Cats Brain Barrow

16 Jul 2017

At ... it seems the axe Otzi the Iceman was carrying was made of copper - and it has been traced back to a copper deposit in central Italy. This is interesting as it shows metal was in use in Europe in the 4th millennium BC (contemporary with its use in the Near East during the Chalcolithic).

At ... in the immediate post Roman period, 5th and 6th centuries AD, Tintagel was the centre of a small Cornish kingdom. It was situated on the coastal highway between western Britain and Ireland and the Mediterranean world - especially in the time of Justinian II whose ambition was to recreate the Roman Empire in the West. Events conspired against him - not least a series of natural disasters such as an epidemic, barbarian invasions, and a plummet in global temperatures. Excavatoions have revealed the English Heritage site of a castle at Tintagel was involved in the import of pottery from Asia Minor (modern Turkey but at the time an integral part of Byzantium, the eastern Roman Empire). Tintagel was one of the Celtic kingdoms on the western side of Britain, some of which were recorded by Gildas in his writings. The inhabitants appear to have had a varied diet of fish, oysters, pork, and fine wines. The 2017 excavation season is now underway - see

Whereas the focus of trade in eastern Britain was with the near continent in the west the old sea routes were still important for a couple of centuries, prior to the rise of the Arabs. Fine Spanish made decorated glassware has been found and the wine itself had a Mediterranean provenance.

At ... archaeologists investigating the large Marsden henge situated midway between Stonehenge and Avebury, along the banks of the river Avon, are reporting the discovery of a ploughed out long barrow dating from the Neolithic (4th millennium BC), from long before the emergence of henge monuments. The search is now on for human remains as most long barrows were rifled for treasure in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was found in the middle of a farmers field and had been completely ploughed out - but the ditches around the long barrow have been discovered and hopefully, some of the burials from inside the barrow. They would be useful from a genetic angle.