Salon Archive

Issue: 144

News of Fellows

At the Annual General Meeting of the British Academy on 6 July, our Treasurer, Professor Geoff Wainwright, was awarded the Grahame Clark Medal. The medal was endowed by Professor Sir Grahame Clark in 1992 to mark distinguished achievements involving recent contributions to the study of prehistoric archaeology. Our congratulations to Geoff, who joins a distinguished list of Fellows who have been awarded the medal in recent years, including Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe (2004) and Dr John Coles (1995).

Congratulations are also due to our Director, Professor Martin Millett, who learned at the same AGM that he had been elected a Fellow of the British Academy, joining some forty or so existing Fellows (of the BA and of the Society of Antiquaries) in the Academy’s Archaeology section.

It has been an eventful year for Martin, and it might have been assumed that when he became a father last October not long after his fiftieth birthday, he had set some sort of a record: but several of last week’s newspapers devoted their front pages to the news that our Fellow John Farrant has just become the proud father of a son, at the age of sixty; more remarkable still is the fact that, according to the BBC ‘News at Ten’ and ITV ‘News’, John’s wife Patricia is officially Britain's oldest mother, at the age of sixty-two. In the many newspaper reports covering the birth (see, for example, the Daily Mail, with a picture and exclusive interview with both parents), John is variously described as an academic, a historian and, more accurately, as a higher education management consultant. The Guardian reported that John was ‘currently writing a sixteenth-century maritime history’; Salon can reveal exclusively that the working title of that book is Maritime Sussex: harbours, trade and shipping 1560─2000.

On the subject of birthdays, our Fellow Martin Carver was treated to a special celebration on 8 July to mark his sixty-fifth birthday (surely some mistake). Friends from all walks of Martin’s life gathered at Sutton Hoo for an evening devoted to some of his favourite things, including archaeology, sausages, campfire songs, whisky and poetry.

Queen’s Birthday Honours

The tally of Fellows who featured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List has risen still further: our Fellow Corinne Bennett has spotted another familiar name that Salon missed ─ that of our Fellow Peter Thorogood, who was created an MBE along with Roger Linton, for their joint endeavours in running St Mary's House, Bramber, East Sussex. Roger is the Curator and Peter is the owner of St Mary's, a remarkable house built in about 1470 by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester and founder of Magdalen College, Oxford, which they have opened to the public as a visitor attraction, study centre and concert venue. Corinne says that she and her husband knew Peter and Roger before they embarked on the venture and have followed the ups and downs of their ambitious plans from the start: the St Mary’s House website, tells the whole story.

New member of staff

The Society has a new member of staff: Julia Steele will be joining as Collections Officer from 7 August 2006. Julia is a Durham history graduate with a Masters degree in museology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She has spent the last four years as Curator of Economic Botany at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Julia will have day-to-day curatorial responsibility for the Burlington House and Kelmscott Manor collections, and will join the Society's Library and Collections team and the tercentenary exhibition planning team. The Society's tercentenary exhibition will run from September to December 2007 at the Royal Academy.

Cake crises at Kelmscott and Buckingham Palace

Fellows, along with their families and guests, gathered for a most enjoyable Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott Manor on 8 July, with perfect weather, the garden looking at its best and the sounds of the Oxford County Jazz Combo (brilliantly accomplished: average age of musicians, about sixteen!) serenading groups of picnicking Fellows by the riverside. But those who lingered too long in the house communing with the ghost of William Morris found, to their consternation, that all the cake had disappeared by 5pm; a disgruntled Fellow or two was heard to complain that the early birds had scandalously taken more than their share!

Those who enjoyed the music might like to know that Kelmscott Manor provides the backdrop to two further concerts this summer. On 29 July the Hampden Ensemble will perform a varied programme of chamber music, from baroque to modern, interspersed with humorous readings on matters musical, and the young and talented Houkou Wind Quintet will be performing at Kelmscott on 19 August. ‘This is a new venture for us, hosting chamber concerts at Kelmscott Manor,’ explained Property Manager, Jane Milne. ‘Funds raised from these events will support the Manor’s education programme and we are immensely grateful to both ensembles for donating their services.’

Tickets and further information can be obtained from Kelmscott Manor

University Challenge

It was selected by the London Evening Standard as their pick of the day, pitting Oxford’s Bodleian Library against the Society of Antiquaries in ‘our purest quiz show: just straightforward questions and answer, with no gimmicks or twists’. Regrettably the BBC did not inform the Society that it was going to transmit the episode of University Challenge in which the Society’s team took part on Monday 12 July 2006, so we were unable to alert Fellows in advance. We can however reveal that the Society performed credibly enough but did not score enough points to proceed to the semi-finals, losing to a crack team of librarians who had taken the programme far more seriously than the Society’s team, and had practised their buzzer technique for weeks in advance by rigging up their own mock TV studio.

Those who did see the programme agreed that the questions were the hardest they had heard in a very long time: perhaps the programme makers had decided that librarians and antiquaries were more than unusually well informed, and needed to be set especially testing questions. And despite team captain Loyd Grossman’s contention in the pre-quiz profile that we were not strong on science, most of the questions the Antiquaries team got right were scientific ones!

Chatting after the programme, question master Jeremy Paxman showed a well-informed interest in archaeology, and confided that he had once considered reading Arch and Anth at Cambridge, with a view to an archaeological career: the Antiquaries team was quick to tell Jeremy that he had chosen by far the more prosperous path in life.

English Heritage wins conditional planning consent for Stonehenge visitor centre

Instead of watching himself on University Challenge on 12 July, Mike Pitts, one of the Society’s team members, attended a critical planning meeting convened by Salisbury District Council to consider the application made by English Heritage for a new £67.5m visitor centre for Stonehenge.

English Heritage's original application was turned down by Salisbury District Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee in July 2005, following the Government’s announcement that it was to review the options for Stonehenge road schemes. At that time, councillors felt there was too much uncertainty surrounding the roads scheme to approve the visitor centre.

English Heritage lodged an appeal, which was due to be heard in December 2007, but on Monday the expense and time involved in an appeal was avoided when the same Committee reversed its earlier decision and gave conditional approval to the plans. Councillor Patrick Paisey, Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory Panel, said: ‘We carefully considered the plans afresh and on balance the committee concluded that the application, with the conditions this council has imposed, met all the planning tests’.

The main condition that has to be met before the visitor centre can be built is the Government’s approval of the published A303 road scheme, which includes the 2.1-km bored tunnel and a bypass round Winterbourne Stoke. The Council has also requested further information about the land train which will be used to convey less mobile visitors to the monument from the visitor centre, following expressions of concern from people living in the Stonehenge vicinity who say that the train route passes too close to their homes in Fargo Road, at Larkhill.

Our Fellow Mike Pitts commented that the meeting was very positive: ‘English Heritage fielded a panel of experts ─ representatives from the architects, the landscape and the archaeological consultants, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and so on, and several Fellows (EH chair Sir Neil Cossons, John Barrett, Julian Richards and myself) ─ to explain the project. This was undoubtedly helpful, and equally it was a mistake the first time round that no one stood to speak in favour of the proposal after the objectors had said their pieces.’

Councillor Mike Hewitt said that the plans had still met with some opposition because of worries about the proposed land train, but that: ‘The current visitor centre is not a good advertisement for the UK. It is cramped and there is nowhere to shelter from the rain. After all, it is a world heritage site, one of those things you are supposed to see before you die and if you went down there you'd wonder what we were expecting people to pay for.’

Robert Key, MP for Salisbury, said the news was excellent, and added that ‘There is massive support in Parliament for the 2.1-km bored tunnel, across all parties and both houses.’

APPAG votes for Stonehenge tunnel

Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG) have joined their colleagues from the All Party Parliamentary World Heritage Group in giving their support to the 2.1-km bored tunnel for Stonehenge. The news was conveyed in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on 11 July, which said:

Sir: The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group believes that the short bored tunnel at Stonehenge is the only realistic solution. If the government fail to make a decision soon, the opportunity may be lost for another generation and Britain’s commitment to its world heritage sites is surely in question.

Signed by Lord Renfrew, FSA, Lord Redesdale, FSA, Mark Fisher, MP, and Tim Loughton, MP

Devon and Cornwall’s mining landscapes granted World Heritage status

Joining Stonehenge in the select roster of world heritage sites deemed to have outstanding universal value are ten areas of Cornwall and West Devon with deep-mining remains dating from the period from 1700 to 1914: St Just, Hayle, Tregonning, Wendron, Camborne─Redruth, Gwennap, St Agnes, Luxulan─Charlestown, Caradon and the Tamar Valley and Tavistock. The decision to inscribe these landscapes on the World Heritage Sites list was made at a meeting of Unesco held in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. Other sites inscribed at the Vilnius meeting included ancient irrigation systems in Oman, the fortified city of Harar Jugol in Ethiopia and the palaces of Genova in Italy.

The decision to add the mining landscape to the list was in recognition of the contribution that Cornwall and West Devon made to industrialisation throughout the world and their influence on mining technology. Devon and Cornwall formed the world's greatest producer of such metals as copper and tin in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, providing the essential raw materials for the industrialisation of the world. Further global significance resulted from the migration of miners overseas to the Americas, Australia and southern Africa, for example. Stephen Gill, from West Devon Council, said: ‘Our mining culture was transported around the world, which is why they have pasty shops in Mexico and play rugby in Australia and South Africa’.

Adam Paynter, the chairman of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Partnership, which includes all the local authorities behind the bid, said: "This is fantastic news and I am over the moon that our bid has been successful. A lot of organisations and people have been involved in the bid and I am delighted that everyone's hard work has been rewarded in such a fabulous way. The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape now officially belongs to the world and we are the custodians charged with ensuring that our heritage is preserved for the enjoyment of future worldwide generations.’

God's Wonderful Railway might be the next in line

Future contenders for World Heritage status were busy polishing their credentials even as Unesco was meeting to decide the current crop. Those who know our Fellow Sir Neil Cossons’s passion for historic engineering achievements will not be surprised to learn that he is backing a bid to have the Great Western Railway recognised for its universal value. At a conference in Bristol last week, Sir Neil said that ‘Isambard Kingdom Brunel's greatest achievement’ was also ‘a breathtaking monument to British endeavour’, and ‘one of the unique contributions Britain has made to world culture, society and economy’.

The conference was held as part of the celebrations marking the bicentenary of Brunel's birth, and English Heritage used the occasion to launch a public consultation about the details of a bid for World Heritage Site status. One option would be to include the whole of the GWR network through Somerset, Devon and Cornwall; another is to focus on the 112 miles that were built first, from London’s Paddington station to Bristol’s Temple Meads. Among the ‘firsts’ logged up by GWR when it was constructed bewteen 1836 and 1841 was the longest tunnel in the world, and the first railway refreshment rooms (still in use as such, at Swindon).

English Heritage launches latest Buildings at Risk register

Is the support of English Heritage for the Great Western Railway yet another example of southern bias? The question arises because of the evidence of the latest Buildings at Risk (BARs) Register, published last week by English Heritage, showing that the north is losing out in the competition for regeneration finds.

Launching the annual register update, our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘It is twice as hard to find an economic solution for disused gems in the north, where the tentacles of regeneration have yet to reach. The difference is becoming much more pronounced as the property boom puts disused buildings in the south in demand. Textile mills and steel factories represent our industrial past. We need imaginative solutions.’

As an example, Simon quoted the 1930s pithead baths at Lynemouth in Northumberland, where an alternative use had not yet been found. In the north east, almost 8 per cent of all Grade I and Grade II* buildings are at risk, compared with 2 per cent in the south and east and a national average of 3.5 per cent. Simon also pointed to the number of BARs in public ownership: almost 17 per cent of the assets on the register are in the hands of central government, local authorities or quangos.

Since last year there has been a slight improvement in the number of Grade I and II* buildings deemed to be at risk: 94 buildings have been removed from the register, while 68 were added, bringing the total to 1,273 entries.

Victoria and Albert’s mausoleum at risk

Among the new entries on the BAR register is the Grade I Royal Mausoleum in Home Park, Windsor, the burial place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Built in 1861 to 1871, the mausoleum is decorated with frescos, plaster angels and marble. Like the Albert Memorial a decade ago, the structure is in urgent need of repair, requiring works estimated to cost £2 million. According to English Heritage, the building suffers from condensation and damp and the downpipes are not able to cope with heavy rainfall. As a result, plaster angels are falling from the ceiling, and frescos are deteriorating.

‘Restoration’ series to concentrate on rural heritage

Buildings from the register will feature in a third tranche of the BBC TV series Restoration, presented by Griff Rhys Jones, which is to be shown from 28 July this year, despite an earlier statement from the controller of BBC2, Roly Keating, that there would be no more programmes. To be called Restoration Village, the new series has the ambitious aim of regenerating entire villages by focusing on buildings at risk that are crucial to the economy of the rural communities in whose midst they sit. Among the twenty-one buildings competing for the public vote and the proceeds of a telephone-based appeal for funds are the Watts Gallery, in Compton, Surrey, built for the nineteenth-century artist, George Frederic Watts; the Woodrolfe Granary, Tollesbury, Essex, and Massey's Folly, in Upper Farringdon, Hants. The featured structures also include slate quarry buildings in Wales and the only complete Moravian settlement in Northern Ireland, as well as churches, town halls and the former sites of rural industry.

Rescuing houses with literary associations

Mixed news this week for literary heritage: while the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had granted £1.3 million to the John Clare Trust to restore the poet’s historic cottage in Helpston, near Stamford, in Lincolnshire, the Victorian Society announced its campaign to fight plans to develop the house where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

The HLF grant to the John Clare Trust will go towards restoring the cottage where John Clare was born in 1793 and where he lived for much of the first forty years of his life. Traditional building methods will be used and the cottage will be fitted out to tell the story of Clare’s life, recreating a number of rooms as they would have looked in the eighteenth century. The adjacent dovecote will be used as a reception area, shop and gallery space, and a small new building will be created to house modern amenities. Unusually, the HLF funding will also pay for a Manager and Education Officer for a period of five years.

Barry Sheerman, MP, who has been closely involved with the Trust since it was formed, said ‘This project will safeguard the birthplace of our most important poet of nature and create a wonderful new centre for exploring our relation to the environment in Clare’s time and our own.’

Conan Doyle’s house, by contrast, is threatened with conversion into four residential units. Kathleen Ferry, architectural adviser to the Victorian Society, said that: ‘Undershaw was the home of one of the best-known authors in the English language. It is time that we recognised its importance. Any scheme for subdivision could be hugely damaging and would mean that this vital part of our literary heritage is lost.’ The Vic Soc is asking English Heritage to upgrade the house from Grade II to Grade I to save the interiors. The 36-room house, at Hindhead, in Surrey, was partly designed in 1897 by Doyle with his architect Joseph Henry Hall. Internal fittings include ground-floor doors bearing the author's monogrammed initials and stained-glass windows bearing the family crest.

The house was used as a hotel from 1924 until 2004 but is now empty. Chris Atkins, of RDA Architects, speaking for the developer, Fossway, said the house was in a poor state of repair and that development would restore it as much as possible to its original state. He said: ‘Many of the original features were destroyed when it was converted to a hotel and what is there at the moment is only a partial reflection of the house as it was. The features such as the monograms and the stained glass windows are not in pristine condition but they will be retained.’

Conan Doyle paid £1,000 for the plot of land after his wife Louisa was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He thought Hindhead would be a good place for her to convalesce because of its healthy micro-climate. Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, interviewed Conan Doyle at Undershaw and said of the house: ‘It is so sheltered from cold winds that the architect felt justified in having lots of windows, so that the whole place is full of light. Nevertheless, it is cosy and snug to a remarkable degree and has everywhere that sense of “home” which is so delightful to occupant and stranger alike.’

The Victorian Society argues that the home's literary associations put it on a par with Charles Darwin's home, Down House, in Kent, which is Grade I listed and an English Heritage property. Ideally, the society would like Undershaw to be kept as a single home but with some public open days. English Heritage said it would assess the Victorian Society's application to upgrade the listing, then pass its advice to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for a decision.

Heritage Protection Review

Issue 52 (Summer 2006) of English Heritage’s quarterly Conservation Bulletin (known affectionately to readers as Con Bull) is dedicated to an explanation of progress with the Heritage Protection Review, whose reforms to the designation and management of heritage assets is to form the subject of a White Paper on heritage later this year.

Sarah Buckingham and Paul Jeffrey, of the Heritage Protection Department at English Heritage, explain in Con Bull that a single register of historic environment assets is proposed, to be called the Register of Historic Sites and Buildings for England (RHSBE). The RHSBE will have two sections: a list of national assets compiled by English Heritage and a list of local designations, including conservation areas and locally listed sites and buildings, compiled by local authorities.

Within the list, important inter-relationships between assets will, for the first time, be made statutorily explicit by means of a ‘wrapper’ statement that explains how individual entities in the list are linked: a house, walled garden, gazebo and park, for example, which might also incorporate a battlefield and barrows; or the various buildings, bridges, canals, docks, weigh-houses and other structures that together make up an industrial site.

The core of the register will consist of something that we will have to get used to calling a HAR (Historic Asset Record). Whereas entries on the current lists are deliberately not intended to do anything more than identify the property, HARs will, under the new system, include a ‘Summary of Importance’ (SI), stating what makes the asset worthy of designation. Underlying the SI is the assumption that planning law will discriminate in future between developments that have an impact on the significance of the asset and those that do not. Already this has been anticipated with the proposal that estate owners and managers can earn immunity from having to apply for listed building consent for routine and minor works by drawing up a conservation plan and agreeing this with English Heritage.

Con Bull is packed with examples of the new system at work: trials have been taking place for many months, so that when (and if) the new regime comes into force (possibly not until 2010 or later), pilot projects will have ironed out any unforeseen problems and English Heritage will be able to offer foolproof guidance.

That is the theory. Those who have followed the Heritage Protection Review over the months and years since it was first announced by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in 2002 will spot the same lacuna that has been present from day one: Con Bull acknowledges that the new system will probably require substantial additional resources, but doesn’t discuss this vital aspect of delivery. It would be wonderful if the Government agreed to fund these new ways of working in full: wonderful, but out of character. The draft White Paper has to be scrutinised by the Treasury and the Cabinet Office before it is allowed to form part of the Government’s legislative programme. There are no doubt a lot of anxious people at English Heritage waiting to learn what these key decision makers decide about the future funding of our heritage protection regime.

Bow Street magistrates court to become a hotel

Salon is not being unduly cynical in stating that this Government doesn’t place a very high value on the heritage. Calls from heritage groups to save Bow Street Magistrates Court as a national museum devoted to police and legal history fell on deaf ears last week when the 271-year-old court closed for business: it has been sold to a developer for conversion into a hotel. Senior District Judge Timothy Workman, the Chief Magistrate for England and Wales, said that the battle to save the court had been lost: ‘I did my best’, he said, ‘and the Lord Chancellor tried hard to find a way of preserving the heritage but financially the figures did not add up. Unfortunately there is no value to be placed on history and heritage.’

So now we know: heritage has no value and must bow to the vicissitudes of the property market. How ironic, then, that the guests in the proposed hotel will, for the most part, be tourists coming to experience London’s heritage.

There has been a magistrates' court in Bow Street since the system came into being, the first being established on a site across the road from the current Victorian building in 1735. The same crime-ridden London street witnessed the birth of the red-coated Bow Street Runners, ancestors of the modern Metropolitan Police.

Those who have been taken to the dock in the oak-panelled Number One Court include some of the most famous transgressors in legal history. Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years' hard labour for committing ‘indecent acts’. Criminal proceedings against Sir Roger Casement, the Irish diplomat hanged as a traitor for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising, Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen, hanged for the murder of his wife in 1910, and William Joyce, Lord Haw Haw, another famous traitor, all started in Court One.

A more mundane case was being heard before the court finally closed last week: James Sturcke, a self-confessed alcoholic arrested for breaching his Asbo (Anti-Social Behaviour Order), who will now go down in history as the very last man to stand in the Bow Street dock. Cases that would have been brought to Bow Street will now transfer to the new City of Westminster Magistrates Court, in Horseferry Road.

Tudor terracottas from Brandon Place, Southwark

Salon 142 reported the concern expressed by our Fellow Harvey Sheldon at the destruction of important Roman remains at the church of St George the Martyr, in Southwark, when time and money had run out before the MoLAS excavation could be completed. Our Fellow Bruce Watson, Senior Archaeologist at MoLAS, and supervisor of the last phase of archaeological work on the site, has written to say that he fully endorses Harvey’s comments and shares his belief that important questions need to be asked about a project that allowed only limited archaeological work on a site of immense significance.

Bruce says that he witnessed medieval burials that MoLAS was unable to excavate being torn from their graves by mini-digger; he regrets the lost opportunity to look for a Saxon church on the site, whose existence is strongly indicated by twelfth-century documents, and ha says ‘we have lost the opportunity to investigate a considerable depth of well-preserved early Roman deposits, including a brick-earth walled building with a floor constructed of reused roof tiles, an oven and a succession of external gravel surfaces, possibly fronting on to nearby Watling Street leading to the Roman London Bridge’.

On a more positive note, Bruce reports that archaeological work undertaken inside the church in advance of crypt enlargement unexpectedly revealed some 190 fragments of Tudor architectural terracottas reused in the foundations of one phase of the pre-1733 church (probably the 1629 rebuilding). Bruce writes: ‘the terracotta fragments are believed to be derived from Brandon Place, the London residence of Charles Brandon, first Duke of Suffolk (c 1484─1545), which was built shortly after 1518. Brandon Place, Hampton Court, Layer Marney Hall (Essex), Sutton Place (Surrey) and Westhorpe (Lincolnshire; also built by the Duke of Suffolk in the late 1520s and early 1530s) are considered to be five of the key sites for the early use of terracotta in the English Renaissance during the 1520s. Recently another parallel for the Layer Marney material has been provided by finds of architectural terracottas from an early sixteenth-century house, erected within part of the precinct of the Hospital of St John, Clerkenwell, London (see MoLAS monograph No 20).

‘Earlier finds of terracottas from Brandon Place are on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum (British Galleries: Gallery 58E and the Gilbert Bayes Sculpture Gallery). Other finds of Brandon House material are held by the Cumin Museum, Southwark. Ongoing work on the St George’s material by MoLAS is being supported by emergency funding from English Heritage.’

Peacemakers from Basra once stood guard at Hadrian's Wall

According to an article in the Guardian, published on 16 July, troops from Iraq once formed part of the peacekeeping force sent to defend the empire from incursions at Hadrian's Wall. The Notitia Dignitatum, a list of all the military and civil posts of the empire compiled around AD 400, refers to an irregular unit of ‘bargemen from the Tigris’, based at Arbeia, the fort nearest modern South Shields.

Thorsten Opper, a curator in the Greek and Roman department at the British Museum, thinks it probable that the bargemen came from the southern portion of the Tigris towards the Gulf, perhaps even from modern Basra. He describes this example of history's circularity as ‘an exchange of peacekeepers’, explaining that the ‘bargemen from the Tigris’ probably consisted of a marine force patrolling the mouth of the Tyne, adding that ‘Arbeia was a supply base for the seventeen forts along Hadrian's Wall, with supplies transported to the fort by boat’.

It is even possible, he speculates, that the name Arbeia itself could derive from the Latin for Arab. Though the Notitia Dignitatum dates from well after the building of Hadrian's Wall, it is possible Iraqis had been based at Arbeia earlier in the fort's history, according to Thorsten, who is to curate an exhibition about Hadrian for the British Museum in 2008.

Voices from the past

Our Fellow John Prag, Professor Emeritus of Archaeological Studies and of Classics at Manchester, has written to Salon with a fascinating story of archival detective work that has resulted in the discovery of dialect recordings made by an Austrian academic during the First World War.

The recordings were located by John’s colleague, John Adams, local historian and project manager of the Alderley Edge Landscape Project's website, who came across a reference in the British Library catalogue to a book in German on Cheshire dialect published in 1938. The book mentions recordings made of prisoners of war during the First World War by Professor Alois Brandl (1855─1940), an Austrian academic in Anglistik (English Studies) at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin. Brandl had written extensively on Chaucer, Shakespeare and Old English before the First War, hence his interest in English dialects. He was later instrumental in setting up the Berlin Sound Archive and was still active in 1936 when he was the subject of an eightieth-birthday Festschrift.

Brandl asked hundreds of British prisoners of war to read the parable of the prodigal son from the Bible, and recorded the results on shellac disks, which were then stored in the Prussian State Library in Berlin. Miraculously, they survived the turmoil in Germany and the destruction of much of Berlin at the end of the Second World War. The rediscovery of the archive has alerted scholars to a unique collection of international importance, which has now been digitised, and is available for study courtesy of the Humboldt University in Berlin and the University of Manchester.

One voice in particular has captured the attention of the Alderley Edge Landscape Project team ─ a man whose speech suggested that he came from somewhere in the Macclesfield area of east Cheshire. It is believed that the voice is that of Philipp (sic) Jarvis, who was born in Macclesfield in 1881 and lived two miles from Macclesfield in Harebarrow Cottage (the gamekeeper’s lodge) on the Brocklehurst Estate. He moved to Northumberland at the age of twenty-five then worked in London as a footman from the age of thirty until he enlisted at the age of thirty-four. He was 38 at the time of the recording, which was made in Münster Camp on 20 March 1917. He is believed to have died in 1948 at the age of sixty-seven.

John Adams told The Times that the project now aims to try and trace Philipp Jarvis’s family, whose members are thought to live in the Alderley Edge area. ‘If the family is still out there, we want them to hear this voice’, he said. ‘The emotional impact this will have could be extraordinary. Will these descendants, in 2006, speak as strongly as he did? As soon as we hear them, we will have an idea of how dialects have changed.’

The voice of Philipp Jarvis can be heard on the Alderley Edge Landscape Project’s website along with another recording from the same archive, that of David Maddock, who was born on 21 January 1884 in Middlewich in Cheshire.

Archaeology Image Bank

Here is a very clever idea for sharing archaeological images with fellow teachers and researchers. The Higher Education Academy Archaeology section and the Archaeology Data Service have joined forces to create the Image Bank, a database of provenanced and copyright cleared archaeological images that can be downloaded via the internet. There is no charge for using the pictures, though users are strongly encouraged to donate their own archaeological images using the donation section of the website's interface. There are already 600-plus images available for use in teaching and research, with more being added all the time. A quick look at the section entitled ‘popular images’ illustrates the range of material available ─ from details of medieval buildings in York to pictures of excavations in progress last summer at the early medieval beach site at Mothecombe in Devon. The images are scanned at a resolution of between 400 and 700 Mb, so are perfect for use with PowerPoint or a laptop, but are not fine enough for printed publications. Even so, this is a great resource with enormous potential.


From our Fellow Richard Reece comes a plea for more precise information from York on the topic of Roman burials, ‘in the interest of distinguishing ritual decapitation (a gentle formal procedure in Roman Britain) from beheading (a barbarous method of execution)’. Richard says that he has been fascinated by headless bodies since the excellent work at Lankhills in the 1970s. ‘This and other cemetery studies showed that those bodies whose heads were not in the expected place were invariably accompanied by several cervical vertebrae’, Richard writes. ‘The operation to remove the head had been a very skilled one leaving only small knife marks. The separation, started from the front, was invariably made between the third and fourth vertebrae. Calvin Wells, a practising surgeon and palaeopathologist, admitted that he could probably not have performed the operation so neatly without leaving greater cut marks; otherwise considerable practice would be needed. He also made the point that this procedure could only be carried out on a dead body; on a live body, whether drugged or not, the effects of cutting through the neck would obscure everything. Execution on the other hand usually proceeds from the back and is far less delicate.’

On the same topic, our Fellow Rob Poulton writes: ‘I was very interested to read the account of decapitated burials at York because of the considerable number of similarities with a site excavated by the Surrey County Archaeological Unit in 1999. The site at Staines was situated outside the core of the small Roman town, but next to the main Roman road leading in to it, and in an area that had previously produced evidence for regular Roman burials. Shallow inhumations were found in both multiple and single graves, some intercutting, without grave goods or accompanying artefacts except residual Roman pottery sherds. The inhumations displayed a series of unusual features, including decapitation, prone burial, and hands crossed (tied) behind the back and ankles crossed (shackled), with a very strong bias towards young or adolescent males.

‘Almost all these features are shared to some degree by the York cemetery, but radiocarbon dates indicated that the Staines burials were made broadly between the eighth and twelfth centuries. We were relieved rather than surprised to see these dates since these characteristics had already led us to interpret the site as a Saxon execution cemetery. In an important article in the latest Archaeological Journal Graham Hayman and Andrew Reynolds report on the discoveries and show how this and a number of similar cemeteries provide important insights into Saxon justice and society (Hayman, G and Reynolds, A 2006. ‘A Saxon and Saxo-Norman execution cemetery at 42─54 London Road, Staines, The Archaeological Journal, 162 (for 2005), 215─55). Is the York cemetery of similar date? I can only say that the evidence that is publicly available does not seem to preclude the possibility. It may be that there is conclusive proof of date from finds and stratigraphy, but, if not, I would suggest that radiocarbon dating is vital.’

Responding to the report in Salon 143 concerning the sale of land near Tintagel with Bronze Age carvings dating from 1400 to 1800 BC, Sean Taylor, of Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service, writes to say that the estate agents ‘obviously haven't consulted the archaeological assessment I undertook for the National Trust several years ago, which concluded that the carvings were more likely to date from the construction of the mill at the earliest since the rock face on which the carvings are set appears to have been cut back at this point. Also, the rock is quite soft and the survival of such intricate and shallow carvings over nearly 4,000 years seems unlikely. Could it be possible that an estate agent is guilty of overstating the value of a property? It still sounds like a bargain though, a beautiful location.’

Professor Stephen Driscoll writes from the Department of Archaeology, Glasgow University, to inform Fellows that his obituary for Leslie Alcock has been posted on the website of the Leslie and Elizabeth Alcock Centre for Historical Archaeology, along with copies of all the obituaries that have so far appeared in various newspapers and archaeological publications. Stephen is appealing for further memories or stories about the Alcocks, and he will ensure that they enter the archive and are made available on the website as it is developed: Salon.

It is a pretty safe bet that if you make fun of other people’s malapropisms (see ‘The joys of listed buildings casework’ in Salon 143) someone will soon spot the mote in your own eye. In the case of Salon 143 it was to subject poor Kristian Strutt, co-author with Martin Millett and others of the Roman Portus volume, to an unwanted trans-gender operation, which transformed Kristian into Kristina. Thank you to Peter Fowler for spotting this and our apologies to Kris.

Our Fellow Keith Ray, County Archaeologist for Herefordshire, has written to offer his perspective on the subject of strawberry farms around Leominster. He says that polytunnels are far from being the main threat to the historic environment in the county and beyond. ‘Archaeologically, the drainage works to prepare the ground for polytunnels are indeed damaging to some degree’, Keith says, ‘but not especially more so than for other agricultural drainage operations, for which planning consent is never likely to be needed. The amount of cut-and-fill prior to erection of the tunnels is minimal: if it were greater, it would be simpler to contain their construction within the planning system.

‘The point about agricultural reservoirs is a valid one in terms of the damage caused by their creation, and the cumulative scale of their impact. But there are other “culprits” here than the humble and taste-challenged supermarket strawberry. These include the dreaded potato (the archaeological impact of which ─ caused by the industrial nature of both planting and harvesting processes ─ I have previously advertised).

In the last three years another new “danger crop'” has emerged, thanks to the British consumer’s growing taste for asparagus. Both potatoes and asparagus need volumes of water that cannot be abstracted from existing sources. We currently have before us, for example, therefore, an application on behalf of a major landowner for the construction of four substantial reservoirs to water asparagus fields already planted this season. Two of these proposed reservoirs are adjacent to slopes with medieval field lynchets, situated within a Registered Park laid out between 1792 and 1802 according to designs prepared by Humphry Repton.

‘If you add to these food-growing “impacts” recent proposals for major biomass planting to fuel power stations, you can get a flavour (pun of course intended) of the scale of archaeological and historic landscape impact of new kinds of agriculture in the rural landscape ─ almost all of which we have neither power to control nor resources to mitigate. This is the real crisis in rural archaeology in areas of Britain like Herefordshire, and in this context, strawberries are but one relatively minor, if highly visible, cause for concern.’

Agricultural landscapes: thirty-three years of change

Further evidence of the impact of new agricultural practices on the countryside is contained in an illuminating new report from the Countryside Commission called Agricultural Landscapes: thirty-three years of change (copies can be downloaded from the Commission’s website. The report is based on a series of photographs taken in seven study areas from the same spot at eleven-year intervals, with commentaries on the changes that have occurred to the landscape since the study was first initiated in 1971. The report is packed with detail confirming how rapid has been the loss of character and diversity in the landscape ─ the loss, for example, of willow-lined dykes, of drove roads, of hedges (replaced by post-and-wire fences), of hay meadows and hay stacks, of ridge and furrow ─ in sum, the replacement of landscapes of strong visual appeal and historical detail for ones that emphasize the extreme sterility and precision of modern agriculture and the kind of sparse and simple landscapes that it fosters.

Tudor and Stuart Chester: watercolours, drawings and prints

Tudor and Stuart Chester is a new exhibition at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum curated by our Fellow Peter Boughton, Keeper of Art and Architecture. It opened on 15 July and runs until 12 November 2006 and charts changes to the city at a turbulent period, with the trauma and destruction of the Reformation in the sixteenth century followed by the Civil War of the seventeenth. Architectural developments covered by the exhibition include the rebuilding of St Werburgh’s Abbey (now the Cathedral) in the late fifteenth century and the reconstruction of the City Walls as a public promenade in the early eighteenth.

‘The most distinctive legacy of the period’, says Peter, ‘is Chester’s timber-framed houses ─ including Stanley Palace, Bishop Lloyd’s Palace and the Bear and Billet ─ which make such a notable contribution to the city’s townscape today. These buildings have inspired numerous artists down the centuries, and the exhibition explores Chester’s Tudor and Stuart architecture through their watercolours, drawings and prints. The pictures range in date from an engraving of Chester in 1581 by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg, to a watercolour of the Nine Houses painted by John Haydn Jones in 1995. The show includes watercolours by William Callow, Thomas Shotter Boys and Louise Rayner, together with prints by George Cuitt and John Skinner Prout.’

Information wanted on RIBA Royal Gold Medals

An RIBA researcher has written to Salon to say she is trying to locate examples of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal which may be in collections across the UK and beyond. The Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, instituted by Queen Victoria in 1848, is one of the most prestigious architectural awards in the world. It recognizes distinguished architects, or those who have helped architecture, of any nationality and is awarded for a life-time's achievement, rather than for being currently fashionable. It also necessitates a body of work which has had an international effect on architecture. It is approved personally by the reigning monarch. If you own or have information on any of these medals, please contact Liz Walder at the RIBA.

Seminars and talks

Traditional timber carpentry construction day, 7 September 2006 at the University of Bath
Organised by the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, this seminar will bring together carpenters, builders, architects, engineers and others interested in green oak and other forms of traditional all-timber buildings in an event for the dissemination of recent developments and a forum for exchange of ideas. For further details, contact Pete Walker.

Turning the Tide: regenerating London's Thames Gateway at New London Architecture, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1
Turning the Tide is a major new public exhibition taking place at New London Architecture (NLA) from 5 July to 2 September 2006, which explains what is planned for the massive Thames Gateway regeneration project. Further details can be found on the NLA website. A series of free breakfast talks will accompany the exhibition on Wednesday mornings throughout July and August, given by people involved in delivering strategy or developments in the London Thames Gateway region. The talks are free, and start at 8.30am, with coffee and pastries available from 8.15am. Places are limited and prior registration is mandatory: email

Oxford Archaeology and AHRC partnership creates Thames Gateway art Fellowship

The Thames Gateway development is also the subject of an imaginative partnership between Oxford Archaeology and the artist Simon Callery, who will visit sites being excavated by OxArch in advance of development and construction work in order to capture the character of the region as its historic landscapes are transformed into the landscapes of the future. Simon Callery is a versatile artist whose landscape-based work ranges from the ‘ephemeral and temporary’ to large-scale sculpture and studio-based painting. Examples of his work can be seen at Rachmaninoff’s Gallery, 297─301 Kingsland Road, London E8 until 12 August 2006. Simon’s project with OxArch will include input from local communities impacted by the Thames Gateway development, and various on-site events and exhibitions are planned for the three year research fellowship, which Salon will publicise when they happen.

Books by Fellows

A dramatic cover photograph of cotton grass blown horizontal by the wind as the foreground to a massive tumulus introduce us to the latest book by our Fellow Caroline Wickham-Jones, poetically entitled Between the Wind and the Water: World Heritage Orkney, published by the Windgather Press (ISBN 1905119062, paperback, £18.99; 178 pp, 89 figures). Caroline uses the ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ World Heritage Site (inscribed in 1999), with its four great monuments — the village of Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness and the burial mound of Maeshowe — as the starting point for an exploration of the archipelago's story. She depicts not just the Neolithic world in which they were built, but also populates Orkney with Picts, saints, Vikings, antiquaries and tourists in exploring how these monuments came to be a focus of interest through the ages and continue to resonate with meaning today.

Library gifts for the period April to June 2006

The Society is very grateful to the donors of the following gifts, which are now available for consultation in the library.

From the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Controversy on the Clyde by Alex Hale and Rob Sands, 2005

From the author, Martin Stutchfield, Fellow, The Monumental Brasses of Hereford Cathedral by Peter Heseltine and Martin Stutchfield, 2005

From Derrick Chivers, Fellow, Polskie Nagrobki Gotyckie [Polish Gothic Church Monuments] by Prezemyslaw Mrozowski, 1994; The Gothic Choirstalls of Spain by Dorothy and Henry Kraus, 1986; eighty-four rubbings of monumental brasses and incised slabs

From Claude Blair, Fellow, The Collections of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers of London Part 1: London-made knives and their marks by Keith Hinde and John Herbert, 2005

From Aideen Ireland, Fellow, Lost and Found: discovering Ireland’s past, edited by Joe Fenwick, 2003

From the author, Robert Hutchinson, Fellow, Elizabeth’s Spymaster, 2006

From the editor, Elizabeth Hartley, Fellow, Constantine the Great: York’s Roman emperor, 2006

From the author, Fr Francis Edwards, Fellow, The Succession: bye and main plots of 1601─3, 2006

From the author, James Thorn, Fellow, A Gazetteer of the Cyrene Necropolis, 2006: Drawings by Beechey in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, BAR S1488, 2006

From the bequest of Professor Norman Pounds, late Fellow, Bath Abbey: a history by Kenneth Hylson-Smith, 2003; Hearth and Home: a history of material culture by Norman Pounds, 1989; Religious Houses of Cambridgeshire by David Haigh, 1988; a collection of church guides and pamphlets

From the author, Richard Knowles, Fellow, ‘The Handsomest building’: St Peter and St Leonard’s Church, Horbury, 2006

From the editor, Sarah Brown, Fellow, A History of the Stained Glass of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, 2005

From Sir David Wilson, Fellow, Fire-Clearance Husbandry by Axel Steensberg, 1993

From John Farrant, Fellow, History of Brighthelmston by John Erredge, 2005

From David Breeze, Fellow, Handbook to the Roman Wall, edited by Robert Blair, 1895

From the Roxburghe Club, Holkham Library by D P Mortlock, 2006

From the author, Christian Dekesel, Fellow, A Bibliography of Sixteenth-Century Numismatic Books, 1997; A Bibliography of Seventeenth-Century Numismatic Books, 2003; and Europaische Numismatische Literatur im 17 Jahrhundert, 2005

From the editor, Marion Meek, The Modern Traveller to our Past: Festschrift in honour of Ann Hamlin, 2006

From George Clarke, Fellow, Dorset Quarter Sessions 1625─38, edited by Terry Hearing and Susan Bridges, 2006

From the editor, Zolt Visy, Fellow, Limes XIV, 2005; Hungarian Archaeology at the Turn of the Millennium, 2003 and other works

From Henrik Andersson, Vapen och Drakter by Rudolf Cederstrom, 1926

From Timothy Wilson, Fellow, Oxford and the Pre-Raphaelites by Jon Whiteley, 2004; English Embroideries by Mary Brooks, 2004

From Alan Williams, Fellow, Tension and Tradition: a study of late Iron Age spearheads around the Baltic Sea by Kristina Creutz, 2003

From the Beineike Library, First-Line Index of English Poetry 1500─1800 in Manuscripts, edited by Stephen Parks, 2005.


British Museum, Curator of Early Prehistory
Salary £21,146 to £24,776, closing date 21 July 2006

The aim of this post in the Department of Prehistory and Europe is to maximise the public benefit and understanding of the Early Prehistoric collection (2,500 to 500 BC) in the context of the museum as a whole. Candidates must have an authoritative knowledge of the period in order to maintain high standards of curation, documentation and Treasure reporting, as well as being able to advise on acquisitions and answer enquiries. The curator is expected to engage the public by deploying the collections imaginatively in galleries, exhibitions, publications and outreach programmes. Direction of, or participation in, advanced research of a high quality is also expected.

For further information, see the British Museum’s website.

English Heritage, Chair
Remuneration £30,000 per year for sixty days a year for five years, starting April 2007, closing date 24 July 2006, interviews 14 September 2006

Our Fellow Sir Neil Cossons will retire from the post of Chairman of English Heritage at the end of March 2007, and a successor is now sought to serve as Chair of the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment and, in particular, to oversee the implementation of English Heritage's strategic aims for the next five years, which are: 1) to help people develop their understanding of the historic environment; 2) to get the historic environment on other people's agendas; 3) to enable and promote sustainable change to England's historic environment; 4) to help local communities to care for their historic environment; 5) to stimulate and harness enthusiasm for England's historic environment; and 6) make the most effective use of the assets in EH’s care.

Full details can be found on the Guardian’s website.

Heritage Lottery Fund, Country Manager, Northern Ireland Team
Salary £37,566 to £53,576, closing date 25 July 2006, interviews 16 and 17 August 2006 in Belfast

The task is to lead, manage and support the team in delivering HLF’s business in Northern Ireland, in particular development/outreach work, the assessment and monitoring of diverse grant applications, and forging strategic partnerships with a variety of key players. Full details from the HLF website.