A recent excavation campaign at Binchester Roman fortconcluded with a spectacular discovery. A trench revealedpart of a bathhouse that may be one of the best-preservedstructures surviving from Roman Britain. Traces of garishfrescoes still cling to walls standing above head height,which bear witness to refurbishments that kept pace with the garrison’s demand for creature comforts. We discover how a facility dedicated to cleanliness ended up choked with dirt.
Also in this issue, we pay a visit to Alderley Edge to learn the results of a surveyunearthing the secrets of a landscape that has attracted miners and myths in equalmeasure. From a Bronze Age shovel that became a schoolboy’s talisman to a 19th-centurylandowner’s revenge on the commuter settlement that had appropriated thename of his family seat, this weird and wonderful landscape is fertile ground for stories.
The devil is in the detail, they say, and for medieval churches and cathedrals thisadage is especially apt. A fascinating study of graffiti is giving voice to generations ofcongregations and clergymen who whiled away the hours incising fears, fancies, andfrustrations into the masonry. These frequently crude compositions of ships, windmills,music, and demons bring their creators’ worlds to life with extraordinary power.
A lost landscape has been brought to light in the Biddenham Loop,where archaeologists have dug a huge tract of land boundwithin a river meander. What they found was a place wheremonuments evolved over thousands of years, keeping pastgenerations’ decisions very much in the present.
IN THIS ISSUE:/n
ON THE EDGE/n
The story of Alderley from prehistory to the present
Mining on Alderley Edge dates back to at least the Bronze Age and continued into the20th century. How was this picturesque sandstone outcrop transformed from a hubof mining activity into Manchester’s first commuter community?
BATHING AT BINCHESTER/n
Creature comforts in the military north
Unearthing Binchester Roman fort started two centuries ago, with the discovery ofa bathhouse after the ground gave way beneath a horse and cart. In recent years,major excavations have exposed one of the best-preserved surviving Roman buildingsin Britain. How do the two bathhouses compare, and what can they tell us about life inand around the military base?
Recording England’s early church graffiti
A survey of medieval graffiti in Norfolk’s churches has revealed tens of thousands of illicitengravings. What do these reveal about the people who left their mark on the church walls?
LIFE IN THE LOOP/n
A landscape 6,000 years in the making near Biddenham
Excavation near Biddenham in Bedfordhire has uncovered a wealth of features rangingfrom the Neolithic to the Saxon eras. How did so many successive generations occupyingthe same land develop the landscape of their forebears?
AVERTING EVIL IN ROMAN BRITAIN/n
Phallic carvings onthe frontier
Depictions of phalluses can be foundacross the Roman world. How did theseimages find their way to Britain, and whatdid the island’s residents think of them?
150 Anglo-Saxon graves found at Bulford; Bear bones story rewritesIrish prehistory; Major Roman villa discovered in Wiltshire;Scourge of Rufford Abbey found?; Remains of Partick Castlerediscovered; Deer DNA sheds light on prehistoric seafaring;Relic of Romano-British religion found in London
Continuing excavations in north-westWales have uncovered the remainsof the area’s first multi-house earlyNeolithic settlement. With a rangeof enigmatic features preserved, thisis an exceptional find.
Blood of the Celts: The New Ancestral Story; The Archaeological Excavation Dictionary;Latin Inscriptions
Chris Catling’s irreverent take onheritage issues
Dry Stone Walling Association