Secret History

Treasure Chest

Great Train Robber reveals identity of the gang's mystery insider 'Ulsterman'

Douglas Gordon Goody

Douglas Gordon Goody
Now 85 and living in Spain, Douglas Gordon Goody has decided to share his story with the world - including unmasking the mysterious 'Ulsterman' who helped to plan the crime - then vanished.

He has kept his secrets for more than 50 years: the quiet man of the most infamous criminal gang in British history, both mastermind and instigator of the Great Train Robbery.

The Rolex has been replaced by a Swatch and the white Jaguar and sharp suit are long gone. So is the equivalent of £2.5m that was his share of the crime. Now aged 85 and one of just two surviving members of the 15-strong gang, Douglas Gordon Goody lives quietly in the Spanish countryside with his partner, Maria, and their five dogs. It is back to his rural roots for a man whose introduction to crime was smuggling cattle over the Northern Irish border to dodge customs.

Tooth buried in bone shows prehistoric predators tangled across land, sea

© Virginia Tech News
Teeth from phytosaurs, a reptile from the Triassic Period about 210 million years ago in what is now the western United States. The blue tooth on the left is a 3-D printed replica of a tooth embedded in the thigh bone of a rauisuchid, another Triassic period carnivore. The details of the tooth were digitally extracted using CT scans.
About 210 million years ago when the supercontinent of Pangea was starting to break up and dog-sized dinosaurs were hiding from nearly everything, entirely different kinds of reptiles called phytosaurs and rauisuchids were at the top of the food chain.

It was widely believed the two top predators didn't interact much as the former was king of the water, and the latter ruled the land. But those ideas are changing, thanks largely to the contents of a single bone.

In a paper published online in September in the German journal Naturwissenschaften, Stephanie Drumheller of the University of Tennessee and Michelle Stocker and Sterling Nesbitt, vertebrate paleontologists with the Virginia Tech's Department of Geosciences, present evidence the two creatures not only interacted, but did so on purpose.

"Phytosaurs were thought to be dominant aquatic predators because of their large size and similarity to modern crocodylians," said Stocker, "but we were able to provide the first direct evidence they targeted both aquatic and large terrestrial prey."

Hoard of 22,000 Roman coins discovered in Britain

Roman Coins
© Western Morning News
Some of the 22,000 Roman coins found in Seaton East Devon
A breathtaking hoard of 22,000 Roman coins has been found by a metal detecting enthusiast in Devon.

The spectacular discovery in East Devon - dubbed the "Seaton Down Hoard" - is one of the largest and best preserved 4th Century collections ever to have been found in Britain.

It was made by East Devon builder Laurence Egerton in November 2013 on the Clinton Devon Estate near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honeyditches.

The hoard - the equivalent of a worker's pay for two years - was later carefully removed in its entirety by a team of archaeologists.

Over the past 10 months the coins have been lightly cleaned and the process of identification and cataloguing has begun by experts at the British Museum.
Light Sabers

How the U.S. was saved by Russia (from being destroyed by Britain) during the Civil War

At the point of maximum war danger between Great Britain and the United States, the London satirical publication Punch published a vicious caricature of US President Abraham Lincoln and Russian Tsar Alexander II, demonizing the two friends as bloody oppressors. From Punch, October 24, 1863.
"Who was our friend when the world was our foe." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1871
One hundred fifty years after the attack on Fort Sumter, the international strategic dimension of the American Civil War represents a much-neglected aspect of Civil War studies. In offering a survey of some of the main issues involved, one feels required to justify the importance of the topic. It is indeed true that, as things turned out, the international strategic dimension of the 1861-65 conflict was of secondary importance. However, it was an aspect that repeatedly threatened to thrust itself into the center of the war, transforming the entire nature of the conflict and indeed threatening to overturn the entire existing world system. The big issue was always a British-French attack on the United States to preserve the Confederate States of America. This is certainly how Union and Confederate leaders viewed the matter, and how some important people in London, St. Petersburg, Paris, and Berlin did as well.

The result is that today, the international dimension is consistently underestimated: even a writer as sophisticated as Richard Franklin Bensel can repeatedly insist in his recent Yankee Leviathan that the US development over the decade before the Civil War was "acted out in a vacuum," while asserting that "the relative isolation of the United States on the North American continent contributed to the comparative unimportance of nationalism in American life prior to secession." [1] Reports of American isolation, however, were already exaggerated in the era of a British fleet that could summer in the Baltic and winter in the Caribbean.

Strange formation on Colorado Rockies sheds light on Earth's past

Rock Formation
© Siddoway and Gehrels, Lithosphere
Central Colorado’s Tava sandstone (light-colored band of rock at center, with geology student for scale) probably formed between 680 million and 800 million years ago, a new study suggests.
In the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, smack in the middle of a cliff that overlooks U.S. Highway 24, resides a very unusual geological formation. This reddish gray, sharp-edged, and erosion-resistant swath of sandstone stands in stark contrast to the crumbling, heavily weathered granites that lie on either side. Now, scientists say they have narrowed down when this anomaly and others like it in this region formed - a discovery that may give researchers new clues about the breakup of an ancient supercontinent hundreds of millions of years ago.

Many outcrops of the "Tava sandstone" - derived from a Native American name for Pikes Peak, a local landmark - are found along the Ute Pass fault, which runs along the Front Range near Colorado Springs. First noted by geologists more than 130 years ago, these deposits have long been recognized as strange, says Christine Siddoway, a geologist at Colorado College, Colorado Springs. Many sandstone formations show layers of some type, signs they were laid down over time in distinct episodes by wind or flowing water. But the individual grains in the Tava sandstone, which typically are bits of quartz measuring from 125 to 250 micrometers across, are well mixed, and they're peppered with larger bits of quartz up to 3 millimeters in diameter. Once free-flowing but now firmly cemented together with an iron-bearing mineral called hematite, the sand grains were apparently injected into cracks in ancient granite - some of them as much as 6 meters wide - under high pressure. The now-solid Tava deposits apparently flowed from vast reservoirs of once-waterlogged sand, some of them containing more than 1 million cubic meters of material.

"This is a very unusual [sandstone]," says Arlo Weil, a structural geologist at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, who wasn't involved in the new study. "It must have been formed by a very rapid, chaotic process."

Nazca lines of Kazakhstan: More than 50 geoglyphs discovered

Kazakhstan geoglyphs
© DigitalGlobe, courtesy Google Earth
More than 50 geoglyphs, including one shaped like a swastika, have been discovered in northern Kazakhstan.
More than 50 geoglyphs with various shapes and sizes, including a massive swastika, have been discovered across northern Kazakhstan in Central Asia, say archaeologists.

These sprawling structures, mostly earthen mounds, create the type of landscape art most famously seen in the Nazca region of Peru.

Discovered using Google Earth, the geoglyphs are designed in a variety of geometric shapes, including squares, rings, crosses and swastikas (the swastika is a design that was used in ancient times). Ranging from 90 to 400 meters (295 to 1,312 feet) in diameter, some of them are longer than a modern-day aircraft carrier. Researchers say that the geoglyphs are difficult to see on the ground, but can easily be seen from the sky. [See Photos of the Amazing Geoglyphs in Kazakhstan]

Over the past year, an archaeological expedition from Kazakhstan's Kostanay University, working in collaboration with Vilnius University in Lithuania, has been examining the geoglyphs. The team, which is conducting archaeological excavations, ground-penetrating radar surveys, aerial photography and dating, recently presented its initial results at the European Association of Archaeologists' annual meeting in Istanbul.

Alexander-era Amphipolis tomb gives needed hope to Greeks

amphipolis tomb

Two sphinxes guard the entrance to the tomb at Amphipolis
The discovery of an enormous tomb in northern Greece, dating to the time of Alexander the Great of Macedonia, has enthused Greeks, distracting them from a dire economic crisis.

Who, they are asking, is buried within.

In early August, a team of Greek archaeologists led by Katerina Peristeri unearthed what officials say is the largest burial site ever to be discovered in the country. The mound is in ancient Amphipolis, a major city of the Macedonian kingdom, 100km (62 miles) east of Thessaloniki, Greece's second city.

The structure dates back to the late 4th Century BC and is 500m (1,600ft) wide, dwarfing the burial site of Alexander's father, Philip II, in Vergina, west of Thessaloniki.
Treasure Chest

Archaeologists reveal astounding Bronze Age microscopic gold work from around Stonehenge

© University of Birmingham and David Bukach
Detail of the decoration of the dagger handle showing the zig-zag pattern made by the tiny studs.
Archaeologists have revealed the process utilized by highly-skilled craftsmen to create the magnificent gold artifacts that were found around Stonehenge. According to Discovery News, the gold work involved such tiny components that optical experts believe they could only have been made by children or adults with extreme short-sightedness, and would have caused lasting damage to their eyesight.

In 1808, William Cunnington, one of Britain's earliest professional archaeologists, discovered what has become known as the crown jewels of the 'King of Stonehenge'. They were found within a large Bronze Age burial mound just ½ mile from Stonehenge, known today as Bush Barrow. Within the 4,000-year-old barrow, Cunnington found ornate jewellery, a gold lozenge that fastened his cloak, and an intricately decorated dagger.

Comment: Why is it that archaeologists of the mainstream ilk always projects ancients as brutes with primitive to no technology, as in 'they must have been myopic'. Most ancient technology has been lost to cataclysms and archives of 'forbidden history', but still optical technology made from crystals isn't that far of a stretch.

See also: New digital map reveals hidden archaeology of Stonehenge


Mystery of strange pattern in ground near Coventry, England

Mysterious pattern
© Google Map
A Google Map image of the mysterious pattern in Temple Balsall.
Mystery surrounds a strange pattern carved into the ground near Coventry.

The spiral shape was spotted on satellite maps by a historian researching the fabled Knights Templar, who founded the tiny hamlet of Temple Balsall, near Balsall Common, 1,000 years ago.

Intriguingly the pattern, which is about 30m in length, is just half a mile from the site of an intricate crop circle which appeared in 2011.

Hidden cave system of Rouffignac is millions of years old

Cave 1
© Getty Images/Lonely Planet Source: Getty Images
Rock art in Rouffignac Cave.
The train cart rattles along the track. Leaving the bright sunshine behind, you plunge deep into the dank, subterranean world.

The guide points out scratch marks on the wall - made by bears, who fortunately don't live in the caves anymore. Venturing deeper, you pass some engravings and drawings of a rhino, horses and a procession of mammoths. They are impressive. Not simply childish drawings of animals, but skilled works of art.

Two kilometres in, the train grinds to a halt. You get out and start to walk, hoping the movement will warm up your limbs. You stumble into a hidden gallery, darkness engulfing the group. The guide explains in hushed tones why these caves are so magnificent.

At last, you're allowed to switch on your head-torch. Gazing upwards, you now understand what the guide was on about. Animals of all shapes and sizes adorn the ceiling. Some intricately painted, others simple line drawings. No wonder this is known as the "Great Ceiling".

Welcome to Rouffignac Cave.

mammoth wall drawing
Painting of a mammoth c. 13,000 years old
Around two to three million years ago, this vast network of caves in Dordogne, France was created when water penetrated along fractures in the bedrock, dissolving the soft limestone. The cave system reaches 10 kilometres underground, through a mind-boggling maze of tunnels and shafts.

Over 250 prehistoric artworks litter the walls of this cave system, which is accessible only aboard the electric train that zips visitors 13,000 years back in time.