Salon Archive

Issue: 211

Forthcoming meetings

23 April 2009: Council Elections and Anniversary Meeting, with Presidential Address and the award of medals, followed by the President’s reception for Fellows and guests

30 April 2009: ‘John Gower and London’, by John Hines, FSA

Living and working in London and Southwark, the poet John Gower witnessed and responded to the profound events of the fourteenth century: the Black Death and its consequences, the 1381 uprising, and the deposition of Richard II. At a time when birth determined so much, Gower had to make his own way, professionally; he was successful enough to be able to arrange retirement, interment and commemoration in the Priory of St Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral. This paper will review and interpret the records of Gower’s life and death, and argue that metropolitan life is significantly reflected in his writing — a point often denied.

30 April 2009: ‘Getting to Know the Society’ tour. This will include an introduction to Burlington House by David Gaimster, followed by a tour of the Society’s library and the services it offers Fellows, by Heather Rowland, Head of Library and Collections, a tour of the Society’s pictures and museum collections by Julia Dudkeiwizc, the Collections Manager, and a small display of items from the Library, by Adrian James, Assistant Librarian. The tour starts at 11am (coffee from 10.30am) and ends at 12.30pm, followed, for those who wish it, by a light sandwich lunch, for which a charge of £5 will be made. Numbers are limited to twenty-five Fellows per tour. Contact to book a place.

14 May 2009: ‘Bringing the Past Alive: treasures of the Fellows’ Library, Dulwich College’, by Robert Weaver, FSA

21 May 2009: ‘Remembering Charlemagne’s Pope: Alcuin’s epitaph for Hadrian I in Old St Peter’s’, by Joanna Story, FSA

2 June 2009: ‘The birth of prehistory: commemorating John Evans’s Somme gravels lecture given to the Society on 2 June 1859’

Darwin’s On the Origin of Species dominates the headlines and TV schedules, but 1859 is a pivotal year in the history of science for another reason, and one in which archaeologists and geologists played a central role: on 2 June in that year, Sir John Evans (1823—1908) gave a lecture to the Society of Antiquaries that presented evidence for a more remote human antiquity than had hitherto been imagined, following his visit to Picardy with his friend, the geologist Joseph Prestwich, to testify to the existence of stone tools and the bones of extinct mammals in the same geological strata.

The Society’s commemoration of that lecture on 2 June 2009 will include short papers from seven speakers, led by Martin Rudwick, FBA, the celebrated science historian, who will speak on ‘The background to the problem of the antiquity of man’, and by our Vice-President, Clive Gamble, who will set Evans and Prestwich and the discoveries of 1859 in context. Clive has also tracked down the artefact that Evans and Prestwich photographed in-situ in 1859 and recovered from the Somme gravels; this will be on display again at the Society for the first time in 150 years, thanks to the Natural History Museum in whose archive it was rediscovered in 2008. The Hoxne handaxes found in 1797, which Evans also rescued from forgotten obscurity, will also be on view.

Places at the event cost £20, and include tea and a wine reception. If you would like to reserve a place, please contact the Society. For the full programme and timings, see the Society’s ‘News and events’.

May Bank Holiday closure dates

Burlington House and the Library will be closed on Monday 4, Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 May 2009.

Results of ballot held on 2 April 2009

All the candidates for Fellowship in the 2 April 2009 ballot were elected, and the Society is pleased to welcome the following:

As Honorary Fellow
Paolo Biagi PhD Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, Ca’ Foscari Università degli Studii, Venice (research interests in environmental and dating problems of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic, in their sites and lithic technologies; has carried out excavations in Europe and the Near East; more than 300 publications).

As Ordinary Fellows
William Vaughan BA PhD Professor Emeritus of History of Art, Birkbeck College, University of London (authority on the art of the Romantic period; Paul Mellon Senior Research Fellow).
George Macrae Findlater MA PhD Senior Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Historic Scotland (former Assistant Director Council for British Research in the Levant 1996—9; has published on Roman and Byzantine Arabia).
Christine Jennie Margaret Faunch BA PhD Archive Curator, Special Collections, University of Exeter (specialist in church monuments; former Architectural Archive Curator, St Paul’s Cathedral).
Mark Evans BA PhD Senior Curator, Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum (art historian; has published on medieval and Renaissance painting).
Nicholas Antony David Molyneaux BA English Heritage Inspector of Historic Buildings (has contributed to the recording and conservation of historic buildings).
Dorian Fuller BA MPhil PhD Lecturer in Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, UCL (has contributed to the field of archaeobotany; domestication and early agriculture in India, China, Africa and Nubian civilizations).
Carol C Mattusch BA PhD Mathy Professor of Art History, George Mason University, VA, USA (archaeologist; has published on Pompeii and the Roman villa; has organized major exhibitions at the National Gallery, Washington).
Dale Serjeantson MA Hon Research Fellow, and a member of the Laboratory for Zooarchaeological Research, School of Humanities, University of Southampton (archaeozoologist; her research interests include bird bones).
Elain Harwood BA Senior Architectural Investigator, English Heritage (historian; has published on England’s post-war listed buildings).
Tony Albert Trowles BA MA DPhil Librarian of Westminster Abbey, (bibliographer; has published on the bibliography of Westminster Abbey, Westminster School and St Margaret’s Church).
Majella Franzmann BA PhD Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and Professor of Religious Studies, Division of Humanities, Otago University, New Zealand (authority on the Syriac, Coptic and Greek Odes of Solomon; Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities).
Stephen Lee Dyson MA PhD Park Professor of Classics, The University at Buffalo, State University of New York (has published on the history and archaeology of Roman Italy; former President of the Archaeological Institute of America).
Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith BA MA PhD Professor of Biological Anthropology, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago, New Zealand (expert in the application of genetic evidence to track human migration in the Pacific).
Adam Gwilt BA Curator of Bronze and Iron Age Collections, Department of Archaeology, National Museum of Wales (his research interests include Bronze and Iron Age metalworking and ceramic traditions).
Terence Austen Brown BSc PhD Professor of Biomolecular Archaeology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester (has contributed to the use of biomolecular techniques to the study of the origins, spread and establishment of agriculture in the Old and New Worlds).
Keri Ann Brown BA MPhil Hon Lecturer, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester (has contributed to biomolecular archaeology; expert in the use of DNA to study sex and gender, kinship relationships and palaeodisease).
Ian Coulson BA Schools’ History and Geography Adviser, Kent County Council (has contributed to the teaching and learning of history and archaeology in primary schools; member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives).
Colm Francis O’Brien MA Lecturer in History and Archaeology (has contributed to the study of early medieval Bernicia; former Director of the Archaeological Unit for North East England, University of Newcastle upon Tyne).
Alain Richard Schnapp DLitt Professor of Archaeology, University of Paris (archaeologist and art historian; expert on ancient Greece; former Director of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris).
John Lowden MA PhD Director of the Research Centre for Illuminated Manuscripts (a scholar of medieval manuscript illumination; his most recent book was awarded the 2002 Gruendler Prize for best book in medieval studies).
Brenda J Buchanan BSc PhD Research Fellow, University of Bath (a leading scholar on the history of gunpowder; founding Chairman of the History of Bath Research Group).
Andrew Walton Moore BA MA PhD Keeper of Art and Senior Curator, Norfolk Museums and Archaeological Service (research interests include The Grand Tour and The Norwich School of Artists).
Julia Elton BA President of the Newcomen Society for the History of Engineering (expert in the history of technology).
Robert Williams BA Archaeologist (a Director of Oxford Archaeology; expert on the conservation and management of the historic environment).

The British School at Rome elects its new Director

The Council of the British School at Rome (BSR) has announced that our Fellow Professor Christopher Smith, Vice-Principal of the University of St Andrews, has been elected to succeed our Fellow Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (who takes up his new post as the 25th Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in August 2009) as the next Director of the British School.

Announcing the appointment, Sir Ivor Roberts, Chairman of the BSR Council, said that Professor Smith, who will take up his appointment on 1 October 2009, ‘brings an impressive range of talents to his new job, both as a distinguished historian with a particular interest in early Rome and Latium and as a strategic manager at one of Britain’s leading universities’.

Professor Christopher Smith is currently Proctor and Provost of St Leonard’s College, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Principal at the University of St Andrews with responsibility for strategic policy in regard to postgraduate recruitment and resources, student services and the University Library. An ancient history graduate of Keble College, Oxford, Professor Smith’s research interests include the social and economic development of early Rome and Latium, particularly as evidenced through archaeology and comparative developments in the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Within this, he has addressed general aspects of urbanization and state formation, and also the evolution and legal and symbolic significance of republican political institutions, particularly the gens, or clan, and how these were characterized by contemporary sources and interpreted in the modern historiography of the subject.

Author of Early Rome and Latium: economy and society c 1000 to 500 BC (Oxford 1996) and The Roman Clan: the gens from ancient ideology to modern anthropology (Cambridge 2006), he is currently completing A Very Short Introduction to the Etruscans, and an account of the place of history in Roman society, looking at the use of inscriptions, monuments and texts and using concepts such as lieux de memoire and social memory to understand more clearly the development of Roman historiography.

Death notice

The Society has been informed that our Fellow Benedikt Sigurdur Benedikz died on 25 March 2009. Dr Benedikz was elected a Fellow on 28 November 1985. We hope to be able to publish an obituary in a forthcoming issue of Salon.

Save the Bead Museum

Fellow Birgitta Hoffmann discovered by chance when she wrote to make an appointment to view the collections of the renowned Bead Museum in Arizona that the museum is on the brink of closing, a victim of the global recession, having seen the regular flow of donations that it depends on dry up in the last few months.

Birgitta says that the museum is ‘absolutely essential for any archaeological or anthropological research carried out in the historical and pre-historical periods in any area that involves trade beads in Europe, Asia, America and Africa, and is an important data depository for research topics such as nomadic culture, long-distance trading patterns, dress studies, early contact studies with Europe (eg between Native Americans and the Hudson Bay Company), the Indian Sea trade and the early slave trade (both as carried out across the Sahara and the later European-centred sea-borne trade).’

‘The problem of closure is exacerbated’, Birgitta adds, because several other institutions (such as the Bead Museum in Washington DC) that could have taken over or replaced the Bead Museum as a research centre have already had to close in the last few months.’ A final decision on the future of the museum will be taken at the end of April, and anyone who wishes to know more should see the Bead Museum’s website.

Beads throw light on 400 years of global trade and wealth

Ironically, given the news about the Bead Museum, the world’s store of early trade beads has just grown by some 70,000 examples as a result of excavations at the Santa Catalina de Guale Mission, on what is now St Catherines Island, off the coast of the US state of Georgia. Fortunately, these beads are safe, as the marshy island, ten miles long by one to three miles wide, is now owned by the St Catherines Island Foundation and the island’s interior is used for charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes, including archaeology.

Most of the beads were found during excavation of the island’s cemetery by archaeologists from the American Museum of Natural History. Deposited as grave goods, they include French and Chinese blue glass, Dutch layered glass and Baltic amber, all dating from the period after 1587, when St Catherines Island became the northernmost permanent Spanish outpost on the Atlantic Coast, the centre of the Franciscan missionary province of Spanish Florida.

Those burials found with large numbers of beads appear to date to the earlier part of the mission’s history; items found with burials from the latter half of the seventeenth century onwards are more likely to be religious medallions and rosaries. Almost half the beads in the cemetery were buried with a few individuals located near the altar, and assumed to be high-status members of the community.

‘The beads provide evidence of ancient trade routes from China via Manila, Mexico and Spain’, says Lorann Pendleton, Director of the Museum’s Archaeology Laboratory. ‘We also have perhaps the first evidence of Spanish beadmaking, along with beads from the main centres of Italy, France, and the Netherlands.’ All told, some 130 different types of bead have been found, in numbers ranging from one to 20,000 of each type.

‘Most of the more common beads are of Venetian and potentially French origin, with new research suggesting that one of the most common beads of the 17th century, the Ichtucknee blue, was manufactured in France’, says Lorann Pendleton, who believes the beads might have been traded for food: letters written at the time show that missionaries at St Augustine and other Spanish Florida missions were always starving because they were located in areas too hot and humid for corn to grow easily. St Catherines, by contrast, was located in the bread basket of the east-coast and was probably engaged in trading beads for corn to supply the other missions. For further information, see ‘The beads of St Catherines Island’ in Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol 89.

Too late for the Textile Conservation Centre?

Though the final decision to close the Textile Conservation Centre in Southampton was announced on 21 February 2009, the UK press only seemed to have woken up to the fact over the Easter weekend when, too late for campaigning to save the Centre, several newspapers reported that the entire staff of the Centre will be laid off in November, bringing to an end decades of conservation work by an organization recognized internationally for the excellence of its work.

Under the headline ‘Textile Conservation experts face the sack in a material world’, The Times reported that the Centre that had trained half the leading textile conservators in the world ‘faces becoming history itself’. ‘Like darts, ceremonial pageantry and whisky distilling, textile conservation is one of those specialist fields in which Britain still leads the world’, the report said, quoting Peter Longman, deputy chairman of the Textile Conservation Centre Foundation, as saying that the expertise of the staff, built up over more than thirty years will be ‘scattered to the winds’. The centre’s reputation is founded on the professional training that it offers, he said, and its graduates dominate a vital niche of the heritage world: ‘if you go into any major museum in the world, from the Getty Institute to the British Museum, half the trained textile conservators have come from the Textile Conservation Centre’.

Other museum professionals and conservation experts also expressed their sense of outrage. Jerry Podany, President of the International Institute of Conservation, called it ‘a betrayal of trust’ that would damage the world’s textile heritage, while Sandra Smith, Head of Conservation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, called it shocking and catastrophic.

For the Telegraph, which also reported the story, the stark issue is that there will now be nobody to preserve the toy cat Bagpuss, star of children’s TV, nor to restore the topsail of Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, the boots worn by Henry VIII or the fake leather trousers of ‘Queen’ frontman Freddie Mercury.

South Downs to be given national park status

Some good news for a change: just before Easter, the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, approved plans for the creation of a new national park covering 627 square miles of chalk downland and Wealden forest stretching from Winchester’s St Catherine’s Hill in Hampshire to Eastbourne, in East Sussex. Conservationists were delighted at such a positive end to a process that has taken sixty-two years, involving decades of legal challenge and a nineteen-month public inquiry, at which objectors sought (unsuccessfully it is now apparent) to exclude the western Weald, Lewes and the village of Ditchling from the national park boundaries.

Poul Christensen, the Acting Chairman of Natural England, said that: ‘the South Downs are a critical green lung for the south east, providing millions of people with unparalleled access to open countryside in a way that has incalculable benefits for their health, well-being and their appreciation of why the natural environment matters’.

Not everyone was pleased at the news: Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, President of the Country Land and Business Association, could hardly contain himself for rage: ‘we have observed in other national parks that draconian planning and regulation has stifled rural enterprise ultimately at the expense of people who derive their living from the land’, he blustered, adding enigmatically that ‘the South Downs is largely a man-made landscape’ and ending with a final blast: ‘It is imperative that the authority created to run the national park works with rural businesses so they can prosper and benefit from the new designation rather than suffer.’ Harrumph!

Camden Civic Society and British Museum at odds over proposed extension

The design for the £135 million extension to the British Museum was revealed earlier this month and was condemned by the Camden Civic Society, long-standing opponents of the scheme, which argues that the extension will have an ‘adverse and permanent impact on the museum’s existing Grade I buildings’.

The 17,000-square-metre project faces on to Montagu Place, in the north-west corner of the museum site, and involves the demolition of two facsimile Georgian buildings. The extension will provide 1,000 square-metres of special exhibition space, and will replace the Reading Room as the home for temporary exhibitions. The rest of the space — spread over seven levels, three of them below ground — will be used for conservation laboratories, storage and as a logistics hub for collections in transit.

Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners (RSHP) have designed the new extension, with its cast glass and stone facade, which will sit next to the Grade I-listed King Edward VII galleries. Therein lies at least part of the Camden Civic Society’s objection to the scheme, which it says will ‘block almost all light into and views out of the windows of Robert Smirke’s North Range (1823—41) and the south side of the western half of John James Burnet’s King Edward Building (1905—14), entombing some very fine and important interiors … and degrading interiors which at present function very well in addition to being noble spaces of the highest architectural value’. The Society has also described the proposal to make three new openings in the solid cella wall of the north elevation of Smirke’s Great Court interior, restored as part of the Great Court scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, as ‘an act of needless vandalism’.

Plans for the new extension go before Camden Council later this month; if approved, the building is expected to open in late 2012.

Snoring at the Society

A medical journal is not the sort of publication in which one would normally seek biographical information about a former Fellow, but the May 2009 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (vol 102) has a paper by J Barry Ferriss, of the Department of Medicine, University College, Cork, Ireland, describing the antiquary Francis Grose (1731—91) as one of the first documented sufferers of the condition known as ‘obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome’, a form of disordered breathing in which the upper airways close repeatedly during sleep, resulting in the phenomenon commonly known as snoring.

Perhaps because the condition is so common, the medical profession took little interest in it until just over half a century ago, when the first modern description of the syndrome was published in 1956, when it was dubbed the Pickwickian Syndrome — after the sleepy fat boy in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, published in 1837 — and linked to such factors as obesity, ageing and alcohol intake, and to an increased risk of raised blood pressure and stroke vulnerability.

That it should perhaps be called Grose Syndrome is evidenced by first-hand accounts of Francis Grose, the prolific illustrator of architectural remains and one of the first lexicographers to compile a dictionary of English slang. Of German-speaking Swiss stock from Berne, the family name (Grosse) suggests a family background of adiposity. Only five foot tall, while weighing 22 stone, Grose was called ‘a fine, fat, fodgel wight, o’stature short, but genius bright’ by Robert Burns and described in the first edition of The National Biography as ‘a sort of antiquarian Falstaff’.

A satirical portrait, probably sketched by his friend the Revd James Douglas and now in the British Museum, shows Grose asleep in a chair, with his mouth partially open in a posture suggestive of snoring. The inscription underneath states that Grose had dozed off at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries where, it seems, he often fell asleep — or, as another antiquarian friend observed, where he was frequently subject to ‘salutary periods of repose’, after which he was always ‘cheerful and witty’.

The author of the RSM Journal concludes that the sketch is the first known picture of the obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome. He adds that Grose died suddenly in Dublin, at the age of 60 — he had probably suffered a stroke.

Conservation Areas: a cause for concern?

English Heritage is calling on local amenity societies and residents groups to help its campaign for conservation areas to be given a higher priority on local government agendas. The new EH webpage devoted to the campaign invites societies with an interest in conservation areas — defined as ‘areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’ — to register for a campaign pack advising them on becoming more actively involved in ‘cherishing and protecting’ conservation areas.

The website also asks for case studies — ‘local success stories or challenges you would like to tell us about’, adding that, while English Heritage cannot get involved in local issues, the information ‘will give us a better picture of how things really are across the country and help us raise the profile of Conservation Areas on local and national government agendas’.

English Heritage intends to make conservation areas the focus of its Heritage at Risk survey this year, and has contacted conservation officers in England with a ‘conservation areas at risk survey’ to find out just how well (or otherwise) conservation areas are faring. The results of the survey will be announced on 23 June 2009.

Confessions of a Conservation Officer and Amicus Curiae

Of course, if English Heritage staff want to know more about life at the coal face of conservation area work, they could do worse than read the ‘Confessions of a Conservation Officer’ blog. This blogger’s trenchant reflections on the life of a Conservation Officer at a small English local council have been flowing through at weekly intervals since the beginning of 2009 and have gathered a loyal readership for their poignancy. But the blog has dried up recently — perhaps because doing the day job and writing a blog is proving too much; but if the anonymous blogger happens to be reading this, please do keep up the good work!

Also anonymous are the occasional contributions sent to Current Archaeology magazine by Amicus Curiae, in which our ‘Friend of the Court’ seeks to explain the terms and concepts that govern modern archaeology. In the May 2009 issue of the magazine, s/he finds black humour in the definition of conservation as ‘the process of managing change’ (William Morris, you should be with us now) as stated in the IfA’s ‘Standard and Guidance for Stewardship of the Historic Environment’, and in the five key rules that curatorial archaeologists live by, of which Rule No 5 states: ‘all archaeological activity must be governed by a paper chase’. Amicus may be anonymous but s/he quite clearly writes from bitter experience.

Salvage or archaeology? British Archaeology weighs the arguments

On the subject of magazines, Mike Pitts is courting controversy in the May/June issue of British Archaeology with a front-page headline that says ‘Archaeologists find HMS Victory’, knowing that such a headline will raise the blood pressure of many a marine archaeologist. In the previous issue, Mike’s ‘Spoilheap’ column argued that salvaging material from shipwrecks was no different to developer-funded excavation on land, in that the goal of both was profit, and both had an archaeological spin-off. Torrents of correspondence followed, in which the best comment of those printed in the magazine was the pithy letter from Surrey County Archaeologist Joe Flatman, saying that ‘no building developer sets out to target an archaeological site or to profit from that site’s destruction through the sale of the artefacts recovered’.

Following Harold Evans’s dictum that newspapers don’t sell by agreeing with their readers but by annoying them, Mike devotes a goodly part of the magazine to exploring both sides of the argument. Sean Kingsley, taking the side of Odyssey Marine Exploration, the firm that has made a business out of deep-sea shipwreck exploration and salvage, claims that marine archaeological resources are not stable, but are subject to damage from trawling and natural erosion. He believes that UNESCO’s principle of preservation in situ is, in effect, a ‘death warrant’ for archeologically important ships.

Putting the counter arguments are Fellow Dave Parham, Senior Lecturer in Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University, and Robert Yorke, Chairman of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee. Dave Parham says that Odyssey Marine’s claims that HMS Victory is under threat are not backed by any evidence, and that the photographs published by Odyssey Marine suggest a ship that is in stable equilibrium, with no sign of trawl damage. Pace Mike’s cover headline, Dave says that Odyssey’s desire to be seen as archaeologically respectable does not square with its failure to publish a single peer-reviewed archaeological report, despite claiming to have found nearly 300 wrecks; ‘on this record, they would be salvaging objects from the seabed, not undertaking archaeology’, he concludes.

Robert Yorke defends the UNESCO convention, which explicitly states (article 2.7) that ‘underwater cultural heritage shall not be commercially exploited’, because trade in underwater cultural heritage results in its ‘irretrievable dispersal’, which is ‘fundamentally incompatible with the protection and proper management of the underwater cultural heritage’. He concludes that the biggest threat to marine heritage is from salvage companies and that the UK’s long overdue ratification of the UNESCO convention would give it the means to protect the 220 or so sites that Odyssey says it has identified in the English Channel alone.

New publications from the IfA

The Society’s Honorary Secretary, Alison Taylor, has been busy editing the IfA’s Yearbook and Directory, an invaluable resource for historic environment contacts and resources. The theme for this 2009 edition is ‘Publishing the past’. Authors representing public sector and commercial archaeological interests (including many Fellows) have contributed mini-essays on the various ways their findings are published, in monographs, journals, leaflets, grey literature, magazines, e-publications, websites, blogs, podcasts and even comic books. There is much debate at present on how to cope with the deluge of data that modern excavations are producing and these nineteen short pieces provide a concise overview of what is happening and where experienced archaeologists see us going. The Editor’s conclusion is that the answer probably lies in the hybrid: hard copy with imaginative editing and radical use of synthesis, backed by web-based data and graphics.

The spring issue of The Archaeologist is also just out, on the theme of archaeological science — new techniques for prospection, dating and identification are illustrated and explained by a distinguished list of Fellows (among them Mike Fulford, Vince Gaffney, Patrick Clay, Justine Bayley and Alison Sheridan), including the latest work on geophysics, Bayesian chronology, archaeomagnetism, Lidar, archaeometallurgy and neutron-based technologies for fabric analysis.


Bob Kindred (himself a conservation professional of no mean experience, as special adviser to the House of Commons CMS Select Committee on Heritage Reform and having worked for Ipswich Borough Council since 1987) points out, apropos of Salon’s report on listing buildings from the 1970s, that the former Willis Faber and Dumas building (now known just as the Willis building), in Ipswich, broke the normal convention whereby a building has to be at least thirty years old to be designated. ‘Completed in 1975, it was listed Grade I in April 1991 by Michael Heseltine just sixteen years later,’ Bob writes. ‘Formal protection was thought necessary in response to a perceived threat to “fill-in” the large ground-floor staff swimming pool. The pool was subsequently imaginatively preserved and decked over for office accommodation but remained visible through glazed floor panels designed by the original architects, Foster Associates. Subsequently the building won the RIBA Trustees Gold Medal as “the finest building in the world by a British architect in the preceding twenty-five years”’.

Bob adds that ‘the management of change to such a recent building was the subject of a pioneering partnership agreement developed by Ipswich Borough Council, the owners and English Heritage, which also proved to be the precursor to the statutory Heritage Management Agreements proposed in the now defunct Heritage Protection Bill’.

Salon’s editor wasn’t sure whether the Essay Club was deliberately concealing the meaning of the Club’s name in its recently published history — perhaps it is an ‘in’ joke, or one of the tests of membership that one has to work it out — but having now checked it appears that this is not so; in fact Bernard Nurse is adamant that ‘the Essay Club does not go in for the strange rituals that still persist in the Cocked Hats’.

So, for Salon readers who have not already guessed, we can reveal that Essay is, of course, a homophone of the Society’s initials — SA. Several Fellows worked this out, including Mark Hassall, who said that the letters SA are plainly visible in plaster work at the corners of the ceilings in our old apartments at Somerset House, though no longer quite so prominent at Burlington House, where they feature subtly on the etched glass of several windows and on the radiator grilles. The other rejected names for the Essay Club — Effesay and Salic — all follow a similar line of thought.

Responding to the debate on beauty and its relevance to heritage, a number of Fellows said they were strongly in favour of beauty as a value judgement; to which Salon’s editor can only respond by asking ‘is your beauty the same as my beauty’ and point out what havoc would be caused if politicians were able to decide the fate of historic buildings on the grounds of such a subjective concept.

Our Fellow Gillian Darley attended the debate in question and was more impressed than Salon’s editor with the eloquence of three of the speakers; as for the fourth, Salon can only quote Gillian herself: ‘David Starkey was, in my opinion and that of everyone around me, far, far the weakest’. Gillian says the debate succeeded in attracting many young people, and that it was something from which the Society could learn.

It is always gratifying to see a post advertised in Salon being filled by a Fellow, and thus it was in the case of Lichfield Cathedral, which recently said farewell to our Fellow Warwick Rodwell after twenty-six years as Cathedral Consultant Archaeologist, and hello to Fellow Kevin Blockley, the new Cathedral Archaeologist. Warwick’s archaeological career began in the mid-1960s, when he worked on late prehistoric and Roman sites, but from the 1970s he actively pursued a career in church archaeology and his influence on its early development as a new discipline led to the Society awarding the Frend Medal to him in 1988.

That is a tough act to follow, but Kevin has already acted as consultant and project manager for major ecclesiastical projects at Salisbury Cathedral and St George’s Chapel, Windsor. ‘I am looking forward to working with the Dean and Chapter’s team during the forthcoming restoration of the Lady Chapel,’ he said on being appointed, adding that ‘another aspect of the work that I will enjoy is education and interpretation to bring the historical development of the cathedral and its environs alive for visitors.’

Fellow Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage, responded to Mark Horton’s concerns about the impact on archaeology of a Severn barrage with news that solar water heating panels are being installed successfully on the roofs of Georgian tenements in the heart of the World Heritage Site and are already supplying more than 50 per cent of the annual hot water requirement of forty-nine listed properties. Adam says it is essential to ‘dispel the myth that historic buildings are neither energy efficient nor capable of being sensitively retro-fitted with sustainable energy measures’.

He also recommends that Fellows visiting Edinburgh between now and 7 June 2009 should make time to visit the stunning exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland celebrating Turner’s love affair with ancient Italy.

It is Adam, of course, that we have to thank for the vigorous Paddington Span 4 campaign which he spearheaded in 2001 while serving as Secretary of SAVE Britain’s Heritage. Network Rail wanted to demolish the Grade-I listed train shed and replace it with a forty-storey tower block. SAVE’s campaign succeeded, and those of us who travel through Paddington station regularly were very pleased to see notices recently announcing that work is about to begin on the train shed’s restoration and will be completed in 2010. The notice even includes a quote from Paul Futter, Network Rail’s Senior Project Manager, saying: ‘Paddington station is one of Network Rail’s most beautiful. Restoring the fourth span and opening it up to the light will make it even better for our passengers.’ Hear, hear, and quite a change of heart from their previous view.

Meanwhile SAVE is fighting for another fine station: this time it is the unlisted (!) Waterloo station that is under threat of redevelopment, along with Nicholas Grimshaw’s prize-winning but now redundant Eurostar terminal. SAVE and English Heritage want the station to be protected through designation at Grade II: those who support the proposal are being urged to write to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. For further details see SAVE’s website.

Fellow Robin Simon, Editor of The British Art Journal, writes in response to the claims being made by various people to have found portraits of Shakespeare portraits to commend an exhibition that serves as a powerful corrective to such wishful thinking: ‘from now until 7 June 2009, at the Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham, “The Face and Figure of Shakespeare: how Britain’s 18th-century sculptors invented a national hero”, stars such unequivocally non-contemporary “portraits” of Shakespeare as Roubiliac’s statue of the Bard, commissioned by David Garrick for his Temple at Hampton (the show marks the 250th anniversary of its delivery to Hampton) and the Garrick Club’s terracotta bust of the Bard, also by Roubiliac. Having at one time been used as a doorstop, the latter has only recently been identified by one of the organizers of the exhibition, the Garrick Club’s Librarian Marcus Risdell. It once stood over the entrance to John Rich’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre. Now restored (chiefly by the removal of a covering of dark paint) it is on view to the public for the first time and is spectacular, showing the most brilliant of London’s eighteenth-century sculptors working at the top of his form.’

For oil or for wine?

Fellow Julian Bennett, of the Department of Archaeology and Art History, Bilkent University, in Ankara, Turkey, has posted a report in the current Antiquity Project Gallery on a Roman second-century AD multiple lever press that he has identified at Hendek Kale, in Usak Province, Turkey, which he believes is the first to be found in Asia Minor, by contrast with parts of North Africa and Syria, where such presses, used in olive oil production, were used on a semi-industrial scale.

But, asks Julian, was it used for the production of oil, or was it in fact a wine press: the nine setting stones and fourteen rectangular counterweight stones found at Hendek Kale could have been used, along with a timber press beam, ropes and wooden frame, in viticulture or in oleiculture — or perhaps both: small contemporary vineyards are visible within the immediate vicinity of the site, though the site’s location, on an open plain, would favour the olive. Julian hopes to excavate in due course to look for plant remains that would determine which commodity was produced at Hendek Kale.

Prehistoric Society Research Papers

The Prehistoric Society has announced plans to launch a new monograph series to fill the gap which the Series Editors, our Fellows Mike Allen and David McOmish, believe exists for a good-quality series of books dedicated to prehistoric themes. The Prehistoric Society Research Papers specifically exclude the publication of single excavation reports; instead, they will consist of collections of edited papers, perhaps derived from conferences or research projects that represent the best of current prehistoric research on key themes and topics.

More details will be announced at the Prehistoric Society’s Europa day conference in York on 30 May 2009 (see the Society’s website, but two volumes have already been announced at a special pre-publication discount of £25 (full price £35).

The first (to be published in September 2009) is Land and People: papers in memory of John G Evans, edited by Fellows Michael J Allen, Niall Sharples and Terry O’Connor, which celebrates John Evans’s pioneering contribution to environmental archaeology and is concerned with such topics as prehistoric farming and people’s interaction with the landscape in the prehistoric past.

The second (November 2009) is Materialitas: shaping stone, carving identity, edited by Blaze O’Connor and Fellows Gabriel Cooney and John Chapman, a volume that explores the power and effect of stone through the meanings that emerged out of people’s engagement and encounters with its physical properties. Focused primarily on the Neolithic and Bronze Age, the book presents diverse studies from across the Atlantic zone that examine the relationship between stone working and identity, placing this theme within a broader regional and intellectual context.

A third volume, on the British Chalcolithic, is under preparation for publication in 2010.

For further details of all these titles, see ‘Research Papers’, on the Prehistoric Society’s website.

English Heritage on TV for the next four Fridays

We are used to seeing fly-on-the-wall documentaries about the work of the National Trust, but now it is the turn of English Heritage, so if you are near a TV at 9pm on 24 April 2009, look out for ‘A Very Grand Design’ on BBC 2. This first programme in a four-part series looks at the restoration of Apethorpe Hall. The advance publicity says that the documentary features George Kelley, Apethorpe Hall’s heroic caretaker, who spent twenty years plugging leaks and chasing away would-be vandals and thieves in the night, here acting as ‘the chorus in the film, wryly dispassionate, as English Heritage and Simon Thurley struggle with their nightmare challenge’.

Future episodes will look at the restoration of the gardens at Kenilworth Castle, the refurbishment of the Park Hill housing estate in Sheffield, and the restoration of the King’s Cross—St Pancras station complex.


16 May 2009: Castles in the Landscape: forty years of castle studies. In 1968—9 the Royal Archaeological Institute sponsored a programme of research into English castles. This led to the publication of five papers in Archaeological Journal 134 for 1977. The passing of forty years since the research took place has prompted the RAI to organize another conference, partnered by the Medieval Section of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, focusing on the role of castles in the landscape from the medieval period to more recent times. The conference, to be held at the Yorkshire Museum, York, brings together scholars working locally with others able to give a wider perspective. The day after the conference, there will be a guided tour of castle sites in the locality. For further details see the RAI website.

27 June 2009: West African Archaeology: new developments, new perspectives. One-day conference at the Humanities Research Centre, University of Sheffield, co-sponsored by the Nigerian Field Society (NFS) and the Department of Archaeology of the University of Sheffield. Topics to be covered include the Stone Age sequence in West Africa, new research on the Iwo Eleru cranium from Nigeria, changing environments in West Africa, the Nok culture, the Ibadan and Dundo museums, linguistics and ethno-archaeology. To register please contact Sheila Everard, Secretary of the NFS (UK branch) (. For details of the academic programme please contact the convenor, our Fellow Philip Allsworth-Jones.

18 July 2009: Nonsuch Gold at Bourne Hall. One of the highlights of this special study day to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the excavation of Nonsuch Palace will be the showing of recently re-discovered film footage of the 1959 dig, made by Geoffrey Walker of the Epsom Cine and Video Society, and a paper from our Fellow Martin Biddle, youthful Director of the Nonsuch Palace excavation, on ‘Reconstructing Nonsuch’. Guided site visits will take place on the Sunday. Further information from the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council website.

Books: special offers

Oxbow Books is running a special offer on thirty-two books about London, including such recently published titles as London’s Roman Amphitheatre: Guildhall Yard, City of London (2008) by Nick Bateman, Carrie Cowan and Robin Wroe-Brown, with prices for some titles down from £75 to £14.95. On the list are eight Survey of London volumes, several Museum of London monographs, books on cemeteries and burial practice in London, on bridges, ships, ceramics and theatres, and on individual buildings, including the Albert Memorial and County Hall. To receive a PDF copy of the flyer detailing all the titles on the list, send an email to Hilary Schan at Oxbow Books.

Books by Fellows

The latest CBA Research Report follows up the work by our Fellow Vincent Gaffney that has been reported several times in Salon and elsewhere on the drowned landscape beneath the North Sea to which another of our Fellows — Bryony Coles — gave the name ‘Doggerland’, a name that has stuck. Europe’s Lost World: the rediscovery of Doggerland, by Vincent Gaffney, Simon Fitch and David Smith, is packed with useful and illuminating figures showing how the climate has changed over the last 18,000 years and how the coastline of Europe has morphed, as a consequence, into the familiar shape we know today, with Britain, formerly a range of hills on the edge of a great plain, now separated from continental Europe. The core of the book is a detailed description of the character of Doggerland, including its valleys, hills, rivers and plains, home perhaps to thousands of people, whose lives are now glimpsed but rarely through the occasional find from dredging for aggregates or trawling for fish.

The authors have mapped areas of the seabed that are most rich in archaeological resources, and argue for their protection. But such priorities will be hugely overshadowed in scale by the threats to our mainland environment if the worst forecasts for sea-level rise come true in the next one hundred years: a chilling coda in the book comes in the form of a map of the UK and Ireland in 2100, now an archipelago in which London, Norwich, Bristol, Bournemouth, Manchester and Newcastle are all like Dunwich, drowned cities that have succumbed to the waves in a catastrophe worse by far than the event that finally inundated Doggerland around 5500 BC.

Piled high in every bookshop in the UK at the moment are copies of Poland: a history, by our Fellow Adam Zamoyski. The book represents Adam’s very laudable determination to combat our ignorance of the people and history of his native land, which, twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet empire, still suffers from the image of ‘a backwater that needed civilising’, characterized in the media as the land of cheap and efficient plumbers, friendly babysitters and lost lorry drivers slavishly following their SatNavs. In place of such clichés, Adam wants Poland to be restored to its rightful place as one of the most richly varied nations of Europe, culturally and intellectually vigorous, embracing a wide variety of cultural and religious traditions, with a modern democratic constitution, government and judiciary that has much to teach the rest of Europe.

Like Poland, the Sir John Soane’s Museum has undergone many changes over the last two decades. Friends and supporters of the museum will be well aware of the vigorous programme of restoration and expansion that has gone on under the Directorship of our Fellow Tim Knox, building on the work of his predecessors, our Fellows Peter Thornton and Margaret Richards. This has resulted in the purchase of No 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, next door to the museum, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, restored in 2006—8 to create the new Soane Museum Research Library, the Soane Archive, the Adam Study Centre, fitted up with specially made cabinets for the Museum’s fifty-seven albums of architectural drawings by Robert and James Adam, and new educational facilities and staff offices. This in turn has allowed Soane’s private apartments, previously used as offices, to be restored and opened up, including Soane’s Bedroom and Bathroom, his Oratory and Model Room and Mrs Soane’s Morning Room.

Pausing for breath before fund-raising begins for the next stage in the museum’s development plan — restoration of the third building in the ensemble, No 12, former home to the Soane Museum Library and Archive — Tim Knox has judged it right to call in Derry Moore, renowned as a photographer specializing in architectural interiors, and together they have collaborated on Sir John Soane’s Museum (Merrell Publishers Ltd), the first major illustrated history and guide to the museum since Soane’s own account was published in 1835. Tim’s text is based on the much new research carried out in the course of the restoration, and includes an overview of Soane’s career and a room-by-room guide to this perpetually surprising house, while the generous use of Derry Moore’s pictures, capturing the contrasts between the grand formal spaces and the cluttered and claustrophobic recesses, is second best only to touring the house in person.

Was there ever a cultural icon more closely identified with the heritage of a nation than bagpipes and Scotland? Yet surprisingly it has taken until now for someone to take a grip of the subject and write a scholarly account of how an instrument, widely distributed across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Near East, came to be Scotland’s national instrument. Filling that void is Bagpipes: a national collection of a national instrument (National Museums of Scotland) by our Fellow Hugh Cheape, who worked as a curator in the National Museums of Scotland for over thirty years and is well placed to anatomize the material culture or ‘organology’ of this robust and intriguing instrument

The book describes the making of the NMS bagpipe collection, which now numbers more than 1,800 items (these are documented in the accompanying CD, which removes the minutiae of a catalogue from the text and supplies a form of index). The generously illustrated main text is not a history of the bagpipe in Scotland simpliciter, but an exploration of questions (for example, concerning the orxigins of a stereotypical Great Highland Bagpipe) prompted by the surviving material culture and by a wealth of diagnostic material otherwise unrecognized and unexplained, even in the museum record. By scrutinizing the material evidence within a wider historical context, Hugh offers new insights and uncovers a more varied and eclectic musical inheritance than might be imagined from the current style of bagpipe performance, showing how, for example, the ‘neo-baroque’ piping tradition of the eighteenth century gave way to a militarized tradition in the nineteenth.


English Heritage: Regional Director, Yorkshire and the Humber
Circa £55,000 per annum, closing date 30 April 2009

The Regional Director is responsible for achieving the objectives of English Heritage in Yorkshire and the Humber through decisive leadership, the effective delivery of casework and advisory services, and by ensuring that the expectations of stakeholders are managed successfully.

The ideal candidate is one who excels at building strategic relationships with key opinion-formers and at developing a highly motivated and focused team to meet agreed performance standards, with the confidence to communicate effectively, particularly on controversial issues, and the tenacity and perseverance to promote and deliver projects and new initiatives.

Application details can be found on the English Heritage website.

English Heritage: Historic Environment Traineeship (HET) Scheme, closing date: 1 May 2009
The English Heritage HET Scheme offers two-year fixed term contracts at a salary of £18,500 (plus £2,316 for trainees based in London). Trainees benefit from two-year professional work placements within the organization’s planning and development teams or secondment to relevant organizations, and are expected to undertake a project in their second year. For more information visit the English Heritage website.