Issue 130, May/June 2013

Introducing the May/June edition of British Archaeology

On the Cover

The story of Hoa Hakananai’a

In 1868 a gang of British sailors and locals uprooted a statue on Easter Island. That figure – one of the finest of its kind ever carved – is now among the British Museum’s best known artefacts. Our exclusive report describes new digital surveys of the carving, and the story they reveal:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the statue was not made for a coastal platform, but always stood in the ground where it was found on top of a 300m cliff
  • When it was half-buried by soil and food debris, small designs known as komari, representing female genitalia, were carved on the back
  • At a later date the whole of the back was covered with a scene showing a male chick leave the nest, watched by its half-bird, half-human parents – the story at the heart of the island’s unique birdman ceremony, recorded in the 19th and early 20th centuries
  • In its present plinth, the statue leans slightly to one side
  • The digital survey was done by archaeologists at the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton, using photogrammetric modelling and reflectance transformation imaging (RTI)
  • This is the first such study of the statue to be done

The Princess in the Police Station

In a little known incident in 1964, archaeologists were presented with the remains of Anne Mowbray, Duchess of York. The child bride of one of the “Princes in the Tower”, Anne gave the 20th century media a story to match the discovery of Richard III – and science the rare opportunity to examine the mobile casino no deposit required remains of a known pre-Reformation individual. Yet archaeologists handled the case badly, and after nearly 50 years the burial’s study is still incomplete.

Richard III: King of England, Man of Leicester

Leicester archaeologists reflect on their project, which was about more than the discovery of a king’s grave

Women Lead UK’s Largest Archaeological Organisations

When Gill Hey starts work in April as chief executive officer of the UK’s largest registered archaeological organisation, three of the top four archaeological firms will be led by women. Though universities are male dominated, elsewhere women hold high posts throughout the profession, in stark contrast to industry.

The Wall: prehistoric fort or monumental labyrinth?

London Underground is celebrating its 150th anniversary by installing a unique labyrinth design by artist Mark Wallinger in each of its 270 stations. Labyrinths on such a scale might seem a new arrival on the British cultural landscape. But illustrator Caroline Malim thinks there might have been a vast labyrinth in Shropshire – over 2,000 years ago.

Dramatic rock art discoveries near Inverness

The official record describes a ruined burial mound and a decorated rock outcrop. Douglas Scott knows there is more. He has been visiting Swordale Hill for 26 years, and says it is the Highlands’ most spectacular ancient rock art site.

The Gresham’s last voyage

A Tudor shipwreck has travelled from the Thames estuary, to a lake on the south coast of England, to a flooded quarry in Leicestershire, where it has taken on a new life.

Neolithic centre in Wales

Neolithic monuments are found in large complexes that developed over a thousand years or more across the UK – but not, until now, in Wales. We profile one of British archaeology’s most spectacular recent discoveries, of massive enclosures and ritual monuments built in the Walton basin 3800–2300BC.

Archaeology of the Holocaust

Archaeology can reveal unrecorded worlds, and throw light on anonymous lives – and deaths. Even if people believe they have destroyed the evidence.

Regulars Include

Mick’s travels

Mick Aston takes to the steep streets of Durham City, soon to host a spectacular exhibition of early medieval gospels.


Goats, gods and the free circulation of knowledge – the challenge of open access.

Greg Bailey on TV

How did The King in the Car Park look to archaeologists?


Geofizz and satellites make good TV, but they scratch the past’s surface.

My archaeology

Broadcaster Michael Wood, soon to be professor of public history at the University of Manchester, reflects on the power of history and archaeology.


Ancient Britain, and imagining archaeology in England.


The UK's only archaeological events listing, with exhibition reviews.


Tara-Jane Sutcliffe reports on the CBA’s scheme to help people train for community archaeology.


Castle Hill, Huddersfield.


British Archaeology is a bimonthly members' magazine that is also available in larger WH Smith stores and the best independent newsagents, and by subscription in print and digital.