Salon Archive

Issue: 180

Forthcoming meetings

Tea is served from 4.15pm, and the chair will be taken promptly at 5pm. Non-Fellows are welcome to attend as a guest of a Fellow. Please contact the Society if you need help in finding a Fellow to act as your host.

24 January 2008: Ballot with exhibits: ‘Carausian gold, Allectan bronze and forger’s lead: recent numismatic finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme’, by Sam Moorhead, FSA, and ‘A bronze Athena-Tyche figurine from Hertfordshire’, by Gil Burleigh, FSA.

Blue Papers for the 24 January ballot can be found on the Society's website, where you can read the Blue Papers and vote online. Note that John Gater’s Blue Paper, which was added as a late entry, is listed on its own, below the main block of Blue Papers. Contact Christopher Catling if you have problems accessing the Fellows’ area of the site, or would like to register for a password.

28 January 2008: Tercentenary Festival lecture in association with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, given by Professor Lord Renfrew, on The Dawn of Civilization at the Royal Museum of Scotland lecture theatre, starting at 6pm and followed by a reception at Old College, the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Lord Renfrew will compare aspects of ancient civilisations and reveal some striking similarities. Did they originate independently, and can contemporary archaeology use these resemblances to give more general insights into the nature of humankind? Tickets (free to Fellows) can be booked by contacting the Society.

7 February 2008: The Foundation of Empire: the engineering characteristics of Roman maritime concrete, by Chris Brandon, architect and maritime archaeologist who, through his underwater excavations in the harbour of Caesarea, is an internationally renowned expert on Roman hydraulic concrete.

14 February 2008: The Archaeology of the Sevso Treasure, by Zsolt Visy, FSA, being the Annual All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group Lecture.

Found more than thirty years ago in a bronze cauldron, the Sevso Treasure consists of table wares for food and drink, hand washing and bathing. It is the biggest Roman silver find of the twentieth century (possibly as many as 284 objects, fourteen of which weigh more than 200lbs / 67kg). We do not know where in late Roman times it was buried as the find spot has not been made known, but most of the archaeological features point to a Pannonian origin. The lecture will be devoted to an examination of the archaeological and other evidence in support of this view, including the references to Lake Balaton in the inscriptions, similarities with the exceptional silver quadruped found in Polgárdi, soil analysis and the existence of extremely wealthy fourth-century villas in the Balaton region (one of them partially excavated at Szabadbattyán). Archaeological research suggests that the treasure was assembled during the fourth century and hidden not later than the turn of the fifth century in Pannonia, in modern Hungary.

New Year Honours List

To the six Fellows named in the last issue of Salon as having been recognised in the New Year Honours List should be added a seventh: we failed to spot that Dr Margaret Bent, Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford, was also created a CBE for services to musicology (for Margaret’s many accomplishments, see the Oxford Music Faculty website.

And among the ranks of non-Fellows in receipt of an honour, Fellow David Mander draws our attention to the name of Geoffrey Bond, created an OBE for charitable services. Geoffrey, who is the Chair of MLA London, has helped to raise substantial funds for heritage charities over many years. David Breeze also spotted the name of Lis Thoms, formerly of Dundee Museum and immediate Past President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, who was created an MBE for services to conservation in Scotland.

Farewell to Bernard

Fellows bid farewell to Bernard Nurse on Friday 18 January in his official capacity as the Society’s Librarian (in his capacity as a Fellow we will no doubt continue to enjoy Bernard’s contributions to meetings and to the Antiquaries Journal). As a retirement gift, David Gaimster presented Bernard with George Cruikshank’s coloured engraving of The Antiquarian Society, purchased with the help of our Fellow Derrick Chivers, who said that it was only the third copy of this 1812 satirical print that he had seen for sale within the last twenty years. Bernard said that ‘this is something I have been looking for ever since writing an article on it for the Antiquaries Journal volume 80’. He added that he was very grateful to the many Fellows who had contributed to his leaving presents which, in addition to the engraving, included a most generous cheque.

The Society’s poet in residence, our Assistant Librarian, Adrian James, then read a sonnet that he had composed especially for the occasion and which Bernard described as ‘one of Adrian’s best’.

Librarians don’t set the world on fire:
Unflustered, never fazed and always ready,
Courteous, conscientious, patient, steady,
They’re half-unnoticed, save when they retire,
Or use a stool to stand six inches higher.
Others have virtues that are much more heady,
Creating waves of change, not just an eddy;
Their reputations course through every shire.
For twenty years now from his well-worn chair
Has BERNARD overseen the library’s stock
With all the due regard and tender care
Of an unsleeping shepherd for his flock
After so long a vigil, rest is due;
‘Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new’.

Frankfurt Colloquium 20 February 2008

As part of our Tercentenary celebrations, the Römisch-Germanischen Kommission and the Society are jointly hosting a one-day colloquium in Frankfurt am Main on Archaeology in central and north-west Europe in the twenty-first century: perspectives and challenges for international co-operation. The colloquium will be rounded off by a public lecture given by Professor Lord Renfrew, FSA, on ‘The dimensions of prehistory’. For further information see the News and Events page of the Society’s website. Fellows resident in mainland Europe should already have received an invitation to the event. Fellows who have not received an invitation and who would like to attend should send their contact details to info@sal300.de.

Rescued from the Savoy

Just before Christmas the Savoy Hotel was emptied of its furnishings, when Bonham’s held an auction to dispose of everything from the butlers’ trays to the bed in which Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne all slept (though not simultaneously, one hastens to add). Antiquarian curiosity drew our General Secretary and unable to resist a bargain, David ended up bidding for two Georgian-style coffee tables, which have since been installed in the Main Hall and in the Fellows’ Room at Burlington House. Two new reading lamps donated by Ann Payne, VPSA, and Tim Burnet, FSA, complete this mini-makeover of the Fellows’ Room, while the results of the bigger makeover of the Savoy, costing £100 million, will not be revealed until 2009.

The Society’s motto: non extinguetur

Fellows have responded magnificently to the challenge of providing a range of suggestions for an English equivalent to the Society’s motto. Responses fell into two categories: those who tackled the grammar and literal meaning of non extinguitur and those who used their imagination to suggest idiomatic translations (showing, in the process, a surprising knowledge of recent rock and pop music lyrics).

In the first group was Kenneth Painter who pointed out that the motto is correctly stated in the Tercentenary exhibition catalogue as extinguetur, not extinguitur; that is to say, the verb is the future passive – ‘will not be extinguished’ (or ‘destroyed’, etc, according to context) – not the ‘is not being extinguished’ of extinguitur. The error in the exhibition catalogue is to translate this as ‘shall not be extinguished’; Kenneth says that the correct translation of the third person future is ‘will not be extinguished’.

Paul Quarrie makes the same points as Kenneth before offering his own suggestion that ‘The lamp which never goes out/is never put out’ would be a better English version, or even ‘the lamp which faileth not’, which, he rightly says, is more of an adaptation than a translation.

The motto is normally used in conjunction with the device based on the lamp presented to the Society by Sir Hans Sloane in 1736.This was described at the time as lucerna aenea Romana (‘a lamp of the Roman era’). Now known to be a medieval Jewish lamp intended to be lit in preparation for the Sabbath, the word lucerna was often used by our predecessors to mean the ‘lamp of knowledge’ – hence the full meaning of the Society’s motto could be given as ‘the lamp of knowledge will not be extinguished’. Kenneth adds that he has not been able to find a use of lucerna in precisely this sense, but that lucerna is used metaphorically to mean ‘guide’ or ‘interpreter’ in classical Latin.

This phrase echoes the Biblical description of the virtuous woman whose ‘price is far above rubies’ in Proverbs 31; one of her characteristics is that ‘her candle goeth not out by night’ (non extinguetur in nocte lucerna ejus; Proverbs 31:18). Given that the virtuous woman of Proverbs was taken by later theologians as a metaphor for the Church, this could have been what was in Hugh Latimer’s mind when (as Christopher Kitching reminds us) he turned to Nicholas Ridley at the stake outside Oxford’s Balliol College and said: ‘Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.’ Christopher thus recommends ‘Such as shall never be put out’ as our derived motto. With a subtle rephrasing, Robert Merrillees turns this into the splendidly ambiguous suggestion that: ‘Surely the Society’s motto should be translated: ‘We are never put out!’.

Christopher Whittick observes that ‘our forefathers picked slightly the wrong motto’ because the phrase is passive, and means, as the translators of the Old Testament had it, ‘it is not quenched; it is not extinguished’. He suggests a more active modern paraphrase might be ‘the light stays on’ or perhaps ‘the light burns on’.

Playing with this idea, Ron Woodley suggests ‘Forever shining’ or ‘Ever shining’, while admitting that he also thought about ‘bright’ instead of ‘shining’, but decided that that sounded too much like ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’! In fact, he says, as soon as you go too far down the Eternal Flame track, it starts to get too generic, religiose and sentimental (see, for example, recent pop lyrics from Atomic Kitten and The Bangles, and the many eternal flame commemorations around the world).

Also inspired by musical lyrics, but referencing a much older and altogether more gritty rock band, Catherine Cullis suggests the Society’s motto should be ‘Not fade away’. And any Fellow worried about the appropriateness of a linkage between the Society and Mick Jagger and the gang should bear in mind the antiquity of the band (four years away from celebrating their half-century on the road), and of the songs they sing (‘Not Fade Away’ was written in 1957 by Buddy Holly but owes a great debt to the even earlier rhythmic style of Bo Diddley) and that one of the Society’s Vice-Presidents has even been known to perform the very same song at TAG conference parties, as the front man with his band, ‘The Standing Stones’.

Medieval Archaeology online

In fact, ‘Not Fade Away’ is exactly the same age as the Society for Medieval Archaeology, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year by making Volumes 1 to 50 of Medieval Archaeology available in digital form. Papers from these volumes can be viewed on the ADS website, minus plates and copyright images, for which copyright permissions are still being cleared, but later this year it is hoped that the images will be added too.

AHDS History wants your views on its future

AHDS (formerly known as the History Data Service) collects, preserves and disseminates digital resources which result from or support historical research, learning and teaching. AHDS History also provides advice about the creation, use and preservation of historical digital resources.

Until March 2008 AHDS History will be funded as part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service and will, as in the past, provide its services for free, but a different business model will prevail after this date, and AHDS History has designed an online questionnaire to discover if there is a need for a central data service aimed directly at supporting historians, and what type and range of services this service should provide. The questionnaire is on the AHDS History website.

Scottish Minister rejects calls for review of historic environment legislation

While drafting continues for a new Heritage Protection Bill for England and Wales, the Scottish Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, Linda Fabiani, has rejected calls for a similar review of heritage protection legislation north of the border, despite a recommendation from the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland (HEACS) that such a review is necessary.

In place of major legislative reform, Linda Fabiani has said that ‘energy should be focused towards improving the workings of the current system’. In particular she suggest that the way forward for Scotland lies in developing ‘outcome agreements’ with local authorities that will lead to ‘a high and uniform standard of care for the historic environment in all local authority areas’.

The full response can be found in the form of a letter to the Chair of the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland, which can be read on the HEACS website.

Partying at Kenilworth Castle

Music, masques and Morris dancing, lavish banquets and extravagant fireworks displays: no, not Fellow Simon Thurley’s forthcoming wedding party (for more on this see ‘Heritage king bags his own Nell Gwyn’ in the Daily Mail for 3 January 2008), though there are English Heritage and marital connections: these words describe the three-week party hosted by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, when he entertained Queen Elizabeth I at Kenilworth Castle in the summer of 1575, hoping that she would accept his offer of marriage.

The legacy of that festive marathon has now been traced through the inventory of ‘howsseholde stuff at Kenelworth’ newly transcribed by Elizabeth Goldring and recently published in Volume 2 of the English Heritage Historical Review, edited by our Fellow Richard Hewlings. Made in 1578, within three years of what has been called ‘sixteenth-century England’s grandest and most extravagant party’, the inventory describes the Earl of Leicester’s possessions in unusual detail, specifying weights, dimensions, materials, colours, decorative motifs and the subject matters of works of art, providing us with an unusually rich insight into the material culture of the Elizabethan elite.

Among the more lavish items in the inventory are a chessboard of black ebony with ‘checkers, crystals and other stones’, the tusk of a sea bear and curtains of crimson satin with gold and silver stripes, but also numerous wall hangings of gilded leather and of cloth, and four paintings of Leicester and Elizabeth described in the inventory as having been commissioned specifically for the 1575 festivities. Dr Goldring has identified two of these images as paintings by anonymous artists hanging in Reading Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, now temporarily reunited for an exhibition that she has curated in Kenilworth Castle’s gatehouse, called ‘Queen and Castle: Robert Dudley’s Kenilworth’. Two further paintings by the Italian Mannerist artist Frederico Zuccaro, have not survived, but are known from Zuccaro’s preliminary sketches, now in the British Museum.

The same issue of the EH Historical Review (for subscription details see the EH website) has papers on the architecture, archaeology and collections at Apethorpe, Chiswick House, Audley End, Apsley House and Dover Castle, including Kevin Booth’s petrographic analysis of the Roman pharos at Dover Castle and reconstruction drawings of the original appearance of what is ‘possibly the most complete Roman structure in Britain’ and one of the rarest types of building to survive from the Roman world.

Looking for Harvard’s Indian College

In his archaeological column in The Times, Fellow Norman Hammond recently reported on the Harvard Yard Archaeology Project, which has located remains from Harvard Indian College, built around 1655 as a place to train Native American students within Harvard. According to our Fellow Bill Fash, Director of the Harvard Peabody Museum, ‘the Indian College is of special interest as the first university-level institution in the Americas focused on Native people’.

A ground-penetrating radar survey of the conjectured location of the college, at the south-west corner of Harvard Yard, suggested a high concentration of artefacts and a possible foundation. Excavations showed, however, that this was debris from the construction of Matthews Hall in 1871. Slightly further east the project team had better luck: they found eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries middens whose contents included re-deposited seventeenth-century material.

Among the midden deposits were five pieces of printer’s lead type which Harvard Yard Archaeology Project Director Dr Christina Hodge says could have come from the Harvard printing presses, the first in the colonies. ‘Harvard printed the first books in North America, including a Bible in the local Algonquian language’, she said. The presses are known from historical records to have been housed in the College President’s House and at the Indian College.

Roof tiles, glass and lead from leaded windows were also found, as well as domestic rubbish, including pottery, glass bottles, a pipe stem and animal bones. All seem to date from around the time that the Old College and Indian College were dismantled at the end of the seventeenth century. One intriguing find was a fragment from an Iberian maiolica vessel, which, according to Dr Hodge ‘raises questions of illicit trade, as British colonists’ trade with countries other than England was heavily restricted at that time’.

Opposition to housing plans for Avebury site

Plans to build five new homes within the Avebury World Heritage Site were passed by Kennet District Council on Friday, 18 January 2008 by twelve votes to one, despite objections from the National Trust, English Heritage, The Avebury Society, the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK (ICOMOS-UK), Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Kennet’s own Conservation Officer is reported by the local newspaper, the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, to have recommended rejection of the plans as not being in accordance with Kennet’s own local plan policies, but the planning committee felt that the application to demolish Bond’s Garage on Swindon Road and erect five new homes was ‘the best solution for the future of the site’.

Bond’s Garage was constructed in the 1930s, at the instigation of Alexander Keiller who provided land and a loan for the removal of the original garage business from its original position within the stone circle to its present site on the northern approach to the village. The central part of the garage consists of an idiosyncratic Art Deco-style house, following the plan of a colonial house in which the owner had once lived. The original workshops are attached as single-storey wings to each side.

While accepting that the current site is untidy, and that a number of the early features of the 1930s garage are now missing, opponents of the housing scheme argue that Bond’s Garage should be preserved because it played a significant part in the restoration of the henge at Avebury and was one of the first buildings to be relocated under Alexander Keiller’s conservation initiative.

They would like to see the buildings restored rather than demolished, and converted to a hostel or hotel. They also argue that the proposed new development would form an incongruous line of new houses at the village entrance, obscuring winter views of the henge. Local councillors expressed the view that to stifle development at Avebury because it was a World Heritage Site would be wrong.

Antiquity December 2007

As always there is much to savour in the latest volume of Antiquity. In particular, the paper by Alex Brown on ‘Dating the onset of cereal cultivation in Britain and Ireland: the evidence from charred cereal grains’ offers convincingly precise dates for cereal cultivation in Britain and Ireland, based on carbon dates from ninety-three sites with charred cereal remains. What is new in Dr Brown’s methodology is the exclusion of dates obtained from charcoal from the same context as the grains, which he argues could be residual and older than the grains themselves (for example, the timber could have been cut down and used for house construction decades or centuries prior to ending up as fire material).

Dates obtained exclusively from the grain itself suggest ‘cultivation no earlier than 3950 BC and certainly no later than 3630 BC’, rather than the previous broader time span of 4050 to 3000 BC. More concise still, most of the dates cluster around 3800 BC, which leads Dr Brown to suggest a scenario whereby limited cultivation of cereal begins in Ireland from 3950 BC and becomes widespread in Britain and Ireland between 3800 and 3000 BC before a significant decline, possibly caused by the development of cereal pests and diseases after a honeymoon period for grain cultivation. Intriguingly, the 3800 BC date correlates to the development of settlements (the Sweet Track in Somerset is dated to 3806–7 BC by dendrochronology) and for long barrows and causewayed enclosures.

Moving forward in time, our Fellow Julian Bennett, of Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, reveals in the Antiquity Project Gallery that (working with Andrew Goldman of Gonzaga University, Spokane, USA) he has found the first Roman auxiliary base to be identified through excavation in Anatolia.

Known from nineteenth-century records made during the construction of the Berlin–Baghdad railway, the site, known as Yassihöyük (‘Citadel Mound’), was subsequently identified as the Phrygian capital of Gordion, but Julian’s work has also revealed inter alia that this was also the settlement of Vindia (so-named in Roman geographical sources) and that Roman activity on the Citadel Mound began after Provincia Galatiae was formed in 25–20 BC, reached a climax in the Flavio-Trajanic period; and sharply declined thereafter, with a brief renaissance c AD 300.

Excavations in 2004 and 2005 established that the earliest Roman structures consisted of military barracks, while finds included military harness pendants, ring-mail armour and two lengths of flexible scale armour. Julian suggests the site might have been established as a supply base during Nero’s Armenian campaigns of AD 57–61 and continued in this role until the end of Trajan’s Parthian War, only to become redundant when Hadrian rationalised army deployment in Anatolia in AD 117.

Over the last five years, Salon has several times reported on intriguing evidence from India of trade with the Roman world, and another Antiquity paper (‘Rome and Mesopotamia: importers into India in the first millennium AD’) by our Fellow Roberta Tomber looks at finds of Roman amphorae from some thirty sites in the subcontinent, stretching from along the western coast as far south as Sri Lanka.

Roberta argues that they represent an ‘untapped resource for the understanding of Indian Ocean contact’. She also concludes that most of the amphorae are late (fourth to seventh centuries AD) and probably represent not direct trade between India and Europe, but rather the use of Sasanian merchant intermediaries, with one or more entrepôt ports in Egypt, the Gulf and India. The port of Qana, on the coast of Yemen, is the obvious contender, though Roberta notes that not all of the vessel types found in India can be paralleled at Qana, so other ports along the Indian Ocean coastline might also have played a role.

Feedback

Following the item on the consultation documents posted on the website of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches (ABRC) (go to www.britarch.ac.uk/abrc/future.html and scroll to the base of the page), David Baker writes to reassure Fellows that the ABRC will cease to exist on 30 June 2008 and not (as Salon stated) at the end of March, which is the consultation deadline.

Further light has been thrown on the precise whereabouts of all the surviving copies of the Magna Carta. Further research into the ‘House of Lords’ and ‘Museum of London copies’ reveals that the museum’s copy is the genuine article, but that the House of Lords copy is exactly that: a facsimile of the Salisbury 1215 charter which, says Fellow Nick Vincent, ‘was made in the 1980s and presented to their lordships by an MP who had paid an absurd amount of money for it … of the fifty or more facsimiles that were made of the Salisbury charter, only two have ever been sold: one to an African government and the one now in the Lords. A third was given by the Queen to the European Parliament, but, most remarkably for that institution, without money changing hands’.

As for the Lincoln Magna Carta, Fellow Philip Dixon, Archaeologist to the Dean and Chapter, confirms that this belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Minster ‘but is currently on loan to a large exhibition travelling the USA. When the tour is over, it will be returned to the keeping of the Lincoln Castle Museum, where it was formerly on display. In the longer term, new display facilities are in prospect at the Castle Museum, and the Magna Carta will be included in these. There is no proposal for the manuscript to be on exhibition in the cathedral.’

Bad phrasing in the last issue of Salon might have left Fellows with the impression that our Fellow Michael Liversidge was an Oxford art historian, whereas, as his good friend and former colleague ohn Moore, FSA, points out, Michael ‘spent his entire academic career at Bristol, where he ended as a very fine Dean of Arts’. What Salon tried to say was that the two painted panels that Michael identified as being from an altarpiece painted by Fra Angelico were found in the home of an Oxford art historian – that of the late Jean Preston, who bought them for £200 some twenty years ago (her heirs sold them on 20 April 2007 for £1.7 million).

Salon described author Jenny Uglow in the list of people honoured for services to the heritage in the New Year Honours list as a contributor to the ‘Making History’ exhibition. Not so, says Bernard Nurse, who points out that Jenny actually wrote a lengthy preview article on the exhibition for the RA Friends magazine.

The proofreading part of Salon’s brain was not in full functioning form with the last issue: the Editor managed to strip both Richard Sharpe and Patrick Greene of the terminal ‘e’s in their surnames. As Patrick Greene wrote, requesting his back: ‘My brother (Kevin Greene, FSA, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne) and I are very attached to the ‘e’ but unfortunately the ‘e’ is less well attached to us!’.

The last issue of Salon also said (repeating the content of a Sunday Times poetry review) that our Fellow Anthony Thwaite resigned as Chairman of the 1986 Booker prize panel because he thought the chosen winner (The Old Devils, by Kingsley Amis) ‘was no good’. Anthony reassures Fellows that this is not true and that the Sunday Times reviewer got it wrong. Digging around in the archives of various newspapers reveals that the resignation actually occurred in 1991 and that it was Nicholas Mosley who walked away from the Booker prize jury, complaining that the shortlisted titles were ‘not serious enough’ and the authors were ‘writing beautifully about nothing at all’. That year’s prize was given to Ben Okri for The Famished Road.

Fellow Percival Turnbull, of the Brigantia Archaeological Practice, in Barnard Castle, writes to draw Fellows’ attention to a worrying trend. Increasingly archaeology is reported not in the ‘News’ sections of the newspapers, but under ‘Entertainment’ (or, in the case of The Times, even further into the depths of the paper: the columns of our Fellows Norman Hammond and Marcus Binney are to be found lurking in the ‘Court and Circular’ section). Worse still, Percival recently spotted an alarming article in Time magazine’s financial pages, approving of the antiquities trade as a good form of investment. How long, one wonders, before matters antiquarian move even further back in the newspapers and become a subject for the ‘Sports’ pages?

The last issue of Salon reported the discovery of a Roman stone coffin at Boscombe Down in which was found the well-preserved remains of a woman cradling a young child, both of whom were wearing unusual shoes. Fellow Andrew Fitzpatrick says that the discovery and excavation of the coffin was captured on video, and by going to the Wessex website, we can all share in the sense of anticipation experienced by the Wessex Archaeology staff at the moment the coffin was opened.

Fellow Alison McHardy writes to say that she was especially interested to read about Howard Colvin in the last issue of Salon, ‘but that not enough was made in the obituaries of his pioneering and still important work on the Praemonstratensian order, The White Canons in England (Oxford, 1951)’. That in part was the fault of Salon’s editor: in order to summarise the contents of several lengthy obituaries, reference to this early work were omitted. To make amends, copies of the full obituaries have now been placed on the Society’s website, on a newly created Obituaries page.

The creation of this page follows numerous requests from Fellows over several years for the obituaries of late Fellows to be gathered together in one accessible place. Some Fellows will remember that Eva Rhys worked very hard before her retirement to gather biographical information about every deceased Fellow of the Society; the fruits of her work can now be seen on the website in the ‘Obituary archive’, which contains brief obituaries for Fellows who died between April 1995 and October 2000. Over the coming months, an effort will be made to add such obituaries as we have for Fellows who have died since October 2000.

These are reproduced from a variety of sources, and we are always grateful for further information about late Fellows in the form of tributes, memories, appreciations or celebrations. Indeed, a vacancy still exists for anyone who might like to volunteer to take up the post of obituarist to the Society and take over where Eva left off.

Recollections of Miss Molly Myers (1915–2007)

In November 2007, Salon noted that Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s long-time secretary at the British Academy, Molly Myers, had died. Thanks to Fellow Norman Hammond, Salon has obtained a copy of the eulogy read at Molly’s funeral, compiled from the recollections of family members and friends, including Susan Roebuck, John Carson and Sam Carson.

This said that Molly was born in Vancouver, Canada. Her father, Kenneth, educated at Eton and Oxford, and from a long-established family of poets, artists and writers, had emigrated ‘to get away from the UK establishment’. He founded a newspaper in Vancouver, before joining the Canadian Scots Guards to serve in the First World War. After he was killed in the final months of the war, Molly moved back to England with her mother and sister Greta to live in Bexhill on Sea.

Molly went to Downe House School and when it was clear that there wasn’t sufficient money for both daughters to go to university, Molly felt that Greta was the one who should go, while she went on to work in the two fields that interested her most: publishing and archaeology. During the war she was a fire fighter, and lost a number of people who were important to her, including ‘the nicest man she had ever met’, but like many who lived through this period, she did not talk about her feelings, but ‘just got on with it’. This was very much the spirit in which, for many years, she played a supporting role in the lives of others – most especially Sir Mortimer Wheeler at the British Academy – working long hours and achieving much of value.

She was elegant, beautiful, with an upright posture, and always wore the best clothes. Her strikingly long hair was dressed in a bun that she let down at the end of the day, often blowing away the smoke from a cigarette, with a glass of sherry at her side. Her home was full of books that she never seemed to read but seemed somehow to know about as if she absorbed their contents by osmosis. Most likely she knew about them from the reviews she cut out and pasted in the books.

She went to the theatre often and collected pictures – some family heirlooms, some painted by relatives and others given by Sir Mortimer. Though she didn’t paint or write herself, she had the observational eye of an artist, and in her final years would give running commentaries on the appearance of the clouds, skies and trees she could see through the windows of her home.

Wallace Collection seminars in the History of Collecting

On 28 January 2008, our Fellow Paul Quarrie, of the Early British Department, Maggs Bros Ltd, will describe the Library of the Earls of Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle. Now in the process of dispersal, largely by auction, this remarkable library was created in the first half of the eighteenth century for the first and second earls of Macclesfield – mostly by William Jones (1687–1749), a distinguished mathematician and tutor to the household. The books (with very few exceptions) antedate 1750 and include many great rarities. The manuscripts included the Macclesfield Psalter, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the cartulary of the abbey of Hyde, now in the British Library. The library’s formation is largely contemporary with that of the great Harleian library, which was dispersed at auction in the 1750s, and is today an unequalled example of collecting in the first half of the eighteenth century.

The seminar begins at 5.30pm and those who wish to attend must inform Leda Cosentino in advance.

Conferences in 2008

2008 sees the 750th anniversary of the dedication of Salisbury Cathedral in 1258. A full programme of events is planned (see the cathedral’s website), including a conference from 26 to 28 March 2008, based at the Salisbury and South Wilts Museum, that will bring leading academics together to address the architecture and archaeology of the building, and the life of the institution, its music and liturgy. The conference weekend will include services celebrated with plainsong and ceremonial according to the medieval ‘Use of Salisbury’. Papers will be given by our Fellows Nicholas Orme, John Crook, Thomas Cocke, Nick Sandon, Brian Kemp and Nigel Saul, as well as cathedral archaeologist Tim Tatton-Brown, amongst others. Further details are available from the conference organisers.

The Public History Conference 2008, to be held in Liverpool from 10 to 12 April 2008, has four core themes: ‘The Professional Practice of Public History in North America and the UK’; ‘Museums and Identity: City and Minority Museums – how do we remember slavery?’ ‘International Museums and Sites of Public History’; and ‘Public History in Theory and Practice: art, archaeology, film, sport’. Further information can be found on the University of Liverpool website.

The Sixth World Archaeological Congress (WAC-6) will take place in Dublin from 29 June to 4 July 2008. The provisional programme is now up on the WAC-6 website, and registration is now open, with an early-bird discount for those who sign up before 26 March.

On 15 and 16 July 2008, the British Museum hosts an international conference on New Research on the Bayeux Tapestry. The conference seeks to highlight recent advances in our understanding of the Tapestry, with scholars examining how, where and why it was made, questioning its reliability and value as a historical source, and excavating its hidden meanings. The conference fee is £10 a day, or £15 for both days, and the speakers include Fellows David Bates, Jane Geddes, Carola Hicks, David Hill, Michael Lewis, Derek Renn, Carol Neuman de Vegvar and Ann Williams. Further information from Fellow Michael Lewis.

The biennial symposium of the Church Monuments Society takes place from 18 to 20 July 2008 at the University of the West of England, Bristol, with Fellows well represented among the speakers: see the Society’s website for further details.

The sixth biennial University Museums in Scotland conference will be held in Aberdeen on 20 and 21 November 2008; a call for papers (of 30 minutes duration) has gone out with a submission deadline of 29 February (further details from Neil Curtis, Senior Curator, Marischal Museum, University of Aberdeen). The conference title – ‘The Contentious Museum’ – reflects the fact that museums have increasingly become contentious places, engaging with debates on issues such as repatriation, genocide, slavery, censorship, power and the treatment of human remains. This conference will discuss how responding to such challenges enables museums to depart from tradition and embrace different ways of thinking, working and developing new audiences.

Books by Fellows

By way of introduction to his new book – called Tomb Destruction and Scholarship: Medieval Monuments in Early Modern England (ISBN 978-1900289-870, £35 hardback) – Phillip Lindley (Reader in the History of Art Department of the University of Leicester and academic curator of the exhibition ‘Image and Idol: medieval sculpture’ held at Tate Britain in 2001–2) writes to say that: ‘Just before Christmas 2007, thieves stole nearly 600 brass plaques from a Swansea churchyard. We tend to think of such attacks on graves and of the stealing of their materials as depressing new phenomena. In fact, as my new book (published, with a sad irony, the same week as the Swansea thefts) shows, huge waves of destruction of tomb monuments and the sale or theft of their materials took place in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England.’

Published by Shaun Tyas (a small publisher based in Donington, Lincs, with a fascinating list of medieval, local and architectural history books), the book traces the official destruction or defacement of Christian tomb monuments and the pillaging of their materials during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Reformation under his son, Edward VI, followed by further destruction in the seventeenth century, when some Puritans encouraged the destruction of monuments whose religious imagery or texts they believed to be blasphemous. The result was the loss of thousands of medieval monuments and these attacks on traditional imagery and epitaphs permanently affected attitudes to the commemoration of the dead.

Phillip’s book also charts the fascinating development of preservationist attitudes and of the first stirrings of antiquarianism from the late Middle Ages up to the end of the seventeenth century. One positive result of tomb desecration was the jump-starting of Tudor historical scholarship in shocked reaction to these fundamentalist assaults. Cultural tourism to churches also rapidly developed in Elizabethan and Caroline England, revealing a growing interest in monuments and in the commemoration of the dead. Remarkable attempts to study, document and preserve tomb monuments took place in the sixteenth century and gathered pace in the face of the renewed hostility to monuments in the first half of the next century, culminating in John Weever’s Ancient Funerall Monuments of 1631, intended as the first part of a national study of monumental inscriptions, while a small group of Weever’s contemporaries, most notably Sir William Dugdale, also realised the need for visual, as well as written, records in the face of the threats posed by the imminent Civil War.

Professor Michelle P Brown has had an extraordinarily productive year: Salon has already noted the publication of The Luttrell Psalter: a facsimile edition with commentary by Michelle P Brown (Folio Society and British Library: London, 2006) and the World of the Luttrell Psalter , but hard on the heels of these major works have come The Holkham Bible: a facsimile edition with commentary by Michelle P Brown (Folio Society and British Library: London, 2007), and Manuscripts from the Anglo-Saxon Age (British Library: London, 2007), while next month sees the publication of The Lion Companion to Christian Art (Lion Hudson: Oxford, 2008).

Michelle’s entry on the website of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, reveals that she also finds time to serve as a Lay Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral, Senior Research Fellow and Tutor for the History of the Book MA course, as Series Editor for the British Library’s ‘Medieval Manuscripts for the Digital Age’ CD-Rom facsimile series and as Series Editor for ‘British Library Studies in Medieval Culture’, which seeks to produce two to four monographs or electronic publications per annum, setting the book in its broader historical and social context – a good number of which, it seems, are written by Michelle herself.

Relative newcomer Mark Samuel celebrated his election to the Fellowship on 29 November 2007 with the publication of Blarney Castle: its history, development and purpose (Cork University Press, 2007), co-authored with his non-Fellow architectural archaeologist wife, Kate Hamlyn. This richly illustrated social history of one of Ireland’s most famous sites charts the histories of the three families who owned it (the MacCarthys, the Jeffereyes and the Colthursts), together with the major national and international events and social movements with which they were often intimately involved. It tracks the transformation of Blarney Castle from a derelict ruin to a major tourist attraction thanks to the cult of the picturesque, a growing interest in Irish traditions during the nineteenth century and the development of the railways – and it attempts to unravel and illuminate some of the traditions surrounding the famous Blarney Stone.

St David of Wales: cult, church and nation, edited by Fellows Wyn Evans (Dean of St Davids Cathedral) and Jonathan Wooding (University of Wales Lampeter), in the series Studies in Celtic History (Vol 24, Boydell and Brewer, 2007) is a very wide-ranging collection of studies concerning the saint and his cult. The volume includes a new edition by Richard Sharpe and John Reuben Davies of the ‘Life’ by Rhygyfarch, based on MS BL Cotton Vespasian A.xiv. It also includes new evidence on the relics housed in the cathedral, and chapters on the geography of the cult, the liturgies concerning St David, and many other aspects of the history of cult and diocese across fourteen centuries. Contributors include Fellows Julia Barrow, Wyn Evans, David Howlett, Heather James, Mark Redknap, hard Sharpe, Jonathan Wooding and the late Sir Glanmor Williams, with contributions also by Jane Cartwright, Fred Cowley, John Reuben Davies, Owain Tudor Edwards, G R Isaac, Daniel Huws, T F G Higham, John Morgan-Guy, L D M Nokes, Huw Pryce, C Bronk Ramsey, Bernard Tanguy and Nigel Yates.

Antonia Gransden’s new book, A History of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, 1182–1256: Samson of Tottington to Edmund of Walpole (Boydell and Brewer), is available to Fellows at a discount (£45 if ordered before 30 April 2008, quoting order code: 08020; £60 thereafter). The first of two volumes, the book offers a magisterial and comprehensive account of the abbey during the thirteenth century, based primarily on evidence in the abbey’s records (over forty registers survive). The careers of the abbots, beginning with the great Abbot Samson, provide the chronological structure, while separate chapters study various aspects of their rule, such as their relations with the convent, the abbey’s internal and external administration and its relations with its tenants and neighbours, with the king and the central government. Chapters are also devoted to the monks’ religious, cultural and intellectual life, to their writings, book collection and archives. Appendices focus on the mid-thirteenth-century accounts which give a unique and detailed picture of the organisation and economy of St Edmunds’ estates in West Suffolk, and on the abbey’s watermills and windmills.

The book can be ordered by phoning 01394 610600, faxing 01394 610316, ordering by email at trading@boydell.co.uk or ordering securely on-line by going to www.boydell.co.uk/souk.htm (in which case, the order reference should be written in the box at the bottom of the page where it says ‘Please use this space to add any notes or special instructions’).

Northern Ireland Environment Minister Arlene Foster officiated at the launch on 3 December 2007 of a book entitled Harnessing the Tides: the early medieval tide mills at Nendrum Monastery, Strangford Lough (The Stationery Office), written by Fellow Thomas McErlean of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Ulster and archaeologist Norman Crothers. The book is the result of major excavations carried out by the authors and sponsored by the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, which uncovered remains of two tide mills built first in AD 619–21 and re-built to a different design in AD 787. In her speech welcoming the book, Arlene Foster said: ‘We could do well to learn about the use of renewable energy from our ancestors’, adding that ‘the archaeologists who have undertaken this excavation and its interpretation have real skills that can deepen our understanding of the past’.

Metals and Mines: studies in archaeometallurgy, edited by Susan La Niece, Duncan Hook and aul Craddock (Archetype Publications in association with the British Museum), arose from the conference Metallurgy: a touchstone for cross-cultural interaction, which took place at the British Museum to celebrate the enormous contribution to the study and understanding of metallurgy made by our Fellow Paul Craddock during his forty years at the museum. The papers largely relate to the scientific study of early mining and extractive metallurgy and the diversity of processes by which ores were mined and smelted, covering the first smelting technologies of copper and tin in south-east Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, of zinc in China and of iron in Africa, the Middle East and Britain. All these are discussed together with insights gained from archaeological excavation, and from experimental replication of the processes.

While our Society has been celebrating its Tercentenary, the Banbury Historical Society has just marked its fiftieth anniversary with the publication of volume number 30 in its records series, called Banbury Past through Artists’ Eyes, compiled and edited by Fellows Simon Townsend and Jeremy Gibson (Jeremy being the Chairman of the Banbury Historical Society). This collection of around 200 paintings, drawings and engravings of Banbury as it was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries shows not just the prominent landmarks but also the street scenes that are so valuable to a local historian in researching the buildings and people of the town. Accompanying the illustrations are the editors’ notes and comments by contemporaries on the scenes they show – including, for example, George Herbert’s youthful reminiscences of Banbury in the 1830s, with his often scurrilous comments on the people who lived in each of the houses depicted.

Vacancy

The National Trust for Scotland; St Kilda World Heritage Site Management Planner
Salary £24,314, 18-month fixed term, closing date 18 February 2008, interviews in Edinburgh 18 March 2008

The St Kilda Management Planner will be responsible for reviewing the current management plan and delivering a new management plan for St Kilda World Heritage Site. St Kilda is inscribed on the World Heritage Site for both its cultural and natural heritage. The postholder will identify best practice and work with specialists within the Trust, together with key stakeholders and communities to produce the plan. For further details e-mail joinus@nts.org.uk.