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The dig which uncovered a 5,000 year old burial site

Excavations are underway at the site of a 5,000 year old burial site in Wiltshire. The monument, which was found in a field between Avebury and Stonehenge, will be the first to be fully investigated in the county for 50 years. Rob Murphy has been to find out what's they've uncovered.

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Librarian finds 15th century Medieval text buried in box

Credit: University of Reading

A unique example of 15th century printed text by English printer William Caxton has been unearthed at the University of Reading.

The two pages are from a medieval priest handbook dating back to late 1476 or early 1477, which was among the first books printed in England by William Caxton's pioneering press.

No other copies of the pages, printed either side of a single leaf of paper, are known to have survived.

Credit: University of Reading

It was found in the University's archives by Erika Delbecque, Special Collections librarian, while she was cataloguing thousands of items illustrating the history of printing and graphic design. The find is said to be worth up to £100,000. The surprise has gone on public display in the University's Special Collections department.

Early printing specialist Andrew Hunter, of Blackwells Books, who carried out the valuation of the leaf, said: "In the world of rare books, certain words have special, almost magic, resonance, and Caxton is one of them. Thus the discovery of even a fragment from among Caxton's earliest printing in England is thrilling to bibliophiles, and of great interest to scholars. If this were ever to come on the market there would definitely be competition for it; it would be a great prize for a private collector, and a feather in the cap of any institution."

Planes will spend 2,000 hours more in air because of climate change - says Reading expert

Credit: PA

A new study by the University of Reading has found that planes flying between Europe and North America will spend more time in the air due to the effects of climate change.

An accelerating jet stream - the high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic - means eastbound flights will travel faster but slow down westbound flights.

It's thought the findings of the study could have major implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.

The study, led by Dr Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist , calculates that transatlantic aircraft will spend an extra 2,000 hours in the air every year, adding millions of dollars to airline fuel costs and increasing the risk of delays.

The bad news for passengers is that westbound flights will be battling against stronger headwinds. The good news is that eastbound flights will be boosted by stronger tailwinds, but not enough to compensate for the longer westbound journeys. The net result is that roundtrip journeys will significantly lengthen.

– Dr Paul Williams, University of Reading

'Swine team' lead archaeologists to Ice Age find

Archaeologists from the University of Reading have been sharing the tale of how a herd of pigs led to them discovering the oldest evidence of human activity in Scotland.

Dr Karen Wicks from the University of Reading with the 'Swine Team' Credit: University of Reading

The team were alerted to Islay in the Inner Hebrides after a herd of pigs dug up uprooted mesolithic items while foraging along the coastline. The scientists discovered a set of Ice Age stone tools used for hunting - including sharp points used for hunting big game and scrapers for cleaning skins. The items date back 12,000 years.

Some of the tools found by the archaeologists

"The Mesolithic finds were a wonderful discovery - but what was underneath took our breath away. The Ice Age tools provide the first unequivocal presence of people in Scotland about 3000 years earlier than previously indicated. This moves the story of Islay into a new historical era, from the Mesolithic into the Palaeolithic.

"Western Scotland was the northwest frontier of the Ice Age world, a continuous landmass stretching across Europe to Asia. It was originally thought that people first arrived in Scotland after the end of the ice age, around 10,500 years ago. However we now know that a group of ice age hunter-gatherers visited Islay much earlier, discarding broken stone tools at what we think was maybe a camp site, on the island's east coast...

"The initial discovery was more swine team than Time Team. Archaeology relies on expert planning and careful analysis - but a bit of luck is also very welcome."

– Dr Karen Wicks, University of Reading's Department of Archaeology

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Huge increase in applications for University of Reading

Applications rise for undergraduate courses Credit: University of Reading

The University of Reading has bucked the national trend by seeing a 21 per cent increase in applications. That's 10 times the national figure. Applications are up by more than 4,000 compared to this time last year. Just over 23,000 students have applied to the University - which represents six applications for every place. Some courses, such as Economics, Geography and Environmental Sciences, are seeing 10 applications for every place available.

There has also been a strong rise in the number of overseas applications with 3,756 applications being received to date, compared to 2,753 at the same point last year

Scientists' warning over Ebola outbreak

Scientists from the University of Reading are warning the Ebola outbreak in West Africa won't be contained for months. The deadly disease has so far killed nearly 1000 people and the World Health Organisation has declared the epidemic an international health emergency.

ITV Meridian spoke to Dr Ben Neuman, a Virologist at the University of Reading.

Scientists warn of increasing number of 'super rats'

So-called 'super rats' are invading whole areas across the UK according to new research. The study shows that a new mutant strain of rodents are becoming immune to legally available rat poisons.

The problem is becoming worse day by day, as the rats continue to eat the bait without being affected. The interviewee is Dr Colin Prescott, Director of the Vertebrate Pests Unit, University of Reading.

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