Salon Archive

Issue: 101

Forthcoming meetings

4 November: London Armourers in the Seventeenth Century: makers, marks and products, by Thom Richardson, FSA. Prior to the seventeenth century the products of the Armourers Company of London are virtually unknown, and certainly subordinate to the armour made in the Almain armoury, the royal armour workshop at Greenwich founded by Henry VIII. In the seventeenth century, however, a sudden flowering of pieces of armour bearing the marks of their makers and a wide variety of other marks, taken in conjunction with the surviving documentary records of the Company, enable us to identify the individuals who made them, often date the objects with considerable accuracy, and to know a good deal about their origins and personal lives.

5 November: The 2004 Annual Meeting of the North American Fellows will take place in Boston, when Professor Martha Sharp Joukowsky, FSA, will give a paper on Twelve Years of Excavation at The Great Temple, Petra, Jordan.

11 November: Excavations at Androna (Andarin) in Syria, by Marlia Mango, FSA. International excavation and survey work at Androna, a large village (kome) site, have since 1998 produced evidence from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods. The team from Oxford has concentrated on installations concerned with water use, notably a public bath built c AD 560 and two extra-mural reservoirs. Fed by qanats and provided with extensive outflow channels, the reservoirs at this desert site were used for the field irrigation involved in producing wheat, wine, olive oil and livestock and, perhaps, for fish breeding. The richly decorated bath, more urban than rural in character, was put to industrial use in the Umayyad period when it was replaced by a new bath.

18 November: Woodland Archaeology in the South East: an assessment, by Nicola Bannister. This paper consists of an assessment of woodland archaeology in the south east of England based on surveys whose objectives were to inform and assist woodland managers and owners in the preparation of conservation plans for woodland sites and as part of detailed historic landscape surveys of larger estate holdings. Examples of the range of archaeological sites from both large and small woodlands in Kent, Surrey and Sussex — counties with a long tradition of woodland management and exploitation — will be presented, together with thoughts on the implications of changes in land-use activities on the long-term preservation of archaeological sites in woodland settings.

Newly elected Fellows

As a result of the ballot held on 28 October 2004, the following have been duly elected Fellows of the Society:

Ian George Pierce
Vincent Anthony Gillespie
Christopher Robin Daniels
Robert White
Martin Lewis Harrison
Richard John Brickstock
Tristan Hillgarth
Xanthe Brooke
Andrew Wallace Foster
Ruth Claire Johnson
Peter Dawson Rose
Angus James Logie Winchester
Paul Reynolds
Paul David Trevor Cattermole
David Francis Cram
William Drummond.

News of Fellows

Joining the exodus south from northern universities, Dominic Perring, FSA, has just taken over as Director of the UCL Field Archaeology Unit (and its commercial arm, Archaeology South-East). Dominic says that he is ‘curious to know how the awkward realities of contract archaeology might square with the academic ambitions of the Institute’, adding that this is a return home, as he was an undergraduate at the Institute of Archaeology some thirty years ago.

Our Fellow and Council Member Diana Murray has been appointed to the post of Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, succeeding our Fellow Roger Mercer who retired at the end of September. Diana is the first woman to hold the post in the 96-year history of the organisation. She has an MA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University and has been employed by RCAHMS since 1976, most recently as Curator Depute of the National Monuments Record of Scotland. Diana was chair of the Institute of Field Archaeologists from 1995 to 1996 and set up the Register of Archaeological Organisations, which helps establish and maintain standards for the profession. Diana says her aims for RCAHMS include ‘making it more user-friendly, developing its outreach and educational potential and engaging in more partnerships with other organisations’.

And of Fellows past

Susan Pearce, FSA, Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University, is creating a database of early Fellows of the Society. The database is still in its infancy, but can be seen on the University of Leicester website. Susan warns that it has yet to be edited and spell-checked, that it only lists 212 Fellows out of perhaps 700 potential candidates for inclusion, and only deals with the first fifty years in the Society’s three-hundred year history, but that it is a start, and is being augmented on an almost daily basis. Despite these caveats, she hopes that Fellows will consider the project worthwhile and Susan would be grateful for additional information to help her expand the database contents.

British Archaeology Awards 2004

Andrew Fitzparick, FSA, has kindly supplied Salon with this account of the recent British Archaeological Awards Ceremony, which preceded the first ever Council for British Archaeology meeting to be held in Northern Ireland.

‘Last week’s Salon reported the success of Fellows James Bond and John Collis in the books section of these awards and of Rugby Archaeological Society guided by Jack Lucas. What Salon 100 omitted to say was that both winning books — Monastic Landscapes and The Celts — were published by our Fellow Peter Kemmis Betty, in his capacity as Archaeology Publisher and Publishing Director of Tempus.

‘Other Fellows in the news were Caroline Wickham-Jones who was joint winner of the Transco Press Award for her monthly radio programme called ‘Orky-archaeology’, produced and broadcast by BBC Radio Orkney. Caroline was to be seen catching the great and good for interviews while clutching a very, very yellow microphone. The award was shared with the Eastern Daily Press for consistently excellent coverage of Norfolk archaeology.

‘The Channel 4 Television Awards were also shared, with three joint winners: the BBC Horizon team collected an award for the First Olympians; Fellow Mark Horton took an award as presenter of Darien: Disaster in Paradise, made for BBC Scotland and subsequently transmitted on BBC2, on the ill-fated attempt by Scots to make their own Eldorado in the New World; and Andrew Fitzpatrick, FSA, collected an award behalf of Wessex Archaeology for The King of Stonehenge, made by Topical Television for BBC2 as a Meet the Ancestors Special about the Amesbury Archer.

‘There was further success for the Amesbury Archer excavation when it was awarded the inaugural Current Archaeology Developer-Funded ArchaeologyAward for the project which best demonstrates the value of developer-funded archaeology. The prize was awarded to Wessex Archaeology and the developers and funders, Bloor Homes & Persimmon Homes. The judges said the project had not only received the most widespread publicity of any archaeological find in the last couple of years, it also looked like re-writing a substantial part of the prehistory of this country.

‘Paul Bidwell, FSA, collected a runner’s-up certificate in this award for Tyne and Wear Museums Service’s work in advance of a new water pipeline close to Hadrian’s Wall. The presentation of Fellow Alan Bowman’s work on the Vindolanda Writing Tablets Database website hosted by the Study of Ancient Documents was also a runner up, this time in the Channel 4 Information and Communication Technology Award.

‘But the biggest winner was undoubtedly the cultural heritage sector as a whole. The wide range of activities represented along with the largest ever number of awards demonstrate just how widespread and increasingly well established the sector is.

‘The last word, though, belongs to the hosts. Following an initiative by the Environment and Heritage Service and the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland’s first foreshore survey was initiated at Strangford Lough. It was both entirely deserved and fitting that the prompt publication of the results should be awarded the Keith Muckelroy Award, given for the published work on the subject of maritime, nautical or underwater archaeology that best reflects the pioneering ideas and scholarly standards of the late Keith Muckelroy. The authors — Tom McErlean, Rosemary McConkey and Wes Forsythe — along with Patsy Horton, Director of Blackstaff Press, collected the Award for Strangford Lough: an archaeological survey of the maritime cultural landscape — a book that has already sold out not just once, but twice!’

British Archaeology Awards — some more winners

Andrew Selkirk, FSA, has generously shared with Salon the complete citation list for the recent British Archaeological Awards, from which the following highlights have been abstracted to supplement Andrew Fitzpatrick’s account given above (much fuller details will be given in a special 16-page supplement to be published with the December 2004 issue of Current Archaeology).

The Tarmac Finder’s Award was given to Andrew Whaley and Mick Walmsley of Mowlem plc for intervening promptly and alerting archaeologists in March 2004 to a large timber that came to light during construction work in peat on the south side of the River Foulness at Welham Bridge, East Yorkshire. Their intervention led to the discovery of an Anglo-Saxon trackway made of wooden hurdles leading to the river and a substantial part of a small boat made from a hollowed-out tree trunk with internal ribs. Radiocarbon dating subsequently confirmed a seventh-century date for the boat and trackway.

The Wedgwood Sponsorship Award went to the Earthwatch Institute for its long-term support of excavations at the Arbeia Roman fort, supply base and civil settlement at South Shields. The Institute has sponsored annual research excavations and publication programmes here since 1993, with grants ranging from £25,000 to £50,000 per annum. As a result, Arbeia is now one of the most extensively researched and published sites in the Hadrian’s Wall area.

The Heritage in Britain Award for the best project securing the long-term preservation of a site or monument was given to the Birmingham Conservation Trust for the conservation and presentation of the Birmingham back-to-back courtyards in partnership with the National Trust.

The Mick Aston Presentation Award was given to Huddersfield & District Archaeology Society and Bradford University’s Department of Archaeological Sciences for the Myers Wood Project, a major investigation of a medieval iron-working site and for its vigorous, professional and widely praised presentation to the public.

In the non-broadcast category of the Channel Four Television Awards, the winner was The Roman Mosaic – Lopen, a video produced by Justin Owen for the Lopen History Group which tells the story of the discovery and excavation of the Roman mosaic and its accompanying villa in Somerset but goes on to show a community-led reconstruction of a panel from the mosaic and also to deal with matters relating to the preservation of the remains. The New Media category was won by The Host of Henllys and the Defeat of Carn Alw, an interactive multimedia CD-ROM by Philip Bennett and Rhonwen Owen, made for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Pembrokeshire County Council.

The IFA Award, sponsored by the Institute of Field Archaeologists for the best archaeological project undertaken by a professional team or professional/voluntary partnership, was given to the Caithness Archaeological Trust, an umbrella organisation that acts as a bridge in bringing voluntary and professional groups together and harnessing the activities of a range of regional voluntary organisations together with professional bodies such as Historic Scotland, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and the National Museums of Scotland. The involvement of community and professional archaeologists in the study of Scotland’s historic environment was regarded by the judges as an important development in Scottish archaeology and one that may be used as a model throughout the UK.

Corrections and amplifications

Ancient Jordan from the Air : Bob Bewley, FSA, has also asked Salon to make clear that Ancient Jordan from the Air, which Salon 100 described as being ‘Bob Bewley’s’, is actually David Kennedy’s and Bob Bewley’s. Bob says the book could not have been produced without David’s twenty-five-year involvement in Jordan and his passion for Roman archaeology. ‘I am the new boy (only six years working in Jordan)’, he says, ‘and really only held his hand when it came to the setting up of the aerial part of his survey project’.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: three issues ago Salon reported that numerous Fellows had contributed to the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Bernard Nurse, our Librarian, was one of those contributors and as a result the Society has a complete copy, which has been available since the day of publication on the shelves in the Inner Library. The ODNB is also available online from terminals in the Society's library.

Anglo-Saxon skull surgery: mention of the tenth-century skull from Wharram Percy reminds Richard Reece, FSA, of Dr Calvin Wells’s admiration for an earlier (?sixth-century) Anglo-Saxon skull surgeon whose refined technique with a goudge needed commemoration. ‘When art historians identify a distinguished but nameless early painter, from some particularity of his work, they have the gracious custom of rescuing him from total anonymity by devising a well-chosen sobriquet. It is thus that we have come to know the Master of the Mousetrap or the Master of the Female Half Length. Dare I, too, rescue an early colleague from oblivion and introduce a great Anglo-Saxon surgeon as the Master of the Gliding Goudge?’ (Calvin Wells, Antiquity 48, 298—302, 1974).

Solid gold mask found in Bulgaria: Vincent Megaw, FSA, read Salon 100’s report of the discovery of a solid gold mask representing Seutus III, the fifth- to sixth-century BC Thracian king, with a sense of déjà vu. Similar stories, he says, have been popping up regularly in the Bulgarian media, where archaeologist Georgi Kitov is portrayed as a Bulgarian version of Indiana Jones, entering monumental Thracian royal tombs with unique architecture, stuffed with gold and silver vessels, statuettes, jewellery, etc. According to Vincent Megaw’s contacts in Bulgaria, the reality is very difficult to pin down as over 200 of the Early Hellenistic tombs in Bulgaria's ‘Valley of the Kings’ have been excavated but none published. In this case, however, it seems that the monumental tomb belonged not to Seutus III but to the Odrysian king Seuthes III (c 330—300 BC), who reigned in neighbouring Seuthopolis.

Church of England report on repairs to historic churches

A new report by the Church of England, called Building Faith in our Future, calls on the Government to double the money that it gives to historic church buildings. The Church Heritage Forum says that the £10 million per annum in English Heritage funding for churches should be increased to £20 million (equivalent to 20p per head of the population a year) to bring England in line with other European countries. The report says that cathedral grants should also be doubled from £1 million, and says that government funds from English Heritage have effectively been at a standstill since 1995.

Responding to the report, Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, said: ‘English Heritage already spends one third of its total grants budget on places of worship but we recognise that this is not enough. Increased funding is dependent, however, on the level of grant-in-aid given to English Heritage in the next spending round and the continuance of Lottery support.’

Over the last ten years the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £237 million in 1,731 grants to places of worship of all faiths, some of which is channelled through the Repair Grants for Places of Worship (jointly funded by English Heritage), set up in April 2002 as a successor to the Joint Scheme for Places of Worship programme, which ran in England from 1996. Since April 1996, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded £172.8 million in grants under schemes to repair places of worship, making this the biggest source of funds for church buildings.

The report is not just about funding for repairs and maintenance. It also highlights the central role that the parish churches of England continue to play in the communities they serve and sets out the case for investing in church buildings as catalysts for community regeneration and social cohesion and educational activity.

The report can be downloaded from the Church of England website.

New hominid species discovered on Flores

The journal Nature reported this week that a hitherto unknown hominid species — Homo floresiensis — has been discovered in a rock shelter called Liang Bua on the Indonesian island of Flores. Nicknamed ‘hobbits’ by some of their discoverers, the hominids were a metre tall, had a brain one-third the size of that of modern humans, and lived side by side with Homo sap