Salon Archive

Issue: 147

Forthcoming meetings

5 October: Beyond Stonehenge: Carn Meini and the Preseli bluestones, by Timothy Darvill, FSA, and Geoff Wainwright, FSA

12 October: Industrial Archaeology: the challenge of the evidence, by Sir Neil Cossons, FSA

19 October: Ballot

Those who are not Fellows are welcome to attend ordinary meetings (excluding ballots) as a guest of a Fellow. If you would like to attend a meeting but do not know any Fellows, please contact the Society for help (tel: 020 7479 7080).

Email address for the Society

Because of problems with the email address of the Society’s Administration Assistant, Nina De Groote, emails addressed to Nina are no longer getting through. All correspondence addressed to Nina or to the Society should in future be sent to the address.

Obituary: Richard Avent

Salon 146 quoted extensively from the obituaries for Richard Avent published in The Times (written by our Fellow Dai Morgan Evans) and the Independent (by our Fellow David Breeze), since when two further friends of Richard’s have contributed obituaries in the national press. Writing in the Guardian, our Fellow Peter Wakelin, formerly of Cadw, now Secretary, RCAHMWales, paid tribute to Richard’s achievements in bringing about ‘a qualitative change in the understanding and care of castles of the Welsh, previously neglected in comparison with the fortresses of their Anglo-Norman colonisers. He wrote the landmark book Castles of the Princes of Gwynedd (1983), and championed long-term consolidation projects to halt centuries of decay.

‘He built the inspectorate into an exemplary group of specialist advisers and formed crucial relationships, for example with agri-environment policy-makers and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). Through fair dealing and clarity of purpose, he engendered the archaeological community's faith in government and strengthened the four Welsh archaeological trusts as centres of regional expertise. Avent saw through the listed buildings re-survey of the whole of Wales between 1984 and 2005, and introduced comprehensive assessments of prehistoric ritual sites, coastal archaeology, deserted settlements, mines and other key types of archaeological remains. In the novel field of historic garden conservation, he initiated a systematic survey that produced the first national register.

‘Good archaeologists do not necessarily make good officials, but Avent embodied the civil service at its best: expert yet impartial, cautious in committing public funds, incisive, honourable. He was sceptical of costly initiatives and erratic change, but innovative when action was justified. His response to the need to protect historic landscapes was typical. Rather than establish endless scoping studies, he focused on those Welsh landscapes which everyone would agree deserved recognition. Local authorities, landowners' groups and heritage specialists came on board and successive registers of historic landscapes in Wales were published in 1998 and 2001, well before similar initiatives elsewhere. As a result, much of Wales is now protected by sensible advice allowing historic landscape issues to be considered in the planning process.’

The obituary by our Fellow John Kenyon, Librarian at the National Museum of Wales, mentioned Richard’s contributions to the new generation of Cadw guidebooks, saying that: ‘A fear that the creation of Cadw in 1984 might lead to a “dumbing-down” of the guide books to ancient monuments, with the replacement of the old, scholarly “ministry blue guides”, was never realised. Arnold Taylor’s texts on the Edwardian castles were maintained and enhanced, whilst other titles took into account recent scholarship. This series, to which Avent contributed a number of guide books, continues to be much admired by both the public and sister heritage bodies.’ John Kenyon ends on a personal note, remembering that Richard was ‘a convivial and amusing host at his home in Raglan [who] delighted in serving fine wines along with the produce from his garden’.

Obituary: Jeffrey May

The Times published an obituary for our late Fellow Jeffrey May on 21 August, describing him as ‘an archaeologist in the top rank, who will be remembered for his fieldwork and research in Britain and also as a gifted teacher and communicator’.

The obituary went on to say that: ‘He followed the principle that the aim of archaeology was not to solve problems for one’s own satisfaction or to impress colleagues, but to provide accurate information about the past for the enlightenment of all. Nottingham University was May’s academic base for four decades, and Lincolnshire his spiritual home; the East Midlands provided his best discoveries, particularly at the Iron Age and Roman settlement of Dragonby, near Scunthorpe.

‘Interested in all things historical from an early age, he first expressed his intention of becoming an archaeologist at the age of nine. He went up to New College, Oxford, to read history. If Oxford at the time offered no undergraduate teaching in archaeology, at least there was the active Oxford University Archaeological Society, and in 1959 May became its president, a post held by many who subsequently became distinguished professional archaeologists. After graduating in 1960 May was the first student to enrol for the new diploma in archaeology, taught by the redoubtable Professor Christopher Hawkes, doyen of Iron Age scholars. It was Hawkes who in 1961 recommended May to Nottingham University, where the medievalist Maurice Barley, temporarily in charge of the department of adult education, needed teaching assistance for a year during a colleague’s absence.

‘In the event, May stayed for his entire career: Barley himself was moved to the expanding Classics department, and May was appointed to take his place. In 1967 the university established a department of archaeology, and May transferred to it to teach prehistory to undergraduates. He became its head for twelve productive years in the 1970s and 1980s, although, as was too often the way, he was never given the title of professor, which he certainly deserved. Under his perceptive direction, student numbers and the range of subjects taught greatly increased, notwithstanding the financial stringency which, for many universities, brought to an abrupt end what had been a time of optimism and expansion.

‘The most important of several British sites excavated by May was Dragonby, a major late Iron Age and Roman settlement in north Lincolnshire, where he directed two-month-long digs for ten successive years. The finds, fully published in 1996 in his two-volume monograph Dragonby: Report on Excavations at an Iron Age and Romano-British Settlement in North Lincolnshire, revolutionised understanding of the life, cultural standing and connections of the local tribe, the Coritani or Corieltauvi.

‘May’s work on the tribe’s coinage formed part of another of his major contributions, the study of Celtic Iron Age coins found in eastern Britain. In this May was one of those carrying forward the pioneering work of the late Derek Allen, a task he continued until the end of his life, writing more than a dozen papers and contributing important information to the Celtic Coin Index, based at the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford University.

‘May retired in 1997, but remained fully involved with archaeology, and particularly enjoyed becoming a contributing editor of the successful popular journal Current Archaeology, established and run by a friend from his National Service and undergraduate days, Andrew Selkirk. He continued fieldwork, co-operating with a former student in excavations at an important multi-period site at Tremona, in Ticino, Switzerland. He gained a PhD degree from Nottingham by submission of publications in 1999, and was proud to be this year elected an honorary Fellow of his old department and the School of Humanities.’

Obituary: David Wilson

The following obituary for the late David Raoul Wilson is reproduced here with grateful thanks to the author, Derek Edwards. It first appeared in the Aerial Archaeology E-Mail Newsletter, which Derek has published regularly since 2002 (available free to any applicant with an interest in aerial photography for archaeology; contact Derek Edwards.

‘David Raoul Wilson, FSA, died peacefully on 6 August 2006, aged 74. David had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2005. David’s career began at Oxford where, after an upbringing in Classics, he cut his archaeological teeth as a research assistant to Professor Sir Ian Richmond. On Richmond’s death in 1965 he moved eastwards to Cambridge to join the late Kenneth St Joseph’s small pioneering team of aerial photographers and photo-interpreters at the Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography (CUCAP). On St Joseph’s retirement in 1980 he succeeded to the post of Curator in Aerial Photography, a demanding role that combined the traditional skills of aerial photographer, archival conservator, librarian, academic researcher and teacher with entrepreneurial ability to ensure CUCAP’s survival in an increasingly competitive modern university world.

‘By 1965 St Joseph’s unique programme of interdisciplinary aerial reconnaissance was already in its twenty-first year. It was, however, David’s arrival that paved the way for some of the most important and creative years in the life of CUCAP. These were the decades that saw the Cambridge flying programme extend its range from mainland Britain to Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Denmark. It was also the period when simple archaeological reconnaissance began to expand into the mature and sophisticated sub-discipline that it has become today.

‘David’s contribution to that growth took many influential forms. In the air he was responsible for literally hundreds of new archaeological discoveries, while on the ground his rigorous standards ensured the consistent technical excellence of the CUCAP collection and its supporting catalogues. In the field of research, a steady sequence of papers on subjects as diverse as Neolithic causewayed enclosures, smaller Roman towns and the mechanics of cropmark formation led to the publication of Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists (1982), revised and republished in 2000. To this day it remains one of the most accessible and helpful introductions to the techniques of aerial archaeology.

‘David’s undergraduate and extra-mural teaching work, his regular and enthusiastic contributions to the Aerial Archaeology Research Group, and his role as a catalyst for the publication of books and articles about aerial photography, have been equally important to the discipline. Ranging from the seminal Aerial Reconnaissance in Archaeology (edited by Wilson, 1975) to the splendid Cambridge Air Survey volumes published under his direction during the 1980s and 1990s, his editorial role brought the message of aerial photography to a whole series of new audiences, both in the United Kingdom and around the world.

‘No appreciation would be complete without mention of David’s unstinting contribution to the work of the National Association of Aerial Photographic Libraries (NAPLIB), of which he was a Founder Member (1989), Honorary Secretary (1989─93), President (1993─6) and Past President (1996─8) and the driving force behind the publication of the NAPLIB Directory of Aerial Photographic Collections in the United Kingdom (1993).

‘David was a perpetual inspiration to all of us who care for air photographs and appreciate their irreplaceable importance as sources of information and understanding about the landscapes of yesterday and today.’

The late Ian Goodall, FSA

Our Fellow Kathryn Morrison writes: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our Fellow Dr Ian Goodall, who passed away on 16 August 2006, after a short but devastating illness. Ian was a Senior Architectural Investigator with English Heritage (and previously with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England), based in the York Office. Ian joined the RCHME in 1972. During his long and distinguished career, he made major contributions to knowledge through his work on the RCHME books on the Houses of the North York Moors, Yorkshire Textile Mills and English Hospitals. In recent years he published important research on historic houses in Cumbria, including Sizergh and Storrs Hall. True to his conviction that disciplinary boundaries can sometimes hinder historical understanding, and exist to be broken, Ian was also a much-published expert on archaeological ironwork. Always stimulating and supportive, Ian was a wonderful friend and colleague who will be sorely missed. We hope to supply a more informative obituary in time.’

News of Fellows

To the recent election of Fellows to the British Academy and the Royal Society of Canada, we can now add the achievement of our Fellow Michael Jones in being elected a Correspondant de l’Institut de France by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, principally in recognition of his work on the history of medieval Brittany.

Professor Jones, a graduate of the University of Oxford, spent most of his career at Nottinghasm, latterly as Professor of Medieval French History (1991─2002). From 1991 to 1997 he was Literary Director of the Royal Historical Society and he has edited Nottingham Medieval Studies since 1989. In 2002 he was awarded Le Collier de l’Ordre de l’Hermine by the Institut Culturel de Bretagne, only the fifth foreign recipient of this honour in more than forty years.

Author of over 120 substantive articles and author, editor or translator of more than 25 books, his main concerns have been political, social, military and cultural history, particularly concentrating on the relations between Brittany and the crown of France and on concepts of Breton identity throughout the Middle Ages. In recent years he has also worked on several multi-disciplinary teams (with our Fellow Gwyn Meirion-Jones), studying seigneurial and urban buildings, some of which have been taken into public care thanks to new evidence provided by his researches. Recent publications include The Seigneurial Residence in Western Europe AD c 800─1600 (2002); Between France and England: politics, power and society in late medieval Brittany (2003); and The Letters, Orders and Musters of Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France (2004). Michael’s most recent work ─ Le premier inventaire du Trésor des chartes des ducs de Bretagne (1395) et les origines du Chronicon Briocense ─ will be published early in 2007.

The Bodleian Library celebrates its triumph in verse

There seems to be no end to the triumphalism of the Bodleian Library, winner of ‘University Challenge: the Professionals 2006’. Our Fellow Martin Biddle has forwarded to Salon a poem from ‘Outline: the Oxford University Libraries Staff Newsletter’ in which an ode is printed In Celebration of the Triumph Of Bodley’s Heroes Over the Forces of Ignorance. The hubristic ones claim, in the ode, that: ‘Th’Antiquaries are history / For they opposed, said Jeremy / A team ‘in stonking form’. Well, if the Bodleain Library team continues in this vein the members of the Antiquaries team might just have to let slip the term that Jeremy used to describe them in conversation after the show (clue: think of a hooded article of clothing beginning with ‘a’ and ending in ‘k’ that is worn by train spotters and the like).

Fire at the Royal Academy, but Cultural Campus launch to go ahead

A major blaze at the former Museum of Mankind building to the rear of the Society’s apartments broke out on 29 August, leading to the closure of the Royal Academy and Burlington Gardens. Fortunately nobody was harmed and no works of art were damaged as sixty fire fighters brought the blaze under control. The fire is thought to have started on the west corner of the roof, which was being repaired as part of the regeneration of the site. The roof collapsed in the blaze, and the Saatchi Gallery, which had been preparing a major exhibition on American art for the Burlington Gardens building, has said it might have to postpone the opening, which was due to take place on 6 October.

The inauguration of the new Cultural Campus at Burlington House, due to take place on 18 September, will go ahead as planned, however. Guest speakers at the reception to celebrate the refurbishment of Burlington House and the launch of the Cultural Campus are Sir David Attenborough, OM, and Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation. The Cultural Campus concept is a new initiative to develop stronger ties between the learned societies housed at Burlington House and promote their work. The Campus will host a programme of public events designed to ‘explore the shared frontiers of their various disciplines’, including the Society’s own tercentenary exhibition, ‘Pioneers of the Past: Antiquaries in Britain 1707─2007’, which will open at the Royal Academy in September 2007.

Time Team’s Big Royal Dig and the Windsor Round Table

Reviewing the Time Team Big Royal Dig in The Guardian, our Fellow Mike Pitts described the programme as ‘a washout’ and seemed to think this served us all right for pandering to monarchy: he chastised our Fellows Mick Aston and Phil Harding for betraying their anti-Royal sympathies: accept the Queen’s hospitality and this is what you get, he seemed to say: ‘lawns that could have been anywhere and a few visitors' cast-offs’.

In reality the three-day show was full of real insights into the archaeology of the royal palaces. True, there were too many irritating presenters asking simplistic questions and then not listening to the answers, so keen were they to strut their telegenic looks in front of the cameras, but beneath this there was some very serious and interesting archaeology struggling to be heard, including the fascinating discovery of the site of Edward III’s Round Table.

The story of the foundation of the Order of the Round Table is told in various contemporary chronicles: Adam of Murimuth says that Edward III made a vow in January 1344 after a tournament at Windsor that he would ‘found a Round Table of the same … standing as that which the Lord Arthur, formerly King of England, had relinquished, to the number of three hundred knights’. Murimuth adds that Edward ordered ‘a most noble house’ to be built, while the anonymous Brut chronicler says that the building was to be used for the hosting of a Round Table meeting ‘to be holde ther at Wyndessore in the Whytson wyke evermore yerely’.

Armed with these bare facts, Time Team set out to try and locate the building, aided by experts from Oxford Archaeology, including our Fellow Julian Munby. Having published a paper on the subject some ten years ago, Julian was already familiar with Windsor Castle building accounts for 1344 which showed that construction began in February and ceased abruptly in November; some 137 masons were employed on the construction of a building that was 200 feet in diameter (bigger than the Pantheon); significantly, large numbers of carvers were employed but no carpenters, and large quantities of fine grained Yorkshire stone were purchased for the building.

When the rubble-filled robber trench of a circular building, 200 feet in diameter was located with the aid of geophysical survey, Julian was confident that the Round Table house had been found, but wanted to know what the building might have looked like and what it might have been used for. Enter our Fellow Richard Barber, the expert on all things Arthurian, who said that the Round Table was probably a theatre, where knights and ladies acted out scenes from the stories of King Arthur. Aristocratic enthusiasm for these re-enactments had begun a century earlier, and by the time of Edward's festival in 1344 there was a long tradition of increasingly elaborate theatrical events.

The lack of carpenters suggested to Richard and Julian that the building might have been an amphitheatre, open to the sky. They speculated that it might have had a cloister-like arcade running round the perimeter, with a roof supported on carved capitals or corbels. Edward III and his 300 knights would have watched re-enactments of Arthurian legend from stone benches, seated at a marble table running round the arcade.

Thus archaeology was able to give substance to an important moment in history, for the founding by Edward III of the short-lived Round Table was not, of course, purely motivated by a love of theatricals ─ in effect, Edward was attempting to give himself the maximum possible prestige as Arthur's ‘heir’ and to shore up support among his peers for his claim, made in 1337, to the crown of France ─ the claim that led, two years later, to the Battle of Crécy. The Round Table was an attempt to found a chivalric order that the sovereign could use to reward those who served him well; this order failed, but four years later Edward founded a smaller and more exclusive order at Windsor, the still-extant Order of the Garter, membership of which is still one of the highest honours an English sovereign can bestow.

Julian and Richard were clearly excited by their discovery: ‘This isn't just hype for television,' Julian said: ‘It really is a major, nationally important discovery’. ‘It's truly exciting and I think this will go down in history books,' Richard added. Further details, along with a reconstruction drawing, can be seen on the Channel 4 website.

Journal and magazine highlights

The latest volume of Antiquity, edited by our Fellow Martin Carver, is on its way to subscribers (non subscribers can read abstracts at the Antiquity website () and pay to view articles of interest). One key paper by P F Kuznetsov dates chariot burials in Eurasia to the period from the twentieth to the eighteenth centuries BCE ─ thus earlier than the appearance of the war chariot in the Near East, pointing to the Volga─Ural area as an important centre of innovation for early Europe.

Another paper quantifies the threat to archaeological sites from the erosive effects of ploughing. Based on procedures originally developed for nuclear weapons testing, archaeologists and soil scientists Keith Wilkinson, Andrew Tyler, Donald Davidson and Ian Grieve show how variation in the concentration of the radioisotope 137 Cs can be used to monitor soil movements over the last forty years. The measurements allow a site's ‘life expectancy’ to be calculated, thus enabling resource managers to develop conservation strategies based on the speed with which a particular field is eroding.

Not to be outdone by its bigger academic cousin, The Archaeologist (edited by our Fellow and Honorary Secretary, Alison Taylor; for copies email also has an article on archaeological prediction ─ this time in sand and gravel. David Mullin’s paper explains how the Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service has looked at the correlation between existing archaeological records and geological formations suitable for aggregate extraction. This has identified a bias in the archaeological record towards geological formations suitable to the formation of crop and soil marks ─ by contrast, alluvial sites look as if they are empty, which leads to fewer sites being evaluated and excavated prior to extraction. David Mullin argues that correcting this bias requires greater use of geophysical and LiDAR survey on alleviated areas to inform future management and research strategies.

British Archaeology, edited by our Fellow Mike Pitts, came out in August with a seasonal story by our Fellow Jason Wood on Blackpool’s bid for World Heritage Site status, as the pioneer of beach holiday (serving the newly industrialising hinterland) and as curator of a huge assemblage of historic entertainment architecture and machinery.

More sober thoughts are invoked by articles on Iraq, in which Roger Matthews (last resident director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, now professor of Near Eastern archaeology at UCL Institute of Archaeology) and Michael Seymour (Raymond and Beverley Sackler Scholar in ancient Iranian studies at the British Museum) argue that the archaeological destruction that continues to grow worse by the day in that country is the fault of collectors in rich countries buying antiquities looted by Iraqis smitten by poverty and insecurity. In a companion article, US Colonel Matthew Bogdanos argues that collecting antiquities has to be made as socially unacceptable as wearing fur.

Iraq's most prominent archaeologist has resigned

Mention of Iraq brings us to the news that Donny George, President of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, has resigned from his post and left the country with his family to live in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Dr George achieved international recognition for his efforts to track down and recover the antiquities looted from Iraq's National Museum in the mayhem that followed the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

In an interview with the Art Newspaper, Dr George said that the dire security situation and an acute shortage of funds had made his position untenable. He also said that key posts in the culture ministry had been filled with loyalists of the militant Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, including Liwa Sumaysim, the minister of state for antiquities, none of whom has any knowledge of archaeology or of antiquities. Dr George, a Christian, said he had battled to prevent an Islamist and anti-western agenda from taking over at the antiquities department. They are only interested in Islamic sites and not Iraq's earlier heritage.’

The culture ministry in Iraq responded by accusing Dr George of ‘serving the former regime’ and of ‘doing nothing to stop Saddam carving his name into the walls of every brick’ during the reconstruction of the ancient palace at Babylon.

To read the full story, see the Art Newspaper website.

Neanderthal studies thrive after 150 years

This being the 150th anniversary of the discovery of ‘Neanderthal Man’, an international congress was convened in Bonn in July, bringing together 220 scientists from 20 countries, to discuss topics ranging from the origin of Homo neanderthalis, to the species’ relationship to modern humans.

Although Neanderthal skull fragments and bones had been discovered in Belgium, Gibraltar and France as early as 1829, it was the group of sixteen bones found in 1856 in a limestone quarry in the Neander Valley, east of Düsseldorf, that led to the scientific identification of the first hominid species other than modern humans. Three years before Charles Darwin published his work on the origin of species, the bones provided evidence that there were other types of ‘man’ in the past, and initiated the study of human origins and evolution.

150 years ago scientists were preoccupied with reconciling Biblical teaching and scientific data. Today many students of ‘Neanderthal Man’ seem equally obsessed with proving that Homo neanderthalis was the equal of Homo sapiens sapiens in terms of sophistication and intelligence. In its most extreme form, this leads to the persistent (but biologically impossible) belief that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred. Last week’s headline in the Daily Telegraph saying ‘There is a little Neanderthal in a lot of us’ belongs to this thematic strand. The article began by stating that ‘People who have large noses, a stocky build and a beetle brow may indeed be a little Neanderthal, according to a genetic study … people of European descent may be five per cent Neanderthal, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics’.

In fact, the article in PLoS Genetics simply identified sections within our genes that do not make sense if modern humans only mated with other modern humans. ‘Instead of a population that left Africa 100,000 years ago and replaced all other archaic human groups, we propose that this population interacted with another population that had been in Europe for much longer, maybe 400,000 years’, one of the authors, Dr Vincent Plagnol of the University of Southern California, explained. Dr Plagnol carefully avoided saying which archaic populations might have contributed the genes.

In a similar vein, the Independent ran a story last week headlined: ‘French excavation reveals Neanderthal creative side’. This concerned a different study, by Bristol University archaeologist, Professor Joao Zilhao, working with French colleagues, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA, which argues that decorated bone points and personal ornaments found in the Châtelperronian culture of France and Spain were produced by Neanderthals around 44,000 years ago, and not acquired from modern humans living nearby, as was previously thought. Re-examining the complex stratigraphy of the cave, where both modern human and Neanderthal occupation levels are interleaved, ties these object to Neanderthals and proves that they were innovators, not imitators of borrowers, says Professor Zilhao, adding that this has major implications: not only does it prove that Neanderthals already had the capacity for symbolic thinking before the arrival of modern humans in western Europe, it also raises the possibility that cognition and symbolic thinking pre-dates both species.

Artefacts support ‘out of Africa’ theory

It seems a fairly obvious thing to do but apparently nobody has thought until recently of comparing cultural artefacts produced contemporaneously but in different regions of the world to see how alike or different they are. That is what our Fellow Professor Paul Mellars, of Cambridge University, has now done, publishing the results in the journal Science, and arguing that cultural and technological similarities between African and Indian artefacts suggest a common origin and support the ‘out of Africa’ theory of human migration.

Professor Mellars looked at finds from a variety of sites in southern and eastern Africa and from India and Sri Lanka. Most of the African finds date from between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago, while the earliest Indian artefacts are 35,000 years old, though further research might push the Indian dates back further. He found ostrich eggshell beads, particular types of stones used as arrowheads and barbs, and a criss-cross art style that are virtually identical despite being found 3,000 miles apart, suggesting a strong degree of cultural continuity.

Studies of the human genome support the idea that modern humans are descended from a single African ancestral group, whose members migrated to all parts of the globe. Professor Mellars believes his findings support this single origin theory, rather than rival theories of multiple migrations, or independent multi-regional evolution. Professor Mellars told the Independent that: ‘Before, the idea of one dispersal was speculation. Now the argument is no longer one just based on the DNA of these people, but on their technology and behaviour as well.’

Cotswold Archaeology finds Bronze Age canoe

Archaeologists employed by Cotswold Archaeology have found a 3,400-year-old canoe near St Botolphs in Pembrokeshire. It is the first such discovery in Wales and only one of 150 so far discovered across Europe. The oak vessel was discovered along the route of a new gas pipeline being constructed between Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire and the Cotswolds, where it will join an existing pipe system. The team has also found evidence of a small settlement, a small amount of property and other items, such as polished stone rings. The canoe is carved from a single trunk of oak, and measures 4.5m x 0.9m (15ft x 3ft). It was found in a marshy area of land, less than one metre below the surface. A sample of wood from the canoe has been radio-carbon dated to 1420 BC. After conservation, the canoe will be handed over to the National Museum of Wales.

Measures to protect vulnerable heritage from theft

Police in the Cotswolds are advising owners of staddle stones and stone troughs, or buildings with Cotswold roof tiles, to mark them with SmartWater, an invisible ‘forensic fingerprint’ designed to deter theft. Further to the south west, Cornwall County Council has announced a project to protect medieval granite wayside crosses using microchips.

The warning to owners in the Cotswolds follows a string of thefts which the police attribute in part to the dry summer, making it possible for criminal gangs using 4x4 vehicles and vans to drive across fields and plunder stone and slate from isolated farm buildings. Thieves have targeted properties in the A40 corridor between Oxford and Cheltenham: tiles have been stolen from National Trust buildings on the Sherborne estate, from Lord Vestey’s Stowell Park estate and from historic buildings owned by the Ernest Cook Trust in Fairford Park.

Unscrupulous property developers and builders are the driving force behind the rise in crime. There is a strong black market in stolen tiles and ornaments. Slates sufficient to cover an area 3m by 3m cost £1,000 and mushroom-shaped staddle stones can fetch more than £200.

In Cornwall, the county’s most vulnerable granite monuments are being marked with a microscopic silicon chip, programmed with a unique number to deter would-be thieves. The work is being carried out with the help of grants from a range of organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage. The county has hundreds of such monuments, many dating from the period from the seventh to the eleventh centuries and used as boundary markers.

Cornwall County Council's Executive Member for Environment and Heritage, Adam Paynter, said the crosses are at risk from theft because they are attractive, potentially desirable as garden ornaments, and are often accessible and portable which makes them vulnerable. ‘But the crosses belong to the people of Cornwall past, present and future and were never intended to be placed in individuals' gardens or properties. Hopefully the introduction of the security devices will dissuade people from stealing Cornwall's heritage’, he said.

Some of the crosses being given this protection are wayside crosses in the care of Cornwall Council's Highway Section. Jeremy Edwards, Head of Highway Management, said: ‘Sadly, there have been several attempted thefts and actual thefts of granite crosses from Cornwall over the last two decades, to feed a growing market for granite artefacts and ornaments. Attempts have been made to steal the Reperry Cross in Lanivet parish and the cross on Whitcross Hill near Carn Brea, while the Sandyway Cross in Lanlivery was missing for several months before being recovered by police. The Halvana Cross is still missing, nearly twenty years after it was ripped from the ground in a forestry plantation on Bodmin Moor.’

Public consultation agrees that Venus Fountain should be listed

The Venus Fountain in London’s Sloane Square has been listed at Grade II, Culture Minister David Lammy has announced. The decision to list the structure was taken on the advice of English Heritage and was supported by the result of a public consultation.

The fountain was installed in 1953, to the designs of the sculptor Gilbert Ledward, and funded by the Royal Academy Leighton Fund. It consists of the kneeling figure of Venus, in bronze, holding a vase and pouring water from a conch shell, surmounting a large bronze vase-shaped basin, which sits on a narrow three-step stone base within an octagonal stone pool lined with blue ceramic tiles. The basin is decorated with a relief depicting Charles II and Nell Gwynn seated by the Thames. Charles II picks fruit from a tree, while Nell Gwynn fans herself. A cupid sits nearby with two arrows ready, a deer and a hound run in the background, and a swan swims on the Thames. The inscription around the top of the basin reads: ‘Sweet Thames run softly, till I end my song’, a quotation form Edmund Spenser’s Prothalamion. David Lammy said: ‘The Venus Fountain is a beautifully executed sculptural piece by an important twentieth-century sculptor. It has strong connections to Chelsea, through both the artist and the subject matter.’

Mary, Queen of Scots portrait emerges from a £50 painting

A painting of Mary, Queen of Scots, one of only two thought to have been made in her lifetime, has been discovered in the National Portrait Gallery's very own store and is now on public display. The gallery paid £50 for the portrait at Christie's in 1916 but our Fellow Sir Roy Strong decided in the 1960s that it was an eighteenth-century copy.

Sir Roy did not have the benefit then of dendrochronology, which has been used to establish that the panel on which the portrait was painted dates from between 1560 and 1592. Conservation work has revealed the original portrait, which was overpainted in the eighteenth century.

Tarnya Cooper, curator of sixteenth-century paintings at the National Portrait Gallery, said that the removal of the overpainting had revealed an exquisite painting, which shows the red-haired Queen of Scots (1542─87) after her return to Scotland following the death of her husband, King Francis II of France, in 1560. ‘The costume is beautifully done, the eyes and face delicately painted, especially around the eyes. Since it has been cleaned up you can see that she has a very penetrating gaze.’ She believes that it could have been painted for one of Mary’s supporters. ‘Mary is depicted wearing a cap’, Dr Cooper said: ‘It’s possibly a man’s. The portrait shows her as an independent character.’

One other painting is known to have been made in her lifetime. That shows her in mourning, probably after the death of her first father-in-law, Henri II of France. Known as the Deuil Blanc portrait, it belongs to the Royal Collection. Most of the near-contemporary paintings of her date from after her death, during the reign of James I, when her status as mother of the legitimate monarch lent her credibility.

The techniques used to re-date the painting have been employed for the past two or three years by the Gallery. ‘As we do more of this there will be more surprises,’ said Dr Cooper. ‘We have a lot of paintings we could be looking at.’ On being told of the discovery, Sir Roy said: ‘I’m delighted. I catalogued it with no technical department. I was looking (at it) through a glass darkly.’

Venice to charge for entry

Venice may soon become the first city in Italy to introduce an entrance charge to offset the damage done to the city by the 16 million people who visit every year. The idea of a visitor tax was first mooted by the British economist John Kay, who sees it as a prudent way of managing tourism in the city. This week the city's mayor, Massimo Cacciari, indicated for the first time that the idea was under serious consideration. The mayor told a local newspaper that the tax might be necessary to pay for maintenance, pointing to a potential tripling of visitor numbers as people from China and south-east Asia become wealthy enough to travel and visit Venice.

Professor Kay has suggested a figure of €50 per visitor, based on what people happily pay to visit EuroDisney theme park. Our Fellow Anna Somers Cocks, of the Venice in Peril Fund, has suggested €10 as a compromise fee. Other cities are known to be watching Venetian developments with interest. The Aeolian Islands, off Sicily, will impose a €5 entrance charge from next year and both Milan and Bolgna have introduced congestion charges for vehicles entering the historic city centre, following London’s example.

Local commentators note that achieving a consensus on charging tourists is the easy part: arguments are likely to rage over what to do with the money. The mayor sees the tax as a cleaning charge to offset the cost of providing services such as refuse collection. But Professor Kay and Anna Somers Cocks would like the money to be used for conservation work, and to pay for the Moses flood protection barrier. As Professor Kay put it: ‘The gates that let the tourists in could pay for the gates that keep the waters out.’

The geographical distribution of British surnames

Delegates to the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference last week were told of a new database that maps the distribution of some 20,000 surnames in Great Britain in order to understand patterns of population movement, social mobility, regional economic development and cultural identity. Typing a name into the database enables users to see colour-coded maps which show where people of that name were living in Britain in 1881, and in what numbers, while more recent maps show where people of that surname live now, and where else that surname is found in other parts of the world.

The database reveals that many British surnames names can be mapped to specific places in the world from which they have spread out through the globe. Searching on the name ‘Catling’ for example, reveals that almost all of the people of that name were living in the Peterborough area in 1881 (this fits with family tradition that, until my father made the break, generations of Catlings had all worked in the brickfields of Whittlesey, three miles east of Peterborough). By 2006, Catlings were dispersed all round England, and were also to be found living in Auckland, New Jersey and the Australian Capital Territory.

Clearly the database is more useful to people with a distinctive surname, though even a relatively common name such as Owen had a very precise geographic origin that is still traceable as recently as 1881 (Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey). The developers of the database also found that some surnames can be too distinctive. They have tracked a significant decline in the numbers of people prepared to live with such embarrassing names as Smellie, Haggard, Slow, Willy, Pigg, Hustler, Nutter, Handcock or Glasscock. There were, for example, 3,211 people called Cock in Britain in 1881 — when most were centred around Truro — but only 826 in 1996, many having chosen to change their name.

By analysing the whereabouts of 100 million people in the United States, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the database has been used to track British migration. One conclusion is that migration is rarely random. Richard Webber, Visiting Professor at University College London, who led the development of the system, says: ‘Migration flows are very specific. The destinations chosen by Britons depended very much on where they were from. People from Cornwall were the most likely to have moved to the north-western United States and south-western Australia, whereas Devonians tended to head for southern and eastern Australia or, if they came from Bideford, to Newfoundland. People from western Scotland travelled most commonly to Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand. They tend to move at a specific time — Scots went to Tasmania in the 1890s, for instance, and people from Cornwall to Wyoming in the 1860s.’

Some people don’t travel at all, however: there are relatively few names in the United States from rural Yorkshire ─ such as Broadbent, Midgeley or Illingworth ─ suggesting that Yorkshire people travel less. The most travelled names, not surprisingly, tend to be from Scotland and Cornwall.

The developers have gone beyond location to look at occupations and other socio-economic data, such as educational attainments. This confirms that people called Felicity, Katherine, Phillippa, Penelope, Elizabeth, Hilary, Giles, Annabel, Alastair and Jeremy are more likely to be prosperous than people named Tracy, Michelle, Lee, Darren, Jason, Donna, Annie and Kelly.

Advisory Committee for Historic Wreck Sites (ACHWS) Annual Report 2005

The ACHWS was set up to advise Government on the suitability of wreck sites to be designated for protection on the grounds of historical, archaeological or artistic interest in accordance with the Protection of Wreck Acts 1973, while the National Heritage Act (2002) enabled English Heritage to undertake functions relating to ACHWS and to assume responsibility for maritime archaeological sites of all types from low water out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit around England. The newly published ACHWS Annual Report 2005 comprises an account of both the general work of the ACHWS and its specific activities throughout the period April 2005 to March 2006, and is now available to download from the Maritime Archaeology pages of English Heritage’s website. Hard copies of the report may be requested from

British Academy grants 2006─7

The British Academy offers awards for postdoctoral research in the humanities and social sciences and is inviting applications for the following schemes: Small Research Grants and Larger Research Grants for collaborative or individual research projects (closing dates: 15 October 2006 (Small and Larger Research Grants), 15 January 2007 (Small Research Grants), 15 April 2007 (Small Research Grants)); Conference Grants for bringing key speakers to conferences held in the UK and individual travel grants to overseas conferences (closing dates: 15 October 2006, 15 January 2007, 15 April 2007); International Activities to support research with partner institutions in particular countries or regions (closing dates: for most schemes: 30 September 2006, 15 January 2007, 15 April 2007; some schemes have closing dates only once a year: check the website for details); Visiting Fellowships for research visits to the UK of at least two months by early-career scholars from overseas (closing date: 15 November 2006).

Application forms and further details of all four funds can be found on the British Academy website.

Meetings and seminars

Monuments and Sites at Risk: a presentation of ICOMOS actions
8 September 2006 at The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh

This ICOMOS and Historic Scotland seminar will present a selection of the work undertaken by some of the twenty-eight International Scientific Committees working under the ICOMOS umbrella. There will be presentations on the timber houses of Istanbul, Shackleton's hut in the Antarctic, underwater heritage, Russian avant-garde heritage, the giant Buddhas of the Bamiyan Valley and the citadel at Bam, in Iran. Further information from

Hunter-Gatherers in Surrey and Beyond
30 September 2006 at the Surrey History Centre in Woking

Following the completion of excavations of the Mesolithic hollow at North Park Farm Quarry, Bletchingley, Surrey County Archaeological Unit (SCAU) is hosting a day conference to explore the discoveries from this important site. Further information from Abby Guinness.

IFA seminar: new developments in archaeology and heritage
2 October 2006, 2pm to 4pm in the Society of Antiquaries’ meeting room at Burlington House

The annual Institute of Field Archaeologists seminar is open to all; it precedes the AGM, and is followed by a wine reception. Our Fellow David Baker will explain progress on the drafting of a Standard and Guidance on the Stewardship of the Historic Environment, being jointly drafted by the IFA, the Institute for Historic Buildings Conservation and the Association of Local Government Archaeology Officers. Kate Geary, the IFA’s Training and Standards Co-ordinator, will then explain the draft Qualification in Archaeology Practice that is being developed by the IFA in partnership with the Archaeology Training Forum.

Books by Fellows

The joint work of our Fellows Christopher Evans and Ian Hodder, and a team of more than sixty-five contributing specialists, the landmark Haddenham Project report has just been published by the McDonald Institute in two volumes: A Woodland Archaeology (covering the Neolithic period, including the renowned Foulmere Fen long barrow, with its intact timber chamber, and the great Upper Delphs causewayed enclosure) and Marshland Communities and Cultural Landscapes (Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman, including the remarkably well-preserved HAD V Iron Age settlement and the Snow's Farm Romano-British shrine complex). Almost twenty years in the making, and with 900 pages, these are very good value at £35 a volume (available through Oxbow Books at Oxbow Books.

Library gifts

The Society is very grateful to the following for their donations of books to the Library in July and August 2006:

From the author, Peter Harkness, All Saints and Sinners, 1999;
From the author, Colonel J D Sainsbury, Fellow, Hertfordshire Yeomanry and Artillery Honours and Awards, 3rd edn, 2006;
From the Pevsner Office, Yale University Press, Memorials of Hindley, by John Leyland, 1873;
From the bequest of Lady Aileen Fox, late Fellow, A visit to Stonehenge, organised by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, by C E Ferry, June 1894;
From the author, James Thorn, Fellow, Drawings by Beechey in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, 2006;
From the author, Susan Wood, Fellow, The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West, 2006;
From Margaret Lacey, New Studies in Old Subjects, by J A Sparvel-Bayley, FIA, 1889;
From Henrick Andersson, White Arms of the Royal Armoury, by Lena Nordstrom, 1984, Firearms of the Royal Armouries Vol I, by Nils Driegholt, 1996, and other works.

Further book news

A book that has found widespread favour with Fellows, judging by the reviews, has just been published in paperback: The Goddess and the Bull: Çatalhöyük ─ an archaeological journey to the dawn of civilization concerns the work of our Fellow Ian Hodder and his extensive team of co-workers at the Turkish Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, and is written in compelling style by Michael Balter, archaeology and human evolution writer for the journal Science. Advance publicity for the book quotes our Fellow Colin Renfrew as saying ‘An engagingly personal account of one of the most ambitious excavation projects currently in progress’, while Bruce Trigger (University of California, Santa Barbara) says the book ‘demonstrates how Çatalhöyük is radically transforming what all archaeologists think and do’ and Richard Klein (Stanford) says ‘if you're interested in how archaeologists reconstruct the social organization, economy and religion of prehistoric communities and why they often disagree, this is the book you want’. Even rock stars give the thumbs up: David Bowie is quoted as saying: ‘I liked it very much. I also approve of burying the dead under the floor. At least you'll remember where you put them.’


University of Edinburgh, Chair of Classical Archaeology
Salary negotiable, closing date 22 September 2006

The university is looking for a scholar of the highest international distinction with a proven track record in research and teaching in one or more areas of the archaeology of the Greek or Roman worlds, from the Greek Bronze Age to late Antiquity. The job description says that: ‘This is a newly established Chair, but for an appointee with an appropriate research specialism, it may be possible to assume the existing Abercromby Chair of Archaeology on the retiral [is that a Scottish word for retirement? Ed] of the present incumbent’. To do so would be to follow in a very distinguished line: Dennis Harding is the current (and third) occupant of the Abercromby Chair, his predecessors being Stuart Piggott (1946─77) and V Gordon Childe (1927─46). Further details from the University of Edinburgh website.

Creative & Cultural Skills, Industry Skills Director
Salary £46,350, closing date 29 September 2006

Creative & Cultural Skills (CCS) is the Sector Skills Council for advertising, craft, cultural heritage, design, music and the arts. CCS is looking for a creative and energetic person to lead its Cultural Heritage employer and industry engagement, ensuring the sector influences and participates in a range of key projects. Candidates need at least two years’ senior management experience and must be able to demonstrate a record of initiating and leading projects and partnerships. A thorough knowledge of the Cultural Heritage sector and an understanding of the UK’s education and skills agenda are also essential. To find out more and to apply, see the CCS website.

Gifford, Senior Archaeologist
Salary negotiable, closing date 30 September 2006

Requirements include at least five years’ experience of archaeological work, including general field excavations, desk-based research and report writing. An interest in historic buildings, particularly in an urban and/or industrial setting, would be advantageous. Contact for Phil Emery further information or see the Gifford website.

Atkins Heritage, Senior Heritage Consultant, South East, Job Ref DE1810
Atkins Heritage is seeking to continue the growth of its heritage team in London and the south of England through the recruitment of a Senior Heritage Consultant. As a senior Heritage Consultant you would be expected to lead and manage a wide range of projects including Conservation Plans, Heritage Lottery Fund bids, Conservation Area Appraisals, Environmental Impact Assessments and tourism/cultural studies; senior level experience of some or all of these would be an advantage. You should be capable of working under your own initative, have extensive experience of managing budgets and timetables, have worked on disciplinary projects, managed project teams and perhaps held line management responsibilities. A key element of the post would involve preparing tenders and developing business opportunities across a range of sectors and geographic areas.

For further information, see the Atkins website.

Atkins Heritage is always keen to recruit excellent heritage or culture specialists, from whatever background or discipline and in all parts of the UK. Contact Janet Miller, FSA, Head of Atkins Heritage, for further details.