Salon Archive

Issue: 163

Results of the Anniversary election held on 25 April 2007

The following Fellows were elected as members of Council:

John Penrose BARRON, MA, DPhil
Timothy Charles DARVILL, BA, PhD, DSc
Eric Campbell FERNIE, CBE, BA
Clive Stephen GAMBLE, MA, PhD
Roberta Lynn GILCHRIST, BA, DPhil
Frances Marian GRIFFITH, BA
Colin Cliff HASELGROVE, BSc, MA, PhD
Maurice HOWARD, BA, MA, DPhil
John Stephen JOHNSON, MA, PhD
Martin John MILLETT, BA, DPhil
Sîan Eluned REES, BA, PhD
Alison Fay TAYLOR, BA
Dominic TWEDDLE, BA, PhD
Geoffrey John WAINWRIGHT, MBE, BA, PhD
Anthony Raymond WILMOTT, BA, MA
Jean Lesley WILSON, MA, PhD

The following Fellows were elected as Officers of the Society:

President: Geoffrey John WAINWRIGHT, MBE, BA, PhD
Treasurer: Martin John MILLETT, BA, DPhil
Director: Maurice HOWARD, BA, MA, DPhil
Secretary: Alison Fay TAYLOR, BA

In the ballot for the position of President, Geoff Wainwright received 504 votes and John Barron received 418 votes. There were 5 spoilt ballot papers.

Geoff Wainwright’s presidential message

Following confirmation that he had been elected to the post of President, Geoff Wainwright responded with the following message to Fellows:

‘I wish to express my thanks initially to Eric Fernie for all he has done for the Society during his presidency. Thanks also to John Barron from whom I have received nothing but courtesy; and to my supporters for their trust in me. Commiseration to those who supported John and I hope that divisions will now be put aside for the greater good of the Society.

‘Contested elections clearly provide greater participation amongst the Fellowship. My only public comment on the elections just concluded is that we need a better structure within which to conduct them; in particular one which does not render the Society dysfunctional at regular and frequent intervals in anticipation of the next election. I shall give priority to this and will consult the Fellowship before any decisions are made.

‘These are matters for the future. During the next twelve months we shall be devoting all our energies to celebrating the Tercentenary and raising the funds necessary to increase the range and value of our grants and publications, invest in our library and collections, improve the services we offer to Fellows, expand our commitment to Kelmscott and develop our advocacy role for the heritage. I hope that we can all participate in and enjoy the excellent Tercentenary programme and promote the fundraising campaign which will provide a secure financial platform for the years to come.’

A new Council for SAL

Our Secretary, Alison Taylor, reports on the events of 25 April 2007 and the marathon count that led to the election of a new Council: ‘Last Wednesday was a historic day for our Society when our Treasurer, Geoff Wainwright, was voted in as President with a safe majority after the first contested election since 1959. That night put the Society’s Statutes to a savage test, as the election system had to be fair and foolproof: ballot papers had been pouring in for weeks beforehand, but none could be opened or counted until the close of the ballot at 3.45pm on that Wednesday.

‘As a result of the scale of the voting (nearly half of all Fellows voted) and the need to count the votes for all the candidates for the twenty places on Council, counting lasted until 10pm instead of the traditional 5pm – and this despite drafting in three former Presidents and five more of our most senior Fellows who worked ceaselessly as scrutators.

‘Late as it was, forty Fellows remained to the end; gathering in the Library to hear the result, they welcomed the new President and heard excellent and cheering speeches from both candidates and from Eric Fernie, retiring President. The campaign had proved unexpectedly energetic, with Council’s wide-ranging programme of future activities rightly held up to close scrutiny at a time of rapid change.

‘We now have a Council for the year ahead, and extend a warm welcome to Roberta Gilchrist, Colin Haselgrove, Stephen Johnson, Sîan Rees and Dominic Tweddle as newly elected members. Our new Director is Maurice Howard, while former Director, Martin Millett, becomes Treasurer, with myself (Alison Taylor) continuing as Honorary Secretary, with Geoff Wainwright as the President for the coming eventful year.’

Ballot on 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.

Ballot on 15 March 2007

Salon omitted to announce the results of last month’s ballot, for which apologies. The Society is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 15 March 2007:

Ian Miller, Gilbert Roger Burleigh, Peter George Beal, Guy Martyn Thorold Huchet de la Bédoyère, Ronald Woodley, Derek Kennet, Lawrence Nees, Ora Wendy Baron, John Stanley King, Sally Ann Worrell, Jeremy Spencer Hodgkinson, Gordon Roy Campbell, Philip Edward Macdonald, Kathryn Hilary Lomas, Jonathan Hugh Creer Williams, Katherine Françoise Purcell, Peter Paul Gaspar, Sandra Davison, Laura Julia Preston and Liba Taub.

Forthcoming meetings

17 May: Ballot with exhibits. Michael Lewis, FSA, will speak about ‘The mystery of Charles Stothard, FSA, and the Bayeux Tapestry fragment’, and our General Secretary, David Gaimster, will exhibit ‘A Sunderland lustreware plaque with its portrait of Adam Clarke, FSA (1762–1832), and its motto “He that believeth shall be saved”’

24 May: Patterns and Processes in English Vernacular Architecture, by Matthew Johnson, FSA

The late Jack Spurgeon

A recent issue of Fellowship News contained the notice of the death of our late Fellow Clifford J Spurgeon; Frances Lynch, FSA, writes to remind Fellows that Clifford was far better known to his friends as Jack Spurgeon, former member of staff at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and a great expert on early castles.

The late Grace Simpson

We are very grateful to Joanna Bird, FSA, for the following obituary for the late Grace Simpson, FSA, which first appeared in the newsletter of the Study Group for Roman Pottery. Joanna herself is indebted to Nina Crummy, Geoffrey Dannell, Philip Kenrick, John Simpson and Colin Wallace for their help in compiling the obituary

‘Dr Grace Simpson, FSA, who died at Oxford on 8 February 2007, was best known in Roman pottery circles for her contribution to samian studies, above all as the joint author with Joseph Stanfield of Central Gaulish Potters, published in 1958 and still an essential work for samian specialists.

‘Grace was born at Boston Spa, near Leeds, on 12 November 1920, the younger daughter of F Gerald Simpson, a noted archaeologist particularly associated with the study and excavation of Hadrian’s Wall. Her early years were spent in Newcastle, where her father was Director of Archaeological Field Research, and she was educated at Penrhos College in Colwyn Bay, a girls’ school with a strong academic tradition. During the war she trained and served as a nurse, but she wished ultimately to follow her father into archaeology. In September 1945, learning that courses were about to restart at the Institute of Archaeology in London, in her own words “I hurried to London, was interviewed, paid a fee of two guineas … and I was in!” She studied at the Institute for three years, receiving the Diploma in European Archaeology in 1948, and her memories of those days were published in the Institute’s periodical (Simpson, G 2001. ‘Remembering Frederick Zeuner and others at the Institute of Archaeology, 1945–8’, Archaeology International, 4, 9–10).

‘Between 1950 and 1954 Grace held an appointment as Research Assistant to Eric Birley in her father’s old department at Durham; she was also appointed Honorary Curator of the Clayton Collection at Chesters Museum, a post she held until 1972 (Simpson, G 1948. Guide to Chesters Museum with notes on the Roman fort, bridge and bath-house etc, Durham). It was during her period at Durham that she began to establish her reputation as a specialist in samian ware and, working with the illustrator Wilfred Dodds, she took on the completion of Joseph Stanfield’s study of the Central Gaulish potters which had been left unfinished at his death. She contributed the bulk of the text to what became universally known as ‘Stanfield and Simpson’ (Stanfield, J A and Simpson, G 1958. Central Gaulish Potters, London), a book of such significance that in 1978 Howard Comfort considered it “the outstanding single achievement” of British samian studies (Comfort, H 1979. ‘Notes on Roman ceramic archaeology 1928–1978’, Rei Cretariae Romanae Fautores Supplementa, 4). It is still essential to anyone studying samian ware and, because of its present scarcity, a French edition, with some updating by Grace, was published in 1990 (Stanfield, J A and Simpson, G 1990. Les potiers de la Gaule Centrale, Revue, Archéologique SITES Hors-série, 37, Gonfaron).

‘From the 1950s onwards, Grace regularly contributed specialist reports on samian ware to excavation reports. At around the same time she also began her tours of museums in Britain and France, acquiring an extensive collection of rubbings of decorated samian which gave her the basis from which she could study excavation finds with such authority. She was a founder member of the Rei Cretariae Romanae Fautores, established in 1957, and regularly attended the biennial conferences. These meetings extended her friendships and acquaintance with scholars in other countries, and enabled her to add further rubbings to her collection from the museums and sites visited. They also led to a prolific correspondence with colleagues in Britain and abroad, much of which survives among her papers, notably with the samian specialists George Rogers and Bernard Hofmann, and to a valuable exchange of notes and offprints with many other scholars and students.

‘In addition to more than eighty samian reports, Grace published a number of papers which had a wider relevance to samian studies. Among these are two papers on black-slipped samian ware, which showed the relationship between these wares and the fine colour-coated wares made at the same sites (Simpson, G 1957. ‘Metallic black slip vases from Central Gaul with applied and moulded decoration’, Antiquaries Journal, 37, 29–42; Simpson, G 1973. ‘More black slip vases from Central Gaul with applied and moulded decoration in Britain’, Antiquaries Journal, 53, 42–51), and an early paper showing the probable presence of a second British samian workshop which has subsequently proved to lie in the Pulborough area of Sussex (Simpson, G 1952. ‘The Aldgate potter: a maker of Romano-British samian ware’, Journal of Roman Studies, 42, 68–71).

‘Grace’s study of decorated ware from Montans, initially presented in the last volume of the Richborough reports, was of great value, and led to further separate articles (Simpson, G 1968. ‘The decorated samian pottery’, in Fifth Report on the Excavations of the Roman Fort at Richborough, Kent, ed B W Cunliffe, Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 23, 148–62; Simpson, G 1976. ‘Decorated terra sigillata at Montans (Tarn) from the manuscript of Elie Rossignol at Albi’, Britannia, 7, 244–73; Simpson, G 2002. ‘Journeys in south-west France in 1972–3’, in Céramiques de la Graufesenque et autres productions d’époque romaine: nouvelles recherches, Hommages à Bettina Hoffmann, eds M Genin and A Vernhet, Archéologie et Histoire Romaine, 7, Montagnac), while an important joint paper with George Rogers began to untangle the complexities of the Cinnamus workshop at Lezoux (Simpson, G and Rogers, G 1969. ‘Cinnamus de Lezoux et quelques potiers contemporains’, Gallia, 27, 3–14). She was always open to new research, and Mavis Bimson, who had published an analysis and discussion of samian clays in 1956, was promptly invited to contribute a note to Central Gaulish Potters (Bimson, M 1956. ‘The technique of Greek black and sigillata red’, Antiquaries Journal, 36, 200–4). Grace also provided a new preface, with some additions and corrections, to the 1966 reprint of “Oswald and Pryce”, which had long been virtually unobtainable (Oswald, F and Pryce, T D 1966. An Introduction to the Study of Terra Sigillata, Treated from a Chronological Standpoint, 2nd edn, London).

‘After Durham, Grace moved to Oxford to undertake postgraduate research at Lady Margaret Hall, and in later years did some teaching at Rewley House, Oxford, and as a visiting fellow at Howard Comfort’s Haverford College, Pennsylvania. She was awarded her doctorate in 1960 (Simpson, G 1960. ‘A Roman military problem: a reassessment of Wales and the southern Pennines in the second century’, unpublished DPhil thesis, University of Oxford) and her thesis formed the basis of her book Britons and the Roman Army (1964), which substantially revised the chronology of Roman Wales. Following her father’s death, in 1955, she devoted much of her time and energy to completing the publication of his work. She was fiercely protective of his reputation, something which unfortunately estranged her from a number of scholars of Wall studies who were concerned with more recent archaeological evidence. In particular, the publication in 1976 of Watermills and Military Works on Hadrian’s Wall, an account of Gerald Simpson’s early excavations, drew her into a memorable dispute with Charles Daniels, who reviewed the work critically (Britannia, 10, 1979, 357–64; Britannia, 12, 1981, 306–10).

‘In addition to her specialist work on samian ware, Grace made a considerable study of small finds, and her corpus of the metalwork from excavations at Neuss was published in 2000 (Simpson, G 2000. Roman Weapons, Tools and Bronze Equipment from the Neuss-Novaesium Excavations 1955–72, British Archaeological Reports International Series, 862, Oxford). She had a particular interest in brooches, on which she published important papers (Simpson, G 1979. ‘Some British and Iberian penannular brooches and other early types in the Rhineland and the Decumates Agri’, Antiquaries Journal, 59, 319–42; Simpson, G and Blance, B 1998. ‘Do brooches have ritual associations?’, in Form and fabric: studies in Rome's material past in honour of B R Hartley, ed J Bird, Oxbow Monograph, 80, 267–79), and virtually single-handedly salvaged and set on the path to publication M R Hull’s great corpus of Iron Age and Roman brooches from Britain. This work had to be rescued and scanned from a fast-disintegrating set of enormous old-fashioned galley-proofs, and has now passed for completion to Nina Crummy, who assisted Grace in the work for several years.

‘Grace never suffered fools gladly, and George Rogers recounted ruefully that he once received a sharp blow on the head with Larousse Gastronomique (no light volume) when working with her; his sin was to have confused the various Antiochs in a reference. Philip Kenrick, who jointly organised the Fautores meeting at Oxford and London with her in 1984, recalls that she could be difficult to work with, and that one could unwittingly incur her wrath, but that she gave her energies unstintingly to those causes she cared about, tirelessly writing letters and badgering people to ensure that the conference, so valuable for the exchange of ideas and information between scholars from many countries, would be successful.

‘She had a softer side too, however, and visitors to her house in Beechcroft Road, Oxford, would remember her famous hospitality, the beautiful walled garden with its roses, and her collection of dolls’ houses, exquisitely furnished in different styles and periods. Grace subsequently moved to Butler Close, and, in her later years, suffered from a painful and crippling illness, which she endured with great courage, not letting it dim her interest in her chosen field, or in the friends and colleagues who visited and corresponded with her. When she had to leave Butler Close and move to a nursing home, she considered that her archaeological work was complete, and she would spend her days rereading her favourite detective fiction, in particular that of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. She was always amused by the idea of Christie working on her novels while accompanying her husband Max Mallowan on his archaeological excavations. A year or so earlier Grace had ensured that her most valued records, including her precious samian books and her incomparable collection of rubbings, passed into the hands of colleagues who would make good use of them. Her rubbings of South Gaulish samian in particular have already contributed significantly to the ongoing corpus of the ware.’

The late John Percival

Salon is grateful to Richard Reece for providing the link to the following obituary for our late Fellow, John Percival, which first appeared on the Cardiff University website.

‘Professor John Percival (1937–2007), School of History and Archaeology and former Pro Vice-Chancellor, died on Monday 8 January 2007. John was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly before his retirement in 2002.

He joined the University in 1962 as assistant lecturer in Ancient History in the Department of Classics, following his education at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Hertford College and Merton College, Oxford.

An internationally respected Classics scholar and key figure in the development of Classical Studies at Cardiff and in the UK, he was appointed to a Chair in Ancient History in 1985. His research focused on the economic and social history of the later Roman Empire and the late Roman, Merovingian and Carolingian periods in France. Particularly influential was his work on the change of function of Roman villas into Christian monasteries, forging a link between the ancient and medieval worlds. This was published in articles and in his book The Roman Villa: an historical introduction (1976; 2nd edition 1988). His research on the post-Roman period was further illustrated by his sourcebook The Reign of Charlemagne (1975, edited jointly with Professor H R Loyn), and by a contribution (‘The Precursors of Domesday’) to Peter Sawyer's volume, Domesday Book: a reassessment (1985).

During his career at Cardiff University, John held a number of influential roles. From 1987 to 1988 he was a member of the Management Team and Executive Commission that masterminded the merger of University College Cardiff (UCC) and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST). He was the force that brought UCC to the negotiating table in Cardiff for merger discussions and was a great political influence for change. He was always active in supporting positive relations between the University and its academic schools. At Cardiff he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1977–86), Deputy Principal (1987–90), Head of the School of History and Archaeology (1987–97) and Pro Vice-Chancellor (1997–2002). In addition he was influential in reorganising the University’s Student Health and Occupational Health services. He was also Chair of the UK Classical Association. While thus actively involved in educational politics and administration throughout his career, he was a dedicated and highly popular teacher and taught until his retirement. He received the OBE in 2003 and became a Fellow of the University in 2004.

Professor Percival maintained a devout and active profession of the Christian Faith, serving the Church in Wales in a lay capacity on many bodies and committees.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: ‘Professor Percival gave invaluable support and leadership to the University. His sage advice and wise counsel was highly valued and his friendship and support was given generously. Everyone who knew John will be deeply saddened by his death. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Jackie and all his family.’

Professor Peter Coss, Head of the School of History and Archaeology, said: ‘Professor Percival had been universally acknowledged as a very fine head of school. His capacity for hard work, his perennial courtesy and his generosity of spirit earned him the respect, loyalty and affection of his colleagues.’

News of Fellows

Andrew Burnett, Deputy Director of the British Museum, offers interview tips in this week’s ‘Careers’ supplement in The Independent: ‘Keep your CV short, but try to put in an agenda, something that can serve as a prompt and give you more influence over the interview’, he advises. Andrew’s colleagues at the British Museum might like to know that he considers them ‘bizarre, bonkers’, but also ‘wonderfully informed people’. He also says that, despite having worked at the museum for thirty years, he is still finding objects that he had no idea existed in the museum: ‘I had no idea until recently that there was a collection of modern Greek shadow puppets’, he says.

Clive Gamble was to be heard on Radio 3 on 16 April 2007, speaking in a series called ‘Breaking the Time Barrier’, in which he took listeners back to the Somme gravel pit in northern France in 1859 when Joseph Prestwich, John Evans and Boucher de Perthes met to examine and discuss the flints and bones that were to form the first published evidence in English for the Palaeolithic (Evans, J 1859. ‘On the occurrence of flint implements in undisturbed beds of gravel, sand and clay’, Archaeologia, 38, 280–307). Clive says that he made sure to mention the Society’s forthcoming Tercentenary exhibition; sadly, the BBC only allows you to ‘listen again’ for a week after the broadcast, so we have missed the opportunity for now to hear the talk (though the BBC is promising to create unlimited online access to the whole of its archive in the near future).

Peter Fowler has an exhibition of his latest paintings in the Gallery, Wiltshire Heritage Museum, 41 Long Street, Devizes, Wiltshire (to 20 May 2007). The exhibition’s title – A Landscape Painted and Pieced – echoing as it does the title of Peter’s volume Landscape Plotted and Pieced: landscape history and local archaeology in Fyfield and Overton, Wiltshire (Society of Antiquaries of London Research Report 2000) – provides a clue to the subject of many of the paintings, inspired as they are by the prehistoric landscapes of Wiltshire. Peter describes his work as ‘a compound of “real” and recognisable elements in the landscape, and his ‘memory bank of shapes and colours and messages … and academic understanding’.

Swan Hellenic continues to evoke memories and reminiscences, the latest of which comes from Tom Hassall, who remembers being taken by his mother on Cruise No. 6 in 1957, in the fourth season of Hellenic Cruises. ‘The ship on that occasion was TSS Mediterranean of the Typaldos Line’, Tom writes: ‘I subsequently travelled on SS Ankara on Cruise No. 23 in 1961. On this occasion we went with Sir Mortimer Wheeler to Petra where I had the unforgettable experience of riding through the Gorge into the site in advance of the main party. We camped under canvas that night and climbed up to see the sunrise the following day. I become a Guest Lecturer myself in 1981. My wife, Angela, was amused to travel on Orpheus, having known her in her earlier life as Munster, the B&I Irish Sea Ferry. Angela had been an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin, and remembered cattle lowing in the Munster's hold and empty Guinness bottles rolling around the decks – a far cry from the sedate world of Swans.’

Latest on the anti-cuts campaign by the Friends of the William Morris Gallery

Campaigners seeking to save the internationally renowned William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow have accused Waltham Forest Council of wanting to ‘evict William Morris from his own house so they can use it as a wedding venue’. Salon has already reported the disquiet that has been caused by the decision of the local authority to cut the museum’s budget by £56,000 (16 per cent). Despite an international outcry, councillors voted the cuts through on 22 February.

A press release issued last week by the Friends of the William Morris Gallery (chaired by our Fellow Martin Stuchfield) said that the result would be severely restricted opening hours and staff redundancies. ‘There will be no curators at the William Morris Gallery to care for the collections or to organise focused exhibitions’, the statement said, adding that: ‘if visitor numbers decline as a consequence, there is a real threat of total closure.’

Since the cuts were announced, campaigners have received thousands of letters of support. Ken Livingstone and Lord (Chris) Smith and Tony Benn are among the high-profile figures who have expressed opposition to the cuts, and an online petition attracted over 5,000 names in just four weeks.

Strong support for the anti-cuts campaign has come from our own past President, Eric Fernie, who has signed the petition on behalf of the Society, as owners of Kelmscott Manor; Margaret Richardson, FSA, recently retired Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London; and Malcolm Thurlby, FSA, Professor of Visual Arts at York University, Toronto, Canada, internationally renowned as a specialist in medieval art and architecture and Canadian architectural history.

Gavin Stamp, FSA, says: ‘I regard the proposals for the gallery as wilful barbarism’; James Bettley, FSA, author of the forthcoming ‘Essex’ volume in the Buildings of England series says: ‘The William Morris Gallery is Walthamstow's greatest cultural asset, and houses a collection that is of international importance. It should be made accessible to the widest possible audience.’ Kim Sloan FSA, Curator, British Museum, says: ‘The damage to the collections, to the appreciation of the life work of someone who worked to improve life for all levels of society, particularly the working classes, will be irreversible for this generation and for the future.’ Carola Hicks, FSA, former curator of the Stained Glass Museum, Ely, and author of many books, says: Reducing access to WMG and getting rid of expert staff shows the council's contempt for its heritage.’

Fellows who wish to read further comments and sign the petition can do so at, while further details of the campaign can be found on the Friends’ website.

SAVE launches bid for Dumfries House

Also campaigning with vigour is SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which has launched a bid to forestall the imminent break-up of Dumfries House in Ayrshire. As has been widely publicised, the owner, the present Marquess of Dumfries — the racing driver Johnny Bute — plans to sell the property and its contents, leading to the break-up of a collection of furniture purpose-made for the house.

Marcus Binney describes the house as a complete and undisturbed work of John and Robert Adam, ‘exquisitely built, containing Chippendale’s first important commission, comprising an extensive collection of mahogany chairs, sofas, giltwood overmantels, girandoles and pier glasses, exotically crested rococo four-poster beds, and even towel-rails, chamber pot cupboards and trays’; in effect: ‘the full range of kit that could be bought or commissioned from England’s most famous cabinet maker’.

Following the failure of the National Trust for Scotland to reach agreement with the Marquess of Dumfries to acquire the house, collection and estate, SAVE has prepared an alternative plan for vesting Dumfries House in an independent charitable trust which will preserve Dumfries House intact and open both house and estate to the public. The SAVE plan is that Dumfries House should earn its keep through visitors to the house and park and through holiday lets of buildings on the estate, which could also support a range of activities, from outward-bound courses, environmental projects, walking and bird watching, ranger-led walks and lowland games to furniture study courses and workshops.

SAVE is seeking to raise £25m to cover costs of £6m to acquire the house and estate, £15m for the contents and £4m for repairs. SAVE is seeking £12m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and hopes the remainder will come from private trusts and benefactors. SAVE argues that these sums will probably be spent anyway, because museums will seek large grants to purchase major items at the forthcoming sale: rather than fuelling the break-up of the collection, SAVE argues that it makes more sense to combine forces and buy the whole house, estate and collection.

A report drawn up by Mark Gibson for SAVE (with support from the Pilgrim Trust and the Georgian Group) – entitled Action Plan for Dumfries House – is available by email from SAVE’s Secretary, Adam Wilkinson.

Home packs bad for old buildings

The HIPs, or Home Information Packs, that are about to become compulsory in the UK for anyone putting their house on the market have been condemned by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) as ‘severely damaging’ for old buildings and for the health of their occupants. HIPs, which become compulsory from 1 June 2007, will contain information about the property to be sold, including an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) produced by a domestic energy assessor. It is this that SPAB fears might lead to damaging measures to improve the energy ratings: ‘Instead of allowing old buildings to “breathe” owners could be encouraged to seal up or over-insulate the fabric in misguided attempts to save energy’, SPAB says. ‘Old buildings might, therefore, become warmer but damper – leading to condensation, decay, mould growth and associated human health problems such as asthma.’

Douglas Kent, SPAB’s technical secretary and the author of the report on HIPs, has called on the Government to re-think its plans for the introduction of HIPs in relation to older buildings.

HIPs have been widely criticised as a waste of time and money that will slow the selling process and bring chaos to the housing market and economy. The Conservative party will try to block the introduction of the packs by tabling a motion in the Lords next week and forcing a vote on them.

Wandsworth Museum might be saved

Another London museum under pressure from local authority spending cuts might yet be saved from closure by a scheme that involves re-establishing the Wandsworth Museum as an independent trust. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission (MLA) has welcomed the news that the London Borough of Wandsworth is now exploring a potential alternative to closure of the museum service with the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation, which has offered £2m to save the museum.

A spokesman for MLA said: ‘independent trust status has always been an alternative solution to the council's drastic proposal to close the Museum, which would inevitably mean that access to the collection and the wonderful education services which the museum provides, would be lost forever. However, whether a museum is run by the local council or an independent trust, the most important question is the long-term sustainability of the project. We look forward to working with the Council, museum staff and local people to develop a sustainable business plan for the Trust – and identifying other sources of funding which will be necessary for the museum to survive in the long-term.’

Property boom in old Beijing

The Guardian reported this week that older homes in Beijing are fetching record prices, just as they are about to disappear, swept away by the pace of modernisation in the city and by redevelopment for the Olympics. As recently as the early 1990s, Beijing city centre still had hundreds of hutongs – homes set around courtyards protected by high walls and threaded by narrow alleys, many of them built from the eighteenth century for extended families, and popular with the courtiers and high-ranking civil servants employed in the Forbidden City. Now overcrowded and notorious for their communal toilets and smoky coal-fired boilers, hutongs have been treated as slums for the last two decades and have been swept away by the authorities so that the land can be used for building new tower blocks.

Now, however, following the liberalisation of property laws in China to allow private ownership, the city’s few remaining courtyard homes are being sold for record prices: one changed hands last week for £7 million, a record price for residential property in Beijing.

It is estimated that only 3,000 courtyards now remain, giving them a rarity value that has pushed up prices. The one sold last week was particularly valuable because of its size (3,028 square metres) and location, close to the city's liveliest lakeside entertainment district. The buyer remains anonymous, though local media have speculated that he is a coalmine owner from Shaanxi province or a Russian billionaire.

The new owner will be in mixed company. While many Beijing hutongs are still occupied by working class families, others have been snapped up by wealthy foreigners, senior officials, contemporary artists and the new rich. Rupert Murdoch is reported to have paid just under £2 million for a similar site last year.

Hu Chaohui, manager of a Beijing real-estate company, said: ‘They are very special. They are rare and centrally located. In addition, their prices not only include the usage value but also the historical and cultural value.’ Conservationists say, however, that the demand for hutongs does not mean they will be saved: many owners demolish the old fabric and replace it with buildings in traditional style using modern materials. ‘The way now is to build fake old. It is not nice’, said Ma Yansong, a Beijing architect, who added: ‘The hutongs attract many tourists. The poor, old residents are either like actors in a theme park or else they are kicked out so the rich can buy up the properties. The old community spirit is being lost.’

Export bar on fifteenth-century manuscript

The Government has placed a temporary export bar on the Wardington Hours, a fifteenth-century book of hours from the Bedford Workshop in Paris. The bar will provide a last chance to keep the manuscript in the United Kingdom if a buyer can be found to match the recommended price of £635,200.

Previously unavailable to scholars and mostly absent in literature on manuscript illumination of the period, the manuscript comes from the collection of the late Lord Wardington. The hours consist of eight large miniatures illustrating the story of the Passion (from the Betrayal of Christ to His Entombment). The Wardington manuscript probably once formed part of the Book of Hours which is today in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The Huntington and Wardington parts were separated by the eighteenth century (the date of the present binding of the Wardington Hours as an independent volume).

Production of the manuscript may have begun in the 1410s but was not completed until the 1440s; its original patronage is unknown. It is in the style of the anonymous artist known as the Bedford Master, named after John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V and regent of France, for whom the artist produced the Bedford Hours now in the British Library. The Bedford workshop was the foremost producer of illuminated manuscripts in Paris for much of the first half of the fifteenth century.

The identification of the Bedford Master’s hand, and the attribution of manuscripts to his collaborators, followers and imitators (who employ similar styles, compositions and motifs), has proved more than usually problematic, however. Some of the illuminations in the Wardington Hours are in the style of the Dunois Master, who seems to have succeeded the Bedford Master as the leader of the Bedford workshop.

In recommending that an export bar be placed on the manuscript, the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest said: ‘The Bedford style is one of delicacy and refinement and the figures are nimble, expressive, and full of vitality. The settings are equally distinctive, with their gently curving hills, dramatic mountain crags, and complex architecture. The miniatures are full of action, but they do not thereby lose focus: the central drama and the attention to detail are held in a balance whose perfection entitles them to be viewed as outstanding, even for a period often viewed as the high point of the illuminator’s art.’

Further details can be found on the website of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Mapping the ‘best-preserved prehistoric landscape in Europe’

A ‘Time Team’ special programme broadcast on Channel 4 last week focused on the work of our Fellow Vince Gaffney, Director of Birmingham University’s Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, who, with geologist Ken Thomson, has been mapping the great lowland plain that once connected East Anglia to the Netherlands, northern German and Denmark.

The now-drowned Doggerland was once crossed by rivers winding through a landscape of giant lakes and gentle hills. The region was inundated between 18000 and 6000 BC, when the warming climate melted the thick glaciers that pressed down from the north. Tens of metres of water now cover what Vince argues is ‘the best-preserved prehistoric landscape, certainly in the whole of Europe and possibly the world’. His team has mapped that 23,000 sq km landscape using seismic records compiled by oil-prospecting vessels working in the North Sea, identifying in today’s seabed the course of ancient rivers, the basins of lakes some 25km across, hills, valleys and extensive areas of salt marsh.

Now that the physical features have been established, Professor Gaffney says it will be possible to narrow the search for sites that could yield more evidence of how these prehistoric people lived. ‘Some of this land would have made the perfect environment for hunter gatherers. There is higher land where they could have built their homes and hills they could see their prey from. The places you wanted to live were the big plains next to the water and the coastline was way beyond where it is now. This was probably a heartland of population at the time, which transforms how we understand the early history of north-western Europe.’ As the temperature rose and glaciers retreated and water levels rose, the inhabitants would have been forced towards higher land – including what until then might have been considered the distant and marginal land that now forms the UK mainland.

The mapping of this landscape could also raise questions about its preservation, says Professor Gaffney – and how it can be protected from activities such as pipe-laying and the building of wind farms.

Chimps use caves to escape the heat

Chimpanzees in the West African nation of Senegal take shelter from the scorching heat in caves, researchers have found. Primate researchers say this is the first known case of regular cave use by an ape species. Jill Pruetz, an anthropologist at Iowa State University, led the research team behind the new discoveries, the first long-term observational study of a savanna-dwelling chimpanzee population.

Pruetz said that when she began fieldwork in 2001, at a site known as Fongoli, local Malinke people showed her the caves and told her they were often occupied by chimpanzees during the hottest part of the year. She was intrigued by the claim, but observing the chimpanzee behaviour proved difficult. ‘It took years for the chimpanzees to get habituated [to the researchers' presence]’, Pruetz said. ‘As soon as we would walk anywhere close, it would scare them out of the caves.’

Even with few direct observations, Pruetz's team was able to assess the extent of cave use using clues left behind on the sandy cave floors in the form of tracks, faeces and food remains. The research showed that cave use was concentrated at the end of the dry season in May and June. ‘The behaviour appears to be an adjustment to heat stress’, Pruetz said.

Much of what is known about wild chimpanzee behaviour comes from studies conducted in forests. But in Senegal chimpanzees occupy arid savanna habitat dominated by open grassland and sparse woodland. Chimpanzees in these areas exhibit a range of behaviours not found elsewhere. Pruetz noted that cave use is just one of several strategies the chimpanzees use to cope with their difficult environment, where both shade and water are critical resources. In April and May maximum temperatures in open grassland near the caves can reach 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). Temperatures in the largest of the three small caves used by the chimpanzees never exceeded 84.2 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius). Lack of a nearby water source earlier in the dry season may have prevented the caves from being used more extensively throughout the year.

Cambridge biologist William McGrew, author of Chimpanzee Material Culture, said: ‘The finding is notable in itself, but the implications for reconstructing the evolutionary origins of shelter in our ancestors make it even more so’. Some monkeys use caves to stay warm at night, he noted, but this new study shows ‘not the nocturnal use of caves for overnight sleeping but rather [daytime use] for siestas, socializing, and picnicking. No one expected this.’ He went on to ask whether this was ‘a strategy for avoiding the midday sun or a cultural thing? By building up our understanding of how such environments shape chimpanzee behaviour, we can better model our early ancestors.’

Roman wall paintings found in the City

The redesigned and London Archaeologist magazine was relaunched last week with the news that fragments of a Roman mural have been found in the City of London – appropriately enough in the basement of an Italian restaurant. The site in Lime Street, in what was the most prestigious area of Roman London, is being described as sensational: parts of the mural, which dates from around AD 120, depict a goldfinch and bunches of purple grapes. About a thousand fragments have been recovered – enough, it is hoped, to enable the entire decorative scheme to be recreated.

Darwin’s publisher told to reject On the Origin of Species

Scholars cataloguing the 150,000 documents that comprise the John Murray archive have found a letter recommending that Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species manuscript should be turned down, and that Darwin be urged to write about pigeons instead. Darwin’s publisher, John Murray, sent the manuscript to the Revd Whitwell Elwin for an opinion. Writing back from his rectory in Norwich on 3 May 1859, Elwin urged Murray not to publish the work, saying that Darwin’s theories were so far fetched, prejudiced and badly argued that right-thinking members of the public would never believe them: ‘At every page I was tantalised by the absence of the proofs’, Elwin wrote, adding that the ‘harder and drier’ writing style was also off-putting.

Elwin did, however, enjoy Darwin’s observations on pigeons and suggested that these could form the subject of a separate book, as ‘everybody is interested in pigeons’. He enthused: ‘The book would be received in every journal in the kingdom and would soon be on every table.’ Fortunately, Murray chose to ignore the advice.

The letter from Elwin is part of the archive of documents built up over seven generations by successive members of the John Murray publishing family, now housed at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. The archive was bought for £31.2 million with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Executive, but there is still a £6.5 million shortfall. Since the archive moved from London to Edinburgh last March, more than £1.5 million has been raised by anonymous private donations, but £5 million is still needed to meet the asking price, which must be paid in full within 3.5 years. A public exhibition featuring material from the John Murray archive will open at the National Library of Scotland at the end of June.

The search for the Battle of Bosworth Field

Volunteer archaeologists taking part in a three-year landscape survey to pinpoint the precise location of the Battle of Bosworth Field, have found a badge that could prove to be a vital clue in locating one of the most important battles in English history. A tiny heraldic eagle, standing on a branch with wings spread, was found in the vicinity of Ambion Hill, near Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire, the favoured location for the decisive clash of the Wars of the Roses, which, in 1485, led to the death of Richard III and the crown passing to Henry Tudor. Others claim the battle could have happened up to eight miles away, in Warwickshire.

The badge has been dated by the British Museum to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. Peter Liddle, Keeper of Archaeology for Leicestershire County Museums Service, said: ‘It matches the battle date exactly. It is the sort of thing that could easily get lost in the melée. Of course we can't be sure how it got there. It is unusual because looters would have stripped the field of valuables. It is a straw in the wind, but it is exactly the right kind of straw. We are feeling more confident now that we are closer to finding the right place than we have been before. We still have a year left [to finish the landscape survey] and we hope to find more evidence.’

Cumbrian bridge restored

A late medieval packhorse bridge in Cumbria has been restored thanks to a grant of £8,700 from English Heritage. The narrow, 16-foot-long bridge at Heltondale Beck, near Askham, has been carrying pedestrians, horses and livestock over the beck since the seventeenth century and is used to this day. Over the years much of the bridge’s lime mortar had been washed away and the downstream arch and abutment had collapsed. ‘For people in this area it is an important part of our heritage and a reminder of how life used to be’, said farmer Alice Robinson, on whose land the bridge lies. ‘We are really pleased that it can be saved for people in the future to use and enjoy.’

Four SHEPs launched for consultation

Salon recently reported on the launch in Scotland of a new series of policy papers, called Scottish Historic Environment Policies (SHEPs), but neglected to say that four of those policy papers have been published for consultation, covering Listing, Listed Buildings Consent, Scheduled Monument Consent and Properties in Care. These can be accessed on the Historic Scotland website, and the closing dates for the consultations are being staggered: the first to close (SMC) is on 22 June 2007.

Adapting Archaeology: Foresight for Climate Change in the UK

This one-day conference (organised by the Council for British Archaeology with the Council for Scottish Archaeology and the Centre for Sustainable Heritage, UCL) will take place on Tuesday 10 July 2007 at the British Academy, Carlton House Terrace, London.

The day will bring together forward thinking on the likely effects of climate change for the historic environment and how archaeology and conservation will need to adapt to meet this new challenge. The programme will include an overview of current research from the UK Climate Impacts Programme and the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage, with papers from English Heritage, the National Trust, the Environment Agency and others on the effects of climate change on coastal management, soils and water, agriculture and the landscape. A detailed programme will be available in May.

Information and a booking form are available now (with early booking discounts) on the CBA website, or by email.

Seaside resorts: two-day conference on 16 and 17 October 2007 in Hastings

English Heritage is hosting a two-day conference to consider the management, regeneration, promotion and conservation of seaside towns. Leading historians will give a historical perspective of seaside resorts in England, Wales and Scotland, contributors from the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) and VisitBritain will put forward practitioner perspectives on how and where heritage-led regeneration has worked, MPs for resort constituencies, such as Blackpool and Brighton, will discuss the aspirations of the communities they represent, and there will be case studies and speakers from resort towns in other parts of Europe.

Allan Brodie, Senior Investigator at English Heritage and the author of a monograph to be published in October based on a five-year survey of seaside resorts, says: ‘Many seaside towns have suffered a downturn in prosperity marked by physical, environmental and community decline. Very often, the historic fabric that made these towns distinctive is under pressure to adapt to changing holiday tastes and at risk from inappropriate development. A national debate on how and why we should protect this precious heritage is timely.’

Further details and booking forms are on the English Heritage website.

Palestine Exploration Fund AGM

This year’s AGM will be followed by a lecture on the ‘Survey and Excavation at Ancient Zoara in the Ghor es-Safi, Jordan’, given by Konstantinos Politis of the British Museum, on 14 June 2007, at 6pm, in the Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, British Museum. See the Palestine Exploration Fund website for further information.

Books by Fellows

Our Fellow Colin Haselgrove is the editor of two substantial volumes that together amount to an assessment of all that we currently know about the earlier and later Iron Age in Britain.

Edited with Rachel Pope, the first volume, The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the Near Continent, covers the period 800 to 400 BC which, say the editors, is more often characterised by what it lacks than what it comprises: for Bronze Age studies it lacks large quantities of bronze, whilst from the perspective of the Later Iron Age it lacks elaborate enclosure. In contrast, the same period on mainland Europe yields a wealth of burial evidence with links to Mediterranean communities and so has not suffered in quite the same way. Gradual acceptance of this problem over the past decade, along with the corpus of new discoveries produced by developer-funded archaeology, now provides us with an opportunity to create a more balanced picture of the Iron Age in Britain as a whole.

Edited with Tom Moore, the companion volume, The Later Iron Age in Britain and Beyond, covers the period from 400 BC to the Roman conquest and seeks to correct the bias in past studies towards southern England and increasing manifestations of Gaulish and Roman influence and to create new narratives for the Later Iron Age, drawing on the burgeoning material from developer-funded archaeology and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, as well as on new methodological and theoretical approaches.

Our Fellow Clive Orton is the editor of the eleven essays that make up The Pottery from Medieval Novgorod and its Region, looking at the ceramic evidence in terms of chronology and technology, methodology of investigation and international trade and contacts. The essays also reflect different approaches to studying ceramics by western and Russian scholars. Some of the subjects explored include hand-made and early wheel-turned pottery from the environs of Novgorod, Novgorod pottery from the tenth to fifteenth century, handling large urban pottery assemblages, pottery imported from the west and the east, amphorae from Novgorod and the wine trade.

Rites of Peace: the fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna, the latest work from Adam Zamoyski, has already been reviewed warmly in the media. Writing in the Daily Mail, for example, Simon Sebag Montefiore described it as ‘Deeply researched, elegantly written, gleaming with the political conspiracy and sexual depravity of the Congress that decided the fate of Europe – a delicious, triumphant feast of a book’.

Rites of Peace follows on from Adam’s previous book, 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow, by exploring the three years that followed Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign, as the rulers of Europe struggled to defeat the French emperor and then to decide what should happen to his collapsed empire, a process that involved much haggling and horse-trading, centred on Vienna. Unlike the many historians who paint the Congress of Vienna as marking the point at which modern Europe begins to be built, Adam argues that it was backward looking, and simply set the scene for further conflict by enshrining the old order and ignoring the nationalist forces that were stirring all over Europe at the time.


Director, National Maritime Museum
No salary quoted, closing date 13 May 2007

Responsible for a budget of £22 million and 1.6 million visitors a year, the Director of the NMM is responsible for developing the museum’s international reputation and role. Further information from the search consultants Odgers, quoting ref: GC 16386.

The Churches Conservation Trust, Chair
Non-salaried post, closing date 11 May 2007

The Churches Conservation Trust is seeking a Chair to succeed Frank Field, MP. The Trust conserves 340 churches that are no longer in regular parish use. It works to keep those buildings in community, cultural and educational use. Candidates should have a passion for churches and their place in the heritage, an understanding of the needs of Church, Government and local communities in relation to these buildings, plus financial acumen and an interest in regeneration issues.

Further details can be found on the Prospect-us website.