Salon Archive

Issue: 162

Forthcoming meetings

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. Tickets for the reception cost £15 (to include wine and canapés) and can be obtained from the Society.

17 May: Ballot

Online ballot: 17 May 2007

The Blue Papers for the ballot to be held on 17 May 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.

The Society’s seminar on the Heritage Protection White Paper

The Society of Antiquaries’ seminar on Monday 30 April 2007, from 1.30pm to 4.30pm, in the Geological Society Lecture Theatre at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, offers the chance to hear what impact the Heritage Protection White Paper will have on the work of everyone in the heritage sector.

Speakers include Harry Reeves of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Peter Beecham, FSA, of English Heritage, both of whom will have an important role in implementing the White Paper’s recommendations; Paul Drury, author of the English Heritage Conservation Principles, which are cited in the White Paper as being integral to the new vision; plus representatives of The Archaeological Forum, the Council for British Archaeology, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies.

Please send an email to the organiser, Christopher Catling, if you wish to attend, stating your name(s) and the organisation(s) that you will represent (if any). A programme for the event will be circulated shortly to everyone booked to attend.

News of Fellows

HM The Queen has approved the appointment of our Fellow Professor Sarah Foot to the Regius Chair of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford. Professor Foot will be the first ever woman to hold this post. Professor Foot will teach and lecture on ecclesiastical history and on the early and later teachings of the Church. Professor Foot read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and then History at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she also carried out her doctoral research. She then worked as a Research Fellow and Tutor at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before taking up a lectureship at the University of Sheffield in 1993 and then being appointed Professor when the new Chair of Early Medieval History was established in 2003.

Professor Foot’s research interests mainly lie in the history of the early medieval Church; she has worked particularly on monasticism in Anglo-Saxon England, including on the experiences of women in Veiled Women. In 2001 she was awarded a major grant to carry out research into the ruined Cistercian abbeys of Yorkshire. Her most recent work was a major study entitled Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England. She is currently one of the editors of the Oxford History of Historical Writing.

Dr David Barker, FSA, has been such a fixture at the Stoke-on-Trent Archaeology Service that we have all come to think of the two as synonymous, but David says he is now leaving the post he has held for the last 28.5 years in order to try and make a living as a freelance ceramics specialist.

Feedback

Charles Wagner, Head of Planning & Regeneration Policy at English Heritage, notes that the last issue of Salon gave the wrong information in reporting EH’s campaign to protect England’s historic suburbs. Charles writes: ‘We have produced two documents, one in print and as a PDF on the EH and HELM websites called Suburbs and the Historic Environment, which sets out ways in which local authorities can protect and enhance historic suburbs, and the one mentioned in Salon, which is a secondary document produced as a PDF file on the websites only, entitled The Heritage of Historic Suburbs, which is essentially a condensed version of an essay by Andrew Saint on the history of suburbs.’

Several Fellows have responded to Matthew Spriggs’s obituary for Dr Aubrey Parke (1925–2007) – which mentioned that Parke began digging with Mortimer Wheeler at Maiden Castle in 1938 at the age of twelve – to say that there are several others among the Fellowship who also took part in that excavation campaign, including Beatrice de Cardi, who was a great friend of Wheeler, Rachel Maxwell-Hyslop and Nancy Sandars.

Anthony Harding reminds those of us who are too young to know that there was something of a rivalry between Wheeler and Sheppard Frere. The latest British Archaeology contains an interview with Frere that hints at this: Frere says that in that same year, 1938, he was digging at the Iron Age farmstead at Little Woodbury under Gerhard Bersu. ‘I was glad I was digging there and not at Maiden Castle’, he says, ‘they had all the wrong ideas. Wheeler was a great man, but he got it wrong there. It was pit dwellings in his day, but Bersu saw them as storage pits.’

Sheppard Frere’s interview refers to another precocious twelve-year-old, now a distinguished Fellow whose archaeology has taken him all the way to the House of Lords: ‘One year’, says Frere, ‘a tall stick of a boy aged twelve came [to Canterbury] with his mother; could he help dig? He spent the season there; turned out to be Colin Renfrew. I suppose he dug all right. I must have put him off the Romans, I think.’

One more memory of Wheeler comes from Margaret (Bulmer) Ward who thanks John Prag for reviving memories of her Swan’s Cruise on board the Ankara in 1974. ‘John brought back memories of pottering through the Corinth Canal with armed guards standing above us on those towering walls of stone. I reaped this benefit from Swan’s practice of giving two free places in the depths of the Ankara to university students. Apart from philanthropy, the idea seemed to be that British students would offer some youthful interest in Classics to the largely elderly and mainly American millionaires (as they seemed to me!). We were in Athens on this ship (which belonged to the Turkish Maritime Lines) when hostilities between Greece and Turkey broke out. We were quickly shipped off to Italy, while the main guest lecturer, Sir Mortimer Wheeler (then in his eighties), was flown back immediately to Britain. But first he summoned us students to his room, to receive his parting words of wisdom: “Always have a plan in life.” Memorable, but …?’

Salon is guilty of gullibility according to our Fellow Vincent Megaw who forwards a lengthy refutation of the idea that Peter Trickett's book Beyond Capricorn: how Portuguese adventurers secretly discovered and charted Australia and New Zealand 250 years before Captain Cook should be taken seriously. The critique of Trickett’s work comes from Vincent’s colleague, William (Bill) Richardson, Associate Professor, School of Humanities, Flinders University, former Reader in Portuguese and Spanish and the author of some twenty papers for academic journals on the identification of enigmatic coastlines on early maps.

Bill says that Trickett’s is ‘the sixth book since 1893 to claim that the Portuguese discovered Australia in the 1520s … the details of the claims are all different, even though they are all based on the same supposed evidence – the appearance on mid-sixteenth-century French maps of a large, enigmatic “continent” lying immediately south of Indonesia. Part of the east coast of this landmass, usually referred to as Jave la Grande, does perhaps look a bit like the supposedly corresponding coast of Queensland and northern New South Wales, but there is no Australian feature corresponding to the large triangular projection at its southern end. No less than six different speculative identifications of this awkward, anomalous feature have been produced, including two different headlands of Tasmania and the East Cape of New Zealand’s North Island.’

Richardson argues that the maps are actually copies of very early Portuguese sketch charts of the coasts of south-west Java and southern Vietnam, together with the islands to the east; that the west coast of Jave la Grande represents the west and south-west coasts of Java and that the difficult triangular promontory is the Mekong delta.

A succinct summary of the issues can be found on the Wikipedia website. Fellows who would like to know more can read Bill Richardson’s own book on the subject (Richardson, W A R 2006. Was Australia charted before 1606? The Jave La Grande inscriptions, Canberra, National Library of Australia).

Finally Salon apologises to any reader who might be wandering around Diocletian’s Thermae in Rome looking for the insignia of Maxentius. Fellow Percival Turnbull, of the Brigantia Archaeological Practice, writes to say that ‘these are not displayed in the Baths of Diocletian (as reported in Salon 160), which are pretty well full of the epigraphic collections, but in the nineteenth-century baroque Palazzo Massimo on the other side of the square’. ‘And stunning they are, too,’ Percival adds.

National Gallery Director to move to the Royal Academy

Our Fellow Charles Saumarez Smith, currently Director of the National Gallery, will take over this autumn as Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy. Charles was offered the post after an exhaustive selection process, in which a long-list of fifty-one candidates was narrowed to a shortlist of seven this month. He was appointed ‘by acclamation’ at a meeting of the Royal Academy’s General Assembly on 27 March 2007.

Commenting on the appointment, our General Secretary, David Gaimster, said: ‘Dr Saumarez Smith will take over at the Royal Academy at exactly the time our Tercentenary exhibition will open at the Royal Academy, and we can look forward to an even closer relationship in the future as we build on the Cultural Campus ethos that unites all the Burlington House learned societies.’

Life in the UK: a missed opportunity

Prehistorians prepare to weep: Gordon Brown – the man who is very likely to be our next Prime Minister – seems to believe that Britain’s history begins with the Roman conquest. In his big speech on ‘Britishness’ given at a seminar held at the Commonwealth Club in London, on 27 February, he alleges that ‘British people feel more patriotic about their country than almost other European country’, and says: ‘One reason [for this] is that Britain has a unique history – and what has emerged from the long tidal flows of British history – from the 2,000 years of successive waves of invasion, immigration, assimilation and trading partnerships; from the uniquely rich, open and outward-looking culture – is, I believe, a distinctive set of British values which influence British institutions.’

Worse still, as our Fellow Clive Gamble points out, this ‘modern origin myth’ is written into the official Home Office publication called Life in the UK: a journey to citizenship, priced at £9.99, which is ‘the only official test book and study guide’ for people intending to sit the exam that all prospective applicants for British citizenship or settlement must now take. ‘The bit that may interest Fellows’, says Clive, ‘is on pages 8 to 9 concerning Early Britain, which “begins with the Roman Conquest”.’

What is especially sad about the speech and the publication is that an opportunity has been missed to make the highly relevant point that everyone in Britain is a migrant. According to Clive: Polish plumbers arriving since 2004 are simply emulating those hunters and gatherers from Spain and the Ukraine who got here about 15,000 years ago and who contributed about 75 per cent of our gene pool.’

Stonehenge visitor centre approved

Perhaps, if he can spare the time this summer, Gordon Brown might like to make a visit to Stonehenge: if he arrives during August and September, he might be able to learn from whatever discoveries our Fellow Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues make during their planned excavation of Neolithic dwellings at Durrington Walls this year. Sadly the Chancellor will not be able to visit the new Visitor Facilities and Access Scheme at Stonehenge, for which English Heritage has at last been granted planning permission, because that permission is contingent on the decision yet to be made about the roads around Stonehenge.

Our Fellow, Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, said: ‘We are delighted that our proposal for new visitor facilities has got over the final hurdle in planning terms. It is a vindication of the integrity and the distinctive merits of the scheme, which will transform the visitor experience and form a crucial part of our commitment to manage the World Heritage Site. We accept that it is reasonable for planning permission to be conditional on the road improvements going ahead, as there is no doubt that the two projects are conceived in conjunction with each other to produce the maximum positive benefits. We urge the Government to give its support to the Published Scheme for the A303 and to announce its decision without further delay. Failure to do so would be to miss out on a unique opportunity to do the right thing for Stonehenge and its visitors.’

British Archaeology May/June 2007

Under the editorship of our Fellow Mike Pitts, British Archaeology has achieved an astonishing record of breaking major archaeological news stories that the rest of the world’s media have then picked up and re-broadcast. The latest issue is no exception, with the media honing in on the news that a lozenge-shaped object made of soft Whitby jet has been found in a pit in Suffolk. The find has added significance because the shape and decoration of the jet lozenge is very similar to that of two early Bronze Age gold lozenges – dating from 1900–1700 BC – found at Bush Barrows, near Stonehenge, in 1808 and at Clandon Barrow, in Dorset, in 1882.

Clare Good, of the Suffolk County Archaeology Service, discovered the jet lozenge at a site in South Lowestoft, Suffolk, while excavating the remains of a probable funeral pyre. The lozenge appears to have been placed inside the pit after the body was burned along with a flint knife and some sherds from a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age vessel.

Mike Pitts describes the jet object as having a flat back and domed front, decorated with a carefully engraved ‘rocker’ design (so-called because of the rocking motion that the artist used when carving out the design) consisting of two zigzag lines, running parallel to the edge, supporting twelve pendant semi-circles, then a double circle and central dot.

Each of the two corners of the short axis has a pair of holes drilled through the plate. Our Fellow Alison Sheridan, Head of Early Prehistory at the National Museum of Scotland, says that the museum’s analysis of the silt in the holes reveals a high level of copper, suggesting that the plaque was attached to a garment by copper or copper alloy pins or rivets and worn on the chest or as an amulet. Alison described it as an example of ‘supernatural power dressing’ by a ‘status- and fashion-conscious’ elite – wealthy individuals, local leaders, or even some kind of early royalty.

But sometimes the Society of Antiquaries can get in first with a story that British Archaeology later picks up: a case in point is Fellow Ian Hinton’s account of his research measuring the alignments of parish churches in England and Wales. Though he finds no evidence for the popular idea that churches are oriented on the rising sun on the feast day of their patronal saint, he does find that the further west a church is located, the more likely it is to be aligned north of east, suggesting that there is a focus of alignment, as yet unexplained. But Fellows already know that – you read it first in the Antiquaries Journal, vol 86 (2006).

Elsewhere in the same magazine, Fellows David Knight and Blaise Vyner report on the astonishing range of finds that have resulted from work in the Trent Valley excavating sites zoned for sand and gravel extraction (research that is funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund); our Fellow Mick Aston returns to his childhood home in south-west Birmingham and reveals the Saxon framework that underpins the area’s heavily industrialised landscapes; and Fellow Keith Parfitt, with Barry Corke, reveals the archaeology of Dover’s twelfth- and thirteenth-century fishing community.

‘Georgian cities put modern Britain to shame’

If you tried to guess whose words these are, you might nominate Prince Charles or the architect Robert Adam – probably not the radical ultra-Modernist Richard Rogers, though that is in fact the correct answer: speaking after he was revealed as the recipient of this year’s Pritzker Prize, the ‘Nobel Prize’ of the architectural world, on 28 March 2007, he said that ‘modern British buildings fall far short of the standards set by the Georgians, and that despite the great strides made towards bolder architecture in Britain during his forty-year career, British cities were still not as enjoyable to live in as they had been 200 years ago. ‘The battle is to get cities as a whole up to the standards that Georgian cities used to be at, with their tree-lined avenues, wonderful squares and great windows overlooking garden areas. It’s the coherent sense of place that you get with Holland Park and Belgravia, or the Victorian Notting Hill. These are wonderfully planned’, he said, citing Barcelona and Copenhagen as cities that had achieved a contemporary ‘unity of purpose’ comparable to the clean lines, dynamic streets and restful spaces of Georgian London.

He went on: ‘We still haven’t achieved a high enough quality in terms of both buildings and public spaces in contemporary architecture. There’s a long way to go. If you take a trip to the Thames Gateway, it’s pretty disappointing to see what’s been built on one of the most beautiful rivers of the world. It’s basic stuff — if you take a boat down it you see that half the buildings look away from the river.’

Asking why Britain, with an exceptional number of good architects, has a lower standard of architecture than Spain, he said: ‘It’s the selection of architects and planners which can be improved on. Often the people who make the selection — and it is often city councils — don’t have high enough aspirations.’

The shortlist for the 2007 Gulbenkian Prize for Museums and Galleries

This year’s £100,000 Gulbenkian Prize shortlist consists of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Kew Palace in London, the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, and Sheffield’s Weston Park Museum. The eventual winner will be announced on 24 May 2007, during Museums and Galleries Month.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum reopened last year after a three-year restoration to allow more of its world-class collection to be shown to the public. Chichester's Pallant House Gallery contains one of the world’s best collections of modern British art and its new £8.6m extension is the first in the UK to have a geothermal heating and cooling system, cutting its carbon emissions by up to 50 per cent. Kew Palace, run by Historic Royal Palaces, is Britain’s smallest royal palace and recreates the era of George III who lived there in the early 1800s. Careful conservation and interpretation plus imaginative visual and sound effects have been used to recreate its Georgian heyday. Sheffield’s Weston Park Museum recently underwent a £19m transformation, bringing to life the city’s archaeology, natural history, social history and visual and decorative art collections.

Export bar on fourteenth-century guild roll

The Government has placed a temporary export bar on a fourteenth-century guild roll relating to the Guild of St Mary in Nottingham, based at the church of St Mary the Virgin, the oldest religious foundation in the City of Nottingham, now the Civic Church to the City of Nottingham and the University Church for the University of Nottingham.

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, which advises the Government on such matters, describes the guild roll as ‘the earliest example known to survive for Nottingham of an important category of medieval record’, and says that it is ‘of outstanding significance for the study of the borough in the medieval period and so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune’.

The guild roll dates from 1371 and names 167 members of the Guild of St Mary, many with ranks, occupations and places of abode. Nottingham also possesses court rolls for the fourteenth century that are among the earliest surviving examples of such records in the UK, and together the guild roll and court rolls have the potential to provide scholars with invaluable source material on the community aspects of medieval borough and parish life.

The decision on the export licence application for the guild roll will be deferred for a period ending on 2 June inclusive, a period that may be extended until 2 August if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the guild roll at the recommended price of £6,600, excluding VAT, is expressed. Further information is available on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport website.

Choosing the right sort of cave

A three-year survey of some 230 caves in the Yorkshire Dales and 190 caves in the Peak District has demonstrated that not all caves were deemed suitable as homes by our Neolithic ancestors. A team led by Andrew Chamberlain, Professor of Biological Anthropology at Sheffield University, has determined that people living in Britain from 4000 to 2000 BC were selective in their choice of shelter. ‘There was a higher frequency of prehistoric usage of those caves with larger entrances and deeper passages, also of caves that were higher in altitude and caves with entrances that faced towards the east or to the west’, Professor Chamberlain says, adding that: ‘most of the caves linked to human activities tend to have level areas outside of the entrances’.

The project to identify caves once used as shelters is being funded by English Heritage’s Historic Environment Enabling Program (HEEP) because of concerns about cave erosion as sports such as potholing and cave exploration grow in popularity. The team believes the criteria they have established will help other researchers in the future to predict what sorts of caves might contain archaeological artefacts, and take appropriate conservation measures.

The Peak District attracted more prehistoric cave users than the Yorkshire Dales, perhaps, said Chamberlain, because it was a more productive area for agriculture and thus might have had a higher population or because people there simply utilised caves more frequently. The team has also identified many caves that have yet to be explored for their archaeological potential.

Dung-eating mites throw light on Inca civilisation

In a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Dr Chepstow-Lusty of Montpellier University, in France, reports on a novel technique for charting the rise and fall of the Inca empire and the civilisations that preceded it. Dr Lusty has been studying fossilised mites, preserved in sediments at a lake about 50km (30 miles) from the Inca capital of Cuzco. Fluctuations in the mite population are directly linked to the amount of food, in the form of llama dung, deposited on the pastures around Lake Maracocha at particular times, and can thus be used as a proxy for estimating the size of the herds and pack trains that grazed there. The theory has been tested by correlating the rise and fall in mite numbers with well-documented socio-economic changes in the post-conquest period.

The research suggests that after a period of sharp growth the Inca civilisation’s power had already started to wane immediately before the arrival of Francisco Pizarro’s conquistadors. This could reflect the advent of European diseases to which indigenous people and livestock had no resistance. Even further back in history, the mite records also show how two earlier civilisations, the Whari and the Tiwanaku, moved higher into the Andes as temperatures rose during the eleventh century, then declined, partly because of prolonged drought.

Dr Chepstow-Lusty said: ‘We don’t have any historical documents before the Spanish arrived, and we have had to rely on archaeology and evidence from things like pollen and charcoal. What we have now is a new tool that can be used directly to study large herbivore populations, which in this part of the world are intimately linked to humans.’

Unquiet Lands: people and landscapes in prehistoric north-west Europe

It is still not too late to sign up for the joint Prehistoric Society and Bournemouth University day school on people and landscapes in prehistoric north-west Europe, which takes place from 20 to 22 April 2007. Our Fellow Professor John Barrett, University of Sheffield, will give the Friday night keynote address on alternative approaches to landscape interpretation, while Saturday’s session includes papers on the Malvern Hills as a frontier zone from Fellow Mark Bowden, on eyewitness accounts of the end of the Iron Age from Miles Russell, on rock art landscapes from Blaze Valeska O’Connor, on the landscapes inherited by Neolithic communities by Mike Allen and on the Palaeolithic rivers of south-west Britain from Tony Brown. Sunday’s offerings include optional minibus tours to prehistoric sites in south Dorset. Further details from the Bournemouth University website.

Tell people about your research, and win up to £1,500

The sixth Awards for the Presentation of Heritage Research will take place this year at the British Association’s Festival of Science in York from 10 to 14 September 2007. Three awards will be offered: a first prize of £1,500, a second prize of £500 and an under-30 prize of £500. The purpose of this award is to encourage presentation of recent British and Irish archaeological, historic buildings and heritage conservation research to a wider audience. It is vital for the future of the historic environment that we do more to present and explain our work to the wider public, to increase their understanding and enjoyment and the value they place on our heritage.

Entrants are asked to submit a written summary of their presentation by 4 May 2007. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to speak at the awards session at the Festival of Science on Thursday 13 September 2007. The judges will place particular weight on the clarity of presentation to an informed but non-specialist audience, and on the interest and quality of the underlying research.

The Awards are sponsored by the Royal Archaeological Institute, English Heritage, Cadw, Historic Scotland, the Environment and Heritage Service (an agency within DOE(NI)) and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Republic of Ireland). For further information, an entry form and information about past winners, see the English Heritage website.

The international importance and context of Pontcysyllte aqueduct

Telford and Jessop’s great 200-year-old canal aqueduct is 127 feet (39 metres) high (still the highest ever built) and over 1,000 feet long. Tom Rolt’s pioneering journeys up the Llangollen Canal to the aqueduct were one of the events that led to the establishment of the international waterways restoration movement.

On 10 to 12 June 2007, a three-day conference will launch the nomination of the Pontcysyllte aqueduct as a World Heritage Site and review the research undertaken since the aqueduct’s bicentenary in 2005, examining the case for World Heritage Site Nomination of the Llangollen Canal and its innovative aqueducts and engineering.

This will also be the first meeting of the new British Committee of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH), and speakers will include Eusebi Casanelles, President of TICCIH, Fellow Sir Neil Cossons, Honorary President of TICCIH, John Hume, Chairman of the RCAHMS, and Fellow Peter Wakelin, Secretary of the RCAHMW.

For programme details and booking form see the conference website.

Finding the Spirit of Place: are we 'loving our heritage to death'?

ICOMOS-UK and the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Cultural Tourism are hosting a joint symposium on 9 June 2007 at the International Study Centre, Canterbury Cathedral, to explore the idea of ‘spirit of place’ through the lens of cultural tourism. The first session is an examination of different ways of enhancing the Spirit of Place in a variety of cultural landscapes. The second session investigates how visitors engage with, contribute to or detract from the Spirit of Place. Case studies provide examples of current practice across the world as well the UK. Tickets (which include a buffet lunch and tea/coffee) are £40 for members of ICOMOS-UK, £60 for non-members and £30 for students. A symposium programme and booking form can be downloaded from the ICOMOS-UK website.

Books by Fellows

Our Fellow Martin Jones has a new book out that tells the story of human society through the description and analysis of a series of meals. Each chapter in Feast: why humans share food (published by Oxford University Press) begins with the description of a meal at a certain point in time, based on archaeological evidence, which is then unpicked to reveal how archaeologists think about this evidence, what conclusions they have drawn and what we can learn from a few bones, shells, seeds or fragments of fossilised faeces about the lifestyles of Neanderthals, Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers, Neolithic farmers, Iron Age Britons or Roman soldiers.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the book concerns the basic question of how and why H sapiens evolved communal eating and the sharing of food as an everyday activity – habits that are far from normal in the wild, where ‘a flashing fire, bared teeth, a quantity of food placed in the centre of a group of hungry animals all spell trouble in a myriad of ways’.

The answer has to do with the observation that, paradoxically, as our brains grew, so our guts contracted. Bigger brains associated with language use require more, rather than less, energy, and yet our digestive system seems to have taken the opposite route. This suggests that cooking was an essential part of the development of brain capacity and language, because cooking is a way of beginning the breakdown of fibre in food. By eating food that was, in a sense, partly pre-digested, we could use less energy in digestion and put more into developing our big brains.

Something entirely different comes in the form of James France’s new book entitled Medieval Images of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, just published by Cistercian Publications of Kalamazoo, Michigan. James says his book is ‘an interpretation of the visual tradition of Saint Bernard and its development from the twelfth century to the end of the Middle Ages based on asking a series of questions according to three main criteria: chronological, geographic, and thematic. The material, covering all media – illuminated manuscripts, early printed books, paintings, sculpture, and stained glass – reveals how Bernard’s iconography was constantly evolving and adapting to a changing world, especially to the greater involvement of the laity and their devotional practices’. The book includes a catalogue of over 900 medieval images in all media in the form of a CD-ROM.

Toby Driver’s new book, Pembrokeshire: historic landscapes from the air, reveals what a rich county Pembrokeshire is for its archaeology, history and the diversity and beauty of its spectacular landscapes. Many of the photographs in the book were taken by Toby as part of his survey work for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Contemporary pictures are set in context by images drawn from the archives of the National Monuments Record of Wales in Aberystwyth, including war-time aerial views, archaeological surveys, reconstruction drawings, maps and ‘virtual’ views of the county’s archaeological landscapes. Within its pages, readers can learn how buried prehistoric farms are revealed as growth marks in summer crops, how Pembrokeshire’s fields originated up to 6,000 years ago, how historic farmsteads now lie abandoned across the hills, and how the Royal Air Force documented the aftermath of a war-time bombing raid on Pembroke Dock.

Toby says: ‘This is a book for anyone interested in the deep history and the long development of the Welsh landscape that will open readers’ eyes to Pembrokeshire’s many hidden corners and some of its long-forgotten hillforts, lost farmsteads, drover’s routes, coastal industries and war-time defences.’ As a special post-publication offer, the book is available direct from the Royal Commission free of post and packaging charges: see the RCAHM website for further details.

Vacancies

English Heritage, Regional Director, South West Region
Salary c £55,000, closing date 18 April 2007

English Heritage is seeking a replacement for our Fellow Bob Bewley, following his appointment as Operations Director at the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Regional Director is the public face of English Heritage in the region and is responsible for the delivery of the corporate, group and regional objectives of English Heritage in the South West through decisive leadership, the effective delivery of casework and advisory services, and by ensuring that the expectations of stakeholders are managed successfully.

Details can be found on the Guardian’s website.