burial,

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Seahenge, 2049 BC, Norfolk.

Seahenge, as it’s popularly known, is a Bronze Age timber circle found at Holme next the sea, Norfolk in 1998 with further excavations on the site in 1999.

The timbers are a rare survivor from the period and were preserved in peat before being exposed by the sea. Originally the circle was constructed on salt marsh some way inland.

The circle measure 6.6 metres in diameter and comprises of 55 closely fitting oak posts which would once have stood up to three metres high with all except one of them placed with their bark facing outwards,.The very centre of the circle was occupied by a massive upturned oak tree stump.

Constructed at a time when archaeologists believed metal tools were a rarity, the construction marks on the timbers show the individual signatures of over 50 different bronze axes. Scientific dating techniques have identified that all of the trees used were felled in the spring or early summer of 2049 BC.

To ensure the fragile wood was preserved the timbers were initially treated at Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire before being moved to the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth where they underwent the same preservation methods as Henry VIII’s famous flagship.

It isn’t known exactly why the circle was built, but it is thought that perhaps the body of a high ranking person may have been placed on the upturned stump to be picked clean by animals and birds; one thing we do know is the entrance to the circle was sealed very shortly after it was built.

Norfolk Museums Collections

Skeleton of Burnt 'Witch Girl' Found in Italy

Italian archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a Medieval teenage girl who was burnt and thrown carelessly in a pit, her grave covered with heavy stone slabs.

Her burial shows she was seen as a danger even when dead, according to the archaeologists.

The skeleton was discovered at the complex of San Calocero in Albenga on the Ligurian Riviera, by a team led by scientific director Philippe Pergola, professor of topography of the Orbis Christianus Antiquus at the Pontifical Institute of Archaeology at the Vatican.

At the same location, in September 2014, the team unearthed the remains of another “witch girl,” a 13-year-old female who was buried face-down. Read more.

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A quick look at: ‘Spain’s most cultured people’ - Celtic-Iron Age Pintia, Valladolid, Spain.

Once a thriving Iron Age city, Pintia was settled by the Vaccean culture during the 5th century BC. The Vaccaei were described by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus to be the most cultured of all their neighbors. Despite this, very little is known about the Vaccean culture, who are believed to have traveled to Spain from Central Europe. Pintia has provided a rich source of information about the Vaccaei, more so than any other site in Spain. The area was attacked by Hannibal in the 3rd century BC, and later became part of Roman Iberia.

Clearly, the Vaccaei were no primitive tribe. Although they did not have a written language, their affluence is suggested through the many funerary objects accompanying their dead. It is thought that between 20-30 generations of Vacceans and Romans have been buried at the site, with an estimated 60,000-100,000 burials yet to be excavated. 

One particularly interesting find at Pintia is the twin grave of a young girl and adult woman. The woman was buried with 21 artifacts, including a complete pottery drinking cup collection. The tomb of the child had even more artifacts uncovered. 67 objects were excavated, including different types of containers made out of fine, orange-painted pottery. Many children’s toys were also found, which included 23 stone and clay balls (which may have been used as marbles), and two baby rattles. The 3rd photo shows the artifacts uncovered from the young girl’s grave.

Such artifacts accompanying the dead act as status symbols for us analyzing them today, they reveal to us the age, sex, and social position of the person they were buried with. Pintia was evidently a rich society -one where even this young girl of no more than eight could obtain a high social status because of the wealth of her parents.

Over the last 10 years the University of Valladolid and ArchaeoSpain have been collaborating together to uncover the history of Pintia, with current excavations focusing on the cemetery. If you’re interested in helping excavate the site, check out the program ArchaeoSpain is currently running for university students.

When writing up this post, Current World Archaeology’s cover story on Pintia (No.29, June/ July 2008) written by excavation directors Carlos Sanz Minguez and Fernando Romero Carnicero, was of great use and reference. I would definitely recommend the article for further reading about the site, which you can check out here. Photos courtesy ArchaeoSpain.  

The Church of Saint Michael in Hallstatt, Austria, is home to over 700 painted skulls in its chapel basement known as the Bone House. The Karner (charnel house) houses an additional 500 unpainted skulls, as well as the rest of the bones. The collection represents all the families of the community, dating back to at least the 17th century.

Submit photos and stories of your dark travels here

The moment descendants of Richard III’s family placed white roses on his coffin. They included Michael Ibsen, who has a direct maternal line to the king, and whose DNA helped scientists confirm the identity of the remains.

Mr Ibsen, a carpenter, also made the coffin - from English oak.

(image and info @BBC news)

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Under a tree-bark casket and protective bronze plates, archaeologists have found a perfectly preserved mummy of a child, along with an appropriately sized ax and a bear pendant. 

Permafrost and sandy soil helped preserve the body, but proved to be a challenge for everyone involved. The remains date around XIII century, and were not the only body found.

Read on