Forthcoming meetings

3 February 2011: ‘Roman mosaics: the good, the bad and the ugly’, by David Neal FSA, and ‘The history of recording Romano-British mosaics’, by Stephen Cosh FSA; papers to mark the launch of Roman Mosaics of Britain. Volume IV: Western Britain.

David Neal’s paper will describe a range of Romano-British mosaics of varying quality and will assess what they tell us about the attitudes of the villa owners who commissioned them. A number of mosaics are without parallel and the inspiration for these will be discussed. Inferior repairs will be examined. The paper by Stephen Cosh will consider the evolving methods of illustrating Romano-British mosaics and the artists involved, from Aubrey and Stukeley, via Vertue and Lysons through to the present day. Particular emphasis will be laid on the long association which the Society of Antiquaries has had with recording mosaics, culminating in the publication of this final volume of the Romano-British mosaic corpus.

10 February 2011: ‘Growing pains: making and remaking the American Museum in Britain’, by Richard Wendorf FSA

The only museum devoted to American decorative arts and folk art outside the United States will be set in its historical and museological context. The museum was founded in order to educate Britons about American history and culture in order to strengthen relationships between the two countries. What were the models for the two founders — one American, one British — fifty years ago? Why did they situate their institution in Bath, and in an English country house? How did they assemble a collection of over 10,000 items so quickly? And why add folk art — and, later, important European maps — to the already impressive collection of decorative arts? This paper will also look at how much has changed in the past fifty years — not least in Britain’s view of America — and how the American Museum might best position itself in decades to come.

17 February 2011: ‘A villa urbana at Wroxeter: a Roman construct for modern times’, by Dai Morgan Evans FSA

Dai will share with us the human and archaeological lessons learned from the attempt to build a full-size replica of a Roman villa using only tools and materials known to the Romans, copying the plan of an actual Roman villa found at Wroxeter, in Shropshire.

3 March 2011: ‘Setting the scene: nineteenth-century illustrations of the Mabinogion’, by Sioned Davies

In 1849 an English aristocrat, Lady Charlotte Guest, published her translation of the medieval Welsh tales known as the Mabinogion in three luxurious volumes, including illustrations by Samuel Williams. One of her aims was to show the ‘colonisers’ (the English) that the ‘colonised’ (the Welsh) were civilised and in possession of a noble literary heritage although, ironically, she herself was an outsider to Wales. This publication was to determine the Mabinogion’s public image and many aspects of its subsequent publishing history. In particular, the wood engravings that Guest commissioned pre-determine scenes and subjects for twentieth-century versions of the tales, both in English and in Welsh, showing how a nineteenth-century illustrated translation is able to dominate subsequent editions in both the target and the source language.

Newly elected Fellows

The following were elected as Ordinary Fellows in the ballot held on 27 January 2011:

David Davison, partner in Archaeopress, which has so far published more than 1,400 titles in the British Archaeological Reports series; his own published research concerns the Roman province of Dalmatia and Roman army barracks.
Nicholas Boyter Aitchison, civil servant, is the author of papers in World Archaeology and the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society as well as books on the royal centres of early medieval Ireland, Macbeth, Scotland’s Stone of Destiny, the Picts and the Pictish and Scottish Royal centre at Forteviot.
Lars Tharp, Hogarth Curator at the Foundling Museum, London, is a ceramics expert and Hogarth specialist, well known for his appearances on ‘The Antiques Roadshow’, patron of the Victoria County History and Vice-President of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society.
Peter Anthony Cardwell, archaeological and heritage consultant, manager of a wide range of archaeological excavations and surveys, co-founder of Northern Archaeological Associates, author of the pioneering study of a medieval hospital at Brough St Giles.
David Williams, Finds Liaison Officer for Surrey and East Berkshire, archaeological illustrator, expert in medieval metalwork, especially late Saxon stirrup mounts (author of Late Saxon Stirrup-strap Mounts: A Classification and Catalogue (CBA Research Report 111, 1999), director of excavations at the Wanborough Roman temple and at ‘Frank’s Sandpit’, Betchworth.
Andrew Birley, Director of Excavations for the Vindolanda Trust since 2007 (Assistant Director 2002—6), author of numerous reports on the internationally significant Vindolanda excavations, who has made a significant contribution to the public perception of archaeology through frequent TV work and speaking engagements at conferences on Roman archaeology and Roman military sites.
Richard William Savage, retired Corporate Treasurer, Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society Director of Excavations from 1973 to 1978, Member of Council of the Surrey Archaeological Society since 2006, founder of the Society’s Medieval Studies Forum and Villages Study Group, currently engaged in excavations at the Romano-British site at Hatch Furlong, Ewell, and at Downside Mill.
Nicola Jennings, Lecturer in the Department of Cultural Policy and Management, City University, founder of the award-winning Cultural Leadership Programme, member of our Society’s development committee having played a major role in fundraising at the National Gallery as Head of Strategic Development Projects, specialist in the Early Netherlandish works of art collected or commissioned by Charles V and Philip II of Spain.
Sam Mullins, Director of the London Transport Museum and former Chairman (now Vice-Chairman) of the Association of Independent Museums, previously Social History Curator for Shropshire County Museums, Curator of the Harborough Museum, Director of St Albans Museums, past editor of the Social History Curators Group Journal, Chairman of Hertfordshire Curators Group and President of South Midland Museums Federation. Author of works on local history, domestic service and retail history, his research interests include probate inventories, early Olympic history and the Victorian passenger’s experience of transport.

12 March 2011: seminar in Catholic patronage — change of venue

Such has been the response to the seminar being organised by Fellows Tessa Murdoch and John Martin Robinson on the role of Catholic families as patrons and collectors in England from the sixteenth century that an alternative venue has had to be found. The seminar will now take place in the main lecture theatre, adjacent to the Whiteley Silver Galleries, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, rather than at the Society of Antiquaries, as previously advertised. The recital of work by William Byrd (composed for the Petres of Ingatestone, Essex) and Richard Dering (for Queen Henrietta Maria) will now take place in the Brompton Oratory.

More than 150 people have booked places on the seminar already, but the V&A lecture theatre has a capacity of 300, so there are still places available. The programme and a booking form can be downloaded from the Catholic History website.

Is PPS 5 about to be torn up?

Fellows of our Society are working hard to protect the hard-won gains that are contained within Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment, which was published on 23 March 2010, just before the General Election, and that was hailed as a major advance on its predecessors, PPGs 15 and 16, with its twin emphasis on requiring developers to demonstrate that they had assessed the impact of their work on the historic environment and had taken adequate steps to minimise or mitigate that impact; and on requiring the developer to fund not just the excavation, but also the post-excavation research, publication and archiving and the public outreach work.

Now the Government has announced a review of planning controls in England, saying that it wishes to consolidate the entire suite of planning policy statements, circulars and guidance documents into a single consolidated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The language in which the announcement has been made suggests that the resulting framework will not be binding on anyone: the aim, says the Department of Communities and Local Government, which announced the review in December 2010, is to ‘hand power back to local communities to decide what is right for them’, and that the NPPF will be ‘used as a mechanism for delivering Government objectives only where it is relevant, proportionate and effective to do so’ (Salon’s italics).

The same announcement invites ‘organisations and individuals to offer their suggestions to the Department on what priorities and policies we might adopt to produce a shorter, more decentralised and less bureaucratic National Planning Policy Framework’ by 28 February 2011, using the email address: [email protected].

Our Fellow Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology and Chair of The Heritage Alliance’s Spatial Planning Advocacy Group, is at the heart of efforts to ensure that condensing planning guidance into a set of ‘user-friendly, clear and accessible policies’ does not lead to a reduced level of protection for the historic environment. ‘Members of The Archaeology Forum, the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group and The Heritage Alliance are all working to try to ensure that there is no significantly detrimental impact on the protection of the historic environment and its management through the planning process’, Mike said. ‘At the moment there is cause for concern, but we have an opportunity to influence the implementation of the planning reforms and hope to persuade the Coalition Government of the benefits to the public and to developers of greater clarity in relation to the protection of the historic environment’.

In the meantime, Mike and his colleagues are encouraging everyone to respond to the NPPF consultation and to the related Localism Bill consultation ‘to show that this is a key issue for the sector and for the public’.

The conservation of designated heritage assets tops planning policy poll

That the protection of the historic environment is as much an issue for the public as it is for professionals is borne out by a public poll carried out by Civic Voice, the national charity that ‘promotes civic pride’. Visitors to the Civic Voice website are being asked ‘The Government is combining planning policy into a single document. Which existing policy [out of the following list] do you most want to save?’

 Town centre first for retail
 Brownfield first for housing
 Green Belt
 Presumption in favour of conserving designated heritage assets
 Promote local distinctiveness
 Reduce need to travel
 Plan positively for high-quality design
 Promote higher density and mixed use
 Other

The poll is still active, but at the time of writing, the ‘presumption in favour of conserving designated heritage assets’ has 63 per cent of the poll, with ‘local distinctiveness’ second, at 11.76 per cent, and the remainder in single figures.

IHBC says new Localism Bill could threaten designated heritage assets

The Institute of Historic Building and Conservation (IHBC), the professional body for built and historic environment conservation specialists, says that there are measures in the new Localism Bill that contradict and threaten established procedures for gaining planning consent where designated assets are concerned, such as listed buildings, scheduled monuments or structures within conservation areas.

Seán O’Reilly, Director of the IHBC, says that ‘the Bill, as currently proposed, includes a new local management tool, the Neighbourhood Development Order (Schedule 12, paragraphs 22—24, in Volume II of the Localism Bill) designed to override historic buildings and area legislation. Neighbourhood development orders (NDOs) would enable communities to define specific developments or types of development that would automatically be given planning permission without the need to submit an application to the council following a “yes” vote in a local referendum.’

The IHBC says that it will campaign to highlight the danger of maintaining these provisions and to lobby for the national cultural interests represented by listing and conservation area designations to be protected.

Jo Evans, Chair of the IHBC, points out that ‘the Government has already agreed to protect the natural environment under its new planning framework’ and argues that ‘it would be unthinkable not to make the same commitment to our historic places’.

Comment on the Localism Bill

The Localism Bill (see the DCLG website for a ‘Plain English’ version) is being promoted by Eric Pickles, the Local Government and Communities Secretary, as ‘a triumph for democracy over bureaucracy … that will … put power back where it belongs: in the hands of the people … this Bill will give councils the power and the authority they need to make sensible decisions for the area … and it will give people new rights, new powers, new opportunities to act on the issues that matter to them. By pushing power out, getting Government out of the way, letting people run their own affairs, we can build a stronger, fairer Britain.’

Perhaps the central flaw in that argument is the equation that ‘councils’ and ‘people’ are one and the same: local authorities are not renowned as bastions of local democracy, tend to be dominated by a certain type of individual and do not ride particularly high in people’s respect — indeed, if you Google Eric Pickles’s name, the results are dominated by newspaper reports in which the Secretary of State himself appears to be deeply critical of local authority services and decision-making and their lack of accountability to the communities they are supposed to serve. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the population would say ‘yes’ to a poll that asked ‘do you think the decisions made by your local council are broadly in line with your own views?’

Commentators have been less ecstatic about the bill. Our Fellow, Simon Jenkins, wrote a critique in the Guardian at the time the bill was first published in December 2010, lamenting the lack of definitions in the bill of the ‘communities, neighbourhoods and local people’ to whom power is to be returned, and arguing that ‘unless the new community bodies are to be properly defined and elected, the fate of this reform is clear: it will be chased into the sand by regiments of crazed activists and lawyers’.

Tony Burton, Director of the Civic Voice, is quoted on the Communities and Local Government’s own website as a supporter of the bill, but his comment is subtly conditional: ‘The fundamental “power shift” to local communities intended by the Localism Bill will be applauded by civic societies and other community groups whose skills, knowledge and expertise have been undervalued for too long’, he says, adding: ‘With the right safeguards and support Civic Voice relishes the opportunities being provided for communities to take the lead in planning and shaping the future of the places where we all live’ (Salon’s italics). Without those legislative safeguards, and without the resources to enable people to participate in the decision-making process on equal terms with those who can command money, expert advice and professional advocacy, many fear that the real result of the Localism Bill will be to hand power to developers, landowners and commercial interests.

Something angry is stirring in England’s forests

That fear has been made abundantly clear by public response to a separate measure, the Public Bodies bill, by means of which Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is seeking the power to sell land currently managed by the Forestry Commission. These are not theoretical powers: Agriculture Minister Jim Paice told a House of Lords select committee: ‘We wish to proceed with a very substantial disposal of public forest estate, which could go to the extent of all of it.’ The Government has already stated that it will sell fifteen public forest estates in order to raise £100m for the exchequer. The consultation process currently under way (to run until 21 April) concerns plans to dispense with the remainder.

The plan has already led to mass demonstrations by local people (those very same communities to whom the Government is pledged to return power, remember). Rallies in the New Forest, the Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest and Grizedale Forest have typically attracted 3,000 demonstrators, including local clergy, celebrities and leading conservationists, such as Bill Bryson, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Songs have been sung, effigies of Big Ben have been burned on bonfires and ribbons have been tied to thousands of trees as a pledge of protection. The Government presents the sell off as ‘a chance for local communities to have ownership of the nation’s forests’. Speeches have been made questioning the logic and legality of the Government selling to the public forests that the public already owns.

After attending the Forest of Dean rally, environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt wrote in his blog that ‘people in the Forest of Dean already see “the Dean” as their forest. Many speakers referred eloquently to the historical rights and entitlements fought for seriously over the centuries. Legally, it may be a state asset, managed on behalf of the state by the Forestry Commission, but that’s just a technicality as far as the local community is concerned. The excellent relations that exist between the Foresters and the Forestry Commission rely in large part on an implicit understanding about “ownership” — in all its different meanings … the message from the Forest of Dean — to local communities all across England — was crystal clear: wake up to what’s happening, don’t be seduced by the Government’s honeyed words about local ownership, get mobilised and prepare for the fiercest of fights.’

An online petition opposing the legislation has already garnered more than a quarter of a million people’s signatures. More than 100 public figures and dignitaries, including our Fellow, Loyd Grossman, chairman of the Heritage Alliance, signed a letter published in the Sunday Telegraph on 23 January 2011 calling on the Government to ‘remove the three ill-conceived clauses from the Public Bodies Bill, and suspend any significant sales, until the public has been fully consulted’. The letter describes the current inhabitants of England as ‘only a heartbeat in history’, and says that it is ‘unconscionable that future generations will not be able to enjoy the guarantee of a public forest estate’. Reports on the progress of the campaign can be found on the website of Save England’s Forests.

A YouGov poll that surveyed 2,253 adults between 13 and 17 January 2011 asked ‘To what extent do you support or oppose the Government’s plans to sell publicly owned woodlands and forests in England?’ Only 6 per cent said they supported the plans, while 84 per cent said they were opposed.

The Government’s response so far has been to say simply that: ‘We are interested to hear ideas from all interested parties as part of the consultation process and welcome all contributions.’

Meanwhile, the National Trust has said that it will do whatever it can to ‘step in’ and save English woodlands if they are sold off. ‘Our board will decide how to respond’, said Fiona Reynolds, the National Trust’s Director General: ‘We stand ready to help in a variety of ways. It could be ownership or to help others play a role.’

The place of history in education

The Education Bill was presented to Parliament on 26 January, fleshing out the Government’s plans for an overhaul of England’s schools system. Leaving aside such structural changes as the expansion of the academies programme and measures to allow groups to set up so-called ‘free schools’, the key change that will concern Fellows is the composition of ‘the core curriculum’, the five subjects whose pass rates at GCSE will be used to measure the performance of pupils and schools.

Previously, these were maths, English and three other unspecified subjects, which could be vocational or more academic. Now the components of the so-called English baccalaureate are specified as maths, English, a science, a language and geography, history or music.

The inclusion of history as an option (or indeed geography, the study of which provided many a future archaeologist with a first introduction to landscape studies) has been welcomed by some and derided by others (critics say that it discriminates against vocational training; that it turns the clock back to the 1950s, and that being prescriptive about the curriculum is at odds with the Bill’s claim to be liberating schools to make their own choices). Those who have welcomed the return of language learning to the core curriculum have also warned that many schools will need to invest in teachers and resources to meet the new requirement because they dispensed with language teaching after it was made optional for children over the age of fourteen in 2004.


Rarely has feedback to Salon had such a happy outcome as that which occurred this week when more than 150 Fellows and guests turned out to hear our Fellow Charles Sebag-Montefiore give a paper on the Society of Dilettanti. Charles introduced his paper by saying that a year ago Salon had erroneously described the Dilettanti as a defunct Society. He had written to correct the error and, in the ensuing correspondence, Salon’s editor had suggested that there were many Fellows who might be interested in learning more of the history of the Dilettanti — and so it proved, with a more than capacity audience filling the Society’s meeting room on Thursday and flowing over into the entrance hall where the lecture was broadcast via a video link.

At one point, a nervous General Secretary pointed out that the number of people in the meeting room exceeded the health and safety limit; ‘In the event of a fire…’, he began, and while he was seeking an appropriate way to complete his sentence, somebody called out ‘…please die quietly’. Such jocularity set the tone for a thoroughly entertaining, as well as informative, evening, that conformed perfectly with the sentiments of one of the Dilettanti’s toasts: Serio Luda! (‘serious matters in a playful vein’), which surely also serves as a very suitable motto for Salon itself.

On the subject of education, John Collis’s heartfelt plea in Salon 248 for a less Anglocentric view of history encouraged our Fellow John Nandris to pen an equally eloquent response, agreeing that history should encompass ‘the longest and widest possible perspective’.

John calls this ‘the History of Humanity, free of the shackles of time and space and cultural limitations. We [historians, antiquaries and archaeologists] are able to offer a Universal History that would give every sort of personality in a school the chance to be interested: from the boy who just wants to get out and get muddy, to the girl who is a whiz at statistics. It is the universally valid framework for understanding long-term change in human behaviour, the environment, economy and technology and that offers us the possibility of understanding our common humanity.

‘The failure to exploit the possibilities of the greater archaeology in schools is an exposure of the culpable lack of vision in education, the inadequacy of our schooling, and the stereotyping of the past. Whatever the limitations on what we know, it is in fact amazing how much we can say about the distant past and the emergence of humanity. It touches on wonderful societies that have emerged without the benefit of social theorists, an absorbing story to interest any pupil. These riches are indeed so great that they present real problems of incorporation into a meaningful syllabus ; but those are issues that it would be a pleasure to help resolve.’

Staying with education, but moving up the ladder a few notches, our Fellow Alastair Maxwell-Irving is keen to find out why the route to the award of a doctorate for published work appears to be restricted to university staff. Alastair writes: ‘There exists in the academic world a degree called a “PhD for Published Work”, which I would have thought self-explanatory and a suitable recognition for mature antiquaries with a proven track record of published research. Most universities include it in their portfolio. As such, it would appear on the face of it to be an appropriate qualification for almost any Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, as its stated requirements are virtually the same as those necessary before one’s name can be put forward to become an FSA.

‘The theory is one thing, the practice quite another. On investigating the subject further, I found that the universities’ interpretation of what the degree stands for is entirely different to what one would expect. Firstly, the qualification is only available to staff of any university in question, and not to anyone else. Even the Open University, which is meant to be open to the public at large, evidently excludes anyone who is not a “staff member”. That seems to me to be fundamentally wrong and a denial of academic achievement. Worse still, many of the universities state that it is not actually necessary for staff to have published anything at all, as long as a thesis is submitted in a form that “could be published”. A cynic might ask whether the whole concept of the “PhD for Published Work” has been hi-jacked by academia to boost the stated qualifications of staff members, with a view, perhaps, also to enhancing their salary grade.’

Fellow Martin Williams writes with a brief coda to the report that appeared in Salon 245 on the unveiling of a blue plaque on the house at No. 9 Barn Hill, Stamford, where William Stukeley lived between 1730 and 1747, while serving as Vicar of All Saints’ Church, to say that the Society of Antiquaries made a contribution of £200 to Stamford Civic Society’s costs in making and erecting the plaque, and to say that the Stamford society celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, being the first Civic Society to have been formed in England. Celebrations are planned for 25 June 2011 to mark the anniversary.

Appeal for help with research into the letters of Joseph Déchelette

The University of Toulouse is at present carrying out a research project on the correspondence of Joseph Déchelette (1862—1914), who, through his Manuel d’Archéologie préhistorique celtique et gallo-romaine (1908), was one of the formative figures in studies in the prehistory of Europe, covering the Palaeolithic to the end of the Iron Age. His ideas, for instance, were fundamental in the interpretation of the Celts that dominated in the twentieth century, including the origin and dating of La Tène art, while his dating system for the Iron Age was adopted widely in western Europe, including Britain. His classification of samian forms for a while rivalled that of Dragendorff.

The research team is eager to hear from anyone who may know of letters that he wrote to his British, Irish and American correspondents. Letters in the Roanne archive include some from the following scholars: John Abercromby (Edinburgh); Joseph A??? (Edinburgh); H E Balch (Somerset); Lewis Bunnel (Cork); J H Breasted (Chicago); Col. Burke (Woolwich); F Stuart Chapin (Massachusetts); George Coffey (Dublin); O G S Crawford (Oxford); James Curle (Melrose); Arthur Evans (Oxford); Francis Haverfield (Oxford); Robert Lockhart Hobson (British Museum); R R Marrett (Oxford); Thomas May (Warrington); R Mouterd (Hastings); Charles Read (British Museum); J Romilly Allen (London); Sir John Rhys (Oxford); Horace Sandars (British Museum); Reginald Smith (British Museum); E G Thacker (Gloucester Museum); H B Walters (British Museum); and Arthur Wright (Colchester).

If you know of any letters from Déchelette or where some of the relevant archives might be, please contact our Fellow John Collis. More about the project can be found on the following websites: Traces and Centre-de-documentation-Joseph.

News of Fellows

We congratulate Fellow David Woodcock (left), Professor of Architecture and Director Emeritus of the Center for Heritage Conservation at Texas A&M University, who has been awarded the 2010 James Marston Fitch Preservation Education Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Council for Preservation. The award was presented at a dinner in Austin, Texas, held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The citation reads: ‘Your distinguished career in the pursuit of excellence in heritage conservation and historic preservation represents a building block upon which the field of historic preservation has been built. Your steadfast leadership in the preservation movement itself has truly earned you this honor.’

In accepting the award, David Woodcock quoted the poet W B Yeats (1865—1939) to the effect that ‘education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire’. He went on then to pay tribute to some of those who had lit his own fires, singling out our Fellow Ronald Brunskill, under whom David studied at the University of Manchester, describing him as a source of inspiration and a life-long friend whose dedication to vernacular architecture at a time when polite architecture dominated architectural history was shared by James Marston Fitch (1909—2000), who is widely revered as the father of historic preservation in the United States and in whose memory the Preservation Education Lifetime Achievement Award had been created.

Salon hears that the two big Stonehenge research projects of our day — SPACES and the Stonehenge Riverside Project — will be coming together later this year to undertake collaborative fieldwork projects in the Preseli Hills. The media likes to present the two projects, and their respective interpretations of the Stonehenge landscape, as rivals, but the reality is that there is much common ground, friendly co-operation and the pooling of data. Later this year there will be the much-anticipated publication of a new chronology for Stonehenge, based on the radiocarbon dates from their respective excavations and a reappraisal of the stratigraphy recorded by earlier investigators.

SPACES (the Strumble—Preseli Ancient Communities and Environment Study), run by our Fellow Timothy Darvill and our former President Geoff Wainwright, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and an update on the project’s work will be published in Current Archaeology magazine in February, reporting on fieldwork and excavation that has mapped scores of hitherto unknown prehistoric monuments in the Strumble—Preseli landscape, revealing all sorts of parallels between that landscape, source of the Stonehenge bluestones, and that of Stonehenge.

Our Fellow Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary of the Royal Academy of Arts, has been giving his views on the best ways to encourage people to give money to cultural institutions by means of the Department of Culture’s website. His plan of action, posted on the departmental blog:

 Do everything possible to make everyone (and not just lawyers and tax advisers) understand how easy it is to obtain tax benefits under the present tax system.
 Gift Aid is currently very successful and an important source of revenue for the Royal Academy (it generates over £1 million a year). We would like to see greater take-up of gift aid by clarifying the message and literature to donors (that they get 100 per cent tax relief on their donations); lobbying of solicitors and financial advisers to ensure they fully understand the benefits of the scheme and promote it to their clients; and the introduction of an ‘opt out’ for donors on gift aid, rather than asking them to ‘opt in’.
 Make charitable donations deductible on every citizen’s income tax return.
 Change the tight restrictions around the provision of benefits to donors.
 Encourage the growth of endowments through legacies, by introducing lifetime giving, so that the donor receives tax relief on their gift to a cultural organisation during their lifetime.

Lives Remembered

Two gifted archaeological artists have died recently at a young age in different parts of the world. Our Fellow Matthew Spriggs writes from Vanuatu to say that the Indigenous Ni-Vanuatu artist and archaeologist Fidel Yoringmal died suddenly in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila, on 25 January, aged forty-nine. He was a key member of the Vanuatu archaeological team led by Matthew and Dr Stuart Bedford, also of the ANU, and Fellows who attended Matthew’s lecture to the Society in November on their work at the Teouma Lapita cemetery site in Vanuatu will recall Fidel’s wonderful drawings of the reconstructed pots. His artistic interpretations of Lapita life in Vanuatu were also featured as part of the recent Lapita exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

From Orkney, Fellow Caroline Wickham-Jones writes to pay tribute to her friend Anne Brundle, lately curator of archaeology at the Orkney Museum, who died tragically young, at the age of fifty-two, from a brain tumour, having made a huge contribution to Scottish archaeology in her time and having, in Caroline’s words, ‘worked hard to bridge the divide between fieldwork and museum/artefact studies’. Caroline says that many Fellows were among the mourners who filled St Magnus Cathedral to overflowing for Anne’s funeral on 24 January. Anne was a gifted artist with a warm sense of humour that was in evidence in the Christmas cards she produced every year for Orkney Museum, which are now likely to be gathered together into a fundraising booklet. Anne’s family has kindly agreed to allow Salon to reproduce a recent example.

A further obituary has been published in the Guardian for our late Fellow Elaine Paintin, written by Fellow Nigel Ramsay, and this can be read on the newspaper’s website. Obituaries also appeared in The Times on 22 January for our late Fellows Geoff Egan and Alan Rome. As these are not accessible without a subscription Salon has reproduced them below. The address that Fellow Roger Bland gave at Geoff’s funeral can be read on the website of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, along with further tributes.

Alan Mackenzie Rome OBE FSA FRIBA

From an early age Alan Rome had a passion for buildings, especially medieval churches. As a teenager he avidly visited churches and compiled scrapbooks of press cuttings and notes, setting him on course for a lifetime’s devotion to the care of ecclesiastical buildings.

He was born in Bristol on 24 October 1930 and died there on Christmas Eve 2010, after a brief illness, at the age of eighty. Rome, whose father was a structural engineer, was educated at The King’s School, Bruton, following which he entered the office of the architect Sir George Oatley, where he was a pupil for two years. At the time Oatley was working on Bristol Cathedral and this provided the young Rome with the opportunity to study and draw a seminal building in English medieval architecture.

After National Service with the Royal Engineers, he set about qualifying as an architect, and studied at the Royal West of England Academy School of Architecture, gaining the RWA Diploma in Architecture in 1955. He then joined the office of Stephen Dykes Bower, who was Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey and was engaged on a major restoration following war damage. During his time as Assistant Surveyor there, Rome acquired an impressive knowledge of Gothic architecture. In 1960 he moved back to Bristol and became Associate Architect in the office of Michael Torrens and Alan Crozier Cole, moving four years later into private practice. In 1956 he married Mary Barnard (who survives him), who was also an architect and worked with him, running a small office in Bristol, and later moving to Yatton.

Alan Rome’s easy-going and courteous manner endeared him to the local clergy and during the 1960s he became consulting architect to an ever increasing number of parishes in Somerset and adjoining counties; by 1975 the total of churches in his care exceeded 100. In 1972 he was appointed architect to Glastonbury Abbey, where Rome demonstrated his skill in maintaining an impressive complex of ruins of national importance on a paltry budget.

By this time, Rome’s sensitive, low-key and economical approach to the repair and conservation of churches came to the attention of deans and chapters of cathedrals. They liked him, and he quickly became a firm favourite: an avalanche of appointments to cathedrals and other great churches ensued, beginning with Leicester Cathedral in 1971. This was followed by Salisbury Cathedral (1974), Peterborough Cathedral (1976), Bath Abbey (1976), Wells Cathedral (1979), Lancing College Chapel (1984), Bristol Cathedral (1986), St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol (1986), St Edmundsbury Cathedral (1991) and Truro Cathedral (1992). He had also been shortlisted for the Surveyorship of Westminster Abbey, and was offered that of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, which he declined on account of distance.

With a burgeoning workload, Rome largely relinquished his involvement with parish churches. Nevertheless, he delegated very little to others except where new building was required, which he did not regard as his forte. Although he learned Gothic at the hands of Oatley, who had designed the Wills Memorial Building for Bristol University with full Victorian vigour, and served under Dykes Bower, who was renowned for draconian restoration, Rome did not follow slavishly in their footsteps.

He ardently believed in low-key restoration, with the emphasis on conservation, and often said that the hand of a good church architect should be invisible in the historic fabric. When instructed to subdivide the cloister walks at Wells, to install a shop and café, he designed glazed timber and metal screens which were cleverly fixed by clamping to the medieval mouldings without doing any physical damage. He knew the screens would be taken down again one day, as they were in 2009.

Besides being a conservation architect, he was an accomplished designer of sensitive new additions to historic buildings, always having a keen eye for correct detail and pleasing composition. He designed organ cases, screens, light fittings and a host of furnishings for the churches in his care. The organ case at Wells is one of his finest works. By the time Rome retired from practice in 2002, he had obtained a breadth of experience as an ecclesiastical architect that was scarcely rivalled amongst his contemporaries.

He was a committed churchman and attended St Andrew’s, Backwell. Aside from his professional involvement, Rome served the Anglican Church in other ways: the Council for the Care of Churches, 1972—96, and was a member of its Organs Advisory Committee; Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust; Honorary Consulting Architect to the Historic Churches Preservation Trust; and a member of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Advisory Committee from 1978 until his death. In committee, he had an ability to see an immediate solution to a problem, which he would demonstrate with a delightful sketch done at speed on the back of an agenda paper. Rome had a flair for sketching, and for his own amusement he would design new churches in the Gothic idiom and sketch schemes for re-roofing and restoring landmark ruins, including Glastonbury Abbey Lady Chapel and the former cathedral at Peel, Isle of Man.

He read widely and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the works of Victorian and later architects. Walking through the streets of London or Bristol with him was an educational experience. He was a champion of Sir Gilbert Scott and J L Pearson, when Victorian architecture was unfashionable, and Truro Cathedral was one of his favourite buildings. Alan Rome was always good company, had a quietly mischievous sense of humour, and a huge store of anecdotal knowledge. He was privately scathing about destructive actions of the recent past, particularly the loss of the Victorian screens from Salisbury Cathedral, and the resulting tunnel-like interior he compared to a Gothic railway station. He tackled every task with humility and did not seek the limelight, but was deservedly appointed OBE in 1997 for his services to ecclesiastical architecture.

Geoffrey Egan MA PhD CertArchField FSA FMA

Geoffrey Egan was born on 19 October 1951 and died on 24 December 2010, aged fifty-nine. He spent his life studying the small things that Londoners had lost or discarded in the Middle Ages and later; he was probably the first archaeologist to head a City of London guild.

In archaeological parlance, Geoff was a ‘small finds expert’, but with an encyclopaedic range. In the children’s toys, dice or pilgrims’ badges that he studied, or the lead seals attached by London’s cloth merchants as a guarantee of provenance and quality — the subject of his doctoral thesis — Geoff saw stories of daily life and changing fashion and the developing economy of a city that was to become the capital of a world-wide empire.

The medieval and post-medieval periods were still regarded as ‘fringe’ territory in the 1970s, the realm of the historian rather than the archaeologist. That began to change with the rapid pace of development in London and the discovery of huge quantities of well-preserved organic objects of wood, leather and bone, offering new insights into domestic and industrial life. It was to this ‘detritus’ that Egan devoted his life as the Museum of London archaeology service’s specialist in medieval and later non-ceramic finds.

His impressive series of books on small finds from London are now classic reference works, including Dress Accessories (1991, with Frances Pritchard), Lead Cloth Seals (1995), Playthings from the Past (1996), The Medieval Household (1998, the year he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries), Trifles, Toys and Trinkets (2005, with Fellow Hazel Forsyth) and Material Culture in an Age of Transition (2006), about everyday objects from the Tudor and Stuart periods. He also co-wrote Meols: The Archaeology of the North Wirral Coast (2007, with Fellows David Griffiths and Robert Philpott), about the enormous number of later medieval and post-medieval finds discovered at the site of a beach market on the Wirral Peninsula.

Geoff relished nothing better than finding a type of object that had been neglected in recent scholarship. He would then scour libraries and antiquarian bookshops for anything that would throw light on the subject and read voraciously until he had mastered all the facts. As a result, the house that he had inherited from his parents was filled with a sea of books.

In 2004 he was seconded to the British Museum as national finds adviser on early medieval to post-medieval finds for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a post that he described as his dream job, and that was made permanent in July 2010, only a few months before his death. The most interesting finds he wrote up in successive annual reports on portable antiquities and treasure.

In May 2009 Geoff was elected Master of the Company of Arts Scholars, Dealers and Collectors — quite possibly the first time that a professional archaeologist had ever served as the head of a City of London guild. He delivered the company’s fourth annual lecture, on ‘Glorious Mud: Treasures from the Thames’, last October, made memorable by music played on a replica of the late fourteenth-century trumpet, 1.6 metres in length, that Egan himself had found during excavations at Billingsgate.

For Geoff, that Thames mud was a huge lucky dip that kept on giving up archaeological treasures and, at a time when many in the archaeological community were hostile to the activities of mudlarks and detectorists scouring the foreshore for finds, Geoff shared their passion for discovery and helped to bridge the two worlds.

Geoff died suddenly of a coronary thrombosis on Christmas Eve. Despite his sociability, love of jazz and good food, and large and international circle of friends, his lifestyle was nevertheless not one easily shared with a companion, and he never married. He regarded his best friend and next of kin, the garden and landscape designer Graham Martin, as more like a brother than the cousin he was.


31 January 2011, London Roman Art Seminars 2011: ‘Ossa quod vallavit Onyx: Roman funerary urns in coloured stone’, by Simona Perna (Royal Holloway, University of London), at 5.30pm in Royal Holloway London Annex, 11 Bedford Square (entrance on Montague Place), London WC1, room G3.

Future seminars in the series (same time, same place) are 14 February 2011: Janet Huskinson (Open University) on ‘Roman strigillated sarcophagi: finding voices for a “silent majority”’; 28 February 2011, Thorsten Opper (The British Museum), on ‘The statue of Hadrian from Cyrene’; 14 March 2011, Maria Aurenhammer (Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna), on ‘Hellenistic, Roman and contemporary sculpture in Late Antique Ephesos: the case of the Upper Agora and the Theatre’; 28 March 2011, John Pollini (University of Southern California), on ‘Recutting Roman portraits: problems in interpretation and using new technology in finding possible solutions’; 9 May 2011, Michael Koortbojian (Princeton University), title to be announced; 16 May 2011, Zahra Newby (University of Warwick), ‘Speaking of the dead: the rhetorical strategies of Roman sarcophagi’; 23 May 2011, Andreas Kropp (University of Nottingham), on ‘The images of the “triad” of Heliopolis-Baalbek (Jupiter, Venus and Mercury): interpretations and’ iconographic problems’.

2 February 2011: our Fellow Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple Church, extends a warm invitation to Fellows to attend Evensong for Candlemas at the Temple Church at 5.45pm (celebrating the anniversary of the Consecration of the Round Church on 10 February 1185) to be followed at 6.45pm by an illustrated talk to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, on the subject of ‘Illuminating the Word of God for a New Millennium’, on the commission, design and creation of the St John’s Bible, hand-written and hand-illuminated by the artist and calligrapher Donald Jackson, and described in the Smithsonian Magazine as ‘one of the extraordinary achievements of our time’. Facsimiles of two of the volumes will be on display (courtesy of St Martin-in-the-Fields).

24 February 2011, ‘Sustaining Cultural Heritage Values in Changing Environments’: a lecture by our Fellow Paul Drury, hosted by the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage, to be held at 6.15pm in the Archaeology Lecture Theatre, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31—34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY. This is a public lecture and all are welcome; please email Bethia Tyler if you wish to attend.

The English Heritage Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance for the Sustainable Management of the Historic Environment (2008) seek to sustain (in the Bruntland sense of the word) the mutable cultural heritage values that people attach to places, as well as (or rather than) the materiality of the places themselves. How far does this represent a departure from our deeply rooted primary concern with fabric? What are the implications, against an increasingly inclusive concept of the historic environment? And, as the cultural/ethical imperative of achieving environmental sustainability moves, as once did historic building and area conservation, from a minority position to an ethical imperative, how are these competing public interests to be reconciled? And, finally, what can understanding the historic built environment — much of it the legacy of comparatively low-energy economies — contribute to environmental sustainability?

28 February 2011 is the deadline for submitting proposals for papers or posters for the Visualisation in Archaeology (VIA) International Conference, to be held at the University of Southampton on 18 and 19 April 2011. The 2011 Conference marks the culmination of the three-year VIA project which has sought to explore the philosophical and historical dimensions — and future prospects — of the visualisation of archaeological knowledge. Among the sessions for which papers are being sought are ‘Antiquaries and artists: recording Britain’s past before 1820’, to be chaired by our Fellow Bernard Nurse, ‘Outlining the past — archaeology and the fine arts’, to be chaired by Sam Smiles, and ‘Images in action: visualisations as tools and arguments in archaeological research’, to be chaired by our Fellow Simon James.

Abstracts can be submitted to the session organiser and/or to Sara Perry, at the University of Southampton (); further information and contact details can be found on the conference website.

13 to 15 April 2011, IfA Annual Conference and Training Event: Understanding Significance, to be held at the University of Reading. The conference will offer a stream of topical lectures updating delegates on current issues, policy and best practice, and new techniques and developments in the profession. They will focus on understanding significance as the key to assessing, managing and explaining the historic environment.

For further information about how to book, details about the sessions and workshops, and a detailed timetable for the event, see the IfA website; discounts on bookings apply until 21 March 2011.

11 September 2011, Sutton Hoo: a Swedish perspective. This Sutton Hoo Society conference will take place at the Waterfront Building, University Campus Suffolk, Neptune Quay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ, from 10am to 4pm, chaired by our Fellow Professor Neil Price of the University of Aberdeen and in association with the Royal Carl Gustav Adolf Academy of Sweden.

Neil will open the conference with a paper called ‘An eye for Odin? The shared world-views of Scandinavia and Sutton Hoo’. Dr John Ljungkvist of the University of Uppsala will discuss new research on the élite burial sites of both Gamla Uppsala and Valsgärde. He will be followed by Professor Anne-Sofi e Gräslund, also of the University of Uppsala, who will be talking about the cremation graves of Valsgärde.

After lunch Dr Torun Zachrisson, of the University of Stockholm, will talk about the influence of Byzantium seen in exotic objects in eastern Sweden and beyond, from about AD 550 to 700, followed by Professor Frands Herschend, from the University of Uppsala, who will talk about Vendel-period boat graves in central Sweden. Fellow Martin Carver will close the conference by asking ‘Where next for the Sutton Hoo / Scandinavia axis?’

Further information from the Sutton Hoo Society.

Books by Fellows

The software used to format Salon only allows one picture per report, so in order to accommodate the figures that accompany this section of Salon, Books by Fellow will in future consist of a series of shorter notices.

The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion

Richard Hoggett’s new book, The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion (ISBN: 9781843835950; Boydell), contrasts the poverty of the historical sources and the comparative richness of the archaeological record for understanding the processes by which the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia was converted to Christianity in the seventh century AD. It has long been observed that there is a strong association between Roman sites and early ecclesiastical foundations in Britain and on the continent, and Richard argues that the preference of early ecclesiastics for ruinous Roman sites was not merely a pragmatic choice of a site with a ready source of quarried stone. The re-occupation and reuse of Romano-British forts and walled enclosures is ideological and symbolic: the Church is the successor to the Roman state, and Pope Gregory’s desire to convert the English is as much motivated by the desire to reclaim a lost Roman province as to evangelise a new people.

From an analysis of the Roman sites that were colonised by the first wave of Christian missionaries for churches, Rik moves on to analyse the very complex evidence from cemeteries for the spread of Christianity, arguing that changes in burial rite from cremation to inhumation and from furnished to unfurnished graves are not the most reliable indicator, but rather the abandonment of existing cemeteries and the siting of new ones based on changed attitudes towards the appropriate landscape setting for the dead. Some of these cemeteries were the precursors to attendant churches, rather than the other way around. The cemetery evidence suggests that conversion to Christianity was widespread, and not limited to the upper strata of society; the resulting transformation of the landscape created the East-Anglian landscape whose legacy we live with today.

Macclesfield Alphabet Book

The Macclesfield Alphabet Book was acquired by the British Library in July 2009 after an appeal that raised £600,000 with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund charity. The slim volume, of forty-six parchment leaves, dating from the early sixteenth century, was unknown to scholars until its discovery some ten years ago in the Shirburn Castle library of the ninth Earl of Macclesfield, concealed within an eighteenth-century binding entitled ‘Old Alpha-bets’. The story of that discovery, and the subsequent research to establish the provenance of the manuscript, is told by Fellow Christopher de Hamel in the introduction to the British Library’s handsome facsimile edition (ISBN 9780712358040; British Library).

The book consists largely of specimens of calligraphy, border designs, initials and sets of letters of the alphabet composed of flowers or foliage or acrobatic human figures and/or real and imaginary animals. In addressing the central question ‘what might such a book have been used for’, Christopher is candid: we can only guess, and there are more questions than answers. The usual answer is that the manuscript provided models to be copied or adapted by illuminators or for training artists or for showing to potential customers. For various good reasons this idea is put aside in favour of the opposite: not that it was a model book, but that it was a commonplace book, in which the compiler made notes of appealing designs that he (quite likely Roger Baldry, Prior of the Thetford Cluniac Priory of St Mary) encountered in his work. Christopher ends his introduction by inviting us all to help solve the mystery of the rebus with which the Alphabet Book concludes: it incorporates a spray of three borage-like flowers, a pair of gloves and a series of letters that might read ‘climing’ or ‘charing’.

The Medieval Book

Christopher de Hamel’s sixtieth birthday and his distinguished career in the world of medieval manuscript studies has been marked by friends, colleagues and admirers through the publication of a Festschrift, The Medieval Book, edited by Fellow Richard Linenthal with James Marrow and William Noel (ISBN: 9789061943709; Hes & De Graaf Publishers). The forty papers written by palaeographical brethren, including many Fellows, are grouped under three thematic headings: ‘Books’, ‘The Book Trade’ and ‘Collectors and Collecting’. An introductory essay celebrates Christopher de Hamel’s accomplishments at Sotheby’s, from 1975 to 1999, when his sale catalogues ‘set new standards of quality and stimulated new generations of collectors, both institutional and private’ and since 2000 as the Gaylord Donnelley Fellow Librarian of the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

The Study of Medieval Manuscripts of England

Close in theme and period is the Festschrift that has just been published for our Fellow Richard Pfaff entitled The Study of Medieval Manuscripts of Englandand edited by Fellows George Brown and Linda Voigts (ISBN: 9782503533834; Brepols). Naturally enough, given Richard Pfaff’s lifelong interest in medieval liturgy, several of the sixteen essays in the book focus on manuscripts that provide an insight into the way that parochial, collegiate and monastic devotions were performed from the Anglo-Saxon period to the Reformation, but there are papers too on wider themes, such as Fellow Alan Thacker’s ‘Priests and pastoral care in early Anglo-Saxon England’ and Barbara Harvey’s paper on the private incomes of monks at Westminster Abbey.

The Book of Poole Harbour

The latest book from our Senior Vice-President, Timothy Darvill, grows out of the work that he has done for more than a decade as Chairman of the Poole Harbour Heritage Project. The Book of Poole Harbour (ISBN 978-1904349822; Dovecote Press), edited by Bernard Dyer and Timothy Darvill, consists of thirty essays on aspects of Poole Harbour’s story, from its comparatively recent formation as a result of the same post-glacial sea-level rises that created the English Channel and the Isle of Wight, stabilising around 4000 BC and drowning such sites as the recently discovered Bouldnor Cliff Mesolithic village of c 8000 BC, through to the twenty-first century, when yet again the mean sea level has begin to rise by an average of 3mm to 4mm a year, with consequences that nobody can yet predict.

As you would expect with Tim as editor, the section on human activity in the Poole Harbour landscape occupies a substantial part of the book, with well-illustrated sections on the earliest inhabitants, whom Tim, with his dislike of artificial period divisions, calls ‘hunter gardeners’, on Iron-Age, Roman, Saxon and medieval settlement, land use and industry and on local industries as diverse as salt production, the mining of alum (used as a fixative in the dyeing of cloth and in tanning and softening leather) and copperas (used as a black dye and in the manufacture of ink) and the extraction of clay for everything from brick making to craft pottery. The histories of fishing, ship building, naval activity and the modern leisure and oil and gas extraction industries are all covered (not to mention the unofficial trades of smuggling and piracy), all of which seem to have been absorbed into the harbour’s terrestrial and maritime landscape without destroying the overall impression of this as a beautiful and scenic place, of international importance for its birds, flowers, marine life and elusive red squirrels.

Witness to Rebellion

Fellows Iain Gordon Brown and Hugh Cheape are the editors of Witness to Rebellion: John Maclean’s Journal of the ’Forty-Five and the Penicuik Drawings (ISBN: 9781906566142; John Donald), which brings together two eyewitness accounts (one verbal, one visual) of the last Jacobite Rebellion (‘the Forty-Five’), which began in August 1745 and culminated in the defeat of the army of Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender) at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

One is the journal of John Maclean, a Highland officer in Prince Charles Edward’s army; the other a series of drawings from the Clerk Collection, at Penicuik House, Midlothian, mocking ‘savage’ Jacobite Highlanders and incompetent Lowland volunteers with an equally jaundiced eye. Essays by the editors set both sources in context. Iain describes finding the drawings in ones and twos, the series having become scattered among the mass of unsorted prints and drawings in the charter room, and their significance as an important source for the history of the rebellion and for costume, equipment, weapons and uniform only becoming clear when all sixty or so caricature sketches were assembled together.

This unique collection (the authorship remains anonymous and unidentifiable) was matched up for the publication with the new and previously unknown journal of John Maclean, who served through the campaign and who died at Culloden. The manuscript came to light in 1991 and was finally bought at auction in London by the National Library of Scotland in 1995.

Lost Victorian Britain

Fellow Gavin Stamp demonstrates what riches lie waiting to be discovered in the National Monuments Record (NMR) with his latest book, Lost Victorian Britain (ISBN: 9781845135324; Aurum Press), which draws on the NMR’s vast collection of buildings records to illustrate a story of violence and wanton destruction that has left us with nothing but photographs and drawings of some astonishingly imaginative and architecturally significant buildings that are no more. The genesis of the book was a travelling exhibition put together to celebrate the half-centenary of the Victorian Society in 2008. Gavin also gave lectures at the time, which many Fellows will have attended, and that form the basis of the text in this book, charting his own growing appreciation of Victorian architecture and of the battles fought in the post-war period by the Society in seeking to prevent the destruction of buildings that were seen as anachronistic and inconvenient and the antithesis of the values of a modernising era.

Whilst this book is an elegy for the lost, it reminds us how much worse the situation might have been, how great a debt we owe to the VicSoc and its supporters, and how recent was the threat to some of the nation’s finest Victorian assemblages: only forty-three years ago, in 1968, there was a plan to redevelop the Whitehall block bounded by Downing Street, Parliament Square and the Thames, whilst the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was under threat of demolition in 1963, and Lord Hailsham was all for sweeping away Carlton House Terrace (completed five years before the start of Victoria’s reign) in the 1970s.

Would the Euston Arch and the Coal Exchange be demolished today? Let us hope not, but even so, vigilance is required: it was only two weeks ago that conservationists were dismissed as ‘middle-class idiots’ by Birmingham councillor Len Clark because of the opposition of English Heritage, the Victorian Society and other conservation groups to the demolition of six Victorian villas on Hagley Road. Books like this help to keep alive the necessary sense of outrage that motivates pressure groups and activists to defend vulnerable historic buildings that are often so much more interesting than the buildings that replace them.

Victoria Tower Treasures from the Parliamentary Archives

The Victoria Tower, at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster, was built as a fireproof repository for the Parliamentary Archives; it was completed in 1860, and so, to mark the 150th anniversary, 150 of the most interesting historic records have been selected and described by our Fellow Caroline Shenton, Clerk of the Records for the UK Parliament, along with her colleagues David Prior, Assistant Clerk of the Records, and Mari Takayanagi, an archivist at the Parliamentary Archives, in Victoria Tower: Treasures from the Parliamentary Archives (ISBN: 9780956736307; Parliamentary Archives).

That is not such an easy task, given that the tower houses some 3 million historic records, dating from the fifteenth century. Among the iconic documents featured in the book — such as Charles I’s death warrant, the Bill of Rights, the record of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, the Stamp Act and the Great Reform Act — are less well known but evocative items — such as a ticket to George IV’s coronation banquet, the Commons’ Librarian’s wartime blackout bicycle lamp, a plan of the waterworks at the Kennington Oval, a suffragette banner and many more …

The Secular Latin Motet in the Renaissance

Asked to define a motet, most of us would probably say that it was a choral work written for performance as part of the liturgy, and we might cite Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude or Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus as examples. It is a surprise therefore to discover that there is a rich repertory of secular motets, a largely overlooked genre that our Fellow Richard Rastall, Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology at the University of Leeds, explores, with his co-authors, in The Secular Latin Motet in the Renaissance (ISBN: 9780773414044; Edwin Mellen Press). ‘That repertory’, says Richard, ‘is large and very varied, including settings of classical poems, ceremonial works celebrating coronations, peace treaties, weddings, funerals and state visits, and less elevated material, such as that on choosing a wife. This book opens up the subject with a wealth of new material (including currently unavailable motets by Palestrina and Stabile) and some surprising explorations.’

Mapping the Singing Landscape

We end with another musical offering, this time of the folk variety. Our Fellow Yvette Staelens has just produced her third ‘Singing Landscape’ folk map, this one concerned with the rich folk legacy of Gloucestershire, following on from her earlier maps of Somerset and Hampshire. These maps are packed with information distilled from Yvette’s AHRC-funded research into the singers from whom Cecil Sharp collected his material in the first years of the twentieth century. The maps show where the songs were collected, with biographical information about the singers, along with information about the folk traditions of the area today.

Yvette says: ‘To date there are 40,000 Somerset, 20,000 Gloucestershire and 20,000 Hampshire folk maps in circulation, each one busily creating impact beyond academia. This is probably the largest distribution of academic folk song research print literature ever produced.’ Free copies can be obtained from the following ‘Singing Landscape’ project partners: Lawrence Bostock at Somerset Heritage Service, Alison Carter at Hampshire County Council Museums and Archives Service and Nigel Cox at Gloucester Folk Museum.


Closing date 23 February 2011: University of Warwick, Department of Classics and Ancient History, Assistant or Associate Professor
To conduct research in ancient Greek or Roman numismatics and/or the ancient Greek or Roman economy and to teach in ancient Greek and Roman history and/or Greek or Roman material culture: Warwick jobs.

Closing date 23 February 2011: University of Warwick, Department of Classics and Ancient History, Research Fellow
Fixed-term contract for three years from October 2011, to conduct research on any aspect of the ancient Greek and Roman world compatible with departmental interests and undertake limited teaching; you must hold a PhD in a relevant field and have a record of quality work in Greek and Roman studies, preferably with a background in epigraphy or numismatics and/or ancient economy: Warwick jobs.

Closing date 17 February 2011: University of Birmingham: Chair in Medieval Studies: Birmingham jobs.

Closing date 28 February 2011: the British Institute for Persian Studies has announced a range of travel and research bursaries and two residential post-doctoral scholarships based in Tehran: see the Institute’s website for further information.