Roman artefacts stolen from sites

A train guard from Kent has been sentenced after pleading guilty to stealing Roman artefacts from archeologically important sites across the country.

Mark Staples, who lives in Swanley, was given a three-year conditional discharge for charges relating to theft and illegal excavations from a number of sites protected under the Archaeological Area and Ancient Monuments Act 1979.

He was sentenced at Dartford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday morning.

The 39-year-old targeted mainly sites and objects of Roman origin including a mosaic from Spoonley Roman Villa in Gloucestershire.

Artefacts were also stolen from excavations at Chilham in Kent and Chanctonbury in Sussex.
Inspector Mark Harrison said: “As a rich archaeological resource, Kent
has more archaeological heritage than anywhere else in the country and
this man has ruined some areas of these sites of any future scientific

“Anyone who has an interest in heritage or who wishes to discover artefacts should join a professional society or formal group.”
Staples was arrested after two illegal excavations at Thurnham Castle near Maidstone and Richborough Roman Fort at Sandwich.

Insp Harrison added: “This case highlights the strong partnership that
Kent Police has developed with English Heritage and Kent County Council
which seeks to prevent this form of criminal behaviour and we will work
to prosecute anyone caught with illegal finds.”

A total of 20 sites with 10 in Kent were visited by Staples and police warned anyone thinking of raiding the county’s rich historical sites that PC Andy Small was the first officer in the country specially trained to deal with heritage crimes.

He has now trained 40 people including special constables, KCC wardens, PCSOs and crown prosecutors in rural and environmental crime and a similar role was created by police in Wales based on his success.

Performance of Oedipus Tyrannus in English

A 70 minute video of OT is on Google Video.

It was performed in English by Palestinian students in 2006. A single camera captures the performance just as it happened. Interesting.

The four-woman chorus dances really well.  Try watching at 7 minutes 29 seconds for an example. For this production the chorus is not a ‘problem’ but an opportunity.

Google Earth leads to discovery of Roman villa in Italy

An intriguing little story from Historical Opinions . Well, if crop-marks are best seen from the air, then Google Earth and its rivals may well lead to more archaeological discoveries.

Latest technology proved an unexpected aid to unearthing the past when an Italian man decided to look at internet maps of his home.

Computer programmer Luca Mori found the remains of an ancient Roman villa when he browsed Google Earth maps showing satellite images of his local area.

His curiosity was sparked by unusual shading by his home in Sorbolo, Parma.

He contacted local archaeologists who investigated and confirmed it was once the location of a Roman villa.

“At first I thought it was a stain on the photograph,” 47-year-old Mr Mori explained. “But when I zoomed in, I saw that there was something under the earth.”

The satellite images threw up a dark oval shape more than 500m (1,640ft) long, as well as shaded rectangular shapes nearby.

Mr Mori decided to alert experts from the National Archaeological Museum in Parma about his find.

After excavating some ceramic pieces from the site – now farmland – they confirmed a Roman villa once stood there.

“At first they thought the site might be Bronze Age but a closer inspection turned up ceramic and stone pieces that showed it was a Roman villa built some time just before the birth of Christ,” he was quoted as saying in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Google Earth is a service offered by the US-based internet search engine Google, allowing users to view most parts of the world using a combination of satellite imagery and maps.

Antonine Wall declared a world heritage site

Let The Scotsman be the one to tell us.

SCOTLAND’S greatest remnant of Roman occupation was last night granted World Heritage Site status – ranking it alongside the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

The Antonine Wall, which runs from Bo’ness, in West Lothian, to Old Kilpatrick, in West Dunbartonshire, received the official designation at the Unesco world heritage summit in Quebec, Canada.

The Antonine Wall, widely seen as Scotland’s answer to Hadrian’s Wall, is the fifth site in Scotland to be recognised by Unesco and the first since New Lanark in 2001.

The 2,000-year-old wall, built in AD142 to keep Scots tribesmen at bay, is widely seen as one of the most significant Roman remains in existence. For a generation, until about AD165, it was the north-west frontier of the entire Roman empire.

The route of Scotland’s largest historic monument goes through Falkirk, Kirkintilloch, Polmont and Bearsden, although in some places it is interrupted by roads and railway lines.

About two-thirds of the wall, which was made up of 12ft-high turf ramparts on a stone base,
fronted by a deep wide ditch, has survived.

There are also remains of the forts which were built at roughly two-mile intervals.

Perhaps the best example is at Rough Castle, near Bonnybridge, where there are the remnants of a fort with ramparts 20ft thick, which would probably have provided accommodation for 500 men, and in Bearsden, where there are the remains of a bath-house.

Dr Mechtild Rossler, the head of the European Unit for the Unesco World Heritage Centre, said the
Antonine Wall had been officially designated a World Heritage Site and was also approved as an extension to the trans-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

She said: “It is really quite an accolade for the Antonine Wall, which is a hugely important territory because of the understanding it has given us of Roman military architecture.

“We really hope its World Heritage Site designation will increase greater awareness of it and help to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”

The bid to have the wall recognised as a World Heritage Site dates back five years and had to secure the backing of Holyrood and Westminster before being considered by Unesco.

Scotland’s culture minister, Linda Fabiani, said: “I’m delighted the Antonine Wall and its archaeological and historical significance have been recognised by the World Heritage Committee. The decision reinforces the Antonine Wall’s international status.

“The Antonine Wall represents an incredible part of Scotland’s history. Its inscription as Scotland’s
fifth World Heritage Site – the highest accolade of a nation’s heritage – should be celebrated by everyone both now and in the future.”

Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, the St Kilda archipelago, New Lanark and Orkney’s “Neolithic Heart” are already recognised as World Heritage Sites.

It is hoped that the granting of World Heritage Status could lead to tours of the Antonine Wall, helping it to become as popular an attraction as the West Highland Way.

The wall is roughly half the length of, and 20 years younger than, Hadrian’s Wall, the barrier
the Romans built 80 miles south in Northumberland.

Wikipedia had already added the news to its article on the Antonine Wall this morning.

See the School Classics Trips wiki on the Antonine Wall.