levelled due to centuries of cultivation.

The construction of round barrows dates back to the Neolithic period, but the majority of them were built during the Beaker and Early Bronze Age (2400 – 1500 BC). These barrows typically comprise a central burial chamber, a mound, and a surrounding ditch.

The size of round barrows can range from under 10 metres in diameter to up to 50 metres, although the majority tend to average between 20 and 30 metre. Additionally, the earthworks associated with barrows can vary.

Some feature sizable central mounds, referred to as “bell barrows,” while others have smaller central mounds and outer banks, known as “disc barrows.” There are also those with central hollows, often referred to as “pond barrows.” Barrows tend to be associated with burials – some contain only single individuals, others a sequence of burials and occasionally multiple burials.

Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

The cemetery near Salisbury consists of up to twenty or more barrows that spread along a valley floor up an adjacent hillside. The cemetery is arranged in small clusters of pairs or six, for which at least three are multi-phased barrows – two had been substantially enlarged and one had started out with a slightly oval ditch that was later replaced by a near-circular ditch.

The oval shaped barrow indicates that it could potentially be of Neolithic origin or constructed in an area associated with Neolithic activity. Positioned near the centre is a collective mass grave containing the skeletal remains of adults and children. The barrow revealed also contained two further graves, both of which held Beaker burials that were probably created at the start of the Bronze Age, as well as cut through Neolithic pits containing a cache of red deer antler used for making tools.

Excavations also found remains from the Saxon period, indicated by the discovery of a possible sunken-featured building, preserved timbers, iron knife blades and ceramics, as well as a cultivation terrace (‘lynchet’) of probable late Iron Age date and pits from the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Cotswold Archaeology

Header Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction




A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.

The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.

Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.

The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.

“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.

The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle




Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.

Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.

Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.

The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”

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