Daily Archives: November 25, 2011

Saxon burial ground under Warwickshire couple’s home

A skeleton found close to the entrance to the property in Ratley. Photo: Archaeology Warwickshire
Mr West said at first he thought the bodies were probably casualties of the battle of Edgehill

A Warwickshire man has described the moment builders found human bones under his patio.

Stephen and Nicky West were having their home redeveloped when one of the builders unearthed the remains.

Mr West said: “There was a tap on the door and the builder said ‘Stephen, I think there’s something you need to see’.

“He had a skull in his hand and I thought ‘oh my goodness’.”

The couple have lived at their house in Ratley, a village in south Warwickshire, for nearly seven years.

The village is near to Edgehill – site of the the battle of Edgehill, where the King’s army clashed with Parliamentarians in 1642 at the start of the English Civil War.



A skeleton that was found in Ratley. Photo: Archaeology Warwickshire


  • The Anglo-Saxon period lasted for 600 years, from 410 to 1066
  • The term Anglo-Saxon refers to settlers from the German regions of Angeln and Saxony, who made their way over to Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire around AD 410
  • They replaced the Roman stone buildings with their own wooden ones, and spoke their own language, which gave rise to the English spoken today
  • The Anglo-Saxons also brought their own religious beliefs, but the arrival of Saint Augustine in 597 converted most of the country to Christianity
  • The early settlers kept to small tribal groups, forming kingdoms and sub-kingdoms


Mr West said at first he thought the bodies were probably casualties of the battle.

He said: “It was funny because when we started the work on the house people said ‘you’ll probably find bones in the garden from the civil war’ but they predated that by a long way.”

In fact the bones predated the civil war by at least 800 years.

Mr and Mrs West informed Warwickshire County Council’s archaeologists.

Archaeology Warwickshire’s manager Stuart Palmer visited the site and determined they had been buried there long ago and were not the victims of any recent foul play.

Mr Palmer said the group did not normally undertake scientific research on all finds because the service’s funds were limited.

But Mr and Mrs West were so intrigued by the discovery they commissioned Archaeology Warwickshire to test the bones.

The bones were discovered last year but the service has only recently released the test results.

The archaeologists identified the remains of at least four bodies which included two adult females, a young male and a juvenile aged between 10 and 12.

Radiocarbon dates from two of the skeletons show that they died around 650-820 AD in what is known as the middle Saxon period.

Stephen West Mr West said he did not mind living over a burial ground

‘Extreme hardship’

England at this time was divided into a number of kingdoms and Ratley may have been in a frontier war zone between the Saxon kingdom of the Hwicce and the eventually dominant Anglian kingdom of Mercia.

Mr Palmer said: “The discovery of this previously unsuspected burial ground is an extremely rare and important addition to what has previously been an archaeologically invisible period of Warwickshire’s history.

“Detailed analysis of the skeletons has revealed an insight into the health of the middle Saxon population who clearly suffered periods of malnourishment and were subject to a wide range of infections indicative of lives of extreme hardship and often near-constant pain.”

He said it was quite rare to find bones of this date anywhere in the county let alone in someone’s garden.

He added: “The bones are almost certainly part of a much larger cemetery.”

The bones, which were removed for testing, will now be stored by the service until it is decided where they will be kept permanently.

Mr West said they were not bothered about living on top of an ancient burial ground.

He said: “It’s spine tingling to think there’s so much history and we’re sleeping on it.

“It’s one of those odd things, it’s quite comforting in some ways, as long as they don’t disturb our sleep.”

The archaeological service is part of Warwickshire County Council.

Chris Williams, county councillor for Kineton division where the find was made, said: “It’s fascinating to know what lies beneath our feet and homes in this part of Warwickshire.

“It makes you wonder what else could be out there?

“It’s encouraging to know that here in Warwickshire we have such a team of experts to deal with these discoveries.”


Filed under Heathen Ways, News

Now Cumbria comes up with Viking silver

Now Cumbria comes up with Viking silver | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Now Cumbria comes up with Viking silver

Who left 92 pieces of valuable loot on the edge of the Lake District in the 10th century? Barrow’s Dock Museum and its big sister in Bloomsbury, London, are on the case

Furness hoard coins

Contents of a Viking lady’s handbag? Archaeologists are delighted with the Furness Hoard Photograph: Cumbria Tourism

The Northerner, or the Hoarder as it is soon to be renamed, now brings you news of yet another discovery of bullion in our rich regional earth.

After the golden finds in Leeds and Tadcaster in Yorkshire, here is an impressive amount of silver which a detectorist has unearthed on the Furness peninsula (the beautiful approach to interesting Barrow where, a propos of doom-laden suggestions that northern manufacturing has ceased, we still make ships).

This find may have more than usual historical significance according to initial analysis which dates it to around 955 when Norse invaders were having a rough time in the face of an Anglo-Saxon counter-attack. Documentary history has it that England was a unified entity under King Athelstan, after a gathering of English sub-kings and thegns at Eamont Bridge, on the 12th July, AD 927. (If their ghosts are still around, incidentally, they may be impressed by the village’s new flood defences).

Locals dressed in costumes watch as a replica Viking galley burns in Lerwick on the Shetland Islands Vikings are always good for tourism. Here’s a junior Up-Helly-Aa replica Viking galley burning in Lerwick on the Shetland Islands Photograph: KIERAN DOHERTY/REUTERS

Vikings in possession of 92 pieces of valuable rare silver coins and other booty, including silver ingots and one almost-complete silver ‘hack’ bracelet, could suggest that Furness was holding out against this alliance. Mind you, further tests may indicate that the hoard was deliberately buried and in a hurry, as they scampered for their longships.

The British Museum is expected to tell us more next month, especially on possible links to Viking settlement in the area in the 9th and 10th centuries. Dr Gareth Williams of the museum says:

On the basis of the information so far, this is a fascinating hoard. By the mid-950s, most of England had become integrated into a single kingdom, with a regulated coinage, but this part of the north-west was not integrated into the English kingdom until much later, and the hoard reflects that.

It’s a good reminder of how much finds like this can tell us about the history of different parts of the country.

Surprisingly few buried Viking relics have been found previously in Cumbria, considering its long coastline and many other links. Norse place names abound, from Hackthorpe to Ulpha, and terms such as beck, fell, foss and tarn come straight from Scandinavian roots.

Norse surrender Cherie Blair meets some more Vikings, in York

The 14ft Norse Cross at St Mary’s, Gosforth, is the tallest in England and there are other smaller ones, along with tombstones. But the main buried finds are the Penrith Hoard of 10th century silver Penannular brooches mostly found in 1989 at Flusco Pike, and a merchant’s weight dug up in 2006 on the Furness Peninsula. So Cumbria Tourism is very pleased with the new discovery.

Its managing director Ian Stephens says:

The significance of this hoard is not to be underestimated. We hope that once an independent committee provides the British Museum with a valuation, fund raising can begin in earnest to ensure that this exceptional find can be kept in Cumbria, with its rightful home at the Dock Museum, Barrow, thereby helping to put Cumbria’s richly important Viking heritage on the map.

Fund-raising by the Dock Museum will start when the British Museum sets a price under Treasure Trove.

Comments Off on Now Cumbria comes up with Viking silver

Filed under Heathen Ways, News

‘US, Israel funding terrorists in Syria’

From PressTV

A file photo shows members of the militant ‘Free Syria Army’ at a hideout on northern Lebanon’s border with Syria.
A prominent political analyst says that members of the anti-government “Free Syria Army” are not defected army personnel but militants backed, funded and armed by the United States, Israel, and Turkey.

In an article published on Global Research website on November 20, Thailand-based geopolitical expert Tony Cartalucci cited a report released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies stating that Syria’s opposition is armed and prepared to drag the country into more violence. 

“The report comes in sharp contrast to the propaganda fed via the corporate-media and the West’s foreign ministers on a daily basis, where the violence is portrayed as one-sided, with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad ‘gunning down’ throngs of peaceful, placard waving protesters,” Cartalucci wrote. 

He said the group calling itself a pro-democracy movement is turning out to be a militant group of extremists trained by British and US intelligence agencies, “whose leadership is harbored in London and Washington and their foot soldiers supplied a steady stream of covert military support and overt rhetorical support throughout the compromised corporate media.” 

The article described the unrest in Syria, which has killed thousands of people including hundreds of security personnel, as funded by Western corporate-financier interests and part of a long-planned agenda for regime change across the Middle East region. 

Cartalucci said the regime change in Syria was planned to happen as early as 1991. 

He said Washington’s threats against Syria, which it listed in 2002 under then President George W. Bush as an “Axis of Evil,” were later realized as secret backing for opposition groups inside Syria. 

Cartalucci cited an admission made by US State Department officials in April to attempt to “build the kind of democratic institutions” in Syria, and that Damascus perceived the move “as a threat to its control over the Syrian people.” 

Secret government cables published by US media had earlier revealed Washington has been funding Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005 and continued until today, the article concluded. 


Comments Off on ‘US, Israel funding terrorists in Syria’

Filed under News