Salon Archive

Issue: 171

Celebrating the birth of Britain’s oldest heritage organisation

Back from holidays or fieldwork and looking forward to the start of a new academic year, now is the time to make sure that the Society’s forthcoming meetings and events are in your diary and tickets booked so that you don’t miss the highlights of what promises to be a memorable Tercentenary year.

That year starts with David Starkey’s lecture on ‘The Antiquarian Endeavour’, at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London on 26 September 2007 at 6.30pm. David will argue that crucial evidence about Britain’s past has survived only because of the work of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In an age before the value of the material remains of the past were fully appreciated, the Society’s broad approach to the past has made a major contribution to preserving Britain’s history.

It was the Society, for example, that ensured the survival of images discovered in the Painted Chamber at the Palace of Westminster, regarded in its day as one of the great marvels of medieval Europe. In 1819 the Society commissioned Charles Stothard to produce watercolours of the thirteenth-century wall paintings that were uncovered during refurbishment. The murals were plastered over after Stothard had completed his task and the entire Painted Chamber was destroyed in the fire that burnt down the Houses of Parliament in 1834.

On Thursday 4 October, the Society will be meeting at Somerset House for the first time in 123 years. The Society’s Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, will launch our Tercentenary celebrations in the unique and atmospheric rooms – now hung with the Courtauld Institute's remarkable art collection – that formed the backdrop to the Society's meetings from 1781 until the move to Burlington House in 1874. This historic occasion will also mark the launch of Visions of Antiquity – the Society’s handsome and fully illustrated special edition of Archaeologia containing essays that trace the Society's contribution to knowledge and culture over 300 years (more about this in a future issue of Salon).

Because the Society has to pay for the venue and for catering, tickets cost £25 (Champagne and canapés included), but this will be a very special evening in a special setting, celebrating the birth of Britain’s oldest heritage organisation.

David Starkey’s lecture is free to Fellows but tickets must be booked in advance so that we can keep track of numbers. Tickets for the lecture and for the Somerset House reception should be booked in writing: please remember to give your name, postal address, the name of the event, and the number of tickets required; cheques should be made payable to the ‘Society of Antiquaries of London’. Guests and non-Fellows should book lectures online using the Society’s online shop facility.

New on the website

In the last mailing to Fellows, the letter from our Treasurer, Martin Millett, promised a summary of the Society’s income and expenditure for the last seven years. This table is now available on the password-protected Fellows’ area of the website.

In the public area, the Vacancies has details of two posts that the Society is seeking to fill, about which further details are given in the 'Vacancies' section at the end of this newsletter.

Also in the Fellows’ area are the Blue Papers for the ballot to be held on 11 October 2007.

Contact Christopher Catling if you have problems accessing the Fellows’ area of the site, or would like to register for a password.

Open House London Weekend

Staff and Fellows will be serving as room stewards on Saturday and Sunday 15 and 16 September 2007 when the Society will open its doors to the public as part of the Open House London ‘Architecture in the Flesh’ festival. Visitors will also be able to compare and contrast our apartments with those of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Linnean Society of London, our neighbours at Burlington House. Also opening in the near vicinity are the London Library, 14 St James's Square, and the Reform Club, at 104 Pall Mall.

The latest news from Kelmscott Manor

Following the flooding that affected the whole village of Kelmscott at the end of July 2007, it has been decided that the Manor should remain closed for the remainder of the season, and all planned public events and tours have been cancelled.

Much of the damage that needs to be put right is to the floors and wall plaster in the Green Room, Old Hall, Garden Hall and the Volunteers’ Room and Office. The restaurant kitchen has been condemned and will be refitted once the existing fittings have been removed. Two of the Society’s tenants face months of disruption while their cottages are dried out and the ground floors made good and redecorated. One consolation is that it might be possible to make improvements to the Manor and the tenanted cottages that form part of the Society’s estate, rather than simply replacing like-for-like, thus enabling the Society to bring forward works that would in any case have been necessary in the near future.

British Archaeology magazine

This dull August has been a good month for catching up on the large reading pile and discovering what various Fellows have to say in their guise as editors and as contributors to various archaeological magazines. British Archaeology has a series of articles that examine the beliefs and cosmologies of our ancestors. Fellow Alison Sheridan writes about Project JADE in which husband and wife team Pierre and Anne-Marie Pétrequin, of the University of Besançon, have been using non-destructive reflectance spectroradiometry techniques to link Neolithic jadeite axeheads to their geological source. Rather than coming from easily won sources in lowland river deposits, as was once thought, it is now clear that the axe makers sought out high-altitude sources in the Italian Alps and northern Apennines – notably Monte Viso and Monte Beigua. Alison speculates that ‘by making the dangerous ascent to high, near-inaccessible and socially restricted parts of mountains – liminal places between this world and that of the gods and spirits – the axehead makers could get stone that was imbued with the power of the magic mountain’.

Robert van de Noort, Fellow, and Henry Chapman then report on an Iron-Age enclosure at Sutton Common in South Yorkshire, which resembles a hillfort in many respects, except that it is built in a marsh, not on a hill. Within this marsh-fort there is no evidence of occupation; instead there are 150 raised granaries, some with surviving timber posts that enabled the excavators to date the construction to between 372 and 362 BC. Burnt grain, which has been found elsewhere in postholes of similar date and interpreted as evidence of the ritual destruction of the granary, is here shown to have been deliberately placed into the posthole before the post itself was placed and secured by packing. There was further evidence of ‘structured deposition’ in the form of two human heads (one with neck vertebrae attached, suggesting a fleshed head, perhaps a trophy) in the ditch terminals at the entrance to the fort.

This ‘granary’ phase of the fort’s use was short – not much more than two decades – but it was followed by some 200 years of use as a place for the scattering of ashes and pyre debris within twelve small enclosures of 3 to 6 metres across defined by narrow steep ditches. What it might mean, say the authors, is that the construction of the fort was ‘an event or a theatrical performance using well-established rituals … after the event, the entrances to the marsh-fort may have been damaged to signal the end of its life, but the site remained important in the landscape and as part of the social memory of the community that built it. The reuse of the site as a final resting place for the deceased is no coincidence. It links the transition and destruction of the body to the locale chosen by the ancestors for their rituals.’

A third feature in the magazine makes compelling reading: introduced by a picture of Fellow Tim Schadla Hall supervising students on an auguring exercise, the article by Nicky Milner warns that Star Carr, that iconic site from which we gain so many of our theories about Mesolithic culture in Britain, is drying out at such a rate that there will be no more organic materials left preserved in the bog within five years – gone will be such important evidence as tools made of wood and elk antler, not to mention the red deer skulls modified for use as headdresses. For that reason, the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the Universities of York, Manchester and Cambridge have formed a joint project to carry out rescue archaeology and answer a long list of important research questions.

Antiquity Volume 81 No. 313 September 2007

Collaborative projects are very much the order of the day, and, according to the latest volume of Antiquity, the team assembled by our Fellow Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield to investigate the landscape around Stonehenge is ‘probably the strongest archaeological team ever assembled’. True or not, it is an appropriate boast given that one of the many competing theories seeking to explain Stonehenge says that it is about the expenditure of resources – like hip-hop artists burning money and travelling everywhere with an expensive entourage, it is a display that says ‘I have an excess of resources’.

In this case, Mike’s mighty entourage consist of nineteen co-authors (nearly all of them Fellows), who are partners in the enterprise to re-examine the monument and its context – The Stonehenge Riverside Project – and study the impact and meaning of the Beaker culture – The Beaker People Project. The success of both projects depends on establishing reliable and precise dates for the various phases of one of Europe’s most complex prehistoric landscapes. In a detailed discussion of the stratigraphy from past excavations, combined with new and increasingly more precise radio-carbon dating techniques, the authors produce a revised Stonehenge chronology, which dates the construction of the trilithons, the grand centrepiece of Stonehenge, at 2600–2400 cal BC.

This means that the trilithons are contemporary with Durrington Walls, and that both pre-date the earliest Beaker burials in Britain – including the famous Amesbury Archer and Boscombe Bowmen – while not ruling out that Britain may already have been receiving Beaker pottery. All this reinforces the interpretation of Durrington Walls as inextricably linked to the sarsen circle and trilithon phase at Stonehenge.

In a somewhat grammatically and syntactically challenged conclusion, the Antiquity paper assesses what this might mean: ‘that both were designed and built as a single development is further strengthened by their complementary differences – one in stone with predominantly Beaker pottery (229 Beaker sherds to 11 of Grooved Ware), cattle bones and human remains, the other in wood with predominantly Grooved Ware, pig bones and a near absence of human remains. Other examples of complementarity are the opposed solstice alignments of Stonehenge and the Durrington Southern Circle, and their similarity in plan, in which an oval arrangement was set within concentric circles. Such a dramatic dichotomy has been viewed as the product of two “cultures” living side by side. But other explanations are perhaps more satisfactory for the time being: that their differentiated but integrated purpose [sic] were opposed stages of a funerary process whereby the dead became ancestors.’

Current Archaeology 211

Salon’s editor was recently discussing the Rotherwas Ribbon recently with Fellow Keith Ray, County Archaeologist for Herefordshire, who said that his fieldwork in west Africa taught him not to expect to be able to understand every aspect of ancient ritual and symbol, because much of it was not intended to be understood outside of a small elite: ‘these are rituals destined for divine eyes’, he said, ‘and the dialogue is between spiritual entities and the community elite, not between one human and another’.

These are ideas that find support in the latest issue of Current Archaeology, where George Nash and Adam Stanford write about their Anglesey Rock-Art Project, and conclude that rock art often demarcates an area set aside for funerary rites, but that the art itself is deliberately enigmatic: it was not intended to be read by most Neolithic people, but only by the dead, the gods and an elite, and as such it is evidence of a stratified society.

The magazine’s main feature is by Roger White, Academic Editor of the Ironbridge Institute, who tantalises readers with the notion that the Welsh and Cornish spirit of independence owes much to events that occurred in the fifth century, when the province of Britannia Prima prospered on trade with the Mediterranean via Spain and Gaul along the Atlantic highway, and that ‘the tribal chieftains of the western fringes were able to gain power through a trade monopoly with the Eastern Roman Empire and south-western Gaul, a trade manifested in imports of fine pottery and amphorae for oil and wine’. This prosperity, he argues, was the basis for the emergence of the Brittonic kingdoms of the west, sufficiently strong and confident in their belief that they ‘were the rightful inheritors of Rome’ that they were able to resist domination from the east, when ‘the English began to emerge as the dominant people of this island’.

Fellow Andrew Selkirk devotes his ‘Last Word’ column to highlighting the very real problems being faced by various institutes of advanced study that form part of the federal University of London, who are facing rising rental charges that threaten their ability to maintain their important research libraries: Andrew cites the uncertain future of the joint library of the Institute of Classical Studies, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies.

And lest such weighty matters cast a pall of gloom, there is another contribution from Amicus Curiae, the pen name of an anonymous ‘friend of the court’ whose witty observations include the following (with apologies to our Fellows at English Heritage).

Dear Amicus Curiae
I have received from English Heritage an unsolicited 64-page publication The Historic Environment Enabling Programme Annual Report. Try as I might, I can make little sense of it. Am I losing my faculties?
Doubtful, Salisbury

Dear Doubtful
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Columnar interpreters are working round the clock and aiming for translation by Christmas. One section has already been cracked – it has been established that ‘Historic Landscape Characterisation Programme’ means ‘colouring in maps’.

Context No 100

By happy coincidence, Context – the excellent (and often refreshingly irreverent) house magazine of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation – reached its 100th issue in July 2007 at the same time that the Institute itself celebrated its tenth anniversary. This is no mathematical certainty, because Context long pre-dates the Institute’s formation in 1997: today’s magazine has evolved from a photocopied newsletter which first appeared on 1 February 1983 under the editorship of our Fellow John Fidler, and was then the mouthpiece of the Association of Conservation Officers.

John Fidler himself has since packed his bags and departed from London to a new life in Los Angeles as Staff Consultant for Heritage Structures at Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. In an article in which he looks back on his professional life so far, John says he is glad he ignored Bernard Feilden’s advice that ‘conservation was strictly a mid-career vocation’, though the 1970s and 1980s were, he says, bad decades for conservation when developers laid waste vast tracts of inner cities. The tide has now turned, he believes, but ‘conservation officers remain the unsung heroes of the planning system, still lowly ranked, still few in number and therefore challenged to … punch above their weight’, which means that the challenge for the future is to replenish ‘the competency necessary to win arguments’.

Further into the magazine, Context prints a paper by our Fellow Jane Grenville, based on her thought-provoking presentation to the IHBC’s annual conference last year in Plymouth, in which she sought to explain the psychology of conservationists, and that of their counterparts: those who consciously reject the built legacy of the past and embrace the new. The interplay between modernism and preservation is, Jane suggests, to do with striking a healthy balance between the desire for security that comes from the familiarity of our cherished physical surroundings and the need for the creativity that leads to new and interesting buildings. She says it is not coincidental that conservation has flourished since the war: the rational response to the wartime destruction of cities in Britain, Poland and Germany would be comprehensive redevelopment, and indeed that has been the case in Coventry and Plymouth – but the desire of people to return to their familiar lives and familiar surroundings after the massive disruptions of wartime has also led to the recreation of entire facsimile medieval buildings or those that are new but designed in a vernacular idiom.

Understanding the psychology at work here, Jane believes, might (but only might) help us make better planning decisions.

Yorkshire Archaeology Today No 12

From theoretical flights to the more earthy matters of the toilets and cesspits of early modern York. We will not speculate on the psychology of the archaeologist, but rather praise the dedication of staff at the York Archaeological Trust who have meticulously excavated and recorded what they describe as the ‘evocative’ communal toilet block serving Dundas Court, a nineteenth-century block of back-to-backs that were home to eleven households until cleared in the 1930s. Dundas Court is part of York’s huge Hungate excavation, to which this edition of the YAT’s half-yearly magazine is dedicated.

Fortunately for the Trust, the regeneration of the Hungate area of the city is being phased over five years – a luxurious timetable by contrast with most contractor-funded archaeology, and this is enabling the Trust to ensure adequate community involvement as part of the project, so school groups, volunteers, community groups and young offenders are among those who will be able to take part. ‘Archaeology Live’ training schools will be run every summer, with a mix of taster days and more advanced work placements and mentoring schemes. Further details are on the ‘Dig Hungate’ website.

Fellows rule the airwaves

It has been difficult to turn on the radio in the last few days without hearing the voices of one or other of our Fellows. In a Proms interval talk on Radio 3 on 30 August, for example, Fellow Neil MacGregor took listeners on a tour of places in Amsterdam associated with Rembrandt, this being the 400th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

Two days previously, our Fellow Charles Saumarez Smith was on Radio 4’s ‘PM’ programme, defending the decision to site a statue of Nelson Mandela by the late Ian Walters in Parliament Square, rather than in Trafalgar Square. Up against him was Tony Benn, who argued that the statue should be located opposite the South African embassy, scene of many an anti-Apartheid demonstration in the 1970s. Charles let slip his view that the statue was not good enough for such a prominent politician, which had our man of the people huffing and puffing at his self-righteous anti-intellectual best, claiming that to criticise the statue (‘lifeless’ according to Saumarez Smith) was the same as criticising Saint Mandela. ‘I may not be one of theshe art hishtorians’, humphed the tea-drinking one, ‘but I think it is an amashing shtachew’. Charles very wisely took refuge in dignified silence. As anyone who has ever dared to be critical of the hysteria surrounding the late Diana, Princess of Wales has discovered, you can never win an argument where the peoples’ saints are concerned.

In the eyes of the world’s media, it was the turn of our Fellow Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, to give the address at the tenth-anniversary memorial service for Princess Diana on 1 September. He praised her humanitarian work, saying that ‘the more you go beyond yourself, the more you will become your true self; the more you lose yourself in loving and serving others, the more you will find yourself; the more you keep company with those who suffer, the more you will be healed.’ He also asked that the memorial service should ‘mark the point at which we let her rest in peace and dwell on her memory with thanksgiving and compassion’.

A week previously, on 23 August, it was the turn of Fellow Felipe Fernández-Armesto to present Radio 4’s ‘Analysis’, in which historians, philosophers and theologians asked whether Britain, in gaining greater material prosperity, had lost its moral compass and become a nation of self-indulgent individuals, having no higher goals in life than to drink, smoke, take drugs, eat and gamble to excess.

Values were then very much to the fore in a riveting series called ‘National Treasures’ on Radio 4, in which heritage experts, politicians and economists discussed the competing claims of two very different types of heritage for public subsidy. In the first programme, Tristram Hunt argued that £500 million of Government money should be spent on reuniting Stonehenge with its surrounding landscape by putting the A303 into a tunnel, while Germaine Greer argued that preserving the natural landscape of the Thames Estuary was a more deserving cause: Germaine won over the studio audience, but in the listener poll held after the programme, it was Stonehenge that got the larger share of the popular vote.

Programme two had our Fellow Colin White (Director of the Royal Naval Museum) advocating the expenditure of £30 million on the restoration of the Cutty Sark, versus the film director Terence Davies arguing for that sum to be spent on the urgent conservation of the thousands of reels of decaying film that make up the British Film Institute’s National Film Archive. On this occasion our Fellow lost by a large margin.

In programme 3 we heard Jonathan Foyle, newly appointed head of the World Monuments Fund in Britain, successfully persuade everyone that £50 million was far better spent on restoration work at Canterbury Cathedral than on style pundit Stephen Bayley’s pet project, buying Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull – For The Love Of God – for the nation.

These chalk and cheese decisions, and the money on offer for heritage causes, are entirely hypothetical, of course, but they very much resemble the kinds of decision that the Heritage Lottery Fund trustees face on a regular basis, when asked to decide which of several different but equally compelling projects they should fund from their diminishing pot of money. Indeed, the BBC programme was predicated on work commissioned by our Fellow Kate Clark who, in her role as Deputy Director of Research and Policy at the HLF, commissioned the research project on which the Radio 4 programme was based, in which Robert Hewison, of the think tank Demos, developed the concepts of historic, emotional, social and existence values as alternatives to economic measures for quantifying cultural value.

It was therefore no surprise that Kate herself (now an independent consultant – see her website – having liberated herself from the tribulations of the daily commute from the Cotswolds to Sloane Square) should pop up on the fourth programme of the series, arguing very persuasively for the sum of £80 million to be spent on conserving Chatterley Whitfield Colliery – now a derelict site and one that is at the top of the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register. Kate was pitted against another Fellow, David Jaffe, the National Gallery’s Chief Curator, asking for that sum to be spent on buying Poussin's paintings of The Seven Sacraments. The studio judges decided to call it a draw, but listeners have so far voted overwhelmingly in favour of the colliery.

Fellows with broadband can hear all four programmes by going to the BBC website and using the ‘Listen again’ facility – and no doubt all ears will be turned to the radio for the final programme, to be broadcast on 5 September at 9am and again at 9.30pm, in which the current Heritage Minister, Margaret Hodge, will talk about the way that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport makes heritage funding decisions.

National Gallery aims to raise £100m to save Poussin's Sacraments

David Jaffe’s eloquence on behalf of Poussin’s Seven Sacraments series is going to be in demand again in the coming weeks, as the battle for funds that was fought in theory on Radio 4 turns into a real campaign to raise the enormous sum of £100 million.

The Independent newspaper reported on 1 September 2007 that the Louvre is also gearing up to bid for the set of five paintings, as is the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The paintings belong to the Duke of Rutland and have been on loan to the National Gallery since 2002. The Duke has given notice that he wishes to sell the works, which Poussin painted between 1637 and 1640 for his friend and patron, Cassiano dal Pozzo.

Of the original seven paintings, ‘Penance’ was destroyed by fire in 1816 and ‘Baptism’ was sold in 1939 to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, leaving ‘Confirmation’, ‘Eucharist’, ‘Marriage’, ‘Ordination’ and ‘Extreme Unction’ on the National Gallery’s walls. Poussin painted a second Sacraments series for Paul Freart de Chantelou in 1644–8. Now owned by the Duke of Sutherland, these paintings are on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland.

Fundraising appeal to purchase portraits of Thomas Rackett, FSA, and his family

Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society is seeking to raise £250,000 to purchase and conserve three George Romney portraits of Thomas Rackett (1755–1840), FSA, and his parents.

Romney's full-length portrait shows the youthful Rackett declaiming a self-penned ode. At his feet is a copy of Shakespeare’s works with a laudatory inscription given to him by David Garrick. Despite precocious talents as an artist, musician and poet, Racket chose the clergyman’s life, and became rector of Spetisbury with Charlton-Marshall, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, after graduating from University College, Oxford.

There he pursued his wide-ranging interests as an antiquary (he was elected a Fellow of our Society in 1798), naturalist, geologist and numismatist, recording and collecting within the county of Dorset and bequeathing his collections to what became the county museum six years after his death.

£72,000 has been raised to date, including a generous offer of £55,000 from The Art Fund, so there is still much to do, and a series of fundraising events is planned over the next few months. The portrait can be seen on the Dorset County Museum’s website, which also has information on how you can contribute.

SITA Trust funding for heritage projects

The SITA Trust, which is a major funder of projects within the Landfill Communities Fund, is looking for more bids to its ‘Enhancing Communities’ programme; one of the three categories is Heritage. Funding of £250,000 is available for a project within 10 miles of an active landfill site and the heritage in question should be designated by a recognised body (Grade I in the case of churches). Public access to the completed scheme is a requirement. The deadline for applications is 27 September 2007. Eligibility and proximity to a landfill site can be checked on 01454 262 910 and the Operations Manager of SITA Trust is Andrew Saunders.

The 800th anniversary of Henry III’s birth

Monday 1 October 2007 is the 800th anniversary of the birth of King Henry III of England, the son of King John, who reigned from 1216 to 1272. Henry was the builder of much of today’s Westminster Abbey. He also has a close connection with King’s College, London, because he founded the House for Converted Jews on whose site the Maughan Library now stands. To mark the anniversary, Westminster Abbey and King’s are jointly organising a series of lectures and concerts to take place on Sunday 30 September and Monday 1 October. Details of these, and of how to book, can be found on the King’s website.

What Makes Humans So Different?

This joint British Academy/British Psychological Society Annual Lecture will be given by Professor Robin Dunbar, FBA, at the British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, on Thursday 11 October 2007 at 5.30pm, followed by a drinks reception.

Professor Dunbar is a Project Director of the British Academy Centenary Research Project ‘“Lucy to Language”: the archaeology of the social brain’, and is shortly to take up the post of Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford. His paper will argue that, although we share many aspects of our behaviour and biology with our primate cousins, humans are, nonetheless, different in one crucial respect: our capacity to live in the world of the imagination. This is reflected in two core aspects of our behaviour that are in many ways archetypal of what it is to be human: religion and story-telling. The lecture will show how these remarkable traits seem to have arisen as a natural development of the social brain hypothesis, and the underlying nature of primate sociality and cognition, as human societies have been forced to expand in size during the course of our evolution over the past 5 million years.

Admission is free and further details can be found on the British Academy website.

Mary Rose silver jubilee

Thursday 11 October 2007 also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the lifting of the Mary Rose. To mark the occasion, the Mary Rose Trust is hosting a three-day programme of lectures, tours and receptions at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard between 10 and 12 October 2007. Speakers include Mary Rose Trust staff past and present, together with eminent historians and archaeologists, the majority of whom are Fellows of our Society. Their papers will look at the contribution that the excavation and lifting of the Mary Rose has made to our understanding of the past and to the practice of marine archaeology. There is a discount for Fellows who wish to attend and behind-the-scenes tours of the reserve collections will be provided for Fellows over the three days between the end of each day’s lectures and the evening events. For further information, see the Mary Rose website.

Call for papers: New Research on the Bayeux Tapestry

An international conference will be held at the British Museum on 15 and 16 July 2008 to highlight recent and new research on the Bayeux Tapestry, and to disseminate those findings to a wider audience, in the hope of furthering discussion, debate and the sharing of ideas about this unique textile. Papers of no longer than 20 minutes duration are invited on any aspect of the Bayeux Tapestry that advances current knowledge. Submissions of up to 200 words outlining the nature of the proposed paper should be sent with a short biography to our Fellow Dr Michael Lewis, Deputy Head, Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure, by 31 October 2007. The British Museum cannot pay expenses or fees, but will waive the conference fee for contributors, and it is hoped that the proceedings will be published.

Archaeology 2008: call for papers

The Archaeology 2008 festival will be held at the British Museum on the weekend of 9 and 10 February. Organised by Current Archaeology and co-hosted by the British Museum’s Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure (the Portable Antiquities Scheme), this is the first of what is hoped will become the UK’s premier annual event for showcasing new ideas and new discoveries in British archaeology at home and abroad, and for bringing together archaeology professionals, academics, volunteers and interested members of the public.

The festival will be divided into 20-minute slots, and the organisers hope to attract a mix of established archaeologists and rising stars as speakers. If you would like to participate, please send an email to, giving the title and a 100-word summary of your proposed presentation by 15 October 2007.

News of Fellows

Our Fellow Graham Shipley, Professor of Ancient History, University of Leicester, has been appointed to the Education Honours Committee by the UK Government’s Cabinet Office. This is one of the eight specialist sub-committees that meet under the aegis of the Main Honours Committee to consider nominations for honours and to agree a final list for submission through the Prime Minister to The Queen.

On 1 July our Fellow Jack Davis began a five-year term as Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, founded in 1881 as the principal resource in Greece for American scholars conducting advanced research on the language, literature, art, history, archaeology and philosophy of Greece and the Greek world from pre-Hellenic times to the present.


The collegiate structure of the University of London caused Salon’s editor some confusion in the last issue where it was reported that our Fellow Dr Clyve Jones was one of ten academics on the Morrice Project board responsible for publishing The Entring Book of Roger Morrice (1677–91). The mistake was to describe the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), where Dr Jones is Reader in Modern History and Assistant Librarian, as part of University College London. As our Fellow David Bates, Director of the IHR, points out, the IHR is, of course, ‘one of the constituent Institutes of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study and most definitely not part of UCL (which is one of the constituent Colleges of the University of London, and with whose historians I and my colleagues have excellent relations)’.

Salon recently reported on the lecture given by our Fellow Tom James on Nicholas Bogdan’s Perth High Street excavations of 1975 and 1976, and concluded by saying that ‘though much of this has yet to be published … Historic Scotland staff are working hard to bring all of the late Nicholas Bogdan’s texts to publication’. Our Fellow Penny Dransart writes to say that the ‘all’ in this statement is erroneous: in fact, Historic Scotland will publish the Perth High Street material (to which Penny also contributed), but not the results of the Scottish Episcopal Palaces Project which Penny founded with Nicholas Bogdan in 1995 (with financial support from our Society). This project continues under Penny’s direction and does not receive assistance of any kind from Historic Scotland.

Professor Marvin Spevack’s research into the library and works of Isaac D’Israeli (1766–1848), highlighted in the last issue of Salon, omitted to mention Professor Spevack’s recently published book, Curiosities Revisited: the works of Isaac D’Israeli (Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim, 2007). This is the first in-depth study of the works of Isaac D’Israeli (father of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli), the well-known man of letters whose Curiosities of Literature went through fourteen editions in his lifetime, establishing him as one of the most popular essayists of his day. Of his father, Benjamin Disraeli said ‘For sixty years, he largely contributed to form the taste, charm the leisure, and direct the studious dispositions of the great body of the public. His works have extensively and curiously illustrated the literary and political history of our country.’

Also of potential interest to Fellows is Professor Spevack’s earlier work, Isaac D’Israeli on Books: pre-Victorian essays on the history of literature (The British Library and Oak Knoll Press, 2004).

From our Fellow Cherry Lavell comes the following response to an earlier piece of feedback from Linda Hall, in which Linda drew some comparisons between the presentation of properties by English Heritage and the National Trust. ‘There are good reasons for the differences’, Cherry writes.

‘1. National Trust stewards are volunteers who are present maybe once or twice a week and have to follow the official manual. English Heritage has full-time professionals who can maybe act a little more flexibly and use their discretion.
2. Most NT properties contain large numbers of valuable items, so that much of the stewards' efforts are concerned with security rather than exposition to visitors. EH on the other hand has relatively few richly furnished properties, and a high proportion of empty ruins, so can take a more relaxed attitude to visitors. Many Trust volunteers are in fact very knowledgeable and I continually get the impression that they really love the property and their (unpaid) duties.
3. The ban on photography is by no means confined to NT houses – I find the same bans in private properties. Of EH properties, Kenwood is just one known to me that does not allow photography. Again it is a matter of security, and one barely needs to read the papers to understand how vulnerable these treasure houses are.
4. The Trust has so many members at 3.5 million that it is hardly surprising that most of their visitors do not have to pay. EH membership is much lower so proportionately they would have more paying visitors. Also, think about car parking – Trust members get free parking, but is it the same for EH?
5. I do not feel qualified to compare the different guidebook practices, but I believe the newer Trust ones are much fuller than they used to be.

The Trust has changed very rapidly, and for the better, in the last few years’, Cherry concludes.

Books by Fellows

Warrior burials are rare in Iron Age Britain, which is why Paul Sealey devotes an entire monograph to the analysis of A Late Iron Age Warrior Burial from Kelvedon, Essex (East Anglian Archaeology Report No 118, published by Colchester Museums; ISBN 9780950178172; 60pp, 14 pls, 13 figs; £10).

The burial was found and excavated in 1982 by Jim Bennett, an amateur archaeologist and retired policeman. When Jim died, his sons donated the finds, which will form one of the highlights of new archaeology galleries planned for Colchester Castle Museum.

Paul says that the Kelvedon burial is of particular interest because it is only the third from Britain with pottery – in this case a pair of elegant Aylesford–Swarling pedestal urns. There is no consensus about when such pottery emerged in Britain and the start date is fully discussed in the report as part of the assessment of the date of the grave, which is assessed as some time between 75 and 25 BC.

The warrior was not a typical Iron Age combatant because he was buried with a sword, spear and shield; most contemporary warriors had to make do with just a spear. The style of fighting exemplified by the Kelvedon warrior developed on the European mainland in the 3rd century BC but was not adopted in Britain until much later. The Kelvedon shield boss and spear are the products of armourers who worked across the English Channel. All this suggests he might have been a Briton recruited to fight in the Gallic Wars or a Gaulish refugee from the conflict. His elite status finds further expression in the copper-alloy fittings from a tankard and the bronze bowl from the Roman world found in the grave.

Other topics addressed in the report include the incidence of warfare in late Iron Age Britain, the part warfare played in state formation and the social complexion of an Iron Age war band. Paul says: ‘Warfare is an unfashionable topic in Iron Age studies, but the discussion of the grave makes the case for conflict as the normal state of affairs in the late Iron Age.’

Obituary: Robina McNeil (1950–2007)

It was with great sadness that the Society has learned of the death of our Fellow Robina McNeil, who finally lost her battle with cancer on 28 July 2007. Our Fellow Brian Ayers, Robina’s husband, is organising a memorial celebration, to be held in Manchester Cathedral on Friday 26 October at 3pm, and all Fellows are very welcome to attend.

At Robina’s funeral on 9 August, our Fellow John Walker gave a fine eulogy, and we are grateful for his permission to reproduce it here.

‘Robina McNeil (born London 17 February 1950; died Norwich 28 July 2007) was unique amongst archaeologists in combining academic curiosity, a contagious enthusiasm and a concern for people within one highly creative personality.

‘Her career encompassed work on a major medieval industry, the discovery of one of the most startling finds of the century, the identification and preservation of a great late medieval trading complex, the creation of the largest community archaeology project in the country, and the promotion of her city as a unique contribution to world heritage.

‘Daughter of a civil engineer, a mother to whom she remained extremely close and one of four sisters, Robina developed a passion for archaeology on an excavation at Carn Euny in Cornwall in her late teens. She subsequently read archaeology at University College London before starting her professional career in Cheshire.

‘She undertook and published formative work at Nantwich, revealing well-preserved timber wich houses [domestic factories for boiling brine to produce salt] from the twelfth century and enhancing understanding of the important medieval salt industry. She was on hand when Lindow Man, the well-preserved bog body from Lindow Moss, now in the British Museum, was discovered and took many of the iconic site photographs.

‘She moved to Manchester in 1987, initially as Senior Field Officer within a small professional archaeological team based in the University of Manchester. It was a change that represented a real challenge for someone used to working in small towns and largely rural areas. However, she took to Manchester with an enthusiasm, recognising the historic potential of a city which has Roman roots but also archaeology ranging in date from prehistory to modern times. She sought to harness her belief that archaeology was a discipline for all with the needs of regeneration.

‘She was quick to recognise that the Manchester area contained the major monuments of that most significant British contribution to world culture, the Industrial Revolution. Much of Robina’s work thereafter was geared towards enhancing awareness of the importance of Manchester to world heritage as the first integrated industrial city.

‘The Manchester team grew in size, eventually to provide jobs for over 500 long-term unemployed during what were years of social and economic desperation in the region. She undertook an enormous range of field projects and became the County Archaeologist for Greater Manchester, supported by the ten metropolitan authorities but employed by the University. It was a unique model that was to survive various governmental and academic purges as it, like Robina, encompassed both academic endeavour and social relevance.

‘Key projects included survey work at the army range on Holcombe Moor, where she helped to chart and preserve one of the best relict industrial landscapes in the country, and work on Staircase House, Stockport, one of the last medieval urban houses surviving within the conurbation and a remarkable example of an early domestic and commercial complex. Her work there, following a disastrous fire, was a model of careful cataloguing and innovative presentation, illustrating the building’s history using everything from formal reports to cartoons and Lego. Her creativity became legendary amongst her colleagues although they did tend to question her application of this approach to the art of driving.

‘She was passionate about exploring historic buildings and architecture and for many years was the editor of the Greater Manchester Heritage Atlas. The first in this series presented her academic vision of Manchester as historic “Symbol and Model for the World”, a view that served to encourage a wide range of studies by various contributors that appear in subsequent volumes. She also served as editor of the bulletins produced by the Institute of Field Archaeologists’ Buildings Group, where her belief in an archaeological approach to buildings was contagious.

‘Her open and enthusiastic nature meant she played a key role in developing groups and bringing them to the region. They ranged from the national conferences of the Institute of Field Archaeologists, through specialist architectural groups to an Association for Industrial Archaeology conference in 2000 that was voted the best ever held.

‘Her commitment to preservation found expressions in a series of battles, especially in central Manchester, where economic revival brought new pressures. Amongst these contests were the planning debates over the future of The Free Trade Hall, the Murrays Mill complex and what remained of Georgian Ancoats. Some of these contests were lost but those that were won served to re-establish in the public mind the unique role of the area, not only in industrial history but also in agriculture, politics and social change.

‘Ever conscious of the need to regenerate the local economy and to educate, she not only played a key role in the European Route of Industrial Heritage – the pan-European scheme to develop site tourism – but also in the community archaeology project ‘Dig Manchester’. The latter was, and is, the largest public archaeological scheme in the country aimed at offering hands-on opportunities to all – an offer made not simply to explore the past but to provide an enriching and community building experience.

‘Recognition of the depth and scale of her own work came with her election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2001.

‘Alongside her commitment to archaeology she continued to work on her art, especially in expressing her love of the open landscapes of Cornwall, Orkney and Barra, the ancestral home of the McNeils.

‘Amongst her colleagues in the fiercely competitive and opinionated discipline that is field archaeology she was known for an open, friendly nature, keen on gatherings and a concomitant love for red wine. It was her commitment to the team, not the self, that not only allowed the Greater Manchester Unit to survive the periodic crises inflicted on it by funders but that also raised her work beyond the level of the common crowd. This attitude was not an accident of nature but was built upon a nobility of purpose and a desire to explore, explain and preserve the past, even in the most unpromising places, for all.

‘Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, she nevertheless returned to work with enthusiasm, keen to promote Manchester as a World Heritage Site. She died after a final visit to her beloved Cornwall and is survived by her husband Brian Ayers, County Archaeologist in Norfolk, whom she married in 2001.’

Memories of Gale Sieveking (1925–2007)

The call, in the last issue of Salon, for further reminiscences concerning our late Fellow Gale Sieveking produced a fruitful bounty of information. Since Gale played such an important part in the development of archaeology as a discipline and in our understanding of prehistory, these valuable insights into his life and work are worth recording in full.

Our Fellow Ann Sieveking has generously provided a copy of the address that she gave at her late husband’s funeral. We are also very grateful to our Fellows Juliet Clutton-Brock, Michael Thompson, Michael Kerney and Phil Harding for their accounts of the lasting impression that Gale made on them, and to Professor Rory Mortimore, now Head of Civil Engineering and Geology at the University of Brighton, who provides an account of Gale’s ability to build multi-disciplinary teams around the study of flints and prehistoric technology.

Ann Sieveking writes: ‘Gale was born on 26 August 1925 at Cagnes-sur-Mer, in the Alpes Maritimes. Having been born in France he was entitled, at the age of seventeen, to choose between French and British nationality, but in 1942 there was little liberty to do so and, with certain regrets, he relinquished his French nationality.

‘On leaving school, he joined the Fleet Air Arm, trained in flying in Canada, swam in the sea of Colombo and sat in an outlook post on top of a fort in Malta. Gale once related that his flying duties were curtailed when, on a training flight, he neglected to lower the undercarriage of his craft through a small oversight.

‘As soon as he was able to do so, he went up to King’s College, Cambridge. A grateful but insolvent Government financed ex-service personnel for two years of a three-year degree. For the first part of the tripos, Gale read history, but he was captivated by archaeology and in his final year he studied prehistory.

‘He then embarked on a PhD, but he left this unfinished since he had married, was in need of an income and had been offered a post as Deputy Director of Museums in Malaya. In 1953, Malaya was in the midst of the state of emergency declared by the British colonial government in 1948 as a response to Communist insurgency. Opportunities for travelling and exploring were limited, but Gale still managed to open three new regional museums – in Malacca, Seremban and Kuala Kangsa – and he excavated sites of all periods wherever it was possible to do so.

‘The first of these was a seventeenth-century Portuguese fort in Johore Lama, facing Singapore across the Straits; another was an early Indian trading post in the mangrove swamps near Taiping, and a third, again in Johore, was the rescue of a collection of Chinese porcelain – one cannot say “excavation”, as the finder had put his pickaxe through the hoard when extending his vegetable patch. This had been buried for safety in a wooden box and included a number of blue and white Ming dynasty bowls of imperial quality, though how they came to be abandoned there remains a mystery.

‘Perhaps of most interest to Gale was his excavation of Gua Cha, a habitation site in a rock shelter on the Nengiri river in Kelantan. Gua Cha had been found in 1935 by H D Noon, but Noon had not survived the war. Working with our Fellow Michael Tweedie, then of the Raffles Museum, Singapore, Gale’s was the first systematic excavation of Gua Cha, where he found a slaughtering station for wild boar, along with human burials of both Mesolithic and Neolithic date, the latter with jadeite bracelets, polished stone axes and pottery bowls containing a supply of small animals, presumably for sustenance in the next world.

‘The site was in an isolated part of the jungle, but a police post had been established here to round up the indigenous people of this part of the peninsula who were suspected of supporting the insurgents with food and intelligence. Attired in jungle green, Gale and Ann Sieveking, along with Michael Tweedie and a number of museum staff, worked under military escort, and were kept supplied by parachute drops with food and – marvellously – paperback thrillers to read. When the dig was finished, all returned to civilisation down the Nengiri river on bamboo rafts; the human cargo survived the hazards better than did some of the finds.

‘After three years in Malaya, four Sievekings returned to England. Gale joined the British Museum, where he stayed for the rest of his professional career. Gale’s first research project was an analysis of Grand Pressigny flint, a beautiful honey-coloured stone found in east-central France and mined, worked and traded in the Neolithic. Grand Pressigny flint was unusual in being identifiable by its colour; at this date most flints were considered indistinguishable one from another. Gale was one of a group of researchers who established that flint from different localities could be identified by their trace elements. This analysis made it possible to map the distribution of flints from different mines; for example, axes from Grimes Graves were identified and shown to be distributed widely in England and in France, while French flint travelled in the opposite direction.

‘For the British Museum, Gale dug at High Lodge, near Mildenhall, in Suffolk, a site that vexes geologists and archaeologists since the chronological order of the flint tools discovered in the gravel and brickearth deposits apparently contradicts the geological succession. In this confrontation, the archaeologists have given way. A flake industry, usually accepted as of later date, has been acknowledged as uniquely early here, existing before the level with the handaxes. Gale dug further early sites, in the Thames valley at Ebbsfleet and Northfleet and at Creffield Road, Acton, and then, with a change in date, he reopened the Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves, in Norfolk.

‘In the later seasons here, he was joined by our Fellow Ian Longworth who, looking for traces of habitation, worked above ground while Gale worked both below and above. Much of Gale’s surface work was experimental. How fast could a hole be dug in the chalk; how much flint was wasted in the production of a single stone axe; and how far would a scatter of waste flakes extend beyond the location of the flint worker?

‘For Gale, prehistory was a total occupation, and he was fortunate in that, in his professional career, he was employed to do what interested him. If asked what hobbies he had, he looked uncomprehending. He was not practical, as was alarmingly demonstrated by his dangerous dealings with lawn mowers and London double decker buses.

‘I remember one Christmas Gale was given yet another gadget – a gas-powered wine bottle opener in the form of a hypodermic which was pushed through the cork, emitted a small amount of gas and pushed the cork out with a satisfying plop. Gale had the Christmas wine chilling in a large bathtub of ice and he tried out his new toy on one bottle; instead of a plop there was a loud bang. The cork was still firmly lodged in the neck of the bottle but the rest of the bottle had exploded, showering the kitchen with ice, wine, broken glass, blood and injured pride. Apparently Gale’s mistake was to use the device on a bottle of unconventional shape.

‘Gale had many interests: music, painting, buildings, travelling abroad – particularly in France – and good company. And in good company one was always aware of what an absolutely charming man he was. He always demonstrated an enormous interest in you and what you were about, whilst at the same time being fascinating in his interest in so many things. Perhaps it was this pleasure in so many things that prompted one of his Cambridge friends to comment that one always enjoyed oneself in his company, and indeed this was so.’

Juliet Clutton-Brock writes: ‘Gale will be sadly missed as an archaeologist of spirit and a loyal friend. Gale was an undergraduate at Cambridge during the crucial time when archaeology was in transition from an amateur occupation for treasure hunting to the practice of serious scientific research. The great names of this period – Graham Clark, Charles McBurney, Gordon Childe and Frederick Zeuner – had a determining and controlling influence on students who wished to join them in this endeavour, and they did not suffer fools gladly. Gale was one of the lucky few who was trained in prehistory on Clark’s excavations at Star Carr in the early 1950s, and it surely influenced his approach to prehistory and its interpretation for the rest of his career.

‘I was lucky to be given the opportunity, as an archaeozoologist, to work with Gale on the animal remains from his 1970s excavations at Grime’s Graves. Gale became a friend and colleague who was always supportive and always full of new ideas for how to approach the study of prehistoric remains. For me, these were the very large collection of antler picks from the flint mines as well as the skeleton of a dog, excavated so carefully that the remains of its last meal, tiny bones from a pig’s foot, were still with it, and the skull of an aged mare who had lost most of her teeth. Gale was an “ideas man”, but with a disciplined approach, and such people are sorely needed in any field of research.’

Michael Thompson writes: ‘Gale was at King’s College, Cambridge, when I met him as research student. We were both at Graham Clark's famous early mesolithic excavation at Star Carr from 1949 to 1952. He had a spell under Harper Kelley at the Musée de l'Homme and I joined him on an excavation of a neolithic site in France, while he visited me in Portugal when I was engaged on material from the Tagus middens at Mugem.’

Michael Kerney writes: ‘Gale and I joined forces for an expedition to Thailand from 1 December 1965 to 31 March 1966. Our project had two aims: one was to locate sites in the limestone massifs in the country’s north and north-eastern provinces with Palaeolithic and earlier remains, sealed by stalagmite deposits, and thus datable using protactinium-thorium-uranium isotopic methods; the other was to investigate the relationship between the bronze age in Thailand and contemporary cultures in Yunnan.

‘Gale organised the digs superbly well. It was typical of him that he planned everything on a lavish scale. I remember that at one site he had a traditional bamboo hut built as a base. He was dissatisfied by the proposal made by the village builder, which he thought a bit mean, and so he rather airily increased the dimensions. I think that even he was taken by surprise at the result. Certainly it was a most impressive structure – abandoned, of course, to the forest when we left.

‘Also typical was his fascination with historical oddities of all kinds, as when we encountered a tribesman still using a tower musket, stamped with the cipher of George IV, for which he made his own bullets. Photographs were taken and an animated conversation was conducted through an interpreter.’

Phil Harding writes: ‘From 1972 to 1976, Sieveking undertook a major project of work with Ian Longworth to re-examine the important Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves, Norfolk. While Longworth concentrated on the rich Bronze Age deposits, Sieveking focused his attentions on the so-called “primitive” pits of the west fields, the flaking floor workshops in between them and the deep mines. He also sought to exploit the strengths of the British Museum Laboratory which allowed him to initiate challenging projects to resolve other outstanding questions at the site.

‘Typical of a man who had employed a bulldozer to shear off a large part of High Lodge hill to reach the important Lower Palaeolithic site beneath, Sieveking thought big. Vast area excavations up to 30 metres square were stripped by hand in the west fields using young offenders from North Sea Camp, Boston in Lincolnshire, before field archaeologists were introduced to excavate the deposits. He argued that excavations of this size were necessary to understand the distribution of mining pits in this part of the site.

‘But by far the most impressive and perhaps most enduring aspect of this programme was the re-excavation of mine shafts that had been investigated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This approach allowed easy access to underground gallery systems to gather new data while removing the need to excavate undisturbed shafts. Again gaining access to many of these shafts was itself an ambitious challenge but, with the aid of heavy machinery, Sieveking systematically re-emptied many of the early excavations. This enabled miners from the Dutch Workgroup to use their expertise as miners to re-examine, record and re-interpret the complex underground mining system and extract antler samples for radiocarbon dating.

‘Sieveking was keen to harness their appreciation of Neolithic mining techniques and their practical skills as miners. He equipped them with antler picks to collect accurate figures that could be used to calculate work rates for the underground operations. The excavation of the deep mines culminated in the re-excavation of a shaft first emptied by Canon Greenwell in the late nineteenth century. This shaft, now capped off, remains open to this day to bear witness to the mining skills of the Neolithic miners.

‘Sieveking’s methods to resolve outstanding questions at the site were not restricted to excavation. He employed what, for the time, were ambitious multi-disciplinary programmes including geophysics, to trace the extent of mining. Extensive programmes of radiocarbon dating using freshly acquired samples from the mines, phosphate analysis to locate settlement associated with the mining, trace element analysis to study the composition of flint as a means of understanding trade distributions of flint axes were all undertaken by the Scientific Laboratory of the British Museum under Sieveking’s initiation. Some of these programmes enjoyed limited success at the time due to the technology then available; subsequent improvements in technology have proved their value.

‘His desire to understand activity at the site also extended to the use of experimentation. He actively involved a skilled flint knapper to study how the position of the knapper influenced the distribution of flaking waste. From this he hoped to speculate on the number and distribution of knappers on a flaking floor. The results of this project provided results that were invaluable not only to Grimes Graves but to countless other sites. They offered an experimental approach that has been replicated many times since.’

Professor Rory Mortimore writes: ‘I first met Gale Sieveking when he asked me to help in the evaluation of the Grimes Graves flint mines, Brandon, Norfolk, in 1976. It was typical of Gale to seek expertise outside the traditional field of archaeology. He saw the need for archaeological investigations to become more scientific and multidisciplinary. He brought the Felder brothers and their relations over from the Netherlands to help with the Grimes Graves excavations because of their expertise as traditional pick-and-shovel coal miners and for their experience in opening the Rijckholt St Geertruid Neolithic Flint Mines near Maastricht in Limburg. I had only just started out on my career as an engineering geologist and was working on the A26 Lewes Road Tunnel as part of my PhD. In association with Sir William Halcrow & Partners, the engineers for the Lewes project, we applied the rock-mass classification system that had only just been developed by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute to assess the support requirements for this “open-face” tunnel. Somehow Gale had heard about this work and wanted to see if such systems could be applied to the Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves. From then on, and for several years into the mid-1980s, the classic Gale greeting of “Dear Boy” became a familiar part of life.

‘Having persuaded me and many others to present the Grimes Graves results at the Third 1979 Maastricht Flint Symposium, Gale then took on the task of making the “Flint Symposium” truly international and scientific. He got the agreement of the Maastricht Committee in 1979 to take the symposium out of the Netherlands to England for its fourth meeting in 1983. It was his drive, enthusiasm and vision that drew in a wide range of disciplines to focus on every aspect – geological and archaeological – of that extraordinary raw material, flint. I became the organising secretary for the Fourth Symposium, held at the Falmer Campus of Brighton Polytechnic, and saw at first hand the effort that Gale put in and the “politics” that had to be overcome to make a success of every aspect.

‘He got the excavations in the Sussex Downs at the Harrow Hill Flint Mines organised and arranged for the work to be carried out by the Maastricht Flint Mining Team, led by the Felder family. These excavations became the centrepiece of the Fourth Symposium. Gale pulled together an International Committee as well as a smaller and more manageable Organising Committee that led to future Flint Symposia being taken to France, Spain and Poland. The International Committee meetings were held at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, London. Other field studies were also carried out in the South Downs to investigate where flint artefacts might have become buried by soil forming and other geomorphological processes. Pits were excavated in valley bottoms and along valley sides to try and find evidence to date the formation of the dry valleys. Flint-bearing horizons in the chalk of the South Downs that Neolithic flint miners had sought were also investigated. These field studies then formed part of the Symposium presentations and field programme in 1983. In addition, a memorable post-symposium field trip from Beachy Head (Sussex) to the Norfolk coast and on to Flamborough Head in Yorkshire was organised. All involved were international experts in their particular subjects.

‘The publication of the Fourth International Flint Symposium proceedings (in two volumes by Cambridge University Press in 1986) stands as a monument to Gale’s efforts and contains many seminal papers.

‘Stories about Gale abound. His heart was always in the right place and once you had made friends he was a loyal ally for life. He was not, however, above upsetting some people and sometimes appeared arrogant and pompous. But this was down to his old-fashioned English upper-crust bearing and was not a true reflection of his character. There were hilarious moments at the International Committee Meetings at the Society of Antiquaries in London. Chairing the meeting, a slightly pompous Gale leaned back on two legs of an incredibly valuable chair, presented to the Society by a former monarch, and suddenly disappeared in a cloud of dust. The chair had disintegrated! Our European colleagues sitting around a magnificent table in this ancient room were unsure how to react! We quickly helped Gale to his feet and brought over another chair for him to continue the meeting. All went well until, again leaning back on two legs, the second chair disintegrated and all the committee could see was a film of dust in the place where Gale had been. This time the committee could not contain their laughter!

‘The lasting memory of Gale is of a man with great enthusiasm for his subject and a drive to take it forward and whose contribution was not in the number of articles published but rather as a facilitator and motivator, bringing experts together to solve archaeological problems – someone who was an immensely loyal friend with an equally strong passion for his family.’

Obituary: Sir Ian Anstruther Bt (1922–2007)

Our Fellow Ian Fife Campbell Anstruther, writer and landowner, died at Barlavington, West Sussex on 29 July 2007. The following extracts are from obituaries first published in the Times, Daily Telegraph and Independent.

‘From the moment of inheriting – to his surprise – a sizeable chunk of South Kensington, including Thurloe Square, from his aunt Joan Campbell in 1960, Ian Anstruther set about making improvements both to his life and to the lives of others. A patron of artists, a wealthy but reclusive landlord of the Alexander Estate in London and the Barlavington Estate in Sussex, he helped to maintain and bring prosperity to places he cared about.

‘One such place was the London Library in St James's Square, to which, in 1992, he gave the money to build a new wing to house 25,000 of its rarest books. An avoider rather than a seeker of fame, he needed persuasion before consenting to its being named the Anstruther Wing, and was glad when the plaque was hidden behind a bookcase. In parallel to his life as a benefactor, he was a writer, never happier than when burrowing in the archives of a little-known nineteenth-century character or event.

‘Ian's childhood was both difficult and unconventional: from his infancy his parents were involved in a protracted divorce and custody battle, and he was brought up mainly by his maternal aunt, Joan Campbell, at Strachur House in Argyllshire and at her London residence in Bryanston Square. The attachment between aunt and nephew was to have important consequences for his future life.

‘After leaving Eton in 1939 the young Ian joined the Royal Corps of Signals, but was released the next year to go up to New College, Oxford, where he read Natural Sciences. In 1942 he returned to the Army, and commanded a unit of signallers in France in the aftermath of the D-Day landings.

‘After the war a chance encounter on a London bus with a family friend, Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr, led to Anstruther’s joining the Diplomatic Service. Clerk Kerr (later the 1st Lord Inverchapel) had been ambassador in Moscow during the war years, and was now appointed the envoy in Washington. He invited Anstruther to accompany him as his private secretary; the young man agreed, and spent four years in the United States, initially in Washington and later at the United Nations in New York.

‘In 1960 his aunt Joan Campbell died. Her brother had been killed at Gallipoli, and in the absence of a male heir she left Anstruther her estate. It included a substantial portion of South Kensington in London, including Thurloe and Alexander Squares. His aunt claimed never to have visited her estate, nor indeed any part of South Kensington. She had little idea of how wealthy she was, and it came as a pleasant surprise to her nephew. He set about taking care of the estate, striving always to be delicate and tactful rather than dictatorial. He saw the estate as his heirloom, to be treasured like a precious jewel, which is why he was saddened in recent years when the law was passed giving leaseholders the right to buy. One by one, bits were sold off. But he got used to the idea.

‘In 1956 he had bought the Barlavington Estate near Petworth in Sussex, nestling under the South Downs, and this became one of his two havens – the other being a house in the hills behind St Tropez, which he loved. In both of these places (but not often in London – he much preferred the country) he pursued his career as a writer, principally in the arena of nineteenth-century social and literary history.

‘His first book, published in 1956, was I Presume, the story of Stanley's expedition in search of Dr Livingstone. This was followed by The Knight and the Umbrella (1963), an account of the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, and The Scandal of the Andover Workhouse (1973), which examined the cruelty and suffering caused by the workhouse system introduced by Lord Grey in 1834.

‘In 1983 he published Oscar Browning, about the Old Etonian historian and educational reformer. Coventry Patmore's Angel was published in 1992, followed by Dean Farrar and “Eric” (2003).

‘In 2002 Anstruther succeeded his cousin Ralph (who had been the Queen Mother's treasurer) in the three Anstruther titles. These were two Scottish baronetcies, of Balcaskie, Fife (1694) and of Anstruther (1700) and one British (1798). He also inherited the sinecure of Carver to the Queen in Scotland. This sudden inheritance of not one but three titles drew him to his final subject for a book, the maniacal nineteenth-century claimer and recussitator of baronetcies Sir Richard Broun (about whom he wrote in The Baronets' Champion, 2006).

Sir Ian Anstruther was a man of habit. He usually wore a bow tie (which he changed for a cravat at night); before taking his two Martinis in the evening he would invariably dress for dinner, drawing on a wardrobe of striking velvet suits set off by green or maroon slippers with bells on the toes. His failure to dress for dinner a fortnight before his death was the first sign to his family that the end was near.’


IFA Workplace Learning Bursary in Archaeological Conservation Management
Hosted by the Lake District National Park Authority
Salary: £14,270 (£14,698 from 1 April 2008); closing date 9am on 20 September 2007

Applications are invited for a twelve-month, HLF- and Lake District National Park Authority- funded IFA Workplace Learning Bursary in Archaeological Conservation Management. This is an excellent opportunity for the successful candidate to receive professional training to develop a wide understanding of the archaeological resource of the Lake District and how that resource is managed, conserved and enhanced with partners and communities. The candidate will assist in the maintenance and enhancement of the Historic Environment Record, respond to enquiries and consultations, including agri-environment schemes, undertake archaeological survey and produce a conservation management plan.

For further details and an application form, please see the IFA News page on the IFA website.

Appointments to the Historic Buildings Advisory Council for Wales
Closing date 14 September 2007

The Welsh Assembly Government invites people who have the relevant skills and experience to apply to serve as members of the Historic Buildings Advisory Council for Wales (HBAC). HBAC members are all experts in aspects of the historic environment of Wales. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate a high level of professional or academic achievement in conservation architecture, Welsh history or related disciplines and a detailed knowledge of Welsh historic buildings or parks and gardens.

For further information see the Welsh Assembly Government website or send an email to the Public Appointments Unit.

The Society of Antiquaries of London, Head of Library and Collections
Salary scale: £35,500 to £47,800, with the option of joining the USS superannuation scheme; closing date: 5 October 2007; appointment to commence 1 January 2008 or as soon as possible thereafter

Bernard Nurse, FSA, our long-standing Librarian, will be retiring from the post at the end of 2007, and a successor is now sought to taker responsibility for the efficient management, promotion and development of the Society’s research library and museum collections, including manuscripts, paintings, prints and drawings. Candidates need an excellent track record of managing and developing a library, archive or historic collection at a senior level, a high level of knowledge of printed and electronic resources and the use of ICT, a relevant professional qualification and an advanced level of expertise in history, archaeology or subject relevant to the Society’s interests.

A full job description can be downloaded from the Society’s website. Applicants are asked to send a CV, letter of application, and names and contact details of two referees (one from their current or most recent employer).

The Society of Antiquaries of London, Assistant Librarian (Cataloguing)
Salary scale: £20,566 to £26,614, with the option of joining the USS superannuation scheme; closing date: 5 October 2007; appointment to commence 1 December 2007 or as soon as possible thereafter

Mary Mitchell, the Society’s current cataloguing and documentation assistant, is moving to a new post at the National Gallery. To replace Mary, the Society is seeking someone to be responsible for original cataloguing in a variety of European languages on the Voyager library system, for entry of bibliographic acquisitions data, for authority control work and for the cataloguing of the Society’s special collections. Candidates need to have appropriate experience of MARC 21 cataloguing, a reading knowledge of at least one European language, an honours or postgraduate degree in librarianship/information science, and an interest in subjects relevant to the Society’s collections.

A full job description can be downloaded from the Society’s website. Applicants are asked to send a CV, letter of application, and names and contact details of two referees (one from their current or most recent employer).