The Society of Antiquaries of London’s Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of news from the heritage sector, focusing especially on the Society and its Fellows and the contribution that they make to public life through their many and varied activities. Like the intellectual salons of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it aims to amuse and to stimulate debate as well as to inform. A copy of Salon’s editorial policy can be found on the Society’s website and feedback should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.

Getting to know the Society: introductory tours of Burlington House

There are still places left on the final tour of this academic year, which will take place on 21 June 2012 and is designed to introduce Fellows to the Society, its library facilities, museum collections and activities. Tours last for about 90 minutes, followed by an optional light sandwich lunch, for which a charge of £5 is made. To book a place please contact Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant (tel: 0207 479 7080).

The Royal Commissions: to merge or not to merge

Several Fellows have recently written asking Salon to make Fellows aware of proposals that could result in the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) being merged with Cadw and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) being merged with Historic Scotland, just as the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England was merged into English Heritage in April 1999.

The news that the future of the Welsh Commission was under review came in a statement on ‘Planning for the future of historic environment services in Wales’ put out by Huw Lewis, Welsh Government Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, on 3 May 2012, which said: ‘In a climate of reducing public funding, there will inevitably be pressure for the historic environment sector in the future in terms of resourcing and resilience. The Welsh Government needs to consider how to respond to these challenges and I want to ensure that the core functions of the sector bodies which are funded through the Housing, Regeneration and Heritage portfolio are shaped for coherent and sustainable delivery. I have therefore asked the Royal Commission to work with Cadw and CyMAL [Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales] in 2012―13 to consider how best to achieve this. I have established a working group to create a process whereby the core functions of the Royal Commission could be merged with other organisations, including Cadw … I have asked the working group for a report on an agreed way forward by July 2012.’

In Scotland, the review was announced in November 2011, when the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said that she had commissioned Historic Scotland to undertake a strategic options appraisal on the future delivery of RCAHMS’s core functions, while emphasising that ‘the Scottish Government is committed to maintaining the important work of the RCAHMS in recording, maintaining and making accessible information on Scotland’s built environment’. Consultations with stakeholders have subsequently taken place, hosted by the Built Environment Forum for Scotland (BEFS). The results of the Historic Scotland review are due soon, and there will be a further consultation on whatever recommendations emerge.

Naturally there is nervousness about what this could mean for both Royal Commissions, which both have a long and proud history of curating the national archives of their respective historic environments and of adding to knowledge through exemplary and authoritative fieldwork and research. There is always the very real danger of the smaller body being submerged and taken over by the larger, and of its functions being eroded and downgraded as the merged body comes under pressure to make cuts. Perhaps at this stage we can do nothing but wait for the recommendations to be delivered and, once they are, seek waterproof guarantees that will safeguard the core functions of the Royal Collections, whose vital work is far from over. Alternatively, rather than waiting, Fellows with views on the subject might like to write to the Ministers concerned.

Photos of life in the British Raj in India found in a shoe box

Meanwhile, here is a happier story from the Scottish Royal Commission, which recently published a series of pictures that were discovered recently in a ‘size-nine Peter Lord shoe box’. Some 178 plate-glass negatives were found in the shoe box, capturing life in India at least a century ago, and sixteen of the best may be seen in a Daily Telegraph photo gallery. A clue to the date is the fact that some of the pictures show festivities in Calcutta for the 1912 British royal visit. Little is known about the images and RCAHMS is hoping that publication might lead to somebody being able to throw light on the identity of the photographer, who might have been a British civil servant serving in Calcutta.

One threat is seen off; another looms

Campaigners opposed to the creation of a huge landfill site at a quarry close to Hadrian’s Villa, at Tivoli (see Salon 278) are very grateful to all those who signed their petition. Fortunately the Italian President decided last week to reject the landfill planning application ― this particular threat to the World Heritage Site has thus been fought off successfully.

Another group of campaigners is now seeking the help of Salon readers for a cause much closer to home ― close, indeed, to William Morris’s Kelmscott Manor home. Visitors to Kelmscott driving via Lechlade will no doubt be aware of the large boatyard and camper van site near the Trout Inn by St John’s Bridge. The owners of that business have applied for planning permission to develop the former water treatment works at Brandy Island, which lies along the River Thames between Lechlade and Kelmscott into a boat hire business, with twenty moorings and facilities for the maintenance and repair of boats. Those who are opposed to the plan say it will jeopardise the peaceful, rural setting of the river and of the adjacent Church of St Mary the Virgin at Buscot, with its Burne-Jones stained glass. They also fear that local wildlife will suffer.

The National Trust, which has owned Buscot village since 1956 and would like to own Brandy Island as well, is backing the campaign to persuade the Vale of White Horse District Council that the development is an inappropriate use of a tranquil and unspoilt stretch of the River Thames. Richard Henderson, the Trust’s general manager for Oxfordshire, is working closely with the local parish council on the campaign and the Trust has posted details on its website explaining how to send letter of objection to the proposed development. Further details and pictures can be found on the ‘Save Buscot’ website.

Winners of the European Museum of the Year Awards (EMYA) 2012

Fellow Michael Ryan reports that this year’s top European Museum prize, the European Museum of the Year Award, has gone to an archaeological museum for the second year running: this time to the splendid museum at Madinat al-Zahra, near Cordoba. The Glasnevin (cemetery) museum won the Kenneth Hudson prize: our Fellow Peter Harbison, who is closely associated with Glasnevin, said in his brief acceptance speech that the task of the museum was ‘to bring the dead to life’.

The awards, organised by the European Museum Forum (EMF), celebrated their thirty-fifth anniversary this year. Presenting the 2012 Award in Penafiel, Portugal, the judges described the Madinat al-Zahra Museum as encompassing the important tenth-century site of the capital of Islamic al-Andalus. The new museum building serves as a research centre, visible storage, conservation and restoration facility, and as a space for exhibitions and the interpretation of the unique collection. The museum and the partially recovered and restored site document a magnificent, complex city, its supporting infrastructure, buildings and gardens, as well as the social organisation and everyday life of its 10,000 inhabitants.

The Kenneth Hudson Award for ‘the most unusual, daring and, sometimes, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society’ went to the purpose-built, glass-walled museum overlooking Glasnevin Cemetery that was opened in 2010 to enrich visitors’ experience of the cemetery and their knowledge and understanding of Irish history through the lives of the leading public figures buried there. The museum, said the judges, ‘transforms public perception of cemeteries, and has turned an unexpected place into a vibrant historically informative experience about life and lives’.

Special Commendations also went to the Audax Textielmuseum, in Tilburg, The Netherlands, housed in a historic textile mill, with working machinery; The Museum of a Disappeared Taste, Kolomna Pastilla, Kolomna, Russia, commended for putting flavours, an intangible part of the heritage, at the centre of its activity; the Museum of Prijepolje, Serbia, for using its archaeological, historical, art historical and ethnographical collections to unite diverse ethnic and religious communities in a delicate political and cultural environment; and the People’s History Museum in Manchester, UK, for its creativity in making the history of working people in Britain and the struggle for democracy accessible and appealing to a wide international audience.

Sewer-gas destructors and road signs: recently listed heritage assets

One could hardly call them listed buildings, for among the most recent additions to the National Heritage Register for England are a sewer-gas destructor and a road sign, both of them dating from before the First World War. The sewer-gas destructor lamp has been listed at Grade II because it is a rare and intact example of a type of lamp that was invented in the 1890s to draw methane and other noxious gases from poorly vented sewers and burn them off by means of three mantles, which were rarely extinguished. The system was invented by Joseph Edmund Webb, a builder from Birmingham, who later formed the Webb Engineering Company: this particular example still has its original curved glass lantern and a cast-iron base plate reading: J.E.WEBBS PATENT SEWER GAS DESTRUCTOR.

Another easily overlooked fragment of early social history is the road traffic sign, known as a prohibition disc, that has been designated Grade II, located on Coast Road, Overstrand, Norfolk, dating from between 1904 and 1919. The listing schedule describes it as ‘representative of road traffic management on English roads prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Transport’. In fact it was the 1903 Motor Car Act that empowered local authorities to erect red discs, known as ‘prohibition discs’ (the predecessor of modern ‘No entry’ signs), banning motor vehicles from passing beyond the sign. In this case, the sign prohibits motor vehicles from passing down the narrow coast road that leads on to the beach.

Shakespeare’s Curtain theatre unearthed in Hackney

Archaeologists from MOLA are becoming expert at finding Shakespeare’s lost theatres. They found The Theatre in 2008, not to mention the Globe and the Rose, both now published, nearly twenty-five years ago, the latter important too for ushering in the era of the developer-funded excavation. This week MOLA announced that it had found The Curtain, the theatre that Shakespeare and his fellow players used for a short period in 1597 to 1599 while waiting for the Globe Theatre to be completed.

Earlier the players had been based at The Theatre, built by actor-manager James Burbage, located close by in Curtain Road. After a dispute with the landowner, the timber Theatre was dismantled and the materials used in the construction of the Globe, on Bankside. The Curtain thus became a temporary home that saw the first performance of Henry V, in which the prologue asks (referring to the shape and diminutive scale of The Curtain):

… can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?

The precise location of The Curtain (named after the nearby road; the curtained proscenium arch theatre was a late seventeenth-century development) was lost after the theatre was closed and demolished some time after 1627. MOLA archaeologists have now discovered part of the gravelled yard where the audience stood to watch plays, along with the foundation walls that once supported wooden seating and two sections of exterior wall.

Plough Yard, the development company that owns the site, fronting on to Hewett Street, hopes to build a mix of retail, residential and office accommodation, but is said to be delighted about the discovery and keen to incorporate the find into the new development, along with a modern performance and exhibition space.

Wrestling champion helped recruit Roman army troops

Photo: by Nicholas Milner, British Institute at Ankara

An inscription discovered in 2002 ― and now published by Nicholas Milner of the British Institute at Ankara in the journal Anatolian Studies ― reveals that the wrestling champion Lucius Septimius Flavianus Flavillianus became a recruiting officer for the Roman army in Syria, using his celebrity status to persuade young men to join up. The late second-century inscription was excavated in Oinoanda, in south-west Turkey, famous as the home of Diogenes, the Epicurean philosopher. Written in Greek, it records that Flavillianus was a champion at wrestling and pankration, the no-holds-barred martial sport; the inscription goes on to record the city’s gratitude to Flavillianus for devoting the years after his retirement from sport to recruiting and delivering soldiers for the empire’s army. The new find bears out the boast on another inscription, already known from the city, in which the father of Flavillianus boasts on his own mausoleum about his son’s success: ‘who having trained at pankration won crowns for victories in sacred games’.

Ancient graffiti

A comprehensive study of graffiti from ancient Israel, scratched on columns, stones and tombs between the fourth century BC and the seventh century AD, has revealed the rather depressing truth that the most common form of ‘history’s tweets or text messages’ is the simple equivalent of ‘I was here’. Names are by far the most numerous forms of graffiti, though advertisements, poetry, appeals to God and hopes for the future are also found, along with the inevitable sexual references.

Some 12,000 inscriptions in more than ten languages are being studied in a project that will see the texts analysed, translated and published with commentary that looks at what ancient graffiti can tell us about literacy, language, belief, family relationships, occupations and the daily life of ordinary people. The project is being led by Professor Jonathan Price of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Classics and his colleague Professor Benjamin Isaac, Professor Hannah Cotton of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Professor Werner Eck of the University of Cologne, and the first of nine planned volumes, focusing on Jerusalem up to the first century AD, has just been published.

Ireland’s links with the Roman empire

The Discovery Programme, the Dublin-based public institution for advanced research in archaeology whose Directors include a number of Fellows, is to investigate Ireland’s interactions with Roman Britain and the wider empire. Dr Jacqueline Cahill Wilson, leader of the Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland (Liari) project, predicts that it will result in ‘a new narrative for this formative period of early Irish history’. Cahill Wilson has been studying human remains from Irish burial sites where Roman artefacts have been found, such as coins, glass beads and brooches, and finding isotopic evidence for people buried in Ireland who spent their childhood in far-flung parts of the Roman empire, including North Africa.

A focus of the research will be the thousands of human remains held in a custom-built store at the National Museum of Ireland, which Eamonn Kelly, Keeper of Irish Antiquities, describes as ‘a national anatomical collection second to none’. The Liari project will also seek evidence for Roman sites using lidar scanning and geophysical survey and will use chemical scanning methods to study the origin of various metal and mineral artefacts.

Though Ireland was not part of the Roman empire, the amount of Roman material found at Tara and Newgrange or dredged from the River Boyne suggests that Roman goods were in demand and that Roman traders came to Ireland in search of agricultural produce, such as butter, cattle and cattle hide, as well as slaves and mercenaries. Eamonn Kelly says: ‘Ireland was becoming heavily influenced from the first century AD by Rome. The introduction of Christianity in the fifth century is just part of that process. We took on a great swathe of Roman cultural influence, including the Roman religion, and all without a Roman legion landing and telling us how to do our business.’

Skomer Island survey

Similar techniques ― lidar combined with geophysical survey ― have recently been used to map the hidden archaeology of Skomer Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast of west Wales, resulting in the discovery that the island has some of the best-preserved prehistoric buildings and field systems in the UK. Fellow Dr Toby Driver, of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, has been leading the survey, which began with an airborne laser scan of the island, providing a detailed terrain model of the island’s surface, followed by geophysical survey carried out by Royal Commission staff and a team from Sheffield University.

The results, say Toby, were surprising because the previous studies of the island suggested that there was little archaeology here and that the island had only been occupied sporadically, perhaps for a hundred years at most. ‘Work by the Royal Commission has begun to demonstrate that actually we think people were there for a few thousand years rather than a few hundred years … it’s been a very busy place for two to three thousand years, and because the edges haven’t been ploughed since the Romans left Wales, it’s very, very well preserved. This is a place where we can study prehistoric fields, Iron Age life, a Celtic way of life, in a way that in other parts of Wales has been lost.’

A new etymology for Australian-English ‘sheila’

When and why did Australians (and, later, New Zealanders) adopt the word ‘sheila’ to refer to a girl or young woman? The Australian National Dictionary has it that Sheila derives from the generic use of an Irish girl’s name (perhaps Síle), the female equivalent of Paddy, and it quotes the Monitor, published in Sydney on 22 March 1828, saying that ‘Many a piteous Shela stood wiping the gory locks of her Paddy, until released from that duty by the officious interference of the knight of the baton.’

Fellow Andrew Breeze, writing in the Australian Celtic Journal (Volume 10, 2012), has made a much more precise suggestion that takes the word back to the sixteenth century. He notes that the variant spellings shela, shaler, sheiler and sheilah are much earlier than the ‘sheila’ of the twentieth century. He suggests that nineteenth-century shela or shaler (with Cockney or Australian raising) can be derived with some confidence from Hiberno-English shuler, ‘travelling woman’ or ‘female beggar’. The earliest use of the word that Andrew has found so far goes back to a grant of 1588 to a sheriff in County Cavan, describing his powers to punish ‘malefactors, rebels, vagabonds, rymors, Irish harpers, bards, bentules’, and other undesirables. ‘This bentule’, says Andrew, is ‘a borrowing of Irish bean tsiúil (more commonly bean siúil) ‘strolling woman, female beggar’ or, in Hiberno-English, ‘shuler’.

The latest issue of Antiquity

Left: musical archaeologist ― the infant Vincent Megaw

The newly published issue of Antiquity is notable for several reasons, not least for the debate between Fellows Robin Derricourt, Antiquity Editor Martin Carver and a certain Christopher Catling (who he?) on the uses and misuses of archaeology. But enough self-advertising. In his editorial, Martin Carver includes an extract from a remarkable poem by Samuel Daniel (1562―1619), published in 1599 in a volume entitled Poetical Essays, on the frustrations of a traveller seeking the meaning of Stonehenge and dismissing ‘ignorant’ tales of ‘magic and Merlin’. Martin comments that Glyn Daniel knew the poem and referred to it in a 1978 Antiquity editorial, but didn’t publish it. The work deserves to be more widely known, so, for the benefit of those who do not have access to Antiquity or Poetical Essays, here it is:

And whereto serve that wondreous trophy now,
That on the goodly plain near Wilton stands?
That huge dumb heap, that cannot tell us how,
Nor what, nor whence it is, nor with whose hands,
Nor for whose glory, it was set to shew
How much our pride mockes that of other lands?

Whereon when as the gazing passenger
Hath greedy lookt with admiration,
And faine would know his birth, and what he were,
How there erected, and how long agone:
Enquires and askes his fellow travailer
What he hath heard and his opinion:

And he knowes nothing. Then he turnes againe
And looks and sighs, and then admires afresh,
And in himselfe with sorrow doth complaine
The misery of dark forgetfulnesse;
Angrie with time that nothing should remain,
Our greatest wonders-wonder to expresse.

Then ignorance, with fabulous discourse,
Robbing faire arte and cunning of their right,
Tels how those stones were by the devil’s force
From Affricke brought to Ireland in a night,
And thence to Britannie by magicke course,
From giants hand redeem’d by Merlin’s sleight.

Elsewhere in this edition, there is the latest in the series of Antiquity’s autobiographical sketches (also inaugurated by Glyn Daniel), this one entitled ‘The Flying Dutchman reaches port’, being an account by our Fellow Vincent Megaw of ‘a voyage in sometimes choppy waters through the archaeology of two hemispheres’. Vincent begins by describing the many members of his immediate family that were engaged in archaeology in some way, a fact that prompted Christopher Hawkes to respond, when asked whether he knew a young archaeologist called Vincent Megaw, with the words: ‘Megaw? Megaw? There’s a whole tribe of Megaws!’

Truth to tell, that tribe was also very musical, so Vincent could easily have ended up at the Royal Academy of Music (one wonders whether Vincent’s son, Jonathan, has inherited that side of the family’s gene pool: not mentioned in Antiquity, Jonathan was a mere two years old when he participated in his first dig, and Vincent himself says that Jonathan was one of the best diggers at the Dürrnberg excavations, but turned his back on archaeology to train first as an actor and then a circus performer and is now into dance theatre and yoga).

As it was, the young Vincent felt the pull of the London Institute of Archaeology where he ran the gauntlet of Kathleen Kenyon’s massive dogs, and later the peril of being driven home by Vere Gordon Childe, one of the world’s great bad drivers, on visits to its library in its temporary home in St John’s Lodge, Regent’s Park. It was thanks to a visit to see Beatrice de Cardi (about whom see ‘News of Fellows’) in the Kensington garret where she worked as CBA Secretary that Vincent ended up in the 1950s studying archaeology not in London, nor in Cambridge but in congenial Edinburgh under Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson ― ‘golden years of archaeology at the university’, Vincent recalls.

Vincent goes on to recount, in his lively and inimitable style, how he was recruited to join Thames & Hudson, editing the work of his own teachers, and how he met Ruth, the multi-lingual Foreign Office Third Secretary who became his wife and collaborator on the various Iron Age art projects with which the names of ‘Megaw, J.V.S. & M.R. Megaw’ will forever be associated. He explains the move to Sydney (‘It was, paradoxically, easier to obtain funding for research on early Celtic art in Australia than in Europe’) and the bewildering succession of jobs and excavations and other ‘erratic adventures’ of subsequent decades, including (the music gene again) ‘convenor of a series of weekly concerts and management of the Flinders University Chamber Ensemble, my final concert being an Australian first, a semi-staged production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora, a work without a single dull note’.

Now aged sixty-eight, Vincent asks himself ‘how have I measured up’ and concludes that ‘the goals may not yet be fully achieved but the ambition is still there’.

News of Fellows

We wish many happy returns to our two oldest Fellows, both of whom celebrate their ninety-eighth birthdays this month: Beatrice de Cardi on 5 June and Thurstan Shaw on 27 June 2012.

Fellow Henry Woudhuysen is to be warmly congratulated on his election to the post of Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, from the start of Michaelmas Term 2012. He succeeds Professor Paul Langford, who retires as Rector on 31 August this year. Henry Woudhuysen joined the Department of English at University College London in 1982 after three years at Lincoln as a Junior Research Fellow, having gained his first degree and a doctorate at Pembroke College, Oxford. At UCL, he was Head of the English Department and, more recently, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. His research interests lie in the literature of Renaissance England and in bibliography, palaeography, editing and the history of the book. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010.

Salon believes that Henry will be the fourth serving head of an Oxbridge college from the Fellowship: he will join Duncan Robinson, Master of Magdalene (who will be succeeded by Rowan Williams, currently Archbishop of Canterbury, on 1 January 2013), Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Master of Sidney Sussex, and Sir Mark Jones, Master of Saint Cross.

Lives remembered

The Society has been informed of the sudden death last week of our Fellow Anthony (Tony) North, formerly of the Metalwork Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and long-time colleague of the former Keeper of Metalwork there, our late Fellow Claude Blair.

We have also learned of the death of Fellow Professor Alexander Fenton, CBE, on 9 May 2012, and of Fellow John Munday, on 20 May 2012.

Our Fellow Mark Pearce writes to say that Fellow David Ridgeway died suddenly in Athens on 20 May 2012. ‘David was’, Mark writes, ‘the greatest expert on the earliest Greek colonists in the western Mediterranean, and published the excavations at Pithekoussai, on the Italian island of Ischia, where they first settled in the early to middle 8th century BC. David taught at the University of Edinburgh until he retired in 2003, and was the tireless bridge between Italian and British scholars, reviewing Italian publications in English and making extraordinary discoveries known. He died in Athens aged seventy-four having spent the day visiting the Greek island of Euboea and the excavations at Lefkandi. The earliest Greeks in the West were from Euboea, and this last day was a fitting finale for a man whose work understanding the origins of western European civilisation took as its starting point the colonists from that island.’ Arrangements for the funeral will be made known as soon as possible: Fellows who wish to be kept informed are welcome to contact Mark Pearce.

Salon reported the death of our late Fellow The Revd David Griffiths on 12 February 2012, and his son, Oliver, has now provided a short obituary. ‘David Griffiths was born in 1927 in Bath before moving to Kent and attending Cranbrook School and King Edward’s School Bath then Oxford (Worcester College), where he took an MA in PPE, winning both the Gladstone Memorial Prize and the Arnold Historical Essay Prize. After brief spells as a journalist, City broker, chocolate trade regulator and trade association representative he found his vocation in the Church of England, rising to be Vice-Chancellor and Librarian of Lincoln Cathedral, then Rector of New Windsor, Rural Dean of Maidenhead, Padre to both the Household Cavalry and the Foot Guards and Chaplain to The Queen. Later he was Honorary Canon of Christ Church Oxford, and Archdeacon of Berkshire, before retiring to Lincoln.

‘He had numerous other interests ― especially books ― and was elected as Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1973. He completed a PhD in retirement and finally launched his magnum opus, The Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer 1549―1999, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lambeth Palace in 2002. This volume was his life’s work, involving painstaking research not only into the records of major publishers but also in some 109 various libraries and many private collections the world over.’


Left: Olympic music, powered by the River Tyne

With the bouncy castle version of Stonehenge in the spotlight, Fellow Kevin Greene thought he would share news of another artistic curiosity, moored on Newcastle Quayside, where it will now be open to the public until September 2012. Flow is one of twelve landmark public art projects funded by the UK Arts Councils as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It consists of a tide-mill that uses a huge waterwheel to draw energy from the River Tyne’s current to power the mechanical musical instruments on board. The handcrafted instruments inside the mill-house respond to the changing nature of the river, creating different sounds over the course of the tidal cycle. Visitors can also interact with the instruments, affecting the music they create.

‘I visited it prepared to scoff, but was charmed’, writes Kevin; ‘it is intriguing to see wooden machinery, most parts of which would have been at home in either the Roman or medieval periods, driving electronic instruments.’

In case anyone should be thinking that our Fellow Tom Beaumont James is looking very well preserved for his age, Salon should point out the omission of two vital words in the report in the last issue on his contribution to the Titanic Thread memoir. It was Tom’s older brothers who grew up playing in the same parks and streets of pre-war Southampton as the author of the book, not Tom himself, who was not born until 1948.

Clumsy wording might also have left Salon readers with the impression that our Fellow Leslie Webster was scratching her head wondering whether all the Staffordshire Hoard objects were made in one workshop. They are manifestly not, as Leslie’s new book on Anglo-Saxon Art makes clear: Salon meant to say that finds such as the Staffordshire Hoard demonstrated conclusively that the workshop that produced the Sutton Hoo material in the seventh century was not the only one in Britain turning out gold and garnet objects of the highest quality.

Fellow Gillian Darley writes to commend a Central Office of Information documentary on Sir Basil Spence to anyone interested on knowing more about the man and his work. It is one in a series of films on the theme of ‘Pacemakers … people who stand out from the crowd and change the world they live in’, made around 1970 to tell the world about British design, profiling the likes of Terence Conran, Mary Quant and (Gillian’s reason for pursuing the series) Ian Nairn.

Fellow Mark Samuel has family memories of Sir Basil Spence. His father, Edward Samuel, worked for Spence at the Ministry of Education after graduating from the Architectural Association and before setting up his own practice in about 1951. The two architects worked together again in 1958 in the construction of Thorn EMI House, the first skyscraper in London. Mark says that his father should perhaps get the credit for the building as he (in his father’s own words, ‘designed the whole bloody thing for Spence’). The building, at 5 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, was ‘messed about’ when the exterior was demolished in the 1990s when a new skin was applied to the frame, but Mark says he has many photographs and transparencies of the original building if anyone is interested.

Call for papers: ‘Globalization, Immigration, Transformation’ by 10 July 2012

The Society for Historical Archaeology will hold its annual conference on at the University of Leicester on 9 to 12 January 2013. The conference theme is ‘Globalization, Immigration, Transformation’, reflecting the vibrant multicultural history and contemporary character of the city of Leicester itself and acknowledging the transformation of historical archaeology into a global discipline. Information about the conference can be found at the official conference website and on the SHA blog. The deadline for submitting paper, poster and symposium proposals is 10 July 2012. There is an email address for questions about the conference and paper submission.

Call for papers: ‘Transitory, Transportable and Transformable: temporary conditions in architecture’ by 21 October 2012

The 2013 Annual Symposium of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain will be held at Alan Baxter Associates, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EL, on 18 May 2013, and the organiser, our Fellow Neil Jackson, Charles Reilly Professor of Architecture at the University of Liverpool, is seeking offers of papers in the form of abstracts of not more than 250 words by no later than 15 October 2012.

Architecture is generally regarded as being, for the most part, permanent, static and immutable. However some significant buildings are intended to be temporary (the triumphal arches erected for Charles II’s coronation procession from the City of London to Westminster in 1661, for example), whereas others are designed to be moved from one location to another (the pre-fabricated Crystal Palace of 1851) or even to be flexible enough to alter their form and appearance as the result of changing requirements (the Pompidou Centre). This symposium intends to explore this temporary condition in architecture and to question whether architecture needs to be permanent, static or immutable.

Further information can be found on the SAHGB’s website.


14 and 15 June 2012: ‘Sport and competition in Greece and Rome’, a symposium to be held at the British Museum, organised jointly by our Fellow Dr Judith Swaddling (BM) and Professor Chris Carey (University College London), featuring twenty papers by a distinguished panel of international speakers on imaging athletics, ideas and ideology, risk and reward, locations, status, revivals and receptions. Further details, including a full programme, can be found on the BM website.

1 June to 9 September 2012: ‘Winning at the Ancient Games’. To celebrate the London 2012 Olympics, the British Museum is staging a victory trail around the collection consisting of twelve star objects united by the theme of winning. The stops on the trail will include the stunning ‘Motya youth’, the marble statue usually identified as a winning charioteer and on special loan from Sicily (courtesy of the Regione Siciliana Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana and with thanks to the Italian Cultural Institute in London), a mosaic showing Hercules, legendary founder of the Games, never previously exhibited, a statue of an athlete on loan from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and recently restored at the British Museum and, of course, the 2012 Olympic Medals. Further information from the BM website.

25 June 2012: The 2012 Marc Fitch lecture will be presented at 6.30pm by our Fellow Dr David Starkey on the subject of ‘“Head of Our Morality”: why the twentieth-century British monarchy matters’. The lecture will be given in the Chancellor’s Hall on the First Floor of the Senate House (see the website of the Institute of Historical Research for a map) and will be followed by a wine reception.

To 7 October 2012: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia. This exhibition at Melbourne Museum, in Australia, was developed in partnership with the British Museum and it includes a lecture series to which a number of Fellows are contributing, including Tony Sagona, on Mesopotamian mythology (Thursday 26 July 2012, 6pm to 7pm).

16 October 2102: Fellows Roy and Lesley Adkins will be giving an illustrated talk based on their best-selling book Jack Tar: life in Nelson’s navy at Warminster’s public library, Three Horseshoes Walk, Warminster BA12 9BT, as part of the Warminster Festival at 7.30pm.

22 October 2012: ‘Objects and Landscape: understanding the medieval period through finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme’. The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Medieval Settlement Research Group Conference 2012 is being held in the Stevenson Lecture Theatre, British Museum, from 9.30am to 5.30pm. This will highlight the ways in which PAS data have been used to advance our knowledge of material culture and its distribution in such fields as dress accessories, papal bullae, pilgrims’ signs, folded coins, Tudor purses, strap clasps, buckles, cloisonné brooches and a wide range of Anglo-Saxon and medieval metalwork.

To book a place please send a cheque for £10 payable to ‘The British Museum’ to Claire Costin, Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum, London WC1B 3DG.

Grants from the City of London Archaeological Trust

The City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) invites applications for small grants to assist archaeological work in the City of London and its environs (roughly out to the M25). CoLAT supports research, education, publication and the presentation of sites, especially by amateur groups, but most kinds of archaeological work are considered. The deadline for applications this year is 28 September 2012, and the meeting of CoLAT to decide them is in early December. Grants are available for one year only from 1 April 2013. CoLAT welcomes applications that are joint applications to several funding bodies. Revised guidelines for applicants, which must be strictly followed, will be posted with new application forms on the Trust’s website, on 30 June 2012. More information can be found on the website or from the Secretary, Fellow John Schofield.

Index to the first twenty-five volumes of the Harlaxton Symposia

The Harlaxton Symposium is an interdisciplinary gathering of academics, students and enthusiasts that has been meeting annually since 1984 at Harlaxton College, in Lincolnshire, the Victorian baroque mansion that is now the British campus of the University of Evansville, Indiana, to celebrate medieval history, art, literature and architecture through a programme of papers selected around a chosen theme.

The proceedings of its annual gatherings have been published in the annual Harlaxton Medieval Studies volumes that now add up to 462 papers by 293 authors, extending to more than 7,682 pages in twenty-five volumes, published under the editorship of Dr Hannes Kleineke. To mark the symposium’s quarter-century, the steering committee commissioned a cumulative index, which has just been published and that itself runs to an impressive 841 pages. This serves as an invaluable key to unlocking the many riches of the first twenty-five volumes, for it includes a full listing of all the manuscripts and documentary sources cited ― some 4,000 altogether, including some 1,000 Public Record Office documents. There is also a full alphabetical list of authors and essays and references to a wide range of subjects with a comprehensive list of names of places and individuals.

Needless to say, a large number of the papers indexed here were researched and written by Fellows, including ten by Pamela Tudor-Craig who inspired and organised the first Harlaxton Symposium in 1984, and who remains an active member of the organising committee. The index is available from Shaun Tyas / Paul Watkins Publishing, 1 High Street, Donington PE11 4TA, tel: 01775 821 542.

Books by Fellows: Divers Devices by T F

Fellow John Blatchly, editor with Martin Sanford of this intriguing book, Divers Devices by T F, invites Salon readers to attend an illustrated lecture on the book and its author at The Cut (The Community Arts Centre), 8 New Cut, Halesworth IP19 8BY, at 7.30pm on 26 June 2012 (admission £3 on the door). Copies will be sold there at £20 (thereafter £25 from the Halesworth Bookshop and Claude Cox Old & Rare Books or at £30 (to include postage) from Dr John Blatchly).

Thomas Fella of Halesworth, Suffolk, Draper and Writing Master, His Booke of Divers Devices and Sorts of Pictures compiled between 1592 and 1598, sounds like something that John Fowles might have invented, but it is a genuine manuscript, preserved in the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington DC, handsomely reproduced in facsimile by the editors, printed in dark brown on cream to imitate ink on paper and bound in dark green cloth with a decorative front panel and gilt spine title. The introduction explains that Thomas Fella (1556—1639) was a wealthy grammar school-educated draper, owning many properties, a trusted pillar of Halesworth society who served as churchwarden and who founded the Robert Launce charity for the benefit of the poor of the town. He was also an accomplished calligrapher who liked nothing better than to spend his leisure time creating the designs and drawings that fill the eighty-one folios (160 pages) of the manuscript that is reproduced here.

The result is a charming and quirky miscellany of poems and songs, a calligraphic alphabet, botanical drawings and emblems with wise and uplifting texts and lively depictions of the labours of the months. The ‘divers devices’ give a rare insight into the literature and visual images available to a Suffolk yeoman at the end of the sixteenth century, along with details of tools, clothing, architecture, plants, tableware, food and folklore. The editors’ commentary traces the sources of the texts and those images that Fella copied from broadsides, herbals, prayer books and martyrs’ lives, most of them enriched by his own invented devices, of tangled trees and foliage, snails and birds, hopping toads and gargoyle-like heads.

Books by Fellows: Dating and Interpreting the Past in the Western Roman Empire

Edited by our Fellow David Bird, Dating and Interpreting the Past in the Western Roman Empire (ISBN: 9781842174432; Oxbow Books) is a Festschrift for our Fellow Brenda Dickinson, whose contribution to the study of samian ware, says David, has been second to none. The expert on the so-called potters’ stamps found on many samian vessels, Brenda is currently bringing to a close the formidable task of publishing (in no less than nine volumes) the results of more than forty years’ study of these stamps carried out in association with our late Fellow, Brian Hartley.

The thirty-three papers in the volume, published with the help of a grant from the Roman Research Trust, illustrate just how far beyond pottery, makers’ marks and potters’ rituals the study of samian ware can go, illuminating such subjects as dining, burial practices (and costs), activities in the arena, medical practice, singing, graffiti, thoughts about female literacy, sparrows as pets, plate-spinning entertainers, the ‘British’ speeches in Tacitus, possible pottery ovens (stuffed dormice or tandoori chicken in Roman Britain?), pottery and priesthood, what happens when you consider the implications of the limited lifespan of timber buildings and an Albanian mode of singing that survived in a population transplanted to Sicily. ‘Impossible to summarise’, David Bird says, and how right he is: all human life is here.

Books by Fellows: The Archaeology of Medieval Novgorod

Edited by Fellow Mark Brisbane, along with Russian colleagues Nikolaj Makarov and Evgenij Nosov, The Archaeology of Medieval Novgorod in Context: studies in centre/periphery relations (ISBN: 9781842172780; Oxbow Books) looks at the hinterland of this much-studied city, famed for its wealth of well-preserved organic artefacts and its large archive of medieval and later documents. The aim is to discover what impact Novgorod had on the region known as the Novgorod Lands, a huge territory larger than modern France, located at the north-western margins of Europe, as it became colonised for agricultural land and used as a resource for the wide range of raw materials and finished goods consumed by the growing city. The book charts in detail the establishment of the major crafts and industries integral to Novgorod’s medieval economy, including the production of building materials, ceramics, iron, bronze, jewellery, glass beads, textiles, fur and leather, and of plant and animal-based foods.

Books by Fellows: Hackney: an uncommon history in five parts

Far smaller than the Novgorod Lands, Hackney is another peripheral place with a big history. The borough’s southern boundary, for example, just takes in Hewett Street where MOLA archaeologists this week announced that they have found Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre not far from its predecessor, The Theatre, on Curtain Road. Thanks to these two theatres, peripheral Hackney thus saw the first performances of Henry V, Henry VI and The Comedy of Errors, plays that are now part of the literary canon, though these early theatres were deliberately built outside the jurisdiction of the puritanical City authorities ― playgoing contributed to the louche reputation that some parts of Hackney retain to this day.

Hackney was not all raffishness, taverns and brothels, however: there were some very substantial mansions here too, such as the fantastical Norris House, sketched by Stukeley, a cross between an Elizabethan galleried inn and Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace, and Sutton Place House, now owned by the National Trust, standing opposite one of the most important physic gardens in Europe, created by Edward, Lord Zouche as a place to try out medicinal, exotic and ornamental plants gathered in his travels as ambassador to Elizabeth I.

Hackney does indeed have an uncommon history, and the excellent Hackney Society works hard to keep that heritage alive with its walks, talks and publications, including its latest book — Hackney: an uncommon history in five parts (ISBN: 9780953673421) — to which our Fellow Ann Robey has contributed the chapter on nineteenth-century Hackney, still then rural enough for William Walker to depict corn stooks and harvest scenes in his aquatint of Hackney Downs in 1814. Former National Trust Publisher turned historian, Margaret Willes, has edited the book, with its five parts each looking at a century in the borough’s history, with David Garrard of English Heritage and author Juliet Gardiner contributing the final chapter on the twentieth century. This ends the book on a cautiously upbeat note, commending the many examples of regeneration that have grown out of Hackney’s diverse communities, but not yet convinced that the ‘developmentalist urge’ represented by the 2012 Olympics and the desire to turn Hackney’s Lee Valley into ‘a high-quality and regionally unique visitor destination’ is a good thing.

Books by Fellows: The Paragon and South Row; Montague House and the Pagoda

Two more books of illustrated local history have just been published (and donated to the Society’s Library) by Fellow Neil Rhind, author and historian, who has been gathering historic pictures of Blackheath for many decades and making them known through a series of books published by the Bookshop on the Heath. Neil’s latest works are the intriguingly titled The Paragon and South Row: a triumph in late eighteenth-century unintentional town planning (ISBN: 9780956532725) and Montague House and the Pagoda (ISBN: 9780956532718), written with Philip Cooper.

Books by Fellows: A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics

Even those who share Salon’s instinctive dislike of many aspects of the 2012 Olympics (not least the ugly mascots and logo, the bullying ‘security’ enforcers and the ludicrous ban on any brands that have not paid a fee to the London Olympic Committee) will enjoy A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics (ISBN: 9780300159073; Yale University Press), by Fellow Neil Faulkner, which takes us back to the reality of the Olympics in 388 BC.

The tone for this amusing book is set in the introduction where Neil admits to committing four cardinal sins against scholarship in writing the book, such as drawing on what we know about ancient Greece generally to reconstruct what might have happened specifically at the Olympic Games, ignoring academic controversy and doubt, assuming that practices recorded for one place can be transferred to Olympia and — most heinous of all — making use of what R G Collingwood called ‘the historical imagination’.

That imagination is well and truly put to use in vivid descriptions of the blood, pain, booze, sex and squalor, the bribery and the politics of the ancient games, as well as the exotic religious rituals. And those who know Neil’s political commitment to egalitarianism will not be surprised to know that he thinks today’s Olympics, despite Salon’s misgivings, are more democratic: the amateur tradition is a total myth, he says: all top-level Greek sport was fully professional and aristocratic, compared with today when talented youngsters from modest backgrounds can make a successful career in sport.

Books by Fellows: Headhunting and the Body in Iron Age Europe

Headhunting and head veneration: not Olympic sports, but rather, as Fellow Ian Armit shows in his book Headhunting and the Body in Iron Age Europe (ISBN: 9780521877565; Cambridge University Press), practices that were widespread in northern and western Europe in the Iron Age. Ian’s book focuses on a single case study — the Iron Age of southern France — for his exploration of beliefs and practices associated with the human head, but draws on the huge range of skeletal evidence, votive offerings, images, artefacts and literary references to build up a picture of the scale and extent of headhunting practices in Scotland, Ireland, northern France, Belgium and Iberia.

He also traces the historiography of the idea that there was such a phenomenon as the ‘Celtic cult of the head’ but rejects this concept on the grounds that it interprets Iron Age ritual as exclusively focused on the head: Ian’s book shows that the head played a hugely important part in Iron Age religion, cosmology and ideology, but that all parts of the body were subject to curation and manipulation and all had ritual and metaphorical significance.

Books by Fellows: Glass: a short history

Fellow David Whitehouse, Senior Scholar (and former Executive Director) at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, has written this stylish introduction to glass and glassmaking through the ages, full of examples of rare and desirable objects, many of which can be seen either in the British Museum or in the Corning Museum. Glass: a short history (ISBN: 9780714150864; British Museum Press) starts with the earliest known examples of glass, produced during the Mesopotamian Bronze Age of around 2300 BC, consisting of small vessels made by dipping a clay mould into a crucible of molten glass, and ends with superb examples of modern art glass, which seems to have returned to the elemental simplicity of early glass making after millennia of elaboration and experimentation.

Throughout the ages and in many different cultures glassmakers seem to have been fascinated by the qualities that glass shares with liquids and with light, seeking to capture the paradox of a material at once so solidity and so fragile, superbly exemplified by the impressive sixth-century claw beakers from Mucking, or the twelfth-century Hedwig Beaker from Palermo, which depicts the legend of the sober St Hedwig who chastised her husband for his love of wine, and that would surely pass for art nouveau had its true date not been known.

Real art nouveau features in the chapter on studio glass, and there is a delicious irony in the fact that Count Lionel de Minerbi came to the Whitefriars Glass Works, in London, for the 456-piece table service that he commissioned in 1906 for use in, of all places, his Venetian palazzo, the Cà Rezzonico, on the Grand Canal: one imagines that he would not have been very popular with Venetian glassmakers, but one cannot help but commend his good taste, for the Whitefriars’ work is an ethereal spider’s web of green and white glass, alongside which contemporary Venetian glass just looks dull.

Books by Fellows: Animals as Domesticates

We tend to think that early humans saw animals exclusively as prey, but this book, Animals as Domesticates (ISBN: 9781611860283; Michigan State University Press), by Fellow Juliet Clutton-Brock, reminds us that the relationship between animal and human is much more complex. Indeed, Juliet would like to us to realise that animal domestication has had as big an impact on human culture as the invention of stone tools, language and religion. Today, the majority of the world’s populations depend on domesticated animals for their food (including those vegetarians who eat eggs, milk products or honey). Vice versa, animals are now so constrained by humans that one can contemplate a future, not too far away, in which all terrestrial vertebrates will be domestic or farm animals, or species kept alive only by artificial breeding programmes, such as the one that just about keeps pandas on the planet.

How this situation came about is the theme of the book, which traces the history of domestication through the archaeological evidence: the grave at Ein Mallah, in the upper Joran Valley, for example, dating from 9600 BC in which an elderly human was found buried with a hand lying on top of a four-month-old puppy, as if stroking the pet. The origins and paths of diffusion are traced for a variety of species in different continents, from the earliest caprids, pigs and cattle to more recent domestications such as the goldfish ― first bred, we learn from the book, in Sung Dynasty China (AD 960―1278). They were introduced to Japan around AD 1500 but not to Europe until as late as the seventeenth century. Pepys records the novelty in his diary entry for 28 May 1665, where he wrote: ‘Thence to see my Lady Pen, where my wife and I were shown a fine rarity: of fishes kept in a glass of water, that will live so for ever; and finely marked they are, being foreign.’)

Books by Fellows: Cromwell hath the honour but …

This book by our Fellow P R (Peter) Hill and Jane Watkinson, with an introduction by our Fellow David Breeze, seems to rescue from obscurity Major General Lambert, commander of the Parliamentarian forces in the north of England, a popular and outstandingly effectively military leader whose decisive role in the Civil War is unknown outside the world of academic historians, partly because Oliver Cromwell seems deliberately to have downplayed Lambert’s achievements, perhaps fearing a potential political rival.

The title of Cromwell hath the honour but … (ISBN: 9781848326545; Frontline Books) comes from a contemporary account of a reception held in Edinburgh in October 1648 when Thomas Margett observed that ‘Cromwell hath the honour, but Lambert’s discreet, humble, ingenious, sweet and civil deportment gains him more hugs and ingenious respect’. Margett expressed this view in one of the ‘newsletters’ that were popular as a means of communication in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, according to our authors; an innovation of the period, newsletters were written by gentry correspondents to each other but intended for publication and the chief means by which news of foreign and domestic affairs was distributed around the country at the time, often being collected into journals called ‘newsbooks’ or ‘corantos’, such as The Moderate Intelligencer, edited by John Dillingham.

Based on the collection of newsbooks known as the Thomason Tracts, the authors give a detailed account of the day-to-day military campaigns that secured the north of England for the Parliamentary cause in 1648―9, revealing Lambert’s skills in managing a disparate and fractious fighting force, and his humanitarian concern for the welfare of the defeated enemy and for civilians caught up in the war. Something of his character can perhaps be gauged from the fact that when Lambert was forced to resign his offices and commands in 1657 because he was opposed to Cromwell’s ‘new constitution’ (that would have made Cromwell monarch in all but name) he retired to Wimbledon to cultivate his garden and to pursue his interests in painting; he was sneeringly described as ‘working at the needle with his wife and maids’ by one aristocratic commentator. Sentenced to death for High Treason at the Restoration, he spent the last twenty-four years of his life in prison, a sad end for a man of talent and integrity.


Director of the Victorian Society
Salary £35,000 to £40,000 depending on experience; closing date: 11pm Sunday 1 July 2012; interviews Wednesday 18 July 2012

After twelve years as Director, our Fellow Ian Dungavell is leaving the Victorian Society to join the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust as Chief Executive. The VicSoc therefore has a vacancy for a new Director to lead the Society’s efforts to ensure that changes to Victorian and Edwardian buildings respect their historic and architectural interest.

This is an exceptional opportunity for a talented individual who is seeking a very public role in heritage conservation. As chief executive of a charity with a small staff and a high profile, the Director plays a unique and crucial role in its well being. As the principal public face of the Victorian Society, the Director must ensure that its reputation for authoritative casework is maintained and enhanced, and that its views are taken seriously.

At a time when attitudes to the historic environment and to the nineteenth century are changing fast, the Director has a key role in determining the direction that the Society must take, so that it can continue to expand without compromise to its core ideals. The Director is the pivot between the trustees, the staff and volunteers, and must ensure that all are motivated to ensure the maximum efficiency of operation and effective use of resources. The Director carries out the day-to-day responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, reporting directly to them.

The role combines overall stewardship and development of the Society with detailed involvement in its day-to-day running and activities. It is a post that offers considerable scope for initiative and innovation.

Full details of the job and how to apply are in the candidate information pack on the VicSoc website. If you would like to discuss the role in further detail or have any questions about the application process, you can contact Ian Dungavell in confidence; tel: 020 8747 5891.