Salon Archive

Issue: 202

Christmas closure

The Society’s apartments and library will be closed on Wednesday 24 December 2008 and will re-open on Monday 5 January 2009.

Junk mail

The Society has, in the past, forwarded to Fellows any post that arrives addressed to them at the Society, but as a number of Fellows have pointed out that this almost invariably consists of unsolicited junk mail, we have decided to cease the practice. In future, the Society will no longer forward post addressed to Fellows unless agreed in advance with the addressee.

Forthcoming meetings

11 December: ‘After Kelmscott: the arts and crafts movement in the Cotswolds’, by Alan Crawford

18 December: Miscellany of papers and mulled wine reception. Vice-President Tim Darvill and Fellows Christopher Catling and Neil Holbrook will talk about ‘Fifty Years of Cirencester Archaeology’, looking back on fifty years of achievement since the formation of the Cirencester Excavation Committee at the Society of Antiquaries on 16 December 1958. Our Fellow Yvette Staelens will then talk about her AHRC-funded ‘Singing Landscape’ project, in which she has been tracking down the singers and their descendants from whom Cecil Sharp (1859–1924) collected traditional songs, tunes and dances in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Hampshire and collecting biographical and photographic material to set the music in context.

Fellows and their guests are welcome to attend the meeting for free, but a charge of £15 per person is made for the reception, which includes a donation to the Society’s Development Fund. To reserve tickets, please contact the Society’s Administrative Assistant, Jola Zdunek, tel: 020 7479 7080.

New Fellows elected on 27 November 2008

All the candidates in the ballot held on 27 November 2008 were elected as Fellows of the Society. They included Stewart Ainsworth, well-known as the man with an uncanny ability to read the landscape and get plausible answers to questions that elude the diggers and geophysics crew in Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’; Katherine (‘Kay’) Barclay, stalwart of the Winchester Excavations Research Unit 1969—89 and editor of the Royal Archaeological Institute’s newsletter; Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College who, as Head of Libraries, Department of National Heritage (1995—7), was responsible for the successful completion of the British Library project; elected member of House of Lords James Dugdale, Lord Crathorne, Honorary Secretary of the All-Party Arts and Heritage Group; Anders Andrén, Archaeology Professor at the University of Stockholm; and Dorothy Clayton, Head of Scholarly Publications and Permissions at the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, and editor of the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. A full list of all the newly elected Fellows can be found on the News & Events page of our website.

Six years of heritage protection review ends with a whimper

The Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of the UK Parliament on 3 December 2008 was to have been the occasion on which a new Heritage Protection Bill would have been announced. Instead, the bill hit the buffers with the finality that some had been predicting for the last six months (knowing what was to come, Salon stopped reporting on the bill’s progress several months ago, and even the most optimistic of the bill’s supporters got the message when the Secretary of State for Culture used the launch of 'Heritage Counts' last month to depress expectations that there would be a bill).

The ostensible reason for the demise of the bill is the need to use parliamentary time for urgent measures to protect the economy from recession and ‘improve the lives of the people of Britain as they face exceptional global circumstances’. In fact, you will search in vain for such measures in what, by universal agreement, is a lacklustre and incoherent Queen’s Speech. Apart from the one bill to introduce a new compulsory banking code, there is nothing that looks like ‘last-minute’ legislation other than a hastily cobbled-together measure to ‘ban irresponsible alcohol promotions’.

One has to ask whether, outside of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, there was ever any serious intent to bring the Heritage Protection Bill to Parliament at all. After all, this was a bill that grew out of Tessa Jowell’s personal antipathy to heritage, and her determination to bring the heritage sector to heel. She felt the heritage voice was too powerful (!) and she had a particular dislike of ‘heritage experts’. Heritage protection laws had to be made more transparent and accountable; greater democracy was needed in the form of public consultation over listings proposals and a right of appeal.

Even so, the heritage community succeeded in turning the bill to advantage and introducing some much needed reforms into the draft. We have long campaigned for Historic Environment Registers to be put on a statutory basis — good local authorities do not need legislation to force them to provide a historic environment service backed by adequate data that can be used as a sound basis for decision-making on planning issues, but there are rogues among the planning authorities and legislation would have been useful in setting out what precisely a duty of care towards the historic environment really entails. A statutory requirement to review conservation areas and produce plans for their enhancement would also have been very positive in reminding planning authorities that conservation areas require active management, not just paper policies. Nor should we forget that this bill contained clauses that would have enabled the UK to conform to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

A statement from the Department of Culture acknowledged that ‘many people will be disappointed that the Heritage Protection Bill has had to be put on hold for the time being’, but the DCMS now argues that some of the key reforms can be dealt with by means of non-statutory guidance. A draft Policy Planning Statement is promised for consultation before the Easter recess; this PPS will be ‘clear and up to date and bring together planning policy on all aspects of the historic environment — the built environment, archaeology and landscape — and underline their essential place in the planning context’. In addition, the DCMS says: ‘we will next year publish a clear statement of the Government’s vision and priorities for the historic environment — a statement that properly captures its value in the widest sense across government’.

The challenge facing the heritage community now is to ensure that we are not let down again. The Prime Minister is single-mindedly fixated on ‘economic prosperity’ and hints have already been dropped that PPGs 15 and 16 are seen as additional burdens on developers that make us uncompetitive with our European neighbours; all that is needed, this argument goes, is a PPS that conforms to the norm throughout the rest of Europe. We must work hard to ensure that Government (which means not just the relatively small and insignificant Department of Culture but also the really large departments of state that are responsible for planning and land use) does not use the new Policy Planning Statement to weaken protection for the heritage and water down existing principles. And if the PPS does turn out to be a thinly disguised developers’ charter when it is eventually published, we must be prepared to mount the biggest and loudest possible campaign to remind the Government that it has a duty of stewardship towards the heritage and that it is betraying the nation by helping those who thoughtlessly destroy our historic environment.

Responses to the Queen’s Speech

English Heritage has responded to the circumstances by publishing a statement setting out what can and what cannot be achieved without the bill. It has also set out a timeline for the implementation of heritage protection reform actions that do not require legislation.

The Archaeology Forum (of which the Society of Antiquaries is a member) took the positive view that ‘a well-drafted integration and improvement of the present Planning Policy Guidance notes 15 and 16 will better protect the historic environment and ease the path to economic recovery’ and pledged the commitment of TAF members to ‘helping Government get the policy right’. The TAF statement also said that local authority historic environment services ‘are key to the success of the PPS and HPR. We look to government to work with the sector to ensure that every authority has access to an appropriately resourced Historic Environment Record and supporting service’.

Dave Chetwyn, Chair of the Institute of Building Conservation (IHBC), said: ‘We are hugely disappointed that the reforms contained in the Bill are, at least for now, on hold’. He also said that the Government had missed an opportunity in its recent budgetary statement on reducing VAT by 2.5 per cent to reduce still further VAT levied on building refurbishments ‘to boost key labour-intensive areas of the development sector and deliver much-needed economic stimulus’.

The UK National Commission for UNESCO says that it is ‘extremely saddened and concerned’ by the omission of the Heritage Protection Bill from the Queen’s Speech because it means that the UK ‘will be the only international power, and the only major combatant in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, not to have legislation under discussion to enable it to sign and ratify the 1954 (Hague) UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999’. Professor Alec Boksenberg, Chair of the UK National Commission, also regretted the ‘very worrying and deeply frustrating’ loss of enhanced recognition and protection for World Heritage Sites in the UK.

Consultation on World Heritage Sites

As Professor Boksenberg points out, the Heritage Protection Bill contained clauses that would have resolved the anomaly whereby the UK’s top-most designation tier — World Heritage Site status — currently lacks any statutory force. That is one of the issues raised in a new consultation launched on 2 December 2008 by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham entitled ‘Identifying, protecting and promoting our World Heritage’.

The consultation is accompanied by a review commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers looking at the costs and benefits of World Heritage Site status. This is a most odd document which seems to start from the premise that World Heritage Site status should confer some sort of financial benefit — pure conservation is an alien concept, as is the idea that World Heritage Sites are worth conserving because of their intrinsic value. Consequently the report is rather negative about WHS status, pointing out that the cost of bidding for World Heritage Site status is £400,000 and that a very low percentages of visitors are aware of such status or motivated by it in their decision to visit. The benefits of tourism and regeneration arising from WHS status have been overstated, the report says, and much of the funding for conservation work following inscription comes from heritage or conservation bodies at the expense of expenditure on heritage sites elsewhere.

As for the consultation itself, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Department of Culture has lost whatever appetite it ever had for World Heritage Sites. Introducing the consultation the Culture Secretary said: ‘Set against a backdrop of increasing nominations, a request from UNESCO for well-represented countries to slow nominations and an evolving selection criteria, I feel it is the right time for the UK to review its World Heritage Policy’. Key questions include ‘whether we should add further sites to the World Heritage List at the same — or at a slower — rate, or stop nominations all together. What are the measures that we can take to clarify and strengthen protection for World Heritage Sites? Does the UK’s current approach to World Heritage support the UK, crown dependencies and overseas territories in protecting and promoting their cultural and national heritage, particularly in relation to UNESCO?’

The consultation closes on 25 February 2009. Copies of the consultation document and the PricewaterhouseCoopers report can be downloaded from the DCMS website at .

Tough times for archaeology says new FAME Chairman

Our Fellow Roland Smith, the new Chair of FAME (the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers) — the new name for the long-established Standing Conference of Archaeological Unit Managers (SCAUM) — has expressed grave concern over the steep and dramatic downturn in archaeological employment that has resulted from the economic woes of the last few months.

Salon 198 reported that 51 per cent of archaeologists work in the commercial sector, according to the recent Institute for Archaeologists’ report on archaeological employment, but that figure was based on data collected in the summer of 2007. The economic situation now looks very different and Roland Smith said that ‘all employers working in the commercial sector have reported a severe downturn in work in the last two months. The outlook for the new year is very challenging’.

Several organisations have already had to lose staff and many of the larger employers in the sector are considering reductions in staffing. Roland added: ‘the initial impact has been amongst archaeologists working in fieldwork but the knock-on of this will be felt widely. There will be less work on reporting, and, for example, for membership organisations, there will be less income from subscriptions. These are some of the toughest economic conditions archaeological employers have had to face for many years.’

The Development of a National Heritage Science Strategy for the UK

Following the inquiry conducted by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee in 2006, a steering group has been established to develop a national strategy for heritage science, chaired by Sarah Staniforth (of the National Trust), with Fellows Nick Merriman (Manchester Museum), Sebastian Payne (English Heritage), Mark Pollard (Oxford University) and David Watkinson (Cardiff University) among the members.

The steering group members are keen that as many people as possible should participate in the development of the strategy, which has adopted a very broad definition of heritage to encompass movable heritage (museum, gallery, library and archive collections) and built heritage (archaeology, buildings, landscapes and townscapes). Three reports are planned, and a website has been set up spelling out the timetable for each and calling for contributions.

London’s bridges added to the heritage asset list

It comes as a surprise to discover that London’s bridges are not yet listed, but that oversight is to be remedied with the announcement by the Department of Culture that five road and railway bridges spanning the Thames have been newly listed, and two upgraded. The bridges that have been listed are as follows: Chelsea Bridge: Grade II; Cremorne Bridge: Grade II*; Hammersmith Bridge: upgraded to Grade II*; Lambeth Bridge and attached parapets, light standards, associated walls to approaches and obelisks: Grade II; Richmond Railway Bridge and approach viaduct: Grade II; Twickenham Bridge and attached railings, lamp standards and light brackets: upgraded to Grade II*; Vauxhall Bridge: Grade II*.

The oldest of the seven is Cremorne Bridge: opened on 2 March 1863, it is one of the earliest railway bridges to cross the Thames that survives in its original form. Chelsea Bridge, the newest, uses the wood of Douglas fir trees from British Columbia and was opened by W L Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, on 6 May 1937. Lambeth Bridge, opened by King George V and Queen Mary on 12 July 1929, was constructed by the same firm that built the Tyne Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The name of Horseferry Road, the western approach road to the bridge, recalls the ferry that shuttled between Lambeth and Milbank before the bridge was built.

Scotland celebrates its ‘Treasured Places’

Marking its centenary this year and next, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland has mounted an exhibition celebrating the richness and variety of Scotland’s built heritage. Based on the millions of items in RCAHMS collections, the exhibition consist of some 200 items dating from the late 1700s to the present day in a rich variety of media, including photographs, drawings and paintings, models, books and objects in display cases. Much of the material is the product of the RCAHMS’s own surveyors and photographers working across Scotland and the material has been chosen to reflect and connect the lives of the people of Scotland from prehistory to the present day, through themed sections that look at the ‘Places We Live’, ‘Places We Work’ and ‘Places We Gather’.

Reviews of the exhibition have been very positive. Miles Glendinning, Director of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, for example, notes how fortunate Scotland is to have a ‘specialised public institution more akin in its operation to a national library, archive or research institute’ dedicated to ‘the researching and recording of knowledge about our buildings’, and one that is as ‘concerned with “ordinary” as much as “elite” buildings’. He praises the ‘educational and knowledge-based character’ of the Commission’s work, as exemplified by the high quality of the objects on display, but wonders if the ‘public appreciation of the Commission’s inclusive scope within the modern built environment’ is not impeded by its ‘lengthy and confusing name, which misleadingly implies a traditional antiquarian focus on elite monuments’. He suggests a shorter and more modern ‘popular name’ (National Survey of Scotland) for public use, leaving the long title for use in official documents.

You have until 18 January 2009 to see the exhibition, which is on at the City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh; if Edinburgh isn’t on your itinerary in the next four weeks, you can see a high-quality online version.

Continuing the RCAHMS centenary celebrations on into next year, Creative Connections is a touring exhibition that will showcase works of art created by community groups and inspired by material from the RCAHMS’s collections. For a complete list of dates and venues, see the 'Treasured Places' website.

Hadrian’s Wall news

You might think that Hadrian’s Wall was a comprehensively studied monument about which there was little left to learn: proving otherwise is a new survey of the World Heritage Site that has revealed over 2,700 previously unrecorded landscape features, from prehistoric burial mounds to medieval sheep farms and nineteenth-century lead mines. The survey is part of the English Heritage National Mapping Programme (NMP), which aims to provide a comprehensive synthesis of archaeological information available on aerial photographs.

The project to map the landscapes of the Roman frontier covers the entire length of the Wall in a broad band, up to 15 kilometres wide, with Hadrian’s Wall running through the centre of it from the Solway Plain in the west to Newcastle in the east, and including the Cumbrian coastal defences. English Heritage experts identified, interpreted and recorded all the archaeological features visible on 30,500 aerial photographs taken between 1930 and 2006. Features catalogued include an Iron Age hillfort near the village of Fourstones, Northumberland; the deserted medieval village of East Matfen, Tyne & Wear; and a World War II anti-aircraft gun battery near Cleadon, Tyneside. Older photographs show sites that no longer exist, including hundreds of World War II structures that were removed soon after the war ended.

Meanwhile Richard Hingley and a team at Durham University is about to embark on a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to explore the post-Roman history of Hadrian’s Wall and the ways in which the Wall has been used by different generations to claim regional and national identities. There have been a number of interesting findings from the team’s preliminary research, including the placement of early medieval crosses and churches along the line of the monument to emphasise the perception of the Wall as a boundary between Christian Britons and pagan Picts/Scots. Other insights have come from the experiences of past and present visitors, and a paper on this topic will appear in the Journal of Social Archaeology shortly. More details about the project can be found on the project’s website.

NHMF grant for James II coronation cup

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has contributed £80,000 to the £160,000 needed by the Victorian and Albert Museum to purchase the James II coronation cup, a rare example of coronation silver dating from 1685. The cup was made from the silver that supported and decorated the canopies held over the heads of James II and Mary of Modena during their coronation ceremony. Traditionally these fittings, along with the ‘cloth of gold’ canopy, were given to the barons who held them in the coronation procession. Cresheld Draper, Member of Parliament for Winchelsea 1678—87, who held the king’s canopy, and Gawden Draper, who held the queen’s, combined their share of the silver and had it reformed into this cup in commemoration of their role in the coronation ceremony.

The 130mm tall cup depicts four Chinoiserie figures inspired by oriental goods traded through the East India Company. Our Fellow Mark Jones, V&A Director, said the cup will be displayed alongside other British coronation memorabilia, including bells from canopies used at the coronations of Georges II, III and IV and part of the canopy held over George II. Other donors included The Art Fund (£25,000) as well as The Friends of the V&A; the Hugh Phillips Bequest to the V&A; The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths; and an anonymous donor.

Export bar on rare eighteenth-century chandelier

A temporary export bar has been placed on a rare George I giltwood twelve-light chandelier in order to enable a UK purchaser to come forward and match the purchase price of £337,250 before 31 January 2009. Dating from around 1719, the ornate gilded chandelier is attributed to the Royal Cabinet-maker James Moore and is probably one of two supplied to the 1st Duke of Chandos for the chapel of his palatial house at Cannons, Edgware, Middlesex. Following the collapse of the family fortunes, it was included in the famous sale of the contents of Cannons in 1747, and was probably then acquired for the chapel of Sir William Turner’s Hospital in Kirkleatham, North Yorkshire.

Our Fellow Simon Jervis, a member of the Reviewing Committee that recommended the export bar, said: ‘This chandelier is probably the largest and almost certainly the most magnificent survivor of a very rare type. It has much to tell us about the history of English giltwood lighting with regard to design, to techniques, and to wider significances. And it is a spectacular object.’ The chandelier demonstrates outstanding virtuosity in wood carving and gilding, skills that flourished in London in the early eighteenth century and still await major study. For further information, see the Department of Culture’s website.

The Society in Country Life magazine

The Society is well represented in this week’s issue of Country Life as the Library features not only in an article on the Society’s Tercentenary, it is also depicted in a fine watercolour painting reproduced on page 75 of the magazine, in a review of the work of the artist Hugh Buchanan, whose latest series of paintings is of library interiors. Buchanan is described as ‘arguably the greatest watercolour painter working in Britain today’, and his library series as ‘his crowning glory’. An exhibition of his work, called ‘Enlightenment — The Library Paintings of Hugh Buchanan’, features two paintings of our Library, along with depictions of libraries at Eastnor Castle, Houghton Hall, Trinity College, Cambridge, and All Souls College, Oxford. The exhibition is on at the Francis Kyle Gallery, 9 Maddox Street, London, until 5 February 2009, after which it moves to The Old Town House, University of Aberdeen, from 19 March to 30 May 2009.

Antiquaries Journal Volume 88

The same edition of Country Life magazine also has a short article on the Lichfield Angel, written by Emily Howe, based on a paper co-authored by Emily and Fellows Warwick Rodwell, Rosemary Cramp and Jane Hawkes, the full version of which will be landing on Fellows’ doormats some two weeks from now when volume 88 of the Antiquaries Journal is posted out. The Lichfield Angel paper is one of two in this year’s volume examining the evidence for polychromatic paintwork on Anglo-Saxon sculpture (the second paper being based on the analysis of paint samples from the sculptural works at Deerhurst).

This year’s volume reflects the Journal’s mission to be multi-period, multi-disciplinary and international in scope, with papers that range from Fellow John Coles’s study of Bronze Age rock art in Bohuslän, informed by a deep understanding of the relationship between the art and the changing landscape of northern Sweden, through to a paper on the ‘Secret History of the Mildenhall Treasure’ by Fellow Richard Hobbs, based on a fascinating set of documents in the archives of the British Museum.

News from Russia

Our Fellow Heinrich Härke recently took early retirement in order, he says, ‘to do archaeology in Russia’ and to help improve contact between east and west. In pursuit of that aim, he has contributed to Salon his first ‘Letter from Russia’.

‘In late autumn of this year, I had the opportunity to attend two rather different archaeological conferences in Russia and the Russian “near-abroad”. The first was the 2nd (18th) All-Russian Archaeological Congress on 20—25 October 2008 in Suzdal, near Moscow. This represents a recent revival of a pre-Soviet tradition — hence the double numbering. In spite of its grand name, it is not (yet?) in the same class as the bustling, overcrowded SAA, WAC or similar conferences. In a country of this immense size, and without conference travel grants, attendance from beyond the Moscow—St Petersburg axis is understandably sparse, but many of the great and good in Russian archaeology were there among the 500 or so delegates.

‘About 400 papers were given in eighteen sections. The papers themselves were very much in the Continental tradition of archaeological scholarship, with a heavy emphasis on data presentation. But what struck me most was Russian conference behaviour: people coming and going during papers, conversations being conducted without anybody complaining, even mobile telephone calls being accepted while the hapless speaker tried to make himself understood. Accommodation and food prices were reasonable by present-day Russian standards, but the “banquet” was below par in the opinion of my Russian friends.

‘This congress is possibly the best window on Russian archaeology, but foreign delegates will have to understand enough Russian to make the most of it. The next All-Russian Congress will take place next year in Nizhny Novgorod, again not far from Moscow, in an old and beautiful town well worth a visit.

‘The second conference was in Abkhazia, a country under international embargo because it dared to insist on its independence from Georgia and fought for it in a bloody civil war in 1992—3, a decade before Kosovo, where the western powers took a very different position. The atmosphere in the country, with its subtropical climate, its visible war damage, constant reminders of “The War”, automatic rifle salvos at weddings and dirt-cheap prices, is a bit like I imagine Cuba was in the first decade or so after Castro’s revolution. Fellows may forgive my political comments here, but I believe that a country the Foreign Minister of which is an archaeologist who turns up for the final conference banquet cannot be all that bad.

‘The 2nd International Abkhazian Archaeological Congress took place in Sukhum (formerly Sukhumi) on 9—11 November 2008, organised and funded by the Academy of Sciences, with accommodation and food free for all who could obtain an official invitation. Again, as in Suzdal, I was one of two international delegates, among the forty or so from Abkhazia and Russia. About fifty papers were scheduled for four chronological sections and two plenary sessions, but by no means all of them materialized, and I was intrigued by the animated plenary discussions in which delegates were invited to suggest how to re-schedule the next day’s sessions.

‘The papers (on the first two days) and the excursion (on the final day, concluded by a memorable banquet) were impressive reminders of the rich archaeological heritage of the country of the Golden Fleece. The next Abkhazian Archaeological Congress will take place in two years’ time, again in Sukhum. Foreign visitors should not have any problems obtaining an official invitation, and they will be bowled over by the beauty and spirit of the country and its Caucasian hospitality.’

Threat to Tournai Cathedral

Several Fellows have forwarded information about a website that has been set up to provide information about plans to build a large new hotel within the World Heritage Site precinct of Tournai Cathedral, in Belgium. This hotel of concrete and glass will be 49 metres in height, 15 metres taller than the twelfth-century Romanesque nave of the cathedral, and will have a profound impact on the cathedral and its setting. The website has a petition asking the municipal authorities of Tournai to respect the integrity of the cathedral and to honour the prescriptions of the Unesco World Heritage Committee and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) on development within World Heritage Sites.

Concern at closure of Landscape Institute library

Established in the 1940s, the Landscape Institute Library holds one of Europe’s largest specialist collections of books, journals, and publications relating to landscape architecture covering both contemporary and historic material. An archive collection is being built up and currently includes landscape drawings and related material donated by some of the Institute’s founding members, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, Dame Sylvia Crowe, Sir Peter Shepheard and Michael Brown. The archive contains thousands of drawings, slides and photographs, curated by Sheila Harvey who was created an MBE earlier this year.

It is therefore not surprising that a number of distinguished Fellows of our Society, including former Landscape Institute President Sir Roy Strong, have written to our Fellow Alastair McCapra, Chief Executive of the Landscape Institute, to protest against the planned closure of the library, and the redundancy of five staff. The Institute says that the aim is to keep the collection together but to find a new home. It also argues that cost-cutting measures, though painful, are essential for balancing the books because the Institute has lost a third of its income due in part to a deep and rapid decline in recruitment advertising revenue as a result of the recession. ‘I would hope members and the public will have confidence that a difficult and challenging set of circumstances are being acted upon’, Alastair McCapra said.

Words dropped from a leading children’s dictionary

In some ways this is a bad news issue of Salon, and chiming in with the general gloom of the times is the ineffably sad news that a new edition of a leading children’s dictionary published by Oxford University Press will no longer contain the words abbey, aisle, altar, bishop and chapel, monastery, monk, nun, minister, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil and vicar; gone too are carol, cracker, holly, ivy and mistletoe, not to mention dwarf, elf and goblin.

Instead, the new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary introduces children to the grey world of Brownite Britain with the more ‘relevant’ words database, export, curriculum, classify, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, committee, compulsory, bullet point, voicemail, citizenship, dyslexic and celebrity.

Leaving politics and religion aside, the list of omitted words is a poem in itself: gone are the colourful and evocative words of the childhood imagination: fern, moss, buttercup and marzipan, adder, heron, kingfisher, lark, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren, acorn, blackberry, bluebell, bramble, brook, chestnut, clover, conker, ivy, pasture, sycamore, vine, violet, walnut and willow.

Vineeta Gupta, the head of children’s dictionaries at Oxford University Press, said: ‘Many children once lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multi-cultural. People don’t go to church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multi-culturalism.’

Console your self with one thought: children do not want to own, let alone use, a dictionary — they are worthy books that are bought by well-meaning relations that sit upon shelves unopened and gaining dust while the children for who they are intended are busy getting on with real life — or else sitting in the corner entranced by the world of Harry Potter in which words like elf and moss and conker tumble out from every exciting good-versus-evil page.

New atlas based on place-name etymology

On the other hand bright children might be fascinated by a new atlas that shows the etymological origins of geographical place-names, the Atlas of True Names, in which the familiar names for the world’s cities, countries, rivers and mountains are replaced by literal translations of their true meaning. Hence Chicago is renamed Stink Onion as the name is derived from the Algonquian word checagou, meaning wild onions, a reference to the smell of the sodden marshland on which Chicago was built. Cameroon is called Land of Shrimps as the name derives from the Portuguese word camaroes — an allusion to the abundance of prawns found by early explorers in the Sanaga river. Other fascinating names include Dominate the East! (Vladivostock), Realm of the God of the Underworld (Madras) and Great Land of the Tattooed, for Great Britain.

Mistletoe at risk

And mistletoe might not only cease to be a word in the dictionary, it might also become an endangered plant according to a report that says that the practice of cutting down the female plants for their berries puts the host tree at risk. This concern emerged in the run up to the 100-year-old mistletoe auction held at Tenbury Wells, in Worcestershire, this weekend. According to Reg Farmer, chairman of the Tenbury English Mistletoe Enterprise, the male mistletoe plants that are left are more toxic than the female; ‘left to thrive, the male plant will kill the branch it’s growing on and the tree will die. There are plenty of local examples where male mistletoe is poisoning trees’, he said. The answer is to manage ancient orchards so that mistletoe is harvested for the benefit of trees, rather than as a lucrative trade, which means leaving more of the females with berries on the trees.

Pub signs in danger of dying out

Last piece of gloomy news for the week: Bill Bryson is campaigning for the endangered pub sign, which he says are dying out because pub chains are replacing hand-painted signs with computer-generated images; worse still, they are substituting their own brand names for colourful and evocative historical names. This is despite the fact that a poll conducted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, of which Bill Bryson is President, found that pub signs were England’s favourite heritage icon, followed by red post boxes and canal boats, church spires, stiles, cattle grids and corner shops.

Sebastian Faulks, the author who nominated pub signs for inclusion in the poll, said that names such as The Struggling Monkey or The Quiet Woman offered an insight into the English psyche: ‘People who think of England as a practical country would never have imagined that its lanes and roads would be regularly punctuated by what look like cards from a wooden tarot pack — optical extravagances, creakily offering delight, escape and risk. But it is so; and sometimes we hardly see the strangest things by which we are surrounded’, he said.

Some thirty independent pub chains and breweries still employ sign writers but ‘the dominance of a few chains has contributed to the disappearance of traditional British pub names, and led to a profusion of bland corporate makeovers’. Bryson said. Chain pubs such as the Firkin brewery, the Slug and Lettuce and the Scream have replaced traditional pub names.

Perhaps more worrying still was the prediction from the Campaign for Real Ale that the current rate of pub closures means that there will be very few left in the countryside at all by 2012.

Books by Fellows

There is scarcely an icon of England that is not the subject of one of the excellent Shire series of pocket publications, to which a number of Fellows have contributed, including, recently, Anthony Emery with his fact-packed book on Discovering Medieval Houses or David Eveleigh with his new edition of Privies and Water Closets. Salon’s editor owns much-consulted copies of Discovering Timber-framed Buildings, and mini encyclopaedias on dovecotes, follies, almshouses and icehouses, mausoleums, milestones and piers.

Now out of this same stable comes Wagons and Carts by our Fellow David Viner, who has spent two decades scouring the English countryside for surviving examples of horse-drawn farm vehicles hidden away in barns and byres all over the country. Nobody who has read George Sturt’s evocative The Wheelwright’s Shop (1963) can possibly look at a wagon without a deep understanding of its significance for rural culture and David’s book packs into 48 copiously illustrated pages an account of the origins of wagon design and the many local variations in design that reflect specific agricultural uses. A long-lost world of regional diversity, local craftsmanship and skill, in which pride in doing a job well was a central tenet of working life, is evoked by this book, which if ordered now is available at a special pre-Christmas price of £5.99 (plus postage) or four books for the price of three (and free postage) from Shire Books.

Chiming with the current exhibition at the Royal Academy, Paul Hetherington’s new book is called Enamels, Crowns, Relics and Icons: studies on luxury arts in Byzantium (Ashgate/Variorum). The volume brings together eighteen papers published by Paul over the last three decades mainly concerned with enamel — the brilliant and colourful art form for which the Byzantines were famous throughout the medieval world — as well as sculpture and glyptics. The author examines questions of production, survival and loss, ownership and distribution, and looks at works that have retained the form in which they were first created and others that have had their original Byzantine elements re-used, often by artists in western Europe.

Fellow Bob Higham, well known to other Fellows with interests in medieval castle-building society, has recently turned (by way of a retirement project) to a new theme. His Making Anglo-Saxon Devon: emergence of a shire was published in October 2008 by The Mint Press, Exeter. It charts the progress of what became Devon — that is, the eastern part of Dumnonia (minus the bit absorbed in Somerset) — from the end of the Roman period to the Norman Conquest. Chapters on population and cultural identity, the Church, government, towns and rural life explore the evolution of the area from its post-Roman status within a British-speaking kingdom, through its re-creation as a shire of the West Saxon kingdom and its adoption of the English language to its economic and institutional growth within the tenth-/eleventh-century kingdom of England and the emergence of a notion of community of shire familiar in later centuries.


Fellow Tim Clough responded warmly to the news that Ely’s baroque angels had been rediscovered and are to be restored as a memorial to our late Fellow Thomas Cocke but was puzzled by Salon’s description of the angels as ‘almost life size’, and wondered whether Salon’s editor had ever seen an angel!

The interview with Simon Jenkins in which he said that he wanted the houses of the National Trust to be less ‘samey’, with ‘a Labrador and a child’s pushchair at the front of every National Trust house to make it look lived in’, provoked our Fellow Adam Zamoyski to retort that ‘putting a Labrador in every country house sounds terribly “samey” to me — how about a few honest to God mongrels?’.

Simon also pointed to the climate of risk aversion in Britain, and the fear of trips, slips and hazards, restricting what visitors to National Trust properties are allowed to do and see. Salon’s editor, out recording lime-burning kilns in Lancashire last week, spotted the perfect solution: a simple sign placed at the entrance to one kiln stated: ‘There are many potential hazards involved in visiting this site; you do so at your own risk’. Place a simple sign like that at the entrance to every National Trust property and have done with it!

In reporting on the recent visit by UNESCO officials to the Edinburgh World Heritage Site, Salon managed to misspell Dr Mechtild Rössler’s name and turn her into a man, so apologies and thanks to Fellow Henry Cleere for pointing out the error. You can find out more about the UNESCO mission on the website of Edinburgh World Heritage, including an account of the visit by our Fellow Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage, in the ‘News’ section.

In defence of England’s library service, Fellow Isobel Thompson pointed out that public libraries still provide a wonderful service in obtaining ‘pretty much any book you want, old or new; and if you ask for a photocopy of a journal article it will get that too. It might take a few days or weeks, and you will have to pay the fee (under £1 last time I tried this) and any photocopying cost, but there isn’t much they can’t get for you. Trouble is, not many people know this, and they should.’ Fellow Mary Bliss also wrote to sing the praises of the mobile library service in the villages around Cirencester, provided by the ever-welcome Library Bus.

Our Fellow David Clark has come up with a late addition to this summer’s discussion of early depictions of Morris dancing but potentially one that offers a very rich seam of evidence. His colleague, Heather Horner, points to Keith Chandler’s extensive catalogue of Morris history in Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands 1660—1900: a chronological gazetteer (Enfield Lock: Hisarlik Press, for the Folklore Society, 1993), which has just been republished in completely revised form on CD-ROM as Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands 1660—1900: aspects of social and cultural history (Stroud: Musical Traditions Records, 2002; MTCD250). There is also a book, David adds, by Michael Heaney and John Forrest, Annals of Early Morris (Sheffield: CECTAL & The Morris Ring, 1991), which deals with examples from 1466 to 1750.

News of Fellows

Our Fellow Dr Eurwyn Wiliam is to be the new Chair of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for a period of five years to 31 December 2013. The Queen has also approved the appointment of our Fellow Dr Mark Redknap as Commissioner.

Eurwyn Wiliam is an archaeologist and acknowledged authority on the post-medieval social and industrial history of Wales. He has worked in various departments of the National Museum of Wales since 1971 and has been Director of Collections and Research and Deputy-Director General at National Museum Wales since 1999. He was an RCAHMW Commissioner from 1992 to 2002 and Vice-Chair from 2002 to 2006.

Mark Redknap went from a PhD at the Institute of Archaeology in London to be Assistant Curator (Archaeology and Local History) at the Passmore Edwards Museum, London, and Curator of Medieval and Later Archaeology at National Museum Wales, where he has been since 1988. He has extensive expertise in the area of marine archaeology and was a member of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites from 1996 to 2005.

Also appointed as Commissioner is Christopher Williams, Professor of Welsh History and Director of the Centre for the History of Wales and its borderlands at Swansea University since 2005, an expert in both Celtic studies and industrial heritage.

Our President, Geoff Wainwright, and General Secretary, David Gaimster, were among the guests invited to Amsterdam on 7 November for a symposium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Antiquarian Society (Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap), founded in 1858 with a particular emphasis on the collecting and study of the ‘products of art and industry from the earliest times until the middle of the eighteenth century … related to the social life, the manners, morals, conventions, studies and leisure activities of our ancestors’.

Many of the objects, topographical drawings and prints, photographs and paintings collected by the Society in its first thirty years are now on permanent loan to museums all over the Netherlands, and thirteen of those museums, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, are mounting exhibitions featuring objects from the KOG collections between now and 18 January 2009. At the colloquium itself, David Gaimster delivered a paper on the Enlightenment vision behind the activities of our own Society. The colloquium was followed by a reception and dinner attended by Beatrix, the Queen of the Netherlands, KOG’s royal patron.

Our Fellow David Breeze has launched a new online publication, the Antonine Wall newsletter, the first edition of which shows Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, who visited Scotland in August 2008, congratulating David Breeze on the Antonine Wall gaining World Heritage Site status.

Congratulations are due to our Fellow Peter Galloway who was appointed Chaplain of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy and Chaplain of the Royal Victorian Order in February this year, and Visiting Professor in Politics and History at Brunel University from 1 June 2008.

Congratulations are also due to our Fellow Andrew Wathey who was reported as ‘missing’ in the last issue of Salon but whose many friends hastened to assure us was thriving in his new post as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University having previously been Senior Vice-Principal at Royal Holloway University of London where he oversaw a £100m capital programme and led the Music Department to a 5** rating in the 2001 RAE. Andrew’s profile and ambitions for his new post can be found on Northumbria University’s website.

Hungate Medieval Art

Hungate Medieval Art is a new charity, chaired by Fellow Jeremy Haselock, established to use St Peter Hungate Church in Norwich as a centre for celebrating the remarkable medieval artefacts to be found in Norfolk’s churches. At first it will concentrate on the stained glass, of which a considerable amount has survived in scores of places, albeit in small quantities. Some of the best is in Hungate itself.

The project was conceived in late 2007 by Kate Weaver and Fellows Paul Binski and Anthony Barnes. There will be lightboxes illustrating Norfolk glass and describing how stained glass is made; panels interpreting the glass in the church and ‘sideshows’ to interest children, as well as a series of trails telling people where to find the glass all over the county of Norfolk. The exhibition will be curated by Claire Daunton, who has been working with David King, the tireless chronicler of Norfolk’s medieval glass. Generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Pilgrim Trust, the waste collecting firms Biffa and WREN and other sources should enable an April start. A Centre Manager (see the job advertisement below) is to be appointed to make links with schools and other institutions as well as to be custodian.

St Peter’s was largely rebuilt by the Pastons in the fifteenth century and has been little altered since. It was the first editor of the Paston Letters, supported by Prince Frederic Duleep Singh, who caused the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to save the church from dereliction and probable demolition just over a hundred years ago. St Peter’s was for nearly seventy years a museum of ecclesiastical art, the first church in England to be adapted in this way.


From now to 22 March 2009: Byzantium comes to Britain
A very useful summary of the many events being mounted to accompany the Royal Academy exhibition, ‘Byzantium 330—1453’, can be found on the website of the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Heritage.

7 March 2009: Durham University workshop on ‘Changing Approaches to Medieval Archaeology and Artefacts’, 1.30pm to 5.30pm
Organised by the History of Archaeology Research Grouping (Durham University Department of Archaeology) and the AREA project, this half-day workshop will examine changing approaches to medieval archaeology and medieval artefacts from the late eighteenth century to the present. The development of scholarship in sculpture studies, landscapes and landscape archaeology, artefact studies and numismatics will be investigated. Individual narratives will be juxtaposed with broader explorations of approaches to the sacred and the secular. Papers will touch on a wide geographic area, contrasting the development of medieval archaeology in Britain and abroad. Keynote speakers include Fellows Howard Williams, of the University of Chester, and Geoff Egan, of the British Museum. For the full programme, see the Durham University website.

6—9 April 2009: Anthropological and Archaeological Imaginations: past, present and future, University of Bristol
The annual conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth will bring anthropologists and archaeologists together to ‘stimulate a major reconsideration of the complex links which obtain between social anthropology and archaeology and the transformations that both disciplines have experienced in recent decades’. The keynote address will be given by Michael Herzfeld, and our Fellow Ian Hodder will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the university, preceded by the ASA Raymond Firth Lecture — Archaeology and Anthropology: the state of the field — to be given by Professor Guha-Thakurta, and the RAI Presidential Address, to be given by Professor Roy Ellen. For the latest information, see the conference website.

7—9 April 2009: IfA Annual conference for archaeologists, Torquay
A provisional programme and booking form can now be found on the IfA website, along with details of the early-bird booking rate, which is available until 2 March 2009. Accommodation should be booked through a separate website, run by Conference Torquay. There is a small bursary available to IfA members to help cover the cost of the conference. If you would be interested in applying for funding please send a covering letter along with a completed booking form explaining your circumstances.


Historic Royal Palaces, Part-time Curator, Architectural Drawings, ref 08-0010
Salary £29,071 pro-rata; closing date 17 December 2008

The main task is to catalogue some 18,000 architectural drawings and photographs making up the Plans Archive at the Tower of London and to respond to enquiries from HRP curators and surveyors and the wider public. For more information, visit HRP’s website.

National Trust for Scotland, Edinburgh, IfA Workplace Learning Bursary in Records Management
Salary £17,120; closing date 17 December 2008

The post will provide the successful candidate with training in the principles and practice of archaeological/historic environment record creation and management within a conservation organisation. On completion the trainee will have acquired the skills and experience to manage archaeological records and to develop them into a Historic Environment Record, including the use of GIS for heritage management, the production of digital records and the creation of a digital record management system. For full details and an application form, email

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, Research Associates (two posts), ref: JC04436
Salary £27,183 to £35,469; closing date 22 December 2008

Applications are invited for two Post-doctoral Research Fellowships, part of a project entitled ‘Cultural transformations and environmental transitions in North African prehistory’ funded by the European Research Council. The project, directed by Professor Graeme Barker, combines the excavation of the Haua Fteah cave in Cyrenaica, north-east Libya, with a survey of Palaeolithic settlement in the region. Both posts will be at Research Associate level and will be tenable for five years from 1 March 2009. The Fellows will have primary responsibility for the landscape component, one with a focus on the Palaeolithic archaeology, the other on palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. A GIS will also be established and maintained. Further information may be obtained from Sara Harrop.

Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum, Co-ordinator
Salary £22,000 to £27,000; closing date 23 December 2008

The Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum works to promote the historic environment in Northern Ireland to the public and decision makers. The Co-ordinator will work with members to develop and influence policy through events, activities, research and publications. For further information and an application pack, please contact Sandra Kilpatrick.

Hungate Medieval Art, Centre Manager / Outreach Officer
Salary £18,000, fixed term for 21 months from February 2009; closing date 2 January 2009

The successful applicant will be the day-to-day manager of Hungate Medieval Art (see above for more on this). You will also establish, develop and deliver an outreach programme and a volunteer base. Applicants should have a relevant qualification in a related field, and a strong interest in outreach and education. For an informal discussion please contact Sophie Cabot or visit the Norwich Churches website and click on ‘St Peter Hungate’.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Curator (Middle East)
Salary £24,659 to £35,280; closing date 5 January 2009

The V&A is seeking a specialist in the art of Iran to join the team curating the Museum’s Middle Eastern collection. The new curator will be a scholar with an established academic reputation and relevant expertise, and the willingness and ability to communicate that knowledge to a wide audience. For further information see the V&A’s website.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, IfA Workplace Learning Bursary in Archaeological Conservation Management
Salary £14,869; closing date 5 January 2009

The successful candidate will work within an integrated historic environment team to gain the basic skills necessary for a career in conservation practice. Specific activities will include the management of the historic environment in the development control process, Conservation Area Appraisal, basic building and site survey, the development of farm Environment Plans, the running of conservation projects, use of a Historic Environment Record for data entry and querying, and the delivery of outreach projects. Application forms and further information are available on the Yorkshire Dales National Park website.

British Institute in Eastern Africa, Director
Salary negotiable; closing date 7 January 2009

Applicants must have research expertise in history, archaeology, anthropology or a related field, preferably in eastern Africa. Administrative experience and familiarity with research funding agencies is also essential. For further particulars please contact The London Secretary, British Institute in Eastern Africa.