Our warmest congratulations to those Fellows whose achievements have been recognised in the 2010 New Year Honours List.
Knights Bachelor: Mark Ellis Powell Jones, Director, Victoria and Albert Museum, for services to the arts; Paul Anthony Mellars, FBA, Professor of Prehistory and Human Evolution, University of Cambridge, for services to scholarship.
Royal Victorian Order, Knight Commander (KCVO): Peter Llewellyn Gwynn-Jones, CVO, Garter Principal King of Arms.
Order of the British Empire, CBE: Sian Eluned Rees, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government.
Order of the British Empire, OBE: Michael Charles Prestwich, Emeritus Professor of History, Durham University, for services to scholarship.
Order of the British Empire, MBE: Claude Doumet Serhal, Special Assistant, British Museum, for services to archaeology.
Among non-Fellows who featured in the list, it was good to see that Alan Godfrey was created an MBE: many Fellows will have used the historic Ordnance Survey maps published by his company, Alan Godfrey Maps.
A list of meetings for the period January to July 2010 has now been posted on the Calendar of Weekly Meetings page of the Societys website.
Thursday 21 January: Ritual Breakage on Keros: the Early Cycladic settlement and sanctuary at Dhaskalio, to be given by Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, FSA
In the 1960s, finds of abundant fragments of pottery and of marble bowls and figurines on the Cycladic island of Keros opposite the islet of Dhaskalio seemed to be indications of a rich but seriously looted Early Cycladic cemetery. Subsequent work by a number of archaeologists confirmed the richness of the site. The Cambridge Keros Project, in its excavations from 2006 to 2008, revealed that the islet of Dhaskalio was a major Early Cycladic settlement from c 2500 to c 2000 BC. The discovery and excavation of a newly discovered special deposit, south of the looted area, on Keros , at Kavos facing Dhaskalio, reveals ritual deposition of deliberately broken symbolic materials in great quantity, and allows the nature of the earlier (and looted) discoveries to be established. Dhaskalio Kavos can now be identified as a regional sanctuary, the first in the Aegean, to which deliberately broken symbolic materials were brought for ritual deposition. Other examples of ritual breakage can be recognised in the Aegean at this time and may be considered in the broader context of ritual breakage and deposition in prehistoric Europe and beyond, and of the development of a ritual economy.
Thursday 28 January: Excavating the Excavator: Jacquetta Hawkes biography as archaeology, by Christine Finn, FSA
Thursday 4 February: Finds and Exhibits meeting. Maurice Byrne, FSA, and Michael Wright, FSA, will present a newly discovered Iron Age Irish riveted horn, discussing its construction and position amongst the very few other known examples of this type.
Thursday 11 February: The castle, I am building, of my ancestors: creating and collecting at Strawberry Hill, to be given by Michael Snodin, FSA
York Antiquaries are leaving the city for their spring meeting on 17 April 2010 and heading for Ilkley (West Yorkshire), where our Fellow, Professor Derek Long, will welcome members to his home during the morning and show them the Moxon Collection of woodworking tools and related rare books and engravings. Lunch has been arranged in a historic spa hotel in Ilkley. York Antiquaries members will receive further details in due course and need take no action. Other Fellows are very welcome (space permitting) and are asked to register their interest (without commitment) as soon as possible with Fellow Philip Lankester.
This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society (founded on 28 November 1660 by Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins and Sir Robert Moray), and it is worth reflecting that we might now all be Fellows of that Society, had events in the mid-eighteenth century turned out differently.
In his DNB entry for Martin Folkes (16901754), David Boyd Haycock reminds us that, despite being elected President of our Society on 22 November 1750, Folkes was held in deep suspicion because he was also President of the Royal Society. George Vertue and others believed that Folkes, assisted by Treasurer, James West, another Royal Society member, was plotting a takeover of the Antiquaries by the Royal Society, something that, according to our Fellow Arthur MacGregor, writing in Visions of Antiquity (Archaeologia 111, 656), angered Vertue and others because they felt that the Society of Antiquaries was, at that time, more than equal in reputation and achievements to the Royal Society, which was seen as being upon the wane intellectually.
Matters came to a head when Lord Coleraine bequeathed a collection of prints and drawings to the Antiquaries, which our Society was unable, legally, to accept unless it was transformed from a voluntary body into a chartered Society. Folkes had to decide whether to petition the monarch for a royal charter involving an expensive judicial process or to seek integration into the Royal Society, the only learned society at the time to have achieved chartered status. Folkes chose the former course, but the fact that the charter presented to George II was almost identical in structure and content to the one granted by Charles II to the Royal Society in 1660 only fuelled suspicions among Folkess critics about his ultimate intentions.
David Boyd Haycock reminds us that we do not know whether or not Folkes genuinely wanted to unite the two societies, but it is notable that he bequeathed £100 to the Royal Society, together with a seal and a portrait of Francis Bacon, but that he left not the smallest token of his regard to the Society of Antiquaries.
With the distance of time, we can put past suspicions aside and join in congratulating the Royal Society on its anniversary, recognising that its emphasis on experimentation and empirical observation (summed up in its motto: Nullius in verba Trust nobodys word) is not far removed from our own approach to knowledge, and has led to many fundamental discoveries that have changed our world (the highlights of which can be seen on the Royal Societys anniversary website, featuring sixty of the most important papers published by the Royal Society between 1665 and 2010, from Robert Boyles 1666 account of blood transfusion to Jim Lovelocks 2008 paper on climate change).
Another society with strong links to our own is the Society of Dilettanti, the subject of a new book of the same name by Jason Kelly (Yale), which traces the transformation of that society from a group of spoiled and self-indulgent libertines meeting to eat and drink to excess to a well-respected archaeological society, with aspirations (never realised) to learned society status and a set of apartments in which to display the spoils of travels in Italy, Greece and Turkey.
A table at the end of the book shows that not only was Folkes a member, but so were just under half (28 out of 59) of the founder members: but then these same fifty-nine aristocrats and antiquaries were also members of the Egyptian Society, the Divan Club (whose members had to have travelled in the Ottoman Empire) and the Royal Society (one wonders whether, on meeting the same group of friends every night, they ever had difficulty in remembering which society was meeting that night).
As a parallel history to that of our own society the book (which is in the Societys library) is entertaining and instructive, not least on the subtle nuances of mid-eighteenth-century language, in which virtuoso, dilettanti, antiquary and connoisseur all had subtly different meanings. A dilettanti, apparently, was someone who had a reputation for exquisite taste and judgement based on first-hand knowledge of the polite arts; antiquaries, by contrast, were collectors of antiquities, coins, manuscripts and rarities of every sort.
It is possible that the one person who could claim to be all four (virtuoso, dilettanti, antiquary and connoisseur) was Horace Walpole (who nevertheless affected a disdainful view of the Society of Dilettanti, saying, in a letter of 1743 to his friend Horace Mann, that the nominal qualification [for membership] is having been in Italy, and the real one being drunk; the two chiefs are Lord Middlesex and Sir Francis Dashwood, who were seldom sober the whole of the time they were in Italy but then, some animosity is to be expected given that the Dilettanti were Tories, and Walpole was the son of the Whig statesman and prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole).
Also very much at odds with the neo-classical enthusiasms of the Dilettanti was Horace Walpoles love of the Gothick, manifested in his little Gothic castle which is now being lovingly restored by the Strawberry Hill Trust. Strawberry Hill was also home to Walpoles vast and idiosyncratic collection of antiquities, works of art, books, prints and curios, which he amassed on such a scale that when his heirs auctioned them off in 1842, the sale lasted for twenty-four days.
Around half that collection is now in the hands of museums and private collectors, but the Trust has announced plans to try to buy back as much as they can trace of the objects documented in an inventory published by Walpole in 1784 and in the auction catalogue of 1842. Our Fellow Michael Snodin, Chairman of the Strawberry Hill Trust, says: We want to unearth as many of these extraordinary objects as possible; the likelihood is that many people who have a piece of the collection dont even know they are Walpole objects. We hope that anyone who finds they do have something from Strawberry Hill will consider selling or loaning us the items so that we can restore them back to their original magnificent setting.
Some 250 pieces from the collection including Holbein miniatures, Sèvres porcelain and Wedgwood ceramics have already been traced and borrowed for the forthcoming exhibition, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, curated by our Fellow Michael Snodin that opens in March 2010 at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Examples of the objects that have been scattered to the winds include a jewelled dagger of Turkish design that belonged to Henry VIII (later bought by the actor Charles Kean, who is said to have used it on stage, then sold in 1898 to someone named Haigham), an ancient Roman sculpture of the Emperor Vespasian, once displayed in 10 Downing Street when it was the home of Walpoles father (last recorded at Christies in 1882 where it was sold by the Duke of Hamilton) and a Gothic dining table made of Sicilian jasper, designed by Richard Bentley (last recorded in 1953 in the collection of the antiquary H L Bradfer-Lawrence, of Ripon, Yorkshire, who died in 1965).
Walpole marked many pieces in his collection with the cross crosslet, an heraldic symbol from his coat of arms, so if you know of such objects or come across them, the Trust would be very pleased to hear from you.
Proof that long-lost objects do sometimes emerge in the most unlikely of locations comes from a story in The Guardian, published on 15 December 2009, accompanied by a picture of our Fellow Stephen Calloway, the Victoria and Albert Museums curator of prints, looking like a reincarnation of a Dilettanti Society member, as he scrutinises what, in its day, was regarded as a subversive book of pornographic cartoons by the satirist James Gillray (17571815).
The folio of forty caricatures was published in the 1840s by Henry Bohn from Gillrays original plates; sold only to trusted customers, they nevertheless ended up in the hands of the vice squad of the day because of their scurrilous and offensive content. The so-called Suppressed Plates were rediscovered 160 years later by staff of todays criminal law policy unit when they cleared their office ahead of a move to the new Ministry of Justice headquarters, in the former Middlesex Guildhall, on Parliament Square.
Few intact editions of the Suppressed Plates survive, most folios having been broken up for sale as single sheets. The etchings include Fashionable Contrasts; or The Duchesss Little Shoe Yielding to the Magnitude of the Dukes Foot, about which Stephen Calloway said: The two shoes one huge pair facing down, one tiny pair facing up is an iconic image; it has become artistic shorthand for sex ever since.
David Pearson, a senior policy adviser on pornography at the criminal law policy unit, said that the prints were found among a collection of material seized by the obscene publications unit over many years. We do find the odd thing lying around here and there, he said; we sent some old obscene books up to Cambridge University recently. Of course, they werent anything like obscene by todays standards. Bridget Prentice, the Justice Minister, said the V&A was the best home for the prints, as I cant really see them hanging on a ministerial office wall.
Stephen Calloway said the V&A was delighted to receive the portfolio. He explained that when Henry Bohn reissued Gillrays complete works in the 1840s, he produced a main volume containing inoffensive material, a copy of which the V&A acquired in 1869, and a slim volume of naughtier cartoons, which the V&A lacked until now. If you asked for the main volume you could also ask for the supplementary volume, effectively under the counter, Stephen said. It was very much the sort of thing a gentleman would keep in his library as an after-dinner amusement. Many of the political events that gave rise to the cartoons in the main volume have passed out of relevance, whereas these remain funny today.
Perhaps the Society of Dilettanti will be reborn; certainly, according to the Observer newspaper, salons are all the rage again among the UKs literati. The eighteenth-century gathering, said the newspaper, where intellectual giants would debate and inspire or infuriate each other, has been reborn for the twenty-first century with new Salons appearing throughout the country.
In London, a monthly salon, described as a modern twist on the eighteenth-century model, has been established at the Soho House private members club by the playwright Damian Barr, who describes it as a space for writers and book lovers to discuss, inspire, goad or cajole each other as they did in the salons of past eras … the salon is a space where like-minded people meet and many stories come out of the evening people leave feeling stimulated. Its social and literary alchemy.
Coffee houses and restaurants have also re-emerged as the base for salons, the newspaper said, citing Damien Hirsts restaurant, The Quay, in Ilfracombe, Devon, as one example. Another salon, described as a nest of singing birds, and a tremendously enlivening experience, apparently flourishes in Norwich, and in Edinburgh a salon has grown up at the Balmoral Hotel. One of those who attends is film and TV scriptwriter David Nicholls, who said that writing is very solitary; to be able to sit in a room with people and have a drink and share their thoughts is really inspiring.
Before we leave the eighteenth century, let us celebrate a successful outcome to the National Trusts campaign to acquire Grade I-listed Seaton Delaval Hall, built between 1718 and 1731 by John Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, located some 10 miles north east of Newcastle upon Tyne and judged to be a masterpiece of English baroque architecture. Quite apart from anything else, the campaign was remarkable for garnering support from such unlikely bedfellows as Prince Charles, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Will Alsop and Terry Farrell and it has succeeded in its aims: the National Trust announced on 17 December 2009 that it had taken ownership of the house and its gardens.
Key to the transfer was the decision by the Governments Acceptance in Lieu committee (AIL) to take the house, along with important items of furniture, sculpture, family portraits and more than 32 ha of land, in lieu of an inheritance tax bill of £4.9m. The National Trust has pledged £6.9m from its own resources to create an endowment fund for the future running of the property, while donations of some £3 million have been made by some 30,000 individuals, charitable trusts and companies across the UK and beyond. The balance of the money has come through investment from the regional development agency, One North East, and generous contributions from other funding bodies, including The Art Fund. The Trust now plans to open Seaton Delaval to the public in spring 2010.
Otherwise it is business as usual, with disagreement about the architectural and historical merits of particular buildings being more normal than unanimity. Salon 223 reported on the content of a Sunday Times article by Richard Brooks predicting that Culture Minister Margaret Hodge would reject English Heritage advice that Birminghams central library should be designated a Grade-II listed building. The Sunday Times prediction proved to be spot on. The Government declined the advice given by English Heritage, and it is likely that the library will now be swept away as part of the Birmingham City Councils proposals for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus, at the centre of the city.
What is worrying about the case, however, is the widely reported comment that Minister Margaret Hodge has made no secret of her personal dislike for post-war buildings, implying that the decision was taken for reasons other than architectural and/or historical merit. Reports in both the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph implied that this was no bad thing, and that the Minister was quite right to exercise her personal judgement in the matter: the newspapers took the populist view that there is something badly wrong with a system that led to the designation of concrete eyesores.
English Heritage expressed itself to be disappointed with the decision, but the Twentieth Century Society went further and, in a pointed letter to the Sunday Times, accused Margaret Hodge of failing to understand the basic premise of heritage protection in England.
The letter is worth quoting in full as a succinct reminder to us all of what these principles are. Listing the fabulous Milton Keynes Shopping Building or Birminghams Brutalist library would not prevent renovation work, or even a well-designed radical makeover, wrote Catherine Croft, Director of the C20 Society. What it would do is make sure that proposals took into account the historic interest of these structures rather than seeking to change or even demolish them.
What Richard Brookss [Sunday Times] article fails to appreciate, Catherine continued, is that one of the key strengths of our heritage system is that listing is decided purely on the basis of architectural or historic interest. This lays down a marker and allows a detailed analysis of economic viability and wider social issues to follow. This works very well and any problems that occur generally reflect lack of skill, experience and confidence on the part of local authority planning departments and committees. The process does not require Margaret Hodge to fix it, although it would benefit from more funding especially at local authority level.
Another important planning decision reached a head on 17 December when the British Museum obtained planning permission at the second attempt for its planned north-western corner development, designed to provide new research and conservation labs and new space in which to stage large-scale temporary exhibitions.
The original plan was rejected by Camden Councils planning committee in July on the grounds of the excessive bulk, scale [and] massing of the planned extension, and its impact on the existing building. The Museums architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, produced a revised plan that reduces the height of the extension by placing more of the structure beneath the ground, and that increases the width of the light well that will supply light to parts of the existing building around which the extension will wrap.
While CABE and English Heritage gave their support for the amended designs, most of the statutory amenity societies remained opposed on the grounds that the changes did not go far enough to meet the planning committees original objections. This time, however, the planning committee seemed to agree with those commentators who argued for the schemes approval on the grounds that the British Museum clearly needs such a facility, avoiding the more contentious issue of whether or not the proposed design works.
Architectural critic Rowan Moore summed up what seems to have been the prevailing mood when he wrote, in the London Evening Standard, that Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners were probably not the best architects for the job, as their forte lies in imaginative buildings in greenfield sites, not in adapting and extending historic buildings; the plan remained far from perfect, he argued, but it was the best available and so, on balance, it was more important to give the BM the means to maintain its leading position at the vanguard of preserving and presenting world history and culture than it was to hold out for elusive perfection in the extensions design. Work on the new extension is likely to begin at once, aiming for completion in 2013.
Salon 206 reported almost a year ago that the British Library was frustrated by the Governments lack of progress in giving the Library the legal power to powers to create archives of websites and non-print media. Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, warned that future historians faced a black hole in the knowledge base of the twenty-first century because the deposit libraries had no right to make copies of digital publications, which now account for a third of all the works published in the UK and Ireland and by 2020, it is expected that more material will be published in digital format than in print.
Now the Government has finally got round to publishing a consultation on the matter, based on advice given to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport by the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel. This proposes that Legal Deposit, the system whereby publishers are required to give copies of all their print publications to national deposit libraries (the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin) should be extended to cover non-print publications, whether published online via the internet, or offline, in the form of CDs, microfiche or other forms of storage media.
The consultation sets out a number of options for ensuring that websites and non-print publications are preserved as reliably as books, periodicals, newspapers and recordings have been in the past: rather than burden the publisher with the responsibility for handing copies over to national deposit libraries, the report recommends allowing the libraries to use existing technology to harvest the content: in effect the publisher has to do nothing, and tests have already taken place to ensure that capturing daily snapshots of the 15 million websites in the UK and Ireland is feasible.
The proposals only apply to free sites: Culture Minister Margaret Hodge says that there are legal and technical issues to resolve before the law can be extended to websites that have restricted access or that charge for access. The closing date for responses is 1 March 2010, which means that it is very unlikely that any new powers will be given to the national deposit libraries before an election: the Conservatives have yet to say what their policy is on the matter. Further information, including the consultation document, can be found on the DCMS website.
Export bars have been imposed on Samuel Palmers painting The Shearers (£3.8m) and on a collection of material from early twentieth-century dramatisations by The Hardy Players of such works by Thomas Hardy as Tess of the DUrbervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd (£50,000).
The Reviewing Committee described the Palmer painting as a quintessential representation of the English pastoral tradition depicting a group of farm-workers shearing their sheep in a rolling, sunlit English landscape, seen from the interior of a large barn. An atmosphere of tension, conveyed by the upturned scythe in the foreground, may reflect contemporary agricultural unrest and the impact of the Reform Act of 1832. For further information see the Department of Culture website.
The Hardy Players material comprises annotated typescripts, prompt copies, actors parts, programmes, posters and miniature mock-up scenery. Some of these were originally owned by Thomas Henry Tilley, one of two Dorset figures chiefly responsible for the productions. For further information see the Department of Culture website.
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (whose eight members include three Fellows of our Society) published its fifty-fifth annual report on 16 December 2009, giving us an insight into how successful or otherwise the scheme is in keeping cultural material in the UK that would otherwise be exported.
The report says that export licences were granted for 12,015 objects worth more than £7.4bn in the period 1 May 2008 to 30 April 2009; sixteen of these objects were subject to temporary export bars on the grounds of outstanding national significance. Nine items (valued at £1.5m in total) were subsequently purchased by UK institutions, while export licences were subsequently issued in seven cases (valued at £14.2m).
Among those items that stayed in the UK as a result of the bar were the journal and charts of the seventeenth-century English naval explorer Sir John Narbrough (purchased by the British Library for £310,000), nine dresses designed by the French couturier Madeleine Vionnet (purchased by the V&A, the Bowes Museum and the Fashion Museum, Bath, for £351,399), a Romano-British statuette of a horse and rider (purchased by the British Museum for £22,066) and an Iron-Age bronze mirror and two fibulae discovered by a metal detectorist in a shallow cremation grave at Chilham Castle in Kent in 1993 (purchased by Canterbury City Council for the Museum of Canterbury for £35,000).
One that got away was Turners oil painting of 1808 depicting the home of the English poet Alexander Pope beside the Thames at Twickenham in the process of being demolished. Turner painted it to express the distress he felt at the destruction of the poets home by Lady Howe, who was so bothered by the tourists and admirers of Pope who came to see it that she had it pulled down (for which act of vandalism she was widely reviled as Queen of the Goths).
For further details of the report, see the DCMS website website.
While the UK government appears to be determined to starve the UKs once world-beating university education sector, our continental neighbours are investing in cultural heritage and universities as part of a Keynsian public spending plan to negate the effects of the recession.
On 14 December, the French President announced his big loan plan, which will see the government borrow 22bn and spend 35bn on a series of large investments, ranging from green technology to higher education. Announcing the plan in a speech at the Elysée Palace, he said the aim was to enable France to emerge stronger and more competitive when the recovery comes.
A third of the package will be spent on the higher education sector, with 8bn going to create ten new campuses that will be formed by merging existing institutions. Critics say that the investment is long overdue, and that the problem in France is the gap between standards at the elite establishments and the neglected second-tier universities.
A further 4.5bn will be spent on high-tech projects, including the sum of 750m which has been set aside for scanning French-language publications: the President said that France would resist attempts by Google to strip France of its culture, saying that French libraries would not co-operate with the US companys plans to create a global online library, but would retain control of their own material.
Anyone who has recently walked across the Millennium Bridge from Tate Modern to St Pauls will be aware just how splendid the cathedral now looks especially at night when spotlighting enhances the architectural perfection of the dome thanks to its comprehensive restoration. Now our Fellow Martin Stancliffe, who, with the conservation architects Purcell Miller Tritton, has managed the ten year £40 million scheme, has been awarded the accolade of Project of the Year at the prestigious RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Awards, a celebration of built and natural environment projects that recognise excellence, value for money and a commitment to building conservation.
Simon Pott, Chairman of the RICS Judging Panel, said that the care and attention taken in the restoration had rejuvenated a truly timeless building that had never previously undergone such significant renovation. New methods for cleaning the stonework were established, innovative hanging and rotating scaffolding was developed to support works to the interior of the dome and tambour and the entire project was underpinned by an enormous quantity of research, designed to minimise the amount of work that was actually executed.
Sarah Dhanjal, a PhD research student at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, in London, was presented with the 2009 Marsh Archaeology Award at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference in Durham University on 18 December 2009. This years award from the Marsh Christian Trust recognised educational work with people under the age of 18. In addition to her research thesis, exploring attitudes to heritage amongst young people in Southall, west London, Sarah worked for UCL from 2005 to 2008 as a widening participation and diversity officer, running programmes to encourage the participation of under-represented groups in archaeology and other subjects. This work included the organisation of taster days in archaeology, of school archaeology excavation projects (with the help of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society) and planning events for National Archaeology Week.
Our Fellow Mike Heyworth MBE, Director of the Council for British Archaeology, which runs the award on behalf of the Marsh Christian Trust, said: Sarah is a remarkable individual who is involved in many archaeological projects across London. She has carried out innovative and consistently successful work, largely unpaid, to promote the understanding and appreciation of archaeology amongst young people both in and out of school. Our Fellow Stephen Shennan, Director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology and one of the people who nominated Sarah for the award, said that Sarah has made an enormous contribution to making archaeology more inclusive all the more remarkable for one so young.
Further information can be found on the CBA website.
Fellow Diarmaid MacCulloch, fresh from critical acclaim as the presenter of the BBC series on the first 3,000 years of Christianity, says he has been savouring the longevity reports in Salon, and reports that my dear old dad, a country parson with a vast enthusiasm for history, born in 1903, used to recount with relish how when he was a little boy (his father was an Episcopalian parish priest in Stirlingshire), he met an old lady (he did not record whether or not she was little) who when she was a little girl was lifted on to the saddle of a trooper going off to the Battle of Waterloo.
Fellow Paul Gilman adds a further recommendation to the list of exhibitions likely to be of interest to Fellows listed in the last issue of Salon. He warmly commends the current exhibition of work by the father of watercolour painting Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain. A Bicentenary Exhibition on at the National Gallery of Scotland until 7 February 2010, and at the Royal Academy from March 2010. I saw the exhibition in Edinburgh, says Paul, and it has much that would interest Fellows from his involvement in the mapping of the Highlands of Scotland after the 45, which also included painting castles and forts, as well as his later studies of royal parks and ancient castles, including many of Windsor.
Fellow Jeremy Hodgkinson, of the Wealden Iron Research Group, adds a fascinating footnote to Salon 224s report on the Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project. Apparently the paper on which Philip Henslowe wrote his celebrated diary had already been used once for the accounts of the ironworks in Sussex that were operated by his brother-in-law, Ralph Hogge. So historians got two for the price of one: an important source for the history of the early modern theatre and an insight into an early progenitor of the industrial revolution. The ironworks accounts have been transcribed by our Fellow David Crossley and were published in the Sussex Archaeological Collections (Vol 112 for 1974).
Salons editor apologises for misreading the name of the library volunteer Dr Meryl Foster, not Fisher who recently found correspondence from Norman Painting (aka Phil Archer) while cataloguing Donald Hardens papers for the Society.
Fellow Anthony Harding (former President of the European Association of Archaeologists, having just handed over to our Fellow Friedrich Lüth) writes to correct the chronology and locations of the EAAs recent annual meetings, which were held in Cork (2005), Krakow (2006), Zadar (2007), Malta (2008) and Riva del Garda (2009). This years meeting (in which the Society hopes to sponsor a session on what we learn from studying the histories of antiquarian ideas, people and institutions) will be held in Den Haag, and will move to Oslo in 2011 and Helsinki in 2012.
Responding to Salon 223s report on efforts by Edinburgh World Heritage, Edinburgh City Libraries and Edinburgh City Archives to encourage Edinburgh residents to make use of their combined resources in researching the histories of their houses, Fellow Kevin Brown reports that he went one step further when work to his house involved removing the concrete floors.
Being an archaeologist by training, it seemed quite natural, he says, to take up my trowel and excavate. Removal of a concrete screed from all three ground-floor rooms revealed perfectly preserved stone floors, which, in turn, concealed a well-dated sequence of construction and occupation layers dating back at least to the medieval period quite how far back remains a matter of debate, for the late Sarah Jennings, in one of her last projects, was able to identify two fragments of eleventh- to twelfth-century cooking pot, but did not live to share our surprise at the subsequent discovery of a small fragment of a samian cup beneath the last vestiges of a hearth.
Not far from where Kevin lives, in a village south of Bristol, is the South Stoke plateau, part of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In response to Salon 223s report on Government plans to review green belt boundaries around a number of UK cities, including Bath, our Fellow Robert Dunning writes to alert Fellows to worrying plans for developing the fields of South Stoke, which will not only swamp a number of small limestone villages, but which also threaten a section of Wansdyke. The details of the proposals are to be found on the planning authoritys website and representations may be made to the Planning Policy Team, Bath & North East Somerset Council.
By contrast, Fellow Alastair Maxwell-Irving invites us to celebrate a conservation victory for a change: the saving of Moat Brae House in Dumfries, built in 1823 to the designs of distinguished local architect Walter Newall, listed Category B and one of the towns finest Georgian mansions. That alone should have been enough to prevent anyone from contemplating its destruction, but when last summer the local authority gave permission for it to be demolished and the site developed by Loreburn Housing Association, local people organised themselves into a protest group, obtained an interim injunction to prevent its destruction and, assisted by the Architectural Heritage Society, formed the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust to rescue the building.
And the name of the Trust has now given away why the people of Dumfries were so determined that this house should not be swept away: for this house was home to a local solicitor whose son, Stuart Gordon, became firm friends with a certain James Matthew Barrie (18601937) when they, aged thirteen, were students at the Dumfries Academy. On being awarded the Freedom of Dumfries on 11 December 1924, Barrie said that the garden at Moat Brae was an enchanted land to me, and that the games he used to play with Stuart when the shades of night began to fall [and] certain young mathematicians shed their triangles, crept up walls and down trees, and became pirates in a sort of Odyssey, later became the genesis of what he called that nefarious work, known to the world as Peter Pan.
Many heritage bodies, actors and authors became involved in the campaign to save Moat Brae, and the result was that the Loreburn Housing Association eventually agreed to sell the house to the Trust. A hard task awaits because the house, which had been a nursing home, stood empty and neglected for more than ten years and is now in a poor state of repair but the Trust intends to restore the house and gardens as a tourist attraction, focusing on its status as the birthplace of Peter Pan and a major fundraising campaign has now begun. Further information can be found on the Moat Brae website.
Our Fellow, Margaret Bent, one of Britains most eminent musicologists (awarded a CBE for her scholarly distinction last year), has won the prestigious 2009 Claude Palisca Award for her study, Bologna Q15: the Making and Remaking of a Musical Manuscript. The unanimous choice of a committee appointed by the American Musicology Society, her work has been described by one of its members as an exemplar of regal musicology that will forever set a benchmark for facsimile editions.
Bologna Q15 consists of an anthology of early fifteenth-century polyphonic music, compiled in Padua in the early 1420s and Vicenza in the early 1430s and all copied by a single scribe between 1420 and 1435. Acquired by Padre Martini in 1757, and one of the great treasures of his library in Bologna, it is the single most important manuscript for early fifteenth-century music in Europe, containing 323 compositions by fifty composers, including native Italians and composers from the north who were sought after and made their careers in Italy. It is our only source for much music by such major composers as Dufay, Zacara, Ciconia and Guillaume du Fay.
Prefacing the facsimile (photographed in colour when it was disbound and with some illegible pages digitally restored) is a magisterial essay of 383 folio-sized pages covering the history of the manuscript, its structure and chronology, the circumstances surrounding its various re-copyings and revisions and so on. This is fruit of some thirty years painstaking research and, in its field, is a scholarly achievement of the very highest order.
Our Vice-President Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University, and our Fellow Amanda Chadburn, of English Heritage, have both been made members of the prestigious Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the study of European archaeology. Tim and Amanda were among fifteen scholars from across northern and central Europe admitted to the DAI at a special ceremony held at the Römisch-Germanische Kommission in Frankfurt on 10 December 2009 as part of the annual Wincklemann Tag celebrations, held in memory of the distinguished German classicist and antiquary, Johan Joachim Wincklemann (171768). Also admitted at the same ceremony were archaeologists Jörg Bofinger (Germany), Vera Brieske (Germany), Ivan Bonev Gatsov (Bulgaria), Christoph Grünewald (Germany), Jochen Haberstroh (Germany), Dénes Janikovich-Bésán (Hungary), Flemming Rieck (Denmark) and Katalin Wollák (Hungary).
Fellow Christine Finn, who is giving a paper to the Society on Jacquetta Hawkes on 28 January, headed for Indonesia towards the end of last year to seek out the village on the island of Java where Barack Obamas late mother, the anthropologist Ann Dunham, undertook field work in 1983. Following in Dunhams footsteps, Christine reports that the Presidents mother is remembered fondly as a generous benefactor whose gifts of money, food and school books helped numerous villagers yet so remote is the rural village that none of them realised that the woman who paid several visits to research rural crafts in the 1980s was the mother of Americas 44th president.
Darmo Sujak, a 67-year-old blacksmith, said that Dunham, who died of cancer in Hawaii in 1995 at the age of 52, had given him the money to build his house, expand his business and pay for his childrens education. Other villagers recognised themselves in photographs taken from her thesis, Surviving against the odds: village industry in Indonesia. Dunhams visits to Indonesia led to bogus claims that Obama had been raised as a Muslim and had been born overseas, making him ineligible to be president. In fact, Barack Obama was sixteen at the time when his mother undertook her fieldwork, during which he chose to live with his grandparents in Honolulu.
Matthew Spriggs, Australasian Secretary of the SAL, reports that the success of Australasian Fellows in this round of the Australian Research Council Grants was in fact greater than he reported in Salon 223, and that Sam Lieu and Ian McNiven should be added to the list, making a total of ten Fellows, or 20 per cent of the Australian Fellowship, who were awarded grants from the ARC in 2009. Moreover, several Fellows with three- to five-year grants are already active, meaning that considerably more than 20 per cent of the Australasian Fellowship are currently in receipt of major funding from the ARC. Matthew also reports that Fellow Sue OConnor has been awarded the 2009 Vice-Chancellors Award for Career Achievement by the Australian National University, so further congratulations are in order.
When Fellows were shown round Mike Parker Pearsons Stonehenge Landscape Project excavation in August 2009, Mike was asked what will you do next now this project is coming to a close. I am working on that, said Mike, and now we know exactly what it was he was working on: Mike and his team have been awarded a grant of £800,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to study the evidence from their recent excavations at Durrington Walls that the area around Stonehenge was used for huge midwinter feasts, with cattle and pigs being brought on the hoof for slaughter and consumption from as far away as west Wales.
The grant is to fund Feeding Stonehenge, his follow-up research on the wealth of animal bones, pottery and plant remains found at the Durrington Walls settlement, which Mike describes approvingly as the filthiest Neolithic site known in Britain. The new grant from the AHRC for the Feeding Stonehenge project allows us to get the maximum information out of this unexpected wealth of remains, he says. We are going to know so much about the lives of the people who built Stonehenge how they lived, what they ate, where they came from, adding that the logistics of the operation were extraordinary. Not just food for hundreds of people but antler picks, hide ropes, all the infrastructure needed to supply the materials and supplies needed. Where did they get all this food from? This is what we hope to discover.
Isotope analysis will be carried out on cattle jaws from recent excavations to find out where they originally came from and how far the people who bought them had travelled to visit the site. Cut marks on the bones will also be analysed for evidence of the use of copper tools, as well as flint.
Further information about the project can be found on the Stonehenge Riverside Project website.
Finally Nicholas Hall (who, as well as being a Fellow and Keeper of Artillery at the Royal Armouries Fort Nelson, is an Associate of the Institute of Explosives Engineers, the body that represents all those who use explosives as part of the everyday tools of their trade) recently delivered a 11-foot long bronze cannon, dating from the sixteenth century and weighing 1.5 tonnes, to Dunwich Museum, where it is now on display not far from where it was found on the seabed off Dunwich by local archaeologist Stuart Bacon and his team of Suffolk Underwater Studies divers in 1994.
Originally displayed outside Stuart Bacons shop in Dunwich, the cannon was moved to the greater safety of Fort Nelson, in Portsmouth, when ownership was transferred to the Royal Armouries by the Receiver of Wreck in 2001. At that time, Nicholas faced not only the difficult logistics of moving a large and heavy gun, he also had the diplomatically difficult job of removing a local landmark that Dunwich residents considered to be theirs.
This time, there were many willing and strong local volunteers to help with the cannons homecoming. Dunwich has now not only got its gun back (on loan), it also comes with a great deal more information about its history it probably comes from a ship that was lost at the Battle of Solebay, the first naval battle of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, which took place on 7 June 1672. By then the gun was already more than a century old. Cast in 1550, or thereabouts, it bears the sea-eroded badge of the Holy Roman Empire: in an article published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, (25 (1), 2132), Rudi Roth suggested that it is a design by Gregor Lőffler [c 14901565] of Augsburg but cast in Flanders for Spain by Remigy de Halut in the Netherlands. Roth identifies it as a halbe schlange (firing about a 6lb cast iron shot) as illustrated in the inventory of the artillery of Charles V (Journal of the Ordnance Society, 7, 7792).
Nicholas says that a closely related piece cast in Malines by Remigy de Halut and dated 1555 is also in the Royal Armouries collection, on show at Fort Nelson. Pictures of the Dunwich cannon, and grateful Dunwich residents, can be seen on the website of the East Anglian Daily Times.
Many Fellows will already have heard the sad news that our Fellow Roger Jacobi died on 9 December 2009, at the age of sixty-two after battling with cancer for the previous twelve months. Rogers colleague at the British Museum, Nicholas Ashton, is planning a memorial event for 16 February 2010, which would have been Rogers birthday, provisionally at 11am at Burlington House; further details will be given in Salon in due course. Fuller obituaries will follow, but for Salon Nicholas has contributed the following brief tribute to Roger.
After completing his PhD at Cambridge on the British Mesolithic in 1975, Roger Jacobi took up teaching posts first at Lancaster and then at Nottingham universities. Throughout this period he continued to build on his already gargantuan knowledge of collections and sites, both in Britain and abroad, and he wrote many definitive works on the British Mesolithic and Upper Palaeolithic. Despite being an excellent teacher, the new strictures on universities during the 1990s were not to his taste; instead he continued his research at the British Museum, initially, and then, from 2001, as a principal researcher on the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project.
The past eight years have witnessed the fruition of a lifetimes research with a series of remarkable papers in international journals. Perhaps his two most enduring papers will be the ones he wrote with Tom Higham of Oxford that he completed only a few weeks before his untimely death on the new radiocarbon dating of the Late Pleistocene, work that has transformed our understanding of the chronology of this period in Britain and Europe.
These few lines do little justice to both Rogers remarkable career and character. For further tributes to this giant of prehistory, see the latest issue of the Mesolithic Miscellany online newsletter.
(In the same issue of Mesolithic Miscellany, by the way, you can read Fellow Geoff Baileys obituary for the late Pavel Dolukhanov, Emeritus Professor of East European Prehistory at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, who died on 6 December 2009 at the age of seventy; though not a Fellow, Pavels research and publications on Late Pleistocene and Holocene landscapes and the Mesolithic to Neolithic transition are held in high regard and are fundamental to the study of this period in European prehistory.)
The Society has been informed of the recent deaths of our Fellows Derek Matthews, of Amersham, elected on 6 March 1969, Roy Frank Hunnisett, author of numerous works on the coroners courts and records, elected on 9 January 1975, and Gwenllian Jones, former Secretary of the Monmouthshire Antiquarian Association and Gwent County History Association, who was elected on 5 February 2009.
Salons editor is very grateful to Fellows Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, Tuukka Talvio, Director of the Coin Cabinet, National Museum of Finland in Helsinki, and Jeremy Montagu, Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, all of whom responded to Salons request for an obituary for our late Fellow Dan Barag by forwarding links to one that was published on the website of the Israel Numismatic Society and another written by David Hendin for the coin-collectors journal, The Celator. The following summary has been compiled using extracts from both, and the complete versions can be read on the Societys website.
Dan Barag was born in London in 1935 and grew up in Tel Aviv where his parents, Dr Gershon Barag and Dr Gerda Barag, were well-known Freudian psychoanalysts. Dan was probably the youngest member of the team that excavated Tel Hazor, the first large-scale Israeli archaeological expedition to be conducted following the states independence, and in 1956, after military service as an officer in the Israeli Intelligence branch, he studied archaeology at the Hebrew University, becoming a faculty member at the Universitys Institute of Archaeology in 1970, an appointment he held until he retired in 2003.
Known principally as a numismatist, he was equally renowned as an expert on ancient glass, and was principal contributor to the Catalogue of Western Asiatic Glass in the British Museum, published in 1985. Dan also edited the Israel Exploration Journal between 1973 and 1975 and wrote more than 150 scholarly articles and chapters in books published in Israel and abroad, from his first, in 1959, on the canopy coins of Agrippa I, to his last, a 2006 article on the coins of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in the collection of the Hebrew University. He was an expert in the study of Jewish art, and an avid collector of ancient Christian art from local markets. He was in the process of transferring his collection of nearly 1,000 objects to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, at the time of his death.
As a field archaeologist, he headed the team that uncovered the synagogue at Ein Gedi, used from the third century AD until the Byzantine period, discovering the large, important bronze menorah now on permanent display at the Israel Museum. He was also involved in excavating or publishing material from Bet Shearim, Hanita, Nahariya, and Tel Qasile, among other sites.
Dans memory was almost photographic and he was able to recall references, individuals, and articles almost at will. This strength served him well as the President of the Israel Numismatic Society, a post he held for thirty years, and, from 1980 until his death, as the editor of the Israel Numismatic Journal, which he revitalised. Dans knowledge of things archaeological became a byword: anyone looking for a detail on some small find deriving from a forgotten excavation, or for a little-known aspect of the history of archaeological research in the region, knew to turn to him for help.
Our Fellow Adam Zamoyski writes to enlist the help of Fellows in what he describes as a somewhat curious kind of archaeological mission. I am, he says, working on a reconstruction of the original presentation of the collections of the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow, and the 1828 catalogue of one of them, the so-called Gothic House, lists a number of plants, leaves and sprigs taken from historic sites. These either crumbled or were thrown away later in the nineteenth century, and we are replacing them. We have already acquired the necessary sprig of cypress from the graveside of Ines de Castro, the laurel from the Alhambra, flowers from Troy, etc, but we still need some flowers/herbs/plants from Agricolas camp in the northern province of Britain and from Fingals grave.
Adam is hoping that Fellows who live within striking distance of these monuments will be kind enough to pick suitable specimens any species will do, as long as they can be pressed behind glass or placed within a small showcase, and the museum does not require particularly fine specimens or a large bunch of plant material. If you are able to help, Adam can be contacted by email.
Fellow Michael Stammers wonders if any Fellow who specialises in ecclesiastical architecture has come across papier-mâché mouldings in churches. St Helens, Sefton, Merseyside has a splendid set of sixteenth-century parclose screens around its choir, he says, that were extended in about 1840 by means of an additional outer brattishing manufactured from papier-mâché by a patent process by C P Bielefeld of London (the inner side of the mouldings bear his name). The Victoria and Albert Museums library has a catalogue of his designs published in 1842 including this form. His patent material was so strong that it was even used to build prefabricated houses for export to Australia, as reported in the Illustrated London News for 6 August 1853. Mike is keen to know whether the Sefton mouldings are a unique survival, or are relatively common, and hence of little interest except to us parishioners. Any advice and/or reports of other sightings would be much appreciated by a maritime historian who finds himself at sea on this problem.
16 and 17 February 2010: Digital Past 2010: new technologies in heritage, interpretation and outreach, hosted by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales at St Fagans, Cardiff. Papers and seminars are confirmed on the following topics: the use of digital technology in museum interpretation; collaborative prospection methodologies; improving heritage experience through acoustic reality and audio research; tools and expertise for 3D collection formation; LIDAR for archaeological survey; visualisation of the Newport medieval ship through three-dimensional recording; alternative realities in the reconstruction of Iron-Age round-houses; laser scanning and interactive information in heritage environments. For online registration, see the Digital Past website.
The Medieval World at War (Thames & Hudson) brings together the work of a dozen international experts in the field under the editorship of our Fellow Matthew Bennett, military historian and senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Matthew says that he set out to counter the usual western perspective on the subject by including authoritative accounts not only of European and Middle Eastern warfare, but also of Central Asian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese conflicts, including a core study on the Mongol rise to world empire. The book is lavishly illustrated with pictures on every page, maps, battle plans and diagrams covering battle tactics, fortifications and siege techniques, and analytical accounts of the underlying political, social and ideological systems that led to conflict.
Warfare in Wales is the theme of a volume of papers (mostly by Fellows) edited by our Fellows Diane Williams and John Kenyon based on a conference held in 2007 to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of King Edward I. The Impact of the Edwardian Castles in Wales (Oxbow) reviews recent scholarship on the castles that Edward I built in north Wales after two wars in 1277 and 12823 and a Welsh uprising in 12945, and assesses the effect of their building on Wales, past, present and future.
Building upon the seminal work of Arnold Taylor, whose study of the buildings and documentary evidence has been pivotal to Edwardian castle studies for more than fifty years, the volume includes papers that call into question the role of Master James of St George as the architect of the kings new castles; examine the role of Richard the Engineer; discuss the nature of royal accommodation in the thirteenth century; and look in detail at how households worked, especially in the kitchen and accounting departments.
Contributors also consider the impact of the castles on Welsh society and its princes in the thirteenth century notably Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (Fawr, the Great) and his grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales castle symbolism in the works of Welsh poets, the mythology behind Caernarfon Castle, the role of Welshmen in Edward Is armies, Edwardian towns in Wales, baronial castles in north Wales and Edward I in Scotland and Gascony.
Alun Ffred Jones, Minister for Heritage in the Welsh Assembly Government, considers the role and presentation of Edwards castles in Wales today and in the future and our Fellow Robert Liddiard concludes the volume with an Edwardian Castle Research Agenda.
That castles were not necessarily utilitarian nor even military is now an accepted position in castle studies, and driving the message home is our Fellow Oliver Creighton in his book Designs upon the Landscape: elite landscapes of the Middle Ages (Boydell), in which the author cites hundreds of examples, supported by landscape survey drawings and crisp photography, arguing for a better understanding of the purely aesthetic side of castle architecture, and an appreciation of the extent to which their landscape setting is as much a designed construct as a garden by William Kent, Capability Brown or Humphry Repton. In other words, the eighteenth century did not invent the designed landscape: it was already alive and well in the twelfth century as the setting for the castles, palaces and manor houses of the medieval elite.
The book also argues that the symbolism of medieval castles and landscapes was not necessarily even intended as bellicose or domineering: on the contrary, the aim was to convey the values of careful husbandry and hospitality albeit, not extended beyond ones peers: the feudal toiler in the field was part of the scenery rather than a recipient of a lords largesse.
Even if the original builders did not intend to achieve a dramatic or theatrical effect through the positing, design and setting of their castles, a later age certainly knew how to depict them in ways that heightened their romantic qualities, as one sees in the latest volume (No. 4) of the English Heritage Historical Review (English Heritage), edited by our Fellow Richard Hewlings. The Reviews frontispiece shows John Constables painting of Hadleigh Castle (1829), the subject of the opening essay, consisting of a report on excavations at the castle that have revealed the remains of thirteenth-century terraced vineyards, gardens and arbours on the south-facing slopes beneath the royal apartments. Sitting on a rocky outcrop above the Thames Estuary, approached by boat and surrounded by a deer park, the castle, one imagines, would not have looked very different from those depicted in Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry.
In the same volume, Fellow Edward Impey reveals that past interpretations of the Fish House at Meare, Somerset, are wrong: even the English Heritage website says that the Grade I listed building of about 1330 was used for storing dried or salted fish, taken from the mere, or basin, beside which it was constructed by the abbots of Glastonbury. Not a bit of it, says Edward: the building was entirely domestic. He also identifies this as the earliest known example of a hall built from the start with a chamber above, pre-dating other examples by some eighty years. Edward is at pains to point out that the time that elapsed between the construction of this building and later examples is too long for this building to be considered the ancestor of the later standard hall type. As for the purpose of the building, a clue lies in the contested ownership of the mere: the post of custos (warden) was essential to the policing of the fishery: indeed, the dean of Wells was even arrested and held prisoner in the late thirteenth century (before the Fish House was built but after Glastonbury Abbey had, in theory, become sole owners of the mere), accused of stealing fish. The provision of such a fine residence for the custos suggests just how much was at stake.
Among the half dozen or so other papers in the same volume is a study of the anthropoid coffin (made in lead to resemble an Egyptian mummy case and fashionable from the late fifteenth to the late seventeenth centuries) by Fellow Julian Litten, and another on the fine examples of such coffins in the Hungerford crypt below the chapel at Farleigh Hungerford Castle, Somerset, written by Cameron Moffett and Richard Hewlings.
From castles and warfare to polyphonic harmony: in his recent TV series on the history of Christianity, Diarmaid MacCulloch made the point that the Anglican Church, unlike many Protestant Churches on the continent, managed to hang on to some of the best aspects of Catholic practice, of which choral music was the chief glory. Now, in The Christian West and its Singers: the first thousand years (Yale), our Fellow Christopher Page provides a comprehensive account of the origins and early development of church music, set against the social, political and economic life of a western Europe slowly being remade after the collapse of Roman power. Beginning in the time of the New Testament, when Christians first began to develop the art of ritual singing, with an African and Asian background, Christopher traces the history of music-making in Europe, with its distinctive modes and scales, and the dissemination of that music, through the invention of musical notation, across the continent, so that, by the twelfth century, the same music could be heard in the hourly and daily liturgical practices of churches and monasteries and hospitals from the west of Ireland to the Levant.
Christopher Page is, of course, also a renowned performer (the founder and director of Gothic Voices), so there are some twenty-five recordings to explore that will illustrate and bring to life the story told by this new book (Hyperion Records).
According to the Preface, it was a year ago almost to the day (New Years Day 2009) that Fellow Warwick Rodwell completed his typically thorough monograph on the origins, history, architecture and archaeology of Dorchester Abbey (Oxbow). Nothing escapes Warwicks archaeological eye as he tells the big story of the building through an accumulation of telling details, seeking for the fabric of earlier Saxon churches, finding medieval lockers, that might once have been used to store the relics, a cut-back masonry pillar that betrays the position of a long-gone side altar, the scar on the tower that betrays the position of an earlier stair turret, the blocked opening that was used by workmen as a barrow hole for getting in and out of the chancel during its construction, the imprint of a hobnail boot in a patch of nineteenth-century cement, the shattered floor slab in the nave, whose star-fracture tells the author that it was caused by something heavy with a single point falling from above probably during the 1862 re-roofing of the nave. Reading this book opens your eyes not just to the one building, but to the wealth of information that can be extracted from understanding the scars, the hack marks and masonry holes that abound in every church but that few of us see.
Our Fellow Mirjam Foot, formerly Director of Collections and Preservation at the British Library, has given us a new book that is as beautiful as its subject deserves: The Henry Davis Gift Volume III (British Library) is the third and final volume of her study of the fine bindings mainly of late fifteenth- to seventeenth-century workshops, and mainly French and Italian, but also Swiss, Spanish, Portuguese, East European, Near and Middle Eastern, Mexican and American bequeathed to the British Library by the late Henry Davis (18971977). David made his fortune from the manufacture of telephone cables, using the income to build a renowned collection of early books, which he principally valued for their bindings. Volume 1 (published by the British Library in 1978) consisted of essays on the subject of the history of book-binding, while Volume 2 (published in 1983) is concerned with north European bindings (English, Irish, Scottish, Netherlandish, German, Austrian and Danish).
In her introduction to Volume 3, Mirjam recaps the chronology of book-binding materials and methods from the tenth century, and discusses national differences, but it is by identifying the tools and the groups of tools used to decorate leather bindings that the products of the different workshops can be distinguished, and from which the history of book-binding and bookselling can be reconstructed, as well as the history of early collectors and patrons, and it is this that forms the basis of the binding-by-binding analysis and description that fills the bulk of this handsome book.
At the other end of the size scale is a slim work from Fellows John Shepherd and Angela Wardle on the Glass Blowers of Roman London (Museum of London Archaeology). Angela admits on her Roman Glass Research Project blog that writing the book made a welcome break from cataloguing the literally tens of thousands of Roman glass fragments that resulted from the excavation of a site at 35 Basinghall Street in 2007 (think of it as having to catalogue 70kg of broken glass from a modern bottle bank).
The waste glass, or cullet, consists of material that a Roman glassmaker intended to melt down and make into new vessels or window glass, and the new guide explains exactly how the glass would have been recycled, using action photographs taken at the workshops of Mark Taylor and David Hill, modern glass blowers who specialise in using Roman-style glass furnaces and tools, based on archaeological evidence. The result is a compelling account of a major Roman industry, in which the results of experimental archaeology are compared with finds from the site, in order to explain everything from the bubbles in the glass to the products and the production capacity of a typical London glass workshop.