12 January 2006: Bridging the two cultures commercial archaeology and the study of British prehistory, by Richard Bradley, FSA.
It is often claimed that archaeology is divided between two mutually exclusive sectors: an academic wing concerned with research, and a commercial wing whose activities are related to the planning process. It is certainly true that the number of developer-funded projects has increased rapidly in recent years, just as research excavations have become more difficult to organise. The results of public archaeology have outstripped all attempts at synthesis to such an extent that much that is taught and written about British prehistory is out of date. This paper considers how that problem has arisen and how it can be redressed, contending that there is much more overlap between the two cultures than is commonly supposed. The discussion will be based on the experience of writing a prehistory of Britain and Ireland that has drawn extensively on the results of developer-funded fieldwork.
19 January: Roman Mosaics in Southern Britain, by Stephen Cosh, FSA, and David Neal, FSA, accompanied by an exhibition of paintings of Roman mosaics.
26 January: Ballot.
The Society extends warm congratulations to the following Fellows who were listed in the 2006 New Year Honours List:
Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE): Professor Averil Millicent Cameron, CBE, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History, University of Oxford, and Warden, Keble College, for services to classical scholarship.
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE): Marcus Hugh Crofton Binney, OBE, Founder and President, SAVE Britain's Heritage, for services to conservation of the built environment.
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE): Jeffrey James (Jeff) West, lately Policy Director, English Heritage, for services to the historic environment. Peter Robert White, lately Secretary, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, for services to heritage. Dr Christopher John Wright, lately Head, Western Manuscripts, British Library, for services to scholarship.
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE): Brenda Margaret Bolton, for services to Ecclesiastical History. Linda Parry, lately Deputy Keeper, Furniture, Textiles and Fashion Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, for services to art.
The following non-Fellows were also listed for contributions to arts, conservation and heritage:
Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE): Ms Elizabeth Anne Lucy (Liz) Forgan, OBE, Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund, for services to broadcasting and to heritage.
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE): Professor Norman Ernest Palmer, Chair, Illicit Trade Advisory Panel and Treasure Valuation Committee, for services to art and to law. Andrew John Scott, Head, National Railway Museum, York, for services to museums.
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE): Mrs Jenifer Anne Cooper (Jenny) Baker, lately Head of Volunteering and Community Involvement, National Trust, for services to heritage. Alan John Bates, Chair, Chatham Historic Dockyard Volunteer Service, for services to heritage. Dr Robin Anthony Pellew, Chief Executive, National Trust for Scotland, for services to conservation.
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE): Peter Cameron, Regional Works Manager, Historic Scotland, Scottish Executive, for services to heritage. Richard Smith, Chair, Friends of Arnos Vale and the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust, for services to conservation in Bristol.
Lieutenant, Royal Victorian Order (LVO): Patric Laurence Dickinson, Secretary, Order of the Garter and Richmond Herald.
Thank you to all those Fellows who wrote to say that Professor Maurice W Beresford, FBA, died on Thursday 15 December, aged 85. To the surprise of several correspondents, Maurice Beresford was not a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries because (according to Paul Stamper, FSA) he did not consider himself to be an archaeologist. Nevertheless, as Paul Barnwell, FSA, wrote: many Fellows will have known him for his pioneering work in urban and rural archaeology and economic history, not least his forty-year collaboration with the late John Hurst, FSA, which began in the summer of 1952.
In an obituary published in The Guardian on 22 December 2005, our Fellow Christopher Dyer described Maurice Beresford as a historian on the trail of England's lost villages, and said that it was in 1945 that the young warden of an adult education centre in Rugby was making a plan of the visible traces of medieval fields at Bittesby, in Leicestershire. He came to an area of irregular grass-covered mounds and hollows and, after initial puzzlement, realised he was looking at the remains of streets and houses from the village of Bittesby, abandoned for 450 years. This discovery, followed by the recognition of hundreds of other deserted villages, began the academic career of Maurice Beresford
[whose] book, The Lost Villages of England (1954), argued that they were depopulated because of the expansion of sheep farming, the enclosure of fields, and the eviction of villagers by acquisitive landlords.
In 1948, he had been appointed to a lectureship in economic history at Leeds University, and while working on Lost Villages he visited Wharram Percy, a spectacular deserted village near Malton, on the Yorkshire Wolds. He dug some holes there in 1950 and 1951, mainly to show that the "bumps in fields" really marked the foundations of abandoned houses. This attracted the attention of the young John Hurst, soon to be an inspector with the Ministry of Works and destined to become a key medieval archaeologist. Beresford and Hurst ran a summer season of excavations at Wharram for the next forty years, and together wrote Wharram Percy (1990) about the site. They also coordinated research through the Deserted Medieval Village Research Group (founded in 1952), culminating in a book, Deserted Medieval Villages (1971). The site continues to provide a route to understanding the material life of peasant England and exploring the origin and development of villages.
In the late 1950s, his academic interests moved beyond villages: History on the Ground (1957) used maps and field work to examine towns as well as rural subjects and, with J K St Joseph, he published an anthology of aerial photographs, Medieval England: an aerial survey (1958), which included townscapes. He focused on medieval planned towns, including the bastides of Gascony, which resulted in New Towns of the Middle Ages (1967). With the help of H P R Finberg, in 1973, he remedied the lack of a reliable work of reference on English boroughs.
In 1985, Beresford was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. He listed his recreations as "music, theatre, maps and delinquency" the latter referring lightly to a lifetime's concern with the welfare of prisoners (especially young offenders), which began in his student days and continued through membership of committees reviewing parole, probation and treatment of delinquency. He taught prisoners, befriended them and offered them help. Those who knew Maurice recall an awkward and slightly shabby figure, accompanied by a mongrel dog (notably Lulu and Sheba). A warm sympathy informed his judgements of the past as well as his relationships with academics, students, diggers and prisoners.
An obituary in The Times, published on 2 January 2006, said that Professor Maurice Beresford was a historian of enormous energy and originality, whose work was characterised by a consuming interest in time and place. While an undergraduate at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took firsts in both parts of the tripos, he wrote a term paper for John Saltmarsh on the parkland of his home town, Sutton Coldfield. This led to his first publications and fused a lifetimes interest in the interactions of landscape and historical documents, particularly maps.
This developed through work on the processes of parliamentary enclosure, helping to correct older conspiracy theories; linking fieldwork to documents to prove corduroy patterns in grassland as evidence of medieval ploughing and, most strikingly, in the study of the deserted medieval village (DMV), where again field remains, aerial photographs, sample digging and classic documentary techniques led to The Lost Villages of England (1954), his most famous book.
His life was not confined to the campus: he served on the National Consumer Council, and was a member of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and of the economic and social history committee of what was then the Social Science Research Council. He was an active member of the local review committee of Leeds prison. A lifelong interest in delinquency led him also to educational work in Wakefield prison, and to links with the East Moor approved school.
Beresford always took avuncular pride and pleasure in the attainments of friends, former students and colleagues. He was delighted to become the patron of the Thoresby and the Yorkshire archaeological societies. He was an enthusiastic judge of the annual Yorkshire history prize, and a keen supporter of archives in the county.
Copies of the papers given at a recent seminar convened at Burlington House to raise awareness of the 2001 UNESCO Underwater Heritage Convention can now be downloaded from the home page of the Societys website.
On the Fellows side of the site, copies of Blue Papers can be read for all fifty of the candidates for election in the forthcoming ballots on 26 January and 16 February 2006. Votes can be cast using the online balloting system, also accessible from the Fellows side of the site.
Finally, there is a questionnaire on the Fellows side asking for feedback on the Antiquaries Journal. All responses to the questionnaire are anonymous and will help to inform the discussion of the Journals future that will take place at the next meeting of the Societys Publications Committee on 9 February 2006, so responses need to be with the Society by 23 January.
Fellows will have read in the latest Fellowship News that the Society of Antiquaries has always played a significant part in the British Archaeological Awards. Not so!, says Andrew Selkirk, FSA, who is himself a generous sponsor and supporter of the Awards, as well as a member of the Awards Committee (representing the Royal Archaeological Institute). Andrew has written to say that It was only with some difficulty that we managed to get the Society on board; but it is always good news when a sinner repents.
Indeed, the Society is seeking to compensate for past omissions: commitment to supporting the Awards is enshrined in the Societys Strategic Plan 2005 to 2008 (Fostering Public Understanding Objective 1.4: Recognise excellence through public awards; support the British Archaeological Awards as the keynote event in UK heritage and archaeology). This showcase for the best in UK archaeology, and a central event in the archaeological calendar, was established in 1976, so this years Awards ceremony, to be held in Birmingham in October 2006, will mark the thirtieth anniversary.
The awards are entirely dependent on the participation of archaeologists whose nominations are used to compile the shortlists in each of fifteen Award categories, so to publicise the 2006 Awards there will be a launch event on Wednesday 22 February in the BP Lecture Theatre at the British Museum, starting at 6pm. Culture Minister David Lammy will be the keynote speaker. Past award winners will also be there to say what difference winning the awards has made to their lives and work. Drinks and canapés will be served and all Fellows are very welcome to attend (please contact Christopher Catling, FSA, if you would like an invitation).
Caroline Wickham-Jones, FSA, was joint winner at the 2004 British Archaeological Awards of the Transco Press Award for her monthly radio programme called Orky-ology, produced and broadcast by Britain's smallest BBC local radio station, BBC Radio Orkney. Now listeners all over the globe can listen to Carolines programme, featuring archaeology from an Orkney perspective, by going to the BBCs website and looking for Orkney half way down the page, then clicking on Thursday. The show is broadcast on the web for one week after the radio broadcast, and the next show is transmitted on 29 January. Carolines says that reaching out on the net has its rewards: when we broadcast an appeal for a microscope for the museum here, we were sent a cheque by a listener in Boston, USA.
Grace McCombie, FSA, President of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, has written to welcome the publication of volume 85 of the Antiquaries Journal, and especially Simon Jerviss paper on 'Antiquarian Gleanings in the North of England', saying that this is full of interest for a northerner, and the research and the plates are an important record.
She goes on to say that the text and captions refer to the museum of the Newcastle Antiquarian Society, whereas the society has always been, since its founding in 1813, The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Grace adds that several Fellows have already emailed the Museum of Antiquities as a result of Simons paper, asking about objects that are now in the V&A and the BM. She explains that the museum which, when Scott was writing, was shared with the Natural History Society (now of Northumbria) and the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, has long been dispersed into the separate collections of the three Societies. Those objects originally belonging to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle are now in the Museum of Antiquities in the University of Newcastle but, as Simon Jervis says (see note 138), some objects that in Scotts time were in the museum of the Newcastle Antiquarian Society are now in other places and he specifically mentions the British Museum and the V&A.
Several Salon readers were puzzled by the apparent contradiction in the last issue between reports saying that flint tools dating from 700,000 years ago had been found in Norfolk, and that drought in central Africa had sparked the migration of early humans from Africa 70,000 years ago. The fault lay in Salons rather loose use of the term early humans to describe two different hominid species. The hominids wandering around Suffolk 700,000 years ago were (probably) Homo heidelbergensis, whose eventual fate was to be displaced by Homo sapiens sapiens, our direct ancestors, who (according to theories based on DNA studies) evolved 150,000 years ago in east Africa and began to spread out from Africa around 70,000 years ago, reaching all parts of the globe (including Australia and the Americas) within 10,000 to 20,000 years.
Alan Saville, FSA, has written to say how pleased he was that the late Isobel Smith got a mention in the last issue of Salon, despite her not being an FSA. She was an inspiration to many, myself included, primarily because of the quality of her specialist work, but also because of her character. Isobel was the most modest and self-effacing archaeologist I have ever met and it was in deference to her modesty that the editors of the recent festschrift volume, Monuments and Material Culture: papers in honour of an Avebury archaeologist: Isobel Smith (edited by Fellows Rosamund Cleal and Joshua Pollard; available from Oxbow Books) did not include a biography. I compiled the list of Isobels publications for that volume, which at the time ended with her pottery report in the 1997 volume of Cornish Archaeology. Since then at least one other of her specialist reports has appeared in print: The pottery and the flints (pp 2426), in W J Ford, The Neolithic complex at Charlecote, Warwickshire, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society 107 (2003) 139. There will inevitably be other specialist reports by Isobel still to appear, not least of which will be her work on the pottery and stone axeheads from Hambledon Hill, Dorset, in the forthcoming major English Heritage monograph by Roger Mercer, FSA, and Frances Healy, FSA. So it will still be a while before Isobels legacy can be fully appreciated, though I hope that in due course someone will be able to produce the full-scale biography she would have hated in life, but well deserves in death.
Mention of plans to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United Kingdom in 2007, as well as the 300th anniversary of the Society of Antiquaries and of the founding of Messrs Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, brought an email from Michael Hughes, FSA, pointing out that 2007 also marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, England's first successful American colony. Major events for the Jamestown 2007 celebrations include a conference hosted by the Society for Historical Archaeology to be held in Williamsburg in January 2007 (for further information, see the website of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.
Graham Parry, FSA, says he was fascinated by the news that a drawing of the 1630s font in Canterbury Cathedral had recently been found in a barrow. At first I thought it had been found in a Neolithic barrow, not on a barrow on the Portobello Road, he writes, before going on to say that he has a section on this font in his forthcoming book on the culture of the Laudian Church (entitled Glory, Laud and Honour, to be published by Boydell & Brewer in spring 2006) and that if any other Fellows have useful information about the drawing or the font, he would be very pleased to hear from them.
Charles Tracy, FSA, wishes to alert Fellows to the threat to Abbey Farm, Abbey Lane, Coggeshall (site of the Cistercian abbey, founded in 1140, with its magnificent medieval king-post roof barn and weatherboarded mill), posed by the potential erection of a 15-metre dual polar antenna and associated equipment cabinets within an enclosed fenced compound at the farm. Braintree District Council has already refused permission on the grounds that the site lies within an area of Special Landscape Value, and in close proximity to a number of listed buildings and two scheduled ancient monuments, but the mobile phone company has gone to appeal. Written representations objecting to the proposal have to be with the Secretary of State by 13 January 2006 (Appeal Case Number: 05/00060/REF). Details of appeal procedures can be found on the Planning Inspectorates website.
In a letter to The Times, Norman Hammond, FSA, admits to having swum in Lake Titicaca (on the Peru-Bolivia border, 12,505ft, 3,812m, above sea level) in July midwinter in the Andes. His claim was published in the same week that Lewis Gordon Pugh swam more than 1,000 yards in the near frozen seas around the South Pole wearing only a pair of Speedos to to become the first person in the world to complete a long-distance swim in the Arctic and Antarctic. Normans point was that bathing at high altitude is an equivalent feat to bathing at high latitude. His own chilly dip took place when I was a student, and rather more resilient than now.
Stonehenge is the only UK site on a twenty-one site shortlist of New Seven Wonders of the World drawn up by a Swiss group which aims to alert the world to the destruction of man-made heritage. The New Seven Wonders Society was launched in 2000 with the aim of agreeing the modern-day equivalents of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. More than 19 million voters have so far taken part in what its organisers call the world's first global voting campaign. After a series of TV specials on each of the sites and a further year of public voting the winners will be announced on 1 January 2007, at an Olympic-style ceremony in a host city which has yet to be selected. Profits from the project will go to restoring and preserving monuments and buildings around the world, including a planned restoration of the giant Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
The other shortlisted sites include the Acropolis in Athens, Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, China's Great Wall, the Colosseum in Rome, the Inca temple of Machu Picchu in Peru, the Easter Island statues, Moscows Kremlin, Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal in India and New York's Statue of Liberty. Nominated sites that did not make the final list included the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building in Hong Kong, the Opera House and National Congress in Brazil, and Stari Most, the bridge in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina.
Of the original Wonders of the Ancient World, only the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is still standing and this too has made it on to the new shortlist. The other six ancient wonders were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The south west of England has more archaeological sites, scheduled monuments and protected areas than any other English region, and the latest report from the SWARF (South West Archaeological Research Framework) project is an attempt to map that resource, which encompasses a wide range of archaeological sites and periods. The report is available for comment at www.somerset.gov.uk/swarf and our Fellow Bob Croft, Chair of the South West England Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, says that feedback would be welcomed.
A seminar to discuss the regions research agenda will be held on 5 May 2006 at the Bristol University Archaeology Department: further details from Bob Croft.
The Government is about to embark upon its triennial Best Value User Satisfaction Survey, which is designed to measure user satisfaction with the quality of services delivered by local authorities. A draft questionnaire has been published for comment and it is depressing (though not surprising) to see that the survey lists contains no mention of local authority conservation services.
Participants in the survey will be asked all sorts of detailed questions about their local authoritys performance in relation to (amongst others) access to nature, community activities, health services, traffic congestion, road repair, activities for teenagers, cinemas and museums, parks and open spaces, shopping facilities, affordable housing, education, crime, public transport, sport and leisure facilities, pollution and race relations a pretty comprehensive list, in fact, except for the omission of any indication that local authorities are responsible for conserving and enhancing the historic environment.
It might not be too late to fix that: views are invited from stakeholders on the draft questionnaire and the consultation continues until 6 February 2006. If you feel strongly enough about the issue to want to take part, details can be found at www.info4local.gov.uk/searchreport.asp?id=27355&heading=e-mail+alert.
Fellows who are also members of the Georgian Society and SAVE Britains Heritage will already be aware of the campaign to prevent the demolition of the locally listed Georgian and Victorian houses at 4 to 14 Dalston Lane, London E8, and the 1886 Dalston Theatre. Hackney Council had stated its intention to demolish the buildings early in 2006, but campaigners have obtained a High Court injunction, restraining the Council from taking any steps to demolish the buildings until the Court has considered all the evidence and heard the arguments at a full-day hearing to be fixed for some time in 2006.
The buildings stand on a 2.2-acre site owned by the Council alongside the 2-acre site of the former Dalston Junction railway station. Hackney Council, which has owned the buildings since 1977, wants to develop both sites in partnership with Transport for London as part of the planned extension of the East London Line, with works to commence in July 2006 and be completed in 2010, in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Local campaigners wish to see the historic buildings restored and retained as part of the new scheme. A local consortium of private investors and arts organisations is willing to consider refurbishing the Theatre and adjoining buildings to create a cultural centre for the visual and performing arts with additional community, entertainment and commercial uses. Campaign director, Bill Parry-Davies, said: This group of buildings, like many others at risk nationally, uniquely reflects local architectural, cultural and social history and lends great character to the area. The buildings potential for regeneration of the wider area is being dismissed in the name of best value and the scramble for short term financial gain.
Further information can be found on the OPEN website.
The landmark decision made late last year that polytunnels require planning permission does not, at first sight, seem to have much relevance to antiquaries, but there is much more at stake here than polythene and aesthetics: the planning inspectors ruling that polytunnels must be subject to the same rules as other developments covered by planning law is based on the scale, size and permanence of polytunnels and the methods used to attach them to the land surface all of which can involve major earth-moving operations (at the cost of buried heritage) and can severely compromise the quality of local and nationally designated landscapes.
The ruling emerged at the end of an eleven-day Public Inquiry resulting from an appeal against an enforcement notice issued by Waverley Borough Council requiring the removal of polytunnels and associated mobile homes from Tuesley Farm, a 469-acre fruit farm near Godalming in Surrey. Waverley Borough Council took the enforcement action in defence of the Green Belt in an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) that is highly visible from the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Marcus Binney, FSA, has chided English Heritage for failing to fight plans to demolish Fortress House (aka 23 Savile Row), the agencys headquarters building. In his column in The Times, Marcus wrote last month that Fortress House is a notable landmark designed by a gold medallist of the RIBA, William Curtis Green, who has long been recognised as a leading talent. Built under the Attlee Government, when severe restrictions on construction work were in force, Fortress House is a remarkable demonstration of what a great architectural practice could achieve in the most difficult circumstances, Marcus wrote.
English Heritage, whose staff will start to vacate the building in April, has decided that it will not oppose the issuing of a certificate of immunity from listing. While acknowledging that the building has architectural interest, English Heritage argues that it is not special enough to be worthy of listing.
Pevsner, normally the champion of all things Modernist, damned it with absence of praise, calling it self-consciously Lutyens, with occasional Rococo bits. Simon Bradley, in the 2003 edition of the Westminster Buildings of England volume, is equally unflattering, declaring it to be like a mausoleum
designed to frighten away non-initiates (as indeed it might well have been having been built for the Civil Service Commission).
For Marcus Binney, however, it is the group value that makes Fortress House worth keeping: Fortress House he wrote has the added appeal of forming part of a real piece of Poirot townscape with the sleek 1939 police station by the leading architects Burnet, Tait & Lorne just across the road and a clever cubist block of 19378 at No 25 by Gordon Jeeves. Fortress House, designed in 1949 and completed a year later, is an example of the set-back style evolved in New York to avoid blocking the light of neighbouring buildings. The advancing wings have attractive roof terraces on one of which the canteen spills out in summer. It is a pity that English Heritage has never promoted this asset in a more public way, following the example of the RIBA at its stylish Deco headquarters in Portland Place.
Marcus acknowledges that English Heritage was scrupulous in recognising the potential for a conflict of interest in determining whether or not to designate the building; having decided that its officers should not determine the issue it took the case to an advisory committee.
He argues that even without listed status, the freehold owners, Legal & General, should think twice before demolishing what could make a first-class hotel in the centre of Mayfair; imaginatively refurbished, [it] could be a twenty-first-century Claridges, making glorious use of the roof terraces.
A new museum dedicated to the Arts and Crafts innovator Gordon Russell is to open with help from a £434,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant. The Gordon Russell Heritage Centre will be housed in the Grade-II-listed workshop used by Russell and his furniture company in Broadway, Worcestershire. It will chart the work, lives and success of the company throughout the twentieth century and display a unique collection of furniture, decorative art and archival material.
Hundreds of hours of unseen film, television and newsreel footage from the worlds largest collection of moving images will be made widely available to the public for the first time thanks to a £783,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The funding will enable the British Film Institute (BFI) to carry out a major programme of digitisation that will help provide unprecedented access to material from the BFI National Film and Television Archive. The BFI also intends to embark on a major refurbishment of the National Film Theatre, adding new viewing and study facilities to allow visitors to engage with the archives.
HLF has also pledged £3 million to restore Newcastles Tyneside Cinema the last surviving purpose-built newsreel cinema in the UK still operating as a cinema. Carole Souter, Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: The Tyneside Cinema's Picture Palace Project takes you back to an era when cinema stood alongside newspapers and radio as a vital source of news and entertainment, particularly during the war. This project will restore an iconic Art Deco building and offer people an insight into life in the 1930s and 1940s.
An unusually elaborate example of the cinema genre, it was designed by local architect George Bell and commissioned by local film entrepreneur Dixon Scott who ran several cinemas across Tyneside in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1937, the cinema became the home of the Tyneside Film Society, the origin of the Tyneside Cinema itself, which, by the late 1950s, had grown into the largest film society in the UK outside London.
The cottage in Helpston, Cambridgeshire, in which John Clare, the peasant poet, was born, lived and worked is to become a resource centre for the study of the literary, social, natural and cultural history of Britain in the early nineteenth century. The man behind the operation to save Clare's former home is the Labour MP Barry Sheerman, Chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee and a lifelong admirer of Clare's work. He and John Chirico, the chairman of the John Clare Society, took out a mortgage of £500,000 to buy the cottage when it came on the market in 2005, and they have now launched an appeal for a further £500,000 to turn the house into a centre that will teach children about Clare's life and times.
Clare was a keen amateur archaeologist who, during his short life, saw the countryside he loved and wandered freely as a child, inclosed and turned into private land. His letters tell of the risks he faced following inclosure in order to continue to walk familiar paths: in an age when archaeology and natural sciences were largely the pursuit of the landed classes, John Clare faced constant harassment and bullying from bailiffs and gamekeepers who were unable to understand why an agricultural labourer should be interested in the landscape.
Culture Minister, David Lammy, has placed a temporary export bar on two paintings by Giovanni Antonio Canal, Il Canaletto (16971768): View of the Grand Walk, Vauxhall Gardens and The Interior of the Rotunda, Ranelagh. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the paintings record the appearance of two of eighteenth-century London's most popular and fashionable places of entertainment, and are thus closely connected with our history and national life, as well as being of outstanding significance for the study of Canalettos English period.
The decision on the export licence application for the paintings will be deferred for a period ending on 20 February 2006. This period may be extended until 20 June 2006 if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the paintings at the recommended price of £6,000,000 (excluding VAT) is expressed.
Further information from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council website.
An exhibition due to open on 2 February at the Victoria and Albert Museum will reassemble for the first time all the pages that are known to have survived from The Hours of Louis XII. One of the greatest illuminated manuscripts of the fifteenth century, the prayer book was created in 1498 for the coronation of the French king by Jean Bourdichon (14571521).
After Louis XIIs death, in 1515, the book is thought to have been taken to Britain by the kings widow, Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII. Evidence suggests that it was broken up in the nineteenth century and scattered across collections worldwide. The V&A exhibition, organised with the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, will feature fifteen of the sixteen rediscovered leaves (out of a total of thirty-six originals). Tracking down the surviving pages has taken scholars the best part of three decades.
Our Fellow Robert Hardy is one of several English campaigners publicly thanked last week by Bernard Boulet, the mayor of Azincourt, for helping to persuade the French state electricity generator, Eléctricité de France (EDF), to withdraw a planning application to place four 459ft (140m) wind turbines half a mile from the historic site of the battle of Agincourt. The regional northern French newspaper, La Voix du Nord, said that EDF had been surprised by the anger caused in the UK by its proposals: History has no boundaries, the newspaper said, adding that: Agincourt is part of the English heritage.
Robert Hardy is a member of the English Heritage battlefields panel and patron of the Battlefields Trust. He described plans to site the turbines near the battle site as a desecration of an extraordinary historic site and the honoured resting-place of thousands who fought there on 25 October 1415.
The mayor also announced the signing of an agreement with Southlands Community Comprehensive school, of New Romney, in Kent, that has enabled the village of Azincourt to obtain European Union funding to build an extension to the Centre Historique Médiéval, which it opened in 2001. The 1.2m (£826,000) cost of the extension was beyond the budget of the village, which has just 276 residents. When M Boulet applied for EU money, he was told that he needed a partner from another EU Member State. Southlands Comprehensive, which already owns a property near Agincourt where it sends its 1,300 pupils on three-day study trips, helped secure the funding by signing a contract to organise trips for the primary schoolchildren of Kent.
French Customs officials in southern France seized nearly 17,800 archaeological objects taken illegally from Morocco and Mali, the French Minister for the Economy has announced. One confiscation, made by the Perpignan Customs on 14 December, included 124 Neolithic items made up of stone pendants, arrow-heads, necklaces and rock engravings that had been hacked from sites in the Sahel, all dating from between 6,000 and 5,500 BC. Dozens of bronze statuettes in human and horse forms, jewels and pottery from Mali, mostly dating form around 1,500 AD, were also found. A spokesman for the Interregional Department of the Marseille Customs declared that the items confiscated near Arles could be handed over to museums. For further details see www.moroccotimes.com/paper/article.asp?idr=49&id=11817.
Police in Rome have put on display an astonishing haul of artefacts they say was plundered from archaeological sites in Italy by a 74-year-old man. Officers who raided the man's home found 9,000 antiquities stolen over a period of years as well as what they described as the classic tomb raider's kit, including three metal detectors, and a workshop for cleaning and restoring antiquities. Thousands of Etruscan and Roman vases were recovered, along with amphorae, goblets, masks, brooches, votive statuettes and oil lamps.
The man was arrested as he was delivering goods to clients who visit his stall in Rome's Porta Portese flea market, police said. He was caught with three bags of the antiquities in his car. Italy has recently stepped up its fight against the illegal removal of its works of art. According to Italian law, any ancient artefact found in a dig belongs to the state and cannot be sold or removed to another country. Carabineri from the art theft squad regularly target the flea market, where professional thieves sell illegally excavated items. Ostensibly the man sold bric-a-brac, but customers in the know were offered much more prized samples from a collection worthy of an archaeology museum, the police said.
The Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage has announced that it has found the site of a secret synagogue in Porto whose existence had been known about for centuries, but whose whereabouts was only revealed by accident last year, despite decades of archaeological research.
When Portugals Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism in 1496, many kept their faith and worshipped in secret. Immanuel Aboab, a sixteenth-century Jewish scholar, recorded the precise location of one of Portos clandestine synagogues in a chronicle recording his childhood memories of visiting a synagogue in the third house along the street counting from Our Lady of Victory church.
Elvira Mea, a lecturer who specialises in Jewish history at the University of Porto, said that nothing corresponding to Aboabs description had ever turned up during excavations in the area, until the parish priest, Fr Agostinho Jardim Moreira, bought a four-storey house for use as an old people's home in exactly the location described by Aboab, but on the opposite side of the street to the church. When conversion work began on the house, the builders found a false wall, behind which was a room, complete with a medieval holy ark for storing Torah scrolls one of only three arks from the period to have been found in Portugal.
Everyone had assumed that Aboab had got his dates mixed up, said Professor Mea. But as soon as I saw the ark, all the pieces fell into place.
Iranian archaeologists have recently found the body of a fourth Salt Man in the Hamzehlu Salt Mine, located near Chehrabad village, about 75km from the north-western provincial capital city of Zanjan. The miner was fifteen or sixteen years old at the time of death some 2,000 years ago, said a spokesman for the Zanjan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department. Three other salt-preserved bodies have been found at the mines since March 1995: this one is the best preserved, and includes clothing, consisting of a knee-length upper garment, shorts and leather shoes, plus a leather belt and sheathed dagger of iron.
In addition, he wore two earrings. Two jugs were discovered near the body perhaps used as containers for oil for lamps used to illuminate the mine. The first salt man was discovered ten years ago in the Hamzehlu Salt Mine; the second and third salt men were found in the mine in November 2004 and January 2005.
Discoveries, the seminar series on Roman art, takes place at the Courtauld Institute of Art from January through to May 2006. The first seminar will be on 16 January 2006 at 5pm in Seminar Room 1 when Professor Eric M Moormann (Radboud University, Nijmegen) will discuss New Paintings from Terzigno and the Problem of Megalographies. All are welcome.
Future seminars include Dr Elizabeth Bartman on Ethnicity in Roman Portraiture, on 30 January; Professor Paolo Liverani of the Vatican Museums/University of Florence on Roman sculptural spolia, on 13 February; David Bellingham (University of Manchester) on The House of the Chaste Lovers in Pompeii and its Banquet Scenes, on 27 February; Professor R R R Smith (University of Oxford) on Sarcophagi and Citizenship at Aphrodisias in Caria, on 13 March; Dr Mark Merrony (Minerva magazine) on Roman mosaics, on 15 May; and Dr László Borhy (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) on Stars and Feast: the interpretation of Roman wall-paintings from Brigetio on the Danubian Limes, on 22 May.
All seminars will be held at 5pm in Seminar Room 1, Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London. For further information contact our Fellow Amanda Claridge.
Often Salon relies on third parties for information about new publications because the authors and recipients are too modest to push their own achievements. Such is true of the newly published festschrift for our Fellow David Smith, edited by Philippa Hoskin, Christopher Brooke, FSA, and Barrie Dobson, FSA: called The Foundations of Medieval English Ecclesiastical History: studies presented to David Smith (Boydell Press), it is described by Salons correspondent, Donald Logan, FSA (who is himself a contributor to the volume), as a fitting tribute to one of the pre-eminent archival historians of our times. The essays celebrate the achievements of medievalists in providing new editions of the primary documents that underpin historical research in medieval ecclesiastical topics, ranging from thirteenth-century forgery to diocesan administration, from the church courts to the cloisters, and from the English parish clergy to the papacy.
The 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot this year saw the publication of a rash of pot-boilers and popular histories of the event but none that eclipses the important original research of our Fellow Francis Edwards, SJ, FSA, FRHistS, whose Guy Fawkes: the real story of the Gunpowder Plot? (published in 1969) is one of the most thorough accounts of the plot. This year (2005) saw the reprinting by the Folio Society of the standard source for any researcher into the plot, the Tesimond narrative (The Gunpowder Plot: the narrative of Oswald Tesimond alias Greenway, translated from the Italian of the Stonyhurst Manuscript, edited and annotated with appendices on Francis Tresham, Matthew Brununge and the Monteagle letter by Francis Edwards, SJ), as well as an entirely new work, The Succession, Bye and Main Plots of 16011603 (Four Courts Press ). This details the intricate manoeuvres behind the succession of James VI and I, the marginalisation of Arbella Stuart, the interplay of religious groups Catholic and Protestant and the removal from the scene of rivals to the political supremacy of Sir Robert Cecil.
Already mentioned in an earlier edition of Salon, The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and some Conventual Buildings at the Whitefriars, Coventry by Fellow Charmian Woodfield, with contributions by Fellows Geoff Egan, Graham Morgan, James Rackham and Charles Tracy, has now been donated to the Societys Library. Several Fellows were present at the launch on 7 December 2005 (arranged by Fellow Richard Morris of Warwick), hosted by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, where Professor Martin Biddle, FSA, gave the address. The support of some twenty Fellows over the years when this report was being written was acknowledged. These excavations revealed a church of unexpected size and splendour, and the finds revealed the friarys international nature.
Olga Palagia, Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Athens, is the editor of a collective work with seven authors (including Sir John Boardman, FSA, as well as Olga herself) called Greek Sculpture: function, materials and techniques in the Archaic and Classical periods (Cambridge University Press 2006, £55). The work discusses sculptural techniques in marble and bronze sculpture in Greece from the seventh to the fourth centuries BC, taking account of regional characteristics and the marble trade.
The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd, Director
Salary £38,010 to £38,793 plus benefits, closing date 20 January 2006
The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, based in Swansea, is looking to employ a dynamic leader to act as the Trusts Director. Reporting to the Chairman of Trustees, the Directors main responsibility, through the Trustees, is the overall archaeological, financial and administrative management of the Trust. The Director is responsible for the probity, efficiency and quality of all the Trusts activities, for significant policy initiatives in any area of the Trusts activities and for guiding the Trust at a strategic level. The Director is also responsible for the formulation of policies for the Trusts operations and future development and for its relations with outside bodies and the general public.
Further written details regarding this post can be obtained from the Secretary, The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd, Heathfield House, Heathfield, Swansea SA1 6EL; tel: 01792 655208.