Tag Archives: archaeology

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

One of the most infamous landmarks of Glastonbury is the Tor. It is extremely popular from the Arthurian legends. The Tor is a tall hill that ascends over 158 meters from Glastonbury and hosts panoramic views of the English countryside, viewing the three counties of Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. During the legendary Isles of Avalon, this would have been the highest point on the isles. Geologically the Tor rises from Lower lias clays and limestones from the Middle and Upper Lias to a deposit of hard midford sand at the cap 521 feet and called the “Tor Burr”. The Tor has a conical shape made up of horizontal bands of limestone, clays, and capped with sandstone. As erosional forces dug away with limestone and clays, the sandstone lasts resisting erosion creating steep slopes. Historically, this Tor would have towered as an island above the flooded Somerset Levels, but as the levels were drained over the ages for agriculture and other uses, it is now a hill blended ito the landscape. The terraces on the slopes date to Medieval times where the hillside was one of the few dry locations where locals could farm and graze animals. The Tor is believed to have been a sacred site of pilgrimage for over 10,000 years and still used today. It is believed to be a gateway to the Otherworld. Lithics and other artifacts show presence of humans here for thousands of years.

It was said that Joseph of Arimathea in 63 C.E. founded a settlement here. Archaeologically the earliest found was a 6th century settlement, the earliest found in Glastonbury and many believe was the first Christian community in the area founded by Joseph. Evidence from the 6th century was found during excavations of 1964-1966 that exposed occupation during this time, and a second phase of occupation from 900-1100 C.E. by the finding of a head of a cross that were probably monks cells cut into the rock on the summit, a tradition of a monastic site on the Tor was confirmed by the 1243 charter granting permission for a fair at the Monastery of St. Michael at this location.

During the 8th century, the Great Abbey was built on the site of the present abbey ruins in the 8th century and then rebuilt becoming the wealthiest abbey in Britain, but destroyed in 1539 by the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

In the 13th century it is said the first Church on the Tor to be built was St. Michael’s Church in the charter of 1243 C.E.

These ruins are what you see today the most notable part of which is St. Michael’s Tower. These ruins are from the 2nd church replacing the original that was destroyed in the 1275 C.E. earthquake. This second church lasted until 1539 until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The earliest legend after Joseph of Arimeathea is the mid-thirteenth century story of St. Patrick coming from Ireland and becoming the leader of the hermits here. He was said to have discovered an ancient Oratory in ruins atop the Tor after climbing through dense woods.

In the historic era, this is the location where Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, and some of his monks were hung.

    “Glastonbury Tor, one of the most famous and sacred landmarks in the West Country. From the summit at 158 metres, you can get amazing views over three counties – Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. What is the tor? “Tor” is a West Country word of Celtic origin meaning hill. The conical shape of Glastonbury Tor is natural – due to its rocks. It is made up of horizontal bands of clays and limestone with a cap of hard sandstone. The sandstone resists erosion, but the clays and limestone have worn away, resulting in the steep slopes. A historic landscape: Before modern drainage, the tor in winter would have towered as an island above the flooded Somerset Levels. The terraces on the slopes date back to medieval times when the hillside was one of the few dry places where people could grow crops and graze animals. A place of pilgrimage: The tor has been a place of pilgrimage for over 10,000 years. Many thousands of people still visit each year, some for its links with religion, legends and beliefs, and others because it is such a renowned landmark. History of the Tower: on the summit is St. Michael’s Tower, part of a 14th century church. It was built to replace a previous church which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1275. The second church lasted until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. At this time, the tor was the scene of the hanging of Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury. The Tor was the site of a 6th century settlement, the earliest yet found in Glastonbury. Some believe this was the first Christian community in the area, said to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea in AD 63. 8th Century: The great Abbey: A stone church was built on the site of the present abbey ruins in the 8th century. It was rebuilt and became one of the wealthiest abbeys in Britain, but was destroyed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. 13th century: A church on the tor – The first written record on St. Michael’s Church on the tor is in a charter of 1243. The building was destroyed in an earthquake in 1275. 14th century- St. Michael’s Tower – in the 14th century, a new church was built on the tor, which survived until the Dissolution. St. Michael’s tower is all that remains. Glastonbury Tor rises from the Lower lias clays and limestones through the Middle and Upper Lias to a deposit of hard midford sand on the cap, 521 ft. high known locally as Tor Burr. This is more resistant to erosion than the lower levels making the slopes steep and unstable. These steep sculptured slopes, rising dramatically from the isle of Avalon in the flat somerset levels, have encouraged much speculation about the origin of the Tor in legend. The earliest reference is a mid-thirteenth century story of St. Patrick’s return from Ireland in which he became a leader of hermits at glastonbury and discovered an ancient ruined oratory on the summit after climbing through a dense wood, scattered fines of prehistoric, roman, and later objects suggest the Tor was always used by man, but evidence for actual occupation from the 6th AD was uncovered in the excavations of 1964-6, a second phase of occupation between 900-1100 was distinguished by the head of a cross and what were probably Christian monk’s cells cut into the rock on the summit, the tradition of a monastic site on the Tor is confirmed by a charter of 1243 granting permission for a fair at the monastery of St. Michael there. The present tower though later modified, is essentially 15th century and is associated with the second of two major churches which stood on the summit. The second one was probably built after the destructive earthquake of 1275. The monastic church of St. Michael closely associated with the Great Abbey in the town below fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 when Richard WHiting the last abbot of Glastonbury was hanged on the Tor.” ~ information signs on the Tor, Glastonbury, England.

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Denver Museum of Natural History

Free day at the Denver Museum of Natural History (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28273); New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken November 5, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Free day at the Denver Museum of Natural History

– Denver Museum of Natural History and Science –
Denver, Colorado

One of Denver’s star attractions, the Museum of Nature and Science is a hallmark of the area, and an informal science education center for the Rocky Mountains. It hosts a variety of exhibits, programs, and activities for visitors to embark and learn from about the history of the Earth, the world, and most specifically Colorado. The building is roughly 716,000 square feet housing more than a million objects in its collections covering anthropology, archaeology, paleontology, geology, art, and the universe. It is also a repository for an incredible archives and library. The museum is independent and a non-profit with over 350 full time and part time staff, over 1800 volunteers, and a board of trustees with 25 member. It is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is a affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. There are six main areas in the museum – (1) The Exhibitions, (2) IMAX films, (3) lectures, (4) classes, and (5) programs based around anthropology, geology, health science, paleontology, space science, and zoology. They receive well over 300,000 students and teachers every year just in school groups alone.

The museum spread from the Edwin Carter Log Cabin Naturalist Museum in 1875 that was the private fauna collection of Colorado species gathered together by Edwin Carter from Breckenridge Colorado. In 1892 a group of Denver citizens declared interest in his collection to be moved to the capital for all to enjoy, and Carter sold it to them for $10,000. They added another collection of butterflies and moths as well a some crystallized gold. This combined collection became the Colorado Museum of Natural History and was incorporated in 1900. The Museum finally opened in 1908. By 1918 it opened another wing. In 1927 one of its teams discovered two stone projectile points embedded in extinct species of Bison in Folsom, New Mexico putting the museum in the spotlight.

There are several permanent areas of the museum, these are:

  • Discovery Zone – a hands on educational center for kids allowing them to build, learn about water, make crafts, and excavate dinosaur bones.
  • Egyptian Mummies – an exhibit with two mummies and their associated artifacts, depicting life in Ancient Egypt and an introduction to their belief systems.
  • Expedition Health – teaches museum patrons about the human body and the science of taste.
  • Gems and Minerals – welcomes visitors into a cavern of gems and minerals, both local and globally.
  • Native American Indian Cultures – an exhibit exploring the original inhabitants of North America.
  • Prehistoric Journey – a journey into paleontology with fossil collections and skeletons of great magnitude.
  • Space Odyssey – a collection and exhibit about space, exploration, and the universe.
  • Wildlife Exhibits – animal dioranams showing scenes of life of various animals on the planet, focused on Colorado as well as globally.

The museum also houses a large 50,000 plus object collection of anthropological, archaeological, and ethnological artifacts from North America. They also house over 800 items from an ethnological art collection, archival photographs, and documents. The Earth Sciences Collection contains six main groups of fauna, flora, and mineral components such as vertebrate paleontology, paleobotany, invertebrate paleontology, minerals, meteorites, and micromount. The Health Sciences Collection has rare an unique human anatomy specimens as well as pieces of medical importance. The Space Sciences Lab houses the museums Scientific Instruments Collection.
the Department of Space Sciences maintains a large digital collection of images and multimedia assets for space. The Zoology Collection houses over 900,000 specimens of species and creatures from around the globe. The
Bailey Library and Archives focuses on anthropology, archaeology, earth sciences, health sciences, space sciences, zoology, the Rocky Mountain West, and museum studies with over 53,000 publications, 2,500 rare books, and 9,000 volumes of scientific periodicals. Various temporary exhibits come in for a wide variation of subjects and collections. The Phipps IMAX Theater was built in 1940 originally used for concerts, films, and lectures. Then it was re-opened in 1983 as an IMAX Theater primarily.

The museum actually has various secrets as there are hidden paintings located throughout the museum such as Kent Pendleton, one of the diorama painters, placed eight elves hidden in his art for visitors to find, as well as some Star Wars related pictures by the IMAX lobby. Rated 5 stars out of 5

Free day at the Denver Museum of Natural History (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28273); New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken November 5, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Free day at the Denver Museum of Natural History (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28273); New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken November 5, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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“USC 3-D @ Three Rivers” ~ Columbia, South Carolina


USC 3-D @ Three Rivers
* Rachel Palmer – “Welcome Home” * South Riverfront Park Address : 312 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC * North Riverfront Park Address : 4210 River Drive, Columbia, SC *

A great little statue/monument that sits near the Christopher Columbus statue at the Columbia Canal in the Riverfront Park. Shows sedimentary layers of the rivers with deposits and artifacts. Beautifully sculpted and presented. A great piece for any geologist, archaeologist, or history buff. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


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Archaeology Museum of Ireland

Museum of Archaeology
* Kildare Street * Dublin 2, Co. Dublin, Ireland * +353 1 6777444 * http://www.museum.ie/ * Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm; Sunday: 2pm – 5pm ; Closed Mondays, Christmas Day and Good Friday *

The National Museum of Ireland has several museums throughout Dublin. One of its famous is the Archaeology Museum which is the national repository for all archaeological objects found in Ireland. The Museum boasts of over 2 million artifacts. It is Ireland’s premiere collection of Irish material culture, heritage, and the natural world. The National Museum ws founded under the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act of 1877. Originally the collections were divided between the Leinster House and the Natural History Museum in Merrion Street. Under the new Act, the government had funding to purchase the museum buildings and collections, build proper facilities and storage space for the Leinster House collections, and constructed this new custom-built museum on Kildare street for Archaeology opening on August 29, 1890. The purpose of the museum is to collect, preserve, promote, and exhibit all examples of Ireland’s portable material culture and heritage, interpret the collections, promote them, and make them accessible to the world. They are also to become the authoritative voice on relevant aspects of Irish heritage, culture, and natural history so that they can maintain the lead role in education, research, and scholarship pertaining to the collections and its contexts. The Building that houses the collections was built in 1889-1890 and designed by Cork architects Thomas Newenham Deane and his son Thomas Manly Deane which has since become an architectural landmark because it was built in the Victorian Palladian style and has been compared with the Altes Museum in Berlin that was designed by Karl Schinkel in the 1820s. The Building’s Neo-classical influences can be seen in the colonnaded entrance and the domed rotunda that is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. The rotunda contains classical columns that are made of marble quarried from Counties Cork, Kilkenny, Galway, Limerick and Armagh in order to mirror the entrance. Its great centre court has a balcony that is supported by rows of slender cast-iron columns with elaborate capitals and bases and are decorated with groups of cherubs. The balcony hosts more rows of plain columns and attractive openwork spandrels that support the roof. The building’s interior has rich motifs decorating the insides mimicking styles from Ancient Greece and Rome highlighted by mosaic floors with classical mythology scenes including the zodiac. The museum has several Permanent Exhibitions which are: (1) Or – Ireland’s Gold Artifacts housing the finest collection of prehistoric gold artifacts in western Europe ranging from Celtic Iron Age metalworking up through medieval ecclesiastical objects and jewelry. These are also Ireland’s collection of prehistoric gold workings dating from 2200 BCE to 500 BCE including torques, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and objects of unknown use. The Early Bronze Age collections were made primarily from sheet gold into sun discs, crescentic gold collars called lunulae, and then 1200 BCE new gold working techniques creating torcs by twisting bars or strips of gold. The exhibit reflects the evolution of the styles up to 900 BCE where gold working was divided into two main types: solid objects including bracelets and dress-fasteners and the large sheets of gold collars and delicate ear-spools. (2) – Prehistoric Ireland: Is he exhibition that covers human settlement in Ireland from stone tools of the first hunter-gatherers in 7000 BCE to bronze weapons of the Late Bronze Age (500 BCE) highlighting a reconstructed Passage Tomb as the backdrop for the tools, pottery, and artifacts. The history covers introduction of metalworking (2500 BCE) and its evolution and changes. Displays of copper axes, daggers, shields, cauldrons, and cast bronze horns are amongst some of the highlighted artifacts. Jewelry made of glass, stone, and amber; wooden shields, wheels, and cauldrons are also exhibited. (3) – Kingship and Sacrifice: Is the exhibit covering Ireland’s infamous Iron Age bog bodies found at Oldcroghan, Co. Offaly and Clonycavan, Co. Meath in 2003, and research up to date that has been conducted to understand them. Most of these bodies are believed to have been human sacrifice that were deposited in bogs along tribal boundaries to signify sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age. These collections includes items of royal regalia, horse trappings, weapons, feasting utensils, boundary markers and votive deposits of butter known as bog butter. (4) – The Treasure contains Iconic Treasures until the real exhibit is ready. These cover outstanding religious and secular metalworking that dates from Pagan Celtic Iron Age through the Middle Ages. Some highlights include the sumptuously ornamented Broighter gold collar, models of a boat, a cauldron, the Broighter Collar in La Tne art style, eighth to ninth-Century Golden Age artifacts such as the Ardagh and Derrynaflan Hoards, the Moylough Belt Shrine, and the gilt silver ‘Tara’ Brooch. (5) – Viking Age: covering hoards of silver bullion, brooches, plain silver, and other artifacts from 800 CE to 1150 CE; history of Viking graves (9-10th centuries); rural life; nd remains of Dublin excavations from 1962-1981 demonstrating ecclesiastical metalwork of the 11th and 12th Centuries showing fusion of Scandinavian and Irish art styles at the close of the Viking Age. (6) – Medieval Ireland: 1150 – 1550 C.E. galleries labelled Power, Work and Prayer to reflect the three-fold division of medieval society – nobles, common people and clergy. It covers warfare, agriculture (pastoral and arable), import trade and the various crafts and industries operating in towns. Focuses on churches and faiths, religious practice and devotion as well as church furnishings. (7) – Ancient Egypt: Ireland’s fabulous Egyptian collections display over 3,000 artifacts most of which were acquired from excavations carried out in Egypt between 1890-1920 ranging from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. These include sites such as Hieraconpolis, Deir el-Bahri, Ehnasya, Oxyrhynchus, Tarkhan and Riqqa highlighting the gilt and painted cartonnage case of the mummy Tentdinebu (22nd Dynasty c. 945 – 716 BC); the mummy portraits of a woman and a young boy from Hawara (first/second Century AD); model of a wooden boat (early 12th Dynasty c. 1900 BC); and a number of important stelae, tomb furniture, offering tables, jewellery and household equipment. (8) – Ceramics and Glass from Ancient Cyprus: The displays to this collection show many artifacts that have never been exhibited before including ceramic pieces from tombs uncovered in the 19th Century. These artifacts range from the Bronze Age (2500 BCE) to the late Roman period (300 CE) including five clay figurines on loan from the Cyprus Museum Nicosia, ceramics, and glass. (9) – Life and Death in the Roman World: displaying artifacts that have been in storage in the National Museum of Ireland since the early 1920s demonstrating classical art and architecture consisting of glass vessels, textiles, sculpture, ceramics, coins, gemstones and architectural fragments from places as geographically diverse as Egypt, Austria and England. This exhibit also displays Etruscan material exploring the themes of ‘Everyday Life’; ‘Death, Burial and the Afterlife’; ‘Religion’; ‘Personal Adornment and Dress’; ‘Entertainment’; and ‘Imperial Power in the Roman world’ and ends with the introduction of Christianity. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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6.17.10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 13 – Last day of Excavations, The Collections, Newquay Beach

Greenbottom/Chacewater/Truro, Cornwall, England

It was depressing that today would be my last day of excavations at Saveok. I really wish I could have afforded and budgeted more time/funds to stay here longer. I had my last divine breakfast with Vanda and Paul … and as we were chatting to came to the subject of tall sailing ships. Turns out Vanda knows a guy who has a historic sailing ship that he doesn’t want to sell but is only using it for running wine between France and England. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could work out a deal to run Pirate Relief with his ship as a tax write-off for him? One can dream. I really enjoyed my time with Vanda and Paul … couldn’t recommend their Bed and Breakfast more. Vanda offered to drive me to the bus stop after the field day so left my bags in the sun room and tromped off across the fields to the site. Oh how I to miss this place. :: sigh :: I have a strong calling that I’m meant to work here … further … if not as a purpose/request in life. Who knows what the future will bring. Being an American I’m limited and the cost of travels in Europe certainly are twice the cost as it is home. :: sigh :: So the final day of excavating.

Jacqui pulled out the artifact collection and showed me the amazing finds. This is such a sacred place. This site is such an amazing piece of history for the Other People, it’s not funny. What Jacqui is uncovering and finding is important pieces in the history of magic and folklore in the U.K. This place sends shivers of excitement up and down my spine – its sooo ethereal. I wish I could find funding or an opportunity to apprentice with Jacqui. An amazing scholar with so much to share. If only I lived in the UK …

We resumed excavations on the Feather pits where we believe we’ve uncovered from the clay caps upwards of three more offering pits. Jacqui also chose some natural colored clays to send with me that I could use at the Three Wishes Faerie Festival to make some tribal body paints … if I find somewhere to get linseed oil before hitting the festival. Found some interesting pottery, ceramics, and metal items in the pit … but the clock struck four and it was time to unfortunately head off on to the next leg of my journey. I will miss Saveok dearly. I wandered back to the Bed and Breakfast where Vanda was awaiting me to shuttle me to the bus stop. I’ll miss them dearly as well. I caught the bus to Truro and hit the rail station to await my train to Par.

Me and Jacqui Wood excavating

Newquay, Cornwall, Britain
From Par I had to change trains to backtrack to Newquay. Apparently doing this train route is 5 minutes shorter than the bus route – which would have been a straight run with no stops. A bit of a layover. I did meet a father and daughter from Vancouver who were pretty intriguing. They had been cycling around Cornwall. I wish I could do that. Someday perhaps. The daughter recently moved to London from Vancouver. Onwards to Newquay – I got off the train to find a very touristy, party beach city. Surf-central. The map made the St. Christopher’s Inn (Surfer Hostel) look not far away – I suppose it would have been closer by foot if I hadn’t walked past it for a 1/2 mile with heavy backpacks and bags. I found it – it was above the Belushi’s bar. The staff was nice but very pirate-sque. Very party central. They gave me a full dorm room all to myself with a beautiful view of the beach. I could have been completely satisfied with just hanging in the room all night with that view. I decided though this would be my only chance to see Newquay. So I ventured out. The bar was too rowdy, 98% male and testosterone-pumped as they were watching the World Cup. Oh how I abhor sports. I went for some fish n’ chips for din-din and wandered down to the beach and piers. Water way too freezing cold for a swim which was very disappointing as it was so welcoming to the eyes. I contemplated clubbing, but settled back into the room to some cider n’ wifi … needed some rest and relaxation before Three Wishes Faerie Fest tomorrow and meeting Faerie Zoe at the Train Station on the Bodmin Moor …

Continue reading 6.17.10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 13 – Last day of Excavations, The Collections, Newquay Beach


The Orkney Hood:

The Orkney Hood Reconstruction by Jacqui Wood:

During my visit to Saveok Mill, I was enlightened by one of Jacqui Wood’s Experimental Archaeology Projects … when she was commissioned to create a replica/reconstruction of Britain’s earliest textile clothing that was found – The Orkney Hood. You can read Jacqui’s write-up about her project here: http://www.archaeologyonline.org/Orkney%20Hood/Orkney%20Hood%20Main%20Page.htm.

The Archaeological Remains of one of Britain’s oldest textiles, named “The Orkney Hood”, after the parish in which it was found (St. Andrew’s Parish Orkney) in 1867 serves as an example of some of the best preservation of textile in existence. Found preserved in peat, was this unique garment with radiocarbon dates for the garment was approximately 1595 + B.P. i.e. AD c. 250-615. A very common garment for its time, The Orkney Hood was a fringed woolen cloak that had remained in the National Museum of Scotland for almost 83 years until it was examined by A. S. Henshall who suggested that it was a Iron Age or Viking hood based on the woven bands of fringe found on the garment. The preservation was unique and amazing. Henshall’s theory also lined up with the radiocarbon dates. He suggested Scandinavian origins. This find was contemporary with the Iron Age site of Minehowe. This particular garment piece was believed to have been constructed for a child.

After Jacqui Wood’s 2001 Experimental Archaeology lecture in Orkney, she was commissioned by the council to ‘reconstruct’ this garment so that they could present it in the museum and understand better what the garment looked like. Jacqui researched the design, the weave, the dyes, fibres, and construction. Utilizing her local Wool Marketing Board Wool Sheds, she examined a large range of colors from Shetland Fleeces, and then travelled to Ediburg to study the hood in detail. She returned to Cornwall to begin the commission. She created a simple warp weighted loom with which she would do the weaving. She created a 2/2 herringbone twill weave with the loom to replicate the original cloth construction utilizing Tablet Weaving. She based hers on the tableet excavated in Denmark (1888) that dated to 200 BCE. She constructed the narrow tablet woven band on the hood using 6 tablets at 2 cm width. For the Broad Band with Fringe she utilized 50 tablets to create a maximum 6 cm. width weave mixing light and dark brown to create the striped band pattern. She then began to Assemble the hood from the three woven parts. She Finished a beautiful reconstruction of this very old Orkney garment that now sits in the museum. The reconstruction took approximately 5 1/2 months to complete from start to finish (230 hours). (see: http://www.archaeologyonline.org/Orkney%20Hood/Pictures/The%20Hood.htm for photo of the reconstruction).

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Chron. of Sir Thomas Leaf: (TWPP): Day 10 – Excavations & Site Explorations, Truro, Cornish Countryside

Morning window view

Arising early in the small village of Chacewater, I awoke in my private room at the King’s Head Tavern – peering out the window and seeing a beautiful clear day. Been very lucky with the good weather that I’ve had on this trip so far. Afterall, it is the Islands and its supposed to rain alot in these parts. Good night’s sleep was had. The shared bathroom in the hallway was empty so I was able to get a shower with no fuss. That’s always a nice start to the day. I stumbled down to the tavern, and the innskeeper was awaiting my arrival as she had a spread of food offerings for me … I ordered up the English Breakfast which at least in Cornwall consists of Eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom, fried tomato, toast, and beans. In addition I had Orange Juice, Tea, yogurt, and cereal. What a hearty and heart-smashing breakfast. I took the 20 minute walk back to Saveok Mill to start the day excavating the site with Jacqui. It was Cathy’s final day for excavating so we finished up the units where the mill flough was located that Cathy had been working on. We uncovered alot of pottery shards – mainly porcelain and chunks of white quartzite stone. Cathy had to return to Canada today so the priority before a site tour was to finish up her excavating. After Cathy left, Jacqui showed me some of the artifacts collected on the site through the years, gave me a fantastic site tour, and showed me where the demonstration / reconstruction areas were for her experimental archaeology projects. I was so impressed with the site. It possessed amazing energy and you could feel the energies of the people that once lived here. Closing one’s eyes you could imagine what life was like here throughout the ages. You could tell it was a very holy and sacred place. Based on my archaeological interests, I was most impressed with the swan-feathered offering pits, the potential temple, the purification pools, and the ritual areas. I knew immediately that someday I would like to work here full time. After a good day of excavating, chatting, touring, and exploring the site – time spun by and it was already past our time. Jacqui guided me through the hole in the stone wall that was cut to the adjoining property where Vanda and Paul have their Bed and Breakfast – The Polgwedhen Farm. Nice short walk across the scenic Cornish countryside. The dynamics of land ownership, lords, tenancy, tithing, annual rents, and lifeways in these parts are more than fascinating. I settled into my very nice room and decided to head into Truro to search out an internet connection and food. Vanda gave me a lift to the bus stop – but silly me, I didn’t exactly note the driveway back to the B & B. While in Truro I found most pubs and restaurants stopped serving food by 5 pm. I was pretty shocked. I did find a Yak & Yeti Indian restaurant – and settled into a Lamb Masala dish. It was pretty delicious. Pitstopped into the Italian tapas bar where they had some free internet. The chap running the tapas was really nice. Had a couple of vodka n’ tonics while doing wifi. Missed the next to last bus back to Greenbottom, so took the later one – and sure enough – it was pitch black. Tromping down mile+ long driveways in the pitch black, thinking of Bodmin Beasts and mischievious Cornish Pixies and goblins crept into my mind’s eye. After trying several long driveways that didn’t lead back to the B&B, I stumbled at trying to call Vanda, with no luck, since I’m still a fool at dialing European numbers. Luckily Vanda was concerned with me not being able to find my way back and drove around looking for me. That was amazingly sweet. (Thank you!) I had tea with them to discuss the day’s activities as a nightcap and off to la-la land. Sweet dreams and amazing adventures ….

Cornish English Breakfast @ The Kingshead Tavern

Continue reading Chron. of Sir Thomas Leaf: (TWPP): Day 10 – Excavations & Site Explorations, Truro, Cornish Countryside


Saveok Water Archaeological Site (Cornwall, England)

Saveok Mill Archaeological Site

Saveok Mill Site
Greenbottom, Cornwall, England * http://www.archaeologyonline.org/index.html *

A small local farm in Greenbottom, Saveok Mill has placed itself on the archaeological map when resident Jacqui Wood discovered very curious archaeological features in her backyard when clearing the ground for a metal-work furnace on her land as one of her experimental archaeology projects. The current property, as “Saveok Mill” or now “Saveok Water”, is in its current evolution from the 17th century as a standing farm or community of 5 houses that once housed occupants who had worked at the local mill. When Jacqui Woods moved onto the property as her new home, little did she know what laid beneath her feet but none-other but an Archaeologist’s fantasy. Jacqui Woods, one of the world’s authorities on Prehistoric Cooking as well as Experimental Archaeology, who was also the consultant on the 1991 world famous discovery of the “Ice Man” could not believe her eyes with what she was uncovering. Since discovery, she has been excavating the finds at Saveok for at least the last 8 years. Jacqui has turned Saveok Mill into a Center for Experimental Archaeology, as well as home to archaeological field school sessions run and operated by herself. I first heard about the site in Archaeological Institute of America’s “Archaeology Magazine” article on the Cornwall Witches. Having been a subject of speciality for my graduate work research on the study of modern day Witches – this article struck a cord of harmonization within me as a means of continuing my research. I was extremely excited to visit this site that was revealing amongst the world’s first evidence of ritualistic practices of this nature all in one place. I made arrangements to visit with Jacqui in June of 2010.

Nestled in a sheltered river valley in Mid Cornwall England appears to be a ritualistic site that has been utilized as such for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The site dates from the Mesolithic (7,000-3,500 BCE) upwards to the 17th century of the Common Era (C.E.). Exposed in a trench along the south facing peak pank on the bend of the river between two shallow lakes were revealed Mesolithic remains ranging from evidence of dwellings, stone tools, and lithics. There are also well-preserved Animal Hoof prints along what was once the river or lake bed shoreline. Through time, this entire site was purposely covered over with various clays to make the river bank a suitable place for dwellings through the years. In an area that Jacqui Wood (excavation director and site manager) has labelled “A/2” there has been found the first phase of the site that is believed to be the Mesolithic dwelling platform (approximately 8,500 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era)) which is covered by a dense green clay floor surrounded by stony yellow clay in which stake holes were found to support the dwellings were driven. The next site phase determined appears to be a Neolithic ritual area was a series of Spring pools that may have been utilized as ‘purification pools’ or ‘sacred wells/springs’ through the ages. This natural spring line were large rectangular pools stone-lined with white quartz cores. As of this writing, there are at least two such pools on the site. Patterns of the stone lining, pool contents, and the seasonal filling of the second pool appears to have religious or ritualistic usage. Both of these features are very unique in Cornish archaeology – the only other such find was under the Maeshowe monument in Orkney that had a similar stone lined drain. The next phase of the site appears to have had ritualistic use by means of offering pits (upward of 35) primarily swan-feather lined with imported pebbles or additional elements in them that date from the late 1500’s to the 1640’s onward. Use of such offering pits during a period of turmoil in England when Cromwellian Puritans destroyed much of pre-Christian Pagan England along the countryside would not only have been extremely dangerous to practice, but simply unheard of for the time period as the practice of witchcraft often led to a death sentence. These offering pits are believed to be evidence of Cornwall Witchcraft practice throughout the ages. While lineage or written evidence for the site is lacking, the remains are vast and tie into much of the lore, practices, and belief systems utilized by Paganism in the area – standing as the most common-sense theory at this point in the investigations. These practices may or may not have been done by the former 17th century residents who built the dwellings that currently exist on the site. But some of the offering pits were certainly dug during their occupation. Ethnographic discussions with locals suggests that some of the land’s residents, the Burnett’s, were reputedly witches. Since anti-witchcraft laws were in place since 1541, their participation in these activities would have definitely remained hidden, for at this time the King James version of the Bible at the time declared into law that “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live“. [Exodus 22:17] The stone-line spring may have been utilized as a ‘holy well’ by these residents as well as its prehistoric use as such. The spring was packed full of ‘offerings’ dating to at least the 17th century including 125 strips of cloth from dresses and clothing, as well as pins, remains of a cauldron, cherry stones, human hair, shoe parts, imported heather branches, and nail clippings – all very commonly used offerings to sacred springs and wells. Modern day applications of these elements can be found existing in sacred wells and springs throughout the Cornish landscape today. Pins and cloth are common offerings to wells. Heather branches are associated with luck. The scraps of clothing could potentially have been remnants of ‘clotiers’ that are found around most of the wells throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland perhaps from a tree that was alongside the spring or just offered into the pool directly. (see modern example in article on “St Madron’s Well” located 25 miles from this site) This Well and/or Spring had sometime after the time of Cromwell had been filled in and destroyed in order to hide the practices that were taking place on this site since at least Neolithic times. The death penalty for the practice of Witchcraft officially ended in 1735 and by that time, evidence of this ritual site was covered over, and later residents of the site would have not been aware of what lie beneath.

The presumed ritualistic “offering pits” are generally 40 cm sq. x 17 cm depth earthen dug pits that were primarily carefully lined with the intact pelts of a swan and other bird remains such as claws and beaks from different species. Some of the pits had other animal elements including pigs, dogs, and cats. One was lined with the skin of a black cat and contained 22 eggs – all with chicks close to hatching, as well as cat claws, teeth, and whiskers. Another had a dog skin, dog teeth, and a baked pig jaw. Another pit had a mysterious 7 inch iron disk with a swan skin on one side and animal fur on the other. Based on ritualistic comparisons from Celtic Paganism, Witchcraft, Santeria, and Voodoo – such offering pits are common practice for fertility spells, sacrifice, and magical intentions. The abundant use of swan feathers, suggest fertility in this case, and based on local folklore could have been offering pits to the Goddess Brigid (now the Catholic St. Brigid) as per interviews with local witches and folklorists determined due to Brigid’s association with swans and fertility magic. According to local folklore and beliefs – the swan feathers associated with fertility were possibly offered her to promote conception. If conception took place – then 9 months later the person would return to empty the pit. This is the current explanation for some of the empty pits that were found. Some of the pits also contained leaf parcels of imported stones that have been traced to Swanpool Beach which is approximately 15 miles away from the site – a area famous for its population of swans. Not only were these practices at this time dangerous because of Cromwell, but the act of killing a swan would have been risky throughout English history as swans belong directly to the Crown. In addition within these feather pits were found over 57 unhatched eggs ranging in size from bantams to ducks that were flanked by the bodies of two magpies. Magpies are birds very tied to Cornish folklore and also seen as taboo to be utilized in such a way. These organic remains had incredible preservation on this site due to the Spring’s water-logged ground and mineral content. Radiocarbon dates of some of the swan feather fits date to 1640. The cat pit dates to the 18th century and the dog pit dates to the 1950’s. The combination of the holy well/spring, remains of the cauldron, ritual offerings to the well, swan feather lined offering pits, and other ritualistic evidence strongly suggested that this site was a ritual place for Cornish Witches. If this is the case, then Saveok Mill serves as one of the world’s best examples of sites of this kind since much of Witchcraft practice through the ages prior existed only in witches bottles and remains found in Salem, Massachussetts in the New World. Much of this fabled history, ressurrected by modern day Witches or continued by family tradition witches in the local area, has been buried in secrecy and buried underneath intentional cloaks of mystery. Until the modern era of the practice, written records of this religious movement and/or practice was next to non-existent.

In addition today for Saveok being a Archaeological Center and Site, as well as a training ground for future archaeologists, the location also serves for the groundbreaking launch ground for a number of Experimental Archaeology projects. Jacqui Wood through the last several years has been working on developing a re-created Iron Age village with roundhouses, kilns, and structures to explore into the lifeways of past. During my visit in June of 2010, I participated in their current project in Construction of an Iron Age Round House.

More photos and parts of the site:

More Pictures and Story to come …

remnants of cloth from the Spring/well

Continue reading Saveok Water Archaeological Site (Cornwall, England)


Jacqui Wood

Me and Jacqui Wood excavating at Saveok, 6/17/2010

Jacqui Wood

A stunning woman with a depth of prehistoric and historic knowledge, Jacqui Wood is a scholar ahead of her time – or should we say ‘before’ her time. I memorably remember seeing the article about Jacqui’s archaeological project at her home Saveok Mill and the overwhelming urge to contact her to see if I could come experience firsthand her discoveries. It was Archaeology Magazine’s article on her recent findings that introduced me to Jacqui. Little did I know that I had heard of her in my museum studies classes. The more I read about Jacqui, the more excited I became about meeting her. Jacqui possesses a wealth of knowledge about past life ways that she’s discovered through the practice of Experimental Archaeology. So I planned a trip to England in order to learn from her. This was one of the wisest choices I’ve made in my archaeological career – to visit and learn from Jacqui. It was most definitely one of the best Archaeological experiences I’ve ever had. That’s a lot to say because I’ve had a lot of varied experience over the last 20 years in Archaeology – as I’ve excavated and surveyed in Italy, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington, New Mexico, Colorado, and Canada. I’ve excavated a Roman Villa, an Etruscan City, An Apalachee Village, A Spanish Mission, Shell Middens, A downed World War II Plane, Burial Sites/Grounds/Graves, Homesteads, Ritual Sites, Rock shelters, Rock Art, Hearths, and Habitation Sites. I’ve done curation and artifact analysis for several curation facilities including the National Park Service and the U.S. Army. While no two sites could ever be compared – none of these sites captivated me more than the experience I had at Saveok. If only funding existed for me to do more there. Jacqui was so much more fantastic in person than what I read about her. I learned so much from the short visit I had and developed a thirst for more. But as I’m a Federal Archaeologist, Curator, and GIS Specialist – I have duties at home requiring my present attention. What Wood is uncovering though, has been a life’s dream for me, so someday I know I’ll be back.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took annual leave for my first trip to Cornwall, burdened with backpack and luggage, tromping down the forest path, across the railroad tracks to Saveok Mill. I was impressed the moment I met Jacqui. She had an ancient ambiance, a radiation of knowledge of how things worked, and how our ancestors figured things out. When she discovers something, she has a pretty clear theory of what she’s looking at, or how it was created. That was impressive. Forget Indiana Jones as an icon of an Archaeologist, I present you ‘Jacqui Wood’. Jacqui Wood is an independent researcher and Experimental Archaeologist. I would say over her 25+ years in the field, she’s been monumental in the advancement of Experimental Archaeology in the discipline. She has developed a particular approach to discovering the practical aspects of prehistoric Europe’s daily life. She bases this approach on the theory that the inherent skills and ingenuity of prehistoric Europeans are still latent in the people of Europe today. She believes that these survival skills have only been forgotten in Northern Europe because we don’t have a need for them in the modern age. She has found that these skills are very easily acquired particularly if one is not impeded by any training in the skill to be researched and needs to be approached purely by logic. The best way to learn about a prehistoric settlement she believes is to create one, utilize it through trial and error, and learn to survive based on what is at hand. This is how she discovered the archaeological horde that lies in her backyard. She was working on recreating a metal foundry when she discovered a habitation floor. Several years later she did an excavation with some field school students and before she knew it – she had one of Cornwall’s best examples of a ritual site in her own personal sandbox. This led to her creation of “Saveok Water Archaeology” – an archaeological research centre and field school with its own multi-period excavation. This opened large doorways to taking her experimental archaeological projects onto central stage by creating the Cornwall Celtic Village as a representative reconstructed Bronze and Iron Age settlement. This however was not her first footsteps into the cultural limelight … she served a three-year term of office for the Council for British Archaeologys National Education Committee and well as CBA’s secretary in the southwest region, worked for many years demonstrating Bronze Age technology for English Heritage (including events at Stonehenge), and has lectured throughout Europe in Italy, Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. She was commissioned to make the Grass cloak for the infamous “Ice Man” museum in Bolzano, Northern Italy and worked on many museum exhibits for Expo 2000 in Hamburg. She was commissioned by the Orkney Council to make the first replica of Britain’s oldest textile garment “The Orkney Hood“. Jacqui has also read papers at the European Association of Archaeologists conference since 1997 as well as writing a full paper on “Food and Drink in European Prehistory” for the April 2000 journal. She has a full paper published in the Journal Cornish Archaeology on “Courtyard House Construction” as well as several other papers in various academic journals including “Discovering Archaeology”. Jacqui has been the consultant archaeologist for various reconstruction projects in Italy and Eastern Europe as well as Cornwall’s own “Eden Project”. She has authored “Prehistoric Cooking” (published by Tempus) and did a Woman’s Hour interview and Food Programme for Radio 4 over the same subject. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the world’s authority on Prehistoric Cooking. Wood has been invited and received on various television programmes in Britain and Europe, demonstrating ancient cooking, experimental archaeology, and her expertise. She did a piece on “ancient beer” for Chris Denims ‘The Local’ series, presented on ‘The Lost Land of Lyonaise’ for Carlton, and served as the Time Team food historian for the last five years. She has done a reconstruction of an Upper Paleolithic house and discussed the artifacts for the “Mysteries in the Landscape” BBC program in 2003 as well as for February 2005’s BBC 2 “Otzi” Programme. Even with her full time dedication to Experimental Archaeology, Saveok, and Prehistoric Cooking – she finds time to write a Mesolithic adventure novel which has become a trilogy, run a farm, and raise sheep. I’m working through her first book now and can honestly say, I’ve become one of her fans. I would highly recommend her field school to any students interested in experimental archaeology, prehistoric Europe, or Cornish history or any conference looking for a speaker on Prehistoric life ways. Major Kudos to you Jacqui and a grand “thank you” for a wonderful time at your site and centre. Keep up the ground-breaking work. [ ~ Thomas Baurley, Archaeologist/Curator/GIS Specialist, Fort Carson Cultural Resource Program in Colorado ]



Near Madron and Lanyon Farm, Penwith, Cornwall, England

The infamous holey-stone known as “Men-an-tol” is located in tip of Cornwall near Madron and Lanyon Farm. This is one of England’s most highly photographed megalithic sites. The name “Men-An-Tol” means “holed stone”. Its purpose is unknown, but theorized to be a Druid ritual site, A Faerie Portal, A calendar, A gateway to the Otherworlds, A burial site, A ritual site, as well as a half a dozen other suggestions … but the truth is, its purpose still remains a mystery. There are only four stones remaining that are known parts of the monument – two upright stones with the holed stone inbetween them, and a fallen stone at the foot of the western upright. It is believed, especially from antiquarian illustrations, that through the ages, these stones have been moved around and re-arranged at various times. In the 18th century, William Borlase describes the layout as triangular. During the 19th century, JT Blight proposed that the site is the remains of a stone circle. If this was the case, the holed stone would probably be aligned along the circumference of the circle and have a special ritual significance by providing a lens through which to view other sites or features, or as some propose, a window into other worlds. Archaeological theory proposes it as a component of a burial chamber or cist dating from the Bronze Age but lacks but since no extensive excavations have been conducted. WC Borlase in 1885 discovered a single flaked flint. Holed stones are rare in Cornwall, and outside of this site – there is only the Tolvan Stone near Gweek. All the others are much smaller with holes less than 15 cm in diameter, too small for a human (adult or infant) to pass through. There is much folklore surrounding the ‘men-at-tol’ as well as traditions. The site is known for curing many ailments, especially rickets in children, by passing the sufferer through the hole. It is also utilized in rituals and rites to travel between various worlds. There is believed to be a faerie or piskie guardian who lives here that makes the miraculous cures. It is believed that changeling babies were brought here and passed through the stone in order for the mother to get the real child back. Local legends state that if at full moon a woman passes through the holed stone seven times backwards she would soon become pregnant. For centuries children with rickets were passed naked through the hole to heal them. The circular stones line up exactly with the center stone at Boscawen-Un. It has been known as a alternative cure for ‘scrofulous taint” or the “Kings Evil”. Men-At-Tol was also legendary for fixing back problems. This mere fact gave it the name “Crick stone”. Some saw the site as a protection against witchcraft and ill-wishes, while others feel it can be utilized for augury or fortune telling. With the three upright granite stones – the round stone in the middle holed out with two small standing to each side in front and behind the holey stone, form a three-dimensional “101”.

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Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit
near Lanyon Farm and Madron, Cornwall, England

Real close to Lanyon Farm lies a single megalith called “Lanyon Quoit”. Barely noticeable from the road as the stone property walls block the direct view from the roadway, is a little walk-through with a National Trust sign signifying the monument. As you walk up to the stone megalith – the sense of awe and history overwhelms you and enchantment of times long past of the people to came to this place to raise these large stones. Burial marker or tomb? Solar calendrical stones? Faerie Fort? No one really knows the true nature of the monument. This is one of Cornwall’s most ancient and popular monuments. It is believed to date from the Neolithic period (3500-2500 BCE), from a time where the only tools that existed to create these monument stones were themselves stones, sticks, and natural materials. The huge capstone of this monument had originally stood atop four upright stone columns, but through time it had collapsed to the ground, smashing some of the original stone supports during a storm in 1815. So the Quoit that is seen today, is the re-erected one, at right-angles to its original position, on top of what remains of the uprights. It was originally tall enough for a horse and rider to pass underneath it, that is no longer possible, as it is just over a meter tall at present. Sitting beneath it rewards the pilgrim an intense meditation and prophecy for the spiritual, and a moment of awe for the non-religious. Current archaeological theorie believes these quoits in the area as grave markers or funeral sites. Some have theorized that bodies were laid on top of the capstone to be eaten by carrion birds ans similar sites show evidence of bones from several individuals and its thought the bones were moved to sites such as this one for use in rituals to communicate with ancestors and the spirit world.

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Roman-German Museum, Cologne, Germany

www.museenkoeln.de – 0221 22124438 – 32 Bewertungen * Cologne, Germany
In the heart of the city center right to the side of the Cologne Cathedral, lies Cologne’s German/Roman Museum. The Roman-Germanic Museum (RGM, in German: Rmisch-Germanisches Museum) is one of the better archaeological museums in the region. This museum houses and protects a humongous collection of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, on which modern Cologne is built. The museum is also an archaeological site as it also protects the original place of a Roman town villa, down in the basement, of which the large Dionysus Mosaic remains in its original place and the related Roman Road just outside. Within the museum is an institution to preserve the Cologne Roman cultural heritage, and therefore preserves wonderful Roman glass from Roman funerals and burial. This archaeological function also includes the supervision of the Cologne underground, which is now under construction. Continue reading Roman-German Museum, Cologne, Germany


The Roman Amphitheater at Xanten (Germany)

The Amphitheatre

LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten / LVR-RmerMuseum
* Trajanstrae 4, 46509 Xanten, Germany * Phone: +49 (0) 28 01 / 712 0 * apx@lvr.de * http://www.apx.de/english/archaeologicalpark/rec_buildings/amphitheatre.htm

The Amphitheatre
During the Roman occupation, their engineers built a new type of building where they could entertain their citizens with spectacular performances: A theatre enclosed on both sides (Greek: amphi-theatre). The APX is one of the few places north of the Alps where the fascination of these buildings is still tangible. These theatres held gladiator games of men vs men, beast, and animal; theatre; chariot races in the circus; and large public events. Some of these events are re-enacted during the tourist seasons when various events take place on the grounds. Just like then, as is now, the amphitheater is packed to its rafters with spectators. Visitors would come from far and wide to partake of the events. The seating was sufficient to accomodate roughly the entire population of Colonia. The amphitheater was reconstructed in the early 1980’s atop the original pillars discovered during the excavations. Lower terraces and one-quarter of the upper have been reconstructed revealing the building’s dimensions of 99 meters long x 10 meters high. Commoners sat in the upper rows, three bottom rows provided sufficient space for the city’s dignitaries to make themselves comfortable in armchairs. Rooms for the gladiators and cages for the animals were below with a passageway running through the vaults below the terraces. T
Today, the amphitheatre is once again the scene of regular performances, albeit without shedding a single drop of blood. Artistes of international renown come to Xanten to perform in the operas, operettas and musicals during the Summer Festival. Gladiator fights are one of the highlights of the Roman Festival Swords, Bread and Games. The gladiators also present their authentic equipment during the Roman Weekends in summer.
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The Harbour Temple at the Xanten Archaeological Park (Germany)

The Harbour Temple (Colonia Upia Traiana)
LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten / LVR-RmerMuseum
* Trajanstrae 4, 46509 Xanten, Germany * Phone: +49 (0) 28 01 / 712 0 * apx@lvr.de * http://www.apx.de/english/archaeologicalpark/rec_buildings/harbour+temple.htm

In the Archaeologie Park resides a partially reconstructed ruins of an ancient Roman temple of which is unknown which God/dess(es) were worshipped. It stands tall with columns and partially reconstructed walls to give the visitors an idea of the size of the monument and what it may have looked like. Climbing downstairs, the originally walls and structure can be found and protected from the elements as was left after excavation. Interpretive signs in German surround the inside of the basement to explain the temple. It is named “the Harbour temple”, which is probably the most phenomenal structure on the Park’s grounds. Easy to see from a distance, towering as a high-profile landmark of Roman culture far above the city walls, clearly visible from ships approaching the Colonia Ulpia Triana on the river Rhine. The temple was the second-largest in the city after the Capital and is similar to most Roman temple designs. It would have been dedicated to a deity but research has not revealed the identity of this God/dess. It was given the name of “Harbour Temple” during the excavations on account of its proximity to the harbour. There are several parts of the temple reconstructed on a three metre high podium. Several full-sized pillars were reconstructed with roof beam fitted to give some impression of the effect created by this magnificent edifice of a total height of 27 meters. Details of the Temple reproduced on the basis of innumerable fragments found during the excavations. One of the pillars has been painted in colour to illustrate the temple’s originally magnificent colouring. Wide and thin steps lead up to the temple’s podium and its cella where the ritual acts took place. In the Roman times, only a select group of people could enter the temple, ordinary mortals were not allowed. The foundation plate of the temple and its innumerable fragments were discovered during the excavations in 1977, many of which are on exhibit in the Museum. You can view the foundation through the back of the temple, for the reconstructed building stands over it like a protective shield.
Continue reading The Harbour Temple at the Xanten Archaeological Park (Germany)


Xanten Archaeological Park (Xanten, Germany)

Xanten Archaeological Park

LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten
* Trajanstrae 4, 46509 Xanten, Germany * Phone: +49 (0) 28 01 / 712 0 * apx@lvr.de * http://www.apx.de/
* Adults: EUR 5.00 * Children (over the age of six): EUR 2.50 * Disabled people: EUR 4.00 * Students, apprentices: EUR 4.00

The LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten resides on the site of the ancient Roman city of Colonia Ulpia Traiana. Xanten is Germany’s biggest archaeological open-air museum/park. The Park expands the grounds of the original walled Roman city. The Park is a reconstructed version of the monumental elements of the city, such as the Temple, the Colloseum, the Bath houses, etc. Still under construction, it is being built up as I write this. Various times of the year it has living history re-enactment events. My experience at the park was very enjoyable, though I was not as impressed with the remains as I thought I would. I very much enjoyed the Temple and the Colloseum though. The park, especially in summer, is exciting and informative where the staff attempts to bring Roman history to life for those to research, relax, explore, and play games. Many of the reconstructed buildings are designed after years of excavation and research to true scale at their original ocations to emulate the Roman originals with shapes/materials as true as can be with what was found in history. Some of the most famous structures in the park are the Harbour Temple which is the most visible of all structures in the Park just as it served as a beacon of Roman Civilization back in the day; The Amphitheatre where thousands of Romans flocked to the games where fights occured with gladiators fighting beasts, animals, and each other. During the tourist seasons, they re-enact events and games often. There is also a Roman Hostel where visitors could stay during their visit to the city for food and lodging with ability to relax in the bath or visit the tavern. Replicas and reconstructions of the Roman houses that were made of loam. These were homes of the average in simple, multi-storey houses. The city walls and gates, once of stone, now of foliage, except where they have successfully reconstructed in stone. The gates and towers around the city have been reconstructed. Those visiting the region should not miss this park if one has interest in Roman and Medieval history or Archaeology. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


The Roman Baths at Xanten (Germany)

The Town Baths

The Town Baths of Xanten, Germany (Colonia Upia Traiana)
LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten / LVR-RmerMuseum
* Trajanstrae 4, 46509 Xanten, Germany * Phone: +49 (0) 28 01 / 712 0 * apx@lvr.de * http://www.apx.de/english/roemermuseum/largebaths/

In the heart of the Roman Museum at Xanten’s notorious Archaeological Park lies the ancient Town Baths of Colonia Ulpia Traiana. The monumental size and stature of the bath houses resembled a palace in many ways. These baths were constructed in AD 125 during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. They manifest the Roman bathing culture in the province of Lower Germany. The well preserved remains of the foundation walls, pools, heating ducts and fireplaces are housed by a modern architecture masterpiece that serves as a protective building whose outer shape reflects the fascinating dimensions of the original remains from the rain and sun while keeping the impressive dimensions of the Roman architecture. The layout of the floor permits a fairly accurate reconstruction of the bath’s architecture – seen from outside, the different roof designs of the building give an impression of the bath’s complex construction. Within, the modern steel structures visualize the imposing dimensions of the rooms. Red steel girders mark the former position of columns, walls and arches. Visitors who first took a look at the reconstructed Hostel Baths can even better imagine the grand effect of the larger Town Baths. The Town Baths were far more than a place for relaxation and personal hygiene. This is where the Romans met with neighbours and friends, exchanged news, cut deals and sometimes also made political decisions. The baths were the city’s meeting point and social centre. The bathing wing was the heart of a big complex close to the city centre. Arcades with rows of stores, latrines, a water tower and a huge entrance hall were grouped around a wide courtyard. The complex provided everything the Romans needed to relax body and soul. The new RmerMuseum sits on the foundation walls of the former entrance hall. In an area of 11.500 square meters there was the main building, which included a multi-purpose hall, cold, lukewarm, and warm baths, as well as sweating rooms, an open-air area for sporting activities, and auxiliary buildings with toilets. The baths were discovered in 1879 and almost completely excavated by 1993. In order to protect the ancient fabric, in 1997/1998 the steel and glass construction were erected. The baths were located in big, magnificently decorated rooms with floors/walls cald with marble and the pillars and external facade elaborately designed. [abstracted from the apx website, brochure, and signs ]
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Xanten village, Germany

Modern village of Xanten

Xanten, Germany
Xanten in 2006 had roughly 21,586 inhabitants. It is a small historic town that is most notorious for its role in the Roman Empire’s settlement of Germany. In the heart of the North Rhine-Westphalia state of Germany, in the district of Wesel, it is most widely and commonly known for its Archaeological Park (one of the largest in the world), its medieval picturesque city centre with Xanten Cathedral and many museums, its large man-made lake for various watersport activities as well as high standards of living. Xanten receives over one million tourists a year. Well known for its big events and faires which include the Xantener Sommerfestspiele (a prestigious classical music festival lasting 2-3 weeks every year), the annual Xantener Montmartre where artists from all over the world show their latest works as well as the annual German sandcastle-building championship. Known as one of Germany’s most affluent communitites it is a center of art, history, music, and archaeology.

The First settlements of the area were by isolated tribes that can be dated around the year 2000 BC. It was around 15 BC that the Roman camp “Castra Vetera” was developed as a base for campaigns into Germania on the Frstenberg near today’s locality Birten. The camp was destroyedduring the uprising of the Batavians in 70 AD and was occupied by 8,000 to 10,000 legionaries making it the main base of the Classis germanica. Shortly thereafter, a second camp became established at the Bislicher Insel, named Castra Vetera II, which became the base camp of Legio VI Victrix. A nearby created settlement, which was inhabited by 10,000 to 15,000 usually former legionaries, was given the rights of a Colonia in 110 by the Roman emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus, who also renamed the city into Colonia Ulpia Traiana. The colonia became the second most important commercial post in the province of Germania Inferior, only beaten by Colonia Agrippinensis (today’s Cologne). In 122, Vetera II became the camp of Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix, which substituted VI Victrix, moved to Britannia. [ wikipedia ] It was destroyed in 275 by the Germanic tribes and was rebuilt as the German Tricensimae city, which was meant to be smaller but fortified and more easily defended. The Christian Viktor of Xanten is supposed to have been executed together with 360 further members of the Theban Legion in 363 near the today’s town of Birten, as they refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Since then Viktor of Xanten has been considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be a martyr, and later a patron protecting the cathedral established over his assumed burial place. In the 5th century the Franks began to settle in the area of today’s Xanten and during the second half of the 8th Century a church was built on the grounds of an old cemetery of the ancient Roman colony and called Sanctos. In 1802 the Viktor-convent was secularized by Napolon Bonaparte, and the libraries of closed monasteries and the convent library were merged. After this the economic situation deteriorated more rapidly. A city gate called the Marstor was torn down in 1821, and the Scharntor and parts of the city walls were removed in 1825. The removal of the Klever Tor and a mill called Kriemhildmhle was prevented by a city councillor in 1843. At the same time the ruins of the Colonia Ulpia Traiana, which had been used as a quarry since the Roman settlement was given up, aroused the interest of archaeologists. In 1975 the Archologischer Park Xanten (Archaeological Park Xanten), a partial reconstruction of the Roman Colonia Ulpia Traiana, was established and opened for tourism. It is built on the site of the Roman town. Today it is one of the most frequently visited parks in Germany. [wikipedia]
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Lady of the Rhine, Part 2: Chapter 4A – Fresh Bread, Dusseldorf, The Adventure Party Gathers, Xanten

, Segment A

Fresh bread from the German bakery

Sunday, 29 March 2009
Dusseldorf, Germany

Lady Vanessa of the Rhine awoke the adventuring party after a good night’s rest. Sir Thomas Leaf was a bit hard to get out of bed as he was up until 6 am blogging and researching the elements of the quest. Princess Brea joined Lady Vanessa down the street to the bakery for freshly baked bread, rolls, and croissants so that the adventurers could have a good healthy breakfast before the start of their quest. Croissants, rolls, bread, tea, coffee, yogurt, ham, cheese, jelly, butter, hard boiled eggs, juice, and milk welcomed all and lured Sir Christian out of his den.

Sir Thomas Leaf eating breakfast

Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Part 2: Chapter 4A – Fresh Bread, Dusseldorf, The Adventure Party Gathers, Xanten


Museum of Art: (DC) February 2009: Pompeii and the Roman Villa

Smithsonian National Museum of Art * 4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565 * (202) 737-4215 * http://www.nga.gov/.

Pompeii and the Roman Villa Exhibit 2/17/09

The second exhibit I visited brought back memories of my Archaeology days and wanderings in Pompeii. What a blast from the past, literally. Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture from around the Bay of Naples
Archaeology and Art from the first century BC displaying the picturesque Bay of Naples which was culturally known as a retreat in B.C. for vacationing emperors, senators, and other prominent Romans. Inside their lavish seaside villas under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, treasures abound flamboyantly portraying leisure, art, life, reading, writing, exercise, painting, sculptures, and decorative arts … enjoyment of their sensuous gardens and views, entertaining house guests and frolicking in the sun. Artists of the region painted murals on the walls, mosaics, paintings, luxury arts, and sculptures. Some of these recent archaeological discoveries are for the first time on display in the U.S. A spectacular 30 minute film is also presented telling the history of life and destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum. An excellent, not to be missed exhibit. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

Museum of Art 2/17/09

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NG Live! Voices of Afghanistan and private reception (D.C.)

NG Live! lecture and private reception – Afghanistan: Voices of Cultural Preservation * National Geographic Society * 1145 17th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 http://www.nationalgeographic.com/nglive/washingtondc/s2008/single/afghanistan.html * Thursday, 22 May 2008: 6:30-10:30 pm

This week it’s been an honor as an invited guest, coming up from Colorado to participate and join Fredrik Hiebert’s presentations of the Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan, the press preview, and the NG Live! presentation and repatriation of additional national treasures of Afghanistan that were collected by Homeland Security when they stopped the illegal transport of Afghanistan’s heritage into the United States. The NG Live! presentation and discussion was available (at cost) to the public, held at the National Geographic Society. Presented was a panel discussion on many various elements of cultural preservation issues and concerns surrounding Afghanistan especially in relation to the Hidden Treasures that are currently available for viewing at the National Gallery of Art until September 2008. Omara Masoudi, the Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan discussed the hiding, recovery, preservation of the treasures and the rebuilding of the Museum after its destruction during Afghanistan’s civil war. Reza, the director of AINA, who has photo documented Afghanistan for over two decades presented some of his work and the devotion him and his organization AINA has towards the development of independent Afghan media – including some really well crafted cultural preservation episodes made for children to help teach the prevention of looting Afghanistan’s heritage. Fred Hiebert, National Geographic Archaeologist and curator of the Hidden Treasures while in D.C., was a key role in the recovery and verification of the “Bactrian hoard” – a priceless collection of Silk Road-era artifacts that are among the Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan exhibit; he was commended for his work and presented much of the story of this epic of history. Photographer Steve McCurry the infamous photographer who photographed one of National Geographic Magazine’s most famous cover photos – “Afghan girl” in 1984 – showed a slide show of all of his photos (some unpublished photos) in Afghanistan he’s been photographing since the struggle against the Soviets. Shamim Jawad, the founder of Ayenda, who runs an organization in Afghanistan for improving the lives of Afghan families discussed her projects and the recently released Afghan children’s songbook. Fred Starr, the Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at John Hopkins University moderated the evening. A surprise repatriation ceremony took place at the end when officials from Homeland Security presented and returned a collection of artifacts they recovered from illegal smugglers that were stealing Afghanistan’s heritage. They were repatriated back to Afghanistan. This week and the discussions at NG Live: Voices of Afghanistan presented that there are serious cultural preservation concerns and cultural pleas of help with Afghanistan and timing is critical. The courageous individuals who spoke this evening demonstrated many different ways they and others can take action in defending Afghanistan’s incredible history and heritage. Afterwards, a private reception at National Geographic was held where National Geographic staff, invited guests, Afghanistan’s ambassador and his wife, royal family, benefactors, and those involved with the events came together to wine and dine and network together on the things they’ve done. I had a wonderful visit. Thank you Fred. Rating 5 stars out of 5. Visited 5/22/2008.

Hidden treasures of Afghanistan


Jamestown National Historical Site, Jamestown, Virginia

Jamestown National Park (Jamestown, Virginia)

Another location I haven’t been to since childhood, and a site dear to my heart of inspirations that were just one more brick in the road of my childhood that led me into Archaeology as a life passion. I remember vividly when my father took me to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Mesa Verde, and a dozen other Archaeological parks. Jamestown is much more the historical “archaeological” section of Virginia’s famous “Historical Triangle”. While Colonial Williamsburg is much more popular (and certainly more touristy) in many ways, Jamestown is much more textbook and on-hands educational and informative (in my opinion). So I knew I’d be spending most of the day at this park. I was also inspired upon entrance that instead of paying the $10 entrance fee, that I would purchase an Annual pass to the National Parks ($80) as I know I’ll be hitting quite a few of them through the year. I always felt I should have been given a life pass to them since I used to work for the National Park Service, but I suppose that’s one perk they just don’t give to their employees.

Jamestown Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia

In 1893 the landowners Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney donated 22 1/2 acres of land which held the archaeological remains of the original Jamestown settlement, the 1639 tower of the Jamestown Church, and the original fort that encompassed most of Jamestown Island. They gave it to APVA Preservation Virginia which at that time was known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. In 1934, the National Park Service teamed together with APVA and created the National Park Site that exists now that is often called “Historic Jamestowne”. It was designated the “Jamestown National Historic Site” on December 18, 1940 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966 protecting it forever. This was the original site of the 1607 James Fort that was the first permanent British colony in North America and the later 17th century city of Jamestown that became the capital of the Virginia Colony that is located on Jamestown Island on the James River. Through the years erosion from the river had dissolved most of the western shore and visitors to the area just deduced that the site of James Fort was underwater. Thanks to federal assistance, a sea wall was constructed in 1900 to prevent furthere erosion and the archaeological remains were excavated and discovered in 1994. Evidence soon showed remnants of Bacon’s Rebellion that occured on this site in 1676 when the statehouse was burned and after its 2nd burning when the capital was relocated to higher ground at Middle Plantation (1699) which became the site of Colonial Williamsburg. After the relocation, this site reverted to little used farmland and became the site of Confederate earthworks during the Civil War with the intention to provide river defenses against Union gunboats. The Ambler Farm was then burned by escaped slaves and the remains slowly sunk into the vast marshes and wooded lands of the Island until its rediscovery and scientific explorations that made it the site that exists today. A very popular tourist spot, even Queen Elizabeth visited on May 4, 2007 for her second visit (the first being October 1957). Jamestowne is one of the three popular locations that comprise Virginia’s famous Historic Triangle that is nestled along the National Park Services scenic 22 mile long biway known as the Colonial Parkway.

Historic Jamestowne Island, Virginia

ongoing excavations (5/21/08 view) on Jamestowne Island, Virginia

Governor Yeardley’s Lot, 1620’s
[ insert from the interpretive display at Jamestowne park ]
“… for his conveniency and the more Commodity of his houses and dwellings.” (Yeardley’s land patent, 1624)

“George Yeardley arrived in Jamestown in 1610, was appointed captain of the guard, and eventually lieutenant governor. Later knighted and appointed Governor of Virginia in 1618, he issued the Great Charter in 1619, establishing the first representative government in Virginia. In 1620, Yeardley acquired a seven-and-a-quarter-acre lot extending east of this location. A 1625 muster roll listed the member’s of Yeardley’s large household: Yeardley, his wife Lady Temperance Yeardley; their three children; and 24 servants, including three African men and five African women (8 of the first 9 Africans documented at Jamestown). Their muster also listed 50 cattle, 40 swine, and 11 goats and kids on Yeardley’s lot. In addition to three dwellings, Yeardley owned three boats … a barque, four ton shallop, and skiff. At this location, archaeologists excavated the brick foundations of a structure that may have been Yeardley’s. Scattered building materials along Back River suggest that two additional dwellings, perhaps for servants, may have been located at the eastern end of his lot. ”