Salon Archive

Issue: 110

Forthcoming meetings

24 February: Ballot: Geoff Egan, FSA, will exhibit two recent finds from the River Thames – a highly decorated medieval pewter bowl base and another Tudor dress-hook; Peter Rose, FSA, will exhibit a watercolour of a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries by H G Hine, RA, 1852.

3 March: Ancient Jordan from the Air, by Bob Bewley, FSA.

It can be argued that ‘Aerial Archaeology’ had its very early development in the Middle East in the first decades of the twentieth century. The combination of military need (in the First World War), the development of aircraft and cameras and the relatively safe ‘skies’ (unlike western Europe) allowed for a number of innovative campaigns to be undertaken. Subsequently there were a few surveys in the middle and later years (notably by Antoine Poidebard and Sir Aurel Stein), but it was not until the late 1990s that a sustained, systematic programme of aerial survey was possible again in the Middle East, and this only in Jordan.

Here, after many years of fieldwork, and a detailed study of vertical aerial photographs of Jordan, Professor David Kennedy was able to persuade the relevant authorities, including the Jordanian Air Force, that aerial reconnaissance, from helicopters, was a viable proposition. Following David Kennedy’s successful trial flight in 1997, Bob Bewley joined his project in 1998 and this team has now completed nine seasons of aerial reconnaissance, the results of which are presented in Ancient Jordan from the Air (Kennedy and Bewley 2004).

This lecture will briefly cover the early development of the subject in the region and will concentrate on the results of the surveys and the new light they shed on our understanding of the archaeology and history of Jordan. The main focus of the paper will be on the development of early farming and the Roman occupation of the region.

News of Fellows

It is a great pleasure to be able to report that our Fellow Matthew Saunders, MBE, has been appointed as a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). Matthew was the nominee of a number of Fellows last summer, responding to the request put out by HLF for the names of suitable candidates, and it is a tribute to Matthew’s selfless devotion to heritage causes over many years (including work as an expert adviser to HLF) that his name has emerged from the appointments process. Fellows and other members of the heritage community can feel confident that in Matthew we have a trustee whose passion for the heritage is clear and unclouded by personal or political considerations. He joins the HLF at a critical juncture, as the trustees begin work on the HLF’s third strategic plan, and on the process of ‘charter renewal’ – persuading the Government to renew HLF’s licence as a dedicated heritage funding stream with a guaranteed share of lottery proceeds. In addition, the fifteen-strong board of Trustees makes decisions on all grant applications over £2 million and all decisions brought to the NHMF, which currently receives £5m each year from the DCMS.

Commenting on his appointment, Matthew Saunders said: ‘HLF represents the greatest single injection of resources into what makes the UK special and different that has ever been seen. It’s a great privilege to be in a position to provide direction and support to the organisation responsible for that funding.'

The historian, journalist and author Tristram Hunt has also been appointed to the HLF board. Liz Forgan, Chair of HLF and NHMF, said: ‘It’s wonderful news that two such lively and distinguished people have committed their energies to helping the HLF … their knowledge and fresh insight will be of great value.’

The future for Continuing Education

Dr David Parsons, FSA, has written to draw Fellows attention to the lobbying work of the Standing Committee for Archaeology in Continuing Education (SCACE), which is concerned that traditional ‘extra-mural’ provision for part-time mature students in archaeology seems to be under threat at some universities, and that ‘valuable public education of the Graham Webster type, which launched many people into archaeological careers after a late academic start, is undervalued and may well disappear if something is not done’. SCACE is asking that influential Fellows should seize the opportunity to lobby their local universities and their MPs to ensure the continuation of this worthwhile tradition.

SCACE represents tutors in archaeology in adult continuing education within the higher education sector. Archaeology is one of the strongest subjects within university lifelong learning and is available via part-time certificates, diplomas and degrees at some thirty-five UK universities who between them offer up to 1,000 separate courses.

These figures would suggest that extra-mural archaeology teaching is in rude good health, but SCACE is worried about recent developments in continuing education that would threaten this provision. The University of Leeds decided this year, for example, that it would no longer offer the traditional range of part-time courses for adults, with the result that much provision (including archaeology) will disappear from 2005–6. The University of Essex has made a similar decision (with effect from June 2005). The University of Surrey is to abolish its certificate, diploma and degree programme in archaeology. At the University of Exeter, whilst archaeology remains largely untouched, face-to-face teaching has been scaled back over the last two years.

To highlight what SCACE sees as a worrying trend, Sarah Speight, the chair of SCACE, has written to Ruth Kelly, MP, Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Skills, to say that: ‘Continuing Education departments make significant contributions towards professional learning and continuing professional development (CPD) in many areas, not the least being archaeology and the historic environment. Departments such as that at Oxford have a direct and positive impact on issues such as employment, training, environmental management and policy. Continuing Education is the starting point (rather than the end-point) for many learning careers. Colleagues at Surrey estimate that 45 per cent of their Continuing Education graduates move on into higher degrees, and that their students form the backbone of local historical and archaeological research and conservation projects.’

Dr Speight’s letter goes on to point out the transferable skills that are developed by the study of archaeology: information retrieval, assessment, investigation and interpretation, self-directed learning and group work. She also laments the demise of GCSE Archaeology which, she argues, was the route by which many adults found a path back into education and from there to part-time education at higher levels.

Dr Speight concludes: ‘Although we appreciate that you cannot intervene in the decisions of individual universities, we do feel that there needs to be some way in which Continuing Education is supported and promoted nationally by DfES. Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation are areas in which university Continuing Education has been consistently strong, and can continue to contribute significantly … we would very much like to meet with you or one of your ministers to discuss these issues in more detail, and explore how Continuing Education in Archaeology could be fostered in the twenty-first century.’

National Trust to shed 250 jobs

The National Trust has announced that it is to shed 250 jobs in order to reduce its wages bill by £6m a year and place the charity’s funding on a more sustainable basis. Fifty of the jobs have already been lost by means of a recruitment freeze, and the remaining 200 jobs will go through natural attrition and voluntary redundancies — although the Trust has not ruled out compulsory redundancies.

The cuts follow advice that the Trust needs to control mounting costs and build its reserves of working capital. Director-General Fiona Reynolds said: ‘These measures are aimed at giving us the potential for real investment in our core objectives, better serving members of the public and safeguarding the interests of the 96 per cent of our remaining staff.’ The trade union Prospect has condemned the job cuts, saying they were the result of ‘needless penny pinching’.

From Savile Row to Swindon: English Heritage to relocate

Swindon looks set to become the (unlikely) heritage capital of England with the news that English Heritage is due to relocate its London office to the former railway town. No public announcement has been made and no date has yet been set, but the agency’s intentions were revealed this week in The Sunday Times’s ‘Appointments’ section, which contains an advertisement for a Human Resources Director for English Heritage, one of whose duties will be to ‘take a lead role in the planned relocation of the London office to Swindon’.

The agency’s move to Swindon follows in the wake of the National Trust, which is due to move most of its London-based functions to the new Central Office on the Churchward site (formerly home to the Great Western Railway Works) in Swindon on 24 July of this year. English Heritage already has a major presence on the same site, with the National Monuments Record Centre and retail, publishing, customer service and survey teams based in the former GWR General Offices Building, begun by Brunel in the 1840s and converted for use as archives and offices for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in the early 1990s.

Swindon’s local business paper reported last year that the old Post Office site in the centre of Swindon had been bought for redevelopment by agents acting for English Heritage, and it has been known for some time that the lease on English Heritage’s current head office, 23 Savile Row, will run out in 2010, when the building, which belongs to Legal & General, will be demolished to make way for a new development.

As well as the National Trust and English Heritage, Swindon is likely to have a new Heritage Management Faculty in the near future, as part of plans to develop the University of Bath in Swindon campus.

With all this high-powered heritage presence in the town, it is to be hoped that some progress might now be made towards finding new uses for two threatened buildings at the heart of Brunel’s railway village: the former railway museum of 1855 has been empty since 2000 when its contents were moved to the new ‘Steam’ museum on the Churchward site — plans to house Swindon’s magnificent (but largely hidden) municipal art collection foundered when an application for a heritage lottery fund grant was rejected. Next door to the former museum, the GWR Mechanics Institution (1854) stands empty and forlorn (as it has been since 1986); a succession of private owners have had plans rejected for turning the Institution into a nightclub, hotel and flats. Both buildings would be key to any future application for World Heritage Status for Brunel’s pioneering Great Western Railway.

Changes to the heritage protection regime

English Heritage has just published a leaflet called Listing is Changing, which explains the changes to the listing regime that will be introduced on 1 April 2005. One major change is the transfer of responsibility for the administration of the listing system to English Heritage (EH) from DCMS, so that in future listing assessment will be carried out by EH, though the final decision to list or de-list will remain with the Secretary of State. English Heritage will notify owners if an application is made to list their property, they will consult owners and local authorities on applications to list buildings, and they will introduce clearer information for owners of listed buildings, including a map showing the extent of the listing and a summary of the building’s importance.

Also to come during 2005 is a revised set of listing criteria and the development of a formal review procedure for disputed listing decisions. Detailed guidance on the implication of listing is being developed and will be sent to all owners of newly listed buildings from April 2006. Further down the line, we can look forward to a single register for all historic environment assets, a unified consent system and provision for statutory management agreements for complex historic assets. Also in the pipeline is reform of the management of the marine archaeological environment, of the Ancient Monuments (Class Consents) Order (No 1), concerning ploughing on archaeological sites, of Ecclesiastical Exemption and placing Historic Environment Records on a statutory basis.

The leaflet also gives details of the pilot projects currently under way to test the proposed reforms, and it gives contact information for listing information and heritage protection enquiries. Copies of the leaflet (product code 51031) can be obtained by emailing English Heritage Customer Services.

Listed status for 1960s hall of residence

Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh has announced plans to list Blue Boar Quad at Christ Church College, Oxford, as a Grade II* structure. The hall of residence was designed by Powell and Moya and built between 1965 and 1968. Announcing the decision, Andrew McIntosh said: ‘Blue Boar Quad is one of the best buildings constructed during the great 1960s expansion of university education across Britain. It is also recognised as one of the earliest, most substantial and least altered post-war university buildings by arguably the leading specialists in the genre.’

Blue Boar Quad was built on the site of a car park and garages abutting the narrow, high-walled Blue Boar Street. Powell and Moya built their scheme right up against it to provide a set-back series of horizontal planes that helps to reduce the scale of the development seen from the street. Portland Whitebed and Roach Stone is used externally as facings to the brick cross walls, forming a series of buttresses and creating a sense of enclosure between the study bedrooms.

Members of the public are being invited to tell the Minister whether they believe the building merits the extra protection that listing provides. Views on this matter should be submitted by 7 April 2005. Further information can be found on the DCMS website.

London's heritage and the Olympic Games

It is good to witness the growing rapport between historic and contemporary architecture that has blossomed at the RIBA since George Ferguson’s election as Chairman. As he draws to the end of his period of office, let us hope that his legacy will be permanent and that architects and planners will finally get the message that contemporary architecture should add to the historic environment, not replace it. That ‘supplement not substitute’ manifesto is clearly spelled out by English Heritage and the RIBA in their new joint publication called Capital Spaces: transforming London responding to the opportunities that lie ahead in the event that London is chosen as the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The document highlights the importance of London's heritage and urban spaces to the 2012 bid and calls on all those who make and manage London's urban realm to make the most of this unique opportunity to transform the city's streets and public spaces. Capital Spaces urges local and regional authorities to appoint Urban Space champions and prepare sustainable public space strategies that integrate historic landscapes and buildings. The publication calls for a wide range of stakeholders to be involved early on in all development proposals and for the creation of a public/private sector London Urban Space Commission.

Copies of the publication can be downloaded from the English Heritage website.

£400m plan to restore King's Cross to its former glory

Perfectly timed to respond to the ideas espoused in Capital Spaces came the announcement by the transport minister, Tony McNulty, that King's Cross station is to be restored to its full yellow-brick Victorian glory under a £400m plan to create an open piazza to welcome visitors to London. The work will be completed in 2009, providing a boost to London's bid for the 2012 Olympics.

Designed by Lewis Cubitt (1799—1883) and opened in 1851 on the site of a smallpox hospital, the station has a Grade I-listed arched facade and windows, and a 120ft (37 metre) clock tower. This imposing edifice is hidden behind a ‘temporary’ ticket hall and shopping concourse built in 1972 and only meant to last five years. The single-storey extension will now be demolished to create a new piazza and underground ticket hall. Some 1,800 new homes and 486,000 sq metres (5.3m sq ft) of commercial space are also planned for the King’s Cross area in an effort to ‘consign the district's red light image to the history books’.

Liverpool demolitions go to parliamentary inquiry

Plans to demolish 6,800 Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses in Liverpool, the European Capital of Culture for 2008, were cited by leading conservationists last week as an example of the breakdown of holistic government after a statement issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that: ‘We were not consulted about the demolition of buildings in Liverpool’. The statement went on to say that ‘the Deputy Prime Minister has no statutory duty to consult the Secretary of State’, but Adam Wilkinson, of Save Britain's Heritage, said: ‘There has been a breakdown of communication between departments and our heritage is once again suffering as a result on a massive scale.’

Such has been the unease about the level of demolition involved under the Deputy Prime Minister’s ‘Pathfinder’ scheme that a parliamentary inquiry has been convened to look into the pros and cons of the £1.2 billion programme. The scheme covers twelve Pathfinder areas in the north and midlands and will involve the replacement of 400,000 homes over the next fifteen years.

Critics of the scheme in Liverpool argue that the demolition plans have been drawn up in the face of opposition from local communities, who fear that the scheme risks repeating the mistakes of the slum clearance programmes of the 1950s and 1960s. They are calling for a greater focus on refurbishing existing properties, which is cheaper and more environmentally sustainable than demolition and rebuilding. They also point to a strong demand for Victorian and Edwardian housing in Liverpool that the authorities are ignoring in their preference for new build.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minster issued a conciliatory statement last week that hinted at the possibility for second thoughts. The statement said that: ‘The Office is working closely with English Heritage, who are the Government's adviser on these issues, to ensure that all Pathfinders and local authorities do not sweep away the past indiscriminately but incorporate it into their plans.’

Even this did not satisfy the Government’s fiercest critics who said that a decision to press for demolition or refurbishment of housing stock in the nine ‘Pathfinder’ areas across the north of England was an issue of great political importance and not one that could be decided in consultation with unelected English Heritage officials who would not, in any case, be comfortable challenging the Deputy Prime Minister.

Tessa Jowell to address the Institute for Field Archaeologists

Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has agreed to address the IFA’s 2005 Annual Conference, to be held in Winchester on 22 to 24 March 2005. Ms Jowell will speak on Wednesday 23 March at 9.15 am, providing an opportunity for the archaeological profession and others in the heritage community to hear the views of the Secretary of State on our role and future.

The conference is open to anyone who wishes to attend, not just IFA members, and is taking as its theme the challenges of working in historic towns. Under this umbrella, sessions will look at the latest issues of urban archaeology (including its relevance to regeneration projects), current work in smaller towns, highways archaeology, archaeological archives (especially issues of digital transfer), public archaeology, buildings archaeology, training and some of the more exciting discoveries of 2004. ‘Early bird’ booking discounts have been extended to 1 March. For details see the IFA website.

MLA announces plans to transform England's archives

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council announced last week a programme of projects and activities aimed at the archives sector and designed to achieve a consistent level of achievement in the fields of leadership, advocacy, research, innovation and improvement. The projects are based on the recommendations of the Listening to the Past, Speaking to the Future report of the Archives Task Force.

Nick Kingsley, FSA, Chairman of the National Council on Archives and an MLA board member, said: ‘This programme of development activities represents a valuable start for the sector, and will lay the foundations for future progress.’ Further information about the Archives Development Programme is available on the MLA website.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme goes romantic

St Valentine’s Day was marked by a press release from the Portable Antiquities Scheme announcing that four medieval gold rings had recently been found by metal detectorists in a field near Lewes, in East Sussex. Each of the rings was engraved with love messages and flowers. One ring of a pair had the motto mon cuer entier ('my whole heart') on the outside, with mon est desr ('he is my desire') engraved inside the band. The larger ring of the pair, thought to be a man's ring, mirrored the sentiment with the same inscription, mon cuer entier.

The third ring is inscribed nul IB bien – interpreted as nul ce bien, a relatively commonplace inscription meaning 'none so good/none this good'. This ring seems to be customised with either a monogram or with the initials of two lovers ‘I’ and ‘B' – reading as 'none as good as I and B together'. The legend on the fourth gold ring is unusual, reading amer et servir ('to love and to serve').

Experts at the British Museum say that these types of love tokens were common in the fifteenth century, but it is unusual to find a hoard.

This year’s Big Dig

Channel 4’s Big Dig, when launched in 2003, caused anxiety and opposition from many in the archaeological community who feared that tens of thousands of test pits would be dug all over England not in pursuit of a research strategy but just to ‘see what is there’. Much has since been learned on all sides and few would want to quarrel with this year’s Big Dig proposals, which have been designed in full consultation with the IFA, CBA, ALGAO and SCAUM, and involve several of the Society’s Fellows.

Timed for broadcast between 2 and 9 July 2005, the Time Team Big Roman Dig will attempt to re-evaluate the extent and impact of the Romanisation of Britain. One major Roman site will form the subject of a three-week training and community archaeological excavation to be managed by our Fellow and Somerset County Archaeologist, Bob Croft. These volunteers will work alongside ten or so professional archaeologists as well as students from University College, Winchester (UCW), under the supervision of Keith Wilkinson and our Fellow Tony King. For Somerset County and UCW, this will be year one of a three-year excavation of the site. Tony Robinson and Time Team members will be based at this site, which will provide most of the archaeological input for the week’s programmes.

Each of the seven shows will seek to answer a thematic question, such as ‘what was Britain like when the Romans invaded?’, ‘how did the process of invasion and conquest actually work?’, ‘how did the Romans go about turning Britain into a functioning province?’, ‘did they really urbanise Britain, and how successful were they?’, ‘did the Roman occupation really affect the bulk of the population in the countryside?’ and ‘how did it all end?’. The programmes will also consider the experiences of people who lived outside Roman-occupied territory (in Cornwall, Scotland and Wales, for example) as well as within the Roman heartlands.

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved. The Big Roman Dig will also feature nine or so other excavations around the country, supervised by professional archaeologists but dug by volunteers, plus forty non-invasive archaeological projects, carried out by individuals or community groups, such as field walking, boundary surveys or the desktop assessment of a potential site. Non-archaeological responses to our Romano-British heritage will also be encouraged, such as photography projects, poetry competitions, re-enactments, plays and themed walks. All suggestions for sites and activities of this kind need to be made through the Big Roman Dig website, which will also be used to connect volunteers to sites and projects. The closing date for site and project applications is 30 March.

Major conservation work to save Wales’s only crannog

An inconspicuous island in Llangors Lake, near Brecon, is to be saved from inevitable destruction following £230,000 in grant aid from Cadw. Llangors Lake crannog is an artificial island built in the early medieval period, almost certainly as a royal residence of the rulers of the ancient Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog (roughly equivalent to the old shire county of Breconshire). This, the only known crannog in Wales, has been slowly eroding for centuries, but in recent years the erosion has increased alarmingly, threatening the survival of this unique site. An eight-week programme of work to stabilise and conserve the crannog from wave erosion begins this month.

Experts from Cadw, the Brecon Beacons National Park and the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, working together with specialist consulting engineering firms Giffords, Quantum and McCarthy’s, plan to position a bund of stone around the eroding part of the site to stabilise and conserve the fragile structure. Exposed ancient timbers, which originally held the artificial platform together, are now in the lake well outside the island, and the engineering work has to be well planned to avoid damage to these fragile artefacts.

Crannogs (artificial island settlements built of stone and timber) are more commonly found in Scotland and Ireland, where they may date from prehistoric times to the medieval period. Excavations by the National Museums and Galleries of Wales and Cardiff University between 1989 and 1993 established that the Welsh crannog was constructed between AD 889 and AD 893, when Tewdwr ap Elised was king of Brycheiniog. These excavations supported documentary evidence for the Llangors Crannog’s royal connections. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to an attack on the crannog and the capture of ‘Brecenanmere’ (the English name for the lake until the eighteenth century) by a Saxon army in AD 916, when the king’s wife and thirty-three other people were taken hostage. Other documents, such as the Llandaff Charters, refer to the ruling dynasty’s interest in the area, including a royal estate.

One mystery that current research by the National Museums and Cardiff University is addressing is why the Welsh crannog is more like a traditional Irish crannog than a Scottish one. The competence of the construction of the Welsh crannog suggests the involvement of a skilled master craftsman from Ireland, rather than the independent invention within Brycheiniog. A possible Irish connection is supported by the cluster of Irish ogam stones found to the west of the county and the tradition that the kings of Brycheiniog were in part descended from an Irish dynasty.

Our Fellow, Sîan Rees, Cadw’s Inspector of Ancient Monuments, said: ‘The Llangors Crannog is of great significance for the archaeology of Wales in the ninth to eleventh centuries and represents a period when few other sites in Wales have been recognised or securely dated.’

Cadw’s new guide to Castell Coch

Castell Coch is the subject of the latest addition to Cadw’s excellent series of visitor guides to the properties in its care. Built on top of genuine medieval foundations, this astonishing Gothic Revival structure, completed in 1891, was the brainchild of the third Marquess of Bute and William Burges, his architect. Visible to drivers using the M4 north west of Cardiff, it sits high above a wooded ravine looking like one of the castles constructed by ‘Mad’ King Ludwig of Bavaria − and like those Bavarian castles, this one too was once surrounded by productive vineyards. In researching the guide, author David McLees came across previously unseen archive photography showing vines growing on a well-drained, tree-protected, south-facing slope just south east of the castle. Apparently the Castell Coch vineyards (and two other sites developed at Swanbridge and Cowbridge by the Marquess of Bute) were the only commercial vineyards to be planted in Britain from the end of the Middle Ages until the 1930s.

The three-acre vineyard was planted in the spring of 1875 with Gamay Noir and Le Miel Blanc grapes, though the former was later settled on exclusively. The first small harvest of 1877 yielded about forty gallons of ‘Castell Coch’. Despite Punch’s prediction that if ever a bottle of wine were produced it would take four men to drink it – two to hold the victim, and one to pour it down his throat – it was generally well received and even likened to a first-class still champagne. The weather was kind over the first three or four years and the vines became well established. The first products were sweet and, initially, always white, but new equipment and winemaking methods, introduced in 1893, yielded red wine also. The experiment effectively ended with the Great War in 1914, when sugar needed for fermentation became impossible to obtain, and the short-lived vineyards at Castell Coch were finally grubbed up in 1920.

The copiously illustrated Castell Coch guidebook is available from Cadw shops at the bargain price of £3.25.

Roman timber coffin discovered intact

A Roman wooden coffin, complete with the skeleton of a man aged ‘over 25’, has been unearthed in London, the only example of its kind yet to be found in Britain. Dating from AD 120, the new find is an unusually early example of a Roman burial given that cremation was more common until the third century AD. The coffin was found during building work in Holborn, on a steep side of the River Fleet, one of the many rivers that flow beneath London’s streets to the Thames. Now on display at the Museum of London, the coffin was made of re-used oak and contained a wine flagon. The skeletal remains exhibited a form of degeneration that tends to indicate a high-calorie diet.

Rock carvings in the Sahara

A feature in last week’s Guardian (10 Feb, written by John Bohannon) focused on the work of a team of British researchers (led by Tertia Barnett, an archaeologist working for English Heritage) in creating an inventory of rock-art sites in the Libyan Sahara. Counted as one of Libya's national treasures, these rock engravings, some dating back 9,000 years or more, include images of humans among elephants, crocodiles, giraffes and hippopotamuses, dating from a period when Wadi al-Hayat (the Valley of Life, also known as Wadi al-Ajal) in the Fezzan region of south-west Libya was lush and green rather than barren and desiccated.

The joint survey (with the Libyan Department of Antiquities in Tripoli) uses laser scanning and satellite positioning and has taken on the character of a rescue project because the search for Libya's more lucrative treasure, petroleum, could spell doom for the rock art. Criss-crossing the desert are seismic survey lines where enormous hammers have been used to ‘ping’ the underlying rock layers in search of oil deposits. These boulder-shattering blows and the construction of roads and pipelines are expected to increase exponentially now that international sanctions have been lifted from the country.

Our Fellow David Mattingly, Libyan expert at the University of Leicester, says: ‘The situation is rather bleak’. A plan for a system of national parks that would protect the most vulnerable areas has been on the table for years but with little progress. ‘The major problem is that the Department of Antiquities is under-resourced.’ Nick Brooks, co-founder of the Saharan studies programme at the University of East Anglia and another member of the team, believes the way forward is for Libya to make its rock art a source of pride, as Britain has done with Stonehenge. ‘It would be a shame if this sustainable resource were sacrificed for the sake of short-term development,’ says Brooks, adding somewhat optimistically that: ‘archaeology and heritage-based tourism will outlast the oil’.

Vast palace of Rome's first kings discovered deep beneath the Forum

News agencies reported on 14 February that Professor Andrea Carandini (well known to many Fellows as the Director of the Sette Fenestre excavations in Tuscany in the mid-1970s) has discovered the remains of an immense building, covering 345 square metres (3,700 square feet), seven metres beneath the spot where the Temple of Romulus stands today in Rome's Imperial Forum.

Now professor of archaeology at Rome's Sapienza University, Andrea Carandini has been conducting excavations at the Forum for more than twenty years, but made the discovery only last month. The centrepiece of the palace was an enormous banqueting hall with walls of wood and clay, a floor of wood shavings and pressed turf and a tiled roof decorated with fine ceramics. Tests have been used to date a section of flooring to 753 BC — the year in which, according to legend, the city was founded by Romulus — and the palace appears to have endured for eight centuries. With the end of the Roman monarchy it became the abode of the rex sacrorum, the priest king, surviving until at least until AD 64.

Eugenio La Rocca, the superintendent for monuments for the city of Rome, said Carandini's interpretation of the ruins appears to be accurate. ‘It seems to me that what is emerging from the excavation of Carandini, who can be considered the highest authority in this field, is a very coherent archaeological reading,’ La Rocca told the newspaper Il Messaggero. ‘Whoever created the legend [of the founding of Rome] did so with the knowledge that behind it there was a historical foundation,’ he told the newspaper.

Millionaire offers to fund dig for lost Roman library

David W Packard, whose family helped to found the Hewlett-Packard computer company, has offered to fund controversial excavations at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, to see whether unknown works survive in the Roman library that lies buried beneath debris from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

David Packard, a former classics scholar who lives in California, runs the Packard Humanities Institute, which supports archaeological work in Bosnia, Albania and other countries. Though the institute has an endowment of £375 million, Packard is not making an open-ended pledge to support work at the site. But he added: ‘If the proper circumstances develop, we can afford to do it. It is not a problem of having to go out and raise the money.’

Our Fellow, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Director of the British School at Rome, has expressed his concern in the past with the desire of some academics to excavate the site, arguing that ‘the building is of major historic importance, but the priority is conservation, not excavation’.

David Packard has responded by saying that there should be no conflict between those who want to excavate the villa immediately and those who argue in favour of conserving the whole site: ‘It would be irresponsible treasure hunting to dig the choice parts of the site and then leave afterwards,’ he said. Professor Robert Fowler of the Herculaneum Society, formed last year to campaign for the excavation of the site, said that the conservation work already being funded by Mr Packard at Herculaneum to the tune of £1 million is ‘admirable and important’.

Previous exploratory digs at the villa have unearthed 1,800 charred manuscripts; many of them were packed in crates and it is likely that they were being removed from the villa’s library when they were buried under ash from the eruption. Scientists at Oxford University have developed imaging techniques to allow the charred manuscripts to be read. It is believed that thousands more scrolls survive in the building, and the hope of some classical scholars is that they include lost works by Aristotle, Livy and Sappho.

Evidence of pre-Clovis humans on the American Great Plains

Scientists in Kansas have announced the recent discovery of bones dated by carbon-14 methods at 12,200 years old, representing the oldest evidence of humans so far found on the American Great Plains. The bones were collected from a site in Sherman County and studied by archaeological geologist Rolfe Mandel at the Kansas Geological Survey, archaeologist Jack Hofman at the University of Kansas anthropology department and the archaeologist Steven Holen at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Associated finds include bones from a now-extinct Ice Age camel and two mammoths. In addition, a rock fragment found with the bones might be a piece of a stone hammer. ‘Fracture patterns on the bones suggest they were broken by humans who may have been processing them for marrow or to make bone tools,’ said Holen.

In addition to the older material, the site has produced Clovis-Age artefacts that are about 10,900 to 11,000 years old, including stone flakes, tools and pieces of mammoth bone. The material probably represents a hunting camp. Some of the tools were made of stone from the Texas panhandle, suggesting that the group using the site was highly mobile.

The fact that Clovis-age material and pre-Clovis material were found at the same location is probably no accident. ‘Something, probably water, kept attracting people back to this location,’ said Mandel. ‘There were likely seeps and springs here that attracted game animals, and then people, to this spot.’

The importance of the find lies in its potential for shedding new light on the timing of human entry into the American continent. Deductions based on the rate at which DNA mutates suggests that humans arrived in America anything up to 30,000 years ago, but hard evidence of pre-Clovis migrants has proved to be illusive. ‘If we have evidence of people here more than 12,000 years ago, we have to rethink our ideas about human colonization of North America,’ said Hofman. Additional excavations at the site are scheduled for summer 2005.

Photos and further details can be seen on the Kansas University website.

British Archaeology on fox hunting

The March/April issue of British Archaeology, edited by our Fellow Mike Pitts, has a striking cover photograph of a hunt in full flight and the arresting headline: ‘Forget about the fox … what about the hedge?’ The accompanying article, written by York-based landscape archaeologist Jonathan Finch, traces the impact of fox hunting on the landscape from its origins in the eighteenth century when cultivated open fields began to be replaced by large swathes of permanent grassland as a result of enclosure. Quickset hawthorn hedges were used to subdivide the landscape as higher-value cattle replaced sheep in many parts of England.

To this point fox hunting did not of itself create distinctive landscapes, but it did develop out of landscape change. Fox hunting’s direct impact on the landscape can best be seen in the coverts − small woodland plantations and areas of uncultivated scrub − created to provide earths and to encourage the fox population to grow.

Another interesting impact on the landscape was the management of hedges and the sponsorship by hunts of hedge-laying competitions from the 1870s when wire was first introduced as a cheap form of fencing. Wire was difficult to see at speed and hence dangerous to horses and riders, so hunts attempted to hold back the tide of change by encouraging ‘traditional’ hedge management.


The next Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists will be held between 5 and 11 September 2005 in Cork, Ireland. For information on attending, proposing papers and the many archaeological attractions associated with the meeting, see the conference website.

Books by Fellows

Although the Victoria and Albert Museum’s spring blockbuster exhibition on International Arts and Crafts does not open officially until 17 March 2005, the accompanying catalogue is already on sale in the V&A shop – ‘a record for premature publication’, says Linda Parry, FSA, the book’s joint editor with Karen Livingstone. International Arts and Crafts is the first major global study of the Arts and Crafts Movement to be published and contains exciting and absorbing new research. Featuring contributions from leading scholars in the field, and over 350 stunning illustrations, it traces the regional, national and international manifestations of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, North America, northern and central Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, and Japan.

Influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin, and concerned at the effects of industrial manufacture on standards of design and its debilitating social effects, pioneers of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, who included William Morris, C R Ashbee and Walter Crane, advocated a return to a simpler way of life, a revival of traditional handicrafts and techniques, and an appreciation of the ‘beauty in everyday things’. The catalogue reflects the fact that the Arts and Crafts Movement was the first major art movement to focus on the reform of the decorative arts across a broad social spectrum, drawing architecture, garden design, sculpture, photography and graphics into its orbit. This book includes the work of many of the leading designers, including Walter Crane, C F A Voysey, M H Baillie Scott, C R Mackintosh, Josef Hoffmann, Georg Jensen, Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hamada Shoji and Bernard Leach, and is a major contribution to the understanding of an ever-popular era of design.

Just published by the University Press of Florida is a volume of essays entitled Heritage of Value, Archaeology of Renown: reshaping archaeological assessment and significance edited by Timothy Darvill, FSA, and colleagues Barbara Little of the US National Parks Service and Clay Mathers of the US Army Corps of Engineers (University Press of Florida 2005; ISBN 0-8130-2777-2).

The seventeen papers originate from a session held at the international Theoretical Archaeology Group conference held at Bournemouth University in 1997, subsequently expanded to book-length following further meetings in the United States.

The aim of the book is to reshape the assessment and determination of value and significance in archaeological remains and heritage resources. As well as theoretical debates, essays dip into work in Brazil, South Africa, Australia, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States. At the heart of the field of cultural resource management in these places, as elsewhere, is the work archaeologists do to determine the significance of a particular site. On a daily basis, they often face the question of what should be preserved for future generations, what should be salvaged in the face of impending destruction, and what should be allowed to be destroyed without record. Frequently, their assessments are at odds with segments of society whose culturally conditioned values conflict with the practical management of resources.

This book addresses such topical issues as public controversy over national monuments, land ownership, repatriation of cultural property, and the protection of cultural heritage in war and peace. The concerns of native peoples and minorities are considered in the context of worldwide tensions between national and local identities, including the efforts of many countries to promote and appreciate cultural diversity.


The University of Bristol, Professorship in Archaeology
Professorial grade salary and head of department supplement, closing date 11 March 2005

Bristol University is seeking to appoint an outstanding scholar as Head of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, one of the largest providers of undergraduate and postgraduate education in these disciplines in the country. The post is open to candidates in any field of archaeology, although the priorities are to build on the department’s current research strengths in archaeology (human origins, scientific, Mediterranean, prehistoric, landscape and historical archaeology) and to consolidate interdisciplinary initiatives within the department and the wider university.

Further details and an application form can be found on the Bristol University website, using reference number 11031.

The National Council on Archives: Policy and Development Officer
Salary £32,296 to £38,108, closing date 28 February

Based at The National Archives, the postholder will develop strategies on key issues, formulate policy and work in partnership with stakeholders to deliver that policy effectively. Through extensive networks in the archival, information and cultural sectors, s/he will maintain a high visibility for the Council, championing the value and role of archives to society today. S/he will gather high-quality intelligence to support the Council’s policy making, and to inform and influence national thinking on the development of archives.

For this senior post, you must have a strong commitment to promoting archives as well as demonstrating success in policy making, strategy development and implementation. Further details are on the National Archives website.