Russell Chamberlain

In search of Alfred

I sat behind the bicycle shed of Winchester’s Historic Resources Centre, holding a fragment from what was probably the coffin of the greatest of all our monarchs, the king who founded our nation and gave it a moral purpose and direction: Alfred, surnamed by posterity the Great. Labled ‘HA99 22041’, the fragment was visually unimpressive:

Far from barbarians

Some years ago, just before the Shah went into exile, I was touring the archaeological sites of Iran as a guest of the then Imperial Ministry of Culture. I wanted to see the extent to which archaeology was now acting as a means of establishing national identities. Near Hamadan there was a modern bridge over

Sicilian treasure

Throughout a newly affluent Western Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, and under the spur of a technological revolution, people — country people, in particular — began to throw out their artefacts of wood and metal and natural fabric in favour of the exciting new plastic that never wore out and rarely needed cleaning. Newly-weds