The Festival of British Archaeology takes place in summer every year and, since Fulton Umbrellas is a proud British brand, we’ve decided to look at some of the most important archaeological findings of recent times.
Detailing what treasures were uncovered and how they’ve helped further our understanding of our ancestors, read on to discover more about the UK’s best digs!
Roman writing tablets
June 2016 saw archaeologists unearth the oldest handwritten documents ever discovered in the UK. Around 400 waxed tablets, used for taking notes during Roman times, were excavated in London and some even revealed events, names and business dealings! Now known as the ‘Bloomberg writing tablets’ because they were discovered when trying to locate a London base for the company, this discovery gives us a glimpse into the life of those who founded our capital city.
Bronze Age settlement
Described as the ‘dig of a lifetime’ and ‘Britain’s Pompeii’; British archaeologists were captivated in 2015 as they excavated a lost, prehistoric settlement from around 3,000 years ago. Pottery, textiles, spearheads, metal work, and more were found at what some have argued is one of the UK’s most revealing archaeological sites.
Discovered in Cambridgeshire, the artefacts that were found imply that people living during this era were perhaps more sophisticated than formerly believed. Linen was one of the clothing fabrics discovered, while canoes made from hollowed-out oak logs and beads thought to have originated from overseas suggest that these inhabitants were far more skilled and internationally connected than previously believed. As relics from this era are rare, this site — part of the Must Farm settlement excavation — will help us gain a more educated glimpse into how people lived and worked thousands of years ago.
In May 2017, a metal detectorist found a haul of Viking treasure that turned out the be the biggest of its kind ever discovered in the country! Around 100 rare artefacts from the Viking period were dug up in south-west Scotland, which included items such as: silver bracelets, gold rings, brooches, textiles, beads, crystals, and even a silver cup.
The metal detectorist gave his find to the Queen’s Lord and Treasurer’s Remembrancer Experts, where the items were described as “outstanding and exceptional”. The organisation, which determines what happens to ownerless findings, later ruled that the items should be passed onto Scotland’s National Museum — granted that it pays nearly £2 million to the finder! Why a great archaeological discovery? Experts say that this collection of Viking treasure shows a greater European connectivity than previously thought…
Barracks at Hadrian’s Wall
The discovery of Roman cavalry barracks last year at Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland was an exciting time for everyone involved — not just due to its size, but also because it shows historians much more about the military influence and build up to the construction of the famous, historical border. Apparently constructed before Hadrian’s Wall around AD 105, the newly discovered site unearthed possessions of Roman soldiers and their family members that are around 2,000 years old — including lances, arrowheads, shoes, combs, brooches, woven cloth, hairpins, and pieces of armour.
But what makes this discovery so important is the detection of two Roman cavalry swords still featuring their scabbards and pommels. Leader of the archaeological team, Andrew Birley, states that: “Archaeologists would never expect to find a Roman cavalry sword in any context, because it’s like a modern-day soldier leaving his barracks and dumping his rifle on the floor. This is a very expensive thing, so why leave it behind?”
Reportedly, the artefacts have been kept in such excellent conditions for thousands of years due to being concealed under a Roman-laid, concrete floor.
Perhaps one of the most publicised and exciting finds of recent years, the unearthing of Richard III’s body in 2012 — named the Greyfriars Project — finally put to rest the theory that the iconic former king of England was buried under a carpark in Leicester.
For decades, there have been debates about the demise and resting place of Richard III. But apart from giving an answer to a long-posed question, what was the archaeological benefit of finding the king more than 520 years after his death? Using the latest in carbon dating, forensic analysis and even the DNA testing of a living descendent of the king, scientists were able to not only tell the world that this was indeed the legendary monarch, but also reveal more details regarding what he looked like and what happened to cause his death — apparently, it’s true that he had a curvature in the spine and he actually died due to a blow by a blade to the back of the head! After extensive testing, Richard III was reburied at Leicester Cathedral in 2015.
These are just a handful of British discoveries that have helped to shed light on how our ancestors lived — why not grab a metal detector and see what you can find to celebrate the British archaeology this year?