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Canterbury, Norfolk, Cirencester, and the Mull of Kintyre

1 July 2022

At https://phys.org/news/2022-06-canterbury-suburbs-home-britain-earliest.html … archaeological excavations on the outskirts of Canterbury confirm the presence of early humans in Britain between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago. The humans in question are thought to be Homo Heidelbergensis, a species that were supplanted, or hybridised into Neanderthals. Several sites on the Suffolk coast have come up with similar tools, after cliff falls on to the beach. They belong to the same period.

At https://phys.org/news/2022-06-historic-royal-ship-english-coast.html … another shipwreck hits the news. This one dates to the 17th century. The warship sank while carrying the future king of England, and Scotland, James Stuart. It lies off the coast of Norfolk. It ran aground on a sandbank in 1682. James was the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne. He was, at the time, the Duke of York, and he was on the way to Edinburgh to collect his wife, etc. It happened during the reign of Charles II. Apparently, a dispute arose around navigating the sandbanks off the coast of Norfolk. The claim is that the duke had argued with the pilot for the control of the ship’s course. This might be a fairy story but one cannot put it past somebody who thought they were above the common herd, even a ships pilot. It sank with the loss of hundreds of crew and passengers – but the duke survived. Presumably, he was top of the list of those rescued.

In British Archaeology [July 2022] there are some further stories of interest including one on mammoths and Neanderthals at Cerney Wick in the Cotswold Water Park, just up the road from Cirencester. A former gravel pit is in the progress of being excavated. It is described as a mammoth graveyard. Neanderthal tools were also found in the proximity.

Another story concerns archaeoastronomy – an ancient interest in the sky. They trawl through a variety of people including Hawkins and Thom. Even John Michel’s book, ‘View over Atlantis‘ [1969] is mentioned, as well as Clive Ruggles who was responsible for clamping down on Thom’s theories, much to the relief of the establishment. Astroarchaeology in Britain was virtually non-existent for 30 years or more. The tenor of the article is that it is, or is about to, rear its head once again. Recently, a new journal has been produced, Skyscape Archaeology – see https://journal.equinoxpub.com/JSA

There is also a one page piece on the Ballochry stone row in Kintyre. This was surveyed by Thom and the details are in his book, ‘Megalithic Sites in Britain’ [1967]. He claimed it was aligned to the midsummer – roughly in the general location of the summer solstice.

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