Welcome dear reader. I hope you will find this blog an interesting, entertaining and informative place to spend some time. I intend to avoid foul language and offensive images, but you need to know that I am an archaeologist, I’ve spend much of the last 40 years digging up rubbish, uncovering drains, sewers and other unpleasant materials. I’ve also done quite a lot of work investigating human remains, both those deposited in cemeteries and those found in other places.

I’ll warn you about stuff which squeamish individuals might finds shocking, but I cannot guarantee to avoid these areas.

So you have been warned.

I hope this site will develop into somewhere people all over the world feel comfortable, somewhere where interesting ideas and facts are shared, perhaps even somewhere to organise and carry out fun projects.

Let me know what you think!


This is an interesting article which contains much helpful material for the FishStory Project.


The Search for Sawfishes in West Africa.

We visited the Yorkshire Show last month, it was the last day of the show, so exhibitors were keen to give away stuff and we had a wonderful time tasting Yorkshire cheese and products from further afield. We went because our friend Mary, a garden designer, had a stall and was hunting for new clients. She cannot sit on the stall all day without a break, so we covered for her, but had quite a lot of free time to explore the wonders of the show.

The gardening section was conveniently close to the vegetable and cheese displays. So once my first spell of stall minding was complete, covering Mary’s morning coffee break, I was free to wander off. It was approaching lunchtime and I was feeling peckish. The first stall that caught my attention was a huge vegetable grower from Lincolnshire. He was giving away little bags of cut carrots and I was provided with a one. The carrot was delicious. He was running a video showing the equipment and scale of commercial vegetable production to supply supermarkets and the catering trade. As a reasonably keen allotment holder the experience was beath taking. They use GPS controlled tractors to ensure optimum planting distances and accurate doses of fertilizer and pesticides. The operation covered more than 3,000 acres. Truely impressive.

I have quite a lot of sympathy with the organic veg movement, but I am not sure if this scale of operation is possible for them.

There was also someone, again from a huge company giving away delicious sweet tiny tomatoes which had been grown in the UK. These are every bit as tastey as those we import from Morocco and other sunny parts of the planet. Another bubble of hippy hopefulness burst by the sharp needle of modern scientific vegetable production.

The adjacent building housed the huge and very impressive cheese display. On the One Show (BBC1 previous night) we were introduced to the best 3 cheeses in the show. I was unable to locate the number 1 but found myself at one offering small samples of a Red Fox, a traditional handmade cheese from Belton Farm, Shropshire. It was excellent, sharp, deep flavour and had just won the silver award. It is available at Waitrose stores.

Not far away was Cornish Blue, having lived in Cornwall as a baby for a year and having spent many family holidays there I was attracted, and the chap had a lovely cornish accent. The cheese was first class, creamy, sharp and well marbled with blue. This too is available in Waitrose, but also Sainsburys.

Closer to home, Shepherd Purse were offering a range of cheeses from their Thirsk base. Bluemin white, had a grey surface and Yorkshire Fettle was bright white. I’ve tasted cheeses in France, they are good. But Yorkshire is doing a brilliant job in offering really well made tastey cheeses now. My final cheese taste ws a lovely soft one from the Courtyard Dairy, Settle, North Yorks. Again a delicious offering,  Andy Swinscoe was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship for ‘Cheese Maturing’ and, after a French Apprenticeship in ‘affinage’ (cheese ageing), worked for cheesemakers in France and UK before setting up his own operation.

So cheese making is alive and very well in Yorkshire the rest of the UK.

Other delights of the day included meeting Phil Pemberton who runs the Yorkshire School of Bushcraft. Phil worked with Ray Mears  for several years and now runs courses and makes useful objects out of bits of green wood, bark etc. Nearby was a bright young lady demostrating felt making in a geodesic tent made from waterpiping and canvas. Very impressive structure. Portable and cheap, but time consuming to make. In the same a blacksmith was forging small objects in a furnace made of a metal bucket perched on a metal stand, a charcoal fire and a airbed pump for increase oxygen flow. Highly portable and effective.

The sun shone. I met old friends doing demonstrations and runnning projects including a former colleague from York Archaeological Trust who is now running Howsham Mill and thought about learning to keep bees.

In all an inspiring and  interesting day with great snacks.


I think I am making progress and have managed to log onto Woddpress to add a blog.

Basta per oggi. Enough for today in Boneworld..

What has happened to Boneworld.org?

I cannot find it. Could it be that I let  payment lapse and have to start again.

Recently I have been thinking about dogs and early memories of dogs we had on the farm in Devon, old aunts with dogs etc etc.

Perhaps I’ll add it to this if I can work out what I am doing.

Here is a long and rather tedious tale of trying to get a licence to excavate human remains from the British Government


I’ve recently been involved in a community archaeology project in central York UK (Friargate Community Archaeology Project) where one of the objectives was to re-excavate a small number of human bones (probably from 2  medieval Christians) which were found by builders during redevelopment work at the site in the 1980s.  A colleague from the YAT recommended I apply for  licence from the Home Office. 


So in early summer I emailed the Home Office. After 2 weeks I got a message saying that the Home Office is no longer responsible for licences to excavate human remains, and that this duty has passed to the Ministry of Justiuce. My email had been forwarded so I waited.


Question: How many of you knew that that Home Office is no longer responsible for these licences? Has anyone seen anything from the Ministry of Justice about this change?


After a couple of more weeks, I had received nothing from the Ministry of Justice so I decided to try and apply myself. After about 20 mins on their website I found an application form which was about the excavation of human remains, Bingo Ithought!

Unfortunately  I was not able to fill out this form online, so I printed it off and filled in as much as I could. I then passed the form  the manager of the burial site (York’s Friargate  Quaker Meeting House garden), who filled in the second section of the form and posted it off to the Ministry of Justice, wisely keeping a copy for our records.. We heard nothing for 2-4 more weeks.


Rather unexpectedly someone from the Ministry of Justice rang me at home. This kindly soul informed me that I had filled in the wrong form. I was surprised by this information and said that I filled in the only form that was available. ‘Oh yes’ she said. ‘The right  form is not on the website.’ How is a chap supposed to know these things?


She went on to explain that I needed a form for the examination of bones for ‘archaeological purposes’. Well, we are not doing this work for ‘archaeological purposes’. We are investigating the site because York Quakers want to build new rooms and install a lift shaft and new stairs to make the 18thCCE  Meeting house more accessible and useful for the 21st century CE. 


We happen to know that human bones were buried on the site in the early 1980s just where the lift shaft is planned. So as responsible folk we thought we ought to apply for a licence before we find the bones.


Eventually the kind and polite  Ministry of Justice official emailed me the correct form which I filled in and returned as fast as possible. Unfortunately, the email arrived the day I set off for 2 weeks in Italy and Switizerland. 


On my return I filled  in the form and sent it off. By now, August Bank Holiday Monday,  we had recovered the bones which had been carefully reburied in a small plywood coffin ,

At the time of writing (Ocotber 5th 2013) I still have not received a licence.


Am I right in thinking Mr Cameron is committed to reducing bureaucracy and cutting red tape? Perhaps the government has decided to change the rules while none of us were paying attention. Perhaps we no longer need to apply for licences to exhume human remains.


Can anyone throw light on what is happening?

I guess the only course of action is to email the Ministry of Justice and see what is going on.



The rush of the summer excavation has now subsided and it is time to think about hte report writing and finds analysis.


One of our first jobs is to make sure our field records are up to date.


We have soil samples, spoil recording sheets and a note book full of notes plus finds with details of location encoded.


We need to put this information together on YAT sample forms and context cards.


If you would like to help, please get in touch with Bone

Today I got this message from my Italian teacher.

PS oggi fa molto caldo, come in Italia!

(Today it is very warm, like in Italy!)

A real achievement for the weather systems hovering over Yorkshire