Thursday, 27 September 2012

Angus field may hold church where Balliol abdicated


Archaeologists working at the site of the world's most northerly Roman fort may have found the remains of a key location in Scottish history.

The team at Stracathro believe they may have discovered the church where John Balliol abdicated his throne to Edward I in 1296.

Medieval ruins were found near a roman fort on the Gask Frontier in Angus.

Balliol's ceremonial disrobing has been described as one of the saddest hours in Scottish history.
The Gask frontier, was a line of forts and watchtowers which predates Hadrian's Wall and stretched from Doune, near Stirling to Stracathro, near Brechin.

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Weatherwatch: Climate helped Genghis Khan create the Mongol empire


Lush grasslands helped Genghis Khan fuel his armies in their conquest of Asia and parts of Europe. Photograph: North Wind Picture Archives /Alamy
 
The Mongol empire in the 13th century conquered great swaths of Asia, the Middle East and even parts of Europe at staggering speed, but how did Genghis Khan and his armies manage to conquer so much and so fast?  The answer may lie in some ancient dead trees found recently in an old volcanic lava flow in Mongolia. The trees were so well preserved that their annual growth rings were still visible and gave an astonishing insight into the climate of the 1200s. The wood rings were spaced wide apart showing that the trees grew well, thanks to plenty of rain. And because the trees did well, the chances are that the grasslands of the vast Mongolian plains also grew lush in the wet climate. Those rich grasslands would have fuelled the Mongol armies, giving plenty of grazing land for the thousands of horses that the troops relied on, and livestock to feed the soldiers.

But the tree rings also showed a sudden lurch into much colder, drier conditions around 1258, when the trees hardly grew. This was around the time the Mongol empire began to fall apart and the Mongols moved their capital into what is now Beijing. It was part of a global climate event, and a recent archaeological dig in London revealed that a catastrophic famine struck England at the same time, leading to thousands of deaths. The downturn in climate was caused by a massive volcanic eruption that blanketed the globe in ash and cut down sunlight across the world.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Archaeologists probe police HQ for Bannockburn and Roman remains


Archaeologists are searching the grounds of a police headquarters for historic evidence of the Battle of Bannockburn and a Roman road.

Experts believe they are located at Central Scotland Police headquarters in Randolphfield, Stirling. Archaeologists from Stirling Council believe the land is of historical importance.

A geophysical survey is being carried out over an area surrounding two standing stones in front of the building. The stones are said to commemorate or may have been used in a skirmish during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Thomas Randolph, the Earl of Moray, led 500 Scottish horsemen into battle against a troop of English cavalry, under the command of Sir Robert Clifford. The skirmish was won by Randolph and the area, Randolphfield, was named after him.

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Skeleton could prove coup for maligned King Richard III

Karen Ladniuk of the Richard III Society cleans a path made from reused medieval tiles during an excavation.
University of Leicester via AP
The discovery under a parking lot of a battle-scarred skeleton may restore the reputation of arguably Britain's most maligned king and lead to a royal burial five centuries late.

"There has been a lot of debate on almost every aspect of Richard III's life, appearance, personality and death," said historian John Ashdown Hill, whose book, "The Last Days of Richard III," explores the final 150 days of the king's life before he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

"The remains won't clarify everything, but they will be part of the process of getting back to original, authentic, documentary evidence rather than being misled by the propaganda that spread after his death," he said.
 
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Saturday, 15 September 2012

Tory MP calls for state funeral for King Richard III


 Men dressed as medieval knights at the Leicester site where a skeleton that researchers believe could be Richard III was found. Photograph: Gavin Fogg/AFP/Getty Images

DNA tests are being done to verify whether skeleton discovered under Leicester car park belong to last Plantagenet king

A Tory MP has called for a full state funeral for King Richard III, if remains discovered beneath a car park prove to be those of the medieval monarch.

Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood and the author of a book about the king's bloody final battle, said he hoped DNA tests would show the skeleton found in Leicester was that of the Plantagenet ruler.

The skeleton, with a metal arrow in its back and severe trauma to the skull, was exhumed from a car park behind council offices in Leicester last week during an archaeological dig.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Richard III dig: 'Strong chance' bones belong to king


Archaeologists searching for the grave of Richard III have said human remains found in Leicester show similarities to the king's portrayal in records.

The English king died at the battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Archaeologists began a dig searching for his last resting place on 25 August under a car park in Leicester.

The remains found show signs of spinal abnormalities and a "cleaved-in skull" that suggest it could be Richard III, the University of Leicester team said.

A university spokesperson said "strong circumstantial evidence" including signs of a peri-mortem (near-death) trauma to the skull and abnormalities on the spine - severe scoliosis - were found after an initial examination of the skeleton.

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