Archaeologists announce national awards for best discoveries in Britain
Archaeologists have announced the winners of this year’s British Archaeological Awards showcasing archaeology discoveries up and down the country that reveal new stories of Britain and its people.
DCMS Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch said:
“Archaeology is such an important part of our nation’s heritage, helping us understand our culture and how people lived in the past. British archaeologists are world leaders in their field and the British Archaeological Awards celebrates their achievements and the new discoveries and stories they have unearthed.”
The Bronze Age settlement of Must Farm, described as “Britain’s Pompeii” was awarded Best Archaeological Discovery by an independent panel of archaeologists for the breath-taking preservation of layers of human occupation uncovered by archaeologists at the site, lost to rising sea levels three thousand years ago.
Bronze Age log boats, wooden fish traps, and swords and spears have all been found at the at the excavation, funded by Historic England, which will shortly be handed back to the quarry owner, along with two circular wooden houses dating back to 1000-800 BCE, and the earliest and most complete wooden wheel ever found in Britain.
Mark Knight, Site Director commented, “By general agreement the Must Farm Timber Platform is the best preserved Bronze Age settlement ever excavated in the UK. This ‘lost world’ will reshape our understanding of the British Bronze Age.”
David Gibson, Archaeological Manager at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, University of Cambridge said: “We can actually see everyday life during the Bronze Age in the round. It’s prehistoric archaeology in 3D with unsurpassed finds both in terms of range and quantity.”
Other discoveries showcased by British Archaeological Award winners include the largest ever excavation in the city of Oxford, which revealed a medieval friary on the site of the Westgate shopping centre development, and recent development-led excavations Under London which have unearthed amazing remains and artefacts beneath the pavements, telling the story of the capital through time. The Battles, Bricks and Bridges community project in Northern Ireland overruled the experts by relocating the site of their local battlefield in Co. Fermanagh and identifying a metal artefact found nearby as a rare Irish Bronze Age sword, unique to the area.
The history and archaeology of the Welsh Slate industry, currently being considered for World Heritage status, is explored in this year’s Best Archaeological Book, while innovative Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and 3D modelling enable readers to examine prehistoric carvings on the Star Carr Mesolithic pendant and interpret the past for themselves in an online article published by the Postglacial Project.
Eminent archaeologist, Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe CBE, renowned for his work on the Celts and his groundbreaking excavations at Danebury Iron Age hill fort and Fishbourne Roman Palace, received the 2016 Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Deborah Williams, Chair of the British Archaeological Awards commented,
“The entries this year reflect the incredible wealth and range of archaeology that is going on across the UK, the quality and expertise of our world-leading archaeologists, and the ever increasing fascination of the British public with the history and archaeology of their local area.”
The winners of this year’s British Archaeological Awards were presented by archaeologist, Julian Richards and historian, Bettany Hughes at the British Museum on 11 July in association with digital media partner, Culture24, showcasing the very latest discoveries and innovations in British archaeology and marking the launch of the annual Festival of Archaeology with over 1000 public hands-on events, many free, on offer to the public across the UK from 16-31 July.
The British Archaeological Awards entries are judged by independent panels made up of leading experts from across the archaeology field in the UK.
The 2016 winners are:
BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT
• Westgate Oxford
Oxford Archaeology South
BEST COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT
• Battles, Bricks and Bridges
Cleenish Community Association and Killesher Community Development Association
BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL BOOK
• Welsh Slate – Archaeology and History of an Industry
David Gwyn, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
BEST PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF ARCHAEOLOGY
• Under London
BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL INNOVATION
• POSTGLACIAL Project ‘A unique engraved shale pendant from the site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain’ Internet Archaeology 40
University of York
BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY
• Must Farm
Cambridge Archaeological Unit, funded by Historic England
• Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe CBE, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.
Notes for editors:
1. The British Archaeological Awards take place every two years to recognise excellence and innovation in archaeology and are managed by an independent charity, chaired by Deborah Williams of Historic England, and trustees and judges from across the archaeology profession.
The 2016 Awards are sponsored by the Robert Kiln Trust, The Society of Antiquaries of London, The British Museum, Portable Antiquities Scheme, Historic England, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, Archaeology Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, and Cadw. www.archaeologicalawards.org.uk
2 Winners’ videos are published on the website of the British Archaeological Awards: twitter @BAAWARDSUK #BAA2016
3 Media contact: Louise Ennis 07709 353741 ENDS