25 May: The Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme Eight Years On: a review and their potential for research, by Roger Bland, FSA
1 June: Ditches Hillfort and Villa: negotiating the Iron Age-Roman transition in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, by Simon James, FSA, and Tom Moore
8 June: Architecture as Instrument of Dominion: public design in Canada after the Statute of Westminster, by Rhodri Liscombe, FSA
Architecture, whether through construction or associated terminology, has been tasked with the constitution of regime, and, in the modern era, the representation of nation. The compass of those roles compounded from the early eighteenth century in concert with a more instrumental and technical understanding of knowledge. That change was signified by the founding of the Society and coincident with strategic developments establishing Canada. Adapting Foucault's redefinition of the archaeological practices fostered by the Society, the agency accorded architecture will be examined with particular respect to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. This was the major federal commission completed in the wake of the Statute of Westminster which initiated the transition from Dominion to full independence.
The Society is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 18 May 2006:
Elizabeth Fentress, Isobel Thompson, Glenn Summerhayes, Elizabeth Hughes, Timothy Pestell, John Hunt, Evan Chapman, Pauli Talvio, Harrington Manville, David Boswell, Norman Redhead, Maureen Bennell, Joseph Harriman, Jonathan Marsden, Mark Blackett-Ord, Märit Gaimster, Richard Hingley, Hella Eckardt, Thomas Mayberry, Richard Linenthal, Kevin Brown, Colin McEwan, Ann Clark, Ann MacSween and Jason Wood.
Blue Papers for the ballot to be held on 15 June can now be viewed on the Fellows side of the Societys website. Fellows with passwords can also use the online balloting website (follow the link from the Blue Papers page or go to Several of the speakers who contributed to the recent Stonehenge debate hosted by the Society of Antiquaries have made their presentations available so that those who were unable to attend might read some of the background to the debate. The papers are on the home page of the Societys website. On the Fellows side of the website, four papers are available setting out in some detail the activities and targets contained in the Societys Strategic and Business Plan 2005 to 2008, under the four key objectives of fostering public understanding, engaging in public policy, supporting research and communicating its results, and developing the Fellowship.
Several of the speakers who contributed to the recent Stonehenge debate hosted by the Society of Antiquaries have made their presentations available so that those who were unable to attend might read some of the background to the debate. The papers are on the home page of the Societys website.
On the Fellows side of the website, four papers are available setting out in some detail the activities and targets contained in the Societys Strategic and Business Plan 2005 to 2008, under the four key objectives of fostering public understanding, engaging in public policy, supporting research and communicating its results, and developing the Fellowship.
Once again, Salon managed to garble the name of the estimable National Art Collections Fund (NACF) ─ this time by renaming it the National Art Collectors Fund in the article on the Codex Stosch. As Charles Sebag-Montefiore, FSA (one of the Funds trustees), pointed out, any departure from this name would require a change to the Royal Charter, and there are no plans to do this, adding that the Art Fund is a working name, and does not replace the legal name. Apologies are also due to Sir Colin St John Wilson, trustee of the British Architectural Library, whose name Salon managed to transform into Sir Colin St John Watson in the same article (and thanks to Elaine Paintin, FSA, for pointing this out).
Salon 139 also reported incorrectly that Anthony Harding, FSA, had written to the Bosnian government, in his capacity as President of the European Association of Archaeologists, to complain about the impact of looting and unmonitored or unauthorised development on the countrys archaeology, citing the headline-grabbing activities of Semir (Sam) Osmanagic spending large sums pursuing absurd pyramid theories instead of devoting their cash to the preservation of the endangered genuine sites and monuments in which Bosnia-Herzegovina abounds. In fact the extracts quoted in Salon were from a letter from Anthony published in The Times on 25 April. In pointing this out, Anthony adds that I will be visiting Sarajevo in early June to explore the whole question of support for the beleaguered archaeological community, and will be reporting back to the EAA after that. You say, incidentally, that the pyramid project is supported by the federal Bosnian government and the Sarejevo city government, but that there is no appetite for Osmanagic's project amongst the Bosnian public, with an on-line petition circulating. My understanding is that matters are rather more complex. There is plentiful support at local level for the project because it is perceived as bringing money and jobs to the area, and some politicians are supporting it as well, perhaps for the same reason (who can tell with politicians?). I am not sure whether there is official governmental support, and the petition emanates from a group of independent intellectuals within Bosnia, according to its website. I hope and believe that the growing chorus of scepticism in the international media (I have found my Times letter cited on numerous websites in recent weeks) is helping to persuade people that the whole pyramid business is a scam, but time will tell and we should not be complacent.
Our Treasurer, Geoff Wainwright, was astonished to see himself characterised as someone who wanted a much longer tunnel for the A303 than the 2.1-kilometre scheme that the Society [of Antiquaries] is now backing for Stonehenge, in the article by our Fellow Norman Hammond, published in The Times on 8 May 2006, and reproduced in the last issue of Salon. Being very mellow, having spent a week doing fieldwork with Tim Darvill, FSA, and students from Bournemouth in the Preseli Hills, Geoff forbore to fire off a letter to The Times denying this report, but he nevertheless wishes it to be known that he is 100 per cent behind the Societys support for the published plan.
Geoff also dismissed as a publicity stunt news that the Preseli Bluestone Ltd is planning to build a full-scale replica of the famous Wiltshire landmark of Stonehenge in the Cotswold Water Park. The news, reported widely in the media in the south west of England, said that rebuilding Stonehenge as it might have looked 5,000 years ago was the brainchild of Dr Colin Shearing, Creative Director of Preseli Bluestone Ltd, whose family owns the quarry in Wales where the original Stonehenge stones came from. The schemes proposal to dress guides as druids has caused deep concern to Morgan Rhys-Adams, the druid priestess of Avebury, who condemned the whole scheme as a money-making venture, saying: Druids like myself realise what a sacred place Stonehenge is. If it was a good idea to build it in the water park then it would have been done 5,000 years ago.
Norman Hammonds article resulted in a letter of support for the Societys position, published in The Times on 11 May, from David Holmes, Chairman of the RAC Foundation, the charity concerned with environmental, economic, mobility and safety issues relating to the use of motor vehicles.
The letter said: The RAC Foundation strongly supports the Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London in advocating the published scheme as the best available solution to the situation of Stonehenge. There have been decades of debate on the best way forward. Only one solution meets the needs of the environment, transport and the World Heritage Site ─ the 2.1km tunnel, which will take the traffic away from the stones and restore them to their grassland setting. This route has already been agreed by a public inquiry. None of the alternative proposals could begin within a decade. The published scheme is supported by local authorities, local MPs and archaeologists. It is time for the Government to give it the go-ahead, and for the dignity and isolation of Britain's greatest prehistoric monument to be restored.
English Heritage has launched an ambitious campaign to draw public attention to the plight of listed places of worship of all faith groups in England. The campaign highlights the £118 million a year deficit between the cost of urgently needed repairs ─ £925 million over the next five years, or £185 million a year ─ and the amount raised by congregations or available in grant aid (currently £40 million).
English Heritage Chief Executive Simon Thurley, FSA, said: £118 million is a staggering annual shortfall which we cannot realistically expect the Government to pay for. Instead, Simon outlined a five-point plan which he wants Government to fund to the tune of £26.52m (£8.84m a year for three years), which he said would help to shrink the problem.
Point one of the plan would involve rewriting out-dated list descriptions for all 4,200 Grade I places of worship as part of the current reform of heritage protection, so as to make it simpler for congregations to keep churches in community use by adapting them to new purposes, whilst remaining in use as places of worship.
The money would also be used to help congregations appoint Historic Places of Worship Support Officers to create a Maintenance Grants scheme to undertake annual maintenance and prevent small problems degenerating into major repair bills, to augment the existing Repair Grants Scheme for Places of Worship with a new Small Grants scheme (see next story) and to make sure the safety nets are in place for redundant places of worship, including campaigning for adequate Government money for the Churches Conservation Trust.
Simons message was supported by leading public figures, including our Fellow The Right Revd Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jeremy Paxman, Jools Holland, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Bill Bryson and the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, who composed a poem especially for the launch (this can be read on the English Heritage website, where further information is also available.
All made the point that places of worship matter even to people who are not regular worshippers, because, as Bill Bryson eloquently put it they are part of Englands soul.
English Heritage has also announced which Grade II listed places of worship in England will receive funding from the joint EH/HLF Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme, launched by the two organisations in 2002. Holy Trinity, Stroud, in Gloucestershire, Assemblies of the First Born Pentecostal Church in Birmingham and Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton Synagogue in Salford, Manchester, are just three of the sixty-five buildings that will benefit from a £7-million package. This follows the £17.5 million awarded by the scheme in March to Grade I and Grade II* places of worship.
Also from English Heritage is a report called The Heritage Dividend Methodology: measuring the impact of heritage projects, which will be invaluable to anyone needing to evaluate the wider social, economic and environmental effects of heritage-related projects. The report is particularly relevant in view of recent guidance issued by central government and government agencies on the proper procedures for appraising and evaluating public expenditure generally and regeneration in particular.
The report results from research carried out by Urban Practitioners for English Heritage and it includes contributions from individuals and organisations with expertise and experience in appraising and evaluating heritage-related projects and programmes. It describes a methodology, with a recommended pro forma, whereby those who manage and fund heritage-related projects can measure and describe the wider effects of their projects in a systematic way, and one that is capable of being tailored to the scale of different projects.
The report can be downloaded from the Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) website.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced the appointment of Sir Colin Lucas as Chair of the Board of the British Library for a four-year period, from 1 September 2006. Sir Colin Lucas succeeds Lord Eatwell, who completes his term at the end of August. Sir Colin recently stepped down as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, before which he was Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Sir Colin is a specialist in the history of eighteenth-century France, principally the French Revolution. Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: I am delighted to welcome Sir Colin as our new Board Chairman and very much look forward to working with him at an exciting and demanding time for the Library as we seek to sustain and re-define what it means to be a world-leading national research library and cultural institution in the twenty-first century.
As well as being an acronym (standing for the Society of Antiquaries of Londons Online Newsletter), the name Salon is an allusion to the literary and philosophical salons of eighteenth-century Europe, where people of like mind met to share news, gossip and conversation ─ the aim being to combine pleasure and education. Now, according to the Independent, such salons are undergoing something of a revival: in Cambridge, the witty and free-spirited Rowan Pelling is, apparently, well known for her conversational gatherings, as is John Lloyd in Oxford, and the philosopher, Julian Bagginni and the writer and publisher Katharine Reeve in Bath.
Mind you, author Stephen Miller does not rate academics as conversationalists. In his newly published book called Conversation: a history of a declining art (Yale University Press), Miller says that academics tend to be more dogmatic than other professional people, and he quotes Joseph Epsteins observation that in academic life there is no real conversation: just various people awaiting their own turn to hold forth. Perhaps there is as much truth to this assertion as there is in James Boswells (surely ironic) comment that Scotch people have little place in the conversible world.
A new exhibition at the British Museum provides plenty of meat for salon conversation along the lines of what is the difference between erotica and pornography. Where once the museum hid sexually explicit images in its Secretum, where only scholarly eyes were allowed to peep, it now puts on public exhibitions. As described by our Fellow Maev Kennedy in the Guardian on 12 May 2006, the displays in the newly opened Sex and Society in Ancient Greece and Rome (admission free; ends 2 July) consist of a dazzlingly beautiful and jaw-droppingly explicit Roman silver cup, a small collection of objects in silver, glass and pottery showing men having sex with women, men or boys and, in the case of a small oil lamp, two women risking really serious back strain.
The focal point of the exhibition is the Warren Cup, acquired by the museum six years ago. It was our Fellow Dyfri Williams, of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the museum, who persuaded the trustees to part with £1.8m for the cup, making it then the most expensive single item the BM had ever acquired. Dr Williams believes it was made in the first century AD, possibly by Greek craftsmen for a Roman client. Such cups, he says, were made to provoke conversation at private entertainments (Roman salons?). He told Maev that the purpose of the exhibition was to show this fantastic object in a context in which we could ask how much we understand about attitudes to sexuality when it was made. These objects seem extraordinary to us now, but there were many objects in common use, and wall paintings and mosaics in baths and in private houses, showing very similar imagery.
In the latest issue of Current Archaeology, our Fellow Andrew Selkirk takes exception to Prehistory: a very short introduction by Chris Gosden ─ a lecturer in the department [of archaeology] and curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum (but recently appointed to succeed our Fellow Barry Cunliffe as Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford). Reviewing Gosdens book, Andrew accuses him of suffering from the common university malaise of believing that Marx is always right. He is also guilty of performing a series of intellectual pirouettes for the benefit of fellow academics instead of using the book to set out the facts of prehistory simply and plainly as a counterblow to the arguments of the lunatic fringe
notably the Creationists.
Elsewhere in the magazine, our Fellow Jeffrey May, guest editor for the current issue (May/June 2006: further details from the magazines website demonstrates what Andrew means by fact not theory with a series of vividly illustrated reports on the finding of a seventh/eighth century baptismal skillet from the Isle of Wight (this can also be seen on the website of the Portable Antiquities Scheme), on an Iron-Age weapons hoard from near Hull with Brigantian-style decoration on the copper-alloy scabbards, and on Neolithic houses and Roman forts in north Wales.
The magazine includes a review of the Societys joint publication, with the British Museum Press, of the Sutton Hoo report by Martin Carver, FSA ─ fortunately this passes the Selkirk test with flying colours: this towering tome, says the review, describes with clarity and detail exactly what was found. A whole panoply of archaeological techniques was employed and the result is a model of how modern archaeology should be done.
Salons editor is enjoying a preview of the papers that will be published next year to celebrate the Societys tercentenary in a volume edited by our Fellow Susan Pearce under the title: Visions of Antiquity. This is set fair to be an immensely readable and enjoyable volume, as well as throwing new light on the Societys involvement in the ferment of ideas surrounding the emergence of concepts of prehistory, deep time and the discipline of archaeology.
But what is also striking about the book is the resonance today of thoughts penned many decades ago. For example, Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowells pamphlet, Better Places to Live, published last spring, caused consternation with the suggestion that listed buildings could be demolished to make way for new buildings because it was now technically possible to create a perfect virtual moving image of the building before it was pulled down.
Compare that with the warning, delivered by the Societys Director, Richard Gough, in a letter to the Gentlemans Magazine in 1788: The art of engraving, which helps to make ancient buildings known, and preserves their form to a certain degree, contributes, I fear, to their demolition. Is such a thing engraved? ─ O, yes ─ Then it is preserved to posterity.
Or consider, apropos of Andrew Selkirks dislike of the language of archaeological theory, the words of David Hume, in an essay of 1742, who complained that Learning has been
a Loser by being shut up in Colleges and Cells
Even Philosophy went to Wrack by this moaping recluse Method of Study, and became as chimerical in her Conclusions as she was unintelligible in her Stile and Manner of Delivery.
As for the activities of metal detectorists today, it is salutary to learn that antiquaries were once regarded as the chief plunderers of the nations heritage. Speaking in a parliamentary debate on 15 April 1874, Sir Edmund Antrobus objected to the proposal that the Society of Antiquaries should be appointed guardians of ancient monuments on the grounds that that would be like putting the fox in charge of the hen coop. Many ancient barrows have been rifled by antiquarians, he said, adding that: it is the antiquarians who have done the most mischief in England: if ancient monuments are to be placed in their hands they would do still more.
Yet less than a decade later, it was untrained amateur practitioners who were being blamed for despoiling the heritage. Recent debates about the volunteer/professional split in archaeology and the licensing of excavations echo Winter Joness words, written for the Edinburgh Review in 1881: the rage for finding out something by the spade and pickaxe requires anxious watching. Amateurs, however well-meaning, cannot safely be left to their own devices. Some of them have already hidden more than they disclosed. There is a need to instruct and discipline the free lances of archaeology, and it is exactly here that an organisation like that of the Society of Antiquaries may be best utilised in the interest of scientific discovery. Whatever may be thought of the advisability of subsidising a learned corporation by a grant from the Treasury, there can hardly be a doubt that the recognition of a society as a central board for controlling and systematising archaeological research would be a measure which could only produce excellent results.
Staying with the twin themes of voices from the past and obscure language, Mark Horton, FSA, has passed on to Salon the details of an AHRC-funded project that is circulating around academic networks at the moment, causing mirth and disbelief in equal measure.
The research project is entitled Spectral Geographies: unsettling place and self and its objectives are to critically interrogate current conceptions of haunting, place, materiality and subjectivity; to elaborate innovative understandings of the constitution of place and self via spectrality; to contribute conceptually and substantively to current geographical and cultural work on place, subjectivity, embodiment and the visual.
The project design goes on to say that a substantial portion of the research will be devoted to a theorisation of the visual as a haunted and haunting medium. This theorisation could be abetted, for example, by case studies of particular imaging technologies, and/or archives of notable haunted images ─ which decoded and put into plain English seems to mean that the AHRC is prepared to fund someone to the tune of £15,000 a year for three years to go and look for ghosts ─ the only question is, will the resulting thesis have any real substance?
Adam Wilkinson, the energetic Secretary of SAVE Britains Heritage, writes to Salon to say: re milestone preservation [see Salon 139]and those who chose to mock those of us who care about the past, I am reading a remarkable book on the Dresden raid at the moment, and there is a grim but relevant quote from the Reichsleiter along the lines of: thank heavens Dresden has gone; it means were free of all this middle-class luggage of history and can get on advancing our civilisation.
Adam also wishes Fellows to be aware of the latest plan to advance our civilisation by demolishing the 1883 General Market wing of Smithfield meat market. The City of London Corporation has now granted planning consent to the developers, Thornfield Properties plc, to build 350,000 sq ft of new office space on the site, with a retail outlet on the ground floor.
Adam explained SAVEs long-standing opposition to this plan: This is the most fantastic complex of historic market buildings in the country, he said. The development would completely destroy it and rebuild seven storeys rather than two storeys. It would not give life to the area and it would just join the great, big, dull wall of office buildings on Farringdon Road. It is completely at odds with the other market buildings in terms of its size.
SAVE is not alone in objecting to the planning permission. A statement from English Heritage says that: We have called on the Secretary of State [Ruth Kelly] to call in the case, and await her response. Like Oxo Tower, Tate Modern or Borough Market, this building is one of many well-loved and useful buildings which are not listed, but which are still a very important part of London's architectural and historic character. English Heritage often supports new development schemes and is disappointed that the proposed new building is so poorly suited to the area. This design is not top quality and instead of encouraging small business and diversity, it destroys the bustle and creativity of the area with an enormous single-use office block.
But Michael Capocci, the managing director of Thornfield Properties, said he hoped to move forward with the development at the earliest opportunity. He said: It has taken us over five years to get to this point and we have been painstaking in ensuring that all the planning and design requirements have been met. We have also consulted widely on our proposals.
The Art Fund has just published the key findings from its recent UK-wide research into the acquisitions policies of UK museums and galleries and has concluded that there is a crisis in funding and a lack of will on the part of central and local government to support collecting.
The research, the first authoritative study of UK collecting, was undertaken with the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and took a detailed look at acquisitions in UK museums of all types, and across all regions over the last five years. Over 300 museums were surveyed ─ one in six of the UKs accredited museums and galleries.
When asked to identify their current priorities, most museums said that, while acknowledging that collecting was of vital importance, only 2 per cent said it was a priority and only 13 per cent said their collecting activity matched their aspirations. Lack of funding means that many are reliant on the generosity of donors. 69 per cent said the most common method of acquiring over the last five years has been through gifts, supplemented by loans, bequests and archaeological fieldwork.
These figures for the first time put real facts behind concerns we and the sector have had for some time, said David Barrie, the Art Funds Director. Collections are at the heart of museums: they must be continually enriched and renewed to keep our museums vibrant and appealing, to educate and inform now and in the future.
David Barrie told BBC Radio 4s PM programme that funding has been too much focused on education, access and social inclusion in recent years, and that Ironically all that outreach and social inclusion agenda is going to become extremely difficult to deliver if museum collections end up stagnant, and if curatorial talent of the kind that is needed continues to be lost. But Culture Minister David Lammy, interviewed on the same programme, was robust in his rejection of this criticism, saying that: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has increased the money that we spend on museums by 42 per cent since 1997, and that you can see acquisitions flourishing thanks to the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
A full report will be published in October, when the Art Fund will also announce a new grant-giving scheme to promote active collecting. The interim report can be downloaded from the Art Funds website.
One museum is the richer thanks to the donation of a beautiful snake-thread glass flask dug up by Cotswold Archaeology in Gloucester five years ago and now donated to the citys museum by Persimmon Homes Wessex, the developer of the site where the flask was found, clasped in the skeletal hands of a long-dead Roman woman. Our Fellow Neil Holbrook, Chief Executive of Cotswold Archaeology, said that the 3-inch-high flask, made in the third century in Germany, was the only flask of its kind to be discovered intact in Britain. The woman is thought to have been about 25 to 34 years old, lived in the third or fourth century and showed signs of having had tuberculosis. Andrew Fox, Gloucester City Council's Heritage and Museums Manager, said the flask could have been for oil or perfume; it is now set to become the centrepiece of a revamped Roman section at the City Museum and Art Gallery in Brunswick Road.
Oxford Archaeology staff have discovered a Roman burial ground on the site of a gravel pit near Fairford, Gloucestershire, containing more than 100 graves. Dr Alex Smith, who is leading the excavation of the site, said it was a very significant discovery, not least because the archaeologists had expected to find outlying parts of a Roman farm excavated some years previously. Instead, we found 100 graves, which completely flummoxed us; we certainly weren't expecting that. The burial ground is divided into two, with separate sections for adults and children. Dr Smith added that: The farmhouse we think is on the site is not big enough to justify that amount of graves. It's the sort of size you would associate with a town. Our working hypothesis is that this was a communal burial site for all the outlying farms in the region.
The BBC reported this week that construction of a railway tunnel linking the European and Asian parts of Istanbul beneath the Bosporus Strait have been halted indefinitely to allow archaeologists to uncover the remains of a major fourth-century AD harbour under the slums of Yenikapi, on the European side of the city.
Chief archaeologist Metin Gokcay and his team have found stone jetties, eight ships, anchors, leather sandals, hairbrushes, candle holders and mosaics. We've found lots of things that tell us about the daily life of the city in the fourth century, Gokcay said. Ive done many digs in Istanbul, but there are many things here Ive never seen before.
The Marmaray tunnel will be the deepest underwater tunnel in the world, built to withstand earthquakes up to 9.0 on the Richter scale. So far the project has been on schedule for completion by 2010, but the archaeologists can't say when their work will be finished. Ismail Karamut, director of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, is refusing to be rushed by politicians and engineers: We're digging right in the middle of a living city, he said. It's not like excavating on a mountainside. The transport people can't start until we're finished. And maybe they'll have to change their project depending on what we find. We've told them we can't give them a deadline.
The bad news first. The Times reported on 10 May 2006 that the worlds oldest surviving sea clipper, the City of Adelaide, launched in 1864 and later renamed The Carrick, is set to be dismantled after the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, Ayrshire, has admitted that the hull is in far worse condition than previously thought. An application will now be made to the National Historic Ships Committee for recorded deconstruction of a ship that was the nineteenth-century equivalent of Concorde, offering the fastest and most luxurious way to emigrate to Australia (sixty-five days, a record that still stands). Meanwhile, in Birkenhead, the Warship Preservation Trust has gone into liquidation and has closed its museum. Until February, this hosted Europes largest collection of preserved warships, including HMS Plymouth and the submarine HMS Onyx from the Falklands War, the minehunter HMS Bronington, the German U-Boat U-534 and LCT 7074, the last surviving landing craft tank that took part in D-Day. The future of the collection is uncertain, though Plymouth City Council have expressed an interest in HMS Plymouth.
And the good news? Captain Cooks Endeavour, the ship in which Cook claimed Australia for the British crown, has been found at the bottom of an American harbour, where she ended her days taking part in the British war effort against rebellious American colonists in Newport, Rhode Island. Renamed the Lord Sandwich and pressed into service during the successful defence of the town against the French in 1778, Endeavour was one of thirteen vessels scuttled in the harbour entrance to keep the French at bay.
Archaeologist Dr Kathy Abbass, Director of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, said that six of the thirteen ships had now been identified some 300ft from the shoreline and about 20ft below the surface using a mixture of documentary research and sonar. Dr Abbass said the upper parts of the ships had rotted away but the keels had been preserved in the silt of the harbour. Excavation will begin so that the Endeavour can be identified and explored.
And in Bristol, the long campaign to renovate the SS Great Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunels great iron ship, has been recognised with two awards ─ for the best permanent exhibition and the best restoration/conservation project of the year ─ at the 2006 Museums and Heritage Awards.
Numerous stories have appeared in the press over the last two weeks concerning the results of bone studies and DNA analysis, so here is a quick round up of the main findings.
First, Professor Dr Robert D Martin, Provost of the Chicago Field Museum and world-renowned primatologist, has published an article in the journal Science stating that the skull found in Flors, Indonesia, is not that of a new species (Homo floriensis, aka The Hobbit) but is that of a microcephalic (congenitally small brained) individual who lived into adulthood. This is the third such study to reach that conclusion, and it results from an exhaustive comparison of the Flores skull and those of 100 human microcephalics. For the full story see the Geological Societys website.
The first sequences of nuclear DNA to be taken from a Neanderthal have been reported at a US science meeting. Geneticist Svante Paabo and his team say they have isolated segments of genetic material from a 45,000-year-old male Neanderthal specimen found in Vindija Cave outside Zagreb. Preliminary analysis shows the bundle of DNA responsible for maleness in the Neanderthal is very different from that of modern human and chimpanzee Y chromosomes.
Anthropologist John Hawks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has suggested that there is no evidence for any period of overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans in Europe. Earlier this year, new research based on improved carbon-14 dating published by our Fellow Paul Mellars, of Cambridge University, showed that modern humans started encroaching from Israel upon Neanderthal territory in the Balkans 3,000 years sooner than previously thought. This rate suggests Neanderthals succumbed to big climate shifts or competition from modern humans for resources sooner than previously thought, so that they might have overlapped at sites in western France for only 1,000 years. Now Hawks is saying that this figure should drop to zero and William Davies, of the Centre for Human Origins at the University of Southampton, agrees, saying that the dates we have relating to interaction [of Neanderthals with modern humans in Europe] will keep getting shorter.
A survey of British skulls suggests that early Neolithic Britons had a one in twenty chance of suffering a skull fracture at the hands of someone else and a one in fifty chance of dying from their injuries. Rick Schulting of Queen's University Belfast and Michael Wysocki from the University of Central Lancashire looked at 350 skulls spanning the period from 4000 BC to 3200 BC and found that 5 per cent showed healed depressed fractures caused by a blow from a blunt instrument, such as a club, and that unhealed injuries were present in 2 per cent of the sample, suggesting these individuals died from their wounds. The actual rate of death from violence during this period could be much higher: Our data shows 2 per cent lethal cranial injuries, but these are just cranial. A lot of lethal injuries will be to soft tissues and that needn't affect bone, Mr Wysocki said. The researchers suspect that what they are seeing is violence at the local and regional level rather than large-scale warfare. We could be seeing raiding parties or cattle rustling; some of the violence may be domestic; some of it may even be ritualised, Mr Wysocki said. The research originally appeared in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society journal.
Experts from Norfolk Archaeology Unit based at Norwich Castle have discovered a rare form of mitochondrial DNA identified as Romany in an eleventh-century young adult male skeleton, and are claiming this as the first recorded arrival of the Romany gene in this country. Our Fellow Brian Ayers directed the excavation in the early 1990s in the Castle mall area where the skeleton was found in a church graveyard. This exciting find emphasises a more cosmopolitan Anglo-Scandinavian society, Brian commented, adding that the find is an indication both of the mixed ethnicity of society in Norwich in the eleventh century and of the fact that humans sometimes travelled very long distances.
Modern Tuscans like to consider themselves a cut above their neighbours on the grounds that they are descended from the ancient Etruscans, who formed the first advanced civilisation in Italy, long before being conquered and subsumed by the Romans. But researcher Guido Barbujani of Ferrara University now says that a DNA comparison of Etruscan skeletons and a sample of living Tuscans shows only tenuous genetic similarities. Barbujani, the geneticist who co-ordinated the study with researchers from Stanford University in the United States, says that: If the Tuscans were the direct descendants of the Etruscans the DNA should be the same. The study, which appears in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that most modern Tuscans are descended from non-Etruscan people.
Ian Findlay, Professor of Molecular and Forensic Diagnostics at the University of Brisbane, has concluded that Jack the Ripper, the notorious serial killer, could have been a woman. Having extracted DNA from the gum on the envelopes and postage stamps of letters sent by the Ripper to the police, Findlay has produced results which he says are inconclusive and not forensically reliable but that do suggest the killer was a woman. Frederick Aberline, the detective who led the investigation, also believed the killer to be female. The prime suspect is Mary Pearcey, who used a similar modus operandi to the Ripper in murdering her lovers wife, and who was hanged for that offence in 1890.
Finally, back to the deep past. Salons editor has always been suspicious of any theories of human evolution that suggest a female chimp gave birth one day to a strange genetic sport and lo, the human species had arrived ─ sudden speciation simply doesnt make sense (and in any case, who would the human sport then breed with?). Now scientists have indeed suggested that human/chimpanzee speciation was a long process, with a phase during which hybrid chimp/humans continued to breed with male chimps, perhaps resulting in further hybridisation. The conclusions come in an exhaustive analysis of the genomes of humans, chimps, gorillas and monkeys published in Nature by Dr David Reich of the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hybridisation between human and chimpanzee ancestors could help to explain both the wide degree of divergence seen across our genomes, as well as the relatively similar X (female) chromosomes, Dr Reich said, adding that hybridisation is a common feature of plant speciation, and that the reason why it had not been found in animal species before may simply be due to the fact that we have not been looking for it.
ASPRoM (the Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics) is holding its Summer Symposium at the Corinium Museum, Cirencester, from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 10 June 2006. The speakers are Neil Holbrook, FSA, on Cotswold villas, Steve Cosh, FSA, on Mosaics, and Richard Reece, FSA, on Art, mosaics and late Roman Britain. All are welcome. For further details see the Associations website.
The Historic Chapels Trust is holding a conference on Historic Church and Chapel Regeneration at the Todmorden Unitarian Church, West Yorkshire, on 23 and 24 June 2006. Speakers include Alan Beith, MP, Chairman of the Historic Chapels Trust, and our Fellows Jenny Freeman, Humphrey Welfare, Matthew Saunders and Sharman Kadish. Further information from the Trust's website.
An Archaeological and Historical Conference is being held at the Bishops Palace, in Wells, on 11 and 12 September 2006 to celebrate Bishop Jocelins receipt of a grant of land in 1206 on which to build the palace. This prestigious event will examine the heritage and role of bishops and their palaces and promote wider knowledge of early medieval England. The conference forms an important part of the Octocentennial celebrations to commemorate and celebrate the building of the Bishops Palace at Wells. For further information see the Wells 800 website.
Bronze Age Connections: cultural contact in prehistoric Europe, is the name of a conference to be held in Dover, Kent, on 21 and 22 October 2006, again with a fair sprinkling of distinguished Fellows among the speaker list (including Barry Cunliffe, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Stuart Needham and Robert van de Noort). For full details see the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trusts website.
Understanding Hadrians Wall, a conference organised by the Arbeia Society at the Customs House Theatre, South Shields, will take place on 3 to 5 November 2006, with an introductory lecture by David Breeze, FSA, and contributions from experts on the Roman frontiers of mainland Europe, including our Fellows Lindsay Allason-Jones, Paul Bidwell, Jim Crow, Nick Hodgson, Rachel Newman, David Shotter, Vivien Swan and Tony Wilmott. Further details from Liz Elliott, Secretary of the Arbeia Society.
Robert Harding, FSA, of Maggs Bros Ltd, the 150-year-old antiquarian books dealer, has forwarded details of his firms latest publication, Holkham Library: a history and description, by D P M Mortlock, with an introduction by Lord Leicester. The handsome and beautifully illustrated book is the first thorough study of one of the worlds finest private libraries, much of which was acquired by Thomas Coke, 1st earl of Leicester (1697─1759), who built Holkham Hall in Norfolk. The core of the collection concentrates on the Renaissance but a wide variety of interests are represented: for instance, there are Sir Edward Coke's fourteenth-century English manuscripts, a remarkable collection of Civil War and Commonwealth pamphlets and some early broadsides of the Virginia Company. For further details see the Maggs Bros website.
Conservationists who bewail insensitive development that has no respect for the heritage partake in a long tradition of rhetoric based on presenting a nightmare vision of an England left soulless by progress: in 1937, E M Forster wrote: In the last fifteen years we have gashed England to pieces with arterial roads and trimmed the roads with trash, while Clough Williams-Ellis, in 1928, complained of the cumulative effect of a myriad petty vandalisms ─ the quarrying of commons, dumping of junk, architectural dissonance, destruction of ancient bridges, pink asbestos bungalows.
Now our Fellow Trevor Rowley is trying to change the rhetoric and persuade us that The English Landscape in the Twentieth Century (the title of his latest book, published by Hambledon and London) is not as bad as we sometimes think ─ a task as difficult, surely, as persuading us that John Prescott and Ruth Kelly are loveable, cuddly conservationists.
Reviewing Rowleys book in this weeks Sunday Times, our Fellow Simon Jenkins applauds the authors attempt to apply to the urban landscape a similar affection to that granted to the rural [as] it might lead to a greater appreciation of the visual and social virtues of towns and thus encourage their conservation. However, Jenkins feels that the problem not acknowledged sufficiently in the books central thesis is that so much modern development is achieved at the expense of what we already have that is valuable, and that this need not be the case ─ indeed, that the purpose of planning policy should be to ensure that that is not the case ─ a point that needs to be drummed into those politicians at national and local level who make and apply planning policy and law.
The 68th volume of the Journal of the Walpole Society (2006) is devoted to the letters of Uvedale Price as edited by Professor Charles Watkins, FSA, and Ben Cowell (who is well known to a number of Fellows as Head of the Museums Sponsorship Unit at DCMS). The volume comprises a biographical essay on Uvedale Price (1747─1829), theorist of the picturesque landscape, and edited transcripts of 170 of his letters to correspondents, including Sir George Beaumont (whose collection was the basis for the National Gallery) and the 1st Marquis of Abercorn (owner of Bentley Priory).
English Heritage, Education Volunteers Manager
Salary: £28,181, closing date 26 May 2006
The job of the Education Volunteers Manager is to launch a volunteering programme based at English Heritages properties and recruit volunteers who will help deliver on-site education sessions ─ including workshops and guided tours ─ for schools and families. For an application pack, please contact Raj Kalsi, quoting R/26/06.
Museum of Garden History, Chief Executive
Salary around £50,000, closing date 5 June 2006
A recently commissioned Strategic Review has highlighted the need for the Museum of Garden History to broaden its activities to appeal to a wider audience, and the Directors are now seeking an exceptional and energetic Chief Executive to deliver new initiatives and ensure the Museums place as a leader in its field. The ideal candidate will be a senior manager in the museums, galleries or heritage sectors with proven change-management experience, business, marketing and fundraising skills, and the entrepreneurial flair to achieve sustained growth in a sensitive heritage environment. Further details from the Guardian jobs website.