It’s been a good week for archaeologists after a second circular monument was discovered at Stonehenge, sited about 900 metres from the existing stones – the most exciting find there for 50 years. Archaeologists believe that timber posts would have been placed in the circle of deep pits, while images show that the henge would have had two entrances.
It’s been a bad week for prime minister David Cameron, however, after he was criticised for mistakenly referring to the UK as the ‘junior partner’ in the allied Second World War campaign against Germany in 1940 in an interview with Sky News. The US officially declared war on Germany in December 1941.
Staying with the Second World War, an Austrian museum has agreed to pay £12 million to the estate of the late Lea Bondi Jaray for a painting stolen from her by the Nazis. The painting, Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally, was among 100 works lent to New York’s Museum of Modern Art by the Leopold Foundation.
Divers raised a toast this week after finding 30 bottles of champagne believed to pre-date the French revolution. The bottles, thought to date between 1782 and 1788 and worth an estimated £45,000 each, were discovered by divers exploring a shipwreck on the Baltic seabed.
Underwater expeditions were in the newspapers again this week after India’s DMK government agreed to fund the excavation of the undersea remains of the 2,000-year-old town, Poompuhar or Kaveripoompattinam. The town is thought to have been a major maritime port before it was washed away by a tsunami.
Back on dry land, a man dubbed the ‘Tome Raider’ has been sent to prison for stealing 13 antique books from the Lindley Library at the Royal Horticultural Society between 2004 and 2007. William Jacques, who had already served time for stealing 500 rare books worth £1 million in 2002, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
Moving west, a large lime kiln and slates discovered along the route of the new Porthmadog bypass in Wales are thought to have belonged to a building for high-ranking officials, indicating a large Roman settlement. The kiln, which measures four metres across and two metres deep, would have been used to create the lime for cement. Other excavation work revealed signs of human habitation dating back 6,000 years.
Elsewhere in the world, safe deposit boxes believed to contain manuscripts and drawings by the late author Franz Kafka are to be opened and examined by a Kafka specialist in Zurich. A legal battle over the boxes is currently under way between Israel, which is claiming the documents as part of its cultural heritage, and two Israeli sisters who say they inherited the documents from their mother.
Meanwhile, Network Rail, owner of the 120-year-old Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland, has announced it will not be backing the bid for the bridge to be awarded World Heritage site status. The company feels the move would place “additional burdens” on its ability to operate the structure.
And finally, a group of seven Chelsea pensioners are set to storm the charts this Christmas after landing themselves a record deal. The singing veterans, who have seen service in the Second World War, Palestine and Northern Ireland, will release Men in Scarlet, an album of military-inspired music, in November, to support the Royal Hospital Appeal.