current archaeology may 1972
In this issue . . .
This is our Wessex Culture issue: prehistory these days is looking distinctly topsy turvy, so we take a look at three particularly topsy turvy problems. For instance, what is the date of the Wessex Culture? How did they bury in the Middle Bronze Age? Or how do you draw the line between the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age?
We start off with this latter problem to which Cullykhan gives a classic answer: the Late Bronze Age is the Early Iron Age. At this bleak promontory fort in north-east Scotland a late Bronze Age chisel was found in the same level as iron smelting. The whole site was a mass of complex fortifications, and Colvin Greig describes the powerful gateway complex and the successive phases of fortification.
Then we give details of the new Rescue Scholarships. In the past, the term Middle Bronze Age has been applied to burials all too easily. Is there in fact any burial that can be firmly assigned to the Middle Bronze Age as it is currently defined? An indisputable example now exists at llford Hill, already well known as the site of a classic Middle Bronze Age settlement. Now the cemetery has been excavated and for once settlement and cemetery can be firmly linked.
In Books we discuss Jugoslavia, Lepenski Vir, Industrial Archaeology, The Dark Ages, Themes on Roman Britain, San Agustin, the Mochica and Early Buddhist Rock Temples.
In the new configurations of the Wessex Culture, the crucial site is not in Wessex but at Earls Barton. Here a Wessex type dagger was found in a barrow which gave radiocarbon dates of 1219 and 1264 b.c. But do the dates date the dagger? This is a perenial problem of radiocarbon dating, and here we try to present the evidence both for and against.
But the Earls Barton dates do not stand alone. In The Wessex Culture we first discuss some other radio-
carbon dates and then take a look across the Channel at a very rich grave with Wessex affinities at Kernonen in Brittany. There are also other aspects of the problem. Thus we look at the faience beads problem; the problem of the double axes; and the problem of the Unetice pins; and we try tentatively to plot the way ahead. There is also a note on radiocarbon dating itself, where we ask 'Why b.c.?'
But enough of prehistory. Deserted medieval villages have long been commonplace but deserted medieval towns are somewhat rare. At Rhuddlan in North Wales, there are no less than three, and Mrs. Henrietta Miles describes her excavations there.
We conclude with our Rescue section. By far and away the most important rescue document yet produced is The Erosion of History, just published by the C.B.A. Now, for the first time anywhere in the world a planning document has been produced which lists all our historic towns, shows how many are being threatened. We extract from the report a Role of Honour where something is being done, a List of Shame where nothing is being done, and a list of urgent problems.
A typical example of a small but historically very important town is Tewkesbury, for which a report has just been produced on the Archaeological Implications of the Proposed Redevelopment.
Cover Photo: Bowl barrows of the Wessex type are usually sited on hilltops. The Earls Barton barrow, as our cover photo so dramatically shows was situated in the valley bottom. Here excavations are suspended due to flooding. Photo: Dennis Jackson.
238 Earls Barton 241 The Wessex Culture 245 Rhuddlan by Henrietta Miles 249 The Erosion of History 252 Tewkesbury