Fiction: Terminus Post Quem

An essay by Daniel Benlainey, as provided by Steve Toase
Art by Leigh Legler

Daniel Benlainey BA MSc
Project Manager
Multivallate Archaeology
Unit 4 Sunray Farm
YK94 1SX

Simon Campbell BSc
Senior Archaeologist
Historic Environment Team
Callshire County Council
County Hall
YK56 4RF

Dear Simon,

Please find attached the interim site report for the Carrion Knoll Excavation. Hope everything is OK. We’re still waiting on some results from a subcontractor, but I’ll forward them as soon as they arrive.

Yours sincerely

Daniel Benlainey BA MSc


Interim site report of Carrion Knoll Archaeological Excavations 2017 September 8th

Due to the position of the Carrion Knoll housing development in an area of known prehistoric and Roman activity, a planning condition for archaeological evaluation was required ahead of any groundworks.

Between August 1st and August 25th, a five-person team carried out the necessary work. Due to the low-lying nature of the site and anaerobic conditions found in certain areas, the quality of organic preservation was good, with several surprising results.

Three trenches, each 20m by 10m were excavated. These were distributed across the development area to give as wide a spread of results as possible.

Historic Background

Carrion Knoll lies in an area of known Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman, and Anglo-Scandinavian activity, though no known archaeological material has previously been recovered from the exact site location. Since approximately 900AD, there is no evidence of activity in the vicinity.

Art for "Terminus Post Quem"

In nearly thirty years as a professional Romano-British ceramic specialist, I have never encountered bone and pottery fused together in such a way.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2019 collection.

Daniel Benlainey was born in Fife, Scotland, and got his BA in Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, before completing an MSc in Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford. After working the commercial archaeology ‘circuit’ for several years, Daniel has been with Multivallate Archaeology for a decade, starting as a site assistant and working his way up to a project management position. He is especially interested in vitrified forts. When not working he spends his time seeing bands such as Blyth Power, New Model Army, and Flogging Molly, or playing for his local cricket team.

Steve Toase lives in Munich, Germany. His work has appeared in Shimmer, Lackington’s, Aurealis, Not One Of Us, Hinnom Magazine, Cabinet des Feés, and Pantheon Magazine, amongst others. In 2014, “Call Out” (first published in Innsmouth Magazine) was reprinted in The Best Horror Of The Year 6. He first worked on an archaeological site in 1994, and has an MA in Landscape Archaeology. He spent too many years digging big holes looking for old stuff, and once found 1,000 year old human hair. He also likes old motorbikes and vintage cocktails. You can keep up to date with his work via,,, and @stevetoase.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at

“Terminus Post Quem” is © 2019 Steve Toase
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Leigh Legler

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