News Article | April 17, 2017
Medieval people were trying to ward off the “living dead”, according to a study of human bones excavated from a deserted village in North Yorkshire. Analysis of the bones dating from the 11th to 14th centuries, which were excavated from a pit within the settlement at long-abandoned Wharram Percy, show they appear to have been burnt and mutilated. Theories that the strange treatment of the bodies was down to the dead people being outsiders or that the remains were cannibalised by starving villages have been discounted by experts. Instead the finds appear to represent the first good archaeological evidence of practices aimed at stopping corpses rising from their graves and menacing the living. Folklore in the Middle Ages suggested people could sometimes rise from the dead, roam their local area, spread disease and violently assault those who encountered them. The undead were commonly thought to be the result of a lingering malevolent life-force in individuals who had committed evil deeds or caused animosity when they were alive. Medieval writers described various ways of dealing with the living dead, including digging up the offending bodies, decapitating and dismembering them and burning the pieces in a fire. A team from government heritage agency Historic England and the University of Southampton studied 137 bones found in the village, representing the mixed remains of at least 10 people. They found many bones had knife marks suggesting the corpses had been decapitated and dismembered, while there was also evidence of burning body parts and deliberate breaking of bones after death. The team believes action to stop the dead rising is the explanation that best fits the evidence. Analysis of teeth, which points to the geology of the area an individual was living when their teeth formed in childhood, suggests the people grew up near to where they were buried – discounting the theory they were outsiders. “This was surprising to us as we first wondered if the unusual treatment of the bodies might relate to their being from further afield rather than local,” says Alistair Pike, professor of archaeological sciences at the University of Southampton. The experts also ruled out the theory the remains had been cannibalised by starving villages suffering from the famines which were common in medieval times. In cannibalism, knife marks on bones tend to cluster around major muscle attachments or large joints, but at Wharram Percy they were mainly in the head and neck area, researchers say. “The idea that the Wharram Percy bones are the remains of corpses burnt and dismembered to stop them walking from their graves seems to fit the evidence best,” says Simon Mays, human skeletal biologist at Historic England. “If we are right, then this is the first good archaeological evidence we have for this practice,” he says. “It shows us a dark side of medieval beliefs and provides a graphic reminder of how different the medieval view of the world was from our own.”
News Article | February 16, 2017
A plan by former footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville to build two skyscrapers in Manchester city centre would “damage the city’s historic core”, a government heritage agency has said. Historic England said the former Manchester United players’ £200m plan would “erase” the area’s history and threaten its “precious heritage”. Neville and Giggs are applying for permission to build two bronze towers that include a five-star hotel, luxury apartments, restaurants, bars, retail outlets and a synagogue. The pair insist the work would transform the St Michael’s area near Manchester town hall and the Central Library. But the proposals, announced last July, would lead to the demolition of a 1950s synagogue, a 1930s police station and a historically important pub. Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s planning director for the north-west, said: “We are deeply concerned about how this scheme would affect some of Manchester’s most precious heritage. “It would have an impact on people’s appreciation and experience of the stunning town hall and library but it would also erase different layers of this area’s history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.” The 700,000 sq ft scheme includes a 200-bed five-star hotel, 153 apartments, 135,000 sq ft of Grade A offices and a synagogue. The site will also include 30,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, including two sky bars/restaurants, in the 31-storey Number One St Michael’s, while Number Two St Michael’s will be a 21-storey office tower. Historic England said the design, height and colour of the development on Jackson’s Row would dominate the Deansgate and Peter Street conservation area and “dwarf the nationally important” Central Library and Grade I-listed town hall. Meanwhile an online petition to save the Abercromby pub – said to be the inspiration for the pub in BBC’s Life On Mars – has more than 4,500 supporters. Dewar said: “A dynamic city like ours needs to fully embrace development but this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the streets around the site and to the setting of the city’s most important buildings and spaces. “It threatens Manchester with the loss of historic places that have soul and tell important stories about our city’s past.” Speaking at Manchester town hall in July, Neville, 41, said he wanted the development to become the new landmark in the city. The former England full-back, who is director of Jackson’s Row Developments, said: “Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times.”
News Article | November 2, 2016
Important archaeological remains at wetland sites across the world could be at immediate risk, say scientists at the University of York. In the first study of its kind to assess how changing environmental and geochemical conditions affect the preservation of organic remains, scientists analysed bone and wood artefacts collected from the Mesolithic site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire. They then compared this to results from lab-based experimental burials. Comparing changes in bone and wood buried in separate containers of sand, garden compost and Star Carr peat for a year, they found unexpectedly rapid levels of organic decay in the latter environment. Such rapid decay is thought to be the result of acidic conditions caused by fluctuations in water levels at the site, caused by the changing climate and human modifications such as land drainage. Although the very first excavations at Star Carr in the 1940's revealed excellent preservation of organic materials, excavations from 2006-2007 by the Universities of York and Manchester showed an alarming level of both bone and wood deterioration, with bone samples found demineralised (known as 'jellybones') and wood found flattened and extremely crumbly. However, little was known about the timescale of deterioration or how rapidly this had occurred, which limited the management strategies that could be put in place to protect the archaeology. Now, researchers are urging the archaeological community to reassess the assumed tradition of preserving sites such as Star Carr in situ, and consider urgent excavations to retrieve valuable organic remains. Dr Kirsty High, Research Fellow in York's Department of Chemistry and lead author of the study, said: "The rapid deterioration of unique organic archaeological remains at Star Carr is an irreplaceable loss of our cultural heritage. Critically, the short time scale of this experiment highlights the alarming rate at which this process can occur, raising concerns for the continued survival of matter buried there and at other sites with similar conditions. "It is imperative that we understand and monitor the environmental and geochemical conditions in wetland areas to determine the timescale for the future management and successful preservation of archaeological sites." Dr Kirsty Penkman, Senior Lecturer in York's Department of Chemistry and co-author of the study, said: "As potential threats to wetlands -- such as pollution and changes in land use -- continue to occur on an unprecedented scale, it is increasingly likely that other waterlogged archaeological sites are at risk from similar processes to those seen at Star Carr. "The severity of decay seen in artefacts is rapid and irreversible, and has global implications in informing and challenging the current policy of organic remains being preserved in situ -- a method previously believed to best protect archaeological artefacts for future research." Important previous research at Star Carr includes a Postglacial project examining a unique Mesolithic engraved pendant, and the uncovering of incredibly rare headdresses made out of red deer skulls, thought to have been used in shamanic practices. Dr High is set to continue research into the preservation of waterlogged archaeological remains in partnership with Historic England, to advise and transfer this new knowledge on organic matter survival at other wetland sites. Such research aims to ensure that scientific evidence is applied in the management of other sites across the UK and Europe.
News Article | October 31, 2016
Important archaeological remains at wetland sites across the world could be at immediate risk, say scientists at the University of York Important archaeological remains at wetland sites across the world could be at immediate risk, say scientists at the University of York. In the first study of its kind to assess how changing environmental and geochemical conditions affect the preservation of organic remains, scientists analysed bone and wood artefacts collected from the Mesolithic site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire. They then compared this to results from lab-based experimental burials. Comparing changes in bone and wood buried in separate containers of sand, garden compost and Star Carr peat for a year, they found unexpectedly rapid levels of organic decay in the latter environment. Such rapid decay is thought to be the result of acidic conditions caused by fluctuations in water levels at the site, caused by the changing climate and human modifications such as land drainage. Although the very first excavations at Star Carr in the 1940's revealed excellent preservation of organic materials, excavations from 2006-2007 by the Universities of York and Manchester showed an alarming level of both bone and wood deterioration, with bone samples found demineralised (known as 'jellybones') and wood found flattened and extremely crumbly. However, little was known about the timescale of deterioration or how rapidly this had occurred, which limited the management strategies that could be put in place to protect the archaeology. Now, researchers are urging the archaeological community to reassess the assumed tradition of preserving sites such as Star Carr in situ, and consider urgent excavations to retrieve valuable organic remains. Dr Kirsty High, Research Fellow in York's Department of Chemistry and lead author of the study, said: "The rapid deterioration of unique organic archaeological remains at Star Carr is an irreplaceable loss of our cultural heritage. Critically, the short time scale of this experiment highlights the alarming rate at which this process can occur, raising concerns for the continued survival of matter buried there and at other sites with similar conditions. "It is imperative that we understand and monitor the environmental and geochemical conditions in wetland areas to determine the timescale for the future management and successful preservation of archaeological sites." Dr Kirsty Penkman, Senior Lecturer in York's Department of Chemistry and co-author of the study, said: "As potential threats to wetlands - such as pollution and changes in land use - continue to occur on an unprecedented scale, it is increasingly likely that other waterlogged archaeological sites are at risk from similar processes to those seen at Star Carr. "The severity of decay seen in artefacts is rapid and irreversible, and has global implications in informing and challenging the current policy of organic remains being preserved in situ - a method previously believed to best protect archaeological artefacts for future research." Important previous research at Star Carr includes a Postglacial project examining a unique Mesolithic engraved pendant, and the uncovering of incredibly rare headdresses made out of red deer skulls, thought to have been used in shamanic practices. Dr High is set to continue research into the preservation of waterlogged archaeological remains in partnership with Historic England, to advise and transfer this new knowledge on organic matter survival at other wetland sites. Such research aims to ensure that scientific evidence is applied in the management of other sites across the UK and Europe.
News Article | November 27, 2016
Early next month the mayor of London will announce the winner of the competition to find the designers of the Illuminated River, a £20m project to create a permanent “world-class lighting scheme” over 17 bridges in central London. The Kinks’ “dirty old river”, TS Eliot’s “sweet Thames”, the waterway rhapsodised by Wordsworth and given a Venetian sparkle by Canaletto, old Father Thames himself will, depending on the choice of winner, be arrayed with patterns like a Hawaiian shirt, or disco hues of orange and purple, or lights that switch on and off in response to its tidal pulse, as if he were wearing the world’s biggest Fitbit. Described as a “public realm commission on an unprecedented scale”, the Illuminated River aims to fix a problem you might not have known existed, which is that the Thames is “a ribbon of darkness… at odds with the ambition to make London a 24-hour city”. It is promised that the cost will be almost entirely borne by private benefactors, with £5m pledged from the Rothschild Foundation and £5m from the Arcadia Fund, which was set up by the philanthropist Lisbet Rausing. A quite dazzling array of creative and eminent people are involved – artists such as James Turrell and Michael Craig-Martin, the former Serpentine gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones, architects David Adjaye and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who were co-creators of the High Line in New York. The project has come about because the banker and philanthropist Lord Rothschild, through conversations with Turrell going back years, felt that the current lighting of the river is a bit of a mess. Turrell says that “the river that once united London came to divide the city” and that the lighting project offers the “possibility of uniting the city again”. He speaks of the magic of life at night, “when we finish our day job, get dressed up and have a different life”. Illumination, he says, can make a city that is “a peasant by day” into a “princess by night”. . And so the Illuminated River will join the garden bridge, a “diamond jubilee bridge”, an alternative garden bridge, a proposed floating parliament, and yet another garden bridge that reuses a former railway crossing, in the ever-growing number of entrepreneurial proposals dreamed up by private individuals, with varying prospects of success and of support by public authorities. Which in turn follow a long line of islands and lagoons, of floating lidos, “living bridges” and pontoon walkways, the London Eye, the formerly wobbly bridge and other fantasies mostly failed but sometimes achieved. No other urban space in the country has the same power of attraction to visionaries, dreamers and self-publicists. Yet to the casual observer, especially one watching from the banks of the Mersey, Clyde, Tyne or Humber, the Thames looks quite all right already – to be precise, absolutely stonkingly wonderful – and not greatly in need of improvement. At the same time, huge construction projects are radically and sometimes brutally altering the river with considerably less poetic ambition, input from grandees and celebratory PR. Construction has started on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, also known as the supersewer, a £4.2bn, 16-mile-long concrete pipe under the river’s bed, whose seven years of construction will disrupt the lives of those living near its work sites and whose infrastructure of access, maintenance, ventilation and servicing will require 24 highly prominent structures to be built in and alongside the river. On the river’s banks, meanwhile, clusters of towers are going up, such as One Blackfriars, aka the Boomerang, of a scale and number the Thames has never seen before. Objectors to both the sewer and the towers argue that they show insufficient sense of a big picture, that they narrowly pursue their aims of evacuating waste and making profit without a coherent overview of what might be best for what everyone agrees is a great urban asset. So there are flurries of good intentions on the one hand and blunt construction facts on the other, with little connection between them. There are many visions but no vision. Somewhere in between are effective but less glamorous initiatives such as the decades-long programme of opening up of riverside paths. There are practical proposals, such as the crossings that mayor Sadiq Khan wants to build in east London, which would significantly improve the functioning of the capital, but which get less attention and support from the media than more fanciful ideas. There is the proposed bridge for pedestrians and cyclists at Nine Elms, near Battersea power station, overblown in its design and feared by residents on the more prosperous north bank, but nonetheless beneficial in its intent. Critical to visions for the future of the Thames is an idea of what it is. Until Joseph Bazalgette embanked it in the mid-19th century it was a huge sewer, while also sustaining intricate webs of commercial activity at its edges. Until quite recently it was dominated by industry. For at least 30 years, since Richard Rogers presented ambitious proposals for new bridges and pedestrianised embankments, it has been called “London’s most undervalued asset”, the “heart” of the city, what the architect Graham Morrison now calls “London’s largest public space”. Architects like Rogers have proposed ways in which its banks can be more readily enjoyed by the public, such that is might be more like the Seine or the Grand Canal in Paris. There is a further view, which is that its value is in its wildness. “It is crucial,” says the leading London blogger the Gentle Author, “because it is our connection to the greater natural world beyond the urban environment. It is uplifting that it is alive with something so much greater than human force.” Michael Ball, of the campaign group Thames Central Open Spaces, calls it “an incredible breathing space all across London”. Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, a man often seen on TV news giving sober analyses of electoral politics, waxes lyrical on the subject: “It is properly wild, mythic, its movements are governed by the moon. When you look down it is like looking at the sea.” It is dangerous, with tides that fluctuate by 6-7m. The country’s two busiest lifeboat stations are in central London. “All interventions have to be seen against this background,” says Travers. “It’s about intruding on the wild.” In these respects the Thames is nothing like “nice rivers like the Spree or the Seine”, which are narrow, tame, not tidal – “canals, really”. Travers also says that the river is a “bit like the family dog”, familiar, loved but a bit neglected. It suffers from administrative neglect at odds with the protestations of admiration from its would-be boosters. No single body takes responsibility for it. As Travers likes to point out, it forms a boundary of the many London boroughs along its edge, which means it suffers from the fact that all local authorities “are more attentive for good political reasons to their centres”, which is where more of their voters will notice what is happening. “If you want to build one library you put it in the middle,” he says, “if one waste transfer plant you put it on the edge.” For Morrison, the Thames’s problem is that “nobody has custodianship of it, so no one’s looking at it as a space”. Both the mayor and the boroughs have so far proved unwilling or unable to take on this responsibility. He believes development on its edges should be guided by a “proper spatial conservation plan, a complete architectural strategy”, without which “developments line up along the river like pigs feeding at a trough”, each one grabbing its portion of value-enhancing view. He has argued that the river and its embankments be designated as a single listed building, so that it would be treated with the respect it deserves. Travers suggests that a single entity be created with responsibility for the wellbeing of the Thames, as has happened with a smaller London river, the Lea. By contrast with governmental impotence over the river, the privatised monopoly Thames Water has been able to push through its colossal supersewer project and fund it through a compulsory increase in the water rates paid by Londoners. The purpose of the sewer seems reasonable enough, which is to augment the 19th-century systems for disposing of rainwater and sewage, which are no longer able to cope with a city that is both growing and more profligate in its use of water. The sewer’s opponents, however, argue that it is an “outdated and expensive folly” and “an extravagant way to deal with the occasional flushes of storm water” that they will be built to address. Professor Chris Binnie, an engineer who chaired the steering group that approved the project in 2005 has since announced that his approval was based on information that “turns out not to have been factually correct” and that the money being spent is largely a “waste”. Other objectors say that there are cheaper, less disruptive, more environmentally friendly ways of dealing with rainwater, which involve slowing down the rate at which it reaches the drains through such things as porous pavements, swales, holding ponds and rainwater tanks. But such measures require a city-wide approach, which is more the province of mayors than private companies. Thames Water finds it easier to commission heavy engineering, collect payment from its users and make a profit for its investors. The sewer will also generate those 24 structures on the Thames foreshore, which will be as impactful as they are under-publicised. As Thames Water rightly says, these could be an opportunity to “reconnect Londoners to the Thames”, which in turn suggests that a level of attention should be paid to their design at least equal to that spent on the illuminations. Indeed, some respected architectural practices are on the job – Muf, Hawkins\Brown, Weston Williamson – and they may reveal admirable designs next year, but they are employed as sub-contractors to the three huge engineering firms constructing different sections of the sewer, a situation that often squeezes the life out of architects’ good intentions. Meanwhile other players, of varying degrees of opportunism and seriousness, keep jumping into the anarchic void left by the lack of oversight of the Thames’s wellbeing. The garden bridge project, dreamed up by Joanna Lumley and now staggering under accusations of poor procurement procedure, poor value for money, false claims and ill-conceived design, is another. Graham Morrison’s practice, Allies and Morrison, have suggested a cheaper, saner alternative, by reusing the abandoned pillars of an ex-railway bridge at Blackfriars. The architects Gensler, who once proposed a floating corporate fun-fest next to the City of London, now want to put parliament into a big bubble-like pontoon while the Palace of Westminster is refurbished. Chris Medland, leader of the architectural practice one-world design is punting two ideas, a “Diamond Jubilee Bridge” for pedestrians and cyclists and the conversion of a disused railway bridge into a tree-planted “haven for wildlife”. And then there is the Illuminated River project, which tries hard to avoid the garden bridge’s missteps by going about the procurement of its designers in an impeccable way. Its promises to cost the public sector very little are more plausible than the bridge’s. It has already lined up an impressive array of support, from Khan to Duncan Wilson, the head of Historic England, to the leadership of the City of London. The official blurbs, however, ring alarms. They say the project will “contribute to the international profile for London as a world city, a centre for creative industries”, as if the role of this magnificent work of nature and humanity is to be a PR bauble. The assumption that the Thames’s relative darkness is a problem, rather than a blessed relief from the sparkling buzzing hubbub of the rest of the “24-hour” city, is untested and undebated, as is the belief that a single artistic conception is the best way to counter the lack of structured thought about the river. The blurbs also say that the river requires, as they put it, a “creative” response, which suggests that it and its bridges are blank canvases for artistic expression, whereas most of them are beautiful and fascinating structures in no need of further adornment. If you ask silly questions you get silly answers, and all six shortlisted teams combine good ideas with intrusive proposals and superfluous gestures. They have a tendency to duplicate and over-announce beauties that are good at announcing themselves – the rhythm of the tides, the arrival of sunset. One wants to make Westminster Bridge into a giant clock, on the basis that Big Ben, already quite an effective timepiece, is nearby. The best of the proposals, such as those by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Amanda Levete, appreciate that the main aim should be to bring the best out of what is already there. The project’s recently appointed director, Sarah Gaventa, however, makes it sound very much better than its bumf and its brief. The idea, she says, is not to create “Christmas lights 24/7” or abolish darkness. In some cases intrusive lighting that is already there will be taken away. She promises subtlety and responsiveness and that the competition will select, rather than a rigid concept, a team that will listen to the views of the many people affected. They “want to do something for London but not impose it” – “the last thing we’re going to do is destroy someone’s love of a bridge”. She talks about the experience of being on bridges rather than looking at them and about making them more enjoyable. Turrell also says that the intention is not to obliterate the dark. He argues that the Illuminated River could reverse the “Las Vegas-isation” that the banks of the Thames are currently suffering, whereby commercial blocks of offices and flats strive for attention with ever more lurid lighting. “If you just add all the time, add more and more light, it loses its meaning,” he says. This aim would require political leverage over adjoining landowners and is beyond the project’s current brief, but it is vitally important. It doesn’t make sense to conceive delicate schemes for the bridges if they are out-glared by neighbouring buildings. At its worst the Illuminated River could be a vanity project by a metropolitan elite that, like the Bourbon monarchy, would have learned nothing from this year’s expressions of popular discontent. It would reinforce the perception that central London is a glittering self-inflating bubble disconnected from the rest of the country and its own hinterland. It would be high-end light pollution. It would gild the lilies that are the Thames bridges and polish the turd that is politicians’ failure to take care of the river. At its best the project could indeed enhance the experience of the Thames, to bring out the best of one of the great urban spaces of the world. It could also be the prompt for what is really desperately needed, which is a public body with the power and talents to protect its best interests and to ensure that new development adds to it rather than damages it. As Graham Morrison says, in another generation the river’s greatest qualities could be gone. The six shortlisted Illuminated River projects are on display in the Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 until Tuesday. The winner will be announced on 8 December
News Article | November 17, 2016
Found at Great Ryburgh in Norfolk, their "remarkable preservation" was due to the waterlogged conditions of the river valley. The Historic England excavation was carried out ahead of the construction of a lake and flood defence system. Chief executive Duncan Wilson said the graves were "a significant discovery". James Fairclough, the lead archaeologist from the Museum of London Archaeology whose team is based in Northampton, said: "The combination of acidic sand and alkaline water created the perfect conditions for the skeletons and wooden graves to survive, revealing remarkable details of Christian Anglo-Saxon burial practices." You can read more stories about archaeology on our Pinterest board Landowner Gary Boyce had asked him to put in trial trenches ahead of the planning application for the lake and flood defence system. These revealed high status Anglo-Saxon pottery and Roman Samian Ware. He said it was all the more remarkable because prior to the dig "all the evidence suggested the field had never been developed". They decided to carry out a full excavation in January - and within an hour found the first of over 80 human burials. The dig was completed in June but its findings have only just been released to the press. Historic England said other important finds included six "very rare" plank-lined graves "believed to be the earliest known examples in Britain" and evidence of a timber structure thought to be a church. Historic England believes the burials date from between the 7th and 9th Centuries AD and were "the final resting place for a community of early Christians". Research is continuing to find out where the bodies came from, how they were related and what their diet and health was like. Some of the finds will go on display at Norwich Castle Museum.
News Article | November 23, 2016
Sadiq Khan is being urged to halt the construction of a skyscraper because it mars a centuries-old view of St Paul’s Cathedral. Conservationists are calling on the London mayor to take action against a 42-storey tower in Stratford, east London, which they say damages the view of Sir Christopher Wren’s landmark from King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park. The charity Friends of Richmond Park has written to Khan urging him to halt the construction of Manhattan Loft Gardens, designed by SOM and described on its website as “Europe’s most ambitious residential tower”. It comprises three extensive sky gardens, a 145-bedroom hotel, almost 250 residential units, and retail and restaurant space. The charity said current planning rules should have protected the view, which has existed for more than 300 years and draws crowds of visitors to Richmond Park. Under the capital’s overarching planning document the London Plan, the London view management framework (LVMF) states that any development in the background of St Paul’s should be “subordinate to the cathedral and that the clear sky background profile of the upper part of the dome remains”. However, photographs released by Friends of Richmond Park show that the emerging skyscraper in Stratford is clearly visible behind the cathedral. The charity said on its website: “The new development clearly and substantially compromises the profile of the whole of the dome of St Paul’s and, for almost the entire east side of the building, the clear sky background is obliterated.” Its chairman, Ron Crompton, said in a statement: “It is a tragedy that such a wonderful and iconic protected view, between two of London’s most historic landmarks and created over 300 years ago, should be destroyed not just for today but for many years to come.” Crompton’s letter to Khan calls for an urgent investigation into how GLA officers allowed the proposal to win planning, in contravention of the LVMF. He has also called for the housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell to ensure that future applications relating to the sight line are referred to English Heritage and the mayor. Historic England, the UK’s statutory adviser on heritage, has also protested against the development and said it was not consulted. Its London planning director, Emily Gee, told the Architects’ Journal (AJ): “In the wrong places, tall buildings can do serious, irrevocable harm to important views and the special character of London. “We are very concerned that this has happened and see it as a failing of the current approach to the planning for tall buildings.” The AJ reports that the planning application for the tower was referred to the GLA in 2010 by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), which was acting as the planning authority in the run-up to the London Olympics. A spokeswoman for the Manhattan Loft Corporation told the Guardian the developer went through a transparent and public process to gain planning permission, adding that that maps of the LVMF protected view indicated that the background area to be protected beyond St Paul’s was 3km (1.86 miles) long whereas its tower was 7km (4.35 miles) beyond. “Throughout the planning process we found the GLA and all the other planning bodies to be very supportive for such an aspirational residential project,” the spokeswoman said. “As planning approval was achieved [on] 18 July 2011, we were never asked about the LVMF background view impact. “However, SOM has a long history of working with the St Paul’s view corridors and the more recent London Plan LVMF document. “We would recommend that the King Henry VIII’s Mound also be illustrated as seen from the naked eye where the distance to St Paul’s Cathedral is 15.5km (and Manhattan Loft Gardens is an additional 7km beyond).” A spokesman for Khan said: “We are currently looking into the issues involved with this development.”
Mays S.,Historic England
Annals of Human Biology | Year: 2015
Context: Estimation of adult age from skeletal remains is problematic due to the weak and variable relationship between age indicators and age.Objectives: To assess the proportion of variation in age indicators that is associated with factors other than age and to attempt to identify what those factors might be.Methods: The paper focuses on frequently used adult bony age markers. A literature search (principally using Web of Science) is conducted to assess the proportion of variation in age indicators associated with factors other than age. The biology of these age markers is discussed, as are factors other than age that might affect their expression.Results: Typically, ∼60% of variation in bony age indicators is associated with factors other than age. Factors including inherent metabolic propensity to form bone in soft tissue, vitamin D status, hormonal and reproductive factors, energy balance, biomechanical variables and genetic factors may be responsible for this variation, but empirical studies are few.Conclusion: Most variation in adult skeletal age markers is due to factors other than age; dry bone study of historic documented skeletal collections and high resolution CT scanning in modern cadavers or living individuals is needed to identify these factors. © 2015 © 2015 Informa UK Ltd.
News Article | April 20, 2016
One of Britain's best-preserved Roman-age villas was recently discovered beneath a home in southwest England. Homeowner Luke Irwin, who lives in Wiltshire, wanted to run electrical cables from his house to an old barn, where his children could play table tennis. But in February, workmen digging a trench for the cables struck a hard surface about 18 inches (46 centimeters) underground. "It was extraordinary," Irwin told Live Science. "I was lucky I was there that day." [See photos of the well-preserved Roman villa] "The guy digging called out and we hurried over. You could immediately see the mosaic — the colors were so vivid, it was literally like the day it was laid," Irwin said. "There was a sense of disbelief — you are slightly shocked by that moment of the tangibility of history. History is often so distant and dry." Irwin, who has a passion for history, knew that the mosaic was important evidence of something much older than the buildings on the property. "Our house is made from two 17th-century laborers' cottages knocked together, so there was no way these guys would have put a mosaic in there," he said. Irwin called local government officers to inspect the find, which led to an investigation by archaeologists at the Salisbury Museum, in Wiltshire, and Historic England, a government agency in the United Kingdom that preserves historic buildings, monuments and sites. The researchers carried out a geophysical survey of the site and conducted an eight-day investigative dig around the spot where the mosaic floor was uncovered. What they found was astonishing: below Irwin's lawn lay the center of one of the largest Roman villas found in Britain, which was preserved underground and undisturbed for around 1,400 years. "It’s clearly a very elaborate and very well-to-do residence," said David Roberts, an archaeologist with Historic England. "The finds, particularly the very fine mosaic that we've found, strongly suggest that it's been home to a very wealthy, aristocratic family." Roberts said the villa seemed to have been occupied since the late second century or early third century, until late in the fourth century, a period that corresponds to Roman rule in Britain. He added that the villa would have been the economic and social center of a local network of farming communities, at a time when Britain was an economic anchor for the Roman Empire in northwestern Europe. [History's 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries] "In the later Roman Empire, Wiltshire is something of a bread basket for the northwest empire, and grain from the south of England is sent to Germany to feed the troops stationed there," Roberts told Live Science. The investigative dig found other artifacts, including coins and "high-status" pottery, a Roman well and the stone coffin of a Roman child, which had been used as flower bed, he said. For Irwin, the most moving items uncovered on his property were the personal traces left behind by people who lived there centuries ago, such as the remains of a meal of oysters that were brought to the villa from the coast, 45 miles (72 kilometers) away. "There's something very powerful about the human items," Irwin said. "I found the oyster shells particularly evocative, because you're picking up something that was dropped 1,600 years ago — so it's literally from one hand to another." Irwin, a designer whose work includes luxury rugs, has used the extraordinary find as inspiration for a new rug collection, some incorporating the mosaic patterns from the site. "Everything is an adaption of something that’s gone before, and that makes it a living cultural item — it becomes like a bridge across centuries and across cultures," he said. Roberts said some of the most interesting finds include pieces of pottery from the fifth century, after the official end of Roman rule but before the Saxon conquest of that part of Britain. At that time, the already-abandoned Roman villa was partially refitted by people who erected timber structures inside the ruined stone walls, he said. "It's very rare to find well-preserved evidence from the fifth century, the post-Roman period," Roberts said. "In some ways, we have a lot more Roman villas than we have good fifth-century contexts." These artifacts from the fifth century offer "such a rare window into that bit of the past that we don't often get a look at," he said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
News Article | February 19, 2016
Archeologists unearthed the largest and best preserved 3,000-year-old wheel from a quarry site in Cambridgeshire known as "Britain's Pompeii." The discovery sheds light on the lives of ancestors during the Bronze Age. It is the latest remarkable find at a quarry out of a former brickworks at Must Farm, Peteborough. Experts call the discovery as unprecedented since the artifact can be traced back to about 1,100 to 800 B.C. and it's the country's best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings. "This site is one continuing surprise, but if you had asked me, a perfectly preserved wheel is the last thing I would have expected to find," Mark Knight, site director, who is from the Cambridge University's archaeology unit, said. "On this site objects never seen anywhere else tend to turn up in multiples, so it's certainly not impossible we'll go on to find another even better wheel," he added. Measuring just a meter in diameter, the wheel is the most ancient find ever in Britain. The wheel could be from an Italian town where a fire broke out and destroyed five round houses. The round houses are believed to have collapsed into the river with all their contents. "The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago," said Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, which is a public body that takes care historical places in the country, among other things. The oldest wheel from the Bronze Ages found in Britain, Flag Fen, dates back to about 1,300 B.C. and was also found near Peterborough. This wheel is slightly smaller with a diameter of only 0.8 meter (2.6 feet). Other old wheels from England dates back to at least 2,500 B.C. in the Copper Age. "Among the wealth of other fabulous artifacts and the new structural remains of round houses built over this river channel," Kasia Gdaniec from the Cambridgeshire County Council, said. Gdaniec added that the quarry site and their findings continue to amaze them. The £1.1 million ($1.57 million) excavation was jointly funded by Historic England and Forterra, the quarry owner. The dig was originally planned to finish by March, but with all the discoveries coming the project might be extended.