Salon Archive

Issue: 166

Forthcoming meetings

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.

Cultural Campus events

Bridging the arts and humanities, the Burlington House Cultural Campus unites the interests of the six learned societies (Antiquaries, Arts, Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology and Linnaean) based around the Burlington House courtyard.

The next event in the Cultural Campus calendar is a summer solstice lecture on Stonehenge given at the Geological Society Lecture Theatre, on Thursday 21 June 2007 at 6pm by Professor Tim Darvill, FSA, Professor of Archaeology at Bournemouth University, and Professor Clive Ruggles, FSA, FRAS, Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester. They will ask why Stonehenge became the monument we see today and how did it function, using archaeology, geology and astronomy to provide possible answers.

Following that, there will be a private view of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition exclusively for Fellows of the Courtyard Societies, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday 1 August 2007. Tickets cost £20 a head and include champagne and canapés.

The autumn season of Cultural Campus lectures then begins on 29 October 2007 when Robert Bittlestone, John Underhill and James Diggle will talk about their new theory concerning the true location of Homer's Ithaca, under the title Odysseus Unbound.

For tickets and further details of all these events, contact Jayne Phenton.

Results of ballot on 7 June 2007

The Society is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 7 June 2007:

• Professor Doctor Johann Michael Fritz as Honorary Fellow (specialist in medieval and post-medieval silver and jewellery)
• Susan Oosthuizen (Director for Community Education and Outreach at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, Vice-Chair of the Universities' Association for Lifelong Learning and President of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society)
• Revd Robin Griffith-Jones (Master of the Temple Church in London, New Testament scholar and historian of the early church)
• John Arthur Davies (Chief Curator and Keeper of Archaeology within Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service and a noted Roman coin specialist)
• Birgitta Hoffmann (Honorary Research Associate at Liverpool University’s School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, and an expert on ancient, especially Roman, glass)
• Mark Bowis (jewellery historian and Associate Director, Jewellery Department, Christie's)
• Peter Charles Nicholas Stewart (Senior Lecture in Classical Art and its Heritage, Courtauld Institute, and specialist in ancient Roman art)
• Simon Paul Burnell (archaeology and history editor and scholar in the field of Merovingian archaeology and history)
• David Barrett (County Archaeologist for Derbyshire)
• Alistair James Peter Campbell (medical practitioner with expertise in numismatics and silver whose important collection of Chester silver is on permanent loan at the Grosvenor Museum)
• Ida Susanne Bangert (Research Assistant, Dept of Antiquities, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, working on the Leverhulme-funded Sir John Evans Centenary Project)
• Heather Mary Jacqueline Jackson (Deputy Director of Excavations at Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates in northern Syria)
• Stephen Edmund Dudley Fortescue (retired solicitor, local historian and Vice President of the Surrey Archaeological Society, for whom he was honorary legal adviser for many years)
• Ian Patrick McClure (Director, Hamilton Kerr Institute, expert on the conservation of English medieval panel painting)
• Thierry Crépin-Leblond (Director of the Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Ecouen, France, and a leading historian of French Renaissance art and architecture)
• Susan Davina Mary Jenkins (Senior Curator, English Heritage, responsible for Apsley House and for curatorial research strategy)
• Alan Thomas Howarth (Lord Howarth of Newport) (Minister for the Arts 1998–2001, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, Vice-President of the All-Party Arts and Heritage Group)
• Alexandra Katharina Maria Gajewski (independent scholar, specialist in the history of ecclesiastical architecture in Burgundy and Champagne 1100–1300, with a special interest in the Cistercians)
• Jeremy Adam Ashbee (Head Properties Curator, English Heritage, and a specialist in castle studies)
• Peter Michael Meadows (archivist and architectural historian, Under Librarian, Dept of Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library, since 1990, Keeper of the Ely Diocesan and Chapter Archives)
• Adrian James Webb (Research Manager for UK Hydrographic Office Archives, member of the Council of the Naval Records Society and of the Somerset Archaeological and Record Societies)
• Anthony Dudley Beckles Willson (independent scholar, authority on Alexander Pope’s life, in particular his contribution to garden history and landscape design)
• Sabrina Harcourt-Smith (freelance art historian, research assistant to Sir Nikolaus Pevsner on several Buildings of England volumes, currently completing field work in Surrey for the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland)
• Julian Marcus Luxford (University Lecturer, School of Art History, University of St Andrews, specialist in the art and architecture of English Benedictine monasteries 1300–1540)
• Rose Cleary (archaeologist, University College, Cork, outstanding contributor to Irish archaeology, excavator of Lough Gur since 1977).

Website

New on the website this week is the final text of the Society's response to the consultation on the Heritage Protection White Paper, which welcomes the proposals outlined in the White Paper as a well-thought-out response to the need for the reform of our current heritage protection laws and policies. The Society also welcomes the emphasis on consultation and argues that ‘the Secretary of State has frequently and unjustly chastised the heritage sector for being out of touch with ordinary opinion: for this reason we are especially pleased to note that the White Paper now recognises that much conservation activity is rooted in the community, and is the result of voluntary action and is a genuine expression of community concern. We believe that consultation can only help the cause of conservation by revealing the strong support that there is in the community for more effective designation and protection for the historic environment, especially for locally valued heritage.’

In the Fellows' area (password protected) it is also now possible to read the minutes of the last three Council meetings, and the minutes of future meetings will also be posted here as soon as they are available.

'Take stones off the world heritage list' says Salisbury MP Robert Key

MP for Salisbury and Wessex Archaeology Trustee Robert Key has taken the unusual step of writing formally to the Chief Executive of the World Heritage Sites Committee at Unesco, asking for Stonehenge to be put on the endangered sites register or removed from the list of World Heritage Sites altogether because UK Government commitments to improve the Stonehenge landscape have not been met. ‘I have done this to draw attention to the Government's failure to deliver a roads scheme after all these years’, Mr Key explained to his local paper, the Salisbury Journal. Speaking to the BBC, he said ‘I feel angry for all of the people involved with Stonehenge. It is time the Government was held to account for their failure.’

Despite a wide-ranging consultation on the options completed in April 2006, no verdict has yet been delivered and Mr Key says he was told last week that a decision is unlikely to be announced until the end of 2007. Mr Key said he was worried about the future of the new visitor centre for Stonehenge, given approval this spring but dependent on the A303 scheme. ‘The further the roads scheme slips back, the further the visitor centre slips back’, Mr Key said, adding that: ‘Since Stonehenge was designated a World Heritage Site in 1986 some £25m has been spent on road improvement studies, alternative options and consultations. Twenty-one years on, we are still waiting for something to happen. The Government is just cocking a snook at the World Heritage Site committee.’

An English Heritage spokesman said that while they did not want Stonehenge to be taken off the World Heritage Site register, ‘we do share Mr Key's frustration and can only reiterate that we are very disappointed with what seems to be a further delay in the Government's announcement on its plan for the A303 at Stonehenge.’

Labour Party activist Tony Robinson, presenter of Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’, has also expressed concern about his own party’s attitude to Stonehenge. In an interview with the BBC’s ‘Politics Show’ he accused government ministers of ‘leeching’ on the iconic image of the monument to win the bid for the Olympics bid, only to let it down at the eleventh hour. ‘As a nation we’re in danger of letting Stonehenge down badly. Most politicians don't get heritage, they think they can just leech on it, exploit it, that it doesn't need tending’, he said.

Sir Roy Strong says ‘burn the kipper-coloured pews’

Also in provocative mood recently was our Fellow Sir Roy Strong, who delivered a lecture on ‘The beauty of holiness and its perils: what is to happen to 10,000 parish churches?’ to an audience of hundreds packed into the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral on 30 May 2007. Scores of Fellows were in the audience – attracted by news that this would be Sir Roy’s last big campaign speech, in which he would propose the establishment of a new National Trust for rural places of worship. Many were to discover before the evening was out that Sir Roy wished to see them – or the organisations that they manage – abolished.

Sir Roy began by claiming responsibility for an upturn in the fortunes of historic houses and historic parks and gardens thanks to exhibitions that he organised at the V&A in the 1970s drawing attention to their plight; he said he felt a sense of personal failure at the failure of his exhibition focusing on the threat to the UK’s great historic churches to trigger the same response: ‘the torch has not been seized as avidly and carried forward for churches as it was for houses and gardens’, he said, adding that the last twenty-five years had been characterised by ‘drift and indecision’, which he proposed to end by ‘turning out all the kipper-coloured Victorian pews’ cluttering up church naves to create spaces that could be used flexibly by all sections of the community.

Describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic conservationist’, Sir Roy delivered with gusto a long list of bodies that he would abolish because he believed that the management of churches was in the hands of too many organisations, resulting in a ‘hydra-headed tangle, a nightmare of bureaucracy and internecine warfare between bodies trying to occupy the same territory’. In their place he wanted one national body capable of providing the ‘leadership that is singularly lacking’ that would return churches to community use and supporting a ‘kaleidoscopic range of activities’.

He argued that our attitude to churches was too reverential and had been coloured by Pevsner, who ‘described churches like a scientist dissecting a corpse: Germanic, formulaic and art historical’, and by Betjeman, who ‘appeals to the imagination and the heart, nostalgic, judging churches by their atmosphere and aesthetic merit’. Our Fellow Simon Jenkins had tried to cast churches in a manner acceptable to an age of secularism, ‘not as places of revealed truth but as a dispersed gallery of vernacular art’. None of the three captured the sense of churches as they were in the Middle Ages, ‘truly democratic buildings, buildings for the community, for every kind of activity’.

Quoting The Secular Use of Church Buildings, by J G Davies, published in 1968, Sir Roy argued that the church had, until the Reformation, been the village hall, and that it was a great tragedy for churches that another type of building had developed to fulfil that role. Buildings whose religious use was now limited to a one-hour service a week (or perhaps only once a month) attended by a handful of elderly parishioners could not survive. Hence they must be returned to their place ‘at the hub of the community, peopled and bustling with life’ – the choice for rural churches was ‘radical change or decay’.

After the lecture, a group of heritage campaigners vowed to form a new ‘Pew Preservation Society’ specifically to save endangered kipper-coloured Victorian pews, while the more thoughtful response from many of those there was that Sir Roy had highlighted some important issues. Meanwhile discussions continue between the various bodies concerned with the historic places of worship over the formation of Places of Worship Link (POWlink), described as ‘an association of sovereign member states’, that will ‘give a collective voice to those concerned for England’s heritage of church buildings’.

A transcript of Sir Roy’s lecture can be fund on the Gresham College website.

Proposed abolition of the independent Advisory Board for Redundant Churches

Though it was not one of the organisations on Sir Roy’s execution list, the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches (ABRC) is facing abolition by the Church of England and the eleven Board members (who include eight Fellows: Andrew Saint, Peter Cormack, Teresa Sladen, David Palliser, Brian Kemp, Peter Pace and Will Hawkes, with David Baker as Chairman and Jeffrey West as Secretary) are far from happy.

The ABRC was formed in 1969, and now has a statutory role (under the provision of the Pastoral Measure 1983) as adviser to the Church Commissioners on the historic and archaeological interest and architectural quality of Anglican churches proposed for redundancy. It is proposed that this statutory function be transferred to a new central Church body, the Church Buildings Council. ABRC members argue that this is an in-house committee that will have no independence, that conflicts of interest will arise, and that its ability to act as the guardian of the public interest in ecclesiastical heritage will be much reduced, as will the range of expertise available on matters beyond Church affairs.

The transfer of the ABRC’s statutory powers to the new body is just one part of a package of measures that will go before the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament at the end of June. ABRC members have written to the parliamentary committee requesting the opportunity to give oral evidence, formally or informally, on why the many difficult issues presented by redundant churches are best served by the combination of external and internal expertise, rather than by an extension of Church control.

Fellows who wish to support their campaign can find further information on the ABRC’s website and are encouraged to write to Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament (with a copy to Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage), asking for a rethink, before the Ecclesiastical Committee meets to consider this measure on 27 June 2007.

AHRC to withdraw funding from AHDS from March 2008

Another cause for serious concern is the announcement that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is to withdraw funding from the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) from March 2008. The AHRC has made archaeology an exception, so the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) – which has just celebrated its tenth anniversary – is safe for the time being. Our Fellow Julian Richards, Director of the ADS, was at pains to reassure users that ‘our funding is secure’ and a press release issued by the AHRC says that the Archaeology Data Service is ‘central to our science and heritage strategy … archaeologists therefore should continue to use the ADS in York for the time being both for advice and deposit’.

Our Fellow Dr Rupert Shepherd, Manager of Museum Documentation at the Ashmolean Museum, says, however, that Fellows who work in the fields of history or history of art will be seriously affected by any reduction in the service provided by AHDS History (formerly the History Data Service) and AHDS Visual Arts (formerly the Visual Arts Data Service), as will Fellows involved in linguistic and literary research by the demise of AHDS Literature, Language and Liguistics (aka the Oxford Text Archive). AHDS Performing Arts (the Performing Arts Data Service, PADS) will also be affected.

The AHRC decision means that a series of humanities disciplines will potentially lose access to a significant body of free digital resources of the highest standard. The role of the AHDS is to preserve data created with public funding across the arts and the humanities and it has pioneered best practice in using and preserving digital data among Britain's university researchers in the arts and humanities, as well as ensuring that this data remains publicly available for future researchers.

The AHRC argues that after eleven years of funding, the arts and humanities research community has developed significant IT knowledge and expertise and can now draw on IT support services from within their individual higher education institutions. Those fighting the decision say that it is by no means clear that adequate measures are in place for preserving the research data which has been deposited on the understanding that AHDS will preserve it for future generations of scholars and that long-term preservation of digital resources at the level of individual institutions is a significant problem as budgets are subjected to ever-greater pressures.

A petition has been opened on the Downing Street website calling on the Prime Minister to urge the AHRC to revisit its decision, arguing that the withdrawal of funding is a retrograde step which will undermine attempts to create in Britain a knowledge economy based on innovative research by UK researchers using the latest digital technologies.

A-level Ancient History: a postscript

Debate over the future of A-level Ancient History has not stopped, even though the future of Ancient History as an A-level option now looks to be secure. Two letters appeared in the Independent last week, arguing that the current syllabus was too narrow in focusing only on Greece and Rome. As Dr Stephen Bax, Principal Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, wrote on 31 May 2007: ‘In the broad sweep of human history-making and history-writing, the Greeks and Romans are relative newcomers. Thousands of years before them, the peoples of the Near East, Egypt and Mespotamia were writing wonderful histories and literature … it is plain that Greece and Rome, and thence the whole of Western civilisation, are hugely indebted to the Babylonians, Hebrews, Egyptians, black Africans, Persians and many others.’ Dr Bax concluded that ‘the best possible syllabus’ is one that would introduce A-level students to this broader picture and ‘develop their understanding of our interconnected world’.

A response to this letter came from our Fellow Professor John K Davies, saying that his university, Liverpool, had tried to break down the ‘outmoded cultural boundaries’ by allowing students of archaeology and ancient history to pick and mix modules from Classical studies, Egyptology, Near East studies and so on. The experiment highlighted several problems that might be encountered in ‘taking such cultural cross-fertilisation across into A-levels’, viz the serious risk of superficiality in seeking to cover a 3,000-year time range, the lack of primary sources in translation and the shortage of competent teachers. John believed that time and goodwill would eventually solve such problems, if the exam board was willing.

The Archaeologist: Summer 2007 issue

Fellow Alison Taylor, Editor of the IFA magazine, The Archaeologist, says she is especially proud of the latest issue (for copies contact Alison), which has a dramatic front cover photograph of bottle kilns and tall chimneys teetering on the edge of a deep marl pit, once the source of the clay that fed the Staffordshire Potteries, but in this picture on the way to being filled up with the huge amounts of waste material generated by those same kilns. This is a picture that tells a thousand stories and it introduces an issue devoted to post-medieval archaeology – not so long ago the poor relation of medieval archaeology, which was itself the poor relation of ‘proper’ classical and prehistoric archaeology.

This issue of The Archaeologist demonstrates just how much exciting work is going on in this field, which has a global perspective because, as James Symonds points out in a piece on ‘Residues of industry and empire’, historical archaeology marks the beginning of European expansion and colonialism. Elsewhere in the same issue, our Fellow Marilyn Palmer provides an impressive list of research themes to which industrial archaeology is making a substantial contribution, while just to prove the point that we cannot rely on historical documents for a complete and accurate account of the recent past, there is a report on the excavation of a settlement on Harris, complete with beehive-shaped ‘shieling’ complexes, rectangular ‘blackhouses’ and a distillery, that is not even shown on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map of the island.

British Archaeology: July / August 2007

Folk and protest singer Billy Bragg, who calls himself a ‘progressive patriot’, points out in an interview in the latest issue of British Archaeology that the recent past is ancient history for his children, and that looking for World War II bunkers is a great way to get people interested in archaeology.

Even so, there is just a whiff of prejudice against medievalists in the magazine’s ‘Spoilheap’ column, which represents the events of the 1959 election of Joan Evans as a battle between ‘modern archaeology’ and ‘medieval art history’ (Joan Evans’s recently opened diaries covering the years from 1954 to 1959, the subject of a paper by Pamela Tudor-Craig, FSA, in the forthcoming 2007 volume of the Antiquaries Journal, will throw a much kinder light on Joan Evans’s role in that matter).

‘Spoilheap’ also contends that the recent Presidential election was ‘a contest about personality’ (this Fellow thought it was about matters of considerable substance) and about ‘science and archaeology set against the fading art of antiquarianism’ (again, this Fellow is proud to differ: being an antiquary is about embracing art and science; the Society is one of those rare institutions where people of many different disciplines can meet and learn from each other’s research methods: far from being a fading art, it is exactly this kind of cross-disciplinary approach that research councils are now encouraging, as a contrast to the increasingly narrow specialisms of the last thirty years).

But who needs Salon’s editor to say this when British Archaeology is itself is a showcase for some important antiquarian projects: witness Mark Redknap, Fellow, a modern, scientific archaeologist if ever there was one, writing about medieval ivory diptychs in Wales, and of his dawning realisation, as he studied a rare example of a single panel from Llandaff that its partner panel was on display in Liverpool. Then there is an article on what we can learn from a remarkable drawing of Stonehenge made by the great nineteenth-century mathematician and scientist, John Herschel, and another on the extraordinary pleasure gardens, full of literary, historical and mythological allusions and painterly vistas created by John Murray in the 1750s at Dunkeld House, now managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Pace ‘Spoilheap’, Mike Pitts, the editor of British Archaeology, and himself a Fellow, does an excellent job in bringing such first-class examples of flourishing antiquarianism to everyone’s attention.

Cornerstone: June / July 2007

From the packed 100-page magazine of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Salon’s editor learns of the sad demise of a Japanese construction company called Kongo Gumi which specialised in Buddhist temples and enjoyed an enviable reputation for its skills in traditional construction and historic building repair: this in itself is a remarkable niche, but more remarkable still was the fact that the company was founded in AD 579 – yes, that’s 579, not 1579 nor even 1879 – and has been handed down through forty generations of the same family for 1,428 years. Property speculation in the 1980s brought the company to its knees and it was wound up in January 2007, after trading for 1.5 millennia, with debts of £17 million.

In the same magazine, the editor, Robin Stummer, interviews our Fellow Simon Thurley and finds him in bullish mood, claiming that English Heritage has made great progress on the philosophical and intellectual side of conservation, and that its Conservation Principles will ‘finally slay the dragon of the so-called “dead hand” of conservation’, and convince people that ‘conservation is a positive force in their towns and villages and cities’.

In his editorial on the same subject, Fellow Philip Venning, the SPAB’s Secretary, isn’t quite so sure: he believes that pinning down on paper what is justifiable in conservation practice in such a way as to cover all circumstances is ‘probably impossible’; he prefers the broad sweep of William Morris’s original manifesto to a mechanistic ‘tick the box’ approach, which, he says, makes it possible to justify whatever you want to do, and that could lead to the Conservation Principles being ‘quoted by developers and others to justify intervention’.

World Monuments Fund puts six British and Irish sites on global danger list

Six sites in Britain and Ireland have been added to the list of the world’s 100 most endangered monuments drawn up every two years by the World Monument Fund (WMF). One of them – Tara Hill – was described as ‘the biggest advocacy challenge’ on the World Monuments Fund’s watch list for 2008 because the Irish government seems determined to push ahead with its plans to build a motorway through the landscape surrounding one of Ireland’s most revered archaeological sites.

The other five British and Irish sites on the list are Mavisbank House (Midlothian, Scotland), Richhill House (Armagh City, Northern Ireland), St Peter's College (Cardross, Scotland), Vernon Mount (Cork, Ireland) and Wilton's Music Hall (London).

The purpose of the watch list is to draw international public attention to threatened cultural heritage sites across the globe. The Watch List is assembled by an international panel of experts in archaeology, architecture, art history and conservation, one of whom is our Fellow Edward Impey.

The 2008 Watch List includes a number of sites threatened by global warming, including Scott’s Hut, Antarctica, or by conflict, such as the Cultural Heritage Sites of Iraq. Tara Hill is one of several sites threatened by development pressures, along with the rock art of Dampier, Australia (which has featured in previous editions of Salon), the St Petersburg skyline and the pre-war architecture of Shanghai. St Peter’s College, Cardross, Scotland, is described as a ‘modern ruin’, that was once revered as a masterpiece of post-war architecture, but was made obsolete in its intended use as a seminary for Catholic priests after the Second Vatican Council decided that priests should be educated within communities instead of in isolated seminaries.

Salon’s editor chose Wilton’s Music Hall as the venue for the first ever Heritage Link AGM in 2003 in order to highlight the special qualities of this wonderful theatre, the world's oldest surviving music hall, built by John Wilton in 1858 (see Wilton’s website for pictures). A leader in The Times said that ‘one of the grandest music halls of Victorian Britain has fallen into a sorry state: 40 per cent of it is boarded up, the roof is as punctured as an old tyre, and any serious bit of rain means flooding’, to which one reader responded by observing that ‘the decrepitude of its auditorium is its attraction and enhances many of the performances’.

As for the Hill of Tara, the four-lane M3 motorway planned to pass within a mile of the site is currently embroiled in legal and political manoeuvring. Last month’s Irish elections left Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fáil party five seats short of an outright majority. The Green Party, which won six seats in the Irish parliament, is involved in coalition talks with Fianna Fáil but have said that the price of partnership is a rethink on the route of the motorway. When work began on its construction last month, work had to stop within 24 hours when the site of a large wooden henge was found along the route at Lismullen in the Skryne Valley.

Cotswold Canals project threatened by funding crisis at British Waterways

Canal enthusiasts have dreamed for the last fifty years of reopening the 40-mile Stroudwater and Thames and Severn canals, and when the Cotswold Canals Partnership announced last year that it had secured almost £18 million towards the £24 million first phase of the restoration project, everyone thought that it would only be a matter of time before the '’missing link’ of Britain's canal network would be open again to navigation. Now all that has been thrown into doubt by the announcement that British Waterways (BW) can no longer fulfil its part in the partnership because of cuts made to its budget by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Defra cuts are part of the Department’s efforts to recoup the deficit left by the mishandling of revamped farm subsidy payments over the last three years. Last year’s £55 million grant to BW was £7 million less than expected, and it is likely to be cut by another £7 million this year. As a result, BW has made 180 people redundant and has said that it must focus its spending on maintaining the existing canal network, rather than spending on new projects.

Charlotte Atkins, Labour MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, lodged an Early Day Motion last week, saying that: ‘Expanding the network is central to British Waterways’ role and there is a justifiable public element to that. It's why it needs to continue to get public money.’ A Defra spokesman said: ‘It is for the [British Waterways] board to prioritise its activities in the light of competing demands for available resources.’

Lidar survey finds ‘missing’ part of Offa’s Dyke

Also described as a ‘missing link’ is the southernmost stretch of Offa’s Dyke, running through the Forest of Dean to the banks of the River Severn. Now archaeologists using laser radar (or Lidar) technology have been able to see through the trees and dense undergrowth and have discovered a long strip of earthworks at Wyeseal Woods, near St Briavels, which they believe is part of the boundary built by King Offa between AD 757 and 796. ‘The study has produced some exciting results,’ said Jon Hoyle of the Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service. ‘Everybody assumed that particular section [of Offa's Dyke] had been destroyed by quarrying but this shows it could still be there, hidden under all the brambles and bracken.’

This is the first time that Lidar technology has been used archaeologically on such a large scale and aerial archaeologists from Cambridge University have spent hours flying over the Forest of Dean in a small plane mapping 280 square metres of forest. English Heritage, the Forestry Commission and the local council paid £100,000 for the cost of the survey to help county archaeologists find out more about the archaeology of the Forest, whose stone quarrying, charcoal making and iron and coal workings date back to before the Roman period.

82,000-year-old jewellery found

An international team of archaeologists, led by staff from Oxford University’s Institute of Archaeology, have found shell beads believed to be 82,000 years old at the Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, in eastern Morocco. A paper on the team’s findings is published in the June edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The beads comprise twelve nassarius shells drilled with holes and covered in red ochre. Similar beads have been found at South Africa’s Blombos Cave (dating from 75,000 years ago), and from the Middle Palaeolithic sites at Es-Skhul, Mount Carmel, Israel, and from Oued Djebbana, Bir-el-Ater, Algeria (dating back perhaps 100,000 years).

Institute Director Professor Nick Barton said: ‘A major question in evolutionary studies today is “how early did humans begin to think and behave in ways we would see as fundamentally modern?” The appearance of ornaments such as these may be linked to a growing sense of self-awareness and identity among humans and cultural innovations must have played a large role in human development.’ The team, which includes archaeologists from Morocco, France and Germany as well as the UK, believes that similar shells are present in other sites in Morocco. The team has recently secured funding for a further four to five years of research in the area from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Ötzi the Iceman bled to death, medical scan indicates

Researchers from Switzerland and Italy have used high-resolution computer tomography to examine the body of Ötzi the Iceman, and have concluded that an arrow wound to his shoulder caused him to bleed to death. The 5,000-year-old Ötzi was found preserved by ice by German hikers on a glacier in the Italian Alps close to the border with Austria in 1991. Until now, archaeologists have been unable to agree whether he died from an arrow wound, a sudden fall or from hypothermia.

The scanning technique used to examine Ötzi’s remains is a relatively new diagnostic technology used in hospitals to avoid invasive procedures. Dr Frank Ruehli, of the University of Zurich, working with scientists from Bolzano, Italy, found that an arrow had torn a hole in an artery beneath Ötzi’s left collarbone, leading to massive loss of blood and shock and causing him to suffer a heart attack. His analysis has just been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Archaeologists believe Ötzi might have been injured in a skirmish: previous research suggests that he killed or wounded four other people: traces of blood found on his clothes and weapons revealed four different types of DNA, none of them Ötzi’s.

Chicken bones suggest Polynesians reached America before Columbus

Chicken bones recently unearthed on the coast of Chile pre-date Columbus and have the DNA of a fowl species native to Polynesia, according to research published by Lisa Matisoo-Smith, of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The chicken bones were discovered at El Arenal, on the south coast of Chile, and have been carbon-dated to between 1304 and 1424; similar dates have been obtained from other material from the site.

DNA extracted from the bones matched with chickens from Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Easter Island and Hawaii, rather than any chickens found in Europe, providing the first evidence that long-distance voyages eastwards across the Pacific were possible.

‘There is increasing evidence of multiple [Polynesian] contacts with the Americas based on linguistic evidence and similarities in fish hook styles’, said Matisoo-Smith, ‘though physical evidence of human DNA from Polynesia has yet to be found in South America’.

Feedback

There were two omissions from the reminder in the last issue of Salon that National Archaeology Week (NAW) is fast approaching: the first was the address of the NAW website, where full details of all events can be checked out, and the second was to mention that the event is run by the Council for British Archaeology.

Fellow Mike Corfield has written to provide further information about the Alderney wreck whose ‘discovery’ was reported in several newspapers and in Salon last month. Mike explains that the wreck was first discovered as long ago as 1977, and has been ‘investigated every year by a dedicated group of divers based on Alderney and others from mainland Britain and elsewhere, all of whom devote their time voluntarily. The wreck is owned by the States of Alderney and responsibility for its investigation has been given to the Alderney Maritime Trust. Mensun Bound, our Excavation Director, has since the early 1990s volunteered his archaeological experience to the project; Professor David Loades, FSA, is the Trust's historical adviser and Mike Corfield, FSA, is responsible for conservation advice.

‘The Trust is in the unique position for a project of this scale of having almost all of its significant finds conserved (by the York Archaeological Trust) and many are on display in the Alderney Museum. We actually try to avoid recovering finds unless they have high information value, or are under immediate threat of loss due to the fierce currents off that part of Alderney. We have been monitoring the large objects on the sea bed – three cannons and an anchor – and have initiated conservation on the sea bed by attaching anodes to two of the cannons creating a galvanic cell that will dramatically reduce the chloride that has to be removed after we have recovered them.

‘A book by Jason Monaghan and Mensun Bound, A Ship Cast Away About Alderney (a quote from a letter from Sir John Norrys to Lord Burleigh) that describes the wreck and its excavation was published by the Alderney Maritime Trust in 2001, and the results of more recent work and post-excavation research is on the Trust website

Fellow Robert Merrillees writes in response to Salon’s report on the destruction of Moscow’s architectural heritage to say that: ‘Russia is not the only country facing an unprecedented challenge to the preservation of its cultural heritage. Cyprus, long known for its tourist attractions, has already paid a heavy price for the development of the facilities, especially accommodation, that have made it one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in Europe, but there is worse to come. Despite the lack of a political solution to the perennial Cyprus problem, the Government of the Republic has decided to go ahead with the construction of a new Parliament House on a large block of land in central Nicosia where archaeological excavations have revealed the only extant remains of ancient Ledra, one of the ten kingdoms of the first millennium BC.

‘While promising to respect the historical character of the site, the authorities seem blithely unaware that the subsoil is so friable that the first Anglican cathedral built on top in 1885 developed cracks through the subsidence of its foundations and had to be transferred not long afterwards to its present location. This does not augur well for what is left of the ancient settlement once construction begins or, indeed, for the new Parliament building!

‘The survival of Cyprus’s outstanding architectural legacy, both Byzantine and mediaeval, is due to the single-handed efforts of Fellow George Jeffery (1855–1935 ), whose diaries are soon to be published by the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. The island could do with someone of that ilk today’.

From Fellow Percival Turnbull comes a plaintive note on the withdrawal of the very useful Ordnance Survey service whereby first-edition OS maps have been freely available to web users via the ‘Old Maps’ website), run jointly by the OS and Landmark. Percival writes: ‘Until recently one could download a high-definition image, as a .bmp file, of the first edition map of anywhere in the country; it was a marvellously useful resource, which I have used constantly and to which I have frequently directed local historians, amateur genealogists, and a host of people interested in the past of their home area. The site has now been redesigned, and is directed solely to marketing either hard copies (with optional gilt wood frames) or expensive downloads of maps which have been out of copyright for generations. This seems drearily mean-spirited to me, and I am encouraging anyone interested to contact the OS, through the website, to expostulate.’

Our Fellow Philip Betancourt writes with news of a triple triumph for Fellow Malcolm Wiener, in the form of three honorary doctorates from the three great European centres of Aegean prehistory: the Universities of Sheffield, Tübingen and Athens. Malcolm is already a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Member of the Royal Swedish Academy, the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, the German Archaeological Institute and the Austrian Archaeological Institute, has received the Gold Ring of Honour of the German Academy in Mainz, and has been appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He has been honoured for his contributions to Aegean prehistory, to the chronology of the ancient Mediterranean world combining texts and science, and to the advancement of research through the organization of the Institute for Aegean Prehistory.

Eric Fernie’s lecture to the Surrey Archaeological Society

The Normans in Normandy; The Normans in England: what the architecture tells us about the differences between them is the title of a paper to be given by Past President Professor Eric Fernie to the Surrey Archaeological Society on 22 June 2007, at 7.45pm at The Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Stoke d'Abernon near Cobham, Surrey. Doors open at 6.30pm and visitors are welcome to picnic in the grounds. Cost: £10 (includes a glass of wine) from the box office at the Menuhin Hall, tel: 08700 842020 (open Mon to Fri 10am-3pm).

From Londinium to Lundenwic: Museum of London exhibition

Behind the hoarding to the north of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology Service have been busy excavating since 2005, and some of the finds from that excavation have just gone on display at the Museum of London in a special exhibition called ‘the Missing Link’. This looks at the way that the maps of Roman and Saxon London are being redrawn by finds dating from AD 410 to 650, which offer clues to a previously hidden period in London's history.

The discovery of a kiln for making roof tiles, and of a stone sarcophagus containing the skeleton of a middle-aged man – both finds dating from AD 400–50 – suggest that Roman civilisation continued in settlements outside the city walls for at least a generation after Londinium itself had been abandoned, while a hand-made ceramic jar datable to around AD 500 in a style that was introduced by Saxon immigrants from the Continent demonstrates the presence of Saxons on the site well over a hundred years earlier than Lundenwic is generally supposed to have been founded. Later, probably after AD 650, people of high status were being buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields with fine jewellery, glass and metal vessels. The burials suggest a sacred significance was attached to the site throughout the 200 years separating Roman Londinium from Saxon Lundenwic, even if no evidence has yet been found for a church on the site.

The exhibition continues until 8 August 2007.

Architecture Week 2007

Several Fellows are lined up to participate in Architecture Week 2007, when, from 15 to 24 June, museums, galleries, theatres, cities, towns, villages, parks, architects, students and schoolchildren participate in a huge range of events celebrating architecture ancient and modern. One event that appealed to Salon’s editor from a long list on the Architecture Week website was ‘Sonic Sheds’, at Portobello Space, London, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire, where ‘two sheds at opposite ends of the country will provide a “haven” in their respective locations where, in one of London's busiest markets, visitors will be able to enjoy images and sounds direct from Yorkshire Sculpture Park and visitors to the park will be able to experience metropolitan life in the shed, with traffic sounds from the Westway, railway noises from the Hammersmith & City Line and images of Portobello market. On second thoughts, that all sounds a bit too hectic, so how about ‘Bathing Beauties: re-imagining the beach hut for the 21st century’ at The Hub: National Centre for Craft & Design, in Sleaford, Lincs, billed as ‘an international exhibition of over one hundred models designed by artists and architects, which re-imagine the British beach hut for the first time in three hundred years.’

On a more serious note, the Royal Festival Hall reopens after its two-year refurbishment with an exhibition on how the building has been ‘refocused to meet the demands of the next fifty years as a world-class concert venue and a vibrant public arena’, and just a little further along the Thames, ‘The Promised Land’, at BFI Southbank, is a collection of film and television titles including rare material from the BFI National Archive, exploring domestic architecture and the notion of the ‘model community’ in Britain, tracing the idealism of the 1930s through post-war reconstruction and the new towns, to the concerns of today's housing.

Books (mainly) by Fellows

One of the more important recommendations of the Heritage Protection White Paper is the proposal to make it a statutory duty of local planning authorities to maintain or have access to Historic Environment Records. Just what that might involve is the subject of the second revised and greatly expanded edition of Informing the Future of the Past: guidelines for Historic Environment Records, edited by our Fellow Paul Gilman, Historic Environment Records Manager with Essex County Council, and Martin Newman, of English Heritage. This is a free web-based publication, containing some 300 pages and 69 illustrations, many in colour, that can be read online or downloaded as a series of PDFs from the IFP website.

The guidelines are aimed at those who manage, work in and use Historic Environment Records (HERs). They describe HERs and the services that they provide, set out agreed guidelines for working practices, support the delivery of training, information and advice, and provide a guide to all aspects of HER management, working practices, standards, systems and services.

The Renaissance Villa in Britain, 1500–1700, just out from Spire Books, contains thematic chapters and case studies from a group of distinguished architectural and garden historians, including Fellows Nicholas Cooper and Andor Gomme, under the editorship of Fellows Geoffrey Tyack and Malcolm Airs. Their combined efforts trace the early history of the villa in Britain for the first time, showing how the alluring ideal of villa life – a fusion of urban sophistication and rural simplicity – originated in classical antiquity and still beguiles British commuters, Russian dacha owners and holiday makers in Tuscany. Having been revived in Renaissance Italy, the villa ideal then spread throughout Europe, producing new and exciting architectural forms and such innovative buildings as the Queen's House, Greenwich (Inigo Jones), and Winslow Hall, Buckinghamshire (attributed to Wren). Copiously illustrated, with plentiful plans, this book addresses a surprisingly under-researched subject and will appeal to anyone interested in early modern society and the history of the built environment.

June 15th sees the publication by Windgather Press of Clarendon: landscape of kings by Fellows Tom Beaumont James and Christopher Gerrard. 'This is the culmination of the Clarendon Project (Wiltshire) which has been supported by the Antiquaries since the 1930s and by publication in 1988 of the backlog excavation reports in the Society's Research Report series. Tom James says that: ‘the book traces the development of the landscape of the greatest English royal medieval deer park from the Palaeolithic to the present day, building on previous work and placing the medieval palace in its immediate parkland setting and the wider Gothic landscape context that resulted from the creation of Salisbury and its cathedral. Unusually for Wessex there is an additional focus on the post-medieval period which examines the impact on landscape and buildings of non-royal owners: Albemarle and Clarendon, Bathursts, Hervey-Bathursts and Christie-Millers down to the present, recent purchaser.’

Paul Jeffery, whose well-received book on The Collegiate Churches of England and Wales was the subject of a special Fellows’ offer in Salon 135 last year writes to say that the book has now sold out in hardback but is now available in paperback at £22, or directly from the author at the even more accessible price of £13 (including delivery). Paul’s address is 36 Olivers Battery Road North, Winchester SO22 4JB, tel: 01962-861300, or email pjeffery@uk.ibm.com.

Our Fellow Ronald Hutton’s latest book, The Druids, has the sort of cover (moonlit white-robed and hooded figures standing in a circle backed by shadowy stones) that makes you wonder whether it is a racy romantic novel. In fact, it is a comprehensive history of Druidry in Britain since 1500, using hundreds of hitherto neglected resources to study what people have thought about the ancient Druids and why. Arguing that the sources for the ancient Druids are so few and unreliable that almost nothing certain can be said about them, he looks at the many ways in which Druids have been imagined in Britain since 1500, and what this tells us about modern and early modern society, British national identity, established and ‘alternative’ religions, literary culture, fraternal organisations and protest movements.

In an interview with the Independent, Ronald Hutton said this book, like his earlier works, was an ‘exploration of invented tradition’: something that ‘relies upon an original foundation myth that has subsequently been disproved, but that has made itself worthy of respect in its own right’, such as witchcraft, wicca, neo-paganism, ‘Celtic’ ethnicity and the feminist belief that primeval society and religion was matriarchal. Factual errors can still produce beneficial results, he believes, citing examples of ‘really quite effective characters, who wouldn’t have done the things they did were it not for Druidry’: William Stukeley founding field archaeology, Iolo Morganwg establishing the Gorsedd bards and giving modern Wales an important part of its spiritual identity, and William Price successfully campaigning to make cremation legal in England in 1884.

Wales and Ireland are sometimes portrayed as isolated fringe nations in the Middle Ages, but a new series of essays edited by Karen Jankulak and our Fellow Jonathan Wooding demonstrates that this was far from true: Ireland and Wales in the Middle Ages (Four Courts Press) challenges this assumption and shows that the two ‘Celtic’ nations were in dynamic contact with each other throughout the medieval period and with wider European culture. With chapters by Proinsias Mac Cana, Iwan Wmffre, Catherine Swift, Susan Youngs, FSA, Alex Woolf, Karen Jankulak, Colmán Etchingham, John Carey, Morfydd Owen, Jonathan Wooding, Robert Babcock, Madeleine Gray and Salvador Ryan, the studies in this volume range across history, literature, archaeology, law and theology.

Library gifts

The Society is very grateful to the following for the gifts they have made to the Library during March, April and May 2007:

• from the author, David Breeze, Fellow, The Challenge of Presentation, 2005
• from the author, Robert Hutchinson, Fellow, Thomas Cromwell, 2007
• from Gavin Simpson, Der Magdalenenberg bei Villingen by Konrad Spindler, 1976, and Medieval Furniture by Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly, 1999
• from Professor Frans Grijzenhout, Voor Nederland bewaard, 1995
• from the author, Vic Taylor, Sir Charles Townley and his Heraldic Lineage, 2007
• from Derek Renn, Fellow, Castles of the Morea by Kevin Andrews, 2006, and The Chronicles of Hertford Castle by Herbert C Andrews, 1947
• from Martin Stuchfield, Fellow, The Monumental Brasses of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by William Lack et al, 2007
• from Laurence Keen, Fellow, The Medieval Floor Tiles of Leominster Priory by Julie Bowen, 2007
• from the author, Negley Harte, Fellow, The University of London 1836–1986, 1986
• from the author, Richard Hodges, Fellow, Eternal Butrint, 2006
• from Peter Harbison, Fellow, The Roscrea Conference, edited by George Cunningham, 2007
• from the author, Anthony Emery, Fellow, Discovering Medieval Houses, 2007
• from the editor, Paul Cattermole, Fellow, Wymondham Abbey, 2007
• from the editor, Professor Claudine Dauphin, Fellow, La Paléodemographie: Memoire d’os, memoire d’hommes, 2006, and other works
• from the author, Ronald van Belle, Vlakke grafmonumenten en memorietaferelen met persoonsafbeeldingen in West-Vlaanderen, 2006
• from Robin Birley, Fellow, Vindolanda excavations 2005–6 by Andrew Birley and Justin Blake, 2007

And also to George McHardy, Fellow, for his gift to mark the Society’s 300th birthday, a mid-nineteenth-century Sunderland Pottery lustre plaque bearing the portrait of Adam Clarke, FSA, and the motto ‘He that believeth shall be saved’, seen at the BADA fair in March.

Vacancies

IFA Workplace Learning Bursary Hosted by English Heritage, Swindon
Salary £14, 270 (pro-rata; 6-months full-time post), closing date 15 June 2007

Applications are invited for an HLF-funded IFA Workplace Learning Bursary with English Heritage based at the National Monuments Record (NMR), Swindon, to identify and research themes for the Heritage Gateway project and undertake monument record enhancement work. The successful candidate will receive training and will be involved in a high-profile partnership heritage web project. For more information and an application form contact English Heritage, quoting reference: J/026/07.