Salon Archive

Issue: 160

Forthcoming meetings

15 March: Ballot with exhibits: Ann Payne will talk about Thomas Rowlandson’s ‘Death and the Antiquaries’ and Liz Lewis will discuss The Walls of Richborough.

23 March: Private view for Fellows of the Society's special exhibition at the British Antiques Dealers Association Fair, Duke of York Square, London SW1. Tickets costing £17 (includes wine and canapés) are available from the Society.

19 April: Meeting at Canterbury Christ Church University, North Holmes Road, Canterbury, hosted by the Kent Archaeological Society on the occasion of its 150th anniversary. Mark Houliston and Alison Hicks, of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, will give a lecture entitled The Big Dig on recent excavations within Canterbury’s city walls. The lecture starts at 5pm (with tea beforehand from 4.15pm) and is followed by a wine reception at 6.15pm. Tickets for the reception, costing £7, are available from the Society.

25 April: Anniversary Meeting and Presidential Address, followed by a reception at the Geological Society, Burlington House. Reception tickets cost £15 (includes wine and canapés) and can be obtained from the Society.

News of Fellows

Congratulations to our General Secretary David Gaimster and his wife Amy on the birth of their daughter, Cecily Maud Gaimster, born at home on 10 March 2007. David will now be on paternity leave for the next two weeks.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund have appointed our Fellow Robert (Bob) Bewley as its new Director of Operations in succession to our Fellow Stephen Johnson, who is retiring from the post. Bob will join the NHMF/HLF at the end of May 2007 from English Heritage (EH) where he is currently Regional Director for the South West. He was initially employed at EH as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments, then by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in the Air Photography Unit (now part of EH) before becoming Head of Survey between 2003 and 2004.

Anyone who is in the Cirencester area on 21 March 2007 might like to hear Bob Bewley give the 2007 Cotswold Archaeology Annual Lecture on A Future for our Past ─ recent advances and approaches to understanding archaeology, at the Bingham Hall, King Street, Cirencester, starting at 7.30pm.


The puzzle of the Posy ring motto posed in the last issue of Salon remains unsolved. According to our Fellow Judy Rudoe at the British Museum, posy mottoes often had a private meaning known only to the donor and recipient, so we may never know what the motto means; but then, as our Fellow Maev Kennedy points out, the meaning might well not be one that could be published in a family newspaper.

The last issue of Salon revealed that Morris dancing was one of the UK’s first exports to America. Folk-loving Fellows have contacted Salon to say that the compliment has now been returned: US folk legend Tom Paxton performed at the House of Commons on 22 January to inaugurate the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Folk Arts. Despite honouring an American musician, the main purpose of the new All-Party Group is to support the development of Britain’s cultural heritage of music, dance and song.

Talking of All-Party groups, Salon is guilty of misleading readers in its account of the last meeting of the APPAG Advisory Group. Salon reported that MPs and peers had agreed that a campaign should be launched to highlight the contrast in treatment between the heritage and other Government-funded sectors. The Advisory Group’s Secretary has asked Salon to point out that what was actually minuted was ‘that APPAG should monitor the situation, whilst continuing to support the need for English Heritage to receive additional resources in the 2008─11 Comprehensive Spending Review to allow them to restore the full grant fund in the following years’.


It is with sadness that we note the deaths of Sir John Smith, Kenneth Steer, Alfred Truckell and Brian North Lee, all of whom were Fellows. In addition, we have a note from our Fellow Matthew Spriggs on the death of Aubrey Parke who, though not a Fellow had a remarkable archaeological career, beginning at Maiden Castle where he was one of Mortimer Wheeler’s trusted diggers at the tender age of twelve.

Sir John Lindsay Eric Smith, who died on 28 February 2007 at the age of 83, was best known as the founder of the Landmark Trust but, as his obituaries all pointed out, this was intricately linked to Smith’s earlier charity, the Manifold Trust, the two charities representing the twin poles of his character, the hard-headed businessman and the committed conservationist. That dichotomy was evident too in his early ambition to train as an architect, which was set aside when he decided to join the family bank, which by then had merged with Coutts & Co, where he became a director, while also serving on the boards of several other financial and industrial concerns.

It was while he was serving as deputy governor to Royal Exchange Assurance that Smith conceived the idea for the Manifold Trust. He noticed that one of the insurance company’s principal sources of income came from buying leasehold properties with less than thirty years left before the lease expired. Mortgage lenders and other investors were reluctant to buy such properties, so the leases were cheap; splendid buildings could be bought and let for high rentals to diplomats and companies, and new leases could be negotiated that added considerable value to the property.

Whereas some people might have developed this idea for personal gain, John Smith set up the Manifold Trust and used what he described as a ‘cataract of gold’ to fund the Landmark and many other charitable causes, including churches, church bells, museums, ships, canals, sea cadets and libraries. Writing in the Guardian, our Fellow Martin Drury said that Smith ‘liked to help local enterprises where small sums go a long way. A well-phrased application which caught his imagination would be rewarded with a cheque and a courteous and encouraging letter, often in his own hand. He delighted in projects which appealed to his sense of history and his interest in its byways. When Captain Oates’s polar medal came up for sale, he bought it and presented it to his regiment. And when he learned that Westminster school had discontinued its annual Greek play because the canvas backdrop ─ painted in the 1850s with a panoramic view of Athens ─ had rotted, he volunteered to pay for its repair.’

Smith was a pioneer of canal restoration, and even persuaded the National Trust to take on and repair the Stratford-upon-Avon canal. He promoted Enterprise Neptune, the National Trust’s campaign for the protection of Britain’s coastline, and as part of that campaign, joined forces with Sir Jack Hayward to acquire the Bristol Channel island of Lundy. His role in historic ship preservation was critical to the campaigns to rescue HMS Warrior, Brunel's SS Great Britain and the wartime cruiser HMS Belfast.

Writing in the Independent, Louis Jebb said that Smith’s aim was never simply to preserve the heritage, but also to rouse people's interest in their surroundings. He hoped that everyone who stayed in a Landmark Trust property would leave inspired to do their bit for conservation. He saw conservation as a positive force in society, and not mere backward-looking nostalgia. ‘Material progress’, Smith wrote in 1998, ‘means that we no longer have to foul our surroundings in order to survive. Indeed it now seems that we cannot survive if we do. It is those who still preach cheapness at any price who are out of date, while those who preach against waste, whether of buildings or of other resources, are modern. Far from being something restrictive, preservation is now constructive, and creative as well. History is part of our environment; so is the way people live, their scale of values, and how they treat each other and the rest of creation.’

Kenneth Arthur Steer, who was Secretary to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland from 1957 to 1978, died on 20 February 2007 at the age of 93. Salon is grateful to our Fellow David Breeze for the following obituary, which was first published in the Independent on 8 March 2007.

‘Kenneth Steer directed the official recording of Scotland’s ancient monuments and historic buildings for twenty-one years and as an archaeologist changed our understanding of the history of Rome’s northern frontiers. His work on the Antonine Wall, built by the Emperor Antoninus Pius only twenty years after Hadrian’s Wall, challenged the current chronology for both frontiers and led to a fierce debate on the chronology of the second century and, eventually, to a radical change in the dating of both frontiers. His contribution to the medieval history of Scotland was equally important. In 1977, with John Bannerman, he published a corpus of the late medieval sculpture in the west of Scotland, which was the first attempt to come to terms with a body of material which had previously never been fully assessed.

‘After a PhD on Roman Durham, Steer applied for the post of investigator at RCAHMS, but the start of his archaeological career was interrupted by the war. Steer served in Military Intelligence, was twice mentioned in dispatches, and, following peace, was Fine Arts and Archives Officer, North Rhine Region. Returning to Scotland in 1946 he was able to place his war experience with aerial photographs at the service of Scottish archaeology. He also undertook the first of many excavations on Roman sites. These included the first-century camp and fort at Oakwood where he retrieved the surviving stumps of the gate timbers.

‘Back at the Royal Commission, Steer wrote the entries on the Antonine Wall for the Stirlingshire inventory, which was published in 1963. He also took up the challenge of trying to improve knowledge of this, the most northerly frontier of the Roman empire, through excavation. In 1957 he investigated the “expansion” at Bonnyside East, beside the fort at Rough Castle. Six of these enigmatic structures are known, always grouped in pairs. Steer was able to demonstrate that: the structure was contemporary with the rampart of the Antonine Wall; a quarry pit underlay the expansion, indicating, for the first time, an early date for the adjacent Military Way; the burning beside the site suggested that the expansion was in fact a beacon–platform.

‘From 1958 to 1960, Steer directed excavations on the western defences and annexe at Mumrills fort on the Antonine Wall in advance of a new housing development. His findings provoked a debate which took over a decade to resolve. The problem lay with the different dates assigned to the three types of Roman pottery. In the end, the difficulty was resolved by the pottery specialist John Gillam accepting a re-dating of the coarse pottery, thus bringing it into line with the samian and mortaria. This had wide ramifications for it led to a re-dating of the end of the first period on Hadrian’s Wall, itself part of a wider review of the history of that frontier. Steer also had the distinction of helping to publish the first distance slab from the Antonine Wall found in 100 years, the Hutcheson Hill stone, and the first inscription which provided the name of a fort on the Antonine Wall.

‘By the late 1970s, archaeology in Scotland was changing. The inventories were still published, but other bodies were showing interest in survey. Central Government, through the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, funded a team of three field surveyors and Steer ensured that they were placed within the Royal Commission. The aim was a rapid field survey of those parts of Scotland not yet covered by the inventories to enable central Government to respond more effectively to generalised threats to the countryside such as afforestation. In some respects it reflected Steer’s involvement in the marginal land survey of the 1950s, but with hindsight its wider significance can be appreciated. This was a significant step away from inventory publishing as the main focus of RCAHMS activity towards the primacy of the National Monuments Record of Scotland.

‘Kenneth Steer ensured that the inventories were produced to high standards. By the 1970s his pedagogic style was a little out of date, but he certainly taught his staff how to write good English and understandable site reports ─ and he always had a twinkle in his eye. He also encouraged younger members of the profession, as this writer remembers well.’

Writing in the Independent on 5 March 2007, our Fellow John Blatchly described Brian North Lee, who died on 24 February 2007 at the age of 70, as ‘an indefatigable scholar and historian of bookplates, producing a stream of books on the subject. “There is something beguiling”, Lee wrote, “in the prospect of an exploration which could fill lifetimes of leisure”, and he argued cogently not only for the value of his work in exploring the history of collecting and the taste (and genealogy) of collectors, but also for the importance of bookplates and book labels as, often, artistic examples of printed ephemera. In 1972 he was a co-founder of the Bookplate Society, which promotes the study, exchange and sale of bookplates, arranging meetings and publishing books (often by him) and a journal (which he edited for many years).

‘The Bookplate Designs of Rex Whistler (1973) had some characteristics of a first book, but its introduction demonstrated the author's easy and elegant writing style. Early Printed Book Labels (1976) was a confident piece of scholarship of which he was rightly proud to the end of his life, and election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries followed within two years. The copiously illustrated British Bookplates (1979) came next and his first study of the work of a major British engraver, The Ex-Libris of Simon Brett, in 1982. British Royal Bookplates (1992) brought that subject up to the beginning of the present Queen's reign. Almost two dozen other titles include studies of the work of Claud Lovat Fraser, Leo Wyatt, Philip Hagreen, Edmund Hort New, and, most recently, Richard Shirley Smith. Lee had just finished writing Scottish Bookplates (with Sir Ilay Campbell Bt) when his last illness struck.

‘Brian North Lee was a knowledgeable collector, too, of pilgrim badges and of fossils and armorial porcelain. He worked for the Terrence Higgins Trust as a volunteer and in 2002 raised the funds required to build a new church in Ghana.’

Our Fellow Matthew Spriggs reports on the life of Dr Aubrey Parke (1925─2007) who was buried in Canberra, Australia, on 26 February. ‘Although not a Fellow ─ until he got his PhD last October at the age of 81 he would have been far too self-effacing to have allowed his name to go forward ─ he did have a remarkable archaeological career. He was born in Dorset and while a twelve-year old in 1938 he dug with Mortimer Wheeler at Maiden Castle and was apparently “fully trusted” in excavation tasks despite his age. Stuart Piggott was an early mentor of his. He joined the RAF in 1943 upon finishing at Winchester and conducted a pioneering excavation at Bokerley Dyke adjacent to where he was stationed as a Bomber-Navigator, continuing digging while German air raids on the runway dropped bombs all around him.

‘He attended Lincoln College, Oxford, immediately after the war, where he read Greats and Latin before joining the Colonial Service and being posted to Fiji. He served there in a variety of roles such as Commissioner Northern District based in Labasa and Commissioner on the isolated island of Rotuma, from 1951 until Fiji's Independence in October 1970. During his time in Fiji he conducted numerous pioneering archaeological surveys and excavations, and recorded oral traditions from the last generation of old chiefs who were born before Fiji became a British possession. He was also a Trustee of the Fiji Museum. On Rotuma he encouraged the clearance of large areas of forest to establish coconut plantations, in part so that archaeological surface survey was facilitated.

‘His association with the Australian National University lasted some thirty years. He completed a Masters degree on the Fijian language, a BLitt on Fijian archaeology and in 1992, at the age of sixty-seven, he embarked on his PhD on the archaeology and oral traditions of the island of Viti Levu in Fiji. In his last years he suffered a disastrous catalogue of medical problems that would have led to anyone else giving up, but doggedly carried on with his research. His efforts were finally rewarded with presentation of his PhD degree in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Canberra in October 2006.

‘During the course of his service in Fiji and his later studies he produced several books on Fijian traditions and many articles on the archaeology of that island group. Throughout his life Aubrey was a model of astute, tactful common sense and perhaps one of the last of the “gentleman scholars” of the old days. Certainly there cannot any longer be many people alive who worked at Maiden Castle with Wheeler. He is greatly missed by all at the Australian National University. At his funeral the casket was covered by a large Fijian tapa cloth and was carried from the church by Fijian and Rotuman pall bearers as a Fijian choir sang the Fijian Song of Farewell ─ a fitting send-off for a great man.’

Heritage Protection for the 21st Century: White Paper published

The long-awaited White Paper on Heritage Protection for the 21st Century was finally published on 8 March 2007 (copies can be downloaded from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website. Publication of the White Paper marks the start of a consultation on a number of specific questions about the proposed reforms, responses to which are required by Friday 1 June 2007. The Society of Antiquaries will host a seminar in May to debate the issues raised. Full details of the seminar will be published in a special edition of Salon as soon as the date has been agreed.

The White Paper contents: a brief summary

National designation

• Unhelpful distinctions between buildings, monuments, parks, gardens, battlefields and so on will be swept away: all heritage assets will be rolled up into a single Register of Historic Buildings and Sites, held and managed by English Heritage, and the scope of designation will be expanded to include sites of early human activity that are not necessarily marked by above-ground structures.
• ‘Special architectural, historic or archaeological interest’ remains the only statutory basis for designation; thus ‘commercial / economic viability’ and other tests (such as whether a better building could be designed for the site) will not play a part in designation decisions.
• But to support those broad statutory criteria, a series of more detailed statements will be published for public consultation, setting out the factors to be taken into account when deciding which buildings and sites are considered worthy of national designation; in future designation the emphasis will be on under-protected aspects of the heritage and thematic programmes of protection.
• The present grading system (I, II* and II) will remain and will be extended to all nationally designated assets; those not currently graded will all be regarded as Grade I assets, pending a regrading review to be carried out by English Heritage.
• A standard proforma ─ a Historic Asset Record (HAR) ─ will explain what makes the asset significant, with a map, explanatory notes and bibliographical references; HARs will be accessible via an internet portal being developed by English Heritage (The Heritage Gateway).
• But HARs are not definitive: they will record what was known at the time of designation, but it is expected that new information will come to light as a result of subsequent investigation ─ it is not intended that designation should only cover what is described in the HAR.
• The process of designation will be democratised: designation criteria will be published, public consultation processes will apply in the case of new designations, local planning authorities and national amenity societies will be formally consulted on new designations, and there will be a right of appeal against decisions for those with an interest in the historic asset, including owners, consultees, applicants and local planning authorities.
• But appeals must be based on matters of fact: for example, that relevant material was not taken into account or has not been assessed appropriately.

Planning consent and development control

• Designation is the process of identifying assets that it would be desirable to preserve, but being on the register does not specify what will happen to those assets: that is the job of the consents process and the planning system, which is itself undergoing major reform (a new Planning White Paper is due later in March). The White Paper’s proposals are thus aimed at ensuring that the historic environment is placed at the heart of any new planning system that emerges.
• The consents process is to be reformed by merging Listed Buildings Consent and Scheduled Monuments Consent into one process ─ Historic Asset Consent ─ while marine assets will have their own consents system.
• Class consents will be retained: the exception is Class Consent No 1, relating to agricultural cultivation, where owners will be encouraged to take sensitive sites out of cultivation under various stewardship schemes.
• Heritage Partnership Agreements will be introduced (and have already been trialled by English Heritage), enabling the owners of complex heritage assets to bypass the consents process for routine and repetitive works ─ but HPAs are only likely to apply where the owners have a strong commitment to conservation, and are subject to review when circumstances change, such as new ownership or major development proposals.
• In the case of large-scale planning applications, strong encouragement is to be given to pre-application assessment and discussion; developers will be expected to show what they intend to do to mitigate the effects of major developments on designated assets.

Local delivery

• The statutory duty placed on local authorities to designate conservation areas and to draw up and publish proposals for their preservation and enhancement will remain; strong encouragement will be given to local authorities to make greater use of their powers to designate and protect the historic environment, using local lists, conservation areas and historic landscape characterisation as the means of identifying and managing local heritage.
• English Heritage will ‘publish new guidance on the outcomes local authorities should be seeking from their historic environment services’, and this, along with the forthcoming English Heritage Conservation Principles and standards and guidance published by professional conservation institutes (the IFA and IHBC), is seen as the basis for encouraging local planning authorities to ‘develop a clear vision for how they would like to develop their historic environment services in the future’.
• Effective planning for the historic environment at local level also needs people with the right skills, knowledge and understanding ─ well-trained and well-informed officers and elected members. This will be delivered through the existing English Heritage capacity building initiative called HELM (Historic Environment Local management).
• Planning decisions need to be informed by reliable information: a new statutory duty will be imposed on local planning authorities to maintain or have access to Historic Environment Records.
• HERs will be GIS-based and bring together various historic environment datasets, including local lists and conservation area appraisals, SMRs, aerial photos, historic photos and maps, fieldwork reports, books, journals, Buildings at Risk and Monuments at Risk registers.
• HERs will be accessible through the Heritage Gateway, and English Heritage will support local authorities in developing HERs through training, capacity building and standards.

Reactions to the White Paper

The initial response from those who attended the White Paper launch was that the White Paper proposals are very positive ─ particularly welcome is the emphasis throughout the White Paper on promoting the importance of the historic environment within the planning system. Gone are the ambivalent positions of past DCMS statements on the heritage: this document is predicated on the assumption that it is entirely reasonable to protect the historic environment from unnecessary damage or destruction. It also pays credit to the skilled and resourceful people who have devoted their lives ─ in a professional and in a voluntary capacity ─ to the cause of heritage protection. It acknowledges (at long last) that levels of participation in the historic environment are high and rising ─ ‘whether through visiting, volunteering, or studying, substantial numbers of people choose to access or care for heritage in their free time’, the Executive summary says (page 6), adding that ‘levels of engagement are good compared with other parts of the cultural sector’.

Overall, the verdict is that the White Paper provides a good framework for constructing robust, modern, effective historic environment services at national and local level. Our General Secretary David Gaimster summed this up when he said that: ‘This is the start of a process, and we now have an agenda for the future. Our Fellow Peter Beacham, and all those many other Fellows who have worked over the last five years to help bring this White Paper to fruition, should be congratulated. We now look forward to working with the Government and civil servants to deliver the new regime.’

On behalf of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee, our Fellow Bob Yorke said: ‘We welcome the inclusion of the marine heritage in the Heritage Protection White Paper and await the proposals for heritage in the Marine Bill White Paper, which is due to be published on 15 March, before commenting on the totality of the proposed Government measures.’

The Archaeology Forum (TAF) welcomed the White Paper and said ‘there is a strong consensus of support from archaeological bodies for the White Paper’s proposals’. TAF also urged the Government to make rapid progress with those aspects of the White Paper that did not need to wait for legislative consent, and in particular for a revision of the statutory planning guidance given in PPG15 and PPG16 to define archaeological resources more comprehensively, to confirm that it is reasonable for the planning process to require opportunities for public participation, to confirm that it is reasonable, where appropriate, to require commercial work to be conducted by accredited historic environment professionals and to ensure proper provision for archiving and publishing completed excavations.

Where reservations were expressed, they focused on the cost of the White Paper reforms, pointing out that new and significant investment will be needed if the vision in the White Paper is to be realised. Some concern was also expressed about the degree to which responsibility will fall on local planning authorities whose record to date in recognising and protecting the historic environment is very variable ─ this much is even acknowledged in the White Paper (see section 1.4 paragraph 3, for example). Crucially, what happens at local level will be largely left to the discretion of the authorities themselves. One commentator said that ‘the White Paper talks of aspirations and visions for better delivery at local level, but acknowledges that there will be variable responses and different levels of service throughout the country ─ an odd admission given that one of the core aims of the White Paper’s proposals is to achieve consistency and a “unified approach”’.

Alison Taylor comments …

The long-awaited heritage White Paper for England and Wales, Heritage protection for the 21st century, was finally published last Thursday. It’s a long-winded document (seventy pages) with much repetition, ambiguity and the odd contradiction (see, for example, paragraph 49 on page 27, and paragraph 60 on page 29 ─ DCMS needs a stricter editor), and it places a lot of faith in administrative change (combining listed buildings and scheduled monuments in one register with addition of some public consultation) to solve the massive problems faced by those working in today’s heritage sector. Inevitably it skips the big issues of funding and of better legislation, but we must be pleased that it includes some promises that archaeologists have sought for years.

In particular, there is acceptance of a statutory duty for local authorities to maintain or have access to historic environment records (HERs), of better protection for the marine historic environment and the statement that ‘We will enhance protection of archaeological sites on cultivated land’. This will only be attempted through management agreements, although perhaps the removal of the defence of ignorance for damage to registered sites may mean that obvious constant damage is a prosecutable offence at last. There is a promise of ‘training and capacity building for HERs’, which hopefully means some recalcitrant local authorities are trained to realise they have responsibilities to historic sites and buildings and that county archaeologists have the capacity to retain staff.

That new resources are necessary to underpin all this change was a point frequently made at January’s Westminster Hall debate on the heritage, so we have to trust that English Heritage, Cadw and local authorities will get this extra funding. Parliamentary time is being sought for new legislation, which will be underpinned with new policy guidance that may at last include simple requirements for the proper publication, storage and treatment of finds and public participation for archaeological excavations. World Heritage Sites will also benefit from greater protection from inappropriate development, with a possible ‘buffer zone’ to protect the immediate WHS environment. It will be very interesting to see how this affects the imminent decision on roads at Stonehenge.

Commonwealth Institute not a 'special case'

Having just launched a White Paper extolling the benefits of a proper process for Historic Asset Consent, it would have been extremely difficult for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to pursue the idea of a parliamentary bill to exempt the Grade-II* Commonwealth Institute from the usual procedures ─ and so it has proved: to the great relief of everyone concerned about the future of this building, Tessa Jowell said in answer to a question from Frank Field on 1 March that: ‘We have encouraged the Commonwealth Institute to work with English Heritage on a listed building consent application which we understand they hope to submit to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea later this year. We have no plans to introduce a bill that will give powers to demolish all or part of the buildings on the Commonwealth Institute site’ (taken from Hansard).

Standard and guidance for stewardship of the historic environment

The Heritage Protection White Paper makes reference to a number of key documents which taken together add up to a ‘clear vision’ for how historic environment services should develop in future. One of those documents ─ the English Heritage Conservation Principles ─ has already been published in second draft form (see the EH website) and now a second of those key documents has been published jointly by the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA), the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (UK). The Standard and Guidance for Stewardship of the Historic Environment spells out the professional responsibilities of members and will be binding on IHBC and IFA members. If you have not already had a copy and would like one, contact Beth Asbury at the IFA. The deadline for comments is 29 March 2007.

New edition of the EH Conservation Bulletin

A huge additional workload will fall on the shoulders of English Heritage as a result of the White Paper: Salon’s editor has counted eleven major projects in the White Paper with English Heritage’s name on them, from creating the new asset register, making it available on line and setting up a series of consultations on listings criteria to capacity building activity for local planning authorities. This comes in addition to the new responsibilities and opportunities that English Heritage faces in relation to the European Landscape Convention, which the UK government ratified in November 2006.

Writing in the latest edition of the English Heritage Conservation Bulletin, guest editor Steve Trow (Head of Rural and Environmental Policy at EH) argues that these important developments ‘provide an unparalleled opportunity for the heritage sector to reflect on how effectively its interests are integrated within current arrangements for managing and planning the landscape’. Steve calls for a radical change of mind set: at present he says, planners and policy makers see the historic environment as ‘a series of features within the landscape’. What is needed, he argues, is the recognition that the historic environment ‘is the quintessence of landscape’ ─ in effect, they are indivisible.

What implications this might have for understanding the landscape, for forging stronger alliances with the champions of natural heritage and for responsible stewardship of the landscape, are themes explored by the contributors to the rest of the bulletin: for copies, contact English Heritage Customer Services.

Tudor portraits at Philip Mould

Fellows visiting London next week should try and find half an hour to visit the exhibition called Lost faces: identity and discovery in Tudor royal portraiture at the galleries of Philip Mould Ltd, 29 Dover Street, which is on until 18 March, from 10am to 5pm, admission free.

There you will not only see two of the Society’s portraits, superbly lit and hung to great advantage, but also the miniature that our Fellow David Starkey, guest curator of the exhibition, argues is the only surviving lifetime portrait known so far of Lady Jane Grey, queen of England for just nine days, executed in the Tower of London after Mary I took the throne.

David Starkey’s case is based on the brooch shown in the portrait, which matches ‘a brooch of gold with a face in agate’ described in an inventory of Lady Jane Grey’s possessions. David interprets the acorns and gillyflowers worn with the brooch as rebuses: the gillyflower refers to Lady Jane’s husband, Guildford Dudley, and robur, the Latin for oak, refers to his brother Robert Dudley. David notes that graffiti carved in a wall of the Beauchamp Tower at the Tower of London where Guildford, his father and his three brothers were incarcerated with Lady Jane before their executions, also depicts this flower.

On the other hand, the legend on the miniature says ‘Ano XVIII’ (18th year), and it is often said that Lady Jane Grey was executed at the age of sixteen. In the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, David Starkey sifts through the evidence for Lady Jane’s age at the time of her death and argues that we don’t actually know when she was born.

Dr Starkey believes the portrait was painted by Lavinia Teerlinc, the Belgian miniaturist who succeeded Hans Holbein as Henry VIII's court painter. It may have been painted to record Jane and Guildford’s wedding or while Jane was at the Tower awaiting her death. It is on loan to the exhibition from the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, which paid £760 for the miniature, along with a second painting attributed to Holbein, at Sotheby's in 1970.

Christopher Foley, the London dealer who recently sold a portrait that is also claimed to depict Lady Jane Grey to the National Portrait Gallery, said that he doubted David Starkey’s attribution: he believes the miniature shows Lady Jane Lumley, who was 18 in 1554 or 1555 and whose father's badge was oak and her mother's a flower.

David Starkey himself said of the attribution: ‘I am 90 per cent certain, but not 100 per cent. I'm delighted, but I'm in modified rapture.’

‘Is there more to the Sevso hoard?’ asks The Art Newspaper

The front-page story on the latest issue of The Art Newspaper says that the fourteen pieces of Roman silver, known as the Sevso Hoard, which the Marquess of Northampton is seeking to sell, does not represent the complete hoard: documents seen by newspaper reveal that 187 silver gilt spoons, 37 silver gilt drinking cups and 5 silver bowls were being offered for sale along with the 14 known pieces of Sevso silver in the 1980s. These additional objects have never been seen publicly and their current whereabouts is unknown.

The Marquess of Northampton has now declared his intention to sell the fourteen pieces of fourth and fifth-century AD silver he acquired from the Sevso hoard in the 1980s, despite Hungary’s long-standing claim that the Sevso hoard was discovered in the Lake Balaton area and was illegally exported. When Lord Northampton tried to sell the silver through Sotheby’s in 1990, the hoard was impounded in New York. In November 1993, after years of litigation, the New York Supreme Court ruled that Hungary had failed to produce sufficient evidence and dismissed its claim. No legal challenge to the Marquess’s title has been made since.

In a statement responding to The Art Newspaper’s story, Ludovic De Walden of the London law firm Lane & Partners, which represents Lord Northampton’s trust, said: ‘So far as the Trustee [Lord Northampton] is concerned, there is no direct evidence now or before of there being any pieces forming part of the Sevso hoard beyond the 14 pieces owned by the Trustee and the bronze cauldron which contained the fourteen pieces. There have been rumours of additional pieces since Peter Wilson and Peter Mimpriss [of Allen & Overy] first invited Lord Northampton to participate in the acquisition of the treasure in late 1981. However, nothing beyond the fourteen pieces has ever been produced as definitely forming part of the Sevso hoard and certainly nothing further has been purchased by the Trustee.’

An Early Day Motion on the Sevso treasure has been tabled in Parliament by the Conservative MP Tim Loughton and signed by forty-eight MPs. This calls for ‘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’. It also calls for the Sevso hoard not to be sold until this independent assessment has taken place.

Writing in the same issue of The Art Newspaper, our Fellow Lord Renfrew reiterates the call for an independent investigation and calls for the publication of any evidence disclosed to it.

Cuts at William Morris Gallery could jeopardise HLF bid

This month’s Museums Journal has a feature on the cuts of £56,000 that Waltham Forest Council is making to its museums service, leading to reduced opening hours and a severe reduction in curatorial care at the William Morris Gallery (WMG) and the Vestry House Museum. Chris Smith, former Culture Secretary, warns that the cuts could jeopardise the £4 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid that is being planned for the regeneration of the park and grounds surrounding the gallery. He believes that the Gallery ─ which will only be open two weekday afternoons and at weekends under the new arrangements ─ should remain open six days as at present, because it is a popular attraction in an area of London with few other museum and gallery facilities.

Our Fellow Linda Parry is one of several Fellows who have already written to Waltham Forest Council to argue that this jewel in the crown of the Arts and Crafts movement deserves higher rather than reduced investment. Our Fellow, Martin Stuchfield, is Chairman of the Friends of the William Morris Gallery, and David Gaimster, our General Secretary, recently hosted a meeting of WMG Friends to explore how the Society can give further assistance.

David told the Museums Journal that: ‘I understand the proposal is for one curator to work across both collections. The proposals represent a severe reduction in curatorial care and the Society of Antiquaries is concerned about future access to the collections for research and use.’

An online petition along with full details of the cuts and campaign details can be found on the website of the Keep Our Museums Open campaign.

Precision dating transforms interpretation of Neolithic long barrows

Long-held views about the longevity of Neolithic long barrows are being challenged by a ground-breaking dating programme led by English Heritage in association with Cardiff University and the University of Central Lancashire. The end of the active use of barrows at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Hazleton, West Kennet and Fussell’s Lodge was previously thought to be separated by centuries. Using Bayesian statistics to analyse radiocarbon dates, archaeologists involved in the project have found that burial at all four ended within a decade or so of 3625 BC.

On their own, radiocarbon dates provide broad date ranges spanning 250 years or more. Bayesian statistics involves narrowing down the probability that the date range lies within a far shorter time period. Precise dating suggests that the use of long barrows was short-lived and intensive. Few barrows were used for more than three to four generations. Wayland’s Smithy was probably used for under a decade. Such short timescales support the impression of small communities keeping alive memories of their immediate kin and people they knew, rather than some tribal ancestors or past heroes.

The fact that each site was closed differently (at Fussell’s Lodge the wooden chamber was consumed by fire, at Ascott-under-Wychwood the entrances were blocked, at Hazleton burial ended, but people returned to place offerings in the passages while at West Kennet, burial simply stopped) and that the human remains were deposited in diverse ways, led to the belief that customs changed over time. The finding that all four are contemporary suggests that Neolithic culture was less homogeneous than previously thought.

Our Fellow Alasdair Whittle, Professor in the Cardiff School of History and Archaeology at Cardiff University, said: ‘Up to now prehistorians have tended to emphasise long-term change, in search of long-running or underlying processes at the expense of shorter-term events and succession. This dating programme will help direct the study of prehistory to get much closer to people.’

Alex Bayliss, radiocarbon dating expert at English Heritage, said: ‘Prehistory is often seen as a fuzzy period, a timeless stretch in which nothing changes for long periods. This dating programme demands a revolution in our thinking about prehistory—and not just that of early Neolithic burial monuments in southern Britain. Finally, we can now think about Neolithic history ─ ideas, events and people at specific times over 5,000 years ago.’

For example, precise dating of the bones from the fourteen people buried at Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire suggests that at least three could have died together as a result of a massacre, and that the decade in which they died ─ between 3590 and 3560 BC ─ may have been one of increasing social tension and upheaval. Michael Wysocki, Senior Lecturer in Forensic and Investigative Science at the University of Central Lancashire, said: ‘We know one person was shot through the lower abdomen because we have found the tiny tip of a flint arrowhead embedded in their pelvic bone. We also know that the bodies of two people were scavenged and partially dismembered by dogs or wolves before their remains were buried in the monument.’

A number of talks on the significance of precise radiocarbon dating in understanding the Neolithic period will be given during National Science and Engineering Week 2007 (9─18 March), at the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum on 13 March, at Reading Museum on 14 March, at the Avebury Study Centre on 16 March and at the Corinium Museum, Cirencester, on 17 March.

Archaeologists discover Roman village at foot of Silbury Hill

A Roman settlement has been discovered by archaeologists at the foot of Silbury Hill. The discovery was made as part of a project to stabilise the hill after the top caved in seven years ago. The linear settlement, with plots and alleys set at right angles to the main thoroughfare, straddles the Roman road (the modern A4) to the south of Silbury Hill to the west of the point where the road crosses the River Kennet.

Our Fellow Bob Bewley, currently English Heritage Regional Director for the South West, said that: ‘Without further investigation, it is difficult to say, but it could be that we have a roadside village, where travellers would change horses or stay overnight on the way to the sacred springs and bathing pools at Bath, but also possibly a place of pilgrimage in its own right focused on Silbury Hill.’

America’s earliest solar observatory

Our Fellow Clive Ruggles was in the news last week after publishing a paper in the 2 March issue of Science, interpreting the thirteen towers of Chankillo, in the Casma-Sechin River Basin of the coastal Peruvian desert, 240 miles north of Lima, as an ancient observatory for tracking the rising and setting of the sun through the seasons as a guide for agriculture.

Clive Ruggles, an archaeoastronomer at the University of Leicester in England, and co-author Ivan Ghezzi, Director of Archaeology at the National Institute of Culture in Lima, Peru, argue that Chankillo provides evidence of early solar horizon observations and of the existence of sophisticated sun cults beginning in the fourth century BC. This date makes Chankillo the earliest known solar observatory in the Americas, pre-dating similar monuments constructed by the Maya in Central America by several centuries and the solar observatories of the Inca civilization in Peru by almost two millennia.

Ruggles and Ghezzi found that the stone towers erected on a low ridge formed a toothed horizon whose gaps almost exactly spanned the annual arc of the sun. Ghezzi commented: ‘We know that Inca practices of astronomy were very sophisticated and that they used buildings as a form of “landscape timekeeping” to mark the positions of the sun on key dates of the year, but we did not know that these practices were so old.’

Inca astronomical practices in much later times were intimately linked to the political operations of the Inca king, who considered himself an offspring of the sun. Finding this observatory revealed a much older precursor where calendrical observances may well have helped to support the social and political hierarchy. Ruggles and Ghezzi argue that knowledge of the sun’s movements could be translated into the very powerful political and ideological statement, ‘I control the sun!’

Ivan Ghezzi’s photographs of the Chankillo observatory can be seen on the Yale University website, and further information about the recent discoveries can be found on the EurekAlert website.

Sceptre of the Emperor Maxentius on display

The blue-orbed sceptre of the Emperor Maxentius (who ruled the Roman Empire from AD 306 to 312) has gone on public display in the National Museum of Rome, housed in the Baths of Diocletian. As reported in Salon 154, the imperial sceptre, with a carved flower and a globe, believed to be a symbolic representation of the earth, was found last year at the base of the Palatine Hill, carefully wrapped in silk and linen and then placed in a wooden box. Alongside it were other boxes holding imperial battle standards and ceremonial lances and javelins.

This is the only example of imperial regalia ever to be found. It is thought that the regalia were hidden by supporters of Maxentius, who drowned in the Tiber while fighting his brother-in-law, Constantine, at the battle of Milvian Bridge.

Antiquity’s new website

Proving that at least one archaeologist has a sense of humour is the newly designed Antiquity website, which features a portrait of the Editor in characteristic pose (see ‘Letters to the Editor’). Also on the new site is the advance notice of the Society of Antiquaries’ Tercentenary Festival programme of public lectures, as well as book reviews and abstracts of the papers in the current issue and obituaries of renowned archaeologists who have died in recent months.

Current Archaeology

The latest issue of Current Archaeology contains a disagreement over the respective merits of the exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, called ‘A Future for the Past: Petrie's Palestinian Collection’, on until 24 March, Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm, admission free. Editor Neil Faulkner loves the exhibition, and says it is ‘alive with the spirit of Petrie’, while Editor in Chief, our Fellow Andrew Selkirk, says ‘the exhibition was a big disappointment … sadly I cannot recommend this exhibition to readers’. Andrew condemns it as ‘aimed at schoolchildren … with little attempt at an intelligent exposition of Petrie’s work’. Neil says: ‘the exhibition, masterminded by Rachel Sparks and Peter Ucko, is a brilliant tribute to the man … much more than a showcase for remarkable artefacts … it uses letters, notebooks, photographs and film footage to recreate the experience of Petrie’s field projects, both for the European archaeologists and for the Palestinian men, women and children working with them.’

Salon’s editor doesn’t want to intervene in a family quarrel, but very much liked the exhibition, and thought it did what all good exhibitions should aspire to do: whet the visitor’s appetite and stimulate them to go away and find out more. Particularly intriguing was the souvenir programme from the ‘Historical Egyptian Matinee’ held on 3 June 1930 at London’s Hippodrome theatre to mark Petrie’s sixty-eighth birthday and a half-century of fieldwork. A cast of eighty-one actors mounted a series of plays and tableaux stage-managed by Lady Newness covering Middle Eastern history from 10,000 BC to the death of Cleopatra. After the show, a banquet was given at the Savoy in Petrie’s honour attended by ‘assorted Princes, Lords and Bishops, and notable figures such as Howard Carter and H G Wells’. Beats a Festschrift seminar any day!

Churches to be used as rural post offices

The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England, along with the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, have revealed that they are holding talks with the Rural Division of Post Office Ltd with a view to using rural churches as possible sites for delivering some of the services currently provided by village post offices that are now threatened with closure.

Rebecca Payne, Policy Officer on Church Buildings for the Archbishops' Council, says in the latest e-bulletin published by the Building Faith in our Future campaign that there is enormous potential for churches to play a role hosting community-owned shops and ‘outreach’ post offices: ‘Two Church of England churches, one in the parish of Whitwell on the Isle of Wight and one in Cumbria, are hoping to open post offices by April,’ Rebecca writes, adding that ‘their experiences will inform our work’, which will include the provision of guidelines so that churches know what is involved in taking up this kind of responsibility.

The guidelines are expected to say that churches wanting to provide local services that will require alterations to the fabric of the building must get permission from the diocesan consistory. Heritage groups have expressed concern about the possible damage that could be caused to ancient buildings by necessary alterations, such as the installation of alarm systems and phone lines.

A spokesman for The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings said that SPAB supported the principle and would ‘consider each case on its own merits’, but that ‘There will always be churches that are of such outstanding importance that the introduction of a post office would just not be appropriate’.

Meanwhile SPAB itself is moving forward with plans for its ‘Faith in Maintenance’ (FIM) training courses for volunteers who look after the fabric of listed places of worship. From May 2007, SPAB will host thirty-two tailor-made courses across England and Wales, two of which will be aimed at young people. Courses will also be tailored for the Jewish community in London, Roman Catholics, Methodists and those of other faiths and denominations who have listed places of worship. Up-to-date news will be given on the FIM website.

Personal Histories in Archaeological Theory and Method: processualism and the New Archaeology in the 1960s

If you were unable to attend the Cambridge seminar organised last year by Pamela Jane Smith at which eminent archaeologists (including Fellows Colin Renfrew, Graeme Barker, Rob Foley and Paul Mellars) discussed the influence of New Archaeology on their thinking and research, or if you would like to see and hear the participants again, you can now do so by ordering a DVD of the seminar, or downloading a video (Real Media and MPEG-4 formats are both available). See the Cambridge Department of Archaeology website for further details.

Free E-books from the Australian National University

Fellow Matthew Spriggs reports that the Australian National University now has an open access E-Press, where you can download for free new and reprinted books or order them as print-on-demand paperback copies. At present four recent archaeological monographs in the Centre for Archaeological Research Terra Australis series are available free to download. They include the 2005 Terra Australis 22, edited by Sue O’Connor, Matthew Spriggs and Peter Veth, entitled The Archaeology of the Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia. The other three open-access titles now available are Val Attenbrow’s What's changing: Population Size or Land Use Patterns? The archaeology of the Upper Mangrove Creek, Sydney Basin (TA21), Stuart Bedford’s Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: archaeology of the North, South and Centre (TA23) and Sean Ulm’s Coastal Themes: an archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland (TA24). A forthcoming title will be a reprint of Peter Bellwood’s 1997 second edition of Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago which is currently out of print.

The Stained Glass Museum Annual Lecture 2007

Dr David O’Connor, of the University of Manchester, will give this lecture on 26 March at 5.30pm at St Ethelburga's Church, Bishopsgate, London, on the theme of ‘Parish, Community and Faith in Medieval York: All Saints, North Street and its windows’. Tea precedes the lecture at 4.30 pm. Tickets £4 in advance, £5 on the door: email Events.

Definitive definitions?

Our Fellow Percival Turnbull of the Brigantia Archaeological Practice heard an item on the ‘Today’ programme last week about a new online website called Conservapedia, set up in reaction to what the site claims is anti-Christian bias in the popular Wikipedia online encyclopaedia. Checking out its claims to be the unbiased alternative to Wikipedia, Percival found the following entry (quoted verbatim, as it appears on the site), when he searched for a definition of 'prehistory': ‘Prehistory is speculation about history prior to the first written records. There is no reliable evidence to support this speculation. Historians describe prehistory as the Stone age which is divided in to two parts, Paleolithic and Neolithic. The Paleolithic age came first, when man harvested wild plants and animals for food. The Neolithic age followed the Paleolithic age. Farming became dominant during the Neolithic age. The dates of these ages are debated. Many biased historians give them older dates than can be proven’.

Books by Fellows

Six Hundred New Churches is not yet another reworking of Pevsner or an attempt to create a ‘best of’ list, but rather an account by our Fellow Professor Michael Port of the work of the Church Building Commission from 1818 to 1856. Professor Port’s book first appeared in 1961 and has long been difficult to obtain, but has now been thoroughly revised, with much new material and a wealth of illustrations, many of which have never been published before (see Oxbow Books for further details).

The book tells of the setting up of the Commission to build churches in the godless new towns, its trials and tribulations as it went about its work, the buildings it erected, and the architects who designed them. Historic and modern photographs, plans and drawings all reveal a huge diversity of architecture, much of it of the highest quality. It is now clear that, far from being a modest prelude to the full-blown Gothic Revival, the Commissioners churches were an essential factor in making the great Victorian explosion of church-building possible.

Library gifts for January and February 2007

The Society is very grateful to the authors and donors listed below for the following library gifts.

• From the author, Michelle Brown, Fellow, The Luttrell Psalter: commentary (2006) and In the Beginning: Bibles before the year 1000 (exhibition catalogue, 2006)
• From Derek Renn, Fellow, The Castles of Friuli by Christopher Ulmer (1999) and Chateaux d’Orient by Jean Mesqui (2001)
• From the editor, Bejtullah Destani, Ancient Illyria by Arthur Evans (reprinted 2006)
• From the author, Paul Arthur, Fellow, Byzantine and Turkish Hierapolis (Pamukkale) (2006)
• From the author, Francesco D’Andria, Hierapolis of Phrygia (Pamukkale) (2003)
• From Dai Morgan Evans, Fellow, The Industrial archaeology of Dartmoor by Helen Harris (1968) and A Short Dictionary of British Architects by Dora Ware (1967)
• From the editor Sir Neil Cossons, Fellow, England’s Landscape, volumes 1 to 8 (2006)
• From the editor, Norman Redhead, Fellow, Mellor: living on the edge (2005) and A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester (2000)
• From Robert Hutchinson, Fellow, ‘Death and the Antiquaries’, a coloured engraving by Thomas Rowlandson from The English Dance of Death by William Coombe (1816)
• From the author, Ian Shepherd, Fellow, Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guide (2006)
• From the author, Robin Simon, Fellow, Hogarth, France and British Art (2007)
• From Marit Gaimster, Fellow, Viborg Sonderso 1018─1030 edited by Mette Iversen (2005) and Tarnby edited by Mette S Kristiansen (2005)
• From the authors, John Chapman and Bisserka Gaydarska, Parts and Wholes: fragmentation in prehistoric context (2007)
• From the author, Peter Draper, Fellow, The Formation of English Gothic (2006)
• From John Bennell, Histoire des medailles by Charles Patin (1695)
• From David Boswell, Fellow, Frank Brangwyn 1867─1956 edited by Libby Horner and Gillian Naylor (2006)
• From Gwyn Meirion-Jones, Fellow, Les Vitraux de Bretagne by Francoise Gatouillat and Michel Herold (2005)
• From the author, the Reverend Roger Brown, Fellow, In pursuit of a Welsh Episcopate (2005).


Historic Scotland, Cultural Resources Adviser
Salary range of £25,622 to £31,131, closing date 16 March 2007

The Cultural Resources Team (CRT) in Historic Scotland’s Properties in Care Division is responsible for recording and developing knowledge and understanding of the properties. The team is responsible for advising on the research, archaeology, statutory protection issues and the conservation principles applied to work at Historic Scotland’s sites. The Cultural Resources Adviser will cover a geographical area and within that will be responsible for recording and developing knowledge and understanding of the properties; writing and updating statements of cultural significance; maintaining the sites and monuments records; managing archaeology monitoring and research projects; offering advice on archaeological and conservation mitigation for work at the properties; and working with others on projects and programmes that increase visitors’ enjoyment and understanding of the monuments.

Candidates must have a detailed knowledge of Scottish archaeology and/or history, and experience of heritage management Knowledge of heritage legislation and an awareness of international conservation policy is desirable. For further details and an application form, please send an email quoting reference number HSC/07/025.