Salon Archive

Issue: 127

Forthcoming meetings

10 November: Rituals, hoards and helmets: the East Leicestershire shrine and the Corieltauvi, by Dr J D Hill, FSA, and Vicki Priest. This meeting will be held in Leicester in association with the Leicestershire Historical and Archaeological Society.

The discovery and excavation of the East Leicestershire Hoard is one of the most important Iron Age (and perhaps early Roman) discoveries to be made in eastern England in recent years. The unusually well preserved open-air ritual site has produced over 5,000 Iron Age and pre-Claudian Roman coins, many in situ, along with other objects and 10,000 animal bones. The finds also include an unusual Roman silver-gilded cavalry parade helmet. The coins, helmet and site raise new questions about the East Midlands at the time of the Roman Conquest, while the ephemeral features found at the site may provide an insight to the kinds of structures and activities that took place at the location of other Iron Age deposits of coins and metalwork. Finally, the East Leicestershire Hoard highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the current Treasure system.

17 November: Roman brooches: how and where they were made and decorated, by Justine Bayley, FSA, and Sarnia Butcher, FSA

This wide-ranging lecture will illustrate the physical evidence for Roman brooch manufacture in Britain, will describe the range of copper alloys (and other metals) that were used to make brooches, and will explore reasons for the craftsmen’s choices. The composition of the bulk metal is of more than passing interest as it shows strong correlations with typology, manufacturing method and with the type of applied decoration. Preferred alloys change with time, providing insights into the supply and trade in metals in the Roman Empire, and can also indicate the most likely source area for particular objects.

24 November: Ballot

Kelmscott Manor Christmas shopping

The shop at Kelmscott Manor will be open for Christmas shopping from 11am to 4 pm on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November 2005. Seasonal refreshments will be available in the Manor’s restaurant (but the house itself is not open for viewing during this weekend). A Kelmscott stall will also be mounted in the Burlington House lobby before and after the meeting to be held on 8 December and at the Miscellany of Papers on 15 December.

Online balloting

Blue Papers for the ballot to be held on 24 November can now be viewed on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website, and you can also cast your vote for candidates in this ballot using the online balloting system at www.sal.org.uk/balloting.

Our new Secretary

Taryn Nixon, who has very ably served as the Society’s Secretary for the past three years, is stepping down because of work pressures and in her place Alison Taylor has nobly agreed to take on the role. Alison is well known to many Fellows as the editor of The Archaeologist, the magazine of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA), and, until this autumn, as Secretary to TAF — The Archaeological Forum — established in 2000 as a policy-making forum for independent national bodies in archaeology (including the Society of Antiquaries). As the IFA’s Editor she is also responsible for its Yearbook and Directory, the website and the papers series. Alison is a member of the Advisory Group set up by APPAG (the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group) and editor of the Proceedings of Cambridge Antiquarian Society. Before joining the IFA, Alison was County Archaeologist for Cambridgeshire, and she specialises in burial practice archaeology.

News of Fellows

Warmest congratulations to our Director, Martin Millett, and to his wife Jo (Storey) who gave birth to a daughter, Julia Maud, on 31 October 2005. Julia weighed in at 9lb 2oz; Martin reports that mother and baby are both doing very well.

Congratulations as well to Elizabeth Hallam Smith who is moving to the House of Lords — not as a new Peer, but as the new Director of Information Services and Librarian, in succession to our Fellow David Jones, who is due to retire from that post in January 2006.

Liz is currently Director of National Advisory and Public Services at The National Archives in Kew and Chair of the National Council on Archives. She has been at The National Archives since joining the Public Record Office, as it then was, in 1976. As Director (since 1994) she has led initiatives such as the creation of the National Archives’ online services, improving and extending access to the reading rooms at Kew and the Family Records Centre, establishing The National Archives’ educational services and developing an outreach programme with socially excluded groups.

Announcing Liz’s departure from The National Archives, Natalie Ceeney, Chief Executive, said: ‘Liz has had a long and successful career at The National Archives. Many of our recent achievements have been due to Liz’s hard work and dedication to the organisation and we are very sorry to see her go. The House of Lords are gaining a very experienced and highly professional member of staff who is going to be greatly missed.’

News from Paul Arthur from Lecce in southern Italy who says that he has just been elected as Associate to the Board of the International Center for Medieval Art in New York (). Paul’s role will be to keep the ICMA abreast of new developments in medieval archaeology.

In between quarrelling politicians and the over-hyped sport on Radio 4’s Today programme on 2 November, listeners heard our Fellow Mary Beard, of the Cambridge Classics Faculty, talking about the new BBC2 blockbuster series, ‘Rome’. Mary said that the new series accurately portrayed the gaudiness of ancient Rome, which was ‘more Thai temple, with bright colours and wreathing smoke’ than the traditional image of ‘a white marble city where every citizen wore freshly laundered white togas’. Commenting on the BBC’s claim that the series presented a radically new view of Rome, she said it actually owed much to Fellini’s Roma and to Frankie Howard’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, including, she said, ‘the actors’ habit of taking their clothes off at the slightest excuse!’

The Guardian published a lengthy interview with our Fellow Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, on 22 October 2005 (for the full article see The Guardian’s website). Among quotable quotes from the interview was his view that ‘The museum should be like Gulliver’s Travels in that it takes you on a decentring voyage’, exposing visitors to sophisticated cultures that thrived in lands now regarded widely by philistine westerners as dust bowls of barbarism, noteworthy only for oil and terror [Iran and Iraq]’. Elaborating on the Swiftian theme, MacGregor said the message of his museum was ‘how strange we are’. His whole stewardship, concludes the interviewer, ‘is premised on a faith in transforming his visitors’ cultural mindsets’.

Feedback

Our Fellow Neil Jacksonwrote to say that he was delighted to read the unbiased appraisal of Heelis, the National Trust’s new central offices in Swindon, in the last issue of Salon. His only regret was that, as so often with reports on architecture, the name of the architect was omitted. Fielden Clagg Bradley are one of the country’s leading practices and some excellent images of Heelis can be seen on their website (follow Projects > Workplaces > Heelis).

Our Fellow John Kenyon, Librarian at the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, has written in response to Salon’s piece on the new English Heritage guidebooks. John says that while David Robinson did indeed initiate the Cadw guidebook series, he would not want to see the contribution made by David’s successor at Cadw, Dr Diane Williams, to be overlooked. John says that the heritage world owes a great debt to Diane and her team for Cadw’s recent guides, which he believes have still to be surpassed, in spite of the new EH guides!

Obituaries

James Charles Risk, CVO, FSA, born in Manhattan on 5 May 1913, died on 23 October 2005 in New York City at the age of 92. James Risk graduated from Dartmouth College, cum laude, in 1937 with a BA in History, took postgraduate courses in European History at Harvard, and also taught History at MIT. In July 1943 he participated in the invasion of Sicily and in 1945 he was entrusted with the task of writing the Administrative History of the US Navy in the Mediterranean.

Later, he was sent to Rome to serve on the Naval Subcommission of the Allied Commission on the Democratization of Italy. As Protocol Officer, he was the liaison with the Vatican as well as the Quirinal Palace. In connection with the latter services, King Umberto II granted him the title of Knight of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, and Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy. His lifelong association with the House of Savoy culminated in being awarded the Grand Cross of Saints Maurice and Lazarus in 2001. He was the first American so honoured since World War II. For services in regard to war relief he was created a Knight of Grace of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George and Commander of the Order of Merit of Malta with Swords.

He was discharged from the Navy with the rank of Lt Commander, and then joined the US State Department Foreign Service, serving in Vladivostok and in Saigon as Vice Consul. After leaving the Foreign Service, he joined the staff of Coin Galleries in New York, where he worked for thirty-five years, writing many articles.

He had a lifelong interest in numismatics, which lead to the study of Royal Orders and Decorations, on which subject he became a noted authority. He wrote a number of books and monographs, including British Orders and Decorations, originally written in 1943 while he was in the Navy, and reissued in 1973, The History of the Order of the Bath and its Insignia, published by Spink’s (London) in 1972, The Yale University Brasher Doubloon (Stacks, 1981) and others. James Risk was the only living American awarded the distinction of Commander (Honorary) of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) for his work cataloguing the insignia of the orders and decorations in the Queen’s private collection.

Further to the obituary for John Simmons, FSA, quoted in the last issue of Salon, a second obituary appeared in The Times on 17 October, describing John as a man of upright bearing with a neat moustache who could appear at first to be a solemn and conventional English gentleman but who was, in fact, an adventurous man of many parts who planned to subtitle his memoirs (never written) ‘Recollections of a librarian-lecturer-bibliographer-buccaneer’. As an example of John’s fearless buccaneering style, his obituary quotes the occasion when he flabbergasted the director of the Lenin Library, Moscow, by turning up unannounced in August 1953 armed with a list of desiderata and the catalogues of Oxford University Press, to propose a book exchange. In return for OUP publications, scientific material and two runs of Punch, Oxford received thousands of valuable, out-of-print Russian publications.

Simmons’s proudest achievements were his part in building up the collections of Russian books in the Taylorian and Bodleian libraries and the creation in the Bodley of the only specialised Slavonic reading room in the country. He considered, with justification, that it was these library collections, together with the remarkable group of Russian academic teachers recruited by Konovalov, Maurice Bowra and Isaiah Berlin, which led to the establishment of Oxford as a unique centre for Slavonic studies.

His philosophy of life was best reflected in the 4Cs Club that he founded in 1985: the interlocking 4Cs emblem of the club represented his four ‘categoricals’ — ‘Conserve, Consider, Contribute, Co-operate’.

Further light was also thrown on the remarkable life of the late Oliver Impey, FSA, in the obituary published in the Daily Telegraph on 31 October 2005. While much has already been written about Oliver’s energetic commitment to building up the Ashmolean’s Japanese collection to its present international standing, less has been said about his equally enthusiastic interest in nature: he served for many years as curator of the University’s Botanic Garden, a reflection of the passion for gardening and garden design which he practised to impressive effect at home in Cumnor. When terminal cancer was diagnosed this summer, Impey treated the news with characteristic matter-of-factness: as well as preparing his final publications, travelling to London to receive the Oriental Ceramic Society’s Hills Gold Medal and enjoying the company of family and friends, he was equally concerned with the future care and well being of his flourishing bamboo grove.

2001 UNESCO Underwater Heritage Convention

The Society of Antiquaries played host on 28 October 2005 to a gathering of over one hundred delegates from UK Government departments, national heritage agencies and key voluntary bodies who met to discuss ways of raising awareness of the 2001 UNESCO Underwater Heritage Convention, which the UK Government has so far declined to adopt.

The Convention sets rigorous standards for the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage in the vast expanses of the sea that lie beyond territorial limits. The urgency for the UK to come on board has been highlighted by such recent events as the HMS Sussex imbroglio, which led the Council for British Archaeology to accuse the Government of engaging in a joint venture with a US underwater salvage company to recover bullion from the warship Sussex, which sank off Gibraltar in 1694, in contravention of the UK’s commitment to international conventions as well as basic principles of the Government’s own heritage policy.

Expert speakers from around the world gave an international perspective to the seminar, which concluded with the agreement of a ‘Burlington House Declaration’ by participating organisations (the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Institute of Field Archaeologists Maritime Affairs Group, the Nautical Archaeology Society, the UNESCO UK Committee, ICOMOS-UK, ICON and the Council for British Archaeology). It was envisaged that each of the participating bodies will formally adopt the Declaration, which is to be presented to David Lammy, Culture Minister, on Wednesday by Bob Yorke, FSA, and George Lambrick, FSA, of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee and which calls upon the UK Government to re-evaluate its position regarding the 2001 Convention and enter into discussions at the earliest opportunity with its heritage agencies, relevant non-governmental organisations and other interested parties with a view to taking the Convention forward.

Martyn Heighton appointed to head the National Historic Ships Unit

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the National Maritime Museum have announced the appointment of Martyn Heighton as Head of Secretariat to the newly created Historic Ships Advisory Committee. This Committee will advise the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the development of a policy for national historic ships, including funding priorities, preservation, interpretation and public access, and identifying professional and technical support for the national historic fleet, which is in both public and private ownership.

Martyn Heighton has extensive experience in maritime heritage. A former Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, he led the Merseyside Maritime Museum development in the early 1980s as part of the regeneration of the Albert Dock, Liverpool. As a member of the Management Board of the National Trust, he co-ordinated the Trust’s national programme to celebrate SeaBritain 2005. Most recently, he has been championing a comprehensive range of projects to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s birth in 2006.

For further information see the DCMS website.

The news of Martyn’s appointment came in the same week that the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had granted £168,000 to the restoration of Barnabas, a St Ives mackerel driver built in 1881, the oldest boat of its kind to survive. The 40ft (12m) wooden sailing boat was once part of a fleet of thousands that fished round the coasts of the British Isles; she is now a unique example of this type of vessel still afloat in her original form.

English Heritage launches research strategy consultation

Last week saw English Heritage launch a document that sets out the agency’s own research plans for the next five years, but also calls for the establishment of a UK-wide research strategy for the historic environment and its sustainable management. Our Fellow Edward Impey, Director of Research and Standards at English Heritage, described the strategy document as ‘a catalyst for a debate on the need for and the shape of a UK-wide heritage research strategy, to ensure that research needs are clearly defined, priorities established and duplication avoided’.

In calling for a more co-ordinated approach to understanding England’s historic environment — its condition, threats and value — Edward said: ‘We clearly see the potential and the need for heritage organisations in England and those representing the devolved home country administrations in Wales (Cadw), Scotland (Historic Scotland) and Northern Ireland (Environment and Heritage Service), as well as others, to work together to create and make use of the knowledge brought about by research.’

Dr Impey continued: ‘Our own research will broaden its multidisciplinary scope, from social history and town planning to architecture, information science and earth and environmental sciences, for example, to help reinforce the holistic approach to understanding the historic environment and its value.’

Over the next five years English Heritage will focus on research that defines, characterises and analyses the historic environment, to help steer its sustainable management and increase the public’s enjoyment; that supports the Government’s heritage protection reforms; that studies the obstacles to physical and intellectual access to the historic environment; that assesses the physical threats to the historic environment such as coastal erosion and climate change and their impact on the performance and condition of historic fabric; that analyses socio-economic developments across society, especially where these impinge upon the historic environment (such as new pressures facing rural areas following reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy); that tracks and analyses the changing patterns in the public’s use of heritage assets and their changing expectations and values; and that helps to increase participation among socially excluded groups and ensures that the information made available to the public at English Heritage sites, and through its guidebooks, reflects the highest standards of scholarship.

Two documents are available from the English Heritage website. The one called English Heritage Research Agenda: An introduction to English Heritage’s Research Themes and Programmes explains the thinking behind EH’s own programme of research, and the one called Discovering the Past, Shaping the Future: Research Strategy 2005 — 2010 is a consultation document seeking views on what a UK-wide research strategy should contain and who should be involved in its development. The consultation will end on 31 January 2006 and responses should be sent to James Stevens.

Policy research framework

Timed to coincide with the launch of the EH research strategy, the UK Historic Environment Research Group (UK-HERG) has also published a Framework for Policy Research, specifically concerned with the meaning, value, impact and role of heritage in society.

UK-HERG was established five years ago to bring together organisations from across the UK involved in commissioning socio-economic policy research in the heritage. Chaired by our Fellow Kate Clark, UK-HERG’s membership comprises policy and research directors from sixteen different bodies, including the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Countryside Agency, the Heritage Lottery Fund and CABE.

The research framework lists a number of critical questions relating to heritage and society, heritage and the economy and heritage in its own right where there is inadequate data and where gathering, analysing and interpreting the evidence will strengthen the ability of heritage bodies to present arguments demonstrating the value of all forms of heritage.

Copies of the research strategy can be downloaded from the Heritage Link website (go to the ‘Across the Sector’ page), and printed copies are available from Gail Fawcett at HLF.

UK-HERG has also set up a bulletin board for people interested in this field who wish to share research agendas, reports and abstracts. The forum is being moderated by Ian Baxter at the Heritage Futures Group, Glasgow Caledonian University, on behalf of UK-HERG. To join the email forum send an email with your name, position and email address. Alternatively, visit the UK-HERG web page.

English Heritage’s ‘Strategy for Learning’

Heritage is not identified in the national syllabus as a distinct field of study, but that doesn’t stop heritage bodies from evangelising and producing materials that can be incorporated into a range of subjects, from the expressive arts and citizenship to science, maths, languages, history and English. Last week saw English Heritage draw its various educational initiatives together into one Strategy for Learning (see the EH website), which emphasises that learning is at the heart of English Heritage’s new five-year strategic plan: ‘we aim to help people understand and learn from the historic environment, to value it, care for it and ultimately enjoy it and we will achieve this directly through learning programmes at over four hundred historic sites in our care, through wider engagement with the public, and through working with partners’, the strategy declares.

Amongst specific commitment given in the Strategy for Learning is a major national conference to be held in 2006 to disseminate best practice in outreach across the sector and with community groups, a programme of workshops, tours and other activities for schools to be launched in spring 2006, the provision of thirty initial teacher-training courses per year encouraging teachers to use the historic environment as a learning resource and the building of new partnership projects like those that already exist between English Heritage and the Historic Houses Association, the Civic Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust.

New vocational heritage GCSE

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has awarded a contract to OCR, one of three GCSE exam groups in England, to develop and pilot a new vocational qualification that will complement the more academic GCSE in history. The new GCSE will link history to related vocational areas of learning such as national heritage, museums, galleries, historic sites, archaeology, tourism, archives and media.

Ken Boston, QCA’s chief executive, described the exam, which has the backing of the Historical Association, as an ‘exciting and innovative approach to history that will allow students to make links between the history they study and its application to the world of work’. The exam will be piloted in seventy schools next year before being introduced throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Ken Boston went on to say that ‘There is now a wide range of employment related to our national heritage. This exciting and innovative approach to history GCSE will give students a rigorous grounding in both the historical knowledge and practical skills they need to take advantage of those opportunities.’

Culture Minister commends child-friendly website: PAStexplorers

Culture Minister David Lammy has commended a new website launched by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), saying that ‘it should encourage some exciting school projects and help children to learn about the history of the area where they live’.

The site, called PAStexplorers, has ‘fun zones’ where children can explore such topics as field walking and metal detecting, or find out what archaeological finds have been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme in their area. It also provides free stand-alone lesson plans for teachers looking for materials to incorporate into history, geography, ICT, citizenship and literacy lessons — for example, an interactive Anglo-Saxon village, which children can explore to learn more about life in the mid-sixth century, tying into the ‘Settlers and Invaders’ section of the National Curriculum.

Archaeologists and educational specialists developed the site with input from children who took part in pilots and influenced the appearance of the site and the choice of characters.

Export deferral for English royal medieval jug

A temporary export bar has been placed on an English royal medieval jug known as ‘the Wenlok jug’. The export decision has been deferred on the grounds that the jug is of outstanding significance for the study of bronze working in medieval England. The Wenlok jug is decorated with coats of arms, including the Royal arms as generally used between 1340 and 1405, and with crowns, badges and the inscription, in capitals, ‘MY LORD WENLOK’. It provides a rare and precious example of a vessel cast by an English bronze founder and bearing his mark. Effectively unknown to scholars until its recent sale, its rediscovery will provide the opportunity for further research into English metal-working skill and expertise, which are only just now being fully investigated in their wider social, economic and technical context.

The identity of the ‘Lord Wenlok’ of the jug’s inscription also provides scope for further investigation. Possible candidates include William Wenlock (died 1391), Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, Archdeacon of Rochester and Canon of the King’s Chapel, Westminster, in the late fourteenth century; or his nephew John, first Lord Wenlock (died 1471), a major figure in the fifteenth century whose offices included Chief Butler of England.

The decision on the export licence application for the jug will be deferred for a period ending on 19 December 2005 inclusive. This period may be extended until 19 March 2006 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the jug at the recommended price of £750,000 (excluding VAT) is expressed.

Further details can be found on the MLA website.

Bishops and cardinals call on Pope to save Latin

The seriousness of the decline in the teaching and learning of Latin was underlined when 241 participants in last week’s Synod of Bishops at the Vatican confessed themselves unable to understand the opening address, given by Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice, in the tongue that was once the universal language of the Catholic Church. Even simple instructions, to turn to paginam decimam quartam, were met with incomprehension. As a result the synod decided, as one of the fifty ‘propositions’ to emerge from the conference, that strenuous efforts needed to be made by the Vatican to ensure that Latin does not fall entirely into disuse.

Only one synod participant spoke Latin every time he took the microphone: Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats, the Archbishop of Riga. He did the same at the previous synod in 2001, when a disconsolate Pope John Paul II (himself a fluent Latin speaker) joked: paupera lingua latina; ultimum refugium habet in Riga! (‘Poor Latin; to have its last refuge in Riga!’).

Last week the Vatican also announced that England could be in line for its first modern saint. Cardinal Newman (1801—90) has been put on the road to canonisation, thanks to a long-awaited miracle. Although a dossier on Cardinal Newman’s beatification was first opened in 1958, no miracles had, until now, been attributed to his intercession. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, who was in Rome last week for the Synod of Bishops, is reported as saying: ‘I had to tell the previous Pope that the English are not very good at miracles … it’s not that we are not pious, but the English tend to think of God as a gentleman who should not be bullied.’ Now, however, the cleric responsible for arguing Newman’s cause, Father Paul Chavasse, the Provost of Birmingham Oratory, said that a deacon in the Diocese of Boston in the United States had testified that he had ‘fully recovered his health and mobility’ after praying to Cardinal Newman, despite being told he would never walk again after an unsuccessful operation for a spinal injury. ‘At last we have a miracle cure,’ Father Chavasse said.

Lessons on a DVD put Latin back into the classroom

But in the UK signs of a revival in Latin teaching were evident earlier in October when the Cambridge Schools Classics Project (CSCP) launched a new digital programme designed to reinvigorate the subject. Hi-tech lessons, created at a cost of £5 million, will give step-by-step tuition in the language, history and culture of the Romans and enable Latin to be taught in hundreds of schools that have not previously offered the subject because of a lack of specialist teachers. Only thirty-five Latin teachers are trained each year and most go into the private educational sector.

Aimed at secondary school pupils, the on-line course, which has 1,000 activities, including video clips, audio sequences and grammar exercises and tests, takes children up to GCSE level. Crucially, the programme can be taught by non-specialist teachers, with students communicating via e-mail with classicists at Cambridge. Schools snapped up the initial run of three hundred interactive DVDs in just one week.

Ministerial speeches on cultural diversity

David Lammy, Minister for Heritage at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is proving to be a challenging and stimulating speaker on the issues of heritage, identity, faith, tolerance and the value of culture to society. The following summary of his ideas is based on two recent speeches delivered at the end of October to the Museums Association Conference (for the full text see the DCMS website) and to a seminar organised by the Heritage Lottery Fund on the question of ‘Where now for black and minority ethnic heritage?’ (for the full text see the DCMS website). On both occasions his tone was very robust: having told the audience about the death of one of his school friends in the suicide bomb that exploded on the Piccadilly Line, on 7 July, he asked how heritage professionals were contributing to the creation of a society in which such things are less likely to happen because the ethnically diverse populations of the UK feel that they share a common future and that they all belong to a vibrant, multi-ethnic Britain.

To achieve this, he said, requires vision and creativity because it is no longer possible to write a simple single shared narrative about Britain, along the lines of ‘Our Island Story’, and similar children’s history books of a earlier age: this new history needs to take into account the multiple and fragmented stories of people like himself, ‘born up the road in Tottenham, but whose ancestors were taken from Africa to Guyana by European slave traders in the seventeenth century; whose great-great grandparents became British subjects when Guyana became part of the Empire in 1831; and whose parents came to these shores to find work and a better life in the 1950s’.

Not to engage in this rewriting is a failure of creativity, vision and ambition, and a collective failure to understand the country as it is today. A history dominated by Agincourt, Waterloo and the Battle of Britain needs some recognition too of the history of the last decades, the history of the Commonwealth coming home, the history of the struggles of recent migrants and asylum seekers and the perennial struggle of parents and communities to make their way. Without this, there will be no more history because young people from all backgrounds are less deferential, less accepting of tradition and more willing to construct their own meanings and identities if they do not see the relevance of those that are on offer.

He himself values historical method as a way of helping young people get to grips with key issues in an honest, open and just way, and of avoiding polemical, sensationalist or superficial analysis. Schools, museums, galleries, universities and other cultural institutions must help by equipping people with the skills and resources to explore the recent past and their multiple cultures and identities. Such institutions, he said, are not just custodians of national assets but of national ideas, with a positive duty to reach diverse audiences (in this respect he singled out the British Museum, the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery for their commitment to diversity).

He lamented the lack of black and minority ethnic staff in senior management or curatorial positions in these institutions, and said that in his meetings since being appointed as Heritage Minister, he was far too often the only black person in the room — even though there were ‘countless creative, experienced and qualified black men and women up and down the country ready to rise to the challenge’.

He singled out the Heritage Lottery Fund for praise and commended the HLF Connecting Histories project, based in Birmingham Central Library, which was all about capturing the experiences of the diverse population of Birmingham and giving new groups of people within the city the tools to explore their recent past, building their own mini-archives of posters, photographs, magazines, leaflets and family histories, gaining the confidence to value and present their own history, which can then ‘sit alongside the great municipal histories of this city’.

He concluded by quoting Thomas Carlyle’s words to the effect that ‘ignorance is always an expensive pastime’, and encouraged the heritage profession to fight ignorance by engaging with the issues that many people care about to do with culture and identity. He pointed to the Bicentenary of the Parliamentary abolition of the slave trade in the former British Empire in 2007 as an opportunity to begin to remedy past shortcomings, to turn the heritage of the past to advantage for the future and to portray all the different sides of Britain’s history — and as an example of what it meant to be balanced he said it was as important to reflect both on the values and assumptions about race equality that supported slavery, and on those that inspired the abolitionists.

The year 2007, he said, should be ‘an opportunity for schools, faith groups, community-organisations, campaigners, historians and others to participate in building and sharing their knowledge and experience, an event which isn’t owned by one group or another, or imposed on people from on high, but a genuine collaboration in which people are free to retell one of our island’s most important stories in their own words’.

Mayor’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage report published

On a related theme, the first report from the Mayor of London’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage (MCAAH) was launched last week. Chaired by Dame Jocelyn Barrow, the MCAAH was established in August 2003 to explore formal and informal aspects of the heritage sector, looking at how heritage is influenced and managed, how heritage workers are trained, and to what extent the educational curriculum is inclusive of the historical contributions of African, Asian and Caribbean citizens. It also looked into how community-based heritage organisations can be supported and resourced more effectively and how major institutions can establish better partnerships and utilise the experience and expertise within African, Asian and Caribbean communities.

The Commission’s recommendations include establishing a change review programme to ensure that more governing-body appointments (to boards and cabinets) fully reflect London’s cultural diversity, encouraging heritage institutions to develop guidelines for community heritage partnerships, making collections and learning materials more accessible, inspiring and relevant for London’s diverse communities, utilising experts from African and Asian communities in the research, interpretation, cataloguing and display of mainstream heritage collections, supporting the infrastructural development of African and Asian community-based organisations engaged in heritage work, redressing the current workforce imbalance, increasing the career access of African- and Asian-descent communities into the heritage sector and developing a more inclusive education system and curriculum that embraces and supports the histories, cultures and identities of African and Asian communities.

For further details see the London Assembly’s website.

New Illicit Trade guidelines

On an entirely different theme, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has just published new guidelines to assist museums, libraries and archives when considering the acquisition by purchase, gift or bequest of items of cultural property. They contain due diligence procedures to determine whether a proposed acquisition or loan of cultural objects is ethically and legally acceptable.

Such guidelines might seem timely in view of recent allegations that the Getty Foundation has knowingly acquired material looted from archaeological sites in Italy. On the other hand the DCMS press release headed Don’t Buy Looted Goods By Accident’ David Lammy Tells Heritage Bodies was perhaps ill advised in the light of the speech given to the Museums Association conference last week by our Fellow Charles Saumaurez Smith. Charles lamented the fact that museum acquisition budgets are severely under-resourced and pleaded for an increase in purchase funds so that ‘we are not reduced to second tier information providers but do actively collect’.

Leaving financial considerations aside, funding bodies will expect applicants to adhere to these guidelines when seeking acquisition funds. The guidelines result from the work of the Illicit Trade Advisory Panel on which the Society of Antiquaries is represented, along with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Museums Association, the National Art Collections Fund, the British Museum, the V&A, the Ashmolean Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum, York Museums Trust, the Manchester Museum, the British Library and the National Archives.

The guidelines, entitled Combating Illicit Trade: due diligence guidelines for museums, libraries and archives on collecting and borrowing cultural material, are available online from the DCMS website.

SAVE’s Thirtieth Anniversary celebrations

SAVE Britain’s Heritage, founded in 1975 by our Fellow Marcus Binney, is marking its thirtieth anniversary in the same way that it began: with an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which runs from 3 November 2005 to 12 February 2006. Thirty years ago the exhibition theme was ‘The Destruction of the English Country House’. Today SAVE campaigns across a far wider geographical field and for a much more diverse range of buildings, all of them sharing in the unenviable status of being endangered and under threat of destruction through demolition, negligence or heavy-handed restoration. This exhibition isn’t just focused on buildings, however: it will also pay tribute to the large number of volunteers who have campaigned tirelessly on behalf of threatened heritage over the thirty years of SAVE’s existence.

SAVE has also announced that Bill Bryson will give a fundraising lecture on 5 April 2006 at the Royal Geographical Society, Kensington. SAVE has announced the lecture well in advance in the hope that people will buy tickets as Christmas presents for friends, family and colleagues who are fans of SAVE or of Bill Bryson. Further details from the SAVE website.

Cityscape views must be protected says SAVE

SAVE staff are never able to relax their guard for a moment and last week’s cause was the issue of tall buildings in London, which could crowd the sky in such a way as to block protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, according to SAVE’s Secretary, Adam Wilkinson, whose letter published in the Daily Telegraph on 1 November went on to say that ‘Save Britain’s Heritage has long held the view that anything less than the current level of protection is unacceptable’.

The letter was occasioned by a draft proposal from the London Assembly to change the rules governing historic vistas in such a way that more views would be protected, but through narrower corridors. Thus the view of St Paul’s from Hampstead Heath would be narrowed from four times the width of the dome on either side to a half-width under the new plans and the view of the cathedral from Richmond Park, known as Henry VIII’s view, would be halved in width.

Veteran sight-lines expert, landscape architect and adviser to the royal parks, Hal Moggridge (known to Fellows as the designer of the garden at Kelmscott Manor), has also stepped into the debate by publishing a pamphlet showing which famous views will be unprotected under the new plans. Mr Moggridge wants much wider bands of protection given to views of the City skyline from Westminster, Waterloo and Hungerford bridges than has been given before. At present, views from the centre of the bridges towards St Paul’s are protected, but this does not apply if one walks 30 yards either way. He also wants to prevent tall buildings from breaking into the skyline around St James’s Park, and believes that some of the current proposals would do this.

SAVE’s Secretary said the problem needed to be resolved through a thorough revision of the joint English Heritage/CABE guidance on tall buildings stating precisely where it is acceptable to construct tall buildings.

Coastal erosion reveals burial site on Shetland’s most northerly isle

Archaeologists have discovered an Iron Age burial site at Sand Wick on Unst, after setting up an excavation, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, to train volunteers in what to look for and how to excavate eroding coastlines. The skeleton was found lying on its back with a polished stone disc tucked inside its mouth and a possible pendant formed of rings of copper alloy and bone. Dr Olivia Lelong, excavation director and project director of Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division, said: ‘It was a beautifully composed burial, obviously put together with a great deal of thought and care.’

Coastal communities in Scotland are being urged to play a part in watching for archaeological remains revealed by coastal erosion, which threatens potentially thousands of historical sites. Professor Christopher Smout, of St Andrews University, said the potential losses ranged from prehistoric coastal Stone Age settlements to medieval castles, sixteenth-century saltpans, early harbours and World War II defences. He urged more people to get involved with the work of such bodies as Shorewatch and SCAPE (the Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problems of Erosion Trust) who prioritise the best sites for excavation and rescue the most important artefacts.

Iron Age ‘industrial estate’ uncovered in Inverness

Further south, in Inverness, archaeologists are excavating what they describe as an entire Iron Age village, industrial estate and trading centre at an undisclosed location near the city of Inverness. In an excavation being funded by Tulloch Homes to the tune of £250,000, a team of twenty diggers has uncovered the remains of twelve roundhouses and evidence of metal and glass working. Excavation leader Mark Roberts believes the site might have been the stronghold of a Highland ruler with trading links to the rest of Europe. Our Fellow Fraser Hunter, Curator of the Iron Age and Roman periods at the National Museums of Scotland, has been working with the excavation team. ‘This is the most important site dug in the Inverness area for a substantial time,’ he said. ‘What we seem to have is a large-scale craft and industrial site producing enough to trade with the Romans.’

Where Stone Age man put his feet up

You can tell that an archaeological story has tickled the popular fancy if it turns up on Radio 4’s entertaining News Quiz, as was the fate of the headline in The Times of 3 November that claimed to reveal ‘Where Stone Age man put his feet up’. The News Quiz team had great fun with the notion that the discovery of a large Neolithic settlement in Northumberland ‘marked a breakthrough in the quest to discover whether late Stone Age man was a settler or a nomad’.

Jokes aside, The Times reported that ‘Late Stone Age man is still largely a mystery. Academics are unsure whether he lived a mobile existence, like his hunter-gatherer forebears, or enjoyed a more sedentary life in a permanent home’. Thus the discovery of three buildings dating from the Early Neolithic period (about 4000 BC) and three from the Later Neolithic period (3000 BC) in Northumberland was declared by Dr Clive Waddington, director of the site, to be ‘an incredibly exciting discovery … these buildings reveal for the first time that, in this part of the world at least, they were settlers. It is a big breakthrough.’

The settlements were found by chance when old RAF buildings were being pulled down. Inside one building archaeologists found a human burial site in a pit, accompanied by broken pottery and charred wood. Excavation has also found hearths, rubbish pits and storage pits. Writing in The Guardian, Maev Kennedy described the two settlement sites as each being about the size of a football pitch, surrounded by timber and earth bank henges and probably inhabited by a few related families. The site is near the village of Milfield, in an area with a rich archaeological history, dominated by the enormous Yeavering Bell hill fort, built 1,000 years after the newly discovered settlements.

David Miles, Chief Archaeological Adviser at English Heritage, said that ‘Neolithic habitation sites are as rare as hens’ teeth anyway, but this is the first time we have found them in association with henge sites.’

Seasonal humour

The News Quiz ended this week’s programme with its usual humorous cutting, taken from the National Trust’s guidebook to Charlecote Park and particularly appropriate to the Feast of All Souls: ‘Please note’, it said, ‘that the gate to the graveyard is one way.’

The Lions in the Tower

New research published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology shows that two lion skulls discovered at the Tower of London date from the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. As well as providing a date for the lions, Dr Hannah O’Regan, of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) who led the research, said the finding of two virtually complete big cat skulls from the late medieval period shed light on the earliest phases of the Tower’s Royal Menagerie. Established by King John (1199—1216), the Menagerie is known to have held lions, bears and other exotic species. Information on this period is limited to a few short documentary references (and a famous sketch of an elephant by Matthew Paris, a monk of St Albans).

Jeremy Ashbee, Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings at English Heritage and former Curator at the Tower of London, explained: ‘The Royal Menagerie is one of the great “lost” institutions of the Tower and hardly any traces of it remain visible today. At its height, it was an immensely popular tourist attraction, in the same way that the Crown Jewels are today. In the earliest period, the Menagerie seems to have been a private collection for the king, a sign that he enjoyed good relations with foreign monarchs, who presented him with animals. Lions were particularly prized as the living emblems of the royal arms of England, much like modern mascots.’

The actual location within the Tower of the early Royal Menagerie is still unknown, but the lion skulls were found in the moat adjacent to the Middle and Lion Towers, suggesting that they were kept in this area. The semicircular structure — later known as the ‘Lion Tower’ — was built in the south-western corner of the Tower in 1276—7 by Edward I. By the sixteenth century this structure definitely housed the Royal Menagerie. It was finally closed in 1835, on the orders of the Duke of Wellington, and the remaining animals were moved to the Zoological Society’s Gardens in Regent’s Park, now better known as London Zoo.

For the full story see the Liverpool John Moores University website.

Beavers and lynx in the Cotswolds

The European beaver, hunted to extinction in Britain more than five centuries ago, has been reintroduced to a reserve in the Cotswolds Water Park. The six beavers were imported from Bulgaria, and they have been released into a 100-acre enclosure, rather than into the wild.

How long they will be happy to stay contained is anyone’s guess: the last issue of Salon reported on plans to reintroduce lynx to the UK which elicited a response from our Fellow David Miles to say that lynx were already here: one of David’s neighbours, a smallholder in Oxfordshire, has had to stop keeping geese because even a 2-metre high wire fence would not keep out the lynx which had colonised the Brize Norton aerodrome area. The lynxes had been released into the wild by people who had acquired them as pets and were no longer able to cope with them, especially following the more stringent requirements of the Dangerous Animals Act.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the seventeenth century for their pelts, meat and musk glands. They have already been reintroduced to Portugal, Italy and Greece, and the Scottish Executive has experimented with reintroducing beavers to Argyll, so far without success. Visitors to Florence on the other hand have for decades been entertained by a small colony of beavers that have made a home in the centre of the city, on the Arno river, a short distance upstream from the Ponte Vecchio.

For sale: Britain’s Cold War City

The Sunday Times reported in graphic detail last week that an underground city, extending to 240 acres, with 60 miles of roads, its own railway station and a pub called the Rose and Crown, has just been put on the market by the Ministry of Defence. Built in the 1950s some 120 feet below the streets of Corsham, in Wiltshire, this subterranean complex was intended to house the Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Cabinet and 4,000 civil servants in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. Much of the complex made use of quarry shafts created in the eighteenth century when the high-quality oolite of Corsham was excavated to provide stone for the fine front elevations of houses in Bath.

A visit there today involves walking into an opening in a hillside and taking a lift down to the subterranean city. The only sentry is a garden gnome. Inside, it is like stepping back fifty years. Hundreds of swivel chairs delivered in 1959 are still unpacked. There are boxes of government-issue glass ashtrays, lavatory brushes and civil service tea sets. Pictures of the Queen, Princess Margaret and Grace Kelly are pinned to the walls. The canteen has murals of British sporting scenes painted by Olga Lehmann who went on to design costumes for films such as ‘The Guns of Navarone’ and ‘Kidnapped’. ‘It is like a set from “The Avengers”’, says Nick McCamley, author of Secret Underground Cities, who first discovered the existence of the site in the 1960s. The bunker’s existence was top secret until it was decommissioned last year.

Sadly, the MoD has ruled out opening the city to visitors for operational and safety reasons. Instead it is likely to be sold as a data store or wine cellar. Wine should keep well at the bunker’s constant temperature once equipment to control the humidity is introduced. Vintners expect an explosion in the sale of fine wines next year when changes in pension regulations will enable people to invest their savings in claret. Michael Lainas, managing director of Octavian, which stores 800,000 cases of wine in another former stone quarry — three miles from the bunker — said: ‘It’s a nice idea going from a red scare to red wine. Our most valuable deposit is a 1666 bottle of sherry valued at £36,000 that once belonged to the tsar of Russia. But even I am not allowed down there with a corkscrew.’

Tomb scan reveals buried treasure

Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, reported last week that Chinese and German archaeologists had completed a magnetic scan of the unopened tomb in Xi’an of China’s first emperor, and had detected a large number of coins, suggesting that the Emperor Qin (221—210 BC) was buried with his state treasury. Guarded by the famous terracotta army, the immense tomb was discovered in the 1970s outside the former imperial capital of Xi’an. Archaeologists have refrained from opening it until they decide how to preserve the treasures it is believed to contain. The magnetic scan revealed new details of the tomb’s structure and a ‘remarkable amount of coins’, Xinhua said, quoting Michael Petzet, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, who said that: ‘Excavation sometimes means destruction. Let them sleep underground. It’s safer. No excavation should be done for fun or curiosity.’

Nazi photos reveal war’s lost treasures

Thousands of colour photographs commissioned by Adolf Hitler have been released on the internet, bringing back to life many of Germany’s lost art treasures, including frescos in churches, monasteries and palaces across Germany and occupied Europe. The decision, made after the German defeat at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942—3, suggests that even Hitler sensed that the war could no longer be won. About 60 per cent of the photographed church art was subsequently destroyed in air raids. Lost works include the ceiling fresco of the Dresden Hofkirche, painted by Franz Karl Palkos, Luca Antonio Colombo’s allegorical eighteenth-century fresco Fanfare of the Angels in the Thurn und Taxis Palace in Frankfurt and The War, painted inside the Berlin Zeughaus (armoury) by Friedrich Geselschap, the nineteenth-century artist. Not all of the frescos are by famous artists. The photographs also show brightly painted wooden ceilings of village churches in former eastern Prussia, now in Russia.

About 60,000 slides have survived: they were taken using the newly invented Agfacolour film, an innovation of the Nazi era. Archivists have started to digitise the pictures because their original colour tones were fading, and so far pictures of about 480 buildings have been released. The photographers (who included university lecturers, art historians and chemists) were hired by the Propaganda Ministry of Joseph Goebbels. This was a popular commission since the photographers were freed from service on the front and were well paid. The teams conducted their work secretly: it would have been obvious to ordinary Germans that the Nazi leadership was expecting heavy bombardment and even defeat. Yet open expression of ‘defeatist sentiment’ could, under Nazi law, bring the death sentence.

Resorts ‘losing their Victorian character in rush for flats’

The Victorian Society is campaigning to prevent a block of flats being built in the garden of a villa in Swanage, Dorset, arguing that seaside resorts are in danger of losing their character if Victorian villas and their grounds are not preserved. Sea Court villa, which was built in 1894, was once the home of the artist George William Joy, who was best known for his painting called Flora MacDonald’s Farewell to Bonnie Prince Charlie, which decorates tins of Walkers shortbread. The Society said the villa was ‘an excellent example of those built by the well to do at the end of the nineteenth century in resorts such as Swanage’. Richard Holder, of the Victorian Society, said that such villas were often not in a conservation area and not listed, which made them difficult to fight for. ‘But they are important parts of the character of a resort: just as the Regency terraces of Brighton are a major part of an impression of the town, so the Victorian and Edwardian villas are the key element in a view of such towns as Swanage.’

Opponents have not objected to plans to convert the villa into flats, because they believe that that would be the best way to protect it, but they are contesting plans to develop the grounds, as they say that the flats would be 40 per cent bigger than the villa itself. Ann Morgan, the community engagement officer for the Victorian Society, said that a growing number of Victorian villas and their settings was under threat. She said: ‘It is something we have been dealing with across the country and we are contacted almost every day by someone trying to save one of these buildings.’

Locals cry foul at football ground approval

John Prescott has been accused of breaking Labour’s own planning policy guidance rules after approving the construction of a 22,000-seat football stadium in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In late October, the Deputy Prime Minister settled a four-year planning battle over a £40-million stadium for Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club by granting permission for the stadium to be built on the edge of Falmer, known as the gateway to the Sussex Downs. Mr Prescott ruled that ‘there are no other realistic alternative sites where the need for the stadium could be met [and] the need for a stadium at Falmer outweighs the likely damage to the area’. The campaign for a new ground on the outskirts of the city has won widespread support among fans but has outraged conservationists, Falmer villagers and neighbouring Lewes district council.

Martin Beaton, the chief executive of the South Downs Joint Committee, said: ‘The site is in the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The implications of this decision are very worrying for all organisations involved in caring for protected landscapes. It demonstrates that the Government is willing to set aside strict national planning policies in favour of local considerations.’ Local people say that the impact of the stadium would devastate the village. ‘We are an idyllic Sussex village with a little church, a duck pond, flint cottages and downland views’, said one resident: ‘now we will have to cope with the problems of noise, traffic, crowds and light’.

Cement quarry threat to ancient trackway

Writing in The Times on 31 October, our Fellow Norman Hammond drew attention to the threat to the Whole Way (the name is a corruption of ‘holloway’), a track that links the Cambridgeshire villages of Barrington and Harlton. According to our Fellow Christopher Taylor, formerly head of Archaeological Survey for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and author of Roads and Tracks of Britain, ‘the Whole Way is the only surviving example in south-west Cambridgeshire of a group of tracks of Roman or even earlier date that bounded and gave access to contemporary fields. These tracks were all either destroyed or altered out of recognition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Whole Way is the only one of these tracks to remain in anything like its original form. As such it is a most important survivor of a very ancient landscape.’

Having established its importance, Norman conveys the devastating news that a cement company, seeking a massive expansion of its Barrington quarry, wants to remove this link with the past. CEMEX says that for its operation, which includes a new chimney higher than the hill itself, to go ahead ‘the Whole Way has to be diverted’.

Giant crabs invade Rome excavation

It sounds like the plot of a cheap horror movie, but according to newspaper reports in Rome, hundreds of giant crabs are threatening to halt the work of archaeologists excavating the city’s subterranean remains. The 550-strong colony of freshwater crabs are living in a water channel running under the Imperial Forum, where they are so adapted to city living that they have grown 40 per cent larger than they would in their natural habitats in Sicily and Tuscany; from 50mm to a ‘giant’ 70mm. Scientists attribute this to good-quality water and a lack of natural predators in the water channel that runs under the Palatine Hill and surfaces in the Trajan Market. Negotiations are now under way with Rome’s archaeological authorities excavating the Forum site to find a way to preserve the colony without halting their work.

Startling eye-catcher in the Vale of Pewsey wins Georgian award

One of the items in the RIBA Collection of which our Fellow Charles Hind (Deputy Curator of the Collection) is most proud is an exquisite scale model by the Chinese-born architect I M Pei (he of the Louvre pyramid) of a garden pavilion that I M Pei designed for the Wiltshire home of Mr and Mrs Henry Keswick. Now that same pavilion has won the 2005 Georgian Group Award sponsored by Savills for a new building in a Georgian context, and as a result a little-known masterpiece has suddenly entered the limelight.

The pavilion is everyone’s idea of the ultimate garden shed, built at the end of a fine avenue of limes between the Keswicks’ Georgian house at Oare and a magnificent sweep of the earthwork-covered Marlborough Downs. Writing about the pavilion in The Times, our Fellow Marcus Binney described it as a cross between a pagoda and a Norwegian stave church, looking as if it has landed from space on the smooth turf that surrounds it. The walls and roofs are entirely of glass, providing spectacular panoramas while sunlight and cloud shadows filter through slats inside the roof. Like many eighteenth-century classical temples in English landscape parks, Pei’s pavilion is isolated so that its geometric perfection can be appreciated from all sides.

British Library joins digital revolution

The British Library announced on 3 November 2005 that it was to begin the immense task of digitising its collection to make parts of it available online. The BL’s partner in the project is to be the US computer firm Microsoft, which has donating £1.7 million a year to pay for the project. The library plans to digitise 25 million pages from its 13-billion book collection, and the results will be made available free on Microsoft websites. The books to be digitised date from before 1800 and are out of copyright. The search-engine company Google has struck similar deals with American university libraries. Microsoft’s agreement is expected to last several years but how much of the collection will be digitised is an open question.

Pacific cemetery shows how ancestors were revered

An update on the recent fieldwork of our Fellow Professor Matthew Spriggs and Dr Stuart Bedford of the Australian National University appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Science website last week. The ABC report said that the remains from the oldest cemetery yet found in the Pacific (3,100 years old at Teouma in Vanuatu) showed that the Lapita people buried their dead in many different ways, some with their skulls removed for ceremonial purposes. Dr Bedford said that removing the skulls of the deceased was a long-standing practice in the Pacific before missionaries arrived, with skulls often being removed to ceremonial houses, and that the Lapita people could be the source of the practice.

Most of the bodies in the cemetery were buried horizontally, mostly on their back in amongst holes in an old uplifted reef, but some were found lying on their front and others were found with their legs bent up or in what Bedford described as ‘weird yoga positions’. One of the most important finds at Teouma is pottery specifically made for burial purposes.

Matthew and his colleague have extracted DNA from some of the skeletons found at Teouma, and if tests confirm that the DNA has not been contaminated, they hope it will shed light on one of the major puzzles of the Lapita: where they came from. While humans have been in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands for around 50,000 years, there is no evidence of human colonisation further east until the arrival of the Lapita people a few thousand years ago.

Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’

It all seems a long time ago now, but back in the summer, when supporters of the English cricket team were celebrating victory in the Ashes series, a correspondent writing to The Times queried the appropriateness of ‘Jerusalem’ as England’s unofficial national anthem, accusing Blake of being a socialist and Luddite because of his disparaging references to ‘dark Satanic mills’. ‘That chap Parry’s tune is a jolly one, but that bounder Blake will not do’ was the gist of the letter.

Such a literal and ill-informed interpretation of ‘Jerusalem’ led Salon’s editor to ask Fellows if they would like to share their understanding of the meaning of Blake’s prophetic poem — particularly to shed light on what he might have meant by the ‘Satanic mills’ reference.

Martin Henig responded with the suggestion that Blake was referring to Stonehenge and that ‘mill’ is a dialect word for large shaped stones. Martin said his friend Percival Turnbull, of the Brigantia Archaeological Practice, first introduced him to this idea. Percival himself wrote to Salon to remind us that, as a young engraver, Blake was apprenticed to the Society’s own artist, James Basire, and that he had a profound and informed interest in antiquities. Druidical figures and trilithons based on those at Stonehenge appear in Blake’s own illustrations to the poem ‘Milton’, from which the two stanzas that we know as ‘Jerusalem’ form part of the introduction. Like many of his contemporaries, Blake looked upon Stonehenge, with its mill-like concentric circles, as a place built by Druids for human sacrifice.

But as Percival points out, Blake’s metaphors never seem to have one simple explanation, and he quotes Blake’s diatribe against the scholarly orthodoxies of his day:

I turn my eyes to the Schools & Universities of Europe
And there behold the Loom of Locke whose Woof rages dire
Wash’d by the Water-wheels of Newton. Black the cloth
In heavy wreathes folds over every Nation; cruel Works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other: not as those in Eden: which
Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & peace.

These words seem to draw a distinction between a tyrannical mill system (one of human manufacture?) in which one wheel forcibly drives another and an Edenic mill in which the wheels turn of their own volition but in harmony (a reference to the primum mobile and the harmonic music of the spheres?). But as soon as you think you have pinned Blake down, he shifts and contradicts your assumptions: another Salon correspondent wrote to point to what might be Blake’s first use of the mill as a metaphor in his earliest volume of engraved poems, ‘There Is No Natural Religion’ (c 1788), in which Blake writes: ‘The bounded is loathed by its possessor. The same dull round, even of a universe, would soon become a mill with complicated wheels.’

So now all unvarying systems, including the universe itself, are presented as bad. Whilst struggling with such inconsistencies it is good to turn to John Hines’s email in which he says ‘the poem that we call Blake’s “Jerusalem” has many layers of meaning, and it is entirely consistent with […] this that divergent interpretations and conflicting reactions arise. No one can be right to say “what the verses mean is just THIS”; however some relevant facts can be laid out.

‘The mill is a powerful symbolic image in Blake. It represents not just industrialisation as a historical fact, but also routine, mechanical, rationality and regularity, and is contrasted with the plough of creative and visionary imagination. The song “And did those feet …” is from the Preface to Blake’s “Milton”, in which the puritan poet’s post-mortem enlightenment and redemption are dramatised. The image of “dark Satanic mills” thus alludes directly to the blind Milton’s Samson, in a similar spiritual state, “Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves”.

‘At the same time, the evocation of hills, pastures, mountains, clouds and mills makes real use of familiar and immediate contemporary experience. Blake’s vision DOES attempt to unify the transcendental New Jerusalem, unbounded in time and place, with a real, here-and-now world.’

John apologises (unnecessarily) for what he describes as a ‘hideously over-compressed summary’ and reminds us that the question of the meaning of ‘Jerusalem’ was, in fact, rehearsed in some detail in a famous debate between John Wain, F W Bateson and W W Robson in the ‘Critical Forum’ section of the journal Essays in Criticism (vol II, 1952, pp 105—14).

So, to conclude, it is clear that Blake’s words are not rooted in cotton production or the iniquities of the Industrial Revolution or social justice in any simple party-political sense. It is also clear that people do recognise something important and resonant when they sing ‘Jerusalem’, whether on the terraces at Trent Bridge or at a Women’s Institute meeting. Perhaps that is the secret of its success as an anthem — that each of us is encouraged by the words to imagine our own utopian New Jerusalem, and those values that we would be prepared to fight for (but to fight for intellectually, as Blake makes clear: he was not, after all, advocating terrorism) — though perhaps antiquaries are the one group of people who might find it difficult to sing ‘Jerusalem’ with gusto, if it means casting a negative light on our much-treasured Stonehenge!

Seminars, lectures and conferences

Seminars in the History of Collecting, The Wallace Collection, Wednesday 16 November 2005, 4.30pm. Our Fellow Frank Herrmann will lead a seminar entitled ‘On the Aggregation of Books: a pleasurable passion’. Despite the great technical advances in communications, the world of books continues to thrive; not least the world of antiquarian books. While the number of book auctions held has shrunk, between them Sotheby’s and Christie’s alone sell in excess of £100 million through their book departments each year, and various younger salerooms of recent origin continue to flourish. Dealers tend to specialise and have a faithful following. Nobody really knows where all the books go, but collecting books — or aggregating them — continues with a long tradition and history behind it. Please contact Rosie Broadley, Museum Assistant, The Wallace Collection, if you wish to attend:

Preparing St Paul’s Cathedral for its Fourth Century, by Martin Stancliffe, FSA, Seventeenth Surveyor to the Fabric, St Paul’s Cathedral. This ICOMOS-UK lecture, held in association with the Ecclesiological Society, will be given on 5 December at 6.30pm at The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ. As St Paul’s approaches the 300th anniversary of its completion in 2010, the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s have taken a brave decision to clean and repair the entire interior and exterior of Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. The completion of the major phase of this work amply demonstrates the skills and craftsmanship of all involved. Martin Stancliffe will speak on the challenges of striking the right balance between making the architecture read as Wren intended and respecting later changes to the fabric. Further details from Rikke Osterlund, Office Manager, ICOMOS-UK.

History and the Public, the Institute of Historical Research’s annual conference on 13 and 14 February 2006 (Senate House, University College London) will include a galaxy of Fellows talking on subjects as diverse as ‘Eighteenth-century Antiquaries and Their Relationship to Public Interest in History’ (Rosemary Sweet), ‘The Twenty-first Century Guidebook: providing mobile public access to Welsh historic environment data’ (Peter Wakelin), ‘Can Archivists Shape History?’ (Elizabeth Hallam Smith), ‘Art History and the Public at the National Gallery’ (Charles Saumarez Smith) and ‘They Can’t Come, They’re Not Qualified!’ (about public archaeology, Don Henson). For full programme and booking details see the conference website.

The Association for Environmental Archaeology 2006 Annual Conference, University of Exeter 28 to 30 March 2006. The conference is entitled ‘Novel Environmental Archaeology: integrating new lines of evidence and rethinking established techniques’. Submissions of papers for the following session are welcomed: bones, seeds and biomolecules: integrating old and new lines of evidence; quantitative reconstruction of past landscapes from palaeoecological data; palaeopathology: social, environmental and evolutionary perspectives; the role of environmental analysis in integrated investigations of ritual deposits; general session. Further information and booking forms are available at the following website www.sogaer.ex.ac.uk/archaeology/AEA2006.shtml.

Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Dissertation Prize

The Council of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology has decided to raise its Student Dissertation Prize from £100 to £250 and to award it annually (instead of biennially). The Society now invites UK and Irish University and College departments to nominate not more than one dissertation submitted for an undergraduate or postgraduate diploma or master’s degree on a subject concerned with the post-medieval archaeology of Britain, Europe or their colonies, which was presented for the 2003—4 and 2004—5 academic years. The closing date is 10 December 2005. Further information and application forms can be obtained from Hugo Blake.

Books by Fellows

Salon has run out of space this week to do proper justice to this topic, so a bumper crop of books will follow in a future issue, but the season of Guy Fawkes cannot go by without mention of a publication that has been favourably reviewed in a number of newspapers: called Gunpowder Plots, the book contains a series of seven essays on the theme of Bonfire Night, with a thoughtful introduction by our own David Cannadine pointing out that this is the only non-Christian festival to have survived for so many centuries, and another by David Cressy wondering how long it will survive the current assaults of American-style Halloween, safety legislation and the skyrocketing costs of insurance premiums for municipal and community events. An extract from the book (Brenda Buchanan’s powerful evocation of the Bonfire Night celebrations in Lewes) can be read on the publisher’s website.

Following the success of his previous book, Nelson: the new letters (notice in Salon last May) Colin White has now published a second book: Nelson the Admiral. At the launch, held during the very well attended and highly successful Battle of Trafalgar 200 Conference at Portsmouth on 14 and 15 October, Colin explained that this is not yet another Nelson biography! Instead, he has sought to draw together all the newly discovered material on Nelson’s battles, and his leadership style, into a single narrative account of Nelson as a senior professional officer. It starts with the campaign of the Nile (1798) and takes the story to Nelson’s death at Trafalgar. One of the book’s great strengths is that the publishers, Sutton Publishing, have opted for an integrated illustration format, which has enabled Colin to marry up text and images in a striking way. Even so, the book only costs £20. Obtainable from most bookshops (ISBN: 0 7509 3713 0).

Vacancies

Historic Churches Preservation Trust
Attractive package, closing date 21 November 2005

The Historic Churches Preservation Trust is looking for a new Chief Executive with strategic vision and a proven track record in delivering results and achieving organisational growth. The Trust currently provides around £1.5 million a year in vital support for repairs and maintenance to historic churches still playing an active role in their communities (as distinct from the separate Churches Conservation Trust, which we used to know as the Redundant Churches Fund). Further details of the post are available from the employment agency Saxton Bamfylde Hever using ref BLXA.

The National Trust Archaeology Panel; closing date 30 November 2005
The National Trust Archaeology Panel advises the Trust on all matters regarding archaeology and the historic environment affecting the conservation and management of the Trust’s estate. In particular, the Panel advises on major projects and acquisitions, matters of scholarship, professional standards, Government policy and legislation and other external influences.

The Trust is looking for new members with experience in the areas of museum archaeology, heritage interpretation, learning and community archaeology, world heritage site management and the international conservation context, and archaeology and rural land management.

The role description, terms of reference and current membership of the Panel can be obtained from Jane Clarke, The Secretary of the National Trust.

University of York: Director, Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (IPUP)
Professorial scale (minimum £44,818); five-year contract; closing date 5 December 2005

York is advertising this post for the second time, having so far failed to find a suitable candidate to establish this new Institute. Candidates must have proven expertise in the development of research projects, a track record in research management, leadership abilities and good links with government, museums, galleries and national agencies. Full details from www.york.ac.uk/admin/persnl/jobs/, ref AA05457.