Salon Archive

Issue: 165

Forthcoming meetings

7 June: Ballot with exhibits. Michael Lewis, FSA, will speak about ‘The mystery of Charles Stothard, FSA, and the Bayeux Tapestry fragment’ and Temma Berg, Professor of English at Gettysburg College, will speak about ‘The lives and letters of an eighteenth-century circle of acquaintance’, which is also the title of her latest book (Ashgate Publishing, 2006). Temma’s research draws on thirty-one letters in the Cely-Trevilian Collection housed at the Society of Antiquaries. This paper will introduce Fellows to some of the letter writers, including the novelist Charlotte Lennox and Captain Charles Clerke, the naval officer who took command of Captain Cook’s expedition and of HMS Resolution when Cook was killed in Hawaii in 1779. Temma will explore the pleasures and anxieties of archive research and show how the letters provide an intimate glimpse of rural and urban life in eighteenth-century England.

14 June: The eighteenth-century Florentine antiquary, Antonio Niccolini, by John Rogister, FSA

14 July: Fellows' Day at Kelmscott Manor. This event, organised exclusively for Fellows and their guests, provides another opportunity to see some of the Kelmscott Press books that featured in last year’s popular Kelmscott Press Day. Specially selected by Fellow Colin Franklin, the exhibition focuses on inscribed and association copies. Fellows can also enjoy the permanent collection throughout the Manor and the garden. The programme includes a seasonal Kelmscott afternoon tea and music from The Caged String Quartet. Kelmscott Manor shop will also be open.

The event starts at 2pm (with wine or soft drink on arrival) and continues until 5pm. Tickets cost £14 per person (including Kelmscott tea, wine and other refreshments). To order your ticket(s), send a cheque made out to ‘Kelmscott Manor’ to: Fellows Day 2007, Kelmscott Manor, Kelmscott, Lechlade GL7 3HJ. Enquiries: tel: 01367 253348; email: admin@kelmscottmanor.co.uk. The last date for the receipt of bookings is Wednesday 27 June.

National Archaeology Week

The Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott coincides with the start of National Archaeology Week, which, despite the name, is a nine-day festival of excavation open days, guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, art and craft workshops and more, stretching from 14 to 22 July.

Among the events that will be taking place on 14 July is an open day at Abbey Home Farm, just north east of Cirencester, where students from Bournemouth University will be excavating a Neolithic causewayed enclosure under the direction of Fellows Tim Darvill and Christopher Catling from 17 June. Anyone attending the Kelmscott event is warmly encouraged to visit the site in the morning – further details will be given in Salon nearer the time.

Salon is also happy to publicise any other National Archaeology Week events that Fellows might be involved in – especially excavation open days; just send details to Salon’s editor.

Cambridge Fellows’ dinner

This year’s Cambridge Fellows’ dinners will be held at Clare College on Tuesday 26 June at 7.30pm, with pre-dinner drinks in the Scholars’ Garden from 7pm. The cost will be £37.50. Invitations to Fellows with a Cambridge address should be in the post by now, but if by the end of this week we have missed anyone who would like to attend please email Alison Taylor by 12 June. Fellows are welcome to bring their partner or another guest.

Tim Darvill appointed Vice-President

One of the privileges of being elected President of the Society of Antiquaries is the right to nominate a Vice-President from the members of the Society’s Council. At the meeting of the Society held on 24 May 2007, our new President, Geoff Wainwright, announced that his choice of Vice-President is Professor Timothy Darvill, BA, PhD, DSc, FSA, FSAScot, MIFA, RPA. Tim is Head of the Archaeology Group at Bournemouth University, Chairman of Cotswold Archaeology and a former Chairman of the Institute of Field Archaeologists, as well as being a prolific author: since 1978 he has written or co-authored no less than 228 substantial papers or monographs and that does not include book reviews and consultancy reports.

Tim is one of a number of Fellows who first cut their archaeological teeth in Cirencester, though he is better known now as a prehistorian than a Romanist. He will be returning to Cirencester this summer to excavate a causewayed enclosure and long barrow just to the north east of the town (see ‘National Archaeology Week’ above).

Geoff and Tim have worked together on a number of projects, including the important Monuments at Risk surveys of the mid-1990s. Most recently they have collaborated on a comprehensive survey of the landscape around the Carn Meini quarry in the Preseli Hills from where the bluestones of Stonehenge were excavated. This ongoing work was the subject of a lecture that Geoff and Tim gave to the Society in October 2006, and will be the subject of a BBC TV documentary in the autumn.

Results of ballot on 18 May 2007

The Society is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 18 May 2007:

• Professor Doctor Johann Michael Fritz (as an Honorary Fellow)
• Jonathan Kagan (numismatist)
• Ute Kagan (Director of the American Numismatic Society)
• Thomas Moorhead (Curator of Interpretation at the British Museum)
• Joseph Elders (Archaeology Officer, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, Church of England)
• John Cattell (Chief Buildings Historian and Head of Architectural Investigation, English Heritage)
• Susan O'Connor (Senior Fellow, Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University)
• Thomas Parker (Professor of History, North Carolina University)
• Ian McNiven (Co-Director, Programme for Australian Indigenous Archaeology, Monash University)
• Peter Pope (Professor of Archaeology, Memorial University of Newfoundland)
• Patricia Anawalt (Director, Center for the Study of Regional Dress, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California)
• Roger White (Director of Ironbridge Institute, University of Birmingham)
• Jack Davis (Carl W Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology, University of Cincinnati)
• Thomas Palaima (Fulbright Fellow, University of Texas at Austin, Classics Department)
• Anthony Dove (independent antiquary and researcher)
• Marc Jordan (former Deputy Editor of the Grove Dictionary of Art, now a management consultant)
• Betty Arndt (Town Archaeologist for Hansestadt Göttingen)
• Nikolas Boris Rankov (Professor of Ancient History, Department of Classics, Royal Holloway, University of London)
• Edmund (Eddie) Booth (Director, The Conservation Studio)
• Robert Jones (City Archaeologist for Bristol)
• Pamela Marshall (Chair of the Castles Study Group)
• Gillian Darley (biographer and architectural historian).

Forthcoming ballot on 7 June 2007

The Blue Papers for the ballot to be held on 7 June 2007 are now online on the balloting page of the Society’s website. Contact Christopher Catling if you have problems accessing the site, or would like to register for a password.

New on the website

A few Fellows have experienced difficulty logging on to the Fellows’ area of the new website or in gaining access to the online balloting area; if you do have problems, do not give up – send an email to Christopher Catling (), who will sort them out.

Some Fellows have already discovered the ‘Feedback’ feature on the new website which allows you to comment on any aspect of the site or on wider issues. This week’s feedback has included questions from Fellows about the incompleteness of the Society’s annual accounts (the version we put up lacked eight critical pages; this has now been remedied), whether the number or Fellows voting ‘no’ in ballots has increased as a result of electronic balloting (the opposite, in fact: it is the number of ‘yes’ votes that seems to have gone up as a result of the ease of voting on line) and several messages of support for the campaign to save A-level Ancient History (about which see ‘Victory for the toga-clad advocates of ancient history’ below).

New on the site this week is an interview with our late Fellow, John Hurst, speaking about the development of medieval archaeology in the immediate post-war period and about his work at Wharram Percy. The interview is one of some thirty or so interviews with eminent archaeologists recorded by Pamela Jane Smith of the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, between 2000 and 2003.

Pamela has donated archive copies of the interviews to the Society, and the intention is that we will make digital copies available via the internet that can be heard online or downloaded and played on computer or MP3 player. Be warned, however, that the digital files are very large and are only suitable for use / playing by Fellows with broadband connections.

For those who lack broadband, we have supplied a written transcript which lacks the warmth of John’s voice, but nevertheless provides a fascinating account of the development of area excavation techniques (and the suggestion that single context recording was in use in Germany as early as the 1930s), and the dawning realisation that the 3,000 or so deserted medieval villages now known in the UK were not abandoned as a result of climate change or the Black Death, but as a result of deliberate clearance by landlords who found sheep farming more profitable than arable.

Pamela Jane Smith is continuing with her research into the recent history of archaeology through face-to-face interviews, and the Society has recently awarded a small grant to enable her to buy broadcast-standard recording equipment. The Society is keen to hear from anyone else undertaking similar work and who might be willing to deposit copies of their interviews with the library, for possible digitisation and public access via our website.

Heritage Protection White Paper: the Society’s response

Also on the website is a first draft of the Society’s formal response to the Heritage Protection White Paper consultation. The document is a first draft and has not yet been reviewed by the Society’s Executive Committee; comments (preferably in the form of a sentence or two that we can incorporate into the existing letter) should be sent to Christopher Catling by noon on 30 May 2007.

Salon feedback

Our Fellow Paul Drury has asked that we correct the report give in the last issue of Salon of his remarks to the Society’s White Paper seminar. Salon said: ‘Paul also wanted the eventual bill to go further and to create a statutory duty of care towards the environment, both built and natural, and to impose a positive responsibility on owners of heritage assets to undertake essential care and maintenance.’ What Paul actually said was that: ‘in consolidating and updating the powers that follow from designation, we need a positive responsibility placed on owners to undertake works urgently necessary for the preservation of “historic assets”, in place of the slow and cumbersome urgent works notice procedure that currently applies to listed buildings.’

Fellow Peter Kuniholm points out that there is no such organisation as ‘the American Institute of Archaeology’, which Salon said had voted to elect our Fellow Colin Renfrew to Foreign Honorary membership. Salon should have said ‘the Archaeological Institute of America’.

From our Fellow John Kenyon, Librarian, National Museum Wales, comes a warm welcome for the London Archaeologist in its new improved format, but also a plea that editors contemplating such moves should think of poor librarians with the task of binding journals into volumes: in the case of the London Archaeologist, the format change comes with the 8th issue of volume 11, beginning at page 197; why, asks John, could not the change have come with the first issue of volume 12?

Fellow Mike Heyworth writes to welcome the news that our Fellow Hedley Swain has just been appointed as the new Head of Museum Policy at the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA). Hedley’s task is to ‘provide leadership in delivering policies for the long-term transformation of museums services in England’. Hedley has been Head of Early History and Collections at the Museum of London since 1998 where he oversaw the creation of two new permanent galleries (‘London before London’ and ‘Medieval London’) and a number of exhibitions (most notably ‘High Street Londinium’ in 2000). He has also supervised the creation of the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre and the Centre for Human Bio-archaeology at the Museum.

The MLA’s Chairman, Mark Wood, welcomed Hedley, saying: ‘Hedley's experience in the cultural sector combined with his in-depth knowledge of museum policy and the significant role these institutions play within communities make him the ideal person to work with our partners to provide customer-focused museum services. The MLA is delighted to have him on board.’ Of his appointment, Hedley said: ‘I am really excited by this challenge and look forward to working closely with all in the sector to translate my passion for museums into working strategies that will show how essential they are to society.’

Our Fellow Anthony Bryer, Emeritus Professor of Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, has contributed to our growing stock of Swan Hellenic reminiscences with an account of his experiences as a novice lecturer in the same intake as the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. Anthony’s account was first published in Robert Runcie: on reflection, edited by Stephen Platten (2002), pages 116–24, and it contains a fascinating background history, tracing the Swan lineage back to Sir Henry Lunn, who launched the first Hellenic Cruise to Troy and the isles of Greece on 16 April 1908. ‘By 1910’, Anthony writes, ‘Lunn's Hellenic Travellers’ Club listed over 2,500 subscribers by civil rank. They were a captive audience for guest lecturers who included the sounder members of the bench of bishops, the better sort of Greats don [and] some capital clerical public school headmasters … in 1911 Lunn was astute enough to appoint W F Swan as his assistant … [and] from 1954 W F Swan and his son, R Ken Swan, revived Hellenic Cruises for the Club.’

Selecting suitable ‘Guest Lecturers’ on Swan Hellenic Cruises was very much the prerogative of Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Ken Swan's academic partner, who despatched ‘letters of appointment’ on ‘the writing paper of his other job as Secretary of the British Academy in Burlington House’.

Anthony goes on to say: ‘I knew precisely why I had been recruited. In 1967 I had managed to get permission to work on and in the upper chamber of the Chrysokephalos, the coronation cathedral of the emperors of Trebizond. Since 1461 it has been the principal mosque of Trabzon, a quiet place – until Swan Hellenic first burst upon the Black Sea. On 16 August 1967 the imam appeared in the upper chamber, agitated. He said there was commotion outside, waves of shameless female infidels. I went down to find Wheeler holding forth to a crowd of tourists with yellow badges on their walking sticks. He was talking nonsense. I sided with the imam, who had the advantage of the minaret microphone to summon support. On his side Wheeler had a Chadwick (Henry, he said). But we negotiated a peek into the mosque for the tourists in chaperoned groups before they sailed off. A consequence was that I found, Poste Restante, Trabzon, a summons from Wheeler to accompany the next Euxine cruise, HC 77 (1968).’

There is much more in this amusing and informative vein (for example, Swan Hellenic lecturers were instructed to wear ties and avoid talking about theology, sex or politics: as an example of a suitable title for an uncontroversial lecture to be delivered at Dubrovnik, the briefing notes suggested: ‘Yugoslavia: five republics, four languages, three religions, two alphabets, one people’); Fellows interested in reading more can contact Salon’s editor for a digital copy of the relevant chapter.

Obituary: Sir Oliver Millar

Our Fellow Sir Oliver Millar died on 10 May 2007, aged 84. One of the world's leading authorities on the painter Anthony van Dyck, Sir Oliver Millar devoted more than forty years to the care and the cataloguing of paintings in the Royal Collection, latterly as Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures and as Director of the Royal Collection.

While seeing to the day-to-day care and supervision of 5,000 or so paintings, principally at Windsor, Hampton Court and in London, during his time as Deputy (1949–72) Millar found time to co-write English Art 1625–1714 (1957), with Margaret Whinney, to produce works touching on Gainsborough, Rubens, Dobson and Zoffany, and to publish catalogues of the pictures in the Royal Collection.

The breadth and depth of Millar’s knowledge, as well as the accomplishment of his scholarship and the considered elegance of his prose, was fully expressed in those catalogues, beginning with Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (1963). Millar based his research on the transcription and study of inventories and documentary records, considering the material with a meticulous care that it had not formerly received. Perhaps the most extraordinary of these records was the inventory of the collection of Charles I drawn up by the first Surveyor of the King’s Pictures, which Millar published as Abraham Van Der Doort's Catalogue of the Collection of Charles I (1960). This was followed by a second catalogue volume, Later Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (1969) and by The Inventories and Valuations of the King's Goods (1972).

On succeeding Anthony Blunt as Surveyor in 1972, Millar became responsible for the preservation and display of paintings in eight Royal residences and produced The Queen's Pictures (1977), the first detailed account of the Royal Collection for the general reader. He also wrote the catalogues for the National Portrait Gallery's exhibitions ‘Sir Peter Lely’ (1978) and ‘Van Dyck in England’ (1982), and he went on to complete the catalogue of the entire Royal paintings collection with a third volume entitled Victorian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (1992).

Christopher White’s obituary published in the Independent on 16 May 2007 records that Millar was: ‘So attached to the collection that he had cared for for so long that he found it difficult to retire. Fortunately, work on the major artistic love of his life, Anthony van Dyck, came to fruition at this time in the preparation of the catalogue of his paintings (Van Dyck, 2004), to which he contributed the large section on works executed in England. His eye, appreciation and judgement were shown to the best in this magnum opus.’

Beyond the Royal Collection he held various important voluntary appointments: he was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery (1972–95), a member of the Reviewing Committee on Export of Works of Art from (1975–87), a member of the executive committee of the National Art Collections Fund (1986–8), Visitor at the Ashmolean Museum (1987–93) and a trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (1988 to 1992).

Lord Bruce-Lockhart to be Chairman of English Heritage

The protracted search for a Chairman to succeed our Fellow Sir Neil Cossons at the helm of English Heritage ended on 24 May 2007 with the announcement that Lord Bruce-Lockhart has been appointed to the post.

Many Fellows will be familiar with the voice and views of Sandy Bruce-Lockhart from his frequent participation in public debates as Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA); indeed, only the previous day he had been giving the LGA’s response to the Government’s newly published Planning White Paper (see below) on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ and ‘World at One’ programmes.

Lord Bruce-Lockhart’s enormous experience of local government means that he is ideally placed to serve as a bridge between central, regional and local government in implementing the measures contained in the recently published White Paper on Heritage Protection, with its emphasis on improving historic environment service provision at local level.

Commenting on his appointment, Lord Bruce-Lockhart said: ‘This is a terrific time to be taking on such an important role. The nation's built heritage is as loved by the public as it has ever been in the past. The months and years ahead contain many opportunities – and challenges – for English Heritage, and I am honoured to have the chance to lead them through this period.’

In a message to English Heritage staff, our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said ‘I shall miss [Neil] as both friend and mentor. His contribution to England’s heritage is admired the world over and I am sure he will continue his work in the years to come. We could not have had a more expert and energetic Chairman to lead us in the post-Power of Place era.’ He went on to welcome Lord Bruce-Lockhart, saying that ‘his work at the Local Government Association will mean he can make an instant contribution to one of our top priorities, the Heritage Protection Review. He will be well aware of the importance of the need to equip and train local authority conservation officers and he will have a good understanding of the planning system. I am enormously looking forward to working with him and I believe that English Heritage will continue to flourish under his leadership.’

Lord Bruce-Lockhart will serve for a five-year term, and will take up the position on 1 August 2007, though he will begin to familiarise himself with the organisation prior to that. Sir Neil Cossons will complete his final term at the end of July 2007.

Planning White Paper published

Another long-expected announcement was made at the beginning of last week, with the publication in England of the Government’s Planning White Paper, called ‘Planning for a Sustainable Future’ (see the Communities and Local Government website).

As it is compulsory to include the word ‘Sustainable’ in any document the Government produces these days, the title does not tell us much: in fact the White Paper is largely concerned with the need to provide more homes, the need for future planning to take climate change into account and a desire on the Government’s part to make it easier and faster to implement national infrastructural projects, from oil and gas pipelines, reservoirs and facilities for waste management to airports, power stations and road schemes.

Critics of the White Paper proposals were quick to point out a central contradiction between the aspiration to achieve sustainability and combat climate change on the one hand, and the intention to make it easier to build the roads, airports and power stations that contribute so much to global warming.

From the heritage perspective, the good news is that the White Paper includes numerous references to the historic environment as one of the key considerations in any planning decisions. This is a major step forward from previous planning policy documents where heritage has not been mentioned. If there is to be a new ‘infrastructure planning commission’, then ‘heritage bodies’ are named as being among the stakeholders whose views must be sought; and at least one place on the membership of the Commission would be reserved for someone who represents the historic environment.

The White Paper also refers to the need to reform planning policy guidance, which could have an impact on PPGs 15 and 16, the two sets of guidance that underpin archaeological and historic buildings mitigation work. The White Paper says that: ‘As a first step, we propose to carry out a comprehensive review of the current planning policy statements and guidance, and other relevant key policy material. The key aim of the review will be to achieve a significant streamlining of the existing suite of documents by separating out policy from guidance and limiting the amount of central guidance to those matters which are strategic and necessary to achieving a consistent approach to decision making. In doing so the review will ensure: the devolution of decision making to the local level where this is appropriate; that the scale and complexity of evidence required for plan-making and planning decisions is proportionate; that the framework supports and encourages positive and proactive planning that actively shapes places; and that planning is used where it is an appropriate lever to deliver policy objectives in an efficient and effective way’ [Clause 7.60].

The White Paper is also at pains to stress that such a review ‘is not about creating new policy or changing policy, but about better managing and communicating existing policy, and separating this from supplementary guidance’, but it then goes on to say ‘our ambition is however to secure a significant reduction in the volume of policy and guidance’, and many of us will wonder how those two aims can be compatible.

Reacting to the White Paper, our General Secretary, David Gaimster, said: ‘We must be vigilant to ensure that none of these proposals is used to dilute the impact of heritage protection policy or to circumvent proper regard for the historic environment’.

Lord Bruce-Lockhart, on behalf of the Local Government Association, said: ‘We must make sure that decision-making by an independent commission does not undermine true devolution of power away from central to local government’, but the LGA welcomed proposals to exempt homeowners from needing to seek planning permission for minor alterations. The overall message of its response was, like that of many other stakeholders, ‘we reserve judgement until we see the detail’.

For the Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation, Director Seán O'Reilly said: ‘The Institute is heartened that the Government remains committed to looking after our historic places in “big” planning. That said, the proposed new system must provide a genuine opportunity for local communities and amenity interests to influence policy and decisions; it is essential that the new processes do not lead to the creation of a “democratic deficit”, alienating people from the big decision-making processes that shape their lives and valued places. Think global, yes, but act local.’

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said that it feared the triumph of economic development considerations over the quality of landscapes and habitats and it believes the proposal for an infrastructure planning commission ‘has the potential to result in a “twin track” approach where scheme promoters and large environmental organisations will engage in consultation but individuals and communities will find it difficult to have their voices heard’.

Victory for the toga-clad advocates of Ancient History A-level

A brilliant lobbying campaign co-ordinated by the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT) – which included a demonstration outside parliament by toga-clad sixth formers from the Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith, led by Shadow Higher Education Minister, Boris Johnson – has resulted in a spectacular victory: instead of scrapping Ancient History A’ level (see Salon 164), the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA exam board (OCR) now says that it will ‘work jointly with the JACT to add Ancient History to its suite of Classics-based A-levels’.

In a letter published in the Independent on 24 May 2007, our Fellow Graham Shipley, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Leicester, hailed this as ‘a victory not only for the popular voice but also for common sense. As teachers and academics, we can now look forward to working closely with OCR to devise the best possible syllabus for the study of ancient Greek and Roman history in the 21st century’.

Schools see boom in Latin as lessons go online

The success of the Ancient History campaign came in the same week that Boris Johnson, who is President of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, announced that the number of state secondary schools offering Latin has more than doubled in the last three years, thanks to an expansion in online courses and after-school clubs. Latin is now available at 459 out of the UK’s 4,000 state secondary schools, up from 200 in 2003. No longer the preserve of private schools, the subject is also surfacing as an alternative to modern languages in inner-city schools in Tower Hamlets and Kilburn where 87 per cent of pupils were from ethnic minorities.

‘Latin is a useful starting point because it gives you the key to so many other languages, Johnson said, adding that ‘Latin is the key to untold riches. If you are able to compose sentences in Latin you will never write a dud sentence in English.’

Members of the Scottish Parliament support Antonine Wall nomination

The Antonine Guard re-enactment group came to the Scottish Parliament last week to enlist the support of MSPs for the nomination of the Antonine Wall as a World Heritage Site. Murdo Fraser, MSP, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, put forward a motion calling on the parliament to support the application and called on the Scottish Executive to create a National Roman Centre in Scotland. ‘I believe that we must protect and preserve our ancient Roman sites in Scotland and use our sites as an education tool to get Scotland's youngsters interested in our past’, he said, adding that: ‘If we get World Heritage status for the Antonine Wall and have a National Roman Centre we could eventually have thousands of visitors interested in Scotland’s ancient Roman sites.’

Roman remains threaten Rome metro

The legacy of ancient Rome continues to hold up attempts to construct the city’s planned underground system. The new line C line – linking the Colosseum to St Peter's before reaching into the suburbs – is being excavated at a depth of 30 metres so as to avoid archaeological remains, but digging station entrances and exits is proving all but impossible in some cases without destroying Roman remains protected by law. The metro authorities announced this week that they might even have to abandon construction of the Largo Torre Argentina station, which was to serve the Pantheon, and they are anticipating problems too with the next station down the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, at Chiesa Nuova, near Piazza Navona. Archaeologists have recently found a line of amphorae in the way, which might represent containers from a villa garden: further excavations will determine whether the station can be built.

Mosaics found from lost Gardens of Lucullus

In a separate excavation in Rome, in the Horti (gardens) above the Spanish Steps, archaeologists have found what they are interpreting as mosaics from the fabled Gardens of Lucullus, laid out around a patrician villa in the middle of the first century BC by Lucius Licinius Lucullus, one of ancient Rome’s most celebrated generals, after he retired from war and politics.

The mosaics depict Cupid riding a dolphin and a wolf’s head and come from the garden’s nymphaeum. They were found during renovation work on the Hertzian Library (Biblioteca Hertziana), the German art history institute near the Spanish Steps run by the Max Planck Society. The same excavations have recovered a head of Venus, perhaps a relic of the statues that once adorned the nymphaeum.

Our Fellow Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Director of the British School at Rome, said Lucullus had invented the concept of the pleasure garden when he quit public life in disgust after his rival Pompey ‘robbed him of the credit for Rome’s conquests in the East’. Lucullus is said to have been inspired by Persian and Mesopotamian gardens that he saw during his military campaigns in Asia Minor. Plutarch recorded that Lucullus funded his gardens – and his famous library and art collection – from ‘the spoils of the barbarians’

1,000 historic buildings destroyed in Moscow, says SAVE report

In modern Russia, nobody allows heritage to stand in the way of the desires of get-rich-quick Mafiosi, says a hard-hitting report from a group of British and Russian conservation experts. Moscow’s built environment is under ‘full-scale attack’ and in serious danger of disappearing altogether, as the city’s unique and diverse architectural heritage is transformed into an ‘ersatz city’ fit only for ‘Gucci-bagged oligarchs' wives’.

The report, entitled Moscow Heritage at Crisis Point, is published by the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society and Save Europe's Heritage, whose President is our Fellow, Marcus Binney. It says the scale of recent destruction has been breathtaking: in the past five years about 1,000 historic buildings have disappeared, including 200 listed monuments. Russia’s strict preservation laws are being flouted by corrupt officials who take bribes not to enforce the rules. Other historic buildings mysteriously ‘burn down’, the report says. In their place, new pastiches are being constructed that ‘ape’ the originals.

In the report's introduction, Marcus Binney writes: ‘The prevailing view is that a modern version of an old building is just as good as, or better than, the original, and the concept of authenticity has been lost. This attitude is informing the approach of the city authorities to historic buildings of first importance.’ The report does identify a few positive trends, however. They include the restoration of Moscow's Russian orthodox churches, many of which were flattened during the 1930s. Gilded and painted domes can now be seen throughout the capital. ‘Moscow still presents one of the world's most amazing architectural assemblages and urban silhouettes’, the report concludes.

Copies of the report can be obtained from the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society’s website.

£7 million raised for Dumfries House campaign

Marcus Binney was in the news again last week, thanks to SAVE’s determined efforts to raise sufficient funds to save Dumfries House in Ayrshire from having its unparalleled collection of Chippendale furniture sold at auction, along with the house and its other contents. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has launched an appeal for an estimated £27m to take the house and contents into charitable trust ownership and open it to the public. Last week, the Art Fund charity offered its highest ever grant – £2 million – to the campaign. David Barrie, director of the Art Fund, said it would be ‘an absolute tragedy’ if the house and its contents were separated.

The rescue bid has also secured £1m from the Garfield Weston Foundation, and £4m from the Sainsbury family's Monument Trust. The plan to open the house to the public is backed by the local authority, which sees the prospect of employment in an area that has lost jobs following the demise of the local coal-mining industry.

Art Fund charity takes over £100,000 Gulbenkian prize for museums and galleries

The largesse of the Art Fund was also extended to museums and galleries this week, with the announcement that it will take over sponsorship of the annual prize for museum excellence and innovation that has been funded for the last five years by the Gulbenkian Foundation.

This year’s winner, the last under Gulbenkian sponsorship, is the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, home to one of the UK’s finest collections of modern British art. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Kew Palace in Richmond and Weston Park Museum in Sheffield were the other finalists. The prize is a fitting memorial to Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson, architect of the British Library, who died two weeks ago, having donated his impressive collection of modern British art to the gallery and having helped to design its new £8.6m gallery extension.

From next year the award will be called the Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries. David Barrie, the Director of the Art Fund, said: ‘There is so much exciting stuff being done, and an enormous amount of talent being applied in our museums, frankly often not getting a lot of public recognition, that it's nice to be able to reward it. It's important, too, that the prize is a fairly decent sum of money, which can help to do something great, not just a bauble to sit on the mantelpiece. We're proud to take it on.’

Cutty Sark fire

Joni Mitchell’s anthem for the conservation movement (her song Big Yellow Taxi, which includes the line ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’) was proven true once again last week when the loss of the Cutty Sark to a suspected arson attack resulted in an unexpected torrent of public interest and debate. Every newspaper front page and every TV and radio news bulletin for two days was dominated by dramatic pictures of the burning vessel and interviews with maritime archaeology experts seeking to answer the question on everyone’s lips: ‘can she be rescued?’

The answer seems to be a cautious ‘yes’, but at a cost well in excess of that already raised for the current restoration campaign through donations, grants and HLF funding. The fire would have been much more destructive had the ship not been closed since November 2006 for restoration of the salt-corroded iron framework. The ship’s decks have been destroyed, but the masts, the figurehead, prow and the officers’ wooden-panelled accommodation from the stern were all in storage, along with most of the historic artefacts from the ship.

As for the substantial timbers of the hull, Richard Doughty, Chief Executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, said the damage seemed to be limited to surface burning. ‘Buckling of the iron hull remains a big fear, but with my naked eye, as far as I have been able to see, the structure of the ship seems to be intact’, he said.

17 tonnes of gold and silver coins removed from wreck

Two days prior to the Cutty Sark fire, lavish press coverage had also been given to the recovery of some 17 tonnes of gold and silver coins, said to have a value of £250 million, from a ‘shipwreck off Cornwall’. The company that made the announcement said that ‘security concerns’ prevented them from revealing the site of the wreck, though the salvage company’s Chief Executive, John Morris said: ‘We have treated this site with kid gloves and the archaeological work done by our team out there is unsurpassed. We are thoroughly documenting and recording the site, which we believe will have immense historical significance’. The material from the wreck had been taken by private jet to the US in hundreds of plastic buckets brimming with coins. The salvage company said ‘it has been legally imported into the US and is in a secure location where it is being conserved and documented’.

Alison Kentuck, Britain’s Deputy Receiver of Wrecks, said the evidence suggested that the finds came from the Merchant Royal, a seventeenth-century merchant ship that sank near the Isles of Scilly laden with Mexican jewels, gold and silver in 1641. She said that there was no legal requirement on the salvage company to report the find as it lay outside the 12-nautical-mile limit of British territorial waters.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, the Florida-based salvage company that made the find, is the same one that controversially obtained permission from the UK Government to search for HMS Sussex, a seventeenth-century warship which sank in a storm in 1694 near Gibraltar.

Tudor ship found off Alderney

On a more positive note, marine archaeologists say they have located a ship that sank in 1592 in the reef-strewn waters off the Channel Island of Alderney. The ship was carrying arms destined for English soldiers in France, and the artefacts recovered so far include cannons, armour, muskets, swords and ceramic hand grenades designed to spray victims with flaming tar. But they represent only a fraction of the thousands of items still on the seabed. Much of the wreck lies under deep layers of sand, which have helped to preserve it. The finding of the oak rudder largely intact raises the possibility that much of the buried ship survives, and an appeal is being launched to raise £150,000 for the next phase of the excavation and to explore whether the ship can be raised intact, using the same techniques as the Mary Rose.

Mensun Bound (Triton Senior Research Fellow in Marine Archaeology at Oxford, founder of the Marine Archaeological Research Unit in Oxford and a Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford) is directing the excavation of the Alderney wreck. He said: ‘This is one of the grandest and most exciting periods of our naval history but until now we have not had an example in English waters that has been properly looked at by professional archaeologists’. Sir Norman Browse, president of Alderney, whose government owns the wreck, said: ‘Until this summer we had deliberately kept our discoveries quiet, but now we require major funding for equipment and conservation and so have been forced to go public.’

The name of the ship is not known, and its date has been established through dendrochronology (the rudder was cut from oak trees growing in southern England until the 1580s) and from two lead weights bearing a monogram of Elizabeth I not used before 1588. A letter found in the National Archives dated 29 November 1592 suggests the ship might have been sent by Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s chief minister, on a secret mission to forces stationed in Brittany as part of a plan to forestall attempts by Spain to seize a deepwater port in France for use as a base for invading England and avenging the Armada’s defeat.

The letter was sent to Burghley by Sir John Norreys, commander of the Brittany expedition. It reads: ‘I have yet heard nothing but that the two packets sent from your lordship are lost in a ship that was cast away about Alderney.’ Our Fellow David Loades, Honorary Research Professor at Sheffield University and author of several Tudor naval histories, said: ‘The chances are it was a privately owned warship taken up by the government. If it was in fighting trim there would have been over 100 men on board. The wreck is unique for this period. I do not know of any other English ship for which there are any remains from this period at all.’

Barton upon Humber church reopens as flagship conservation and tourism project

The church of St Peter, Barton upon Humber, North Lincolnshire, was reopened last week after major repairs and the creation of a new visitor centre telling the story of what has been described as ‘the most studied parish church in the country’. With its Anglo-Saxon tower and baptistery (the only surviving example of this date in the UK), St Peter’s was the first building in England to be shown by nineteenth-century scholars to date from the pre-Conquest era. The church was declared redundant in 1972, and was excavated from 1978 to 1984 in an attempt to shed further light on the church’s origins.

The remains of some 3,000 individuals exhumed during the excavation will be returned to the church early next year and are to be housed in a specially constructed ossuary, while the new visitor centre will feature an exhibition called ‘Buried Lives’, explaining what has been learned from the study of the remains. The ossuary will allow the remains to rest on consecrated ground, while still being accessible to researchers. English Heritage believes this will be a model for the excavation, display and storage of remains in churches elsewhere.

Kevin Booth, English Heritage Senior Curator for the North, said that the exhibition will ‘reveal what changing burial traditions tell us about past societies and highlight how the bones are being used by scientists to uncover secrets about disease and diet … we also strike a modern note and look at contemporary attitudes to issues surrounding our own mortality.’ The earliest burial, that of a man over fifty years old, possibly born in the reign of King Canute (1016–35), has been restored to its original and exceptionally rare oak coffin.

Key parts of Walthamstow Dog Track are listed

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced that the Entrance Range, Tote Board and Kennels at Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium have been designated as Grade II structures. These parts of the stadium were built as part of the first phase of construction in 1931.

Heritage Minister David Lammy said of the listing: ‘Walthamstow Stadium is the best surviving and most architecturally interesting vintage greyhound stadium in the country, and a major East London landmark. It is only right that we should celebrate this architectural showpiece to popular entertainment by listing its key components.’

Greyhound racing evolved as a sport from the 1920s, out of hare and rabbit coursing, and was the invention of an Oklahoma entrepreneur, O P Smith, who invented the mechanical hare. The idea came to England in 1925, and by 1939 there were one hundred tracks in Britain. It was a hugely popular activity and in 1946 attendance numbers rivalled those at football matches.

Australian Aborigines linked to Africa, DNA study shows

A report by a team led by Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Universities published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lends weight to the theory that Australia's Aboriginal population is descended from a single group of migrants who left Africa about 55,000 years ago and that they replaced earlier hominid species – such as H neanderthalis and H erectus – who had already colonised Australia, rather than interbreeding with them. The team’s study of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA also concluded that New Guinean populations are also directly descended from the same specific group as Australian Aboriginals. At the time of the migration, Australia and New Guinea were joined by a land bridge.

The DNA patterns suggest that there was little gene flow into the region after the migration. That Australian and Melanesian populations evolved on their own explains why some of their shared features are so unusual, says Toomas Kivisild, from the Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, who co-authored the paper: ‘The evidence points to relative isolation after the initial arrival, which would mean any significant developments in skeletal form and tool use were not influenced by outside sources.’

The comet that killed off the cavemen

The extinction of several large North American mammals at the end of the last Ice Age, the collapse of Clovis populations in America and the 1,000 year-long Younger Dryas cold spell, which triggered changes in the living patterns of people in Europe and Asia, are all being linked to the explosion of a comet over North America 12,900 years ago.

This controversial new idea was presented at the American Geophysical Union's Joint Meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, last week, by Arizona-based geophysicist Allen West, one of a group of US scientists who say they have found a layer of microscopic nanodiamonds at twenty-six different sites in Europe, Canada and America and argue that these are the remains of a giant carbon-rich comet that crashed into the earth 12,900 years ago.

They estimate that the comet was up to 5km in diameter and broke up just before impact, setting off a series of explosions that turned the comet's carbon into diamond dust. The rocks studied by the researchers have a black layer which, they argue, is the charcoal deposited by fires that swept the grasslands of the northern hemisphere after the explosion; any grazing animals that survived the original blast would have died from starvation.

The comet would have caused widespread melting of the North American ice sheet. The waters would have poured into the Atlantic, disrupting its currents and causing the 1,000-year-long Younger Dryas cold spell, which had a profound effect on Palaeolithic cultures in America, Europe and Asia.

Research team member James Kennett, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, said the theory explained three of the highest-debated controversies of recent decades: the sudden disappearance of the first migrants into America, the disappearance of mammoths throughout much of Europe and America and the sudden cooling of the planet at the Younger Dryas.

UK Archaeological Archives Forum conference: Past, Present and Future

The UK Archaeological Archives Forum is hosting this conference to launch the publication of new national guidance on archaeological archives. The day will also look at the work of the Forum and will include presentations on maritime archaeological archives and selection and retention issues relating to archaeological archives. Attendance at the conference is free. The closing date for applications is 20 June 2007. For further information or to book a place at the conference, send an email to Samantha Sykes.

Books (and papers) by (or of interest to) Fellows

Our Fellow Mike Pitts was to be heard on Radio 4’s ‘Open Book’ programme last week discussing John Preston’s newly published novel, The Dig, with presenter Mariella Frostrup. The novel (published by Viking Penguin) centres around the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship burial, and Mike pointed out that this serves as a mirror and a metaphor for a number of the central themes of the book: the ferocious academic battles that surround the excavation, the rivalry between the Ipswich Museum and the British Museum over the right to conserve, study and display the finds, and the writing of a national history centred on the rise of Anglo-Saxon England all take on additional resonance as they echo preparations for war in the long hot summer of 1939.

On the same programme John Preston (who reviews TV programmes for the Daily Telegraph) explained how he came to write the book. He was contacted by somebody claiming to be a long-lost cousin – it transpired that Preston’s great aunt was Peggy Piggott who, with her then husband Stuart Piggott, took over the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship burial under Charles Phillips from July 1939. Reading Peggy’s diary inspired John Preston to realise that the many human dramas and ironies of the Sutton Hoo excavation would make the perfect novel.

Another archaeologist whose life reads like a novel or a film script is Heinrich Schliemann, the subject of a work by our Fellow Curtis Runnels called The Archaeology of Heinrich Schliemann: an annotated bibliographic handlist. Curtis explains that this is the second edition of a work he first published with the Archaeological Institute of America in 2002. The book gives bibliographic details of Heinrich Schliemann's published works for the first time in English and discusses the publication history of Schliemann's books in the context of his development as an archaeologist.

When Dr Rodney Baguley died in March 2001 he left a sum of money to the Prehistoric Society for an award to be made each year for the best paper (in the opinion of Council) in each year’s Proceedings. This year’s Prehistoric Society R M Baguley award has gone to ‘“Total Archaeology” and Model Landscapes: excavation of the Great Wilbraham causewayed enclosure, Cambridgeshire, 1975–76’, by Fellows Christopher Evans and Mark Edmonds (with Steve Boreham). What makes the award doubly relevant to the Society is that the research and writing of the paper was funded by an grant from the Headley Trust, which the Society administers, designed to ‘support those working in the independent and commercial sectors who wish to bring important new discoveries to full academic publication’ (for further details of these awards see the Grants section of the Society's website.

Also celebrating the award of a prestigious prize is our Fellow Geoff Bailey, holder of the Anniversary Chair at the University of York. His paper on ‘Tectonics and human evolution’, written jointly with Geoffrey King of the Laboratoire de Tectonique, Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris, has been awarded the £1,000 Antiquity Prize for the best article published in the journal Antiquity in 2006. The prize citation said that the paper ‘proposes a new model for the origins of humans and their ecological adaptation, in which the evolutionary stimulus lies not in the savannah but in rough hilly country where early hominins could hunt and hide. Such rough terrain, generated by tectonic and volcanic movement, characterises not only the African rift valley, but probably the whole route of early hominin dispersal.’

Our Fellow Timothy Taylor enjoyed the questionable honour of seeing his work splashed all over the Sunday Times a month ago under the salacious heading ‘Prehistoric man had sex for fun’. With its usual fondness for dreadful puns, the newspaper went on to say that ‘Prehistoric man did not stop swinging when he came down from the trees’, and that ‘bondage, group sex, transvestism and the use of sex toys were widespread in primitive societies’.

In fact Tim’s paper, on ‘The origins of human sexual culture: sex, gender, and social control’ (published in the journal The Handbook of the Evolution of Human Sexuality) argues that monogamy only became established as the norm for human sexual relations when hunter-gatherer societies took up agriculture and settled in houses, allowing the social roles of men and women to become more fixed. Until then, human sex was neither predominantly heterosexual nor reproductive, he argues. He also argues that the similarity in body size between male and female humans was a major factor in social development: male apes can force females to have sex because they are typically two or three times larger, but the similarity of size in humans means that sex has to be negotiated and it thus becomes ‘a vital part of social interaction, communication and inventiveness’.

Vacancies

RCAHMS, Survey and Recording Operational Manager for Architecture, Industry and Maritime
Salary range £28,062 to £36,294 (under review), closing date 15 June 2007

Applications are invited for a permanent post within the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland to manage the survey and recording work relating to architecture, industry and maritime sites in Scotland. Applicants must have a degree, or equivalent qualification, and at least five years’ experience of working in the field of architectural history or a related discipline. Experience of managing projects and staff is essential. For further details and an application form, send an email to RCAHMS Personnel.

IFA Workplace Learning Bursary: Finds Assistant with Specialist Interest in Prehistoric Finds and Pottery, hosted by Headland Archaeology
Salary £15,340, closing date 20 June 2007

This 12-month full-time post represents an excellent opportunity to obtain a wide range of skills in all aspects of archaeological finds work (while specialising in prehistoric finds) with a highly active commercial archaeological contractor, engaged in rescue and research projects. The successful candidate will work on a programme of training, development and application under the supervision of Fraser Hunter, FSA, Alison Sheridan, FSA, and other specialists in prehistoric finds and pottery at the National Museum of Scotland. Julie Franklin, Headland Archaeology’s Finds Officer, will act as mentor to provide the post-holder with guidance and support during the course of the placement.

For further details and application information, please contact Dawn Homes or Mirren Hill, or call the office on 0131 467 7705.

The Paul Drury Partnership: historic environment professional
Competitive salary, closing date 29 June 2007

We are looking for a full-time, experienced and like-minded professional to share our expanding workload and contribute to the growth of the practice. Our work currently includes policy, research and strategic advice for major public-sector organisations; historic building analysis; conservation management plans and statements; site specific advice, including enabling development; public inquiries; and conservation area practice, including grant schemes. We work for all sectors, but are guided by a clear conservation ethos. You will need to spend at least two days per week in our Teddington office.

Please write setting out your qualifications, experience and skills (including IT), with a copy of your CV and details of your present employment and salary, to: Anna McPherson, The Paul Drury Partnership, 114 Shacklegate Lane, Teddington TW11 8SH; tel: 020 8977 8980; e-mail: amcpherson@pdpartnership.com.