Salon Archive

Issue: 230

Ballot Paper No. I for the 2010 Council Elections

Fellows should by now have received the re-issued Balloting Paper No. I for the election of fifteen members from the Old Council in the 2010 Council elections. If you have already voted in the 2010 Council election using the green ballot paper No. 1 that was distributed with the earlier mailing, you must now vote again using the new yellow ballot paper, as votes cast using the previous ballot paper will be discounted. Votes cast by post must reach the Society by the last post on Thursday 22 April 2010. You may also vote in person between 3.35pm and 3.45pm on the day of election, Friday 23 April 2010.

Missing Fellow

Post addressed to Anne Anderson FSA at the Department of the Built Environment, Southampton, has been returned. We would be grateful for information about Anne’s current whereabouts.

Forthcoming meetings

Friday 23 April: Anniversary Meeting. Fellows are welcome to the Anniversary Meeting, when the President’s address will be given by Geoff Wainwright at 5pm. Tickets are required for the reception that follows; costing £15 and including drinks and canapés, they can be reserved by emailing Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Administrative Assistant ().

Thursday 29 April: ‘Sir Emery Walker VPSA, and his house: past, present and future’, by John Cherry FSA

11 June 2010: Symposium on ‘The Herkenrode Glass: The revival of Lichfield Cathedral’s Renaissance glass’. The sixteenth-century Herkenrode windows in the Lady Chapel of Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire are a brilliant example of Renaissance stained glass and have international significance. The glass is now in urgent need of conservation, as is the Lady Chapel stonework. The aim of the symposium is to reassess the cultural context and significance of this neglected masterpiece and to publicise the conservation effort. Places cost £20 (to include sandwich lunch, tea and coffee) and can be booked by sending a cheque made payable to ‘Lichfield Cathedral’ to Mrs Mithra Tonking, St Mary’s House, The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD.

Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment

We have been calling it PPS 15 for the last eight years — for that is how long it has taken to merge, revise and update PPG 15 Planning and the Historic Environment and PPG 16 Archaeology and Planning into one holistic planning policy for the historic environment — and now that it has finally been published by the Department of Communities and Local Government, we must get used to calling it PPS 5: Planning for the Historic Environment . Despite concerns expressed last summer by leading heritage bodies that the consultation draft was ‘not fit for purpose’, that it left far too much to the discretion of planning authorities and that it presented the heritage as a barrier to economic progress, the major heritage bodies have all welcomed the final version, and all have claimed credit for helping to turn the new PPS Into an acceptable and workable document.

Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, said that the publication of PPS 5 ‘is a milestone in the positive and proactive management of the historic environment. It represents a major leap forward for England’s programme of Heritage Protection Reform and will help to make better, more sustainable places.’

Two further documents were published on the same day: the first is a supporting Practice Guide, written by English Heritage and endorsed by the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which explains how the policies in PPS 5 should be applied and how the historic environment should be integrated into the planning process; the second is a Statement on the Historic Environment published by HM Government with the endorsement of ten departments of state plus Natural England (but with the significant omission of the Department for Transport), which seeks to define the historic environment and to articulate a vision in which ‘the value of the historic environment is recognised by all who have the power to shape it, that Government gives it proper recognition and that it is managed intelligently and in a way that fully realises its contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of the nation.’

English Heritage is arranging free workshops to explain the implications of the new documents, and to support anyone involved in the planning system, including local authority planning, conservation and heritage officers, civic and amenity society members and developers; the HELM website has further details.

PPS 5: The IfA’s response

The Institute for Archaeologists has welcomed the publication of PPS 5, saying ‘for the first time it brings together approaches to the built and buried elements of the historic environment, in line with IfA’s holistic approach to professional practice’.

The IfA picks out three specific areas in which ‘deficiencies in the earlier guidance’ have been resolved, making explicit for the first time the responsibilities of local planning authorities: ‘to maintain or have access to a staffed Historic Environment Record to aid decision making and to act as a public resource; to make decisions about change to all heritage assets, whether or not formally designated, based on applications supported by expert assessment of the potential impact of the proposed development; and to require developers, through planning conditions or obligations, to publish the results of expert investigations of historic buildings and sites to be destroyed by development, and to deposit archives in appropriate and publicly accessible repositories.’

The IfA also singles out the wording in the PPS that sets out the need to take expert advice when assessing the impact of development on the historic environment. This, says the IfA, ‘underlines the value of professionalism, and is welcome evidence for more active steps by government to comply with the requirements of the European (Valletta) Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage for archaeological work to by undertaken by accredited experts.’

The IfA is less complimentary about the Practice Guidance that accompanies the PPS: offering the services of its members to English Heritage, the IfA argues that ‘it remains in need of improvement and the addition of clear explanations of the range and application of professional standards and good practice guidance, including a fuller bibliography’.

Need for law to protect buildings of ‘significance to the community’

The Petitions Committee of the Welsh Assembly Government has recommended that Welsh heritage law be amended to include protection for heritage assets that are of ‘significance to the community’, as well as those that are of national architectural and historical significance. The committee cited the campaign to save the Vulcan Hotel in Cardiff as an example of why new powers were needed. The Vulcan, which opened in 1853, is the only building left standing on Adam Street in Cardiff that has connections to the former Newtown area of the city. Faced with its imminent demolition to make way for new developments, campaigners urged Cadw to list the hotel, but the application was turned down after it was decided that the building did not meet existing criteria.

Fifteen-year study shows heritage-friendly tax creates 1.8m jobs

Tax credits of 10 per cent are available in the US on the costs incurred in restoring any building constructed before 1936, and for designated buildings the credit rises to 20 per cent. This Historic Tax Credit, as it is known, was introduced in 1976, and economists at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, have been monitoring the scheme for the last fifteen years. Their newly published report says that the Historic Tax Credit is an efficient job creator, responsible for generating 1.8 million new jobs since 1976 and 58,800 in 2008 alone.

The study also shows that historic restoration projects require more highly skilled workers, generate better-paying jobs and return more economic benefits to local communities than other stimulus strategies such as highway construction, that it does so more efficiently than other stimulus options and that the economic activity leveraged by Historic Tax Credit returns more in tax revenue to the US Treasury than the scheme costs: ‘the federal Historic Tax Credit is a strategic investment for the nation’, the report says, ‘evidenced by the fact that the total federal cost of the HTC — US$16.6 billion in 2008 inflation-adjusted dollars — is more than offset by the US$21 billion in additional federal taxes paid as a result of HTC project activity to date. In addition, the US$16.6 billion investment has leveraged a five times greater amount of historic rehabilitation costs — a total of US$85 billion’.

Heritage advocates in the US say the report vindicates their view that the Historic Tax Credit program ‘not only protects our past, but secures our future by creating more jobs and encouraging revitalization’ and that the preservation of historic buildings ‘aligns with many of our nation’s most important needs during these tough economic times’.

Funding from Historic Scotland allows BEFS to recruit full-time Director

The Rutgers report will be compulsory reading for whoever is appointed to the new full-time post of Director of the Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), the Edinburgh-based umbrella organisation for Scotland’s built and historic environment organisations. Founded before England’s Heritage Alliance (and in many ways a model for the English body), BEFS has secured a three-year core funding package from Historic Scotland worth £360,000 over three years to fund BEFS’s development as an ‘intermediary body’.

Built Environment Forum Scotland brings together twenty-two non-governmental organisations — professional and voluntary — working within the built environment sector. The purpose of BEFS is to raise awareness of policy issues within the sector, encourage debate and share information with a view to influencing policy and legislation. More information about BEFS is available on its website, including details of the new Director’s post (see also ‘Vacancies’ below).

Heritage crafts at risk

A new organisation — The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) — has just been formed to serve as the advocacy body for traditional heritage crafts. At the HCA launch, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 22 March, Chairman Robin Wood explained that ‘heritage crafts don’t fit in anywhere at present: the Crafts Council supports the artistic, innovative end of the crafts spectrum, and English Heritage deals with building crafts, but there is no co-ordination, no promotion and no funding for traditional trades’, which he went on to define as including ‘the man who makes wooden oars and sculls in Windsor, the woman near Hailsham who fashions the chestnut and willow baskets known as Sussex trugs, the man who crafts astonishing split-cane fishing rods in Newbury, the father-and-son wheelwrights in Devon, the master cooper in Devizes, the highly skilled, self-employed knifemaker, tool forger, silver plater, engraver and die maker working in Sheffield’.

The HCA believes that many of these skills are in danger simply because they are practised by ‘one-man bands’, with a niche market, able to make a decent living for themselves but unable to spare the time to pass on their skills. ‘The key obstacle,’ says Wood, ‘is transferring the skills. At present there’s no incentive. Working craftsmen can’t afford the time to teach apprentices, or the money to pay them.’ The HCA is therefore promoting apprenticeships whereby skilled artisans would be paid a salary to mentor would-be craftspeople (often these are career-changers seeking greater job satisfaction).

The logic of the HCA’s position is compelling: why preserve historic industrial buildings if you don’t do something to support the crafts that go on within them. Robin Wood describes Sheffield-made stainless steel cutlery as ‘our biggest cultural export: more people in the world today eat with stainless steel knives and forks than speak English: it seems quite extraordinary that we can protect the bricks and mortar of a place like Sheffield’s Portland Works but not care in the least about the skills and craftsmanship that are so much of that city’s culture and identity. Those skills are every bit as much a part of our cultural heritage as grand museums, fine buildings and admired works of art or literature.’

The HCA will also lobby for the UK to sign up to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which requires signatories to safeguard traditional craftsmanship not by preserving craft objects, but by ‘creating conditions that will encourage artisans to continue to produce crafts of all kinds, and to transmit their skills and knowledge to others’. By contrast with the UK, Japan’s trade and industry ministry has, since 1974, had a whole department devoted to supporting 200 traditional crafts, and a Living National Treasure scheme guaranteeing recognised craftsmen the time and money to pass on their skills. France has a similar Master of Arts scheme, with more than one hundred ‘exceptional heritage craftsmen’ promoted by the culture ministry and funded by the state to take on apprentices. Sweden invests heavily in preserving and promoting traditional crafts, and runs a National Folkcrafts School.

Arts figures launch cultural manifesto

Ahead of May’s General Election in the UK, leading figures from the cultural sector came together at the British Museum last week to launch Cultural Capital , a new cultural manifesto urging the Government to uphold arts spending or risk damaging Britain’s economic recovery. Campaign placards declaring ‘You can bank on culture’, designed by UK artists, including Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin, were waved as Turner-prize-winning artist Grayson Perry declared that ‘for too long we’ve all been in thrall to “the more pairs of shoes I have the happier I am”, and perhaps we should be looking at more intangible values such as education and cultural fulfilment as opposed to just being able to have a second car’.

Our Fellow Neil MacGregor, the British Museum’s Director, said: ‘Culture gives us our place in the world, it reminds us of what we are, it makes us aware of what we could be. All Governments in the future are going to be thinking of course about making economies … we want to remind them that culture works. This is the bit of public life that is extraordinarily efficient and extraordinarily effective.’

In its comment on the launch of the campaign, the Independent commented that it was sad that arts policy should be discussed on the basis of its economic value. The newspaper’s editorial on 26 March said: ‘The arts matter because they contribute to the quality of life of a community and the growth in the imagination of the individual. State subsidy helps because it allows more activity, especially in the performing arts. They can exist without aid but it is hard for them to thrive without it. Their final justification rests on human value not economic growth. It’s a mistake for them to try to sell themselves as anything else.’

Writing in the Art Newspaper, John Holden, visiting professor at London’s City University and associate at the think-tank Demos, argues that the problem of cultural neglect is very real: ‘the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has a smaller budget than the Cabinet Office, and the Arts Council’s annual grant amounts to around one-fifth of the Ministry of Defence’s regular annual overspend of £2.5bn to £3bn’, he writes. He chastises Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, arguing that: ‘Roughly as many people earn their living in the creative sector in London as are employed in financial services — but while mayor Boris leaps to defend bankers from being taxed on their bonuses, the London Development Agency has lost its Creative Industries team and no longer has any dedicated budget to support the cultural and creative industries.’

Spending on culture should be ring fenced in future cuts, he says, simply because the sums are so tiny that they will make no difference to our national budgetary problems but cuts would ‘do untold damage on the ground’. Just as critical is a ‘change in the taxonomy of Whitehall, which continues to box culture into a narrow space: the problem that any incoming secretary of state for culture will have lies in convincing his or her cabinet colleagues that cultural concerns are integral to the proper functioning of their own departments. This means changing the argument from the weak “look what the arts can do to help!” to “unless you take culture into account you will fail: fail economically, educationally, and above all in achieving the goal of politics, which is “the good life”.’ That argument will take time to win, Holden concludes, but he does believe that it is gathering momentum.

National Heritage Science Strategy published

Adding to the three ‘evidence’ documents already published by the National Heritage Science Steering Group, a final ‘Vision and Strategy’ report has now been published. This proposes the establishment of a National Heritage Science Forum, made up of major institutions within the sector, with two strategic aims: to ‘demonstrate the public benefit of heritage science and increase public engagement and support for it’ and to ‘improve partnership within the sector and with others and by increasing collaboration make better use of research, knowledge and innovation and enhance resources, funding and skills’.

Glasgow comes to the rescue of textile conservation

In a move that will gladden the hearts of all those who have been concerned about the closure of the Southampton-based Textile Conservation Centre and the loss of skills in which the UK leads the world, the University of Glasgow has announced that it will open a new textile conservation teaching and research facility in the university’s Robertson Building, offering a two-year Masters in Textile Conservation and a one-year Masters in the History of Textiles and Dress as well as opportunities for doctoral research. The first student intake is planned for September 2010.

The new centre for Textile Conservation, History and Technical Art History will focus on multidisciplinary object-based teaching and research that encompasses conservation and the physical sciences as well as art history and textile history. It will be the first time that conservation training has been undertaken in Scotland. The new Centre will inherit existing library intellectual property and analytical equipment from the Textile Conservation Centre Foundation (TCCF), so that staff and future students will be able to draw on the key physical and intellectual assets built up over more than thirty years of the TCCF’s existence, first at Hampton Court and latterly at Southampton. Students will also have the opportunity to work with some of the best textile collections in the world held by Glasgow Museums, the National Museums of Scotland and the University’s own Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery. New academic posts will be created and the Centre will work closely with the Foundation to establish a global research network in textile conservation, textile and dress history and technical art history.

Professor Nick Pearce, Director of the Institute for Art History and Head of the Department of History of Art, University of Glasgow, said: ‘This is a tremendous opportunity both for the University and also for the conservation profession in Scotland, the UK and internationally. Expertise, facilities and the wealth of the collections make Glasgow the ideal place for the kind of interdisciplinary research and study which the centre will promote.’ Peter Longman, Deputy Chairman of the Textile Conservation Centre Foundation, said: ‘This is a unique opportunity to build on the UK’s reputation in textile conservation training and related research; we look forward to contributing to its future success in Glasgow.’

Potential students who would like to receive updates on the development and course details should email Ailsa Boyd at the University of Glasgow.

UK heritage science research receives £6.5m in AHRC grants

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have jointly awarded more than £6.5m to sixteen new interdisciplinary research projects under the Science and Heritage Programme. Among the projects to receive funding is a Reading University study ‘Seeing Through Walls: Discovering Europe’s Hidden Mural Paintings’, and a Courtauld Institute study of the impact of salts and synthetic coatings on wall paintings, studies of parchment, heritage metals and furniture conservation, the impact of climate change on historic buildings and the intriguingly named ‘Heritage Smells!’ project at the University of Strathclyde.

Our Fellow May Cassar, Director of the UK Science & Heritage Research Programme, said: ‘These awards will go a long way towards building the capacity of a robust heritage science research base for the future and ensure that the UK maintains its global position in heritage science.’ For details of all sixteen projects see the AHRC website.

Government backs ‘life transforming’ public libraries

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has published ‘a blueprint for England’s public library service’, showing some of the ways in which libraries can respond to digital technology. ‘The Modernisation Review of Public Libraries: a Policy Statement’ says that the right to borrow books free of charge remains at the heart of the service, as does the statutory responsibility on library authorities to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service. Interpreting this for the twenty-first century means offering ‘free access to the internet, a right to order any book to borrow (even those out of print), free access to e-books as the market grows, opening hours to suit users and an opportunity to be a member of all the libraries in England’ (meaning that one library card will entitle you to walk into any library in England and borrow books, CDs and DVDs).

‘The model that has served us so well for the last 160 years will be the better for being brought into line with the needs and priorities of the twenty-first century’, Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said in launching the policy statement. The Government wants to see new arrangements in place by the end of 2010 and has said that it will undertake a review after two years, incorporating the new measures into legislation if necessary.

A Maritime and Marine Historic Environment Research Framework for England

The University of Southampton has been commissioned by English Heritage to co-ordinate the development of a research framework for the maritime, marine and coastal archaeology of England. Nine chapters are now online for consultation (one for each period from the Palaeolithic to the present day), describing the current state of knowledge, alongside discussion of key themes and research gaps. The draft chapters can be downloaded from the project project web pages and the consultation deadline is 26 April 2010. Following the consultation, the final Project Conference will take place on 1 May 2010, at the University of Southampton. Everyone involved in the maritime, marine and coastal archaeology of England is welcome to attend this free event when the Research Agenda will be up for discussion. Please contact Jesse Ransley to reserve a place.

HMS Victory 1744: options for the management of the wreck site

The Ministry of Defence and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has launched a public consultation over the future management of the wreck of HMS Victory, the third ship of that name and known as ‘Balchin’s Victory’ after the Admiral who commanded her. Balchin’s Victory was lost with all hands in 1744 and the site of the wreck was located in the English Channel by Odyssey Marine Exploration in February 2009.

Because the wreck lies outside British territorial waters, it cannot be designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. Nevertheless, it remains the property of the Crown; being ‘Sovereign Immune’, no intrusive action can be taken on it without the express consent of the Government.

The consultation is seeking views on three options for the site: management of the wreck in situ (essentially, monitoring and site stabilisation where appropriate); recovery of the wreck artefacts that are visible on the sea bed (including various bronze cannon) and management of the remainder of the site; and a more extensive archaeological evaluation and excavation. Views and suggestions regarding possible funding sources for those management options are also being sought. The closing date for responses is 30 June 2010. For a copy of the consultation document, see the website of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. On the issue of in situ protection of wrecks, see also ‘Events’ below.

Chedworth Roman Villa gets £700,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund

Plans to improve access to the renowned fourth-century mosaics at Chedworth Roman Villa will now go ahead, thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund backing for a scheme that will create a new conservation shelter over the remains of the villa and allow visitors to look down on the mosaics from suspended walkways. Janet Gough, General Manager for Gloucestershire with the villa’s owners, the National Trust, said: ‘work will begin over the summer to conserve the mosaics and visitors are very welcome to come along and see the work’.

Information across the site will also be improved: domestic life in late Roman Britain will be re-created, with figures projected on to walls, along with the simulated sounds and smells of dining and bathing. The small museum on the site will become an interactive ‘Centre for Victorian Discovery’.

Our Fellow Peter Salway, who has been closely involved with the funding bid, says that he ‘first become involved in the 1990s when, as the Society’s representative on the National Trust Council, it became clear that Chedworth needed some remedial action — relatively little (apart from the 1970s reception building) having been done since the Trust acquired the villa in 1924. A fair amount of small-scale archaeology and conservation had been carried out by Fellows Ian Richmond and Roger Goodburn, but otherwise not much on the property itself, which was looking pretty sad and certainly not doing the job of protecting the monument and displaying it to the public as well as it should have been. I then found myself invited to join the NT regional committee responsible for Chedworth, and was promptly put on the Chedworth working party — where I have been ever since!’

National Trust acquisitions blog

Regular Salon reader Emile de Bruijn, who delights in the title of Chattels and Grants Officer for the National Trust, has started a blog to share with the world his enthusiasm for ‘the many beautiful and interesting objects that the Trust acquires from time to time, and why and how we acquire them’. Lavishly illustrated, the blog includes an account of Coleton Fishacre, built for Rupert D’Oyly Carte by Oswald Milne in 1923—6, which the National Trust acquired in 1982, primarily in order to safeguard the fine stretch of Devon coastline that came with the house. The house itself has lost its original furnishings, but photographs survive showing what the rooms looked like in the 1920s and 1930s, and Emile shows us some of the furnishings that National Trust curators have been steadily acquiring in order to restore the original look of the house, mixing antiques with ‘modern’ pieces to create the style that cartoonist and architectural observer Osbert Lancaster dubbed ‘Curzon Street Baroque’.

New PAS website and the Staffordshire Hoard

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has a new website, which is faster and easier to use, and includes map-based searching for finds. Front-page news on the home page is the success of the fundraising campaign to buy the Staffordshire Hoard from the finder and landowner for £3.3m. The target was reached with three weeks to go before the deadline thanks to pledges of £1,285,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to add to the Art Fund’s grant of £300,000, pledges of £100,000 each from Birmingham and Stoke City Councils and donations from trusts and foundations and from the public that have come in from as far afield as the USA and Japan.

Our Fellow David Starkey helped launch the campaign on 13 January 2010 with his speech on the significance of the hoard in which he coined the term ‘gangland bling’ to describe its links to bloody warfare. David said: ‘This is wonderful news for historians worldwide — the Staffordshire Hoard provides us with vital clues to our ancient past, and now we can set about decoding them. It’s now vital that we think ahead towards a future conservation of the Hoard, and to displays that will match the excitement of the find.’ David’s comment refers to the fact that a further £1.7m must now be found so that the Hoard can be properly conserved, studied and displayed. Donations are still being solicited for this purpose, and can be made via the Art Fund website.

Long-List for the £100,000 Art Fund Prize 2010

The £100,000 Art Fund Prize is awarded to a museum or gallery for a project completed in the previous year that the judges deem demonstrates the most originality, imagination and excellence. Among the eleven long-listed projects this year are the recent redevelopments of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge Gorge Museum, the Great North Museum, Newcastle, the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, the Leach Pottery, St Ives, the Towner Gallery, in Eastbourne and the Ulster Museum, Belfast.

Also in the list are Hampton Court Palace’s exhibition ‘Henry VIII: heads and hearts’ (to which our Society loaned portraits of Mary I by Hans Eworth and Jane Seymour), the National Army Museum’s ‘Conflicts of Interest’, the Natural History Museum’s Darwin Centre and the Royal Institution of Great Britain’s ‘Science in the Making’.

The Judges will visit each of the eleven long-listed museums and galleries before selecting a short list of four, to be announced at the end of May 2010. The winner of the £100,000 prize will be announced on Wednesday 30 June 2010 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

News of Fellows

Congratulations to our Fellow Kate Pretty, Principal of Homerton College, on the college’s receipt of its Royal Charter, by means of which Homerton became a full member of the University of Cambridge on 12 March 2010. Dr Pretty, who is also Chairman of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy, said: ‘We are delighted to have finally reached this stage of recognition by the University and the Privy Council, which marks the College’s coming-of-age after 115 years in Cambridge. We are proud of our long tradition in Education and look forward to taking a full part in Collegiate Cambridge.’

Homerton College traces its origins to a society founded in 1730 by Protestant dissenters for the education of young men for the Christian ministry in the Congregational Church. By 1768, it had grown to the point where the Society bought a large house in Homerton High Street, in the East End of London, to house resident students and a tutor. Affiliated to London University for a time, it was re-founded in 1850 as a mixed teacher-training college but it became women-only when it moved to Cambridge in 1894. Men began to be admitted again from the late 1970s, and since 2001 it has greatly expanded the range of subjects taught and has added a postgraduate research community.

Our Fellow John Nandris writes to say that he recently convened a meeting of the Japanese Sword Society. That Society is based in the Sword Museum, at Yoyogi, in Tokyo, but John is Vice-President of the very active European branch, whose UK members met recently for a day of talks and study at Trinity College, Oxford. John says that he regards the Japanese Sword ‘as an archaeological artefact like any other, changes in which over a thousand-year period can be set against the development of Japanese culture and studied with archaeological techniques. It forms a backbone for the course of Japanese history, while for the Japanese it is a national symbol, and an object of veneration and much recondite knowledge.’ John says that he would be very happy to welcome any Fellow curious to know more and interested in participating in future meetings.

Lives remembered

The Society has been informed of the recent deaths of our Fellows Peter Foster (who died 6 March 2010 at the age of ninety), Michael McCarthy (who died on 1 March in Dublin at the age of seventy) and Colin Wells, who died on 11 March 2010 at his home in Normandy.

Peter Foster’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph recorded the fact that he had been the eighteenth surveyor to Westminster Abbey since Christopher Wren. During his fifteen years at the Abbey (from 1973 until 1988), he had carried out a systematic restoration of the church, beginning on the north side of the nave, continuing across the north transept and round the great thirteenth-century east end, then across the south transept so that, by the time of his retirement, he was two-thirds of the way down the south side of the nave, leaving only the last third, the west front and part of the Henry VII Chapel, to be dealt with by his successor, our Fellow Donald Buttress. He also directed, with the assistance of his deputy, Julian Limentani, a three-year programme of repairs to St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, independently funded by the £1 million Speaker’s Appeal.

Peter was also Surveyor to the Royal Academy (from 1965), elected Master of the Art Workers’ Guild (also from 1965) and was such a gifted draughtsman and painter that the Judd Street Gallery held a major solo exhibition of his paintings in 1989. The Telegraph’s obituary concluded: ‘To all his work Foster brought his gifts of scholarship and knowledge of sound traditional construction based on observation and culled from his extensive collections of historical books and drawings; he was a serious antiquarian book collector all his life.’

Our Fellow Megan Aldrich has contributed the following appreciation of the life of our Fellow Michael McCarthy. ‘Having trained initially with the Irish Christian Brothers (partly in Toddington Manor, Gloucestershire, the Gothic Revival pile of the Hanbury Tracys now owned by Damian Hirst), he left the Order to take a BA in Art History at Cambridge, followed by a PhD at the Courtauld Institute, where he wrote a dissertation on gentleman architects of the eighteenth century under the supervision of the great Nikolaus Pevsner.

‘Michael then moved to Toronto, where he taught for many years in the History of Art Department of the University before returning to his native Ireland, taking up the professorship at University College Dublin. His book on The Origins of the Gothic Revival (Yale, 1987) arose directly out of his doctoral research; his BA thesis was on Toddington; he also did important work on Sir Roger Newdigate, gentleman architect of Arbury Hall in Warwickshire, one of the great Gothic houses of the eighteenth century which is still owned by the Newdigates. As Michael rightly pointed out, it was Horace Walpole’s edict of damnatio memoriae to Newdigate (the two disagreed, politically, and Walpole may have been jealous of Arbury!) that accounts for the house having received less attention than it perhaps deserves.

‘At the time of his death Michael was actively working on the subject of James Cavanagh Murphy, the Irish architectural draughtsman and engineer whose exquisite drawings of Batalha Abbey in Portugal are in the library of our Society. He was much loved and will be greatly missed by family, friends and former students.’

Colin Wells retired in 2005 from his post as T Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies at Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, having taught classics at the University of Ottawa for many years before joining the Trinity faculty in 1987. From 1976 to 1986 Dr Wells was director of the Second Canadian Team excavations at Carthage, Tunisia, and from 1990 he directed the Trinity University excavations at the same site. Specialising in Roman social and economic history, the role of the army and the transition from the Roman to the Islamic period in North Africa, his first book was The German Policy of Augustus (1972) but he is best remembered for The Roman Empire (Harvard, 1995), widely used in universities all over the world as an introduction to the history of the Roman Empire from 44 BC to AD 235.

Many Fellows will remember Daphne Park (Baroness Park of Monmouth), who died on 24 March at the age of eighty-eight, with affection from her time as Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) during the difficult years between 1989 and 1994 when quasi governmental bodies were being decoupled from the civil service and being encouraged to move out of London to less costly premises in the provinces. The RCHME moved from Saville Row in the face of vociferous opposition from those who argued that national archives, like the National Buildings Record, managed by the RCHME, belonged in London. It was thanks to Daphne Park’s firm support for the work of the Royal Commission that political necessity was turned to advantage, so that the RCHME ended up in Brunel’s converted Great Western Railway Engineering Office with a purpose-built archive store.

Daphne came to RCHME post from a distinguished career with MI6 (more correctly known as the Secret Intelligence Service), which had culminated in her appointment as Controller Western Hemisphere in 1975, the highest post ever occupied by a woman in the SIS. Until she was appointed Chair of the RCHME it was unlikely that she had given much thought to archaeology and historic architecture, and at the time it was feared that she had been placed in the job in order to make deep cuts. Instead she became a rock-solid supporter of everything the RCHME stood for and was seeking to do.

She was especially supportive of women who, like her, succeeded in male-dominated milieu. She took a special interest, for example, in the work of our Fellow and Publications Manager, Kate Owen, then Head of Publishing at the RCHME, who describes Daphne Park as ‘one of the last of a kind; an indomitable English woman who forged a career for herself at the outer extremes of society because she refused to conform; she was never fazed by anything and had all those qualities that the English used to be famed for’.

For a further appreciation of Daphne Park’s life, see Tam Dalyell’s obituary in the Independent.

The death on 10 February 2010 of Emile Fradin, at the age of 103, has revived interest in the remarkable story of the underground chamber at Glozel, the hamlet in central France, some 17km from Vichy, which the seventeen-year-old Fradin discovered on 1 March 1924 when the cow he was using to draw his plough put a foot through the roof of the brick-lined subterranean chamber. This was subsequently found to contain some 5,000 artefacts, including schist rings, polished stones, clay figurines with phalluses in their foreheads, bones carved with depictions of reindeer and some 100 ceramic tablets inscribed with words written in an unknown alphabet.

A committee of experts set up to study the find was unable to decide whether Fradin had stumbled upon something genuinely old, but difficult to explain, or were guilty of fraud on a massive scale. If the latter, how did an illiterate peasant boy acquire the knowledge or the skill to fabricate objects that appeared to be the relics of a hitherto unknown civilisation. The police officer appointed to examine the case was assassinated (in an apparently unrelated incident) before he could complete his work and after drawn-out investigations, the public prosecutor, Antonin Besson, dismissed the accusation of fraud made against Emile Fradin in April 1931.

By the 1980s, scientific dating techniques established that the tablets date from the late Iron Age, and are probably written in a Gaulish dialect. Puzzlingly, some of the human bone from the chamber has been dated to the medieval period, from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, leading to tentative suggestions that the underground chamber was the centre of a local cult that had somehow survived into the late Middle Ages.

If this was fraud, Fradin did not benefit financially (other than from the four francs he used to charge visitors who wanted to see the objects that he kept in a display case in his barn). Even when Fradin successfully sued René Dussaud, the epigrapher and curator at the Louvre in Paris, for defamation, the court only awarded him one franc in damages. By 1990, the academic community gave Fradin the benefit of the doubt; he was awarded the Ordre des Palmes Académiques for his discovery of this enigmatic archaeological site.

Feedback

Salon’s editor was using an out-of-date list of Fellows in compiling the last issue, and so was unaware that Richard Jones, joint editor with our Fellow Christopher Dyer of Deserted Villages Revisited, is also a Fellow, having been elected in June 2008; apologies to Richard for that oversight.

Heather Rowland, the Society’s Head of Library and Collections, has responded to the report in Salon 229 concerning Fellow Sally Badham’s recently published paper on the painted canvas funerary monument to Margery Smith in the Society’s paintings collection.

Heather writes: ‘We are very grateful to the Francis Coales Charitable Foundation for awarding a grant towards the conservation of this unassuming looking but very important and rare painting, and Fellows may like to know a little more about its progress. The painting was sent to the appointed conservator in January for a full conservation treatment, which will include reframing and glazing to provide full support and protection (it was previously unglazed). We expect the work to be completed in the next month or so, and are looking forward to its return to Burlington House where it will be re-displayed. More about its conservation with photographs will appear in a future issue of Fellowship News.

‘The conservation of this painting is part of a larger conservation programme which started in 2006. In 2009 we commissioned a preliminary condition assessment of all our paintings and identified a number that are most in need of attention. We are very grateful to the Leche Trust and the Aurelius Charitable Trust who have recently pledged their support for the conservation of some of the other paintings. This conservation programme is closely linked to a forthcoming catalogue of all the Society’s paintings, including those at Kelmscott Manor.’ If you would like to know more about the paintings conservation programme or have any suggestions for funding you can contact Heather Rowland, Head of Library and Collections, or Matt Whitehead, Development Officer.

Events

13 April 2010, ‘RMS Titanic: protection, preservation and peril’: a free lecture to be given by Ole Varmer, of the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), at 6pm in the Allsebrook Lecture Theatre at Bournemouth University. Ole Varmer is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the legal issues surrounding the protection and preservation of the RMS Titanic. As attorney-adviser to the NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for International Law, he is primarily responsible for providing advice on cultural and historic resources, maritime zones and boundaries, coastal zone management, ocean dumping and polar issues. His presentation will focus on whether Titanic is in ‘marine peril’ and he will explore the issues of in situ preservation to consider whether it remains the best solution for protecting this iconic wreck.

Prior to the lecture, Paola Palma (Lecturer Program Leader for Bournemouth’s Masters degree in Maritime Archaeology) and colleagues will display a number of artefacts raised from the Swash Channel Wreck, discovered off the Dorset coast. Bournemouth University is working to preserve the wreck, which dates from about 1620, in situ with a longer term hope of bringing substantial pieces of wreckage from the Swash Channel to the surface for further study and conversation.

For further information, see the Bournemouth University website.

20th to 23 July 2010, the 27th Harlaxton Medieval Symposium: ‘Patrons and Professionals’, Harlaxton College, Grantham, Lincs, to be convened by Professor Paul Binski FSA and Dr Elizabeth New FSA. The provisional programme and booking form for Harlaxton 2010 is now on the website. The brain-child of our Fellow Dr Pamela Tudor-Craig, Lady Wedgwood, the Harlaxton Symposium is an annual interdisciplinary gathering of academics, students and enthusiasts which meets over four days to celebrate medieval history, art, literature and architecture through a programme of papers selected around a chosen theme. Harlaxton College, venue for the symposium, is a delightful Victorian baroque mansion that is now the British campus of the University of Evansville, Indiana. The proceedings of each conference are published in a series entitled ‘Harlaxton Medieval Studies’ by Shaun Tyas of Donington, Lincs.

The aim of the 2010 symposium is to explore and debate the processes of artistic creation in images, words, objects, buildings, music and even systems of thought in the Middle Ages. Theories of patronage will be explored, including ‘mediating themes’ such as contracts, exempla and the nexus of patrons and professionals. The practical and theoretical issues raised by the concept of professionalism will also be addressed, including notions of authorship, to see how widely they can be applied to the verbal and non-verbal arts.

10 to 12 September 2010: ‘Making Monuments’. This Church Monuments Society Symposium, to be held in Winchester, sets out to examine the practical issues that have influenced the form and design of monuments, including the way monuments have been constructed, the choices of materials, the carving properties of those materials, surface finishes, the siting of monuments and the way they have been used. This is an interdisciplinary event, bringing together art historians, conservators, archaeologists and practising sculptors. Winchester Cathedral and its wealth of monuments will be a significant resource during the event, with conducted tours aimed at introducing participants to the many facets of this important building, and specialist tours led by Symposium speakers who will be using the Cathedral monuments to illustrate many aspects of this subject. Booking forms can be downloaded from the CMS website.

10 to 12 September 2010: ‘Fish and Ships’, the 20th Anniversary Conference of the Severn Estuary Levels Research Committee with Amgueddfa Cymru –- National Museum Wales, in the Reardon Smith Theatre, National Museum Cardiff. Ship topics will include: medieval shipping, news from the Newport Ship, life on the Mary Rose, the Barcode Wrecks of Oslo and depictions of ships and the sea on manuscripts; fish topics will include the fish traps of the Severn Estuary, fish weirs from across Europe, medieval and post-medieval sea fishing, and how fish was traded, cooked and eaten. The conference will close with a round up, given by our Fellow Nigel Nayling, of the last twenty years of archaeology in the Severn Estuary. There will also be visits to the Newport Ship Centre, a ride on the Newport transporter bridge, a visit to the Goldcliff Fishery and a tour of the fishing collections of the St Fagans National History Museum. For full details and a booking form, see the conference pages of the SELRC website.

Books by Fellows

Writing about Archaeology (Cambridge University Press; ISBN 9780521688512; ), by our Fellow Graham Connor, is a book that Salon’s editor would like to quote extensively, but space permits only a few choice observations. Graham’s theme is that writing archaeology for publication is a skill quite separate from the skills that archaeologists deploy in undertaking fieldwork or analysing and interpreting the resulting data, and it is a skill that is greatly neglected, to the great harm of archaeology. Why harm? Because, says Graham, archaeology can reveal all sorts of truths of immense importance to the human race — on climate change and environmental degradation, for example — but we are not heard because we do not speak with sufficient clarity and we do not set out to attract and engage readers. Archaeology is such fun, he says, but you would not know so from reading the average archaeological report.

This is essentially an optimistic book, because it is based on the premise that good writing can be learned. The author quotes from the work of antiquaries and archaeologists whom he admires, and he recommends consciously studying their techniques: a letter from John Frere to the Society of Antiquaries written in 1797 concerning flint artefacts from Hoxne, for example, is presented as exemplary because of its logical structure and clarity of expression. To the lucky few, this comes as naturally as breathing; most of us have to work at it, and if you are in this category, recognise that your writing could be improved and want some practical suggestions for ‘turning data into text’, this is the book.

Mastering the writer’s craft brings real rewards if, as a result, you are able to secure the publication of your work by a publisher as prestigious as Yale University Press. Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-Century Rome (Yale: ISBN 97800300160437) is as handsome a pair of books as its authors, the late Ilaria Bignamini and our Fellow Clare Hornsby, could desire. In the Preface that she wrote just before her untimely death in 2001, Ilaria explains that the books are about ‘the conquest of ancient Rome by modern European nations, and above all by the most powerful of them, Great Britain’. What she means by this is the story of how our great national museums and country houses came to be filled with antiquities, and it is a story in which archaeology and art history interlock in ways that will fascinate any antiquary worth the name — in his Foreword to the work, Professor Paolo Liverani says that one of Ilaria’s goals was to ‘build bridges between academic fields that ad once been closely linked but had gradually grown apart, in the manner of a “continental shift”’.

How she began to do this (and how Clare Hornsby completed the task) was by examining the excavation licences that were granted by the Papacy to those who wanted to dig in Rome — not just archaeologically, but for any purpose, such as laying water pipes or putting in building foundations. Through this system, the Papacy also got the right to buy any of the finds that it deemed to be ‘important to the Vatican collection’ at below market prices without having to bear the costs of excavation.

Part 1 of the first volume thus looks at sixty-four sites in and around Rome excavated between 1761 and 1796 with photographs and engravings of the sculpture that was found along with an account of where they ended up, as a result of the activities of the ‘diggers and dealers’ of the title (cavatore et negoziante, as Sir William Hamilton styled himself). Hamilton is one of four diggers and dealers who dominated the market during these key years, carrying out some eighty excavations and exporting thousands of antiquities to British collectors, and beyond, to America. Ironically, the reason why British aristocrats and collectors were so warmly welcomed is that the Papacy saw Protestant Britain, with its powerful navy, as the only European power capable of stopping the menace of Revolutionary France.

Part 2 then consists of biographical introductions to the key players, illustrated with contemporary portraits of proto-archaeologists and of aristocratic collectors, and of engravings of sites under excavation, or of private museums, such as that of Sir William Chambers at 7 Park Street. Finally, Volume II consists of transcripts of correspondence between excavators, dealers, patrons and clients.

All told, these two books are as rich a field for further study as the ground of Rome was when those British diggers arrived in the 1770s; the result of their work was not only to transform the taste of the age but even, Ilaria Bignamini suggests in her introduction, to plant in the minds of the British ruling class and educated upper strata the close identification with Roman virtues that led to the idea of ‘Intrepid Albion’ as the new Rome, and the conquest of an empire even greater than that of ancient Rome.

Vacancies

Institute for Archaeologists: Workplace Learning Programme Co-ordinator, salary scale £19,621 to £23,708, closing date 9 April 2010
To manage the IfA’s expanding Workplace Learning Programme, developing placement opportunities, recruiting and supporting placement holders, publicising the programme and promoting the NVQ in Archaeological Practice. This is an exciting opportunity for someone with an interest in vocational training. Further details can be downloaded from the IfA website.

Heritage Lottery Fund: Deputy Director of Operations, salary £65,346 to £71,953, closing date 18 April 2010
Working with the Director of Operations (our Fellow Bob Bewley), the person appointed to this post will be responsible for the management and monitoring of six operational teams and regional committees, for case advice and supervision of grant awards and for regional advocacy and communications tasks. To find out more, see the HLF website.

HMS Trincomalee Trust: General Manager, salary package up to £40k, closing date 23 April 2010
HMS Trincomalee is berthed afloat in Hartlepool, where it is the principal attraction of Hartlepool’s ‘Maritime Experience’, a highly regarded educational resource and a much-used venue for special occasions. The Trust is now looking for a capable and energetic person to continue the successful work done so far but also to bring fresh ideas to this long-term project. Further details can be found on the Trust’s website.

Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), Director, salary £38,107 to £41,037, closing date 26 April 2010
BEFS is seeking a Director with a passion for Scotland’s places and excellent strategic, organisational, interpersonal, communication and IT skills. This is an exciting opportunity to play a central role in developing BEFS not only as the Scottish intermediary for the historic environment but also the wider built environment. To find out more, see the BEFS website.