Burlington House: progress report on boiler replacement

The work to replace the boiler and central heating system is taking longer than anticipated, and staff whose offices are affected by the work have been relocated to the Main Library. The Library will still open (to Fellows only) on 1 October, but the number of desk and study spaces will be reduced and staff will be holding meetings and making telephone calls, so the room is likely to be noisier than Fellows are used to.

Material stored in the basement and parts of the building other than the Library will not be accessible, and Fellows are advised to contact the Library and check the availability of work space and materials before visiting. The Fellows Room will re-open on 20 October. The Library will re-open fully to Fellows and other researchers from 27 October, but objects held in the Museum Room will not be accessible again until 31 October.

The Society’s first meeting of the autumn will take place on 2 October as planned.

Forthcoming meetings

2 October 2008: Bush Barrow and Normanton Down Early Bronze Age Cemetery: a bicentennial appreciation, by Stuart Needham, FSA, Andrew Lawson, FSA, and Ann Woodward, FSA

9 October 2008: The Preseli–Stonehenge Bluestone Project: Stonehenge excavations 2008, by Timothy Darvill, VPSA, and Geoffrey Wainwright, PSA

16 October: The Society of Antiquaries’ 1896 Exhibition of ‘English Medieval Paintings and Illuminated Manuscripts’ and its role in the collecting of medieval manuscripts by private collectors and public libraries, by William Stoneman, FSA

23 October: Imported Images: Continental late Gothic sculpture in English churches, by Kim Woods, FSA

30 October: Ballot: you can now vote in the 30 October ballot on the Fellows’ side of the website. Apply to Christopher Catling if you would like a password or a password reminder.

The Bill and Beyond: seminar 7 October 2008

On behalf of TAF (The Archaeology Forum), the Society is hosting a seminar on 7 October 2008 from 11am to 4.30pm at Burlington House to review progress on the Heritage Protection Bill. Participants include speakers from English Heritage and from Government departments involved with the bill and from key stakeholders, including the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, and the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies. Booking information is now available on the Society’s News & Events page, along with a programme and list of speakers.

10 October 2008: John Hopkins FSA 1918–2008: a celebration of his life and work

On 10 October 2008 the Society will hold a meeting to celebrate our late former Librarian, John Hopkins. Beginning with tea in the Council Room at 4pm, our President, Geoff Wainwright, will welcome everyone at 5pm, and we will listen to a recording of the speech that John gave on his election as a Fellow of the Society in 1983. John’s library assistants – Andrew Pike, FSA, John Kenyon, FSA, Peter Hingley and Adrian James – will each say a few words, and Jonathan Coad, FSA, will talk about John’s work for the Royal Archaeological Institute, before Fellows of the Society share their memories of John, led by Nicola Coldstream, FSA. The meeting will end at 6pm with the unveiling of the bust of John that David Neal, FSA, has sculpted, and this will be followed by a wine reception.

To book a place, please call the administration office or email: [email protected]. If you would like to make a contribution to the cost of casting the bust, please send cheques to the Administration Office, made payable to the Society of Antiquaries.

17 October 2008: Under the volcano: Sir William Hamilton and Mt Vesuvius

This paper in the interdisciplinary Burlington House lecture series, bringing together Fellows from all the learned societies based at Burlington House, will be given by Dr Chris Kilburn, Fellow of the Geological Society, and our own Dr Jill Cook at the Geological Society of London. Tea is at 5.30pm, the lecture at 6pm, and a reception, with wine from the slopes of Mt Vesuvius, follows from 7pm to 8.30pm. Entry is free to all, but by ticket only: to reserve a place please email [email protected].

This lecture will explore the legacy of Sir William Hamilton, FSA, FRS (1730–1803, British Envoy Extraordinary to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 1764–1800), who observed and described several eruptions of Mt Vesuvius, and became one of the earliest volcanologists. As well as bringing volcanic phenomena to the attention of the scientific world, his excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneum, his work guiding Grand Tour visitors around the sites, and his collection of exquisite vases, brought Roman life and art to the attention of a rapidly industrialising Britain.

Getting to know the Society: introductory tours for new Fellows

Recently elected Fellows (or, indeed, any Fellow not yet familiar with the Society’s full range of facilities) can sign up to tours of Burlington House planned for 25 November 2008 and 12 February 2009. Each tour will include an introductory talk by the General Secretary, on the history of the Society and its Fellows over 300 years, a tour of the Society’s library and a summary of the services it offers to Fellows by the Head of Library & Collections, and a tour of the Society’s pictures and museum collection. Starting with coffee in the Council Room from 10.30am, tours start at 11am and end at 12.30pm; those who wish may stay for a light sandwich lunch, for which a charge of £5 will be made. Numbers are limited to 25 Fellows per tour. To book a place please tel: 020 7479 7080 or email: [email protected].

Fellow elected Bishop of St Davids

Congratulations are due to our Fellow, the Very Reverend J Wyn Evans, who has just been elected as the new Bishop of St Davids. The 128th bishop of the diocese was appointed by the Electoral College of the Church in Wales, who were locked in to the cathedral until they reached a decision. The College is made up of forty-six members: four bishops, six clergy and six lay people from the diocese of St Davids (which covers Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion) and three clergy and three lay people from each of the other five dioceses in Wales.

Aged sixty-one, Wyn has been Dean of St Davids Cathedral since 1994 and has been the driving force behind the £5.5m cathedral restoration project, which included the rebuilding and expansion of the historic cloisters area. An archaeologist by training, he has a keen interest in medieval history. He said he was stunned but honoured to have been elected bishop of the diocese in which he has served since his ordination.

Wyn was educated at Ardwyn Grammar School, Aberystwyth, studied archaeology at the University of Wales, Cardiff, trained for the priesthood at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, and was ordained in 1972, He is an honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and a leading expert on the lives of the early Welsh saints and St Davids Cathedral, and has recently edited a volume of studies on these twin themes, called St David of Wales: cult, church and nation. His wife Diane is a professional potter in St Davids.

‘Stonehenge Deciphered’

BBC2 is to broadcast ‘Stonehenge Deciphered’ on 27 September in its ‘Timewatch’ series, using footage filmed during the excavations at Stonehenge last April directed by our Vice-President Tim Darvill and our President, Geoff Wainwright. The programme will also feature Fellow Miles Russell, who actually did most of the digging (Miles is the pointing figure in the foreground of the Stonehenge photograph on the Society’s website home page), and Fellow Yvette Staelens, in charge of the pot shed, ably assisted by Fellow Phil Harding.

The film will examine what we know about the dating and construction of Stonehenge and its relationship to other features in the immediate landscape and to the landscape of the Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire, from where the bluestones that formed the first stone circle at Stonehenge were quarried. The programme will reveal the results of new carbon dating that establishes the most precise date ever for the first stone circle at Stonehenge, and Geoff and Tim will argue that past interpretations of Stonehenge have focused on the wrong stones: that the monument’s smaller bluestones are the important ones, rather than the larger sarsen stones. It is likely that other Fellows will be featured too, seeking to answer the question, ‘what does it all mean’, including Mike Parker Pearson, whose Stonehenge Riverside Project has been examining the adjacent Durrington Walls site, with spectacular results. Fellows living in America can see the programme too on the same day on the Smithsonian Channel.

Cattle bones suggest a further link between Pembrokeshire and Stonehenge

Last week’s Festival of Science in Liverpool was the occasion for a paper by Dr Jane Evans, Head of Archaeology Studies at the British Geological Survey, who revealed that the cattle consumed during feasting at Durrington Walls might well have come from west Wales. Evans’s work involved matching strontium isotopes in the enamel of teeth from the cattle remains to the geology of the UK to give an indication of where the animals were grazing at the time their teeth were formed. Only one animal matched the geological character of the chalk-lands around Stonehenge; the rest had been raised in an area of old geology, over 350 million years old, ‘the closest to Stonehenge being Wales’, Jane Evans said.

The findings match similar tooth-enamel analysis conducted by Jane Evans in 2004 on the remains of the so-called ‘Boscombe Bowmen’, hailed by the press as part of the ‘band of brothers’ who ‘might have built Stonehenge’. What is clear is that not only did the Stonehenge bluestones come from Wales, but so did some of the people who were gathering at Durrington Walls, bringing with them their own animals for eating at feasts. Dr Evans said: ‘We are looking at communication networks and rituals that are bringing people from a large area of southern Britain to the Stonehenge area before the Stonehenge stones were in place; I think what we are seeing is basically a sort of bring-your-own-beef barbecue at Durrington Walls.’

Timber palisade divided the Stonehenge landscape

If the Welsh origins of the Durrington Walls cattle favour what might be called the Darvill–Wainwright theory of Stonehenge (that Stonehenge is an avatar of the sacred landscape of the Preseli Hills, and that both are associated with healing), another recent finding tips the balance the other way, in favour of the binary landscape theory associated with Fellow Mike Parker Pearson and his five co-directors in the Stonehenge Riverside Project (timber Durrington Walls is the transient realm of the living and stone-built Stonehenge is the permanent realm of the ancestors, while the River Avon and the Avenue play a key linking role). This latest discovery is of a massive 6m-high timber barrier (taller even than the security fence around the Glastonbury Festival site) snaking across the Stonehenge landscape for some 2 miles, dividing the landscape into two areas.

The barrier has been traced and excavated by a team led by our Fellow Josh Pollard, of Bristol University as part of this season’s fieldwork for the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Dr Pollard says: ‘The palisade is an open structure which would not have been defensive and was too high to be practical for controlling livestock … so, like everything else in this ceremonial landscape, we have to believe it must have had a religious significance. The most plausible explanation is that it was built at huge cost to the community to screen the environs of Stonehenge from view. Basically, we think it was to keep the lower classes from seeing what exactly their rulers and the priestly class were doing.’

Our Fellow Mike Pitts commented that the other side of Stonehenge was effectively screened by the natural contours of the landscape, and that the overall effect would have been to ‘heighten the mystery of whatever ceremonies were performed … endowing those who were privy to those secrets with more power and prestige’.

UNESCO threatens to put Stonehenge on its endangered list

UNESCO, the cultural agency that oversees World Heritage Sites, is calling on the UK Government to take urgent action to protect seven sites that it considers to be endangered by development, including Stonehenge, Edinburgh’s Old Town, Neolithic Orkney, Georgian Bath and the Tower of London. UNESCO inspectors are concerned about new buildings in London and Bath that are so tall and prominent that they will damage the appearance of the World Heritage Sites, at the decades-long failure to tackle the visitor centre and roads problems at Stonehenge, and at the proposed construction of a wind farm which threatens Neolithic sites on Orkney. UNESCO’s world heritage committee has also said that it ‘deeply regrets’ the decision by Edinburgh City Council to site a hotel, housing and offices next to the Royal Mile; in the newly released minutes of the committee’s annual meeting held in Quebec in July it also accuses the UK of breaching world heritage site guidelines by failing to warn it in advance about the Edinburgh scheme.

Overall UNESCO is critical of the UK’s failure to put ‘buffer zones’ in place around World Heritage Sites to protect their character and restrict damaging development; in several cases it says the sites lack a ‘skyline study’ that would enable planners to assess development proposals and it accuses the UK of a ‘lack of clarity’ in managing the conflicts between conservation and development.

Comments on the UNESCO report

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which has lead responsibility for protecting the UK’s twenty-seven World Heritage Sites, says that work is under way to resolve a number of the problems highlighted in the UNESCO report and cites this autumn’s heritage protection bill as evidence of the Government’s intention to strengthen the conservation of World Heritage Sites by giving them the statutory status that they currently lack.

Even so, several of our Fellows have expressed scepticism. Marcus Binney, Chairman of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, says: ‘Heritage has taken a back seat to Cool Britannia and encouraging everything modern; we’re now uncomfortably in the limelight for failing to have proper policies to protect our world heritage sites – timely criticisms are now being made.’

Considerably more trenchant was the comment in last Saturday’s Guardian by our Fellow Simon Jenkins, who argued that the UK is suffering a failure on two fronts: the shameful neglect of our heritage and the poor quality of our modern architecture. He doesn’t have a lot of time for UNESCO or World Heritage Sites, describing them as the ‘result of some parlour game [played] by Paris bureaucrats, who sit around a table awarding medals to the creations of nature and mankind’.

But he does allow that UNESCO has one virtue: ‘it shines a spotlight on a selection of world monuments in the hope that this might shame owners and public authorities into protecting them’. In a number of countries, UNESCO criticism is a goad that Governments respond to. In Britain, he says, ‘nobody gives a damn: individual buildings may be preserved, but their context, setting and development is left to the anarchic forces of local property development and government whim’.

The answer, says Jenkins, is to stop pandering to the ‘sheet glass salesmen’ and building ‘glass office blocks’ all over our historic cities, and instead to get back to human-scale buildings. ‘Sometimes’, he concludes, ‘a high structure can grace a skyline, such as Paris’s Eiffel Tower or even the London Eye. Britain’s skyscrapers, whether for offices or luxury flats, serve no such purpose, visual or civic. They are just pillars of extravagance. They are like the turbines now criss-crossing the British countryside, memorials not to energy-saving but to madcap public self-regard. These buildings scream that bigness is an adequate substitute for beauty, and that there is no such thing as public design. It is shaming that we need UNESCO to tell us otherwise.’

Planning Inquiry rejects new library building on Oxford’s Osney Mead

Echoing Simon Jenkins’s words, but in the more moderate language of a planning judgement, is the result of last July’s inquiry into the proposed construction by the Bodleian Library of a new depository building in Oxford’s Osney Mead. The inspector has rejected the proposed development, mainly on the grounds of its impact on the landscape setting of Oxford.

Accepting that the skyline of the historic city centre – ‘a fragile and compact composition of pinnacles, spires and domes at a relatively small scale with numerous listed buildings contained within a designated conservation area’ – was ‘unique and vulnerable’, the inspector said that the proposed development was of a scale that would be clearly visible from many points around the city and he supported the city’s policy of protecting significant views by not granting planning permission for buildings above a certain height.

Saying that ‘there is no doubt in my mind that the University should be supported in its overall strategy for the library service and the Central Bodleian complex’, he warned that alternative development plans should not ‘undermine the character of the city’ and that the ‘University should continue to develop within the historic constraints of Oxford in accordance with an adopted and up-to-date development plan’.

The stick men of Stonehenge

The last word on Stonehenge for this week concerns the mysterious Bogles that form part of the exhibition currently on display at Salisbury Museum featuring the wonderfully eccentric collection of Stonehenge memorabilia built up by our Fellow Julian Richards over the last thirty years (there are just five days left to catch the exhibition before it closes on 20 September). The opening of the exhibition was marked by an appeal for more information about the mysterious stick men with Beatles-style haircuts that that appeared at Stonehenge one night in February 1966: the two surviving examples (dubbed ‘Bogles’ by the press) are included in the exhibition. The appeal led to the creators of the Bogles coming forward to tell the story: as our Fellow Maev Kennedy put it in the Guardian account of the Bogle story, ‘the 1966 Bogle invasion of Stonehenge was a Manchester student rag-week publicity stunt which went spectacularly wrong since nobody outside the gang of plotters had the faintest clue what it was all about’.

‘The Bogle was the symbol of the University of Manchester’s rag-week. It featured on neckties, and the name was lent to a gruesome rag-week tradition, a fifty-four-mile walk, usually done in brutally bad weather, called the Bogle Stroll. The figures were built over copious late-night mugs of coffee in the hall of residence they all shared, St Anselm’s. On Saturday the reunited pranksters shouted its motto – fides quaerens intellectum, “faith seeking understanding” – at the few bemused dawn Stonehenge tourists and carried the traditional Bogle accessories, a mallet, or “headbanger”, and a collecting box. But nobody did get the joke, not even the Manchester Guardian. To their amazement the Bogles were interpreted as everything from fascist to druidic to occult symbols. And by then there had been such outrage over another Manchester rag-week stunt, when students kidnapped an eagle from London Zoo, that they were afraid to own up. Ever.’

Commenting on the story, Julian Richards said he had always assumed that the Bogles must have been a student prank, but he had wondered ‘whether any students from the 1960s would remember much about their time at university’. ‘The 60s’, he said, ‘were the era of painting Stonehenge with rag slogans: if only the other rag stunters had been as considerate as this lot. It was all done with such care.’

UNESCO calls on UK Government to ratify Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention

In its role as ‘goad of governments’, as Simon Jenkins would put it, the UK National Commission for UNESCO has issued a statement calling on the UK Government to take a proactive and positive policy approach towards ratifying the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, saying that there are no legal grounds to the Government’s objections to the convention.

Following a seminar hosted by the Society in 2005 which resulted in the ‘Burlington House Declaration’, calling on the UK Government to ratify the Convention, the Government responded by saying that it could not do so because of issues of sovereign immunity and resources. Experts have now examined those issues in detail and have advised the UK National Commission for UNESCO that ‘there is no insurmountable legal obstacle to the UK’s accession to the 2001 Convention and that the issue of the UK’s accession is a policy decision and not simply and purely a legal matter’.

The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage is a comprehensive international instrument for ensuring the protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage beyond territorial waters: ‘Underwater Cultural Heritage’ is defined as ‘all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical or archaeological character, which have been partially or totally underwater periodically or continuously for at least 100 years’.

The statement from the UNESCO committee says that ‘the seas from the limit of the UK’s territorial waters to the edge of its Continental Shelf contain some of the world’s richest underwater cultural heritage, including drowned prehistoric terrestrial landscapes, some of the oldest shipwreck losses in the world, vessels and aircraft from the wars of the 20th century and human remains of lost civilian and military personnel. Such heritage is subject to constant, and increasing, threat of loss and degradation, both natural and manmade.’

The committee accepts that the UK Government has made a commitment to respect the Convention’s principles and abide by the rules laid out in its Annex 2, which set internationally accepted standards for the management of the underwater cultural heritage but believes that Government should adopt ‘a more positive policy towards the Convention; and by so doing demonstrate international leadership, and to send a strong and positive signal to the international community of its commitment to concerted international effort to protect our rich, yet fragile, underwater patrimony for future generations’.

To promote the cause of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention, UNESCO has made a 12-minute documentary film, which can be viewed on the UNESCO website.

Ban on products containing dichloromethane (DCM)

English Heritage is concerned about a proposed new European directive which, if agreed, will result in a partial ban on products containing dichloromethane (DCM), a solvent that is widely used in building conservation as a paint stripper and degreasing agent because it is highly effective at removing paints and stains (including graffiti) with minimal harm to the surface or material of the building or artefact being treated.

English Heritage is seeking a derogation for the use of DCM strippers on scheduled ancient monuments, listed buildings and buildings within conservation areas, and has proposed the following amendment to the directive: ‘For the purposes of restoration and maintenance of buildings or other assets designated by competent authorities as being of particular historical and cultural value, Member States may grant individual licences for the sale and purchase in strictly limited quantities of products containing dichloromethane’. Fellows who share the concerns of English Heritage should contact Alexandra Coxen, who is co-ordinating a sectoral response to the draft directive.

Dering Roll bought by British Library

Salon has reported on previous occasions on the campaign by the British Library to raise the £194,184 needed to purchase the Dering Roll; that target has now been achieved and this important manuscript is currently on display as one of the ‘Treasures of the British Library’ in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery. The Library said the ‘extremely rare’ roll was believed to have been produced in Dover in the late thirteenth century. Beginning with two of King John’s illegitimate children, Richard Fitz Roy and William de Say, the parchment roll lists the knights owing feudal service to the Constable of Dover Castle and contains 324 coats of arms – around a quarter of the English baronage during the reign of Edward I – arranged in 54 rows, with six shields assigned to each line and the knight’s name written in English cursive script above the shield.

Sir Edward Dering (1598–1644), the noted antiquary and politician, acquired the roll during his years of service as lieutenant of Dover Castle and used it to forge his family history by erasing one coat-of-arms on the roll and replacing it with a coat-of-arms that bore the name of a fictional ancestor, Richard fitz Dering.

The Dering Roll was acquired with a £100,000 donation from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £40,000 from The Art Fund, £10,000 from the Friends of the British Library and £10,000 from Friends of the National Libraries. The remainder of the £194,184 was made up by donations from individual supporters. For further information and a picture of the roll, see the British Library’s website.

Fellow’s diary reveals a fondness for baseball

Give or take a century, how long do you think people have been playing baseball? Most of us would guess that the game that is an integral part of American life was probably invented some time early in the twentieth century. It comes as a revelation, then, to discover that not only does Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (written in 1798 but not published until late 1817) refer to baseball (Chapter 1: the fourteen-year-old Catherine Morland is described as being fonder of ‘cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country’ than she is of books), but that our Fellow and Treasurer for over twenty years William Bray (1736–1832), was also very fond of the game. A newly discovered entry in one of his diaries contains what is believed to be the earliest manuscript reference to the game, which Bray and his friends played near Guildford on Easter Monday, 31 March 1755.

As a consequence of the discovery, our Fellow Julian Pooley, Manager of Surrey History Centre, an expert on Bray and responsible for the vast array of diaries written by the solicitor and local historian between 1756 and 1832, has worked closely with Major League Baseball (MLB), the organisation that manages the professional sport in the USA, in the making of a film tracing the origins of the game. Called ‘Baseball Discovered’, MLB’s documentary will be shown at the third annual Baseball Film Festival at the National Baseball Hall of Fame on 20 September 2008.

Remarkably, the diaries were discovered just before they were about to be destroyed. Local historian Tricia St John Barry was researching the history of the sixteenth-century cottage in which she lived when a neighbour asked if she would like to see the contents of the garden shed that she was about to clear out. Tricia salvaged what she thought was a Victorian child’s exercise book until she began reading it and realised it was the diary of William Bray. Tricia is now transcribing the diary for publication. A two-minute film on the discovery can be viewed on the MLB website.

You can also hear Julian Pooley being interviewed by James Naughtie on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme (originally broadcast on 11 September) on the BBC News website.

George (Jerzy) Zarnecki (1915–2008)

The Society learned this week of the death of George Zarnecki, elected a Fellow on 4 March 1954. Paying tribute to George, our President Geoff Wainwright said: ‘He was a fine man and one of our best medievalists; he did much to enhance public awareness of medieval art. He was also deeply committed to the Society and its affairs, for which he was, deservedly, awarded the Society’s Gold Medal in 1986.’

The following obituary is based on the one that appeared in The Times (with a photograph) on 15 September 2008.

‘Jerzy Zarnecki was born in Poland in 1915. He attended Cracow University and became a junior assistant in the Institute of the History of Art in 1936. He completed an MA at the university in 1938. This part of his life and career was ended by the German invasion the following year. Zarnecki joined the Polish Army and fought with distinction in France, receiving the Polish Cross of Valour and the Croix de Guerre. He was captured in 1940 and spent two years as a prisoner of war before managing to escape, only to be interned in Spain. He made his way to England in 1943 and rose to the rank of lance-corporal in the Polish forces in London, where he at first spoke little English. Much of his time was spent helping to compile an index of the cultural losses sustained by his homeland as a result of the German occupation. He published an English introduction to Polish art in 1945.

‘When the war ended Zarnecki made his home in England. He was married to Anne Frith and found employment at the Courtauld, based at 20 Portman Square, at first translating texts. He owed this job to the help of the institute’s soon-to-be director, Anthony Blunt, to whom he had been introduced in 1944. Generous and witty as well as learned, Zarnecki was an immensely popular figure at the Courtauld. He became the librarian of the Conway Library in 1949, managing its remarkable collection of photographs of sculpture and architecture and pioneering expeditions to build up the library’s holdings, embarking on entertaining odysseys around Europe with his friend and fellow medievalist, Peter Lasko.

‘Zarnecki was appointed Reader in 1959; in 1961, after a year as Oxford’s Slade Professor of Fine Art, he succeeded Johannes Wilde as Blunt’s deputy-director at the Courtauld, a position he held until 1974. He became Professor of Art History in 1963. Zarnecki’s influence in these years was hugely beneficial to the Courtauld and its reputation. Peter Kidson recorded that his importance can hardly be overestimated, not least because his responsibilities extended to almost running the institute on Blunt’s behalf. Despite an association that lasted for thirty years, Zarnecki found Blunt elusive — an assessment that many shared. When, in 1979, Blunt was exposed as having spied for the Soviet Union Zarnecki was horrified and could not bring himself to speak to him.

‘Zarnecki’s study of English Romanesque sculpture was prompted by a fellow émigré scholar, Fritz Saxl of the Warburg Institute. Any student of the subject must overcome the lack of documentary evidence and the destruction of many of the sculptures themselves, with others surviving in a poor state of preservation. “Only a fraction of what existed has come down to us,” Zarnecki wrote, “and the often mutilated state of the objects is an eloquent testimony to the fanaticism of the iconoclast or to ignorant neglect.” Saxl, though, had taken an interest in the subject and encouraged Zarnecki in what became his doctoral dissertation.

‘This led to two books in the early 1950s: English Romanesque Sculpture 1066–1140 (1951) and Later English Romanesque Sculpture 1140–1210 (1953). These short works, extensive in their ambition and based on meticulous scholarship, were freshly and lucidly written introductions to a topic that had received little serious consideration; they transformed our understanding of the subject. Zarnecki emphasised that the English Romanesque was a regional development of the astonishing artistic revival of the eleventh century that embraced the whole of western and central Europe. He described the character of what he termed Anglo-Norman sculpture, carefully charting its development from the earliest influence of the Romanesque in England in the decade or two before 1066 through to its twelfth-century maturity.

‘He questioned the commonly held view that the Norman Conquest was an unwelcome foreign intrusion that brought to an end Anglo-Saxon art, instead emphasising the survival of the complex artistic traditions the Normans inherited at the Conquest in the continuing influence of the Winchester School and Scandinavian animal styles such as the Ringerike. Anglo-Saxon sculpture did not, Zarnecki suggested, “die an heroic death at Hastings”, but rather remained vibrant, flourishing in a great blossoming of artistic life and influencing to an unexpected extent the art of Normandy and other areas of northern France.

‘Zarnecki published revealing studies of the Romanesque sculptures at the cathedrals of Ely (1958) and Lincoln (1964), profusely illustrated with photographs, as had been his earlier books, in an effort to make images of these sculptures more widely available for enjoyment and study. His fascination with his subject was demonstrated in numerous essays over forty years, subsequently collected in two volumes: Studies in Romanesque Sculpture (1979) and Further Studies in Romanesque Sculpture (1992).

‘His interests, though, ranged wider. He published a study of the twelfth-century French sculptor Gislebertus in 1960, with an English edition the following year, and in the 1970s produced Romanesque Art (1971), addressing the subject as a whole, The Monastic Achievement (1972) and Art of the Medieval World (1975). In the early 1980s he chaired the working committee organising the Arts Council’s exhibition ‘English Romanesque Art 1066–1200’, held at the Hayward Gallery in 1984 and giving, in Zarnecki’s words, “a glimpse of the beauty of this distant and largely forgotten period”.

‘He received the Polish Gold Medal of Merit in 1978 and became a member of the Polish Academies of Learning and of Sciences in the 1990s. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1968 and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, where he was for a time vice-president. He was appointed CBE in 1970. On his retirement in 1982 Zarnecki was made Emeritus Professor of the University of London and became an honorary Fellow of the Courtauld Institute in 1986. In 1987 he was the leading figure behind the creation of the British Academy’s “Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland”, an archive recording Romanesque stone sculpture in these islands.’


Quite a number of stories in the last issue of Salon provoked a response, including news of the threat to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library (the Bancroft Library). Our Fellow and former Librarian, Bernard Nurse, was responsible for the library and archives in the 1970s and several Fellows who use the Library regularly have expressed concern at the Council’s proposal to sell the building (one of the East End’s most historic public buildings, former municipal Vestry Hall in Mile End) to Queen Mary College (QMC) and disperse the collections (an earlier proposal to rehouse the Library within the Museum in Docklands having fallen through).

Ironically QMC wanted the building, which possesses a purpose-built archive store, to house the Wiener Library (known as ‘the Holocaust archive’), pushing one important collection out to house another. Now, however, the Director of the Wiener Library has leased 29 Russell Square for the Wiener Library, which is currently housed by the Institute of Contemporary History at 4 Devonshire Street, and a planning application has been made to Camden Council for the adaptation of the building.

Even so, QMC is still keen to use the building as a centre for post-graduate research, and Tower Hamlets still seems keen to sell it for £1.2m, despite spirited local and national opposition, led by East End historian, Tom Ridge, who has formed a campaign group – SAVE BANCROFT LIBRARY – with strong support from the local newspaper, the East London Advertiser.

The campaign is calling on Tower Hamlets to take account of the views of the local community who are united in their opposition to the sale and who want the Council to repair and adapt the building as a Tower Hamlets Local History Centre, for the use of local school students, residents and visitors from all over the world. The campaign rightly points out that the Government places great emphasis on local democracy and has only recently launched its ‘Who Do We Think We Are’ national curriculum initiative, encouraging the study of ‘identity, diversity and citizenship in the UK’, for which the Bancroft Library, with its archives relating to East End migration, is one of the best resources in the UK.

Further information can be found on the website of the East London Advertiser. Letters of support should be sent to Tom Ridge at the campaign email address [email protected]. Letters objecting to the sale can be sent to Martin Smith, Chief Executive, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and a public protest meeting is planned for 27 September 2008, at 2pm at the Arbour Youth Centre, Shandy Street, Stepney, London E1.

How sad it is to have to report that Tower Hamlets is not the only part of the UK where campaigners are having to fight for their libraries and archives: Fellows of our Society are active in the campaign to prevent what has been called the ‘Secret Destruction of Cardiff’s Heritage Collection’ – the decision by Cardiff City Council to sell Cardiff Public Library’s rare books collection, consisting of 18,000 books, ranging from fifteenth-century continental incunabula to seventeenth century English civil war tracts, plus key eighteenth- and nineteenth-century historical, literary, religious and geography works. Sales lists are already being drafted by the auctioneers Bonhams and the first sales are scheduled to take place before the end of the year.

An action group, ‘Cardiff Heritage Friends’, which includes local Cardiff residents, academics, solicitors, historians and librarians, is calling for world-wide support from specialists in this field, demanding that the Council stop the sale of some of the greatest treasures in one of Wales’s great libraries. The group will also be seeking legal advice on the Council’s actions and exploring the case for stopping the sale, which is designed to fund a shortfall in the funding for the new public library building in Cardiff.

Dr E Wyn James, Secretary of the Cardiff Welsh Bibliographical Society, commented that: ‘The Council appears to be ignorant of the cultural and heritage importance of this unique collection, and of its prestige and potential use’. The Lampeter Library Blog has more details, including a sample letter that protestors can use to make their views known to Cardiff City Councillors, Welsh Assembly Members and Members of Parliament for Cardiff.

From campaigns in progress to one that reached a happy conclusion: the last issue of Salon reported that the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities had refused consent to demolish and replace the Smithfield General Market Building and quoted the comment of our Fellow, English Heritage Chief Executive, Simon Thurley, hoping that a creative scheme for the repair and re-use of the General Market Building would now be brought forward. Our Fellow Adam Wilkinson quite rightly felt that Salon had not done justice to the role of SAVE Britain’s Heritage in the fight to save the integrity of Smithfield Market buildings: ‘SAVE led the fight for seven years, published “Don’t butcher Smithfield” in 2004 and fielded a full team at the inquiry’, he says, adding that ‘SAVE’s evidence is used verbatim by the inspector throughout his report and was described as “compelling in its clarity”.’

What Adam is too modest to say is that he personally played the lead role in SAVE’s campaign, as the organisation’s energetic Secretary (he is now the equally energetic Director of Edinburgh World Heritage). William Palin, Adam’s successor as Secretary, paid tribute to Adam’s role and Adam himself hailed the Secretary of State’s decision as ‘vindication of SAVE’s long-held stance that the demolition of these handsome buildings is a nonsense and that they are well capable of economic re-use. They can contribute so much more to London than yet another office block.’

The axiom that you should always treat anything an auctioneer says with great caution was brought home to Salon’s editor by the response of our Fellow Claude Blair to the report concerning the Coleridge SS collar. The collar, which is to be sold at Christie’s in December, was claimed as a new discovery, the only golden livery collar of its type to survive in anything like original condition, engraved with a double S, for ‘Spiritus Sanctus’ (Holy Spirit), and a rare gift – one of only twenty bestowed by Henry VIII on a handful of especially favoured recipients.

Far from being a new discovery, says Claude, ‘I examined it at Ottery St Mary some thirty years ago’. More important is the fact that SS collars are not unique to Henry VIII: ‘as is very well known, it was the livery collar of the House of Lancaster (as the Collar of Suns and Roses was the ditto of the House of York). Since the Lancastrians effectively won the Wars of the Roses with Henry VII, it became the English royal livery collar, and was worn by royal officials. The top ones, including senior judges, got gold ones and lesser people silver ones, and this continued with the judges and the Heralds. The Heralds still wear silver ones (or did until recently), and the Chief Justices of the various royal courts continued to wear gold ones until 1873, when the courts amalgamated.

‘The website “Love to Know” contains the following on the subject: “The lord chief justice is, next to the lord chancellor, the highest judicial dignitary in the kingdom. He is an ex-officio judge of the court of appeal. He holds office during good behaviour, and can only be removed by the crown (by whom he is appointed) after a joint address of both houses of parliament. He is now the only judicial functionary privileged to wear the collar of SS. There has been much discussion as to the origin and history of this collar; it was a badge or insignia attached to certain offices entitling the holders to wear it only so long as they held those offices. The collar of SS was worn by the chiefs of the three courts previous to their amalgamation in 1873, and that now worn by the lord chief justice of England was provided by Sir A Cockburn in 1859 and entailed by him on all holders of the office.”

‘The chief justices of the old courts seem normally to have passed on their collars to their successors, and I assume – though this is only a guess – that the Coleridge one remained in the possession of the family as a result of John Duke Coleridge (1820–94), 1st Baron Coleridge, having been appointed the last Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1873, just at the time of the reform referred to above, and being allowed to retain it. He later became Lord Chief Justice, of course, when he must have worn the entailed collar provided by Cockburn. Since he would have received the collar from his predecessor, who would have done likewise, and so on, it is perfectly possible that it is Tudor in origin, but, since it is made to a standard pattern, it is impossible to date it by examination alone. I am unable to comment on the claim that it is made of a gold alloy only in use between 1546 and 1552, but I frankly doubt that any alloy can be dated so accurately. I am also extremely dubious about the claim that Henry only awarded twenty or so gold collars of SS during his reign, since I cannot think of any record that would provide such information.

‘The early antiquaries wrote reams on the subject of the collar and the meaning of the SS (you will probably find a drawer full of references in the Antiquaries’ subject index). “Spiritus Sanctus” is only one of a number of meanings suggested. The consensus of opinion at the moment is that they stood for Souveraine, the motto of Henry IV. The most recent study, giving all the evidence, is in Ronald Lightbown’s massive history of medieval European jewellery, but you will also find a fairly detailed discussion in an article by myself and Ida Delamer (‘The Dublin Civic Swords’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 88, 1988, 87–142) of which there is an offprint in the Antiquaries’ Library. One of the swords, I should mention, belonged to Henry IV.

‘Finally, I examined the Lord Mayor of London’s chain many years ago, and have no doubt that it is mostly genuine. It retains a certain amount of its original enamel, and I was responsible for dissuading the City Fathers from having it re-enamelled!’

On other topics from the last issue, our Fellow Blaise Vyner says that ‘fears that Satnav will destroy the geographical sensibilities of the great British public are surely exaggerating as people who rely on Satnav would probably never have used a map anyway … when it comes to destroying the geographical abilities of the public the Ordnance Survey has been pioneering approaches for years – witness the replacement of the former Tourist 1 inch series with the Tour map!’ Fellow David Sherlock writes apropos of the proposal to list the US Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square that ‘it has a dry moat, capable of being filled with water if under siege, and must be one of the few twentieth-century moated sites to have been built’; and that ‘it is said to be the only US embassy on land which the US does not own. The land belongs to the Grosvenor Estate. I believe the Estate offered to give it to the US in return for its land in Virginia confiscated at the time of the War of Independence’.

Fellow Alan Millard has spotted what he interprets as a campaign by the Post Office to increase its revenue by encouraging people to deal in looted antiquities: an advertisement recently printed in the Daily Telegraph offers a range of currency exchange packages, followed by the slogan ‘We’ll give you a great rate and you can bring me back something nice’: below is a photograph of a man holding an Easter Island stone head!’ (was the advert perhaps inspired by the true story published in April 2008 of the twenty-six-year-old tourist from Finland who chipped an earlobe off one of the Easter Island statues as a souvenir and who was allowed to go home after paying a fine of £8,500 and writing a public apology).

And from Fellow Richard Ivens comes a cutting from the Northampton Chronicle and Echo concerning a case of censorship at Northampton’s Abington Park Museum, where part of the text accompanying a display of fossils, called ‘Changing Attitudes to Evolution’, has been covered up. According to the newspaper, this was done to avoid giving offence to Creationists following a complaint from a visitor, but one suspects that the real reason was embarrassment at the poor quality of the prose, which said that Darwin ‘used the same layers of fossils that had supported the Genesis view of evolution to show the slow changes that are taking place over the millennia of earth history, each small change enabling a species to the rigours of it’s environment [sic] – the struggle for survival through natural selection leading to the survival of the fittest.’

Linda Hall has come up with a couple more Morris dancing pictures to add to the list: a splendid pair of paintings at the lovely Elizabethan Dixton Manor, near Tewksbury in Gloucestershire, painted around 1730 shows the landscape around the manor and includes Morris dancers out in the fields, dancing and waving their hankies. Linda has also found documentary evidence that the parish church in Kingston-upon-Thames paid for Morris dancing in 1507: the Churchwardens’ Accounts include entries for a quarter of fine lawn for the Morris garments, four hats and bells for the dancers. Payments were made to a lute player and a taborer, and the four dancers given one shilling and one penny apiece. Later, in 1537–8, there was further expenditure on costumes and on ‘eight pairs of leather garters to set bells upon’.

Finally, Norman Hammond asks of the story in Salon 195 headlined ‘The Theatre has been found’, ‘did they forget that they had already found it or have they discovered some more?’ The find that Salon reported as ‘new’ is one that Norman reported in The Times over a year ago (see ‘Dig reveals foundations of Shakespeare’s Theatre’).


16 September 2008: The Prehistory of the Andes: Archaeology and Linguistics, BP Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, British Museum
This free day of public talks by archaeologists and linguists of the Andes follows on from a three-day academic seminar in Cambridge and London, funded by the British Academy, and organised by Colin Renfrew, Paul Heggarty and David Beresford-Jones. It offers the chance to meet leading scholars in the field and hear about recent research; the speakers include our Fellow Dr John Hemming whose talk on ‘Finds, Feuds, Frauds and Fantasies’ will look at the rich cast of explorers, scholars, adventurers and charlatans who have been involved in the discovery of Inca ruins in Vilcabamba. The full programme for the day can be found on the Cambridge Arch and Anth website.

1 October 2008: The Soane Museum Study Group, Tours of Number 14, Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Julian Harrap and Lyall Thow, the architects who worked on the conversion of No. 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields to form the new extension to Sir John Soane’s Museum, will be giving a private tour of the building at 6pm for 6.30pm; places must be booked in advance by contacting Beth Kingston, Education Manager. The museum asks for a contribution of £5 on the evening, to cover the cost of wine and postage.

2 to 4 October 2008: Religious Heritage Conference: ‘La Porte et le Passage: porches et portails’, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Saint-Germain d’Auxerre
Devoted to the architecture, art and symbolism of the narthex, porch, portal and tympanum in France: further details (in French) on the conference website.

3 November 2008: Personal histories of human origins research, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
2008 is the third year in which our Fellow Pamela Jane Smith has brought together influential figures from the world of archaeology to talk about their lives, their intellectual journeys and the influences upon their thinking of friends, teachers, books and ideas. Over that short time these ‘personal history’ seminars have become a major event in the calendar, attracting large audiences (not least for the splendid pre-seminar teas) and engendering debate for weeks afterwards.

This year’s event, sponsored by the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, brings together the formidable team of Leslie Aiello, Meave Leakey, David Pilbeam, Chris Stringer, Rob Foley and Marta Mirazon Lahr to talk about their involvement in human evolutionary research. Tea is at 3pm. Adam Kuper will chair the discussion between 4pm and 6pm, and a wine reception will follow at the Leverhulme Institute. Free admission; for further information contact Pamela Jane Smith.

9 December 2008 to 4 January 2009, Two Ghost Stories by M R James performed by Robert Lloyd Parry
Every Christmas, our Fellow M R James (1862–1936), Director in the early 1900s of the Fitzwilliam Museum, would write and perform new ghost stories to entertain friends in his rooms in King’s College, Cambridge, and every year the actor and historian Robert Lloyd Parry has been restoring the charm and pleasure of the original tales with his excellent and convincing storytelling as he plays the part of James for a seasonal retelling of the works. This year Robert will perform ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ (a tale of nocturnal horror on the Suffolk coast, considered by many to be the author’s masterpiece) and ‘The Ash Tree’, a story of witchcraft and vengeance down the generations.

Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries are being offered a preferential individual ticket price of £10, or a 20 per cent discount when ten or more full-price tickets are booked in one transaction. For further information, see the Nunkie Theatre Company’s website. There are no performances on Mondays or on 25, 26 and 31 December or on 1 January. To book, contact the Barons Court’s Theatre Box Office, The Curtain’s Up Pub, 28a Comeragh Road, West Kensington, London W14 9HP, tel: 0208 932 4747 quoting the Society of Antiquaries.

Books by Fellows

The ghost stories of M R James lead naturally on to a book that features revenants, necrophobia, execution and much else to chill the soul; not a Gothic novel or a Penny Dreadful, but a serious academic work on Deviant Burial in the Archaeological Record, edited by Eileen Murphy and published by Oxbow, to which our Fellow and Hon Secretary Alison Taylor has contributed a paper on ‘Deviant burial in Roman Britain’. ‘I am proud of including vampirism in an archaeological text’, Alison says, adding that the book consists of twelve papers presenting evidence on ‘non-normative’ burial practices from the Neolithic through to post-medieval periods and includes case studies from some ten countries.

Finally, perhaps Salon can be forgiven for ending with a plug for Visions of Antiquity, the Society’s own Tercentenary essay volume, which has received a warm review in the September 2008 issue of Antiquity (volume 82, no 317).

The reviewer, Melanie Giles, of the School of Arts, Histories & Cultures at the University of Manchester, writes: ‘Many of the papers skilfully set the institution’s changing fortunes within the broader context of contemporary social events, as well as evaluate the influence of individual Presidents and their roles in politics or academia. Rivalry and competition with other institutions (such as the Royal Society) is also colourfully discussed. Important issues – such as the development of deep time chronologies and challenging of biblically-based timeframes, the refinement of typologies and critique of conceptual frameworks, or the course followed by protective legislation for monuments – are well documented and evaluated.

‘Equally, some of the more recent roles played by the Society are given prominence in later papers: vital support for major excavation programmes in the twentieth century, the Society’s part in the increasing professionalisation of the discipline and its current remit as both advisory and lobbying group for contemporary issues of national archaeological importance … These clearly written, fascinating studies are a pleasure to read, and the volume provides an indispensable insight into not only into the workings of an individual society, but the construction of the discipline itself.’

Further information about the book is available on our website.

House for sale or rent in Kelmscott

Fellows might be interested to know that the Old School, Kelmscott, converted to a dwelling some years ago, has recently been renovated and is now available either to purchase, or to rent on a short- or long-term basis (contact the owner, Jill Turner). The four-bedroomed house has large front windows overlooking Kelmscott church and the churchyard where William and Jane Morris are buried. The rear windows look out on to a National Trust meadow and the William Morris Memorial Hall. The house is furnished using Morris or Arts and Crafts materials, and the slate-floored kitchen has stainless steel units and an Aga. The top floor has a 36-foot master suite with double stone bath and a studio.