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The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago some 27 miles (43 km) WSW of Land’s End, Cornwall, and lie within an oval area about 12 miles (19km) SW-NE and 5 miles (8km) NW-SE. Five islands (St Mary’s, Tresco, St Martin’s, Bryher and Agnes; Fig. I) are inhabited, most of the permanent population of 2,000-plus being on St Mary’s. Some 40 further smaller isles bear vegetation, several with signs of former occupation, and there are several hundred more descending to mere rocks and reefs. The total exposed land surface at HWNT is c. 3,900 acres (1,600 ha). Scilly is almost entirely granite, the lowlying area between the isles being mainly a fine, white, granite-derived sand. Scilly is also the most southerly detached landmass of Britain and is botanically just within the extreme northern range of various species (Lousley, 1971). The islands are constitutionally quite separate from Cornwall, with a divergent recent social history (best accounts: Matthews, 1960; Gill, 1975). and a separate, only partly Celtic, linguistic one (cf. Thomas, 1979b), relevant here where place-names can reflect physical development. The archaeology of Scilly, first brought to wider notice by Borlase (1756), has long centred around the inordinate number of post-neolithic entrance-grave cairns (Hencken, 1932; Daniel, 1950), and has only recently been accorded a full length study (Ashbee, 1974).
Mr Garfitt is a Consultant Forester. He has been forestry adviser to large landed estates all over England and Wales from 1946 when he left the Royal Indian Navy. Before that he followed a degree in Forestry at Oxford by six years in the Colonial Forest Service (Malaya). Mr Garfitt says that his work involves intensive inspection of woodland and provides opportunities for the discovery of earthworks and artifacts. He is interested primarily in the prehistoric periods because of the opportunities they provide for imaginative reconstruction, as those who read on will discover. Mr Garfitt lives at The Swedish House, Spring Hill, Nailsworth, Stroud, Glos. GL6 0LX.
Mr A. R. Wilmott, the author of this note, graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1977 and directed excavations at Kenchester in 1978 for Hereford and Worcester County Museum, who are still employing him to write up the excavation. A dissertation on Kenchester will form a part of his MA course at Birmingham University.
Since taking his PhD at the University of Sheffield Dr Stephen Pierpoint has been working as ‘Archaeologist’ for the North Derbyshire Archaeological Committee. During his research he obtained three radiocarbon determinations (financed by Shffield University) for the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Yorkshire of considerable interest.
We published in our July issue (LIII, I48–9) comments by Dr Talbot of the University of Leeds challenging Robert Raikes's views on this subject, and we now print comments from Dr Sutton, Department of Archaeology, University of Ghana. We think that perhaps this discussion on the environmental history of the Sahara and Sahel has, by now, been sufficiently aired in our pages.
The conventional radiocarbon dating method relies on the accurate measurement of a sample's beta-ray decay rate in order to determine the age of the sample. The new method instead counts the individual C14 atoms in a sample using an ultra-sensitive mass spectrometer. There are numerous advantages to this approach. The problem of cosmic ray background does not arise. Shorter counting times on samples a thousand times smaller may be possible. We might also expect the production of more accurate age determinations. The new method will permit a great expansion in the variety of archaeological materials which can be dated because only milligram samples will be required. Research on the design of a dedicated C14 atom-counting machine is now in progress. This note is by E. B. Banning, Department of Near Eastern Studies and Department of Physics Archaeometry Laboratory, University of Toronto, Canada, and L. A. Pavlish, Department of Anthropology and Department of Physics Archaeometry Laboratory, University of Toronto, Canada.
Dr Michael Loewe, University Lecturer in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, has kindly given us this account of a recent study visit to investigate Japanese archaeology and museums.