Category Archives: ENGLAND

‘Rare and significant’ brooch found at site linked to King Arthur

‘Rare and significant’ brooch found at site linked to King Arthur

A copper brooch that could be up to 2000-years-old has been discovered close to a site linked to the legendary King Arthur.

The piece of jewellery is thought to date back to the Romano-British period while the country was under Roman rule.

Some reports have even suggested it could have even belonged to King Arthur’s wife Guinevere, but archaeologists say it is unlikely to have belonged to the queen.

A copper brooch has been discovered in Cornwall close to a site linked to the legendary King Arthur.

It is thought the precious brooch was dropped by a wealthy noble woman as she walked through the area.

Archaeologists stumbled across the piece of jewellery that is understood to be the first physical proof that the area was home to the rich and powerful during the time during excavations.

The brooch was found in a field known as Chapelfield, where developers are seeking planning permission to build 14 houses.

According to a public report by Cornwall council, the brooch ‘is a rare and significant find, suggestive of a reasonably “well-healed” Romano-British farmstead settlement.’

The Romano-British period dates from the Roman conquest in AD 43 to when the Romans left in AD 410.

The brooch was discovered in St Mabyn, Cornwall, less than a mile from a hill fort which has previously been suggested might have been the site of King Arthur’s Camelot.

‘Its location within the upper fill of the eastern enclosure ditch suggests that the piece represents accidental loss, perhaps as a result of it having been broken in antiquity’ the report says.

But others do not agree the brooch is rare.

‘It is a penannular brooch dating from the Romano-British period,’ Andrew Young, from the Cornwall Archaeology Unit told MailOnline.

He said the conditions in which it was buried mean it will not have been well-preserved.

‘Such brooches are by no means unusual, although in Cornwall the acid soils mean that survival of metal objects such as this is rather patchy.’

The brooch was photographed while in the soil and sent to the Royal Cornwall Museum to be prepared and conserved.

‘Once it has been cleaned and conserved it will be photographed again,’ Mr Young told MailOnline.

Pit from the south, showing in situ stones. The acid soils mean metal objects often corrode

Some reports had suggested the brooch might have belonged to the legendary King Arthur’s wife Guinevere, but Mr Young does not believe it could.

The facts around the real King Arthur are mired in myth and folklore, but historians believe he ruled Britain from the late 5th and early 6th centuries.

‘I should also point out that it is earlier than the legendary King Arthur by several hundred years,’ Mr Young said.

Amateur Treasure Hunters Find 2,000-Year-Old Gold Jewelry

Amateur Treasure Hunters Find 2,000-Year-Old Gold Jewelry

In a rather wonderful tale of not giving up on your dreams, two amateur metal detectorists struck gold – literally – in a rural field in Staffordshire, stumbling across a hoard of gold jewelry that could well be the oldest ever found in the UK.

The “Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs”, as the find is being referred to, comprises of three highly decorative gold neck torcs and a bracelet, which possibly came from the continent, either Germany or France.

“This unique find is of international importance,” said Dr Julia Farley, curator of British & European Iron Age Collections for the British Museum, in a statement. “It dates to around 400-250 BC, and is probably the earliest Iron Age gold work ever discovered in Britain.

“The torcs were probably worn by wealthy and powerful women, perhaps people from the continent who had married into the local community.

Piecing together how these objects came to be carefully buried in a Staffordshire field will give us an invaluable insight into life in Iron Age Britain.

The treasure was found by two local men, Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania, just before Christmas.

One of the gold torcs which was discovered on Staffordshire farmland by Joe Kania and Mark Hambleton.

Having previously scanned the field two decades earlier and finding nothing, they gave up and turned to fishing for the next 20 years.

They were encouraged to get back into the hunt by Mr Hambleton’s father, who sadly passed away not long after their find, though he did live to see his son’s discovery.

“I used to go metal detecting with my dad when I was young and he said to me ‘why are you bothering fishing? You should be back in those fields,’” Mr Hambleton told the Daily Mail.

“I am so glad we took his advice and pleased of course that he got the chance to see these amazing pieces and prove he was right all along.” 

Hambleton and Kania found the jewelry scattered about a meter (3.3 feet) apart, and just below the surface of the soil on farmland about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the famous Anglo-Saxon “Staffordshire hoard” found in 2009, which included nearly 4,000 items of precious metal valued at around £3.2 million ($3.9 million).

They were about to give up for the day when Kania called out to Hambleton that he thought he’d found something.

“We have found the odd Victorian coin but mostly it has just been junk,” Kania told the Guardian, “so I couldn’t believe it when I picked out this mud-covered item and, on cleaning it off, I thought this might actually be gold.”

The haul has officially been declared as “treasure” and so under The Treasure Act is now the property of the Crown, with any proceeds to be split between the friends and the landowner of the fateful field.

A study reveals that the Vikings brought horses and dogs to England

A study reveals that the Vikings brought horses and dogs to England

Vikings took dogs and horses with them when they travelled from Scandinavia to Britain 1,157 years ago, a study has found. This suggests that they didn’t just steal animals from the settlements they raided, as accounts describe, but brought some with them.

Scientists from Durham University found animal remains alongside the remains of a human at Britain’s only known Viking cremation cemetery at Heath Wood, Derbyshire.

Scientists from Durham University found animal remains alongside human remains (pictured) at Britain’s only known Viking cremation cemetery at Heath Wood, Derbyshire

Analysis showed that the individual was from the Baltic Shield area and crossed the North Sea with their horse and dog, but died shortly after arriving. The researchers believe that they were of high status, as they were allowed to be cremated with their pets.

The remains at the Heath Wood site are associated with the Viking Great Army; a coalition of Norse warriors originating from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. They came together under a unified command to invade the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that constituted England in 865 AD.

Lead author Tessi Löffelmann said: ‘This is the first solid scientific evidence that Scandinavians almost certainly crossed the North Sea with horses, dogs and possibly other animals as early as the ninth century AD and could deepen our knowledge of the Viking Great Army.

The remains at the Heath Wood site are associated with the Viking Great Army; a coalition of Norse warriors originating from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

‘Our most important primary source, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, states that the Vikings were taking horses from the locals in East Anglia when they first arrived, but this was clearly not the whole story, and they most likely transported animals alongside people on ships.

‘This also raises questions about the importance of specific animals to the Vikings.’ Previous studies have found that burial ceremonies for Vikings in Iceland included the slaughter of a male horse, which would then be buried alongside the dead.

In 2019, two Viking burial ships were found in Sweden that contained the remains of a man buried with his dog and horse in the stern. It was common to bury the dead on these ships rather than cremating them to show high status and respect. 

For the new study, published in PLOS ONE, scientists were looking for new information about those buried at the Heath Wood cemetery. The site is associated with the Vikings who wintered in nearby Repton in 873 AD.

Repton was a significant royal and ecclesiastical centre in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom Mercia, but became a Viking stronghold for the army after they seized it.

The researchers analysed the strontium in the remains of two adults, one child and three animals – a horse, a dog and possibly a pig.

Strontium is a naturally occurring element that appears in rocks, water and soil, and makes its way into the plants that grow from them. The ratio of different forms, or isotopes, of strontium that appear in a landscape is specific to its geographical location.

Humans and animals eat the plants, and the strontium inside them replaces the calcium in their bones and teeth, remaining there even after their death.

Therefore, the ratio of the different strontium isotopes in their remains can be matched to a specific location, revealing where they came from or settled.

Strontium ratios in the remains of one of the adults and the child match to multiple locations in Europe, including Denmark, south-west Sweden and the area local to the Heath Wood cremation site in England.

Fragment of a sampled cremated horse radius/ulna from burial mound 50 at Heath Wood

But those in the other adult and the three animals are normally found in the Baltic Shield area of Scandinavia, covering Norway and central and northern Sweden.

The pig remnant is not thought to be from a live animal, but instead an amulet brought over to Britain from the individual’s home, or a preserved food source.

All the remains were buried under a mound after cremation, suggesting they were a part of a Scandinavian burial rite and providing ‘a direct link, a proxy, to the ‘homelands’ of those buried’.

Co-author Dr Janet Montgomery said: ‘Our study suggests that there are people and animals with different mobility histories buried at Heath Wood, and that, if they belonged to the Viking Great Army, it was made up of people from different parts of Scandinavia or the British Isles.’

Dr Julian Richards from the University of York co-directed the excavations at the Heath Wood Viking cemetery between 1998 and 2000.

He added: ‘The Bayeux Tapestry depicts Norman cavalry disembarking horses from their fleet before the Battle of Hastings, but this is the first scientific demonstration that Viking warriors were transporting horses to England two hundred years earlier.

‘It shows how much Viking leaders valued their personal horses and hounds that they brought them from Scandinavia, and that the animals were sacrificed to be buried with their owners.’

Viking Raids Revealed by the Extraction of an Anglo-Saxon Monastery

Viking Raids Revealed by the Extraction of an Anglo-Saxon Monastery

Anglo-Saxon monasteries were more resilient to Viking attacks than previously thought, archaeologists have concluded. Lyminge, a monastery in Kent, was on the front line of long-running Viking hostility which ended in the victories of Alfred the Great.

The monastery endured repeated attacks, but resisted collapse for almost a century, through effective defensive strategies put in place by ecclesiastical and secular rulers of Kent, University of Reading archaeologists say.

The new evidence is presented after a detailed examination of archaeological and historical evidence by Dr Gabor Thomas, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading.

The excavation at Lyminge in Kent revealed hereto information about monastic resilience in the face of raids by the Vikings.

“The image of ruthless Viking raiders slaughtering helpless monks and nuns is based on written records, but a re-examination of the evidence show the monasteries had more resilience than we might expect,” Dr Thomas said.

Despite being located in a region of Kent which bore the full brunt of Viking raids in the later 8th and early 9th centuries, the evidence suggests that the monastic community at Lyminge not only survived these attacks but recovered more completely than historians previously thought, Dr Thomas concludes in research, published today (30 January 2023) in the journal Archaeologia. 

During archaeological excavations between 2007-15 and 2019, archaeologists uncovered the main elements of the monastery, including the stone chapel at its heart surrounded by a wide swathe of wooden buildings and other structures where the monastic brethren and their dependents lived out their daily lives. Radiocarbon dating of butchered animal bones discarded as rubbish indicates that this occupation persisted for nearly two centuries following the monastery’s establishment in the second half of the 7th century. 

Historical records held at nearby Canterbury Cathedral show that after a raid in 804 CE, the monastic community at Lyminge was granted asylum within the relative safety of the walled refuge of Canterbury, a former Roman town and the administrative and ecclesiastical capital of Anglo-Saxon Kent.

But evidence from Dr Thomas’s dig shows the monks not only returned to re-establish their settlement at Lyminge, but continued living and building for several decades over the course of the 9th century. Dateable artefacts such as silver coins discovered at the site provided Dr Thomas with an insight into the re-establishment of the monastic community.

Dr Thomas said: “This research paints a more complex picture of the experience of monasteries during these troubled times, they were more resilient than the ‘sitting duck’ image portrayed in popular accounts of Viking raiding based on recorded historical events such as the iconic Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne in AD 793.

“However, the resilience of the monastery was subsequently stretched beyond breaking point. 

“By the end of the 9th century, at a time when Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great was engaged in a widescale conflict with invading Viking armies, the site of the monastery appears to have been completely abandoned. 

“This was most likely due to sustained long-term pressure from Viking armies who are known to have been active in south-eastern Kent in the 880s and 890s. 

“Settled life was only eventually restored in Lyminge during the 10th century, but under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury who had acquired the lands formerly belonging to the monastery.”

The latest research article is based on the results of over a decade of archaeological research at Lyminge, directed by Dr Thomas. The village was first established by Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century.

Mysterious Mass Grave Found in Wales May Contain Bodies of Vikings’ Slaves

Mysterious Mass Grave Found in Wales May Contain Bodies of Vikings’ Slaves

Archaeologists have uncovered a mysterious mass grave dating back 1,600 years in Wales containing the remains of 86 individuals. Researchers are now attempting to explain strange characteristics regarding the people’s age, gender and race. Could these remains be those of slaves brought there by the Vikings?

The discovery was made by experts from Archaeology of Wales on the island of Anglesey. While carrying out a survey of a local college, the Coleg Menai in Llangefni, they found 32 skeletons in 2016. According to Wales Online , a further 54 were unearthed when a link road was built next to the college between the town in 2017.

Enigmatic Burial Grounds

The skeletons were taken away from the site for further tests and it was determined that the graves dated from approximately 1,600 years ago. The Daily Mail reports that ‘‘They were likely buried in the early medieval period after the Romans left Britain’’.

This is the period known as the Dark Ages when civilization virtually collapsed in Europe. In the British Isles, it was a period of endemic warfare and when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Northumberland, and Mercia started to emerge.

Researchers carried out an isotope analysis of the remains in order to identify their origins. They expected to find that the remains were of local people who had died in the Dark Ages. Instead, they found that the skeletons included those of people who came from across Europe.

“Some individuals came from western Britain, where the border is today between England and Wales, a couple from Scandinavia and a couple from Mediterranean places like Spain,” said Dr. Irene Garcia Rovira of Archaeology Wales [via Wales Online].

Some of the bones from the ancient burial ground.

Vikings and slaves

This was remarkable because in the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman Empire, long-distance travel was believed to have been virtually impossible because of war and a breakdown in the trade network. 

The experts were baffled as to how so many people from so far away came to rest in an island off the North coast of Wales, and why.

In the period when the individuals were interred in the cemetery, the island of Anglesey was controlled by the Viking kingdom of Dublin. It appears that many Irish settlers migrated to the island. Dublin at this time was one of the centers of the slave trade in Europe.

Those who were buried in the graves were possibly slaves that had been brought to Anglesey by the Vikings based in Ireland. However, it appears that Anglesey was only under the control of the Dublin Norse for a few years and why so many people from so far away were buried at the site is still a mystery.  

Could the bodies belong to slaves captured by the Vikings?

Enigmatic Skeletons

The origin of the dead was not the only peculiarity about the skeletons. The Daily Mail reports that the ‘‘experts were puzzled to find the mass grave included more females than males’’. Why this is the case is unknown.

The majority of the remains came from people who died in their mid-forties. Dr. Rovira stated that ‘‘though young by today’s standards, was relatively long-lived for the time’’ reports the World News Net . 

To add to the mystery of the cemetery, not many grave goods were found. A 2 nd century AD Celtic brooch was among the few items retrieved. A Roman coin was also uncovered. These items date to a period much earlier than when the dead were buried in the cemetery.

The CEO of the college, Dafydd Evans has pledged to collaborate with the authorities to put any artifacts uncovered on display at the local Oriel Ynys Mon museum.

There is expected to be more work carried out at the site. This may help to solve the mystery of burial grounds and its skeletons, which could potentially radically change our knowledge about the Dark Ages.  However, it seems that the remarkable and peculiar graves will remain a mystery for some time to come.

Two British Teens Using Metal Detectors Discovered 1,000-Year-Old Coins

Two British Teens Using Metal Detectors Discovered 1,000-Year-Old Coins

This summer, two British teenagers wielding metal detectors separately discovered a pair of rare, 1,000-year-old coins.

Per a statement from Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers, which is set to feature the coins in an upcoming sale, 17-year-old Reece Pickering unearthed a silver Saxon penny dated to 1066 while treasure hunting in Norfolk this August.

17-year-old Reece Pickering found one of just three surviving silver pennies dated to Harold II’s reign.

The following month, 16-year-old Walter Taylor—who first started metal detecting when he was 4 years old—found an 1106 silver penny in a field in South Essex.

“I wasn’t expecting to come across such a scarce and remarkable coin,” says Pickering in the statement. “… I can’t imagine finding something as special as this again. You just never know what’s beneath your feet.”

Pickering’s Harold II silver penny is one of just three known to survive today, reports Daniel Hickey for the Eastern Daily Press. It’s expected to sell for around £2,500 to £3,000 (roughly $3,290 to $4,000 USD).

Coins minted during Harold’s reign are scarce, as the Anglo-Saxon king only ruled for nine months. In 1066, William the Conqueror invaded England, defeating Harold at the Battle of Hastings and launching a century of Norman rule.

Demand for coins from Harold’s reign has increased since the Battle of Hastings’ 950th anniversary in 2016, according to Coin World’s Jeff Starck.

To commemorate the occasion, the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint released a 50-pence coin based on the famed Bayeux Tapestry, which shows Harold dying of an arrow to the head. (The accuracy of this depiction remains a point of contention.)

Harold II coin (top left) and Henry I coin (bottom right)

Pickering isn’t the only metal detectorist to stumble onto a Harold coin in recent years. In January 2019, a group of friends searching a field in Somerset discovered a trove of 2,528 coins featuring the likenesses of both Harold and his successor, William.

According to the British Museum, which was tasked with assessing the collection, the 1,236 Harold coins found outnumbered the collective amount known to previously exist by almost double.

Likely buried by a nobleman hoping to protect his wealth amid a volatile political environment, the money represented an early example of the seemingly modern practice of tax evasion.

Taylor, meanwhile, found a silver penny depicting Henry I—William’s youngest son—pointing at a comet, per James Rodger of Birmingham Live. Henry had the coin minted following his victory over his older brother, Robert Curthose, at Tinchebrai in 1106. The penny is expected to sell for around £3,000 to £3,500 (around $4,000 to $4,600 USD).

“I was constantly digging … but finding nothing,” says Taylor in the statement. “Then the register on my detector rose from 26 to 76. The coin was buried about four inches deep in the ground. I thought it was a silver penny but when I swiped the mud off it, I saw a face staring at me.”

Both coins—in addition to artifacts including an ancient Roman nail cleaner, a Viking brooch, and a gold half-crown coin minted toward the end of Henry VIII’s reign—will be on offer during an online auction hosted by Hansons on October 26 and 27. Proceeds from the coins’ sale will be split half and half with the landowners on whose property they were found.

Bronze Age time capsule: 3,000-year-old vitrified food found in jars in England

Bronze Age time capsule: 3,000-year-old vitrified food found in jars in England

Archaeologists have the opportunity to discover how people in the late Bronze Age lived and what they ate by excavating a dwelling destroyed by fire 3,000 years ago in Cambridgeshire County, England.

Researchers are calling the site a time capsule, as vitrified food—meaning it has become like glass—has been found in jars at the site.

Archaeologists also have found rare small pots and exotic glass beads at the site, which will be studied with a £1.1 million ($1.73 million) research project over a nine-month period. They think it was a settlement of prosperous people.

Another major find at the site came in 2016 when a huge timber wheel was discovered. It is one of the largest Bronze Age wheels to have been unearthed by archaeologists anywhere in the world.

The wheel measures a meter (3.28 ft.) in diameter and 3.5 centimeters (1.38 inches) thick. Archaeologists believe it would have originally had a heavy duty leather tire.

These dimensions and the style of the wheel have lead archaeologists to suggest it was likely part of an ox-pulled cart.

The settlement was buried in the wet fens but is being excavated using earth-moving machinery. Previously in fens (wetlands), archaeological work was done only in shallow areas or near the edges of the fens, says .

They call it ‘deep space archaeology’ because the remnants of the community are buried so deeply in the mire. also calls it one of the most important European Bronze Age sites.

The objects at Must Farm were discovered when clay was being extracted to make bricks.

Must Farm in the Flag Fen Basin made news in 2011 when nine well-preserved log boats were unearthed there. The dwelling was encircled by wooden posts until a fire made it collapse in the river.

The fact that it was submerged helped preserve its contents, says Culture24 . Among the findings are decorated tiles made from lime tree bark.

The finds will be put on display at Peterborough Museum and other venues.

An early Bronze Age log boat was found in 2011 in the ancient channel of a river.

“Usually at a Later Bronze Age period site you get pits, post-holes and maybe one or two really exciting metal finds,” said archaeologist David Gibson of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

“It’s a fantastic chance to find out how people in the Late Bronze Age lived their daily lives, including how they dressed and what meals they ate.”

His colleague Kasia Gdaniec, the senior archaeologist with Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We think those living in the settlement were forced to leave everything behind when it caught on fire. An extraordinarily rich range of goods and objects are present in the river deposits, some of which were found during an evaluation in 2006.”

The fact that the dwelling is preserved under water and was abandoned quickly means there could be great finds in the future, said Duncan Wilson of Historic England, comparing it to how the Mary Rose, a Tudor ship that sunk, was salvaged in the 1960s and shed a lot of light on those times.

“This could represent a moment of time from the Late Bronze Age comparable to the connection with the past made by the objects found with the Mary Rose,” he said.

“This site is internationally important and gives a fascinating insight into the lives of our ancestors.”

9,000-Year-Old Cheddar Man Has Living Descendant Still Living in The Same Area

9,000-Year-Old Cheddar Man Has Living Descendant Still Living in The Same Area

Cheddar Man is the name given to the remains of a man that was found in Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. Cheddar Man was discovered around the turn of the 20 th century, and has been dated to the Mesolithic period.

It seems that there was not much research done on Cheddar Man, and he was probably a set of prehistoric remain amongst many. It was, however, around the end of the same century that one of the most sensational findings related to this prehistoric individual was made – it was found that he had a living descendant living in the same area.

The Discovery

Cheddar Man’s discovery was made in 1903. The remains of this prehistoric man were found 20 m (65 ft.) inside Gough’s Cave, the largest of 100 caverns in Cheddar Gorge, under a layer of stalagmite, above which was another layer of more recent material.

Cheddar Man was found to have been buried alone near the mouth of a deep cave, and results from dating suggest that he lived 9000 years ago, during the Mesolithic period.

It looks as though little research has been done on Cheddar Man since his discovery, and it may be said that he was a relatively obscure figure.

Stalagmites and stalactites in Gough’s cave

An article was published in 1914, 11 years after Cheddar Man’s discovery, which was entitled “The Cheddar Man: A Skeleton of Late Paleolithic Date”.

One of the things in the title that may immediate strike a reader is the designation of Cheddar Man to the Late Paleolithic period, several thousand years prior to the Mesolithic period which he is today thought to have live in.

One of the analyses done by the authors of the paper was the measurement of Cheddar Man’s skull. These measurements were then compared with some other specimens of prehistoric skulls. Apart from that, the other remains, such as the teeth and limb bones, were also studied.

Cheddar Man’s DNA

In 1997, it was reported that a living descendant of Cheddar Man had been found. In the report, it was written that DNA had been found in the pulp cavity of one of Cheddar Man’s molars. The DNA was examined at Oxford University’s Institute of Molecular Medicine.

The results from the analysis were then compared with the DNA of 20 local individuals whose families were known to have been living in Cheddar for several generations. One of these individuals was identified as a descendant of Cheddar Man.

Skull found in Gough’s Cave

Cheddar Man’s Family

The DNA of Adrian Targett, who was 42 years old when that discovery was made, was found to match that belonging to Cheddar Man. According to science, this genetic fingerprint is said to have been passed down from mother to child.

In other words, Targett and Cheddar Man both share a common maternal ancestral. It may be added that Targett was not the only one from his family to have not moved away from his ancestral land.

It was reported that there were 46 individuals in his extended family, and most of them had remained in the Somerset area.

A Paleolithic human skull from Gough’s Cave

It may be pointed out that Cheddar Man, whilst arguably the most famous set of human remains to have been found in Cheddar Gorge, is not the only one. In one report, the site has been dubbed in as “Britain’s prime site for Paleolithic human remains”.

Another set of well-known human remains were discovered several decades ago. These are three cups, made from the skulls of two adults and a three-year-old child. These remains were re-examined several years ago, and it was found that the making of skull cups was a traditional craft, and that the skulls were obtained after their owners died naturally.

In addition, the other human bones were found to have shown signs of butchery, indicating that cannibalism was practiced by these prehistoric people.

The Ribchester Helmet – An Ancient Roman artifact discovered by a 13-year-old boy while playing behind the house

The Ribchester Helmet – An Ancient Roman artifact discovered by a 13-year-old boy while playing behind the house

Over the past centuries, archaeologists have unearthed some extraordinary artifacts that give us a glimpse into human history and help us understand the many secrets of the ancient world.

Numerous archaeological expeditions have been undertaken over the years, some of which resulted in historically significant discoveries. Yet some of the most exciting finds have been made by non-professionals who stumbled upon them purely by accident. Such is the case with the famous Ribchester Helmet, discovered by chance in 1796.

We are all aware that England is rich with archaeological sites, historical monuments, and important artifacts, especially from the Roman era. Ribchester in the county of Lancashire is a lesser-known site of a Roman fort and settlement. The most famous among the many artifacts discovered in the area is the Ribchester Helmet.

Discovered in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire.

What is today considered one of the most famous helmets from Ancient Rome was discovered by accident in 1796 by a 13-year-old clog maker’s son, who found it while playing behind his house.

The helmet was part of a small hoard of metal items, most probably belonging to a Roman soldier from about 120 AD.

This two-piece ceremonial helmet, worn by Roman cavalrymen during military exercises and during parades and other ceremonies, weighs nearly three pounds and was most likely of little or no practical use on the battlefield.

However, the Romans, who are known for engaging in a variety of sporting competitions, also used this type of helmet during the cavalry sports events known by the name of “hippika gymnasia,” where these helmets were used to mark ranks and excellence in horsemanship.

Although Julius Caesar first paid a visit to Britain in 55 BC, it actually took almost 100 years before Romans landed on the beaches in Kent to conquer Britain in 43 AD.

The Roman occupation influenced almost every sphere of life in Britain, including culture, language, geography, and architecture. They built many new roads, numerous settlements, and countless forts, including the one at Ribchester.

The visor-mask and crown are covered with relief scenes of skirmishes between infantry and cavalry. Such helmets were impractical for actual fighting and were worn by Roman cavalrymen on the occasion of “cavalry sports‟ events.

What we know today about this type of Roman helmet is mostly thanks to the accounts left by Arrian of Nicomedia, who was a provincial governor and a close friend of Emperor Hadrian.

As written in his Techne Taktike, which focuses on the “hippika gymnasia,” the best soldiers wore these helmets in cavalry tournaments.

Only three Roman helmets with a covering over the face have been found in the UK.

Called Bremetennacum Veteranorum, the Roman settlement and fort in Ribchester was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the early 70s AD.

Apart from the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Roman bathhouse that can be seen today, there is also a Roman Museum where visitors can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet.

The famous artifact is one of only three of its kind ever found in Britain, but it is considered to be the highest quality example. The second was found around 1905 and is now housed at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The third, known as the Crosby Garrett Helmet, was found in a field in 2010 by a metal detectorist who wants to remain anonymous. It was sold at auction for $3.6 million.

Since 1814, the original helmet is on display at the British Museum, but the Roman Museum in Ribchester has a replica.

The Ribchester Helmet was clearly the most significant, but not the only artifact discovered back in 1796. The same hoard included many military and religious items, plates, pieces of a vase, and other items.

It is believed that the finds that were placed there for over 16 centuries were in such good condition because they were covered in sand.

Roman-Era ‘Mega Villa’ Bigger than the Taj Mahal Discovered in England

Roman-Era ‘Mega Villa’ Bigger than the Taj Mahal Discovered in England

The remains of a huge Roman villa dated to 99 AD have been discovered in Oxfordshire, the second largest Roman villa that has ever been found in England.

Archaeologists excavated the remains of the historic building, which is believed to be bigger than the mausoleum at the Taj Mahal, as part of a four-month-long excavation project.

The foundation measures 278 feet by 278 feet. The findings so far include coins and boar tusks alongside a sarcophagus that contains the skeletal remains of an unnamed woman.

Oxfordshire, UK.

“Amateur detectorist and historian Keith Westcott discovered the ancient remains beneath a crop in a field near Broughton Castle near Banbury,” according to HisTech.

Westcott, 55, decided to investigate the site after hearing that a local farmer, John Taylor, had plowed his tractor into a large stone in 1963. Taylor said he saw a hole had been made in the stone and when he reached inside, he pulled out a human bone.

Broughton Castle.

This was the woman’s body — experts believe she died in the 3rd century. The land previously belonged to Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, the parents of Martin Fiennes, who now owns the land.

The Daily Mail reports that Martin Fiennes “works as a principal at Oxford Sciences Innovation and is second cousin of British explorer Ranulph Fiennes and third cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.”

Excavation site

According to the Daily Mail, Westcott had a “eureka moment” when he found “a 1,800 year-old tile from a hypocaust system, which was an early form of central heating used in high-status Roman buildings.”

Using X-ray technology such as magnetometry, the walls, room outlines, ditches, and other infrastructures were revealed. The villa’s accommodation would have included a bath-house with a domed roof, mosaics, a grand dining room, and kitchens.

The largest Roman villa previously found in England is the Fishbourne Palace in West Sussex, which dates back to 75 AD.

Archaeological excavation

The palace at Fishbourne was one of the most noteworthy structures in Roman Britain. Only discovered in the 1960s, the site has been extensively excavated, revealing that it was originally a military site. Lying close to the sea, Fishbourne was ideal as a depot to support Roman campaigns in the area.

Built on four sides around a central garden, the site covered about two hectares, which is the size of two soccer fields. The building itself had about 100 rooms, many with mosaics.

The best known mosaic is the Cupid on a Dolphin. Some of the red stones are made from pieces of red gloss pottery, most likely imported from Gaul.

The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, during the reign of Claudius. For the Claudian invasion, an army of 40,000 professional soldiers — half citizen-legionaries, half auxiliaries recruited on the wilder fringes of the empire — were landed in Britain under the command of Aulus Plautius.

Archaeologists debate where they landed. It could have been Richborough in Kent, Chichester in Sussex, or perhaps both. Somewhere, perhaps on the River Medway, they fought a great battle and defeated the Catuvellauni, the tribe that dominated the southeast.