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 (this same lecture will be repeated on Sunday 26 October at 2.30pm in Devizes Town Hall, Wiltshire; see Events below for further information).
This paper will review our knowledge and understanding of the Bronze Age burial complexes on Normanton Down two hundred years on from William Cunningtons opening of Bush Barrow. The national background to such burial complexes will first be presented, followed by a summary of the Normanton Down evidence with especial reference to the princely burial from Bush Barrow, dating from about 1750 to 1550 BC and the richest and most important Bronze Age grave yet excavated in Britain.
New information will be presented resulting from intensive study as part of the Leverhulme-backed Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods project of the rich assemblage of grave goods, which include an axe and two large daggers, a mace head made from rare flecked stone from Devon, and exquisitely worked diamond-shaped plaques and belt-hook of gold. Changing ideas on the landscape context will be summarised, culminating in a fresh history of Bronze Age cemetery development and its implications.
7 October 2008: The Bill and Beyond: seminar hosted by the Society on behalf of TAF (The Archaeology Forum) from 11am to 4.30pm at Burlington House to review progress on the Heritage Protection Bill. For the programme and booking information, see the Societys News & Events webpage.
9 October 2008: The PreseliStonehenge Bluestone Project: Stonehenge excavations 2008, by Timothy Darvill, VPSA, and Geoffrey Wainwright, PSA
10 October 2008: John Hopkins FSA 19182008: a celebration of his life and work. Tea from 4pm, welcoming speech from our President, Geoff Wainwright, at 5pm; the meeting will end at 6pm with the unveiling of the bust of John that David Neal, FSA, has sculpted, to 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.
16 October 2008: 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
17 October 2008: Under the volcano: Sir William Hamilton and Mt Vesuvius: Dr Chris Kilburn, Fellow of the Geological Society, and our own Dr Jill Cook at the Geological Society of London will explore the legacy of Sir William Hamilton, FSA, FRS (17301803). 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].
23 October 2008: Imported Images: Continental late Gothic sculpture in English churches, by Kim Woods, FSA
25 November 2008: Getting to know the Society: introductory tours for new Fellows. 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]. You can also book now for the tour planned for 12 February 2009.
In Saturdays BBC2 Timewatch programme on Stonehenge, there was a subtle moment when the camera focused on the shiny expectant faces of bright-eyed pagans at Stonehenge for the summer solstice while the commentary made the point that they were all facing in the wrong direction and had come to Stonehenge six months early: Stonehenge was aligned on the midwinter sunrise at the start of the agricultural year, not its mid-point (as every allotment holder knows: there is no time for feasting and ceremony in June, a time of year when the utmost vigilance is required to stop pests, drought or diseases from robbing you of your crop).
This was just one example of the way that TV can bring potentially dry academic points to life, and there were many such moments in an excellent documentary, full of lyrical shots of Stonehenge against racing clouds and vivid sunsets, that mainly eschewed the sort of TV trickery that makes so many documentaries unwatchable. We did have to put up with some of these, however: electronic ticking to mark the passage of time, camera tremble and a metallic screech at every reference to death or injury, and a too-literal reconstruction of a man being shot over and again by Stonehenge security guards (Neolithic ones, that is, not English Heritage guardians) though this last shot could be forgiven for its connection with the next one showing our Fellow Alison Sheridan using a longbow and demonstrating unexpected prowess as an archer, before being lit film-noir style as she analysed the wounds that the poor man who appears to have penetrated the Stonehenge holy of holies to steal some bits of magic bluestone had sustained before being unceremoniously dumped into a shallow grave.
The programme built up a convincing case for the bluestones until now the poor relations to the larger sarsen lintels and trilithons as the important stones at Stonehenge, and, in Tim Darvills memorable phrase, for Stonehenge having functioned as a sort of A&E [Accident and Emergency] department for the whole of southern England perhaps even for much of northern Europe, because the Amesbury Archer, who featured large in the programme, had come from the Alps to seek relief from his afflictions at Stonehenge.
Not that anyone could just wander in and touch the magical bluestones, as was demonstrated by the man shot by the security guards: Tim suggested that Stonehenge was the place you could go in the expectation of finding the very best Neolithic physicians and healers and that these people probably used a mix of the spiritual and the practical to help those who came to be made better. Our Fellow Christopher Knüsel showed us the skull of one possible shaman from a Stonehenge burial, saying that she had suffered some sort of trauma at birth that left her with a large and deformed head, but having survived, her experience would have perhaps enabled her to offer counselling to others with life-threatening injuries.
One couldnt help feeling that, persuasive as all this might well be, the healing aspects of Stonehenge were really the side show: as with sick pilgrims visiting the shrine of a saint in a cathedral, the cathedral itself is about something bigger and more transcendental by far than miracle cures. There were several undeveloped and ill-explained strands to the programme: the suggestion that Stonehenge, an outrageously epic building project in the words of our Fellow Andrew Fitzpatrick, was a symbol of the success of the new agricultural revolution. If so, what are we to make of the date of 2300 BC, which emerged at the end of the programme from carbon-dated grains found beneath one of the bluestone settings: it was never explained exactly to what phase of Stonehenge this date applies, but it is very late in the day (by some 500 years) for the origins of agriculture in southern England; and what are we to make of the date of another sample, which came out at 7000 BC, adding to the evidence from the post alignments of similar date found underneath the site of todays visitor-centre car park, suggesting that there was Mesolithic activity at Stonehenge several millennia before the bluestones arrived.
Timewatch focused on the headline news and, as Tim and Geoff stressed over and again, the 8 cubic metres or so of soil that they removed during their small excavation in April 2008 produced a mass of new data, testifying to the continuous reshaping of the monument over a thousand years. Understanding it all will take an effort on a mammoth scale, but we can all look forward to further glimpses into the meaning of it all when Tim and Geoff give their lecture to our Society on 9 October (a paper that we plan to publish the Antiquaries Journal in 2009).
A sign that archaeology is not immune from the current global economic crisis has come this week in the form of an announcement from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation that it has closed its Department of Archaeological Research. The Foundation has been struggling for some years to balance the books and the decision to cut costs by closing the department is a response to the Foundations failure to halt falling hospitality and visitor revenue.
Professor Marley R Brown III, Director of the department, has been made redundant. Marley succeeded our Fellow Ivor Noel Hume in 1982: as Chief Archaeologist and Director of the department since 1957, Ivor made Colonial Williamsburg central to the development of historical archaeology. Curatorial and laboratory duties have devolved to the Collections division, while the one remaining full-time archaeologist now works for the Department of Architectural History (a reversion, ironically, to the position in the 1930s, when Colonial Williamsburg was first conceived as a celebration of early American history by the Rockefeller family during the Depression era).
Alison Richards, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, was at the centre of a political storm recently for her quite sensible point that governments should stop viewing universities as if their sole purpose was to be an engine for promoting social justice; promoting social mobility is not our core mission, she said: our core mission is to provide an outstanding education within a research setting. Once that might also have applied to museums, but a newly published Joseph Rowntree Foundation report revels in the fact that some museums are now social museums, which is to say spaces where social issues can be examined in a way the public finds accessible.
Gone are the days apparently when museums existed to display and interpret their collections: now museums are seen as central spaces of mutual understanding and cohesion where cultural identity can be developed. This may be driven by museum professionals or communities. Such identities may reflect previously unacknowledged histories or more recent social change such as migration or post-industrialisation. Curators, we are told, feel they have a role in making sense of history and the myths that may surround it in modern terms. They are aware that their curatorial choices need to reflect and respond to other voices within the local community. Why does it not come as a surprise to learn that these same curators come from a range of different backgrounds, often with little if any traditional curatorial training?
The report concludes that the challenges facing museums today are: convincing other agencies of museums role in tackling social change; reflecting the speed of social change, which may require adapting complex organisational structures; acknowledging concerns about traditional curatorial remits; exploring legitimate areas that some still feel too sensitive for social history; addressing the physical accessibility of older museums.
If the report is true, and there is no reason to doubt it, it explains a great deal about the yawning gulf that has opened up between in recent years between the once very close worlds of museums and research. But doesnt the success of well-curated exhibitions at the British Museum prove that punters want the good old-fashioned approach? Or are they the wrong kind of museum audience, just as Cambridge, in aiming to offer a stimulating education to the nations brightest and best, seems to be targeting the wrong kind of student?
There is hope for a saner world, however, in the announcement last week that the Heritage Lottery Fund is to help the Laurence Sterne Trust turn Shandy Hall in North Yorkshire into a permanent home for the study of the life and works of Laurence Sterne (171368). Yes, there is an apparent contradiction in calling the inventor of one of the most irrational novels ever penned a sane decision, but Sterne scholars all know that Tristram Shandy (175969) only appears to be a rag bag of madcap ramblings; in truth it is one of the most rational and influential books to have been published since the Bible and Shakespeare: without it there would be no modern novel certainly not Salman Rushdies Best of the Booker prize-winning Midnights Children, which itself has spawned a whole new genre of literary fiction.
Part of the HLF grant will go towards the purchase of the Monkman collection, a specialist library of world importance that includes Sternes letters and manuscripts, along with newspapers, pamphlets and contemporary works that influenced Sterne. Built up by Kenneth Monkman (191198), who also rescued and restored Sternes home, Shandy Hall, and bequeathed it to the Laurence Sterne Trust, the collection was offered to York University, but will now stay at Shandy Hall, as a resource for researchers, scholars, creative artists and writers who are inspired by Sternes work. The HLF grant will also help fund a programme of events, including readings and performances of Sternes sermons, workshops, talks and lectures on the political cartoon and its contemporary relevance, and an international conference in 2013 to mark the tercentenary of Sternes birth.
The Victorian Society has drawn attention to the plight of neglected Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales by unveiling its annual list of the Top Ten Endangered Buildings, based on nominations from heritage enthusiasts, campaigners and members of the public around the country. Our Fellow, Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society, said: Weve been flooded with information about fascinating endangered buildings this year: it is clear that theres still a long way to go before all our heritage assets receive the protection they deserve.
There are many reasons why good buildings become threatened, continued Dr Dungavell. Often the most difficult to help are those that have been locked up and left to rot or forgotten about for many years. In these cases, a bit of well-timed publicity can make the difference between seeing a historic building given a new lease of life and watching part of our national heritage lost for good.
Some of the buildings that appeared on last years list have since been helped: emergency repairs have been carried out at Shadwell Park, grants have been awarded to the Lanfyllin Union Workhouse and St Walburges in Preston, and the long-neglected Easington Colliery School has been put up for sale.
The full 2008 list, with photographs, can be seen on the Victorian Societys website. They include the Grade II-listed Swedish Church, in Liverpool, a striking brick version of a Scandinavian stave church built in 1884 by W D Caröe to minister to Liverpools large population of Swedish mariners, and the Grade II* Moseley Road Baths, Balsall Heath, Birmingham (1907, by William Hale & Son), in which Birmingham City Council plans to close the pool, stripping England of the last Grade II*-listed Edwardian baths in which it is still possible to swim.
Our Fellow Christopher de Hamel, Librarian at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, now has a new clock on the side of his library that he describes as hypnotically beautiful and deeply disturbing. Unveiled on 19 September 2008 by Stephen Hawking, the clock is surmounted by a grasshopper-like creature with a quivering tail and snapping jaw that turns a dial with its foot to mark the minutes: its creator, the sculptor Matthew Sanderson, calls it a Chronophage a time eater and John Taylor, the creator and funder of the clock, says is intentionally scary: I take the view that time is not on your side. Hell eat up every minute of your life, and as soon as one has gone hes salivating for the next. Its not a bad thing to remind students of. I never felt like this until I woke up on my 70th birthday, and was stricken at the thought of how much I still wanted to do, and how little time remained.
Taylor, an inventor whose thermostatic switch is found in most electric kettles, has already donated £2.5m to his old college for a new undergraduate library; the clock cost an additional £1m and involved 200 people, including engineers, sculptors, scientists, jewellers and calligraphers, to make.
It is with sadness that we mark the recent loss of our Fellows James Cherry, elected a Fellow on 4 May 1989, who died in July 2008; Arthur Owen (A E B Owen), FSA, elected on 22 November 1990, who died on 24 August 2008, at the age of eighty four; Elizabeth Eames, elected on 1 May 1958, author of the British Museums medieval tiles catalogue and English Tilers, who died on 20 September; and Andor Gomme (Austin Harvey Gomme), elected on 10 January 1985, who died last week. Andors funeral, which all are welcome to attend, will take place at 1pm on Friday 30 October at St Marys Church, Astbury, near Congleton, Cheshire. We hope to publish obituaries in the weeks to come.
In Salon 184 (17 March 2008) we reported the death of Dr Francesca Romana Serra Ridgway, FSA, and promised an obituary in due course. We are very grateful to David Ridgway, FSA, Francesca Romanas husband, for links to two tributes that are now available via the web and that we will post on the Societys website shortly. The first (with a photograph) was written by David himself for Etruscan News (the newsletter of the American Section of the Institute for Etruscan and Italic Studies, and the second is by our Fellow Tom Rasmussen (Manchester) and can be found in the Open Access section of the Antiquity website, from which the following extracts are taken:
Francesca Serra Ridgway, a graduate of Rome University and one of many distinguished pupils of Massimo Pallottino, was a leading scholar of Etruscan and Italic archaeology. She was based in Scotland for many years where she was Honorary Fellow in the Department of Archaeology (later, Classics) at Edinburgh University, where her husband David Ridgway also taught. Retiring from Edinburgh they both moved south and in 2003 became Associate Fellows of the Institute of Classical Studies in London.
Francesca Ridgways death, on 7 March 2008, ended not only a long marriage but also a long working partnership. There had been close collaboration on many projects. For years Ridgway and Ridgway had meant the big jointly edited book of 1979 (Italy before the Romans), which has introduced innumerable students to aspects of early Italy, and which encompassed so much that both editors passionately believed in: in particular, getting important new scholarship to a wide academic audience, which here entailed securing the services of knowledgeable and sympathetic translators to render into impeccable English the detailed original, mainly Italian, texts.
It was only natural that when it was time for a Festschrift it should have been to the honour of both Ridgways: Across Frontiers: Etruscans, Greeks, Phoenicians and Cypriots (London, Accordia 2006) has articles by fifty scholars fully reflecting David and Francescas wide concerns, with especially important contributions in two areas, on the early Greek colonial settlement on the island of Pithecussae (Ischia) where they had for many seasons collaborated in studying and publishing the great series of tombs excavated by Giorgio Buchner, Francesca taking on the later burials; and on Sardinia, her familys area of origin and where she and David had longstanding interests especially in the field of native (nuragic) metalware on which both published several papers.
Although the Ridgways have worked in similar fields, they have each had their individual enthusiasms and lines of enquiry. Early on, Francesca had been one of a team working on the material from Pyrgi, the Etruscan harbour and sanctuary area close to Caere (Cerveteri), on which she published at different times, notably in 1990 with a wide-ranging article for the compilation Greek Colonists and Native Populations (ed. Descoeudres). She also had a long and productive association and friendship with Lucia Cavagnaro Vanoni and Richard Linington, both of the Lerici Foundation which had been involved in locating and excavating Etruscan cemeteries at Tarquinia. This resulted in her collaboration with the former on a presentation of some of the Etruscan painted pottery recovered (Vasi etruschi a figure rosse, 1989), with the latter on the publication in 1997 of the Fondo Scataglini necropolis (Linington directed the excavation but died in 1984), and in her own monumental study of the contents of these tombs, published in two volumes in 1996.
Francesca Ridgway, like David, was always eager to promote the scholarship of others, among much else with her many reviews and review articles for Classical Review and other organs, helping to edit the English language version of Steingräbers Catalogue Raisonné of Etruscan Wall Paintings (1986), and giving a new lease of life to Brendels classic Etruscan Art (2nd edn 1995) with her vital bibliographic essay covering the years 19781994. This kind of work, undertaken from a deep conviction that scholarship is an important matter and the field of enquiry is worthy of wide dissemination, offers little personal kudos but is gratefully appreciated by the academic community.
As a postscript to Toms appreciation, David Ridgway adds: The death of Francesca Romana Serra Ridgway, after a year of painful illness, bravely and serenely borne, has robbed Etruscan studies of a gloriously free spirit and a fine scholar. Etruscan specialists all over Europe and the USA mourn the loss of a loyal, generous and inspiring friend, colleague and mentor. They miss her; and they miss her infectious enthusiasm for everything that is still good in our subject. At the time of her tragically premature death, Francesca Romanas study of Caeretan cylinder-stamped pithoi was nearing completion: it is good to know that Francesca Romanas close friend, Dr Lisa Pieraccini, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, unhesitatingly accepted her request to finish it and to see it through the press. It is eagerly awaited.
Congratulations and best wishes to Simon Thurley and Anna Keay on the recent birth of their twins, Arthur and Maud.
And to Eddie Booth and Malcolm Airs, who have been elected this month as Presidents of the UKs leading architectural history organisations: Eddie is the new President of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, and Malcolm (himself a former IHBC President) is the new President of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB). On his appointment, Malcolm, who is also Vice-President of Kellogg College, Oxford, said: Architectural history and historic conservation are my twin obsessions. I am deeply honoured and very flattered to have been given the privilege of serving the leading institutions of both disciplines as President first the IHBC in 2001 and now the SAHGB.
Salon 196 only counted two Episcopal Fellows the Very Reverend J Wyn Evans, newly elected Bishop of St Davids, and the Very Reverend Richard Chartres, who was appointed the 132nd Bishop of London in November 1995. Vincent Gillespie reminds us of a third: the Ven Dr David Thomson, previously Archdeacon of Carlisle and an expert on the teaching of Latin in the late Middle Ages, was consecrated Bishop of Huntingdon in July 2008, having been elected a Fellow earlier in the year, on 24 January 2008.
Following the death of Lord Bruce-Lockhart in August 2008, our Fellow Barry Cunliffe has been appointed as interim Chairman of English Heritage. Professor Sir Barry will take up the post immediately and his role will end when a replacement for Sandy Bruce-Lockhart is appointed. The Department of Culture said that an open recruitment process for the post of Chair of English Heritage will begin later in the year; we expect that a new Chairman can be identified and in post by Easter 2009.
Barry previously served as an English Heritage Commissioner between 1986 and 1992. Commenting on his appointment, he said: Although these are sad circumstances, I am honoured to be asked to lead English Heritage in this interim period and look forward to working with staff and Commissioners.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that Thomas Campbell has been elected its next Director and Chief Executive, succeeding Philippe de Montebello, who will retire at the end of this year.
Thomas Campbell, 46, was born and raised in Cambridge, England, read English at Oxford and studied for his Masters degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art (1987), where he discovered the extent to which mainstream art history had overlooked the major role that the tapestry medium played in European art and propaganda. During the following years, he worked to rectify this by creating the Franses Tapestry Archive in London (198794), which, with more than 120,000 images, is the largest and most up-to-date information resource on European tapestries and figurative textiles in the world. His early research culminated in several ground-breaking research articles and a PhD from the Courtauld Institute (1999) on the art and culture of King Henry VIIIs court.
Dr Campbell joined the Met in 1995 and before his appointment was Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts as well as Supervising Curator of the Museums Antonio Ratti Textile Center. He organised the widely acclaimed exhibitions Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002) and Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (2007).
For the full press release announcing Thomas Campbells appointment, see the Mets website.
Ten different panels and nearly 100 judges, many of them Fellows, have spent the summer sifting and reading up on the people, projects and books nominated by the public and members of the heritage community for the 2008 British Archaeological Awards, the showcase for all that is best in UK archaeology. The resulting shortlist has just been announced to find out who has won and who has been highly commended and why, come to the awards ceremony itself (see ‘Events’ below) at the British Museum on 10 November 2008.
Best Archaeological Project: The Shapwick Project; Scotlands Rural Past; Heathrow Terminal 5 Excavation and Publication.
Best Amateur/Independent Project: Blacklands Project, led by the Bath & Camerton Archaeological Society; The Tweed Project, led by Biggar Archaeology; Fieldwalking at Southlea Farm, Datchet, led by the Datchet Village Society; The Middleton Park Community Archaeological Project, recording historic coal mining remains in Middleton Park, Leeds; A seventh-century royal Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Street House, north-east Yorkshire, led by Stephen Sherlock and members of Teesside Archaeological Society.
Best Information and Communications Technology Project: The LEAP Project Exemplars: a joint venture between Internet Archaeology and the Archaeology Data Service to investigate new ways of providing access to research findings and data; The Community Archaeology Forum website (Council for British Archaeology); The Norfolk Heritage Explorer (Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service).
Best TV/Radio Programme: Heritage: The Archaeology of the Balkans (BBC World Service); Culloden: A New Battle (BBC); Time Team Special: Britains Drowned World (Channel 4).
Best Archaeological Book: Britannia Prima: Britains last Roman province, by Roger White (Tempus / The History Press); Chalkland: an archaeology of Stonehenge and its region, by Andrew Lawson (Hobnob Press); Homo Britannicus, by Chris Stringer (Allen Lane/Penguin); Medieval Wall Paintings, by Roger Rosewell (The Boydell Press); Stonehenge: the biography of a landscape, by Tim Darvill (Tempus / The History Press); The Roman Amphitheatre, by Tony Wilmott (Tempus / The History Press).
Best Scholarly Archaeological Book: An Archaeology of Identity: soldiers and society in later Roman Britain, by Andrew Gardner (Left Coast Press); The Cambridge Companion to Historical Archaeology, edited by Dan Hicks and Mary Beaudry (Cambridge University Press); Creating Prehistory: druids, ley hunters and archaeologists in pre-war Britain, by Adam Stout (Wiley Blackwell); A Fearsome Heritage: a diverse legacy of the Cold War, by John Schofield and Wayne Cocroft (Left Coast Press); Harnessing the Tides: the early medieval tide mills at Nendrum Monastery, Strangford Lough, by Thomas McErlean and Norman Crothers (The Stationery Office); The London Guildhall: an archaeological history of a neighbourhood from early medieval to modern times, by David Bowsher, Tony Dyson, Nick Holder and Isca Howell (Museum of London Archaeology Service); Prehistoric Coastal Communities: the Mesolithic in western Britain, by Martin Bell (Council for British Archaeology).
Best Archaeological Discovery: a Roman altar from Manchester (Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd); Hand axes from the North Sea (Wessex Archaeology); A Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age midden site in Brailes, Warwickshire (Portable Antiquities Scheme).
Best Archaeological Innovation: Methodological developments in the luminescence dating of brick from English late medieval and post-medieval buildings (Durham Universitys Department of Archaeology); The LEAP Project Exemplars (see Best Information and Communications Technology Project above); Freeviewer: software that enables the interrogation of massive primary data sets from large excavations and their export into other programmes (Framework Archaeology); Woodhenge: further thoughts on Woodhenge as consisting of families of three (Tom Flowers).
Young Archaeologist of the Year (YAYA): no shortlist.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Roy Friendship-Taylor; Clive Orton; Vivien Swan.
Minutes after the last Salon went out with its report of a high fence dividing the Stonehenge landscape into an area for hoi polloi and another for the secretive rituals of a priestly caste, our Fellow Josh Pollard, to whom the press had attributed this interpretation, responded by saying that the whole story was a media fiction: I certainly do not envisage late Neolithic society being divided between a lower class and rulers and the priestly class, he said, adding that the latest evidence from this years excavations suggests that the palisade is Middle or Late Bronze Age in date, and was replaced by a series of linear ditches, all of which formed part of a system of later prehistoric boundaries dividing Stonehenge and the Normanton Down area from surrounding field systems and settlements interesting in themselves, but not the dramatic Neolithic screen that we might have imagined, Josh concludes.
Hot on the heels of Joshs correction came Chris Youngs objection to the over-sensational headline used in Salon to report on UNESCOs concerns about UK World Heritage Sites. Salon said: UNESCO threatens to put Stonehenge on its endangered list. Not so, says Chris, as to do so involves a specific quasi-legal process; UNESCO has never threatened to put any UK site on the World Heritage in Danger List. What it has done is to express regret that further delays have taken place in the long overdue improvements to visitor access to the Stonehenge part of the property, to its presentation to visitors, and to the setting of the monuments. It has urged the UK Government to address these issues as a priority and has requested that the UK Government submit a progress report on the closure of the road, visitor management and access by 1 February 2009, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.
3 October 2008: visit Bargraves Cabinet of Curiosities in Canterbury Cathedral A group of Fellows will be visiting Canterbury Cathedral on 3 October to view and discuss the contents of the Cabinet of Curiosities collected by cleric, traveller and collector John Bargrave (161080), which has survived almost intact and is now the subject of a programme of cataloguing, study and conservation. Places are available if you are interested in joining the group, which will view the Bargrave collection in the morning and, after lunch, see some of the cathedrals other artefacts, such as the Hubert Walter vestments, and take a tour of the restoration work that is in progress around the cathedral. Contact Amy Jones, Documentation Officer, Bargrave Collection, Canterbury Cathedral Archives, to book a place.
9 October 2008: The Antiquarian Endeavour, a talk by David Starkey, 7.30pm, Salisbury Guildhall The Societys Making History exhibition opens at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum on 4 October 2008 (
10 October 2008: IFA Conference 2009, call for papers If you would like to propose a paper for any of the sessions at next years IFA Conference, to be held from 7 to 9 April 2009, at the Riviera Centre, Torquay, please send abstracts of up to 500 words to Alex Llewellyn (
17 to 19 October 2008: CBA Weekend Event, in London The annual CBA Weekend Event will this year celebrate the richness and diversity of Londons archaeology. The weekend starts with a tour of the British Museums Hadrian: Empire and Conflict exhibition; the Beatrice de Cardi lecture will then be given by the curator of the exhibition, Thorsten Opper. Saturday mornings lectures at the British Museum on the prehistoric, Roman, medieval and industrial archaeology of London will be followed by visits to the Museum of London for an exclusive viewing, the Guildhall Roman amphitheatre and the Billingsgate Roman house and baths. The keynote speech at dinner will be given by Harvey Sheldon. Sundays lectures will take place at the Museum in Docklands, followed by a lecture on the World Heritage Site of Greenwich at the Old Royal Naval College and a visit to key parts of the site. Places can be booked via the CBAs website, or by telephoning the CBA on: 01904 671417.
25 and 26 October 2008: Insignia of Dignity: gold at Stonehenge, a special two-day exhibition at Wiltshire Heritage Museum, 41 Long Street, Devizes A special exhibition of the rarely displayed finds from Bush Barrow on Normanton Down will be on show at Wiltshire Heritage Museum over the weekend of 25 and 26 October 2008. Over the last year or so, led by researchers from Birmingham University and funded by the Leverhulme Trust, finds from the excavation have been intensively studied and their report will be the subject of a lecture about Bush Barrow by Stuart Needham, FSA, Andrew Lawson, FSA, and Ann Woodward, FSA that will take place at Devizes Town Hall on Sunday 26 October. The finds themselves, including two diamond-shaped plaques and a belt hook of sheet gold, a bronze axe head and two daggers, will be displayed at the museum for the first time in over twenty-five years (normally, replicas are on display), accompanied by manuscripts and drawings and a short multi-media presentation that tells the vivid story of this discovery made two-hundred years ago. Tickets for the exhibition (available on an hourly basis) cost £5 for adults (children free). The Museum will be open 10am to 5pm on Saturday 25 October and 11am to 4pm on Sunday 26 October. Tickets for the lecture cost £10 and include a visit to the exhibition. Tickets can be booked in advance from the museum museum shop or tel: 01380 727369.
6 to 8 November 2008: The Society of Museum Archaeologists 2008 annual conference, at the Leeds Museums Resource Centre This years theme is Collections: used, abused or destroyed? Collections management in museums. For further information and a booking form, see the Society of Museum Archaeologistss website.
10 November 2008: British Archaeological Awards, 2pm at the British Museum Join us in celebrating the very best of UK archaeology at the 2008 British Archaeological Awards ceremony, hosted by Chairman David Breeze and Hon Secretary Alison Taylor, with special guest Carenza Lewis handing out the prizes (see above for the awards shortlist). Everyone is welcome to the ceremony and to the post-ceremony reception, which begins at 5pm; if you would like an official invitation, contact the awards administrator, Sarah Howell.
11 November 2008: meeting of the York Antiquaries, 5.30pm at English Heritage, 37 Tanner Row, York The next gathering of Fellows who live in the York area will consist of a series of short presentations by English Heritage staff on recent work and developments in such areas as aerial survey, buildings investigation and the analysis of towns, laser recording, reconstruction drawings, the problems of the care of human remains and the choices to be made in bringing ruinous buildings back to life. Light refreshments will be available. The meeting is open to Fellows and their guests (but if you wish to bring more than one guest, please check with Philip Lankester beforehand.
28 November 2008, Historical Metallurgy Society day meeting on Research in Progress 2008, National Museum Cardiff, 10am to 5pm Contributions in the form of ten- to fifteen-minute presentations are invited by the Historical Metallurgy Societys Research in Progress meeting from anyone currently undertaking research in any area of historical metallurgy/archaeometallurgy, including researchers, such as historians and field archaeologists, whose work may impinge on these disciplines but who are not themselves necessarily archaeometallurgical specialists. Titles and abstracts should reach the organiser, Tim Young, by 15 October. Registration for attendance is required by 7 November (www.hist-met.org).
5 to 7 December 2008: Tudorism: historical imagination and the appropriation of the sixteenth century This three-day symposium at the University of Bristol will bring together scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore the ways in which the Tudor period, its monarchs, its artistic expressions and its cultural heroes (for example, Holbein, Shakespeare, Tallis and Byrd) have been appropriated by later generations. Its focus is thus Tudorism, which may be defined as the modern reception of the history, literature, art, architecture, design and music of the Tudor age. The modern cultural imagination has often derived a substantial, sometimes even predominant, portion of its ideas and images of the past from the sixteenth century, inspiring architects (think mock-Tudor), artists, designers, musicians, writers and even film-makers (Henry VIII and his wives on TV). The symposium will be the first forum for the study of this remarkable phenomenon, its express purpose being to set the agenda for future research. The timing of the event anticipates the quincentenary of Henry VIIIs accession to the throne in 1509. David Starkey will deliver a public lecture on 6 December on The Enduring Popularity of the Tudors. For more information and registration details, visit: the symposium website.
31 October to 2 November 2008, The Roscrea Autumn Conference at Mount St Joseph Cistercian Abbey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary Among those addressing the theme of Wandering Medieval Irish Scholars at the forty-third consecutive Roscrea conference will be our Fellows Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín and George Cunningham and delegates will be experiencing for themselves the hospitality afforded to travelling scholars on field trips to Kyle, near Ballaghmore and Ballaghmore Castle. Further details from the conference organiser and director, George Cunningham, FSA.
Tempus Books, now reincarnated as The History Press, is one of the most prolific publishers of archaeology and local history books in the UK (two of which have been shortlisted as Best Archaeological Book in the British Archaeological Awards see story above), so it is with some concern that Fellows (many of them authors whose books have been published by Tempus) have read a series of reports in the publishing trade press over the last few months about bankruptcy and restructuring, the non-payment of royalties to authors, the lack of royalty statements and the lack of communication with authors and agents.
It is only a short time ago that the Chalford-based publisher Alan Sutton, founder of the eponymous Sutton Publishing and of Tempus, acquired stakes in a number of publishers of history, travel and archaeology books, including Phillimore, Jarrold and Pitkin. These were grouped to form the NPI Media Group, the UKs biggest distributor of history titles; a new shop was opened in Nailsworth and new offices and print works (Oaklands Book Services) were opened in Minchinhampton.
It seems that the organisation was financially overstretched; NPI Media went into administration at the start of the year, leaving many creditors unpaid; Tempus was reborn as The History Press, Oaklands Book Services reincarnated as the printing firm Asterim, and the shop was closed. Last month the Bookseller reported that the print works, Asterim, had also now gone into liquidation.
Throughout it all, Alan Sutton remains sanguine and continues to set up new ventures, the latest being Amberley Publishing, with Fellow Peter Kemmis Betty, who retired from Tempus two years ago, back as consultant editor for archaeology and history.
The Bookseller quotes Tony Morris, Chief Executive of the sister company, The History Press (THP), as saying that we are turning the business round with remarkable speed. THP is committed to paying back NPIs debts and outstanding royalties, he said, adding,we have been as transparent as we can be.
Agents and authors disagree: the Bookseller quotes agent Andrew Lownie as saying: The problem is we still dont know who is owed what, and author Charlotte Zeepvat says: An unspecified amount unspecified because I havent seen any royalty statements since November 2006 is still owing on my books, but I dont expect to see any of it.
THP says it intends to build ambitiously on its history series, has restructured its senior management and marketing teams and is looking to recruit new editorial teams.
The last decade or so has seen an explosion of interest in the history of thinking about the material past, and in a field where one or two Fellows (Glyn Daniel, Stuart Piggott, Bruce Trigger) once had a virtual monopoly, there are now literally hundreds of researchers all over the world studying aspects of the history of archaeology and of cognate (or offspring) disciplines and publishing the results in journals and monograph series dedicated to the topic. In their new book, Histories of Archaeology: a reader in the history of archaeology (Oxford University Press), two Fellows who are among todays leaders in this field, Tim Murray and Chris Evans, characterise the historiography of archaeology as a discipline that has finally arrived, and a legitimate and exciting field of rich and diverse contemporary research. Their book draws together nineteen papers that have been selected to represent some of the disciplines main narrative strands: biographies of people; of institutions; studies of archaeologys development as a distinct discipline; and studies of the cultural and social context of archaeological thinking.
This is a richly rewarding book, not least because it helps to explain what it is that people find intellectually stimulating in archaeology: it is a discipline (or family of disciplines) that has been shaken to its core over and again in a complex succession of ideas and observations about human behaviour as profound as any thinking in the fields of philosophy, sociology, psychiatry, theology, politics or history.
In this, as in all things, there tend to be two schools of thought: the respecters of antiquarian tradition and the iconoclasts. As Murray and Evans point out in the introduction, it is a common trope in archaeology to begin a book or a lecture by claiming that other archaeologists have for too long done things incorrectly and that you are now about to set the record straight. It is this polemical drive to rethink, reinterpret, extract new meaning from intractable material that characterises some of the best archaeological writing, represented here by David Clarkes angry and opinionated introduction to his Analytical Archaeology (1968).
But for antiquaries, it is reassuring to know that the iconoclasts cannot claim to have created the discipline de novo. The volume concludes with Alain Schnapps Between antiquarians [sic] and archaeologists: continuities and ruptures (first published in Antiquity in 2002) in which he traces the ideas, values, instincts and practices that define archaeology back not to the eighteenth, nor even the sixteenth centuries, but to at least the second millennium BC in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China and possibly even to pre-literate society.
In doing this, he argues that the ideas and practices of our predecessors are not something we should jettison as irrelevant or valueless, like the bits of a rocket that are left behind as the fuel they contain is burned up and the payload or space capsule reaches its destination. Instead, Schnapp want us to think of a kaleidoscope: the iconoclasts rattle the tube and transform the existing body of knowledge into new and rewarding patterns, usually through the incorporation of new evidence or new techniques geological time and Darwinist empiricism, carbon dating and DNA analysis, for example. Thats a thought the iconoclasts really need to embrace, because all too soon they too become part of the pattern of history, looked down upon by the next generation of young Turks.
It might be said that our Fellow Christopher Stell epitomises the Protestant work ethic. Not content with devoting a considerable part of his professional life and his retirement years to creating the Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-houses for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, published in four volumes (19862002), he has now turned his attention to creating an inventory of Nonconformist Communion Plate and other Vessels (The Chapels Society, 2008), opening our eyes to the fact that it is not only the established church that has a wonderful legacy of silver and pewter communion ware: the various English nonconformist denominations also have vessels of great historical importance.
The 96-page inventory is arranged alphabetically by county, town and the congregation with which it was associated (344 entries), with a comprehensive index, 32 plate pages featuring 121 black-and-white photographs and an introductory essay explaining the form of vessels developed by the different nonconformist traditions to reflect their founders views on the administration of the sacraments. As you might expect, vessel forms tend to be more functional and less decorative than in the Anglican or Catholic churches, but are the more interesting for that, especially as they often reflect contemporary domestic forms.
Copies cost £15, plus £2 postage and packing (cheques made out to: The Chapels Society), and may be ordered from Chris Skidmore, 31 Melrose Avenue, Reading RG6 7BN.
Suffolk Church Chests, by David Sherlock, has just been published as a monograph by the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, the county archaeological society for Suffolk. The book contains the results of work carried out over the last two years to give a more precise date to some of medieval Suffolks oldest chests using dendrochronology.
The topography of London as it was around 1520 is captured in a newly published Street Map of the City of London (Old House Books), with an introduction by our Fellow Caroline Barron, Professor of the History of London at Royal Holloway College, in which everything is familiar and yet everything is strange: the degree to which the pre-Fire street plan has survived is remarkable, but walk down any City street with this map in your hand and you will discover yourself crossing long-buried ditches and rivers, passing prisons, markets, halls, palaces, numerous friaries and priories, yet to be dissolved, not to mention an astonishing number of gardens and parks.
Edward Impey asks does a guidebook count? as a book by a Fellow, and of course it does when it is one of English Heritages new generation guidebooks, which incorporate much new primary research in telling the story of a monument we thought familiar in this case, Castle Acre Priory and Castle, published in August 2008. Guidebooks are not normally cluttered with the academic supporting evidence of sources, footnotes and bibliographies, but English Heritage now asks all authors to provide a footnoted typescript separately, and English Heritage will lodge copies of these with the Societys Library so that anyone using the guides can find the evidence for facts presented in the narrative.
East Anglian Archaeology monograph 124 Wheare most Inclosures be. East Anglian Fields: history, morphology and management is the work of our Fellow Edward Martin and Max Satchell and it arises from the Historic Field Systems of East Anglia Project carried out with support from English Heritages Monuments Protection Programme. The project formulated a way of analysing the historic landscape in terms of eight basic land types and eighteen sub-types.
The authors found something of a northsouth divide running diagonally across the claylands of central Suffolk, which they dubbed the Gipping divide because it approximates to the line of the River Gipping. To the north the mainly flat land has a historic tendency towards dairy farming linked with common fields, while the south has gently undulating arable farming and a high incidence of block demesnes, or large fields that were the exclusive property of manorial lords. The authors argue that this divergent development mirrors a significant cultural boundary, seen in the construction methods and plan forms of vernacular buildings, in the terminology used to describe greens and woods and in inheritance customs.
They suggest a link between areas of Viking settlement/influence and the appearance of common fields but not in a simple sense of an imported idea, as current evidence suggests that the English common fields are earlier than those of Scandinavia. However, the adoption of common fields may have arisen out of the social upheaval caused by the Viking interventions or in the reorganisation following the English re-conquest. If so, this could suggest an origin for common fields in the late ninth or early tenth centuries. Conversely, areas that showed minimal Viking influence seem to have developed block demesnes, possibly as a continuation of farming practices that could have their roots in the Roman period or even earlier.
These findings confirm that East Anglia has an important legacy of ancient enclosed fields, corroborating the sixteenth-century observation by Sir Thomas Smith that it was one of the areas wheare most inclosures be. The authors conclude the book by arguing that field boundaries are an important conservation priority: removing boundaries or changing their appearance not only eradicates local variations in the character of the East Anglian landscape; it also destroys evidence of historic land use dating to the pre-Roman period.
Kay Prag says that her most recent published work Excavations by K M Kenyon in Jerusalem 19611967. Volume V: discoveries in Hellenistic to Ottoman Jerusalem (Oxbow Books) was intended to come out in 2006 to mark the centenary of the birth of Dame Kathleen Kenyon, a very notable former Fellow of our Society, but that it took longer than anticipated to steer the volume through the publication process. Better late than never, it contains contributions from Helen Brown, Kevin Butcher, Andreas Dimoulinis, John Hayes, Carolyn Koehler, Philippa Matheson, Michael Metcalf, Moshalleh al-Moreikhi, Richard Reece, David S Reese, St John Simpson and Deborah Snow.
Kay also says that Kenyons work in Jerusalem has often been regarded as over-shadowed by later, larger scale excavation, but it was a major British project which laid the scientific foundations of the modern archaeology of the city. The meticulous recording of material from all periods still contributes to our knowledge of one of the great world heritage sites.
Finally not a book, nor by a Fellow, but worth a mention is the possibility of re-issuing Linda Halls Rural Houses of North Avon and South Glos 14001720 in a revised and updated version (including many houses surveyed since the book was first published, plus more on fixtures and fittings, farm buildings, etc), if sufficient people are interested. Send Linda an email if you are prepared to subscribe in advance at a reduced rate (full price likely to be in the £20 area).
IFA Workplace Learning Bursary in Historic Environment Record Management and Outreach. Salary: £15,153, closing date 30 September 2008
Hosted by Durham County Council Adult &Community Services Libraries, Learning and Culture, Archaeology Section, this Trainee Assistant Historic Environment Officer post of one years duration provides an opportunity to gain workplace training in Historic Environment Record maintenance and enhancement, the management of archaeology in the development control process, and in the delivery of educational outreach and events projects. The post-holder will be supervised and mentored by Assistant Archaeology Officers and the County Archaeologist will act as line manager.