Who was Gertrude Caton Thompson?; Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari; British Camp, England.

Who was Gertrude Caton Thompson?

Gertrude was an English archaeologist who lived between 1888-1985. She studied at Newnham College Cambridge and at the British School of Archaeology in Egypt. She also spent some time at the University College London where she was taught by Flinders Petrie.

Gertrude Caton Thompson © Ramsey & Muspratt, Cambridge
Gertrude Caton Thompson
© Ramsey & Muspratt, Cambridge

In 1912 she received a large amount of inheritance money which meant she could undertake her own excavations. Mary Leaky, who discovered some of the earliest human remains in Africa, studied under Gertrude by following her on some of her excavations. Gertrudes excavations included

  • Yeman – Hadhramaut
  • Egypt – Abydos, Badari, Qau el Kebir, Faiyam
  • Malta
  • Zimbabwe – Lake Mutirikwe

Gertrude was well known for her meticulous attention to detail and even recording the exact location of artefacts in situ which was not done at that time. During the First world War she worked for the British Ministry of Shipping.

Gertrude at Work © ru.wikipedia.org
Gertrude at Work
© ru.wikipedia.org

Gertrude is known for having discovered two unknown Neolithic cultures and for stating that Great Zimbabwe was built by a past native culture. Many tried to discredit her, but time proved she was correct.

In 1923, 1934-1935 she was  Research Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, and during 1940-1946 she was the president of the Prehistoric Society.

Gertrude really was a pioneer in women in archaeology!



  • Cohen. G. M., & Joukowsky. M. S. 2006. Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
  • Fagan. B. 2003. Archaeologists: Explorers of the Human Past. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hall. M. 1996. Archaeology Africa. Martlesham, Suffolk: James Currey Publishers.


Archaeology Wow!! – The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari

The Thracian tomb of Sveshtari, in Bulgaria, was discovered in 1982 and placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1985. It sits within a tumulus measuring 11.5 m high and 70 m in diameter.

Tumulus ©Edal Anton Lefterov
©Edal Anton Lefterov

The tomb is that of a Prince dating to the 3rd century BC and it consists of outer doors, a corridor, an entrance chamber and two anti-chambers. There are ten female figures within the central chamber, all carved from local sandstone, which are typical of Thracian architecture.

Sveshtari Thracian Tomb © Nenko Lazarov
Sveshtari Thracian Tomb
© Nenko Lazarov

The other walls are decorated with murals depicting Thracian life, show half-human, half-plant caryatids, life, death, rebirth, images between this world and the next world, the vine goddess, and a hero – beleived to be the Prince – being crowned with a victory wreath. There are both male and female sections to the images.

Crowning of Prince © www.lifebeyondtourism.org
Crowning of Prince
© www.lifebeyondtourism.org

Finds within the tomb are a beautiful eagle holding a lightning bolt, 2 funerary beds, human remains, horse remains, and various other grave goods.

The tomb was an amazing discovery and if you are ever in Bulgaria make sure it is on your list of places to visit!


  • Hornblower. S., Spawforth. A., & Eidinow. E. 2012. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Steingräber. S. 2006. Abundance of Life: Etruscan Wall Painting. Los Angles, CA: Getty Publications.
  • Tumulus – © By Edal Anton Lefterov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons



Archaeological Site Guide – British Camp, Herefordshire, England

British Camp, also known as the Herefordshire Beacon, is an Iron Age hill fort dating from the 2nd century BC. The site covers 18 hectares and possibly had entrances on the north east, east and west sides which may have been added c.500 BC.

Aerial View of British Camp © Richard Bird
Aerial View of British Camp
© Richard Bird

Surrounding the hill fort the defences were originally a single stone revetted bank and ditch, but later an additional bank, ditch and counterscarp were added. The perimeter measures 2,100 metres. Excavations have revealed that within the defences there was occupation as 118 hut platforms have been discovered as well as the remains of circular buildings, Iron Age pottery and Roman pottery. The site controlled the surrounding landscape and is thought to have been one of the bases of the Dobunni Tribe.

Scale of Iron Age Defences © Bob Embleton
Scale of Iron Age Defences (people in the middle of the picture)
© Bob Embleton

Legend stated that Caractacus, an Iron Age tribal warrior, fought his last battle here against the invading Romans.

In the 12th century the Normans built as castle on the site which had a motte. It was attacked by Owain Glyndwr, Prince of Wales, who attempted to stop the English from advancing into Wales.

British Camp Public Domain
British Camp
Public Domain

There is a spring by one section of a bank and it is beleived that this is where the water supply for the site came from.

The site has amazing views all around the surrounding countryside and definitely worth the walk to the top!


  • Bowden. M. 2013. The Malvern Hills: An ancient Landscape. English Heritage.
  • Fortified England. 2014. Herefordshire Beacon/British Camp. Fortified England. http://www.fortifiedengland.com/Fortifications/ViewItem/tabid/61/IID/579/Default.aspx.
  • Aerial View of British Camp – © Richard Bird [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Scale of Iron Age Defences – © Bob Embleton [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Great Books to Read…….



Great Web Pages to Look At…….


Activity – Word Search 13 February 2015 docx

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