Christmas closure

The Society’s apartments and library will be closed on Wednesday 24 December 2008 and will re-open on Monday 5 January 2009.

Burlington House in Country Life magazine

Even if Country Life is not your regular reading, look out for the issue that goes on sale on 3 December 2008 for a splendidly photographed essay on the Society’s refurbished Burlington House apartments.

Forthcoming meetings

27 November: Ballot with exhibits. Voting in the online ballot continues until 10am on 27 November on the Fellows’ side of the website; apply to Christopher Catling if you would like a password or a password reminder.

Unfortunately Stephen Minnitt, FSA, is now unable to exhibit the Shepton Mallet amulet at this ballot meeting, but he will do so at a future ballot. The main speaker at this meeting will thus be Frank Meddens, FSA, who will exhibit artefacts from the excavations at Limehouse carried out by Pre-Construct Archaeology that uncovered the homes of privateers, or licensed pirates.

Those same artefacts are currently on display in an exhibition, called ‘Pirates of the East End’, at Sampson and Horne Antiques, 120 Mount Street, London W1. Previously Salon advertised the exhibition as running until 19 December 2008, but the gallery is relocating at the end of 2009 and has decided to close the exhibition on 28 November – so if you are in the vicinity of Mount Street this week on Monday to Friday, between 10am and 5.30pm, it is well worth devoting 15 minutes or so to this small exhibition.

4 December: ‘Cherchez la femme: the Abbé Breuil and Mary Boyle (and the White Lady of the Brandberg)’, by Alan Saville, FSA

11 December: ‘After Kelmscott: the arts and crafts movement in the Cotswolds’, by Alan Crawford

18 December: Miscellany of papers and mulled wine reception. Vice President Tim Darvill and Fellows Christopher Catling and Neil Holbrook will talk about ‘Fifty Years of Cirencester Archaeology’, looking back on fifty years of achievement since the formation of the Cirencester Excavation Committee at the Society of Antiquaries on 16 December 1958. Our Fellow Yvette Staelens will then talk about her AHRC-funded ‘Singing Landscape’ project, in which she has been tracking down the singers and their descendants from whom Cecil Sharp (1859–1924) collected traditional songs, tunes and dances in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Hampshire and collecting biographical and photographic material to set the music in context.

Fellows and their guests are welcome to attend the meeting for free, but a charge of £15 per person is made for the reception, which includes a donation to the Society’s Development Fund. To reserve tickets, please contact the Society’s Administrative Assistant, Jola Zdunek; tel: 0207 479 7080.

New members of staff

Three new members of staff have been appointed to join the team at Burlington House. Already in post is Julia Dudkiewicz, who has taken over from Julia Steele as Collections Manager (part time) for the next sixteen months. Julia comes to the Society from the Watts Gallery, Guildford, where she has been Assistant Curator since 2003.

Joining us on 3 December 2008 is Jane Beaufoy, who is the Society’s new Communications Officer (part time). Some Fellows already know Jane from her work as Lord Redesdale’s former parliamentary research officer and as one of the team that helped to set up the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group and to produce its first report.

Finally we will welcome Matthew Whitehead to the team as the Society’s new Development Officer in the New Year. Matthew currently works in the Natural History Museum’s development office where he was recently involved in fundraising for the new Darwin Centre.

Commenting on the appointments, our General Secretary, David Gaimster, said: ‘All three are highly experienced professionals in their field, and will add greatly to the Society’s professional team’.

Where are they now?

Our recent mailing to Fellows resulted in two packages being returned as ‘not known at this address’, so if any Fellow knows the current whereabouts of Andrew Wathey, previously of the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, or of Malcolm Colledge, formerly of Windermere Road, London , the Society’s Accounts Assistant, Giselle Pullen would be grateful for information.

Meeting report: the Fellowship in the American continent

The 2008 Annual Meeting of the North American Fellowship took place at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 14 November 2008 with Vice President Clive Gamble in the chair and General Secretary David Gaimster in attendance. The event was organised by William Fash on behalf of William Stoneman, Secretary for the Americas. Ricardo Elia, Francisco Estrada-Belli and Robin Fleming were admitted as Fellows. Fellow Norman Hammond (Secretary for the Americas 1996–2007) presented Benjamin Franklin on the Art of Eating, a compilation of material by Benjamin Franklin (admitted to the Fellowship in 1773) as a gift for the library. Professor Hammond then spoke on ‘Discovering the Ancient Maya’.

Regional Fellowship Groups

As mentioned in the meeting report, William Stoneman, FSA, is our Secretary for the Americas and Matthew Spriggs, FSA, has agreed to be our Secretary for Australia and New Zealand. Contact details for both can be found on the Fellows’ side of our website, and the Society hopes to be able to announce the appointment of a Secretary for Continental Europe in the near future.

Meeting report: Archaeological investigation in historic villages

At the meeting on 13 November 2008, our Fellow Carenza Lewis gave a paper on her work as head of the Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA), devised and run by Carenza herself, with funding from the University of Cambridge and from HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England). HEFA has the dual aim of researching the history and morphology of medieval settlements and of giving GCSE students a taste of practical research and as a way of raising their educational aspirations.

Some 450 students have now taken part in HEFA projects, spending two days excavating test pits within village gardens and open spaces as guests of the local residents. Participants record the stratigraphy and the finds, and finds experts attend the excavations to identify the material they excavate. Participants spend a third day in Cambridge in post-excavation analysis, and in visiting a Cambridge college.

On the educational side, HEFA is taking children from families with no tradition of university education, or from groups that are under-represented in higher education, and is helping them develop the skills, confidence and enthusiasm to choose a university education. HEFA is now in its third year, and the first year’s participants are currently in the process of making university choices. Carenza said that tracking participants as they progress from GCSE to A level and beyond was made difficult by the fact that many students move to a different school or college post GCSE, but there were promising indications that a significant number of HEFA participants had gone on to do A level and had decided to apply to university and that within that group there was a marked enthusiasm for applying to Cambridge and for reading archaeology. Carenza’s project thus provides valuable data to back the claim that we archaeologists often make that archaeology has the power to transform people’s lives and make a big difference to their educational aspirations.

On the research front, Carenza said that some 445 test pits (mainly excavated in East Anglia) had yielded a number of important results. In almost every case, the upper 300mm was disturbed and contained a mix of mainly modern to 18th-century material; but the lower 200mm was undisturbed and commonly contains pre-1400 pottery. Where early pottery is found, so too is animal bone, which leads to the conclusion that animal bone alone might well be an indicator of medieval occupation in aceramic regions. Even unstratified material is a good indicator of occupation: where larger-scale excavation has been undertaken, features are usually found not far from ceramic finds; vice versa, the lack of finds correlates to the lack of features. All of this has implications for the evaluation of sites threatened by development.

The finds from test pits have also proved to be a valuable tool for mapping the chronological and spatial development of the settlements that have been studied, for locating and dating the earliest areas of settlement and activity and for phasing the development of settlements as they contract, expand or shift. The story that emerges is that villages are often more dynamic in their development than has previously been demonstrated, that desertion is not a phenomenon unique to deserted medieval villages, but is a phase that many settlements experienced, that villages were less intensively occupied than has previously been assumed and that the division of England into distinct regions characterised by dispersed and nucleated settlements is not one that is easy to sustain from the archaeological record, as many villages show signs of oscillating between the two forms.

Further information on the project can be found on the Cambridge University website, and Carenza is currently seeking to recruit an administrator for the scheme (see ‘Vacancies’ below).

British Archaeological Awards

Earlier in the week, on 10 November 2008, Carenza had been the guest of honour at the British Archaeological Awards ceremony, generously hosted by the British Museum. As Fellows David Breeze (Chairman of the Awards) and Alison Taylor (Hon Secretary) read the citations, Carenza handed out trophies and certificates to the people, projects and publications judged by ten different panels of judges to be worthy of prizes and commendations. Fellows were well represented in nine of the ten categories – the tenth being the prestigious Young Archaeologist of the Year Award – but what we lacked in youthfulness we made up for by having three Fellows in the shortlist for the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award: Vivien Swan and Roy Friendship-Taylor, and the overall winner, Clive Orton.

The Best Archaeological Book was judged to be Homo Britannicus by Chris Stringer, and Fellow Tony Wilmott’s The Roman Amphitheatre and Fellow Andrew Lawson’s Chalkland were both highly commended. Sponsored by our own Society, the Best Scholarly Archaeological Book award, was given to Thomas McErlean and Norman Crothers for Harnessing the Tides, their report on the excavation of the world’s oldest tide mill, dating from AD 619, found on the shores of Strangford Lough alongside the early medieval monastery at Nendrum. The judges said that the book set new standards for reporting archaeological fieldwork in an accessible and compelling manner. Highly Commended were The London Guildhall by David Bowsher, Tony Dyson, FSA, Nick Holder and Isca Howell and A Fearsome Heritage: diverse legacies of the Cold War by John Schofield, FSA, and Wayne Cocroft.

Full details of all the winners can be found on the CBA website.

Royal Worcester Spode

One of the topics of conversation at the reception that followed the British Archaeological Awards ceremony was the future of Royal Worcester Spode, which went into administration on 6 November 2008. Founded in 1751 by John Wall, a physician, with the backing of thirteen Worcester businessmen, Royal Worcester Spode was awarded a royal warrant in 1789 for its elegant teaware, which took off amid a surge in tea consumption in the eighteenth century.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Administrator, said it was ‘exploring numerous expressions of interest’ and that it was working with Royal Worcester Spode staff, key customers and suppliers while a buyer was sought. Even so, there is much concern amongst archaeologists about the future of the company’s sites at Stoke-on-Trent site and at Lymdale, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, which are both eighteenth-century in origin and form a key part of Britain’s ceramic heritage, especially as the products of these factories were widely exported to the former British colonies.

‘If we can save a Titian, surely we should be able to save the living heritage of Spode’, was the consensus amongst those expressing concern for the company’s future. Salon will report further if there are any future developments.

£10m from National Heritage Memorial Fund to help save Titian’s Diana and Actaeon

On which topic, the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) announced on 19 November 2008 its decision to award £10 million to the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery to help in their campaign to acquire Titian’s masterpiece, Diana and Actaeon. Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: ‘It was an extraordinary and challenging decision for us financially, but it’s as important as ever to protect our enduring cultural heritage – those things of outstanding quality that enrich our national life’.

The two galleries have until the end of this year to raise the rest of the £50m to acquire Diana and Actaeon. The galleries have also been given assurances that buying this painting will secure the loan of the rest of the Bridgewater Collection for the next twenty-one years. The galleries will also be offered an option (exercisable up to 2012) to buy a second painting, Diana and Callisto, for a similar amount. Both paintings will then go on a rotating display between London and Edinburgh, spending five years at a time in each location.

In coming to its decision, the NHMF board made it clear that, as well as recognising the outstanding quality and importance of Diana and Actaeon, it was particularly keen to help the two galleries secure the continued loan of the rest of the Bridgewater Collection, which has been on continuous public view in the National Gallery of Scotland since 1945. Described as ‘one of the greatest loans of old master pictures from a private collection to a public museum anywhere in the world’, the NHMF said: ‘The loan immeasurably enriches the appeal and status of the National Galleries of Scotland as a centre of cultural excellence. The collection consists of twenty-seven paintings and one drawing by artists such as Raphael, Titian, Poussin and Rembrandt and it attracts visitors from all over the world.’

The NHMF also said that the sum of £10 million would consist of staggered payments that would enable the Fund to spread the costs and remain open to help save other heritage treasures rather than exhausting this year’s budget.

Our Fellow Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery in London, said: ‘We are enormously grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for this hugely generous offer. It represents a crucial endorsement of the value of acquiring the Titian and will inspire others to support the campaign. It brings us significantly closer to our target.’

Diana and Actaeon is currently on display at the National Gallery in London and its visit to London has been extended until Sunday 14 December 2008.

HLF grant for Crossness Pumping Station marks 150th anniversary of ‘The Great Stink’

One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, the UK Parliament was on the verge of abandoning the newly built Palace of Westminster on account of the ‘Great Stink’ emanating from the River Thames, which Prime Minister Disraeli called ‘a Stygian pool reeking with ineffable and unbearable horror’. The experience prompted the country’s leaders to approve Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s ambitious public health scheme which involved the construction of 85 miles of brick-built sewer all ultimately leading to Bexley, and the Crossness Pumping Station, where four of the world’s largest rotative beam engines pumped the treated sewage into a 27 million gallon reservoir, eventually to be released into the Thames.

Now the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to give £1.5 million to the restoration of the Crossness Pumping Station, opened by the Prince of Wales in April 1865, now a Grade-I-listed building described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘a masterpiece of engineering; a Victorian cathedral of ironwork’. Abandoned in the 1950s, when the building and engines were left to suffer considerable vandalism and decay, the pumping station is now managed by the Crossness Engines Trust, whose President, Peter Bazalgette, is Sir Joseph’s great-great-grandson.

The total cost of the restoration project is £2.7 million. Due to start in early 2009, the project will include the creation of a new exhibition exploring the social history of public health, pollution and the environment. English Heritage is also giving £150,000 towards the repair of the buildings and their pumping engines as a major step towards removing the buildings from the Heritage at Risk Register.

Portable Antiquities Schemes’ future assured

The launch on 19 November 2008 at the British Museum of the annual report (for 2005/06) of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) was also used by Culture Minister, Barbara Follet, to say that an independent report into the workings and effectiveness of the PAS had come out strongly in favour of the scheme. The report – commissioned by the MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission) and written by our Fellow Kate Clark – concludes that ‘PAS is generally well managed with a clear sense of direction, efficient administration and excellent reporting on outputs … PAS appears to be well-liked, delivering genuine partnership and good value for money.’

Commenting on the report, our Fellow Headley Swain, MLA’s Head of Programmes, said ‘I’m pleased to say that the it endorses everything that’s already been said about how important the PAS is … he scheme is fit for purpose and should continue as it currently is. Indeed we shall seek for it to go from strength to strength.’

Our Fellow Roger Bland, Head of the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, said the outcome was very positive: ‘I would like to offer my thanks to the Society of Antiquaries and the readers of Salon who gave their support when the Scheme was in difficulties a year ago’, he said, adding that ‘our principal funding body, the MLA, and the Government have both confirmed their acceptance of the recommendations contained within the Report, which is very positive and recognises that the Scheme needs more funding’.

Specifically the Report recommends an increase in funding next year of 9.3 per cent, made up of increased contributions from MLA (which is putting in an extra £80K, or 6 per cent), the British Museum (which is putting in over £70K, up from £7.5K in 2006-07) and the thirty-two local partners where the posts are based (they are being asked to double their contributions to their posts from 5 per cent to 10 per cent). Roger said that, with the extra funds ‘we will be able to reverse the cuts that we had to make this year: we will establish two new part-time Finds Liaison Officer posts in the North East and Berkshire and we will be able to strengthen the National Finds Adviser team’.

Kate Clark’s report makes no specific recommendations about the funding and management of the PAS beyond the current Spending Review period (to 31 March 2011); that will be a matter for discussions between the BM, MLA and the DCMS. Even so, Roger said that ‘we now have a secure basis on which we can move forward over the next two-and-a-half years, in partnership with all our key stakeholders – finders, archaeologists and museums. One priority to is to seek as much external funding to enable us to extend our activities and, now that the core funding has been secured, we will be able to do that. Another piece of good news for PAS is that the Headley Trust has decided to give us funding for twelve six-month internships over three years, which is very encouraging, as it will provide us with extra capacity to deal with backlogs of finds’.

Kate Clark’s report is published on the PAS website, as is the Treasure Report 2005–06.

Lord Howarth stands up for heritage in Parliament

Our Fellow Alan Howarth, The Rt Hon The Lord Howarth of Newport, made an unsuccessful attempt to intervene in the Planning Bill in the Lords Report stage debate on 10 November 2008 by moving an amendment to the proposed National Policy Statements that would impose a duty of special regard for protected heritage assets. National Policy Statements are proposed by the Planning Bill as a means by which normal planning considerations can be swept aside in the case of national infrastructure projects: the Government has cited the lengthy process associated with the construction of Heathrow Terminal 5 as an example of the kind of project that demands a streamlined planning solution.

Lord Howarth argued that the Bill as it failed to provide sufficiently robust protection for the heritage: ‘there can be enormous pressure’, he said ‘to sweep aside anything as inconvenient as heritage when it stands in the path of proposed development, backed by powerful economic interests and other government departments that are not squeamish about heritage’.

Baroness Andrews, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, responded by saying that ‘the Bill does not deliberately or inadvertently reduce the protection available to our precious heritage’ and that the single consent regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects would not entail a reduction in heritage protection. The proposed amendment was then withdrawn.

To read the debate in full, see Hansard.

British Library Reader pleads guilty to theft

The British Library issued a statement on 21 November concerning the theft by an Iranian academic of pages from over 150 rare books in the Library’s collection, mainly sixteenth- to eighteenth-century books on West European western colonisation and exploration of Mesopotamia, Persia and the Mogul empire. Farhad Hakimzadeh – described as a Harvard-educated businessman, publisher and intellectual, who fled his country after the fall of the Shah and holds a US passport – has pleaded guilty to fourteen specimen charges of stealing maps, pages and illustrations from ten books at the British Library and four from the Bodleian Library in Oxford at various ties over the last ten years.

Our Fellow Dr Kristian Jensen, Head of British Collections at the British Library said: ‘When they make their collections available, libraries require that a bond of trust be honoured between the reader and the institution. In return for gaining access to research material the reader agrees to treat the books he or she consults with care and respect. Under a cover of serious scholarly purpose, Hakimzadeh betrayed the trust. The violation of the collections by Hakimzadeh transcends mere monetary loss; his victims are the researchers of the future who will not be able to consult this material.’

With help from the Metropolitan Police, library staff have recovered of some of the stolen items, and civil proceedings are now underway to recover further items and to seek financial compensation.

Simon Jenkins’s first comments as National Trust Chairman

In his first major interview as the new Chairman of the National Trust, our Fellow Sir Simon Jenkins, told The Times that he wants the Trust to shake off its ‘elitist’ image and for the houses to be less ‘samey’. He also hopes that his tenure at the trust would be an opportunity to ‘make peace’ with modern architecture.

He is critical of the climate of risk aversion in Britain, which he says restricts what visitors to National Trust properties are allowed to do and see, saying that a fear of trips, slips and hazards is preventing his mission to open up trust properties for new activities.

He is also critical of the Trust’s inclination to conserve houses as museums and wants to see a step change from present practice. ‘I do think we could be living in more property than we do. I hate a dining room where no one eats, a kitchen where no one cooks and a ballroom where no one dances.’ He would like to see a host in every house and, ideally, that person would be someone from the family that built or handed over a property. ‘The great thing at Chatsworth is that the Duke [of Devonshire] lives there and the Duchess wanders around with the visitors. I have joked that I will leave in my will enough money to cover the cost of a labrador and a child’s pushchair to put in the front of every National Trust house to make it look lived in.’

Unesco officials’ visit allays concerns over Edinburgh's World Heritage status

At the end of a four-day visit to Edinburgh, Unesco officials said that were very impressed by the city’s passion and commitment to heritage and conservation. The visit took place against the background of concerns over plans to demolish listed buildings as part of the £300m Caltongate project, and the proposed redevelopment of Leith Docks in ways that could affect the Edinburgh skyline.

Dr Mechthild Rossler of the Unesco World Heritage Centre, and Professor Manfred Wehdorn, of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, studied plans for each of the proposed projects and their potential impact on the World Heritage Site. Dr Rossler said: ‘I think we got a really good insight into the issues connected with the development projects we looked at. We also looked at the overall state of conservation which is absolutely fine. On behalf of Professor Wehdorn and myself, I can assure you that Edinburgh is not in danger of losing World Heritage status.’
He also said: ‘I would very much like to acknowledge the passion and immense efforts local communities and stakeholders put in to provide information to the commission team. I think they care very much about the World Heritage status which has immense impact on the economy.’ Our Fellow, Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage, which invests more than £1m a year on projects throughout the city, said: ‘World Heritage status reflects the intense pride of generations of Edinburgh residents as well as values we share with other World Heritage Sites across the globe – authentic and unique places that have had an impact on the development of all humanity.’

Benidorm: World Heritage Site?

Blackpool’s aspiration to achieve World Heritage Site status as a major centre of popular tourism could be mirrored by a proposal to promote Benidorm as a World Heritage Site because of its ‘special place in architectural history as the first high-rise resort in Europe’. The proposal has come from Professor Philippe Duhamel of the University of Angers who told the Twelfth International Benidorm Tourism Forum that the resort’s ‘unique collection of skyscrapers’ were of particular cultural importance. ‘Tourism is now the world’s most dynamic and important industry, whether viewed in terms of employment, cultural change or environmental impact’, he said, ‘and the beach holiday is a particularly significant component of tourism’s growth and as such, outstanding holiday destinations, like Benidorm, deserve to be taken seriously’.

Cruelly, the Financial Times, commenting on the proposal, said: ‘to say that Benidorm is “a remarkable site for what is understood by mass tourism” is akin to observing that Chernobyl is useful for understanding nuclear energy. That is true enough, but it is not something to celebrate.’

The mystery of Cardinal Newman’s remains

Our Fellow John Hunter, Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham and a world expert in forensic archaeology, has added to the puzzle of the missing remains of Cardinal Newman. The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801–90) is a candidate for canonisation, and an attempt was made to exhume his remains from his supposed grave in Rednal cemetery, in Worcestershire, prior to re-interment in a new tomb to be built at the Oratory in Birmingham, with which Newman was associated for the last forty years of his life.

When, under licence from the UK Ministry of Justice, Newman’s grave was excavated, there was no sign of his remains. The press speculated that the absence of remains was due to the acidic soil conditions. John Hunter has now cast doubt on this theory after testing soil in the vicinity of Rednal cemetery. He told the Birmingham Post newspaper that the soil was ‘was reasonably acidic but not so much that we would expect hard tissue to go’ and that it would, in any case, be unusual for a body buried in 1890 to be so decayed that no human remains were left. Professor Hunter said: ‘Looking at it from a forensic point of view, it is very unusual and very unlikely to find a body that has completely decayed within this amount of time. If we have extreme soil conditions that take away human bones, they would also take away coffin handles, which are still there’.

Professor Hunter’s conclusions add to speculation that the Cardinal’s wish to be buried in the same grave in Rednal as his friend Father Ambrose St John was ignored by officials who were concerned at the possibility that co-interment might be seen as evidence of their homosexuality. Father Ian Ker, Oxford University theologian and author of the definitive biography of Cardinal Newman, said he believed it was now necessary to determine the whereabouts of the bodies. Father Ker also maintains that there is no evidence for homosexuality: ‘Cardinal Newman’s private journals reveal him as a heterosexual who believed he was called to celibacy’, he says.

The return of Ely's baroque angels in memory of the late Dr Thomas Cocke, FSA

In the course of Gilbert Scott’s Victorian restoration at Ely many seventeenth and eighteenth-century fittings were dispersed. This year, however, the carved angels that had surmounted the organ case of c 1690 came to light during the redevelopment of the parish hall of St Matthew’s, Cambridge.

As a memorial to our late Fellow Thomas Cocke, it is planned to return these splendid and almost life-size angels (which are shown in Turner’s famous watercolour of the interior of the cathedral in 1796) to the cathedral, to repair them and to install them in a suitable position. Tom was especially fond of Ely Cathedral, serving on its Fabric Advisory Committee, writing about its history and taking a special interest in the repair, furnishing and arrangement of the building between the Reformation and the Regency.

To acquire the figures for the cathedral requires the sum of £4,000 and a further £3,000 is needed to pay for their repair and installation. A special fund has been established to receive donations for this project. Cheques should be made out to ‘Ely Cathedral Trust (TCMF)’ and addressed to Carol Campbell, Administrator, The Chapter House, The College, Ely CB7 4DL. For further information on this project please contact John Maddison, FSA, 88 St Mary’s Street, Ely CB7 4HH; tel: 01353 669926; email: [email protected].


John Moore, FSA, has informed us of the death on 11 November 2008 of Ian Peirce, FSA, a notable authority on medieval weaponry. We hope to have an obituary in due course.

A tribute to the late Hilary, Lady Weir, OBE, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on 2 November, 2008, and who was known to many Fellows as the former Secretary of the Architectural Heritage Fund, can be found on the website of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. An obituary also appeared in The Scotsman on 11 November 2008.

The late Derek Brewer, scholar of medieval literature, leading expert on Chaucer and a former Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, was the subject of recent obituaries in The Times and the Guardian. The latter said that Professor Derek Brewer, who died aged eighty five, was a scholar of medieval literature whose work on Chaucer enlightened generations of students (Salon’s editor among them). He was also a shrewd academic publisher, founder of the firm of D S Brewer which, in 1978, merged with the Boydell Press, founded by our Fellow Richard Barber, to become Boydell & Brewer, now one of the world’s major publishers of medieval studies. The obituary reminds us of one of Derek’s favourite publishing maxims: ‘This is a book that the world needs – but it doesn’t need many copies.’

Obituary: Ralph Pinder-Wilson, elected a Fellow on 9 January 1958

The following obituary for our late Fellow, Ralph Pinder-Wilson, was abstracted from a longer version that first appeared in The Times on 10 November 2008.

Ralph Pinder-Wilson, Persian scholar, Islamic archaeologist and museum curator, was born on 17 January 1919 and died on 6 October 2008, aged eighty-nine. His family had historical connections with the East India Company, and his father, a naval officer, compiled several pilot’s guides to the West African and South American coasts. He was educated at Westminster School and in 1937 he was elected Westminster Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, where he read history and was granted a war emergency honours degree.

On the outbreak of war he was attached to the Indian Army and posted to India, where he learnt Urdu. He was later posted to Tripolitania (now in Libya) and Egypt, and served in Palestine, Jordan, Italy and Greece, ending the war as a captain. On demobilisation he returned to Oxford to read Oriental languages, Arabic and Persian. On graduating in 1949 he joined the Department of Oriental Antiquities in the British Museum, first as assistant and then as deputy keeper, and remained there till 1976.

Though modest and self-effacing by disposition, Pinder-Wilson was admirably suited for the post, having as sharp an eye for objects as he had for people. One of his outstanding exploits was, with Douglas Barrett, the identification of a long-lost masterpiece of Islamic art, the Vaso Vescovali, a silver-inlaid Persian bronze of the early thirteenth century which had been published by the Vatican librarian, Michelangelo Lanci, in 1845 but had then disappeared. It is now one of the treasures of the British Museum and was published by Pinder-Wilson in the British Museum Quarterly in 1951.

His skill as an epigraphist made him a valued colleague on excavations. He spent a season (1959) on Storm Rice’s excavations at Harran in southeastern Turkey. In 1966 he took part in the first season of the British Institute of Persian Studies’ excavations at Siraf on the Persian Gulf, a port that had flourished in the early centuries of Islam as a commercial centre rivalling medieval Basra and controlling the rich trade between the caliphate in Baghdad, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. He dug for several seasons at Fustat (Old Cairo) and later in his career took a close interest in the British excavations of the late 1970s of the citadel of Kandahar in Afghanistan.

It was not merely his wide expertise that made him so welcome as a colleague: he submitted to the hardships of excavation life without complaint and by his example did much to maintain morale in campaigns that frequently provoked controversy and at times may have appeared to lack direction.

In 1976 Pinder-Wilson was appointed Director of the British Institute of Afghan Studies in Kabul. Afghanistan was already showing signs of instability but movement within the country was still largely unrestricted, and he exploited thoroughly the opportunities his position afforded of travel to its remotest corners. Among the chief achievements of his time as Director were the restoration of the Buddhist stupa at Guldara and surveys of Ghaznavid and Ghurid monuments in Afghanistan, which were particularly dear to his heart.

The situation changed radically with the Russian invasion of 1979 and the establishment of a puppet Government under Babrak Karmal. In these conditions it is doubtful that the Institute could have continued to operate satisfactorily for long, but he remained as one of the few Westerners in Kabul. Matters were brought to a head by its closure early in 1982, on the ground that it was a cover for espionage, and his trial and a ten-year prison sentence on a trumped-up charge of attempting to smuggle Afghans out of the country.

His family and friends campaigned energetically for his release. The effectiveness of any riposte by the British Government — which did not recognise the Karmal regime — was hampered by the lack of information, which had mostly to be gleaned from the Soviet news agency, Tass, and the Kabul press, and by the refusal of consular access to him, while protests through official channels were simply ignored. Freedom came unexpectedly. The MP, George Galloway, who was about to go to Kabul, was asked to raise the case with the authorities. His intervention was successful, and Pinder-Wilson was released on July 15, 1982.

For the first six months of 1968 he had been a visiting Fellow of All Souls, working on a monograph on Islamic glass. After his return to England from Afghanistan he also spent a profitable year (1982–3) as visiting Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and the year after a semester as Regent Professor at UCLA Berkeley. He continued to work on some of the more recondite aspects of the Islamic arts — ivory, jade, rock-crystal and glass — of which he had in the course of his career made a speciality, though, sadly, his important work on monuments and memorials in the Khalili Collection remains incomplete.

Rather than these activities and his written works, his true memorial is his unfailing kindness and generosity to so many friends and colleagues. He converted to Catholicism at the age of eighteen and remained a devout Catholic for the rest of his life.

Obituary: Sir Bernard Feilden, elected a Fellow on 9 January 1969

Obituary’s for our late Fellow Sir Bernard Feilden were published last week in the Telegraph, the Independent and the Guardian. The following appreciation of his life and achievements was abstracted from the account in the Guardian, which was written by our Fellow John Fidler.

Bernard Feilden, who has died aged eighty-nine, was one of the world’s best-known, most highly respected and influential conservation architects. Towering over his profession for nearly half a century, this mid-career latecomer to conservation designed some of the most inventive building repairs of the 20th century, influenced the direction of architectural training, consulted and taught internationally to great effect, and authored key texts in the field.

He inherited his interest in architecture from his grandfather, Brightwen Binyon (1846–1905), an Ipswich architect and former pupil of Alfred Waterhouse. Bernard won an exhibition from Bedford school to the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London and completed his training at the Architectural Association after the Second World War. During hostilities, he served in Iraq, Iran, India and Italy with the Bengal Sappers of the Indian Army.

After qualifying in 1949, Feilden worked for the Norwich architectural practice of Edward Boardman and Son. There he designed the Trinity United Reformed church, which last year became only the second post-war building in the city to be given listed status. In 1954, he set up his own practice in Norwich with David Mawson. Feilden and Mawson Architects grew over the next fifty years to become a large practice involved in domestic, industrial, commercial and educational projects.

But it was fourteen years after qualifying as an architect, in mid-career, at the age of forty-four, that Feilden first received his calling to conservation. Noted already by 1963 for his work in a practice of sensitive housing architects and for contributing ideas for the new campus at the University of East Anglia, Feilden received a call out of the blue from the Bishop of Norwich, Launcelot Fleming, who was on the board of trustees for the new university: ‘Bernard, want a job? The Dean tells me that his cathedral architect has just died.’

In awe, but unphased, Feilden set to work on one of the most challenging conservation problems of the period: how to deal with the wobbling, cracked stone spire of Norwich cathedral. Armed with a telescope and humility, Feilden consulted local masonry contractors and conservation specialists such as the Superintending Architect of the Ancient Monuments Division of the Ministry of Works in London and the Architecte en chef des monuments historiques nationaux, in France. Thereafter, with his engineer, he devised a clever internal spring-loaded tensioning system to resist the wind. For the rest of his life, he advocated specialising in building conservation only at a mid-career: ‘Become a good architect first, and then become a good conservation architect,’ was his maxim.

In 1968 Feilden was made a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and from 1972 until 1977 sat on the institute’s council, where he was instrumental in establishing the body’s first conservation committee and developing its policy towards postgraduate, mid-career training in building conservation. With his contemporary and fellow conservation architect Donald Insall, he set up the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (Cotac) in 1972 and became its chairman the following year.

Through the 1960s and 70s, Feilden lectured frequently on the master’s degree course at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at York University in the King’s Manor, which he had converted for this purpose in 1963. Later he was external examiner for the course. He also donated funds for a laboratory and lent his name to the Hamlyn-Feilden fellowship to bolster technical training. Feilden also lectured regularly in the architectural conservation course at the Intergovernmental International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome (Iccrom) from 1972 to 1994, and served as its Director-General from 1977 to 1981. As a result of his work in Rome, and based on previous discussions on Cotac, Feilden’s ideas influenced the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the publication of its guidelines on education and training in the conservation of monuments, ensembles and sites in 1993. It remains the basis of much international practice today.

As part of Iccrom’s mission, and as a Unesco consultant, he visited, consulted and lectured in many countries, giving advice to architects and restorers in Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, New Zealand and Canada. He also lectured extensively in the US. He was consulted on the Taj Mahal and the Sun temple at Konarak in India, and on the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in China. In 1986, he received the Aga Khan award for architecture for his contribution to the conservation of the dome of Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Feilden was appointed OBE in 1969, CBE in 1976, and knighted in 1985. He also found time to publish An Introduction to Conservation (1979); Between Two Earthquakes (1987); Guidelines for Conservation (India) (1989); and Guidelines for Management of World Cultural Heritage Sites (1993). But he will chiefly be remembered for Conservation of Historic Buildings (1982), still the most comprehensive overview of building conservation practice. So profoundly did he believe in education and training that he gifted oversight of the publication in perpetuity to the Royal Institute of British Architects.

News of Fellows

Congratulations are due to our Fellow and Council member Dominic Tweddle, who has been appointed as Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy. This new museum is to be formed from the merger of four existing museums – The Royal Naval Museum, The Fleet Air Arm Museum, the Royal Marines Museum and the Royal Navy Submarines Museum. Dominic will take up his post on 5 January 2009 and the new museum will be officially launched on 12 February 2009 at an event to be attended by the Secretary of State for Defence and the First Sea Lord.

Congratulations also to our General Secretary, David Gaimster, who has just been awarded Fellowship of the Museums Association (FMA), an honour awarded in ‘recognition of signal contribution, development and advanced individual achievement by people in all areas of museum work’.


Fellow Mike Pitts says, apropos of Ian Burrow’s comment in the last issue of Salon about re-imagining Aztec sacrifices as great drama, that this is not as far fetched as it might seem. ‘When the Royal Academy put on the exhibition of art and artefacts they called ‘Aztecs’ in 2002, I interviewed Felipe Solís Olguín, director of Mexico’s Museo Nacional de Antropología, for Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’. He charmingly explained the Aztecs never hurt anyone (stories of sacrificial bloodbaths were Spanish propaganda). What’s more, neither Aztecs nor any of the others existed as separate groups. They were Mexica: “We’re all Mexicans”. The catalogue had forewords from President Vicente Fox and Tony Blair (“Mexico today is an exciting cosmopolitan country”), and at the opening of the show a tourism director promised “a perfect balance of sun, sea, culture and spirituality”. The exhibition and the catalogue were wonderful (I tried to interest Radio 4 listeners in Aztec flint-knapping skills!), but a little more hard-edged archaeological and historical debate would have taken them into the realms [reflecting contemporary issues] recently occupied by the Chinese warriors and Hadrian long before the British Museum got there.’

Now, at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, here is some feedback from Salon’s editor. Salon recently reported the Culture Secretary’s desire to see public libraries become more like Waterstone’s with computer games, coffee and social interaction (bookshops apparently make good places for singles to meet). Having just visited the newly opened public library in my home town of Cirencester, I now realise that the Secretary of State’s vision was a relatively benign one. At least Waterstone’s has books, whereas our new library more resembles a motorway service station.

The space is dominated by computers at which teenage boys get loudly over-excited as they play computer games, including one area dedicated to Wii (pronounced ‘we’), the energetic video game where you interact physically with the screen action by using a wireless controller that can detect movement in three dimensions. Much space was also taken up by ranks of DVDs of popular TV comedies and pop music CDs. Flat screens hung on the walls played a Bloomberg-sponsored TV channel.

Such books as there are consist largely of mass-market paperbacks, gardening and cookery titles and travel guides (I suppose I ought to be grateful that they included several of my own books – now I know why my annual Public Lending Right cheque is so large). Because book loans are now handled by scanning machine, there is only one ‘librarian’ on duty (probably employed to service the computers and coffee machine).

All in all, I could see no evidence that the library was fulfilling any useful social or educational purpose, and one wonders why public money should be used to pay for something that is done far better on the High Street. If this is what the public library service has come to, maybe we should give the money to Carenza Lewis and her Higher Education Field Academy instead!

Reading the diaries of James Lees-Milne, our Fellow Michael Stammers recently came across some characteristically catty remarks about the Society, which Michael thought Fellows would be amused to read. Prior to being admitted on 7 February 1974, Lees-Milne wrote: ‘While drinking tea before the ceremony I felt completely out of sympathy with the Fellows I found myself among. A lot of fogies of the dreariest description. Why did I join this dank association?’ Lees-Milne later discovers one benefit of Fellowship (no longer available, however): on 20 July 1980, he drove to London and found himself ‘in despair where I should park. Thought of Burlington House. Went straight there and got a permit from the Society of Antiquaries. The only use I ever make of this ridiculous Society.’

Apropos the items in the last Salon about the Black Death and mice genes, Robert Merrillees draws our attention to a diverting item in New Scientist magazine on the Uluburun shipwreck, some of whose contents are shortly to go on show in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The report (based on a paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 35, p 2,953) concerns a rodent stowaway that archaeologist Thomas Cucchi, of the University of Durham, has identified from a fragment of a mouse jaw in sediment from a ship that sank 3,500 years ago off the coast of Turkey. Because the ebony, ivory, silver and gold artefacts on board derive from many cultures, its origin and route is hotly debated, but the mouse’s jaw may provide answers. Cucchi’s analysis of the jaw shape identifies it as a species of mouse from the northern Levantine coast, similar to modern house mice in Syria.

Fellow and Council member Frances Griffith wishes to alert Fellows to a consultation that concerns the establishment of a standard for referring to historic counties. Frances says, ‘given the continuing tinkering with boundaries there seems much merit in this to allow historians and archaeologists some chance of keeping tabs on the location of things in the future.’

Mention in Salon of the ‘Time Team’ documentary on the excavation of the First World War Vampire dugout, near the Belgian town of Ypres, prompted Diana Murray to forward a BBC report on First World War military defences that are being recorded by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The survey team recently recorded the remains of look-out posts and gun batteries built along the coast to protect and defend a naval anchorage in Cromarty that are among the finest surviving examples in Scotland. Allan Kilpatrick, of the RCAHMS survey team, told the BBC that ‘most have not been touched by vandalism and some remain in such a good condition that you can still see the camouflage paint.’ Another report on the RCAHMS survey of First World War defences was published in The Scotsman.


6 December: Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics autumn symposium
The ASPRoM autumn symposium will take place in Room 2C of the Strand Building, King’s College London, on Saturday 6 December from 2pm to 5 pm. The speakers are Dr Ruth Westgate on ‘Party animals: the imagery of status, power and masculinity in Greek mosaics’, Professor Liz James on ‘Byzantine wall mosaics: questions and a few answers’ and Dr Lucy Donkin on ‘Medieval Italian floor mosaics: continuities and discontinuities with Roman antiquity’. For further details see the ASPROM website.

Books by Fellows

From Hella Eckardt and Nina Crummy comes Styling the body in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain: a contextual approach to toilet instruments, which answers numerous questions about that ubiquitous category of small finds from Roman and pre-Roman sites in Britain, the small ‘toilet instrument’. Using a large dataset drawn from published excavations, Hella and Nina present a typological analysis of these toilet instruments and address the issues of social context implicit in their distribution, date, zones of manufacture and use in burials. They find that, in Britain, small toilet implements linked as sets are rare before the early first century AD and their use was restricted both geographically and socially. After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, there was a surge in production accompanied by use across a wider segment of society. Unusually, bifid nail-cleaners disappear on the continent after the Augustan period, while in Britain they were used up to the late fourth or early fifth centuries AD, representing an insular survival from the earlier La Tène tradition.

The Real World of the Bayeux Tapestry has just been published by the History Press and the book’s author, Michael Lewis, says that Fellows can buy the book at £17 (instead of £20), if they contact him for a flier. Michael stimulated a debate on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme and in popular history magazines this summer with his suggestion that the English-made Bayeux Tapestry should revisit its place of origin and be displayed in the UK. In his book, Michael provides a comprehensive account of the design and production of this great Romanesque work of art and explores the question of how reliable is the account that it gives of the momentous events of 1066.


University of Cambridge, Access Cambridge Archaeology, Administrative Assistant
£20,226 to £22,765, closing date 28 November 2008 (ref JD04374)

Providing key support to a team that is using Archaeology to good effect in widening participation in higher education on the part of bright young people who need encouragement to apply to university. Knowledge of UK archaeology and/or local history and experience of outreach activities and working with the public an advantage. For further details see the Cambridge University website.

National Trust, Head of the Director General’s Office
£45,000, closing date 1 December 2008

Responsible for planning and delivering the Director General’s internal and external communications; experience required in speech and report writing. Further information from the National Trust’s jobs website.

IFA Workplace Learning Bursary in Archaeological Geophysics, hosted by Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford
Salary: £14,869; duration: one year; closing date 4 December 2008

This HLF-funded IFA Workplace Learning Bursary post is designed to provide the successful candidate with training in the full range of archaeological geophysical work; a particular focus will be the preparation of the Time Team Geophysical Archive (TTGA), which has recently been deposited with the University by GSB Prospection. The bursary holder will be supervised by Dr Armin Schmidt, leader of the Archaeological Prospection Research Group and Dr Chris Gaffney. Applicants should recently have completed a degree course which includes geophysical surveys, or have substantial experience in geophysical data collection within a commercial environment, at the equivalent of Practitioner level of the Institute for Archaeologists. For enquiries and to obtain the further particulars, please email Dr Armin Schmidt.

Historic Scotland, Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site Co-ordinator
Salary scale £32,428 to £39,410, closing date 5 December 2008, ref HSC/08/105

This new post is central to the sustainable management of the World Heritage Site, will involve detailed working with Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the community, and is an exciting opportunity to experience living and working in Orkney. For further details and an application form, see the Historic Scotland website.

Churches Conservation Trust, Marketing Manager
£28,000, closing date 8 December 2008

Building public awareness of the CCT’s work, developing the website and preparing campaigns for the Trust’s fortieth anniversary; experience required in delivering successful campaigns, especially in visitor promotions and tourism. Further details from the CCT’s website.

British Library, Head of Conservation
Salary scale £44,956 to £53,367), closing date 17 December 2008

You will manage the recently opened Conservation Centre – with its state-of-the-art conservation studios and audio preservation facilities and an ambitious public access and training programme – to provide a world-class conservation service, based on your leadership skills and conservation experience. For further information, see the British Library’s website and select ‘Search for Jobs’.