22 NOVEMBRE 2017 NEWS: Cata Sand - Jelling - Saddleworth - Mount Stewart -
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ROYAUME UNI – Cata Sand - Archaeologists based in Orkney are investigating a number of 19th century whale skeletons recovered during a dig at a neolithic site. The bones were buried in pits cut into the site at Cata Sand, in Sanday. There are description in the historical records of a pod being stranded at the site, and buried when local people complained of the smell. It is thought whales and other cataceans have been exploited for as long as people have lived at the site. But it is not yet clear if these animals were deliberately forced onto the shore, or had been stranded accidentally. So, what sorts of things were we making from whale remains?;"There is evidence of using the vertebrae, hollowing out the middle, and using them as a storage vessel. There's also evidence of using the big jaw bones of certain whales to make tools, because it's easy to work with." ;As yet there is no definite identification of the species of whales recovered from Cata Sand but Claire MacKay says they could be long-finned pilot whales. :That could be confirmed when some DNA recovered from the bones is sent away for analysis.
DANEMARK – Jelling - A team of Danish archaeologists have used 3D printing technology to reconstruct the skull of Gorm the Old, the first historically recognized Viking king of Denmark. The famous king reigned over the Scandinavian country from the year 936 to his death in 958 CE. Gorm the Old’s skeleton was originally discovered in 1978, buried under the floor of Jelling Church, located in the village of Jelling where Gorm the Old ruled from. When asked if it would be possible to exhume the king’s bones again to perhaps capture a higher resolution scan or to extract DNA from the bones, the archaeologists are hesitant. “He’s been in the grave for 800 years, which for much of that time was under water, and his bones are very damaged,” explained Bak. “I doubt that it’s possible to extract DNA or strontium [an element that can indicate where a person lived]. Moreover, he’s been disinterred three times now, so it’s also a question of allowing him to rest in peace.”
ROYAUME UNI – Saddleworth - Tantalising pottery fragments are part of an “exciting find” at an ancient Saddleworth archaeological site. The test pit excavations at Waters Clough, Delph have uncovered wall footings and trenches for a large building which may belong to a grange from medieval times. The small pieces of pottery could be a drinking vessel and I interpret the building belonging to the medieval Grange of Friarmere, held by the Cistercian Roche Abbey, near Rotherham, from the late 12th century to the Dissolution of 1538.” The structure uncovered comprises a central range measuring 20 metres by 10 metres with an east and west range each of 38 metres length. “This large building was consistently built with 0.5 metre wide walls bonded with an orange clay and lime mortar,” Mr Redhead explained. “A possible stone-laid track with wagon wheel ruts has been found and the two sherds of medieval Pennine Gritty Ware consistent with a date c1200-1300 for the building.”Medieval granges were estate farms to provide food surpluses for the mother abbey and intensive farming was undertaken by labourers under the supervision of lay brothers. The small hamlet of Grange in the Castleshaw Valley may have been the original residence of the lay brothers. “By the early 14th century many of the granges across the Pennines were divided into smaller plots under tenant farmers,” Mr Redhead added. “This seems to be the case at Friarmere as five tenant farms are referenced in a document of 1296.
ULSTER – Mount Stewart - Hidden away on the Mount Stewart estate in County Down is a piece of history - that only now is coming to light. It is a Norman-era motte-and-bailey castle, built about 800 years ago. Since the National Trust obtained the land three years ago, this is the first chance it has had to clear the site of the trees which have hidden it, on and off, for centuries.The 12th Century motte-and-bailey castle lies on the Ards peninsula on the Mount Stewart Trust Estate. A special Lidar image for archaeologists showed there was something there, and a conventional photo promised something circular, hidden among the trees."It's a defensive structure - a tall mound, in this case 23 metres in diameter, surrounded by this really imposing deep ditch," explained Mr Conway. From the historical records, he can place a particular Norman tenant - a man called Robert de Singleton - there in the year 1333.