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.

Christmas and New Year closure

The Society’s apartments and library at Burlington House will be closed from 4pm on Friday 21 December 2012 until 10am on Wednesday 2 January 2013 for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Forthcoming meetings

Tea is served from 4.15pm, and meetings start at 5pm

31 January 2013: ‘Pushing boundaries: Ireland’s relationship with Rome’, by Jacqueline Cahill Wilson
Marking the completion of the first phase of research in the Discovery Programme’s ‘Late Iron Age and “Roman” Ireland’ (LIARI) project, this paper will discuss the exciting new insights that have been gained into settlement, society and ritual practices in Ireland in the first five centuries AD, including key finds and sites where Roman material has been uncovered. The results suggest a high level of engagement between some communities in Ireland and the Roman Empire ― especially with Roman Britain ― from the Claudian invasion right through to late antiquity.

7 February 2013: ‘Must Farm: Bronze Age boats and metalwork’, by David Gibson
The Cambridge Archaeological Unit excavations at Must Farm, near Whittlesey and Peterborough, have revealed an astonishing series of submerged prehistoric landscapes, showing how humans have used this area of rivers and floodplains from the Holocene era (10,000 BC) to the present day. Much attention has been paid to the discovery of six Bronze Age log boats, spanning the period from the middle of the second millennium BC to the early first, but these represent only a fraction of the riches of the site. This paper will put the log boats in context, showing how the 150-metre stretch of prehistoric river bank and channel in which they were found has also yielded dwellings and hearths, watering holes and animal footprints, burnt mounds, fence lines, cremations and barrows, fish weirs and eel traps, woven wool and bark-fibre garments, wicker baskets, a wooden bowl containing the remains of nettle stew and swords and spears of bronze with intact wooden handles and scabbards.

Cambridge Antiquarian Society festive dinner

Cambridge Antiquarian Society is hosting a festive dinner at Corpus Christi College on 26 January 2013. Fellow Carenza Lewis will give the address on ‘Archaeology as a Source of Inspiration’. As Cambridge Fellows will not be holding a dinner this year, any Fellows (and their guests) in the Cambridge area who would like to attend are very welcome. Please contact our Fellow Alison Taylor, President of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, for further details.

York Antiquaries meetings planned for 2013

The York Antiquaries are planning a number of events for 2013. A guided tour of the Bar Convent is planned for 11.30am on 26 January 2013, followed by a buffet lunch at the convent. A £5 contribution towards the cost of the lunch is requested (payable on the day). Fellows are welcome to bring a guest. Please let Fellow Stephen Greep, Hon Sec of the York Antiquaries, know by 5 January 2013 if you plan to attend.

A meeting will then take place on 12 March 2013, and Stephen is inviting offers of ten-minute contributions, which could be on any topic, but always welcome are insights into some aspect of your current work. Events for later in the year include a guided tour of the entire circuit of York’s city walls. Stephen is also looking for suggestions for a possible weekend (Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime) field trip, along the lines of those run by the Welsh Fellows with great success every year. Further details of all these and more are contained in the latest York Antiquaries’ newsletter, which Stephen will email to you if you have not already received it.

Ballot results 6 December 2012

At the ballot held on 6 December 2012, the following were elected as Fellows of our Society:

Susan Bracken, freelance lecturer and writer specialising in art collecting in the Stuart period; Catharine MacLeod, Seventeenth-Century Curator, National Portrait Gallery; Tim Tatton-Brown, architectural historian and freelance archaeologist; Craig Ashley Hanson, Associate Professor of Art History, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI; Martin Royalton-Kisch, former Senior Curator, Dept of Prints and Drawings, British Museum; Helen Rees, Curator of Archaeology, Winchester Museums; Francesca Jane Vanke, Keeper of Art and Curator of Decorative Art, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery; Valerie Anne Horsler, author and editor, formerly Managing Editor at English Heritage; Michael Allan Monk, environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist; Martin Antony Watts, Head of Publications, Cotswold Archaeology.

Meeting report: a miscellany of papers

Nigel Bamforth, Senior Conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, checks one of the ‘cup and cover’ posts that support the tester above William Morris’s bed, at Tate Britain. Photo: courtesy of Crown Fine Art and Simon Harvey William

Two Kelmscott-oriented papers were given at the Society’s final meeting of the year, held on 13 December 2012. The first, by Nigel Bamforth, Senior Conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, demonstrated how much had been learnt about William Morris’s bed, from Kelmscott Manor, as a result of taking it apart so that it could form one of the exhibits at the current Tate Britain exhibition, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde (to 13 January 2013).

Like many four-poster beds, parts had been replaced over time, so that the bed we have today is a composite of seventeenth- to nineteenth-century work: in particular the side rails have the holes that are a sign of an early bed, through which rush ropes were originally threaded to form a net to support a straw pallet that would have formed the original mattress. Nigel believed that it was unlikely that Morris himself had commissioned the bed or made the later alterations and repairs, because it was not made to Arts and Crafts standards: it is more likely that he acquired the bed in its current state and valued it for its antiquity.

Like many a medieval and later bed, it was the draperies on which the greatest time and labour were expended, not least in this example, with its bedcover, which was embroidered by Jane Morris, William Morris’s wife, and the valance, designed in 1891 by their daughter, May Morris, incorporating the words of Morris’s own poem, ‘For the Bed at Kelmscott’.

Fellow John Maddison then gave an introduction to the Conservation Management Plan for Kelmscott Manor, which he and Fellow Merlin Waterson have drafted. John questioned the authenticity of some of the work that took place when the Society first took on the Manor, many of which were felt at the time to be necessary in order to open the house to the public, but that we might now want to rethink. He also suggested that new uses might be found for some of the farmyard buildings that would better reveal and enhance their significance and allow for a better visitor experience, including rebuilding byres for which we have archival evidence but that have since been demolished. Naturally enough, such thoughts sparked a lively response, and the debate continued on into the mulled wine reception that followed the meeting. Fellows and the world at large will be able to comment on the CMP in detail when it is published for consultation in the New Year.

William Morris’s bed: the holes and grooves are for threading the ropes to support the mattress, while the bolt in the upright holds the mattress frame together. Photo: courtesy of Crown Fine Art and Simon Harvey William

New Stonehenge dates

The latest issue of Antiquity, for December 2012, contains a paper by our Fellows Tim Darvill, Mike Parker Pearson and Geoff Wainwright plus Peter Marshall on the sequence of construction at Stonehenge, based on recent excavation and carbon dates modelled using Bayesian algorithms. Five prehistoric stages are now proposed, in place of Atkinson’s four and Ros Cleal’s three (some of which were further subdivided), and perhaps the most radical departure from earlier interpretations is the placing of the construction of the sarsen trilithon horseshoe at an early stage in the sequence.

During Stage 1 (3000―2620 cal BC), the authors argue, Stonehenge consists of an earthwork enclosure bounded by a bank and ditch, within which are simple timber structures, pits and the fifty-six Aubrey holes, whose function remains enigmatic: the authors say they might even have been dug before the ditch, and might have held standing stones, but the jury is still out.

The relatively short phase 2 (2620―2480 cal BC) was the momentous one, when Stonehenge was ‘transformed from something fairly commonplace to a structure quite unique in the ancient world’. Two possible scenarios are presented. In the first, the trilithon horseshoe is initially surrounded by the double bluestone circle and then years, decades or centuries later, the sarsen circle is added. Alternatively, the trilithon horseshoe, the double bluestone circle and the sarsen circle are all erected in relatively rapid succession. Culturally, Stage 2 is associated with the users of Grooved Ware and took place broadly contemporaneously with the construction and use of Woodhenge, the three timber monuments south of Woodhenge and the southern and northern timber circles and the houses and settlement at Durrington Walls.

In Stage 3 (2480―2280 cal BC) the Bluestones (perhaps derived from Bluestonehenge) are arranged as the central bluestone circle within the trilithon horseshoe and the Avenue is constructed to link Stonehenge to the site of the former Bluestonehenge beside the River Avon, 2.8km away.

Next, in Stage 4 (2280―2020 cal BC), the central bluestone and the double bluestone circles are dismantled and re-built as a bluestone oval of around twenty-five monoliths inside the trilithon horseshoe and an outer bluestone circle of between forty and sixty monoliths in the space between the trilithon horseshoe and the sarsen circle.

The final stage (2020―1520 cal BC) sees extensive use of Stonehenge, with some bluestones being worked into artefacts, rock art applied (around 1650―1500 cal BC) to stones forming the sarsen circle and trilithon horseshoe, the construction of the Y and Z holes (in the period 1630―1520 cal BC) and the construction of numerous round barrow cemeteries in the surrounding landscape.

The authors stress that their sequence is provisional, and still tentative in places, and is presented as a working hypothesis for future investigations to test. In particular, the five stages cover large date spans, some of them encompassing a considerable number of events. It is unlikely, though, that building work was continuous throughout the period: it is more likely that there was a burst of activity for one or two generations, resulting in the major elements of the site, followed by long periods when little changed.

Fellow Robert Ixer, who is developing techniques for the chemical fingerprinting of the individual bluestones in order to trace their precise places of origin, said that the paper ‘was very timely and very important … a lot of us have got to go back and rethink when the stones arrived’. Fellow Tim Darvill, co-author of the paper, said that previous sequences suggested that Stonehenge started small and grew: in fact, ‘it starts big and stays big’, and the giant sandstone horseshoe came first, drawing stone from nearby quarries; only then were the smaller bluestones imported from Wales: ‘they sort out the local stuff first, and then they bring in the stones from Wales to add to the complexity of the structure’, Tim said. The new timeline ‘connects everything together, gives us a good sequence of events and it gives us a set of cultural associations with the different stages of construction’, he added.

Star Carr was far bigger than we thought

Also challenging previous interpretations is the paper in Antiquity on Star Carr by Chantal Conneller, Barry Taylor and Fellows Nicky Milner and Maisie Taylor, which ‘rewrites the character of Early Mesolithic settlement in Europe’, throwing into contention our picture of small mobile pioneering groups colonising new land and establishing small seasonal camps. In 9000 cal BC, Star Carr extended for nearly 2ha (5 acres) and involved the construction of a large timber platform, extending for an estimated 30m along the lakeside waterfront, with at least one post-built hut structure with signs of long-lasting or repeated occupation. In addition, since less than 5 per cent of the site has been excavated, and the archaeology of the larger, dryland component has hitherto been neglected, there is considerable potential for additional hut structures to be uncovered in the course of future excavations.

The scale of the site is now known to be at least eighty times larger than the small, ephemeral sites that have so far been considered ‘typical’ of the period. The authors argue that the ‘small groups’ model of Mesolithic settlement results from the small scale of our excavations, rather than reflecting the true scale of settlement in early Mesolithic Europe. They list a number of sites elsewhere in northern and western Europe known to have even higher lithic densities than Star Carr but that have only undergone limited excavation. On the basis of this new research at Star Carr they suggest that Mesolithic populations recolonising northern Europe invested significant amounts of time and labour in building structures in favoured landscape settings at which it is highly probable that large groups congregated for long periods of time — behaviour that is more typically associated with changes in socio-economic organisation several thousand years later.

Understanding the Nazca lines

Left: the view along one of the lines towards a central mound. Photograph: Clive Ruggles / Antiquity

A third ground-breaking paper in Antiquity, contributed by our Fellow Clive Ruggles and Nicholas J Saunders, is a study of the so-called ‘Nazca lines’ in the Peruvian desert, geoglyphs that are primarily associated with the Nasca culture (c 100 BC to c AD 700) that were produced, broadly speaking, by picking up or sweeping aside the oxide-darkened desert pavement of small stones to reveal lighter, sandy soil beneath. The authors say that the theories that have attempted to explain these designs on the desert are ‘a roll call of shifting twentieth-century obsessions, von Däniken’s (1969) supposed alien landing strips being by far the most notorious example’.

Much theorising about the Nazca lines has been conducted on the basis of aerial and satellite photography, partly necessitated by conservation measures that restrict access to the lines (the authors observe wryly that this has had the effect of fossilising the innumerable tyre tracks that were made in this landscape before laws were passed restricting access that have now become part of the archaeological record). The authors did obtain permission to carry out fieldwork on the ground, however, and they spent more than 150 days walking over 1,500km in an 80 sq km study area between 2007 and 2012.

From this ground-level perspective, they have concluded that the lines might have begun as functional footpaths across the desert, some of which date from the pre-Nasca Late Paracas period (c 400―100 BC). Onto this existing network of functional trails, Nasca people laid out a framework of straight lines and geometric designs, integrating pre-Nasca paths, to create what might be termed an ‘ideological grid’, with lines radiating from a focal point in the landscape, such as a low mound, that is conspicuous on the ground if not from the air. Far from being designed to be ‘seen only by the gods’, as some have speculated, they are intended to be experienced on the ground, as part of some form of ancient processional ritual. Their excellent state of preservation and lack of artefactual debris suggest that pristine preservation and strictly controlled access are part of their significance and that any ritual activity was restricted to a few individuals, probably walking in single file ― indeed, using the lines for any purpose might have compromised their ‘linear perfection’ so it might have been that their significance lay in the process of construction, maintenance and elaboration rather than in any form of use.

The authors warn that it is impossible to guess at the nature of the ritual, and it is wrong to assume that similar ideas and associations motivated the production of the geoglyphs during the entire 800-year Nasca period. ‘It is clear’, they say, ‘that understanding the Nazca pampa’s confusing palimpsest of desert markings cannot be achieved by importing Western notions and “big scientific ideas” that purport to unlock an enigmatic mystery’. All we can ultimately say is that ‘the intensive superimposition of the pampa’s geoglyphs suggests that for the Nasca, in a unique way, landscapes were woven into life, and lives were woven into the desert’ and that the practice of creating new geoglyphs over earlier ones was an ongoing process which stopped, possibly suddenly, and for unknown reasons, leaving a variety of them in different stages of completion.

Very ancient cheese

Researchers from Bristol University’s Organic Geochemistry Unit, together with colleagues from the United States and Poland, have been studying 7,000-year-old pottery from the region of Kuyavia, in Poland, and have concluded that it was used for making cheese. The unglazed pottery is pierced with small holes, suggesting that these were specialised vessels used for cheese making.

The team’s paper in Nature confirms that the fatty acids that they have found trapped in the fabric of the pottery confirms the idea that they were used as sieves in the processing of milk and for the production of cheese. They say that cheese making was critical in early agricultural societies to the preservation of milk in a non-perishable and transportable form and that it made milk a more digestible commodity for early prehistoric farmers, who lacked lactose tolerance and would have been made ill by raw milk.

Before this study, milk residues had already been detected in pottery from north-western Anatolia (8,000 years ago) and in Libya (nearly 7,000 years ago), but Mélanie Salque, one of the authors of the paper, said this study confirms that cattle were used for their milk in northern Europe as well around 7,000 years ago.

European Roma descended from Indian migrants

By coincidence two huge genetic studies of Europe’s Roma (or Romani) Gypsy population have just been published. In Nature, a team headed by Dr Toomas Kivisild of Cambridge University’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies reports that it has pinpointed the region of India from which the ancestors of the Roma originally migrated. The team has compared more than 10,000 DNA samples taken from members of 214 different Indian ethnic groups with samples from Roma men in Europe. While there were matches with samples from men throughout the Indian subcontinent, the closest match, and the least genetic variation, occurred with men from the north west of India living in areas dominated by India’s low caste dalits, or ‘untouchables’.

A second study, published in Current Biology, has attempted to date the arrival of the Romani in Europe. They believe that the ancestor population left northern India far earlier than was thought, in the sixth century AD, and that the earliest European population was based in the Balkans, from where they began to spread outwards some nine centuries ago. Today the Romani are Europe’s largest minority ethnic group, with a population of approximately 11 million. Their complex mosaic of languages, religions and lifestyles belies the fact that they have high levels of genetic homogeneity, suggesting that they all descend from a single initial founder population.

New evidence for Viking settlements in North America

A replica Viking long ship sails from Greenland in 1997 to recreate a voyage to the New World of around AD 1000. Photograph: AP Photo/John Rasmussen

Fellow Norman Hammond reported in The Times on 24 November 2012 the latest research conducted by Dr Patricia Sutherland showing that Viking traders established a second outpost in North America, much farther north than the well-attested Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland.

Dr Sutherland, Adjunct Professor of Archaeology at Memorial University, Newfoundland, and Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen, has been excavating a site at Tanfield Valley, at the southern end of Baffin Island, which has yielded some very suggestive artefacts, including whetstones bearing traces of bronze, known to have been made by Viking metal smiths but unknown among the Arctic’s native inhabitants and whalebone fragments pierced by drilled holes, rather than the gouged holes of the local Dorset Inuit culture. One 40ft-long building with stone foundations appears to have been constructed by someone familiar with Norse stone masonry, while traces of black rat fur have been found, probably from an Old World species that reached the Arctic by ship.

Little by little, Dr Sutherland says, the evidence is mounting for a Viking presence along the Arctic coastline between Baffin Island and Labrador. The search for such sites was sparked in 1999, when Dr Sutherland found traces of spun yarn made from the pelt of the Arctic hare stored in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilisation in Québec. The soft yarn was dissimilar to the twisted sinew cordage of the Inuit, but matched Viking materials made by Norse women in medieval Greenland. Dr Sutherland thinks that Viking seafarers travelled to the Arctic in search of walrus ivory and furs and that Viking seafarers and Native American hunters were partners in a transatlantic trade network. For a more detailed report, see the National Geographic website.

UK’s entire public oil painting collection now catalogued online

The project to catalogue all of Britain’s publicly owned oil paintings that began in 2003 has just been brought to a triumphant conclusion with the announcement by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and its partner, the BBC, that their hugely ambitious project to put the UK’s entire collection of oil paintings online is now complete. Founded by businessman and diplomat Fred Hohler, the PCF has tracked down, photographed and catalogued 211,861 paintings held in 3,217 venues across the UK. Ten years ago, only 20 per cent of these works had even been photographed and few were accessible by the public.

The National Trust emerges as custodian of the largest single collection on the website, with 12,567 paintings, followed by Tate, Glasgow Museums, the National Maritime Museum and National Galleries Scotland. A number of institutions holding private collections, such as our own Society, have also contributed to the website for the benefit of wider public awareness and research.

The PCF’s director, Andrew Ellis, said no other country had ever embarked on such a project and that the charity’s work does not stop here: there are still 30,000 unattributed paintings to research, and the next step is to add a catalogue of publicly owned sculpture.

But will these works stay public for long?

‘Old Flo’, Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman, in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where it has been since 1997. Photograph: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The PCF’s achievement has taken place against a background of debate about the right of organisations such as local authorities to sell the works of art entrusted to their care. The proposed sale by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets of its massive Henry Moore bronze, Draped Seated Woman (1957), has sparked an outcry and the possibility of a legal review, given that Henry Moore sold the work to the London County Council in 1962 at the cost price of £7,500 on condition that it would remain in a visible public space for everyone to enjoy. Most recently it has been on display in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to which it was removed in 1977 to prevent repeated vandalism, but Tower Hamlets intends to sell it next February at Christie’s, where it is expected to reach as much as £32 million.

The Museum of London has urged Tower Hamlets to think again and has offered a home for ‘Old Flo’, as the sculpture is affectionately known, at West India Quay, outside the Museum of London Docklands. Rushanara Ali, the Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, is supporting the Museum of London proposal; she has described the proposed sale of ‘Old Flo’ as ‘a betrayal of the East End’s working-class heritage’. The Art Fund has also issued a statement, saying that ‘it is not clear that Tower Hamlets has title to the sculpture … for this reason our lawyers have been in touch with the Council to ask for more information’.

Tower Hamlets justifies the proposed sale on the grounds that it is being forced by central Government to slash local spending, and that the money is needed to balance the books. Rania Khan, Cabinet Member for Culture and Regeneration in Tower Hamlets, said in a statement: ‘we are not the first council to do this in order to benefit our residents and I am sure we will not be the last’, which is what worries many figures from the arts world. Our Fellow Ian Leith, Deputy Chairman of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, says he is concerned that selling publicly owned works of art could become a trend: ‘We are worried about the precedents for further public removals in order to realise assets … a whole host of further pieces are potentially at risk’, he recently said on the BBC’s ‘Today’ programme.

On the sale of church treasures

In the light of the above, it is worrying to learn of a recent case in which the churchwardens of Lacock in Wiltshire were given permission to sell a fifteenth-century silver-gilt cup that had been used as their chalice since about 1620. In this case, the sale was to the British Museum, a benign new owner, but the precedent that the case sets opens the door to further sales of church treasures with no guarantee that the new owners will be as accountable and accessible to the public as the British Museum.

This case was heard at in the Consistory Court of Bristol Diocese, and our Fellow Mark Blackett-Ord, barrister, acted for the Party Opponent, a parishioner serving as spokesman for those parishioners who were opposed to the sale of the chalice. The Church Buildings Council (adviser to the Church of England on churches and church fittings) also objected to the sale and said that it was inconsistent with their robust guidelines, which say that church treasures are not to be regarded ‘legally or philosophically as being assets to be realized’. They argue that church treasures are not to be disposed of except in the most exceptional circumstances; their theological underpinning of this policy argues that objects used in worship acquire a sacramental value, and are not merely objects of historical or artistic value.

In the case of Lacock, the Chancellor of the Consistory Court, Justin Gau, decided that there was a counter argument in that the Lacock cup, an object of international historical and artistic significance, had ceased to play an active role in the worship of the parish once it was loaned to the British Museum in 1962. He thus deemed it to be ‘redundant’. Worryingly, he dismissed arguments concerning the long and close connection between the cup and the parish as ‘not relevant’ because the cup’s existence was ‘almost completely unknown to the majority of residents’. He also decided that the monetary value of the cup, and the attendant cost of providing insurance cover and security for it, precluded its return to the parish. He did, however, grant a faculty for the sale on condition that it was only sold to the British Museum, and that the proceeds of the sale be used to form a charitable trust to help fund repairs to the fabric of St Cyriac’s Church.

Royal Academicians present their work to The Queen

A member of Royal Collection Trust’s exhibition staff with some of the works donated to HM The Queen by all of the current Royal Academicians. Photograph: Royal Collection Trust

The eighty Members of the Royal Academy of Art have each contributed a work to a ‘unique portfolio of works by current Royal Academicians’ presented to The Queen, the RA’s patron, to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee. Our Fellow Charles Saumarez Smith, the RA’s Chief Executive, presented the works to the Royal Collection, where they were received by our Fellow Jane Roberts, who said: ‘it is hugely exciting to be adding this magnificent body of work to the Royal Collection’. Our Fellow Martin Clayton, who is curating an exhibition of the works to be shown in The Queen’s Gallery next autumn, told the BBC that the works are ‘the best of contemporary British art’. They range from a Tracey Emin sketch of The Queen to Dame Zaha Hadid’s designs for the Olympic Aquatics Centre and John Maine’s drawing of the Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey, the spot on which the Queen was anointed and crowned in 1953.

News of Fellows

Left: the Gatch Collection in its current home

Those of us born with the stamp-collecting gene know the pleasures of building a collection from scratch, starting with a blank page and through diligent collecting ending up with ‘the whole set’. It is less fun, perhaps, to buy the set complete; on the other hand, this might well appeal if the complete set is a subset of some larger collecting interest or if you are a busy librarian, with no time to scour auctions and sale catalogues. In this case, the complete set currently belongs to our Fellow Milton Gatch, who has been collecting Yeatsiana for several decades (you can read on his website how he came to acquire the core of the collection and how he subsequently built it up), and who has now asked book dealer Maggs Bros to find a new owner.

The Gatch Collection consists of 1,000 items mainly relating to the poet W B Yeats, but also to Yeats’ father, his artist brother Jack and his sisters Lolly (Elizabeth) and Lily, founders of the Cuala Press, the ‘house publisher for the Irish literary revival’, according to this week’s Times Literary Supplement, which carries a report on the sale. The collection contains all but nineteen of the items in Allan Wade’s authoritative bibliography of W B Yeats’ writings, so there is still scope for scouring the second-hand shops. It also contains many celebrated rarities of modern literature, including In the Seven Woods (1903), bound in vellum with ‘silk ties terminating in ivory balls’, which Yeats called ‘the first book of mine that is a pleasure to look at whether open or shut’. At just under £500,000 for the lot (or an average of £50 per item) it does seem a very tempting Christmas bargain.

Perhaps someone will buy the Gatch Collection as a ‘retirement’ present for our Fellow Martin Carver, who admits in the editorial to the December issue of Antiquity to having been ‘addicted to Yeats and Joyce when I was young and foolish’ (for those who are not familiar with Yeats’ poetry, that is a quote from Yeats’ poem ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’, which is itself based on an Irish folk song, ‘The Rambling Boys of Pleasure’). Antiquity has been mentioned several times already in this issue of Salon, a mark of how successful it has been in attracting research papers that fundamentally shift our understanding of core aspects of archaeology. The latest issue sees Martin go out on a high after ten years at the helm, as he passes the editorial mantle on to our Fellow Chris Scarre.

In his final editorial ― as well as admitting to a serious poetry habit (‘I would send my poetry to those ephemeral plain-cover magazines that proliferated after the war, with names like Satis and Stand, and count the hours and months until my manuscript should return, garlanded with grateful acceptance’) ― Martin bids farewell with the words ‘A ten-year tour of the world, such as Antiquity offers its editor, is a privilege given to very few, and, of course, only to one person at a time. It is this that makes it the best job in archaeology.’

Among the people who might challenge Martin’s claim for the best job (albeit not strictly in in archaeology) are Fellows Timothy Potts, Tim Knox and Neil MacGregor. How are they connected? Well, Timothy Potts took up his new job as Director of the Getty Museum, one of America’s most prestigious museums, in September (and gave his first interview in the job last week: see the Los Angeles Times. Timothy’s journey across the Atlantic left a vacancy at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, which we learned last week is to be filled by our Fellow Tim Knox, who has been Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum since 2005. Tim’s appointment means that he will head up the museum as it enters its third century, no doubt with appropriate bicentenary celebrations in 2016. That, of course, leaves a vacancy for some lucky person at Sir John Soane’s Museum, presiding over phase 2 of the ambitious OUTS (Opening up the Soane) project, which has involved raising over £7 million and is now fully planned and financed, thanks to the hard work of Tim and his team.

And the British Museum connection? That was made in the blog of our Fellow Mary Beard, where she welcomes Tim, but wonders if his is not the job from hell, because there are too many things that can trip you up: ‘I mean, all is swimming along great, your visitor numbers are up and your latest temporary exhibition is a sell-out ― and then some so and so comes and nicks your Leonardo’. Her advice to Tim? ‘It does seem that all those who do really well have one thing in common (beyond all their manifold different talents): they are really, really nice to the staff (who in almost all cases are paid less than their talents and qualifications deserve), and they know what it is like on the Gallery Floor.’

The perfect exemplar of that last point is our Fellow Neil MacGregor, who makes a habit of walking the floor of the British Museum first thing in the morning to talk to staff and find out what visitors are saying about the museum. Perhaps wanting to ensure that he is not hearing what staff think he wants to hear, he has now gone a step further. The Sunday Times recently asked readers if they had noticed ‘a distinguished-looking man in attendant’s uniform recently at the British Museum. It was Neil MacGregor, its director, seeing what life is like on the floor. And yes, a few visitors did ask, “Aren’t you that Neil MacGregor”.’ ‘True or not’, writes Mary, ‘it’s a good fable.’

Fellows honoured

Congratulations to our Fellow George Cunningham on the award of an honorary degree by NUI Galway on 23 November 2012 for voluntary services and commitment to heritage in Ireland on many fronts. George was proposed by our Fellow Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín and by Roinn na Staire, both of NUI Galway.

Our Fellow Norman Hammond has achieved an unusual distinction: he has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy not just once, but twice. Norman was originally elected in 1998, but as a Corresponding Fellow because he worked overseas, rather than as an Ordinary Fellow. Now that he is based full time in the UK, he has qualified for normal (the Academy dropped the term ‘Ordinary’ last year) Fellowship. Norman told Salon that: ‘the Academy has replaced the cumbersome procedure for change of status with a streamlined one in which Council can simply authorise a transfer: I was one of the first two beneficiaries of this at the recent formal Admission of New Fellows, even being admitted ahead ― though in anticipation of ― the Privy Council’s approval of the new measure.’

Finally, we congratulate our Fellow Professor Mario Buhagiar on the news that the President of the Republic of Malta has, on the advice of the Hon Prime Minister, appointed him a member of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Malta for his academic contribution to Art History and Archaeology, for founding the Department of History of Art at the University of Malta, and for serving as its head for twenty-five years.

The citation said that Mario is ‘an international authority on Early Christian and Medieval Antiquities and on the Art and Architecture of the Knights of St John. In 1988, he was responsible for introducing History of Art as an area of study at the University of Malta. His studies have provided scholars with an essential framework for the future development of work on the subject. He is the author of numerous books and papers, and has been a guest lecturer at several universities and Fine Art institutions across Europe. He has placed Malta’s rich heritage on the map of international cultural studies and established a major network for international scholars working on Maltese and Central Mediterranean art.’

Help wanted with research into the guitar in sixteenth-century England

Our Fellow Professor Christopher Page, of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is writing a monograph on the guitar in sixteenth-century England and is trying to gather in as many pictorial sources as possible. He asks for help from Salon readers who know of representations of musical instruments on, for example, overmantels, plaster ceilings, stained glass, screens and more besides. Christopher says that his principal sources so far are the guitars shown on the Eglantine Table at Hardwick Hall (shown on the left), in the border surrounding an image of Robert Dudley in The Bishop’s Bible, on the painted overmantel at Hengrave Hall, and on the reverse of a portrait of Sir Christopher Hatton in Northampton Museum and Art Gallery; he suspects that there may well be others.

And with pictures of former Chief Inspectors of Ancient Monuments

Nick Chapple of English Heritage is looking for photographs showing former Chief Inspectors of Ancient Monuments (CIAM), namely Joscelyn Bushe-Fox (CIAM 1933―45), Bryan O’Neil (1945―54), Paul Baillie-Reynolds (1954―61), Arnold Taylor (1961―72) and Andrew Saunders (1973―89). This is in connection with research that English Heritage is carrying out into the creation of the national collection of historic sites and monuments by the Office of Works and its successors. Nick is aware of the formal portrait photograph of Arnold Taylor (hanging in the gallery of former Presidents on our Society’s back stair) but is keen to find pictures that show these Chief Inspectors in the field, if possible. If any Salon reader knows of the whereabouts of photographs of any of these distinguished gentlemen, Nick would love to know more.

House of Lords debate on the wreck of HMS Victory

Our Fellow Lord Renfrew initiated a short debate in the House of Lords on 28 November 2012 to ‘ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure that the wreck of HMS Victory, sunk in 1744, is not subjected to inappropriate commercial exploitation?’ A verbatim record of the debate can be read on the Hansard website.

Commenting on the debate, our Fellow Bob Yorke, Chairman of the Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee, said: ‘the most important point about this debate is that the major concerns we have all been expressing for the last nine months about the potential sale of artefacts from HMS Victory to finance its excavation have now reached a level of Parliamentary scrutiny such that the Ministry of Defence will no longer be able to continue to ignore them without serious loss of reputation to itself and its Ministers. Indeed, Viscount Younger stated in the debate that “I recognise that there are some concerns about the proposed arrangements for this important military wreck. The Government recognise these concerns and will, I am sure, take full account of the points that have been made this evening in reaching a decision on the proposals brought forward by the Maritime Heritage Foundation”.

‘The debate was also notable for the speech of Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, who made a number of very telling points about the current and future management of historic wreck sites in international waters, setting out the concerns of English Heritage about the lack of alignment between the current arrangements for the management of the site of the Victory wreck and the rules annexed to the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

‘“In our view”, she said, “the Maritime Heritage Foundation has not provided evidence of adequate policies, strategies and project designs to support the project, including proposed intrusive works and the recovery of historic material from the surface of the seabed. We do not believe that the proposals for the wreck are based on an adequate and authoritative assessment of its historical significance, nor a full understanding of the threats to and vulnerabilities of the site. We are concerned that options to conserve the site undisturbed, in line with best practice, have not been fully assessed or considered, and that the case has not yet been made that any threats to the wreck are so extreme that they warrant the large-scale emergency recovery of historical material. We are concerned that the lead in the management of this case is apparently being taken by the foundation’s contractor, a United States-based international commercial company, rather than by the foundation itself or by the Government. Finally, we are bound to ask whether the funding basis for the new arrangements is sufficiently transparent.”’


19 January 2013: The Third New Insights into Sixteenth-and Seventeenth-Century British Architecture, organized by Fellows Claire Gapper and Paula Henderson at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. The programme includes sessions on House and Landscape, Ecclesiastical Eclecticism, Interiors, and Construction and Communication. For the full programme and a booking form, see the VCH website.

19 January 2013: ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ at the British Film Institute, South Bank, London, at 6.20pm. ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ was broadcast between 1952 and 1959, with Glyn Daniel in the Chair (and John Betjeman as stand-in on one occasion). David Attenborough was camera director and the person who selected the objects that were presented on the show for the regular panellists ― including Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Jacquetta Hawkes ― to identify. Stories about the show continue to be told ― not least the network of museum curators that Sir Mortimer Wheeler cultivated so as to be tipped off about the objects that would appear on the show, with the consequence that he was always able to speak about them with authority, unlike the hapless Julian Huxley, who frequently misidentified his objects.

Only four programmes have survived from that original series (it was revived for just one season in 1971, with Barry Cunliffe in the Chair), and there will be a rare chance to see them on the big screen at this BFI event, when Fellow Joe Flatman introduces a series of clips and discusses the life and times of Mortimer Wheeler and the other AVM archaeologists. To book tickets, see the BFI website.

From 18 January 2013: ‘Building the Anglo-Saxon Landscape’, The Ford Lectures 2013, to be given by our Fellow John Blair at 5 pm, in the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford: 18 January, ‘Defining Anglo-Saxon landscapes’; 25 January, ‘Landscapes of power and wealth’; 1 February, ‘Why was Burton built on Trent? Landscape organization and economy in the Mercian age’; 8 February, ‘From central clusters to complex centres: economic reorientation and the making of urban landscapes’; 15 February, ‘Landscapes of rural settlement’; 22 February, ‘Landscapes of the mind’.

24 January 2013: ‘John Everett: the Slade School, sailing ships and the open sea’, a lecture to be given at the Dorset County Museum by our Fellow Gwen Yarker at 7.30pm. Dorchester-born John Everett (1876―1949) trained at the Slade in London and was close friends with Augustus John and William Orpen. Everett introduced Augustus John to Dorset, where the latter lived from 1911 to 1927. Everett’s family also knew Thomas Hardy well and John Everett worked on illustrations for a book about Hardy’s Wessex. His father was in charge of fund raising to build the Dorset County Museum. Everett combined his life as an artist with working on deep-sea sailing ships, signing on as a sailor. He climbed the rigging to paint the sunrise nearly every day, a habit he pursued for forty years. His enormous body of maritime work is at the National Maritime Museum where Gwen, formerly an art curator there, was recently awarded a Caird Fellowship. There she worked on the Everett collection and will be talking about the results of her research, including a number of Dorset discoveries.

Below: Sandsfoot Castle, 1924, John Everett. DNH&AS collection

Call for papers: ‘“A Window on Antiquity”: the Topham Collection at Eton College Library

This conference will be held at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art on 17 May 2013 to accompany the exhibition Paper Palaces: the Topham Drawings as a Source for British Neo-Classicism, to be mounted in the Verey Gallery, Eton College Library, 9 May to 1 November 2013.

Consisting of thirty-seven volumes and more than 3,000 items, the collection amassed by Richard Topham (1671―1730) is one of the most significant resources for the history of antiquarianism and for the culture and industry of the Grand Tour in Europe. This collection of drawings, watercolours and prints after antique sculptures and paintings in Rome and Italy surpasses in both scale and breadth those collected by other celebrated antiquaries such as John Talman, Dr Richard Mead or Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester.

Proposals for papers on any aspect of the Topham Collection are now being invited. Special consideration will be given to papers examining the Topham Collection in relation to British and European antiquarian and artistic culture. Cross-disciplinary and comparative studies are particularly welcome. Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words by 10 February 2013 to Dr Adriano Aymonino, of the University of Buckingham or Lucy Gwynn, of Eton College Library, both of whom would be happy to answer enquiries; you can also find out more by going to the University of Buckingham website.

Final call for papers for the Archaeological Journal 170 for 2013

The Editor of the Archaeological Journal, the annual publication of the Royal Archaeological Institute, is seeking contributions for volume 170 (for 2013, due for publication by the spring of 2014) on the archaeology of the British Isles and neighbouring regions from earliest prehistory to the present day. The Journal is able to accept fieldwork reports and major studies of up to 30,000 words and research articles of up to 10,000 words. The final submission deadline for volume 170 is 1 February 2013. Submissions are subject to rigorous peer-review. Enquiries and submissions should be directed to: Professor Howard Williams, Honorary Editor, the Archaeological Journal.


The last issue of Salon reported that Alan Johnston was wondering who it was that had a bet of £1m with Christopher Hawkes that a Roman site would be found in Ireland. Fellow Richard Warner has responded to say: ‘it is interesting how unimportant stories persist, and I am quite surprised that it has crossed St George’s Channel, but it has become muddled in the telling. The original bet was made by me with Brian (M J) O’Kelly, in a hotel bar in Cork, in about 1976. It was more specific than reported ― I bet O’Kelly that a Roman villa would be found in Ireland within the next twenty-five years. Sadly for Brian, Ireland and archaeology, but not for me, O’Kelly died a few years later so, the Roman villa having failed to materialise, I was not called upon to honour the bet in 2001.’

Salon 282 reported in August that Kenneth John Frazer, who was a Fellow of our Society until four years ago, had just celebrated his ninety-eighth birthday in New Zealand. Sadly, Kenneth died last week. The notice of his death reads: ‘Frazer, Kenneth John (Ken). Major NZ Army WW2, No. 7702, 27th Machine Gun Battalion. Military Cross, Mentioned in Despatches. Noted archaeologist. Died on 23rd November 2012 at Te Puke, aged ninety-eight years. Younger son of the late Sir Francis and Lady Frazer.’

Fellow Geoffrey Thorndike Martin adds that ‘after his distinguished record in the Second World War, Ken entered the Colonial Service, serving in Palestine and The Gambia. I remember him telling me (one of his many hilarious stories) that the latter country was somewhat understaffed in those days, and in travelling around The Gambia on official duties in the company of the District Nurse he helped to deliver any number of babies!

‘Ken’s second career was in archaeology. He worked in Nubia and Egypt, and it was a privilege and a joy for me as Field Director of the Egypt Exploration Society ― Leiden Museum Expedition to have him as our surveyor at Saqqara for many productive seasons. His name features on the title-pages of several fundamental EES publications. He was also a valued member of the staff of the American Expedition at Sardis in Turkey for many seasons. Kenneth was one of the finest of men: altruistic, the best of company, highly amusing (I have never met a better raconteur), and of the utmost integrity. His memory will be cherished by scores of people he influenced over a very long life.’

By coincidence, Salon has learned of the death of another long-lived former Fellow ― Lt Cmdr David Waters RN ret’d (elected in 1970; amoved in 2007) ― also in New Zealand and at the great age of 101. David’s grand-daughter, Naomi Waters, writes: ‘He achieved enough to fill ten lifetimes, in service in the Royal Navy, as Admiralty historian of the Battle of the Atlantic 1939―45, as Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum 1971―8 and as a scholar of, variously, medieval and Renaissance navigation, scientific instruments and Chinese junks. His book on The Art of Navigation in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times (1958) remains a standard work.’

Lives Remembered

Left: The Hon Nicholas Assheton, by Hay Wrightson Ltd, a chlorobromide print from a photograph taken some time in the 1960s and now in the National Portrait Gallery

It is sad to have to report that our Fellow The Hon Nicholas Assheton CVO died on 27 November 2012 at the age of seventy-eight as the result of a fall. His funeral was held at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, on 10 December. The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said that ‘Nick was Chief Honorary Steward at the Abbey from 2002 to 2006 and served with grace and gentle authority’. In a distinguished business career Nicholas was perhaps best known as Deputy Chairman of Coutts and as Treasurer and Extra Equerry to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1998―2002). He also served as our Society’s Treasurer. The number of heritage bodies to which Nicholas contributed his support and advice was very long; they have all now been deprived of a wise, courteous and honourable councillor whose advice was much valued.

The Society has been informed that our Fellow Bernard Morris died on 29 April 2012, aged seventy-nine. His local paper, This is South Wales, said that Bernard had a passion for preserving Swansea’s past and that there were few — perhaps none — who knew as much as about the archaeology and history of Swansea and Gower as he did. He studied chartered surveying and, after National Service in the Suez region, worked for Swansea City Council for much of his career. He was editor of the Gower Society’s Journal for more than thirty years and was heavily involved in the Royal Institution of South Wales. He was appointed MBE for services to the Gower Society and conservation in South Wales and made an honorary fellow of the University of Wales.

We have also learned of the death of Robert Legh Wilkins of Charlbury, Oxon, who passed away on 9 December 2012 at the age of seventy-five, having been a Fellow since 13 January 1972. Until he retired, Bob was a photographer at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, where he took many of the photographs that appeared in books by Institute staff, including those of the gemstones in books by our Fellows John Boardman and Martin Henig. He also specialised in the history of photography and the use of photography in the teaching of archaeology at the Institute, with its large study collection.

Books by Fellows: Carscapes

We tend to think of the motor car as something modern: as old, perhaps, as the Rolling Stones but not quite yet within the field of antiquarian study. And yet the first car was manufactured in England in 1896: it is an invention of the Victorian era and, as such, it is well past the age at which it is respectable to write an assessment of its material history, its architecture and its huge all-transforming impact on the landscape. We have railway archaeology, canal archaeology and even space and computer archaeology, so why not the car? Perhaps because the scale of the subject is daunting. All the more reason then to praise our Fellows Kathryn Morrison and John Minnis for having produced such a readable, and coherent account, supported by such well-chosen and illuminating pictures, that even those who hate the car for what it has done to the planet and to our historic towns and cities are likely to suspend their convictions for a moment as they follow the stories told by Carscapes: the motor car, architecture and landscape in England (ISBN 9780300187045; Yale University Press).

If the motor car had stayed at the charming scale that is presented in the early chapters of this book, the world would now be a very different place: car construction and maintenance grew out of the blacksmith’s forge, and early garages (or motor houses) evolved from the stables and carriage houses of the rich, often beautifully designed Arts and Crafts structures with plunging clay tiled roofs or thatched and timber framed. Showrooms were exceedingly glamorous: two that Salon readers might be familiar with are the Art Deco Daimler Benz showroom and garage in Bloomsbury’s Herbrand Street (pictured below), now the very upmarket offices of the McCann Erickson advertising agency, and surely the model for all those toy garages that children of the 1950s were given for Christmas, and nearby Minerva House, a fine Edwardian building with a curved facade, in North Crescent, just east of Goodge Street station.

It was not until after World War II that mass car ownership took off in England, which is why we tend to think of cars as a recent innovation. Even then, motor car architecture was capable of greatness: English Heritage has recently recommended for listing thirteen motor car-oriented buildings, including the former Pennine Tower Restaurant on the north-bound side of Forton services (now known as Lancaster services) on the M6. When Salon’s editor first encountered this building on a school trip to the Lake District in Easter 1967, it felt like entering the long-promised but much-delayed space age; here was a building so sleekly circular and different from the boxy houses and school buildings of the era as to become a must-stop destination for every passing driver in the 1960s.

But this was also the era in which Private Eye, launched that very same year, with its ‘Nooks and Corners’ column (as it then was), founded by John Betjeman, began to rage against the impact of the car on Canterbury, Norwich, Newcastle, Hereford and Worcester, not just from intrusive ring roads, cutting swathes through historic cities but also from the ugly and utilitarian multi-storey car parks that were rising almost alongside majestic medieval cathedral towers and spires.

The photographers whose work appears in this book manage to make even such monstrous intrusions as the Hammersmith flyover look glamorous and exciting. Motor cars have always been associated with glamour, modernity and freedom, even when the reality is very different. Plenty of novelists have tried their hand at predicting what the world will be like in the post-car age: will people find new ways to use motorways once they become redundant, just as railways and canals are now footpaths and nature corridors? Will they be listed by some future English Heritage? Or will nature reclaim them, despite their 1.5m-thick foundations, as has happened in Surrey, where the northern end of the never-completed M23 is now an impenetrable thicket of shrubs and trees? One thing is for sure: once the oil runs out, the demise of the car will have as profound an influence on human society as did the rise of the motor car, as commuting becomes a distant memory and everyone goes back to living, working, shopping and socialising in small communities rather than living in what the authors of this book describe as the ‘exurbia’ in which so many motor-car-dependent people are currently trapped, unable to do anything that doesn’t involve a journey by car.

Books by Fellows: Cities and the Grand Tour

People were not less mobile in the pre-car age: on the contrary, clerics such as Benedict Biscop thought nothing of travelling frequently back and forth from Monkwearmouth—Jarrow Priory to Rome, while pilgrims headed for Santiago or Rome from all over Europe in huge numbers, followed, in the eighteenth century, by the Grand Tourists who are the subject of the new book by our Fellow Rosemary Sweet, called Cities and the Grand Tour: the British in Italy c 1690 to 1820 (ISBN 9781107020504; Cambridge University Press). The difference was that their travel was slower, and they were prey to many a danger en route and on arrival, which is why the diaries and letters of those who visited Venice, Naples or Rome are full of accounts of robbery, stinking streets, filthy beds, execrable food, constant threats of violence, aggressive begging and the like ― by contrast with which travellers loved ‘beautiful Florence, where the streets are so clean one is afraid to dirty them … where the public parks are all nicely weeded, as in England, and the gardens have a homeish and Bath-like look, that is excessively pleasing to an English eye’ (Hester Piozzi, writing in 1785).

That quotation is apt because it touches on one of the major themes of Rosemary’s book ― the contrast between the purpose of the Grand Tour ― broadening the mind, acquiring the gentlemanly qualities of taste, connoisseurship and knowledge ― with what really happened when travellers encountered cultures different from their own ― all too often a moan in which England is the yardstick of superiority and the continent found inferior and wanting. Despite this a picture also emerges of the positive aspects of continental culture: the ways in which the Catholic continent has the edge over Protestant England in the departments of spectacle and hedonism; the travellers’ admiration for ship building and civic architecture, sewage systems and water supplies, charitable foundations and markets, and Gothic and classical architecture.

This in turn had a huge impact on English culture as ideas from abroad began to influence every aspect of life here, not least in the fields of architectural scholarship, art history and antiquarian studies. This much we already knew in broad outline, but this book gives us a huge amount of detail, and is not just concerned with the better-known examples, the Addisons, Byrons, Burtons, Smolletts and Swinburnes; its value comes from the huge range of different voices captured in these travel narratives, and their fresh and personal responses to the worlds they encountered, as yet unformed by travel guide clichés.

Books by Fellows: Alfred Watkins’ Herefordshire

One truism of recent years, one that has all but become a cliché, is that adventurous travellers need not go to the ends of the earth. A whole new school of travel and nature writing (and, indeed a whole new field of academic study, led by Robert Macfarlane of the Faculty of English at Cambridge University) has grown up around the concept that the M25 is a strange and mysterious place if viewed in the right way, that traffic islands are as interesting as pristine Alpine meadows, and that Essex salt marshes and mudflats are as worthy of celebration as any Antarctic landscape.

There is nothing new in this, of course, as a new book by our Fellow Ron Shoesmith and his wife Jennifer demonstrates: Alfred Watkins’ Herefordshire (ISBN 9781906663674; Logaston Press) brings to the world the unpublished manuscript of the last book that the Hereford-born antiquary Alfred Watkins (1855―1935) wrote in the 1930s. Called The Masefield Country, this celebrates the people and landscapes of the area around Ledbury, where John Masefield, then Poet Laureate, was born, and it is a superb example of that form of travel writing that sees delight in the familiar. The book is greatly enriched by Alfred Watkins’ photographs, for though he is best known as the author of The Old Straight Track, the book that gave birth to the ‘ley line’ phenomenon, he was also a pioneering photographer, whose achievements include inventing the ‘Watkins Bee’, the world’s first reliable light meter, used by photographers from the 1890s until well into the 1930s.

As a writer and as a photographer, Watkins had an eye for the painterly and the archaic, and he was skilled at framing his shots, and choosing light and weather, that give them more than a passing resemblance to a Constable painting. People feature, but mainly those who ― like the Gypsies of the book’s front cover or the rabbit catchers, hop pickers, hurdle makers, bee keepers and cider makers of the inner pages ― pursue timeworn occupations already on their way to the folk museum when Watkins sought them out. The text pays tribute to the insights, anecdotes and rural wisdom of these ‘men and women of the soil’, and it ends with a plea for the maintenance of traditional values and native wisdom in a fast-changing world.

The Shoesmiths’ biographical introduction is affectionate towards a man with a controversial legacy: while Antiquity refused to accept paid advertisement for his books, let alone review them, he was much cherished locally as a Herefordshire man ‘as native to the county as the hop and the apple’, and this book shows you why.

Books by Fellows: The Idea of Order

Watkins’ ‘leys’ were all straight and narrow tracks, driven across the landscape to link various types of sighting point ― mounds, standing stones, chalk-cut figures. This assumption that ancient tracks were linear could be described as one of the fundamental flaws in his work, for Fellow Richard Bradley argues in his latest book, The Idea of Order (ISBN 9780199608096; Oxford University Press), that the people of prehistoric Europe lived in a sinuous curvaceous world, not a linear one: most houses were round, as were enclosures, monuments and tombs, rock art, pottery forms and metalwork motifs. This could be dismissed as accidental or functional were it not for the existence of square or rectangular houses alongside the round: they are not mutually exclusive, but the preference for the round is strong, as the examples in the book illustrate. Where the contrast appears at its most familiar is in the Britain of the Roman occupation, where clear social and geographical boundaries can be drawn between the rectangular structures of the Romanised elite in lowland Britain and the round buildings of highland Britain and areas of western and northern Britain beyond the frontier zone where round dwellings are the norm.

Clearly something is going on here that is symbolic rather than functional, and the job done by this book is to explore examples drawn from archaeology and from ethnographic parallels to tease out some explanations. Some are obvious ― it has long been recognised that for some cultures round structures are mirrors of the cosmos ― others more subtle: separate studies by our Fellows Vincent Megaw and Chris Evans are quoted as evidence that the curvilinear motifs that we associate with ‘Celtic’ art are restricted to a very small class of elaborately decorated objects ― the great majority of Iron Age objects are not decorated, so we can deduce that the embellished ones must have played a specialised role.

Once circular structures take on added connotations, Richard argues, it becomes more difficult to abandon them: indeed, they can become symbols of defiance, as well as of tradition and continuity: round houses are a way of saying ‘proud not to be Roman’. Viewed in this light, the adoption of longhouses and rectilinear temples (aka churches) from the fifth century AD in post-Roman southern England is as much an indicator of radical change and the breakdown of traditional beliefs as the adoption of a new language, a new religion and new styles of clothing and jewellery.

Books by Fellows: The Taíno Settlement at Guayguata

Once introduced to the dichotomy that underpins Richard Bradley’s book, you can’t help approaching other cultures with the question ‘circular or rectangular’. Definitely rectilinear in the case of The Taíno Settlement at Guayguata (ISBN 9781407310053; BAR International Series 2407), in which our Fellow Philip Allsworth-Jones and his co-director Kit Wesler give an account of their small-scale training excavations in the parish of St Mary, Jamaica, from 1999 to 2003, seeking to understand the chronology, economy, trade connections and social organisation of a complete Taíno community, Taíno (c AD 900 to 1500) being the name given to the indigenous communities of the Caribbean that Christopher Columbus encountered on his first voyage to the Americas. Rectilinear houses ranged around a central plaza (described as a ‘ball court’ in older literature) seem to have been the norm here, with rectilinear fields and straight-sided open bowls, rarely decorated but with occasional animal and human heads or linear patterns.

Very little modern archaeology has been carried out in this field and less still published, so, even though the excavations on which this report is based consisted of small-scale rescue interventions in what are large and complex sites, publication marks an important step in setting out what is currently known and what future research questions might be framed.

Books by Fellows: The Harold Samuel Collection

The Harold Samuel Collection (ISBN 9781907372414; Paul Holberton, by Fellow Michael Hall opens our eyes to a major collection that few of us yet know about: eighty-four seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings that Lord Samuel of Wych Cross bequeathed to the Corporation of London at his death (aged seventy-five) in 1987.

Lord Samuel, founder of Land Securities, the world’s leading property company in the 1980s, requested that they be hung together in Mansion House, the home and office of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Michael’s guide to the contents of this most generous of gifts has been produced for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bequest and to raise funds for the Harold Samuel Collection Fund, recently set up for the conservation and maintenance of the paintings (which are in the care of the Guildhall Museum and Art Gallery; viewing details can be found on the City of London website.

Perhaps the best-known artist in the collection is Frans Hals, who is represented by two works, both of lute players, one of whom is decidedly as ‘merry’, intoxicated with wine and music, raising his glass to the viewers as if inviting us to join the party. The purchase of this work by Lord Samuel in 1963 made headlines because it set a new record sale price for this once-neglected artist, and it was the first painting to be bought via a transatlantic telephone bid.

Among the light-filled winter scenes by the likes of Hendrick Avercamp, the domestic genre scenes of Jan Steen, the affectionate cattle paintings of Aelbert Cuyp, and the many evocative celebrations of the land- and sea-scapes of the newly prosperous and peaceful Low Countries, two scenes stand out as different and more exotic: Frans Post’s rare paintings of c 1643 of a Brazilian landscape and of a Brazilian village, works described by Michael Hall as a ‘frank and vivid account of landscapes and people new to him’, complete with what looks like a giant anteater chained to a rock.

Books by Fellows: The Antiquarian Rediscovery of the Antonine Wall

Hot on the heels of Richard Hingley’s book on the after-life of Hadrian’s Wall comes Fellow Lawrence Keppie’s generously illustrated account of the history of the Antonine Wall from the moment the Roman army abandoned it in the later second century AD up to the beginning of the twentieth century. Like Hingley, Keppie sees antiquarian writings on the subject not as ignorant and misguided, but as a treasure chest of primary sources that are especially valuable when they describe parts of the Wall and its landscape that have since disappeared, a prey to coal mines, canals and railways and agricultural improvements, not to mention the M9 motorway in more recent times, schools, golf courses and private homes ― but then, as he shows, the Wall itself cuts through Mesolithic shell middens, Neolithic monuments, Bronze Age barrows and an Iron Age hillfort, and probably displaced a few habitation sites during its construction.

Again like Hingley, the story told in The Antiquarian Rediscovery of the Antonine Wall (ISBN: 9781908332004; Society of Antiquaries of Scotland) begins with Gildas, the first British-born author to leave an account of Britain’s northern frontier, but Bede was the first to recognise that there was more than one wall and to leave an accurate description of the northernmost of the two. His description reads as if it were based on personal observation, which may well have been the case. The familiar names of William Camden, Sir Robert Sibbald, Edward Lhuyd and William Stukeley are associated with the beginnings of a better understanding of the Wall, along with a sense of the growing threats to its structure. Our own Society’s archives contain a letter from Fellow Sir John Clerk to Vice-President Roger Gale describing the ‘heavy shock that Antiquaries in this country have received’ at the destruction by Sir Michael Bruce of a domed Roman temple, known as Arthur’s Oven, pulled down so that the stones could be used to create a mill dam. Stukeley’s cartoon, condemning Bruce to wander naked on the banks of the Styx carrying two of the purloined stones and ‘perpetually agitated by angry daemons with ox goads’, is one of the many delights of this book.

By 1890, the Scotsman newspaper referred to the wall of Antoninus as ‘fully expiscated’, meaning that there was nothing new left to fish out, but they were wrong: railway and mining works that began later that same year discovered substantial remains and ushered in an age of systematic study of the Wall by the Antonine Wall Committee, intended to locate, excavate and preserve all the remains. Every national archaeological society on both sides of the border got involved, and this book contains examples of the enthusiastic media coverage of the day, including one fine picture of experimental archaeology, showing a reconstructed turf rampart in 1891, while another report includes the neologism ‘caespiticious’, to describe the wall, a word that is not in the OED but is clearly derived from the Latin cæspitus (turf). The book ends in 1911, when that campaign of study and excavation was brought to a fitting end with the publication of Sir George Macdonald’s magisterial synthesis of the previous twenty years’ work, The Roman Wall in Scotland.


CLOSING DATE today: 17 December 2013
The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT), Trust Director

The Trustees are seeking a new Director, on the retirement of Bill Britnell, to run this respected archaeological organisation. The Trust, one of four Welsh Archaeological Trusts, works closely with national, regional and local bodies to record, research, interpret and protect all aspects of the historic environment for the benefit of the public. The Trust is based in Welshpool and its curatorial and contractual work is focused mainly on the Welsh border region. Applicants should have a proven record in British archaeology, both academically and managerially, and an empathy for Wales.

Further particulars from the CPAT website.


Mae Ymddiriedolwyr y sefydliad archaeolegol hwn angen penodi Cyfarwyddwr newydd i’w arwain ar ymddeoliad Bill Britnell. Mae’r Ymddiriedolaeth, un o’r pedair yng Nghymru, yn cydweithio’n agos gyda cyrff cenedlaethol, rhanbarthol a lleol i gofnodi, archwilio, dadansoddi a gwarchod pob agwedd o’r amgylchedd hanesyddol er budd y cyhoedd.
Lleolir pencadlys yr ymddiriedolaeth yn y Trallwng a chanolbwyntir ei waith curadurol a chytundebol yn bennaf yn rhanbarthau gororau Cymru.
Disgwylir i’r ymgeiswyr feddu ar ddealltwriaeth lawn o archaeoleg Prydain yn academaidd a rheolaethol gan ddangos empathi at Gymru.
Manylion pellach i’w cael o neu mewn pecyn gwybodaeth o [email protected] neu 01938 553670
Ceisiadau i gyrraedd y Cadeirydd erbyn 17 Ionawr 2013.

CLOSING DATE tomorrow: 18 December 2013
Stonehenge research plan commissions

As part of the Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Programme, English Heritage is developing a conservation statement and research plan for Stonehenge and is looking for one or two experienced researchers (postgraduate and beyond) with a broad knowledge of archaeology and demonstrable knowledge of Stonehenge to carry out some preliminary research as the first stage of this project. One piece of research work focuses on the history of excavation, presentation and restoration of Stonehenge and is estimated to take c 35 days. The other is a review of the Stonehenge archive and collections, and is estimated to take c 15 days. Both reports are due to be completed by end of April 2013. These reports will help inform a new research plan for the guardianship monument of Stonehenge, the compilation of which will be advertised in early 2013. Please contact Susan Greaney for copies of the briefs. Responses are required by 5pm on 18 December 2012.

English Heritage Inspectors of Historic Buildings and Areas £31,097 to £34,617; Assistant Inspectors of Historic Buildings and Areas; Assistant Inspectors of Ancient Monuments £25,618 to £29,709; closing date: 6 January 2013
English Heritage is seeking heritage experts to join its new Development Management Teams around the country. Applicants must have a sound knowledge of historic buildings, conservation areas and designed landscapes or of ancient monuments, together with an understanding of the relevant planning policies and statutory procedures. Good communication and negotiation skills are essential, along with a methodical and analytical approach to assessing proposals. Above all, you will share English Heritage’s commitment to supporting owners and decision-makers with constructive advice that sustains and protects the heritage while enabling its adaptation to the needs of the twenty-first century.

For more information and to apply, please see the English Heritage website.

Hadrian’s Wall Trust: New Trustees
Trustees with a wide variety of skills are sought to help realise the ambitions of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust, which already generates £2.2bn for the economy of the north of England and has the potential to contribute an additional £330m per annum, creating more than 2,200 new jobs by 2029. Particularly helpful (amongst other skills) would be a knowledge of environmental and heritage matters, fundraising, charity development, communications, tourism, stakeholder engagement and financial control. Trustees should be able to offer eight to ten days annually. For more information, see the website of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust or contact Linda Tuttiett; tel 01434 609700.