High Lights P ERHAPS the most dramatic recent discovery in British Archaeology has been that of the Bronze Age Copper Mines on the Great Orme Head in North Wales. In a way they have always been known - but for long they were written off as being Roman and it is only recently that radiocarbon dating has demonstrated that they must be Bronze Age. What is so surprising is their sheer extent, - going a quarter of a mile into the hillside and over 200 feet down.
One of the saddest recent discoveries was that of a ten month old Romano-British child excavated at Arrington. He suffered from water on the brain but was buried with his toys an amazing collection of figurines carefully chosen to accompany him to the next world.
Then veteran aerial archaeologist Jim Pickering argues controversially that the pit alignments he sees from the air are evidence for neolithic tree planting; we report on a rich AngloSaxon burial at Boss Hall; and finally we describe what Martin Biddle discovered when he set out to excavate the tomb of St Alban underneath St Alban's Cathedral.
We conclude with archaeology abroad, and a major survey of the work of the British School at Athens. The School has been concentrating recently on Sparta. Classical Sparta is often written off as being dull and uninteresting: but it all depends where you look. The interesting town is Roman Sparta which turned itself into the world's first heritage centre and grew quietly rich and prosperous by presenting the Roman tourist with a dressed up version of its heroic past.
But Sparta also plays a major role in the story of the Trojan War, for in Homer it is ruled by Menelaus and his wife Helen. Where was their palace? Recently a Mycenaean 'mansion' has been excavated just outside Sparta, with an archaic shrine to Helen and Menelaus adjacent. For those who like to connect Homeric myths with archaeological remains, could this be the palace from which Helen was abducted by Paris and thus began the Trojan war?
CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY No. 130 Vol. XI No. 10 Published August 1992
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