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No.42 April 2001

Monthly Newsletter

Remarkable New Discoveries

It is really great to be able to announce significant discoveries by members of our society and we have had two in the last month. The first may have national importance but the second has international importance.

Roman Quern Stone

Quern StoneTim Macavoy brought his find along to last month's meeting.  It is a 44cm diameter Roman grinding stone. The significant thing about it is that he found it in the Douglas Valley, very near to the area we have been investigating regarding Roman mining activity.  Tim has had the stone confirmed as Roman by none other than Dave Shotter from Lancaster University.  Tim has also been busy filling out the finds record card so that it can be properly recorded on the SMR. For various reasons he cannot divulge the exact location of his find, not least because of the current countryside restrictions.  Before these came into force Tim was able to carry out a quick check of the area immediately around the spot to see if the find was in some sort of context or whether the other half was nearby. To both these questions the answers were negative.

Last year, Dave Thomas brought my attention to an extract from a book written in 1861 by the government geologist Edward Hull, in which he specifically mentions Roman mining at Arley.  The book, is called "The Coalfields of Great Britain" and in it, Hull speaks of a "symmetrical arrangement and regularity of workings peculiarly Roman".  The reference appears in a pre First World War booklet about the history of Standish Parish Church.  The quern stone find adds great weight to the likelihood that Hull's report may well be true. You may recall our very first Newsletter (No.1) reports on an article which appeared in The Antiquaries Journal entitled "The Use of Coal in Roman Britain" cataloguing over 200 sites in Britain where coal has been found in an archaeological context.  Despite extensive research however the authors were unable to identify a single site where Roman coal mining could be proven.  This new find therefore perhaps could establish a unique site in the British Isles and be a significant first for our society.



Our second remarkable discovery concerns the small statues which appear at the feet of the Colossi of Memnon, on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes.  As you probably know, Mike Booth and John Johnson (our resident Egyptologist), make regular visits to Egypt taking pupils round the various sites and monuments.  After their latest trip, Mike was showing off his slides to John who noticed that the cartouche on one of the statues was not what he expected to see.   These famous statues, which guard the road to the Valley of the Kings, belong to the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, Amenhotep III, who had a huge mortuary temple on this site.  The smaller statues at his feet represent his wife, Queen Tiy (appearing on both monuments), his mother, Mut-em-wiya and one of his daughters, recorded as either Set-amun or Henet-em-heb.  This particular cartouche is very faint and only visible at a certain time of day when the angle of the sun on the surface is small.  John is confident that Mike's photograph in fact shows the name of Henet-em-wiya, a previously unknown daughter.  If confirmed, this is a very significant discovery as, although Amenhotep must have had a great number of daughters, the names of only a few are actually known.

Next Meeting

Wednesday 4th April at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as usual.  This month we have Chris Eldridge from Chester's Military Museum who will be talking about Britain's involvement in Palestine in the First World War.  The troops, who were lucky enough to be posted there instead of the western front, regarded the campaign as some sort of modern day crusade. Chris, who is currently studying the subject at Cambridge University has called is talk 'Knights in Kaki'. 
Hope to see you at the meeting -B.A