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Excavations at Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire have uncovered sections of an eighth-century cross and traces of royal burials. Archaeologists have been working with a mechanical digger to access the cliff-top site, after sections of the Anglo-Saxon graveyard began falling down to the beach below. With continued digging, before the remains plummet into the North Sea, English Heritage hopes to reveal finds linked to the abbey's most famous resident, St Hilda, and to King Oswy of Northumbria. The dig should also be valuable as a pilot for new methods to deal with erosion and rising sea levels at other key historic sites. (January 24th)

The Gujarat earthquake, which exacted such a dreadful human toll, has also reduced the 18th-century palace in Bhuj to rubble. The destruction of the city was worst in the old quarter, where the palace built by Maharajah Lakhpatji was a prime tourist attraction. Many of the ornate balconies have survived, but its ceremonial arch, colonnaded square and eunuchs' quarters have been destroyed, along with the museum's collection of glass and mirror-ware. (February 3rd)

Archaeologists in Coventry have uncovered fragments of a 14th-century mural from the city's Benedictine chapter house, founded by Lady Godiva but destroyed in the 16th century. The surviving fragments have allowed art historians to glimpse the highly detailed and ornate craftsmanship of the complete work, painted in the 1360s by an English artist following the Italian style. The find represents only the second Apocalypse mural known from medieval Britain, after the 1380s example from Westminster Abbey, and is of superior quality and design. (February 4th)

The Louvre has bought a Poussin masterpiece, thought lost for two centuries, for around 4.4 million [pounds sterling]. `Sainte Francoise of Rome Announcing the End of the Plague' was originally painted in 17th-century Rome for Pope Clement IX, before being brought to France in the 19th century by Alexis Le Go, secretary of the French Academy in Rome. The painting passed down generations of his descendants before being sold to a Marseilles junk shop. It went on display this week, and will be on show in a special exhibition until April 2nd. (February 8th)

The British Library has launched the online catalogue for the National Sound Archive -- at www.cadensa.bl.uk -- allowing the public to search its vast collections for the first time. The archive houses almost 2.5million sound recordings, covering every genre from oral history and drama to pop music and wildlife sounds. Called CADENSA, the online catalogue allows users to search the catalogue prior to a research visit to the Library and includes links to webpages provided by specialist subject curators. The library has also uncovered the historic court recording of Nelson Mandela's last speech before he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. Dr Rob Perks and a team of technicians struggled to retrieve the recording -- made on the now obsolete `dictabelt' system -- by rebuilding the Library's machine and heating and flattening the warped vinyl recordings to allow the stylus to read their grooves. A recording of Mandela's three-hour speech is now available in the British Library and in the South African National Archive. (February 11th)

Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered tombs from the 5th and 6th centuries intact, near the Pacific coast at Dos Cabezas. The three tombs were built for leaders of the Moche, who dominated the region from AD 100 to AD 800. Each contained the skeleton of a man aged 18-22 years old. The chambers were filled with carved ceramics, copper and gold ornaments, headdresses and shields and heavy wooden war clubs, and each tomb had a young woman and a llama buried on top. The research team from UCLA, led by Christopher P. Donnan, hopes the find will help shed light on the mysterious Moche people, who disappeared without trace in the ninth century. (February 15th)

Shorts

The Democratic Republic of Congo is suing its former colonial power of Belgium for the assassination of independence leader Patrice Lumumba forty years ago. The case, brought by his eldest son Roland, is being heard in a Belgian court and follows claims of a cover-up in historical studies of Belgian withdrawal from Africa. (January 26th)

The British government has issued the promised compensation packages for those held prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War. Survivors -- or their spouses -- should now have received the 10,000 [pounds sterling] ex gratia payment. Despite relief at the long-awaited award as recognition from their own government of the sufferings endured, campaigners for a Japanese apology for their treatment of POWs will continue their efforts. (February 1st)

The rare herb, bog myrtle, may hold the key to a cure for modern ailments such as depression, centuries after Vikings used it to go `beserk'. Scientists are harvesting the herb, after studying Welsh and Scottish folk history that associated the plant with inducing good moods and calming stress. The herb was also drunk by `beserkers' -- elite Viking warriors -- prior to battle to induce an appetite for fighting. (February 4th)

Copies of classic comics have been stolen from the British Library's store in Colindale, north London. Items missing include editions of the Beano and Dandy from the 1950s, and copies of Film Fun from the 1920s to 1940s. (February 6th)

The Vatican is poised to make St Isidore of Seville the patron saint of the Internet. According to the Catholic Church, the compiler of the early medieval encyclopedia Etymologies embodies the same search for knowledge as contemporary web surfers. Isidore was nominated two years ago, a decision is expected soon. (February 9th)

Canaletto's detailed depictions of 18th-century Venice could hold the key to saving the historic city from flooding. His depictions of palaces include lines of green algae showing past tidemarks, which are to be used by scientists mapping past tide dynamics and predicting future flooding patterns. (February 15th)
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Title Annotation:current events with ties to history
Publication:History Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Words:974
Previous Article:Round and About: April 2001.
Next Article:BRITAIN 1950.
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