Salon Archive

Issue: 109

Forthcoming meetings

10 February: Poetry, Archaeology and Antiquarianism: a commentary and a reading, by Anthony Thwaite, OBE, FSA.

Anthony Thwaite, who has published fourteen books of poetry − most recently A Move in the Weather (2003) − introduces and reads from a selection of verse concerned with antiquities and archaeology. These will include Spenser, Cowper, Shelley, Hardy, Housman, Kipling and several poets of our own time.

17 February: Supernatural Power Dressing in the Bronze Age, by Alison Sheridan

The results of the lecturer’s research into British and Irish Bronze Age jewellery and dress accessories made of jet, faience, amber and other ‘special’ materials are presented, and it is argued that the materials used, and the objects made from them, had a significance and value over and above that of prestige alone. The possibility that they were attributed magical powers and used as amulets − in other words, as supernatural power dressing − is discussed.


Martin Crossley Evans, FSA, has kindly supplied an obituary for John Bosanko, FSA, from which the following extracts have been taken. ‘After graduating in history from Bristol in 1953, John taught in Nottingham (1954−5) and at Chipping Sodbury County Secondary School (1955−63) before joining the staff of St Luke’s College, Exeter, and then becoming a lecturer in history in the School of Education at the University of Exeter, and warden of one of the University’s halls of residence. He retired in 1991.

‘His antiquarian interests included the place names of Gloucestershire, the history and archaeology of Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England, and the Norman Conquest. For many years he worked on a detailed study of Roman settlement patterns in Gloucestershire, and on the histories of Chipping Sodbury and Old and Little Sodbury. He was involved in a number of excavations in Gloucestershire, Devon and Dorset, including a Bronze Age round barrow at Upton Pyne (near Exeter) and the Holcombe Roman Villa at Uplyme (near Lyme Regis).

‘Scholarly and gentlemanly in approach, a man of great charm, gentle wit, kindness and erudition, he was widely known and respected in historical and archaeological circles in the south west. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1982, and died on 9 December 2004, aged 74, following a long illness.’

Greville Stewart Parker Freeman-Grenville, FSA, died on 3 February 2005 at the age of 86. Mark Horton, FSA, has kindly supplied the following obituary.

‘Greville was a long-serving Fellow (elected in 1961), prolific author and one of the last of the generation of colonial officers who served the Empire, and became significant historians of the cultures in which they worked. Educated at Oxford, he worked in Tanganyika as an education officer for nearly ten years in the 1950s. At the same time he worked on his DPhil, which brought together traditional chronicles, locally minted coins and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the dynastic history of the Sultanate of Kilwa, and which was published in 1962 by Oxford University Press.

‘There followed numerous articles (over 200) on numismatic and historical topics which played an important part in the development of East African historical scholarship. These continued throughout his long life, concluding appropriately with ‘Zandjibar’ for the Encyclopedia of Islam in 2002. On taking early retirement from the colonial service he devoted himself to professional writing. Some of his twenty-one publications were guidebooks of no great consequence, but always carefully researched; others were atlases and compendia of facts and useful information (his Muslim and Christian Calendars (1963) must rest on every orientalist's bookshelf). He was a prodigious translator of historical texts in several languages (Greek, Latin, Swahili, Arabic, French), including his Select Documents from the East African Coast (1962), Burzurg's Book of the Wonders of India (1981), The Mombasa Rising (1980) and the Onomasticon of Eusebius of Caesarea (2003).

‘Always a historian, he was nevertheless keen to promote archaeological research, and it was his concern for the state of the Tomb of Christ which led to an accurate record being made of the Tomb by Fellows Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye Biddle.

‘Greville was married for fifty-six years to Lady Kinloss, who survives him, and who sat for many years in the House of Lords as one of the few female hereditary peers.’

Alessandro Bettagno, FSA, was born in Soave, near Verona, on 12 April 1919 and died on 19 October 2004, aged 85 years. The following extracts are from an obituary contributed by Philip Rylands.

Sandro Bettagno will best be remembered for his association with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. His history is to a large degree the history of the Cini Foundation. Fundamental to this was his odd-couple alliance with the formidable, often irascible and outspoken Senator Bruno Visentini, president of Olivetti, sometime Italian Finance Minister, and president of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini from 1977 to his death in 1995.

Sandro was curator (segretario scientifico) there from the Cini’s earliest days (1954) and in 1989 he succeeded Rodolfo Pallucchini as director of the Istituto di Storia dell’Arte. This was the heyday of the Cini Foundation and a remarkable series of annual exhibitions of Venetian old master drawings, promoted and often curated by Sandro, were the most public manifestation of the Cini’s glorious stagione.

Sandro specialized in the Venetian eighteenth century: his first publication in 1959 was the catalogue of a show of paintings and drawings by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini at the Cini Foundation. Over the years exhibitions at the Cini Foundation were dedicated to Piranesi (1978), Canaletto (1982), Piazzetta’s works on paper (1983), Bellotto’s Dresden pictures (1986), and the Guardi (1993), among many others. The magnificent show in 1982 of Canaletto’s paintings, with important loans from the Queen’s Collection, was the confirmation of the high regard that the British old master establishment held for Sandro and the Cini Foundation. This was a personal triumph at a time when overseas loans were extremely difficult to secure owing to Italy’s poor reputation as a borrower of works of art.

In 1998 Sandro became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a year later was made a Knight of the Order of the Légion d’Honneur. Sandro reluctantly left his position at the Cini Foundation in March 2002. Meanwhile he had assumed in January 1998 the prestigious presidency of the Isitituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte in Rome. From this position he was invited by the Italian Senate to curate a Canaletto exhibition in the Palazzo Giustiniani, Rome. Canaletto: il trionfo della veduta, curated by Sandro’s pupil Bozena Anna Kowalczyk, will open on 11 March 2005, and will be dedicated to his memory.

News of Fellows

As we know from the exhibition of art held at Burlington House in October 2002, the Society’s Fellowship and staff number quite a few accomplished artists, including Peter Fowler, whose ‘Mainly 'Scapes’ one-man exhibition of paintings inspired by (among other things) Avebury, Stonehenge, Sutton Hoo, Lindisfarne, towns, lighthouses, aboriginal and prehistoric art, churches, ancient crops, air photography, tower blocks, modernist architecture and landscape generally is on now at The Gestalt Centre, 62 Paul Street, London EC2A 4NA (at the Paul St/Leonard St junction, 400m south east of Old Street tube station). Peter describes the exhibition as a personal selection of forty-one works created between 2003 and 2005, ranging in price from £100 to £1,000. The exhibition is on until 31 July 2005.

Gill Chitty has been appointed as the Council for British Archaeology's new Conservation Co-ordinator, a post created following the re-organisation of the CBA's senior staff team after the appointment of Mike Heyworth, FSA, as CBA Director. Gill was previously the principal consultant with Hawkshead Conservation Associates. She will be taking up the post full-time from the middle of March and will have responsibility for developing and implementing the CBA's strategy and policy in relation to conservation of the historic environment.

Headley Trust application date extended to 25 February

The Society has received no applications this year for grants from the Headley Trust and so Council has approved an extension of the application deadline to 25 February 2005. This is a particularly valuable award (worth up to £18,000), whose purpose is to fund short-term research to prepare fieldwork to a state where it can be submitted for publication by March 2006; or grants to archaeologists in the public, commercial or independent sectors who need time to work within an academic context on the synthesis of largely unpublished material from archaeological excavations and/or fieldwork. Further details and application forms can be found on the Society’s website.

Ballot on 27 January

The following candidates were elected Fellows of the Society at the ballot held on 27 January 2005:

Peter Halkon
Jane Portal
Michael Baxter
John Lewis
Kathleen Thompson
Rosemary Walker
Nicholas Holmes
Karen Hearn
Elizabeth Gobhard
Helen Patterson
David Cheape
Margarita Díaz-Andreu
Jean Tsushima
Alan Outram
Hugh Roberts
Ruth Guilding
Quita Mould
Adrian Tindall
John Darlington
Colin Harrison
Thomas Davies
Sir John Guinness
Margaret Sparks
Mark Edmonds.

Academic journals ‘Top Ten’ sparks rebellion

According to the Times Higher Educational Supplement (28 Jan 2005) a mass revolt has erupted against moves by the AHRB (Arts and Humanities Research Board) to create ‘top ten’ lists of the ‘most important and significant’ journals in a range of subjects, including archaeology, history, architecture and music. David Bates, FSA, Director of the Institute of Historical Research, was one of those to speak out, saying that he had canvassed every history department and found ‘well nigh’ universal opposition to the plans, adding that ‘many colleagues believe the exercise to be so deeply flawed and damaging that it must be abandoned immediately’.

Despite this the AHRB seems determined to go ahead with the exercise: Geoofrey Crossibck, Chief Executive of the AHRB, said that ‘some form of quantitative indicator is required’ to measure the academic quality and impact of the work that it funds, and that ‘simply saying “no” is not an acceptable position because it carries the risk that other alternatives will be developed and imposed’. Michael Jubb, Deputy Chief Executive of the AHRB, said that the board was consulting widely to ensure that the lists were robust, and that the lists would ‘not be used outside AHRB to judge departments or quality at subject level’.

More on the ancient swastika

After last week’s Salon report on the attempt by British Hindus to remind everyone of the ancient and honourable origins of the swastika symbol, Lindsay Allason-Jones, FSA, writes to say that the Newcastle Museum of Antiquities holds a number of Roman altars with swastikas carved on them. ‘Members of the public regularly express alarm that our sculptures have been vandalised and it is often quite hard to convince them that the swastika is a perfectly good Roman symbol of good luck, said to represent the spokes of the Sun God's chariot. Even showing them Roman brooches in the form of swastikas fails to convince them! It is sad that a symbol which has been a focus for good luck in so many cultures is now so firmly associated in the modern mind with evil.’

More on cathedral grants

Salon 108 reported that the £1 million distributed this year in cathedral repair grants represents a sharp drop from the £4 million that English Heritage allocated in 2004. Richard Halsey, FSA, Head of the Cathedrals Team at English Heritage, has written to say that the amount in 2004 was actually £2 million; the annual budget did get as high as £4.8 million in 1993−4, but the total annual offers to cathedrals have been around £2 million for the last four years.

Richard explains that: ‘The 50 per cent cut this year was not intended to say that there isn’t grant-worthy work to be done or that the cathedrals don’t need our money. It is simply that, with a standstill budget from Government, we wanted to ensure that we can continue to allocate £10 million per annum to the scheme we operate with the HLF for repairs to other places of worship. That scheme is hugely over-subscribed and we have given it the higher priority. Having spent nearly £41 million since 1991 to get most cathedrals into a good state of repair, we hope that this reduced level of support will be enough to keep them that way. But it is hardly the best way to ensure the future of some of the best historic buildings in the country.’

Another Israeli fake

Jeremy Montagu, FSA, writes to add to the growing list of Biblical forgeries to have merged from Israel in recent years: it is, he says, a minor one, but which has secured widespread publication. It is a seal showing a kinnor (the lyre which King David is always said to have played). This appears on the obverse of the current Israeli half-shekel (50 agurot) coin. ‘When it first appeared a number of us were suspicious of its authenticity for numerous typological and organological reasons, but an attractive picture is, as so often, the main criterion for such a symbol and such a use’, Jeremy writes.

More on Baghdad

Mike Pitts, FSA, has drawn Salon’s attention to the article that he wrote for The Guardian on 17 January 2004 on the implications of the destruction catalogued in John Curtis’s report on the stationing of US troops amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon. Mike asks whether the decision to site the military camp on such a sensitive site was simply carelessness, or something more sinister − a political statement of contempt for the past and Iraq’s past in particular. The US, he argues, must not be allowed to get away with its destructive treatment of archaeological remains: pressure must be applied for a full investigation of what happened. Babylon must join Unesco's list of world heritage sites and the US must contribute to decontaminating and studying the city. ‘We must show Iraq that the world respects its history. International effort must research, reveal and rebuild Babylon's past. This heritage disaster must be turned to triumph’, he concludes.

More on cultural theft

Neil Jackson, FSA, writes to say that the theft of cultural artefacts is by no means limited to Iraq. He cites the example of the recent theft of two Mentalphysics statues from the Institute of Mentalphysics, located in Joshua Tree in southern California. This sprawling religious campus was designed in the post-war period, by Lloyd Wright, eldest son of Frank Lloyd Wright. Composed of houses, apartments, cafeteria, meeting halls, and cathedral, certain elements of which are reminiscent of Taliesen West, this is a spectacular cluster of desert architecture. The two contemporary sculptures (Universal Freedom, see and Love Note) by local artist Robert Edward Hamilton were stolen on 12 January. Robert Edward Hamilton was a resident artist in the 1970s who donated several of his pieces to the Institute, and they have been part of that history for over twenty-five years. Anybody with information on the whereabouts of these sculptures is asked to contact Marie Aquino, CEO of The Institute of Mentalphysics.

What news of Stonehenge?

Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, has written to Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, to ask why his department has just announced the downgrading of the A303 road, which passes to the south of Stonehenge, from a trunk route to a local road, and whether this signals the abandonment of the idea of putting this road in a tunnel to enable the restoration of the landscape around Stonehenge.

In an open letter published on the National Trust’s website. Fiona appeals to the Transport Secretary to cut through the confusion and delay surrounding the Stonehenge Road proposals and clarify how the decisions will now be made. ‘We have never been closer to finding a world-class solution for Stonehenge’, she says, ‘but at this critical juncture there are worrying signs that the Government is not giving the project the priority that its national and international status merits.’

It is now nine months since the end of the Public Inquiry into the Stonehenge road scheme proposals and the Inquiry inspector’s report has still not been published, despite expectations that it would be delivered in September 2004. The Planning Inspectorate, which is responsible for the report, promised that its completion was ‘imminent’.

The downgrading of the A303 is explained by the Department for Transport as coinciding with the recent decision that transport aspects of the roads scheme will now be shaped by regional priorities. This, says Fiona Reynolds, poses the real risk that ‘final decisions will not properly address the international heritage and cultural importance of Stonehenge’.

Save Liverpool’s ‘slums’

Contradictions at the very heart of the Government’s policy on the historic environment have been revealed this week with the launch of a campaign to stop the demolition of 6,800 Victorian and Edwardian houses in the Kelvin Grove and Welsh Streets area of Liverpool, including the birthplace of Ringo Starr (by contrast, the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney are now in the care of the National Trust).

Despite the emphasis on sustainable communities, social cohesion and regeneration in the Deputy Prime Minister’s speeches, his department nevertheless announced funding last week of £65 million in additional funding for Pathfinder schemes, designed to address ‘abandonment and low demand’ affecting older homes in the north of England. In all there are nine Pathfinder schemes, under which redevelopment companies have been given a total of £500 million to demolish and replace mainly Victorian terraces.

Conservationists in Liverpool immediately responded by accusing the Government of not having learned the lessons of the slum clearances of the 1950s and 1960s, when mass clearance schemes resulted in the break-up of communities and the construction of what proved to be badly built ‘slums in the sky’.

English Heritage simultaneously published its own policy document on the Pathfinder scheme which, though endorsed by Jeff Rooker, the Minister for Regeneration in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, nevertheless seemed to call into question the fundamental thinking behind the scheme, pointing out that the whole-life cost of repairing Victorian terrace houses was 60 per cent cheaper than new building, and was the preferred option of local residents. The report advocated the ‘repair and re-use of old buildings where possible in preference to demolition as being not only “greener” but also avoiding the sense of dislocation and loss of social cohesion caused by mass clearance projects in the past’ (for a copy of the report see the English Heritage website under 'News'.

English Heritage has already helped one community − Nelson in Lancashire − fight to protect its early Victorian terraced housing from being cleared by the local authority for ‘comprehensive redevelopment’. Following a public inquiry in 2003, the abandonment of demolition plans in Nelson was hailed as ‘a victory for common sense’.

In the case of Liverpool, campaigners have accused social landlords, such as the city council and local housing associations, of preventing the housing market from functioning properly by pulling out tenants and boarding properties up, creating blight, and preventing people from buying or renting houses where they choose. Liverpool Council’s head of housing, Flo Clucas, was quoted last week as saying that ‘the housing that is to be demolished is too far gone or is one of the older council properties that people don’t want to live in’. On the contrary, says Dr Peter Brown of the Merseyside Civic Society: they are very much in demand in a city where property prices have leapt by a third or more since the city’s designation as European Capital of Culture 2008, and where regeneration schemes such as the Ropewalks have created a huge demand for older properties amongst the city’s urban young and creative communities.

Campaigners are now hoping to mobilise sufficient public opposition to the demolition plans to justify a public inquiry. Professor Lesley Lewis, of Liverpool University summed up their position by saying that the nomination of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008 should be used as an opportunity to pioneer innovative and sustainable models of urban living, rather than repeating the bad mistakes of the past.

New guidelines for the treatment of ancient human remains

A protocol has just been published by English Heritage and the Church of England for best practice in the treatment of human remains excavated from Christian burial grounds in England. It is the product of three years’ deliberations by a Working Group convened jointly by these two organisations (see the English Heritage website under 'News'.

Aimed at archaeologists, developers, clergy, museum staff, church organisations and scientists, the guidelines recognise the need for a balanced and sensitive approach, taking account of religious and ethical issues, public attitudes, and the value and benefit of the scientific study of human remains.

The Guidance Document sets out best practice in the five key areas of the redevelopment of burial grounds, excavation, study and publication, and reburial and deposition. The protocol emphasises that human remains should always be treated with respect and dignity, and that when the remains are of a known person, the feelings of any living descendants should be accorded strong weight regarding decisions concerning their treatment.

A major practical recommendation is that English Heritage and the Church of England should set up a standing national advisory committee, comprised of clergy, archaeologists and other professionals involved with human remains. It would be available to be called upon to offer advice on any aspect of the treatment of human remains from Christian burial sites, particularly in cases that are problematic or controversial.

Another recommendation is that a working party should be set up to pursue the option of redepositing human remains in disused crypts or redundant churches; Simon Mays, FSA, of English Heritage cited Barton-on-Humber as an example of where hundreds of burials excavated in the 1980s could be moved from the agency’s store rooms into the now-disused former organ loft of St Peter’s Church, where the bones would remain accessible to scientists, but back on consecrated ground.

Gravestones flattened in the name of Health & Safety

Reports in The Times last week suggested that Health and Safety zealots, aided and abetted by that other curse of modern society, the insurance company, are responsible for mass vandalism in our churchyards and cemeteries. The remote risk that leaning headstones might fall and injure someone who might then take legal action has been sufficient to justify the wholesale flattening of gravestones all over the country, in what critics have called a ‘deplorable overreaction’ to ‘an isolated incident’ (the death of a child crushed by a falling gravestone in Harrogate).

The greatest risk of instability is to modern gravestones of the ‘plinth and plate style’, erected since the 1950s, but headstones of all types and ages have been desecrated indiscriminately by contractors hired by burial authorities to flatten the stones, this being a cheaper option than making them safe. Acknowledging the practice, Sam Weller, Chairman of the Association of Burial Authorities wrote to The Times to say that ‘there is hardly a cemetery in the land that is not having to face up to these decisions’. He called for a return to traditional monolithic (one-piece) headstones in which one-third of the stone was buried in the ground, acknowledging that ‘this traditional style has an unblemished safety record’.

Despite this, the deliberate wrecking of gravestones in the name of health and safety has hit historic cemeteries as well as modern ones: the Lansdown Cemetery next to Beckford’s Tower just outside Bath is just one historic graveyard that has recently had all of its mid-Victorian monolithic gravestones uprooted.

Campaigners have called for the Victorian Society and English Heritage to intervene. Meanwhile, at least one local authority has discovered that flattening gravestones is not the end of the matter: their insurance company has now warned that the recumbent stone represent a ‘trip hazard’ and must be buried flush with the ground.

1.5 million war memorial names to go online

A three-year project to record the names listed on every war memorial in the country was launched last week by the Lord Mayor of London, Michael Savory, at Mansion House. In October 2002, Salon reported the launch of the National Inventory of War Memorials. That archive has now been completed and lists some 52,400 memorials. The aim is to put the inventory online, with a photograph, and to capture the estimated one and a half million names inscribed on the memorials, using an army of volunteers − especially schoolchildren, family historians and war veterans − to record the information. The archive will then allow researchers to link each name with other records, such as those of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, so that people will be able to trace a name from their local war memorial to a war cemetery.

Funding is now being sought by a group chaired by Alan Borg, FSA, former Director General of the Imperial War Museum. The total cost is estimated to be £2.2 million. Further details can be found on the Imperial War Museum’s website.

Scotland's heritage agencies granted charity status

Salon 108 reported the concern that the Scottish Executive’s Charity and Trustee Investment Bill now before the Parliament at Holyrood would cost national museums, galleries and libraries in Scotland £27 million a year in tax relief because they would fail a key test of charitable status − independence from third-party control. The Holyrood Parliament has now agreed to amend the legislation specifically to enable charitable status to be retained by the National Museums of Scotland, the National Galleries, the National Library, the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

The minister responsible for the bill said that, taking into account the high level of public support for these bodies and their reliance on charity status to carry out this work, the Executive had agreed that they should be able to retain charity status.

Macclesfield Psalter to remain in East Anglia

Two thousand people, making donations from £1 to £15,000, have helped to save the Macclesfield Psalter from export to Los Angeles three weeks before the temporary export ban imposed by the Department for Culture was due to expire. Supplemented by grants from the Art Fund charity and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the appeal has succeeded in raising the £1.7m needed to match the auction price offered for the Psalter by the Getty Museum in California. The Museum withdrew its offer on 24 January and the book will go to the Fitzwilliam Museum, in Cambridge.

The manuscript was discovered two years ago at Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire, when Lord Macclesfield invited Sotheby’s to view his extensive collection with a view to sale. The Psalter, previously unknown to scholars, was found on one of the upper bookshelves in the library. Duncan Robinson, Director of the Fitzwilliam, said: ‘We are very honoured and very proud to become the custodians of this national treasure. This is a masterpiece, an absolute gem of artistic production. In East Anglia, there were scribes and illuminators who were the match of anywhere in the Western world at the time.’ He said that the manuscript would go on display as soon as possible. Then it would be restored for an illuminated manuscripts exhibition this summer.

The campaign to save the Psalter highlighted some of the difficult decisions facing funding bodies. Trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had felt unable to make a contribution to the campaign because of the difficulties of enabling public access to works on paper that are difficult to display. Instead, funding was offered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, described as the ‘fund of last resort’, but one whose resources have been seriously depleted in recent years and whose income from the Government has not kept pace with rising art values.

The Marconi Archive: should it have gone to Chelmsford?

The Macclesfield Psalter’s new home in Cambridge means that the illuminated book will stay in the region in which it was created − unlike the Marconi Collection which is heading for Oxford, much to the disappointment of people in Chelmsford, the original home of the Marconi Company from 1898 and the acknowledged ‘Birthplace of Radio’.

Following Salon’s report in January that the Collection would be housed in the Oxford Museum of the History of Science, Paul Gilman, FSA, Heritage Information and Records Manager with Essex County Council, forwarded a cutting from the Essex Chronicle (22 December 2004) saying that the Marconi Company had earlier ‘promised this collection to Chelmsford Borough Council and offered a large sum of money for a suitable building to house the collection’. As a result, the council entered into legal agreements to purchase land around Essex Record Office and came to an arrangement with the owners of the Atlantic Hotel to build a new conference centre and hotel with specific museum space for the collection with a pedestrian link to the Record Office.

David Beck, Director of Communications for the Marconi Corporation, responded to this charge by saying that ‘the people of Chelmsford will get the best of both worlds provided they can find somewhere to display items which can be made available on semi-permanent loan. We have donated the collection to Oxford and it is for Chelmsford and Oxford to negotiate what, at the appropriate secure building, could be loaned back to Chelmsford.’ Oxford University has already said that it will work with the Essex Record Office and the Museums Service in Chelmsford to display a representative set of historic items from the collection in the town, but former County Councillor Kathleen Nolan, chairman of Essex Heritage Trust, a leader in the campaign to stop the collection being sold by Christie’s in 1997, said: ‘We have lost Chelmsford's jewel in the crown without consultation or knowledge’.

One of Wales’s finest landscape parks to be renovated

Dinefwr Park and the castle at Llandeilo will receive grants of £2.1m from the European Objective One Fund and £1.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve access and interpretation and carry out essential restoration work on the landscape and buildings. The National Trust, which owns the park and the seventeenth-century Plas Dinefwr mansion (also known as Newton House), is contributing the rest, thanks to a £1m legacy. The three-year programme of work will consolidate Dinefwr, with its herd of ancient White Park cattle, its deer park and a military, royal and settlement heritage that spans 3,000 years, helping the National Trust to position Dinefwr as one of the top cultural sites in Wales.

The hilltop castle, now under the care of Cadw, was the court of the medieval South Wales kingdom of Deheubarth, and home to Hywel Dda, King of all Wales and the man who codified Welsh Law. Later it was the headquarters of Rhys ap Gruffudd, the great Lord Rhys, who halted the Norman advance in west Wales in the late twelfth century. Two medieval villages lie beneath the parkland turf and archaeologists have also recently discovered two Roman forts and an Iron Age fort within the park. Planned excavations are predicted to add to the attractions of a site that already draws 22,000 visitors a year. Historic paths and tracks will be restored along with the deer park wall, plantings, entrances, bridges and other features.

Word Heritage Site bid for the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced last week that the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape has been chosen as the UK’s 2005 nomination for World Heritage Site status. Over the last 4,000 years, Cornwall and west Devon have supplied much of the western world's tin and copper and the area was the biggest producer of tin and copper in the world during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As such it contributed substantially to Britain's industrial revolution and influenced mining technology and industrialisation throughout the world.

Deborah Boden, World Heritage Site co-ordinator, said that the achievement of World Heritage Site status would bring international recognition of the heritage value of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, and the wider social and cultural achievements of the people engaged in the industry. The distinctive and technologically advanced method of deep mining developed in the region was transported around the world and still endures, both in Cornwall and west Devon and in places as far away as Australia, South America and South Africa.

The nomination will be assessed by expert advisers to the World Heritage Committee over the next twelve months and final decisions will be made by the World Heritage Committee at its annual meeting in the summer of 2006.

John Murray archive secured with £17.7 million HLF grant

At its quarterly board meeting on 25 January, Heritage Lottery Fund trustees decided to award £17.7 million − one of its largest ever grants − towards the £31.2 million needed to enable the National Library of Scotland to acquire the John Murray publishing archive. The Times reported that the decision to award the grant was ‘hotly debated up until the eleventh hour by lottery trustees’ who were ‘concerned about whether it represented value for money’. John Sutherland, Professor of English at University College London and chairman of the judges of this year’s Man Booker prize, had been quoted earlier in the week as questioning whether public funds should be used to buy objects valued on the basis of auction-room prices.

Martyn Wade, Scotland’s National Librarian, was in no doubt about the archive’s value. He said that he was delighted with the decision to acquire ‘the most important and most comprehensive literary collection that I know of in the world’. Even so, the National Library is still £6.5 million short of the purchase price and a campaign to raise the balance from public donations will now be launched.

Edinburgh-born John Murray established the eponymous publishing firm in London in 1786 and the archive is made up of 150,000 manuscripts, papers and letters between the publisher and famous and influential figures and thinkers, including David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle, Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Babbage, Michael Faraday and William Ewart Gladstone. It includes 180 letters from Darwin about his proposals for On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection and letters from Jane Austen discussing the publication of Emma. There are almost 1,200 letters and poems from Lord Byron and 10,000 letters to or about him.

£60m saves Cutty Sark and transforms four museums

HLF trustees disbursed a further £60 million at last week’s board meeting, with the lion’s share − £48.6 million − going to four museums. £15 million will go to the Riverside Museum, telling the story of industry on the rivers Clyde and Kelvin and part of an £800 million project to regenerate Glasgow Harbour. The Great North Museum in Newcastle will receive £9.1 million for premises to house the collections from the Hancock Museum, the Shefton Museum and the Museum of Antiquities, including the country’s largest collection of artefacts from Hadrian’s Wall. Dorset’s Tank Museum, home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of armoured vehicles, is to get £8.9 million to transform itself into a museum that tells the human stories that illustrate the realities of war. Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum will also get a complete make-over, thanks to £8.4 million of lottery players’ cash.

The balance of the money − some £12.9 million − is to be spent on conservation work to the Cutty Sark, the 136-year-old ship that set the record for a voyage from Australia to England at 72 days in 1885 − a decision that Simon Jenkins, FSA, condemned in his weekly Times opinion column as ‘modern museology reduced to absurdity’, because ‘all this money is to be spent without even putting Cutty Sark in the water, let alone under sail. It will merely raise her two metres on to a fake sea made of glass’. Admitting to a boyhood ambition to ‘smash the Thames wall, flood the dock, hoist sail and free the old girl from her bondage’, Simon said the money should have been used to make Cutty Sark seaworthy again, to ‘take her out to sea and restore her soul’ rather than turning the ship into yet another ‘learning zone, with entertainment and catering facilities’.

Clive Aslet provokes

Simon Jenkins was not the only journalist indulging in personal polemic last week. In the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Property’ supplement, Country Life Editor Clive Aslet declared that: ‘today’s breed of conservation officer is an architectural traffic warden, bereft of vision and sensitivity when it comes to safeguarding our finest homes’. Leaving aside the fact that traffic wardens do a perfectly reasonable job of penalizing law breakers, in which vision (other than in its literal sense) is hardly a requirement of the job, Mr Aslet decided to push his metaphorical fury to an even further extreme when he described English Heritage officials as ‘like a member of Chairman Mao’s Red Guard, armed with the certainty of youth, and apparently indifferent to the domestic misery his decisions can inflict’. And what domestic misery might that be? In this particular case, the multimillionaire owner of Dauntsey Park, a very substantial Georgian house in Wiltshire (a mere eighteen bedrooms, a dozen reception rooms, set in a 60-acre estate), is upset because he wanted to add a further wing for entertaining but who has now ‘gone off the idea’, because he has been unable to obtain planning consent after trying for two years.

Mr Aslet’s populist tirade drew a ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ response from John Yates, Chairman of the Institute for Historic Buildings Conservation, whose letter to The Daily Telegraph pointed out that: ‘Historic buildings are protected because they have a cultural value to the wider community. The regulation of change to them through the planning system involves a balancing of cultural value with utility − public interest with private interest − an inherently political process. The listed building consent procedure almost always works by understanding, negotiation and consensus: nine out of ten applications are granted. Council conservation officers walk a well-defined path, set out by the Government’s own guidance, as well as case law and adopted local policies. They are not heritage Lone Rangers and they cannot be “dictators”.’

John ends his letter by saying that ‘I cannot defend them [English Heritage officials] against Mr Aslet’s accusation of youthfulness, except to welcome the fact that younger people are coming into the profession’.

Arts minister's vision of England’s 'hidden heritage'

Arts Minister Estelle Morris also made a series of provocative comments in launching the Government’s consultation paper on Understanding the Future: Museums and the 21st Century, saying that too many works of art and historical artefacts are hidden from the public in museum stores and that high-quality works belonging to major museums that are not on regular display should be loaned to other museums, which were ‘crying out for the chance to show fresh items’. She also said that there was a growing appetite for ‘serious’ culture in the country and called for the ‘cultural centre of gravity’ to move away from the capital so that ‘the best of our culture should be accessible to all, no matter where they live’.

Museum experts were divided in their response to the remarks, with the Museums Association praising the Government for looking at the museums sector in its entirety rather than just focusing on those museums that it funds. There was also praise for the emphasis in the consultation document on modernising the museums' workforce through staff development and career progression.

Others dismissed the Minister’s statements as ‘patronising’ and a ‘statement of the obvious’. The British Museum, for example, said that it was a widely held misconception that museum store rooms are full of iconic treasures; their store rooms are full of objects that are too fragile to display, too similar to exhibits already on show, or fragmentary material kept for scholarly reasons. Tyne and Wear Museums pointed out that national London-based collections have been lending material to regional museums for decades. When the British Museum purchased the 4,000-year-old terracotta relief of a Babylonian goddess (known as the ‘Queen of the Night’) last year, it immediately organised a tour to Glasgow, Sunderland, Leicester, Birmingham and Cardiff.

The consultation paper identifies key challenges and opportunities facing England's museums in areas such as collections, learning and research, workforce development and leadership, the coherence of the sector and advocacy. The closing date for responses is 30 June 2005. Copies of the consultation document can be downloaded from the DCMS website.

£35m boulevard to transform Albertopolis

A consortium of national cultural institutions based in South Kensington is to make a £35 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to transform London’s Exhibition Road into ‘the most significant intellectual highway in Britain’. Plans to create a glamorous open-air gallery linking the V&A, the Science and Natural History Museums, Imperial College, the Royal Colleges of Art and Music, the Albert Hall, the Goethe Institute, the Institut Français, the English National Ballet and the Royal Geographical Society were revealed last week by Dixon and Jones, architects of the Covent Garden opera house extension. Some 10 million people visit these institutions annually, gaining access through a leaky subway or along busy roads. The new plan is one of ten pilot schemes in London Mayor Ken Livingstone's ‘Making Space for Londoners’ initiative. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea supports the scheme and believes the present streetscape on Exhibition Road is ‘cluttered, incomprehensible and unfriendly to pedestrians’. David Moylan, deputy leader of the borough, said: ‘We have some of the finest architecture and some of the most important buildings in London. Part of the aim is to try to knit this together again as an area.’

Government to ban vehicular use of 'green lanes'

Last year Salon reported that Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael was to consult stakeholders on the use of mechanically propelled vehicles on byways. That consultation is now complete and the results confirm that there is widespread concern about the use of ancient and often fragile tracks by motor bikes, quad bikes and all-terrain vehicles. DEFRA (the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) has confirmed that it will now seek a change in the law which currently allows the use of byways by modern motor vehicles on the basis that the routes were once used by horse-drawn carriages. Alun Michael said: ‘The pressures of modern day use are very different to those a hundred or more years ago and new legislation is needed to reflect these changes, taking into account considerations such as the environmental impact, the effect on local people, or the effect on other users’.

The Minister confirmed that he wants the new measures to become law as soon as a legislative opportunity is available. In the meantime, DEFRA will issue new guidance to promote the better enforcement of existing powers, including Road Traffic powers, to manage vehicle use. The Government's framework for action and the DEFRA research report are both published on the DEFRA website.

Revamped pubs rob drinkers of their heritage

English Heritage announced last week that only two hundred or so pubs in England retain their original interiors, so great has been the impetus for refurbishment in recent years. Launching a new book called Licensed to Sell: The History and Heritage of the Public House (by Geoff Brandwood, Andrew Davison and Michael Slaughter, published by English Heritage at £14.99), the agency said that diversity and individuality of character had been sacrificed to the brand manager’s desire to make one pub look much the same as any other.

English Heritage commissioner Bill Bryson said: ‘Pubs are part of what makes England what it is, and like so much of the almost embarrassing richness of England's historic environment we need to hang on to what we've got. It's easy to dismiss a lost pub sign here or a refurbished Victorian interior there, but every Old Red Lion pulled apart and plasticised and renamed the Frog and Orange diminishes us.’

‘We don't want our vibrant city to end up like London’ says Paris mayor

According to The Times, our good friends the French have coined a new phrase to describe this kind of plasticization and the domination of English high streets by identikit chain stores and international brands: they call it ‘la Londonisation’, and the socialist government of Paris is determined to prevent it happening to the French capital. Instead the Local Urbanism Plan that will shape the development of Paris for the next fifteen to twenty years is based on the concept of la mixité sociale, designed to encourage a dense and varied network of shops and people. Developers will be required to set aside 25 per cent of the floor area of any project for the housing of key workers, such as teachers, nurses and council employees, and for small owner-managed butchers’, bakers’ and greengrocers’ shops that are seen as an essential ingredient of Parisian culture. Restrictions will also be placed on about half of Paris’s 71,000 shops so that, when the owners retire or sell up, their successors will have to sell similar products. Thus, a food shop could only be replaced by another food shop. This move follows studies showing that the number of delicatessens has fallen by 42.8 per cent in the past decade, butchers by 27.2 per cent, fishmongers by 26 per cent and bakers by 16.2 per cent, while mobile telephone shops have risen by 350 per cent, fast-food restaurants by 310 per cent, gymnasiums by 190 per cent and dating agencies by 22 per cent.

Bath is suffering from malaise, say heritage leaders

Perhaps similar measures are required in the World Heritage City of Bath where residents and conservationists have accused the local authority, Bath and North-East Somerset Council, of driving independent traders out of the city centre by imposing rent rises of up to 25 per cent. Michael Briggs, the chairman of the Bath Preservation Trust, says that cuts in grants for restoration and repair have ‘allowed the lustre to disappear from the city’s magnificent Bath stone buildings’. Mr Briggs said: ‘The main important buildings, such as Royal Crescent, are still in pretty good condition but many of the other, lesser properties in private hands are not … the stone is deteriorating and not in very good condition because people cannot afford to do the work themselves. In a World Heritage Site, that is a disgrace.’

Mr Briggs’s criticisms were echoed this week in The Independent by columnist, Miles Kington, who said the city was suffering from the modern malaise of poor planning, bad traffic and parking management and problems with litter, graffiti and public drinking.

Michael Briggs also pointed to the long-running saga of the unfinished Spa as another example of ‘appalling mismanagement on the part of the council’. He is concerned that the mistakes of the Spa are about to be repeated at the city’s Southgate centre, the 1960s complex opposite the railway station, which has just been given planning permission for redevelopment. The council rejects many of the criticisms and cites consistently high tourist numbers and the success of the city's Christmas market and ice rink as evidence of Bath's continued vigour. A survey of visitors rated the city's attractions higher than other British historic towns and 74 per cent said they would recommend a visit to the city. The council's leader, Paul Crossley, said: ‘We accept there are problems with litter and parking and we are working to try and address them. So far as the Southgate development is concerned, we are replacing a rather tacky 60s development with a much more sympathetic shopping centre.’

Books by Fellows

Peter Robertshaw writes to say that he is the joint author, with Jill Rubalcaba, of The Early Human World, a textbook for children, aged about eleven to fourteen, published by Oxford University Press. The book spans the period from the earliest hominids to the end of the Neolithic with a few forays into later prehistory, and is part of a series on ‘The World in Ancient Times’. Peter says that his co-author usually writes historical novels for children, so the book is a lively and factual account of discoveries and interpretations of fossils, sites and artefacts, accompanied by numerous colour illustrations.

Also copiously illustrated, as it should be, is Aidan Dodson's new book, The Royal Tombs of Great Britain: an illustrated history (Duckworth, ISBN 07156 3310 4, £25), which describes and illustrates all known rulers' tombs in Great Britain, from the Sutton Hoo ship burial down to George VI's chapel at Windsor. It also provides details of their later investigations and desecrations, while appendices summarise the tombs of royal consorts and the various churches, abbeys and chapels in the England and Scotland that hold or once held royal tombs. Dr Dodson, of Bristol University’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, says the 166 pictures leave nothing important unrepresented.

Conservation architects wanted for TV series

The BBC is looking for ‘passionate’ individuals to take part in a new series documenting and celebrating the art of restoration. Ideally you need to have a project and planning permission / listed building consent in place. If you are involved in bringing a period property back to its former glory and are willing to share your experiences along the way then you are invited to contact the BBC on tel: 020 8225 7788 or email:

Antiquarian studies: the perfect prophylactic

Salon’s editor was browsing through a shelf of second-hand books the other day when he came across a volume called The Practical Way to Keep Fit, by Dr Harry Roberts, published in 1930. Amongst chapters on ‘How to Dress Sensibly’ (‘when out walking, dress as lightly and as comfortably as you can without looking so cranky as to make impossible natural relations with the ordinary people one comes across in the village streets or at the bar of the inn’) and advice for men on ‘moulding your wife’s character’, there was also a section on mental fitness recommending archaeology and antiquarian studies as an excellent means of avoiding neurasthenia (anxiety, nervousness, feelings of guilt, fear of change, boredom and a sense of hopelessness). ‘How exciting’, Harry Roberts writes, ‘are the journeys of those who see the relevance and significance of the remains of prehistoric human history … the amateur archaeologist will never exhaust his field’.

Perhaps in these surprisingly modern-sounding phrases (note the use of the current vogue word, ‘significance’) lies the seeds of an idea for combining the Department of Culture’s desire to cure obesity in teenagers and still find adequate funds for archaeology − how to get fit physically and mentally? Become an archaeologist.

Ironbridge Institute course in Historic Environment Conservation

Have you always wanted to know about concrete decay, the repair of scarf joints, encaustic tile conservation or to see wrought iron being rolled? Do you just need to brush up on your practical knowledge or start from scratch and enrol for a new MA in Historic Environment Conservation? These are all elements of the new Ironbridge Institute courses starting in 2005. Practical courses in the structure, decay and conservation of specific building materials are linked to classroom-based workshops in conservation of the built and natural environment. The programme will be flexible, allowing for the requirements of a part-time MA (180 credits) or a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) in Historic Environment Conservation. Attendance at individual courses as part of a programme of Continuing Personal Development is also possible. For further information and a course timetable contact Harriet Devlin at the Ironbridge Institute.

Historic environment training for council officers

HELM (Historic Environment Local Management) is an English Heritage initiative designed to encourage local authority members and officers to develop a clearer understanding of their responsibilities towards the historic environment through a series of training semoinars and personal development courses. HELM’s Project Manager, Catherine Cavanagh, has asked if Salon recipients would help to promote these courses among their colleagues. Training seminars on Informed Decision Making are now taking place across the country and can be booked via the English Historic Towns Forum website.

The separate HELM website has a new section on the role of local authority conservation staff, courtesy of the Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers. The site can also be consulted as a source of information, guidance, training opportunities and case studies relating to the historic environment. English Heritage would welcome reciprocal links between other websites and the HELM one. Feedback and suggestions are especially welcome; please contact Catherine Cavanagh.

Historic Environment Champions

As part of a related initiative, Government and English Heritage are campaigning for Historic Environment Champions to be appointed at a senior level in all local authorities. There are over 130 champions so far. A support network and training events are being set up in partnership with CABE. Further information is available from Tim Brennan.


English Heritage: Historic Buildings Inspectors, Senior Investigators (Building and Landscape Survey and Investigation), Head of Archaeological Archives, Head of Regional Partnerships
English Heritage currently has a number of vacancies in these posts, full details of which can be found in the Arts and Heritage Jobs section of the website of The Guardian.

The National Trust for Scotland, Non-Executive Chairman
Part-time voluntary appointment based in Edinburgh (honorarium available), closing date 25 February 2005

Chair the Trust’s Council and Board in setting strategy and running the Trust; support the Chief Executive and senior management, enhance the Trust’s standing, champion the Trust’s ethos and objectives. For further details, email Odgers Ray and Berndtson quoting ref IMM/6954ST.