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February is the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth. Revered for his vivid descriptions of Victorian London, he is also applauded for drawing attention to the plight of the poorest in society. One of the slums he visited was Jacob’s Island, which became the backdrop to the thrilling dénouement of Oliver Twist. Ye t while the level of squalor seemed like a grotesque caricature to some Victorian and modern commentators, recent excavations have revealed deprivation on a chilling scale.

What stories can the artefacts in national museums tell us about those countries? We explore how objects both everyday and exclusive combine to tell the 230,000-year tale of the birth of Wales.

Viking finds are rare in the North West. The discovery of two hoards in 2011 provides a rare glimpse of the international reach of the Danelaw. Among the coin issuers is a previously unknown Viking ruler, whose reign was most likely cut short by the turbulent events of his time.

The largest excavation ever undertaken in Cambridgeshire has revealed how the landscape evolved from the Bronze Age through to the modern day. A Roman memorial garden and bizarre late monument are two of the intriguing discoveries in the Cam valley.

Finally, January saw the last pieces slotted into a Roman jigsaw puzzle almost a decade in the solving. The Hallaton cavalry helmet is now on public display. Read all about the messages conveyed by this masterpiece of imperial propaganda.

Our contributors this month

VIKING HOARDS DOT BOUGHTON Dot is the Finds Liaison Officer for Lancashire and Cumbria. As a North West FLO, Dot mostly deals with Roman and Medieval artefacts, but her main research interest is the socketed axes of the British Early Iron Age.


CLAY FARM’S EVOLVING LANDSCAPE RICHARD MORTIMER Digging since the mid 1980s, Richard has been working in East Anglia since 1994. Currently a Senior Project Manager with Oxford Archaeology East, his interests lie chiefly in the Middle Bronze Age and Middle Saxon periods.


THE HALLATON HELMET HELEN SHARP Responsible for the Southeast Leicestershire Treasure Project at Harborough Museum, Helen studied Archaeology at the University of Nottingham, and has worked in various museums since 2003. She joined Leicestershire County Council in 2008.


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| Issue 264 | current archaeology


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