What is Rescue Archaeology? ; The Battersea Shield; Carnac, France.

What is Rescue Archaeology?

Rescue archaeology happens when a company wishes to construct buildings but the ground needs to be investigated first to see if there are any archaeological remains present.

Horse burial in roman ditch on a development funded site in London ©Wiki Commons
Horse burial in roman ditch on a development funded site in London
©Wiki Commons

Rescue archaeology is also called

  • salvage archaeology
  • preventive archaeology
  • commercial archaeology
  • compliance archaeology
Rescue Archaeology in France ©Félix Potuit, via Wikimedia Commons
Rescue Archaeology in France
©Félix Potuit, via Wikimedia Commons

The phrase was first used in the 1960’s when there was a lot of construction work, especially in Britain. The rescue work is not just excavating the site, it also includes the work that follows every excavation – recording and analyzing finds, conservation of artefacts and parts of site if possible, writing reports and liaising with the builders.

RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust, is the main group in the UK that promotes and pushes for rescue archaeology to be undertaken in order to investigate and gain information from sites that would otherwise be destroyed and lost forever.



Archaeology Wow!! – The Battersea Shield

The Battersea Shield is a Celtic decorative shield that was discovered in the River Thames, at Battersea, London, in 1857.

The sub-rectangular shield, dates to c.350-300 BC, is made of bronze, decorated in La Tène style artwork and measures only 77.5 cm high. It is made up of several pieces of bronze riveted together and then decorated and studded with 27 red jewels. The shield was not used in battle but is beleived to have been a ceremonial piece carried by a chief warrior or head of a tribe.

Battersea Shield ©Sue Carter
Battersea Shield
©Sue Carter

The shield was also found along with Roman and Celtic weapons and skeletons. This leads experts to believe the site where it was discovered was the location of the battle between the Roman and the Celts, with the shield being after the battle.

 This amazing piece of Celtic artwork can be seen in the British Museum!


  • Harding. D. W. 2007. The Archaeology of Celtic Art. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Koch. J. T. 2006. Celtic Culture: An Historical Encyclopaedia. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  • Oliver. N. 2011. A History of Ancient Britain. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.



Archaeological Site Guide – Carnac, Brittany, France

Carnac is the largest collection of megaliths in the world. Located in Brittany in France, the site is world famous for its lines of standing stones – also called ‘menhirs’.

Carnac Alignment © blog.world-mysteries.com
Carnac Alignment
© blog.world-mysteries.com

Altogether there are more than 3,000 standing stones, which are all made from local rock by pre-Celtic people during the Neolithic period c.4,200 – 2,000 BC. It is beleived that the main collection, Ménec, dates to around 3,300 BC. The stones are not evenly spaced apart throughout the site and the first official plan and recording of them was done in 1874 by H. du Cleuziou.

Carnac ©Wiki Commons
©Wiki Commons

There are three main sets of alignments and they are

Ménec Alignment – made up of 11 rows and runs for 1,165 meters.

Kermario Alignment – This is made up of 1,029 stones in 10 columns and measures 1,300 metres long.

Kerlescan Alignment – this is made up of 555 stones in 13 lines and measures 800 metres long.

Carnac Stones ©Wiki Commons
Carnac Stones
©Wiki Commons

There is also another small group located in a woods called the Petit-Ménec Alignment. Throughout the area of Carnac are many more megalithic sites including dolmens (Megalithic tombs), smaller alignments, and tumuli (mounds built over graves).

We still do not know the exact meaning behind the megaliths, however, past cultures have had their own beliefs about them including worship being forbidden at them during Medieval times, having been built by giants, and even Roman soldiers turned to stone!


  • Burl. A. 1993. From Carnac to Callanish: The Prehistoric Stone Rows and Avenues of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. Yale: Yale University Press.
  • Ruggles. C. 2003. Records in Stone: Papers in Memory of Alexander Thom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Great Books to Read…….



Great Web Pages to Look At…….


Activity – Word Search 12 December 2014

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