Salon Archive

Issue: 145

News of Fellows

Salon 144 reported the news that our Director, Martin Millett, was elected a Fellow of the British Academy at its recent AGM, but now that the full list of newly elected FBAs has been posted up on the British Academy’s website, it is clear that Martin is not the only FSA in this year’s intake. Rosalind Savill, FSA, of the Wallace Collection, and Stephen Shennan, FSA, of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, have also been elected Fellows, while our former President, Professor Rosemary Cramp, has been elevated to the rank of Senior Fellow.

Newly elected as President of the Galpin Society is our Fellow Jeremy Montagu. Jeremy explains that the Galpin Society, formed in October 1946, is the premier international society for the publication of original research into the history, construction, development and use of musical instruments and commemorates the pioneering work in this field of Canon Francis W Galpin (1858─1945). Jeremy adds that his article on the musical instruments portrayed in the Macclesfield Psalter was recently published in Early Music (34:2, May 2006, 189─204).As well as donating a copy to the Society’s library, Jeremy has a few offprints if any Fellow would like one; sadly, he says, the offprints do not include the journal cover, which has an enlarged reproduction of one of the illuminations.

Website news

New on the website, on the Fellows’ side, is the President’s 2006 Anniversary Address and the speech that the President made in awarding the Society’s Gold Medal to Sir Barry Cunliffe at the Summer Soirée on 22 June 2006.

Library closure

Just a reminder that the Society’s library is now closed for the six-week summer recess (during which important conservation work is carried out) and it will open again on 4 September. Once the library reopens, users will be able to access the Buildings of England online database using the Society’s terminals.


Salon has been informed of the recent deaths of two Fellows. Peter (no one ever called him Arthur Hubert Stanley) Megaw, CBE, MA, FSA, uncle to our Fellow Vincent Megaw and former Director of Antiquities of Cyprus under the colonial system (from 1936 to 1960) and then Director of the British School at Athens (from 1962 to 1968), died just a fortnight short of his ninety-eighth birthday on 28 June 2006.

The death of our Fellow Jeffrey May, MA, PhD, FSA, after his battle with cancer, was considerably more premature. Jeffrey is best known for the major excavations he directed in the 1970s at the Iron Age and Roman site of Dragonby, in Lincolnshire. He was head of the archaeology department at Nottingham until his retirement, after which he continued in the public eye as regular guest editor of Current Archaeology. Salon hopes to carry lengthier tributes to both later in the summer.


Salon 144 reported on the launch of the 2006 Buildings at Risk register. Our Fellow Dr Nathaniel Alcock has since written to say that one of several regional venues used for the launch was his own conservation project in Coventry ─ his own in the sense that Nat is the Chairman of the Spon End Building Preservation Trust, which is involved in rescuing Black Swan Terrace (Nos 119─123 Upper Spon Street), a rare example of a set of medieval terraced workshops and residential units which was threatened with demolition on the grounds of ‘public safety’ until local people intervened. The terrace was built by the Benedictines in 1450 and nearly 80 per cent of the original frame is intact, along with extensive areas of surviving lath and daub. This immensely worthwhile project is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Coventry Council and others, but, as with all Building Preservation Trusts, the project ultimately depends on the altruistic efforts of people who are mad enough to want to spend their leisure time helping the heritage rather than shopping, playing golf or watching football.

Salon 144 also reported the discovery of 190 fragments of Tudor architectural terracotta, probably from Brandon Place, the London residence of Charles Brandon, first Duke of Suffolk (c 1484─1545). Somehow we managed to relocate Westhorpe Hall, the Duke of Suffolk’s country seat, to Lincolnshire. Defenders of Suffolk’s honour, including Edward Martin, FSA, of Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, and Sue Anderson of CFA Archaeology Ltd (author of a paper on the Westhorpe Hall terracottas in The Archaeological Journal, Vol 160 (2004)), rightly point out that (as the name suggests) the Duke of Suffolk’s seat is still in Suffolk.

Fellow Andrew Fitzpatrick writes to say that the Wessex Archaeology website recently won recognition when it was named Site of the Week by the 24-hour museum website, which said: ‘To mark National Archaeology Week we have chosen an excellent archaeology website. Wessex Archaeology is one of the largest and most experienced archaeological practices in the UK and their website is a mine of information, images and resources. A project section gives detailed information about their work, which in the past has included the discovery of the Amesbury Archer, whilst a photo gallery can be accessed both on the site and on Flickr. The website also includes an online exhibition section and the recent addition of a selection of downloadable activities for children.’

DCMS Select Committee report: Protecting and Preserving our Heritage

The much anticipated Third Report of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, on Protecting and Preserving our Heritage, was published on 20 July 2006 (copies can be downloaded from the UK Parliament website. The Society’s Honorary Secretary, Alison Taylor, attended the launch of the report at the House of Commons and contributes this assessment of the Select Committee’s findings.

‘The report published last week by a select committee of MPs of all parties led by John Whittingdale delivered damning criticism of DCMS for its failure to argue the case for heritage effectively within Government, and for failing to fund the work of English Heritage adequately. There was slightly politer criticism of English Heritage management for overloading their staff with endless reviews and reorganisations and for following political agendas rather than their core responsibilities; but this was tempered by much sympathy for the staff for being loaded with extra tasks with less money.

‘The report is hugely supportive of the historic environment in its own right and for all it can offer to the economy and public well being, and it urges the Government to reverse the current decline in funding. It also calls for greater inter-departmental understanding of what the heritage needs and can offer. Evidence given by many active heritage organisations, including the Society of Antiquaries and the Institute of Field Archaeologists, has been enthusiastically taken on board.

‘Particularly useful points made by the report include:
1. Government must take action to ensure English Heritage can fulfil its functions properly; currently it is at the ‘sharp end of funding shortfall’.
2. PPG 16 needs updating as a matter of urgency after the White Paper on Heritage Protection is published this autumn, and the revised guidance must give explicit guidance on the storage, conservation and display of excavated artefacts, the greater involvement of the public in excavations, and on the analysis and publication of results in forms suitable for use by the archaeological community and the wider public.
3. Local authorities must be properly resourced for archaeology and historic buildings, including any additional duties proposed by the Heritage Protection White Paper. They currently bear over 90 per cent of the task of protecting the archaeological resource, yet a skeletal suite of services in some areas leads to complaints of “inconsistent and strange” decisions. A set of statutory services and standards needs to be developed, with commitment of resources to be delivered by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
4. Funding for churches and cathedrals has declined, with funding through English Heritage now “quite inadequate”. They propose a scheme of better maintenance work by dioceses and major repairs supported by English Heritage.
5. They deplore Government’s failure to reform the VAT regime that penalises repairs to historic buildings in favour of new build.
6. Unfortunately they were not convinced of the case for repealing the class consents that allow farmers to plough scheduled monuments, though they encourage financial incentives for good environmental stewardship.

‘During questioning at the launch on 20 July Paul Farrelly (Lab) emphasised the beneficial effects of heritage on regeneration of run-down areas, Helen Southworth (Lab) wanted a larger role for the historic environment in Rural Development Agencies, urged the economic case for heritage as a driver and stressed the importance of the tourism link, and Alan Keen (Lab) returned to basic quality of life issues for all citizens. John Whittingdale’s (Con) key summing up was “Preserving our heritage for future generations is of profound importance and a responsibility which the Government should not take lightly”. DCMS, it was concluded, must secure more money from the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.’

What use is a Select Committee Report?

Select committees are a relatively recent political innovation: established in 1979, they are a means by which MPs and peers can scrutinise the work of Government in greater depth than is possible in the cut and thrust of political debate in the Commons and the Lords. There are eighteen select committees in total: one for each department of state and four that look at cross-departmental issues (Public Accounts, Public Administration, Environmental Audit and European Scrutiny).

Their broad remit is to investigate the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government department that they shadow. Within that very generous definition, committees are free to hold inquiries into any subject they choose.

Select Committees work by putting out a general call for written evidence in response to a specific list of issues and questions. Anyone can submit written evidence to the committee, which will put together a list of witnesses from whom it wishes to take oral evidence, which might include the relevant Secretary of State or Minister responsible.

Oral evidence is almost always held in public and the public are welcome to attend, but committee discussions are held in private, away from party political pressure or the heavy hand of the whips demanding loyalty to the party line. That is one reason why select committee reports are often so much more sensible and hard-hitting than official Government reports. Except on the very rare occasion when committee members cannot agree and the dissenters produce their own minority report, the consensus achieved by select committees makes a powerful cross-party statement.

The government is expected to reply to the report and address its recommendations within two months of publication, but it often fails to do so. Government’s response is often very bland and disappointing, which begs the question ‘why bother?’ Quite simply because a good select committee report can stimulate public debate and provide public bodies and pressure groups with the data and arguments that they can use to promote their cause ─ perhaps achieving a change of Government policy some years after the original inquiry.

DCLG Select Committee Inquiry on Coastal Towns

As one select committee report is published, another inquiry is just building up steam. The Department for Communities and Local Government Select Committee (that is its new name but the parliamentary website still has the old name: the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Select Committee) is conducting an inquiry into Coastal Towns and has posted all the written evidence on its web page. Oral evidence is now being taken and transcripts will appear on the same website in due course.

Many of the written submissions come from local authorities (see the excellent memo from Cornwall County Council for a succinct summary of the sorts of problems that coastal towns face in the twenty-first century). The English Heritage submission argues that the historic environment can help coastal towns move towards sustainable, all-year-round economies. ‘Almost every single coastal community in the country has a distinctive and important local character, whether this is based on its role in supporting fishing fleets, the navy or trade with other countries’, EH says. ‘Many have a rich architectural heritage created through times of prosperity as a result of their coastal locations. At a time when domestic tourism is undergoing something of a renaissance, we believe a renewed focus on what originally created local character and prosperity can play an important role for coastal towns.’

The Archaeologist: call for articles on archaeology and urban regeneration

Which neatly links to the theme for the next issue of the Institute for Field Archaeology’s magazine, The Archaeologist, edited by our Honorary Secretary, Alison Taylor. Alison is appealing for contributions on the theme of ‘archaeology and urban regeneration’. If you are involved in projects in this area and might be interested in writing (or suggesting) a short piece, Alison would be pleased to hear from you. The copy deadline is 25 September 2006.

Culture Minister foreshadows Heritage White Paper

The Culture Minister, David Lammy, made a keynote speech to the National Historic Environment Champions Conference on 12 July 2006, organised by English Heritage to bring together elected members from local government bodies all over England who have been designated as Historic Environment Champions by their local authority, with a mission to help place the historic environment at the heart of council agendas.

In what he described as ‘a brief canter through [the Government’s] programme of reform for heritage protection’, the Minister said that the current approach was ‘regulatory and burdensome. It is a system that is considered to be very good at saying “no”, but less good at encouraging the effective management of change’. It was the Government’s aim, he said, to ‘give ownership of local heritage back to local communities’, which means that local authorities will shoulder considerable responsibility for delivering the new regime, including statutory Historic Environment Records, which the Minister defined as ‘a comprehensive, current and understandable knowledge base’.

He said that a review of the existing casework of thirty-two local authorities conducted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, along with the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the associations representing archaeologists and conservation officers in local government (ALGAO and IHBC) had come to the following conclusions: ‘For local authorities that are already strong supporters of the historic environment, the Heritage Protection Review (HPR) will in many ways be an extension of current practice. For others, it is likely to be more challenging. There is widespread support for the principles of HPR, with district councils in particular seeing it as an opportunity to take greater ownership of the management of the historic environment. While there are issues about resources, these are primarily about start-up costs rather than ongoing management of a new system. HPR presents an opportunity to clarify expectations in terms of local historic environment services.’

The Minister then posed a series of questions to his audience: ‘Does your authority have access to the appropriate range of professional expertise? If not, could this be sourced locally or sub-regionally, for example through use of service level agreements or by creating additional capacity within development control planning teams? Are your historic environment services sufficiently integrated with cultural, planning and natural environment services ─ and within corporate strategies such as e-government?’, and he concluded by affirming that ‘the historic environment is prominent amongst our aims to support improvement in local government’.

Exceptional Harrow church is Grade II Listed

After a six-week public consultation, a modern church, built as recently as 1960, is joining the list of heritage assets that will benefit from the new Heritage Protection regime. The Roman Catholic Church of St William of York, in Stanmore, Harrow, has been Grade II listed, following advice from English Heritage, which described the building as ‘a church of exceptional quality’. Announcing the listing, Culture Minister David Lammy said: ‘The church is a fine, robust, yet simple building and an outstanding example of creative design. Its elegance and carefully crafted detail merits protection as one of the few examples of Corfiato architecture in England today.’

Hector Corfiato designed the Roman Catholic church in 1959─60. He was a French architect noted for teaching in the classical Beaux Arts tradition and was Professor of Architecture at the Bartlett School, London. Strict adherence to Corfiato's designs for the church has resulted in a high-quality building where every element has a consistency of approach.

Cathedral Camps to close, citing ‘health and safety’

Cathedral Camps, a charity that enables young people to spend their holidays in conservation work in churches and cathedrals, has been ‘closed down by health and safety regulations’. The charity's chairman, the Very Revd Richard Lewis, said that the trustees had concluded that this summer's camps would have to be the last because stringent health and safety legislation ‘has implications for the sort of work we are now allowed to do; it involves complex risk assessment for everything; and the cost of insurance has risen greatly against the background of a society prone to litigation and the demand for compensation’. Despite no one having been injured during the twenty-five years that the camp has been running, its insurance costs rose from £2,500 in 2000 to £10,000 last year.

Leading Church figures expressed dismay that the charity was being sacrificed to bureaucracy. The Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham Cathedral, said that he was saddened that the charity was being forced to close. ‘I understand health and safety issues, but the young people are always closely supervised and no cathedral has put anyone at risk. It is part of the growing sense that all of life is circumscribed by red tape.’

Our Fellow Loyd Grossman, who is a patron of the charity, along with Ronald Blythe, the author and lay preacher, said that he was ‘sad at the end of a wonderful idea’.

Does conservation make economic sense?

The US Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has just updated its web page providing access to various US studies looking at the economic impacts of heritage tourism. As headline figures the ACHP quotes US$1.4 billion of economic activity in Texas each year generated by historic preservation activities; 7,550 jobs and US $201 million in earnings from the rehabilitation of historic properties in Georgia over the last five years; each dollar of Maryland's historic preservation tax credit leveraging $6.70 of economic activity within that state; and direct and indirect expenditure by heritage tourists in Colorado reaching $3.1 billion last year.

This valuable guide to economic studies comes courtesy of a body established in 1966 with legal responsibility to encourage Federal agencies in the US to factor historic preservation into Federal project requirements. ACHP serves as the primary Federal policy adviser to the President and Congress; recommends administrative and legislative improvements for protecting US heritage; advocates full consideration of historic values in Federal decision making; and reviews Federal programmes and policies to promote effectiveness, co-ordination, and consistency with national preservation policies.

And does conservation make theological sense?

Our Fellow Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, was in the news this week when the Anglican bishops’ panel on the environment, of which he is the Chairman, published a booklet of parochial guidance on environmental matters, called Treasures on Earth.

Interviewed for the launch of the booklet, the Bishop said that ‘making selfish choices, such as flying on holiday or buying a large car, are a symptom of sin’, and he went on to explain that ‘sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes: it is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions’.

The booklet says that scientific research supporting predictions that the earth faces serious climate change is ‘overwhelming’, and it gives practical advice to enable Christians to cut their carbon emissions designed to encourage people to ‘walk more lightly upon the earth and make lifestyle decisions in that light’. It will also encourage ‘green’ sermons explaining the moral obligation for Christians to lead eco-friendly lifestyles (sample sermons are being made available on the internet, to help vicars master the facts when writing their homilies).

The Anglican Church is taking steps to improve its own environmental record and has asked vicars to carry out an energy audit so they can reduce their carbon footprint. ‘We have no right to appeal to our contemporaries on this issue if we have failed to put our own house in order’, said Chartres. Claire Foster, the church’s environment policy director, said: ‘Indiscriminate use of the earth’s resources must be seen as profoundly wrong, just as we now see slavery as wrong.’

The Lust for World Heritage

Nothing if not broad minded, Salon now moves from ‘sin and the heritage’ to ‘sex and the heritage’. Connoisseurs of classic misprints might like to take a look at the latest ICOMOS-UK Annual Review, where Mansell Jagger writes in his Presidential Statement that: ‘The World Heritage Committee has continued to advise on nominations for new World Heritage sites (WHSs) and looks forward to taking an active part in the forthcoming Tentative Lust Review.’ Appropriately enough, the statement appears on page 3. Fellow Jason Wood, who spotted the error over his breakfast coffee, comments ‘Who says world heritage isn't sexy?’.

Iron Age villagers 'behind the times'

Another error ─ or perhaps more of a misunderstanding ─ crept into the BBC’s reporting last week of an Iron Age village found near Wiveliscombe, in west Somerset, whose inhabitants are described as backwards (or, as they say in Somerset, ‘no’xactly with it’), because they lived in round houses. ‘Six round houses dating back to 100 BC have been revealed by the dig’, the report says, adding that ‘a site of this age should show signs of square Roman houses but the existence of only round houses shows the village was behind the times in property style’.

Seeking clarification (Roman-style houses in Somerset in 100 BC would be avant garde, rather than reactionary), Salon established that the BBC was not to blame: it was simply repeating the wording of a Somerset County Council press release, which went on to say that the previously unknown village had been found by an archaeologist from Context One Archaeological Services, working with archaeologists from Somerset County Council on the site of a new pumping station for Wessex Water: ‘further digging revealed two round houses, one with its floor still preserved and the remains of an iron hanging bowl, which had probably fallen from a rafter and lain on the floor for 2,000 years’.

The report added that: ‘There is also evidence of metal working taking place on site, including a furnace structure and pieces of metal slag, which suggests that this site has close links to a large Roman iron-working settlement which was discovered at nearby Clatworthy Reservoir’.

Somerset mosaic of Daphne and Apollo

Somerset County Council archaeologists have also been in action at Dinnington Roman villa, near Ilminster, working with students from Winchester University and Taunton's Richard Huish College to excavate a mosaic of Daphne and Apollo, which was the subject of a ‘Time Team’ television show last year. Recording the mosaic for his corpus of Romano-British Mosaics, being published by the Society, was our Fellow David Neal, who said: ‘This is one of the highest quality mosaics yet found in Britain. The story of Daphne and Apollo is not depicted on any other known mosaic in the country.’

Worcester cricket pavilion must be saved says SAVE

SAVE Britain’s Heritage is encouraging cricket fans across the globe to join the fight for the preservation of the 1878 Cricket Pavilion at the Boughton sports ground in Worcester. The pavilion was built for Worcestershire County Cricket Club (WCCC), which was originally based at the Boughton ground. It was here that W G Grace made his first appearance in the Midlands, aged twenty, for a Worcester XI against the North of England.

Since WCCC’s move to New Road in 1896 the Pavilion has been associated with the nearby Cinderella Shoe Factory, most recently under the ownership of Kays. The pavilion was declared unsafe in 2005 and Kays stopped the local club using the building. Repair costs were estimated at £25,000 and Worcester City Council offered a grant towards this. The offer was turned down. Kays are planning to develop the neighbouring factory site, and are attempting to demolish the pavilion in spite of the fact that the playing field would remain intact in their development.

Importantly, the building remains substantially in its original state, with only minor alterations. Kays did start work on demolition, before being stopped by action on the part of Worcester City Council. Paul O’Connor, Worcester City Council’s Planning Manager said: ‘To prevent its imminent demolition we imposed a Building Preservation Notice and will continue to work with the developers to seek its retention and renovation. It is important however that we make people aware that the future of the Pavilion hangs in the balance.’

SAVE’s Secretary, Adam Wilkinson, says: ‘This handsome cricket pavilion must not go. It is very much a part of Worcestershire’s, and the nation’s, proud cricketing heritage. We are surprised and disappointed that English Heritage did not see fit to list the building. It is certainly worth protecting. Its preservation and continued use as a pavilion would be a small price to pay for the contribution it makes to Worcester’s (and WCCC’s) splendid heritage. SAVE calls on Kays to reconsider its plans for this sporting treasure and to bring it back to life so that it can continue to support grass-roots cricket for another hundred years.’

Further information about the campaign can be found on the website of the Worcester City Council website.

Launch of Big Lottery Fund's new ‘Community Buildings’ programme

Perhaps what campaigners for the Worcester pavilion should consider is an application to the Big Lottery Fund (whose chief executive is our Fellow Stephen Dunmore), which has just announced the launch of a new Lottery funding stream primarily for capital building projects ─ a rare event these days! The Community Buildings programme will fund projects that encourage wider community use of facilities in community buildings, broadly defined as ‘being open to all and run by community members for the benefit of the local community’. There is £50m to be claimed, with BLF expecting the average grant to be around £250,000 (minimum grants are £50,000, rising to a maximum of £500,000).

Support will be available for refurbishments, redevelopment and extensions and new buildings and purchases where these are the only options. Matching funding is not necessarily required for smaller projects, but for grants above £250,000 the BLF would expect at least 50 per cent of project costs to be found elsewhere. Applications will be accepted until April 2007. More information can be found on the BLF website (at

The Gnomic Lottery Fund

Meanwhile the BLF’s sister fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, has just announced a magnificent £76.5 million in new funding for the UK’s heritage but does so in terms that can only be described as gnomic (in the sense that we are told the outcome but are left trying to guess what led up to it, as in such sayings as: ‘curiosity killed the cat’).

In the case of the HLF, it is tantalising and puzzling to be told that: ‘HLF was unable to support the Mary Rose Trust’s further grant request for £13.5m to build a new building for the Tudor warship and its related artefacts in Portsmouth. Dame Liz Forgan commented: “The Mary Rose is one of the most important pieces of our nation’s heritage. The Trust rightly considers that such a treasure deserves a truly world-class museum to tell the story effectively. Unfortunately, the project as it currently stands is not yet considered capable of delivering that vision. We have been a huge supporter of the Mary Rose in the past, awarding nine grants of over £5.6m and we hope to work with the Trust to realise its ambitions in the future.”’

One wonders at what altars the Mary Rose Trust failed to make proper obeisance in seeking funding for what seems on the face of it a very worthwhile project. Several other bodies proved to be better at saying the right thing in making their bids for largesse ─ the National Trust, for example, was successful in securing yet another £20m for Tyntesfield, including, unusually, provision for an endowment to provide a long-term income stream (wouldn’t all HLF applicants like one of those!).

Several of the grants announced this week had already been agreed in principle, but are now confirmed: the Victoria and Albert Museum is to receive a £9.75m grant towards its £31.75m project to redisplay the museum's medieval and Renaissance collections in a wing at the front of the building; Hull gets £7.7m for a new history centre to house archives of the city council and the university; Buxton gets £12.5m for the regeneration of the Crescent and Spa; £10.27m goes to the new Museum of Bristol to be created by redeveloping the Bristol Industrial Museum site and £9.6m goes to the Tank Museum, Dorset, to transform it into ‘a state-of-the-art military museum’.

English Heritage reveals a century of Stonehenge aerial photos

While we await ministerial decisions on the future of road routes around or beneath the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, English Heritage is celebrating the centenary of the first aerial photographs of Stonehenge with an exhibition ─ ‘100 Years of Discovery’ ─ showing at Stonehenge from 1 to 7 August before touring other English Heritage sites around the country. Dozens of vintage and modern photographs are used in the exhibition to explore the world of aerial photography in Victorian, Edwardian and wartime Britain.

Lieutenant Phillip Henry Sharpe of the Royal Engineers’ Balloon Section took the first three aerial photos of Stonehenge from a tethered balloon in 1906. He was based in the Sappers’ Balloon Section located just one mile from Stonehenge, where military ballooning and then fixed-wing aviation developed before the Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF) was founded in 1912. The photos were published in Archaeologia, the journal of the Society of Antiquaries, in 1907, sparking a recognition of the value of aerial photography as a key technique in discovering, recording and interpreting traces of the past.

Fellow Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, used the launch of the exhibition to take journalists over Stonehenge in a hot air balloon as part of the agency’s campaign for a new visitor centre linked to the relandscaping of the site, taking the new A303 into a tunnel. ‘This is a one-off chance to put right all that has gone wrong at Stonehenge and the surrounding landscape,’ Sir Neil told reporters: ‘We cannot afford to miss it.'

Export deferred of two outstanding Anglo-Saxon finds

The Government has placed a temporary export bar on two outstanding Anglo-Saxon finds ─ a gilded mount with interlace decoration and a great square-headed brooch ─ on the grounds that they are of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon fine metalwork.

The provenance of both finds is lost; the DCMS press release says nothing about their ownership or how they came to be found, but the committee that advises the Government on export licences for antiquities and works of art is unequivocal in stating that they are of the utmost importance for future research, saying that ‘the quality of execution, intricate animal ornament, and intact gilding of both objects combine to make them exceptional. The sixth-century brooch is complete and the seventh-century mount almost complete. Study of the gilded mount has the potential to extend our understanding of metalwork production and distribution in the seventh century, of contacts between Anglo-Saxon England and the Celtic peoples to the North, about the role of fine metalwork in religious and secular life, and about the function of such mounts. Study of the brooch, which relates to a few other high-quality sixth-century brooches but differs in its large size and different combination of elements, offers an enhanced possibility of “reading” the highly schematized animal and mask ornament which occurs in this group. Study of the details may also offer insight into the ways in which such motifs were transferred and recombined and shed light on workshop practice and distribution. The presence of remnants of textile on the back of the brooch opens up the possibility of a further area of research.’

The decision on the export licence application for both the mount and the brooch will be deferred for a period ending on 25 September. This period may be extended until 25 November if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the gilded mount at the recommended price of £7,000 (excluding VAT) is expressed and/or an offer to purchase the square-headed brooch at the recommended price of £15,000 (excluding VAT).

Anglo-Saxon apartheid

A learned article published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society last week became front-page news all over the world last week because it accused early Anglo-Saxon settlers of practising apartheid in England in the migration period.

The authors, Mark Thomas, Michael Stumpf and Heinrich Härke, wanted to reconcile the ubiquity of ‘Germanic’ Y-chromosome genes in the modern English gene pool with low estimates for the numbers of actual migrants to England at the period. More than half the men in England today have gene variants linking them to populations in Germany, Holland and Denmark. The population of England in the fifth to seventh centuries was perhaps two million while the number of Saxon migrants has been estimated at between 10,000 and 100,000. How could such a minority have such an impact on the gene pool?

Marrying the genetic data with such historical sources as the laws of Ine, the late seventh-century Saxon ruler of Wessex, who set a higher level of monetary compensation for the death of a Saxon compared with that of a ‘Welshman’, the authors argued that apartheid-like institutions were in force in Anglo-Saxon England. They also took the Darwinian position that Saxons were more reproductively successful because they were ‘at an economic and legal advantage’ compared to native Britons, and that the lack of ‘indigenous’ male genes in the modern gene pool suggests a prohibition on intermarriage between Saxons and indigenous ethnic groups. Effectively, Saxons outbred native Britons because they were richer, healthier and had more children who survived to adulthood to breed and spread their genes.

These conclusions were rapidly dramatised by press agencies and journalists who declared that: ‘the Anglo-Saxons who conquered England in the fifth century set up a system of apartheid that enabled them to master and outbreed the native British majority … in less than fifteen generations, more than half of the population in England had the genes of the invaders’, quoting author Mark Thomas as saying that ‘England today is culturally and genetically Germanised … having a population of largely Germanic genetic origin, speaking a principally German language.’

Neanderthal DNA to be sequenced

In the same week, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, based in Leipzig, Germany, announced that it was to collaborate with the 454 Life Sciences Corporation of Branford, Connecticut, to produce a first draft of the Homo neanderthalensis genome within two years. The aim is to compare modern human and Neanderthal genomes to pinpoint the evolutionary differences between our species and Neanderthal.

Until now such research has been hampered by the difficulty of extracting genetic material from ancient bones that has not been contaminated in some way by DNA from fungi and microbes involved in the decomposition of Neanderthal tissue. The research group has now developed methods for separating Neanderthal from non-Neanderthal DNA and of working with the typically short DNA fragments that result. The team will use samples from several well-preserved Neanderthals; they say they have already sequenced approximately one million base pairs of nuclear Neanderthal DNA from one 38,000-year-old Croatian fossil, compared with the three billion bases that made up the Neanderthal genome.

For further details, see the Max Plank Institute’s website.

1,200-year-old book found in Irish bog

An early Christian psalter buried in an Irish bog for more than 1,200 years came very close to being turned into potting compost last week, but will instead become a treasured item in the National Museum of Ireland, once it has undergone two years of conservation work. The twenty-page vellum psalter was discovered in the Irish Midlands last week in a digger bucket being used for peat extraction. Dated to between AD 800 and 1000, it was open at Psalm 83, and has elaborate capital letters and punctuation marks.

Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said that it was the first time a book had been discovered buried in the soggy earth of Ireland. ‘'What we have here is a really spectacular, completely unexpected find’, he said. Our Fellow, Dr Pat Wallace, Director of the National Museum in Dublin, said: ‘This is really a miracle find; you feel very humble when you see something like this, because it tells you so much about Ireland in that period and the qualities of the people.’

Suffolk timbers could be prehistoric causeway

Another waterlogged site, this time in Suffolk, has produced well-preserved timbers thought to have formed part of a walkway across marshland on the banks of the River Waveney; unearthed during the excavation of a new dyke on Beccles Town marshes ─ part of a multi-million pound Environment Agency flood defence project ─ the vertical timbers have been dated to between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. ‘This is the first such structure to have been discovered within Suffolk and is one of only a few in Britain,’ said Jane Sidell, English Heritage Archaeological Science Adviser. ‘The timbers were so fresh that the machine driver thought they were [modern] fenceposts, as there is a fence on that alignment further down the site,’ said William Fletcher, Historic Environments Adviser at the county council. A three-week excavation will now be carried out by archaeologists from the county council and the University of Birmingham ‘to examine ancient, possibly ritual, use of the marshland,’ said Jane Sidell, ‘and to see how the marshes have been developed over time.’

Inheritance tax becomes largest source of art for the nation

Paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, porcelain and other artefacts donated to the nation over the past year in lieu of inheritance tax have become the single most important method by which the nation acquires works of art, according to Mark Wood, Chairman of the Museums and Libraries Association, which manages the Acceptance in Lieu scheme on behalf of the Treasury. At £25.2m, the value of works given in lieu of tax is greater than the combined purchase grants of all the museums, galleries and libraries in the UK, he said.

Mark Wood highlighted the effectiveness of the scheme, which has been running since 1947, in order to encourage more owners to consider using the scheme, which he said made a vital contribution to maintaining the world-class position of the UK's museums, archives and libraries. Items acquired in 2005─6 include a Renaissance masterpiece by Palma Vecchio, a painting by the limerick writer Edward Lear, a Stradivarius violin and a collection of Chinese art.

Scottish Archaeology Month in Orkney

Rising Tide: past sea-level change and the submerged prehistoric landscape of Orkney, King Street Halls, Kirkwall, 5 September 2006, 6pm to 8.30pm
As part of the Orkney International Science Festival and Scottish Archaeology Month, our Fellow Caroline Wickham-Jones will chair a free seminar on the work just starting on the submerged prehistoric landscape of Orkney. The other speakers are Anders Fischer (National Forest and Nature Agency, Denmark) on the ‘Submerged prehistory of Denmark’, Sue Dawson (St Andrews University) on ‘Past sea-level change and Orkney’, Julie Gibson (Orkney Archaeological Trust) on ‘The impact of sea-level change on the existing coastline and archaeology of Orkney’ and Garry Momber (Hants and Isle of Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology) on ‘Diving for Stone Age sites in the Solent’.

Caroline adds that Orkney is very proud of its programme for Scottish Archaeology Month, which has just gone online. Not yet on the site is the latest addition to the programme: a lecture by Steven Birch on the High Pasture Cave community archaeology project on Skye.

Discovered as recently as 1972 by students from the University of London Speleological Society, Uamh An Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) contains around 320m of accessible passages. Survey work on the surface above the cave passage has revealed a range of stone-built structures of possible prehistoric age, including a roundhouse, yards, small cell-like buildings and a large U-shaped enclosure. Leading into the cave system is a stone-built passage descending, via a steep flight of steps, from the surface to the natural limestone cave below. In 2005, the remains of three humans were found in the blocked stairwell, burials dating to the Iron Age around 2000 years ago, while a wide range of artefacts of stone, bone and antler were recovered from other areas of excavation at the site. Residues relating to metalworking have also been found, while a large assemblage of well-preserved animal and fish bone provides evidence of the types of food that were being consumed at High Pasture during the prehistoric period.

Summer with Cambria Archaeology

Our Fellow Gwilym Hughes writes with news of three major excavations in south-west Wales currently being carried out by Cambria Archaeology: a late prehistoric enclosure at Ffynnonwen, near Cardigan (partly funded by Cadw), an early medieval cemetery at West Angle, Pembrokeshire (also partly funded by Cadw), and a Bronze Age barrow and early medieval cemetery at Brownslade, Pembrokeshire (funded by MoD Estates). Regular updates are being provided during late July and throughout August through a 'dig diary' on Cambria Archaeology's website, with photographs of all three sites. There will also be an open day at Ffynnonwen on Sunday 6 August 2006.

The work at West Angle will look at one of a series of cist grave cemeteries dating to the early medieval period that are threatened by coastal erosion. Up to four groups of burials exist at West Angle Bay and one reason for digging will be to try and establish whether they represent different zoned areas within a single cemetery, or several unrelated small cemeteries. Radiocarbon dates of AD 720─40 and AD 760─960 were obtained from skeletal material recovered in the 2005 excavation. Establishing a dated sequence for such burials, cemeteries and chapels is crucial to an understanding of cemetery development within west Wales and in Britain as a whole at this period.

Badger disturbance is the reason for investigating Brownslade Barrow, located on the Castlemartin Ministry of Defence Training Estate in south-west Pembrokeshire. This burial mound could date from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, though antiquarian investigation in the late nineteenth century identified a Romano-British central burial. Further burials have been identified in and around the barrow, some of which are in stone-lined cists, suggesting an early medieval, Christian cemetery.

At Ffynnonwen, archaeologists will look at a circular enclosure with perhaps four round houses located within a much larger oval enclosure in order to understand better a type of defended later prehistoric and Romano-British enclosure of similar shape and area that has recently been recognised through aerial photography as being quite common in south Ceredigion.


‘A Particular English Music’: John Betjeman, 1906─84, British Library, 21 July to 8 October 2006
As a contribution to the celebrations for the centenary of John Betjeman’s birth (on 28 August 1906), the British Library has mounted an exhibition of manuscripts, letters, books, photographs and memorabilia from the Library’s own collections and from the private collections of his daughter, Candida Lycett Green, and his publisher, John Murray. The manuscript of his campaigning essay, ‘Ghastly Good Taste’, and of his contributions to the Shell Guides to English counties are among the highlights of the exhibition.

Books by Fellows

Top of your editor’s list for summer holiday reading is the new novel by Giles Waterfield which, if it is as good as the last, should surely be on this year’s Booker Prize shortlist. This is Giles’s third novel. The first, The Hound in the Left-hand Corner, a rumbustious Tom-Sharpe-style satire on museum scholarship versus commercial sponsorship, is highly entertaining. The second, The Long Afternoon, changes mood entirely, and is a moving portrait (based on the lives of Giles’s grandparents) of the disintegration of a privileged French Riviera lifestyle, set against the gathering storm that led to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940.

The third novel ─ Markham Thorpe, published on 1 May 2006 by Headline ─ is set a century earlier, in the 1840s, when Ellen enters service in a house where the relationship between masters and servants is not quite what it should be …

Reviewing the book in Country Life, Clive Aslet described Giles Waterfield as ‘one of the great stylists writing English today. His prose is elegant, distilled, precise; not a word is wasted. It is the perfect accompaniment to his story, set in the formal, self-contained world of a Victorian country house. Murder is involved, but the tone of cool detachment does not waver for an instant … this is a marvellous book.’

The latest volume in the British Archaeological Association's Conference Transactions has just been published. Volume XXIX, entitled Cardiff: Architecture and Archaeology in the Medieval Diocese of Llandaff, was edited by Fellow John Kenyon and Diane Williams (Head of Publications at Cadw). The volume contains many of the papers read at the conference held in July 2004 in Cardiff, and covers the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. A number of Fellows have contributed to the book, and the subjects include early Christian monuments, the early Gothic fabric of Llandaff Cathedral, later Gothic architecture of south Wales, tomb monuments in Abergavenny and rood-screens.

A new series of books on England's Landscape was launched on 19 July 2006 by English Heritage and Harper Collins, exploring the distinctive characteristics of the landscape in eight English regions. It is not surprising to find that most of the new books have been written by Fellows, including Roger Kain on the South West, Tom Williamson on East Anglia, David Stocker on the East Midlands, Fred Aalen on the North East, Barry Cunliffe on the West and Della Hooke on the West Midlands. Some of the books have essays from several contributors ─ Barry Cunliffe’s book, for example, includes essays on ‘Villages and Markets’ by Fellow James Bond and on ‘Romanticism and Recreation’ by Fellow Trevor Rowley. Copies are priced at £35, so a complete set will set you back £280, but online booksellers such as Amazon will no doubt soon be offering discounts.

Our Fellow Paul Cockerham has just published what promises to be a pioneering study of church monuments, looking at what they can tell us about the people they commemorate. Continuity and Change: Memorialisation and the Cornish Funeral Monument Industry 1497-1660 (BAR 412, 2006, ISBN 1841719455, £62, xv + 616 pages, 13 maps, 264 figures, illustrations and plates and 8 data appendices) examines every Cornish monument from 1497 to 1660 — the good, the unprepossessing and the downright bad — looking for direct contemporary evidence for the identity of the commemorated — especially their Cornishness — and, crucially, how they sensed their identity then, rather than how we judge it now.

The tombs themselves are described, their iconography, design sources and sculptural perspectives are explored, and the motives of the patrons are deduced. The author goes on to discuss the methods and motives of Cornish memorialisation, identifying an unusual — if not unique — sustained surge in monument commissions from Cornish workshops towards the end of the sixteenth century, using slate. The overall context of individual commemoration in Cornwall is analysed using wills and probate accounts as a guide to other means of remembrance, both pre- and post-Reformation, building on the motivations for tomb erection. This paradigm of Cornish memorialisation is compared with trends in Kilkenny, Ireland, and Finistère, France, to open up a matrix of memorialisation in the Celtic / Atlantic periphery. Numerous illustrations of the monuments themselves are also presented, most of which have never been pictured before.

Invitation to tender for the position of consultant conservation architect to the Kelmscott Manor estate

The Society is seeking to appoint a consultant conservation architect to the Kelmscott Manor estate, which it owns. The appointment will initially be for a period of three years, with effect from 1 January 2007, with a review on the third anniversary.

The work of the consultant conservation architect includes the following: full and interim quinquennial Inspections of all the buildings (the next full inspection is due in 2007); acting with full regard to the Conservation Plan; arranging and supervising building works at Kelmscott Manor; arranging and supervising specific improvement projects and sensitive conservation repairs to other buildings and structures which form part of the estate; applications for grants towards the cost of all such work; applications for planning and listed building consents; close liaison with the Local Authority Conservation Officer and staff of English Heritage as necessary; close liaison with the Society’s estate managers, Carter Jonas, on all conservation matters pertaining to the estate; giving advice on building and related matters by telephone or on site and at meetings at the request of the General Secretary and/or the Property Managers; preparation of progress and financial reports, project proposals, budgets and costings.

The consultant conservation architect will be required to attend part of each of the meetings of the Kelmscott Committee, which is a standing Committee of the Council of the Society responsible for advising its members and staff on the protection, management and development of the Kelmscott properties. The Committee meets four times a year, twice at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, and twice at Kelmscott.

Visits to Kelmscott prior to submission of tenders can be arranged with the Property Managers, Tristan Molloy and Jane Milne, at Kelmscott Manor (tel: 01367 253348 or e-mail ). Previous Quinuennial Reports, the Statement of Estate Repairs Policy and Protocols and the Conservation Plan documents are available for consultation at Burlington House, London.

Tenders should set out a fee proposal in terms of scales, hourly and disbursement rates, provide details and career histories of the Principal, and any Associates or Assistants, who would undertake work at Kelmscott, include a current practice brochure, be accompanied by a copy of the current certificate of professional indemnity insurance and be submitted to the General Secretary at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE, no later than noon on 2 October 2006.

Successful practices will be invited to attend an interview by an expert panel of Fellows either locally or in London. The appointment will be confirmed by the General Secretary on the instructions of the Council of the Society having received the recommendation of the interviewing panel. The Society reserves the right not to accept the lowest or any tender.


The Society of Antiquaries of London, Administrative Assistant/Receptionist
Salary £18,000 to £20,000 according to experience, closing date 10 August 2006

The Society is seeking to appoint a full-time secretary/receptionist to act as first point of contact for the Society’s Fellows and the public, to start in September 2006. Duties include answering telephone enquiries and providing secretarial support to the General Secretary and the Head of Administration. This is a varied role, requiring flexibility and good team spirit. Applicants should be computer literate (Word, Outlook), have experience of databases and spreadsheets and a minimum typing speed of 55 wpm. You will need a mature attitude, a commitment to high-quality customer care and be able to respond to deadlines and work well under pressure. An interest in history or archaeology would be an advantage; a sense of humour is essential.

Please apply in writing with a curriculum vitae to Jayne Phenton, Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE. Contact Nina on 020 7479 7080 or email for further particulars.