the hurly-burly of Christmas preparations. Take a look at Royal Blood; births, battles and beheadings in the Winchester Discovery Centre. It’s there until 8 January, so you could even make it a post-prandial exercise, although it’s closed on Public Holidays.
But that still leaves plenty of time to appreciate the ‘Winchester Treasure’ a hoard of gold jewellery buried around 2000 years ago, possibly as an offering to the gods, the wonderful Tichborne spoons – silver-gilt masterpieces of the metalworkers’ art, and the remarkable ‘Chace’ tapestry, designed by Heywood Sumner and produced by William Morris.
On the other hand, so to speak, there are the unfortunates’ legs from Oliver’s Battery – the remains of several pairs, two of them still held in the iron fetters that accompanied them to the gallows, a unique find in early medieval England. There are about thirty ‘execution cemeteries’ known in the country, they were often set up outside a town to remind people of the ‘wages of sin’. We’ll never know what they did to deserve such a fate – but it’s clear that they, and many others, had no chance to escape.
The excavation at Oliver’s Battery was limited to a foundation trench for a new building. The site had already produced some finds in the 1930s and there must be others still there, under the ground. The report, by Dr Andy Russel, appears in Hampshire Studies Volume 71 (Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society) just recently published.
Hampshire Cultural Trust
Series by Anne Aldis, Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone.
Photos by Dot Smith.