Salon Archive

Issue: 136

Forthcoming meetings

23 March, to be held at Queens University, Belfast: Archaeology in Northern Ireland: its structures and some recent research, by Brian Williams, FSA

30 March: Recycling in the Iron Age? The excavation and analysis of the Ferry Fryston chariot, by Angela Boyle

6 April: Ballot

27 April: Anniversary meeting

Annual Election of the President, Council and Officers of this Society

The Annual Election of the President, Council and Officers of the Society will be held in the Meeting Room, in Burlington House, on Thursday 27 April 2006, at 3.30pm. Fellows may also vote by post (ballot papers will be sent out shortly and must be back with the Society not later than the first post on Friday 21 April) or using the internet ballot papers that can be found on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website (the first item on the ‘Events & Notices’ page) at any time up to noon on Monday 24 April 2006.

The Society’s Strategic and Business Plan 2005 to 2008

As well as a one-page summary of the Society's Strategic Objectives and a three-page commentary on the Society’s Strategic and Business Plan, papers can now be read or downloaded from the Society’s website setting out specific actions for achieving each of the Society's four core objectives, of fostering public understanding, engaging in public policy, supporting research and communicating its results, and developing the Fellowship. The papers can be found as the second item on the ‘Events & Notices’ page on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website. Comments and feedback are welcomed.

Stonehenge: a time for decisions

The Society of Antiquaries is holding a one-day seminar on 31 March 2006 to review options for the future of the Stonehenge landscape. Speakers from all the main stakeholder organisations will debate the key issues, the current proposals, the processes by which decisions will be made, and the implications of different options that are currently the subject of public consultation and government review. Further details are available from Nina de Groote at the Society of Antiquaries, tel: 0207 479 7080; a few places are still available to anyone who might wish to attend.

Obituary: Andrew Sherratt

Andrew Sherratt’s sudden death at his home in Witney on 24 February (at the age of 59) came as a shock to all who knew him, as Andrew seemed to be full of vigour and looking forward to meeting the challenges of his new post at the University of Sheffield, where he had recently taken up a newly created Chair in Old World Prehistory. Fulsome obituaries appeared in The Times, the Independent and the Guardian, all comparing Andrew with V Gordon Childe because of his mastery of many subjects and the geographical scope and scale of his enquiries; but the Guardian obituary quoted here (and written by Cyprian Broodbank) is perhaps the one that gives the best sense of what Andrew still hoped to achieve, as well as what he had already achieved, and hence a sense of the scale of the loss to archaeology caused by Andrew’s early death.

‘In an age in which archaeological knowledge has been cursed or blessed (a matter of debate) with regional and intellectual fragmentation, Andrew was a rarity, a scholar who knew a great deal at an empirical level about the archaeology of Eurasia and beyond, who could conceptualise on a large spatial and temporal scale, and who had the courage to avoid distraction by theoretical fads from his pursuit of the bigger picture of the human past.

‘His early analysis of the secondary products revolution (basically, the formative impact of milk products, woollen textiles and animal traction on Old World history, an article-length exposition (published in 1981 as ‘Plough and Pastoralism: aspects of the secondary products revolution’, in Pattern of the Past: studies in honour of David Clarke) that is comparable in scope to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel), his later "world-systems" perspective on relations between the core civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt and the societies of the Mediterranean and Europe, and repeated forays at a global level into issues of long-range trade, language history and human evolution made it clear that archaeology, for Andrew, was the extension of macrohistory by other means.

‘An extraordinarily widely read and often amusing writer, for years a scintillating conference contributor and a mind-enlarging ─ as well as a deeply human ─ teacher, Andrew was an innovator and catalyst across the spectrum of archaeological endeavour. Even when archaeological facts on the ground occasionally proved difficult to reconcile with his grander narrative, the scope and elegance of the latter left many of us with the sneaking feeling that we might well prefer to be with Andrew than with the truth.

‘Andrew won a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he took his BA in archaeology and anthropology in 1968. These were heady years, marked by the first stirrings, here and in the US, of the "new archaeology", with its call for a more intellectually ambitious, inferentially rigorous and scientific analysis of the past. Andrew stayed on in Cambridge to write a thesis under David Clarke, a leading light of this movement and another scholar taken from the world too early. Andrew's PhD in 1976 focused on the beginning of the Bronze Age in the Balkans, a bridgehead region and a critical period.

‘From 1973, and through most of his professional life, Andrew was based at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, where he acted as assistant keeper of antiquities. The antiquities department of the Ashmolean was also exceptional in the constellation of minds that it brought together under the enlightened keepership of Roger Moorey. And it was in the Ashmolean that Andrew met his future wife, Susan Shannon, FSA, herself an expert on Homeric archaeology and the eastern Mediterranean Bronze and Iron Ages, who became his closest friend and co-author of several landmark papers. Their marriage was happy and symbiotic, and their endearingly untidy home formed a haven for archaeologists from all over the world.

‘Andrew's wider contribution to archaeology at Oxford included his role in the setting up of a new joint archaeology and anthropology degree in 1993, but although made titular professor in 2002 (and reader from 1997), recognition commensurate with his contribution arrived first from further afield, in the form of the McNeill Erasmus Prize for 1998-99. It was therefore a great joy to his friends when Sheffield University appointed him to a new chair in Old World Prehistory in 2005, which he took up a few months before his death.

‘Andrew died with a vast amount achieved, whether measured in terms of his published work (that which had attained classic status by 1996 being brought together in his Economy and Society in Prehistoric Europe: changing perspectives), the number of colleagues and students whom he inspired, or the sheer diversity of the ideas that he raised about the past. But he still had a huge amount to do.

‘In what transpired to be his last few years, principal among his new enthusiasms were his rapid grasp of the crucial role of climate change in prehistory, something long suspected but only recently ascertainable through high-quality ice-core and pollen data (his collaborative return, using the scientific technique of lipid analysis, to his early work on the origin and implications of milk consumption among adults), and his exploration of the crucial role of the Levant and Anatolia in the transmission of change, not least the expansion of the Neolithic, from Asia to Europe.

‘Maps and geography were lifeblood to Andrew, even if sketched on a beer mat at the end of an informal tutorial or in the conference bar, and in recent times he was seldom happier than when staring at the peacock colours and awesome detail of the satellite images of the Earth that have been made publicly available by the end of the Cold War. How creative that staring could be is borne out by the annotated images on his ArchAtlas website, a superb, if poignantly unfinished, monument to his remarkable way of understanding the past, and a site that should be required viewing for anyone interested in the deeper-rooted reasons as to why the world today looks as it does.’

The obituary in The Times reminds us that Andrew’s undergraduate tutorials at Cambridge became notorious not just because of their originality and generosity, but also because they would often begin over (late) morning coffee, and continue all day over lunch, drinks and supper in various Cambridge pubs and ended by paying tribute to Sue Sherratt, Andrew’s wife and companion of more than thirty years, herself a distinguished archaeologist of the Aegean and the Near East. ‘They published several studies together and Sherratt, with characteristic modesty, was fond of saying that she was the real scholar, while he was just a passenger in their journeys into the past.’ The Independent’s obituary (written by Paul Halstead) mentions several important papers that Susan and Andrew published together, exploring how and why Near Eastern technologies, symbols and craft goods had been adopted by European societies. ‘In a similar vein’, the obituary said, ‘the Sherratts contributed to the debate on the antiquity of Indo-European languages in Europe, arguing that similar languages over large distances are as likely to reflect linguistic convergence of interacting populations as divergence of people with common biological ancestry.’

Even Andrew’s enjoyment of wine, beer and nicotine was put to good use and ‘led to a series of groundbreaking papers that explored the role of currently legal and illegal substances in shaping social intercourse among ancient Europeans. These papers played a seminal role in introducing prehistorians to anthropological writing on consumption and in promoting the study of imbibing, ingesting and inhaling in antiquity.’

The Independent concluded by saying that ‘Although Sherratt took his prehistory very seriously, he was a very entertaining speaker and writer, with a gift for the use of the English language that enthralled audiences on the international stage. His levity of manner perhaps did not endear him to some of the more conservative corners of academe, but it won him devoted disciples and good friends in many countries.’

Obituary: Joan Hussey

Our late Fellow, Joan Hussey, was the subject of an obituary in the Independent on 17 March 2006, written by Julian Chrysostomides, who described her as a ‘formidable Byzantine scholar with penetrating judgement, who represented the old tradition of scholarship and integrity’. Joan died on 20 February four months short of her ninety-ninth birthday.

Having read History at St Hugh's College, Oxford, Joan completed her PhD in 1935 (expanded and published in 1937 as Church and Learning in the Byzantine Empire, 867─1185). In 1937 she was appointed Assistant Lecturer at Manchester University, then from 1943 Lecturer and, subsequently, Reader at Bedford College, London, and from 1950 Professor of History in London University at Royal Holloway College, where she remained Head of the History Department until she retired in 1974. Here Hussey introduced undergraduate special and optional subjects mainly on Byzantine topics, and went on to produce for her students a brief survey of Byzantine life and history, The Byzantine World (1957), which still remains a model of its kind.

For many years she edited and contributed to the new Byzantine volumes in The Cambridge Medieval History. At the same time, as President of the British Committee for Byzantine Studies, she was involved in the organisation of the Thirteenth International Byzantine Congress held in Oxford in 1966. Later, from 1970 to 1984, she applied herself to the history of the Byzantine Church, stimulated into activity by Henry Chadwick. Her The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire, in the Oxford History of the Christian Church series, appeared in 1986.

Parallel with her academic activities and links with European universities, she had a keen concern for educational developments both in universities and schools. For many years she was one of the Chief Examiners for the Cambridge Local Examination Board, and as a teacher of London University she had contacts with the developing university colleges abroad. This meant involvement in setting up appropriate history syllabuses at various levels in Nigeria, East Africa (particularly Uganda), the Sudan and Malaysia.

Tribute was paid to her in turn in an eightieth-birthday festschrift published in 1988 under the appropriate title Kathegetria (‘Teacher’).

News of Fellows

Peter Salway has written to say that ‘mention of the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in a recent edition of Salon emboldens me to mention that I acted as an Associate Editor for the new DNB, responsible for the “Roman Britain” block of entries (broadly speaking, named individuals of significance with a floruit before the middle of the fifth century, with a few exceptions). The task of Associate Editor was to select the subjects for entries, recommend appropriate authors to OUP, harry the contributors as necessary and edit the articles as they arrived.

‘The old DNB contained just thirteen entries relating to this period; the new DNB has several times this number, chiefly made possible by a much more inclusive policy on the part of the overall editors regarding persons who shaped British life but who were not Britons. The new DNB also includes a number of articles on particular categories of people (on high officials serving in Roman Britain, for example). Checking afresh through the list of entries for which I was responsible, I have realised that of the twenty authors (some contributing several biographies) all but one were Fellows: not a conscious policy on my part, but pleasing none the less!

‘Subsequent to the publication of the new DNB itself “feature articles” have begun appearing in the online version, to which I have contributed an overview of Roman Britain. I understand that an ambitious series of “group articles” is planned ─ to appear in batches three times a year ─ designed to assist users of the dictionary to navigate around the individual entries in specific categories, such as Nonjuring Bishops, the Bluestockings, or the Suffragettes.’

Feedback

The last issue of Salon reported Vincent Megaw's disappointment at what he thought was a lack of engagement on the part of Australian heritage organisations in the consultation process surrounding proposed new listing procedures. Vincent now says he is very pleased to be proved wrong; he was not aware that several individuals and bodies had been agitating on this issue, including ‘Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney [a member of the National Cultural Heritage Forum, which is also closely engaged in the review process ] who continues to fight for the good but who has not yet succumbed to the dubious benefits of e-mail’, and John Byron, Executive Director of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, who has written to Vincent to say that the Academy has responded to the draft’.

Kate Clark, who visited Australia in February, also wrote to Salon to say: ‘Every heritage organisation I spoke to, both at state level and in the voluntary sector, was actively engaged in responding to the draft and making time to appear at the Productivity Commission hearings that are taking place around Australia. On the day I attended one of these hearings, I heard a coalition of local authorities in New South Wales put up a robust objection to the proposals. Not only that, but the heritage organisations I spoke to had been actively engaged in preparing material in advance of the Commission (much of which was not reflected in the report) and had worked together on the Allen report ─ a very useful study of public priorities for heritage (which incidentally puts “compensation for owners” ─ one of the Commission’s most controversial recommendations ─ as one of the lowest priorities, were extra funding to be available).’

Listed Buildings casework: a consultation paper

In England, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is consulting heritage bodies, owners of listed buildings and local planning authorities, amongst others, on [proposals to simplify and streamline listed building consent procedures. The aim in both cases is to remove unnecessary delay and bureaucracy without weakening the protection given to nationally important listed buildings.

The first proposal will give Planning Inspectors the power to determine Grade I and Grade II* listed building consent and enforcement notice appeals. Currently such appeals are determined by the Secretary of State, but the consultation document argues that there is no real need for this high-level involvement, as the Secretary of State very rarely disagrees with the recommendations of the Inspector, whose judgement is based on particular knowledge of the case and expertise relevant to listed buildings. The Secretary of State will still reserve the right to call in appeals if he sees fit, and could do so where a proposal raises significant heritage policy matters or is linked to a much larger planning application and cannot be considered on its own.

A second proposal would enable local authorities to grant listed building consent without having to inform the Secretary of State, except in instances where English Heritage objects in writing to the proposal.

The consultation document can be downloaded from the ODPM website, and the deadline for responses is 24 May 2006.

Wenlok jug to stay in Luton

Victory has gone to Luton in what the press characterised as a David and Goliath fight between little Luton museum and the mighty New York Met over who would get to own the £750,000 medieval Wenlok jug. Luton Museum Service was able to match the price offered by the Metropolitan Museum thanks to tireless campaigning by Maggie Appleton, head of Luton Museum, aided by our Fellow Marian Campbell, and to generous grants of £590,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £137,500 from the National Art Collections Fund (the balance being donated by local supporters).

The jug, inscribed with the words ‘My Lord Wenlok’, could have belonged to one of two men connected with the Bedfordshire town: William Wenlok, who held the posts of 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, a major political figure in the fifteenth century who served Henry V and Edward IV.

Our Fellow Stephen Johnson, head of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), said: ‘This historic treasure will now return to Luton, where the Wenlock estates lay; it also joins the world-class collection of objects and places saved by NHMF. Like everything in this collection, the jug now belongs to the people of Britain and helps tell their story’.

Marian Campbell adds that there is much still to be learned about the jug and its significance for the history of English bronze founding, and that scholars will now have a chance to explore fascinating possibilities, such as whether this jug and two closely related examples (in the V&A and the BM) were all made for Richard II at the same time, or made by the same foundry over a period of time [perhaps a paper to the Society might be possible at some future date: Ed].

Saving heritage for the nation: guiding principles

The last issue of Salon asked whether the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest was justified in recommending that an export licence be deferred in the case of two wall-hangings that had been designed by Jean-Demosthene Dugourc for King Carlos IV of Spain and woven to order by Camille Pernon in Lyon around 1799. On the face of it, there seemed no compelling reason why these hangings should remain in the UK, apart from the fact that they seem to have been acquired either by Robert, 1st Marquess of Westminster (1767─1845), or Richard, 2nd Marquess of Westminster (1795─1869) either for Grosvenor House, London, or Eaton Hall, Cheshire, perhaps in the years leading up to 1825 or in 1869.

These comments elicited a response from our Fellow Catherine Johns who wrote as a member of the Reviewing Committee to explain how the export review system operates, and of the principles involved. ‘There are’, Catherine writes, ‘three Waverley Criteria (named after Lord Waverley, who chaired the committee that reported to government in 1952 on the matter of introducing some form of export control over works of art and heritage material). Only one of these is concerned with the importance of an item specifically to United Kingdom (sometimes very local) history or culture.

‘To attract the Committee’s recommendation to the Minister that an item should be subject to a temporary bar against export, in order to give a British institution a chance to purchase it, it must fulfil at least one of the three; many of the cases placed before the Committee fulfil more than one, but only one is required. The three questions addressed by the Committee are: is [the object] so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune; is it of outstanding aesthetic importance; is it of outstanding significance for the study of some particular branch of art, learning or history?

‘These rubrics have proved their worth for over half a century. They are concerned with culture, research, the advancement of knowledge, and public enjoyment in a broad sense, not solely with a narrowly parochial view of art and history. Waverley Three is often particularly important for objects such as archaeological finds or document archives, unglamorous material whose significance may be far less immediately obvious than that of an Old Master painting, but which may yield its full potential for the advancement of British scholarship only when preserved in this country.

‘There is one other crucial issue, well known to those Fellows who are themselves Expert Advisers within the system. It is that the whole process is an extremely demanding and time-consuming one, and there is absolutely no chance whatsoever of any case even being brought before the Committee for casual or frivolous reasons. It is quick and easy to approve an Export Licence Application that lands on one’s desk; it takes a couple of minutes. Nobody makes the decision to object to a licence being granted, to prepare the detailed written case, which often requires considerable research, and to appear before the Committee to argue it, just for fun. Museums and galleries are understaffed, and their curators are overworked. They feel strongly about the cases they lay before the Committee, and they have good, scholarly reasons for those feelings. Likewise, the Committee itself hears each case with an open mind, assisted, for each case, by an appropriate group of three external advisers, and considers and debates it very fully. I can assure all readers of Salon, that our decisions are not lightly made.’

Catherine adds that ‘four members of the Committee are Fellows (Richard Inglewood (the Chairman), Martin Levy, Tim Knox and myself), and of course many other Fellows appear before the Committee as Expert Advisers, objecting to licence applications, or as temporary external advisers, acting for a single case’. Catherine says it would be improper of her to discuss individual cases that have come before the committee, but says the committee is nevertheless very ‘proud of the cases where we feel that our verdict made a real difference, such as that of the Macclesfield Psalter, now in the Fitzwilliam’.

Should the UK provide immunity from seizure for works of art on loan from abroad?

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a consultation on the question of whether the United Kingdom should bring in anti-seizure laws to protect items lent from abroad for exhibition in our museums and galleries, and if so, what form such legislation should take. The issue of immunity from seizure rose to prominence towards the end of last year when a number of Impressionist works from the Pushkin Museum in Russia were seized in Switzerland but later released.

Unlike many other European countries, the UK does not have legislation granting immunity from seizure to items lent to exhibitions held here. The DCMS consultation argues that this puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage compared with New York, Paris and Berlin, for example, and that other countries are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend cultural property to this country.

The deadline for responses is 10 May 2006 and further details can be found on the DCMS website.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme User Survey

Salon readers are invited to give their views on the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)as part of an independent survey being carried out for PAS by Rachel Edwards of the Arboretum Archaeological Consultancy. An identical review was carried out in 2004 by Hawkshead Conservation Associates: the aim of repeating the questionnaire-based survey is to see whether the Scheme has made positive progress in the last two years. The questionnaire should only take a couple of minutes, and can be completed online or by downloading a copy of the questionnaire from the same web address, to return by post by 30 April 2006 to PAS User Survey, PO Box 518, Worcester WR1 1ZA.

Sheffield archaeologists re-write the (pre)history books

A team of archaeologists from Archaeological Research and Consultancy at the University of Sheffield (ARCUS) have discovered important new evidence for the early prehistoric colonisation and settlement of the Western Isles (or Outer Hebrides) of Scotland. The new discovery is being claimed as ‘possibly the oldest tangible evidence for human settlement in the region’.

The team, which has been conducting a three-week-long dig in advance of road construction on the Isle of North Uist, has unearthed traces of at least three prehistoric semicircular shelters, along with other structural features and debris from the manufacture of quartz tools. It is thought that the site was occupied intermittently over several thousands of years and spans the transition from the early post-glacial colonisation of the islands by semi-sedentary hunter-fisher-gatherers, to the arrival of farming in the early Neolithic, around 4000 BC. Samples from the excavation have been collected for C14 radiocarbon dating to confirm the exact age of the archaeological finds.

Assuming that the dating is correct this will be the first physical evidence of settlement in the Outer Hebrides, though excavations in Skye, and Rhum, in the Inner Hebrides, have recovered evidence of hunter-gatherer activity from at least 8000 BC. Vegetational changes have been noted in pollen diagrams from the Outer Hebrides for many years, suggesting the presence of humans modifying the environment by clearing hazel and birch woodland, but the lack of settlement evidence had led academics to argue that the Outer Hebrides did not provide an attractive environment for continuous occupation because they did not have a native population of red deer. It has also been suggested that settlement sites were destroyed by inundation and coastal change, or obscured by the peat growth that commenced in the late Bronze Age in the interior of the islands.

The newly discovered site lies just over a hundred metres from the best-preserved Neolithic chambered burial cairn in the Western Isles, the five-metre high and 25-metre wide Barpa Langais (pronounced Varpa Langash). This has given some possible corroboration to the theory advanced by archaeologists from the Universities of Sheffield and Cardiff in 2004, that the chambered tombs constructed by the early farming communities in the Western Isles were constructed to overlook valleys that were important for the seasonal movement of animals from the west coasts to grazing grounds in the interior of the islands. The archaeological excavation was a requirement of planning consent for an improvement scheme on the A865/A867 Lochmaddy to Lochboisdale Raod. The work has been paid for
by the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council).

Neolithic building excavated at Crathes Castle Estate, Aberdeenshire

Dr Shannon Fraser, of the National Trust for Scotland, writes to Salon with news of a well-preserved, early Neolithic building and a 60m-long pit alignment, both carbon-dated to around 3800─3700BC, that were excavated last year at Warren Field, on a terrace of the River Dee, by the National Trust for Scotland working with Murray Archaeological Services, with funding from Historic Scotland, the Russell Trust, Aberdeenshire Council and the Prehistoric Society.

The site was first identified by aerial photographs taken in the memorably dry summer of 1976 but only excavated fully in 2005. The subrectangular structure visible in parch marks proved to be a building measuring around 24m by 9m externally and 22.5m by 8m internally, aligned roughly east to west. The western end could have been an unroofed yard, the roofed interior being around 18.5m by 8m internally and subdivided by a series of partitions. Structural timbers were predominantly of oak, though the builders also used ash, willow/poplar and (possibly) hawthorn. There is evidence for the replacement of posts and structural modifications over time.

A concentration of flints was recovered from the western end of the interior, with lower concentrations in the centre and the east. Conversely, little pottery was found to the west, with an increasing concentration towards the centre and east end. The latter areas show the greatest concentration of burnt grain ─ bread/club wheat being the dominant type, with some naked barley and emmer.

Twelve pits and five smaller features were identified during excavation of the nearby pit alignment. All the excavated pits demonstrated a consistent sequence of events: a thick deposit of charcoal was placed within the freshly dug pit, followed by a slow, gradual infilling with soil resulting from weathering of the edges. This process of natural erosion was interrupted by the re-digging of the pit, followed by the deposition of material which again included large amounts of charcoal. No artefacts were found in the pits.

Part of the significance of the site is its location on a gravel ridge about 500m from the north bank of the River Dee. It lies less than 1,000m from another early Neolithic hall on the opposite bank, excavated in 1977─80. The possible relationships between the two very similar and broadly contemporary buildings and their communities pose some intriguing questions about the early Neolithic in north-east Scotland.

Carmarthenshire cairn reveals links with Bronze Age Scotland

New analysis of the soil surrounding an excavated Bronze Age burial mound in south Wales has identified that floral tributes of meadowsweet were laid in the underlying grave, linking the site to others found with similar burial rites in Scotland.

The mound, on the Black Mountain in Carmarthenshire, was excavated by Cambria Archaeology in 2004 after it was feared that the weather and visitors to the area were causing irreversible damage to the site. A large rectangular stone cist was found at the centre of the mound containing the cremated bones of a young child, a pottery urn, a bone pin and several flint tools. The cist also contained the cremated bones of two pigs and what is though to be a dog. Radiocarbon dating found the bones to be 4,000 years old. Similar burials, with cremated bone, pottery and meadowsweet flowers laid in a stone cist, have been found as far north as the Orkney Isles and Perthshire.

The burial mound was sited to be visible to the scattered farming communities that once occupied the Myddfai and Llanddeusant landscape. Pollen analysis also revealed information about the type of vegetation in the area 4,000 years ago. Astrid Caseldine, of the University of Lampeter, which carried out the environmental analysis, said: ‘The landscape was already largely open heath land and grassland when the cairn was built; there was also evidence that the heath land had been deliberately burnt, which may represent ritual activity associated with the burial’.

Carving of Cocidius found on Hadrian’s Wall

Northumberland County Council’s Rock Art Project Officer, Tertia Barnett, who is undertaking a survey of art in the north east of England, has discovered a hitherto unknown carving near Chesters fort on Hadrian’s Wall of a 400mm-high figure, holding a shield in one hand and a spear or sword in the other, thought to be a representation of the Germanic war god, Cocidius. According to Tertia, ‘this is a completely unexpected discovery that shows how much there is still to discover about Northumberland’s ancient past.’

It is possible that a shrine to Cocidius existed at Bewcastle: of nine Roman altars recovered from the site, six are dedicated to Cocidius, and an entry in the seventh-century Ravenna Cosmology names a place called Fanocodi, located between Maia (Bowness on Solway, Cumbria) and Brocavum (Brougham, Cumbria). Fanocodi could be a contraction of Fanum Cocidi, or 'The Shrine of Cocidius'.

Tertia and her team of local volunteers are looking primarily for prehistoric rock art as part of the Northumberland and Durham Rock Art Project ─ a scheme funded by English Heritage and run by Northumberland and Durham County Councils.

Roman hotel and warehouse found in Leicester

The Leicester Mercury reported last week on the discovery of the largest Roman building ever found in Leicester. The second-century building is 80m long ─ equivalent to fifteen Victorian terraced houses. Archaeologists have suggested that it could have been a hotel for Roman officials visiting the city.

The discovery was made in Vine Street, in the city centre, where, according to Richard Buckley, University of Leicester Archaeology Services director, there was nothing but a blank in Roman history previously. The building stands at the junction of two streets with rooms arranged around a central courtyard, served by several corridors, some containing fragments of mosaic pavements. One of the rooms, thought to be part of a small bath suite with a plunge bath, has a hypocaust.

Another large Roman building, 32m long, dating from the third century was also discovered nearby with unusually thick walls (around 1.2 metres) suggesting it could have been used for storage. Two lead seals marked with the initials of the sixth and twentieth legions were found in the area. ‘This shows there was industrial, residential and commercial activity over this part of town’, Mr Buckley told the newspaper.

Research to establish the true value of Roman silver coins

The University of Liverpool has announced a programme of research to determine the chemical composition of 1,000 Roman silver coins from museums around the world in order to establish their true economic value and to understand how and where they were made. The work will be undertaken by Dr Matthew Ponting, from the University's School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, and his colleague Professor Kevin Butcher from the American University of Beirut.

Dr Ponting said: ‘For the first time we are able to use a combination of chemical and isotopic analysis on these coins. Chemical analysis will give useful trace element finger prints, telling us about the type of ores exploited and the technology used in smelting and refining the metal. By measuring the isotopes of lead in the coins it is often possible to ascertain where that metal came from. This is done by comparing the isotopic signature of the silver coin, with isotopic signatures of known Roman silver-mining regions. In this way I hope to be able to investigate where Rome was getting its silver from.'

Roman emperors often reduced the silver content of the coins to solve short-term financial problems. Dr Ponting said that studies had been carried out in the 1970s to document the silver content of Roman Imperial silver coins and the results had served as the principal reference for economic historians on the monetary policies of the Roman Empire ever since. ‘During the 1990s, however, historians realised that many Roman silver coins were deliberately treated to remove some of the copper from their surface, giving impure coins the appearance of being pure and disguising the debasement of the currency. Analysis of the coins' surface had therefore overestimated their silver content’, he said. The new study will get round this problem by analysing core metal from the coins, obtained by drilling a small hole in their outer edge to get beneath the treated surface.

A Visigoth in Kent?

Recent excavations at Springhead, Kent, carried out by Wessex Archaeology, uncovered a large number of brooches, one of which has turned out to be a very unusual fifth to sixth-century iron bow brooch of a Visigothic type known as ‘Estagel’, for which the nearest parallel is to be found in a pair of brooches found in a grave in Calvados, in Normandy. The Visigoths were migrants originally of Polish origin who settled near the Black Sea in the third century AD, attacked and sacked Rome and then were accommodated within the Roman Empire, splitting into two groups, with the Visigoths (or ‘West Goths’) settling in Spain and France.

Kent has proved time and again to be the most cosmopolitan region in the country at this time, with Saxons and Jutes having left evidence of their culture here. In the last thirty years or so, a number of other objects of Visigothic design have come to light in the region, suggesting a connection between the people of Kent and the small number of Visigothic groups known to have lived in northern France at the time.

A full account of the brooch and its significance can be found in Lucerna: The Roman Finds Group Newsletter for January 2006, which can be downloaded from the Wessex Archaeology website.

'Anonymous' painting turns into a Holbein masterpiece

A painting classed until recently as by an anonymous sixteenth-century hand has been confirmed as a lost portrait by Hans Holbein of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, who was beheaded for treason in 1554 for opposing the marriage of Mary Tudor to Philip of Spain. A later hand had disguised the work as a portrait of Henry VI, painting drapery around the neck and obscuring the true glory of one of Holbein’s last paintings, a work of about 1541.

The attribution has been confirmed by our Fellow Sir Roy Strong who published his conclusions in the March issue of Apollo, the international magazine of art and antiques. ‘In terms of English portraiture, this picture is unprecedented, a major landmark’, Sir Roy writes.

The existence of the portrait had been known from three copies by lesser artists — one in the collection of Wyatt’s descendants, the earls of Romney, another owned by the artist Anthony Fry, a descendant of Wyatt, and a third in the National Portrait Gallery. Sir Roy suspected that the work was a Holbein because the underdrawing is similar to that of another Holbein work, the portrait of Simon George (now in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, in Frankfurt). ‘Both show the sitter in profile, reviving a formula from classical antiquity. Both pictures are almost exactly the same size. Both share the typical raised dark blue-green background and both also share the same enamel-like quality of the flesh tints.’

A requiem for church organs?

Ruth Gledhill, religious correspondent of The Times, reported on 18 March 2006 that a European Union directive aimed at controlling lead waste is putting Europe's historic organs at risk. Organ pipes have a lead content of 50 per cent or more and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has advised organ builders that they must ‘prepare to comply’ with a new directive setting a maximum of 0.1 per cent of their weight as lead. Organs at Salisbury Cathedral, St Paul’s, Worcester Cathedral, St Albans Abbey and Birmingham Town Hall are all due to be refurbished or rebuilt in the near future but could fall foul of the directive, and the great Harrison and Harrison organ from the South Bank, which is in pieces in Durham as part of the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall, is under immediate threat as it will technically be illegal to reinstall it.

A spokeswoman for the DTI said that the directive did apply to organs and that Britain could not deviate, adding that ‘the DTI has been working with the pipe organ industry for some time on this and is fully aware of the issue’. Katherine Venning, the president of the Institute of British Organ Building, said that ‘Pipe makers live to a ripe old age, with no known damage to their health. The use of tin-lead alloy is essential. There is no known substitute that will give equivalent results. Pipe organs last indefinitely, and present no threat to the environment.’ Tony Baldry, the Conservative MP for Banbury, is urging the Government to intervene and has tabled an early day motion giving warning that the ban will have ‘a serious impact on England’s cultural and liturgical life and will mean an end to English organ building’.

£17.5 million for historic places of worship

English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced on 1 March 2006 a package of grants worth £17.5 million for repairs to 147 Grade I and II* listed churches and chapels across England. The grants will help to repair nearly 150 historic places of worship but our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, admitted the money was far from adequate compared with what needed to be done, and ‘a drop in the ocean compared with the huge amounts raised by dedicated volunteers and popular support’.

To tackle this problem English Heritage has announced that it will be launching a campaign in May this year called ‘Inspired!’ to quantify the scale of the problem and propose solutions, and to promote a greater recognition of the work done by volunteers to keep historic places of worship alive. ‘Our task, through the “Inspired!” campaign, is to help convert broad national affection for places of worship into concrete support, Simon Thurley said.

For further information, see the English Heritage website.

Pentecostals spearhead big rise in new churches

Declining church populations, and hence declining incomes, are partly responsible for the current plight of many churches, and yet recent research shows that more than 1,000 new Christian church communities have been created over the last seven years, double the number of Starbucks coffee shops opened over the same period in the UK. All the major denominations opened new churches but the biggest growth was among the black Pentecostal churches, followed closely by churches aimed at young people offering alternative forms of worship services. The majority of the new congregations used existing buildings rather than constructing new ones.

The compilers of the research warned, however, that the extra worshippers generated by these new churches was matched by losses elsewhere, and that in some cases the new churches took existing churchgoers from their traditional places of worship, so it was hard to assess the net gain. Peter Brierley, executive director of the independent Christian Research organisation that undertook the survey, said that ‘losses in the older denominations are [occurring] faster than the gains in the newer ones’.

The Pentecostal churches, whose congregations are largely drawn from African communities in London, have started nearly 500 churches since 1998, the research showed. The Redeemed Christian Church of God, a Nigeria-based group, is one of the fastest-growing black churches with 210 ‘parishes’ across London. Pastor Agu Irukwu, the chairman, is also the leader of the Jesus House for All the Nations, based in Barnet, London, which attracts 2,000 worshippers every Sunday. He said the secret of church growth was lively worship and meeting the needs of the community.

Could cave paintings be graffiti by prehistoric yobs?

Paleaobiologist R Dale Guthrie, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, has said what many of us have perhaps privately suspected, which is that not all prehistoric cave painting is in the same league as the masterpieces ofn art adorning the walls of the Lascaux caves in France's Dordogne region. In his new book, The Nature of Palaeolithic Art, Guthrie argues that Lascaux-quality art represents only a small proportion of preserved Palaeolithic art, and that much of it consists of crude depictions of genitalia. Professor Guthrie has also studied one of the commonest forms of cave art ─ human handprints ─ and concluded that they were mostly made by adolescent boys, but that ‘all ages and both sexes were making this art, not just the senior male shamans’, as has been assumed by some scholars.

Paul Pettitt, who discovered Britain's first example of Palaeolithic art at Cresswell Crags, responded by saying that ancient art could not so easily be dismissed and that much of it was too complex to consist simply of doodles: the images are often in areas that are hard to access,’ he said. ‘Considerable effort was put into these images. It wasn't just somebody bored on a Sunday.’

Further information can be found on the Institute of Arctic Biology website.

Ancient graves unearthed in Poland

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, the German press agency, reported last week that five 10,000-year-old graves had been unearthed in the village of Dwreca, central Poland. Archaeologist Marian Marciniak found the graves on the site of ancient post-glacial dunes. A young woman, believed to be 18 to 21 years of age, had been laid to rest in one of them with a baby, a child aged 5 to 7 and another aged 7 to 11. An adult male found at the site was buried sitting upright, as if on a throne or chair. The bodies were dressed in animal skins decorated with the teeth of wild animals and wrapped in tree bark. The remains were then placed in tombs lined with pine logs, sprinkled with powdered red ochre and burned. The burnt-out graves were then covered to create small mounds. Marciniak said she and her team were puzzled by finds of small semicircular bonfires near the graves.

Olive oil used as fuel in Cypriot copper-smelting furnaces

Italian researchers have discovered evidence that olive oil was used in furnaces at Pyrgos Mavroraki, a site in southern Cyprus, up to 4,000 years ago. The copper smelting works, lying some 90km south west of the capital Nicosia, is thought to be part of a larger industrial complex that included facilities for textile weaving and dyeing and a winery. Archaeologist Maria Rosaria Belgiorno told Reuters that an olive press and storage facility was found in the middle of two areas where copper was worked. ‘Why’, she asked, ‘would you build an olive press in the middle of a metallurgy plant?’ Tests carried out by the Italian Institute of Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, for whom Belgiorno works, then discovered olive oil residues in furnaces on the site. Test subsequently proved that the heat from five kilos of olive oil was sufficient to melt copper, compared to 80 kilos of charcoal. Belgiorno also said that metallurgy sites have been found close to olive oil production areas in Egypt and Jordan, so Cypriots could not lay claim to being the first to use olive oil as fuel, but this was the first time science had proven its use.

Bronze Age ‘sky disc’ deciphered

Ralph Hansen, an astronomer based in Hamburg, has suggested that the 3,600 year-old Nebra sky disc was used as a complex astronomical clock for the harmonization of solar and lunar calendars. A lunar year is eleven days shorter than the solar year and the sky disc was used to determine if and when a thirteenth month ─ the so-called intercalary month ─ should be added to a lunar year to keep the lunar calendar in sync with the seasons. According to Herr Hansen, a thirteenth month was added to the lunar calendar only when the moon and the Pleiades appear exactly as they are on the Nebra sky disc, an event that occurs every two to three years.

Herr Hansen reached this solution in trying to explain the thickness of the moon on the disc. ‘The crescent on the disc seems to be equivalent to a four-day-old moon,’ he said, rather than the moon in its new phase. The functioning of the clock was probably known to a very small group of people, and that knowledge appears to have been lost in the 400 years that the disc was in use: the ship depicted on the disc is a later addition, as are the perforations on the edge of the object, suggesting that the disk became a cult object once its original purpose was lost.

Commenting on this hypothesis, Harald Meller, chief archaeologist of Saxony-Anhalt, where the disc was found, said: ‘We have been dramatically underestimating the prehistoric peoples’ astronomical skills’.

Sailing to Punt: the world’s oldest sea-going vessels found in Egypt

The Cairo-based newspaper, al Ahram Weekly, carried a lengthy account last week describing the discovery of ships’ timbers and rigging in the ancient Red Sea port of Marsa Gawasis. The remains of the vessels were found in four large, hand-hewn caves that were probably used as a shipbreaker’s yard from the middle of the second millennium BC. Stone anchors, limestone blocks, cedar and acacia wood beams, oar blades and more than eighty perfectly preserved coils of different sized ropes were discovered in the four caves. The presence of extensive damage to the timbers by marine worms provides clear evidence of their use in sea-going vessels, disproving the long-held belief that the Ancient Egyptians did not travel long distances by sea because of poor naval technology. Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), described the find as very exciting: ‘It reveals the world's oldest remains of seafaring ships’, he said.

Twenty-one plastered wooden boxes were found buried in sand outside the caves. One of the boxes bears a painted inscription saying: ‘the wonderful products of Punt’. Based on texts discovered more than a century ago, researchers already knew that Egyptians mounted naval expeditions to a place they called Punt as far back as the Old Kingdom to obtain gold, ebony, ivory, leopard skins and the frankincense necessary for religious rituals. The hides of giraffe, panther and cheetah, which were worn by temple priests, were imported along with live exotic animals, including the sacred cynocephalus or dog-faced baboon. The precise whereabouts of Punt (if it is one place and not a general term for East Africa) has yet to be established: Somalia, Yemen, the southern Sudan or the Eritrean region of Ethiopia have all been suggested, as have places on the east coast of Africa, just south of Egypt

It is assumed that the ships destined for Punt were prefabricated on the Nile at Coptos, a point where it most closely approaches the Red Sea, then stripped down and the components transported through Wadi Hammamat by donkey caravan to Quseir, where they were reassembled. On completion of the mission to Punt, the ships had to be stripped down again and their parts carried back through the desert valley along with their rich cargos to the Nile, where they would be reassembled and reloaded before setting sail to Thebes.

Cheryl Ward of Florida State University described the timbers discovered in the caves as having mortise-and-tenon joints and marks which may have been made to facilitate assembly, which, Ward said, is ‘logical in considering how ships built at a Nile shipyard could be easily reassembled on the Red Sea shore’. Some timbers were also marked in red paint, applied, Ward believes, during ‘an aggressive careening and rot removal process … it is likely that once ships returned from their voyage, they were examined by shipwrights who marked unsatisfactory timbers with red paint. Workers then began to remove planks from the hulls by prying seams apart and sawing or chiselling through the tenons,’ Ward said.

The Wadi Gawasis finds ‘add to our understanding not only of the role of shipbuilding technology, but of the vast administrative and bureaucratic nature of Middle Kingdom contacts with the world beyond Egypt’s borders’, she concluded.

Fourteenth-century shipwreck found in Stockholm

Archaeologists are awaiting permission to excavate a shipwreck found buried in mud at a depth of about 30 feet in the Riddarfjarden bay, leading into the heart of central Stockholm. National Maritime Museum staff said the wreck was found last year when they were examining the planned site for a new train tunnel. They have now dated the ship to between 1350 and 1370, and believe it sank sometime in the 1390s. Marcus Hjulhammar, project leader for the museum, said they could not tell yet how much of the ship had survived, but he said there was a large crack in the hull, which had been covered by a piece of leather nailed to the boards. ‘That is a sign that this ship was very worn down, and it is possible that this repair work is part of the reason it sank,’ he said. ‘My spontaneous reaction was that the repair was rather clumsily done.’

Campaign to save Nazi church for posterity

German heritage professionals have been facing difficult ethical dilemmas over Nazi iconography and whether it should be entirely eradicated or whether some should be preserved. Several buildings of the Nazi regime continue in use: notably the Berlin stadium designed for the 1936 Olympics, which will host this summer’s World Cup, and the Finance Ministry, built as Hermann Goering’s air force headquarters. Now a campaign is under way to save the Martin Luther Memorial Church in Berlin, consecrated in 1933 and the last surviving Nazi-era church. Although swastikas have been removed and a bust of Adolf Hitler replaced by one of Martin Luther, the pulpit still has carvings of Nazi storm troopers and the entrance is lit by a chandelier in the shape of an iron cross.

Two priests — Frau Boehm and the Reverend Malte Jungnickel — have now applied to have the church declared a listed building and are lobbying the Government to come up with €3 million (£2 million) to fund its restoration. Though prominent Nazis worshipped at the church, Max Kurzreiter, the parish priest in the 1930s, was a secret dissident, who gave shelter to members of the anti-Nazi Confessional Church and took a great personal risk when, in 1938, he officiated at the marriage of the writer, Jochen Klepper, a prominent anti-Nazi dissident to his wife, a Jewish convert.

Frau Boehm wants to find a way of preserving the building as a warning, and with a documentation centre attached to explain the complicated history of the church in the Third Reich, though he says he recognises the risk that neo-Nazis will make the church a place of pilgrimage.

Institute of Field Archaeologists Yearbook and Directory 2006

The handsomely produced IFA Yearbook has just been posted to over 2,000 members, and can be purchased from the IFA for a mere £5 by non-members (details from the publishers, Cathedral Communications). Quite apart from the invaluable contact details for all members and practising archaeological organisations (including local authorities, portable antiquities scheme officers, national and local bodies and all commercial archaeological organisations), the year book is packed with wonderful and intriguing pictures of sites, objects and people at work.

One that caught the eye of Salon’s editor shows our Fellow Alan McWhirr standing beside, and giving a lecture about, the Hare Mosaic (now in the Corinium Museum), newly uncovered at the Beeches Townhouse site in Cirencester in August 1974 (and not 1971 as it states in the yearbook caption!). The picture is an astonishing piece of social history not least for the generation gap it reveals: with the exception of Alan himself, all the people standing on the baulk and listening to him look as if their taste in clothing had been formed (and frozen) in the 1950s. A similar photograph of the diggers on the site (who included our Director Martin Millett, the Society’s Publications Manager Kate Owen and Salon’s editor, as well as several other people who are now Fellows and/or IFA members) would have revealed an entirely different couture: baggy ‘loon’ trousers, tie-dye T-shirts, cheesecloth blouses, desert boots or sandals, beads, headbands and afghan coats were all the rage that year.

Nostalgia aside, the theme for the 2006 yearbook ─ ‘Sharing the past’ ─ is illustrated by illuminating case histories from the IFA’s registered archaeological organisations and from national archaeological bodies which demonstrate the extent to which public archaeology and volunteer involvement is alive and well throughout the UK today.

British Archaeological Awards: call for entries for the Channel 4 Awards 2006

Entries are now being sought for the Channel 4 Awards 2006, in three categories: broadcast programmes, non-broadcast films or videos, and ICT projects (interactive CD-ROMs, websites or integrated multimedia packages). Entries may deal with any aspect of archaeology, including industrial archaeology, and may have been made for broadcast, educational, promotional or site-specific purposes. To be eligible they must be British-produced and have been completed or broadcast between 1 June 2004 and 31 May 2006. Winners in each of the three categories will be awarded a cash prize of £750 as well as a BAA certificate. Entries should be submitted by 31 May 2006. The winners will be announced at a presentation ceremony to be held in Birmingham in October 2006. Further information and entry forms may be downloaded by following the links on the British Universities Film & Video Council website, or by contacting Cathy Grant.

Awards for the Presentation of Heritage Research 2006

‘If you have recently been doing research in Britain and Ireland on heritage conservation, historic buildings or British and Irish archaeology why not tell people about it and win £1,500’. That is the message from the organisers of this annual event, which aims to promote research and its presentation in ways that engage a wider audience than the academic world.

Co-sponsored by the Royal Archaeological Institute, English Heritage, Cadw, Historic Scotland, The Environment and Heritage Service (an agency within DOE (NI)) and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Republic of Ireland), there are three prizes on offer: a first prize of £1,500, a second prize of £500 and a £500 prize for young researchers under thirty years of age.

Entrants are asked to submit a written summary of their presentation by 14 April 2006. Shortlisted finalists will then be invited to speak at the Awards for the Presentation of Heritage Research 2006 which will take place at the British Association’s Festival of Science in Norwich on Thursday 7 September 2006. For further details and an entry form, please contact Sebastian Payne,FSA, at English Heritage or download an entry form from the English Heritage website.

‘In the Footsteps of Pevsner’

Our Fellow Timothy Mowl, renowned for his county gazetteers of historic parks and gardens, will be giving the Cotswold Archaeology Annual Lecture on 29 March 2006, at the Bingham Hall, King Street, Cirencester, starting at 7.30pm. His paper is entitled ‘In the Footsteps of Pevsner ─ Discoveries in the English Landscape (with particular reference to Gloucestershire)’.

Conferences and seminars

Land and People: a conference in honour of John Evans, hosted by Cardiff University and the Prehistoric Society, 24 to 26 March 2006
The Land and People conference is designed to celebrate the work of Professor John Evans and is taking place at the School of History and Archaeology at Cardiff University. Speakers will include Alasdair Whittle, FSA, Andrew Fleming, FSA, Mike Allen, FSA, Charlie French, Jane Downes, Terry O'Connor, Clive Waddington, Nicky Milner, Penny Spikins, Jacky Nowakowski, Paul Davies and Chris Evans, FSA, and should provide a lively forum for debating the landscape and environment of early prehistory from Orkney to Cornwall.

Further details and a full programme are available from the conference website.

ICOMOS-UK International Sites & Monuments Day Seminar in collaboration with the RIBA
Towns and Cities as Cultural Landscapes, 6 April 2006, 6.30 to 9.30pm at the RIBA

Speakers will discuss how towns and cities should celebrate their cultural, social and economic diversity and promote a sense of identity, instead of displaying a 'sameness' unrelated to the societies they serve. The Seminar will consider approaches from Vienna, Cairo and the shopping streets of towns and cities in the UK. Speakers will include Manfred Wehdorn, Architect, Professor at Vienna University of Technology, Stefano Bianca, Director, The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and our Fellow Susan Denyer, ICOMOS World Heritage Adviser and Secretary of ICOMOS-UK. Further information from Mrs Rikke Osterlund, Office Manager, ICOMOS-UK, or from the ICOMOS-UK website.

Books by Fellows

Oxbow’s monthly bulletin highlights two recently published reports based on the archaeology of Lincoln. A Corpus of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Pottery from Lincoln, by Jane Young and Alan Vince, with Victoria Naylor, looks at the industry which flourished from the ninth to the fifteenth century when pottery produced in Lincoln was traded over a large part of the East Midlands and even as far as Birka in Sweden. The authors present a city-wide pottery classification system and analyse the sequence of pottery types through time and at numerous sites. They make extensive use of petrological analysis, including the study of over 600 thin-sections. These have been used to characterise the local clay and temper sources exploited by Lincoln potters and to identify wares made in the vicinity of the city, those made elsewhere in Lincolnshire, and to identify regional and foreign imports.

The Archaeology of the Upper City and Adjacent Suburbs, by Kate Steane, with Margaret J Darling, Michael J Jones, Jenny Mann, Alan Vince and Jane Young reports on sites excavated in the upper walled city at Lincoln and adjacent suburbs between 1972 and 1987. Each site is described in turn, incorporating stratigraphic, artefactual and environmental information, and the common threads are brought together in a general account of the city’s evolution from Roman fortress and legionary headquarters to civic settlement, with Early and Mid-Saxon activity and full urbanisation of the upper city from the late eleventh century.

Philippa Glanville has written to commend a work by our recently elected Fellow, Hazel Forsyth, curator at the Museum of London, with Geoff Egan, also a Fellow, called Toys, Trifles and Trinkets: base-metal miniatures from London 1200 to 1800 (Museum of London/Unicorn Press 2005, £40). Philippa says that the book is ‘packed with intriguing insights and unusually well-preserved objects recovered from the Thames foreshore over the past twenty years, a must-have for its social history as well as for its images and details of many rare base metal objects. A handful of these engaging small objects are shown tumbling down a case in the new Museum of London Medieval Gallery; both for archaeologists identifying casual finds and for curators of medieval and later collections, the comprehensive comparisons and discussion in this book by two knowledgeable London specialists are highly recommended’

A book with a not-dissimilar title is David Hinton’s absorbing book called Gold and Gilt, Pots and Pins: possessions and people in medieval Britain (see the Oxford University Press website). This explores the very topical theme of how identity was created, and how social division was expressed and reinforced, through people’s possessions at every level of society, and their reasons for acquiring, keeping, displaying and disposing of the things that they wore and had in their houses. The book ranges chronologically from the end of the Roman rule of Britain to the early sixteenth century and one of its many virtues is the witty use of footnotes. One that appealed to Salon’s editor was the side comment on metal detecting in which David Hinton writes that ‘the author’s personal preference is that all archaeological finds should be regarded as belonging to the state, but that is far too left-wing an idea for the present government’.

Carola Hicks has just published her book on The Bayeux Tapestry which was reviewed by Christina Hardyment in the Independent on 10 March. Commenting on the tapestry’s genesis, the review says that ‘Hicks has a new notion: pointing to the sympathetic presentation of the luckless Harald Godwin, she suggests that it was made by English nuns on the initiative of his sister, Edith. Edward the Confessor’s queen came to be on such good terms with William that she kept both her lands and her regal status and became his mentor. Mediating between English and Norman pride, the commemorative tapestry would have been an effective peace-making gesture.’

Vacancies

Trustees for the National Board of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
Closing date 21 April 2006

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is looking to appoint fourteen trustees to the National Board of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to set the strategic direction for the sector, based on the following aims: to increase and sustain participation; to put museums, libraries and archives at the heart of national, regional and local life; to establish a world class and sustainable sector; to lead sector strategy and policy development.

The Board will comprise nine regional chairs / trustees and five national trustees with particular expertise. All of the trustees will have some understanding of sector issues, a track record of strategic thinking, senior level change management experience, a collaborative approach to problem solving and commitment to public service values. There are additional requirements for the national trustees and regional chairs.

More information about the role can be found on MLA's website. An application form and full information pack can be obtained from the DCMS website.

The British Musuem, Director of Public Understanding
Salary to £65,000, no closing date given

This new role involves devising and delivering the museum’s exhibitions and public programmes, developing fresh ideas for reaching new and traditional audiences using web delivery, lectures, films and other initiatives, working with other heritage bodies nationally and internationally to broaden the museum’s range of public programmes and leading the departments concerned with Exhibitions, Marketing, Learning and Information and National Programmes. For further details see the Hanover Fox website; to apply send an email with a copy of your CV and full salary details quoting ref no B844 to Hanover Fox.