Salon Archive

Issue: 120

Website picture gallery

A new picture gallery has been added to the Society’s website, with photographs and descriptions of some of our important paintings (clicking on the thumbnails will bring up a larger version of the picture and information on its provenance). The most significant are the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century historical portraits bequeathed in 1828 by Thomas Kerrich. They include the earliest surviving version of a portrait of Richard III and a fine portrait of Mary I by Hans Eworth. The website shows about one-third of the Society’s collection, consisting of paintings that have recently been photographed and scanned for possible commercial use, through the agency of the Bridgeman Art Library.

The case of the Burlington House lease

The Society of Antiquaries recently signed a new lease for the occupation of Burlington House, and work will soon be completed on the cleaning and repair of the exterior of the building, a much-needed programme of work that is being paid for by the Government as part of the terms of the new lease agreement. Until the lease was signed the issues being negotiated between the Government and the learned societies who occupy Burlington House were considered sub judice and therefore not for public disclosure. Now that agreement has been reached, however, the Society's Librarian, Bernard Nurse, FSA, and our General Secretary, David Gaimster, FSA, have prepared an account of the background and outcome of the court case, which can be read on the home page of the Society’s website,

News of Fellows

Terry Barry, FSA, writes to say that Fellows in Ireland have formed an Irish Fellowship group, which has held four meetings over the last two years in Dublin, with illustrated lectures on archaeological and antiquarian subjects given this year by Con Manning, FSA, and Aideen Ireland, FSA, gratefully acknowledging the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland for providing a venue for these meetings. Terry hopes that a meeting will take place in Northern Ireland, in the near future, with the General Secretary in attendance.


It is with sadness that we note the recent deaths of five of our Fellows. Alan Thacker, FSA, Executive Editor of the Victoria County History writes to say that his former colleague, Michael Greenslade, VCH Staffordshire County Editor and a Fellow of the Society since 1965, died on 11 June 2005.

Peter Boyden, FSA, writes to draw attention to the recent deaths of Brian Robson, FSA, on 23 June 2005, and Colin Stuart Drake, FSA (known to everyone as Paddie), on 25 June 2005. Peter says that both had connections with the National Army Museum: Brian as a member of the Museum’s Council and Paddie as editor of the Museum Friends’ Newsletter. Brian wrote (among other things) the definitive study of British military swords, while Paddie was an authority on medieval fonts; suffering from a long illness, courageously borne, he lived to see the publication of his encyclopaedic survey of The Romanesque Fonts of Northern Europe and Scandinavia and to see the work warmly reviewed by Malcolm Thurlby, FSA, in the Antiquaries Journal for 2004.

Nigel Brown, FSA, has supplied the following obituary for his former colleague, John Hunter, FSA, who died suddenly of a heart attack on 2 July 2005. ‘John was a leading authority on landscape history, and his death came just as Tom Williamson had published a warm review of his latest publication, Field Systems in Essex. John studied architecture at Cambridge University and later at the Architectural Association, and while working for London County Council he became strongly involved in conservation activities. He joined Essex County Council in 1971, becoming Assistant County Planner and head of the Environmental Services Branch in 1979, posts he held until his retirement in 1996. The Branch, part of the Planning Department, brought together historic building conservation, design, archaeology, landscape and country parks and fostered an integrated approach to understanding, conserving and managing what is now known as the historic environment. Part of the mechanism by which this was achieved were the wide-ranging informal seminars convened by John in appropriate pubs. He was a great supporter of the County Council’s Archaeology Service and was instrumental in fostering its development into what is widely regarded as one of the best in England. John had an ability to get along with a great variety of people and encouraged links with many organisations and groups, not least the farming community; this assisted both the work of conservation and his researches into Essex landscape history.

‘Shortly after his first book, Land into Landscape, was published in 1985, John gave a copy to a friend in Berkshire, a visiting neighbour expressed an interest and borrowed the book, returning it with a note saying how much he had enjoyed it and hoping that the author would publish more: the neighbour was Stuart Piggott. John’s masterpiece — The Essex Landscape: a study of its form and history — was published in 1999 and will form the cornerstone of Essex landscape history for many years. However, the backbone of his published work remains a series of articles that appeared in the journal Essex Archaeology and History over the last dozen years or so. This body of work is often parochial, in the sense that it is concerned with a parish or group of parishes, but is infused with a breadth of knowledge and insight which makes a powerful contribution to landscape history, significant far beyond the particular localities with which it is concerned. John will be much missed both for his scholarship and for his friendship.’

Finally, Stephen Harrison, FSA, Director of Manx National Heritage, has contributed the following appreciation of his former colleague Larch Sylvia Garrad, FSA, who died on 6 July 2005, following a stroke. ‘Larch Garrad was a well-known, and much loved figure in the Island. Having studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University, she later gained her doctorate with a thesis on Mycenaean burial customs following a number of excursions to take part in archaeological excavations with the British School of Archaeology in Athens. In June 1964 she took up the position of Assistant Keeper with the Manx Museum and National Trust (the forerunner of Manx National Heritage), a position she held with distinction until her retirement in 1996. Larch became the expert in many important fields of Manx history and culture. Through her quiet, but painstaking research, a fascination with objects and the natural environment, and her love of people and their stories, she produced a number of definitive publications, which remain standard works for anyone interested in Manx history.

‘In the late 1960s she decided to document the island’s stock of industrial archaeology, a completely new category of research at that time. This resulted in her joint authorship in 1972 of the standard work, The Industrial Archaeology of the Isle of Man. In the same year she published The Naturalist in the Isle of Man. Her love and knowledge of the island’s natural history was further evidenced by the publication in 1985 of A History of Manx Gardens. No respecter of the usual barriers between different academic disciplines, she soon turned her knowledgeable and empathetic gaze towards the island’s social history. In 1976 she produced A Present From … holiday souvenirs of the British Isles. Her interest, and considerable skill, in traditional needlework was reflected in her publication (with her colleague Yvonne Cresswell) of a full-colour Catalogue of Samplers in the Collections of the Manx Museum (1988). This was no purely academic interest. Larch was always eager to engage with the practical side of helping people discover things for themselves and would often be seen, dressed in traditional costume, demonstrating needlework and quilting at the special craft days at Cregneash Folk Museum.

‘Throughout, Larch also gave freely of her time to local societies and organizations and her talks were in great demand and much enjoyed – as were her intrepid guided walks through the Manx countryside to consider the finer points of a ruined farm complex or some indecipherable, but definitely historical lump in a field. Until her retirement in 1996, Larch provided a touchstone of knowledge and expertise for us all at MNH. I remember well the first time I undertook her annual appraisal interview. “Well Larch”, I said, “this is your opportunity to tell me how you think you have undertaken your duties during the year”. She replied, “I think you can record that I have undertaken my duties entirely to my own satisfaction”. Indeed she had, and her high standards were good enough for me.’

England’s earliest cementation steelworks

The earliest date for large-scale steelmaking in England has been pushed back to the reign of James I as a result of a discovery made earlier this month at the Upper Forge site in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire. Paul Belford, Senior Archaeologist with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, has found the well-preserved remains of a cementation steel furnace which appears to have been in use from around 1620. Another furnace was discovered last year but in too fragmentary a state for its precise purpose to be defined. The two furnaces were probably built by the Brooke family of Madeley Court. Sir Basil Brooke has long been credited with steel-making experiments using technology developed in Germany around AD 1600, but these furnaces represent the first structural evidence for a process that paved the way for the transition from small-scale medieval methods of working with metal to modern large-scale production. This year Ironbridge archaeologists have recovered metallurgical residues for the first time, including a piece of 'crozzle', an iron-rich residue that is characteristic of the cementation process.

In the cementation process, bars of wrought iron were packed in charcoal inside large stone chests or coffins, which were then sealed with a mixture of clay, sand and the metallic waste produced in the grinding of edge tools. The iron and charcoal would be fired to red heat for up to ten days, during which time the wrought iron absorbed carbon from the charcoal and was converted to steel. The crust became rock hard in the process: known in Sheffield at a later date as ‘crozzle’, it was employed as a building material, used for coping stones, corner quoins and lintels.

40,000-year-old footprint of the oldest American

This week’s most exciting archaeological news is the discovery by a British-led team of 40,000-year-old human footprints in fossilised volcanic ash in New Mexico, the first evidence of human presence in the Americas at such an early date.

The footprints were discovered in the summer of 2003 by Dr Silvia Gonzalez and Professor David Huddart (both of Liverpool John Moores University) and Professor Matthew Bennett (of Bournemouth University). Altogether 269 footprints were found, of which 60 per cent were made by humans (and 36 per cent of those by children) and the rest by animals along the shoreline of a volcanic lake. The footprints were preserved because they were covered in volcanic ash and lake sediment soon after they were made, and eventually fossilised by compression. The site has recently been quarried for building stone, exposing the prints again after 40,000 years.

Dr Alistair Pike of Bristol University’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology carried out tests on the animal bones from the site. He explained that: ‘we have developed a method of dating bones at Bristol using the decay of uranium. This is particularly useful in Mexico because many of the bones there are too weathered for radiocarbon dating. Dating the footprints presented a big challenge, so we assembled a team of experts, including scientists from the Open University in the UK and the Australian National University. We visited the site several times to hunt for bones, teeth, shells, peat, volcanic lava, quartz-rich sediments and other materials suitable for dating. It took us nearly two years, but we really wanted to be sure we got the dating right, especially since such an early date will radically change our understanding of the peopling of the Americas.’

Archaeologists have previously theorised that people arrived in America 40,000 years ago, basing their predictions on the study of the human genome and the rate at which DNA mutates. Until now, no incontestable evidence has been found on the ground to prove this theory, and the timing, route and origin of the first colonisation of the Americas remains one of the most contentious topics in human evolution. Existing archaeological evidence suggests that the Americas were colonised towards the end of the Pleistocene period (around 12,000 years ago) by hunter-gatherers migrating from Siberia into Alaska across the Bering Land Bridge.

Dr Gonzalez is one of a growing number of archaeologists who believe that the first migrants to the Americas might have been seafarers from Australia or from northern Asia. Her footprint research was carried out as part of a wider project looking at possible migration routes, which includes genetic comparisons between ancient and modern Pacific populations.

Further information on the footprints research can be found on the Liverpool John Moores University website. The team plans to return to the Valsequillo Lake basin early next year in an attempt to uncover other footprints or signs of human life.

Early settlers in the Pacific

The news agency Reuters reported last week that archaeologists have unearthed a 3,000-year-old burial site on the South Pacific island of Viti Levu, the earliest known evidence for human settlement on the 340-island Fiji archipelago. The archaeologists found sixteen human skeletons at a burial site at Bourewa. Pottery deliberately buried with or underneath the human remains bear designs typical of the early Lapita period of about 1250 BCE in Papua New Guinea and in the Solomon Islands to the north west of Fiji. Patrick Nunn, professor of geography at the University of the South Pacific, located in the Fiji capital of Suva, said that the Bourewa settlers probably came from the Santa Cruz island group in the Solomon Islands. The finding throws into question a popular local myth that modern Fijians first landed on the west side of Viti Levu after voyaging from Africa. Nunn said an unexpected find in the burial site was a piece of obsidian almost certainly from a mine on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. ‘It was carried at least 4,500 kilometres to Bourewa, probably as a talisman. This represents an extraordinarily long ocean journey by the people that carried it’, he said.

Swanscombe site becames a heritage park

Kent County Council is to be commended for turning a neglected and vandalised site at Swanscombe, where Britain’s second oldest human remains were found seventy years ago, into a brand new heritage park. Visitors are greeted by a huge steel sculpture whose design is based on the 400,000-year-old hand axe that was discovered in the park, along with skull pieces from the so-called Swanscombe Man (in fact, now thought to be a woman).

The launch of the Swanscombe Heritage Park last week marks the culmination of two years’ work to rid one of the UK’s most important archaeological sites of dumped cars, fly-tipped rubbish and illegal motorcyclists. A heritage trail is now open with large stone interpretation panels for the public to follow the story of the archaeological finds.

Oxford Archaeology has recently found an undisturbed site of similar date in the Ebbsfleet Valley, about 2km from Swanscombe, Kent, with the skeleton of an elephant preserved in the muddy sediment near the edge of what was then a small lake. It is surrounded by flint tools, which lie undisturbed from where they were originally discarded. It is uncertain whether the elephant was deliberately driven into the boggy ground and then killed, or whether it became trapped on its own. The manufacture of stone tools at the same spot, which would have been unsuitable for human occupation, almost certainly reflects butchery of the carcass for its meat.

6,500-year-old fish weir unearthed in Somerset

The Somerset Guardian carried a report on 16 July saying that workmen at a landfill site at Walpole, near Bridgwater, Somerset, had stumbled across the 6,500-year-old staves and poles of a causeway and fish weir that is being claimed as the oldest wooden structure yet found in the UK. Somerset county archaeologist Richard Brunning said: ‘This is unique in the country because it is so early in date. We think they are from about 4,500 BCE. We know very little about the people who lived in Britain during the mesolithic period other than the fact they would have been hunters and gatherers’.

The remains of the causeway and fish weir were found in two neighbouring stream beds about five metres below the current ground level. The causeway would have offered a safer route across the tidal mud to the weir, made from wooden uprights driven into the ground to support a wooden mesh. Animal bones from aurochs were also found nearby. It is thought the animals could have been trapped and drowned in the mud. The timbers have been removed to a store in Glastonbury.

Saxon rotunda found beneath Leominster car park

Archaeologists who opened The Times on 8 July to read that an enormous Saxon rotunda had been found in Herefordshire dating from the tenth century might have experienced a sense of déjà vu: this was a story that The Archaeologist (the magazine of the Institute for Field Archaeologists) reported back in its Community Archaeology themed edition of winter 2004 (Issue 51, page 28).

The story concerns a joint project between amateur archaeologists (the Friends of Leominster Priory) and Stratascan (a company that specialises in tracing buried remains), with funding of £30,000 from the Local Heritage Initiative Scheme run buy the Countryside Agency, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Nationwide Building Society.

Stratascan Ltd had already undertaken resistivity and GPR surveys of the east end of the church, demolished after the dissolution of the monasteries. Both techniques produced clear results, which correlated closely with an RCHME plan drawn after excavations in 1932. The Friends of Leominster Priory commissioned a further ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey in 2003, to confirm the position and layout of the cloister, thought to lie beneath a Herefordshire Council staff car park.

Instead of the linear foundations of the cloisters, the GPR survey revealed a very clear circular feature, some 17m across, with 3-metre-thick walls. Too large for a monastic lavatorium or dovecote, the Friends of Leominster Priory decided that it could be a rotunda associated with the Minster of c AD 660, similar to the one that Cnut built for Edmund’s relics at Bury St Edmunds, perhaps used as a baptistry, for the remains of martyrs or as a royal mausoleum. Our Fellow John Blair said of the find: ‘If it is a Saxon round church, it is of exceptional importance.’

What was new in the story in The Times was the decision by Herefordshire Council to excavate the site next month. Bruce Watson, a senior archaeologist with the Museum of London Archaeology Service, who will co-ordinate the dig, said that the rotunda could have been part of a monastery founded by Merewalh, ruler of the Magonsaete, the land between the River Severn and the River Wye, after his conversion to Christianity. Mr Watson said: ‘A chronicler records that Earl Leofric, who died in 1057, and his wife Countess Godiva, enriched Leominster church with “valuable ornaments”. Could the Leominster structure lurking under the cloister car park be part of Leofric’s gift to Leominster’s church?’ The radar scan suggests that the rotunda is full of rubble. Leominster’s archaeologists are hoping that this consists of a demolished superstructure, enabling the appearance of the completed rotunda to be reconstructed.

Historic church found in Uppsala

Ground-penetrating radar has also been used at the thirteenth-century cathedral in Uppsala, Sweden, the largest church building in northern Europe, where the remains of an earlier building have been located underneath the high altar, possibly representing the earlier church of Holy Trinity, where Erik Jedvardsson, king (and now patron saint) of Sweden, was murdered in 1160 by Danish pretender Magnus Henriksson. The local paper, Uppsala Nya Tidning, also reposts the finding of seven graves under the floor of the high altar, and eight graves under the cathedral’s southern doors. Legend has always maintained that Holy Trinity was situated on the Domberget, where the cathedral now stands, but this has never been confirmed. Swedish archaeologists say that the building they have found under the cathedral has an apsidal choir, typical of a Romanesque church of the period when Erik was killed.

Furness dig claims to have found St Patrick's birthplace

Community excavations led by Steve Dickinson, archaeology tutor at Lancaster University, have revealed what could be the missing Roman fort of Banna Vernta Berniae, thought by scholars to be the birthplace of Ireland’s patron saint. Mr Dickinson says that the finds at Urswick have the typical layout of a Roman fort, foundations and ditches.

Public tours of the site are taking place this week as part of National Archaeology Week (a nine-day event), with excavation open days, guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, ancient art and craft workshops and much more throughout the UK. A full list of events can be found on the website of the Council for British Archaeology.

English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register 2005

Last week saw the publication of the annual Buildings at Risk Register, which brings together information on all Grade I and II* listed buildings and scheduled monuments considered to be at risk through neglect and decay.

This year ninety-one entries have been removed from the Register because their future has been secured, and there has been an 8.8 per cent reduction against the baseline Register established in 1999. According to our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, this success was due to increasing action by all concerned to ‘stop the rot’ and so prevent the cost of repair escalating beyond the point where it is economic combined with concerted action to resolve long-standing cases of neglect or decay. He warned against complacency, however, saying that: ‘Tragically, fifty-eight buildings were added to the Register this year. English Heritage simply does not have enough money to save every building at risk: we offered £4.3 million in grant aid over the past year towards 68 buildings at risk, but the total amount needed is in the region of £400 million.’

English Heritage says that the underlying trends give cause for concern. Despite the fall in entries on the Register, 87 per cent of buildings on the Register are likely to require some subsidy to bring them back into use, and the cost to repair each building at risk has increased in real terms. On a brighter note, the listed places of worship repairs scheme, which English Heritage funds jointly with the Heritage Lottery Fund, is described as an investment that will result in the removal of more buildings from the Register in the future.

The 2005 English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register, together with commentaries and regional overviews, is available on the English Heritage website.

No way to treat a historic church

Robert Merrillees, FSA, draws Fellows’ attention to a story in the ‘Nooks and Corners’ column of Private Eye (25 June 2005) concerning what the Eye calls the UK Government’s ‘disgraceful behaviour’ over the British consulate chapel of St Helena in Istanbul. It is a matter of great regret that the Consul General and many others were killed when an Al-Qa’eda bomb exploded at the consulate in 2003, but the consulate itself has since been repaired at great expense, whereas the chapel has been a prey to vandalism and theft and is now likely to be sold to the developer of an adjacent hotel who wants to turn it into a nightclub. Piloti, the anonymous author of the ‘Nooks and Crannies’ column, concludes that the chapel symbolises today’s Britain, in which ‘history and tradition mean nothing, and in which old churches are cheerfully abandoned when money can be made’.

Gateshead Church saved from demolition

By contrast, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a grant of £513,500 to the Society of St Pius X towards the renovation of the Grade-II listed St Cuthbert’s Church in Bensham, Gateshead, which was facing demolition having been declared redundant sixteen years ago. Neo-Romanesque St Cuthbert’s was completed in 1848 to the designs of John Dobson, the Newcastle architect. It has stained-glass windows designed by William Wailes, another famous Newcastle-born craftsman and one of the nineteenth century’s most noted stained-glass designers. The windows are currently in storage but will be returned and replaced in the church using funds from the grant.

Tolpuddle sycamore did shelter Martyrs

Maev Kennedy’s contribution to Salon this week is the story published in The Guardian on 15 July confirming that the sycamore tree in Tolpuddle, Dorset, that attracts thousands of people every year who come to pay their respects to the Tolpuddle Martyrs, probably dates from the 1680s. The giant sycamore, known worldwide as the Tolpuddle Tree, is reproduced on banners and posters, mugs and T-shirts as a potent symbol of trade unionism, because local agricultural labourers, barred from holding meetings in church halls or other indoor spaces, sheltered under its spreading branches in 1834 when they met to discuss their pay and working conditions and formed the outlawed workers' association which made them pioneers of the trade union movement. The ringleaders were subsequently arrested, tried and transported to Australia as common criminals.

Many have questioned whether the Tolpuddle Tree could possibly be that old, and whether it could have been big enough 179 years ago to shelter a large meeting. Now the National Trust, which owns the land it grows on, has established that the tree was 150 years old in the days of the Martyrs. Using a method developed in the 1990s at the Forestry Commission, Trust staff have measured the girth of the trunk at a height of 1.3 metres. Their calculation of its age took account of the species, local environmental conditions and the speed of growth at different phases in a tree's life: the sycamore would have grown rapidly for its first seventy years and then slowed down; it was also pollarded, which would also have slowed its growth rate.

The Tolpuddle Tree is now officially established as the largest sycamore in Dorset, growing on the smallest village green, which was given to the Trust in 1934 by Sir Ernest Debenham, in honour of its role in labour history.

Rough ride as Rome prepares to ditch cobbles

The Daily Telegraph reported on 15 July that the Rome’s mayor, Walter Veltroni, has outraged conservationist by stating his intention to replace the cobbles that cover most of the city’s central streets with asphalt, because it costs too much to maintain the stones. ‘Maintaining the cobbles involves costs that are unsustainable’, he has said. The cobbles, known as sampietrini, after St Peter's square, where they were first used in the 1500s, will be kept only in pedestrian alleys and the Piazza Venezia. Until recently, the stones came from the same quarries next to the Appian Way that were used by the ancient Romans. The quarries have now closed and stone comes from Hong Kong at great expense.

Maurizio Galletti, Rome's superintendent of fine arts, supported the mayor’s decision and claimed that the cobbles amplify traffic vibrations, to the detriment of Rome’s historic buildings. But Paolo Portoghesi, a leading architect and historian, said that the cobbles should be treasured and the old quarry reopened.

Jubilee grant saves Mountbatten family silver for the nation

One of Britain's most important collections of silver has been bought for the nation from Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of the late Earl Mountbatten of Burma, in a £1.68m deal celebrating the silver jubilee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The eleven pieces include a Henry VII silver-gilt beaker, a rare object fashioned in 1496, and an Elizabethan ewer and basin made in 1592. The NHMF gave £404,445 towards the purchase cost and a consortium of leading museums pooled their resources to contribute the rest, along with money raised by the museums from private sources, including the Goldsmiths' Company. The collection was once owned by Lady Hick’s grandfather, Sir Ernest Cassel, a German Jew who arrived in Liverpool in 1869 with only a violin and a bag of clothes but rose to become the most powerful financier in Europe and an adviser to Edward VII. It will now form a travelling display that will open at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on 2 August 2005.

Eventually the collection will be divided, however, with the British Museum getting two unique cups, once owned by the first Viscount Palmerston, which were made from melted-down mourning rings inscribed with the names and dates of death of family members. They will be displayed with the museum's collection of mourning rings. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London will get the Henry VII beaker, the earliest English silver beaker in existence, and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford will get the ewer and basin, which were made for Richard Proctor, master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, and a salt cellar in the shape of a bell.

Other items from the Cassel collection are going to the Geffrye Museum in London, the Museum of London, the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

Our Fellow Stephen Johnson, head of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), said: ‘What better way to start NHMF's silver jubilee year than to help save this rare collection of silver for the nation’.

New World Heritage Sites

UNESCO's World Heritage committee, meeting in South Africa's port city of Durban this week, has added seventeen new sites to the global list of Word Heritage Sites, bringing the total of such sites to 628. The sites newly inscribed on the list are very varied. They include two sections of Roman frontier in north west Germany, extending for 550km from the Danube in the south east of the country. The historic town of Gjirokastra, in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania, is inscribed as a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, with thirteenth-century citadel and typical tower houses. In Bahrain, the Qal'at al-Bahrain tell has been included: resulting from continuous human presence from about 2300 BC, the site was a trading port and the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region.

In China, the historic centre of Macao, on the Pearl River, has been inscribed as an example of the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technological influences from east and west: the port was under Portuguese administration from the mid sixteenth century until 1999, when it came under Chinese sovereignty. The Biblical-era tells at Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba, in Israel, join the list as some of the best examples in the Levant of elaborate Iron Age, underground water-collecting systems, created to serve dense urban communities. Also in Israel, the four Nabatean towns of Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta, along with associated fortresses and agricultural landscapes in the Negev Desert, are inscribed. Together they reflect the hugely profitable trade in frankincense and myrrh from south Arabia to the Mediterranean, which flourished from the 3rd century BC until the 2nd century AD. With the vestiges of their sophisticated irrigation systems, towns, forts and caravanserai, they bear witness to the way in which the harsh desert was settled for trade and agriculture. Syracuse and the Necropolis of Pantalica, which contains over 5,000 rock-cut tombs dating from the thirteenth to seventh centuries BC, join the list in Italy.

From more recent times, the Struve Geodetic Arc has been added to the list: this chain of survey triangulation points stretches from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, passing through ten countries and extending for over 2,820km. They survive from a survey carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped establish the exact size and shape of our planet. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed sites include thirty-four of the original station points, with different markings, including a hole drilled in rock, an iron cross, cairns and obelisks.

The full list of sites can be seen on the UNESCO website.

Consultation on new Seabed Development Code

The Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (JNAPC) is seeking feedback on its recently revised Maritime Cultural Heritage and Seabed Development Code of Practice. This defines best practice in terms of co-operation and discussion between archaeologists and seabed developers. The code was last revised in 1998, since when significant changes have taken place in our knowledge and use of the marine environment, hence the need to revise the existing code. The code highlights the responsibility of developers to seek archaeological advice and take a responsible approach to the protection and recording of the UK’s marine heritage. Comments are invited by 26 August 2005, and a copy of the draft code can be downloaded from the Crown Estate’s website.

Coastal archaeology on TV

Salon’s editor is looking forward to watching Coast on BBC2, which will be broadcast every Friday and Sunday for the next thirteen weeks at 9pm, beginning on 22 July 2005. A team of experts (including our Fellow Mark Horton as the semi-tame archaeologist) will be visiting all 11,700 miles of the UK coastline (or so the advance publicity claims). In week one they cover the entire south coast from Dover to Exmouth by way of Guernsey — looking at that island’s German-built World War II fortifications, as well as the huge concrete sound mirrors built at Denge in the 1930s as an early warning system in the expectation of a noisy German invasion. They will also look at the history and archaeology of Portsmouth, ‘once the biggest industrial complex in the world’.

Liverpool wins £33m for museum

Funding for a new museum on Liverpool's waterfront has been approved, the BBC reported on 11 July. The Museum of Liverpool will be built on the Mann Island site at the Pier Head. The North West Development Agency (NWDA) will contribute more than £33m for the redevelopment of the site. The project will provide a larger exhibition space to house the urban history collection currently at the Museum of Liverpool Life. Exhibits will cover social history and popular culture and will look at Britain and the world through the eyes of Liverpool. David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool, said: ‘We are delighted that NWDA has demonstrated such foresight in supporting the Museum of Liverpool and that they are confident that we can deliver a world-class visitor attraction as a legacy of European Capital of Culture in 2008.’

First canal restoration of the 21st century

British Waterways has announced that work will start by the end of the year on an £11m-restoration of the Droitwich Barge and Junction canals in Worcestershire, one of the earliest UK canals, a gateway from the River Severn and the rest of the world to the industrial heartlands of the Black Country. The Droitwich Canals, early arteries of the Industrial Revolution, brought prosperity to the area through the transportation of salt. James Brindley described the Droitwich Canals as one of his ‘proudest achievements’. He devised an ingenious entrance lock to overcome the difficulties of the semi-tidal River Severn, which regularly produced surges of up to five feet in height, threatening to inundate the canal with unwanted water. Officially closed in 1939, with the last working barge plying the canal over ten years earlier, the restoration of the Droitwich Canals will today play a key role in the regeneration of Droitwich Spa town centre and the surrounding area. The restoration will also complete a 21-mile canal loop linking the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in the east to the navigable River Severn in the west, providing extended opportunities for holiday and leisure boating in and around the West Midlands.

Thirty years in the life of North Yorkshire's archaeology service

North Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Service is planning to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary (on 12 November 2005 at the Hambleton Forum in Northallerton, North Yorkshire) with a day-long programme of talks on the history and future development of the service, aerial photography in North Yorkshire, community archaeology projects and historic landscape characterisation. Further details from

Books by Fellows

We will no doubt soon be asked to nominate candidates for the 2006 British Archaeological Awards, so here is a possible contender for the scholarly publication category of the book awards. Town and Country: contrasts, contacts and communications 1100—1500 is edited by Kate Giles and our Fellow Christopher Dyer. Published by Maney and based on the Society for Medieval Archaeology’s spring conference held in York in 2002, the book sets out with the ambitious aim of reuniting urban and rural archaeology. The fifteen essays (by a distinguished team of authors, at least five of them Fellows) define the differences between town and country, compare the two ways of life, trace the interconnecting links between townspeople and country dwellers, and show how they interacted and influenced one another. They cover town planning, the definition of urban space, houses, marketing networks, the consumption of meat, pottery, small finds and funerary monuments. They also deal with urban and rural mentalities as revealed by symbolic objects, hospitals, castles and guildhalls. The places which are discussed include Constantinople, Perth, York, London, Meols, Church Eaton, Ely, Tretower and Okehampton, and practically everywhere in between.

Pubs with archaeological names

Lindsay Allason-Jones, FSA, has risen to the challenge of finding a pub that has an archaeological name and a story to tell almost as good as that of the Amesbury Archer. ‘There was’, Lindsay writes, ‘a pub at Heworth, near Gateshead, called The Pot and Coins. This was named after a small pot containing bronze coins was found in 1812 and claimed, at the time, to be Anglo-Saxon. In 1981 various tests on the coins (by the British Museum) and the pot (by the Department of Geophysics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne) proved the whole lot to be fakes. When the local press heard about this I was telephoned by the landlord of the pub who was somewhat upset that his pub was named after a fake and said he would have to rename it. As I haven't heard of the pub for some years I presume he did. The pot and two of the coins, however, continue to be on display in the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle where the staff are rather proud of an archaeological fake which is old enough to make the Piltdown Man seem like a newcomer.’


British Library, Head of Western Manuscripts
£36,000 to £43,000; closing date 29 July 2005

Following the retirement of our Fellow Christopher Wright in October 2005, a vacancy will arise that will involve leading a team of twenty-five curators with responsibility for the world’s most important manuscript collection, and the papers of many of the nation’s leading literary and political figures. Significant management expertise, probably gained in a research library, is required. Further information from the British Library website, reference VM018405.

National Maritime Museum, Head of Secretariat, Historic Ships Advisory Committee
Two-year contract, c £50,000; closing date 1 August 2005

The Historic Ships Advisory Committee will advise the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on ship preservation issues and funding priorities, working closely with DCMS, the National Maritime Museum, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other bodies. The Head of Secretariat will support the committee with strategic vision and leadership, including advice on the make-up of the committee. He/she will also create a start-up plan, review the current National Register of Historic Ships, update and maintain the ships at risk register, co-ordinate advice on ship preservation and build relationships with funders and partners. Further details from the National Maritime Museum website.