The Society of Antiquaries of Londons 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 Salons editorial policy can be found on the Societys website and feedback should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.
1 November 2012: The British Museum exhibition, Shakespeare: staging the world, by Dora Thornton, FSA, and Jonathan Bate
Insights into the exhibition and its themes by the co-curators and the authors of the exhibition catalogue, which Brian Sewell said should be in every school library in the land.
8 November 2012: Joseph Moxon: a Restoration polymath, by Derek Long, FSA
Joseph Moxon was born in Wakefield in 1627. After a period in Holland with his father and brother he established himself in London as a printer, publisher, type-founder and maker of scientific instruments and globes, including pocket globes and the Castlemaine globe. He became Hydrographer to Charles II in 1662. He was well known in Restoration London and acquainted with Pepys, Hooke, Halley and Evelyn, who recorded details of their meetings. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1678, the first and only tradesman to be so honoured.
Moxon published some eighty books, many of great importance. Some, like Spahers Anatomy, are splendid examples of publishing skills. In his later years he himself wrote and published The Mechanick Exercises, of which volume I deals with smithing, carpentry, joinery and woodturning, and volume II with all aspects of printing. By giving accurate accounts of these crafts, the traditional secrets of the Craft Guilds were exposed. The lecture includes new information on Moxon and is illustrated with pictures of his globes, extracts from his books and documents relating to his activities in London and Holland. A rare Moxon Pocket Globe and several first editions of Moxons publications will be on display for this lecture.
15 November 2012: Monastic foundation and the Anglo-Saxon conversion: new archaeological perspectives from Lyminge, Kent, by Gabor Thomas, FSA
The Kentish village of Lyminge is well known to Anglo-Saxonists as the site of an early double monastery with an important pagan-period cemetery on its outskirts. Since 2008 the University of Reading has been unearthing rich Anglo-Saxon settlement remains from under the core of the village spanning the late fifth to the ninth centuries AD. Drawing upon insights gained by preliminary post-excavation analysis part-funded by the Society, this paper teases out a series of social transformations that allow the origins and development of Lyminge as an Anglo-Saxon monastic landscape to be charted as a dynamic sequence.
22 November 2012: The cult of St Winefride and the conservation of her chapel at Holywell, Flintshire, by Rick Turner, FSA, and Sian Rees, FSA
Interest in St Winefride took off in the early fifteenth century within Prince Henrys inner circle. This saw the development of a pilgrimage route from Shrewsbury to Holywell, and a line of buildings associated with the Stanley family, culminating in a jewel of late Perpendicular architecture. St Winefrides Well was the only Catholic shrine to survive the Reformation; it remains in daily use. Cadw have recently completed the conservation of the whole building and its remarkable collection of sculpture.
29 November 2012: The Daily Dungeon: the practice of medieval and Renaissance school life by Annamarieke Willemsen, FSA
Recent excavation on the sites of schools and boarding houses has revealed the objects used by pupils and teachers for reading, writing, mathematics and school life in general. Combining those finds with texts and hundreds of depictions of school scenes in manuscripts, frescoes, sculpture and prints, it is possible to reconstruct the practice of education and show how school was experienced by the pupils themselves, who called it the dungeon.
This paper results from an interdisciplinary study published in 2008 (Back to the Schoolyard), which revealed a specific material culture of school life that made school children stand out as a large and recognisable group in medieval society, impossible to ignore. Based on this research, existing ideas about the accessibility of schools, especially for underprivileged groups (the poor, orphans, girls) must be revised. Evidence suggests that more than half of the children went to school, at least in late medieval towns. A new and ongoing research project into the material culture of student life again using archaeological, pictorial and literary sources indicates that our image of medieval universities might also be revised by this interdisciplinary approach.
At the ballot held on 18 October 2012, the following were elected as Fellows of our Society:
David Kenneth Smurthwaite, retired Assistant Director, National Army Museum; Edgar Roy Samuel, retired opthamologist and former director of Londons Jewish Museum; Dudley John Moore, Tutor in Law, Aegean Archaeology and Maritime Archaeology, University of Sussex; Matthew Thomas William Payne, Keeper of Muniments, Westminster Abbey; Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Professor of Archaeological Science, University of Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit; Anne J Duggan, Emerita Professor of Medieval History, Kings College London; Dimitris Plantzos, Assistant Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Ioannina; Howard James Mason Hanley, Chemical Physicist, Texas A&M University at Qatar; Malcolm Jack, former Clerk of the House of Commons and distinguished cultural historian.
At the ballot held on 25 October 2012, the following were elected as Fellows of our Society:
Kent Alan Carew Rawlinson, Curator of Historic Buildings, Hampton Court; Andrew Howard Murison, Chairman of J P Morgan European Investment Trust plc (former Senior Bursar, Peterhouse, Cambridge); Paul Everill, Lecturer in Applied Archaeological Techniques, University of Winchester; Craig Spence, Senior Lecturer in History and Heritage Studies, Bishop Grossesteste University College Lincoln; Andrew Francis Pearson, independent cultural heritage consultant; Alison Walker, retired British Library curator; David Morris, Chartered Surveyor and sigillographer; Kate Waddington, Lecturer in Archaeology, Bangor University.
Left: the Mechanics’ Institution remained in use as a reading room and as a theatre, with art deco plaster work dating from a 1930s refurbishment, until 1986. Picture by Adam Slater
The Mechanics’ Institution in Swindon is one of ten Victorian and Edwardian buildings that the Victorian Society has picked out as being most in danger from vandalism and neglect. This is a building that many Fellows know very well, as it is on the route between the railway station and the former GWR railway works site where the National Trust has its headquarters and English Heritage has its archive. If the concentrated power of all those heritage workers based in Swindon could have any influence, the building would not now be in its forlorn state. As it is, Swindon Borough Council took steps last year to secure the roof using its powers under the Dangerous Works provisions in the Building Act 1984 and Section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The Council is now seeking to recover the costs (in excess of £400,000) from the buildings owner, Forefront Estates.
For the time being, the building is thus weather proof, but such an important building deserves a better fate (as indeed do all the buildings on the VicSocs list). The buildings history is traced in Swindon: the legacy of a railway town (RCHME 1995), by our Fellows John Cattell and Keith Falconer. The Mechanics Institution was planned by Brunel as the centrepiece of his railway village, intending it to sit at the focal point of a grand promenade. Lord Methuen laid the foundation stone on 25 May 1854 in the presence of 10,000 people. At its opening a year later, on 1 May 1855, it provided a range of communal facilities for GWR employees, including baths, lecture theatre, library and reading room, designed as an educational and health centre combined. It was, as the local newspaper put it, designed for the mental, moral and social advancement of the new town … for diverting the minds of the younger portion of the town into a channel pregnant with good things, and throwing a genial influence around the neighbourhood.
Social historians argue that this building, and the nearby GWR Medical Fund dispensary and swimming baths (still in use as such) anticipated the provisions of the National Health Service by a century, and it is true that Nye Bevan was an admirer of Swindons social welfare institutions. The lending library, which opened with 2,542 volumes in 1855, was one of the first of its kind in the country and the lecture programme anticipated by fifty years the activities of the Workers Educational Association. For these reasons alone, the building has been seriously considered as a potential World Heritage Site, as has the whole of the Swindon Railway Village and so, indeed, has the whole of the Great Western Railway and its associated works.
The Mechanics’ Institution as a corporate body (as distinct from the building) has evolved since 1986 into a Building Preservation Trust that does much good work, highlighting and celebrating the heritage of Swindon and the wider region. Nothing would be more appropriate than for the Institution to be allowed to come home and to take the building back into community use.
Building Preservation Trusts and amenity societies like the VicSoc can now consult a comprehensive online guide to the heritage protection system that English Heritage has published to help everyone understand better the various laws, policies, guidance documents and international conventions that protect Englands heritage assets. The ninety-page Guide to Heritage Protection in England provides a brief summary in each topic area and provides links to the source documents. Because legal issues are often decided on precise definitions, the guide also contains a glossary of nearly 200 technical terms, authoritatively defined.
The guide contains useful sections on recent policy and statute, such as the National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Act, and on forthcoming changes to heritage protection. Mike Harlow, Governance and Legal Director at English Heritage and the principal author of the guide, says that it will be kept up to date as laws or policies evolve.
By coincidence, the Institute of Art Law and Cultural Property Law has also published a new guide to Historic Environment Law: planning, listed buildings, monuments, conservation areas and objects written by barrister Richard Harwood, which explains how designation and planning regimes work in relation to listed buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments, archaeological areas, gardens, battlefields and World Heritage Sites. It also addresses the removal of art and antiquities from site and buildings, treasure law and measures relating to the Church of England, military remains and wrecks.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), from which many of our academic Fellows derive their research funding, has published the draft of its Strategy for 201318 and is now inviting the arts and humanities community to comment by 8 November 2012. Entitled The Human World: the arts and humanities in our times, the document addresses a number of themes but two are especially prominent: collaboration and interdisciplinarity.
Both appear to hold out the promise that research funding might reach further beyond universities than it does at present, to embrace public, private and third sector partners and not just on a national basis, but also with academics and bodies overseas. On closer reading, however, one cannot escape the conclusion that the AHRC is saying that it will facilitate projects that bring in extra funding from such partners, rather than that the AHRC will itself provide the funding.
Judge for yourself by downloading the draft and completing the online survey.
New from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an online resource called MetPublications that provides access to nearly 650 titles that the Met has published since 1964 in the fields of art, art history, archaeology, conservation, arms and armour and collecting. Out-of-print books can be downloaded in their entirety for free as PDFs; books still in print can only be previewed sample chapters are made available to give you a flavour of the book. The Met says this is a work in progress and that the website will eventually offer access to nearly all the books, Bulletins and Journals published by the museum since its founding in 1870.
In his blog posting launching the new website, our Fellow Thomas Campbell, Director of the Met, said: today were adding 643 books to your reading list. That out-of-print catalogue from the Mets groundbreaking 1985 India exhibition? Now you can read it. The 1970 catalogue of the Wrightsman porcelain collection? Thats there, too, along with hundreds of other titles from across the Museum … we welcome you to explore this extraordinary archive.
Salon can now announce officially what has been an open secret for some months, that our Fellow Chris Scarre has been appointed the next editor of Antiquity, in succession to our Fellow Martin Carver. Chris officially takes over the role on 1 January 2013, but says I am already actively involved in the editing and planning of next years issues, and we have recently announced the relocation of the office to the Archaeology Department at Durham. Robert Witcher is to be the new Reviews Editor, and Jo Dean the Editorial Manager.
Fellow Henry Russell was appointed a member of the Church Buildings Council in the summer, joining a distinguished group of experts whose role is to advise the General Synod, Chancellors, dioceses and parishes on the care and use of church buildings, their contents and their churchyards.
Fellow Rebecca Jones, formerly Survey and Recording Operational Manager at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, began a three-year secondment to Historic Scotland in August 2012 in the newly created post of Head of Archaeology Strategy. In her new role, Rebecca will develop partnerships with other organisations to create a long-term strategy for archaeological resources within Scotland, taking forward the recommendations of a recent review of the archaeology function at Historic Scotland.
Operation Nightingale, the innovative project using archaeology to aid the recovery of military personnel injured in Afghanistan, has won the Ministry of Defences Sanctuary Award, given by the MoD to projects that benefit wildlife, archaeology, environmental improvement or community awareness of conservation on or within MOD land in the UK or overseas. Fellow Richard Osgood, who helped set up Operation Nightingale, said that the project won the award in the Heritage Projects category, beating off tough competition from entries nation-wide, and it went on to win the Silver Otter trophy, awarded to the overall Sanctuary winner from all categories.
Our sister Society in Scotland invites submissions for the Murray History Prize by 30 November 2012 (an extension of the original deadline) in the form of original and unpublished research on the history of Scotland in the medieval and/or early modern periods (c AD 500 to 1700), set within a British and/or European context. History is defined as encompassing all branches, including art history, but not archaeology, for which the Scottish Society makes separate provision. Papers from non-Fellows are welcome, and the Societys website has further information on submitting papers; Erin Osborne-Martin, the Societys Managing Editor, is happy to provide further guidance.
The biennial prize has been instituted thanks to a generous donation from Dr Peter Murray, FSA Scot. The sum of £200 and a medal will be awarded to the winner at the Societys 2013 Anniversary Meeting and the winning paper will be published in volume 142 of the Societys Proceedings.
Responding to Salons report on the planned redevelopment of the London Fruit and Wool Exchange in Spitalfields, the developers, Exemplar, have pointed out that the old auction halls mentioned in Salons report no longer exist, and have not done so for many years, and that the basement walls are no longer covered in wartime graffiti.
Fellow Malcolm Airs writes to correct an error in Salons account of the vote by members of the National Trust on organisations represented on the Trusts Council. Salons editor is very pleased to learn that the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies is still one of the bodies recommended for nomination to the National Trust Council and that Malcolm is the Joint Committees representative.
Fellow Alan Rogers writes to add a further tribute to our late Fellow Patricia Bell, saying that she was a key member of a working party, which I chaired, set up by the General Synod to draft a report on the care of parish registers and other historic documents held by the churches; this led to the passing of the Parish Registers and Records Measure 1978; her contribution to this work was very significant.
Fellow Robert Merrillees has been having fun this summer visiting French archaeological theme parks and sends Salon the following observations. Travelling with our elder daughter and granddaughters gave us the opportunity not only to renew acquaintance with Alésia, where Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix (aka Napoléon III), but to go for the first time to Parc Astérix, not far to the north east of Paris. Neither experience will be easily forgotten.
At MuséoParc Alésia a new visitor centre, with the outside form of an amphitheatre, has been built on the outskirts of Venarey-les-Laumes and contains a museum together with a cafeteria, souvenir shop and that rarest of all French facilities, modern and adequate loos. A particular highlight was the practical demonstration by a group of four athletic men of Gaulish and Roman fighting tactics, enacted inside the reconstruction of a fortified Roman camp and explained in both French and Latin. Though no expert on hand-to-hand combat two thousand years ago, I thought it made very good sense, and the children were fascinated. Our tickets included entry to the well-manicured remains of the Gallo-Roman settlement on top of Mont Auxois at Alise-Sainte-Reine.
Parc Astérix merely confirmed that the French are far happier being Romans than Gauls. Having left the parking area and passed from France into Gaul, we were expecting to enter a make-believe landscape in a remote corner of Brittany, surrounded by characters from Uderzo and Goscinnys fabled cartoon books. Instead we were confronted by a kaleidoscope of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Vikings and mediaeval Europe, not to mention every kind of big dipper, roller coaster and swing imaginable.
The Gaulish village we had expected to find was tucked away in the middle of this miasma and open only after lunch presumably to enable Obélix to finish his wild boar. Again the live spectacle in the mock Roman amphitheatre was devoted not so much to the efficacy of the potion magique as to a burlesque Roman legion recruitment campaign. The audience loved it. Most entertaining for me were the imaginative and witty signs and notices in Latin, in the spirit of Astérix chez les Bretons. The children preferred hurtling through space.
The appeal in Salon 285 by Fellow Robert Waterhouse, Field Archaeologist to the Société Jersiaise, for help in identifying metal-detector finds was swiftly answered by Fellows Philip Lankester, Stephen Wood and Bill Harriman, all of whom agreed that the objects in question are sword pommels. Philip Lankester says: the stand at the base of the one illustrated in Salon would have sat on top of one end of the grip (most commonly made of wood and bound with wire and/or covered with leather) and the blade tang would have passed through the large hole in the centre of the base and emerged through a small hole at the top of the pommel where it would have been gently hammered to increase its diameter inside the small hole and fix it in place, thus securing the blade to the hilt. The smaller hole near the stand was to retain a small peg which extended from the end of the knuckle-guard, thus holding the latter in place. Dating is difficult given its condition but it is probably of the second half of the seventeenth or first half of the eighteenth century and it probably come from a small-sword or military sword, the hilts of which were commonly decorated with allegorical figures.
A recent Thomas Del Mar auction catalogue contains several small-swords and late seventeenth-century military swords: Lots 125, 178, 180 and 181 all have analogous hilts of cast copper alloy. Also similar is an iron sword hilt [shown on the left] on the finds database of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which lacks its shells, knuckle-guard and grip, though the tang, with the pommel still attached, has survived, though clearly been bent to one side.
Bill Harriman adds that Small swords were extensively decorated and their quality varied from the cheap to the objet de vertu. Examples with cast hilts could be made to look much more costly than they were by reproducing the decoration by casting much cheaper than chiselling. For literature, see The Small-Sword in England, Its History, Its Forms, Its Makers, and Its Masters (1945) by J D Aylward and The Rapier and the Small-Sword: 14601820 (1980), by A V B Norman [FSA, died 1998].
The Society has been informed of the death on 18 October 2012 of our Fellow Peter Edwin Locke at the age of eighty-three. Peter was the recipient in 2007 of our Society Medal, awarded by Council for outstanding service to the Society or to the objectives of the Society. When our then President, Eric Fernie, presented the medal to Peter, he said that the basis for the award could be summed up in one word: Kelmscott. Peter was deeply involved in our Societys move to rescue and conserve Kelmscott, alongside Dick Dufty who was President at the time we acquired the Manor in 1962. Dick Duftys daughter, Sally Sandys Renton, described the Manor as it was fifty years ago: the nettles were as high as your waist, with brambles and wildness, one goat at the gardeners cottage and another at the manor kitchen, with the chickens; William Morriss Cabbage and vine tapestry being used as a dogs bed, his If I can tapestry grey with dirt, and Brueghel the Youngers Spring, virtually black from chimney smoke. Dirt and dereliction everywhere.
Peter Locke was the conservation architect appointed by the Society in 1962 to sort out these problems. May Morriss will stipulated that whoever worked on the building had to be approved by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and Peter was certainly that, having been trained as a SPAB Lethaby scholar in 1950. He subsequently joined forces with our Fellow Sir Donald Insall, who had also been on the same SPAB course, to form Donald Insall Associates in 1958. In his subsequent career, Peter oversaw repairs to two Cambridge colleges, including the Wren Library at Trinity, to Kedleston, Wotton and Chevening, to the Tide Mill at Woodbridge, Speke Hall in Liverpool, the Palace of Westminster and the Great Hall and library of Lincolns Inn. He has acted as a consultant at, or produced reports and surveys on, Petworth, Gonville and Caius and Jesus College, Cambridge, the city of Chester and the towns of Thaxted and Lavenham.
The last issue of Salon contained a brief notice of the death of our Fellow Eric Ives. Since then, the Daily Telegraph has published an obituary, extracts from which are reproduced below. Learning of Eric Ivess death from Salon, our Fellow Daniel Woolf, Professor of History and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queens University, Ontario, wrote to pay his own tribute:
At the time when I had only recently completed my Oxford DPhil, Eric gave me my very first teaching assignment at Birmingham, in the autumn of 1983, standing in for him during a term in which he had been called into higher administration. Some might have left me to my own devices at that point, but Eric was assiduous in checking in regularly during the term as to how the teaching was going, and whether I needed anything. He also regularly joined me and others for lunch during the days when I was in Birmingham to teach. Though my permanent relocation back to Canada occurred soon after, limiting our contact for the past three decades, I remember him as a very funny, gregarious and humane man, as well as a deeply erudite Tudor historian.
Professor Eric Ives, who has died at the age of eighty-one, was the author of the definitive biography of Anne Boleyn and a much-loved figure at the University of Birmingham, where he served as head of the Modern History faculty and pro-vice-chancellor. In Anne Boleyn (1986), a sympathetic portrait of the second of Henry VIIIs six wives, supported throughout by evidence, Ives described a woman much more than a seductive voice on a pillow, who did a great deal to encourage Protestant learning, adding reformist books to the Royal Collection and contriving the appointment of bishops, including Thomas Cranmer, who would spearhead the Reformation.
Her relationship with Henry was one of storms and sunshine, yet Ives found that Henry remained strongly committed to Anne until as little as a fortnight before her execution on trumped-up charges of incest and adultery. It was, Ives argued, Annes religious radicalism that brought about her undoing, causing a temporary alliance between Henrys Chief Minister Thomas Cromwell and the conservatives at court. When Cromwell feared that his former ally would divert the wealth of the monasteries towards good causes rather than to the royal purse, he exploited Henrys doubts about the validity of the marriage to drive a wedge between them. Following a show trial, Anne was convicted, but Ives found not a shred of evidence that any of her putative lovers had ever committed adultery with her.
Ivess study initiated a period of trench warfare among Tudor historians. In opposition to his account, the American historian Retha Warnicke argued in The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) that a miscarriage Anne suffered in 1536, when she was supposedly delivered of a deformed foetus, fuelled rumours of her witchcraft, confirming the disillusioned Henrys belief that she had bewitched him into marrying her. Then, in the early 1990s, George Bernard argued that Anne did indeed sleep with at least one, if not more, of the accused possibly because she needed a male child and Henry was incapable of begetting one.
Ives returned to his subject in The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, an expanded edition of his earlier study, in 2004, by which time the post-mortem inventory of Henry VIIIs goods had been published [by our Society, under the general editorship of Fellow David Starkey]. The latter was a monumental achievement that provided a much more intimate view of the physical world in which Henry and Anne moved and interacted with each other and with their retainers. The world conjured up by the inventory, Ives argued, contained almost no personal space. And it was this lack of privacy which made the charges of adultery completely ludicrous. Privacy occurred only in the privy, and that is not where Anne met with other men. Meanwhile, the story of the deformed foetus originated from the pen of the Elizabethan Catholic priest and polemicist Nicholas Sanders, who was himself born around 1530 and had thus been a child at the time of the miscarriage. There was no contemporary gossip to substantiate the story.
Eric developed his passionate interest in history as a young boy and, from Brentwood School, went up to Queen Mary College, London, where he took a degree in the subject, followed by a PhD. After two years National Service as a flight lieutenant in the RAF, he worked as a research assistant with the History of Parliament Trust, then spent nearly four years as a Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford. In 1961 he moved to Liverpool, where he spent seven years as a lecturer in Modern History before moving to Birmingham, remaining there for the rest of his career. In 1987 he was appointed Professor of English History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He was pro-vice-chancellor from 1989 to 1993 and head of Modern History from 1994 until his formal retirement in 1997.
Initially Ivess main area of interest was the history of the legal profession in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and it was while he was immersed in this that he became fascinated by the characters at the Tudor court. His other books include Letters & Accounts of William Brereton (1976) Brereton was one of the men condemned to death in 1536 on the false charge of being Anne Boleyns lover; God in History (1979); Faction in Tudor England (1979); and The Common Lawyers of Pre-Reformation England (1983).
Ivess retirement did little to diminish his enthusiasm for his subject. In Lady Jane Grey: a Tudor mystery (2009), he disputed the traditional view that unscrupulous courtiers, led by the Duke of Northumberland, manipulated the dying teenaged Edward VI into denying the rights to the throne of his older half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, in favour of his half-cousin, Jane. Edward, he argued, had tampered with the succession on his own initiative, showing a steely determination not because he feared that the Catholic Mary would undo his Protestant religious settlement, but because he regarded his sisters as illegitimate.
Ivess last book, The Reformation Experience, published in August this year, examined parish sources and other materials to discover how the religious turbulence of the sixteenth century affected the personal spirituality and beliefs of the common people of Tudor England. Whereas [Fellow] Eamon Duffy, in The Stripping of the Altars (1992), regretted the loss of a beautiful and coherent medieval Catholic culture, Ives celebrated the creation of a vernacular English literary culture and the communication of religion and morality to the common person. Like Duffy, however, he could not really answer the question of why most English Christians switched their allegiances during the Tudor denominational ping-pong with such apparent ease.
Our Fellow David Breeze writes to say that Richard Bellhouse died recently. Richard was by training a land drainage officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, he writes, based for over twenty years in Cumbria. Here he discovered an interest in archaeology specifically the Roman frontier works along the Cumberland coast. From 1954 to 1989 he investigated the milefortlets and towers, introducing coherence where previously there had been none. His interests extended to roads, camps and forts, kilns and cemeteries in the north west and his reports were regularly published in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. His achievements were recognised by the production of a volume of essays in his honour in 2004 Romans on the Solway: essays in honour of Richard Bellhouse, edited by R J A Wilson and I D Caruana published by the C & W Society on behalf of the Senhouse Museum Trust.
Sponsored by Arts Council England, a new exhibition of work by twelve artists, inspired by the rare books and manuscripts that make up the stock of the antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros Ltd, is showing at the firms Mayfair townhouse until 21 December 2012. Visiting the exhibition provides an opportunity to explore the Georgian house at 50 Berkeley Square that Maggs has occupied since 1938 and that is the home, during working hours, of Fellows Paul Quarrie and Robert Harding. The free exhibition may be viewed from 9.30am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays.
30 October 2012: Artisan art: domestic wall paintings in the early modern period, by Kathryn Davies of English Heritage at 5.15pm, in the Court Room, Senate House, 1st Floor, University of London. Domestic wall paintings were very common in vernacular houses in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century and had a distinctive form, covering the entire surface of the walls, and often the ceilings as well. They were usually set out with frieze, main panel and dado, with a variety of schemes based on textile patterns, figurative subjects and texts almost exclusively found in the frieze. After around 1625 such wall paintings declined in popularity and changed in character, becoming plainer and more architecturally conscious. This paper will explain how and why the examples chosen provide insight into the social and cultural values of the period, and will be compared to later seventeenth-century schemes to see how and why those differ.
Further details of this and of the entire Locality and Region seminar programme for 201213 can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Historical Research.
3 November 2012: Archaeology for All, the CBA Wessex Autumn Conference, to be held in the new Ordnance Survey Building, Adanac Drive, Southampton SO16 0AS. Speakers include Fellow Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA, on the issues facing the national body and its vision of the way forward, Fellow Julian Richards, on the Whats Under your School project which he and Clare Ryley are running for CBA Wessex, and Fellow Richard Osgood on Project Nightingale.
For full details see the CBA Wessex website.
14 November 2012, Nostalgia, heritage practice and the post-industrial legacy, a lecture to be given by our Fellow Janet Miller, Director of Heritage, Atkins, at 6.15pm hosted by the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage in the A V Hill Lecture Theatre, Medical Sciences Building, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. This is a public lecture and all are welcome: please send an email to Bethia Reith if you are able to attend.
Does nostalgia have a place in modern heritage practice? We respect multiple histories and the views of communities. But when our expert toolkit now includes memories as data, are we setting up a mawkish sentimentality behind which to hide our loss of confidence in the contribution of our professional perspectives and methods? And what happens when a heritage professional then becomes part of community heritage action? This talk will explore these issues, through an examination of how the heritage legacy of a famous but redundant pottery factory is being created and defined.
20 November 2012: Painting in the provinces: painters, portraits and patrons in early Stuart Chester, by our Fellow Robert Tittler, Emeritus Professor of History at Concordia University, Montreal, and author of Portraits, Painters, and Publics in Provincial England, 15401640 (2012, OUP), at 5.15pm, in Room STB2, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DN. This paper (also in the IHRs Locality and Region seminar programme) investigates the role of one provincial city as a regional centre for the production and patronage of painting. It investigates the regional characteristics of the painters’ occupation, patronage, and consequent output, for the years prior to the Civil Wars.
Kelmscott Manor provided the venue for the launch on 21 September 2012 of the latest volume in the Victoria County History series. Oxfordshire Volume XVII (ISBN 9781904356400), edited by Simon Townley, covers the westernmost parishes in Oxfordshire: Broadwell (including the villages of Kelmscott, Holwell and Filkins), Langford (including Little Faringdon, Grafton and Radcot) and Broughton Poggs. Of these, Kelmscott is by far the best known, thanks in part to William Morris, who wrote in rapturous terms about the village and Manor (a courtesy title) in his utopian novel, News from Nowhere, though the VCH points out that May Morris had by far the greater impact on the village with her building projects and her transformation of Kelmscott Manor into a museum of her fathers life and work, a tradition that our Society has inherited and maintained.
Remarkably, these villages and hamlets have retained exactly that feeling of timeless tranquillity that Morris so loved (unlike Rossetti, who called Kelmscott the doziest dump). Research for this volume reveals that all three parishes were once part of a large royal estate, granted to a succession of prominent Anglo-Saxon earls in return for their service to the king. Surviving from this period is the exceptional Langford church, with its late Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion sculptures, reset in the south porch, possibly from an earlier church on the site, and its mid-eleventh-century central tower.
The area still holds many secrets: the section on Radcot, for example, incorporates the results of research published as recently as 2007 by our Fellow John Blair, identifying some of Radcots watercourses as pre-Conquest in date (some possibly Romano-British); it also draws on Time Teams May 2008 excavation of the area around the demolished castle to present a fuller account of the topography and development of the village than would previously have been possible.
Much remains to be discovered: Kelmscott Manor is, for example, surrounded by earthworks of unknown date and significance, and though the Thames-side landscape that stretches eastwards from Kelmscott looks featureless, aerial photographs show it to be crowded with the evidence of past lives.
Further information on the latest Oxfordshire volume, including the offer of a 25 per cent discount on this and several other VCH titles, will be circulated in the next mailing to Fellows, early in November. Also published by the VCH this year are Essex XI: Clacton, Walton and Frinton: North-East Essex Seaside Resorts and York: East Riding Volume IX: Harthill Wapentake, Bainton Beacon Division. Great Driffield and its Townships. Staffordshire XI: Audley, Keele, and Trentham will be published at the start of 2013.
Staying in Oxfordshire, Fellow Alan Crossleys new book Oxford City Apprentices 15131602 (ISBN 9780904107258; Oxford Historical Society, New Series XLIV) makes available to historians a calendar of the enrolments of more than 2,000 apprenticeship contracts made in Oxford in the Tudor period, a time when the city began to expand and flourish as the reviving university provided a growing body of consumers for the products of local shopkeepers and craftsmen.
Alan says that apprenticeship records are a familiar source for social and economic history and genealogy, but the Oxford material, in both quantity and detail, is quite exceptional. It is discussed in an Introduction, which re-examines the apprenticeship system on the basis of unusually plentiful statistics, throwing new light on such matters as length of service, payment of premiums and the rates of career failure and success. Oxford recruited its apprentices from an astonishingly wide area; their places of origin are identified and mapped, and an analysis of their social and geographical origins breaks important new ground in the field of migration studies. More prosaically, the calendar provides the genealogist and local historian with the names, parentage and places of origin of thousands of young men from all over England and Wales raw material for much-needed further research on the later movements of qualified apprentices. Sixteenth-century enrolments are much fuller than their more familiar seventeenth-century successors, containing miscellaneous information of great interest, notably lists of working tools, details of journeymens wages and stipulations about apprentices behaviour.
Fellow Alan Rogers has written a book about an extraordinary man who was, in many respects, the English counterpart to those Florentine merchants who are so familiar to us as the progenitors of the Renaissance a sort of mini Medici. The analogy is not that far fetched when you realise that he left behind one of the best medieval hospitals in England (the judgement of Pevsner and Harris in their Lincolnshire Buildings of England volume; cf Innocenti) and he rebuilt the towns principal parish church (All Saints in the Market) and filled it with brasses to his close-knit family (cf San Lorenzo).
Like the early Medici, he carefully avoided commitment to any one faction in the troubled century in which he lived, unlike his brother-in-law, who fought for Henry VI and was sent to the Tower of London. He was, says Alan, a man of few words, traditional (even old-fashioned) in religion, with a hankering after the reclusive life (shades of Cosimo deMedici again) and yet he bestrode the town like a colossus, a leader in every field he touched, town councillor and gildsman in Stamford and mayor of the powerful Calais Staple as well as money lender to crown, nobility and to local tradesmen and women.
Leland described him as a merchant of a very wonderfulle richenesse, and Alans book shows that Brownes commercial empire spread from Boston and Ipswich to Coventry and Southampton as well as Calais. He used his immense wealth to acquire property in town and countryside (and was not above using underhand means to build up his estates in Lincolnshire, Rutland and Northamptonshire), though he and his wife Margaret seemed to prefer the urban life to that of the county squire.
If this summary has whetted your appetite to learn more about Browne and his times, you can order the book from Abramis Publishing (tel: 01284 700321) for £19.95 plus £2.95 p&p.
Visitors to the Herefordshire church of St Mary Magdelene, Eardisley, no longer have to puzzle out the meaning of the carvings on the elaborately carved font that is the pride of the parish, thanks to a new illustrated 20-page guide to the font written by Fellow and Eardisley resident Susan Wood. The guide explains that the font is a spirited example of the work of the Herefordshire School of Romanesque sculpture its scenes of battling knights, the Harrowing of Hell and the Lion of Judah were carved by the same team of masons based at Hereford Cathedral that were active in the diocese from the mid-1130s to the mid-1160s and that produced the famous Kilpeck sculptures. According to the guide, their vigorous style combines Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse elements with the influence of Romanesque churches mainly in western France on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
Susan Woods text is as lively as the carving as she explains the iconography and dismisses earlier attempts to link the figures of the knights to specific people and events. Key to her interpretation is the idea that the tendrils running around the font represent hell and damnation. In the Harrowing of Hell scene, Christ literally yanks Adam free of their sticky embrace; the warriors, by contrast, are about to succumb, entangled in the entwining stems of evil. Damnation awaits the violent, seems to be the message here, and Susan relates this to the Church propaganda of the day when bishops and churchmen all over Europe were calling on powerful barons to become Christian knights, to abandon civil strife, to respect the Church and to use their strength to protect the poor and powerless and ideally to stop troubling everyone by joining a Crusade.
Susan even goes as far as to engage in the entirely plausible speculation that Robert of Béthune, Bishop of Hereford from 1131 to 1148 (the heyday of the Herefordshire School), might have chosen the fonts theme: brave, high-spirited and devout, he led resistance in 1143 to the rapacious Miles, earl of Hereford, the henchman of Matilda in these parts during the anarchy and civil strife of Stephens reign. The font was thus intended as a warning against the idea that it is in any sense noble or Christian to use brute force to achieve your ends.
Ever versatile, our Fellow Arthur MacGregor has mastered a vast body of primary material to write this encyclopaedic book on Animal Encounters: human and animal interaction in Britain from the Norman Conquest to World War One (ISBN 9781861898494; Reaktion Books). Faced with such a large and rich subject, Arthur has chosen five big themes as the framework for the book: the horse, hunting, sport, food and farming. He then builds layer upon layer of information in a way that has its own logic, as one theme leads to the next: archaeological evidence for the forms and development of horseshoes leads to a discussion of the profession of blacksmithing and then to the other equestrian crafts saddlery and harness making and thence to the question of when side-saddles were introduced, each theme being illustrated with quotations from contemporary sources and well-chosen figures, such as the one that depicts Cardinal Wolsey riding on his mule of state from a manuscript copy of the Life of Wolsey by George Cavendish (1578), illustrating the point that by long-standing tradition, mules were deemed appropriate mounts for senior churchmen.
This is a book that thus draws you in to explore numerous topics that you might never have consciously thought about before but that turn out to have a long and intriguing history. Who could not be fascinated, for example, by the uses made of pigeon dung, highly prized it turns out not as a manure but for use in tanning shoe leather or as a source of the saltpetre used to make medieval gunpowder. Twenty pages of the book are devoted to the complexities of swan husbandry, the ceremonies, courts, laws and royal proclamations, the tools and the marks made by cutting or branding the upper surface of the beaks of mute swans to denote ownership, the swan rolls in which such marks were recorded, and the archaeological evidence for swan-houses or swan-pits where the birds were fattened for the table. Was it worth it? Arthur tells us that the meat was eaten in huge quantities by those with privileged access to it (400 swans were consumed at the installation of George Nevell as Archbishop of York in 1466), while quoting contemporary writers who describe the meat as by no means good, the best being that of cygnets up to a year in age that had been fed with corn to free them of unwholesomeness.
On a more contemporary note, Arthur writes with obvious affection for the humble badger, describing brock as a byword for discreet self-effacement and quiet contentment (perhaps influenced in this by Kenneth Grahames anthropomorphic characterisation). Humans have always regarded them as a nuisance, however, and this books section on the ghastly realities of badger-digging and badger-baiting is just one of several that illustrates how the history of human and animal interaction has frequently had unhappy consequences for the animal side of that equation. As an archaeologist and cultural historian Arthur avoids passing judgement, ending his book at the turn of the twentieth century and wisely remarking that present-day concerns must remain beyond its scope.
Boneland (ISBN 9780007463244; Fourth Estate), by our Fellow Alan Garner, is billed as a novel for adults, but in truth this book occupies a space somewhere between a novel and a poem.
In novelistic terms it tells the engaging story of Colin Whisterfield and his attempts to recover his memory of events that occurred decades previously (as told in Alan Garners celebrated early works, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963)). These events, including the mysterious disappearance of his sister, Susan, have left him deeply traumatised. Now he is trying to understand what happened with the help of a very unconventional psychotherapist called Meg, who is the source of much of the books humour.
The story is told in spare poetic language: it contains no word that has not been deliberately chosen and placed, with a keen ear for rhythm and much use of repetition, spell-like incantations, internal rhymes, alliteration, very short staccato sentences and a pattern of writing in which most of the sentences have two counterbalancing parts. A clue to one of the many poetic influences on the work is the quotation from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that precedes the story.
Alan Garner links Colins twenty-first-century story with that of a lonely Mesolithic shaman only just surviving in a world gripped by ice. We learn as the story progresses that he is desperate for someone to whom he can pass on his knowledge not for selfish reasons, but because he believes that the sun and the stars will finally lose their fire and the world will end unless the rituals that he practices are continued. By the end of the book, Colin has become the owner of the shamans stone and he undergoes some kind of redemptive apotheosis (a typical Garner ending); the reader is left feeling that something momentous has occurred without being quite sure what.
Why would an antiquary who is not already a Garner fan want to read the book? Partly because of the way that Garner weaves a gripping story full of mythological resonance (Meg the psychotherapist has the characteristics of the Morrigan of Irish mythology and Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend); partly because of his powerful descriptions of the landscape and archaeology of Alderley Edge, Jodrell Bank, Lindow Moss and Ludchurch (the Green Chapel of Gawain and the Green Knight); and partly because of the way he embeds Cheshire dialect words into the narrative, the language of the Gawain poet and Garners own childhood tongue. But above all because the book seems determined to break down false dichotomies: Garners almost musical repetition of the words story, true and dream at the end of the work invites us to join him in relishing myth, story, dream as a form of truth.
Colin is an astronomer undertaking research at Jodrell Bank; he reminds Meg at one stage that our idea of time is false: the stars we see in the night sky do not represent a single moment in time, but billions of moments, because it has taken different numbers of light years for the light to reach us from each separate star. Garner seems to be saying that the human mind, when receptive to the past, is like the night sky: an amalgam of many moments in time we hold in our heads a whole spectrum of ideas, stories, images, dreams, myths some of which we choose to call factual or true or new; they are really all versions of the same core truths, and contentment can come from relishing this continuity with the past. It is also a deeply autobiographical message: Garner the consummate storyteller and showman (a word not too far distant from shaman) takes inherited myths, refreshes them and passes them on, a task equivalent to that of the shaman who wants to keep the world alive and stop the sun from fading to ice.
The proposition that we have much to learn from the past is surely one with which our Fellow Richard Hingley would agree. Whereas many a young Turk rejects older ideas and interpretations as naive, wrong, primitive and unscientific, Richard has pioneered an approach to archaeology that assumes past ideas are more sophisticated and contain important truths that we should seek to recover and understand. Neither does he assume that what we think now is necessarily superior to what people have thought in the past; to think so is to assume that past thinkers were addressing the same problems but were viewing as through a dark glass, lacked our knowledge and got it wrong. Instead, great rewards come from asking what questions they were addressing that made them write what they did.
Hadrians Wall makes an excellent subject for such an approach because the monument has featured over and again in history, literature, art and politics and the way it has been represented in each age tells us much about the preoccupations of the time. Until now, most accounts of the Wall have concentrated on its construction and use up to the point where the Wall becomes redundant in military terms. By contrast, Richards life of Hadrians Wall (ISBN 9780199641413; Oxford University Press) starts at that point, with the Romans sailing away and leaving Britain to the depredations of northern barbarians, no doubt uttering the Latin equivalent of sauve qui peut.
Almost immediately the Wall comes to stand for decline and decay not only in terms of its actual physical state, but more importantly in moral terms: Gildas is one of the first writers to describe the Wall and ponder its purpose; he thought it was a parting gift from the Romans, and blames the British who live south of the Wall for not using this gift well; cowardly and lazy, they have allowed Britain to be overrun by murderous thugs who delight in visiting a cruel and slow death on those they capture, not even sparing children.
Gildass account was passed on to us by Bede and has proved to be surprisingly long lasting and influential. Within its moralising lies one of the major strands of subsequent Wall commentary: the division of Britain into civilised and barbarian, moral and immoral, peace-loving and violent, organised and chaotic, us and them; or, if you come from the other side of the dividing line, free-spirited and democratic, hardy and resilient, valiant and true-valued compared to those suppressed people of the south, groaning under the yoke of Roman imperialism.
Countless writers and artists have taken their cue from Gildass vivid description of the groans of the British, constantly under attack from naked spear-throwing Scots and Picts, being torn from the Wall and dashed to the ground. Even Camden, who was the first to attribute the construction of the Wall to Hadrian (based on his reading of the Life of Hadrian by Ælius Spartianus), felt compelled to describe Hadrians Wall as a late construction, a response to the storm clouds of barbarian incursion, so he characterised Hadrians work as little more than a line of stakes or piles pitched deepe in the ground to which the Emperor Severus added a vallum or rampier … of turffes.
Richards book shows just how long-lived is the idea of Hadrians Wall as a national, genetic and cultural boundary, and how often it recurs whenever Scottish and English politicians are at loggerheads. In truth, we do not really know why Hadrians Wall was built, but that has not stopped it being cast in the role of nation divider: it is the physical counterpart to deep-seated unease on the part of two nations concerning their neighbours. Recent political agreement on the date for a referendum on Scottish independence lends topical relevance to Richards book. If the past is any guide, you can expect politicians to begin talking on Question Time and only half in jest about rebuilding Hadrians Wall though whether to keep the English out or the Scots in depends on which side of the political divide you sit.
Edited by our Fellow Charles Higham and A Kijngam, this volume completes the series of reports on the excavations at Ban Non Wat, Noen U-Loke and Ban Lum Khao in Thailand. The contents include an account of the Iron Age domestic occupation, fish remains, Phimai Black ceramic and mortuary ceramics, the glass beads from Ban Non Wat and Noen U-Loke, spinning tools and the Iron Age burial sequence. The volume ends with conclusions on the origins of the Angkor culture. The launch price of the volume is 32 / US$42 / £26 (until 1 December); orders may be sent to Charles Higham and payment is accepted by credit card, cheque or cash. Postage by surface mail to any country is 10.50 / £8.50 / US$13.50. Thereafter the volume can be obtained from River Books, Bangkok, or Oxbow Books for 128 / £105 / US$170.
James Cook University, Cairns, Australia: Lecturer in Archaeology
Salary range AU$79,837 to 94,203 per annum; closing date 9 November 2012
The School of Arts and Social Sciences at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia, invites applications for the position of Lecturer in Archaeology. The position is full-time for four years at Academic Level B. The Lecturer will be principally responsible for teaching archaeology subjects on the Cairns campus but will be expected to engage in research and perform normal academic duties within the Department and School. For application details, see the universitys website.
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge: Field Archaeologist in Residence
Salary: up to £10,500; closing date 30 November 2012
As an initiative to promote strong links between academic and field archaeology, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research wishes to recruit a Field Archaeologist in Residence, ideally for the Easter Term (17 April to 25 June) of the 2012/13 academic year. This scheme will entail an award of up to £10,500 to allow a respected archaeological practitioner to spend one term at the Institute, covering replacement salary costs and/or research expenses. The remit will be to give two seminars (on field archaeology and/or their research project) and to pursue one or more of the following objectives: to complete a piece of research that would not be possible within the context of commercially funded archaeology (if a commercial sector candidate); to work with a commercial unit to produce an important piece of value-added research (if a university-based candidate); to research the process of archaeological fieldwork and/or its dissemination (be it a commercial sector or university-based candidate).
Applications should include a research proposal of not more than 1,000 words, a CV and two letters of reference. These must be submitted to Rebecca Burtenshaw, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER, by 30 November 2012, quoting the reference JC08773. Informal enquiries should be directed to our Fellow James Barrett.