Salon Archive

Issue: 186

Forthcoming meetings and events

23 April 2008: Council elections, Anniversary meeting and President’s Address. For those voting in person, the election of Council members and officers will take place between 3.30pm and 3.45pm in the Society’s Meeting Room at Burlington House. Tea will be served at 4.15pm and the President will deliver the Anniversary Address at 5pm. This will be followed by a reception in the Library, for which tickets are required (price £15, available from the Society. Fellows are welcome to bring guests to the meeting and/or the reception.

1 May 2008: The Taming of Nature: changing relations in the human environment, by Martin Jones, FSA. This sixth lecture in the Society’s Tercentenary Festival series takes place at the National Museum, Cathays Park, Cardiff, starting at 6pm, and is followed by a wine reception. Fellows should book tickets through the Society; members of the public should book online.

Archaeology has moved a long way from the study of artefacts such as stones and pots, and now includes the analysis of ancient plant and animal remains, tissues, cells and even molecules. Martin Jones, Professor of Archaeological Science at Cambridge University and at the forefront of bio-archaeology, with research interests in the bio-molecular archaeology of early crops and food, will describe how cutting-edge archaeological science has revealed in intimate detail the story of our changing engagement with nature.

16 May 2008: Antiquaries in Europe: the role of national antiquarian societies today. Supported by English Heritage, this international colloquium will be held at Burlington House to celebrate the Society’s Tercentenary; it aims to provide an overview of the intersecting interests and future challenges for independent national heritage bodies (NGOs) in Europe today. A presentation on the Society’s history and current role will take place on the previous evening, Thursday 15 May, followed by a wine reception. A copy of the programme can now be downloaded from the Society’s website, and tickets, costing £15 (Fellows) / £25 (public), including wine and refreshments, are available from the Society.

13 June 2008: The first paper in this year’s Burlington House interdisciplinary lecture series will be given by our Fellow Graham Parry, FSA, and Patrick Wyse-Jackson, of Trinity College, Dublin, on Bishop Ussher’s chronology. Further details will follow.

24 June: ‘Getting to know the Society’ introductory tour. The General Secretary, David Gaimster, will give an overview of the history of the Society and its Fellows over 300 years and introduce the Society’s apartments; Heather Rowland, Head of Library and Collections, will give a tour of the Society’s library, and the services it offers Fellows, and Julia Steele, Collections Officer, will present the Society’s pictures and museum collection. Tours start at 11am (coffee from 10.30am) and end at 12.30pm, followed, for those who wish it, by a light sandwich lunch, for which a charge of £5 will be made. Numbers are limited to twenty-five Fellows per tour. Please contact the Society to book a place.

4 and 5 July 2008: Westminster Abbey Chapter House: its history, architecture and context. This Society of Antiquaries Tercentenary Research Symposium will bring together leading scholars to present the results of recent unpublished research and to assess our current knowledge of what the chronicler Matthew Paris described as ‘a chapter house beyond compare’, ranking as one of the spectacular achievements in Gothic architecture. The conference fee is £40 for both days, £20 for a single day. Places (limited to 100) should be booked through the Society. Further details are available on the Society’s website.

12 July 2008: Tercentenary Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott Manor
A special programme is planned by the Kelmscott Manor team for this year’s Fellows’ Day, which will take place on Saturday 12 July and will mark the close of our Tercentenary celebrations. Celebratory drinks and a Tercentenary Tea will be served against a backdrop of music for a summer’s day, provided by the Manor Singers. The Manor and grounds will be open for viewing, and the shop will feature an exclusive range of accessories designed by weaver, Sarah Beadsmoore, inspired by Kelmscott Manor. There will be an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of young people who have participated in Kelmscott Manor’s education programme during the year and we are promised a special Tercentenary birthday cake and a couple of other surprises, as well.

The event starts at 1.30pm, continues until 5pm and is open to Fellows, their families and guests at a cost of £17.50 per head (£7.50 children aged six to sixteen). Cheques should be made out to ‘Kelmscott Manor’ and sent in an envelope marked ‘Fellows Day’ with the names of the people in your party to Kelmscott Manor, Kelmscott, Lechlade GL7 3HJ. For further information, please contact Kelmscott Manor on 01367 253348 or email

£300,000 HLF grant allows us to take ‘Making History’ on tour

Our Society has been awarded almost £300,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a touring exhibition based on material from the much-praised ‘Making History’ exhibition, mounted at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2007 to celebrate our Tercentenary. The exhibition will be hosted by the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent, the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and The Collection: Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire. At each host destination, history and archaeology groups from the region will be invited to contribute a local element so that the story of 300 years of antiquarian endeavour at national level is complemented by the history of the UK’s many provincial societies.

The Society’s President, Geoff Wainwright, said: ‘Following the success of our Tercentenary Exhibition at the Royal Academy this generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant will enable us to share the beauty and interest of our collections with others across the country and demonstrate to a wider audience the richness of our common heritage.’

David Starkey, FSA, guest curator of the ‘Making History’ exhibition, said: ‘The HLF grant recognises the Society as the pioneer of cultural heritage conservation and education, will help carry its work forward into its fourth century and, in particular, will make its unique treasures familiar to new audiences throughout the country.’

Our General Secretary, David Gaimster, said that the award ‘is as significant as that made to the Royal Geographic Society (the only other national learned society to gain HLF support so far) for its ‘Unlocking the Archives’ project in 2004’. The award ‘underlines the Society’s commitment to creating learning opportunities and increasing public access to its rich collections and resources. The touring exhibition will, for the first time, enable public access outside London to one of the country’s most important historical collections of paintings, drawings, prints and artefacts.’

A virtual exhibition will be hosted on the Society’s website and a series of publications connected to the travelling exhibition will include a fully illustrated children’s timeline and guidebook.

‘Making History’: evaluating the impact

A detailed analysis of the reception and impact of the Society’s ‘Making History’ exhibition has been posted on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website. The report was written at the request of Council by a Working Group, comprising our Treasurer, Martin Millett, and Fellows Stephen Johnson and Jean Wilson, supported by the General Secretary and other staff. It addresses five key areas to do with the preparation and delivery of the exhibition: finance, governance, media reception, public benefit and the lessons for future project management. Fellows will have an opportunity to debate the report at the ballot meeting on 22 May 2008.

Among the report’s conclusions are the fact that the exhibition itself was an outstanding success, making a very significant public impact in the media and successfully fulfilling a series of our charitable objectives as a learned society, but that the financial risks and rewards were not equitably shared between ourselves and the Royal Academy hosts, and that the late decision to embark on the project militated against finding a major sponsor.

Consultation on the future of the Aggregates Sustainability Levy Fund

The Society intends to respond to the current consultation on the future of the Aggregates Sustainability Levy Fund by arguing that the fund has made an important contribution to research archaeology, especially for the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, and to community archaeology, by funding a series of heritage projects in parts of the country impacted by aggregates extraction.

The proposal to reduce by half the amount of money from the fund going into heritage projects is therefore very regrettable and not one that the Society wishes to endorse. Indeed, we will argue that the proportion of money from the fund for heritage projects should stay the same or increase, on the grounds that a) there should be a research dividend as a quid pro quo for the destruction of the non-renewable heritage resource that results from aggregate extraction, and b) there is ample evidence of the excellence and value of archaeological outreach work carried out with ALSF-funds in England over the past six years in the evaluation carried out by our Fellow Julian Richards (The Sands of Time).

Fellows who wish to contribute are asked to send comments to Christopher Catling by 18 April 2008 (in time for the 24 April consultation deadline).

Draft Heritage Protection Bill

The draft Heritage Protection Bill for England and Wales was published on 2 April 2008, and comments are being invited as part of the process of pre-legislative scrutiny (for copies, see the DCMS website). The draft Bill itself contained few surprises, as the new legislative framework that it describes has been well trailed and was the subject of lengthy and extensive consultation.

What remains an area of considerable debate is the accompanying Impact Assessment, which fails, according to many heritage organisations, to assess accurately the cost of implementing the reforms. Representatives of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Heritage Link, The National Trust, the Historic Houses Association and the Civic Trust wrote to the Daily Telegraph to express concerns over funding, training and local authority capacity to deliver the new system, which envisages high-quality Heritage Environment Records, a heritage asset register that sets out in some detail the significance of the asset and must therefore be based on in-depth research, a public consultation process that requires new facilitation skills, and a consent regime based on pre-application discussions and agreements designed to protect and enhance the significance of the asset, all of which have training and funding implications.

The letter says that, on the positive side, the bill ‘will replace a ragbag of legislation and make the heritage protection system fairer and more accessible, [responding] to the strong and growing interest people have in their surroundings and [giving] more people a voice in safeguarding the buildings, landscapes and historic sites they cherish’. On the other hand, ‘the Draft Bill cannot achieve its purpose without sufficient resources to implement it’. The letter goes on to point out that English Heritage’s settlement in the Comprehensive Spending Review will hardly cover its new responsibilities in this area, and that local authorities, which will carry the burden of the reforms and are expected to deliver high-quality historic environment services, are already overstretched, and are not obliged to spend their money on heritage.

The Society intends to respond to the Government’s invitation to comment on the bill; Fellows with views that they would like to see included in the Society’s response should send them to Christopher Catling by the end of April.

Draft Marine Bill

Let us not forget that the draft Marine Bill has also been published with a consultation deadline of 26 June, and although the marine historic environment is not the primary purpose of the Bill, it is an important component. The Bill sets out plans for a new network of marine conservation zones around Britain’s coast, a new UK-wide marine planning system based on ‘making the best use of marine resources’, simplified licensing arrangements for marine developments (such as offshore wind farms)and ‘improved management of marine and inland fisheries’. It proposes the establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation, a centre of marine excellence, to regulate development and activity at sea and enforce environmental protection laws. Further details are on the DEFRA website.

Burial law and archaeology

Uncertainty over the legal position with regard to the excavation of human remains in England and Wales has been clarified this week by a statement from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) (for the full text, see the Institute of Field Archaeologists’ website.

Called ‘Burial Law and Archaeology’, this sets out the circumstances under which archaeologists will need to apply for an exhumation licence prior to the disinterment of human remains, and says that relatively few burial sites of interest to archaeologists are likely to be subject to the requirements imposed by the Disused Burial Grounds (Amendment) Act 1981 (including, for example, the requirement to re-inter the remains within two months). The ruling clarifies the fact that the 1981 Act only applies to extant burial grounds (whether still in use or disused), and does not apply to ‘burial grounds which have been previously cleared of human remains, which have been built over or otherwise converted to commercial or residential use, or which have been put to agricultural use or have become uncultivated countryside’.

The MoJ statement says that a new and simpler application form will be used for archaeological exhumation licences. It also says that licenses will now come with a time limit, normally of up to two years, after which the human remains will normally have to be re-interred. Anticipating objections from archaeologists that re-interment might close off the potential for future research, the MoJ statement says that deposition in a museum or church is an option that will be considered as part of a further review of burial ground legislation, the aim of which is ‘to allow otherwise lawful and legitimate activities, such as the archaeological examination of human remains, to proceed without the constraints of legislation not designed to deal with such issues, and with retrospective effect as far as possible’. The statement also says that the two-year period may be extended for large and complex archaeological sites, or if circumstances ‘make this reasonable’ (for example, if archaeologists need more time in which to complete their study of the remains).

Our Fellow Peter Hinton, Chief Executive of the Institute of Field Archaeologists, welcomed the statement, and said that it resulted from hard work by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and English Heritage with support from the IFA, CBA, ALGAO, BABAO and the Church of England. He said that the Ministry of Justice was aware that some aspects of the statement were still not acceptable to archaeologists and that the same organisations would be working with the MoJ to seek further reform over the next two years.

Beneath the Stonehenge turf

No human remains were found in the historic excavations at Stonehenge that our President, Geoff Wainwright, and Vice-President, Tim Darvill, have just completed, but even the tiny trench that they excavated – not even as large as the table in the Society’s meeting room – nevertheless revealed just how busy is the soil beneath the turf at Stonehenge. During the course of the two-week dig, Professors Darvill and Wainwright re-excavated one of Richard Atkinson’s trenches, dug some fifty years ago, and located two of the post pits, known as the ‘Q’ and ‘R’ holes, from Atkinson’s sub-phase 3i, representing the original positions of the bluestones, which were set in two concentric crescents at the centre of the henge sometime in the mid-third millennium BC. By extending out from Atkinson’s trench the previously unexcavated contents of the ‘Q’ hole have now been removed and quantities of soil and bone have been recovered for dating and environmental analysis.

The trench also bisected the settings of two bluestones in their final positions, and the depth of stone surviving below ground serves to emphasise how much has been lost above ground from centuries of souvenir hunting, as visitors to Stonehenge hacked off pieces of bluestone, perhaps (as Professors Darvill and Wainwright hypothesise) because the stone was believed to possess the power to heal. The current excavation found large quantities of stone chips in several layers, each of them separated by several centuries’ worth of accumulated soil and turf. The so-called ‘Stonehenge layer’, which Atkinson thought might represent the working surface associated with the construction of Stonehenge, now looks to be considerably later in date, consisting of several layers, not one, and probably representing debris from souvenir hunting activity – a reminder that visitors to Stonehenge could, until early in the twentieth century, hire hammers in Amesbury specifically for use in knocking off lumps of stone to take away.

Finally, Stonehenge now has an entirely new phase: the excavation found robber trenches containing late prehistoric and early Roman pottery. It is not yet clear whether this represents simple quarrying, curiosity, or some form of ritual reuse of the site, but it adds a further chapter to the Stonehenge story, and much more will be revealed in due course once all the material recovered from this small trench has been analysed. Tim believes that this Iron Age/Roman activity might well represent people coming back to Stonehenge to find chunks of bluestone left in the ground from earlier phases of the monument, which would confirm the idea that bluestone is held to be special, celebrated and re-used many times over.

As Tim commented as the excavation drew to a close, ‘the stereotypical idea of Stonehenge having fixed phases and sub-phases is going to be questioned because some of the things we have seen here don’t fit into those phases awfully well at all’. Geoff said: ‘I do feel the heavy hand of history on my shoulder, as I am very aware how much importance is going to be placed on the interpretation that we give to what we found’.

Video interviews and coverage of the excavation can be found on the BBC website and on the English Heritage website. See for example, the Day 10 video in which our Fellow Yvette Staelens, in charge of the finds hut, examines the evidence for past picnics and lovers’ trysts at Stonehenge, and our Fellow Amanda Chadburn points to graffiti on the sarsen stones, including the very large signature carved by the young Christopher Wren.

HLF strategic plan, simpler procedures and new Chair

The Heritage Lottery Fund has just launched its new strategic plan for the period 2008 to 2013, placing the emphasis on simpler application processes, faster and less demanding assessments, decisions at an earlier stage in the development of projects and more help for applicants as they develop them. When Salon’s editor undertook a needs analysis for HLF three years ago, these all emerged as top priorities for all the different sectors of heritage – natural heritage, the built environment, intangible heritage, museums, libraries and archives and industrial, technical and marine. The current arms-length process often leaves applicants trying to second guess what will appeal to HLF decision makers and it is easy to get this wrong: far better to have the direct involvement of skilled HLF personnel in sharing best practice and guiding applicants.

The 16-page strategy document (Valuing our heritage; investing in our future; available from the HLF website) is admirably brief, and contains no more than 750 words. Most telling is the table that shows the funding available over the next five years and when and where decisions will be made – nationally in the case of large projects and regionally for smaller ones. This brings home some stark facts: the annual budget for large projects over the next five years is only £20 million: set that against the recent grant of £21 million for the Mary Rose Trust and it is apparent that the ability of the HLF to fund really big projects is severely constrained. On the other hand the total available is still an impressive £900 million (£180 million a year).

Overseeing all this will be Jenny Abramsky, newly appointed as the HLF Chair to succeed Dame Liz Forgan when she retires in October 2008. Jenny has spent her working life at the BBC, where she was the editor of the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4, launched BBC Radio Five Live, BBC News Online and BBC News 24 and commissioned the Electric Proms (an annual festival of popular contemporary music, designed to complement the BBC Proms season of classical music). She describes herself as ‘a passionate supporter of our heritage’, and says that ‘the HLF plays a unique role in sustaining and safeguarding our wonderful rich and varied heritage for the whole nation’.

HLF is looking for Heritage Heroes

The closing date for entries to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society’s Community and Heritage Awards 2008 is 28 April, so there is still time to nominate inspirational people or groups whose voluntary work deserve recognition under either the Community Champion or the Heritage Hero category. Stephen Boyce, HLF’s Deputy Director of Operations, says that: ‘Volunteers are particularly vital to the heritage sector and well over half of the 26,000 projects we have supported just could not have happened without them.’ Further information about the awards can be found on the Nationwide website.

HERitage day

The Society celebrated its own heritage heroes on 4 April 2008 when more than a hundred archaeologists, curators, archivists and art and architectural historians came together to celebrate the contribution of women, past and present, to our knowledge and appreciation of heritage. Women representing all aspects of the sector took part, including Beatrice de Cardi (see ‘The World’s Oldest Archaeologist’ below) and one of the granddaughters of archaeologist Tessa Verney Wheeler, who, along with Mrs Reginald Lane Poole, was one of the first two women to be elected as Fellows of our Society in 1921.

Also attending was The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge, MBE, MP, the Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism, who said: ‘I am delighted that the Society of Antiquaries is drawing attention to the achievements of women through this event. Women have often struggled to get the recognition they deserve for the work they have done in enhancing society’s knowledge and appreciation of heritage.’

Professor Rosemary Cramp, CBE, FSA, chairing the day-long seminar, said: ‘Many of these women formed a supportive network as friends, and seized the opportunity to enter the "new" field of archaeology which had not already been exclusively claimed by men.’

For a photograph of participants gathered in the Burlington House courtyard, see the Society’s ‘News and Events’ webpage; and for a different perspective on the day, see Fellow Andrew Selkirk’s Current Archaeology blog where he reports that, to his horror, ‘the ladies had even taken over our loos!’

Although the Women in Heritage day itself is over, we still welcome contributions to the HERitage page on the Society’s website, celebrating the role of women in the heritage, and a number of new contributions will be posted up over the course of the coming week.

‘The World’s Oldest Archaeologist’

Our Fellow Beatrice de Cardi is, according to the Independent, not only ‘The World’s Oldest Archaeologist’, she is also part Indiana-Jones, part Miss Marple, and her ‘thirst for adventure remains undimmed’. What this means, of course, is that Beatrice has finally admitted her age, after keeping this a secret for so many years – once even the powerful and wealthy rulers of the Middle Eastern countries in whose archaeology Beatrice has long specialised, were careful not to address this subject, even if they privately expressed astonishment at her vigour and youthfulness. The cat came out of the bag, however, when Antiquity published her memoir, ‘Exploring the lower Gulf, 1947–2007’, in its March 2008 issue, announcing that it had been ‘penned at the age of ninety-three’. In that memoir Beatrice explains that she has had at least two careers: administering the Council for British Archaeology for twenty-five years, then undertaking fieldwork in the lower Gulf (Baluchistan, south-eastern Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman).

To this should be added her roles as secretary to Mortimer Wheeler at the London Museum before the war, followed by work in China in the Foreign Office during the war, then postings to Delhi and Karachi after the war as Assistant UK Trade Commissioner at the time of Independence and Partition. While she was in Karachi, Beatrice read a paper on Quetta grey ware by Stuart Piggott and this provided the incentive for her first independent fieldwork project as she set off to find evidence to pin down the precise distribution pattern of this distinctive prehistoric ceramic. Much of her subsequent career has been spent in answering this question and placing Quetta ware in its chronological sequence, which in turn has meant studying the prehistoric ceramics of a wide area of Asia and Arabia. Often this has meant working in difficult and inhospitable conditions. Unflappable in the face of wolves and wild dogs, Beatrice tells of the occasion when her workers would not camp in a certain place on account of a malevolent djinn [spirit]. Beatrice says ‘I suspected a more material power and accepted a revolver lent by the local official’.

According to the Independent’s profile, published to mark our Society’s Women in the Heritage Day, it is the fact that Beatrice returns to Ras al-Khaimah, in the UAE, to catalogue new finds at the national museum she helped found that qualifies Beatrice for the title of ‘world’s oldest [practising] archaeologist’. What keeps her going, she says, is (like the Elephant Child of Kipling’s Just So Story) her ‘satiable curiosity’. ‘It is exactly as if I am walking around a very bendy road’, she says: ‘If I see another curve in the hillside, I have to go around to see exactly what is there.’

Personal histories seminars at Cambridge

Continuing the theme of personal histories of an engagement with archaeology, our Fellow Pamela Jane Smith organised an informative and thought-provoking seminar last year on post-processual archaeology, bringing together Meg Conkey, Henrietta Moore, Ruth Tringham and Alison Wylie; those who missed it, or who were there and want to revisit the discussion, can now watch the entire proceedings online, using the following YouTube links:

Alternatively, you can download an MP3 file to listen to on your iPod from

Pamela reports that the personal histories discussion for 2008 is scheduled for 3 November 2008 in Cambridge; the event will be fully advertised closer to the time but, as a brief preview, the theme will be ‘memories and experiences of the study of human evolution during the last forty years’, and the speakers are Leslie Aiello, Rob Foley or Marta Mirazón Lahr, Maeve Leakey, David Pilbeam and Chris Stringer, with Adam Kuper in the Chair.


Protecting Cultural Heritage, 21 April 2008, 7pm followed by a drinks reception, The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London
The cultural heritage of the world is presently under threat as never before. This discussion brings together six prominent archaeologists (all Fellows of our Society and of the British Academy, viz: Dr John Curtis, Keeper of the Department of the Middle East, the British Museum; Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology, University of Oxford; Professor Lord Renfrew, formerly Disney Professor of Archaeology and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge; Professor Clive Gamble, Royal Holloway College, University of London; Professor Norman Hammond, Boston University; and Professor Anthony Harding, University of Exeter) to review the situation in different parts of the world and highlight some of the common problems, such as the threats from military conflict, development, globalisation, climate change, illegal excavation and illicit trade. It is hoped that the discussion will end with some recommendations that will form a basis for publicising dangers to the cultural heritage and helping to protect it. Further details are on the British Academy website.

Our Sacred Landscapes, 23 April 2008, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, School of Jewellery, Vittoria Street, Birmingham
ICOMOS-UK is organising what looks like a fascinating evening devoted to religion and the built heritage. Wander round any town in the UK and one’s perception of the place is limited by what we do or do not know about the meanings that buildings and places might have to the different people and communities who use them – sometimes employing them for purposes quite different to those for which they were originally built. This event – billed as a ‘conversation’ (a salon perhaps?) – will attempt to convey some sense of the different religious meanings that places can have, with contributions from Elizabeth Perkins, of the Birmingham Conservation Trust, on ‘A Dark Trail at the Coffin Works’, Richard Gale, of the Department of Sociology, University of Birmingham, on ‘The religious landscapes of Birmingham’, and Harbinder Singh on ‘The Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail and the West Midlands’. Future ICOMOS-UK conversations are promised on the themes of ‘Sport and Heritage’, ‘Literature and Heritage’ and ‘Science and Heritage’; details can be found on the ICOMOS-UK website.

Action on skills training and education for the historic environment, 29 and 30 April at The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment
This conference will mark the publication of two new National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) Research Reports: Review of Traditional Building Craft Skills in England, 2008 and Current Skills and Future Training Needs of Building Professionals in the UK Built Heritage Sector 2008, which together provide quantified evidence of the need for more integrated skills training and education for the built environment. The Conference will bring together higher and further education providers, heritage organisations, funding bodies and development agencies to discuss and deliver a flexible skills training strategy to meet current and future demand.

Speakers include our Fellows Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, Edward Impey, Director of Research and Standards at English Heritage, Henry Russell, Chair of the Building Conservation Forum, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and Philip Venning, Secretary, Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), and it will include a special reception to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Institute for Historic Buildings Conservation. Further details from the ICOMOS-UK website.

Planning and the Historic Environment: tall buildings, 16 May 2008, Oxford
What has become known as the annual Oxford Planning Seminar – run by the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education and English Heritage in partnership with the IFA and the IHBC – takes place on 16 May this year and will address the hot topic of tall structures and their impact on historically sensitive views. In 2007, English Heritage and the Commission for the Built Environment revised their guidelines for designing tall structures in historically sensitive locations, and this seminar will provide an opportunity to hear directly from English Heritage what those guidelines contain and to hear leading experts talk about the approaches of different local authorities and architects. There will be substantial time for questioning all concerned on the policies and practices of the various parties involved, and further time for wider discussion and debate of the issues raised. For further details see the OUDCE website.

Wordsworth and the Druids, 20 May 2008, British Academy
Dr Matthew Campbell, of the University of Sheffield, will deliver the Warton Lecture on English Poetry at the British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, on 20 May 2008 at 5.30pm, followed by a drinks reception. Wordsworth said he had nothing more than a ‘Siesta among the Pillars of Stonehenge’, after his solitary journey across Salisbury Plain in July 1793. Yet the events of that day and night reappeared as a vision of the ancient Britons and their druids in poetry that was to be written and rewritten over the next fifty years of his career. This lecture looks again at this poetry, and at Wordsworth’s vision of sites of execution, ancient remains and the violent origins of Britain. His druidic fancy mixes primitivism with Celticism, and he creates a factitious version of a past which tells the story of the atavistic foundations of the modern nation. Further details are on the British Academy website.

Cambrian Archaeological Projects: introduction to thatching, 7 and 8 June 2008
This weekend course at Old Chapel Farm, Llanidloes, Powys, will be led by Master Thatcher Alan Jones and provides an insight into the techniques, styles and practicalities of thatching, including news of the latest experimental results in growing longstraw and managing reed beds in Wales. Further information from the Cambrian Archaeological Projects website or contact our Fellow Kevin Blockley.

From Britain to the world: British archaeologists abroad, 23 June 2008, Birley Room, Archaeology Department, Durham University
Organised by the History of Archaeology Research Grouping (Department of Archaeology, Durham University) and the AREA project, this free workshop, from 10.20am to 4.30pm, is designed as an opportunity for researchers involved in the history of archaeology to highlight their work. The morning session is dedicated to the theme of ‘British archaeologists in Europe and North Africa’ and includes papers by Sara Fairén (‘Miles Burkitt in Spain’), Peter Rowley-Conwy (‘Grahame Clark in Scandinavia’), Megan Price (Hawkes and German archaeology’), our Fellow Robin Skeates (‘The British in Malta’) and Benjamin Westwood (‘British Archaeology in Libya during the Protectorate’).

In the afternoon, the theme of British archaeologists in Asia will be addressed by Rana Daroogheh (‘The British in Iran’), Robin Coningham and Mark Manuel (‘Piggott and Wheeler in India’), our Fellow Richard Hingley (‘Wheeler in India’), while the theme of British archaeologists in America will be addressed by César Villalobos (‘From Catherwood to Maudslay in the lost cities of the Mayas’), Marga Díaz-Andreu (‘Gordon Childe and the USA’),and Bisserka Gaydarska (‘Towards Britain: an analysis of TAG’). All are welcome and there is no fee or registration requirement. Further information from the conference webpage.

Professor Nicolas Coldstream, 1927–2008

The Times and the Telegraph both published obituaries last week for our late Fellow Professor Nicolas Coldstream, who died on 21 March 2008, aged eighty. Both obituaries (from which the following text is abstracted) can be read in full on the Society’s website.

The Telegraph said that Nicolas was ‘one of Greek archaeology’s greatest teachers, popular and unstuffy, an archetypal dignified English gentleman who was as happy travelling by bus or mucking in with student communal life on a dig as he was being feted by academies and embassies. At Bedford College (where he taught from 1960 to 1983, latterly as Professor of Aegean Archaeology) and at UCL, where he was Yates Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology from 1983 until his retirement in 1992, his lectures – always witty, illuminating and jargon-free – attracted students from other universities who, when queried on their attendance, would often admit: “We just don’t get anything like this.”

‘He encouraged his students to acquire a disciplined and thorough familiarity with the full range of Greek archaeological material as their starting point, and many went on to make notable careers as scholars of Greek and Minoan archaeology and civilisation.

‘Coldstream tended to view changes in pottery and other design as a reflection of changing taste and fashion or as a matter of individual choice. This brought him some criticism from proponents of a more ideological “New Archaeology”, looking for deeper social or economic explanations. But, as Coldstream’s admirers tended to point out, this was unfair – not least because, without his painstaking works of description, classification, chronology and so on, the theoreticians would have had little on which to construct their theories. Moreover, although he himself never strayed into the ideological – always emphasising the “provisional” nature of his interpretations – he encouraged his students to develop their own theoretical or methodological approaches.’

The Times obituary described Nicolas as: ‘one of the world’s leading Classical archaeologists, and a pianist of distinction’, and said that he began his long association with the British School at Athens in 1957, eventually becoming chairman of its then managing committee and ultimately a vice-president. From this research base he studied the disciplined Greek pottery of the Geometric Period (the tenth to the early seventh centuries BC). He mastered all its local styles and their distribution, from the Near East to Sicily. Greek Geometric Pottery was published in 1968 and remains a large and irreplaceable masterwork. Fortunately he was able to complete a revised edition recently, incorporating abundant new discoveries.

‘His subsequent seminal book, Geometric Greece (1977), remains, in the words of a senior Greek scholar, unsurpassed by any other study of the period. This too has a revised, updated edition (2003). The richness of its engagement with the complex, multi-ethnic material culture of the Greek, eastern and central Mediterranean Iron Age worlds, based on acute observation, very wide knowledge and perceptive historical judgment, is precisely what enables new questions to be asked of the material.

‘Agency theory is currently fashionable in archaeology. Without such constructs Coldstream in fact always delighted in recovering ancient actions and choices of individual artists, potters and traders, Cretans, Euboeans, Cypriots and Phoenicians in particular, importing and exporting their wares. Thus, as Vassos Karageorghis has pointed out, his suggestion that Phoenician unguent manufacturers set up shop on Kos and Rhodes, commissioning locally made perfume bottles of Phoenician type for their trade. Again, at Knossos the extraordinary imagination and humour of particular Iron Age potters and painters was delightedly communicated. From all this Coldstream never eschewed moving to broad historical conclusions.

‘Two ancient sites stand out in his work. One is the island of Kythera. Here Coldstream and his friend Professor George Huxley excavated part of a Minoan (Cretan Bronze Age) settlement at Kastri, discovered in the 1930s by Sylvia Benton, of the British School. In the subsequent volume, Kythera. Excavations and Studies (1972), Coldstream was responsible for the Minoan pottery, which comprises much of the text. Countless studies of Minoan pottery, within Crete or on other Aegean islands, make reference to this work.

‘The second place is Knossos, where his heart lay. He published many fundamental papers and books on Knossian pottery, some of which he had himself excavated and all of which he had personally laid out and studied. The culmination was his co-editorship with [our Fellow] Hector Catling of the four volumes (1996) devoted to the publication, a magisterial work, of the large Iron Age cemetery excavated by the British School for the Greek authorities on the site of what was to become the medical faculty of the University of Crete near Knossos. The publication of Cretan pottery requires high-quality technical drawings, sometimes hundreds. Many of those in Coldstream’s publications were done by his wife [our Fellow] Nicola, the historian of medieval art. They had married in 1970 and Nicolas took as much delight in travelling for her studies as she did in support of his work.

‘Scores of scholars enjoyed the wonderfully generous hospitality and atmosphere he and his wife created in their London home after annual general meetings of the British School and on many another occasion.

‘Alongside Greece and its archaeology his other great love was music and opera. His tastes were catholic, from Handel through the Classical repertoire and on to Vaughan Williams. At University College he was a member of the music club, performing as a pianist in its concerts; at home too or in others’ homes many were enraptured by his playing. It was singularly appropriate that the Coldstreams’ house in Ebury Street should bear a plaque commemorating an earlier occupant, Mozart.’

The Cabinet Collection of John Bargrave at Canterbury Cathedral

Amy Jones, Documentation Officer for the Bargrave Collection, housed in the archives at Canterbury Cathedral, has approached Fellows of the Society to ask for help in documenting and digitising this well-known antiquarian collection, which was one of the exhibits in our ‘Making History’ exhibition. A possible visit to Canterbury to view the collection has been proposed for some time in the next six months; Fellows who would like to take part are asked to send an email to Christopher Catling in the first place.

Wanted: someone to talk about William Hamilton and volcanoes

Jayne Phenton, the Society’s Communications Manager, is seeking a speaker for the next Burlington House lecture, which is to be a joint presentation with the Geological Society, on the antiquary William Hamilton and his interest in volcanoes. Jayne has already approached several Fellows with a knowledge of Hamilton’s work, but their interest focuses on his collecting rather than his interest in volcanoes, so if any Salon reader can help, Jayne would be enormously grateful.

Frankfurt colloquium report

Our Fellow David Wigg-Wolf, of the Fundmünzen der Antike, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main, writes to say that the Society’s colloquium, held on 20 February 2008, was a great success in bringing together some one hundred Fellows from the UK and the Continent to discuss ‘Archaeology in Central and North-west Europe in the Twenty-first Century: perspectives and challenges of international co-operation’.

The event was hosted by the Römisch-Germanische Kommission (RGK) des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Frankfurt am Main, as part of the Society’s Tercentenary celebrations, with the aim of furthering closer international contacts. The participants were greeted by the Director of the RGK, Friedrich Lüth, and by Tim Darvill, Vice-President, for the Society. Papers were given by Fellows of the Society and by members of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut on research focused on megaliths, Iron Age oppida, Roman frontiers and the medieval period. These were followed by a lively panel discussion. The highlight was an evening public lecture by Lord Renfrew, on ‘The Dimensions of Prehistory’.

The event was intended in part to give those Fellows from the Continent who were unable to attend the Tercentenary celebrations in London a chance to participate in the anniversary, and so a Tercentenary dinner was held in Frankfurt the evening before the colloquium, attended by the speakers and a number of Fellows and their guests. The colloquium was the first in a series of such co-operative events: an annual lecture and dinner on the Continent is now planned as a result of positive feedback from Fellows. To join the mailing list for information about future Continental events, Fellows should send an email to

Save the Coachmakers Arms

The Society has also been contacted by Fellow Mark Hall to draw attention to an online petition to save the Coachmakers Arms, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, currently under threat of demolition. The Coachmakers is perhaps the finest surviving Victorian terraced pub in the city, retaining its original layout and décor. ‘It is,’ says Mark, ‘very much a part of the local community, and the extended community of visitors who seek it out for its historic value and fine ale. The same local community recently succeeded in saving the last surviving terrace-house oatcake shop (the Hole in the Wall). Both pub and oatcake shop are vital elements of today’s community and vital elements of the history of that community and the now all but vanished pottery industry.’

Fire destroys Dreamland roller coaster

It might not be everyone’s idea of heritage, but Save Britain’s Heritage has described the destruction by fire last week of Margate’s impressive and listed Scenic Railway as ‘a tragic loss and a terrible blow to all those who have campaigned locally and nationally to protect and preserve this rare and delightful structure’. The fire occurred on 7 April, and a police investigation is now under way following local reports of arson. The Twentieth Century Society says that it is ‘deeply concerned’ about other buildings on the site, including the 1935 Dreamland Cinema which closed in November 2007. Jon Wright, speaking for the C20 Society, said: ‘The owners of the site have long wanted to clear the site for new development but have been unable to get consent to demolish the country’s only listed wooden roller coaster.’

Constructed in 1919–20, the timber-structured Scenic Railway differs from modern roller coasters in lacking wheels that wrap around and cling to the track; instead the train is pulled up to the start by a cable, and the speed of its descent is controlled by a highly skilled brakeman sitting in the second car of the ride. The Margate example is the second oldest example in the world, after the much altered one in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, built in 1914.

It remains to be decided whether or not Thanet Council will push for the re-building of the listed structure. Fire has affected the coaster before, in 1949 and in 1957. Only 20 per cent of the structure now remains, so the end result would be, at best, an accurate replica. Even so, the C20 Society argues that it should be rebuilt to ensure that no financial gain would result from the fire and from the development of the site.

Music, exhibitions and websites by Fellows

This week, just for a change, Salon looks at three forthcoming exhibitions that have been curated by Fellows and a recording of choral works by two Tudor composers, as well as the new Lincoln Record Society website. ‘Books by Fellows’ will return in the next issue, featuring all those books whose details have been sent to the editor over the last few weeks.

Reading the Society’s 2007 Annual Report (in which our former President, Eric Fernie, reminds us that the Society is antiquarian, not archaeological, and that our strength is the multiplicity of different disciplines from which the Fellowship is drawn) prompted our Fellow Richard Rastall, Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology at the University of Leeds, to send news of his plan to edit and create modern performing editions of the complete musical works of Tudor composers, John Milton senior (1562–1647), father of the poet, and his contemporary, Martin Peerson (1571–1651).

The project has just borne fruit in the form of a CD, entitled A Candle to the Glorious Sun, presenting all of Milton’s sacred music, coupled with a selection of sacred works by Peerson, on record for the first time. The works are performed by the critically acclaimed Selwyn College choir, which has the distinction of being the first Oxbridge chapel choir to have a woman as its music-director. Sarah MacDonald, MA, FRCO, came from her native Canada in 1992 to be Organ Scholar at Robinson College, Cambridge, and was appointed Director of Music in Chapel at Selwyn College in 1999. Selwyn College Chapel Choir, founded in the late nineteenth century, has been a mixed choir since women were first admitted to the College in 1976.

A Candle to the Glorious Sun includes Milton’s magnificent six-voiced settings of texts attributed to Jeremiah from the Book of Lamentations, a reconstruction of his anthem ‘If ye love me, keep my commandment’, and the madrigal-motet ‘When David heard that Absalom was slain’, probably written on the death of Henry, Prince of Wales in 1612. Released under the Regent label, copies may be obtained from RSK Entertainment.

The Temple Church also has an outstanding choir, and is among the most historic and lovely of London’s churches, but there is an excellent additional reason for visiting it between now and 15 June 2008 in the form of a special exhibition – The Temple Church 1185–2008: history, architecture and effigies – illustrating the changing appearance of the twelfth-century round church over eight centuries. The curator of the exhibition is our Fellow Robin Griffith-Jones, who glories in the official title of Reverend and Valiant Master of the Temple, acquired in 1608 when King James I granted the Temple Church to the two Inns of Court, Inner and Middle Temple (the Inns must, in return, maintain the church and its Valiant Master, providing him with a mansion and a stipend of £17 6s 8d per annum; which, says Robin, they still do, with a welcome allowance for four centuries’ of inflation).

For the exhibition the V & A has lent plaster casts, taken for the Great Exhibition, of four of the church’s knightly effigies, which lie on plinths, majestic and entire, next to the stone originals that were damaged in 1941. The Bowes Museum has lent the only two columns known to survive from the Wrenian organ-screen of 1682, dismantled in the 1840s. Photographs and drawings – loaned by our own Society (including the masterly engraving by Nash of the West Door, made c 1818), and by the Inner and Middle Temples, the Ashmolean, the Guildhall Library and the Museum of London – are used to trace the often dramatic changes made over time to the decoration of the church, including the makeover of the 1840s that stripped out the seventeenth-century woodwork and clothed the church in the grandest Gothic style, under the direction of James Savage, Sidney Smirke and Decimus Burton, and the devastation caused to the church by the incendiary bomb that destroyed the Victorian pomp in 1941, leading to its present, more spare, appearance.

Robin gives a talk on the church every Monday at 1pm until 9 June. Admission to the talk costs £4 (£2 concessions) but entrance to the exhibition is free (donations are, of course, always welcome). For opening hours, see the Temple Church website.

Our Fellow Peter Boughton, Keeper of Art and Creative Development at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, has just presided over the opening of the museum’s main spring exhibition, Cheshire Parks and Gardens: interpretation and inspiration, which runs from now until 15 June. A little known fact is that one in eight garden visits made in the UK is to a Cheshire garden, and this exhibition of watercolours, drawings and prints from the museum’s collection shows how artists from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries have responded to the county’s numerous country houses set amidst parks and gardens, from the formal and compartmentalised gardens of Cholmondeley Hall and Dunham Massey Hall to the Arts and Crafts informality of Tirley Garth.

In between came landscaped parks of serpentine lakes, woodland groves and grazing sheep, seen at Hooton Hall and Winnington Hall, follies such as the ruined castle built on the summit of Mow Cop as an eyecatcher from Rode Hall and the Gothic tower built on an island in the lake at Tabley House, and experiments such as the remarkable rock garden at Hoole House.

An element of formality returned in the nineteenth century, with elaborate showy gardens once more being made to provide a colourful decorative ribbon between house and park, best seen at Eaton Hall, or in Victorian public parks such as Grosvenor Park itself, wherein the museum is set.

All this is detailed in the museum’s richly illustrated website.

On a not unrelated theme is the new exhibition opening on 18 April at the Southampton City Art Gallery calledAncient Landscapes, Pastoral Visions: Samuel Palmer to the Ruralists, Southampton City Art Gallery. Curated by our Fellow Anne Anderson, this explores the legacy of Samuel Palmer (1805–81), who established the artistic tradition of ‘opting-out’ or seeking ‘the alternative lifestyle of the creative individual’ by turning his back on the city, rejecting progress, industrialisation and suburbanisation and retreating to Shoreham, Kent, with a ‘band of brothers’, dubbed the Ancients, who sought to capture the essence of the English countryside in their work. Palmer’s heirs include Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland, who rediscovered Palmer’s work while searching for a new expressive language after the horrors of the war, and, more recently, the Brotherhood of Ruralists, a collective of seven artists comprising Graham (1932–) and Anne (1936–) Arnold, Graham (1943–) and Annie (1945–) Ovenden, Peter Blake (1932–) and his then wife, Jann Haworth (1942–), and David Inshaw (1943–), whose work was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1976.

Accompanying the exhibition is a symposium, to be held on 14 June 2008, to consider the ways that England has been portrayed in literature (William Wordsworth, Richard Jefferies, Edward Thomas, A E Houseman and John Betjeman) and in art (Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and the Brotherhood of Ruralists), including the role of antiquarianism and archaeology (Professor Sam Smiles will talk about ‘Pre-history and English Culture 1920–1950’). Anne Anderson herself will give a paper entitled ‘The Spirit of Place: from Shoreham to Barley Splatt’. Details of the symposium can be obtained from Katherine Crouch.

After closing on 22 June 2008, the exhibition divides into two complementary shows and moves to the Victoria Gallery, Bath, and Falmouth Art Gallery. Details are on the Southampton City Art Gallery website.

Finally, our Fellow Rod Ambler has sent in news of the new website of the Lincoln Record Society, which was launched by the Bishop of Lincoln on 28 March. The Bishop spoke of the importance of the Society’s work on the history of the ancient diocese and county of Lincoln, the vitality of the Society as reflected in the website and the plans for the next phase in its development, looking forward to 2010 when the Society will celebrate its centenary. Rod reminds us that Fellows have always played an important part in the Society’s affairs as officers, Council members and as editors of LRS publications (the last two involved Nicholas Bennett and Rod himself). Fellows have also been significant as members, while the Society of Antiquaries has been an institutional member of the LRS since its early days. No doubt the strong ties between the two organisations will form a theme of our HLF-funded ‘Making History’ exhibition when it comes to Lincoln in 2009.


IFA Workplace Learning Bursary for Assistant Archaeologist (Development Control/Historic Environment Record), hosted by: Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust
Salary: £16,945; one year full-time starting on 1 July 2008; closing date 9 May 2008

Applications are invited for an HLF-funded IFA Workplace Learning Bursary based at Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust in the field of Curatorial Development Control Archaeology and Historic Environment Record (HER) management under the supervision and mentorship of David Strachan (Manager/Archaeologist) and Sarah Winlow (Heritage Officer).

The successful candidate will gain valuable skills assessing weekly planning lists for archaeological potential; screening consultations for archaeological impact, making recommendations to local authority planners, producing Terms of Reference (TOR) documents, providing archaeological information and advice, monitoring archaeological fieldwork and undertaking post-excavation work and publication with respect to TORs. HER work will include interrogation and analysis of information held on the HER (database/GIS), weekly maintenance and HER enhancement.

For further details, and information on how to apply, see For an informal discussion on the post, contact David Strachan.