Salon Archive

Issue: 217

Society meetings and events

11 July to 4 October 2009: Making History: 300 Years of Antiquaries in Britain. After successful stops at Salisbury and Stoke-on-Trent, the Society’s Making History exhibition has now moved on to the Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery, where the displays will include the Society’s copy of Magna Carta, our Tudor portrait of Henry VIII and our inventory of his possessions at the time of his death and our Roll Chronicle, the lavishly illustrated scroll dating from the mid-fifteenth century that charts the descent of Henry VI from Adam and Eve.

Each time the exhibition moves to a new venue, items of local antiquarian interest are included. Hence at Sunderland visitors to the exhibition will be able to see William Shaftoe’s engraving of the Corbridge Lanx, or tray (see the Society’s website), discovered in 1735 by a nine-year-old-girl in the bank of the River Tyne, near Corbridge. Dating from the fourth century AD, the tray (which has recently been purchased by the British Museum) depicts Apollo, Diana and several other Roman deities. Also on show is the Benwell altar, which was one of the first discoveries to be recorded and preserved from Hadrian’s Wall in the eighteenth century, and site notebooks and finds from excavations directed by our former President, Rosemary Cramp, at the Anglo-Saxon double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, the UK’s nomination for World Heritage Site status in 2010.

31 August 2009: Visit to the Stonehenge Riverside Project. When our Fellow Mike Parker Pearson gave a paper to the Society on the work of the Stonehenge Riverside Project on 18 June he invited Fellows to visit this year’s excavations. Mike has kindly agreed to give a tour to Fellows at 2pm on 31 August 2009 (Bank Holiday Monday). If you would like to join the tour, we will meet at the entrance to Woodhenge, which is signposted on the western side of the A345 just south of Durrington Walls and a mile north of the Countess Farm roundabout. Parking is available along the side of the old road, now a cul-de-sac, just north of Woodhenge.

1 October 2009: ‘Ship in the Desert: the Namibian treasure wreck’, by Dr Bruno Werz, followed by a ‘meet the team’ reception to mark the launch of Volume 89 of the Antiquaries Journal.

Results of ballot held on 2 July 2009

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

• Peter Rowley-Conwy MA PhD Professor of Archaeology, Dept of Archaeology, Durham University (a historian of archaeology and author of From Genesis to Prehistory; research into animal domestication and the Mesolithic of Europe).
• Pamela Catriona Lowther BA Honorary Visiting Fellow, University of Leicester (contributed to bringing major archaeological projects in the north east of England to publication, including those of Jarrow and Wearmouth).
• Allan Marshall Brodie MA Architectural Historian, Senior Investigator at English Heritage (specialist in the architectural history of prisons, courts and seaside resorts; research interests in the military defences on the Isles of Scilly and Dover Castle).
• Linda Ehrsam Voigts MA PhD Curators’ Professor Emerita of English, University of Missouri at Kansas City (specialist in medieval science and medicine; published electronically with a collaborator Scientific and Medical Writings in Old and Middle English).
• Nicola Jane Milner BA PhD Lecturer, Dept of Archaeology, University of York (specialist in Mesolithic archaeology of Europe with particular interest in palaeodiet, death and burial, settlement and mobility).
• Wayne Douglas Cocroft BA Senior Archaeological Investigator, English Heritage Survey and Investigation Team (specialist in modern military sites; has conducted a national study of the explosives industry; co-author of a study of Cold War buildings for nuclear confrontation).
• Clare Hornsby BA PhD Paul Mellon Fellow, British School at Rome (architectural historian, expert in Grand Tour studies, garden history and the history of collecting; publications include Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-Century Rome).
• Fiona Elizabeth Susan Roe MLitt Freelance specialist in prehistoric stone artefacts (has undertaken extensive research on Bronze Age battle axes and assemblages of Iron Age stone objects; interests include the use of stone in milling).
• Tamar Lewitt BA PhD Director, Special Academic Projects, Trinity College, Melbourne University (leading scholar in interpreting Late Antiquity and especially the economy of the period).
• Kate Wilson BA Inspector of Ancient Monuments, English Heritage North-East Region (specialises in conservation of ruins, architectural reconstructions, especially for Roman buildings, eg Segontium, Birdoswald and Bewcastle).
• Richard Falkiner Auctioneer, agent and adviser in antiquities and numismatics (scholar-dealer; has written on the Sevso Treasure and Bolton forgeries; panellist for Treasure Act valuations).
• Derek Charles Seeley BA MA Senior Contracts Manager, Museum of London Archaeology (detailed knowledge of archaeology of Roman and medieval London; has published on Winchester Palace, Southwark).
• Elaine Margaret Treharne BA PhD Professor of Medieval Literature, Florida State University (leading scholar of vernacular manuscripts; has published widely on early medieval books, especially English texts and codicology, 1050—1200).
• Kim Shelton MA PhD Assistant Professor, Dept of Classics, University of California, Berkeley (leading archaeologist specialising in Aegean prehistory; extensive fieldwork and excavation at Mycenae).
• Diana Beatrix Tyson BA PhD Honorary Research Fellow, University College London (has held academic posts in Geneva, London and Ohio and has published extensively in medieval French and English history, literature and language).
• David Joseph Field PhD Archaeological investigator, English Heritage (has worked and published on the archaeology of Surrey; specialist in the Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary landscapes and monuments of southern England).
• Beth Ann Williamson MA MA PhD Senior Lecturer in History of Art, University of Bristol (art historian, specialising in medieval iconography and devotional imagery; publications include Christian Art: a very short introduction).
• Pamela Sambrook BA PhD Independent scholar (consultant and academic researcher on the English country house, especially domestic offices; has published widely in the field and has interests in the history of food).
• Peter Thomas James Rumley MA MA DPhil Archaeological consultant (has worked at Ightham Mote, Sissinghurst Castle and other historic properties in south-east England; has published on the conservation of medieval metalwork, historic building conservation and art history).
• David Bowsher BA MA Archaeologist (has worked in archaeology in Britain and abroad for more than twenty years and is the principal author of monographs on the Eastern Cemeteries of Roman London, the Saxon city of Lundenwic and the medieval and later London Guildhall).
• Jonathan Basil Keates MA Musicologist and historical biographer (books include biographies of Handel, Purcell and Stendhal; currently working on a historical study of Worcestershire between 1815 and 1914; journalist and literary critic).
• Tatiana (Tania) String MA PhD Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Bristol (specialist in Tudor art and architecture; has published extensively on sixteenth-century English art).
• Marcus Graham Bull BA PhD Professor of Medieval History, University of Bristol (specialist in medieval France, especially belief and the crusades in their social, cultural and political contexts).
• John Ernest Latham BA Archaeologist for the National Trust in Wales (wide experience in producing surveys and research reports; conservation advice on management of archaeological sites and National Trust properties in Wales; contributor to many archaeological publications).
• Mario Buhagiar BA MA MPhil PhD Head of the Department of History of Art, University of Malta (expert on the art, archaeology and buildings of Malta, specialising in the medieval period; founder of History of Art department at the University of Malta).

No Heritage Protection Bill

Frustration and disappointment was expressed last week by those whose hopes for a reprise of the Heritage Protection Bill in the 2009—10 session of Parliament were dashed. When the legislative programme for the next session was published on 30 June without the bill, Heritage Link’s Chair, Anthea Case, accused the Government of ‘lacking commitment to improving quality of place’ and of ignoring the ‘important part played in the economy by the rich and extensive historic environment we have here in the UK’.

She went on to say that: ‘Heritage Link and its members have a significant part to play in making sure our heritage is seen as a positive force in the twenty-first century. It is a national asset in economic, social, educational and environmental terms. We will continue to press through all available means for the Heritage Protection Bill to be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.’

Our Fellow Mike Heyworth, in his capacity as Director of the Council for British Archaeology, pointed out that the draft Bill also paved the way for the signing and ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (known as ‘the Hague Convention’). ‘The lack of Government commitment to these uncontroversial and widely supported reforms is deplorable’, he said, adding that the CBA would be working with the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group ‘to progress the most badly needed reforms, some of which are possible through secondary legislation, and to press Government to deliver on other objectives for the heritage. Our historic environment fundamentally shapes the quality of our surroundings and is integral to policies for sustainability. It must be at the heart of new policies for the way places are designed and planned, not side-lined as a low priority.’

In its lead comment this week, Country Life magazine also asked why ‘the rhetoric to protect and care for our heritage [is] not being backed by action’, and expressed sadness at the depressing message emanating from Whitehall that, whatever ministers might say in public, it was clear that heritage isn’t seen as an important issue. If so, says the leader, that failure to take heritage seriously undermines Government attempts to persuade the public that it is responsible and competent.

Civic Trust Awards to continue

Better news is conveyed by this month’s Building Design magazine, which reports that the Civic Trust Awards are to continue despite the charity going into administration in April. The fifty-year-old awards were set up to recognise the best in architecture, urban design, landscape and public art.

Former Civic Trust Built Environment Manager, Malcolm Hankey, has masterminded the release of the awards from the administrators, Grant Thornton. They will now operate independently and be registered as a Community Interest Company. Hankey said: ‘The scheme is hugely popular with built environment professionals and I am sure they will also be pleased to see it continue.’ The awards will continue to be endorsed by the RIBA and the next round of applications will open this August. Interested applicants should email Malcolm Hankey.

With English Heritage taking over the running of Heritage Open Days, the future of both the Civic Trust’s main national programmes now seems assured.

Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Ancient Monuments picnic at Pentre Ifan

Salon is very grateful to our Vice-President Sian Rees for this eyewitness account of the very special event that took place at Pentre Ifan on 20 June 2009, 125 years to the day after the chamber tomb became Wales’s oldest guardianship monument.

‘Documents are silent as to the weather conditions prevailing at Pentre Ifan burial chamber when General Pitt Rivers visited on 8 June 1884 to write his recommendation for the preservation of the monument. But it was a typical Pembrokeshire day, with light cloud, slanting rays of watery sun and occasional showers of soft rain when, some 125 years later, several of his successor Inspectors of Ancient Monuments held a picnic at the site to celebrate the commencement of state care for the ancient monuments of Wales.

‘Lubbock’s Ancient Monuments Act was passed, after considerable opposition and delay, in 1882, whereupon the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Augustus Pitt Rivers, was appointed to visit monuments put forward by their owners as candidates for state care. Lord Kensington had already proffered the well-known cromlech of Pentre Ifan and Pitt Rivers’ report and sketches were dispatched with admirable celerity four days after his visit, resulting in the deed of guardianship being signed in a further eight days — the first in Wales and one of the first in the UK. Thus 20 June is regarded as the date when state care for ancient monuments and the work of the Inspectorate in Wales was born.

‘Such a date could not, the convivial Cadw Inspectorate considered, be allowed to pass without celebration. Accordingly members of the Inspectorate in Wales, past and present, were invited to participate in a luncheon consumed on the cairn, with, thereafter, speeches and song delivered under the capstone of a monument that has seen many such festivities. A résumé of state interventions at the site was given, from the initial boundary marker stones and notice board positioned in 1884, the forbidding iron railings in 1905, the infamous wooden supports in 1936, and Grimes’s excavations and acquisition of further land permitting the presentation of the whole cairn.

‘The Inspectorate Song was then solemnly sung, a dynamic anthem which charts the phases of Inspectorate work through the ages. Sung to the tune of The Vicar of Bray, it declares the intention of the Inspectorate to survive to continue the work of state protection of ancient monuments whatever the prevailing regulatory regime. It begins:

In Queen Victoria’s lengthy reign
The gentry held preferment
But Lubbock passed his AM Act
And would not brook deferment.
Augustus ‘gainst these nobles strove
Prehistr’y to preserve, Sir
Our first great P-R man, who doth
Our grateful thanks deserve, Sir

(Chorus) For this is law that we’ll maintain
Come tempest, storm or gales, Sir
That whatso’er regime holds sway
We’ll still serve the monuments of Wales, Sir


‘As our past General Secretary Dai Morgan Evans opened a bottle of champagne under the watchful eye of our Society’s President (see the photograph on the Society’s website), the health of the Inspectorate was drunk. The company then departed to inspect the excavations at Nevern Castle, being conducted by Fellow Chris Caple.’

The Fellow on the Plinth

The only way to follow that is with news of another opportunity for a party — or rather a midnight feast — when Mike Pitts, perhaps the only archaeologist brave enough to take a turn on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, is transformed into a living sculpture as part of Antony Gormley’s project to put someone different on the plinth every hour for 100 days. Mike’s 60-minutes of fame is booked for 1am on 29 July 2009, which, says Mike, ‘by sheer coincidence, comes in the middle of the two-week Festival of Archaeology that the Council for British Archaeology organises every year (this one is 18 July to 2 August)’. Mike adds: ‘I have a clear, strong idea about my work on the plinth, and I’m very excited about it. You can read about what I’m doing between now and then on my website'.

Nicholas Penny unhappy with the state of Trafalgar Square

The extra attention that Antony Gormley’s project has brought to Trafalgar Square is far from welcome to our Fellow Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, who told The Times on 10 July 2009 that he was so concerned by the ‘bloody awful’ state of London’s central square that he would prefer to see the road put back to keep the loud music and loutish behaviour at bay. Dr Penny thinks the installation is ‘interesting’ and underpinned by ‘intelligent ideas’, but he also sees it as symbolic of an unwelcome shift from architectural and artistic appreciation towards spectacle and performance in the Square.

He said: ‘The chief result of pedestrianisation has been the trashing of a civic space … Official agencies not only fail to protect historic buildings but are complicit in the destruction of a major amenity in the centre of our capital city. The conversion of the fourth plinth into a soap box or theatrical stage may be high-minded in intention but is symptomatic of this pervasive antagonism to architectural order.’ Dr Penny’s office overlooks the Square and what he sees each day fills him with despair. ‘I hate what’s happening,’ he said. ‘Levels of civil behaviour are incredibly low. As I speak, people are riding the lions and climbing up as far as they can on the reliefs of Nelson’s Column.’

Worst of all, in his eyes, are the official events staged there; last year there were 146 of them, including thirty-five demonstrations, nineteen promotional events and sixty supported directly by the Mayor of London. Amplified music is distractingly audible inside the building, where it can often be heard or felt vibrating through the rooms and has ‘an impact on the ability of the public to appreciate the works of art’. According to Dr Penny, noise restrictions are flouted routinely, although the Mayor’s office denies this.

Antony Gormley responds

In the same edition of The Times, Antony Gormley says that he is pleased that his project has set up a ‘lovely conversation between that old idea of art — about precious objects, patronage, history — and the contemporary … waves of real life washing against history.

‘Nicholas Penny is doing us all a favour by taking up a good heritage position because it needs someone to defend it. Trafalgar Square has become a living room for London and the National Gallery has become like Aunt Matilda’s cabinet that has a place in it. It is old and precious, but that doesn’t stop us from playing or opening our Christmas presents in front of it.

‘I think the National Gallery is a precious and wonderful institution. It would be sad if it had to find itself fighting the much more inhabited Trafalgar Square. It’s wonderful to see it as a place of protest and celebration.’

Morris and the Muslims

Broadcast on Radio 4 on 7 July (listen again until 14 July) ‘Morris and the Muslims’ examined the influence of Islamic design on the work of William Morris and argued that Morris was a role model for a new generation of Muslim artists. Unlikely as that idea sounds, the presenter, Navid Akhtar, presented an impressive amount of evidence in support of his case.

Born in Walthamstow of Pakistani parents, living one street away from the William Morris Gallery and attending the local William Morris School, Navid said that it was difficult to escape Morris’s presence, and that his first response to Morris’s work was to dismiss it as ‘comfortable, safe, English traditional’. As an art student he later studied Morris’s work, began to recognise Islamic motifs and discovered that Islamic art was a great influence: Morris wrote of Persia as ‘a Holy Land where our art was perfected’, and he played an important role in setting the Victoria and Albert Museum along the course of collecting Islamic art on a systematic basis — the first museum in the world to do so.

It was Morris, for example, who persuaded the trustees to part with the princely sum of £2,000 in March 1893 to purchase the Ardabil carpet, now the highlight of the V&A’s Jameel Gallery, made in 1539 and not only the world’s oldest dated carpet but also one of the largest, most beautiful and historically important in the world. When it was put on sale by Vincent Robinson & Co of London, Morris urged the museum to buy it, arguing that it was a work of ‘singular perfection’.

But to modern Muslims, said Akhtar, more important than his championing of Islamic art was Morris’s stress on the spiritual aspects of traditional craft. Morris’s biographer, Fiona MacCarthy, agreed that for a nineteenth-century sage and intellectual to be interested in making things by hand was truly revolutionary, and that Morris did a huge amount to alter people’s views of the dignity of a life devoted to craft and design. Akhtar argued that cultivating the spirit through learning craft skills was an idea core to Islamic craftsmanship that coincides precisely with Morris’s philosophy; he interviewed a number of trainee craftsmen and women from Asia studying at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts who said the same thing as they described their work in building and conserving mosques in their home countries.

Slightly more tenuous was the link that Navid Akhtar drew between the Koran’s warnings against consumerism and Morris’s radical politics, which led him to be placed under police surveillance and viewed as highly dangerous by the political establishment of the day. Fiona MacCarthy explained Morris’s political decade, in the 1880s, when he immersed himself in ‘trying to dismantle the capitalist system’, as born of frustration: Morris believed that beauty was everyone’s birthright, but was acutely aware that most people could not afford the objects that he produced. His answer was the communal utopia that he described in ‘News from Nowhere’.

Summing up, Navid Akhtar came up with the memorable phrase ‘from cushions to the collapse of capitalism’ to describe Morris’s life, adding that it was Morris’s great broadmindedness, his interest in other cultures, his sense of moral integrity and his belief in justice and rights for all (and his magnificent beard!) that made him an inspiration for young Muslims.

Crisis in UK conservation

What would Morris say about the latest news that yet another post-graduate training programme in conservation is about to close, hard on the heels of the impending closure of the Textile Conservation Centre. This month’s Art Newspaper reports that the V&A and the Royal College of Art are to close their joint post-graduate training programme, in part because ‘the V&A’s priorities and needs in conservation training have changed’. The museum says that in future it will train its own staff via work-based development programmes in the areas where the museum ‘needs additional assistance, such as upholstery, textiles conservation and textile mounting’.

The Art Newspaper comments that the UK will not be able to maintain its world-leading position in conservation if training continues to be given such a low priority in UK universities and if conservation teaching continues to be judged on the basis of market economics. Chris Woods, of the Institute for Conservation says that other European governments subsidise conservation training and only in the UK do universities operate on the basis that all courses should be self-funding, which discriminates against ‘student-focused subjects with a low student-teacher ration and costly equipment’.

Our Fellow David Leigh, Secretary General of the International Institute for Conservation, argues in the same newspaper that the closure of the Textile Conservation Centre comes at a time when the demand for advanced expertise in textile conservation is greater than ever — ‘textile heritage is immense and growing … exhibitions about fashion are becoming more popular … the lack of skills threatens some of our most beautiful and cherished treasures … it is our cultural heritage itself that is at stake and the vital role that heritage plays in our economy and knowledge-based industries.’

The Beat Hotel as heritage

Also on Radio 4 last week was Fellow Christine Finn who continues her explorations of recent and contemporary heritage by exploring the notorious Beat Hotel in Paris on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of William Burrough’s Naked Lunch (still a banned publication in parts of the USA for its alleged obscenity). In ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, Christine visited the hotel where Burroughs wrote his book and that gave its name to the Beat generation of artists, literati and musicians, and which is still a place of pilgrimage for Beat fans, though the original hotel closed in 1963 and has since been reopened in an entirely different guise as the Hotel de Vieux Paris — from Beat to boutique, said Christine as she looked for and failed to find any of the atmosphere of the original, but consoled herself by listening to recordings made by Beat photographer, Harold Chapman, speaking about how the hotel used to be. You can read Christine’s account and listen again via the BBC website.

Michael Palin says ‘let’s rebrand geography’

Salon reported recently in slightly sceptical terms the election of TV adventurer and ex-Python Michael Palin as the successor to Sir Gordon Conway as the President of the Royal Geographical Society, but an interview published in the Independent suggests that what Palin lacks in expertise compared to his predecessors is made up for by his infectious enthusiasm for the subject and his desire to transform the image of geography, especially in the eyes of the young.

Palin says (and for geography, simply substitute archaeology in the following quotes), that geography is a Cinderella subject academically, ‘not seen as a popular subject in school … very unglamorous’, and yet it ‘teaches us so much about how we live’. To ensure that geography isn’t a turn-off, Palin suggests it might have to be renamed. ‘What might you rename it?’, asks the interviewer. ‘Oh… Adventure!’, Palin replies: ‘I think it is an adventure. It’s learning about how the world works. Everything you do, even if it’s research in a laboratory, is adding to that knowledge, and that’s all part of the adventure.’

The Ledgerstone Survey of England and Wales

And if geography/archaeology are Cinderallas, ledgerstones are ‘the ugly ducklings of church memorials’, according to our Fellow Roger Bowdler, but they too are about to have a higher profile, thanks to a comprehensive survey initiated by our Fellow Julian Litten under the aegis of the Church Monuments Society. Since the idea was first proposed as a millennial project in 2001, a steering group has been set up, recording methodology formulated and tested and a network of county co-ordinators and teams is now being established to plan, measure, photograph and record the legend, history and condition of every ledgerstone in England and Wales (c 250,000 in total) in partnership with NADFAS, the Churches Conservation Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

NADFAS Church Recorders have since completed ledgerstones surveys in the West Mercia region and are now about to start recording in Wiggenhall St Mary, Norfolk, hoping to move on to fifty further churches in the Norfolk Diocese if an application for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant is successful.

Soon everyone will be able to see the fruits of this initial work on the newly launched website, which currently has an outline of the project and a brief history of ledgerstones, but that will grow as records are added to the searchable online database.

Saxon: the newsletter of the Sutton Hoo Society

Our Fellow Nigel Maslin edits a fine newsletter that goes out to Sutton Hoo Society members and that is packed with Sutton Hoo-related material, including an article by Fellow and Council member Leslie Webster on Welcome to the Feast!, the summer exhibition she has curated for the National Trust with the British Museum at Sutton Hoo, and papers on the symbolism and use of space within Anglo-Saxon halls by the University of York’s Jenny Walker and our Fellow Neil Price, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen.

Less welcome is a report by our Fellow Jude Plouviez on nighthawking — illegal night-time raids by thieves with metal detectors on fields at Rendlesham near the probable site of Redwald’s hall. In response, Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service undertook a survey of the site, funded by the Sutton Hoo Society, including systematic metal-detecting, as well as geophysical survey. Even while this was going on, the site was again looted twice, and five people were subsequently arrested on suspicion of being about to carry out a third raid.

The survey results have yet to be published in detail, but confirm that there is an exceptional Anglo-Saxon settlement at the site, from which coins, brooches and a girdle hanger have been recovered, ranging in date from the sixth to the ninth centuries, though much damaged by ploughing, and with nothing that could be identified as the postholes of a large timber hall.

The Sutton Hoo Society’s website has details of membership and how to obtain copies of the Saxon newsletter.

Death notices and obituaries

The Society has been informed of the death on 27 June 2009 of our Fellow The Revd Gordon Clifford Taylor, MA, VRD and Bar, RNR, late of Emsworth, Hants, at the age of ninety-three. Elected to the Fellowship on 2 March 1961, The Revd Taylor was Rector of St Giles-in-the-Fields 1949—99, author of The Sea Chaplains and London’s Navy, former Chaplain HMS Rodney, Flagship Home Fleet, Chaplain RNVR London Division, Assistant Master, Eton College, Hon Chaplain Royal Naval Division Association and North Russia Club, Past Master the Art Workers Guild and Vice-President Middlesex County Association and London Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers.

Though not a Fellow (at least not in recent years) many of us will nevertheless be familiar with the work of historian Frank Barlow, who died on 27 June at the age of ninety-eight, and was the author of such standard works as The Feudal Kingdom of England, Edward the Confessor, The English Church 1066—1154 and The Norman Conquest and Beyond. Our Fellow Richard Sharpe says that Frank is the fifth FBA historian to have died since October 2008, but still going strong are Arthur Hatto (ninety-nine) and Marjorie Chibnall (ninety-four).

Our Fellow Lawrence Barfield, elected on 20 May 1971, died on 2 July 2009, after a twenty-one-month battle with Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Conveying the news, our Fellow Martin Biddle described Lawrence as ‘my oldest friend’. We are very grateful to our Fellow Mark Pearce for the following obituary.

‘Lawrence Barfield was best known as a specialist on Neolithic and Copper Age northern Italy, but his interests ranged from palaeo-Indian lithics of the Atacama desert in Chile, via a fortified imperial villa in the German Rhineland to the Roman salt industry at Droitwich (Worcs). Indeed he was very active in English prehistory, particularly that of the West Midlands, with a special interest in the interpretation of burnt stones and burnt mounds, which he proposed might be prehistoric saunas.

‘Born in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, in 1935, Lawrence Barfield got into archaeology whilst at Merchant Taylors’ school, when he and Martin Biddle excavated the Manor of the More, Cardinal Wolsey’s palace, which was at the edge of the school grounds. Whilst on National Service he dug a test pit at Ezion-geber and surveyed in the Libyan Desert near Tarhuna.

‘In 1955 he went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to read Archaeology and Anthropology where he decided to specialise in prehistoric archaeology. On graduating he began a PhD on the Neolithic of northern Italy and the Balkans, spending a year at the University of Ljubljana as a British Council exchange student, later deciding to focus on the north Italian Neolithic. He then spent about a year as an exchange student at the Collegio Borromeo, at the University of Pavia, after which he was offered a post as Assistent in the Department of Vor-und Frühgeschichte at the University of Bonn.

‘It was while he was in Bonn that he began digging at the Rocca di Rivoli, an important Neolithic site near Verona. Lawrence stayed in Bonn for three and a half years, moving from the University to the Rheinisches Landesmuseum where he conducted a number of Bronze Age to Roman excavations. After finishing his PhD at Cambridge he became a lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 1966, where he remained until retiring as Reader in 2000.

‘Lawrence Barfield made a number of groundbreaking contributions to north Italian prehistory. As well as his excavations at Rocca di Rivoli, where he established a chronology for the Neolithic Square-Mouthed Pottery Culture, he also excavated a Neolithic site at Fimon, Molino Casarotto, at Monte Covolo, which has a sequence from the late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age, at the Riparo Valtenesi, Manerba, a major copper age cemetery in a rock shelter with collective burials in wooden chambers, at Ponte di Veia, a flint production site, and at the Rocca di Manerba.

‘In 1971 he published a seminal work, Northern Italy before Rome, in Thames & Hudson’s “Ancient Peoples and Places” series, which provided the first proper synthesis of north Italian prehistory. Other major contributions included his recognition of the Monti Lessini, near Verona, as the principal source of high-grade flint in prehistoric north Italy, and his 1994 Antiquity paper on the Iceman, pointing out that the find firmly dated the beginning of the Italian Copper Age to the fourth millennium BC.

‘On the same topic he co-authored Der Zeuge aus dem Gletscher: Das Rätsel der frühen Alpen-Europäer with E Koller and A Lippert (Vienna: Ueberreuter, 1992). A 1997 paper with Chris Chippindale in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society proposed a novel interpretation of the rock art of Mont Bego, suggesting that the prestige goods depicted might be part of an initiation rite for young men. His Excavations in the Riparo Valtenesi, Manerba, 1976—1994 (Origines, Florence: Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria) was published in 2007.

‘An interview with Lawrence Barfield and a list of publications will be published in the next issue of Accordia Research Papers. He is survived by his wife, Marylane, and two children, Sebastian and Abigail.’


Three issue ago Salon appealed for help in identifying a hitherto unknown picture by John Sell Cotman, and we subsequently reported that our Fellow John Blatchly, and others, had helped to pin down its precise subject (‘Interior of the Dormitory of the Ipswich Blackfriars at the End of its Period of Occupation by Ipswich School’) and provenance. John has now kindly provided full details, which can be seen on the Society’s website.

Differing views on whether or not the Elgin Marbles should be displayed in the New Acropolis Museum brought comments from several Fellows, including Fellow Christopher Whittick who writes: ‘Strangely for her, Mary Beard’s analogy is flawed: the marbles look the same wherever one is seeing them, which is not the case with Shakespeare in Japanese. Archivists and historians have been living with a better parallel ever since the Americans got it into their heads that buying UK cultural property from impoverished landowners and greedy writers was a good idea. A far better parallel to the marbles is, for example, the medieval archive of Battle Abbey, which can be consulted in the original only in a private library in Pasadena, CA. Microfilm is available in Lewes, rather like the casts which one can see in Athens. I am agnostic on the Parthenon marbles debate, but would become a passionate advocate if I felt that their return would encourage the recovery of the miles of archival material which has gone west in the course of the last century.’

Fellow Anthony Snodgrass says that he was mildly surprised to see Salon describe Paul Cartledge’s statement on reuniting the Parthenon Marbles as ‘making waves’ and ‘controversial’. ‘Salon readers who have kept up with the national press may have noticed that even publications like the Daily Telegraph, The Spectator and The Times have recently published pieces reversing their former stance of hostility to the proposal, evidently overcome by the dazzling impact of the New Acropolis Museum. If you go to the Guardian website you will see the current state of popular opinion in Britain on the issue: in favour of return 79 per cent; against 21 per cent. Other polls, drawing on world opinion, give stronger majorities still, in excess of 98 per cent. A tide is flowing!’

Fellow Ian Burrow writes with further thoughts on the Atkinson debate with his memories of his early archaeological career in the rescue boom of the 1970s ‘when god-like figures like Atkinson, Piggott, Wheeler and Daniel emphasised repeatedly how truly great a sin it was not to publish the results of your work. A great contrast to Atkinson is my mentor Philip Rahtz who spent untold unpaid days, months and years completing large-scale and comprehensive reports on his Ancient Monuments Inspectorate and other rescue projects from the 1950s and 1960s: Chew Valley Lake, Pagan’s Hill, Cannington Cemetery, Cadbury Congresbury and many others.

‘We had report-writing vacations (for Cadbury Congresbury), and report-writing camps (for Bordesley Abbey). He did all this while holding a Readership in Medieval Archaeology at Birmingham (and dealing with all the political silliness involved with that) and being very heavily involved in Rescue and the West Midlands Rescue Archaeology Committee (RIP). Sitting in his spacious Victorian flat in Selly Oak day and night, with Radio 3 blaring away, he doggedly churned out these great works. He managed to be inspirational and great deal of fun, too, and is one of the best excavators Britain has ever produced.’

Grants from the City of London Archaeological Trust

Every year since 1974 the City of London Archaeological Trust has been supporting archaeological work in the City and its environs (defined in practical terms as out to the M25) by giving grants and raising funds from City sources. In these difficult times it still has the capacity to give out small grants, and it has recently begun to administer a small additional annual fund produced by the magazine London Archaeologist. The Trust invites applications for 2009 and favours educational projects and work leading towards publication. The closing date for applications this year is Friday 16 October 2009, and grants are given in December; as the grant is available for one year only from the April following, careful project planning may be required.

Guidelines and application forms are on the Trust’ s website, which also has details of recently supported projects. Enquiries about the range of work supported can be made to the Secretary, our Fellow John Schofield.


14 July 2009: Funerary Culture in Norway: a different story, by Oddbjørn Sørmoen. The Mausolea and Monuments Trust hosts this lecture in St Olave’s, Hart Street, London EC3R 7NB, the City church dedicated to Norway’s patron saint, with drinks from 6.30pm and the lecture at 7pm. Please email the MMTto reserve a place.

Oddbjørn Sørmoen is a Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage, currently on secondment in the UK as Special Adviser for Places of Worship at English Heritage. He has edited the series Kirker i Norge (Churches in Norway) and published widely on Norwegian churches and the conservation of churchyards and funerary monuments. He is Magister Artium in Art History at the University of Oslo and studied architectural conservation at The Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

Daily to 25 October 2009: Fellows visiting Melbourne should take time to see the special exhibition A Day in Pompeii, which opened at the Melbourne Museum recently. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive programme of lectures given, amongst others, by Fellow Patrick Greene, the museum’s Chief Executive Officer, and Fellow Frank Sear.

14 September 2009: Freedom of Information: what’s in it for researchers? This free seminar, from 10am to 4pm at The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU, is hosted by the Research Information Network to raise awareness of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) as a tool for researchers and to aid understanding of the new access regime. The day will cover how to use FOI to access records and information and how to make successful requests. Key speakers include Professor Duncan Tanner, Director, Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs, Bangor University, Sarah Hutchinson, Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner, Bruno Longmore, Head of Government Records, National Archives of Scotland and Hugh Hagan, Senior Inspecting Officer Government Records Branch, National Archives of Scotland.

The workshop is aimed at academic researchers; other research workers, such as journalists; librarians, archivists and other information professionals who provide research services and research training; compliance officers interested in facilitating access and advising requestors and public policy makers in the access to information arena. For a full programme, more information and to book your free place, visit the Research Information Network’s website.

24 September 2009: Conservation: making the economic argument. The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) is hosting this major conference at which Welsh Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, and Cadw’s Director, Marilyn Lewis, will be joined by specialists from inside and outside Wales exploring the substantial economic case for the conservation of the historic environment. The conference will examine the economic issues linked to retaining and enhancing the historic environment, from regeneration and tourism to environmental and low-carbon benefits. For details and bookings see the IHBC’s website.

Books by Fellows

The Origins of the ‘Four Branches of the Mabinogi’, by our Fellow Andrew Breeze, has been published by Gracewing, in which Andrew argues that the four ‘branches’, or stories, in the collection of Welsh prose tales known as The Mabinogi were written by Princess Gwenllian. Andrew explains that the four branches, which have long enjoyed popularity as Wales’s most significant contribution to world literature, contain tales of love, adventure and magic as well as rape, adultery, betrayal and attempted murder, and that while most scholars agree that the four stories are the work of a single author, there has been no agreement on where, when and by whom they were composed. It has always been assumed that they were the work of a male author, but Andrew’s book suggests differently. He expects the book to be controversial, but says that the Welsh princess who (in his opinion) was the author of the tales tells us much about a woman’s view of medieval life and about politics, diplomacy, administration and life at court in the 1120s and early 1130s.

Honorary Fellow Willem Willems and co-author Harry van Enckevort have just published a full account in English of Roman Nijmegen, including the most recent (2008) excavation results. Vlpia Noviomagvs — Roman Nijmegen: the Batavian capital at the imperial frontier (Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement 73, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 2009) reveals the archaeology of the oldest town in the Netherlands, capital of the civitas of the Batavians from the first military occupation in 19 BC until the fifth century and the base of Legio X Gemina in Flavian times. A complete list of contents and contributors can be seen on the publisher’s website.

Fellow Jane Moon is stepping out of her normal paths through Middle Eastern archaeology to publish (using her married name, Jane Killick) an edition of a Victorian diary she found in the Birmingham University archives. Talking with Past Hours: the Victorian diary of William Fletcher of Bridgnorth (Moonrise Press) is the work of a young man who worked for a bank in Bridgnorth from 1857 to 1860 and provides an unusual insight into the life of a Victorian town, including the building of the Severn Valley railway, and the ups and downs of Victorian health care. Jane says that ‘it is unusual to get the viewpoint of a young man of the era (even George Eliot didn’t do young men all that well), and I was taken by it as he wrote not just daily occurrences, but what he actually thought and felt (especially about “the younger Miss Jones” of St Mary’s Street)’. An introduction sets the scene, and the conclusion traces the subsequent fate of William Fletcher and his friends and family.

In Ships and Shipping in Medieval Manuscripts (British Library Press), Fellow Joe Flatman explores the medieval world through 150 full colour images drawn mainly from the British Library’s unparalleled collection of illuminated manuscripts to examine the technological developments that took place in shipping and naval warfare between the eleventh to sixteenth centuries, and their impact on European life and culture. Joe finds that many marine miniatures reflect the technological realities with surprising accuracy, keeping pace with the extraordinary speed of shipping innovations, and that they provide vivid glimpses of seafaring society at work and play.

Two Fellows — Michael Tite and Andrew Shortland — have collaborated to produce Production Technology of Faience and Related Early Vitreous Materials (Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph 72, Oxford), which brings together in a single volume the results of many years of research into the production technology of such early vitreous materials as glazed steatite, faience, Egyptian blue and green frits, and glazed pottery and brick from Egypt, the Near East, the Indus Valley and Europe spanning the period from their beginnings in the 5th millennium BC through to the Roman period. For each group of material, the emphasis is on presenting the available analytical and microstructural data, which are then interpreted to provide information on the raw materials and methods of fabrication employed in their production. Where appropriate, the raw materials used in the production of these materials are compared with those used in the production of contemporary glass. The authors say that bringing together data for such a wide range of materials, geographical regions and chronological periods enables similarities and differences in production technology to be identified, and the pattern of technological discovery, adoption, choice and transfer is thus revealed.

From bricks we go to the opposite end of the ceramic scale. Now on display at the Queen’s Gallery (until 11 October 2009) are 300 pieces from the finest assemblage of eighteenth-century Sèvres porcelain in the world, formed by George IV between 1783 and 1830. To coincide with the exhibtion, our Fellow Geoffrey de Bellaigue has written the definitive 1,312-page three-volume catalogue of the entire collection — French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (Royal Collection Publications). Edited by our Fellow Kate Owen, in her days off from being the Society’s Publications Manager, these splendid volumes are packed with generously sized photographs of such quality that you feel as if you are in the presence of the objects themselves, in all their wonderful variety, depicting as they do painted scenes of classical mythology, exotic fruits, flowers, insects and birds, dancing peasants and gloomy castles, seascapes, oriental figures with their concubines and even a turbaned figure leading the first giraffe ever to be seen in France.

Reviewing the work in the Art Newspaper, our Fellow Aileen Dawson says that ‘the doyen of Sèvres studies, Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue, continues to astonish not just with his meticulous attention to detail in his analyses of the porcelain, but also with his insight into the lives and characters of the previous owners of the pieces’. As an example, Aileen says that one charming dessert service of 331 pieces was presented as a gift to the composer Rossini as a thank you for the music performed at Fontainebleau that year (1834) by Louis-Philippe of France: ‘the extensive catalogue lays bare in a few telling sentences the uneasy relationship between monarch and composer, and the latter’s [one was expecting ‘the former’s’!] extraordinary extravagant lifestyle’.

Not every porcelain fan can afford the £500 it costs to own the catalogue, but the 200-page exhibition catalogue, French Porcelain-for-English Palaces, by Royal Collection Assistant Curator Joanna Gwilt, shares the same astonishingly high production values, presents the finest pieces from the collection and costs a modest £12.95.

Launched in October 2008 from the same stable, Ancient and Modern Gems and Jewels in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (Royal Collection Publications) is the work of our Fellow John Boardman (who wrote the ancient gems catalogue) and Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti (the modern), with contributions by our Fellow Martin Henig and Beatriz Chadour-Sampson. Once again, Salon cannot improve on what another Fellow — Arthur MacGregor — has said about the book in his review in the Journal of the History of Collections.

Arthur marvels that the collection (begun by Henry VIII and enlarged by Elizabeth I, Henry, Prince of Wales and Charles I) has survived at all given the ‘vicissitudes of the Commonwealth, during which time it was “impair’d and miserably imbezled” and the (seemingly equally hazardous) early years of the Restoration. Elias Ashmole was engaged to see that the collection was “put in Order and Methodiz’d”, but his work was not long done when most of the gems perished in the Whitehall fire of 1698’. Not all was lost, however, as Martin Henig recounts, for Elias Ashmole had had the foresight to make a series of wax impressions of the classical cameos and intaglios which survives in the Bodleian Library.

Augmented with contributions made by Caroline of Ansbach, George III and George IV, the whole collection almost succumbed to fire again, for it was displayed in the Stuart Room at Windsor Castle for much of the twentieth century and was, by great good fortune, removed shortly before that chamber was destroyed by fire in 1992. Arthur concludes: ‘Given the greater-than-usual hazards to which it has been subjected over the years, not only gem specialists but all of us should be grateful for this permanent record of the collection, documented and published in exemplary fashion’.

Human torment in the fires of the Catholic Mary Tudor is the subject of Fires of Faith by our Fellow Eamon Duffy (Yale), which has received universal praise, even from those who, like our Fellow David Starkey, quarrel with its conclusions. Writing for the Sunday Times, David says that his Cambridge colleague, Professor of the History of Christianity, and Fellow and Director of Studies, Magdalene College, ‘has made it his business to force the English to think again about the central event in their history, the Protestant Reformation’, and that he is a brilliant and effective writer and outstanding scholar, but that he disagrees with Eamon Duffy’s thesis that England was on course for the restoration of papal Catholicism under Mary Tudor, thanks to the effectiveness with which her cousin, papal legate and confidant, Reginald Pole, Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury, rooted out and burned recalcitrant Protestant ‘heretics’, a Catholic revival that was interrupted only by the suddenness of Mary’s death on 17 November 1558 and the succession of Elizabeth I.

No, says David: once it was clear that Mary would never have a child, ‘her power ebbed. In particular, parliament would not agree to confiscate the estates of the Protestant exiles who had fled abroad at the beginning of the reign. That entrenched a Protestant reversionary interest that would have been a source of long-term instability at best and religious war at worst. Nor was it possible even to think of repealing Henry VIII’s will and act of succession that made the Protestant Elizabeth Mary’s heir. The result was a paradox. As Duffy shows, Pole’s energy and vision created an English church that had escaped from Henry VIII’s shadow to become authentically Roman and Counter-Reformed. But the English state remained in thrall to the old king. And, as usual in post-Reformation England, the state won.’

Gifts to the Library: January to March 2009

The Society is very grateful to the donors of the following books, given to the Library in the period from January to March 2009. Full records for all are on the Society’s online library catalogue and all the books are available for consultation in the Library.

• From Justine Bayley, Fellow, The Charioteer and the Hunters: a masterpiece of ancient silversmithing, by J Chaimay, M Guggisberg and K Anheuser (2007)
• From the author, Roger Lee Brown, Fellow, A History of the Fleet Prison, London (1996); The Fleet marriages: a history of clandestine marriages (2007); Evangelicals in the Church in Wales (2007)
• From the co-author, John Cherry, Fellow, Medieval Ivories and Works of Art: the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, by John Lowden and John Cherry (2008)
• From J Mordaunt Crook, Fellow, The Architect’s Secret: Victorian critics and the image of gravity (2003)
• From the co-author, Catherine Draycott, Sculpture and Inscriptions from the Monumental Entrance to the Palatial Complex at Kerkenes Dag, Turkey, by C Draycott and E D Summers (2008)
• From The Essay Club, The Essay Club: a centenary history, by Members of the Club (2008)
• From the author, Christopher Evans, Fellow, Borderlands: the archaeology of Addenbrooke’s environs, South Cambridge, by Christopher Evans with Duncan Mackay and Leo Webley (2008)
• From the author, Peter Halkon, Fellow, Archaeology and Environment in a Changing East Yorkshire Landscape: The Fourness Valley c 800 BC to AD 400 (2008)
• From the author, David Heslop, Fellow, Patterns of Quern Production, Acquisition and Deposition: a corpus of beehive querns from Northern Yorkshire and Southern Durham (2008)
• From the co-author, Peter R Hill, Fellow, Major Sanderson’s War: the diary of a Parliamentary cavalry officer, by P R Hill and J M Watkinson (2008)
• From the author, Richard Hodges, Fellow, The Rise and Fall of Byzantine Butrint (2008)
• From Pamela Hopkins, in memory of her late husband, John Hopkins, former Librarian, Excavations on Rockbourne Down, Hampshire, by Heywood Sumner, Fellow (1914); Prehistoric Proverbs, by Lawson Wood (1907)
• From Robert Hutchinson, Fellow, The Brasses and Monuments in St Mary the Virgin Church, Clapham, West Sussex (2008); House of Treason: the rise and fall of a Tudor dynasty (2009)
• From Lisa Jefferson, Fellow, The Medieval Account Books of the Mercers of London: an edition and translation (2009)
• From Peter Kienzle, Colonia Ulpia Traiana, by M Müller, H-J Schalles and N Zieling (2008)
• From Chris Kitching, Fellow, Reader’s Guide to British History, edited by David Loades, Fellow (2003)
• From the author, Michael Macdonald, Fellow, Literacy and Identity in pre-Islamic Arabia (2009)
• From the co-authors, George McHardy, Fellow, and Colin Cunningham, Fellow, The Waterhouse Collection: a catalogue of drawings in the collection of the RIBA (2008) on CD
• From the author, Lisa Monnas, Fellow, Merchants, Princes and Painters: silk fabrics in Italian and Northern paintings 1300—1550 (2009)
• From Mary Remnant, Fellow, Genese d’une cathedrale: les archeveques de Reims et leur eglise aux XIe et XIIe siecles, by Patrick Demouy (2005)
• From Derek Renn, Fellow, Britain’s Lost Cities, by Gavin Stamp, Fellow (2007)
• From the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Treasured Places: a centenary, by Lesley Ferguson (2008); Pictish Symbol Stones of Scotland, by Ian Fraser, Fellow (2008); Buildings of the Land: Scotland’s farms 1750—2000, by Miles Glendinning and Susanna Wade Martins, Fellow (2008)
• From the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Hidden Histories: discovering the heritage of Wales (2008)
• From the author, Jane Sayers, Fellow, Papal Government and England during the Pontificate of Honorius III (1216—1227) (1984)
• From the author, Leo Schmidt, Fellow, Architectural Conservation: an introduction (2008); Wall Remnants, Wall Traces: the comprehensive guide to the Berlin Wall (2004)
• From the author, David Sherlock, Fellow, Suffolk Church Chests (2008)
• From the co-editor, Mike Smith, Fellow, Twenty-three Degrees South: archaeology and environmental history of the southern deserts, edited by Mike Smith and Paul Hesse (2005)
• From Roger Thomas, Fellow, European Archaeology: papers of the EPAC meeting, Vilnius 2004 (2007)
• From John Thornborrow, a founder member of the South Shields Archaeological and Historical Society on the occasion of the joint SAL/Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle meeting, 25 March 2009, Handbook to the Roman Wall, 5th edition by J Collingwood Bruce (1909) and formerly owned by John Barbour
• From M Tierney, Marie Stuart: le destin francais d’une reine de’Ecosse — exhibition catalogue (2008)
• From Alan Williams, Fellow, The Power of Iron: iron production and blacksmithing in Estonia and neighbouring areas in the prehistoric period and the Middle Ages, by Jun Peeb (2003); Kolomanev Put: catalogue to the exhibition ‘Kolomans Way’, Hrvatski Povijesni Muzej, Zagreb (2002)
• From John Wilton-Ely, Fellow, Piranesi as Designer (2008).


Heritage Link: Heritage Protection Reform Co-ordinator
Salary £28,000 pro rata (3 days per week); one-year fixed term contract with possible renewal; deadline for applications 5pm on 20 July 2009; interviews in London 27 July 2009; start date early September 2009

This new post will give Heritage Link extra capacity to inform and co-ordinate voluntary sector activity around the Heritage Reform Implementation Programme. The post holder will help maintain the momentum for reform in Parliament and in the heritage sector, act as the focal point for Heritage Link input to the PPS15 consultation and work closely with English Heritage on a communications strategy. He/she will ensure that Heritage Link members are properly informed of developments relating to all aspects of the implementation programme. For a full job description and application form, email Kate Jones.