Thursday, 31 December 2015

Arthurian Review 2015

A few highlights of what made the news in 2015 with several myths surrounding Glastonbury and Stonehenge challenged by new studies.

Magna Carta Celebrates 800 years
2015 marked 800 years of the Magna Carta. On the 15th June 1215 King John signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede, by the bank of the river Thames near Old Windsor.
Magna Carta 800

River pageant - Magna Carta celebrations
Richard III reburial
King Richard III was finally laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral on 26th March at the end of a seven-day program of events to honour the last Plantagenet king. On Sunday 22nd March a procession starting from the University of Leicester, including a short ceremony at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, ended at Leicester Cathedral where the coffin lay in state until Thursday 26th March when the mortal remains of Richard III were re-interred within the Cathedral. From Saturday 28th March the Cathedral will be open to the public as normal to view the sealed tomb of King Richard III. There were objections to a state funeral for the King's suspected involvement with the disappearance of the two young Princes in the Tower.
The last Plantagenet king laid to rest

Henry I could be the next ‘car park king’
Following the discovery of the remains of Richard III, researchers are now looking for the sarcophagus of Henry I. The Hidden Abbey Project aims to uncover the full extent of Henry I’s ‘lost’ abbey at Reading where the king was interred after his death in 1135. The abbey was largely destroyed in 1538 during the dissolution of the monasteries and the last abbot Hugh Cook of Faringdon hung, drawn and quartered outside the abbey gates.
The Hidden Abbey Project

Reading Abbey
New light on the Arthurian Legend?
Scholars from Cambridge’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC), using a combination of ultraviolet light and photo editing software, revealed erased additional verse, doodles and marginalia which had been added to the manuscript of the 13th century Black Book of Carmarthen (MS Peniarth 1) which was particularly heavily annotated before the end of the 16th century. We wait publication of these additions to the BBC poems.
Ultraviolet light reveals erased poetry

Black Book of Carmarthen
The Real King Arthur Discovered: A Dark Age General from Strathclyde
Widely reported in 2015 (March and again in September) was the revelation that the legendary British King Arthur has been identified as a historical figure, a general from 5th and early 6th century Strathclyde who fought all his battles in southern Scotland and Northumberland.
Andrew Breeze's paper, The Historical Arthur and sixth-century Scotland, is published in the University of Leeds journal Northern History, Volume 52, Issue 2, September 2015.
Breeze bases his argument on his positive identification of the Arthurian battle list in the unreliable 9th century Latin chronicle known as The History Of The Britons (Historia Brittonum), often referred to as 'Nennius' after the monk who claimed to make a pile of all he could find on the Britons, as detailed in the prologue in some versions of the text.
The Real King Arthur Discovered?

Old Oswestry hill fort under threat from housing development
The Iron Age Hill fort said to be where King Arthur’s Queen Guinevere was born has lasted 3,000 years: now it’s under threat from planners who want to build more than 100 homes nearby.
Old Oswestry hill fort under threat

Rare Roman jewellery found at Maryport
The civilian settlement at Maryport, north-east of the Roman fort overlooking the Solway Firth, is believed to be the largest along the Hadrian's Wall frontier. A team of archaeologists and volunteers has spent five years investigating the origins of 17 altars found at Maryport Roman fort in 1870.
Now a rare piece of rock crystal from the 2nd or 3rd Century, believed to be the centrepiece from a ring, has been found at the site, with the head of a bearded man carved into the back.
Excavations at Maryport uncover rare Roman jewellery

The Battersea Shield
Celts: Art and Identity Exhibition
24 September 2015 – 31 January 2016
The Gundestrup cauldron will make a rare appearance in Britain when it will be displayed with other rare Celtic treasures including St Chad gospels from Lichfield, The Torrs Iron Age pony cap,  a hoard of gold torcs found at Blair Drummond in Stirling, The Horned helmet from the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge, The Battersea Shield, The Hunterston brooch, found in north Ayrshire at the British Museum in a joint venture organised with National Museums Scotland.
The exhibition will also look at the re-invention of the term “Celtic” in the early 1700s and contemporary ideas about what the term Celtic means today.
British Museum Celts Exhibition

The Search for Alaric's Tomb
On the 24th August 410 AD the Visigoths led by King Alaric entered Rome through its Salarian Gate and pillaged the city. After three days Alaric left Rome and headed for southern Italy taking with with him the sister of emperor Honorius, Galla Placidia, as hostage and the wealth of the city.
Only months later Alaric died of an illness was buried in a new tomb constructed at the town of Cosenza, in southern Italy, at the confluence of the rivers Busento and Crathis.
The famed treasure that went into the tomb with the Visigoth king is thought to worth a billion Euros and includes several tonnes of gold and silver looted by the Romans from Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Italian archaeologists have identified 5 possible sites for further investigation.
Italian archaeologists start search for the tomb of Alaric.

Seventh-century Anglo-Saxon gold and garnet pendant discovered in South Norfolk
UEA landscape archaeology student Tom Lucking's metal detector found a large and deep signal; he dug down just far enough to reveal the top of a bronze bowl. The bowl turned out to be the foot of a grave with the badly-preserved bones of an adult Anglo-Saxon, determined as a high status a female because of the jewellery found in the grave.
Norfolk student makes 'royal' find

The Anglo-Saxon pendant from South Norfolk
Sutton Hoo - Historia Talk - Paul Jameson: The Battle of Hatfield 
A talk by Paul Jameson Chairman Battle of Hatfield Investigation Society
A talk at the Sutton Hoo Historia questioned whether the archaeological discovery of hundreds of bodies will solve the mystery of the fate of one of the great Anglo-Saxon kings' On October the 14th, 632AD in an unknown hinterland referred to as ''Haethfelth'' Edwin, King of Northumbria (and friend to our own King Raedwald) met a joint advance by Penda of Mercia and King Cadwallon. Here he fell with his son Prince Osfrith and Godbold, King of the Orkneys. Are over 200 skeletons first unearthed in 1950 testament to this Saxon battle in North Nottinghamshire'
There have been clues before - at the time of the battle, the Cuckney area was known as Hatfield, while nearby Edwinstowe mean’s Edwin’s resting place.
Then there is St Edwin’s Cross, which marks the site of a former chantry chapel erected in 1201 by King John, where a hermit was installed to pray for the soul of Edwin, who was made a saint by the Catholic Church in the years following his brutal demise.
The Site of the Battle of Hatfield Chase 

Crammond's Dark Age Secret
A mass burial in Cramond, a village on the outskirts of Edinburgh, uncovered in 1975 during the excavation of a Roman Bathhouse found at the site of a car park has been re-evaluated by a team led by the City of Edinburgh Council. Forty years on from the original discovery, a two-year investigation  has re-examined the remains of nine individuals found in the grave using modern scientific methods disproving an early theory that the bodies were victims of bubonic plague.
The results of the new study have determined that the individuals date back a further 800 years than first thought to the 6th Century AD with three of the bodies displaying wounds indicating a violent end. It is now being questioned if this grave was the burial crypt of a noble family suggesting Cramond may have been a Royal stronghold of the Gododdin.
Could Cramond hold the secret of Scotland during Dark Ages?

The Glastonbury Deception Unveiled
Glastonbury Abbey's myths were invented by medieval monks
An archaeological study dismissed Glastonbury Abbey’s links to King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea, saying that many stories were created to raise funds after a fire.
A four year study by archaeologists has comprehensively demolished many cherished myths about one of the most romantic religious sites in England; Glastonbury Abbey.
A team of 31 specialists, led by Roberta Gilchrist, professor of archaeology at the University of Reading, found that generations of her predecessors working at the abbey were so bewitched by the legends that they either suppressed or misinterpreted evidence that did not fit.
Four year study concludes that Glastonbury myths made up by 12th century monks

Craig Rhos-y-felin - one of the Stonehenge bluestone quarries
Stonehenge quarries found in Wales 
Geoffrey of Monmouth's Stones from the west?
Excavation of two quarries in Wales by a UCL-led team of archaeologists and geologists has confirmed they are sources of Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’– and shed light on how they were quarried and transported. The team think the bluestones were first used in a passage grave monument somewhere between the two quarries and intend to return in 2016 for further excavations.
Stonehenge bluestone quarries confirmed 140 miles away in Wales

Durrington Walls Super-henge
Barely a mile from Stonehenge an enormous row of 90 megalithic stones have been detected buried beneath the prehistoric super-henge of Durrington Walls earthwork.
The discovery of the huge line of megalithic stones 3 feet under the surface made using sophisticated radar equipment went undetected during excavations on the site by the Stonehenge Riverside Project 2004-06. The find has been interpreted as evidence of a huge "super-henge" ritual monument. However, the purpose of the huge stone row and the relationship of Durrington Walls to Stonehenge remains uncertain and seemingly contradicts previous conjecture in which the "timber" circles within Durrington were said to represent the land of the living.
Row of Megaliths detected at Durrington Walls

Thanks for reading and best wishes for 2016.

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