Salon Archive

Issue: 116

Forthcoming meetings

26 May: From Egypt to the Coromandal Coast: Rome’s eastern trade, by David Peacock, FSA, and Robert Tomber, FSA. Rome’s trade with the East, a facet of the ancient world that is almost stranger than fiction, has always been a point of fascination despite the limited archaeological evidence. Recent work throughout the region has revealed new evidence of the sites and objects involved in this trade. The paper will begin by outlining the results of recent excavations at Quseir al-Qadim in Egypt and field survey at Adulis in Eritrea. It will then discuss the Indian sites and the trade objects of Mediterranean origin as well as evaluating Indian imports into the Roman world.

2 June: Ballot with exhibits

9 June: Antiquaries and Players in Pursuit of Liturgical History, by Richard Pfaff, FSA. The study of medieval liturgical history in England began in the middle third of the nineteenth century, in contexts distinguishable as ecclesiological, confessional and antiquarian (eg John Gage’s Archaeologia papers of the 1830s). From 1890 on, the Henry Bradshaw Society provided a prime outlet for the publication of scholarly editions of liturgical texts. Though several of its most prominent figures were also Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries, the pursuit of liturgical history seemed to fall out of the range of matters understood as antiquarian, and by the mid-twentieth century its contexts had become very largely academic. Does it have any place in the ether of Burlington House?


Fellows might like to know that a service of thanksgiving for the life of the late Janet Backhouse, FSA, is to be held at St Giles in the Fields, London WC2, on Wednesday 25 May 2005 at 4.30 pm. All friends are welcome. It would be appreciated if those planning to attend could notify Pamela Porter in advance.

As a postscript to last week’s notice of the death of Graham Ritchie, FSA, David Breeze, FSA, has written to say that the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland will be organising a day conference in Graham's honour at a future date to be announced.

From Vincent Megaw, FSA, comes this brief tribute to Babette Evans, whose death was also reported in the last issue of Salon: ‘to those who did not know her, it is difficult to convey an idea of her quiet authority, humanity and many enthusiasms. Babette, everybody's favourite academic aunt, and her historian husband were long-time shakers and movers — in the most tactful of ways — of the Leicestershire Historical and Archaeological Society while Babette's group visits to the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon were the very best of cultural nights out for staff and students alike.'

An obituary appeared in the Independent on 9 May 2005 for our late Fellow Hilary Wayment, who died in Cambridge on 20 March 2005 a month short of his ninety-third birthday. Hilary was a historian of stained glass, author of The Windows of King's College Chapel, Cambridge (1972) published by the British Academy as the first in the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi series for Great Britain, of The Stained Glass of the Church of St Mary, Fairford, Gloucestershire (1984) and of King's College Chapel Cambridge: the side-chapel glass (1988).

Having read Classics and English at King’s, Wayment graduated in 1935 and spent seven years in Egypt as an English lecturer at the Fuad I University where he published a collection of poems and stories, Egypt Now: a miscellany. He mastered French and Arabic and translated the autobiography of the influential scholar Taha Hussein (The Stream of Days: a student at the Azhar, 1943) and Henry Habib Ayrout's Moeurs et coutumes des fellahs (as The Fellaheen, 1945).

In 1944, on returning to England, he took up a post with the British Council, and served in London and Cambridge (where his passion for stained glass was kindled by Kenneth Harrison, a Fellow of King's, who enlisted Wayment in his project to study the chapel glass). British Council postings then took him to Brussels (1952—4), Paris (as Director of the British Institute, 1954—9) and Amsterdam (1963—8), each period of residence enabling him to further his research into sixteenth-century glass and form friendships with such stained-glass scholars as Jean Lafond and I Q van Regteren Altena.

On retirement from the British Council (his final posting was to Turkey in 1970—3) Wayment was elected a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and devoted the rest of his life to the study of windows. He also took over from Milner-White the role of acquiring historic glass for the King’s College side-chapels, filling them with rare and beautiful works — for instance a roundel of the Judgement of Zaleucus by Dirk Vellert and the Last Supper, after a design by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen. Such purchases were only possible through Wayment's friendships with scholars, collectors and glaziers. Fittingly, his contribution to King's College was commemorated in 1998 when one of the side-chapels was fitted with glass that had been donated in his honour.

News of Fellows

Congratulations to Anthony Cutler, FSA, Evan Pugh Professor of Art History at Penn State University, who was recently elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, founded in 1925, and the largest organisation in the world devoted to medieval studies.

Mavis Bimson owns a box of around 100 articles on historic houses taken from Country Life in the 1960s and is happy to donate them to anyone who might be interested in taking them over.

Peter Marsden, FSA, writes with an heroic tale of his efforts to have the SS Storra protected by the Ministry of Defence as a war grave under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. Storra, a merchant steam ship, was torpedoed off Hastings in November 1943 with the loss of twenty-one lives, mostly of British and Danish crewmen in British government employment; ordinary men, says Peter, who found themselves caught up several dangerous landmark events of wartime history: the Dunkirk evacuation, the German invasions of Denmark and France, Operation Torch (the Allied invasion of north-west Africa), the Battle of the Atlantic and the preparations for the Allied invasion of Europe.

Peter was concerned to discover that divers had begun to take ‘souvenirs’ from the wreck and applied to have the ship designated. When his application was turned down on the basis that ‘British merchant ships were mostly not in military service during the war and so are not eligible for protection as a war graves’, Peter refused to be beaten, and on behalf of the 30,000 British merchant seamen who died in World War II (the only group of people whose wartime graves are neither recognised nor protected by the British government) he has gone into battle himself, assisted by the daughters of a Royal Navy gunner who died on the Storra and a small (mostly unpaid) legal team.

On 7 April, Peter writes, significant progress was made when ‘a High Court judge ruled that this matter was in the public interest and gave us permission to apply for a Judicial Review of the MOD's actions’. In giving permission for the case to proceed to a substantive hearing, Mr Justice Sullivan said that a vessel could be defined as having been in military service at a particular time if it was ‘in service with, or being used for the purposes of, any of the armed forces of the United Kingdom (or any other country or territory)’. The full hearing in the High Court later this year will examine whether the Secretary of State correctly understood what that definition means, and what its implications are, when rejecting the application for designation.

Peter adds that ‘the issue has revealed a detailed mass of history relating to ordinary seafarers, to their families, and to the archaeology of this well-preserved but rather old and battered steam ship lying on the seabed off Hastings. In a sense this seems like the last battle of World War Two!’.

If anyone wishes to know more or to offer support, they can contact Peter by e-mail: .

Hilary Cool, FSA, spotted a letter in the current issue of Private Eye signed ‘Yours pedantically, Christopher Chippendale BA PhD MIFA FSA’ [surely, if we are being pedantic, Chris, FSA should precede MIFA? Ed], pointing out that the Eye had scoffed at the ‘Weakest Link’ contestant who, in answer to the question ‘what common variety of bean beginning with the letter “h” is used to make baked beans, had answered “Heinz”’. ‘I fear’, wrote Chippendale, ‘that the Eye and the “Weakest Link” both thought they were haricot beans: but canned beans are made from navy beans, a white bean similar to, but not the same as, haricots’. Hilary asks: ‘is he the first Fellow to have a letter in Private Eye? I think we should be told’.

Anyone who tuned in to watch BBC2’s Timewatch on Friday 20 May enjoyed a real treat. The programme featured our Fellows Tony Wilmott and Dai Morgan Evans at Chester, testing the late Hugh Thompson’s theory that the surviving stone amphitheatre was preceded by an earlier timber structure. The programme was a refreshingly honest and realistic portrayal of an archaeological excavation, entirely free of Time-Team-style gimmicks and hyperbole.

Much drama was provided by the weather — as always on a summer excavation in England, it was either pouring with rain or so hot and dry that the soil was cracked and bleached and the complex stratigraphy was impossible to interpret with any clarity.

There were moments of pathos and emotion, such as when Tony Wilmott visited the amphitheatre at Arles to watch a bullfight but could not stay to watch the denouement: ‘too rich for me’ he commented from the outside, as the audience inside burst into applause before the dead bull was pulled from the arena; adding that he was nevertheless convinced that bullfights in Arles were exactly the kind of spectacle that Chester’s amphitheatre was built to stage.

Dai proudly displayed the trowel that he used on the original excavation and told affectionate stories of his introduction to archaeology under Hugh Thompson. He proudly defended Hugh’s timber theatre hypothesis but eventually accepted the emerging evidence that though there were two amphitheatres, they were both built of stone, and that the timber footings he and Hugh had found in the 1960s belonged to the seating banks of the first theatre.

Above all, the programme was remarkable for the spontaneity, wit and good humour of the participants: among bon mots from Tony Wilmott were his conclusion that ‘Archaeology is all about challenging accepted theories’, and his resigned acceptance that they could not (yet) give precise dates to the two phases of theatre building: ‘for every question you answer, you create a new question: that’s the attraction of archaeology’.

This particular viewer would love to see a lot more of Wilmott and Morgan Evans — move over Tony Robinson and Co: make way for the real stars of archaeology on TV!

Finally, Salon’s Editor managed to get his name on to the front page of the Independent on 21 May — but then, so did several other Fellows, and not by doing anything clever or earth shattering, but simply by signing the newspaper’s petition designed to tell Tony Blair that he is wrong to say (as he did last week) that the UK electorate ‘has no appetite for electoral reform’. Tens of thousands of UK voters have already signed to prove him wrong. If you too believe that the first-past-the-post electoral system is fundamentally undemocratic and want to see something done about it, you can add your name to the petition in a matter of seconds by going to the Independent’s website.

Responses to recent Salon articles

Richard Mortimer, FSA, Keeper of the Muniments at Westminster Abbey, writes to say, with respect to the Westminster Retable, that it is not quite true to say that the painting had formed the top of a cupboard for the last 400 years, prior to its recent restoration. It was used in that way from the early seventeenth century, but its true worth was recognised as early as 1827, when it came out of the closet and was exhibited, albeit rather inconspicuously, in a case in the south ambulatory of the Abbey. It remained there until its recent visit to the Hamilton Kerr Institute for conservation. Once the current exhibition at the National Gallery finishes in September, it will return to the Abbey and be housed in the Undercroft Museum, off the cloisters.

The article on the retable reminded Dr Archie Walls, FSA, that he was taken to see it some years ago by Pamela Tudor-Craig, FSA, and that his attention was immediately caught by the edges of the robes, which ‘were decorated with what George Miles described as “Kufesque”’. Richard Ettinghausen wrote about this subject in a Colloquium in Memory of George Carpenter Miles (1904—75) , published by the American Numismatic Society (New York 1976). There are interesting parallels of the use of pseudo-Kufic in two of the borders in the mosaic pavement at Aosta Cathedra illustrated in Plate 117 of ‘Patterns of Thought: the hidden meaning of the great pavement of Westminster Abbey’, by Richard Foster (London 1991). Archie also noted that the engaged columns are very Islamic, with close parallels in the engaged columns decorated with geometry in Cairo and Jerusalem.

Vincent Megaw, FSA, writes to sound off (pun intended) about Salon’s use of the headline ‘Is the Ripon Horn the oldest musical instrument in the UK?’. ‘I guess you meant the oldest extant historical musical instrument in the UK’, he writes ‘but even this wouldn't be true. The Sutton Hoo lyre is an obvious claimant in the historic period (but even then it can be gazumped) and of course there is a growing (if often hotly debated — q.v. the Mousterian fragmentary flute from Divjebabe in western Slovenia) body of evidence for prehistoric musical instruments. Leaving on one side the Bronze Age horns of Ireland, there are the Iron Age horn fragments from Llyn Cerrig Bach as well as the Malham Tarn pipe, also of Iron Age date, while on coinage you have the whole contemporary British orchestra.’

The Revd Dr Martin Dudley, FSA, chides Salon for confusing two different issues in the item about swimming in the Hampstead Heath ponds. The item made the Corporation of London appear to be the villain of the piece, whereas the Corporation was perfectly happy to allow swimmers to use the ponds at their own risk: the problem arose because neither the Health and Safety Executive nor the Corporation’s insurers were prepared to give the Corporation the necessary assurance that it would not be liable if there was an accident or a fatality. The Corporation could not afford to pay for lifeguards to be on duty and could not take the risk of allowing unsupervised swimming without a definitive ruling on its liability, and so the case was taken to court with the full agreement of the swimmers' organisation and an agreement that both sides would pay their own costs. ‘The problem,’ says Martin, ‘is not the nanny state but litigous society’. Martin adds ‘that I am Common Councilman for the Corporation of London and (in case anyone tries to sue me!) that my answer does not represent the official position and is only my view of it’.

New Heritage Minister for England

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now announced its new ministerial team, with responsibility for heritage going to David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham. David’s official title is Minister for Arts, Heritage, Museums and Galleries, Libraries and Archives. He will also be responsible for Architecture.

Aged just 32, David is the youngest member of this Government’s ministerial team, but he is no stranger to ministerial responsibility, having been appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education, in June 2001. In May 2002 David was made Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health and in 2004 he was appointed a junior minister at the new Department for Constitutional Affairs.

He has a law background, but his political interests lie in the fields of arts, culture and education: before being elected an MP at a by-election on 22 June 2000 (following the death of Tottenham’s long-standing MP, Bernie Grant), he served as an elected member of the Greater London Assembly, holding the culture and arts portfolio. Musical Fellows will be delighted to learn that David was a choral scholar at The Kings School in Peterborough; he is also a trustee of the international development charity ActionAid and is a former Director of the Church of England.

The Rt Hon Tessa Jowell, MP, remains Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with overall responsibility for all departmental strategy, policy and expenditure and in particular, the London 2012 Olympic bid, BBC Charter review and school sport facilities.

Richard Caborn, MP, remains Minister for Sport, with additional responsibility for the 2012 Olympic bid and gambling, but also for national lottery policy. James Purnell, MP, is the new Minister for broadcasting, tourism, licensing and the creative industries.

On the Opposition benches, Don Foster, MP for Bath, has been reappointed as the Liberal Democrats’ Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, while Teresa May, MP for Maidenhead, has been appointed to the same position in the Conservative Shadow Cabinet.

Among twenty-seven new life peers announced on 13 May are four former heritage, arts and culture secretaries and ministers: Virginia Bottomley, Estelle Morris, Chris Smith and Alan Howarth.

Welsh ministerial statement on the historic environment

David Lammy will have a great deal to read and digest in the early days of his new post, but we would commend to his attention the contents of a statement from Alan Pugh, Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport, made to the Welsh Assembly on 26 April 2005 concerning the Assembly’s policies for the Welsh historic environment. The statement outlines measures to be implemented at national and local level ‘to ensure the continued protection of the rich heritage we enjoy in Wales and how we might ensure the closer involvement of communities’. These include a number of initiatives that would be very welcome in England too.

The following are edited highlights from his statement, which is of considerable significance for the future of heritage in Wales — not least the important news that Cadw, the Historic Buildings Council, the Ancient Monuments Board and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales are to integrate certain aspects of their work under the umbrella title of Historic Wales/Cymru Hanesyddol. The statement can be read in full on the IFA website.

First, Alan Pugh announced the establishment of a Historic Environment Group, chaired by Cadw officials. ‘In their early meetings’, he said, ‘one of their first tasks was to look at guidance being prepared by the Assembly for local authorities and their partners in developing community strategies and, particularly, the contribution of the historic environment to the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas.

‘The Historic Environment Group is also considering the potential for an integrated approach by key organisations in raising the profile of the historic environment as an educational tool, initially in schools. Much work is already being done … in this area. However, the Group has identified a need for a more strategic approach. As a start, it will identify specific needs and priorities with a view to developing web materials and linkages with resources such as the National Grid for Learning.

‘The group [has also] been tasked to ensure that there is a suitably skilled and equipped workforce to support our agenda. In particular I want to ensure we have the specialist craft skills in place.

‘I am keen that locally important buildings that are derelict or at risk are brought back into active community use, particularly to encourage more healthy and active lifestyles. Through our partners — the Sports Council for Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund — we have been working closely with local communities and statutory bodies to identify potential buildings. I anticipate being able to announce some pilots shortly.

‘There is a great need to raise awareness of our historic environment and its importance and value in social and economic terms. The Assembly is doing much, and we plan to do more by strengthening the organisation of our built heritage resource. Cadw has always been an integral part of the Welsh Assembly Government, reporting directly to me, but its status as an Executive Agency has created some confusion about this. I therefore want to announce that from 1 July we will therefore change its status to a Directorate, similar to the Culture Directorate and CyMAL, which are similarly within my portfolio. Next year it will also become part of the new Culture Department which is to be established.

‘There are three other publicly sponsored bodies working in this area — the Historic Buildings Council and the Ancient Monuments Board, and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments. Although Cadw will retain its name for trading and operational purposes, we intend to unify the published outputs and presentational work of the four bodies under the title Historic Wales/ Cymru Hanesyddol so that common themes and objectives are better understood.

‘Of course, most of the “historical assets” in Wales are not in public ownership. While the Assembly and local authorities own considerable numbers of these assets, more are held by trusts, by faith-based groups and by private individuals. We can provide statutory protection for the most significant parts of them, and financial and technical advice for their preservation for future generations to enjoy, but the management of our historic environment has got to be a joint effort involving all of the people of Wales, and it is with the intention of creating greater public awareness and knowledge that we have embarked upon the initiatives which I have described.’

Scottish Culture Minister announces heritage audit

Patricia Ferguson, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in Scotland, has announced that she has commissioned Historic Scotland to co-ordinate a comprehensive audit of information about Scotland’s historic environment. Like the annual Heritage Counts audit in England, the Scottish audit will help to identify trends and issues relevant to the health of the historic environment and the impact and benefits of the resources used to manage and protect it. The establishment of a heritage audit in Scotland follows on from the advice given to the Minister by the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland (HEACS) that such an audit was vital for achieving a better understanding of the nation’s historic environment.

Liz Burns, chair of HEACS, stated that: ‘We very much welcome the announcement by the Minister and are pleased that the strong and robust case we made has been recognised. A heritage audit will provide the necessary foundation for sound evidence-based policies. This is a major step forward for the support of the historic environment.’

HEACS is convinced that, by instituting an audit process, the absence of fundamental data within the Historic Environment sector will be addressed, that human and financial resources will be used more cost-effectively, and that decisions within the sector will become more co-ordinated, open and transparent.

A dedicated website will be created as part of the audit and regular reports will be published on the state of the historic environment. A stakeholder advisory group will also be set up to share knowledge within the heritage community.

Speaking up for archaeology

The Historic Environment Forum signalled its renewed determination to speak for archaeology when it met last week and decided to adopt a new name: from now onwards, HEF will be known as TAF — The Archaeological Forum. In a statement put out after the meeting, TAF members said that the Forum was established in 2000 to provide an opportunity for independent national bodies in archaeology (including the Society of Antiquaries) to discuss matters of common concern, to establish shared positions and to promote clear and consistent messages on archaeological policy in the historic environment sector.

The change of name was intended to ‘avoid confusion with other new bodies that have been set up to co-ordinate joint action in the historic environment. In England, there are the Historic Environment Review Executive Committee (HEREC), the regional Historic Environment Fora and Heritage Link. In Scotland and Wales, the Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) and Wales Environment Link (WEL) provide similar networks. The Forum works with and alongside all of these and is specifically concerned with all aspects of archaeological knowledge and understanding in the protection and appreciation of the historic environment. Its remit includes the full range of historic environment assets on land and at sea: sites, buildings, gardens, urban and rural landscapes.’

One of TAF’s first acts will be to publish a document — Archaeology enriches us all — setting out the main areas where action is needed if archaeologists are to respond to the Government’s goals for cultural heritage and sustainable communities. Drafted by Fellows Gill Chitty and Mike Heyworth, the document calls for ‘robust, clear cross-governmental recognition of the economic, social and educational value of our rural, urban and maritime historic environment, with DCMS providing a strong, strategic lead within Government; sustained investment in national and local government historic environment services; capacity-building for the voluntary sector to improve delivery of social, cultural and educational benefits; and promotion and celebration of the contribution that archaeology and the historic environment make to quality of life in our communities.’

The Roman circus at Colchester

Philip Crummy, FSA, of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, has written to Salon with this account of the recent discovery of a Roman circus at Colchester, the first of its kind to be identified so far in Britain.

‘The remains of the building were found during archaeological investigations funded by Taylor Woodrow as part of a large residential development. The first record of the circus was made in 2000 when foundations were noted in a narrow trench dug around a football pitch on the Abbey Field for an electricity cable. The foundations were recognized as being Roman, but too little was exposed to tell us anything about the size and nature of the building to which they belonged. Various other exposures followed, but it was not until November 2004, with the excavation of a large part of the building near the Cavalry Barracks, that its true nature was realized.

Only a relatively small part of the circus at Colchester has been uncovered so far, so there are some uncertainties about its plan and many of its features, such as the central barrier and the starting gates. The building was orientated east—west and lay on flat land about 400m south of the walled part of the Roman town. It has been traced on the ground for a distance of 350m. The plans of circuses elsewhere indicate that its full extent is unlikely to have exceeded 450m and was probably less than 400m.

The stands appear to have been in the form of tiers of wooden benches on a bank of soil retained between two stone walls. The inner wall was the lower of the two, but it was just high enough to protect the spectators from the horses and chariots in the arena. The outer wall was much higher and strengthened with external buttresses to help counteract the outward thrust of the seating and bank of soil that rested against it. The space between the two walls (4.5m) would have been enough for about seven tiers of seats thus implying a capacity perhaps of around 12,000 to 14,000 for the building.

The circus was made of greensand and Roman brick. The stone had to be imported from Kent since there was no good local building stone. The use of the greensand suggests a late first or second-century date for the building of the stone circus. A ditch found underneath the foundation of the outer wall indicates that the stone circus might have had a timber predecessor on the same site.

The discovery of the circus at Colchester is to be the subject of a Time Team programme provisionally scheduled for broadcast at the end of June 2005. Further information can be found at

Footwear and fashion from the Iron Age to today

An Iron–Age shoe found by a team from Exeter Archaeology at Town Farm, in Burlescombe, Somerset (near the famous shoemaking town of Street), was dismissed by Maev Kennedy of The Guardian as a shapeless lump of soggy grot, more like a teenager’s fetid trainer than a stylish fashion statement. Maev did concede, however, that the 2,500-year-old size-10 piece of leather with holes punched for thongs was quite a find from the archaeological point of view: the shoe has been tentatively dated as 2,500 years old on the basis that it came from a well lined with a hollowed-out tree trunk — tool marks on the wood seem to have been made with a long, flat, early Iron Age adze, of a type in use around 500 BC. Stephen Reed, of Exeter Archaeology, who led the dig, commented that: ‘as far as we know, this is the oldest shoe ever found in the United Kingdom’. Maev added that the Somerset shoe resembled the pampooties made and worn until only a few decades ago on the Aran islands in Ireland — a chunk of leather shaped into an oval, without a separate sole, roughly shaped by a few stitches at the heel, and otherwise gathered around the foot with a leather bootlace.

Meanwhile, up on Hadrian’s Wall a new find has been made that knocks on the head that old canard that socks and sandals do not mix. We already know from a tablet found at Vindolanda that Roman soldiers wore socks against the chill of a Northumbrian winter: ‘I have sent you … pairs of socks from Sattua, two pairs of sandals and two pairs of underpants’, says the message written on the wooden tablet. Now divers searching the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington, which is the possible site of a Roman fort, have found a razor handle, shaped like a human leg and foot wearing a calf-length herringbone knitted woollen sock and a sandal. Philippa Walton, a finds liaison officer at Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities, said that ‘a bronze statue discovered in Southwark two years ago appears to show a foot wearing a sock … but it is not as clearly shown as the sock on the new find.’ She declared that the razor handle provides ‘unequivocal evidence that the Romans wore socks with open-toed sandals’.

Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence

There is a fine pair of fourth-century AD Roman ankle socks in University College London’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Originally white, they are a little yellow now, but otherwise they are in a very good state of repair. They share a cabinet with various sandals, some of cork, some of woven grass. Nothing in the labelling tells us whether the socks and sandals went together (though the bifurcated toe of the sock suggests that they did, the gap between the big toe and the other four having been created, one assumes, to take the sandal thong); but then minimalist labelling is all you get at the Petrie; there simply isn’t room in the object-crammed cases packed into the museum’s two rooms for big interpretative labels.

Nevertheless, the Petrie was one of twelve museums that were awarded Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence last week at the Museums and Heritage Show at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre. The judges said that the Petrie had ‘remained relevant and interesting since its creation in 1892’. There is something of an irony in this award: the Petrie has already announced that it will be moving to new premises in Gordon Square in the near future; as some of the funding for the new museum will come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, you can be certain that access will be high on the new museum’s agenda, and that its days are numbered as an old-fashioned traditional museum, free from ‘modern and cutting edge’ interpretation.

Other winners of the awards included Locomotion, the new outpost of the National Railway Museum (NRM) at Shildon, near Bishop Auckland in Co Durham, which the judges hailed as ‘a great contributor to the regeneration of the area’, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, nominated by the public as their favourite attraction. Chris Smith, former culture secretary and newly elevated to the House of Lords, was given an award for his ‘major contributions to heritage throughout his career’.

The 2005 Conservation Awards: shortlists announced

Locomotion is in line for another prize, as one of the projects shortlisted for a new £10,000 Care of Collections award, to be presented in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the National Conservation Awards. The judges for the £10,000 award said that the opening of the new railway museum had ensured the survival of seventy engines from the national collection, many of which were deteriorating out in the open. Locomotion is up against two other institutions shortlisted for the award: the Museum of Rural Life, University of Reading, for the preservation of 130,000 glass-plate negatives comprising a unique record of farming life over the last century created by the Farmer & Stockbreeder and Farmers Weekly magazines, and the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive and Research Centre for its work in rehousing and making available to researcher the finds from 100 years of excavation across London.

Four projects have also been shorlisted for the annual Conservation Award, worth £15,000: the restoration of the ‘Doom’ fresco in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry; the conservation of Victorian scenery from the Grade II*-listed Normansfield Hospital Theatre, where drama and music were pioneered as a new approach to the care of people with Down’s syndrome; the restoration of Bronze Age pots from Stonehenge and Avebury where conservation involved repairing the damage done by earlier restorations; and collecting and reassembling mine machinery at Force Crag zinc and barytes mine in Cumbria.

All the shortlisted projects will be visited by the judges over the summer, whose members include our Fellow Sir Simon Jenkins, as well as Maev Kennedy, Arts Correspondent of The Guardian and Liz Forgan, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Awards are supported by Sir Paul McCartney and managed in partnership by key organisations in conservation and restoration: the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the UK Institute for Conservation (UKIC), English Heritage, the Institute of Paper Conservation (IPC) and the National Preservation Office. Our Fellow John Fidler, Conservation Director at English Heritage, said: ‘The Conservation Awards focus attention on the multidisciplinary skills necessary in the field, and the importance of engaging the public in the value of our collective heritage.’

For more information visit the awards website.

Port Sunlight expansion plans to go to public inquiry

The Independent reported last week that a public inquiry has been called by Wirral Council to examine a proposal to build new houses and apartments in Port Sunlight, the model factory village built by William Hesketh Lever because he did not want the children of his soap-factory workers to grow up ‘knowing nothing of God’s earth, of green fields, of sparkling brooks, of breezy hill and springy heather’. One hundred and twenty years after the leafy garden village was founded, the trustees of the Port Sunlight Village Trust say they face substantial financial problems if they do not sell land for new housing. They have selected a site — that of a redundant former maintenance depot backing on to the Unilever factory — that is mostly outside the village conservation area, where developers would like to construct a three-storey, plate-glass and aluminium apartment block.

Opponents say the design fits ill with the current Arts-and-Crafts style of the village, and that the 200 new people it will bring to the village (increasing the population by 20 per cent) will increase the scale of Port Sunlight in a way that will ‘change its nature’.

The financial dilemma has been looming since 1999, when Unilever divested itself of responsibility for the village by handing it over to the Trust. There is a widely held view that the financial settlement accompanying the handover was inadequate. Since then, income from the lump sum provided by the Lever estate has been substantially eroded by low interest rates and negative stock market performance. The Trust's chief executive, Lionel Bolland, says: ‘We need to develop the land for financial reasons [but] we are in a polarised camp on this subject.’

Port Sunlight has been accused of failing to capitalise on its tourist potential, by contrast with Saltaire, the village built by Sir Titus Salt for his woollen-mill workers and now a major tourist attraction, and New Lanark, Robert Owen's eighteenth-century cotton-mill village in southern Scotland. This could change when a new £1m heritage centre opens at Port Sunlight next year.

Nelson's 200-year-old debt finally settled

Forty descendants of Admiral Horatio Nelson and of the fifteen captains of vessels under his command at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 met at his tomb in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral to honour his memory on 19 May. They also used the occasion to settle a 200-year-old debt that has been outstanding since Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Three years earlier, Nelson placed an order with Chamberlain's for a set of breakfast, dinner and tea services that cost £120 10s 6d, but it was not delivered until three months after his death. At today's prices, the services would cost £6,188, but Royal Worcester, which took over Chamberlain's, has agreed to accept £3,750. The company has donated the money to the Royal Naval Association.

Europe’s oldest ‘human settlement’

The science journal Nature reported on 19 May that bones found at Mladec in the Czech Republic more than a century ago have been confirmed as representing the earliest modern human settlement in Europe. By subjecting the teeth to accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating, Professor Eva Wild, of the University of Vienna, and colleagues have confirmed that the bones from two males and two females are at least 31,000 radiocarbon years old. Although a jaw bone and cranium from one Romanian site is older, at around 35,000 years, the Mladec site has at least half a dozen early modern humans, including children, and so marks the most ancient group yet discovered in Europe.

Family secrets revealed online

Five consecutive censuses, spanning the years 1861 to 1901, have now been made available on the internet following the publication this week by the National Archives of the full text of the 1861 census. In making the announcement, the National Archives press office drew attention to the curious entries recorded by a gossip-prone enumerator, Isaac Norris Hunt, who filled in the forms for his neighbours in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. Hunt, a railway manager, revelled in local scandals. He described several of his neighbours as prostitutes and others as ‘kept women’ or ‘co-habiting’. One neighbour was dismissed as ‘a pauper, syphilitic’, another as an ‘absconding bankrupt’. Hunt also branded as ‘bastards’ the two sons of Lavinia Collicott, whose employment he described as ‘very doubtful’.

National Archives researchers have tracked down several historical celebrities recorded in the 1861 record. Queen Victoria was shown living at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight with Prince Albert and seven of their children, including the nineteen-year-old future King Edward VII. Uniquely for this census, she is listed as the head of the household.

Seventeenth-century Bolsover: a monument to bathing and hygiene

Archaeologists think they might have discovered a bathroom located in a long-abandoned outbuilding at Bolsover in Derbyshire, where Sir William Cavendish, a fastidious aristocrat, is known to have started a fashion for ‘bathing rooms’ after the English Civil War. The evidence was found in two rooms that had been sealed up over one hundred years ago for ‘safety reasons’ as the castle crumbled into disrepair. One room has a narrow slit running round all four walls, which shows where flagstones once formed a floor at a level suggesting ample room for a sunken bath. The main chamber also has a recess at one end with a hole just the right size to take a lead pipe, which tallies with a similar feature on a well house in the castle garden immediately outside. ‘Another piece of evidence’, said John Burditt of English Heritage who is managing the castle’s restoration, ‘is the smaller second chamber which has blackened stone on one wall. The historical record describes how Sir William's bath could be filled with hot water. This room may well turn out to have been the boiler house.’

Sir William's experiments in hygiene were inspired in part by his exile on the continent, following Oliver Cromwell's victory. In Europe, washing was generally more sophisticated than in England. Sir William is also thought to have been keen to help his first wife, Lady Madge, overcome her problems in conceiving. ‘Immersion in warm water was thought to be a way of treating infertility at the time’, said John Burditt. ‘Cavendish had the resources and room to make this possible on a large scale.’

New life for Elizabeth I's 'lost' garden at Kenilworth

English Heritage has also announced that it will spend £2.5 million on the redevelopment of Kenilworth Castle, including restoration of an elaborate ‘lost’ garden created in 1575 for Queen Elizabeth I.

The garden was created by Robert Dudley, the earl of Leicester, specifically for the Queen’s nineteen-day visit in July 1575, but all surviving elements of it were thought to have been lost until archaeologists found evidence of its foundations underneath the current garden last year, including rubble that made up a four-foot-wide central fountain. They also found a sill-beam for the structure of one of the arbours, and a soil layer indicating levelling work made in preparation for the garden’s initial construction. John Watkins, the head of gardens and landscape at English Heritage, said that these discoveries ‘prove [that] the scale and proportion of the current garden, built in 1975 as a model of the original, is completely wrong.’

Contemporary accounts of the garden describe obelisks, spheres and the Dudley family sign, a white bear holding a ragged staff. Split into four quarters, the garden contained a bejewelled aviary, two arbours and pyramids. Two athletes stood back to back on the fountain, holding spheres. Full excavation, which will begin in July 2005, may well reveal further information of the whereabouts of these structures. Evidence of planting is unlikely to have survived, although Robert Laneham, a gentleman usher to the earl, detailed some of the fruit trees and plants in letters written at the time that the garden was created. Reconstruction will begin in summer 2006 with a target public opening date of Easter 2007.

Irish Government says ‘yes’ to motorway near Hill of Tara

Over-ruling the protests of environmentalists and archaeologists, the Irish government approved construction of a motorway last week that will pass within a mile of the Hill of Tara. Opponents had hoped that a different route would be chosen, further from the hill, which was a meeting point for Irish kings and chieftains from pre-Christian times until the eleventh century. At the same time, Environment Minister Dick Roche approved thirty-eight archaeological excavations along the proposed route. Roche put a positive spin on the decision by saying that the road project would make possible significant archaeological exploration. He added that he would reconsider the route of the road if archaeologists make important discoveries that need to be preserved in situ.

Anti-road campaigners said they would seek an injunction and said that the road could be tied up in the courts for another decade.

Community involvement in town and country planning

The National Planning Forum (NPF) has produced the first in a series of good practice guidance leaflets designed to promote better outcomes for everyone seeking to develop or change the use of land or buildings in England. The guidance note outlines the ten principles for community involvement in town and country planning, for everyone involved but particularly for local planning authorities and developers and their agents. The good practice note can be found on the NPF website.

London Society’s Banister Fletcher Lecture: Lutyens in London

This lecture is to be given by Margaret Richardson, FSA, on 1 June 2005, at 6.30pm at the Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly. The lecture owes its origin to a bequest to the London Society made by Sir Banister Fletcher for an annual lecture on a London topic. Sir Banister was a founder member of the society, established in London in 1912 to protect amenities and promote good architecture and planning in London. For further information and tickets visit the London Society website.

Morris in the Twenty-first Century

Full details of this conference organised by the William Morris Society from 7 to 10 July 2005, at Royal Holloway and Bedford College, Egham, Surrey, can now be found on the conference website. All aspects of Morris and his various interests will be represented, and more than sixty speakers are attending from all over the world.

The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology’s conference 2006

The theme of the Post-Medieval Archaeology Society’s 2006 conference, to be held in the Tuscan port of Livorno on 25 to 27 May 2006, is ‘Italy and Britain between the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds: Leghorn — “an English port”’.

The organisers would welcome proposals for twenty- to thirty-minute papers from any discipline with a bearing on the material culture of these themes: 1) relations between Britain and Italy in AD 1500 to 2000; 2) Livorno (including the nineteenth-century conversion from freeport to industrial city, and coping with Second World War destruction); 3) Italian post-medieval archaeology (syntheses of results — not fieldwork summaries nor potential).

Abstracts in English or Italian of about 250 words together with a brief curriculum vitae should be sent to the organisers: Hugo Blake, FSA, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Marco Milanese, Universities of Pisa and Sassari, by 1 September 2005.

Books by Fellows

From Boydell & Brewer comes a wonderful book for anyone interested in the career of Admiral Lord Nelson: published in association with the National Maritime and Royal Naval Museums, Nelson: the new letters (592 pp, ISBN 1 84383 130 9, £25), by our Fellow Colin White, presents over 500 of the most important letters located during the course of his epic Nelson Letters Project, a six-year search of archives throughout the world, which in total unearthed some 1,200 previously unpublished letters. Including the earliest extant Nelson letter (dating from 1777), the collection records Nelson’s life and exploits in his own words. It also demonstrates the extent to which Nelson's correspondence was edited — even censored — by earlier editors (published here for the first time are some eloquently passionate letters to Emma Hamilton). The Spectator declared of the book: ‘They are coruscatingly vivid letters, alive with bright expressiveness … this is an important addition which the general reader shouldn't overlook’. See the Boydell & Brewer website for more details.

Stephanie Dalley’s latest work is entitled Old Babylonian Texts in the Ashmolean Museum (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2005) and it completes the basic work of cataloguing, copying and indexing the cuneiform tablets in the Ashmolean. The introduction includes information on an ancient school and its curriculum at Kish (excavated long ago by a British expedition in Mesopotamia) and on a group of ‘hanging nodules’ that compare with Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B dockets.

The story of St Kilda — now a World Heritage Site and once home to the most remote community in Britain — is told in Andrew Fleming’s new book, St Kilda and the Wider World: tales of an iconic island (published by Windgather Press). Andrew argues that the popular image of St Kilda has been over-influenced by sepia-tinted photographs of intrepid seabird hunters and abandoned houses, which have been used to evoke the image of an heroic, but ultimately doomed, ‘struggle for existence’ on the edge of the Atlantic. This book challenges the conventional wisdom and tells the tale of a thriving and distinctive Hebridean archipelago that was settled well before 2000 BC, and that has supported a well-organised and culturally rich community throughout its history.


Trinity House, Archivist
£25,000: two-year fixed contract; apply by 31 May 2005

The Trinity House lighthouse service has a history spanning five centuries, over which time it has amassed a significant collection of documents and artefacts. The archivist’s job will be to catalogue, care for, display and interpret this collection in a way that inspires and educates the public. Further details from the Trinity House website.

Historic Houses Association, Director General
Competitive salary, no application date given

The role of Director General combines advocacy and political lobbying with running a busy office and membership organisation. According to the advert that appeared in the Sunday Times, there is a briefing paper on the Odgers Ray and Berndtson recruitment agency website, but this wasn’t working when the editor of Salon tried it; neither was the promised ‘further information’ available on the Historic Houses Association website. Applications are to be sent to Odgers in the form of a CV with covering letter outlining your suitability for the role, and quoting ref: JHB/7967ST.

Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation, Director
c £90,000 plus pension, etc; apply by 12 June 2005

The Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation runs second only to the Heritage Lottery Fund as a source of non-Governmental funding for the heritage, allocating some £27 million a year across its four grant-giving programmes, so this position is of critical importance to the heritage community. The advert says that you need to be an expert in delivering ‘soft management’ within a flexible, challenging and tolerant working environment, which sounds very touchy-feely and New Age, especially as it goes on to talk about ‘empowering Programme Directors in innovative grant making’ and advising a trustee board made up of people from a range of professional backgrounds, ‘all successful in their field’. If you think you have the right degree of silkiness, deference and ambassadorial cunning, you can download further details from and apply online with a CV and covering letter for the attention of Richard Evans.

J P Getty Trust, Museum Director
No salary and no closing date given

The chance of a lifetime to take control of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, with ‘fundamental authority’ for all the museum’s activities, including acquisition strategy, budget and personal decisions. The position is perfect for someone who ‘desires a very visible position, with significant influence, stature and authority’, prepared to work ‘aggressively’ to strengthen the collections (the advert fails to mention that a key ability is living with the fact that many of your prize acquisitions will then be blocked by governments seeking to prevent ‘their heritage’ being exported). The recruitment agents are looking for nominations and suggestions as well as applications, so if you know someone who desires world domination, contact Caroline Nahas or Ann Kern.

English Heritage, Education Managers (2 posts, based in York and Bristol); Education Publishing Manager (Swindon)
Salary for all three posts c £27,000; apply by 10 June 2005

Education Managers for the North (North East, North West and Yorkshire) and South West are needed to develop English Heritage education programmes, particularly in the field of informal education and lifelong learning. The Education Publishing Manager will have responsibility for an extensive range of resources, including books, videos, poster packs and CD-Roms, as well as Heritage Learning magazine. For an application form please send a self-addressed A4-sized envelope (no stamp) to Raj Kalsi, Human Resources Dept, Room 409, English Heritage, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET.