Forthcoming meetings

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.

Thursday 10 March: ‘Moving the pieces around: rethinking the Lewis hoard of gaming pieces’, by Mark Hall FSA and David Caldwell FSA

What do we really know about the Lewis chessmen? The walrus ivory chessmen from Lewis, split between the British Museum and the National Museums Scotland, are amongst the most iconic gaming pieces ever discovered, rightly regarded as works of arts, ‘top of the range’ luxury items. This status, however, seems to have been responsible for a lack of critical examination since they were first published soon after their discovery in 1831 (Madden, F 1832. ‘Historical remarks on the introduction of the game of chess into Europe and on the ancient chessmen discovered in the Isle of Lewis’, Archaeologia, 24, 203—91).

This paper takes a fresh look at what we know about the circumstances of their manufacture, use and loss. Two key elements of the generally accepted understanding of the Lewis chessmen have never been challenged: their supposed purely accidental loss (by a merchant) on Lewis and that they consist only of chess pieces (most recently and lucidly discussed in Robinson, J 2004. The Lewis Chessmen, London: British Museum).

An exploration of their wider archaeological and historical context suggests that their putative accidental loss by a merchant is the least plausible of explanations for the chessmen being on Lewis. The geographical, political and cultural position of Lewis in the North Sea world suggests rather that the chessmen were found on Lewis because they were used there for a substantial period of their lives, as the valued possessions of a high-ranking nobleman or ecclesiastic. As gaming pieces we suggest it is useful to think of them less in the exclusive vein of chessmen and more as a hoard of gaming pieces. The presence in the hoard of six tablesmen and a buckle (the latter perhaps for a bag that could have held the pieces) have long argued for this diversity but it is now tenable to suggest that the style and form of some of the abstract pawns, as well as some of the figurative pieces, support the possibility of use in the game of hnefatafl, possibly interchangeably as chess pieces.

We have found no evidence to contradict the likelihood of Trondheim as the place of manufacture and — significantly aided by the innovative forensic-anthropological analysis of the face piece by Dr Caroline Wilkinson — we suggest that the hands of at least five craftsmen/women were deployed in making the pieces. They were made over a late twelfth-/early thirteenth-century time-frame and did not necessarily all arrive on Lewis at the same time. The authors have recently published (2009) a detailed discussion of these and other issues in relation to the Lewis hoard (Caldwell, D, Hall, M A and Wilkinson, C 2009. ‘The Lewis hoard of gaming pieces: a re-examination of their context, meanings, discovery and manufacture’, Medieval Archaeology, 53, 155—203; downloadable for free).

Thursday 17 March: ‘The development of a mid-Tudor house: William Paget at Burton-on-Trent’, by Nicholas Cooper FSA
William Paget, 1st Lord Paget (15??—63), a leading statesman under three monarchs, has not been known as a patron of architecture. However, a sequence of plans made for him at the end of his life, in 1558—63, provide a rare insight into the design evolution of a house that would have been one of the most advanced buildings of its age, if it had been completed. The sets of accompanying estimates from masons and carpenters throw light on building costs, and shows Paget’s own close involvement with these proposals. Not unconnected with this concern is a hitherto unknown sixteenth-century plan of a Scottish Abbey.

York Antiquaries spring meeting

The York Antiquaries will be holding their next meeting at 6pm on Tuesday 22 March 2011, at York St John University, when Peter Connolly, of the York Archaeological Trust, will deliver a lecture entitled ‘From Romans to regeneration: the first 2,000 years of Hungate’. York Antiquaries members will be sent further details in due course. Any other Fellows who would like to attend are asked to contact Philip Lankester.

Ballot results

The following were elected Fellows of our Society in recent ballots; short biographies can be found on the Society’ website, and Blue Papers, giving fuller information, can be read on the Fellows’ side of the website.

3 February 2011: Harry Reeves, Secretary General, UK National Commission for UNESCO; tefano Remo Luigi Campana, Archaeology Lecturer, University of Siena; Bryan John Sitch, Curator of Archaeology, University of Manchester Museum; Rachel Moss, Lecturer and Archives Manager, Irish Art Research Centre, Trinity College, Dublin; Justin Morris, Director of Strategic Planning, British Museum; Timothy Charles Laurie, Quantity Surveyor; David Samuel Harvard Abulafia, Professor of Mediterranean History, University of Cambridge; Katharine Keats-Rohan, Fellow of the European Research Centre, Oxford; Andrew Derek Warren Richmond, Consultant Archaeologist.

10 February 2011: Michael Jones, Professor of History, Bates College, Maine; Janet Nichola Johnson, Director, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts; Iain Robert MacLean Roffe Morley, Lecturer in Palaeoanthropology and Human Sciences, University of Oxford; Lynnette Carleen Keys, Consultant Archaeometallurgist; Ann Brookes, Art Historian; Henry Ruxton Woudhuysen, Professor of English Literature, University College London; Greg Walker, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, University of Edinburgh; Nigel Richard Plant, Lecturer in the History of Art, Christie’s Education; Christopher Rupert Starr, Project Officer for The National Archives’s Manorial Documents Register for Essex.

17 February 2011: Michael Petraglia, Senior Research Fellow, Linacre College, Oxford, Co-Director of the Oxford Centre for Asian Archaeology, Art and Culture; David William Hayton, Professor of Early Modern Irish and British History, Queen’s University Belfast; Paul Holden, House and Collection Manager, National Trust, Lanhydrock House; Steven J Malone, Archaeological Project Manager with Archaeological Project Services; Rodney Mackey, Freelance Archaeologist; Robert John Mayhew, Professor of Historical Geography and Intellectual History, Bristol University; Nicholas John Pearce, Professor of Chinese Art, University of Glasgow; Daniel James Power, Professor of Medieval History, Swansea University; Stephen David Trow, Head of Rural and Environmental Advice, English Heritage.

Victory for woodland campaigners

Public opinion combined with campaigns run by the Woodland Trust, the Open Spaces Society and the National Trust has seen off the Government’s plans to sell England’s publicly owned forests and woodlands. Jubilant newspaper correspondents reported the news under punning headlines that announced a ‘yew-turn’ and the ‘felling of DEFRA’s grand plan’, and the suggestion that DEFRA was ‘unable to see the wood for the trees’.

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, made the announcement on 17 February, informing the House of Commons that the consultation on selling off forests will be shelved; that the Government will remove the clauses from the public bodies bill that would have given the Secretary of State the power to sell off all of England’s forests; and that an independent panel will be established to consider the future of forestry in England. The panel will report by the autumn on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England, on the role of the Forestry Commission and on the role of the Public Forest Estate.

The challenge for the heritage sector now is to ensure that the historic environment is represented on that panel and that adequate account is taken of the archaeological and historical dimensions of England’s woodland, a subject on which a number of our Fellows — not least Oliver Rackham — are experts. Until now much of the debate about woodland privatisation has focused around access and biodiversity, and it is now up to Fellows to ensure that the historic dimension is not neglected.

An example of just how spectacular that historic dimension can be comes from the recent clearance of a stretch of the Ackling Dyke Roman road, near Puddletown in Dorset (pictured), a scheduled monument densely planted some thirty years ago with Norway spruce and lost from view. Pictures in the Daily Mail show an astonishingly well-preserved stretch of road, some 26 metres (85 feet) wide, standing more than 5 metres (15 feet) high and flanked by deep ditches that was part of the network of roads constructed in the first century AD to link London, Old Sarum and Exeter. Our Fellow Pete Wilson, Head of Research Policy (Roman Archaeology) for English Heritage, said that the scale and solidity of the road ‘pays eloquent testimony to the determination of the Romans to consolidate their new territory’.

Henry Russell FSA appointed Parliamentary Liaison Officer with the Heritage Alliance

Another challenge for the heritage sector is to ensure that hard-won policies designed to protect the historic and natural environments are not swept aside, superseded or made optional under the Government’s Localism Bill. As reported in Salon 249, the Institute for Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) has identified measures in the draft Bill that contradict established planning consent procedures where designated assets are involved, such as listed buildings, scheduled monuments or structures within conservation areas (see the UK Parliament website for the IHBC’s memorandum on the subject). English Heritage has also said in its submission that there are provisions in the Bill which have the potential to reduce the level of protection for heritage ‘if planning decisions reflect only the current views of the local neighbourhood’. There is also widespread concern about the Government’s desire to create a much simplified National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in place of the existing suite of planning guidance, and to move the emphasis from requiring developers to comply with the guidance to making compliance optional, the decision to be taken by local communities rather than by professional archaeological and conservation officers.

In response to these concerns, The Heritage Alliance (of which our Society is a founder member) has appointed our Fellow Henry Russell to a new post of Parliamentary Liaison Officer to cover the progress of the Localism Bill towards Royal Assent. Henry will work to persuade parliamentarians, civil servants and opinion formers that the final outcome must not lessen the level of heritage protection. Henry will also work with the Alliance’s members and other bodies, such as those representing the natural environment, to co-ordinate their activities and responses to the Bill and to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) consultation, expected in April. He will be supported on the archaeology aspects by Sarah McCarthy, Honorary Secretary of the Council for British Archaeology, London.

See The Heritage Alliance website for the memorandum on the Localism Bill submitted by the Alliance to the Public Bill Committee.

RIP the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund

Perhaps there are just too many cuts to heritage funding and too many looming threats to the historic environment for archaeologists to have noted the demise of the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF). DEFRA made a short announcement on its website in December 2010 to say that the ALSF would be discontinued at the end of the financial year — note, though, that it is the Fund that is being discontinued, not the levy itself, the funds from which (approximately £20 million per year) will now go straight to the Exchequer and not to the nature conservation, heritage or local community projects that were the recipients of the Fund.

The Minerals Products Association has made its views on the situation clear, saying that much of this funding was aimed at local areas and communities at virtually no cost to the Government and that the decision to discontinue the ALSF is contrary to the spirit of Localism and ‘the Big Society’ that the Government is seeking to encourage.

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, sought an explanation in the House of Commons, asking ‘what plans DEFRA has to provide funding for (a) community and (b) archaeological projects hitherto funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund grant scheme’. Richard Benyon (Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) replied: ‘There is no direct replacement for the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, although the Department can provide funds through its Rural Development Programme for England programme and through its support for bodies such as Natural England and Action with Communities in Rural England-to support and develop community projects. DEFRA also funds some options in Environmental Stewardship for management of farm land containing archaeological sites and artefacts.’

As a result of the demise of the ALSF, archaeology is now many millions of pounds worse off than it was: English Heritage alone will lose the £1.5m a year it received for research and field survey work in areas affected by extraction activity.

Historic buildings lost despite protection

Even the protection afforded to historic buildings under current planning guidance does not always seem to work. The last issue of Salon referred in passing to remarks made by Len Clark, a Conservative member of Birmingham City Council, who described heritage campaigners as ‘middle-class idiots’ when they opposed the demolition of eight architecturally distinctive Victorian and Edwardian villas lining the city’s Hagley Road in order to build a ‘Florida-style’ retirement village.

Those middle-class idiots (including English Heritage, the Victorian Society, a multitude of conservation groups, several highly paid planning experts, the council’s own conservation officer and the council’s own design and review panel) had not opposed the retirement village development; they simply wanted the existing buildings incorporated into it. What is more, the buildings concerned were all protected, in theory, because they form the core of the Barnsley Road Conservation Area — named after Ernest Barnsley, the son of a local manufacturer, who designed one of the houses (No. 324, built in 1895) and who, with his brother Sidney, was a pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement.

North of the border, the Burgh of Dumfries is set to lose an important group of Victorian sandstone buildings with good carved decorative work forming a prominent and beautiful street-frontage along the main route between the town centre and the railway station. Nithsdale Area Regulatory Committee has approved Loreburn Housing Association’s proposals to demolish the buildings to create social housing, despite many public objections and despite the presumption against demolition that comes from their status as distinctive buildings within an ‘Outstanding Conservation Area’.

Then in Herefordshire, local societies are striving to persuade nineteen members of the planning committee not to allow the demolition of Bower House (pictured), described as ‘a handsome Georgian farm at the centre of the village of Holme Lacy’, and replace it with a modern student block and car park for Hereford College of Technology. Again, campaigners simply want the building to be retained as part of the new scheme; they have read PPS5 and are concerned at the apparent lack of compliance. The Georgian Society case officer for the area is reported to be applying for spot listing, having found an important Georgian house with many surviving interior features.
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Literary and artistic inspirations

In London, literary connections are being brought into play in an attempt to influence two listing decisions. English Heritage has been asked to revisit the 2008 decision not to list the former Strand Union Workhouse, in London’s Cleveland Street (in fact, English Heritage recommended listing; it was the Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, who rejected that advice). Built in 1775, this is London’s oldest surviving workhouse, and new evidence has come to light demonstrating that it was the building that inspired the workhouse scenes in Charles Dickens’s novel, Oliver Twist. Simon Callow and Dan Cruickshank and our Fellows Gavin Stamp and David Watkin are amongst those calling for a halt to demolition plans, and for the buildings to be adapted as residential accommodation, in line with the wishes of the local community.

In the case of Holly Lodge, Wandsworth, former home of the novelist George Eliot, English Heritage is being asked to consider an upgrade to Grade II* status to protect what Eliot called the ‘wide horizon views’ from her windows, which are threatened by plans to build a five-storey block of flats opposite. Eliot looked out on those views while writing her best-loved novel, The Mill on the Floss (1860).

Our Fellow Simon Jenkins has risen to the challenge of defending Excalibur: in this case not the sword of Arthurian legend, but the romantically named housing estate in Catford, south London, built by prisoners-of-war from Rommel’s Afrika Korps before they returned to Germany and now the UK’s largest surviving estate of post-war prefab houses. Lewisham Council has plans to redevelop the estate. Currently only six of the 187 prefabs are listed; this, says Simon, is like listing just six of the houses that contribute to the homogeneity of Belgrave Square. The Twentieth Century Society wants to see the entire estate designated as a conservation area, and Simon’s Guardian editorial explains why, in his view, such a move should succeed.

He describes the estate as standing in ‘anarchic contrast to the anonymity of the system-built deck-access slabs that [have] supplanted prefabs [elsewhere]’, and he accuses Britain’s public housing officials of holding the view that ‘the chaotic individualism manifest in the prefab as intolerably antisocial and to be “designed out”’. Excalibur is, he writes, ‘an extraordinary place. The demure terraces of south London give way to what might be a shack estate on Canvey Island. Both council tenants and owner-occupiers have decked their facades in fanlights, coaching lanterns and fake rustication. Gardens are crammed with gnomes and some have smart cars parked in front. The estate’s champion, Jim Blackender, whose website is a model of community action, has bedecked his home as if expecting the England football team to arrive.’

He also accuses politicians of using class values to decide on conservation issues, and of favouring the neat and bourgeois over the scruffy and working class. What Excalibur needs, he concludes, is not a bulldozer, but the occasional attentions of a DIY enthusiast wielding a screwdriver or chisel.

Finally, a building that was highly controversial in its time has been given a Grade I listing, in part for its figurative sculpture and Portland stone reliefs by Henry Moore, Eric Gill and Jacob Epstein. London’s 55 Broadway, which incorporates St James’s Park tube station and the offices of the London Underground, was designed by Charles Holden, inspired by the skyscrapers of New York and, at 174 feet, was the tallest secular building in London when completed in 1929. But that wasn’t the reason for its controversy. Instead what shocked the public at the time was the exaggerated nudity of the young boy symbolising ‘Day’ in Jacob Epstein’s sculpture decorating one side of the building, the partner to his ‘Night’. Just as Gill was asked to take his chisel to Ariel, carved above the entrance to Broadcasting House, two years later, Epstein was asked to make modifications to the manhood of his sculpture — to do so today would, of course, require Listed Building Consent.

Call for clarification of Church rules following sale of funerary armour

Fellows have expressed grave concern about the sale at auction in December 2010 of an important piece of historic armour that was, until its removal on loan to the Royal Armouries, an integral part of the monument to Sir Thomas Hooke (died 1677, aged thirty-six), in St Lawrence’s Church, Wootton St Lawrence, Hampshire. Hooke’s effigy of white marble portrays him in plate armour, resting on one arm, with one hand on his helmet. The helmet itself was placed above the monument, on an iron bracket bearing the initials of Sir Thomas Hooke and the date 1677, along with a dagger and a pair of spurs and a pair of gauntlets (the spurs and gauntlets were reported to have been stolen c 1969). The helmet, which sold for £45,000, was described in the auction catalogue as a rare and important North European armet, c 1500, probably Flemish, converted to funerary use in England in 1677. In the past few days the new owner (resident in the USA) has applied for an export licence; the appropriate organisations are swinging into action to argue that a stop should be put on the proposed export.

Fellows who are experts in arms and armour have joined forces with those who are also leading members of the Church Monuments Society to write to the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England to ask for clarification of the rules governing the disposal of such objects. Although the full facts are not yet in the public domain, they believe that the sale would not have been permitted if the correct Church of England protocol for the sale of Church treasures had been observed — specifically, the case should have been referred to the Church Buildings Council, whose approval is necessary before such a sale can go ahead.

They are asking the Church of England to review this specific case, and, if necessary, to elucidate the rules governing any faculty for sale so that there is greater consistency in their application across different dioceses. The procedures, they say, need to be much more widely known — not only to the members of Diocesan Advisory Committees but also to museums and auction houses. Faculty Jurisdiction Rules (2000) prohibit the removal or disposal of a range of items from churches — including Royal Coats of Arms, unfixed hatchments, heraldic achievements, paintings, historic textiles, historic silver and base metal work — without a faculty and without a reference to the Church Buildings Council, for consideration and adjudication by the Conservation Committee.

Henry VIII’s portrait found on wall in Somerset

The owners of The Old House, Milverton, in Somerset, have discovered an astonishingly well-preserved wall painting hidden beneath timber panelling while decorating their Grade-II listed home. The mural depicts Henry VIII, seated on his throne and holding a sceptre, and it measures some 6 feet in height and 20 feet in total width. Our Fellow Michael Liversidge, who is studying the painting, describes it as ‘of enormous importance and significance’; the only other mural known to depict Henry VIII, painted in the Palace of Whitehall, was destroyed when the palace burnt down in 1698.

A clue to the reason for the portrait is found in the fact that The Old House at Milverton, originally a late fifteenth-century house, was the summer residence of the Archdeacons of Taunton, who were also Prebends of Milverton Prima. Thomas Cranmer briefly served as Archdeacon of Taunton between February and May 1533, before being appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry VIII, though Michael Liversidge believes the painting to date, from internal evidence, to around 1542: ‘the image conforms to a traditional formula that was already centuries old when it was used here and the style of painting is similar to late-medieval wall paintings, while its iconography clearly relates to later representations of the king, such as those found on charters after 1526, the 1539 Great Bible title-page, and the 1542 Third Great Sea’, he says.

The image came to light in 2010 and is now undergoing expert conservation by Ann Ballantyne; it is hoped that this work will reveal more details and that more of the texts that accompany the image will be deciphered. The wall-painting is being researched for publication by two of the Society’s Fellows — Michael Liversidge himself, and Dr Tatiana String, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, whose book, Art and Communication in the Reign of Henry VIII, was published by Ashgate in 2008.

Michael says ‘it is too soon to draw any conclusions, but the Milverton wall-painting is clearly of national importance as the only image of Henry VIII of its kind to have come to light and poses a number of questions, not least of which is exactly when it may have been covered over with a thick, red Somerset earth plaster bound with fine wool which may yield clues to when it was applied, if it can be carbon dated.’

Henry VIII wall painting (detail) (photo courtesy of Timothy Mowl FSA, with the permission of R Powell and A Powell)

Conserving the wall paintings of Bhutan

Our Fellow David Park and colleagues from the Courtauld Institute are engaged in a three-year research collaboration with the Bhutan department of culture with the aim of recording and conserving the largely unknown wall paintings from its 2,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries. Dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the paintings are, in David’s words, ‘absolutely stunning … of exquisite quality and technical sophistication’. David’s colleague, Stephen Rickerby, described the paintings as having a ‘rich, jewel-like quality … achieved through a unique layering of colours and coatings’. Despite their miniaturist detail and the subtlety and sophistication of facial expressions and flowers, some of the paintings extend across hundreds of square metres.

Among the kingdom’s earliest paintings are those at Tamshing Monastery, contemporary with the founding of the monastery in 1501 by Pema Lingpa, who is now revered as a Bhutanese saint. Another important site is the Tango Monastery, with its richly coloured and gilded paintings in the room of Tenzin Rabgye, a seventeenth-century spiritual ruler and poet.

The Courtauld study aims to learn from past mistakes: ‘An alarming number of Buddhist wall paintings in India and Tibet have been irreversibly damaged by well-meaning but disastrous cleaning’ said Stephen Rickerby says. ‘Bhutan’s isolationist past protected its cultural heritage from such dangers, but the opening up of the country means that such risks cannot now be ignored.’

Events in Egypt: eyewitness accounts

Despite early fears that the events of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations that began in Egypt on 25 January 2011 might lead to the widespread looting of Egypt’s rich heritage, it now looks as if the scale of the damage was limited: Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, has been issuing a a series of statements, from which it appears that many of the objects thought to have been stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo have since been found hidden or discarded in the grounds of the museum, and others have been returned after having been found abandoned in the streets around the museum. Even so, some seventy objects have been damaged and others are still missing (pictures of which are being circulated to police and art dealers around the world), while looting has also been reported at a handful of tombs in the Nile valley.

It could have been so much worse, as two eyewitness accounts testify. The first, from Zahi Hawass himself, describes what happened on 28 January 2011 when ‘about a thousand people began to jump over the wall on the eastern side of the museum into the courtyard … they entered the gift shop and stole all the jewellery and escaped; they thought the shop was the museum’. Ten people are then reported to have entered the museum itself by breaking the glass skylights and using ropes to get in … they broke thirteen display cases and threw the contents on the floor, but, says Hawass, worse looting was prevented by volunteers who came to make sure the museum remained safe and intact, and who surrounded the building to prevent illegal entry.

‘The Egyptian people are calling for freedom, not destruction’, Hawass said, adding that ‘inspectors, young archaeologists, and administrators called me from sites and museums all over Egypt to tell me that they will give their life to protect our antiquities [and] many young Egyptians are in the streets trying to stop the criminals … I am very proud that Egyptians want to protect Egypt and its heritage.’

The second account comes from our Fellow Heinrich Härke, who happened to be in Cairo for the fourth ‘Medieval Nomads’ (MeN 4) conference from 25 to 30 January 2011. Here is his story. ‘The conference was organised (as usual) by our Hungarian colleagues, but this time held in the Culture and Press Office of the Hungarian Embassy in Cairo … because Hungary had some money to burn during its EU Presidency. No learned papers were rudely interrupted, but the trouble started on our first excursion day, Friday 28 January. When we came back from the Gizeh pyramids, our bus had the greatest problems getting us to our various hotels because the first battles between demonstrators and police (with petrol bombs and teargas grenades being used already) blocked the main roads into the town centre. In the evening, one of the epicentres of the demonstrations was the western access to Tahrir Bridge, about 600 metres from my accommodation in the Russian Cultural Centre. So we went there, had a look, sniffed the teargas, and talked to the demonstrators who always wanted to know “What does the West think of this?”.

‘Next morning, Saturday 29 January, the first item on our excursion schedule was the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square. Not knowing anything of what had happened on the square the night before (internet and mobile telephone networks had been shut down by the government on Friday evening), two Russian colleagues and I tried to get there. The taxi driver looked doubtful, but he got us across the bridge before he had to turn back. The three attached pictures tell the rest of the story. We struggled on, past burnt-out police lorries and tanks, until we spotted the low red building of the Egyptian Museum next to the burning Mubarak party HQ, under the barrel of the combat tank blocking access from the bridge to Tahrir Square. The museum courtyard was packed with police, and soldiers with armoured personnel carriers posted outside. I played dumb (never difficult for a German) and asked if the museum was closed. A civilian in a pinstripe suit rushed up to confirm that it was closed “today”, but he asked us “Do come again”. I assured him that we would. An Egyptian Army colonel strode past at that moment and greeted us, in passing, in impeccable Queen’s English: “Hello! How do you do?”. Sandhurst, I’d guess.

‘My picture of the front of the Egyptian Museum (above) documents the situation on 29 January, at about 9am on the morning after the events described by Zahi Hawass above. By this time, security forces had taken over, and there was no sign of civilian volunteers protecting the museum.

‘Official departure day of the conference was Sunday, 30 January. We made it to the airport, minus a few items lost in the haste and confusion, and my plane actually departed on time. My Russian colleagues had great problems even getting into their terminal, let alone to the check-in desk, because frustrated Egyptians who could not get tickets blocked the access to the check-in. Two German colleagues spent two days in their terminal because their flight was cancelled, but then they managed to get out on one of the first Lufthansa relief flights. On last count, all conference participants got out, with the exception of two colleagues from Siberia who had gone on a cruise to Luxor where they were pretty safe. Happy Ending indeed, at least for us; whether that is true for Egypt and the Egyptian Museum remains to be seen.’

Palestine Exploration Fund launches Levant survey picture archive

The Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar), Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem and was taken by Captain Arthur Rhodes on 14 December 1917.

Some 160 nineteenth-century images of buildings, archaeological sites, people and landscapes have been made available from the archives of the Palestine Exploration Fund on the internet. Many of the pictures were taken during the first systematic archaeological surveys of the Southern Levant and of Western and Eastern Palestine in the late nineteenth century. Background information on the photographic collections can be seen on PEF’s website.

Jack Green, Curator for the Ancient Near East, Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum and Honorary Keeper of Collections and website editor for the PEF, says that visitors to the Flickr site are free to use any of the images for teaching and research, with appropriate acknowledgements, but he is also hoping to sell high-resolution publication-quality images (available from the PEF’s curator, Felicity Cobbing, to help fund the PEF’s charitable work.

Inscripta: aids to understanding Romano-British inscriptions

Our Fellow Lindsay Allason-Jones, with Glyn Goodrick and Federico Santangelo, have launched a website — named Inscripta — to help people learn to read Romano-British inscriptions. The website, funded by the Higher Education Academy, uses examples from the collection held in the Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne. The information on each inscription features an image, the Latin text, an English translation, audio files with the recordings of Latin and English texts, some general information on the chronology and archaeological context, and general comments on the historical significance of the inscription. The material is broadly divided into three categories: building inscriptions, altars and tombstones. There are also very helpful notes on the conventions used in publishing inscriptions and on Roman names.

Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO)

Our Fellow Sophie Oosterwijk has recently relocated to the Netherlands to assume the role of Co-ordinator of the Tomb Monuments section of the MeMO (Medieval Memoria Online) project at Utrecht University, and she is appealing to Fellows who might have relevant photographic material to contribute to the project.

The MeMO project started at Utrecht University in 2009 in collaboration with the Free University of Amsterdam and Groningen University. It aims to provide a new research tool for the study of memorials from the twelfth to the late sixteenth century within the geographic area now known as the Netherlands. A user-friendly, internet-based application is being developed to publish memorial registers, narrative sources relevant to memorials and databases of memorial paintings, sculptures, tomb monuments and ledger stones. An international description standard has also been developed that scholars can adopt for the development of similar database projects elsewhere. A searchable and illustrated Dutch version of the database of memorial paintings and sculptures, with English introductory texts, is already available online.

A specialist team within the MeMO project is currently producing the English-language version of the database of tomb monuments and gravestones. This will include illustrations alongside detailed information on each of the approximately 2,000 examples. The team still needs more high-quality photographs of monuments to add to its database and Sophie is therefore appealing to anyone willing to contribute photographs of pre-1600 Dutch monuments to this important project to contact her.

Sophie adds that the lack of photographic surveys of memorials is not limited to the Netherlands; as she is only too well aware, from her work as the former editor of the journal Church Monuments, there is no complete photographic coverage (at least not in public collections) of the UK’s rich heritage of monuments.

Photo: memorial to Canon Marcus van Wees (1548), Utrecht Cathedral; courtesy of Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed

3,000 seal images now available on the web

Where in The National Archives (TNA) can you find images of fantastic beasts, knights in armour, mermaids, saints, castles, a dog and a hare playing a game of hazard, coats of arms, love tokens and much more? Answer: on TNA’s new online catalogue, which provides access to more than 2,500 of its seals, with 3,000 images (some seals are double-sided) and descriptions.

The seals are taken from deeds accumulated by the duchy of Lancaster (National Archives record series DL 25 and 26) dating from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries; the earliest is dated 1190 and the latest 1770. The vast majority (94 per cent) are from the medieval period and are personal seals (96 per cent), though there are examples of monastic, ecclesiastical, official and local seals. You can search by name, place, date, design, shape and colour. Designs include simple monograms, animals, plants and flowers, birds, dragons, human figures, knights on horseback, tools, weapons, women, churchmen, saints, mermaids, coats of arms, castles and religious buildings. They can also depict pious, humorous and sometimes bawdy scenes.

The website results from the combined efforts of our Fellows Paul Harvey, Elizabeth New, David Crook and Adrian Ailes. Adrian says: ‘Seals are very fragile; less than 40 per cent of those digitised are complete, most having suffered some damage over the centuries. By making detailed descriptions and high-quality images of these seals available on the web it is hoped that a permanent record will be kept of their designs and that the originals will not have to be consulted so often.’

Heritage Lottery Fund launches consultation on strategy for 2013—19

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has launched a three-month consultation inviting views on the future of Lottery funding for heritage to help shape its strategy from 2013 to 2019. The consultation questionnaire is available on HLF’s HLF’s website, and the response deadline is 26 April 2011.

Within the consultation, HLF sets out proposals on a wide range of key heritage issues. It offers people the opportunity to consider what HLF’s priorities should be, what it should continue doing and what it should do differently, particularly as other sources of public investment become increasingly scarce — though HLF itself expects to have a significantly increased annual awards budget of around £300m, as a result of an increased share of Lottery good cause income for heritage.

In addition to the online consultation, HLF will be bringing representatives from heritage and community organisations together to discuss views on HLF’s funding priorities and a wide range of other issues associated with HLF’s broad heritage remit — from meeting the challenges of climate change to exploiting the opportunities offered by digital media and addressing the shortages in heritage skills.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of HLF, said: ‘These are turbulent times and heritage organisations across the UK are facing both challenges and opportunities. In future, heritage organisations will need to become even more deeply rooted locally, sustained by a combination of volunteering, local ownership, and income generation — alongside continued public investment and private philanthropy. HLF wants to encourage this to build a strong and resilient heritage sector for the future. This is the chance to shape that future.’

News of Fellows

Fellow Daniel Woolf, now Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Ontario, signs his email informing Salon of his new email address with a quotation worth sharing and most apt for a Fellow of this Society: ‘It is said that all isles and continents … are so seated, that there is non but that, from some shore of it, another may be discovered … Certainly the severed parts of good arts and learning, have that kind of site … Every one hath so much relation to some other, that it hath not only use often of the aide of what is next to it, but, through that, also of what is out of ken to it’ (John Selden, 1584—1654, English jurist and historian).

Our Fellow Chris Thomas, Senior Consultant with Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), has been appointed to head up MOLA’s new regional UK operation, branded MetroMOLA, with offices in Birmingham, Manchester and Portsmouth. Chris has worked for MOLA since 1986 and has managed major projects at Spitalfields and Westminster in London, at Southgate in Bath, the Oxford Radcliffe Project and at Torre Abbey in Devon.

The aim of MetroMOLA is ‘to extend the expertise and services of Museum of London Archaeology to assist developers and organisations across the UK and internationally’ in fields such as environmental impact assessments, conservation management, archaeological mitigation, historic buildings survey and community engagement. Our Fellow Taryn Nixon, Managing Director of MOLA, said of the new venture: ‘We value our strong client relationships very highly, and this venture enables us to meet their needs across the UK, blending our skills with local expertise.’

Lives remembered

By now many Salon readers will be aware of the sad news that our Fellow Martin Welch (1947—2011) died of cancer on 6 February 2011. Much loved for his generous personality, Martin was remembered at a gathering of his friends, students and colleagues following the UCL Institute of Archaeology/British Museum seminar led by our Fellow Tania Dickinson at the Institute of Archaeology on 8 February, which was to have been the occasion on which Martin would have been presented with his Festschrift, Studies in Anglo-Saxon Archaeology: Papers in Honour of Martin G Welch (BAR British Series 527). The editors — our Fellows Stuart Brookes, Sue Harrington and Andrew Reynolds — were able to present a copy privately to Martin two weeks ago. A brief summary of Martin’s life and career has been posted on the Institute’s website.

A further tribute to our late Fellow Geoff Egan was published in the Guardian on 9 February 2011, written by Fellow Roger Bland, emphasising Geoff’s pioneering liaison work with the ‘mudlarks’ who search for finds on London’s Thames foreshore. That obituary and a longer version of the one that appeared in The Times can be read on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website. Roger reports that 230 people have already booked to come to Geoff’s memorial event in the British Museum on 24 March; if you have not booked yet and would like to come, please let Claire Costin know.

The memorial service for our late Fellow Robert James Potter will take place at 11.30am on Friday 25 March, 2011, at St Boniface Church, Hursley Road, Chandler’s Ford SO53 2FT. Members of the Society are very welcome to attend and to stay for refreshments in the Church Hall afterwards, in which case it would be appreciated if you let John Potter know.

The Claude Blair Memorial Conservation Fund

Knight, alabaster, of about 1470 with shield on earlier Purbeck marble tomb chest with canopy: said to be Sir William Martyn although he died in 1503 (see Church Monuments Society website’s Dorset inventory)

When our Fellow Claude Blair, founding President of the Church Monuments Society (CMS), died a year ago, our Fellow John Blair asked friends who wished to mark his father’s passing to contribute to a memorial fund which would be used to contribute to the conservation of one or more military monuments. Although fundraising continues (see the CMS website), John Blair and the CMS have now agreed that the proceeds will go to conservation work planned for the Martyn family monuments in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Puddletown, Dorset, which range in date from the thirteenth to the late sixteenth century.

With the other grant offers that the church has received this could mean that the whole cost of the conservation work is now funded, although a much larger sum also needs to be raised by the church to undertake repairs to the fabric to resolve the problems that contributed to the deterioration of the monuments in the first place. The effigies will not be conserved until this other work has been done. Subject to DAC approval, a small stone plaque will be placed in the chapel recording that the conservation work was carried out in memory of Claude Blair.

Obituary: Hilda Elizabeth Jean Le Patourel (1915—2011)

Our Fellow Peter Addyman has contributed the following tribute to our late Fellow Jean Le Patourel, one of that small number of Fellows who had been a Fellow for more than fifty years. Peter recalls that ‘I first met her in the mid-1950s when sent to her with the medieval pottery from a schoolboy excavation I had directed. I remember being rapidly set off in what turned out to be the right research direction, then fed rather good tea and cakes in her home in Ilkley.’

‘Jean Le Patourel, who died on 20 January 2011, aged ninety-five, was a lecturer in the Department of Extra Mural Studies at the University of Leeds from the 1960s until her retirement in 1981. She came to Leeds when her husband, the medievalist John Le Patourel, was appointed to the chair of History in 1945 and began to develop her own interest in medieval culture, especially the medieval ceramics of Yorkshire. Little was known about these at the time and Jean soon established herself as the regional expert, publishing specialist reports in archaeological publications that defined the main types and began to establish their distributions. The kilns that produced the pottery began to be found, in some cases through her own documentary research, and she either excavated these — at Winksley and at Brandsby — or produced the reports on the ceramics from them — at Potterton and elsewhere.

‘Collaboration with our late Fellow John Hurst, the national medieval ceramics expert at the Ancient Monuments Inspectorate, led to her being invited to carry out a number of excavations on medieval sites in Yorkshire, including Knaresborough Castle, and on four medieval moated sites threatened with destruction. From this came a general survey of medieval moated sites in Yorkshire. The resultant publication is still the starting point for research on the subject. Jean’s collaboration with Hurst continued at the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy, where for many years she reported on the ceramic finds from this very long-running and now world-famous excavation. Contacts made through these projects and through her husband’s wide international network meant that Jean was well known and internationally-respected in her field. For many years, for example, she was one of the British delegates on the Château Gaillard Conference on Castle Studies.

‘Jean is remembered as an inspiring teacher by the students of her Extra-Mural and WEA classes, many of whom first encountered archaeology through her and went on, with her encouragement and guidance, to make their own contributions, as amateurs and, in some cases, as professionals. Another seminal publication, work on the history of Yorkshire boundaries, emerged from such Extra-Mural work.

‘She was a moving spirit behind the establishment of a Medieval Section of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, of which she was the first Chairman. Always a cairn terrier enthusiast, she gained much enjoyment in later years from the study and archaeological history of early dog collars, on which she was also the acknowledged expert. Within the University she was a strong advocate of archaeology, working with her medievalist husband to see the establishment of posts in both the Department of History and of Extra Mural Studies, and being extremely saddened when these were relinquished.’

Obituary: John Cabell Riely

Our Fellow John Cabell Riely, a scholar of eighteenth-century literature and art, died of a heart attack on 22 January 2011 at his home in Newton Centre at the age of sixty-five. A former professor in the English Department of Boston University (1981—2003), John Riely was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the son of James Evans Riely and Marianne Gateson Riely. After finishing Episcopal Academy in 1963, he went to Harvard College where he graduated cum laude in 1967. His University of Pennsylvania PhD was awarded in 1971. For the next nine years he edited volumes 40 to 42 of the Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, published by Yale and Oxford University Press (1980).

While at Yale, where he gave lectures and seminars, John Riely wrote the exhibition catalogue for Rowlandson Drawings from the Paul Mellon Collection (1977), displayed in New Haven and at the Royal Academy in London. The Age of Horace Walpole in Caricature (1973) was published by Yale University Library, and the Victoria and Albert Museum published English Caricature, 1620 to the Present (1984, written with Richard Godfrey). With Hugh Belsey he wrote Gainsborough and Rowlandson: Drawings in Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (1990). The recipient of many grants and fellowships, he also contributed numerous articles and papers on the literature and art of eighteenth-century England to journals, festschrifts, and conferences.

John Riely was a devoted member of the Club of Odd Volumes and the St Botolph Club in Boston. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1990. He also belonged to The Johnsonians (USA), The Johnson Club (England) and the Walpole Society (England) as well as many other societies associated with eighteenth-century subjects.

John was also deeply attached to Squam Lake, where his family spent summers while he was growing up and which he continued to enjoy throughout his life with family and friends. He leaves two sons — Christopher Cabell Riely, of Providence, Rhode Island, and Andrew Carrington Riely, of Washington, DC — his former wife, Elizabeth Gawthrop Riely, of Brookline, Massachusetts (who contributed this obituary); a sister, Celia Carrington Riely Lewis, of Dussac, in the French Dordogne; and his companion, Martha Vasconcellos, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. After a private service, a memorial service will be held for friends and colleagues. Instead of flowers, his sons request that donations be made in his memory to the Squam Lakes Conservation Society in Holderness, New Hampshire.

Obituary: Peter Bird (1947—2010)

Our Fellow Norman Hammond has provided Salon with this copy of the obituary for our Fellow Peter Bird that was published in The Times on 4 February 2011.

Peter Bird devoted a lifetime to the care of historic buildings, great and small, establishing an unrivalled rapport with the craftsmen he worked with on cathedrals and churches. He served simultaneously as cathedral architect at Exeter, Wells, Winchester and St Davids as well as undertaking extensive work for the Landmark Trust, the National Trust and numerous parish churches. His weeks were spent travelling the country in a car filled with samples of stone, catching up on paperwork at weekends. His other passion was for model railways which filled his garage, loft and other parts of his house.

Born in Birmingham in 1947, he studied at the city’s school of architecture, writing a thesis on his first love, timber-framed buildings, and winning a prized Lethaby Scholarship from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. In 1971 he married Charlotte Maclagan and joined a practice in Cambridge, undertaking work for the National Trust in Wales at Powys Castle and Erddig, from which he returned spellbound, enthralled by a house where nothing had been thrown away, not even the penny farthing bicycle.

Suffering from the early 1970s recession he worked for a while as historic buildings architect to Bath City Council and then set up practice on his own in Somerset, where he was quickly recruited by the architect Martin Caroe to take over the day-to-day running of the great programme of repairs to the west front of Wells Cathedral and its 297 crumbling medieval figure sculptures. Caroe had embarked on a conservative programme of repair, using lime poultices to clean sculpture and stonework guided by Professor Robert Baker.

After the work was finished in 1986 Bird became cathedral architect and would examine the west front in minute detail every three years from a cherry-picker to check the condition of the stone. Bird embarked on careful re-pointing of medieval walls and recently had begun to put lime render back on rubble walls, notably on the Chain Gate spanning the Bath Road. He had also started to render the west cloister, returning surfaces which had been stripped and pointed by Victorians to their medieval texture. His attention had also turned to the fourteenth-century glass of the great East Window, set so high that vandals had never destroyed it, and was conserving glass and doing trials on secondary protective glazing that would not interrupt the lead lines.

Becoming cathedral architect at Exeter in 1990 he progressively repaired and re-leaded the high roofs, during which dendrochronology established the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century date of many timbers. He also implemented big improvements in fire safety, an issue of great concern after the York Minster fire in 1984, dividing the open space inside the nave roof into a series of compartments in which a fire could be contained and fought. His masonry repairs were in carefully selected Devon stones in contrast to earlier unfortunate replacements in Bath stone. Cleaning, followed by lime mortar repairs and shelter-coating, brought out the composition of the elevations — notably the beauty of the complex tracery of Thomas of Witney’s early fourteenth-century nave windows. He also designed sympathetic ramps and handrails for disabled access and replaced the railings around war memorials and statues with sturdy ironwork protecting them from vandalism.

At Winchester he carried out a long careful programme of stone conservation and roof repair, discussing the work every Tuesday with the clerk of works and the craftsmen involved, earning respect for his uncanny ability to match new stone with old and to judge the colour of shelter coats which, however bright or dark they appeared on the scaffold, always looked right from the ground. His most recent work, the Fleury building, was completed on 18 December, tucked into a corner of the north transept and faced in smooth Doulting stone, with restrained slit windows. It provides out of sight storage for the staging and chairs which often clutter cathedrals, as well as hospitality space and toilets.

His careful approach to historic fabric brought many commissions for repairs from the Landmark Trust, including Gurney Manor, Kingswear Castle, Woodspring Priory, Woodsford Castle and Elton House in Bath. For the National Trust he carried out work at Arlington Court, Cotehele, Corfe Castle, Dunster Castle, Dyrham Park, Killerton, Montacute and Stourhead. He also worked at Longleat, Wilton and Brympton d’Evercy. He also had a huge portfolio of churches where he carried out quinquennial inspections, and looked after numerous churches in the Llandaff diocese.

At St Davids he was working, shortly before his death, on the shrine of St David, intending to give it the prominence it deserves by reinstating the lost wooden canopy and painted figures, following an Elizabethan eyewitness account. Earlier he completed the process begun by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1860s of re-roofing parts of the cathedral complex unroofed in the seventeenth century. In the chapel of the College of Vicars Choral he inserted a mezzanine floor, creating a two-storey restaurant, approached by an elegant steel stair. As always, this showed exceptional sensitivity to the old work, leaving rugged ancient masonry exposed to view, with the new insertions subtly detached. He also carried out a remarkable reconstruction of the vanished medieval cloister, executed in wood on the 1380s stone foundations.

Although, as a conservation architect, Bird was not invited to do the ambitious new refectories at Wells and Winchester, his abilities as a designer of new work were greater than was generally recognised, masked by his sensitive deference to the old. It is a tribute to the value placed on his work that, despite suffering from cancer for the past five years, he remained architect to all four of his cathedrals until his death. He is survived by his wife Charlotte and two sons.


Fellow Brendan O’Connor has spotted another potential Fellow who ended up being diverted into a celebrity career: Radio 3’s lunchtime concert, live from the Wigmore Hall on 31 January 2011, featured the soprano Elizabeth Watts, winner of the lieder prize in the Cardiff Singer of the World contest in 2007 and described by International Record Review as ‘one of the most beautiful voices Britain has produced in a generation’ — and who was announced as ‘a former archaeology student at Sheffield University’.

Much to the disappointment of at least one Fellow, music is not one of the components of the Government’s new national curriculum for measuring GCSE performance, despite what was said in Salon 249. This was wishful thinking on Salon’s part and though the Education Secretary has said that he is still open to persuasion on the subject (and though there has been much lobbying for music to be included), the core curriculum (also known as the English baccalaureate or Ebac) as currently proposed consists of English, maths, two sciences, a modern or an ancient language and either geography or ancient or modern history.

Salon’s editor needs to go back to school for a refresher course in Latin. As Fellow Jacquie Glomski points out, the toast to which members of the Society of Dilettanti drink is Seria Ludo (Serious Matters in a Playful Vein), not Serio Luda.

On a related matter, Fellow Norman Hammond reminds Salon’s editor that ‘the media’ should be used with a plural, rather than a singular, verb, so the phrase ‘The media likes to present …’ used in the last issue of Salon is grammatically incorrect. ‘One medium, two media (as with radio being one medium, TV another, the Press a third, altogether “the media”)’, says Norman, adding ‘the same goes for “data” and “stratum/strata”: you’d never say “the strata is superimposed”.’

Norman is absolutely right, of course, but it does make you wonder when does a word become part of the English language and thus obeys the rules of English grammar rather than those of the language from which the word has been borrowed? Data, for example, is well on the way to becoming an English singular noun and ‘agenda’ long ago crossed that boundary. Media seems at present to have a foot in both camps: used as a singular when referring, for example, to Facebook as ‘an example of social media’, but plural in a sentence such as ‘Social media are mainly based on web-and mobile-phone technologies’.

The thoughts of our Fellow Alastair Maxwell-Irving on the subject of the award of doctorates for published work brought a large number of responses, all of them optimistic about the process of obtaining such a degree and keen to encourage others to follow in their path. The sheer volume of correspondence on this topic reveals that it has been the route to a doctorate for a considerable number of Fellows, including many who missed out on the opportunity to undertake research after graduating.

Fellow Roger Ling, for example, pointed out that our two speakers at the Society’s meeting on 3 February 2011, Stephen Cosh and David Neal, joint authors of the Romano-British Mosaics corpus whose completion was celebrated at that meeting, are shining examples of scholars who have been awarded doctorates on the basis of their publications: David Neal does not even have a first degree but his achievements have been recognised by means of a doctorate awarded by De Montfort University, Leicester; Steve was awarded his doctorate by his alma mater, the University of Reading.

Further examples of similar awards include that of Fellow Hugh Cheape, who commends the University of Edinburgh for its efforts to reach out to PhD candidates outside academia and Fellow Vincent Megaw, whose DLitt from the same university was awarded on the basis of published work (‘North of the Border is another country’, Vincent adds). Fellow Stewart Lyon, was awarded his PhD by Cambridge University in 2004 (when he was in his late seventies) after submitting copies of his published papers on Anglo-Saxon numismatics and undergoing a formal oral examination (all the more impressive when you consider that Stewart’s interest in Anglo-Saxon coinage was pursued in his spare time during a professional career as an actuary). Fellow Aidan Dodson, now Senior Research Fellow in Bristol University’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, obtained his Cambridge PhD by published work while working as a civil servant — the only requirement, says Aidan, is that you already hold a Cambridge degree.

Fellow Matthew Bennett (who, by the way, was on BBC TV’s ‘The One Show’, on 31 January, talking about trebuchets in the imposing surroundings of Caerphilly Castle, filmed on a lovely summer’s day last year) has even gone to the trouble of mapping out his own very recent path to being awarded such a PhD by the University of Northampton. Anyone seeking to follow his example should, he writes:

1. Find a university academic to sponsor them;
2. Ensure that the university in question supports PhDs by this means (not all do and my original institution was not interested);
3. Agree the form of PhD and its duration (in my case one year’s study minimum within a bracket of two years to completion);
4. Be prepared to pay a fee of around £2,000 (or persuade your employer to contribute);
5. If at all possible, get time off to do it; I was given three months paid leave by my employer in a new sabbatical scheme not previously available to a civil servant.

Matthew goes on to say that his love of history, conceived at Wellingborough Grammar School in Northamptonshire (1969—72), was fostered at King’s College London by R Allen Brown, dashing former cavalryman, devout medievalist and Fellow of our Society of Antiquaries, which Matthew remembers visiting as a guest in the late 1970s to witness a ferocious debate between Allen Brown and Brian Davison about the nature of the castle. Matthew began his PhD under Professor Brown’s direction but had not completed it by the time he became an MoD civil servant at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, in 1984, nor by the time of Brown’s tragically early death from cancer in 1987, aged only sixty-five.

Between 1982 and today, Matthew has published thirty papers in academic journals, and it was his former Sandhurst colleague Professor Ian Beckett (now at Kent) who suggested the route of Published Works to gain a PhD. He enrolled in February 2009, supported financially by an employer who also awarded him a term’s sabbatical (after 25 years service), and with the guidance of his tutors, first Dr Veronica West-Harling, then Dr Matthew Seligman, selected fourteen articles to represent his work, and wrote a linking piece, under the title of ‘The ethos and practice of warfare in the High Middle Ages c 1050 to c 1250: a military, social and literary study’. Matthew’s Viva took place in November with Professor David Crouch as external examiner, and the degree is due to be awarded almost exactly two years after the process began.


28 February 2011: ‘James and Alfred Morrison: two generations of 19th-century collectors’, a paper to be given by Caroline Dakers, Professor of Cultural History at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (part of the University of Arts London), at 5.30pm, in the Wallace Collection Lecture Theatre; admission free; booking not required.

In this seminar Professor Dakers will explore similarities and differences in taste and in approaches to collecting of James Morrison (1789—1857), and his second son, Alfred Morrison (1821—97). The first Morrison, the son of a country innkeeper who received no formal education, became the richest commoner in Britain in the nineteenth century, making his (and his family’s) fortune through textiles, property, money lending and North American investments. He eventually owned 100,000 acres of land in Britain, displaying his treasures in his townhouse in Harley Street, the Pavilion, Fonthill (the remaining wing of Beckford’s Fonthill Splendens), and Basildon Park in Berkshire. Alfred was a collector of historical manuscripts, autograph letters and Chinese Imperial porcelain; he also commissioned unique pieces from contemporary craftsmen such as Placido Zuloaga, Lucien Falize and Charles Lepec, and was the principal patron of John Brett. Owen Jones designed interiors for his houses in London (Carlton House Terrace) and Wiltshire (Fonthill).

Lecture 20 April 2011; exhibition from now until 2 May 2011: Glimpses of Grandeur: Paintings of Rome by Peter Edge. This new exhibition at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum features the work of an award-winning artist fascinated by the art and architecture of Rome, focusing particularly on the majesty and grandeur of the baroque (pictured). The programme of events includes a lecture by our Fellow David Watkin on 20 April, on the subject of ‘Visions of Rome: Piranesi and the Forum’, to be held in the museum’s lecture theatre at 7.30pm, in which he will draw contrasts between Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s magnificent eighteenth-century etchings and the archaeological remains as they are today, exploring the changing image of the Forum across the centuries.

19 March 2011: Life In Roman Britain: this one-day meeting, organised by the Roman Finds Group in the Weston Theatre at the Museum of London, has Fellows speaking on what we can learn about domestic and military life (and funerary practices) from studying the period’s artefacts. Further information is on the Roman Finds Group’s website.

19 March 2011: From Camulodunum to Durobrivae, the Cambridge Antiquarian Society’s annual conference, organised by Mark Hinman and chaired by Fellow Alison Taylor, will include talks by Fellow Paul Sealey (‘Where have all the people gone? A puzzle from middle and late Iron Age Essex’); Fellow Geoffrey Dannell (‘Invasion and beyond’); Grahame Appleby (‘Boudica: from rebellion to defeat, a chronology’); Fellow Phillip Crummy (‘Camulodunum Roman town’); Will Bowden (‘Caistor Roman town’); and Stephen Upex (‘Durobrivae: a small town, but a big settlement’). Tickets are £12. For bookings and enquiries please contact John Stanford; tel 07764 606682).

23 March 2011: Drunkenness, War and Sovereignty: three stucco panels from the Palazzo Scala, Florence, by Dr Scott Nethersole, The Soane Museum Study Group, 6pm for 6.30pm, in the Seminar Room of Sir John Soane’s Museum, at No. 14, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP. Places must be booked in advance by contacting Beth Walker. This paper will examine three fifteenth-century stucco panels from the west wall of the courtyard of the Palazzo Scala in Florence. The reliefs create a visual association between humanity, bestiality and violence, themes that seem to be at odds with the civilised learning and activities of their patron, the Florentine chancellor Bartolomeo Scala. A resolution to this apparent impasse is sought by considering the visual impact of the reliefs and, in particular, the various clues which alert the viewer to their manufacture. Scott Nethersole is Lecturer in Italian Renaissance Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art. He was previously the Harry M Weinrebe Curatorial Assistant at the National Gallery, London.

6 to 8 May 2011: Shropshire and West Mercia: recent discoveries and research, a weekend conference hosted by the Royal Archaeological Institute, the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, beginning with a keynote lecture on the Staffordshire Hoard by our Fellow Leslie Webster, and continuing with papers on the Saturday covering all periods in the region’s archaeology, from the prehistoric to the present, and ending on Sunday with visits to Wroxeter church, Roman City, baths, museum and the newly constructed ‘Roman villa’. Further details and a booking form can be found on the RAI’s website.

8 to 12 November 2011: Asian-Academy for Heritage Management (AAHM) Asia-Pacific Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage. See the APConf website for details of this inaugural conference, to be held in Manila, and of the First Call for Papers and a call for expressions of interest in being a Theme or Session organiser.

The Archaeologist 79: Archaeology on the Islands

The latest issue of the magazine of the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA), edited by Fellow Alison Taylor, takes island archaeology as its theme. Alison says: ‘there are case histories looking at the historic landscapes of the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, Iona, Bute, the Isle of Man, Flat Holm, Lundy, Orford Ness, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isles of Scilly and Menorca; they demonstrate how rarely islands are actually insular, and how difficult are the problems facing archaeologists but how great are the rewards. Amongst the problems discussed are the distinctive legislative systems that operate on some islands — in some cases, protection for sites is weaker than UK archaeologists are accustomed to.

This issue also includes a ‘wake-up’ report on the need to protect local authority archaeologists, by Peter Hinton, IfA’s Chief Executive, and a similar urgent call to face up to the massive problem of storing archaeological archives and artefacts by Roland Smith, chair of the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers (FAME).

For further information about this issue, the last (on the management of rural sites), or the next (which will celebrate the best archaeological projects of the last twenty years), contact Alison Taylor.


Bristol University, Chair in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology (ref. 16029); application deadline 10 March 2011. Open to applicants from all fields of specialisation in Archaeology, Archaeological Science, Biological Anthropology or Social Anthropology. Further details from the Bristol University website.

Director of the Frick Collection application deadline: 18 March 2011.

Director of The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; application deadline: 18 March 2011, the Hood Musuem has strong holdings of African, European and Euro-American, Native American and Oceanic art and artefacts that date from antiquity to the present.

Research Fellowship, Clothworkers’ Foundation; application deadline: 4 March 2011
A grant of up to £80,000, over two years, is available to a UK institution to enable an experienced conservator (employed by that institution) to pursue a research project. During their sabbatical their post will be covered by an externally recruited junior conservator. The grant will meet the salary and costs of the junior conservator, and the project costs of the work undertaken by the senior fellow. The deadline for applications is Friday 4 March 2011. See the Clothworkers’ Foundation website for guidelines and an application form.

Three-year post-doctoral Anniversary Research Fellowship, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research; stipend: £27,319—£35,646 pa; application deadline: 31 March 2011
The McDonald Institute marks its twentieth anniversary by inviting applications for the first of five three-year post-doctoral Anniversary Research Fellowships to be awarded in the next five years. In addition to the stipend, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to apply to the Institute for up to £10,000 of research support funds per annum. Applicants should propose a focused research project and a broader inter-disciplinary conference topic within the five major research areas of current interest to the Institute: human-environment interaction, social change, symbols, material culture, and heritage. Further particulars and an application form (CHRIS 6) may be obtained from Rebecca Burtenshaw, quoting ref: JC07815.