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.
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. Hungarian archaeologist Dr Zsolt Visy, an expert in the Roman archaeology of central Europe, will examine the evidence for the history and origin of the treasure.
28 February 2008: Ballot with exhibits. Blue Papers for the 28 February ballot can be found on the website, where you can read the Blue Papers and vote online. Contact Christopher Catling if you have problems accessing the Fellows area of the site, or would like to register for a password.
All the candidates for Fellowship in the 24 January ballot were elected, and the Society is pleased to welcome the following as Fellows of the Society:
Kate Heard: Print Room Supervisor, Ashmolean Museum, Deputy Editor of the Journal of the History of Collections, and Honorary Conference Secretary of the British Archaeological Association.
Rosemary Hill: Writer and historian (author of Gods Architect: Pugin and the building of romantic Britain), Trustee of the London Library and of the Victorian Society.
Sally Stradling: Heritage consultant and occasional lecturer at Oxford and Warwick universities.
Martin Joseph Postle: Assistant Director, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, expert on Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Teresita Majewski: Associate Research Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, USA, and Chief Operating Officer of Statistical Research, Inc.
Anthony Gerard Meehan Sinclair: Prehistorian and Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool.
David Parham: Senior Lecturer in Marine Archaeology, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, with specialist interests in prehistoric seafaring and ship construction.
Neil Robert Thomas Bingham: Architectural Drawings Curator, Royal Academy of Arts.
Steven James Ashley: Archaeologist and armorist, Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers.
Robin Fleming: Professor of History, Boston College, Massachusetts, USA, specialising in the political history of Viking and Anglo-Norman England.
Simon Hancock: Historian and Curator of Haverfordwest Museum, Pembrokeshire, Chairman of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.
Robert Scourfield: Building Conservation Officer, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.
Simon Michael Dougal Gilmour: Director, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vice-President of the Council for Scottish Archaeology, specialist in the Scottish Iron Age.
George Haggarty: Research Fellow, National Museum of Scotland, specialising in medieval pottery.
Jurgen Kunow: Director of the Rheinisches Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege, responsible for the State Heritage Agency of the Rhineland, President of the Association of German State Archaeologists.
Ricardo Joseph Elia: Chairman, Department of Archaeology, Boston University, Massachusetts, USA, specialist in archaeological heritage management.
ilip Abrahamson: Historic Adviser, Ministry of Defence, who has managed numerous excavations including Castleford Roman fort.
Keith Falconer: Head of Industrial Archaeology, English Heritage, and Head of the former RCHME Regional Office in Salisbury.
David Thomson: Archdeacon of Carlisle and Residentiary Canon of Carlisle Cathedral, adviser on the preservation and presentation of historic churches.
Jennifer Iris Rachel Montagu: art historian, Honorary Fellow of the Warburg Institute, Trustee of the British Museum, Officier des Arts et Lettres and Chevalier de la Légion dHonneur.
Fiona Jane Seeley: Finds and Conservation Manager, awarded the John Gillam Prize for her contribution to Roman pottery studies.
Alastair McCapra: Chief Executive of The Institute of Conservation, specialist in early Islamic and early British imperial history.
Lisa Reilly: Professor of Architectural History, School of Architecture, University of Virginia, USA, expert on Romanesque buildings in England and Norman architecture in Sicily.
Dan Hicks: Lecturer and Curator, School of Archaeology, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, specialising in historical archaeology, especially sugar estates in the eastern Caribbean.
John Gater: member of the Time Team, Archaeological Geophysicist with Geophysical Surveys of Bradford, known for his major contribution to the development of geophysical survey in archaeology.
Fellows should now have received by post a list of the names of the candidates nominated by the existing Council for election to the new Council on 23 April 2008. As required by statute, that list consists 1) of fifteen of the twenty members of the existing Council who are standing for re-election and 2) of five new candidates, viz: Kate Clark, MA, Sir Neil Cossons, OBE, MA, Valerie Cromwell (Lady Kingman), MA, Sarah Jennings and Professor Lord Colin Renfrew, MA, PhD, Hon DLitt.
Our President, Geoff Wainwright, said that, for the first time in recent history, all five of the new candidates standing for election to Council had been nominated by the Fellowship. They were among more than twenty names submitted by Fellows in response to the Presidents appeal in 2007 for people with expertise relevant to the challenges facing the Society for example in fundraising, development, public affairs and advocacy. Geoff said: The result was an outstanding list of over twenty candidates an excellent response to my appeal. These candidates were fully discussed at December Council against a set of criteria which had been previously agreed and a vote was taken which resulted in the list of names which will go forward with the support of Council to the Anniversary Election.
The statutes also allow for five or more Fellows to nominate additional candidates as members of Council or as Officers by writing to the General Secretary by 1 March 2008.
2008 is going to be a bumper year for Fellows who have been with the Society for fifty years and thus qualify for free life Fellowship. Twenty-one Fellows already qualify (see the list below) but their ranks will be boosted this year by a further fourteen Fellows, an increase of 66 per cent. Our congratulations are due to all those Fellows who celebrate fifty years of Fellowship (many of whom remain very active participants in the Societys affairs and in academic and research work):
25/03/1943 Kathleen Rachel Maxwell-Hyslop
09/03/1944 John Erik Scott
09/01/1947 Charles Thurstan Shaw
02/03/1950 Beatrice De Cardi
06/03/1952 George Charles Henry Victor Paget, Marquess of Anglesey
07/05/1953 Martin Sinclair Frankland Hood
15/01/1953 Joyce Maire Reynolds
04/03/1954 Humphrey John Case; George Zarnecki
03/03/1955 Jocelyn Margaret Morris
05/05/1955 John Davies Evans; Vera Ivy Evison
01/03/1956 Claude Blair; Hugh Denis Charles Fitzroy, The Duke of Grafton
07/03/1957 Raymond Allchin; Sir John Boardman; Audrey Evelyn Furness; John Stewart Wacher
02/05/1957 Hector William Catling; Nancy Katharine Sandars; John Thomas Smith
09/01/1958 John Patrick William Ehrman; Ralph Hutchinson Pinder-Wilson; Judith Dorothea Guillum Scott; Robert John Sherlock; Alan Warhurst
06/03/1958 Mavis Bimson; Nicholas de l'Eglise Wolferstan Thomas; Geoffrey Woodhead
01/05/1958 Paul Ashbee; Harries Collins Bowen; Margaret Anne Brown; Elizabeth Sara Eames; Brenda Heywood; Pamela Tudor-Craig (Lady Wedgwood).
Welsh Fellows hosted a lunch and lecture to celebrate the Societys Tercentenary at the National Museum of Wales on 25 January 2008. Among the distinguished guests were Chris Delaney, Chairman of the Council for British Archaeology Wales, Andrew Green, Director of the National Library of Wales, Marilyn Lewis, Director of Cadw, Tom Lloyd, FSA, President of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, and Paul Loveluck, President of the Board of Trustees of National Museum Wales. The lecture was given by our Fellow Yolande Hodson, on the subject of Putting Wales on the Map: the early Ordnance Survey one-inch map and its predecessors.
Three days later, Professor Lord Renfrew delivered the third of the Societys Tercentenary Festival public lectures, on The Dawn of Civilization, at the Royal Museum of Scotland to an audience of over 250, including Fellows of our own Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, but also many members of the public. Colins theme, as in his most recent book, Prehistory: the making of the human mind, was the extent to which the material we record through archaeological fieldwork can give us an insight into the minds of our ancestors and explain how and why we came to develop agriculture and sedentism, and to attribute symbolic values to such materials as gold or jade.
The York Antiquaries (a group of Fellows in the York area) have organised a lecture and dinner on the evening of Friday 25 April to celebrate the Society's Tercentenary. The lecture, entitled From Almondbury to Abbeville: the Antiquaries in Yorkshire 17071859, a Tercentenary view, will be given by Fellow Stephen Briggs in the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, beginning at 5.30pm. There is no charge for admission to the lecture and everyone is welcome.
The lecture will be followed by a dinner for Fellows and their guests in the nearby medieval Bedern Hall. The cost will be £40 per head (to include wine). For further details, please contact Fellow Jim Spriggs. Places at the dinner are limited to about fifty and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Heritage Minister Margaret Hodge was a guest of the Society at a lunch held on 29 January 2008 at which members of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Special Interest Group of ACEVO (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) discussed how government engages with the sector.
Margaret Hodge told the twenty-five chief executives who attended the lunch that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport was a very small department, but that it was working hard to get the message across to bigger departments and Regional Development Agencies that where investment in cultural and heritage infrastructure had taken place (in Manchester, Salford and Liverpool, for example) it was transforming society in ways that mere investment in bricks and mortar could not. She also said that the arts, culture and heritage sector was doing a tremendous job in equipping people with twenty-first-century skills and that there was a growing appreciation of the sectors contribution to educational targets; building on this, the department was working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to ensure that all children and young people spent a minimum of five hours a week engaged in cultural activities at school.
On participation, she said that volunteers are central to everything we do; we are the department with the largest number of volunteers in the old traditional sense, and we are in the midst of a mapping exercise across arts and heritage to learn more about the potential of volunteers. She warned, however, that many charities still see themselves as entirely dependent on the public purse, whereas their future depended on their transformation into social enterprises, with a creative mixed economy funding.
Much of the debate that took place during the meeting focused on the lack of direct engagement by the Department with the voluntary sector; the Department needed to look beyond those agencies they fund, such as the Arts Council and English Heritage, and find out what really matters to the voluntary sector. There was also considerable discussion of the recent McMaster report, with its emphasis on the use of public funds to support excellence in the cultural sphere. The point was made strongly that excellence was not exclusive to professional organisations, and that in many artistic, cultural and heritage fields, there were examples of outstanding achievement; indeed, it was often by participating in amateur activities that people acquire and hone the skills that enable them to become professionals, and that a continuum between the voluntary and the professional sectors was vital to the health of the creative achievement that was such a distinctive feature of this country.
In the fallout from the resignation of Peter Hain, the heritage sector lost a Secretary of State who, in the short time that he had been in office, endeared himself to the sector through his keen understanding of heritage and conservation issues, and his determined advocacy of the sectors values. We cannot, however, begrudge him his well-deserved promotion to a larger department and we wish James Purnell well in his new post as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
In his place, as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, we now have Andy Burnham, who has the fourteenth safest seat in the House of Commons as MP for Leigh, in Lancashire. Aged thirty-eight, he read English at Cambridge and was elected to Parliament in 2001, since when he has served in posts in the Home Office and the Department of Health, and most recently he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
He takes some pride in the role that he played as special adviser to Chris Smith at the time when the Department of Culture was involved in restoring free entry to museums and galleries; a keen footballer, he is also credited with securing the deal whereby the Premier League clubs agreed to donate 5 per cent of their television revenues to grass roots development.
In interviews published last weekend, he spoke about what the media has dubbed punter power: his desire to see customers and practitioners on the boards of sports, arts and heritage organisations. I believe, he said, that those who invest passion, energy and commitment in an organisation, whether thats their football club or local museum, should help run it. It's a good principle to have artists and practitioners on the boards of arts organisations and to have representatives of supporters in the boardroom at every football club. Their voices should be heard at the highest levels. I believe it's crucial that the opinions of people who care about such organisations and have strong views about them are heard at the point where decisions are made, because it's healthy and it's right.
He also said he was keen to see the principal of free access to museums being extended to the performing arts, saying that there was much potential in the idea in the McMaster report of giving away tickets for dance, music and theatre at every publicly funded entertainment venue in England free of charge for one week a year. Officials are examining ways of covering the £10m cost of that proposal, he said.
After Colin Renfrews lecture in Edinburgh last week, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland hosted a reception in the Talbot Rice Gallery, formerly the Natural History Museum, in Robert Adams splendid Old College. Here, in the heart of the University of Edinburgh, discussion of Colins lecture led to mention of Stuart Piggotts work, the Dawn of Civilization, and from there it was but a short hop to the vexed issue of the demise of the Abercromby Chair of Archaeology, established and endowed by John Abercromby, 5th Baron Abercromby (18411924), President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland from 1913 to 1918.
Controversially, the post of Abercrombie Professor now remains vacant indefinitely, following the transfer of archaeology teaching to the School of History and Classics, where the emphasis is on teaching classical rather than prehistoric archaeology. With masterful understatement, our President was heard to describe the demise of the Abercromby Chair as a pity: others (see, for example, Fellow Martin Carvers editorial in Antiquity 80: 77782 and Fellow Vincent Megaws response have described the demise of the Chair, occupied with such distinction by Stuart Piggott and Gordon Childe, as nothing less than a statement by the university that it no longer wishes to be perceived as one of the worlds main centres for teaching and research in prehistory archaeology.
Guests arriving for the Edinburgh reception might have noticed the statue at the entrance to the Old College by John Hutchison, unveiled in 1888, which depicts a Youth Bearing a Torch of Knowledge. This brings us back to the subject of the Societys motto, and an elegant suggestion from our Fellow Malcolm Wiener that the intent and spirit of our Latin motto is perhaps best captured by the expression Knowledge is Eternal.
The suggestion that we should adopt Not fade away (unlike the Abercromby Chair) found surprising support and revealed a hitherto unsuspected familiarity amongst Fellows not only with the oeuvres of the Rolling Stones, but also with other R&B bands of the 1950s and 1960s. Catherine Johns says that: Little did I think, when as a teenager in the late 1950s I was building up my collection of Buddy Holly and the Crickets singles (6/4d each: the 78s were displaced by 45 rpm discs in 1958), or when, as an undergraduate at Cardiff in about 1961, I saw the Rolling Stones on their very first tour, or on the many occasions since when I have attended Stones concerts, that one day, the newsletter of that august body, the Society of Antiquaries, would mention both Buddy Holly and Mick Jagger in one breath. I remember being indignant when the Stones performed Not Fade Away at that concert in the old Gaumont Theatre in Queen Street, now long since demolished. How dare this upstart British band sing one of the sainted BHs songs. But I have forgiven them.
Catherine adds that it was acceptable to like jazz or folk music at that time, but that an interest in rock-'n'-roll was regarded as extremely vulgar and plebeian; I remember Leslie Alcock making some barbed comments when I had an article on the subject published in the student newspaper. Mind you, he often made barbed comments about me … I actually (shock, horror!) missed Richard Atkinsons inaugural lecture because I had a ticket to an Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent concert. The former died during that tour in a car crash and Richard's inaugural lecture was published anyway, so I reckon I made the right choice!
Salon 180 asked how long before matters antiquarian move even further back in the newspapers and become a subject for the Sports pages? Back came the instant answer from Fellow Jason Wood, who says: They already have! For the last nineteen weeks the sports pages of the Observer have been carrying a feature called Then and Now, looking back at some of the best-loved old sporting venues lost to redevelopment or abandonment.
As director of a practice increasingly specialising in public history and heritage of sport and leisure, says Jason, I see this as a very positive move.
The proofreading part of Salon's brain is STILL not totally recovered! In correcting the mistake about Michael Liversidge in the last issue, John Moore was accidentally truncated and turned into ohn Moore. John writes: If Greenes like their teminal e, us Johns even more prefer our initial J. Otherwise we are likely to disappear altogether from alphabetical lists and databases (signed JJJohn Moore).
Back to Magna Carta, and our Fellow John Clark, Deputy Head of the Medieval Department at the Museum of London, says that he has been waiting for someone to enlighten him on the location of the Museum of London copy and wonders if what is really meant is the City of London's copy (issued in 1297), which forms part of the archives of the City of London Records Office, currently held at London Metropolitan Archives while the Guildhall refurbishment programme is under way.
Mention of this summers World Archaeology Congress in Salon prompted Fellow Christine Finn to send this link to a video made by Colleen Morgan at UC Berkeley to promote the session on Art, Archaeology and Technology that Colleen and Christine are jointly organising. The session will explore what it means to be an archaeologist in the digital age and invites participants to bring examples to the conference of the ways they are using new media technologies to present archaeological information.
Our Fellow Jeremy Montagu has a question he wishes to put to the Salon community. He wants to know, in connection with his research into the archaeology of musical instruments, whether anyone has evidence, ancient or modern, for the use of shell trumpets or conches anywhere on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Jeremy says: I have much evidence from the western, northern, and eastern shores, from Spain to ancient Israel, and from some of the islands, but nothing at all from the south, neither in antiquity nor today, and I cannot think of a reason for this absence.
The Society has just been informed of the death on 24 January 2008 of Fellow Keith Gardner from a sudden and unexpected heart attack. The funeral and memorial service will take place on Tuesday 5 February at 1pm at the Masonic Hall, High Street, Yatton, North Somerset. Keith was well known to many Fellows, especially those in the south west of England where Keith was active in the affairs of the south-western regional branch of the Council for British Archaeology.
Professor Geoffrey Martin, CBE, scholar and Keeper of the Public Records 19828, died on 20 December 2007, at the age of seventy-nine. The following extracts are taken from the obituary that appeared in The Times on January 2008 and that can be read in full on the Societys Obituaries webpage.
Geoffrey Haward Martin was born in Essex in 1928. In 1947 he went to Merton College, Oxford, to read history, specialising in Richard II and John of Gaunt. About forty-five years later he produced a critically acclaimed edition and translation of a text he had studied as an undergraduate: The Chronicle of Henry Knighton, 133796.
A PhD on the medieval history of Ipswich followed, sparking Martin's interest in boroughs and leading to the eventual publication (with Sylvia McIntyre) of A Bibliography of British and Irish Municipal History (1973). A strong attachment to his East Anglian roots also led Martin and his colleague Norman Scarfe to co-found in the 1950s the Suffolk Record Society. Over the next half-century Martin produced more than 50 volumes on the records, together with a series of edited charters.
After research at the University of Manchester in 1952, Martin joined Leicester University as a lecturer in economic history. He remained at Leicester for thirty years, as Reader in History (196673), Public Orator (197174) and Professor of History (197382).
In May 1982 Martin was appointed Keeper of the Public Records. While not temperamentally attuned to the increasing bureaucracy of the Civil Service with its relentless demands for targets and performance indicators, Martin ensured that the PRO conformed to these requirements without losing sight of its enduring purpose: to preserve, reveal and explain to the widest possible audience the myriad hidden treasures for which he, as keeper, he was responsible. One of his favourite words in relation to the public records was serendipity.
His appointment, in May 1982, came at a time when the standing of the PRO had sunk to an unprecedented low among academics. This was precipitated by a report the previous March, which criticised the arrangements for selecting and providing access to the public records. It was issued by the Committee on Modern Public Records, chaired by Sir Duncan Wilson. One of Martin's first tasks as Keeper was to appear before the House of Commons Education, Science and Arts Committee to answer questions arising from the Wilson report and the Government's response, published in March 1982.
Martin's priority was to build bridges with the world of academia, a task for which his experience as a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Leicester University had ideally prepared him. By the time he retired in September 1988 Martin had successfully rehabilitated the PRO's reputation with academics. He also played a pivotal role in promoting the PRO's extensive holdings outside academia. A particular success was the 1986 exhibition he arranged to mark the 900th anniversary of England's oldest public record, the Domesday Book. It ran for six months, attracting 131,000 visitors more than the number of reader-visits consulting the PRO records in any previous year.
Martin's most intellectually productive years came after his retirement in 1988. He wrote more entries fifty-one in total for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography than any other outside contributor since the project was started in 1993. His final entry, published online in 2006, was of the railway historian [and Fellow] Michael Robbins. In addition he wrote the biographies of several of his predecessors as Keeper of the Public Records, including Sir Francis Palgrave.
On his retirement Martin was appointed to a research chair at the University of Essex, where he taught on the Second World War, and former pupils attest that his enthusiasm for his subject was deeply inspiring. Through his wife, Martin had developed an attachment to the Lake District. In 1969 they bought a house there and this was where he spent the last five and a half years of his life, when illness reduced his activities. He was president of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 19992002.
Salon is very grateful for this obituary for Leonard Probert, written by our Fellow Jeremy Knight (the full version can be read on the Societys Obituaries webpage.
Leonard Allan Probert (elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1977) died on 23 November 2007, after a short illness. He was a much respected figure in Welsh archaeology, a leading authority on the pre-Roman Iron Age, and particularly on its hillforts. Born in a small house just outside the gates of Abergavenny Castle, he won a scholarship to King Henry VIII Grammar School, though family circumstances dictated that he should leave at fourteen and become apprenticed to a painter and decorator. After National Service in the Royal Military Police he became, for a short time (somewhat improbably to those that knew him later in life), a policeman in the Monmouthshire valleys. Later on he started his own painting and decorating firm, before taking over his wifes familys off-licence business.
I first met Allan when, on holiday from London, I took part in what was probably the first planned urban excavation programme in Wales, in Abergavenny, with the Dominican Friar Fabian Radcliffe and Eric Talbot, Resources, financial and otherwise, were minimal, and it is somewhat frustrating to think what the sort of larger scale urban research programme which became feasible a few years later might have achieved. Even so, the excavation revealed something of the towns prehistory, from Neolithic times onwards, and first located the pre-Flavian fort of Gobannium, as well as much of the towns later history down to the recent past. With the generous assistance of George Boon and his colleagues at the National Museum of Wales, we were able to bring the results to publication in the Monmouthshire Antiquary, Vol II, part IV (19689), and Vol III, part II (19723).
Allan then moved his activities to the hillfort of Twyn-Y-Gaer, north of Abergavenny. He brought to the excavation his understanding as a builder and skilled craftsman as well as excavation skills of a high order. The late Professor Leslie Alcock, not a man who gave praise easily, remarked how refreshing it was to see an amateur excavation carried out to the highest professional standards.
At Twyn-Y-Gaer, Allan revealed for the first time in south Wales the complex history of an Iron Age hillfort. More limited earlier work at Llanmelin and Sudbrook had suggested a relatively brief and simple sequence before the Roman Conquest. Twyn-Y-Gaer began (perhaps around 450 BC) as a simple promontory fort with a palisaded outer enclosure for stock. Later the earthworks were extended to include this outer enclosure before contracting once more to a small defended enclosure at the tip of the promontory. Each of these periods was accompanied by complex gateway arrangements.
Even in the interim report, which is sadly all we have at the moment, it can be seen how Allans skills as a countryman and builder were brought to play in interpreting these, whether in the practicalities of building a pleached birchwood fence and using it to enclose cattle, or in the problems of hanging a substantial hillfort gate. If the Twyn-Y-Gaer report could finally be brought to publication, it would be a fitting memorial.
In addition to its familiar three-day digs, Time Team will also be producing a small number of documentary specials for Channel 4 this year. These documentaries might focus on one particular project or draw together a number of projects under a broad theme, such as Iron Age hillforts. Projects covered in the past include the Prittlewell Prince, the Roman Circus at Colchester, and the restoration of Pugins home, the Grange, and of Prior Parks eighteenth-century gardens.
The Time Team is now looking for archaeological projects for programmes to be made in 2008. These could be UK-based development-led activities, research projects, underwater archaeology, experimental archaeology or restoration projects. Time Team is interested in hearing about the full range of periods and projects, but especially medieval churches (archaeology, restoration, wall-painting, etc) and the archaeology of Roman Britain. Anyone who knows of suitable projects should contact Jack MacInnes, Assistant Producer, Documentaries.
Guide books to the Channel Islands will tell you that the people of Guernsey speak a 1,000-year-old language called Guernésiais, which evolved from the Norman language spoken in AD 933 when the islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy. Not any more they dont: whereas Guernésiais was the first language a century ago, the number of speakers is now down to fewer than 1,300 islanders, or 2 per cent of the islands population, and most of those are aged sixty-five or more. In response to the threat to the language, the States of Guernsey government has appointed a development officer to record native speakers and create an archive of written Guernésiais before it becomes extinct.
If you want to understand why some Fellows devote their lives to the study of armour, visit the exhibition currently on in the basement of the Wallace Collection, curated by David Edge (Head of Conservation) and our Fellow Alan Williams (Consultant Archaeometallurgist). The exhibition recreates the layout of a museum conservation laboratory, with a full standing late fifteenth-century set of armour mounted upon a wooden support-figure, displayed alongside information on the techniques of metallurgical examination used to throw light on the date and materials used in the making of the armour. The exhibition runs until 4 March 2008.
The current exhibition at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is based on the Chronicles of Froissart and his account of the Hundred Years War (13371453). On display is a beautifully illustrated copy of the Chronicles, on loan from Stonyhurst College Library, complemented by displays that explain the making of the manuscript and by examples of original medieval arms and armour of the kind that knights, foot soldiers, crossbowmen and men-at-arms used during the conflict. The exhibition runs until 6 April 2008.
Scientists working on the human genome have identified a gene (MOPD II) that causes a rare growth condition in which the people affected have a small brain and body size but near-normal intelligence. Unlike dwarfism, where the head is normal but the body small, carriers of this gene have the same head, limb and body proportions as normal people, but scaled down to half normal size. Reporting on the discovery of the gene in the journal Science, Dr Anita Rauch of Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany, and colleagues contribute to the long-running debate about the 18,000-year-old remains of Homo floresiensis (aka the hobbit) by suggesting that these ancient people were not an unusual species of human but modern humans with the MOPD II growth disorder.
An earlier paper pointed out that the wrist bones of the hobbit are shaped differently compared to both the wrist bones of both humans and of Neanderthals, leading to them to conclude that they do represent a different human species, but Dr Rauch points out that people who carry this mutation also have bony hand and wrist anomalies.
An extensive new study of The Genetic Structure of Pacific Islanders, published in the January issue of the journal PLoS Genetics, looks at the origins of the peoples of three different Pacific island groups and has found that the ancestors of today's Polynesians and Micronesians have little genetic relationship to the indigenous peoples of Melanesia.
The findings support a scenario whereby the islands of Melanesia, in the western Pacific (including modern Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia), were colonised first and early: the study reveals the people of these islands to be among the most genetically diverse people on the planet, consistent with the settlement of these islands by H Sapiens early in prehistory, up to 50,000 years ago. That genetic diversity is reflected in the islands cultural complexity: New Guinea alone has some 900 languages, the highest density of language differential per square mile in the world.
By contrast, the people of Polynesia and Micronesia, further out in the Pacific, appear to be descended from East Asians and aboriginal Taiwanese, the so-called Lapita people, who migrated between 3,000 and 3,500 years ago, and whose genome suggests that they incorporated very few genes from the people of Melanesia, or Near Oceania, as if they had stayed for three or four hundred years before moving on to explore the central Pacific islands.
Evidence that they did spend some time in Melanesia and did intermix to some degree with the indigenous populations at least at the cultural and linguistic level comes from the pottery styles and crops that were adopted by the Lapita and from some shared linguistic patterns. Comparisons of the mitochondrial DNA evidence which is passed down from females with the Y-chromosome, or male, evidence suggests different male and female migration patterns
A paper in the journal Science published by archaeologist Tom Dillehay of Vanderbilt University reveals that the squash seeds found in ancient storage bins on the lower western slopes of the Andes in northern Peru are almost 10,000 years old, evidence that the domestication of crops in the Old And New Worlds were close to contemporaneous. Dillehay also found evidence of cotton and peanut farming, tools that could have been used as hoes and irrigation canals. The paper asks why the people of the Nanchoc Valley, living close to a forest filled with nutritious foods, developed farming, and suggests that the motives were social and ceremonial involving conspicuous consumption on a scale that required larger quantities of food than could be obtained by hunting and gathering.
The Holocene is over welcome to the Anthropocene era. That at least is the message from Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams, geologists at the University of Leicester, who believe that human impact on the Earths weather, erosion and sedimentation patterns and ocean acidification are now so comprehensive that we have entered a new geological and climatic epoch, which began with the start of the Industrial Revolution. These change will leave traces in the layers of sediment being laid down today that will identify them long into the future, just as geological layers had indicated the dates and nature of previous eras, said Dr Zalasiewicz, who is chairman of the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London. The Anthropocene was first proposed as a name for the new era by the chemist Paul Crutzen in 2000. The name recognises that human activity has become the driver of most of the major changes in the Earths topography and climate.
Six-thousand-year-old rock art in the Western Saharan rocks has been vandalised by United Nations peacekeepers, according to a report in The Times, which in turn is based on a report by Nick Brooks, of the University of East Anglia, and Joaquim Soler, of the University of Gerona, Spain, who are studying the cultural heritage of the region. Graffiti sprayed with paint meant for use in marking routes now blights the rock art at Lajuad, a place of great cultural significance to the Sahrawi people.
The damage appears to be a breach of legislation enshrined in the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Many of the graffiti are signed and dated, revealing the culprits to be personnel stationed in the Western Sahara to monitor a ceasefire between the occupying Moroccan forces and the Polisario Front, which is seeking independence. Julian Harston, head of the monitoring force, said that he had been shocked by the scale of the vandalism and said that action would be taken, but the harshest sanction any of them is likely to face is a move to a different operation.
Proof that it need not be like this comes from a report in the American press which lauds the success of anthropologist David Matsuda, of the California State University, who is working with military commanders in Iraq to help them understand local cultures. Soldiers in north-eastern Baghdad say that Dr Matsudas expertise has helped significantly in the transition from fighting to peacemaking. Staff Sergeant Dustin Brueggemann, a tactical psychological operations specialist, says: The guys who go out with him say: Dr Matsuda's so smart; we see the big picture just by listening to him talk. He gave me so much information that, had I known it a year ago, I could have done things differently like the history of the Ubaidi tribe I didnt know before that a lot of people here are members of that tribe.
Archaeologists from the University of Exeter have found a first-century AD Roman fort after following up references in medieval documents to silver smelting at the old castle next to St Andrews Church in Calstock. A geophysical survey at the site revealed a fort similar to those at Lostwithiel (discovered last year) and Nanstallon, near Bodmin, the only known forts in Cornwall, and all three located in areas associated with tin mining.
Our Fellow Stephen Rippon, of the University of Exeter, said: This find could help us to understand whether the Romans were merely keeping watch over the locals, or were actually interested in exploiting commercial opportunities in the region. It could also further our understanding of the rich history of mining in the country.
The remains of the substantial Roman bridge spanning the River Tyne, excavated from the river bed in recent years, have been assembled on the river bank as part of a new visitor display at Corbridge. The stonework was excavated in 2004 because it was threatened by river erosion. Built around AD 160, the bridge had up to ten arches and was decorated with statues. The bridge fell out of use in the fifth century after river erosion caused its collapse, and some of the masonry was recycled to build the crypt of St Wilfrids Church in Hexham in AD 674.
The Mary Rose Trust learned last week that its bid for an HLF grant of £21 million to build a new museum had been successful. Our Fellow David Starkey, who is patron of the project, greeted the news by saying that: This is England's Pompeii or Herculaneum, a ship which went down at a recorded point in time [19 July 1545], so quickly that it took all the contents with her, preserving a slice of sixteenth-century military and everyday life.
The new boat-shaped museum is planned for completion in 2011 and will take visitors past all the deck levels of the surviving section of hull, while a recreation of the missing half will be used to display some of the 19,000 objects recovered from the Solent seabed.
Another beneficiary of HLF largesse is Chiswick House, in west London, where a £7.6 million grant will help pay for the £11.7 million restoration of the gardens, designed originally by landscape architect William Kent, whose work bridges the formal gardens of the seventeenth century and the landscaped estates of the eighteenth. Chairman of the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, Rupert Hambro, said: It is one of the most important landscapes in the world for its influence on garden design, in particular the English Landscape Movement. Chiswick House is also one of the most glorious examples of neo-Palladian architecture, so it is highly appropriate that during Palladios 500th anniversary that the setting for this stunning house should be restored. Work will begin this spring following the appointment of a Director to oversee the project (see Vacancies below; for further information, see the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust website.
Not a great distance from Chiswick, Horace Walpole's pioneering Gothic-revival Strawberry Hill House has been offered £100,000 by English Heritage towards an £8 million restoration project. The Grade I-listed building has been on English Heritages Buildings at Risk Register since 1996 and in 2004 was included on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The money will be used for essential repairs to the roof and rainwater systems. The Friends of Strawberry Hill will be conducting public tours every Sunday from 6 May to 28 October at 2pm, 2.45pm and 3.30pm.
The Victorian Society, which campaigns for Victorian and Edwardian architecture, is fighting plans to flatten nearly half the buildings in Luton's historic hat-making district, including three listed structures. Part of a proposed shopping development, the widespread demolition plans would take out two Grade II-listed buildings (53 Cheapside and 47 Guildford Street), a locally listed Victorian pub, and at least ten other buildings known to have played a part in the hat industry.
Urging Luton Borough Council to reject the scheme in favour of one that makes the most of the citys heritage, Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, said: Its shocking to see a scheme that treats the demolition of nationally significant buildings so lightly. These buildings are physical records of the development of Luton. They are remarkable survivals and their loss would deprive a whole section of the city of its historical context and setting.
Salon reported recently on two panels by Fra Angelico that had been found in an unassuming terrace house in Oxford and identified as such by Fellow Michael Liversidge before being sold for £1.7 million. It emerged last week that these were far from being the only artistic treasures found in the wardrobes and hanging from the walls and doors of every room of the late Jean Prestons two-bedroom Oxford home. Such is the value of the paintings and rare books making up Jean Prestons estate that some of them have been given to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax: one is a watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicting Shakespeare's Hamlet and Ophelia (1866), originally commissioned from the artist by A T Squarey, a Merseyside lawyer, and the other is an oil painting by Sir Edward Burne-Jones entitled Music, and commissioned by the artist's most important patron, William Graham. Both are described as important paintings, and it is hoped they will go on display at the Ashmolean Museum.
The flamboyant and controversial head of exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London is to step down from the post after thirty-one years to become a special adviser on exhibitions. Sir Norman Rosenthal is credited with turning the Royal Academy into one of the worlds most successful exhibition venues, with highlights that include eye-opening exhibitions of artistic and cultural masterpieces from China and Japan to the sensationalism of work by members of the Britart movement. Though many newspapers reported this as the end of an era, Sir Norman himself clearly saw it as nothing of the kind, saying that he would continue to be central to the RAs exhibition programme, but without going to the endlessly boring meetings.
The RA will advertise for a replacement next month, though Sandy Nairn, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: I doubt whether one person could possibly fill Norman's shoes. His contribution was really exceptional, both in terms of the important work he did, but also the range of work. It's extremely unusual to find an exhibition curator who has done fantastic cutting-edge contemporary art but also arranged brilliant historical shows of both European and non-western art.
In an address to heritage activists, architects and developers at St James's Palace last week, Prince Charles accused architects of indulging in a skyscraper free for all [that] will leave London and our other cities with a pockmarked skyline. He repeated his famous carbuncle comment (originally made about a planned extension to the National Gallery), but this time saying that the skyscraper boom would result in not just one carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend, but a positive rash of them that will disfigure precious views and disinherit future generations of Londoners.
Buildings that he singled out for adverse comment were Richard Rogers's proposed 44-storey cheese grater tower, planned for a site in the City, and Raphael Viñolys 160-metre glass sherd, planned for a site opposite the Tower of London. The prince said Bath and Edinburgh were also under threat from such towers and suggested skyscrapers in London should be confined to Canary Wharf, rather than overshadowing Wren's and Hawksmoor's churches.
Leading architects accused Prince Charles of using emotive language and of failing to understand the beauty of skyscraper design and the inherent sustainability of tall buildings. Sunand Prasad, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said the problem was a lack of clarity about where we build towers and where we don't; what we need is a policy that supports principles like building towers in clusters and next to major transport interchanges.
Ten UK museums and galleries are on the long list for the £100,000 Art Fund Prize (previously the Gulbenkian Prize), awarded to museum or gallery projects that demonstrate originality, imagination and excellence. As in previous years, the long list includes major museum openings for example, the Wellcome Collection of the History of Medicine in London and the newly opened London Transport Museum alongside community projects run by volunteers Orkneys Pier Arts Centre or Wokings Lightbox museum, for example. Sue MacGregor, OBE, is chair of this years panel of judges, which includes our Fellow Sir Christopher Lloyd, former Surveyor of The Queen's Pictures. Projects managed by Fellows are also among the prize candidates: Fellow Alan Guy is Director of the National Army Museum, shortlisted for its exhibition, From Helmand: the soldiers' story. The winner of the prize will be announced in May.
The long-listed museum and gallery projects are:
The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Bristol, for Breaking the Chains on the abolition of the slave trade
The British Library, London, for Sacred Discover What We Share, bringing together Jewish, Christian and Islamic holy texts
The International Slavery Museum, Liverpool a new museum uncovering the issues behind the transatlantic slave trade
Lightbox gallery and museum, Woking combining an innovative presentation of local history with a dynamic display of modern art
London Transport Museum, exploring the link between transport and London society
The National Army Museum, London, for Helmand: the soldiers story, an exhibition created by soldiers, exploring the British armys first campaign in the Taliban heartland of Afghanistan
The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney, containing a collection of twentieth-century British art
Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick, telling the story of Britains most northerly group of islands
Topsham Museum, Exeter, for the volunteer-run River Gallery project, housing historic local boats and displays on the history of the Exe estuary
Wellcome Collection, London, devoted to the connections between medicine and art
For more information, see the Art Fund website.
The Victoria County History is running a special series of local history seminars to celebrate seventy-five years based at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. The seminars are free and will be held in the Wolfson Room, Institute of Historical Research, beginning at 5.15pm. On 5 February, Fellow Carenza Lewis will talk about Historic village investigation at the dawn of the 21st century; on 19 February Fellow Chris Dyer will talk about Medieval villages: new approaches and on 4 March Tom Williamson will talk about Regional landscapes and regional societies: the environmental dimension. For further information see the VCH website.
The Furniture History Societys Annual Symposium, Furniture of Antiquity: discoveries and revivals, takes place in the Lecture Theatre, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, on 23 February 2008, from 10am to 5pm. The morning session will concentrate on furniture from the ancient world (Greece, Egypt, Phrygia and Rome), whilst the afternoon will present recent research on the neo-classical revivals of the eighteenth century on. Further information is available from Clarissa Ward, FHS Activities Secretary.
The Historical Metallurgy Society has two meetings planned for this year: the spring workshop on Nineteenth-century Ferrous Metallurgy, on 18 April 2008 at the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, and Metals in Musical Instruments on 12 to 14 September, based in the Holywell Music Rooms, attached to Wadham College, Oxford. There is just time to offer papers for the conference which will cover metallurgy and the metals used in instruments, metal-working techniques and their influence on the design of instruments, makers and their techniques, and the archaeology and history of metal musical instruments. Offers of papers, together with a title and 150-word abstract, should be sent to Louise Bacon at the Horniman Museum.
Scotlands Castle Culture is the theme of the 2008 Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland National Conference, to be held on 25 and 26 April 2008 in the Main Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh College of Art. The conference will examine the history and biography of the Scottish castle, from its arrival in the medieval period and subsequent rejection as an elite residence, through to its re-discovery and ultimate status as the emblematic building type of Scotland. For more information contact the Mark Hall at Perth Museum & Art Gallery.
The British Association for Local Historys Local History Day 2008 takes place at Friends House, Euston Road, London, on 7 June 2008. Our Fellow Rosemary Sweet will give the annual lecture on the subject of Mere dull description? Local history and antiquarianism in the eighteenth century. The morning discussion session, chaired by Alan Crosby, is on Publishing local history. Further details and a booking form can be found on the BALH website.
The University of Exeter is hosting a weekend conference to mark the retirement of our Fellows Bryony Coles and Valerie Maxfield. Fellow David Breeze kicks off with My barbarians are fiercer than your barbarians: Mommsen and the nature of Roman frontiers on a day devoted to the Roman Military on Saturday 27 September and John Coles concludes the Wetlands day on Sunday 28 September with a paper on Sea changes: rock art in the landscapes of southern Scandinavia. The complete programme can be found on the Exeter Archaeology Departments website.
The annual Ireland 80002000 BC seminar will be held on 17 May 2008 at University College Dublin (UCD) and will focus on Research Priorities in the Adoption of Agriculture in Ireland, reviewing the state of knowledge of the transition, and key directions for future research. Further information from Jessica Smyth at the UCD School of Archaeology.
Dr Lee Prosser of Historic Royal Palaces will give a talk on the recent restoration of Kew Palace on 13 March at 7.30pm at the Old School Hall, Almondsbury (opposite the church), South Gloucestershire (further details from Linda Hall. The talk has been arranged by the Friends of Winterbourne Medieval Barn, which has been dendro-dated to 1342 and has a splendid and impressive raised-cruck roof with walls of local Pennant sandstone rubble. It is unique in being built by the lord of the manor, rather than by an ecclesiastical landlord and in the survival of nearly all the original roof timbers, including the common rafters (see the Trust's leaflet).
The barn will be open to the public at various events later in the year. To arrange a visit, or to obtain further details of these events and the continuing work of Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust, contact Richard Spalding, Hon Secretary of the Trust.
Glasgow Museums: Curator (World Religions)
£23,593 to £27,780, closing date 18 February 2008
A Curator of World Religions with knowledge and creativity is required to manage, research and develop collections and projects for the award-winning St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art and across Glasgow Museums. You will also be responsible for exhibitions and events that enhance visitor experience and develop new audiences. For more details see www.csglasgow.org/vacancies/, using Ref: 1146.
Glasgow Museums: Museum Manager
£36,705 to £42,473.83, closing date 18 February 2008
A spectacular building, wonderful collections and a £30 million redisplay, which has attracted critical acclaim and millions of visits, all make Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery one of Europe's leading museums. The Manager will have the energy, creativity and a commitment to collections and audiences to develop Kelvingrove's programme and services into the future. For more details see www.csglasgow.org/vacancies/, using Ref: 1163
Work-based learning opportunities
£15,354, fixed term for 12 months, closing date 8 February 2008
Seven new one-year professional work placements have been announced by English Heritage, the Institute for Field Archaeology and the Heritage Lottery Fund, providing work-based learning opportunities in specialisms related to the historic environment. The placements are in Archaeological Investigation, based in York, Aerial Survey and Investigation, based in York or Swindon, Human Osteoarchaeology and Stratigraphic Analysis, based at Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth, Architectural Investigation (two places) based in York and London, Architectural History, based in London (Survey of London), and Coastal and Marine Archaeological Investigation, based in Salisbury.
For further details and to download an application pack, please visit the IFA website.
Wandsworth Museum, Director
Salary not stated, closing date 15 February 2008
Under the management of a newly formed independent trust, supported by the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation, Wandsworth Museum is moving to new premises and seeks an exceptional individual to shape the vision for the future of the museum and lead its delivery. Further details from the Saxton Bampfylde Hever website, using ref: AWWA/S.
Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, Director
Salary not stated, closing date 22 February 2008
Supported by a head gardener and an established group of volunteers, the Director will be responsible for the delivery of the masterplan for the restoration of the Chiswick House gardens, and will act as the interface between the Trust and its partners, English Heritage and the London Borough of Hounslow. Further details from the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust website.
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Chair
£20,000 to £25,000 for one day a week, closing date 13 March 2008
A visionary non-executive Chair with outstanding leadership and communications skills is required to lead the Board of the MLA, the Non-Departmental Public Body responsible for museums, galleries, libraries and archives. See the DCMS website for further details of this four-year appointment.
Church Buildings Council, closing date 21 February 2008
Also on the DCMS website are notices concerning the appointment of four suitably qualified individuals to serve on the Church Buildings Council, the successor body to the Council for the Care of Churches and the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches. For further information, see the DCMS website.