Salon Archive

Issue: 215

Society meetings and events

15 to 26 June, 10am to 5pm: ‘Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past’, a public exhibition to be hosted by the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House.

As part of a campaign to persuade the UK Government to ratify the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the Society of Antiquaries is playing host to this exhibition, which draws attention to the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad during the early days of the Iraq war and the subsequent despoliation of important archaeological sites by looters and by combatants.

The free travelling exhibition, Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past, is open to the public from 15 to 26 June 2009 (10am to 5pm daily, including Saturday and Sunday) at the Society's premises at Burlington House, Piccadilly, and is funded by the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Newcastle University and North East Regional Museums Hub. The exhibition's opening coincides with the launch of the paperback edition of The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq, edited by Peter Stone, FSA, and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly and published by Boydell & Brewer.

Professor Stone, who is a member of the culture committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, said: ‘A country’s cultural heritage is crucial to its nationhood and is a source of pride and dignity. Archaeologists and those in the heritage community must now engage with the military and politicians to ensure sites, museums and artefacts are protected, or they have no right to complain when that cultural heritage is destroyed.’

18 June 2009: ‘The Stonehenge Riverside Project’, by Michael Parker Pearson, FSA

25 June 2009: Summer soirée: presentations on the Society’s recently published books will be given by the authors Stephen Cosh, FSA, and David Neal, FSA, on the Roman Mosaics of Britain. Volume III: South-east Britain and by the authors Paul Drury, FSA, and Richard Simpson, FSA, on Hill Hall: a singular house devised by a Tudor intellectual. Our Director, Maurice Howard, will then outline the Society’s future publishing plans.

2 July 2009: Ballot with exhibits. Papers for the 2 July ballot are about to be posted out. You can also vote online on the Fellows’ side of the website; apply to Christopher Catling if you would like a password or a password reminder.

11 July 2009: Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott Manor, 2pm to 5pm. See the Old Kitchen, open to visitors for the first time in 2009, exhibiting a selection of wood panels from the Society’s collections, including late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century English oak carvings and nineteenth-century Icelandic bed boards. In the Marigold Room will be a small exhibition of items donated to Kelmscott Manor in recent years. Live music will be provided by the Neil Pennock Trio from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Tickets cost £14 (£6 for children aged six to sixteen). Please send a request for the number of tickets you require, a cheque made out to ‘Kelmscott Manor’ and a return address to: Fellows’ Day, Kelmscott Manor, Kelmscott, Lechlade GL7 3HJ. The last date for receipt of bookings is Wednesday 24 June. For further information contact Kelmscott Manor (tel: 01367 253348).

Results of ballot held on 4 June 2009

All the candidates for Fellowship in the 4 June 2009 ballot were elected, and the Society is pleased to welcome the following as new Fellows:

• Ceinwen Paynton MA DipArch CertEd Principal Keeper, Leeds City Museum (formerly Finds Liaison Officer for Yorkshire; adviser to Time Team and the BBC; Education Co-ordinator for the Portable Antiquities Scheme).
• Margit Thøfner MA DPhil Senior Lecturer, School of World Art Studies and Museology, University of East Anglia (specialises in art, architecture and patronage in Europe, particularly in the Hapsburg Netherlands).
• Niall Patrick Finneran BA PhD Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Winchester (research in Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria and Cornwall; major publications include The Archaeology of Christianity in Africa and The Archaeology of Ethiopia).
• Alan Philip Frederick Sell BA BD MA PhD HonDD HonDTh Minister of Religion, philosopher, theologian (Professor of Theology and expert in church history, particularly of nonconformity).
• Peter Jeremy Piers Goldberg MA PhD Reader, Dept of History, University of York (through study of ecclesiastical court records has contributed to our understanding of late medieval England).
• Francis Wenban-Smith PhD Principal Research Fellow, Dept of Archaeology, University of Southampton (specialist in Palaeolithic field archaeology; leading lithics analyst).
• Laurie Ann Wilkie BA MA PhD Professor, Dept of Anthropology, University of California (historical archaeologist specialising in colonial and post-colonial history of the Caribbean, the American South and California).
• Adam Jonathan Daubney BA Finds Liaison Officer, Lincolnshire (an expert on archaeological small finds; has published on finds in the Lincolnshire area and is a contributor to local and national conferences).
• George Hardin Brown BA DPhL MA STL PhD Professor Emeritus of English, Stanford University (a world authority on the Venerable Bede, has served as President of both the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists and the Medieval Association of the Pacific).
• Jonathan Philip Chadwick Sumption MA QC OBE Barrister (medieval historian and expert on the Hundred Years’ War; Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research).
• Kay (Carole Ann) Sutton BA PhD Director, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Christie’s International Book Dept (a leading expert on Italian fourteenth-century illuminated manuscripts and Italian Books of Hours).
• Eileen Musonda Murphy BSc MSc PhD Senior Lecturer in Osteoarchaeology, Queen’s University, Belfast (specialist in the study of human and animal bones from Ireland and prehistoric Russia; editor of the international journal Childhood in the Past).
• Alexandra Louise Bayliss BA PhD Archaeologist (scientific dating co-ordinator at English Heritage since 1993; has led teams providing chronologies for world heritage sites, including Stonehenge and Silbury Hill).
• Nicola Jane Whitehouse BA MSc PhD Lecturer in Environmental Archaeology, Queen’s University, Belfast (specialist in fossil insect remains and in the study of the late quaternary period in Britain and Ireland; co-editor of Environmental Archaeology in Ireland).
• Valerie Anne Hall BSc PhD Professor of Palaeoecology, Queen’s University, Belfast (specialist in the palaeoenvironmental study of landscape change in Ireland since the end of the Ice Age; joint author of Flora Hibernica).
• John Mck Camp II MA PhD Classical archaeologist, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (has directed excavations in the Athenian Agora for twenty years; a scholar of nineteenth-century travel in Greece).
• Andrew Paul Davison BA MA Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Team Leader North West Region, English Heritage (research interests include Jervaulx Abbey and the archaeology of brewing).
• Stephen Sydney Ford BA PhD Archaeologist (founder of Thames Valley Archaeological Services; expert in cultural resource management and lithics).
• Charles Jarvis Napier Trollope Independent Scholar (international authority on the history of ordnance, fortification and artillery, and marine and naval archaeology).
• Mark Whittow MA DPhil Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, St Peter’s College, Oxford (specialist in the medieval world, particularly the history and archaeology of Byzantium).
• Pamela Margaret King MA DPhil Professor of Medieval Studies, University of Bristol (a leading scholar of late medieval theatre; has published works on confraternities as patrons and on cadaver tombs).
• Hirokazu Tsurushima BA MA DLitt Professor of History, Kumamoto University, Japan (medieval historian specialising in medieval Kent, Domesday studies and ecclesiastical history; co-editor of a comparative study of English and Japanese medieval documentation).
• Graham Philip MA PhD Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University (specialist in the archaeology of Syria and Jordan from fourth to first millennia BC).
• Kathryn Roberts BA MA PhD Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Cadw (leading authority on the archaeology and heritage management in south-west Wales; edited the CBA research volume Lost Farmsteads; author of Caring for Lost Farmsteads).
• Mark Jackson Stansbury PhD University Lecturer, Dept of Classics, National University of Ireland (specialist in early medieval biblical commentaries and early insular manuscripts).

Queen's Birthday Honours 2009

Congratulations from all the Fellowship to the following Fellows whose names are in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List:

• CBE: Dr Katharine (Kate) Bridget Pretty, Principal, Homerton College, Cambridge and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge, for services to higher education;
• OBE: Professor David John Breeze, lately Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Historic Scotland, Scottish Executive; Dr Margaret Lindsay Faull, Director, National Coal Mining Museum for England, for services to Industrial Heritage; Professor Ian Ralston, for services to archaeology in Scotland; Professor Warwick James Rodwell, for services to Ecclesiastical Archaeology; Professor Christopher James Rowe, Professor of Greek, University of Durham, for services to scholarship;
• MBE: Henry William Hawkes, for services to conservation in Warwickshire; Miss Robin Myers, Archivist Emeritus, Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, for services to bibliography and book history; The Very Reverend Henry Edward Champneys Stapleton, for services to the Church of England.

In the wider heritage community, amongst those honoured are (CBE) Sir William Henry Proby, DL, lately Chairman of the National Trust, (OBEs) Fiona MacCarthy, biographer and cultural historian (author of, amongst other works, William Morris: a Life for our Time), Harry Reeves, Deputy Director of Culture at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, (MBEs) Gareth Fitzpatrick, Director of the Living Landscape Trust and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust, Richard Michael Holdsworth, Museum and Heritage Director, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, and Susan Mathews, Curator of the Stained Glass Museum.

New Secretaries of State and new Chair of English Heritage

Three key appointments for the heritage were announced last week. First, as a result of the Cabinet reshuffle, former journalist Ben Bradshaw has been appointed Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, while John Denham, previously Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, becomes the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. These two departments are working together on a long-awaited statement of Government policy on the historic environment, which has provisionally been scheduled for publication in July.

One of Ben Bradshaw’s first announcements as Culture Secretary was the appointment of Baroness Andrews as the new Chair of English Heritage. Kay Andrews was formerly Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Her appointment will run for four years from 27 July 2009. Making the announcement, Ben Bradshaw said: ‘English Heritage plays a key role in so many of my department’s programmes, and we greatly value its expertise and experience, and the important work it does to bring our historic environment alive for everyone. Kay Andrews was the unanimous choice of the independent panel that assessed all the applicants for the Chair, and takes on the chairmanship at an important time for the organisation. Public interest in our history and heritage is really high at home, and looks set to captivate the huge numbers who will come to the UK in 2012.’

He also paid tribute to our Fellow Sir Barry Cunliffe, saying that he ‘has been a most diligent interim Chairman since last September and I thank him warmly for stepping in to lead the organisation following Sandy Bruce Lockhart’s death in August.’

Baroness Andrews said: ‘I am delighted to be appointed the new Chair of English Heritage. I am conscious that I do so following last year’s tragic death of Sandy Bruce Lockhart. He was a great man and a wonderful champion of England’s heritage. It will be the greatest privilege for me to take up the baton and be directly involved in the protection and promotion of the historic environment all around us and under our feet. Living, as I do, in the middle of Lewes — one of our most beautiful towns — I appreciate, on a daily basis, the living history we see in our streets and downland landscapes. We hold our unique historic environment in trust not just for those who are lucky enough to live with it but also for those who come to marvel at it from all over the world. But the greatest responsibility we have is to enthuse the next generation so that they understand the significance of the historic environment for them. I believe very strongly that inspiring and opening doors for children to enjoy and care for our historic places is one of the most important things English Heritage can do and I look forward to working with everyone there to ensure we achieve this.’

A future Speaker?

Our Fellow Sir Patrick Cormack is one of ten Members of Parliament tipped as possible successors to Michael Martin, who steps down as Speaker to the House of Commons on 21 June 2009. An election for a new Speaker of the House will take place on 22 June; for the first time in the history of the position, MPs will be able to vote in a secret ballot.

Parliamentary correspondents describe Sir Patrick (aged 70) as a ‘veteran left-of-centre Conservative and his party’s longest serving MP, a very solid and fluent speaker who is most attentive to the House, speaks without notes and is open-minded to the point of bravery’. He is described as ‘probably the most deserving’ of the candidates for the post, but faces formidable competition from Ann Widdecombe (61), the authoritative and charismatic MP, and Margaret Beckett (66), described as ‘intelligent and brisk’.

If Ann Widdecombe is elected, there will have to be another ballot after the next General Election, as she has already says she will not run for Parliament again, and is offering herself as a short-term ‘interim’ Speaker, to kick-start the process of Parliamentary reform. For Margaret Beckett to be elected would break the House convention that the Speakership alternates between the Government and the Opposition. If Sir Patrick does win at the end of this week, he will not have to fight another election while he remains as Speaker, for another honourable House tradition is that nobody stands against the sitting Speaker in a General Election.

The ‘Antiquity of Man’ and the passage of fifty years

‘A century and a half ago today’, began a letter in The Times on 2 June 2009, ‘John Evans presented to the Society of Antiquaries in London evidence for the “Antiquity of Man”’. The letter, signed by our Fellows Professors Martin Biddle and Brian Fagan, went on to say that the crucial discovery of flint implements in association with extinct mammals in the gravels of the Somme was what changed for all time our view of human origins. Sadly, the letter concluded, this discovery ‘is still widely overlooked in the proper celebration of Darwin’s subsequent publication in that momentous year’.

Inset alongside this letter was another one that now seems, after the passage of fifty years, almost antique in its type-style from another era: signed by Brian Fagan and Martin Biddle (as Pembroke College Oxford undergraduates) and dated 24 May 1959, the letter eloquently pleaded for national recognition of the centenary of Evans’s lecture, which was in danger of being overshadowed by the commemoration of the Darwin centenary.

Is it too much to hope that the same letter will not have to be written by archaeology professors and/or undergraduates on 2 June 2059?

Mention of Martin Biddle and the passage of time allows Salon to remind everyone of the fact that 2009 also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Martin’s excavation of one of Henry VIII’s most sumptuous palaces, the appropriately named Nonsuch, near Ewell in Surrey. Martin, supported by a cast of other Fellows, will be speaking at a study day, ‘Nonsuch Gold’, to be held at Bourne Hall, Ewell, on 18 July, a meeting that will incorporate the premiere of the recently restored film of the 1959 excavations shot by local cameraman Geoffrey Walker (with narration by John Dent) — a must-see forerunner of Time Team! Further information from the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council website.

The ‘axe that broke the time barrier’

One place where Evans’s lecture was properly celebrated was Burlington House where Fellows and guests (including one of John Evans’s grand-daughters) were richly entertained by the speakers at the Society’s Evans commemoration, and treated at the tea-time interval to richly indulgent cup-cakes donated by our Fellow Pamela Jane Smith and fellow members of the Histories of Archaeology Research Network.

As for the papers (which we hope to host on the Society’s website once speakers can be persuaded to part with them), Martin Rudwick took us through eighty years of prior debate about human antiquity, demonstrating that few people (not even many Christians) believed Bishop Ussher's chronology after the 1780s, though the evidence that everyone sought for human antiquity was ambiguous; one key breakthrough came when scientists stopped looking in caves for ‘men among the mammals’, because of the problems of intrusive and residual material, and moved into the open air, looking for evidence in the simpler stratigraphy of gravel quarries. Martin also made the key point that the discovery had to be made by ‘gentlemen’. Nearly all of the preceding evidence of tools in association with extinct fauna had been made by working men whose evidence was distrusted because (unlike ‘gentleman’) they might have been motivated to fake the evidence by the hope of a financial reward.

Whereas Martin Rudwick claimed to be a PowerPoint virgin (but nevertheless did splendidly), our Vice President Clive Gamble proved himself to be the master of that form of technology with an animated presentation that used miniature images of Evans and Prestwick shuttling back and forth between Hertford, London, Abbeville and Amiens (and spinning vertiginously during one rough Channel crossing) as he told the story of the great discovery and the role played in these events by railway and telegram (and, not coincidentally, by the development of the contour line as a tool for establishing synchronicity between different geological strata).

Clive then told us of an equally momentous discovery — his own hunt for the original ‘axe that broke the time barrier’, which had not been seen in 150 years, and that was assumed to be lost or lying unlabelled among the many hundreds of handaxes that Evans and Prestwich brought back from their travels in France in subsequent years. Asking at the British Museum and the Ashmolean led nowhere, but Clive then discovered that the Prestwich collection had been donated to the Natural History Museum, and with the help of Robert Kruszynski, of the NHM’s Department of Palaeontology, he found an unfinished triangular flint handaxe matching Prestwich and Evans’s description, with a small label with the words ‘St Acheul, Amiens. 11 ft from surface, April 27 59’ and a later tiny interpolation ‘Present when found — J.P.’. The depth and the date pointed to this being the ‘discovery’ handaxe and blowing up Pinsard’s photograph of the artefact in situ in the gravel quarry section showed a perfect match.

The axe was presented at the meeting for all to admire, along with various other records from the Society’s archives, including the 2 June 1859 minute book and guest list. Clive (who told the whole story again later the next day on Radio 4’s ‘Material World’ science programme) concluded with an eloquent plea for this artefact to be displayed with the prominence it deserves, not because of its merits as a Palaeolithic artefact, but because of its significance for the history of scientific understanding.

Rescuing the Civic Trust

Griff Rhys Jones, former President of the now defunct Civic Trust, announced last week that an initiative had been launched by a group of heritage bodies to keep alive if not the name and organisation itself, then at least the spirit and the work of the Civic Trust, including its role as a national voice for the 250,000 members of regional and local civic trusts.

Speaking at the launch of the ‘Civic Society Initiative’, Griff Rhys Jones warned that politicians ‘don't care about heritage and conservation’, because they do not realise that heritage and conservation are political issues and they don’t put them on the political agenda: ‘they don't think they need to be answerable, to be held to account [about it], and they don't care’, he said, adding that Government was impatient with ‘irritating and time-consuming public consultation’ and wanted to ‘silence pressure groups with centralised directives’.

That is why, he said, the ethos of the Civic Society must not be allowed to wither: without a strong national voice for the heritage, politicians could portray ‘grassroots concern’ as a ‘small elite’. The newly formed Civic Society Initiative hopes to raise £50,000 from the public within a year as a ‘fighting fund’ that would be used to establish a long-term strategy. ‘With the right support we can build a movement to support and champion community action for local places that is stronger than ever’, Griff Rhys Jones concluded.

Another cause in need of a philanthropist: an eleventh-century ivory oliphant

The export of an outstanding medieval carved ivory oliphant has been delayed pending efforts to raise £3,352,500 to keep the carving in the UK. Unusually, the Export Review Committee awarded a starred rating to the oliphant, meaning that every possible effort should be made to keep it in the country.

Made in the late eleventh or early twelfth century, perhaps by Islamic craftsmen in Cairo, the oliphant (pictured on the Culture24 website) is nearly 70cm long and is intricately carved with human and animal figures. Silver mounts were added in the early seventeenth century (after it came into the collection of Thomas Lord Coventry (1578—1640), Lord Keeper of the Great Seals to King Charles I, possibly to commemorate the marriage of Coventry’s daughter.

Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Reviewing Committee, said: ‘Not only is the oliphant a rare and beautiful artefact, it is also an object of great importance to scholars. It has connections with the relationship between Islam and the West in medieval times, English society in the seventeenth century, and the history of symbolic objects in Mediterranean culture’. Further details can be found on the Department of Culture website.

No logos here!

Talking of philanthropy, the June issue of the Art Newspaper reports that our Fellow Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, has rejected a grant of £80,000 from the Art Fund towards the purchase of a pietà by Marco Antonio Bassetti (1588—1630) — entitled The Dead Christ Supported by the Virgin and Mary Magdalene — because he is unwilling to display the Art Fund’s heart-shaped pink and black logo alongside the painting. According to Timothy, ‘logos are the currency of marketing and this introduces a promotional element into the galleries which we regard as an unacceptable distraction’. Sadly, it looks as if rejecting the Art Fund logo means that other funders have now pulled out, and the Fitzwilliam may not be able to purchase the £175,000 painting after all; surely there must be some better way of acknowledging and thanking donors than the inappropriate partnering of a sober religious work and a transient piece of marketing puff?

Obituary: Ian Shepherd

We are very grateful to Ian Ralston, FSA (and now OBE), for the following obituary for our late Fellow Ian Alexander George Shepherd (born Forres 22 March 1951; died Aberdeen 15 May 2009).

‘Ian Shepherd, doyen of local authority archaeologists in Scotland, sadly died on 15 May 2009 at the early age of 58. Ian was the first such post-holder in the country, having been appointed to the planning department of the newly formed Grampian Regional Council in 1975; he was eventually Principal Archaeologist and Team Leader, Specialist Services, Aberdeenshire Council, managing a small team which also oversaw cultural heritage matters for the neighbouring counties of Angus and Moray. Although raised in Lanarkshire, and educated in Edinburgh, latterly as a student of Professor Stuart Piggott at the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology in Edinburgh University, Ian was born in the north east of Scotland. Apart from four seasons of excavation on the Beaker settlement at Rosinish in the Outer Hebrides, he spent his entire professional life in the area, whose field archaeology, historic buildings and landscapes he knew intimately and to which he was devoted.

‘Ian effectively and enthusiastically developed a sites and monuments record and all the other components of a professional archaeological service for north-east Scotland from scratch. His important work inside the planning system and council was soon extended into research and teaching, for he was, beyond his core duties, both a keen populariser and a serious academic researcher. Many new sites were discovered during his programmes of aerial survey from 1977, undertaken both to recover crop-marks in the fertile lowlands of the Laigh of Moray and elsewhere in the summer months, and other, upstanding, remains year-round in the upland moors. He also undertook fieldwork and excavation. His principal dig, with his wife Alexandra (Lekky), also an archaeologist, was in the testing environment of Covesea Cave on the Moray coast, in use from Late Bronze Age to Pictish times; but he also rescued numerous Bronze Age burials, disturbed by quarrying, ploughing or new housing. Many other archaeologists benefited, too, from the support and advice he was able to bring to their projects in the region, notably Richard Bradley and, in my own case, latterly at Burghead.

‘Ian also contributed tirelessly and significantly to a wide range of trusts and other initiatives concerned with historic buildings, archaeology and heritage in the north east. These included Elgin Archaeological Heritage, Kinloss Abbey, Pitsligo Castle, Burghead Headland, the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses at Fraserburgh, Archaeolink Prehistory Park, Oyne, and Aberdeenshire Historic Kirkyards. In late 2008, it was Ian who conducted the Princess Royal around Kinloss Abbey during her visit there. In a very real sense the places that are his monuments are distributed across this heartland of Scotland.

‘Ian was also a keen extra-mural lecturer, both in and around Aberdeen University and well beyond (including to postgraduate students in Cultural Resource Management at Edinburgh), lectures that were often enhanced by the many fine colour transparencies of north-eastern sites he took both at ground level and from the air. With well over sixty significant publications to his name, he produced a huge range of literature: from leaflets and guide-books to specialist studies (particularly on beaker burials and Bronze Age jet artefacts), but also including regional archaeological overviews and monographs on architecture. Two of his three general surveys have been republished: his Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian (1986) as Aberdeen and North-East Scotland (1996); and Gordon: an illustrated architectural guide (1994) as Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie (2006). Both are quiet triumphs, like the unshowy John Smith buildings he so admired as an architectural historian. Co-written with his Aberdeenshire colleague, Moira Greig, Grampian’s Past: its archaeology from the air (1996) showcases their aerial photographs of a range of historic buildings and archaeological sites. Despite worsening health, he was still actively writing this spring — including his contributions to a new survey of Bronze Age burials and to the Buildings of Scotland volume on the North East.

‘He believed passionately in the importance of Scotland’s archaeology, playing a central role in leaving it in a much healthier state than in the 1970s. With Lorna Main, now of Stirling Council, and the late Bob Gourlay, he developed networks for local authority archaeologists, and was first chair (to 1993) of the Association of Regional and Islands Archaeologists, now ALGAO Scotland. He wrote cogently, too, on issues concerning archaeology and planning, notably on the deleterious impacts for archaeological sites of certain afforestation schemes; and was the obvious authority to contribute the Scottish dimension of the local authority chapter in Archaeological Resource Management in the UK. He was a key supporter of a number of initiatives involving local authority archaeological services in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. He could, of course, on occasion disagree profoundly with policies and initiatives on heritage issues emanating from central government or elsewhere, whilst remaining good friends with the colleagues who enunciated them.

‘Ian also carried out a number of important roles for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. For almost a decade from 1982, during a testing period of rapid change in scholarly publishing, he edited the Antiquaries’ Proceedings; for another, from 1999 until only a few months before his death, he chaired its Research Committee. He was also a Vice-President of the Society in the late 1990s, and, with Gordon Barclay, masterminded the Scotland in Ancient Europe conference, a major review of the country’s Neolithic and Earlier Bronze Age record, to publication in 2004.

‘But Ian’s interests, archaeological and other, were far from purely local. He could certainly quote from Johnny Gibb o’ Gushetneuk and the poetry of George Bruce; but also loved Jane Austen and P G Wodehouse. He had an international reputation amongst Bronze Age specialists, and was, for many years, Secretary of the Bronze Age Studies Group, where his duties extended beyond the routine to include shepherding — literally — its directionally challenged president, Colin Burgess, on visits to key sites of the period around Europe.

‘Ian had a knowledge of the prehistory, history and personalities of the north east fairly described as encyclopaedic, but this was a knowledge lightly borne and that he was prepared to share with anyone. It was acquired, however, not in an ascetic way, but by a family man proud of the achievements of his wife and daughters; a man who relished so much of life, from a decent malt to what was to prove to be his last trip to France.’

Help: Caen stone and an unidentified Romanesque chamber block

Sadly the appeal for information about Edward Tristram or Tristrum in the last issue of Salon does not seem to have thrown any new light on his life or the ivory sistrum in the British Museum’s collection, but perhaps this week’s two appeals for further information will be more successful.

First, Jean-Marie Levesque, Director of the Musée de Normandie, in Caen, has contacted Salon to ask for assistance in mounting a temporary exhibition in the summer of 2010 on the subject of archaeology and the history of Caen stone, covered from a range of geological, technical, economic, architectural and artistic standpoints. The exhibition will highlight the use of Caen stone as a symbol of Norman supremacy from the eleventh century, and the museum wishes therefore to give substantial coverage to the major English sites where Caen stone was deployed in castle and ecclesiastical architecture and sculpture.

Jean-Marie is especially interested in contacting institutions or individuals willing to lend carved fragments or sculptures to the exhibition.

Second, Fellow Nat Alcock, of the University of Warwick, seeks help in identifying the building shown in a painting by John Varley of around 1805. ‘Its specific interest is that the building shown appears potentially to be a Romanesque chamber block (compare Boothby Pagnell), but appears not to represent any of those at present recorded’, says Nat.

News of Fellows

Busy as he is as Director of Operations at the Heritage Lottery Fund, our Fellow Bob Bewley still finds time for regular flying in the pursuit of aerial photographs, and the journal Antiquity has just announced that Bob and his flying partner, Fellow David Kennedy, have been awarded the journal’s annual photography prize for a stunning picture of a Neolithic site in Jordan.

On Tuesday 30 June 2009, at 11.30am (and available online via the BBC iplayer for seven days thereafter), BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a programme made by our Fellow Christine Finn on the late photographer (and archaeology enthusiast) Fay Godwin. The focus of ‘Sitting for Fay’ is on the poets and writers she photographed in her early career, including Ted Hughes, with whom she collaborated on the acclaimed 1979 book combining photography and poetry, the Remains of Elmet, on the myth and industrial archaeology of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Christine says that the programme is a follow up to ‘Final Exposure’, the programme broadcast on Radio 3 last summer about Godwin's last home and studio on the Romney Marsh.

Congratulations to our Fellow Mary Beard who learned on 9 June 2009 that she was the joint recipient of the £20,000 Wolfson History Prize for her widely acclaimed book Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (Profile Books). The other winner was Margaret McGowan, with Dance in the Renaissance: European Fashion, French Obsession (Yale University Press). The judges were Sir Keith Thomas (Chairman), Professor Richard Evans and our Fellows Dame Averil Cameron and Sir David Cannadine. The Wolfson History Prize, established in 1972, promotes standards of excellence in the writing of history for the general public.

As Mary says, in her ‘Don’s Life’ blog in The Times : ‘What was especially fun for me was the idea that no classical book had won this since 1974, when Moses Finley took the prize with The Ancient Economy. Moses was writing this and getting the prize when I was listening to his undergraduate lectures on fifth-century Athens. If someone had told me that I would win the prize that Moses had just won I wouldn’t have believed them. I still don’t, quite!’ The paperback edition of Mary’s book will be published by Profile Books on 16 July 2009.


The reference in the last issue of Salon to US President Woodrow Wilson and his belief that academic disputes are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small seemed very familiar to Fellow Michael Silverman who said that he had seen the same remark quoted recently in relation to the row over the Oxford professorship of poetry but attributed by one newspaper to Henry Kissinger and by another to ‘some wag’! A little rooting around on the internet revealed that the same thought has been attributed to quite a number of other writers and public figures, including C P Snow and the US political scientist Wallace Stanley Sayre (1905—72), after whom it is known as Sayre’s Law, which states: ‘In any dispute, the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue’. The consensus seems to be, however, that Woodrow Wilson (1856—1924) did formulate the original thought as an observation on academic life, based on his experiences as President of Princeton University from 1902.

Salon 214 reported that research by Charles Stanish suggests that eBay has reduced the demand for looted antiquities, at least as far as the US trade in Mesoamerican artefacts is concerned. Fellow Michael Lewis reports a different experience in the UK, where the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities and Treasure team is monitoring the sale of antiquities (specifically unreported items of Treasure). The overall trend of antiquities sold on eBay has increased over the period of the British Museum’s monitoring work, from a monthly average of all antiquities offered for sale of 1,275 to 4,811; the monthly average of British antiquities has increased from 375 to 1,516. This is not to say any of these finds are illicit; but the large proportion of ‘unprovenanced’ finds is undoubtedly a concern to most archaeologists.

‘Since October 2006, when the British Museum agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with eBay to monitor its site for unreported Treasure, 573 cases of unreported potential Treasure were logged’, says Michael. ‘Of these, 302 cases were followed up by questioning the vendors of these finds. The responses varied considerably: 6 per cent stated the sales were old finds that did not qualify under the new Act, but perhaps should have been reported under Treasure Trove; 2 per cent stated that it was the finder’s responsibility, not theirs, to report the finds (indicating a loop-hole in the Act which the British Museum is keen to close by an amendment through the Coroner’s and Justice Bill); 26 per cent stated that the findspot was “unknown”, and therefore they were uncertain whether or not the finds should have been reported, highlighting a lack of due diligence on the part of the vendor; 18.5 per cent said the find was “foreign”, without explaining whether or not the finds came legally to this country; 16.5 per cent gave a response that was not possible to categorise, such as simply asserting that the find was “not Treasure”; 22 per cent did not respond and 9 per cent said they would report the find.’

‘In Austria, Germany and Switzerland vendors who sell antiquities on eBay are required to provide documentation regarding provenance, and it would be useful if vendors of UK antiquities could be required to do likewise’, Michael concludes.

Not wishing to suggest in any way that Margaret Gelling was in error, writes our Fellow Blaise Vyner, ‘but perhaps there was an oversight in Andrew Midgeley’s interesting and entertaining obituary reprinted in the last issue of Salon from the Economist. “Sphagetti Junction” is not the only modern example of the will of the people expressed in a name: this is unusual, but not unique, as Swindon has a polyfocal roundabout, built in the 1970s, which for years locally enjoyed the unofficial soubriquet “The Magic Roundabout” before being officially named and signposted as such. Why “The Magic Roundabout”? Because it was never entirely clear (especially to my mother, learning to drive in late middle age) how traffic managed to clear its five different mini-roundabouts, each with multiple entry and exit points, without an accident!’

Responding not to a report in Salon this time, but rather to the ‘Time Team Special’ on Stonehenge broadcast two weeks ago, Fellow Catherine Johns says: ‘I feel that I have to record some protest about the denigration of Richard Atkinson and his research in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the basic assumptions made by those now working on the monument are actually based, blithely unacknowledged, on his work at Stonehenge and elsewhere. Furthermore, contrary to what was stated, this work did not remain completely unpublished. It ill behoves those who, quite properly, publicise their academic research on television, to regard as “completely unpublished” the work of a predecessor who also used popular books and TV for the same purpose. I cannot be the only person left who remembers Richard Atkinson as a truly inspirational teacher: I was, after all, one of his very first Cardiff students, so there are those younger than I who remember the impact of his thinking and of the clear and systematic way in which he perceived and analysed the past and our ways of studying it. The generations of students who inherited, passed on, and are still passing on, his ideas and his insights are his true legacy.’

‘No, Richard did not publish all the full, formal excavation reports he should have done. He got caught up, like so many academics, before and since, in the toils of management and administration. But this does not mean that his contribution to British archaeology in the twentieth century was negligible, or that he deserves to be spoken of so disparagingly by those whose work is a continuation of his own. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!’


From 16 June 2009 ‘Compass and Rule: Architecture as Mathematical Practice in England, 1500—1750’, curated by our Fellow Jim Bennett at Oxford University’s Museum of the History of Science. Geometrical techniques were central to a reform of architectural practice in England from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, changing how architects worked and what they built as well the status and social standing of their discipline. Important loans of instruments, manuscripts, drawings and books join the Museum’s own objects for a major exhibition.

From 19 June to 19 September 2009, ‘Immagini e memoria: Rome in the photographs of Father Peter Paul Mackey 1890—1901’, a new free exhibition at the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Curated by Valerie Scott, Librarian of the British School in Rome, this exhibition of photographs by the intrepid English Dominican Father, Peter Paul Mackey, captures two colliding worlds: on the one hand an almost rural Rome, its vineyards and market gardens surrounded by the desolate Roman Campagna and, on the other, a city in ferment, where demolition and building work are changing the landscape, factories fill the Circus Maximus and smoke from industrial chimneys blurs the skyline. Mackey records an ancient city on the point of change, his photographs preserving buildings and vistas now lost for ever.

From 25 June to 27 September 2009, ‘Medals of Dishonour’, a free exhibition in Room 90 of the British Museum. Medals are best known for celebrating important figures or heroic deeds. Alongside the long-standing and well-known association of medals with glory and achievement lies another darker tradition of the medal as an indicator of dishonour. This exhibition will feature historical works from the past 400 years that denounce their subjects and expose a long and rich tradition of satirical and political comment, set alongside the creations of leading contemporary artists, including Grayson Perry, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Richard Hamilton and Steve Bell, commissioned by the British Art Medal Trust, a registered charity dedicated to the making and study of medals.

20 to 23 July 2009, ‘Ritual and Space’, Harlaxton Manor, Grantham. The theme of the 26th Harlaxton Medieval Symposium is intended to combine two areas of research on the Middle Ages which have been particularly rich in recent years. Rituals (religious and non), their emotional or political meaning (or lack of it) and relation to concepts of liminality and communitas, will be examined alongside concepts of space (physical, metaphorical) and their representation and uses. Confirmed speakers include our Fellows Jennifer Alexander, Philip Dixon, Julian Luxford, Philip Morgan and Nicholas Rogers. For further information, see the Harlaxton Medieval Symposium’s website.

4 to 6 September 2009, ‘Canons, Clergy and Churchmen’, Sarum College, Salisbury. The Monumental Brass Society’s 2009 Conference will include lectures by Fellows Nigel Saul and Brian Kemp on the brasses and tombs of Salisbury Cathedral and papers from, amongst others, our Fellows Father Jerome Bertram, Elizabeth New and Clive Burgess on the theme of clerical commemoration. There will be visits to the parish church of St Thomas (with its important Webbe brass, restored Doom painting and the commemorative inscriptions and merchant marks on the beams of the church), to St Martin’s (to see the Carpenter brass), to St Edmund’s (to see the brass of Henry Dove), and to the Cathedral, led by Tim Tatton-Brown (to see the magnificent Wyville brass and the collection of tombs of bishops of Salisbury). Full details are available on the MBS website.

Books by Fellows …

Fellow Colum Hourihane, Director of Princeton University's Index of Christian Art, has published a new book on Pontius Pilate in which he attempts to reform our understanding of the man’s character. Pontius Pilate, Anti-Semitism and the Passion (Princeton University Press) traces Pilate's visual and textual history from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries and shows how he was used and misinterpreted to suit various religious, social and cultural needs. Colum shows that Pilate's washing of the hands could even have been interpreted as a symbol of Baptism in the early Christian period and that in Eastern traditions Pilate is treated as a saint with his own feast day; by the tenth century Pilate had become a symbol of anti-Semitism and by the twelfth century, at a time when laws were being codified, he is portrayed as a model of justice.

Denys Pringle’s endeavours over three decades have borne fruit in the fourth and final volume of his corpus, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge University Press). These four volumes (all now in print, though volumes 1 and 2 are available only in paperback) are the result of a project which began in 1979 under the auspices of the then British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (now subsumed into the Council for British Research in the Levant) and which has, from time to time, received funding from the Society of Antiquaries of London. Together, the four volumes present all the church buildings that were built, rebuilt or simply in use in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem between the capture of Jerusalem by the First Crusade in 1099 and the loss of Acre in 1291. The richly illustrated entry gives the history of the church with a description, including its decoration and furnishings, relics, associated buildings and epigraphy, as well as a discussion and a complete list of medieval and later sources.

Continuing the ecclesiastical theme is Susan Wood’s The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West (Oxford University Press), which Salon missed first time around but that is now available in paperback. The book is concerned with church property — not just the building, but everything that went with it: contents, land, agricultural stock (often including serfs), revenues (chiefly tithes and offerings) and control of the office of priest. Susan explains that its length (at 1,020 pages) is the result of cramming in a survey of most of western Europe and more than six centuries (ending, apart from an epilogue chapter, around 1200, when lordship over churches was more or less superseded by canon-law patronage). Reviewers have been impressed by the clarity with which the author deftly summarises mountains of material.

Discovering London's Buildings, by our Fellow John Bold and Tanis Hinchcliffe, both of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster (Frances Lincoln), provides a route into exploring London's immensely diverse architecture, looking at such themes as domestic, commercial, religious and institutional buildings, houses and apartments, offices, churches, government buildings, schools, railway stations, shops, pubs, parks and sports arenas. The book covers the masterpieces and the ordinary, from the Middle Ages to the immediate present and culminates in twelve architectural walks, from the central City and Westminster to the inner and outer suburbs.

The last issue of Salon mentioned Fellow Pamela Jane Smith’s book A Splendid Idiosyncrasy: prehistory at Cambridge 1915—50, which contains interviews with a number of distinguished Fellows who were pioneers of their discipline; one of them is an all-too-short interview with pioneer Africanist archaeologist Merrick Posnansky, who has now published a far more complete memoir called Africa and Archaeology: Empowering an Expatriate Life (I B Tauris). Candid and refreshing in his account of his life’s journey from a small Jewish community in Manchester to Peterhouse, Cambridge, then excavating in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana from 1956 to 1976 and initiating the first full degree courses in archaeology in tropical Africa at the University of Ghana before being appointed Professor of History and Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles where he was successively Director of the Institute of Archaeology and the James S Coleman African Studies Center.

Merrick’s memoirs are in part about his experiences as an archaeologist excavating sites ranging from the Middle Stone Age to the Historic, and part a series of observations on the changes taking place in modern Africa, and on the racial and religious prejudices of the twentieth century. Of special interest is his description of the structure, social and economic life of the Ghanaian village of Hani where he spent a year undertaking archaeological and ethno-archaeological research.

A Festschrift conference on African Diasporan archaeology was convened in Merrick’s honour earlier this year; he is currently engaged in cultural conservation work and recently excavated the Imperial era fort of Dufile in northern Uganda.

Another Festchrift has just been published to honour our Fellow Peter Woodman, who retired in September 2006 after twenty-three years as Professor of Archaeology at University College Cork. From Bann Flakes to Bushmills (Oxbow), edited by Nyree Finlay, Nicky Milner and Fellows Sinead McCartan and Caroline Wickham-Jones, is the first in a new series of research papers from the Prehistoric Society and its launch was shrouded in secrecy so as not to spoil the surprise when it was presented to Peter as part of the Prehistoric Society’s Europa Day conference on the Mesolithic held at York on 30 May 2009, at which Peter gave the keynote paper.

Like that lecture, the twenty-one contributions to the Festschrift cover many aspects of the European Mesolithic, Part 1 being devoted to artefacts and antiquarian finds, Part 2 to fieldwork projects (new sites and old ones re-examined) while Part 3 addresses the topic of the Mesolithic to Neolithic transition from different angles.

Finally, how good to be able to welcome a new Fellow by featuring his latest book. As well as being a practicing QC, well known for his high-profile cases before the courts, Jonathan Sumption (elected at the last ballot held on 4 June 2009) is a former Magdalen College, Oxford, History Fellow and the author of Pilgrimage and The Albigensian Crusade, as well as a celebrated multi-volume history of the Hundred Years War, of which the third instalment has just been published: Divided Houses (Faber and Faber) continues the epic story of the War begun with Trial by Battle and continued in Trial by Fire, contrasting England’s declining fortunes under Edward III and Richard II with the rise of France to power and pre-eminence under Charles V, marked by a blossoming of artistic creativity and military conquest as far afield as Naples, Hungary and North Africa.

Reviewing the book in the Guardian last month, our Fellow Graham Parry said of it: ‘Divided Houses, for all its length and detail, is a truly absorbing book, which carries the reader into the turmoil of the fourteenth century with discreet guidance and commentary … what Sumption describes is the tragedy of war: France devastated by “the mindless greed and indiscriminate violence of the warrior class” as the conflict reached “a murderous and increasingly pointless military stalemate”. Add to this misery the experience of pervasive pestilence, decades of oppressive taxation, corruption and infighting at the top end of society and rebellions at the bottom, and it becomes evident why the later fourteenth century was one of the most pessimistic of times. Things may brighten up, however. Agincourt lies ahead, and presumably Sumption will not allow his sequence to end in the uneasy truce of 1398.’

... and books recommended by Fellows

A Fellow who does not wish to be named commends a book from I B Tauris, the same small independent publishing house that published Merrick Posnansky’s book, which specialises in books on the Middle East and the Islamic World. Islam in the Baltic: Europe's Early Muslim Community (Tauris Academic Studies) is the work of Harry Norris, Professor Emeritus of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of London, and a great friend of our late Fellow John Hurst, with whom he dug in Palestine and at Northolt Manor. The book is the first historical study in English of the Qipchq community of Tatar and non-Tatar Muslims in the Baltic States (especially Lithuania and Poland) and in Belarus and Kaliningrad. In it, the author investigates the earliest contacts between these Baltic peoples and the world of Islam, examining the trade routes of the Vikings and the early Slavs and Balts who had commercial relations with Arab merchants, trading in amber, furs, Middle Eastern silks and other luxury goods; he also brings the story right up to date, comparing Qipchq culture with that of other Muslim communities in Europe, including the diverse immigrant Muslim groups in the Nordic countries that border the Baltic Sea.