Salon Archive

Issue: 106

Forthcoming meetings

13 January: Raising the Dead: rescuing redundant chapels in the twenty-first century, by Jennifer Freeman

20 January: Life and Death in the Medieval Village of Wharram Percy, by Simon Mays

27 January: Ballot

Antiquaries Journal Volume 84

Volume 84 of the Antiquaries Journal is now ready for collection from Burlington House by those Fellows who have elected to collect their copies rather than having them posted.

Burlington House tenancy negotiations

The General Secretary, David Gaimster, has contributed the following note, intended to bring Fellows up to date with progress in the negotiations over the Society’s Burlington House tenancy.

‘The President made a progress report at last Thursday’s Miscellany Meeting on the latest state of negotiations with the Government over a new lease for Burlington House. He noted that the position was now vastly different to what had been achieved in Mediation with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister back in March.

‘At that time, under the proposed Heads of Terms for a leasehold agreement, the Society had been offered a ten-year lease, with possible renewal for a further ten years, but no guarantee about the future thereafter. In addition, there were quite onerous redecoration requirements.

‘Now, after nine months of hard bargaining, during which the Society brought in specialist property and legal advice, the Society has secured the following improved position: a leasing structure that will provide SAL and each of the Learned Societies around the Courtyard with certainty of occupation for eighty years, subject to complying with the Lease covenants; assumptions for valuation purposes that serve to depress the Capital Charges levied on the building, and which will consequently keep the rent payable at a nominal or low level for as long as possible; a break clause (a right to determine the Lease at any time); and more relaxed redecoration and alterations provisions.

‘The proposed lease is an all-or-nothing offer to all the Courtyard Societies. If one does not accept, then the offer will be withdrawn and all parties will be forced back to Court. Given that the stayed Judgment is predicted by our professional advisers to be unfavourable to the Societies, the proposals, as now drafted, look to be the best outcome for the Society. On the balance of risk, Council approved the draft lease at its meeting last Thursday afternoon (16 December) and mandated the General Secretary to proceed to exchange and completion by the Court deadline of 10 January 2005. It is almost certain that the four other Learned Societies will also accept the proposed lease by this date.

‘Thus by 10 January we expect to have “in principle” agreement for acceptance of the proposed lease by all the Trustees of the Learned Societies around Burlington House. Final exchange and completion, however, are still subject to Charity Commission approval and Privy Council acceptance of Petitions to amend the Charters of four of the Societies, including our own. We anticipate negotiating these hurdles by mid-February 2005.

‘Should all the necessary approvals be given, the new lease arrangements will ensure security of the Society in its current accommodation for several generations. In addition, the fact that the costs will be depreciated artificially over a known period will assist the Society to plan effectively for the future.

‘Needless to say, until 10 January this information remains sub judice

News of Fellows

It was with sadness that the Society learned this week of the death of Herbert Lockwood, FSA, who, with his wife, Dorothy, was a frequent attendant at Thursday’s weekly meetings. Dorothy hopes that one of the Fellows who knew Herbert will come forward to write an appreciation of his life and achievements.

The Society has also just learned of the sad death of Rupert Evans, FSA, formerly senior lecturer in history at the University of Leicester, who died on 23 November. A memorial service will be held at the University on 26 February.

Fellows win prizes

Congratulations to Diarmaid MacCulloch, whose book Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 last week won the British Academy Prize for 2004, having already been awarded the Wolfson History Prize for 2004 earlier this year.

At the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art last week, our Fellow Robin Simon, Editor of The British Art Journal, presented the £5,000 William M B Berger Prize for the History of British Art 2004 to Derek Keene, FSA, Arthur Burns and Andrew Saint, the editors of the prize-winning publication: St Paul’s: The Cathedral Church of London 604-2004 (Yale University Press 2004). Also on the six-book shortlist was: Gothic: Art for England, 1400-1547 (Victoria and Albert Museum 2003), edited by Richard Marks, FSA, and Paul Williamson, FSA, with the assistance of Eleanor Townsend. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding contribution to the history of British art, in the categories of exhibition, exhibition catalogue or book. The prize is awarded in memory of the American collector of British art, the late William M B Berger, founder of the collection of that name at the Denver Museum of Art.

The door to No. 10

Last week’s Salon story recounting the rediscovery of the original door to 10 Downing Street intrigued Frank Salmon, FSA, who says that Downing College, Cambridge, also has a former front door of Number 10 (currently giving access to a room on C staircase). Frank says that the door has been there at least since 1981, when he arrived as a student, which was less than two years into the Thatcher epoch. Frank asks whether anyone can throw any further light on the provenance of either door.

Spending Review 2004: museums up, heritage down

A busy week for heritage began on Tuesday 14 December with the long-awaited announcement by Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, of the way that the budget for 2005 to 2008 was to be allocated between the different agencies that rely on the DCMS for funding (for the full text of the announcement, see the Government News website.

Naturally enough, DCMS focused on the good news: its announcement of £17 million of funding for the Renaissance in the Regions scheme was hailed as ‘a record uplift for England’s museums and galleries’ (though Mark Taylor, Director of the Museums Association, was hardly jubilant, saying ‘I suspect there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors and double counting in the figures’). The rest of the sector had to make do with modest increases, barely sufficient to cover cost of living rises, while English Heritage was faced with a cut of almost 5 per cent (£13m in real terms) in a budget that EH had already warned was inadequate, especially given the heavy new responsibilities that EH faces as a result of the Heritage Protection Review.

That day’s newspaper headlines spoke volumes about the sense of frustration felt across the whole cultural sector, with The Guardian announcing ‘Arts funding freeze sparks fury’, followed by a series of statements from leading arts and heritage figures who said they had anticipated ‘some respect for what we have achieved’. Sir Christopher Frayling, Chairman of Arts Council England, said: ‘What is disappointing is the sense of “Buggins’ turn”. The contemporary arts did well last time round, so now they don’t. Regional museums did less well last time, so now they do better. This is no way to build our culture and throws into question the place of the arts and museums in the Government’s pecking order.’

The Joint Committee of Amenity Societies, which includes the Twentieth Century Society, the Victorian Society, the Georgian Group and the Garden History Society, warned that the English Heritage cut would lead to a significant reduction in the vital assistance given to those who struggle to care for their buildings and the public benefit that brings. The Joint Committee’s Chairman, John Sell, said: ‘The message from the Government is loud and very clear: “heritage counts” - but not for much.’

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, went further. Writing in The Times, she stated that: ‘This week’s Culture Department settlement shows that the Government is culturally blind and this means that the enormous social and economic contribution that heritage offers is being missed. It inspires people; it is a powerful agent for regeneration and community cohesion, with a significant impact on quality of life. Public support is unequivocal. Isn’t it time that the Government joined in?’

In a leader headed ‘Beggars’ Opera’, The Guardian commented that: ‘While it is tempting to blame the DCMS for the paltry funding award, the real villain of this drama is the Treasury, forced to play Scrooge in order to meet Gordon Brown’s golden rule. Arts organisations were braced for a tough few years following the last spending review, but the decision to tilt the flow of funds so strongly from one sector (arts) to another (museums) goes against the grain. All arts and culture organisations ask for one thing: not bottomless pockets but reliable funding. Sudden sharp changes in who gets funds and who does not sets off a see-sawing of resources. To make matters worse, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell’s comment that this settlement “sits alongside expected income to the Heritage Lottery Fund” is a worrying suggestion that lottery funding has become a government proxy. The real shame is that the total arts budget is so small and its influence so vital. A Treasury which recognised real value for money would not dream of cutting it.’

Gloves off at Heritage Counts launch

The sense of disappointment spilled over into the following day’s launch of the Heritage Counts report, the annual compendium of heritage facts, figures, trends and indicators. At the launch dinner, held this year at the RIBA’s Portland Square headquarters, Sir Neil Cossons drew prolonged applause from the 240-strong audience of heritage leaders when he said ‘Forgive me Secretary of State, but I profoundly disagree’, in response to Tessa Jowell’s statement that the spending settlement was good news for the sector. ‘I urge the Government to take notice of the extent of public enthusiasm, and give heritage a central place on its agenda,’ he went on to say, adding that ‘If you sideline heritage you sideline the nation’s soul.’

Tessa Jowell herself was in bruising mood, and asked what she described as ‘an unpopular question’, whether the sector was responsible for its own failings rather than Government. She accused heritage bodies of being too eager to demand money from the Government instead of looking to other sources (despite the fact that last year’s Heritage Counts showed that only a third of funding for heritage in the UK comes from central government, the remainder coming from voluntary contributions, memberships, charities and corporations, and leaving aside the fact that it is Government policies that, in many cases, results in harm to the historic environment). She made clear her view that there were far too many heritage bodies, asking whether efficiencies in service delivery could not be achieved through closer co-operation and revealing that a review was under way to reduce the number of heritage bodies funded by DCMS.

Despite these views, Ms Jowell claimed to be a supporter of the heritage and promised to publish a pamphlet on the Government’s thinking on heritage some time in the New Year, which, she said, would be a ‘Government manifesto’.

Few in the audience were convinced that such a manifesto would reveal a very mature understanding of the heritage, given the Secretary of State’s frequent references to ‘beauty’ as the basis for valuing heritage. The rest of us have long moved on from vague and subjective value judgements to an understanding of heritage as the embodiment of human experience, a catalyst for creativity, the font of continuity and tradition, the material out of which knowledge is forged, the springboard for education and skills development, the means by which humans express their aspirations and make their mark on the world (see Norman Foster’s breathtaking bridge, the Grand Viaduc du Millau, unveiled this week). Heritage as beauty went out with Walter Pater … time to catch up please, Department of Culture!

Would life be better under a different regime?

Heritage Link (the body that lobbies on behalf of the heritage) invited politicians from the three main parties to address Link members at its AGM, held on 8 December. Each spokesman was asked to set out his party’s plans for the heritage if elected to power next spring.

For Labour, the Minister for Heritage, Lord McIntosh, was unable to do more than reiterate the Treasury-inspired determination to ‘promote closer working and the sharing of best practice’ so ‘efficiency savings could be invested in front-line services’.

For the Conservatives, John Whittingdale, Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, said heritage had become the poor relation in DCMS. His party would restore the old name - Department for National Heritage - and he committed his party to keeping heritage as a dedicated lottery-funding stream after the next Lottery review. As a former Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, he bemoaned the lack of joined-up government, saying that: ‘Many of the issues affecting the heritage are the responsibilities of DEFRA, particularly ODPM whose house-building programme represents one of the greatest threats to the heritage, the Treasury and the Department of Transport. What we need is a champion for heritage not just in DCMS but throughout Whitehall.’

Don Foster, the Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State, MP for the World Heritage Site city of Bath, pledged to work with the heritage sector in the current parliament to defeat the clauses in the current Lottery Bill that would allow the Government to redistribute distributors’ outstanding balances. He called the current VAT regime ‘crazy’, confirming that ‘it has been long standing Lib Dem policy to have a new lower rate for both new build and repair and restoration’. He also demonstrated a deep understanding of existing planning law and said that it ought to be possible to use existing powers better to redress the balance between developers and those who exist to conserve and study the heritage.

Heritage Link Statement of Concern

Heritage Link members clearly were not satisfied with what they heard, judging by the fact that they signalled a more militant campaigning stance after the AGM by issuing a Statement of Concern (see the Link website). ‘Members want to see action to address their common concerns and will be looking for that action over the next year,’ said Anthea Case, Heritage Link’s Chairman, launching the Statement.

The Statement advocates seven priority actions for Government: to publish a policy statement putting heritage centre-stage in the development of cultural policy in its lead Department - the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; to introduce ‘heritage proofing’ in policy development and decisions over land-use planning, new development, regeneration and transport infrastructure, and require the ministers in each department to report annually on progress; to announce that a strong heritage funding stream will continue to be part of the National Lottery after 2009; to increase dedicated grants for heritage and require a Conservation Officer in every local authority; to introduce new fiscal measures to support building maintenance and repair; to introduce an entitlement for every child to experience heritage education out of the classroom; and to provide formal consultation as well the establishment of a stakeholder group examining the objectives and options for the future of the statutory heritage agencies.

Arts funding overlooks cultural value, says DEMOS

Perhaps it was no coincidence that the Heritage Lottery Fund also chose last week to publish a report on methodologies for valuing the heritage. The new DEMOS report, Capturing Cultural Value, addresses the challenge of finding appropriate concepts and language for describing the contribution that heritage makes to society (for copies of the report, see the DEMOS website).

The report found that heritage and cultural bodies are in danger of losing sight of their real purpose: to producing good work that enriches people’s lives. Instead, they are becoming tools of Government policy, in part because of the need to justify public funding: the difficulty in talking about the intrinsic value of culture means that we have adopted the habit of describing the value of culture in terms of the contribution we make to Government goals, such as economic development, tourism or social inclusion.

But, argues the report, the cultural sector isn’t really comfortable with these tangential ways of measuring cultural value. Instead, DEMOS argues, governments need to move from a target-oriented, top-down approach to culture to one that recognises the full range of values created by, and expressed through, culture. The report also recommends that cultural organisations should focus on what audiences and the wider community see as worthwhile, and understand what it is that they value. ‘The value of culture to the public should form the basis for organisational strategy and funding decisions,’ says the report. ‘Culture will still be driven by the expertise of artists, curators, and administrators, but theirs will be an enabling professionalism, rather than delivering a top-down view of what culture is good for us, and what it should do to us.’

The Quiet Revolution: the Heritage Counts report

Back to the Heritage Counts report, a weighty set of national and regional documents, published on 15 December and available from the Heritage Counts website. A substantial and important part of this year’s report is devoted to describing the quiet revolution that has occurred as a result of £3 billion of investment in the heritage over the last ten years by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sir Neil Cossons said that investment had transformed the way the heritage sector thinks. ‘Our definition of heritage is now much broader, and we are more aware of the way it impacts on our daily lives. And as organisations we are far better able to exploit the potential of heritage to bring communities together and promote active citizenship through educational and outreach programmes.’

Liz Forgan, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: ‘We’re very proud that our funding is helping ordinary people and experts to open up and look at heritage in new ways. But we can’t be complacent as there is still so much to be done’.

The report also reveals that future funding is a major cause for concern. Almost two-thirds of public funds available for the repair of historic buildings come from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This heavy dependence highlights the limited funding to be found elsewhere, and the risks the historic environment would face if HLF funding came to an end.

For the first time the report attempted to assess the state of the Grade II-listed buildings that make up the historic environment most familiar to people. An estimated 17,000 Grade II buildings, parks and cemeteries are at risk, including seventy under government ownership. A further 1,058 Grade I and Grade II* buildings, rated as outstandingly important, are also at risk.

Surfing heritage in Exeter

At one table at the Heritage Counts launch, a lively conversation developed concerning the perils of learning to surf once you are over forty (shouldn’t that be fourteen?). For all those secret surfers among the Fellowship (and yes, there are several), the news that HLF has awarded the sum of £49,600 to Surf UK, an exhibition tracing the development of the sport in the UK, will no doubt be welcome - though they would also probably question the venue: the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter is an odd choice since Exeter doesn’t have any surf (clue to HLF: the UK’s top surfing sports are in north Devon, not the south). The National Trust should also be pleased with the news of the grant as it owns some of England’s best surfing beaches, and is proud of the fact that an increasing number of visitors to National Trust properties are not fine-art connoisseurs come to admire paintings, furnishings and historic houses, but surf dudes coming to pit their skills against the elements.

Featuring the pioneers and personalities of the sport, Surf UK will tell the story of surfing in the UK from its humble ‘belly board’ beginnings in the early 1900s through to its current ‘cool cult’ status. The exhibition will demonstrate how the UK’s seas, land and weather impact on surfing and how developments in materials and equipment design have made it such a popular sport in the UK. Environmental issues surrounding the sport will also be included in the exhibition, as will the many industries spawned by its popularity: it has boosted the economy of the south west by at least £100 million and more than 2,000 jobs now depend upon it.

Councillor Barry McNamara, from Exeter City Council, commented that the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery wanted to ‘involve young adults more in their heritage and in the future of the museum, and we hope this exhibition will act as a catalyst for that.’

Nerys Watts, Regional Manager for HLF in the South West, comments: ‘Whilst some people might not immediately associate surfing with “heritage”, HLF’s priority is to support the heritage projects that matter to local communities, rather than defining what they should be. HLF grants are not just about old buildings, relics and monuments. We want to fund diverse projects which record and preserve our past for everyone to explore, no matter how recent that past might be, and ensure that heritage in all its forms is passed on for future generations to learn about.’

After opening in Exeter in March 2005, the exhibition will then go on to tour the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon and the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth.

The Archaeologist: Maritime Archaeology issue

Whilst on the subject of matters maritime, the latest edition of The Archaeologist, the IFA magazine, is devoted to maritime archaeology, with an article by Julie Satchell on the management of maritime cultural heritage, from Fellow Gill Andrews on applying PPG16 at sea, and from Jesse Ransley on England’s submerged prehistory. Forthcoming issues will be devoted to buildings archaeology, prehistoric Britain (copy deadline 1 March 2005) and working in historic towns (copy deadline 1 June 2005). Contributions are welcomed: contact the Editor, our Fellow Alison Taylor.

Popular heritage

Given the Culture Secretary’s fondness for asking ‘ordinary’ people how they would spend lottery money, it is as well to be aware what symbols of today’s culture people would like to pass on to future generations. In a poll of 1,000 people conducted by NOP for the HLF, the London Eye came top, with 34 per cent of the vote, favoured because of its ‘unique design’. Despite its problems, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain came second in the poll (21 per cent), ‘because it reflects the culture of the country’. Third on the list is Blackpool Pleasure Beach (17 per cent), while 7 per cent of the population want the set of Coronation Street to be preserved if Britain’s longest-running soap ever comes to an end.

Bronze Age disc may show rainbow

The latest edition of the CBA’s British Archaeology magazine (20 Dec 2004) contains an intriguing contribution to the debate surrounding the meaning of the symbols set in gold on the Bronze Age disc from Nebra, Germany. Hailed as ‘the world’s oldest depiction of the cosmos’, the disk depicts the autumn sky, with crescent moon, a sun or full moon and some stars, tentatively identified as the Pleiades. The hilltop where the disc was found is being interpreted as an astronomical observatory, like Stonehenge.

Now several readers of the magazine have independently suggested that the gold arc on the disc - which German archaeologists have likened to the ancient Egyptian ‘sun ship’ that pulled stars through the heavens - is, in fact, a rainbow, pointing out that the arc has lines separating three ‘colour’ bands. It has further been suggested that the spots on the disc are raindrops, rather than stars. This contribution to the debate suggests that the disc shows a forgotten myth rather than astronomical observations - rainbows are interpreted around the world as symbols or portents, yet this would be the only known depiction of a rainbow in prehistoric Europe.

Interpretation of the spectacular disc (320mm across) is clouded by circumstances of its discovery. Illegally excavated by metal detectorists in 1999 at Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, it was sold several times before being seized by police in Switzerland in 2002, along with two metal-hilted swords dating from 1600 BC, said to have been found close to the disc. Announcing the find in 2002, Harald Meller, director of the Halle Institute for Archaeological Research, said it is ‘without doubt the earliest genuine depiction of the cosmos ever to have been discovered’. Wolfhard Schlosser, astronomer at the Ruhr University of Bochum, said the group of seven gold dots could represent the Pleiades, the Praesepe star cluster or the constellation Delphinus, but he preferred the Pleiades, which were thought to signal the approach of autumn; he suggested there might have been a complementary disc depicting the spring sky.

Further news from the Heritage Lottery Fund

The Heritage Lottery Fund has just announced that it is awarding £989,000 to enable the Northumberland National Park Authority to run a five-year traditional skills training project to restore the traditional boundaries of the National Park. Made up predominantly of dry-stone walls, the boundaries are of significant archaeological and historical importance, revealing details of land-use in centuries gone by, as well as providing habitats for a variety of plant, bird and animal species. The project will train up to fifty apprentices with the necessary skills to enable them to achieve certification in the management and repair of traditional boundaries from the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain.

St John the Evangelist in Blackpool has been awarded £360,500 to repair the tower and create a heritage centre exploring the history of Blackpool and the building itself. St John’s is one of the last remaining Victorian buildings in the town and one of Blackpool’s most prominent buildings (known locally as ‘the other Blackpool Tower’).

A grant of £906,500 has been awarded to enable the restoration of the Grade-II* Victorian Pleasure Gardens in Warwick, known as the ‘Hidden Hedged Gardens’. Originally laid out as thirty-two individual gardens for people who did not have gardens attached to their own homes, these private green spaces were surrounded by high hedges for privacy, and each boasted a summerhouse where the owners entertained friends and neighbours to tea. Nineteen of the plots have survived development booms and changing fashions, though only four now have their summerhouses (all listed Grade II).

Google offers a ticket to the world’s greatest libraries

The Daily Telegraph reported this week that Google, the internet search engine, had agreed to scan millions of books currently held in five libraries (Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, New York’s Public Library and the Bodleian in Oxford) and put their holdings online. The project is likely to take at least a decade to complete, but will eventually place a high percentage of the world’s books, scholarly works and manuscripts into one vast online library, free to anyone with a home computer. Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, described the project as the fulfilment of their ambition for the internet ever since the two first met ten years ago at Stanford. ‘Even before we started Google, we dreamed of making the incredible breadth of information that librarians so lovingly organise searchable online,’ Mr Page said.

Each library has reached its own deal with Google. The Bodleian is making available nearly all its uncopyrighted works published up to the nineteenth century, or up to 1.5 million of its 8 million titles. Access to copyrighted materials will also be limited to short excerpts.

Destruction of sheela-na-gig

The BritArch discussion forum was buzzing in November with speculation about the identity of the vandal who destroyed an eleventh-century sheela-na-gig carved on a capital in the small and isolated church of All Saints, Buncton, in West Sussex (for pictures of the sculpture before its destruction, see this website). Police are treating the attack as criminal damage, but no arrests have been made and nobody is sure whether the culprit was trying to steal the sculpture, or whether the destruction marks a sinister attack by religious fundamentalists. Some archaeologists fear that the latter could spark similar attacks on other sculptures regarded as being ‘pagan’ in churches such as the splendid Kilpeck. In reporting the story, The Times said that local people did not condone the action, but were nevertheless unhappy at the presence of ‘a pagan symbol in a Christian building’, and would have preferred the sculpture to have been removed to a museum.

Out of the flames, a work of art from 4,000 years ago

A four-day peat fire that exposed a 2.5 square kilometre area of Fylingdales Moor, in North Yorkshire, during the summer of 2003 has revealed a large number of previously unsuspected archaeological features and a 4,000-year-old Early Bronze Age stone carving, according to the 24-hour museum website.

‘The fire had a devastating impact, but it also revealed an astonishing archaeological landscape,’ said Neil Redfern, English Heritage Inspector of Ancient Monuments. ‘When we stepped over the scorched terrain and reviewed aerial photographs, we were confronted by a vast number of features we had no idea existed before. To find such well-preserved signs of settlement and human activity over such a long period in such a small area is amazing.’

The area yielded Mesolithic flints, 185 carved rocks (three times the previous recorded number), old trackways and evidence of the seventeenth-century alum industry. There were also slit trenches from the last war.

But of the many finds the most interesting and significant is the metre-wide sandstone panel engraved with intersecting lines resembling field boundaries. The central figure, like an angular hourglass, is being interpreted as a depiction of a hut, with an extra triangle representing the doorway. Across the top are a series of jagged peaks or waves with undulating lines like clouds above them, which could represent mountains or a seascape. Though unique among examples of late Neolithic/early Bronze Age rock art, the designs on the stone recall those found on materials such as Beaker pottery.

35,000-year-old flute found in Swabia

German archaeologists say that they have discovered one of the world’s oldest musical instruments, a 35,000-year-old flute carved from the tusk of a woolly mammoth. The flute was excavated in a cave in the Swabian mountains in south-western Germany, and pieced back together again from thirty-one fragments. It originally consisted of two halves, probably glued together with birch resin. Archaeologist Friedrich Seeberger, who has reconstructed the instrument, said the flute is not easy to play, having only three identifiable holes. ‘Small bone flutes are much easier,’ he said. ‘At the moment I’m finding this large ivory mammoth flute rather hard.’

500,000-year-old axe found in Warwickshire quarry

A Palaeolithic hand axe dating back 500,000 years has been discovered at the Smiths Concrete Bubbenhall Quarry at Waverley Wood Farm, near Coventry, which has already produced evidence of some of the earliest known human occupants of the UK (for a picture, see the 24-hour museum website).

‘We are very excited about this discovery,’ enthused Professor David Keen of Birmingham University’s Archaeology Field Unit. Lower Palaeolithic artefacts are comparatively rare in the West Midlands compared to the south and east of England so this is a real find for us.’

The axe is made of a type of volcanic rock called andesite, which only occurs in the Lake District or north Wales; this is only the ninth andesite hand axe to be found in the Midlands in over a century. It may be significant that all previous andesite hand-axe finds have been made in deposits of the Bytham River, a now-lost river system that crossed England from the Cotswolds via the West Midlands and Leicester to the North Sea. This valley was destroyed in a later glaciation and seems to have provided a route into the Midlands for Palaeolithic hunters.

Treasure hunter convicted

Archaeologists have welcomed news that a man has been convicted of going on to an important excavation site in Leicestershire equipped to steal (see the 24-hour museum website). Raymond Tebble was seen at night in the field, near Market Harborough, which is one of the most significant Iron Age and Roman sites in the country. A police helicopter was scrambled and Tebble, from South Shields, was caught with a metal detector and a spade. Tebble was sentenced to one month in prison and had his metal detector confiscated - the equivalent of an £800 fine - although this has been suspended pending an appeal.

The Leicestershire site was discovered in 2000 when the first of a large hoard of Iron Age coins was unearthed by an amateur archaeologist. This was followed in 2003 by the discovery of a silver gilded Roman helmet, which our Fellow, J D Hill, an Iron Age expert at the British Museum, said at the time was the first of its kind to be found in Britain and of international significance. The site has not yet been scheduled and efforts to keep its location secret have been unsuccessful.

Our Fellow Roger Bland said that: ‘Using a metal detector on archaeological sites without permission might not seem like a serious offence, and often courts do not see it as such, but the damage that such activities can do to the knowledge of our past is literally incalculable, certainly out of all proportion to the value of the objects that might have been removed. Leicestershire Police are to be congratulated on securing a conviction and it is important that this case be given the widest possible publicity to deter others who might be so inclined. Responsible detector users such as the National Council for Metal Detecting strongly disapprove of such activity and we in the Portable Antiquities Scheme are doing all we can to bring such cases to the attention of the police.’

Swanns: no way (with apologies to Proust)

Last week’s Salon invited views on whether or not the newsletter should contain advertising from Swann Hellenic and other ‘cultural’ tour operators. The response was a nearly unanimous ‘no’ (the only exception was a Fellow who was kind enough to say that Salon’s editor would no doubt find ways of rewriting the advertising copy to make it more interesting).

Swann Hellenic has clearly fallen out of favour with the scholarly community since the 1970s, when many Fellows served as guest lecturers. Some Fellows remarked on their habit of artificially inflating the price of holidays in order to offer huge discounts in their advertising. Others said they already received more than enough advertising from Swanns and wondered how much their glossy adverts and brochures added to the cost of holidays (which several Fellows said they could not afford, even at a discount).

But, flatteringly, the majority opinion was that Salon was an excellent newsletter precisely because it was free of advertising and promotional material, and was the more readable and trustworthy for that. So Salon will not be tempted down the paths of commercialism, and will instead remain a product-free zone, except of course for the entirely worthy cause of promoting publications emanating from Fellows’ own works and endeavours.

Book reviews in Salon

Salon 105 referred to the decision of the Society’s Publications Committee to support the idea of book reviews appearing in Salon so as to reduce the time lag inherent in the present book review arrangements. Our Reviews Editor, David Crossley, has asked Salon to make clear that reviews should not be sent without prior discussion; David requests that any Fellow who would like to offer a review should email him first, to ensure that he has not already made other arrangements.

Books by Fellows

Mention of which leads on to what must surely be described as a labour of love, as Fellows John Eisel and Ron Shoesmith continue their arduous researches into the pubs, past and present, in the county of Hereford. Their latest oeuvre is a brand new and greatly enlarged edition of the Pubs of Hereford City (card covers, 368 pages, many illustrations, £12.95, ISBN 1 904396 23 2).

Herefordshire is the subject of two further books by Fellows, both from Logaston Press. Herefordshire Maps 1577-1800 by Brian Smith, FSA (256 pages, including 16 pages of black and white plates, and 16 pages of colour plates; hardback £25; ISBN 1 904396 25 9; paperback £17.50; ISBN 1 904396 24), details every known surviving map of Herefordshire between 1577 and 1800, the latter date being conveniently nine years after the founding of the Ordnance Survey and one year before the publication of its first map (of Kent). It includes a gazetteer of all the printed maps of the county as a whole, as well as manuscript maps, usually estate maps, of small areas within the county. Initial sections detail the background to map-making, and provide an introduction to many of the mapmakers and their work.

Herefordshire Past and Present, An Aerial View by Ruth E Richardson and Chris Musson, FSA (128 pages, full colour; £14.95; ISBN 1 904396 20 8), shows how aerial photography continues to develop our appreciation and knowledge of the county. Photographs in the book show evidence of a Bronze Age circle, Iron Age farms and settlements, medieval mills and settlements, and various transport networks. Thumbnail sketches help explain pictures of cropmarks at Magnis, rabbit-warren farming at Willey, the Grandmontine Priory at Craswall, the multiple bailey system at Kingsland Castle and the development of Longtown. There are also photographs of the county’s major towns.

Another work to emerge from the collaboration of Fellows is Painted Altar Frontals of Norway, 1250-1350 (Archetype Publications; three volumes; £195.00; ISBN: 187313293x) by Erla Hohler, FSA, Nigel Morgan, FSA, et al. This art-historical and technical study looks at the thirty-one painted medieval panels that survive in Norway, executed in a characteristically English-influenced contemporary stylistic language, in an oil technique created within a European workshop tradition.


The Society for Libyan Studies is seeking an Editor for Libyan Studies to begin in the New Year. Expressions of interest are invited. These should be sent as e-mail attachments, together with a curriculum vitae, and details of past editorial experience, to Shirley Strong, the General Secretary, by Friday 14 January 2005.

Boston University, Assistant Professor of Archaeology.
Closing date 1 February 2005

Requirements: PhD and major ongoing research programme, as well as expertise in environmental archaeology (other than geoarchaeology), with a preference for palaeoethnobotany; geographical and period specialisation open. Candidates should be prepared to teach general archaeology courses and an introductory course in archaeological science. Further details from; applications by letter, with a CV, a published paper or a sample of writing and the names of three referees to our Fellow, Professor Norman Hammond, Boston University, Archaeology, 675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215.

University of Bristol, Professor in Medieval Cultures (Europe between AD 600 and 1500)
Further details from