Salon Archive

Issue: 157

Forthcoming meetings

From February the Society's Meeting Room will be closed for refurbishment. Ballots will continue to be held at the Society's apartments, but lectures will be held at the Geological Society, or in other venues to be advised.

1 February: Ballot

8 February: The archaeology of royal power: Westminster Hall and the King's Table, by Phil Emery and Chris Thomas, FSA (at the House of Lords in association with the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group). PLEASE NOTE that the date given for this meeting in the flyer recently posted to Fellows is incorrect: the correct date for the meeting is 8 February and not 9 February.

22 February: Ballot

1 March: Rocks, plants and antiquity: Sir Joseph Banks in Wales 1763─73, St David's Day lecture, by Dai Morgan Evans, FSA, a joint meeting with the Geological Society and the Linnean Society, followed by a reception at the Geological Society. Admission is by ticket only, available from Jayne Phenton at the Society of Antiquaries. The lecture begins at 6pm, rather than the usual 5pm start.

This will be the first of a series of events at Burlington House which will bring together all the institutions around the Courtyard and explore the commonality between them. This lecture uniquely encompasses the interests of the Society of Antiquaries, the Geological Society and the Linnean Society who, in 2007 celebrate their Tercentenary, Bicentenary and the 300th birthday of Linnaeus respectively. Sir Joseph Banks was a geologist, botanist and antiquarian and a seminal figure for all three of these Learned Societies.

Online ballot: 1 February 2007

The Blue Papers for the ballot to be held on 1 February 2007 are now online on the balloting page of the Society’s website. Contact Christopher Catling if you would like a password or have forgotten your existing password.

Fellows’ News

Fellow Mike McCarthy writes to say that Fellow, Dr John Higgitt, Reader and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Fine Art in the University of Edinburgh, died of cancer on 27 December 2006. Highly regarded for his work in medieval epigraphy, medieval illumination and Scottish medieval art and libraries, John’s book, The Murthly Hours: devotion, literacy and luxury in Paris, England and the Gaelic West, was published by the British Library and the University of Toronto Press in 2000 and concerns the prayer book called ‘The Murthly Hours’ which survived Reformation purges of popish books to be acquired by the National Library of Scotland in 1986.

Following a recent meeting in Oxford with Fellow Paul Arthur and Brunella Bruno, Fellow Richard Reece writes to say that ‘we discussed Brunella's current work excavating the streets of Muro Leccese in the Salento (in the heel of Italy). I expressed surprise and suggested that this was either a “first”, or one of very few examples of such work. There are of course occasions when single streets have been closed and partly excavated, and examples such as Trafalgar Street at Winchester where streets have been excavated before being removed completely. In Mdina, Malta, the authorities provided some money for archaeologists to dig the trenches in the streets so that the services could be put out of sight. But the work at Muro Leccese is not a matter of one street, or of excavating trenches for services, it is the actual excavation of all the streets of the town, going as close to standing buildings as is safe and possible. We failed to think of comparable examples and decided to refer the matter to the international readership of Salon in the hope of illumination.’

Fellow Mark Horton returned from the recent conference to mark the Quadricentenary of the foundation of Jamestowne reporting that Fellows made quite an impact: ‘Our General Secretary David Gaimster gently suggested that 1707 was as significant as 1607, as it marked the foundation of the Society, illustrating his paper with some splendid tracts about the Virginia Company from our library, including some of the earliest printed representations of Native Americans in English. But Fellow Bill Kelso really stole the show, proudly sporting his Society of Antiquaries tie when being awarded the Harrington Medal of the Society for Historical Archaeology for a lifetime of contributions to the discipline. Bill’s spectacular discoveries at Jamestowne are now fully displayed and the full story is told in the on-site museum called the Archaearium and summarised in his book, The Buried Truth

Less good news, writes Mark, ‘is the decision by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to sell Carter's Grove (albeit on terms that prohibit development), known more widely as Martins Hundred and one of the key sites for the history of early English settlement in North America, excavated over many years by our Fellow Ivor Noel Hume. This does seem to be a very extraordinary decision to take in 2007 of all years. The museums on the site have been closed, and the reconstructions flattened. They justify this by saying their mission is to “tell the story of citizenship and becoming America in the eighteenth century. This is best accomplished in the Historic Area, where we present and interpret Revolutionary War-era Williamsburg”. The Foundation's president, Colin Campbell, said in a statement: “Carter's Grove, with its multiple stories to tell, does not support this strategic focus”.’ More information on the sale can be found on the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s website.


Salon 156 contained a report on the work of our Fellow Colin Renfrew on the Aegean island of Keros, in the Cyclades. Professor Lord Renfrew says that the Associated Press article which served as the basis for the Salon report was garbled and attributed words to him that he did not speak. For example, he has not said that the broken Cycladic figurines found on the island are linked to ‘a fertility cult tied to the mother goddess of Neolithic times’; he has refrained from seeking to explain what the finds on Keros might mean, saying instead that ‘their significance is as yet unclear’.

A more accurate account of Professor Lord Renfrew’s work can be found in a report by our Fellow Norman Hammond published in The Times on 12 August 2006. In that report, Professor Renfrew says that numerous fragments of marble bowls and figurines could be picked up from the land surface when he visited the island as a student in 1963. Looters who scoured the island for figurines to sell to collectors in the 1960s and 1970s were so voracious that little remained for archaeologists to investigate fifteen years later. It is therefore difficult, going back to the island in recent years, to tell whether the pieces of figurine and bowl that have survived were broken in ancient times or by modern looters.

Last year’s excavations at the site of Daskalio Kavos succeeded in locating a rich and undisturbed deposit, however, and from studying the fractured surfaces, Colin has concluded that the bowls and figurines were broken elsewhere and brought, already in fragmentary form, to the site. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that very few of the pieces fit together, which they would if they had been broken in situ.

The lack of human remains associated with the figurines excludes the possibility that they came from a cemetery. Pottery found with the marble figures came from Naxos, Syros and Amorgos, and possibly from the Greek mainland. Professor Lord Renfrew believes that the marble figurines and bowls had equally diverse origins. The overall quantity of fine pottery and marble objects found at Daskalio Kavos ‘rivals the total from all the known Cycladic cemeteries’, he said, adding that the site can be described as ‘the first major ritual centre of Aegean prehistory’, antedating the Mycenaean shrine on the island of Milos, excavated by Professor Lord Renfrew some years ago, and other known sanctuary sites.

Speaking English before the Romans

Salon 156 asked whether linguistic scholars would take seriously the suggestion, made by Stephen Oppenheimer in his book called The Origins of the British, that English might have been spoken in Britain before the Roman occupation. Three Fellows ─ Andrew Breeze, David Howlett and Roger Tomlin ─ generously responded with their comments.

Andrew Breeze wrote to say that it is bad procedure to reject any idea which happens to be new or to reach a decision without looking carefully at the evidence, but that the view that there were large English-speaking communities in Roman Britain seems quite incredible ‘for the simple reason that we do not have a single Germanic place-name from the Britain of that date. The toponyms we have, as collected by Rivet and Smith, are overwhelmingly Celtic. Although linguists often differ fiercely amongst themselves (especially Celticists), I cannot believe that any specialist in Old English, the Celtic languages, or in the place-names of Britain, would accept Oppenheimer's views.’ Andrew adds that if linguistic evidence can be assembled to support Oppenheimer's case, it would be of the greatest possible professional interest to himself and fellow scholars.

David Howlettt also points out that the absence of Germanic place-name elements recorded from the Roman period, but questions how much we can infer from archaeology about the language anyone spoke at the time. ‘Why should we infer that people who wore artefacts associated with “Celts” by modern archaeologists and art historians spoke a Celtic language?’, he asks. ‘Should we infer from Levi rivets in a grave in Budapest that the wearer spoke English? Separate strands of argument need to be addressed ─ evidence for genetic affiliation from bones and teeth, evidence from artefacts both portable and immoveable, and evidence of language that should be disentangled from the propaganda of pseudo-historians (medieval writers, not our contemporaries).’

In support of the last point, David says that it is a literary trope for origin myths to claim that founding heroes (and their languages) come from abroad. ‘Consider the Irish foundation legend, according to which the very phenomenon that defines Irishness, the language, is said to have been invented in Athens by a Scythian Greek born in Egypt (as a response to the disaster at Babel). All the names of the heroes of the foundation, in apparent Irish, have easy etymologies in Hebrew and Greek (for which see, in the current issue of Peritia, the paper on ‘Hiberno-Latin, Hibero-Latin, and the Irish Foundation Legend’).’

Adding to what seems unanimity of view, Roger Tomlin says: ‘I don't know of evidence that “English” German was spoken in Roman Britain. Place-name evidence would surely be expected from the right area ─ but is there any? For German the only possible instance I can think of is the word “baro” = “man”. There is plenty of evidence of Germans in Roman Britain, but they come with the army, they don't necessarily come from “English” Germany, and they don't settle in eastern (largely “civilian”) Britain. The Vindolanda tablets contain lots of German personal names, presumably Batavians and Tungrians from the Rhine estuary and northern Belgium. A Tungrian personal name (“Neuto”) has been found at Housesteads, which was garrisoned by “Tungrians”; an oddity, though, since the Tungrians had been recruited in Tungria more than a century before. There are soldiers on Hadrian's Wall and in its hinterland who call themselves “Germans” and worship German gods. There are German who are explicitly “Suebi” (etc.) and, in the forth century, even “Alamanni”, but they are from quite the wrong area.’

Celtic origins, the Western and the Eastern Celts

Of some relevance then to the linguistic debate is the Sir John Rhys Memorial Lecture, to be given by Professor Wolfgang Meid, of Innsbruck University, at the British Academy on 6 March 2007. In the first part of the lecture the concept of Celticity (primarily a linguistic one) and its extension to non-linguistic uses (the source of various misconceptions) will be discussed. The second part will examine various Celtic movements and settlements. According to the lecture abstract, ‘The ancestors of the Celts as speakers of an Indo-European dialect came from the East, but established themselves in Western Europe. Later, from the 5th century BC onwards, Celtic groups migrated eastwards again, settling in Noricum and Pannonia, overlaying an autochthonous population of equally Indo-European linguistic origins. The linguistic evidence for the Eastern Celts, consisting mainly of personal and tribal names, is presented, and inferences are drawn as to the survival of Celtic speech, social structures and cultural habits into Roman times.’ For further information, see the British Academy website.

Heritage Protection White Paper to be published before Easter

Doubts about whether the long-awaited White Paper on heritage protection would ever be published were put to rest this week when Culture Minister David Lammy announced in a parliamentary debate on 25 January that: ‘I undertake to publish the White Paper before the Easter recess’. The Minister was responding to a question from John Whittingdale, the Shadow Culture Secretary, who asked ‘where the White Paper is and when we can expect it to be published’, pointing out that it had originally been promised for 2005.

As announced in the last issue of Salon, the Society intends to host a seminar on the White Paper and has provisionally set the date for 16 March. The next issue of Salon will contain confirmation of the date along with full details of the seminar.

Heritage debate in Westminster Hall

John Whittingdale made several more telling points during the same debate, held in Westminster Hall. The purpose of the debate was to discuss the Third Report, published in July 2006, of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, on the subject of ‘protecting and preserving our heritage’, a report to which many Fellows, and the Society itself, contributed written and oral evidence.

Hansard’s transcript of the debate can be read on the internet. The debate was wide ranging, but two themes kept recurring: funding for English Heritage and the future of Stonehenge.

On the subject of EH, John Whittingdale, Chairman of the CMS Select Committee, pointed out that the agency’s funding had failed to keep pace with inflation, in stark contrast to the 36 per cent uplift enjoyed by museums, galleries and libraries, 53 per cent by the Arts Council and 98 per cent up for Sport England. He pointed out that many functions that English Heritage is required to undertake have suffered as a result and he called on the Minister to use his powers of persuasion with the Treasury to seek a restoration of the finances of English Heritage in the current Public Spending Review to a level where it could operate effectively across the whole range of its responsibilities. He hoped that English Heritage might be able to look forward to a period of some stability once the ‘gaping hole … the matter of who will be the next chairman of English Heritage’ was filled. Paul Holmes, Lib Dem Shadow Culture Secretary, noted with regret that the post had been reduced to one day a week.

On Stonehenge, a succession of MPs stood up to deplore what John Whittingdale described as ‘a shameful episode for our country’, our failure to give this major monument of world importance the attention that it deserves.

Because the debate was suspended several times for votes in the House of Commons, the Culture Minister David Lammy did not have very long to respond to these points in closing the debate. He tried to fudge the issue of funding for English Heritage by lumping it in with the British Library and national museums and claiming a substantial increase in funding for all three. Our Fellow Patrick Cormack, MP for South Staffordshire, would have none of this and interrupted the Minister to point out that, in the unambiguous words of our Fellow Sir Neil Cossons: ‘English Heritage’s grant in aid from Government increased by only 3 per cent between 2000 and 2006. Inflation during this period was 8.5 per cent … Over the same period, the Government’s grant to Sport England has increased by 98 per cent.’

This earned from the Minister an extraordinary example of doublespeak: he claimed that efficiency savings of £28 million should be taken into account in calculating EH’s funding. In other words, we must now see job losses, cuts in grants, cuts in commissions and the withdrawal of EH from essential heritage services as meaning that EH has enjoyed a funding increase.

If we must agree to differ with the Minister on the mathematics and philosophy of ‘efficiency savings’, then perhaps there is common ground on Stonehenge. It certainly seems that that might be the case, because the Minister began by saying: ‘I put it on record that I agree that, notwithstanding the important issues of affordability, it is a national disgrace that successive Governments have been unable to sort out that problem.’ But whether or not the Government intends to do something, and do something soon, was never revealed, as the debate ended at that point, having raised important and substantial issues (on VAT, on historic places of worship, on local authority service provision), and demonstrated that many MPs of all parties care deeply about the heritage, but sadly without eliciting a single concrete new measure or funding pledge from the Minster.

Valuing our Heritage

Two weeks prior to the Westminster Hall debate, Heritage Link published a timely manifesto for the heritage sector, entitled ‘Valuing our Heritage’. If a small personal observation might be allowed at this stage, Salon’s editor, when founding Heritage Link five years ago, argued for a manifesto to be written and published as one of the first priorities for the new charity, but was told by trustees that: ‘you will never get the sector to agree on what it should say’. It is therefore a mark of just how far the sector ─ still characterised as ‘fissile’ by ministers ─ has come in the intervening period that it can now make a coherent statement about the benefits to society of a better-funded heritage sector.

Not that the manifesto is without its shortcomings: from an archaeological perspective, it seems biased towards the built environment, and the manifesto would have benefited from the inclusion of many of the key messages encapsulated in ‘Archaeology enriches us all’, the advocacy document published by TAF (The Archaeology Forum) in July 2005 (for which see the TAF website, but it is a foundation on which better structures can be built in years to come.

Newspaper coverage of the manifesto picked up on the sheer scale of the challenge facing the sector. The Independent’s headline said ‘Crumbling heritage sites have £1bn of outstanding repairs’, and quoted Anthea Case, Chairman of Heritage Link, as saying: ‘More than 17,000 buildings are at risk in England alone despite the money already committed to maintenance by private owners and public support. But the Heritage Lottery Fund awards are down 15 per cent in real terms during the past two years and English Heritage has seen its spending fall by £19.6m in real terms in the past five years.’

Perhaps more telling than the raw figure was the evidence that spending per head on heritage in England is less than in many other European countries, including Germany, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.

The report identifies several ways in which the Government can assist: implementing the Heritage Protection Review with adequate funding for English Heritage (which requires £5m per year to lead and support the new system) and for local delivery; supporting the restoration and preventative maintenance of listed places of worship (£9m per annum); restoring English Heritage's grant in aid to 1997 levels (£3m per annum); introducing fiscal incentives (in other words, tax allowances) for maintenance of listed buildings (£10m per annum); increasing the resources of the National Heritage Memorial Fund as a fund of last resort for heritage at risk (£10m per annum); and supporting heritage educational initiatives.

Copies of Valuing our Heritage can be downloaded from the English Heritage website.

British Library faces painful cuts

English Heritage is not alone in facing real cuts to its income: according to a report in the Independent on 28 January, the British Library has been asked to find savings of up to 7 per cent of its £100m budget in this year’s Treasury spending round. Cuts of this scale could lead to a one-third reduction in opening hours and admission charges for researchers using the reading rooms. Public exhibitions would close, along with schools learning programmes. The permanent collection would be permanently reduced by 15 per cent and the national newspaper archive would close.

Scholars, writers and politicians have responded angrily to the news: author Margaret Drabble said: ‘It would be a very great mistake and tragic to make cuts. It is a great national institution and it is used by scholars from all over the world.’ The broadcaster Lord Bragg said the library was of ‘massive importance in a society … that depends more and more on information, creativity and brains. It needs to be nourished, not hobbled’. Lord Avebury has written to Gordon Brown, saying: ‘It is difficult to fathom the mind of a Government that sets out to wreck a world-class public institution, as you would if the British Library is forced to make these cuts.’

Since 2001, the Library has already made savings of £40m and reduced its workforce by 15 per cent. A spokesman for the Department for Culture told the Independent: ‘The cultural sector has had huge real-term increases in funding since 1997. Clearly, this cannot go on indefinitely.’

Closure threat to William Morris Gallery

More bad news was reported in the Observer on 28 January: apparently Waltham Forest Borough Council, in east London, has cut back the opening hours of the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow to save money, and the museum, dedicated to the life and work of William Morris who was born in Walthamstow in 1834, is being threatened with closure. Significantly, the page on the museum’s website giving visitor details and opening times is currently unavailable. Former Culture Secretary Chris Smith is one of several high-profile campaigners fighting to save the museum.

Tarmac wins permission for Thornborough Henge quarries

The Harrogate News reports that North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee has approved ‘downsized’ plans by Tarmac to extend its quarrying operations near to the Thornborough Henges, north of Ripon. The company may extend its extraction of sand and gravel on a site east of the existing Nosterfield Quarry at Ladybridge Farm, on condition that the company gives legal undertakings to protect the archaeology of the area.

The revised plan sees the extraction area reduced from 45.7 hectares to 30.9, the ‘mineral yield’ decreased from 2.2m tonnes to 1.1m tonnes and the area identified by English Heritage as being of archaeological interest omitted from the application. English Heritage raised no objections to the revised proposals, although campaign groups, including the Friends of Thornborough, remained opposed to any further quarrying activity in the area.

A Tarmac spokesman said: ‘The Ladybridge site sees quarrying move further away from the henges than our current operation and there is no planning application for Thornborough Moor.’

Who are the real ‘Heroes of Heritage’?

It was good to see the Council for British Archaeology respond with firmness to the speech made by Culture Minister David Lammy at the launch of the 2004 Treasure Report on 17 January, when he called metal detectorists ‘the unsung heroes of the UK's heritage’.

Reporting the remark in the Guardian the next day, our Fellow Maev Kennedy predicted that ‘the phrase will cause a sharp intake of breath among some archaeologists who still regard [detectorists] as little better than legalised looters’.

In the past the CBA has adopted a conciliatory approach to metal detecting, preferring to praise responsible detectorists rather than point an accusing finger at bad practice, but on this occasion our Fellow Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA, took issue with the Minister and said ‘there are too many examples of damage to archaeological sites and looting of private and public land by detectorists, and much of this material ends up on internet auction sites for personal profit without any accompanying information on archaeological context’.

Mike also said that the Minister ignored the high-quality research carried out by community archaeology groups, ‘the real unsung heroes of our sector’, adding that one reason for the encouraging increase in the number of finds reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme last year was the amount of material reported by community archaeology groups involved in field-walking projects ─ for example, the missing piece of the Sedgeford Torc, found and reported by Dr Stephen Hammond, of the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project, in Norfolk.

Mike’s comments were echoed by our Fellow Peter Fowler, speaking at the Society’s meeting on 18 January, after a lecture on the archaeology of the Severn estuary given by our Fellow Martin Bell. Having seen the conditions under which inter-tidal archaeologists work ─ in cold, wet, windy and very muddy conditions, exhausted by the effort even of reaching the sites and working against the clock in order to record Mesolithic sites threatened by scouring ─ Peter rightly pointed out that Martin’s team of helpers were the genuine heritage heroes.

The CBA is at pains to stress that criticism of the Culture Minister’s remark is not intended to detract from the valuable work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and its network of Finds Liaison Officers. Full details of the latest report can be found on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website.

Early Day Motion on the Sevso Treasure

Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham and Treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, has put down an Early Day Motion (No 517) drawing attention to the disputed ownership of the late Roman Empire silver collection known as the Sevso Treasure. The EDM reads as follows:

‘This House views with concern the re-entry of the Sevso silver into the commercial domain; notes recent resolutions to this effect passed by the All-Party Group for Archaeology; in view of the outstanding importance of the silver and the desirability of it being available for research and public exhibition calls on the Trustee of the Marquess of Northampton 1987 Settlement and the government of the Republic of Hungary to refer all available evidence on the origin, provenance and recent movement of the silver to an independent expert evaluation charged with identifying on the balance of probabilities the country of origin of the silver and making recommendations; and further calls on the Trustee of the Marquess of Northampton 1987 Settlement, the government of the Republic of Hungary and the United Kingdom authorities to put a stop to any disposal of the silver (other than one occurring by consent of all parties) until the evaluation has occurred.’

Fellows are asked to encourage their MPs to add their names to the list of supporters. You can see who has already done so on the parliamentary website.

Government says ‘no’ to UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

Supporters of the Burlington House Declaration, calling on the UK Government to re-evaluate its position regarding the 2001 Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, are also unhappy with the Culture Minister, who has responded by saying that ‘the Government’s position remains unchanged since the decision not to ratify the Convention was taken in 2001’. The letter lists specific difficulties, including the Government’s belief that it is ‘neither desirable nor practical’ to protect all underwater heritage and that ‘the obligation to prevent the commercial exploitation of underwater cultural heritage may be difficult to apply in practice’. The letter does, however, say that the Government supports most of the Convention’s articles, and that ‘we are already encouraging all activities on underwater cultural heritage to conform as closely as possible to the guidelines’.

Responding to the letter, our Fellow Robert Yorke, convenor of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee, voiced disappointment at the Government’s failure to consider the points and recommendations made by international marine heritage experts at the Burlington House seminar held in 2005 (see the Society’s website home page), when representatives of over a hundred heritage organisations lent their support to the Convention. A working group is to be convened to draw up a response and maintain the pressure.

The future of the Mary Rose

Having had its Heritage Lottery Fund bid turned down in June 2006, The Mary Rose Trust is enlisting a panel of experts from the worlds of history, museums and maritime archaeology to advise it in an a second attempt to gain Heritage Lottery Funding for a new museum to house the hull of the ship and the related collection of Tudor artefacts. The museum is planned to open in 2011, the 500th anniversary of the Mary Rose’s maiden voyage.

Our Fellow David Starkey is an enthusiastic supporter of the bid, which will be resubmitted to the HLF during the summer of 2007. ‘The Mary Rose collection reveals an incomparable collection of stories, starting with Henry VIII and going all the way down to the carpenter’, he said during a seminar hosted by the Trust last week. ‘The Mary Rose reveals to us more about Henry VIII than almost any state paper I can think of. It shows us where he is spending his money. It shows us where his interests are. Seeing the Mary Rose collection is like stepping inside a Holbein painting.’

Other experts at the seminar included our Fellows Dr Ian Friel, maritime historian and museum curator, Dr Edward Impey, Director of Research and Standards at English Heritage, Dr Colin White, Director of the Royal Naval Museum, maritime archaeologist Professor Seán McGrail and naval historian Professor Nicholas Rodger, as well as Martyn Heighton, Director of National Historic Ships, and Dr Robert Prescott, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships.

Rear Admiral John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: ‘The new bid has started with a fresh look at the basic importance of the ship and its collections, from a historical perspective and also from its value to the community. The seminar has hugely reinforced the fact that we hold one of the most important collections of sixteenth-century objects anywhere in the world.’

Wreck of the Rooswijk designated

A wreck, believed to be that of the Dutch East India Company vessel Rooswijk, discovered in 2004 by divers in the Kellet Gut area of the Goodwin Sands, off the Kent coast, has been designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 at the recommendation of English Heritage. The Rooswijk was an armed merchant vessel which vanished in a storm in December 1739, one day out from Texel, a Dutch Coast Island, on her second voyage to the East Indies. None of the 250 people aboard survived and there were no witnesses to her fate. The Order laid in Parliament will protect the remains and the 150m area around them from accidental damage or unauthorised interference.

London’s Temple of Mithras to be listed

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced that the Temple of Mithras, in Queen Victoria Street in the City of London, is to be listed at Grade II. Discovered in 1954, the third-century Mithraeum was one of the most important archaeological finds of the immediate post-war era, with crowds queuing for hours to see the excavated site. The temple remains were moved in the 1960s to their current location at Bucklersbury House. Listing will ensure that the significance of the structure is respected in future plans. A proposal to reconstruct the temple in its original site on Walbrook will now be given due consideration.

Antonine Wall officially nominated for World Heritage Site status

The Antonine Wall is the UK’s official nomination for World Heritage Site status in the next round of UNESCO designations, which take place every summer. The proposed site is being nominated as an extension to the trans-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, which already includes Hadrian’s Wall and the Upper German Raetian Limes. It is intended that this trans-national designation will eventually encompass the remains of Roman frontiers in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Antonine Wall was built in the second century, and marks the extreme north-western boundary of the Roman Empire. The proposed site extends for a distance of 60km from the eastern end of the Antonine Wall at the modern town of Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. The proposed site includes the rampart, ditch and outer mound, the Military Way where its location is recorded, together with the forts, fortlets, expansions and small enclosures and civil settlements where known and the temporary camps along the Wall used by the soldiers building the frontier.

Fellows wishing to know more about the Antonine Wall can consult the book of the same name written by our Fellow David Breeze, which explains why the wall was built, how it functioned, and why it declined, set within the context of the wider Roman Empire, its aims and policies.

Newcastle's Byker Estate is listed Grade II*

The Byker housing estate in Newcastle has been given a Grade II* listing, in recognition of its historic and architectural importance. Regarded as the finest work of the renowned Swedish architect Ralph Erskine, the 1970s estate has been influential on housing projects up to and including the Greenwich Millennium Village. The estate is regarded as a significant social achievement because of the carefully phased process of development that attempted to preserve the social infrastructure of the whole community.

Carol Pyrah, Planning and Development Regional Director for English Heritage, responded to the news by saying: ‘The estate’s groundbreaking design has been influential across Europe and has proved a pioneering model for its approach to public participation. Residents of the Estate and Newcastle City Council have long recognised the architectural value of Byker. Now, with the help of funding from English Heritage, an excellent conservation management plan has been devised and the City Council is to be congratulated for its careful stewardship of this architecturally significant and socially innovative estate.’

Financial Support for the Survey of London from the Paul Mellon Centre

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, an educational charity established to promote and support the study of the history of British art and architecture, has agreed to provide English Heritage with financial support for the publication of the Survey of London for an initial term of five years. Andrew Saint, General Editor of the Survey of London, said: ‘The Paul Mellon Centre has long lent invaluable support to the publication of serious studies on British art and architecture, and this new arrangement confirms its generous and crucial role. Their support will contribute to the publishing costs of the Survey and help English Heritage raise its reputation for architectural research and publication.’

The next volumes of the Survey will be on Clerkenwell, an architecturally diverse area covering a large part of the London Borough of Islington. They will be published by Yale University Press.

Normandy grave hints at 300-year defiance of the Roman Empire

Reporting from Evreux, in Normandy, about 50 miles west of Paris, the Independent’s John Lichfield says that a mass grave has been discovered by French state archaeologists, dating from the third century, in which the bones of some forty people (many of them children or women or old men) have been deliberately mixed with the remains of one-hundred horses. In one instance, a human skull is clasped between two horse's skulls, like the two halves of a giant shell. Three centuries earlier, the report says, graves containing both horses and people were common. No such grave has ever been found from the Roman period, suggesting that one small part of ancient Gaul refused, Asterix-like, to surrender to Roman cultural domination for 300 years.

Sylvie Pluton, director of the excavation for the Institut national de recherches archéologique préventives (Inrap) and an expert on the Gallo-Roman period, says: ‘With the Romans, you usually know what to expect. They were very organised. Their graves were very orderly. Not here. The bodies point in all directions … Above all, there is extraordinary mingling of humans and horses. We could be looking at a cultural survival, previously unknown, such as a worship of Epona [goddess of horses and warriors].’

Professor Christian Goudineau of the Collège de France, considered the foremost expert on the period, expressed different views: ‘Personally, I am reluctant to believe in some kind of cultural survival, such as a cult of the goddess Epona. Why would it survive for so long? And here, on the edge of what we know was a large Roman town? Perhaps these were slaves and horses which died in an epidemic and were just thrown here in a hurry and became mixed up.’ Even so, Professor Goudineau acknowledges that some of the remains seem to have been carefully arranged. Further digging on the site in the next two months, before it is covered by a new bungalow, may help to throw further light on the mystery.

Rare surname leads to African genetic roots

A paper published on 24 January in the European Journal of Human Genetics reveals that a small group of white ‘Caucasian’ men living in the Midlands and north of England have a have a rare chromosome (hgA1), only found previously in West Africans. They also share an unusual surname, which the authors of the report (Professor Mark Jobling at the University of Leicester and his PhD student, Turi King) have not revealed, as they have undertaken to protect the privacy of the men who took part in their study.

Ms King’s survey of 421 men (funded by the Wellcome Trust) looked at their Y chromosomes (the type that is only carried by men) to see if there was any correlation between chromosome types and surname (also typically passed from father to son). The discovery of significant African genetic ancestry in twenty-one men all sharing the same rare surname was an unexpected result as previous studies of British genetic diversity have found no apparent African trace.

Conventional genealogical research was used to link the men to two family trees, both dating back to the 1780s in Yorkshire, but Professor Jobling said that the originator of the African chromosome was not necessarily a first-generation eighteenth-century immigrant. It could go back as far as the Roman occupation. ‘This study shows that what it means to be British is complicated and always has been’, said Professor Jobling. ‘Human migration history is clearly very complex, particularly for an island nation such as ours, and this study further debunks the idea that there are simple and distinct populations or “races”.’

‘Chasing Freedom’ exhibition focuses on Royal Navy’s role in fighting slavery

The key role played by the Royal Navy’s West Africa Squadron in helping to combat slavery is highlighted in a new exhibition at the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, whose Director is our Fellow Dr Colin White. Called ‘Chasing Freedom: the Royal Navy and the suppression of the Atlantic slave trade 1807─2007’, the exhibition opens on 3 February and is part of a national programme of events being held to mark the passing of the parliamentary bill, on 25 March 1807, abolishing the transatlantic slave trade.

Passing the bill did not bring an instant end to slavery: that took years of relentless effort by the Royal Navy whose anti-slavery operations succeeded in liberating some 150,000 people by 1865. Many sailors gave their lives to end the suffering of the slaves, many of them dying from dysentery, yellow fever and malaria. The exhibition illustrates the human stories behind the slave trade and its suppression through accounts written by men serving in the Africa Squadron, such as diaries kept by Midshipman C H Binstead who served on HMD Owen Glendower, the flagship of the squadron, in 1823─4. The displays will also highlight the continuing role of the modern Royal Navy in combating people trafficking and piracy and defending human rights.

For further information visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard website.

John Carr 1723─1807

Fellow Richard Knowles writes with news of an exhibition planned for later this year in the fine John Carr church at Horbury, West Yorkshire. ‘2007 marks the bi-centenary of the death of one of Horbury's most famous sons. This is John Carr, architect, who of course built for the town the fine Georgian church which remains amongst our greatest treasures. John Carr was born in Horbury on 23 April 1723 into a family with a tradition in stonemasonry and architecture. Carr rose to become a leading architect with many famous commissions to his name. Amongst perhaps his most well known are Harewood House and village, Heath Hall, Castlegate House, York, The Crescent at Buxton and of course the church in his home town. The church at Horbury replaced a medieval building, demolished in 1790, the new church being opened to general acclaim in 1794 when the Leeds Intelligencer described it as “the handsomest building of its size in the country”.

‘John Carr died on 22 February 1807 at Askham Hall and was buried in a vault beneath his Horbury church, where he is commemorated by a wall monument on the south side of the church and on the pediment on the outside of the building. Further information on Carr, his life and work can be found in the book by Brian Wragg, The Life and Works of John Carr of York, published in 2000. Ivan Hall is currently working on a major work on Carr which it is hoped will be published shortly.

‘To mark this bi-centenary the Horbury Heritage Trust, Horbury Historical Society, Horbury Town Centre Partnership and representatives from St Peter's church, are to hold a series of events over the week of 7 May 2007, culminating in the weekend of 12 and 13 May. This will include a photographic exhibition of the work of Carr, arranged by Carr authority Dr Ivan Hall, FSA, together with artefacts from the period. A concert of period music is to be held in the church, together with a flower display and a series of talks.’

Petition attempts to secure a review of England’s licensing laws

Salon readers might remember the concern expressed two years ago by the Musicians Union at the effects of new licensing laws on live music performances. Our Fellow Lord Redesdale secured an amendment exempting Morris dance performances from such laws, and other MPs and peers managed to secure exemptions for church-based music, but most other forms of live musical performance (including school-based performances and charity fundraising events) do require a licence to be obtained and paid for, no matter how small in scale; more onerous still, local authorities can and do impose costly health and safety conditions in return for a licence.

If you feel strongly about this issue (and recent correspondence from Fellows on the subject of history and heritage suggests that a number of Fellows do take part in live acoustic music performances), you might like to sign an e-petition on the Downing Street website, calling on the Government to make music-friendly amendments to the licensing laws and return to the position where people are free to make music again without bureaucratic interference.

The European Archaeological Heritage Prize 2007: call for nominations

The European Association of Archaeologists instituted the European Archaeological Heritage Prize in 1999. An independent committee awards the prize annually to an individual, institution or (local or regional) government for an outstanding contribution to the protection and presentation of the European archaeological heritage. The closing date for receipt of proposals is 1 May 2007 and the prize will be awarded during the Annual Meeting of the EAA in Zadar, Croatia, in September.

Nominations may be made by any members of the Association, professors and heads of departments of archaeology in European universities and institutes, directors of governmental heritage management organisations and agencies in European countries and non-governmental archaeological, heritage and professional organisations in European countries.

Nominations, with full citations, should be sent to the EAA Secretariat, c/o Institute of Archaeology CAS, Letenská 4, 118 01 Praha 1, Czech Republic, or by email.

2007 IFA conference

'The 2007 IFA Annual Conference for Archaeologists is being held at the University of Reading from 2 to 4 April. As usual the conference will have a range of informative and topical sessions as well as a number of exhibition stands and bookshops, a conference dinner, excursions and 25th anniversary party. Further details and a copy of the provisional programme can be found on the IFA website. Hardcopies of the programme can also be requested from the IFA office.

The Inclusive, Accessible, Archaeology Project will be organising a session during the conference. This project, now in its final phase, aims to raise the awareness of disability in archaeology and to improve the integration of disability in fieldwork teaching. A self-evaluation tool kit, for use by all students participating in archaeological fieldwork training, and good practice guidelines for including disabled students in fieldwork training will be made available in the next few months and the guidelines will be published as one of the Archaeology Subject Centre’s series of ‘Guides for Teaching and Learning in Archaeology’.

The lessons to be learnt from sixty years of post-war conservation

The Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings is hosting its annual conference on 15 February at The Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1, when the Chairman, our Fellow Professor Malcolm Airs, will chair a series of presentations on post-war conservation practice given by Fellows Donald Insall (Director, Donald Insall Associates), Neil Burton (Director, Architectural History Practice Ltd) and Matthew Saunders (Secretary of the Ancient Monuments Society), along with John Ashurst (historic buildings consultant to Ingram Consultancy Ltd), Bill Martin (Conservation Director at English Heritage) and Martin Cherry (former head of listing at English Heritage and co-editor of Vernacular Architecture). Fee: £65; to book, contact John Adams.

An evening of archaeology, art and enlightenment

This is the promising title of a reception and dinner to mark the opening of the new Crawford Building at the University of Southampton on 13 February, featuring a ‘conversation’ with our Fellow Dr Jonathan Adams, Director of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the university, on the theme of ‘Archaeology: technologies in the past, present and future’.

The Crawford Building, home of the university’s School of Humanities, is named after O G S Crawford, whose work with the Ordnance Survey between the wars based in Southampton led to the development of aerial photography as a key archaeological research tool, and to the publication of his pioneering work, Wessex from the Air.

Further information from Kim Newton-Woof.

Books by Fellows

Fellows will recall that in November 2005 the Society’s ‘out-of-London’ meeting was held in Leicester to mark the 150th anniversary of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society (LAHS). Now the LAHS has published a history of the society from 1855 to 2005 written by Robert Rutland, with a foreword by Fellow Professor Christopher Dyer. Copies can be obtained from our Fellow, Dr Alan McWhirr, 37 Dovedale Road, Leicester, LE2 2DN, at £18, including postage and packing (cheques should be made out to the LAHS). It runs to 238 pages and contains 77 illustrations.

Fellow Hilary Cool tells me that the somewhat prosaic title of her new book, Eating and Drinking in Roman Britain , was chosen by her publisher, Cambridge University Press. She wanted to call it ‘Send More Beer’ (after the Vindolanda writing tablet). As well as telling you all you ever wanted to know about the eating and drinking habits of the inhabitants of Britain during the Roman period, Hilary says she set out to write ‘a sort of hitch-hiker's guide for people who would like to know what you are supposed to do with reams of specialist reports you get in excavation reports, but who tend to lose the will to live when they start reading them’. The book examines the different types of evidence (such as pottery, metalwork, animal bone and seeds), assesses the strengths and weaknesses of this material and how best to use it. The results show how varied eating habits were in different regions and among different communities, and challenge the idea that there was any one single way of being Roman or native. All this and more for the bargain price of £19.99.

Fellow Ofer Bar-Yosef has edited nineteen papers that together represent the latest thinking on the Aurignacian culture of the Upper Palaeolithic, located in Europe and south-west Asia and dating from 34,000 and 23,000 BP, named after the type site of Aurignac in the Haute Garonne area of France. Towards a Definition of the Aurignacian is based on the 2002 symposium held in Lisbon to clarify what defines an Aurignacian assemblage in a European context. Contributors approach the subject from a range of angles, with discussions on chronology, technological variability, refitting, classification, geographical dispersion, characterisation of lithic industries, technical changes and transitional processes, re-examinations of the criteria for recognising the Aurignacian and of old assemblages, as well as detailed studies of specific assemblages and of their broader context.

Building Memories: the Neolithic Cotswold Long Barrow at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, edited by Don Benson and Fellow Alasdair Whittle, is the long-awaited account of Don Benson’s excavations of the Ascott-under-Wychwood long barrow (1965─9), one of only three Cotswold long barrows (with Burn Ground and Hazleton North) to have been fully excavated. Built in the early fourth millennium, Ascott-under-Wychwood is one of the earliest long barrows in the region, and was probably in use for only three to five generations. Associated occupation features include small pits, hearths and two small timber post structures, and there were finds of pottery, flint, axe fragments, stone querns and animal bone. People used cattle, sheep and pigs, and there is a range of wild species, especially in the midden. The authors report the finds, but also address wider questions of how the early Neolithic inhabitants viewed their society through the barrow, and how the development of the site reflected memory and interaction with a changing world.

From our Fellow David Cannadine comes a biography of Andrew Mellon, the Pittsburgh business man who founded the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and whose son, the Anglophile Paul Mellon, established the Yale Center for British Art at Yale University and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the London-based affiliate of the New Haven centre. In Mellon: an American life (Allen Lane, £30), Cannadine suggests that Mellon’s passion for art was born of frustration with flesh-and-blood relationships ─ the man who, as US Secretary of the Treasury from 1921, reduced the national debt, cut taxes and halved government spending, presiding over the Roaring Twenties, made a catastrophic marriage, in 1900, to the 19-year-old English beauty Nora McMullen, which ended in a lengthy, melodramatic divorce and squabbling over their children, Ailsa and Paul. Mellon’s comment that ‘I am surrounded by nice people here’, made as he showed a visitor around his portrait-lined Washington apartment, perhaps says it all.


English Heritage Professional Placements in Conservation (Eppic)
£13,854 per annum, rising to £14,270 from 6 April 2007; closing date 9 February 2007

Six one-year work placements are available through the English Heritage Eppic scheme in archaeological investigation (x 2), aerial survey and investigation, architectural investigation (x 2) and architectural graphics. Applicants should ideally have a relevant degree with six to eighteen months’ postgraduate work experience in UK historic environment practice. For further details and to download an application pack, please visit the IFA website or the website of the IHBC.

AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme, Director
Part-time (50 per cent) position for five years; closing date 23 February 2007

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on Science and Heritage recommended the development of a national strategy for heritage science. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are now seeking to make a senior appointment to the position of Programme Director, to provide the intellectual leadership and academic coherence needed for the further development of that strategy. Further details can be found on the AHRC website.

British Library, Curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts
Salary £32,176 to £36,449; closing date 1 February 2007

To manage the development of and access to the Library’s collections of manuscripts in European languages up to 1603, with particular reference to the Library’s illuminated and liturgical manuscript holdings. Further details can be found on the British Library website, ref: KB144.