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Editor’s letter

Welcome archaeologycurrent

Current Archaeology 209 (Vol XVIII No. 5) May/June 2007

Editorial Issue editor: Neil Faulkner Editors in chief: Andrew & Wendy Selkirk Publisher: Robert Selkirk Business manager: Libby Selkirk Current Publishing, Barley Mow Centre 10 Barley Mow Passage, London W4 4PH Tel: 08456 44 77 07 (office hours)

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Unauthorised reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without written permission. The publisher, editor and authors accept no responsibility in respect of any products, goods or services which may be advertised or referred to in this issue. Every effort has been made to secure permission for copyright material. In the event of any material being used inadvertently or where it has proved impossible to trace the copyright owner, acknowledgement will be made in a future issue. 03070613

Radiocarbon dating revolutionised the study of prehistory. Then it was discovered you had to calibrate dates or you could be centuries out: calibration was the second radiocarbon revolution. Now there is a third. Bayesian statistics are narrowing radiocarbon date-ranges down to a fraction of what they were. Suddenly, prehistoric chronologies have stopped being ‘fuzzy’ and we can see what was happening at specific moments in time 6,000 years ago. The first results of a major new dating programme – for five Neolithic long-barrows – have just been published. Our first main feature this issue is a full report on the third radiocarbon dating revolution.

Then we look back. Ros Niblett is one of the top figures from the postwar generation of field archaeologists. Her work transformed our knowledge of two major Roman towns – Colchester and Verulamium. As she retires from full-time employment as St Albans District Archaeologist, we profile Ros and her five decades of urban archaeology.

We stay with the Romans in our third feature. Here we challenge everyone who thinks tile is dull. Peter Warry has made a special study of Roman tile, and, as he explains, it is packed with information about dates, construction methods, building function, and even Roman-style privatisation.

Many feel the Roman mind-set is more familiar to us than the medieval. Certainly there are mysteries locked up in some medieval art. Sally Mittuch has been studying some of the most enigmatic of the 1000 or so stunning 14th century stone bosses that adorn Norwich Cathedral. The result is an extraordinary window into medieval conceptions of death and resurrection.

Our last feature takes us back again to the Neolithic. Digging beneath the runway of a Second World War airfield, archaeologists have found a huge 2.75 hectare enclosure formed of over 2000 timber posts. Why did Neolithic people create such things? A nearby mound may have been a viewing platform. Is it a clue to what went on in the enclosure?

Regulars include News, Books, Last Word, and Letters. But we also have a debate between Cei Paynton of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Andrew Selkirk, CA’s Editor-in-Chief, on what we should do about the sale of antiquities.

Finally, we present our guide to archaeological fieldwork opportunities in Britain. Take a look through to discover all the great new projects as well as ongoing digs that welcome volunteers. Let us know of any more that should be added, and if you join one of those listed, we would love to hear about your experience.

A dating revolution, a medieval mystery, a hot debate, a summer of digs to join, and much more: it is a packed issue. Good reading!

Neil Faulkner

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