Archaeologists find 25 skeletons in medieval Cambridge friary

Cambridge-SkeletonMore than 25 skeletons have been unearthed by archaeologists investigating the site of a medieval friary in the centre of Cambridge.

Archaeologists say the skeletons are in good condition and they expect to find as many as 40 in the coming weeks.

The land was home to a friary between 1290 and 1538, making many of the remains 450 years old.

The discovery was made in the university’s New Museums site, which is about to undergo a major redevelopment.

Site director Craig Cessford said building work through the centuries has left a number of skeletons “chopped through”.

He said: “The bones are really perfectly preserved apart from where early 20th Century foundations have chopped through them so in places you’ll only get half a body.

“Even when the friary was in use they sometimes chopped through the burials – so it’s not just in the modern period that the skeletons have been disturbed.”

The Augustinian friary was founded in 1290 but fell victim to the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538 under Henry VIII.

Photo: ©Cambridge Archaeological Unit

Saxon workshop evidence found by amateur archaeologists in Somerset

Saxon ForgeAmateur archaeologists have unearthed what is believed to be a Saxon workshop in a dig in Somerset.

The foundations were uncovered along with a large Norman building at an undisclosed location on the Mendip Hills.

Saxon keys and a 13th Century jug were also among the finds.

Project leader Pip Osborne, said: “There’s no written record of a building here but ever since I moved here I’ve been intrigued by the field.”

The find was made by a community archaeology group on a plot of land near the centre of a Mendip village.

The land, according to Ms Osborne, was given to the Abbey of Jumieges in Normandy in France by William the Conqueror in about 1080.

“I had a hunch about this empty field. I ran the machines over it and there was an image of something quite strong on the geophysics and I thought this has to be investigated,” she said.

Major Viking Age manor discovered at Birka, Sweden

Sweden-Viking-BirkaDuring spring of 2016 a number of large presumed house terraces were identified by the authors at Korshamn. As a consequence high resolution geophysical surveys using ground-penetrating radar were carried out in September 2016.

Korshamn is one of the main harbour bays of the island of Björkö, situated outside the town boundaries of the Viking town of Birka. The survey revealed a major Viking period hall on the site, with a length of around 40 meters. Based on the land upheaval the area of the Viking hall can be dated to sometime after 810 AD. The hall is connected to a large fenced area that stretches towards the harbour basin.

“This kind of Viking period high status manors has previously only been identified at a few places in southern Scandinavia, for instance at Tissø and Lejre in Denmark. It is known that the fenced area at such manors was linked to religious activities” says Johan Runer, archaeologist at the Stockholm county museum.

During the survey a predecessor for the Viking Age manor was also identified at the site: a high status manor that existed during the Vendel period, prior to the establishment of the Viking Age town of Birka.

Both the identified buildings and their continued use from the Vendel period to the Viking Age correlate well with the “ancestral property” of Birka’s royal bailiff Herigar as mentioned in Rimbert’s Vita Anskarii. Herigar was Christianized by Ansgar, archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, during his first mission c. 830 AD, and he built the first church on his land.

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