Thursday, August 22, 2019

Viking migration left a lasting legacy on Ireland’s population

Big roads and construction projects in Ireland have unearthed a treasure trove of data 
for archeologists.   Shutterupeira/Shutterstock

The early medieval period in Ireland (400-1200AD) was a time of key importance. It was a turning point in European history and the origin of much contemporary Irish culture and identity. Ireland, the early medieval “land of saints and scholars”, had much cultural and economic growth during the 5th and 6th centuries. Elsewhere in Europe there were unstable populations in the wake of the fall of Rome.

Until now it was assumed that this Irish Golden Age was followed by stability and consolidation, and a steadily increasing population, despite disruption caused by Viking raids throughout the 9th century. Irish society at this time was also in a state of flux. The Vikings eventually established a network of towns that stood apart from the rural “native” Irish world.

A new analysis of the archaeological record, however, reaches a set of rather different conclusions. In our study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, we found that the Irish population had actually been in a serious decline for almost two centuries before the Vikings arrived. Our research reveals how ancient migrations of Vikings left a lasting legacy in the modern population.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Crusader winery found under house in Israel

The winery is unusual in having two treading floors

A huge winery dating back to the Crusades has been found under a house in Mi'ilya in northern Israel.

The townspeople have been working together to shore up the ruins of the 12th century King's Castle that dominates their Galilee skyline under the guidance of local archaeologist Rabei Khamisy, the Haaretz newspaper reports.

But a businesswoman who runs a filling station in the popular tourist destination asked for a parallel dig under her own property, and that's where Dr Khamisy uncovered what could be the largest wine factory the Crusaders ever built during their presence in the Levant.

"The Byzantines had much larger wineries, but the Crusaders had nothing comparable as far as we know," he told Haaretz.

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Ancient Tombs Unearthed in Nemea, Greece Shed Light on Mycenaean Civilization

Aerial view of the road and the chamber of the two tombs in the eastern part of the Mycenaean cemetery at Aidonia, along with the tombs from the old excavation.
Source: Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinth

The Greek Ministry of Culture announced on Sunday that archaeologists have discovered two ancient, unlooted chamber tombs dating from the Late Mycenaean period, (1400 – 1200 BC), near Nemea in the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

The newly-found tombs at the Aidonia burial site include five full burials and the skeletons of fourteen individuals whose remains had been transferred there from other tombs.

The finds will shed more light on the Mycenaean civilization, the Greek Culture Ministry announced.

Both chamber tombs provided an array clay pots and figurines to the discoverers, as well as other small objects.

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Visigothic church discovered in the Sierra de Madrid

General view of the rural church of El Boalo [Credit: UAM]

The results of the latest excavation campaigns, led by Javier Salido, Professor of Archaeology at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and Charo Gómez (Archaeology Team A) in the Cerrillo de El Rebollar (El Boalo, Madrid), have unearthed a rural church consisting of a rectangular hall with a single nave and finished off with an apse or squared chancel. The original floor of the building underwent important alterations that will be analysed in detail in future investigations.

The clues for dating the building were hidden in the tombs that occupy the interior space of the nave of the church. In contrast to other known rural churches, the tombs had not been plundered, but were in an excellent state of preservation, and an unaltered and perfectly recorded stratigraphy of occupation of the nave has been documented that allows the original phase of the building and subsequent modifications to be dated with precision.

Eleven graves have been located inside the nave for the moment, perfectly oriented in an east-west direction, aligned with the perimeter walls.

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Pompeii archaeologists uncover 'sorcerer's treasure trove'

Artefacts thought to be part of a sorcerer's treasure trove on display in Pompeii (12 August)
Most of the artefacts would have belonged to women - possibly slaves or servants

Archaeologists working in the buried Roman city of Pompeii say they have uncovered a "sorcerer's treasure trove" of artefacts, including good-luck charms, mirrors and glass beads.

Most of the items would have belonged to women, said Massimo Osanna, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

A room with the bodies of 10 victims, including women and children, was excavated in the same house.

Pompeii was engulfed by a volcanic eruption from Mt Vesuvius in AD 79.

The fatal eruption froze the city and its residents in time, making it a rich source for archaeologists.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Unearthed Viking ‘drinking hall’ offers ‘unparalleled’ opportunity to study Norse history

A Viking "drinking hall" that may have been used by a high-ranking chieftain 800 years ago has been unearthed in Orkney, archaeologists have said.

The site, which is believed to have been a high-status Norse hall from as far back as the 10th century, was discovered at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay.

Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga - a historical narrative of the archipelago - as the home of Sigurd, a powerful 12th century chieftain.

Researchers said the area offers an “unparalleled” opportunity to study eating habits in the region over a millennia. 

The discovery is the culmination of years of work by a team from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to find the building.

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Archaeologists find remains of kings’ feasts at Anglo-Saxon royal manor buried beneath beer garden

An archeological search for an ancient royal manor lasting over a decade has reached its climax beneath a beer garden.

A team of scientists launched a hunt for the Anglo-Saxon house 15 years ago, curious to uncover the knowledge it held into how people lived at the time. 

Initially there were doubts that the residence, thought to belong to an age-old King of Kent, even existed. 

But when the owners of a Kent pub allowed diggers into their beer garden for two weeks in July a “royal rubbish heap” was found under the grass, surfacing items researchers thought were long gone.

“Masses” of wild boar and deer bones, thought to be leftover from royal feasts, were discovered beneath the grass at the Market Inn in Faversham.

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Large Roman tomb unearthed in south Italian town of Ugento

Credit: Telerama News

Just outside the present-day town centre of Ugento in the province of Lecce, Apulia (southern Italy), during the course of excavations arranged by the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto on private property, evidence has come to light that brings new data for the reconstruction of the history of Ugento: in addition to some wall structures probably dating back to the Middle Ages, a burial of great interest for the study of funerary rituals has emerged.

"It was a plain pit in which three individuals had been deposited at successive times", explains the Superintendence. "The grave, probably dating back to the Roman-Republican Age, has yielded 4 coins not yet legible and a grey oil lamp."

"Once the skeletons had been removed, four pits came to light inside which the remains of the earlier inhumations and some accompanying objects had been deposited: in particular, a bowl and an undecorated miniature vase, perhaps belonging to the third century BC, as well as an oinochoe (a container for mixing wine) dating back to the Hellenistic period, had been carefully buried inside one of the pits."

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Archaeology Dig to start at Iron Age site in Caithness

Aerial view of the Swartigill site. Photo: Bobby Friel @Takethehighview

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, in partnership with the Yarrows Heritage Trust, are preparing for a fourth season of excavation at the Burn of Swartigill in Thrumster, Caithness, Scotland.

Previous seasons of excavation at the site have uncovered a complex of Iron Age structures, which are providing an important window into Iron Age society away from the monumental architecture of the Brochs.

This season the team led by Rick Barton from ORCA Archaeology hope to continue to reveal the extent of some of these structures so that they can better understand just how complex the site is. We will also be aiming to recover more information about what life was like for the Iron Age people who lived there two thousand years ago. Analysis of the precious remnants of people’s day to day lives will not only help us to understand the environment and economy of the site at the Burn of Swartigill, but also potentially that of Iron Age Scotland in a much broader context.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Ancient Greek skull found in Turkey shows evidence of neurosurgery performed 2,200 years ago

Credit: AA

Archaeologists carrying out excavations at the ancient Greek city of Euromus dating to the 5th century BC, in the area now occupied by Turkey found a skull with marks indicating that neurosurgery existed 2,200 years ago.

The Anadolu News Agency reports that the skull was found in a burial chamber during new excavations led by Turkish archaeologist Abuzer Kizil found that brain surgery was performed on one of the skulls belonging to an adult male.

“We believe this surgery was performed due to a headache or a problem that had to do with the skull,” Kizil said.

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‘Perhaps the most important isotope’: how carbon-14 revolutionised science

A photographic reproduction of the Turin shroud. 
Photograph: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

The discovery that carbon atoms act as a marker of time of death transformed everything from biochemistry to oceanography – but the breakthrough nearly didn’t happen

Martin Kamen had worked for three days and three nights without sleep. The US chemist was finishing off a project in which he and a colleague, Sam Ruben, had bombarded a piece of graphite with subatomic particles. The aim of their work was to create new forms of carbon, ones that might have practical uses.

Exhausted, Kamen staggered out of his laboratory at Berkeley in California, having finished off the project in the early hours of 27 February 1940. He desperately needed a break. Rumpled, red eyed and with a three-day growth of beard, he looked a mess.

And that was unfortunate. Berkeley police were then searching for an escaped convict who had just committed several murders. So when they saw the unkempt Kamen they promptly picked him up, bundled him into the back of their patrol car and interrogated him as a suspected killer.

Thus one of most revolutionary pieces of research undertaken in the past century was nearly terminated at birth when one of its lead scientists was accused of murder. It was only when witnesses made it clear that Kamen was not the man the police were after that he was released and allowed to go back to the University of California Radiation Laboratory to look at the lump of graphite that he and Ruben had been irradiating.

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

See the latest discoveries made at Auckland Castle dig site

ARCHAEOLOGICAL finds have opened a window into the lives of some of the country’s most powerful men, from the food they ate to where they went to the toilet.
Centuries ago the Prince Bishops of Durham were considered second only to the king, with the authority to raise an army and mint their own coins.
Now, students and archaeologists from Durham University have uncovered more about their lifestyle in a dig at one of their most important homes Auckland Castle, in Bishop Auckland.
Working alongside staff and volunteers from The Auckland Project charity, which owns the castle, they excavated to the north of St Peter’s Chapel, which previously served as the Castle’s Great Hall.
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Fragments of 12th century Polotsk princely residence unearthed in Belarus Read full text at: If you use BelTA’s materials, you must credit us with a hyperlink to

USHACHI DISTRICT, 8 August (BelTA) - Archaeologists and volunteers have unearthed fragments of a countryside residence of Polotsk princes dating back to the 12th century on the shores of Lake Cherstvyaty in Ushachi District, BelTA has learned.

The archaeological expedition started three weeks ago and already found the fragments of a countryside residence of Polotsk princes dating back to the 12th century. Some time ago historian Vasily Voronin suggested a hypothesis that the lands and courtyards of the Polotsk voivode of the 16th century could be a princely legacy of the earlier periods. “We have just found evidence that there was princely ancestral property. We found an exact location but similar buildings are in other locations in this area,” said Ph.D. in History Marat Klimov, a senior researcher at the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

Archaeologists discover almost 40 new monuments close to Newgrange

The site of one of the newly discovered monuments found near Newgrange. 
Credit: University College Dublin

A team from University College Dublin have unearth almost 40 previously unknown monuments close to Newgrange, including a "spectacular" monument that aligns with the Winter Solstice sunrise.

The findings likely range from the Neolithic period (4000 BC), through the Bronze Age (2500 BC), and the early Middle Ages.

The monument aligned with the Winter Solstice sunrise is believed to be around 200—300 years newer than the Stone Age passage tomb at Newgrange, dated around 3200 BC, and was discovered in a field just metres from the famous site.

Dr. Steve Davis and a team from the UCD School of Archaeology used a large-scale geophysical imaging system to reveal the new monuments as a part of a joint project with the Romano-Germanic Commission.

"These methods have in the last few years changed our understanding of the Brú na Bóinne landscape beyond all recognition," Dr. Davis said.

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Medieval artefacts found under Reading housing development

The tiles kilns were unearthed at what is thought to have been a medieval tile production site

A string of medieval artefacts found beneath a housing development suggest it used to be a tile production site, experts have said.

Two tile kilns similar to the terracotta ones on the floor of Reading Abbey were among the artefacts found at the site on Silver Street in Reading.

Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVASS) also found a nearby pit where it is believed clay was extracted for the tile factory.

It described the discovery as "rare".

Project co-ordinator Tim Dawson said the tile kilns, estimated to be from AD1250-1500, were the "stars of the site" as they indicated there used to be a tile manufacturing site linked to Reading Abbey.

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Unknown monuments identified close to Newgrange in 'exceptionally successful' survey

Around 40 previously unknown monuments have been identified in the Brú na Bóinne area close to Newgrange as a result of what a leading archaeologist says was an “exceptionally successful” survey.
Dr Steve Davis of the UCD School of Archaeology, who has worked for over a decade on the Brú na Bóinne landscape, said the monuments appear to range from what are most likely early Neolithic houses to Neolithic timber enclosures as well as Bronze Age burial monuments and some early medieval farmsteads.
The area surveyed included locations both sides of the Boyne, within the bend of the Boyne and across from the megalithic tombs at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
Dr Davis said the surveys that revealed these new monuments were carried out as part of collaborative research between UCD School of Archaeology and the Romano-Germanic Commission, Frankfurt.
The research is for the ‘Boyne to Brodgar’ project examining connections between Neolithic sites between the Boyne Valley and the Orkney Islands. The surveys to date have been funded by the German government.
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Archaeologists find 'Viking drinking hall' during Orkney dig

The site was explored for a number of years before the discovery
Image copyrightPA MEDIA

Archaeologists have found what could be a Viking drinking hall during a dig in Orkney.

The site, at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to date back to the 10th Century and may have been used by the chieftain Sigurd.

Stone walls, benches, pottery and a fragment of a Norse bone comb were found during the excavation.

It is hoped the site could reveal much about diet, farming and fishing from the Norse period to the 19th Century.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Norse Hall Discovered at Skaill, Rousay, Orkney

kaill farmstead looking towards St Marys kirk and Midhowe Broch. Photo: Bobby Friel @Takethehighview

A large Norse hall has been discovered during excavations at Skaill Farmstead, on the island of Rousay, Orkney. The hall probably dates to the 10th to 12th centuries AD and was discovered below a more recent farmstead.

A team of archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Rousay residents and students have been digging at the site for a number of years, investigating the later stages of the farm complex and its middens (waste heaps), with a particular focus on past diet, farming and fishing practices.

Project co-director Dr Ingrid Mainland said “We have recovered a millenia of middens which will allow us an unparalleled opportunity to look at changing dietary traditions, farming and fishing practices from the Norse period up until the 19th century.”

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Monday, August 05, 2019

13th Century Pont des Trous Bridge Demolished: Archaeological Vandalism or Economic Progression?

Angry Belgians and a minister of that countries federal government have voiced their distain towards politicians and counselors who ordered the dismantling of Tournai’s gothic “Bridge of Holes” so that larger boats can sail and spend on the Scheldt river.

In 1968, a sinking 19th century granite London bridge, designed by John Rennie to replace a medieval predecessor, was sold to American oil tycoon Robert P McCulloch for $2,460,000. This Londonist article explains how the landmark was dismantled and shipped over the Atlantic to Lake Havasu in Arizona, where it still stands today. In this instance it was argued that the bridge was ‘going to collapse anyway, so why not be saved an American’? But where this sort of thing goes wrong is when an ancient bridge is dismantled to increase profits and income, and this is what’s just happened in Belgium.

Built between 1281 and 1304, the Pont des Trous is one of three existing 13th-century military bridges left anywhere in the world, and it is unquestionably one of the most prestigious vestiges of the medieval military architecture in Belgium. It was part of the second wall of the city and defended the course of the Scheldt river along the town and its name comes from a local loch that was called Les Trous, or the holes.

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Archaeologists find rare Stone Age graves in Germany

Archaeologists have discovered 25 rare Stone Age graves in the district of Borde, north of the city of Magdeburg in eastern Germany, according to project director Susanne Friederich of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.

Friederich said the 6,500-year-old find near Wedringen is a cremation cemetery of the so-called Central European Rossen culture.

This is a peculiarity, since in this culture the dead were normally buried in the earth. "They are not tombs with urns, but the holes of the tombs have a size that corresponds to the burials of entire bodies," said Friederich.

Instead of a complete skeleton, the archaeologists found only fragments of cremated corpses. The dead were burned with their personal belongings. This was evidenced by stone axes cracked by the effect of heat

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The road to Scandinavia's bronze age: Trade routes, metal provenance, and mixing

The geographic origins of the metals in Scandinavian mixed-metal artifacts reveal a crucial dependency on British and continental European trading sources during the beginnings of the Nordic Bronze Age, according to a study published July 24, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Heide W. Nørgaard from Aarhus University, Denmark, and colleagues.

2000-1700BC marks the earliest Nordic Bronze Age, when the use and availability of metal--specifically tin and copper, which when alloyed together creates bronze--increased drastically in Scandinavia. The authors performed isotope and trace-element analyses on 210 Bronze Age artifact samples, predominantly axeheads, originally collected in Denmark and representing almost 50% of all known existing Danish metal objects from this period.

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Bronze Age children’s cemetery uncovered near Kilcreggan

Sandra Kelly was uncovering a stone coffin yesterday

Archaeologists have uncovered a series of graves dating back over 3,000 years at a site on the Rosneath Peninsula.

They found six graves so far, as well as pottery and a bead.

The team from the North Clyde Archaeological Society have worked on remains from three periods on the site at Portkil near Kilcreggan – military installations and roads from before World War One, a lime kiln from the late 18th or early 19th century and a series of Bronze Age burials and artefacts.

They have been working since November and are currently uncovering a stone coffin.

The society’s vice chair Tam Ward said it was relatively commonplace to find individual graves from the Bronze Age, but the number and combination at Portkil was unusual.

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Roman bath house discovered under former Jack's store in Colchester

A PLETHORA of important archaeological discoveries including a Roman bath house have been made during an excavation.
Several historic artefacts, including the remains of what would have been a large Roman bath house, have been unearthed on St Nicholas Road under the former hardware shop, Jack’s.
The ancient spa-esque facility, used for public bathing, was identifiable by the discovery of essential components, such as the hollow and ceramic flues which would have lined both the walls and floors of the house’s different rooms.
Evidence further confirming the famous Boudican revolt, which caused the destruction of modern Colchester in AD 61, was also discovered.
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Fifty Years of Archaeology at Rewley House

Fifty Years of Archaeology at Rewley House
a Day School
Saturday, 18 January 2020

In 1969 Oxford University Delegacy for Extra Mural Studies (now the Department for Continuing Education) appointed its first Director of Archaeology, then called Staff Tutor in Archaeology and Local Studies. The department soon established itself as an important local, regional and national provider of archaeology courses and conferences. It was also closely involved in the development of the Rescue Archaeology movement and organized a programme of rescue archaeology along the line of the M40 and on threatened sites in the Thames Valley mobilising its adult student faculty. Over the decades it has changed its provision to meet the changing nature and needs of British archaeology. It has continued to play an important role in the training of professional archaeologists, publication, the design of part-time degree and award-bearing courses, while at the same time extending its wider adult student base.

Friday, August 02, 2019

I went to Ancient Rome and all I got you was this…

The witty message on the stylus has been deciphered by a classicist and epigrapher. Courtesy MOLA

This humble London-Roman stylus with a witty message is mixing it up with the treasures of Pompeii

Whether as giver or receiver, most people have experienced the deliberately naff holiday present. But few know how this droll practice has a long tradition that stretches back – way beyond the rise of the English seaside town – deep into antiquity.

At the Museum of London, excavations led by MOLA for financial technology and information company Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London, on the bank of the river Walbrook – a now lost tributary of the Thames, have found a roguish example of the token of friendship.

An iron stylus, used to write on wax-filled wooden writing tablets and dating to around AD 70, just a few decades after Roman London was founded, has been found with an inscription, which has been painstakingly examined and translated by classicist and epigrapher Dr Roger Tomlin, reads:

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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Standing stones uncovered near important archaeological site

This view of the site shows the alignment of the standing stones that have been found.

Six aligned standing stones have been discovered on a building site in Sion, southwest Switzerland, in what local authorities call an important archaeological find.   

“This discovery is of prime importance to help us understand social rituals at the end of the Neolithic period (around 2,500BC) in central Europe,” says a press releaseexternal link from canton Valais’s buildings, monuments and archaeology department.   

The find was made by chance during work for a new residential building in the Petit-Chasseur quarter of the cantonal capital Sion. This is the same area where, in the 1960s, several dolmens (collective tombs) and some 30 standing stones were found.  

Three of the recently found standing stones are engraved with markings. The biggest find is a stone weighing nearly two tonnes bearing a representation of a male figure wearing geometrically patterned clothing and with a sun-like motif around his face.   

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Anglesey skeletons: Tests date remains to 4th Century

Tests showed some of the people buried up to 1,600 years ago were from Scandinavia and the Mediterranean  Image copyright ARCHAEOLOGY WALES

Some of the skeletons found in an ancient graveyard on Anglesey date back to the 4th Century, experts have said.

Wales Archaeology, which led the college dig, found the remains of 34 individuals. Some had been buried in stone-lined coffins.

Tests showed some of the people buried up to 1,600 years ago were from Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

Other remains were from the Welsh borders and four were Brits, said project manager Dr Irene Garcia Rovira.

The findings have been made public following digs carried out during work on the Llangefni link road in 2016 and Coleg Menai's nearby campus the year after.

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Nearly 100 Roman era skeletons discovered under a North Wales college

Roman era human remains have been found underneath an Anglesey college.

Skeletons buried in dozens of stone-lined 'cist' graves were discovered as part of an archaeological dig under Coleg Menai’s Pencraig Campus in Llangefni 2017.

Two years on, Dr Irene Garcia Rovira of Archaeology Wales has now revealed all about the "astonishing finds" as part of the major excavation.

So far, the remains of 86 people have been discovered at the ancient burial ground, which experts say have remained in "astonishingly good" condition.

They are thought to date back more than 1,600 years.

The archaeologist also says tests reveal how some of the skeletons buried in the cemetery are likely to have grown up hundreds of miles away from Anglesey.

Experts believe the site was used as a cemetery from around the time of the Roman departure from Wales.

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