In its newly published report on the draft Heritage Protection Bill, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has welcomed the UK Governments commitment to the task of reforming the present system, allowing greater public involvement in decisions, and placing heritage at the heart of the planning system, but regrets that its ability to scrutinise the draft Bill has been undermined by the incomplete nature of the [draft] legislation.
The report goes on to say that: We find it deeply disappointing that we have not had the opportunity to review the draft Bill in its entirety. We recommend that a complete schedule of all further necessary legislation and guidance be published as soon as possible, together with a timetable and arrangements for appropriate consultation and implementation.
The Select Committee has taken written and oral evidence from all the leading heritage-sector organisations, including the Society of Antiquaries. The Committee has taken on board the sectors very real concerns about the Bills lack of detail on how the designation system (whereby heritage assets are identified as being of sufficient significance to warrant statutory protection) interfaces with the development control and planning system (where consent is sought to change the asset in some way). Much of that detail is spelled out in PPGs 15 and 16, Planning Policy Guidelines that contain best-practice advice to planning authorities on dealing with planning applications that impact listed buildings and archaeologically significant deposits. The Bill and the Planning Guidance are two sides of the one coin and the Select Committee has called on the Government to speed up its revision of PPGs 15 and 16 to ensure that the new guidance on planning policy can be implemented at the same time as the Bill.
Another of the sectors concerns is the lack of human and financial resources to deliver the service envisaged by the Bill: the Select Committee highlighted the contradictory evidence on this issue: the Heritage Minister argued that adequate resources (£1.7m over five years, or £340,000 a year) had been committed to the extra costs of a process that would ultimately prove to be cost-neutral, with efficiency gains cancelling out additional costs, but the report said it was astonishing that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport had not acknowledged that a shortage of conservation officers in councils would undermine the reforms.
The report concluded that the cost of implementing the Bill, outlined in the accompanying Impact Assessment, is considered by much of the heritage sector to be a gross underestimate. The report noted that the Impact Assessment is due to be revised and strongly recommends that the Government ensures that this gives a more realistic estimate of costs. The Government must heed the warnings from the sector that an inadequately resourced Bill could be a backwards step for heritage protection. It should proceed with the Bill, but only if it is fully aware of, and willing to meet, its full cost. We recommend that the Government ensures that there are sufficient staff with the necessary skills, in particular conservation officers in local authorities, to successfully implement the Bill.
Finally, the report points to the dark truth at the heart of the present system: which is that there is widespread flouting of the existing legislation, and almost no enforcement: nor is there any provision in the new draft Bill to give the legislation any more bite. According to the Select Committee report: We found no evidence that either DCMS or English Heritage had considered any amendments to the legislation which would improve the operation or effectiveness of the enforcement powers for local authorities. We recommend that a review of these powers be conducted as a matter or urgency and the results published with a view to improving the operation of the legislation.
These are but three headline points out of the many that have been assembled and argued cogently in the report (the UK Parliament website for the full version), which will now be used in the process of redrafting the Bill over the summer, prior to its being included in the Governments legislative programme for the 2008/9 session of Parliament.
The Department for Culture is not alone in being accused of a failure to grasp the seriousness of the lack of skilled specialist conservation staff in local authority employment. A separate report delivered last week by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee following its inquiry into planning skills was condemned by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the UKs professional body for historic environment conservation, for the absence of any mention of conservation skills.
Dr Seán OReilly, the Institutes Director, described as scandalous the committees failure to register the role of local government conservation officers in delivering heritage at the heart of planning. Dr OReilly went on to say: The IHBCs own research has shown that one in five planning authorities dont have their own skilled specialist conservation staff. Research from ConstructionSkills, the sector skills council for the construction industry, has reported that over a third of specialist practices report difficulties in recruiting professionals. At the same time DCMS wants to devolve to our planning authorities more direct management of our valued places. If these are not skills issues for planning, I dont know what are.
On behalf of TAF (The Archaeology Forum), the Society is hosting a seminar on 7 October 2008 at Burlington House to review progress on the Heritage Protection Bill. Preceded by coffee, the meeting will start 11.30am with statements from English Heritage and from Government departments involved with the Bill. The afternoon session will consist of presentations from key stakeholders, including the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, and the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies, followed by questions and answers, and finishing at 4.30pm. Booking information will be published as soon as it is available on the Societys website and in Salon.
As announced in the last issue of Salon, Jayne Phenton, our Head of Communications, is leaving the Society at the end of September, and the Society will host a party to say goodbye to Jayne on 26 September 2008. Fellows are welcome to attend and we would be very happy to receive contributions to a leaving present; so that we know how many people to cater for, please let us know if you are coming (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As well as being distributed by email, Salon is also available to read on the Societys website, where you will find the latest issue and an archive of six years worth of issues. Some Fellows have commented that the archive is not searchable, and have asked for this facility. To make the archive searchable would involve an expenditure of around £1,750 and before committing such a sum, we need to have a sense of the likely demand. So if you use the Salon archive and would like to be able to search for content, please send an email to email@example.com.
Salon reported last year that our Fellow Graham Shipley had been appointed to the Education Honours Committee (chaired by Dame Alexandra Burslem); now that he has served on the committee for a year, Graham says it is his impression that archaeology (like my own subject, classics, and like humanities in general) seems under-represented among the nominations. The Committee, he says, is keen to see more nominations in general, and Graham offers the following advice to anyone minded to make a nomination (the advice holds true for nominations considered by the other honours committees, including those for science and for creative and performing arts).
First, says Graham, check details of committee memberships, procedures, and criteria on the Honours website. As is stated there, the grade of honour (knight/dame, CBE, OBE or MBE) is not proposed by the nominator but is determined by the Committee (whose recommendations have to be approved by the central Honours Committee) and is related to the geographic scale and nature of a persons impact (whether local, regional, national).
In compiling a case, evidence, not advocacy, is needed: it is essential to be able to cite evidence of achievement or impact beyond the ordinary (such as national leadership or inspiration). Evidence of sustained voluntary commitment (in the wide sense of the word: not necessarily charitable work but going beyond the job) can only help, and honours are not usually given for just doing ones job to an excellent standard. They are not usually given to retired persons, unless they are still active or only just retired. Finally, there are fairly tight quotas (and the scope of the Education Committee takes in school crossing wardens and catering supervisors, pre-school and primary teachers, special needs, FE, HE and educational managers of all kinds) so many excellent candidates may not get through.
If anyone would like to know more, Graham says he is happy to be consulted either by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (0116 252 2775), but he stresses that he can only talk about general issues, and is not allowed to discuss individual cases.
A set of highly unusual grave goods has been found at North Bersted, to the west of Bognor, in West Sussex, during excavation work being carried out by Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVAS) on behalf of Berkeley Homes. The grave of a man thought to be of the late first century BC or the first half of the first century AD (based on the style of pottery vessels included in the grave) also contained the remains of a shield, a possible helmet of Montefortino type and the much corroded remains of iron objects which have been interpreted (on preliminary analysis) as andirons (firedogs). With the remains of the shield were semicircular panels of bronze open-work decoration which might have been part of the adornment of the shield itself or might perhaps have belonged to another object, such as a sword or dagger.
Mark Taylor, West Sussex County Archaeologist, said that: the scroll-work decoration is of great art-historical significance and may be unique in Northern Europe. The helmet, if it proves to be of Montefortino type, is a unique find in the UK. Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe who visited the site while the careful excavation of the grave was under way confirmed that there were no immediately obvious parallels for this material. Mark would be very happy to hear from Fellows and Salon readers able to suggest parallels for such a group of deposits (Mark.Taylor@westsussex.gov.uk).
The excavations, led by Andy Taylor of TVAS, have revealed Bronze-Age boundary ditches and occupation, a small hoard of four Middle Bronze Age bronze palstaves, an Iron Age roundhouse and a Roman building, set amongst fields. The enigmatic burial of a mature male more than thirty years old does not form part of a larger cemetery and is not otherwise defined.
Lullingstone Roman villa, located near Eynsford, Kent, reopened to the public on 24 July following a year-long refurbishment by English Heritage. The highlight of the newly displayed villa is a sound and light show which visitors watch from above as lights pick out rooms and the villas history is revealed. Visitors can also see objects excavated in the 1950s but not seen since. They include gaming counters and glass vessels discovered as grave goods in a fourth-century mausoleum containing the bodies of a man and woman who both died in their mid-twenties. Animal remains too are on show, including one of two goose skeletons discovered in a pit near the kitchen, aligned north and south, and perhaps sacrificed at winter solstice to encourage the gods to speed the return of summer.
Among those attending the official opening last week was our Fellow Tony Rook, who worked on the original villa excavations from 1949 and whose parents became the sites first custodians. At that time, Tony recalled the mosaic was covered by a tarpaulin which we took off each day. When the Ministry of Works took over
they provided [my father] with a new police raincoat each year and they continued to send one even after a building was erected over the site in 1963. The villa was discovered in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, when a tree blew down to reveal mosaic fragments. The villa is famous for its fourth-century wall paintings, reconstructed from thousands of plaster fragments and now in the British Museum, showing scenes of Christian worship.
The IFAs Maritime Archaeology Group (MAG) is concerned about the dire situation relating to maritime archaeological archive provision in the UK, and has launched a questionnaire designed to collect baseline data for gauging the current provision for maritime archives and the numbers and diversity of current collections. Further information can be found on the project website.
The newly published NAS Guide to Underwater Archaeology Principles and Practice (edited by Amanda Bowens) provides a comprehensive summary of the archaeological process as applied in an underwater context with extensive practical advice and information. This second edition contains new chapters on geophysics, historical research, photography and video, monitoring and maintenance and conservation. For more information, see the NAS website.
Among the multiplicity of factors that contributed to the sinking of the Mary Rose, the crews poor grasp of English might have been one, according to new tests carried out on the teeth of eighteen of those who drowned when the ship went down during a battle with the French in July 1545.
The theory has been put forward by Professor Hugh Montgomery, of University College London, after analysis of the nitrogen, oxygen and sodium isotopes in tooth enamel from the crew members revealed that they might have been mercenaries from Spain. Tooth enamel laid down during childhood retains the signature of the underlying geology absorbed through drinking water, and the research team found that eleven of the samples they analysed had a Mediterranean character.
In announcing the findings Professor Montgomery also noted that Henry VIII was known to have been short of skilled soldiers and sailors and was trying to recruit mercenaries from the Continent at the time. Among Henry VIIIs state papers was a record of nine ships that were caught in a storm in the English Channel. The 600 Spanish soldiers on board sought refuge in Falmouth harbour, in Cornwall, and were pressed into service for England in return for clothing and food. It is possible that some of these men were on the Mary Rose, Professor Montgomery said.
Professor Montgomerys findings are the subject of a TV documentary, The Ghosts of the Mary Rose: Revealed, to be shown on Channel Five at 8pm on 5 August.
A 21-metre-long vessel dating from around 500 BC, the largest of its kind ever found (four other vessels of similar age have been found off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus and France), has been raised to the surface off Sicily. The wooden vessel was found by scuba divers in 1988, 800 metres from the ancient Greek colony and port of Gela. The timbers are said to be in an excellent state of preservation, and include the remains of the hemp ropes used to sew together the pine planks in its hull, a technique described in the Iliad. The remains are to be transported to Portsmouth where they will be conserved by Mary Rose Archaeological Services. The cargo, which includes amphorae, drinking cups, oil lamps and woven baskets, was brought to the surface in 2003. Sicilys regional government is seeking funds to recover another wreck dating from the late seventh century BC. The culture department says it eventually plans to build a sea museum in Gela with the ships as key exhibits.
A scientific technique used in testing for the HIV virus is being used in the conservation of wall paintings in the remote Cypriot monastery of St John, in Lampadistis. The samples are then being tested using the immunological technique called Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (Elisa) to determine what type of organic binder has been used in the painting and enables conservators to choose the most appropriate method of conservation. The Getty Conservation Institute is a pioneer in this area of research, which is of interest to conservators because of its relatively low cost and high level of accuracy in identifying specific materials.
The British Museum has had its most successful year since it started counting visitors. In the financial year 2007/8, a record 6.049 million people came through the doors, including 35,000 who visited on a single day to celebrate Chinese New Year. The BM beat Tate Modern this year to become the most visited cultural attraction in the UK. In announcing these figures, the BMs Director, our Fellow Neil MacGregor, announced that he had signed a contract to run the British Museum for a further five years, taking his tenure up to the Olympic year of 2012. Rumours abounded at one stage that he would move to become director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
During the next five years, the BM plans to redevelop the north-west corner of the museum to build a new £130 million exhibition and conservation centre, designed by Lord Rogers of Riverside. The scheme has attracted opposition, however, from various heritage societies. Fellow John Martin Robinson, Vice-Chairman of the Georgian Group, says he fears the development would seriously detract from the conservation area and the adjoining listed buildings, and Fellow Hero Granger-Taylor, of the Camden Civic Society, said: This doesnt respect the existing building at all. Critics of the scheme are particularly worried about restricting natural light to the Arched Room, described as a hidden gem, and the Edward VII Galleries. The Bloomsbury Conservation Society says: the solution as it currently stands is a missed opportunity that blights the existing buildings.
Japan has punished some of its own tourists for leaving graffiti on buildings in Florence. A Japanese holidaymaker photographed a series of graffiti in his own language which then led to an appeal for information in two of Japans biggest newspapers, on national television and in online forums. Six students, who left initials and the name of their universities on various parts of the cathedral, have been expelled or suspended; a teacher faces losing his job. These people, said a Japan expert, make the Japanese lose face abroad and commit acts offensive to their hosts.
Church of England dioceses are to be encouraged to appoint tourism officers and promote parish churches as tourist attractions. Almost half of Britains Grade I-listed buildings are places of Christian worship. Roy Thompson, a lay member of the General Synod who is behind the move, said: This is an opportunity to introduce even more of our community to the richness of their heritage, and to deliver it through a higher-quality, better trained visitor welcome. Our Fellow, the Bishop of London, The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said the move was not primarily designed to raise revenue, but was an attempt to turn tourists into pilgrims.
English Heritage is seeking Grade II heritage asset status for the BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane, London, leading to a flurry of newspaper headlines to the effect that the studios where Top of the Pops was filmed and the Blue Peter garden could both be declared historically and architecturally significant. Our Fellow Peter Beacham, English Heritages heritage protection director, said: As one of the first purpose-built television studios in the world it represents the moment when Britain led Europe into the television age.
Some ninety-seven senior computer scientists and mathematicians signed a letter to The Times on 24 July, deploring the fact that Bletchley Park, the code-breaking centre that helped to win the Second World War and launch the modern computer, is on the Heritage at Risk register. They called on the Government to steps to save the building from the ravages of age and a lack of investment. Several of the eight surviving huts where the code-breakers worked day and night to crack the German Enigma code, have boarded-up windows and dirty tarpaulins to keep out the rain. The signatories call for Bletchley Park to be made the home of a national museum of computing (www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article4387286.ece).
3,000 years in the same village: two living inhabitants of the German village of Nienstedt have been found to share the same rare and distinctive genetic characteristics as people who lived in the nearby Lichtensteinhohle cave in the foothills of the Harz Mountains in Lower Saxony, in the Bronze Age. Uwe Lange, a 48-year-old surveyor, said: We used to play in these caves as kids; if Id known that there were 3,000-year-old relatives buried there I wouldnt have set foot in the place.
One wonders whether the inhabitants of London feel the same about the tens of thousands of skeletons that lie hidden beneath their feet. Their precise location can be seen on a digital map produced by the Museum of London Archaeology Service that allows users to zoom in on streets to see how many bodies they walk over on the way to work. The map pinpoints the location of many of the 37,000 skeletons found during excavations in the capital: 17,000 of these have been retained for study, but the rest have been reinterred (www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article4228215.ece).
Bones from a site in Paris have been found that date the citys earliest known human occupation to about 7600 BC. The site on the south-western edge of the city, close to the banks of the river Seine between the Paris ring road and the city's helicopter has yielded thousands of flint arrowheads and fragments of animal bone. Previously, the oldest known human settlement within the Paris city boundary was a fishing and hunting village beside the Seine at Bercy near the Gare de Lyon railway station, dating from about 4500 BC.
Carbon dating tests on ancient domesticated wheat samples from sites all over the Middle East have found that those from Çatalhöyük are the oldest known so far, dating back some 8,500 years.
While we rightly lament the destruction of Iraqs heritage through theft and looting, the loss of some 50,000 exhibits from Russian museums has gone largely unreported. The losses were reported in a Russian government audit and range from Pre-Revolutionary medals and weapons to works of art. Vladimir Putin ordered the survey after his government was deeply embarrassed in 2006 by hundreds of thefts from the Hermitage. Over 1,600 museums have been inspected since then, and most of them have items missing. The 50,000 figure may yet turn out to be the tip of the iceberg, though checking around 80 million items in Russian museums is hampered by the lack of accurate or comprehensive inventories.
War in Afghanistan means that archaeological fieldwork there is all but impossible, but this hasnt prevented David Thomas, a PhD student at La Trobe University in Melbourne researching the semi-nomadic Ghurid people and their empire, from finding 450 possible archaeological sites in the 75 kilometre by 17 kilometre strip of the hitherto unexplored Registan desert, bordering Helmand and Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan. Thomas has been using Google Earth as a tool to look for structures such as animal corrals, reservoirs, dams and water channels, fortifications and occupation mounds. Thomas says he hopes archaeologists will take Google Earth more seriously as a result of his finds.
Many of us are already familiar with the riches of the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (biab online; www.biab.ac.uk) but for those who are not, the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is currently promoting this invaluable archaeological reference resource, which has full bibliographical references to around 200,000 books, journals and post-graduate theses. It is the most comprehensive list of everything ever written on British and Irish archaeology and the BIAB team are hard at work adding new features that will make searching for content much easier. Further announcements will be posted on the biab online news pages.
The Institute of Field Archaeologists has revised the Applicants Handbook and related documents to make the process of applying to join the IFA more straightforward and transparent. The new process concentrates on competence rather than experience. Applicants with the NVQ in Archaeological Practice will be able to fast-track their application, as holding the NVQ already proves technical competence. It is hoped that this changed emphasis and revised handbook will ensure that all professionals working within the historic environment feel able to apply. If you have any questions regarding the application process or would like an application pack, please contact the membership team (email@example.com) or downloaded this from the Individual membership page of the IFA website.
The IFAs 2009 Conference will be at the Torquay Riviera Centre from 7 to 9 April 2009. The conference committee is now inviting proposals for sessions in the form of abstracts and suggestions for speakers. These should be sent to Alex Lewellyn by 8 August 2008.
The following obituary, by our Fellows Bruce Eagles and Frances Griffith, was published in the Guardian on 24 July 2008.
The death of Norman Quinnell, at the age of eighty-two, is a sad loss to archaeology in Britain, and in particular to archaeological field surveying of sites of all periods. It is likely that in his forty-year career working away from home five days a week Norman recorded more sites across the UK than any other surveyor, his records certainly totalling tens of thousands.
His work began on demobilisation from the RAF in 1947, when he joined the Ordnance Survey (OS). In 1952 he transferred to the specialist team being set up to enhance the field recording of antiquities on OS maps. Already a keen archaeologist and a skilled and subtle field surveyor, he took on the role with great enthusiasm, identifying and surveying monuments of all periods and places, producing both the first written records for many field monuments and their detailed mapping.
During this period, he was involved, for example, in the first systematic mapping of the extensive landscapes of Bronze Age settlement on eastern Dartmoor. Such records, along with their bibliographic counterparts, came to form the core of the County Sites and Monuments Records and the National Archaeological Record, now held by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). Many of those now working with this material have come to know the initials NVQ on a record card as a guarantee of soundness.
Norman was known for his originality in the field, and his surveys, undertaken with colleagues, of sites such as the Neolithic causewayed enclosure and Iron Age hillfort complex at Hembury, Devon, or the prehistoric enclosure at Roughtor, Cornwall, remain exemplars of their kind. Indeed, it was in the field archaeology of south-west England that Norman made his impact, recording great swathes of country, not least the Isles of Scilly and the major survey of the uplands of Bodmin Moor, as well as his detailed work on the upstanding remains of the major early medieval site at Tintagel Island, Cornwall. Over these years, he made a massive contribution to the understanding of the field archaeology of that part of Britain.
Although born in Middlesbrough, Norman was brought up in Cornwall and spent the majority of his life in the south west. He was educated at Bodmin grammar school, and saw wartime service as an RAF navigator/bomb aimer. After the war he served in air movements in Singapore.
In the 1970s, he refused promotion to an OS post in Southampton in order to continue the field work he considered essential. Further opportunities arose with the transfer of the archaeology division to the RCHME in 1983. In that year, he was also elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries.
As well as surveying, Norman had a capacity to inspire junior colleagues and train them to his own high standards with kindness and generosity. When, in 1980, he married Henrietta Miles, the archaeologist in the University of Exeters adult education department, Norman entered that world, joining in training for both the university and for Devon and Cornwall archaeological societies. He also served for many years on the committee of the Cornwall Archaeological Society, and as its president from 1991 to 1994.
Norman was a gentle and unassuming man, and it is characteristic that when, on the occasion of his retirement from the RCHME in 1989, he received the rare accolade of a festschrift, From Cornwall to Caithness, he did not appreciate until he got home that it was a published volume produced in his honour. In retirement, he continued many archaeological projects, supported Henrietta and other colleagues in their work, and contributed to the work of county archaeological societies.
He and Henrietta travelled widely, his acute observation and curiosity giving edge to their travels. She survives him, as do his children and grandchildren.
Following the news of Phil Hardings honorary degree (see last Salon), we learn that Philip Crummy also received an honorary doctorate from Essex University on 18 July 2008, in recognition of his work on the archaeology of Colchester and the publication both academic and popular of the results. Philip Crummy said: Im delighted to have received this award. I especially liked sharing the ceremony with the graduating students from the departments of history and computing and electronic systems as the Colchester Archaeological Trust [of which Philip has been Director since 1971] has worked with members of staff from those departments in the past.
Our Fellow and Council Member Kate Clark has just been appointed as the new Director of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (NSW). The Historic Houses Trust cares for twelve historic buildings and sites of cultural significance across New South Wales, including Government House (by Edward Blore), Hyde Park barracks (by Bristol architect Francis Greenaway) and the Museum of Sydney. The portfolio also includes Rose Seidler House, the first commission for modernist architect Harry Seidler, built in 194850. The Trust runs a varied programme of exhibitions and events at its properties and also houses the Caroline Simpson library and collection an important resource for early Australian architecture and design. The HHT has just set up an Endangered Houses Fund, to act as a rolling building preservation trust.
Kate was, until she set up her own heritage consultancy last year, Deputy Director of Policy and Research at the Heritage Lottery Fund. She is currently working on a report for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on options for the future funding and management of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Kate takes up her new post in October 2008.
For news of our Fellow Richard Hodges, look no further than the recent issue of Current World Archaeology, edited by our Fellow Nadia Durrani, which is billed as a Penn Museum Special, filled as it is with features devoted to the history and work of one of the worlds great museums, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, of which Richard is now the Director. In a thoughtful essay for the magazine on the challenges of running the museum, Richard says that world renown, invaluable assets and peerless international connections are one side of the coin; galleries desperately in need of renewal for modern audiences, underinvestment in collections and infrastructure, and a staff at odds with the development of museums in the digital age, are the obverse. His response is to re-establish the museum as a place of global research: to engage fully in the digital age and put the collections online; to engage more fully with communities where the museum undertakes fieldwork (such as Gordion in Turkey, Mount Lykion in Greece, Ban Chiang in Thailand, Copán in Honduras, Tikal in Guatemala) and develop their potential as places for training and outreach; and to revive the museum building as a community asset in Philadelphia, and as a setting for great events, based on British architect David Chipperfields master plan for a new entrance, galleries and courtyards.
Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society, has begun a 1,000-year swim to highlight the importance of historic swimming pools. He intends to visit every listed Victorian and Edwardian public pool in England, and swim a lap for each year the building has been standing, a feat that will require him to swim a distance of just over 20 miles. Dr Dungavell began his challenge at the Grade II-listed Bramley Baths in Leeds on 24 July, and he will build up over the summer to the challenge of completing 117 lengths of the 33m Swindon Health Hydro, before rounding the task off with 116 laps at Dulwich Leisure Centre on 29 August 2008.
Working heritage assets like these contribute so much to communities as symbols of shared history and civic pride. With many churches facing closure and Victorian school buildings falling foul of rebuilding schemes, pools like these are sometimes the only historic building open for public use, Ian said, adding that: it is shocking that so few remain in use and open to the public, whilst many listed pools have been closed and left to rot. We must work hard to ensure that adequate funding and expertise is available to keep our remaining historic pools open to everybody for many years to come. For more information about the 1000 Year Swim, see the campaign website.
Among the feedback received recently, Vincent Megaw points out that it is geographically incorrect to describe the Czech Republic as being part of eastern Europe, as Salon did in its report on the latest issue of The Archaeologist, as much of it lies to the west of Italy and Sweden, and all of it west of Greece. The preferred term, he says, is central Europe (or even New Europe), which also avoids the non-PC usage of eastern as a shorthand for the former Soviet bloc, with all its negative connotations and its denial of the Czech Republics long history at the heart of European culture.
Mike Pitts writes to say that it is good to see Salon standing up for Bonekickers, but that his co-interviewee on the Radio 4 Front Row review programme was not the Boyd Hilton who is history professor at Trinity College, Cambridge, but the regular contributor to Front Row who is TV editor at Heat magazine (if, says Mike, the two really are the same man, then Id be delighted to interview such a broad-minded intellectual for British Archaeology!).
Catching up with Salon after six weeks in the field, Tim Darvill writes to say that Indiana Jones is of course simply one of the many instances where archaeology crops up in the movies. From the field of science fiction there are several relevant papers in the book Digging Holes in Popular Culture edited by our Fellow Miles Russell (Oxbow Books 2002), which includes a foreword by Douglas Adams that, as it turned out, was his last published work.
On early depictions of Morris dancing, Tim says: there is a fine engraving as the title page to Kemps Nine Daies Wonder (published c 1600) performed as a dance from London to Norwich, showing a dancer with the essential accoutrements of bells on his legs and waving strips of cloth. Kempe was a popular actor and played with Shakespeare at the Globe and at Blackfriars; Shakespeare of course uses the Morris as a motif in several of his plays.
Several more suggestions have been made for the title of worlds oldest door or just old doors generally. In the latter category, John Collis points to the wooden door from the oppidum of Altenburg bei Niedenstein, made of oak, and dating to the first century BC, with a projection top and bottom on which the door swivelled. Christopher Currie asks: are the doors of Santa Sabina in Rome no longer thought to be fifth century? If so, can we have the source for their debunking?
Dr Karen Exell, Curator, Egypt and the Sudan, at the Manchester Museum, says that the ancient Egypt gallery has a wooden door on display from the site of Kahun, the pyramid town of King Senwosret II (18801874 BC). The site was inhabited from the reign of this king for around one-hundred years. Although not a working door, could this pre-date any of the doors so far mentioned?, Karen asks.
Warwick Rodwell says that Westminster Abbey itself has never made such an exaggerated claim for the Chapter House vestibule door: dating from the 1050s, we are happy to claim it as the oldest in Britain, but it certainly is not the oldest door in the world. Leaving aside fragments of doors of Roman and earlier date that have been found in archaeological contexts, there are various surviving church doors in the Mediterranean area for which dates as far back as the fifth century are claimed on form and ornament. We are proud of our door at Westminster, but we must not allow nationalistic fervour to eclipse the solid facts!. The Abbey is proud of the fact that the door continues in daily use, however. It is not a museum piece or carefully conserved relic, but a functioning door: there is no reason to doubt that it has been in daily use (and still is) since the 1050s, Warwick adds, asking how many other doors can claim such long, continuous use?
And a last word (I hope!) on the question of Henry IIIs brother-in-law and competitor in piety. Salon 193 said Louis IX of France (St Louis, or Louis the Pious), but Catherine Laurent points out that St Louis and Louis the Pious are not the same individual: in France, the title Louis le Pieux is given to the third son of Charlemagne who succeeded him as Holy Roman Emperor from 814 to 840. As Catherine says: As you can see, France has many sovereigns remarkable for their religiosity!
Finally Jean Wilson laments that it is not just in Crete that churches are closed. On the weekend of 19 to 21 July, she reports, the Church Monuments Society (many of whose members are Fellows of this Society) held its biennial conference in Bristol. The Cathedral, St Nicholas and St Stephens could not have been more helpful and hospitable, but the Lord Mayors Chapel a repository of monuments of national importance remained obdurately closed, despite the best endeavours of the organisers of a splendid meeting. Apparently no one could be found to come down and open the chapel on a Saturday afternoon, nor were the organisers (scholars of the utmost respectability) deemed fit to be trusted with the key. The C of E is at last recognising the role that churches should play in the national heritage; they are one of the glories of the country, and yet in a huge city (and tourist centre) a major church remains shut.
IIC Round Table on Climate Change and Museum Collections, London, September 2008
The International Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) is hosting a public round table discussion on the implications of climate change and its effects upon cultural heritage, particularly that within museums and house collections. The round table will take place at the Sainsbury Wing Theatre of the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, on 17 September 2008, from 6.15pm to 7.30pm as part of the 22nd IIC Congress Conservation and Access (1519 September in London). Those taking part include Sarah Staniforth, Historic Properties Director, The National Trust, and Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate. Seating is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, see the IICs website.
The latest issue of the new journal Time and Mind (01/02, July 2008) includes an interview with Vice-President Timothy Darvill on the work that he and our President Geoff Wainwright are doing in Pembrokeshire on the landscape that produced the Stonehenge bluestones. Tim also observes that the book that he wrote with Fellows Paul Stamper and Jane Timby, called England: An Oxford Archaeological Guide to sites from earliest times to AD 1600, was listed by the Times Higher Education Supplement for 24 July 2008 as No. 2 in the Top 10 Academic Bestsellers List evidence perhaps to support that oft-repeated assertion that visitors are attracted to the UK not by the weather but to visit the prehistoric, Roman and medieval sites that abound across England.
Fellow Robin Derricourt, Managing Director of the University of New South Wales Press, recently gave a talk on ABC Radio National in which he regrets the impermanence of material published on the internet. I do get worried when I go back to an important online document I read a year or two ago to find it has been moved or more often disappeared and that there is no evidence it ever existed. The standard in research writing is to cite references for the evidence, so a statement can be checked and tested and challenged or taken a stage further. If it is in a readily accessible printed book or journal article, fine. If it is a more obscure printed source, so be it. But if I say Just believe me, I read it in a document on the web I sound less convincing, Robin says. There is a transcript (and also audio download) on the ABC Radio National website.
Two important catalogues have come out from the British Museum Press this summer. Donald M Baileys Catalogue of Terracottas in the British Museum IV: Ptolemaic and Roman Terracottas from Egypt (www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/82644) features terracottas found in Egypt and dating from the victory of Alexander in 332 BC and the succeeding Ptolemaic and Roman periods until the Arab conquest in AD 641. The author argues that most such terracottas probably came from the houses of city- and village-dwellers, and, placed in a house-shrine, would have been thought by their owners to have a protective function over their households in everyday life and in childbirth. They would also enhance the fertility of fields and animals. Some 830 terracottas and objects, arranged thematically, are discussed and illustrated. The introduction describes the scope and content of the material; its function and distribution within the villages and cities of Egypt; its religious context; the difficulties of dating it; and manufacturing techniques.
Vera Evisons Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Glass in the British Museum (www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/82598) is the definitive book on its subject and is based on the lifetimes work of someone who is universally acknowledged to be the major scholar in her field. In addition to the British Museum collection, it provides a detailed discussion of the various types of early Anglo-Saxon glass (vessels, gems, beads and window glass), placing it within its English context and drawing on Continental and Scandinavian parallels. This is complemented by new scientific and technological research on early medieval glass making in England, on the Continent and in the Mediterranean.
Proof that Fellows do good work in outreach and education has arrived on the desk of Salons editor in the form of a publication from the Skendleby Heritage Society, called The Mystery of the Chapel of St James, Skendleby a mystery to whose solution several Fellows have contributed, including Catherine Richards, Glyn Coppack, Philip Dixon and Roger Palmer (it is not often that FSAs, metal detectorists and JCB owner-operators feature together in the acknowledgements of an archaeological publication). The mystery of the title was the origin of some carved stones dredged from the village pond (by the JCB owner). The find inspired the 150 residents of Skendleby, in Lincolnshire, to form a heritage society, apply for a grant from the late-lamented Local Heritage Initiative, and set about researching, locating and excavating the twelfth-century priory chapel of St James from which the stones originally came.
In the course of this work, they not only recovered the history and archaeology of the lost Benedictine priory at Skendleby, they filled in the history of the village over some 5,000 years, with finds that included a fine Neolithic polished stone hand axe, numerous Anglo-Saxon metal finds dating from AD 500 to 600 and the boundaries of relatively recent fields. The report on all of this is technically detailed and scholarly, but easy to digest, and doesnt merely describe: it assesses the significance of the finds, and ends with a set of ten questions for further research. It is full of pictures of smiling people of all ages, clearly enjoying their archaeology (including a very rare photograph of eleven members of this Societys Cocked Hat Club making a visit to the site). Let us hope that someone has thought to enter this publication and project in the forthcoming British Archaeological Awards: it certainly deserves to be considered for a prize.
And finally, a poem was promised. This one comes in the form of a metrical tribute to our late Fellow Howard Colvin from our Fellow Andor Gomme, who says that he wrote it some time ago while recovering in hospital from an operation. Andor says he submitted it to the newsletter of the Society of Architectural Historians but his letter went unacknowledged: that Societys loss is our gain.
HMC: at the end of a great life
At the end an old man old by count of years
Though nothing aged that mind, with rapier shrewdness
Steeled against pretension, galleried like an anthill,
Signposted within to still uncharted links.
Old, too, with a maturity which none
Could hope to match in half-a-dozen lives.
He knew the true rust of the barons wars,
The works of medieval kings,
The courtiers prodigies and Vanbrughs pomp.
The mind was ever curious, ever alert:
It had its home-bred curiosities
The Oxford of St John, the Oxford never built,
The architecture of the after-life
(Which he did not believe in).
He early opened up the tribe
Of master-craftsmen on whose stalwart backs
Rested so long the weight of English builds
Tested himself the waters with a few
Of the rich multitude
Packing the pages of the lexicon
Warehouse of open opportunity
Into whose steady growth
Edition by edition, year by year,
Its been the mark of scholarship to prise
Each new discovery
Outcome of patient grind or lucky strike,
A document which somehow he had missed
Or rather not yet found. For none escaped
The piercing eye, the gimlet mind.
A quite man, soft-spoken and precise,
Though ruthless in pursuit of truth; grave, as befits
A guardian of the nations history.
But all have seen the minatory glint,
The Chaplin eyebrows prancing above Harpo eyes
Sparking with mischief, as a name
Found itself startled into light.
So at Wotton near the end, among a score
Of well-versed offerings scattered
Across a knowledge of the subject field,
He hardly-more-than-whispered-forth the answer
The rest of us had fumbled for for years
(The name, with its potential clear in view,
Was in the Dictionary all along:
It only needed two added to two
To make up four: but only he could add).
Loadstar and steersman both
Or file fine-tuning others crudities:
Lost to us now, but recollection stays,
Setting a standard
That once we never knew might yet be reached.
The Ragged School Museum, Director
Salary: £27,500 to £30,000 depending on experience; closing date 22 August 2008
Known for delivering excellent educational programmes about the life of the Victorian poor, the Ragged School Museum is about to embark on a programme of development and growth and seeks an enthusiastic and imaginative Director to guide this programme. The successful applicant will have proven management and administrative skills, marketing and fundraising experience but most importantly will be able to motivate and retain staff and volunteers during a particularly demanding period. For further details about the organisation, the role and the application process, see the museums website.
University of Aberdeen: two Research Assistants and one Research Fellow, to work on the Buildings of Scotland series
Salary: Research Assistants £24,146; Research Fellow £28,832; closing date 5 September 2008
The Leverhulme Trust has granted a major award to Aberdeen University to complete the Buildings of Scotland series with two new volumes covering Aberdeenshire and North-East Scotland, including the City of Aberdeen (one volume will cover the southern part of the region roughly Kincardineshire and Gordon) and the other the north roughly Banffshire and Moray. The project is being directed by our Fellow Jane Geddes, at Aberdeen University, Charles OBrien, the series editor at Yale University Press, and Ian Riches, secretary to the Buildings of Scotland Trust.
Ideally, candidates should be familiar with the format and content of the Buildings of Scotland series, and should have a good first degree in a related field (such as History of Art, History, Architecture, Archaeology or Planning), or be able to demonstrate substantial equivalent experience. An enthusiasm for buildings of all periods, a proven ability to write clear and engaging text about architecture, and experience of library research and fieldwork are essential, as is a good working knowledge of Scottish architectural history.
For further details and application procedures, see the University of Aberdeens website.
Council for British Archaeology: Community Archaeology Support Officer
Salary range: £20,000 to £23,000; closing date 29 September 2008
The CBA is seeking someone with a strong commitment to communicating the enjoyment and benefits of archaeology to a broad audience in the role of Community Archaeology Support Officer. This new post is funded with a grant from the Headley Trust, initially as an 18-month contract (but with the hope that it will become a permanent post, subject to further funding).
The job requires someone with proven experience in liaising with the voluntary sector and with an understanding of its complexity and needs. The successful candidate will be a good communicator, preferably with experience of writing for the web. The post will involve extensive travel around the UK. You will also have a good general knowledge of archaeology, and especially of field methodology, recording and standards, as well as information dissemination and publication.
For further details and enquiries, please contact Dr Dan Hull, Head of Information & Communications at the CBA (firstname.lastname@example.org).