Cliffs End Farm – The Monograph has been published

Cliffs End Monograph cover

The amazing archaeology of Cliffs End can now be studied in detail.

Excavations at Cliffs End Farm undertaken in 2004/5 uncovered a dense area of archaeological remains including Bronze Age barrows and enclosures, a large late prehistoric mortuary feature, and a small early 6th- to late 7th-century Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery. An extraordinary series of human and animal remains were recovered from the Late Bronze Age–Middle Iron Age mortuary feature, revealing a wealth of evidence for mortuary rites including exposure, excarnation and curation.

The mortuary ritual encountered at the site was extraordinary, but the extensive radiocarbon and isotope analyses transformed our understanding of the far-reaching connections maintained by this population. The scale of the journeys undertaken by the individuals buried here is truly Trans-European, encompassing the Atlantic seaboard from the Iberian Peninsula to Scandinavia. Without these analyses this aspect would not have been evident from the finds assemblage alone.

McKinley, J.I., Leivers, M., Schuster, J., Marshall, P., Barclay, A.J. and Stoodley, N., 2014, Cliffs End Farm, Isle of Thanet, Kent. A mortuary and ritual site of the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon period with evidence for long-distance maritime mobility. Wessex Archaeology Report 31. Salisbury.

Available from Wessex Archaeology or Oxbow Books.

Archaeology at Cliffs End

The first article about the amazing archaeological site at Cliffs End Farm on the Isle of Thanet has now been published:

McKinley, J.I., Schuster, J. and Millard, A.R., 2013, Dead sea-connections: a Bronze Age and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet, in Koch, J.T. and Cunliffe, B.W. (eds), Celtic from the West 2: Rethinking the Bronze Age and the arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe, Celtic Studies Publications 16. Oxford, Oxbow Books, 157–83.

Download it here.

The site, excavated by Wessex Archaeology in 2004/05, contains as yet unparalleled evidence for ritual and funerary activity dating to the Late Bronze Age as well as the Early and Middle Iron Age. More than 100 radiocarbon determinations provide a tight chronological framework. Strontium/Oxygen isotope analysis of 20 individuals indicates a large proportion of migrants with probable origins in Scandinavia and the western Mediterranean.

The book is available from Oxbow Books. A monograph providing a detailed account of the excavation will be published as a Wessex Archaeology Report in the second half of 2014.

Salisbury Museum Medieval Catalogue part 4 published

The final volume of the Salisbury Museum Medieval Catalogue has just been published. It contains sections on alabasters, architectural and sculptured stonework, church bells and cast copper alloy vessels, leather shoes, objects of copper alloy, iron (including a contribution by Jörn Schuster) and wood, porphyry and window glass, as well as addenda and corrections to parts 1–3.

Continuing the trend of increasing in size with each consecutive part, the volume is amply illustrated on its 352 pages with 84 line drawings and 34 black and white plates.

It can be obtained from the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum shop for £25 (plus £5 post and packing).

Double-headed eagle finial from Faughart Lower, Co. Louth

One of the most intriguing objects I have worked on so far has recently been published in the new edition of seanda, the archaeology magazine of the Irish National Roads Authority (NRA). It is a bifurcated iron finial ending in two averted birds’ heads with eyes and beaks inlaid in copper-alloy, probably brass. The object was found in the grave fill of burial 1482 from the early medieval cemetery-settlement site at Faughart Lower.

The selection of finds from the site, investigated during the construction of the A1/N1 Newry–Dundalk Link Road, suggests more than just a passing contact with Vikings. Among the material are three crucibles, at least two of which are of triangular shape, a silver ingot and a stone mould for ingots, which provides evidence of non-ferrous metalworking. The site also has one of the earliest incidences of the combined use of plough share and coulter from Ireland.

You can find the article ‘Vikings at Faughart Lower?’ by Niall Roycroft on the NRA webpage in seanda (issue 7, 2012) on page 46–7.