Salon Archive

Issue: 231

Anniversary elections: appointment of scrutators

In the interests of the smooth running of the Anniversary Meeting and the achivement of a timely result, the President has appointed two Scrutators in advance, so that they can begin supervision of the count of postal ballots during the morning of the Meeting. The two Scrutators are Dr Paul Stamper FSA and Mr David Baker OBE FSA. Both acted as Fellow Auditors for 2010. Council and new Council nominees have accepted the President's decision.

Forthcoming meetings

Friday 23 April: Anniversary Meeting. Fellows are welcome to the Anniversary Meeting, when our President, Geoff Wainwright, will deliver the President’s address 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

Thursday 13 May: ‘New Research on Fish Remains from Pompeii, Italy’, by Andrew Jones FSA

Thursday 27 May: ‘Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia: a legend rediscovered’, by John Sanday FSA and James Hooper, Global Heritage Fund

Thursday 10 June: ‘Reflecting history: English and Irish Delftware in the British Museum collection’, by Aileen Dawson 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.

‘Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library’: private view for Fellows

Lambeth Palace Library is one of the earliest public libraries in England, founded in 1610 under the will of Archbishop Richard Bancroft. In celebration of its 400th anniversary in 2010, the Library is mounting an exhibition in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace from 17 May to 23 July 2010. There will be a private view of the exhibition especially for Fellows and their guests on 19 May 2010 at 6pm with an introduction by the Head Librarian, our Fellow Giles Mandelbrote, plus drinks and nibbles, all for the price of £12 per person, which is only £4 more than the normal admission price of £8. To book, please send an email to Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Administrative Assistant or send a cheque made payable to the ‘Society of Antiquaries of London’. Further details can be seen on the Lambeth Palace Library’s website.

Highlights of the exhibition include:
• The MacDurnan Gospels, written and illuminated in Ireland in the ninth century
• The Lambeth Bible, a masterpiece of Romanesque art
• The thirteenth-century Lambeth Apocalypse manuscript
• A Gutenberg Bible printed in 1455, the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type
• The warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots
• Books owned and used by Richard III, Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, Elizabeth I and Charles I
• Papers relating to the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire.

Antiquaries Journal volume 90 online

The first batch of papers in this year’s Antiquaries Journal have gone online on the Cambridge Journals website. Fellows can access and download the papers for free by logging into the Fellows’ area of the Society’s website, selecting ‘The Antiquaries Journal Online’ from the green menu box on the right and clicking on the link on that page. To see the latest papers once you get to the Cambridge Journals website, scroll down to the heading ‘Available Volumes’ and select ‘First View Articles’. Here is a summary of what you will find.

Hoards of all periods have long been a subject of academic (as well as popular) interest, from the spectacular finds of Bronze-Age metalwork found in Irish bogs in the nineteenth-century to the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon sword fittings. Whether hoards represent ritual deposits, or whether they are hidden as a form of security with the intention of recovering the contents at a future date, is often difficult to tell, but clues can be found in the composition of the hoards and in the types of location in the landscape where hoards are typically found. Archaeologists have long suspected that there is a pattern to hoard deposits, especially in the Bronze Age, and they talk freely about liminal locations, at the boundaries of settlements and at the boundaries of earth and water, but few have tested the theory in a systematic way or on a wide geographical scale.

Now two papers in the Antiquaries Journal look at the question for the first time, with a study by David Yates and Fellow Richard Bradley presenting the results of fieldwork at the find spots of 100 metalwork deposits of the Middle and Late Bronze Age in south Hampshire, Sussex and parts of Surrey and Kent. The paper concludes that the deposition of bronze metalwork was governed by certain conventions that make it possible to predict where future discoveries might be made. Partnering this paper is one by Fellow Tim Malim which looks in detail at one particular hoard from Isleham, Cambridgeshire, using it to discuss the environmental and social context of this specific hoard and the distribution of Middle to Late Bronze Age hoards within the Fenland region generally (note that Tim Malim’s paper is not yet up on the site, but will be shortly).

Ecclesiastical art and architecture is the subject of two important papers in the Journal, the first being a study of two highly unusual late fifteenth-century rood-screen panels in Sparham Church, near Norwich, which display images of male and female corpses. At first sight these appear to belong to such popular genre traditions as the ‘Dance of Death’ and the ‘Three Quick and Three Dead’, but the author, Fellow Julian Luxford, convincingly demonstrates that these are not generalised memento mori scenes, but memorials to two specific people and thus a rare (perhaps unique?) example of rood-screen panels being used as a ‘surrogate sepulchral monument’.

The second paper arises out of a study of surviving medieval fabric in Scottish churches. It has long been assumed that the changes to church architecture and plan that took place at the Scottish Reformation were so thorough-going that very little medieval fabric survives; the authors — Fellows Richard Fawcett, Richard Oram and Julian Luxford — present a corrective to that view based on a pilot study of 105 medieval parish sites within the dioceses of Dunblane and Dunkeld, where they find plenty of evidence to inform our understanding of the form and plan of Scottish pre-Reformation churches; based on this pilot study, they offer a methodology for extending the survey to cover all medieval parishes in Scotland.

Also in this first release is a comprehensive study of the great tower at Dudley Castle, in which Malcolm Hislop argues that it represents a milestone in thinking about castle mottes, and that it is the missing link between the circle-based plans that dominated motte developments in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and later developments that led, ultimately, to such radically different schemes as that adopted by the builder of the donjon of Warkworth Castle in Northumberland.

Finally, a well-illustrated paper by Dan Phoenix argues that three curious chequered garments depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry are not scaled armour, as is usually said, but instead depict squirrel fur (known as ‘vair’ in heraldic art) and as such are an early depiction of the cloak linings and tunics used in near-contemporary manuscripts to denote men of wealth, status and power and to distinguish their wearers from surrounding figures in the pictorial narrative.

Kelmscott Manor guidebook and website

Spring has arrived at last in the UK and the gardens at Kelmscott Manor were bursting with new life when the Manor volunteers and staff opened the gates to the public on 3 April, hoping for a year to beat even 2009, when the Manor attracted nearly 15,000 visitors (a 24 per cent increase on 2008) and on three occasions broke the record for the number of visitors on a single day. To encourage more visitors and to provide information to those who live too far away to visit, Kelmscott Manor has a brand new website, whose contents include video interviews with Fellow Peter Cormack, on the importance of buildings for Morris’s philosophy, with Fellow Linda Parry on Morris’s textile designs, with volunteers and regular visitors Dorothy Wise (on William and Jane Morris’s marriage) and Steve Higgins (on Morris’s love of Icelandic sagas) and Jane Barnes (on her favourite rooms and objects at the Manor).

Also new for this year is the first new guide to Kelmscott Manor to be produced for several decades. The original guide was written by our Fellow and former General Secretary, the late Dick Dufty, when the Society first opened the Manor to the public after comprehensive restoration in the 1960s. The guide was subsequently revised by our Fellow John Cherry in 1996 and 1999, but many changes have taken place at the Manor over time that are not reflected in the photographs in the original guide, so a new start was made when the old guide finally sold out at the end of the last season. Research amongst visitors showed that many of them wanted a publication that would provide a room by room guide to the highlights of the house during their visit but that would also serve as a souvenir, with good photographs and background information, so Cirencester-based photographer Dave Wells was employed to take new pictures and the result is priced at £4 with the hope that many more visitors will choose to buy it. Copies of the new guide will be on display (and for sale) at the Society’s Anniversary Meeting on 23 April, and will also be available from the Manor’s online shop, which will be launched shortly. Don’t forget too that Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott — which the property managers, Jane Milne and Tristan Molloy, always make a special event, with music and delicious home-made teas — takes place this year on 10 July (further details will follow).

Meanwhile, by coincidence, there is another newly published Kelmscott guide, this time to Kelmscott House, written by Helen Elletson, curator of the William Morris Society and Kelmscott House Museum. This is the first fully-illustrated book about Morris’s London home, at 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, which is open to visitors on Thursdays and Saturdays from 2pm to 5pm.

Standing for Parliament and standing down

The Society has been well–represented in Parliament by MPs and peers of all political persuasions and none. Generous tributes have been paid in the media to some of those who are not seeking re-election on 6 May 2010. Sir Patrick Cormack, who was first elected to represent Staffordshire in 1970 and was the second longest-serving Conservative MP (after Peter Tapsell) was remembered by the BBC for his bravery in tackling pro-hunt protesters who stormed the Commons in September 2004, as well as for his insistence on ‘pronouncing every syllable in “parliament”’.

Sir Patrick will be much missed in Parliament, as will our Fellow Bob (Robert) Key, who has represented Salisbury for the Conservatives since 1983, and who has made Stonehenge one of his many campaign issues, and our Fellow Mark Fisher, who has served as the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central since 1983 and was the only Labour MP in the last Parliament to have been educated at Eton (he shared that distinction with Tam Dalyell, until the latter’s retirement in 2005).

Hoping to retain the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat for Labour is the historian, broadcaster and journalist Tristram Hunt, Professor of Modern British History at Queen Mary, University of London. Hunt faces an uphill task because he was selected for the seat just before the election from a shortlist drawn up by Labour’s National Executive Committee selection panel. Gary Elsby, secretary of the Constituency Labour Party, has decided to stand as an independent candidate in protest at the imposition of a non-local candidate on the party, which may well split the Labour vote in what is normally a safe Labour seat.

Also standing for parliament for the first time is our Fellow Jerry (Jeremy) Evans, who is hoping to take the Birmingham Hall Green seat for the Liberal Democrats, and believes he has a strong chance of doing so thanks to constituency boundary changes. More importantly, Jerry (who is a Roman pottery specialist in what little spare time he has from politics) is a long-time Hall Green resident, and can count on a strong personal vote because of his stalwart campaigning as a Birmingham City Councillor against the proposed closure of valued local facilities, such as post offices, schools, hospitals and swimming pools.

Two MPs who, though not Fellows, are long-serving champions of heritage in Parliament are seeking re-election and both, interestingly, have been tipped as possible future Speakers: Frank Field, former Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust (now headed by our Fellow Loyd Grossman), who has represented Birkenhead since 1979, and Alan Beith, Chairman of the Historic Chapels Trust, who is the longest serving Liberal Democrat in Parliament, having been elected in 1973 to represent England’s northernmost constituency, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The next issue of Salon will attempt an assessment of each major party’s manifesto policies on heritage, but for this issue we end with the news that the delightful Grade-I Listed Caerhays Castle, in Cornwall, built by John Nash for the Trevanion family in 1807—10, is being brought into use as a polling station on 6 May. To reach the polling booth, voters will have to pass through the estate’s 40-hectare garden, renowned for its camellias, azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons, many of which will be in full bloom at the time of the election. Perhaps if voter apathy is a problem in future, the Government should abandon plans for voting online and simply install polling booths in similarly attractive historic locations (on the other hand, voters might well be deterred by the long list of Health and Safety Guidelines on the Visitor Information page of the castle’s website, which includes the nannyish advice that ‘the woodland gardens and pathways were laid out and created long before modern health and safety requirements were even thought of so please explore carefully’).

UK universities ‘in crisis’

Fellow Hugh Cheape of the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture in Inverness spotted a ‘barnstorming article by Princeton University’s Anthony Grafton in the New York Review of Books’ (27 March 2010) that he thought might be of interest to Fellows.

The article says that the UK’s universities face a ‘crisis of the mind and spirit’ because politicians, bureaucrats and ‘managers’ have ‘hacked at the traditional foundations of academic life’ for the past thirty years. He compares British universities in the 1970s to the Slow Food movement by contrast with the USA’s fast food. US academics were expected to produce regularly and rapidly, and the result was ‘trendy blather’. UK academics could take years to study, think and teach and then come out with the book that would transform the discipline.

Now the UK has gone the US route, Grafton argues, citing the fate of our Fellow David Ganz, whose Chair of Palaeography at King’s College London is to be ‘discontinued’ at the end of this academic year, as will the posts of some twenty-two further staff of the same university, because their subjects are not fashionable and do not make money. Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s, is quoted in the article as saying that ‘foreign professors don’t appreciate the financial problems I face’ (by which he means Jeffrey Hamburger, the Harvard art historian leading the campaign to reverse the decision re the Chair of Palaeography, and Brian Leiter, the Chicago philosopher leading the campaign to reverse cuts in philosophy staff at King’s).

On the contrary, says Grafton, we do understand, and he calls on Trainor to explain why King’s spent £33.5m on administrative costs in 2009, is actively recruiting ‘senior managers’, and seems to require more executives than a fully fledged multi-national company. ‘These figures do not evince a passion for thrift’, he writes, accusing King’s (as well as Sussex University and the Warburg Institute) of ‘wanting to install its own priorities and its own people, regardless of the human and intellectual cost’.

Universities become great, he says, by investing for the long term in scholars and teachers who are often eccentric and often insist on doing things their own way. British universities used to know that, he concludes, but ‘now they have streaked ahead of the US to the other extreme. At this point, American universities are more invested in the old ways than the British’ but ‘if you start hearing newspeak about “sustainable excellence clusters”, watch out: we’ll be following the British down the short road to McDonalds.’

Archaeology and the BBC’s April Fool

Was anyone taken in by the BBC’s April Fools’ Day hoax? For those who missed it, this was broadcast on the ‘Today’ programme, when John Humphreys introduced a report on the (very real) excavation being undertaken by Birmingham Archaeology at New Place, in Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare’s retirement home from 1610 and the place where he died in 1616. Also very real is Paul Edmondson, Head of Education at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who was interviewed about the reasons for the dig. The reporter then revealed the discovery of fragments of a brooch that was inscribed ‘A mon fils Guillaume; Marie Ardennes; Marie Stuart; 1587’ — archaeologists speculated that Shakespeare’s mother might have been a French Catholic admirer of Mary, Queen of Scots and a man with a rich Gallic accent told listeners that the French had always known that Shakespeare was one of their own and that they would be happy to admit him to the French pantheon of great writers, though there was little enough room given how many there are …

Three new hominid species and not one a hoax

There have been so many finds of new human-like species recently, that it would have been easy enough to slip another one in on 1 April. The debate over whether Homo floresiensis (aka ‘The Hobbit’) is or is not a new species has been raging for six years now, and the consensus that has emerged in recent weeks is that the little folk of Flores are not only a distinct species, and not deformed modern humans, they might even have been the first hominids to migrate from the African savannah three million years ago.

In late March this year, we were introduced to another new human relation who lived until as recently as 30,000 years ago in the Deisova cave in the Atlai mountains of southern Siberia. This hitherto undocumented hominin species was identified largely on the basis of fossil DNA extracted from fragments of a finger bone, which was probably that of a five- to seven-year-old child. Though the sex of the child is unknown, the new species has been dubbed ‘X-woman’, because DNA material from the mitochondria (passed exclusively from mother to child) was used to obtain the genetic profile. The precise place of this ‘long-lost cousin’ on the hominin family tree has yet to be worked out, but it is now clear that there were at least three early human species living in central and eastern Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago — this one, plus Neanderthals and our own species.

Dr Johannes Krause and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig who analysed the genetic material from ‘X-woman’ commented that ‘hominin lineages probably co-existed for long periods of time in Eurasia’, and Chris Stringer, Head of Human Origins at the Natural History Museum in London, said: ‘This new DNA work provides an entirely new way of looking at the still poorly understood evolution of humans in central and eastern Asia.’

Just over a week later, on 5 April, a South African team then announced that they had found the much more complete fossilised skeleton of a previously unknown hominid which the media immediately dubbed ‘the missing link’ because this new two-million-year-old species could represent an intermediate stage in the evolution of modern humans from ape-like hominids. Such an idea was encouraged by the finders of the remains: they have named the new species Australopithecus sediba, from the Sotho-language word sediba, meaning ‘spring’ or water source.

The remains, consisting of the near complete skeleton of a child and the bones of several adults, were found by Lee Berger and his colleagues from the University of the Witwatersrand while exploring the Malapa cave network at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in the Sterkfontein area, 40km outside Johannesburg.

Australopithecus sediba has long arms, like other members of the southern ape genus, the Australopithecine family, but they also have the long legs and a pelvis of bipedal early humans of the genus Homo; they also have the small teeth and facial characteristics of early human ancestors, though with brains about a third the size of a modern human.

Professor Berger said: ‘These fossils give us an extraordinarily detailed look into a new chapter of human evolution, and provide a window into a critical period when hominids made the committed change from dependency on life in the trees to life on the ground’. Controversy already surrounds the find, however: Donald Johanson at Arizona State University in Tempe believes that the remains have been misclassified and that they really belong to the genus Homo. Extracting DNA from the remains should help to resolve the issue. Of this find, Chris Stringer said: ‘The fact that experts differ over whether to classify these specimens as Australopithecine or human indicates the mixed features that they display, and the fossils provide valuable clues to the evolutionary changes that led to the first members of the human genus.’

Old dogs

An international study has found that the dingo and its relation, the rare New Guinea singing dog, bear the closest genetic similarity to wolves. Geneticists from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and at Cornell University and UCLA in the US, tested 48,000 different sites of DNA from the dog genome on 1,000 dogs from eighty-five different breeds, as well as hundreds of wolves. They surmise that dingoes represent an early stage in the domestication of the dog from its wild wolf ancestry, and that dingo DNA has been held in a time capsule because of their physical isolation.

Another strand of more ancient breeds originated in the Middle East and Asia; these include the chow-chow, basenji, akita, Chinese shar-pei, Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute. Modern breeds of domesticated dogs, including bulldogs, spaniels, hound, retrievers and terriers, originate from the early nineteenth century in Europe. Most dingoes are themselves now of mixed breed; the pure-bred dingo population is confined to conservation areas within Australia and Fraser Island.

Ancient tribal meeting ground found in Tasmania

What is being claimed as ‘the world’s southernmost site of early human life’, a 40,000-year-old tribal meeting ground, has been found as a result of an archaeological survey carried out ahead of roadworks near Tasmania’s Derwent River.

Up to three million artefacts have been found at the 600m by 60m riverbank site, including stone tools, shellfish fragments and food scraps. The director of the excavation, Rob Paton, said that the site appeared to have been a meeting ground for three local tribes. Optically stimulated luminescence dating was used to establish that the upper layers of the site are 28,000 years old and the base layers at least 10,000 years older. ‘This is almost unheard of from an open-air site, anywhere in the world’, he said. ‘Most events of this kind come from cave deposits that often reflect only a very small and specialised part of the lives of people. Our work so far certainly indicates this is a scientifically important and exciting site. It will be an important place for interpreting the deep history of Tasmania, but also of archaeology on a worldwide scale.’

Aboriginal groups in Australia called for the site to be preserved: ‘The Tasmanian government must immediately declare it a protected site, not just for Aboriginal people but for peoples of the world’, said Michael Mansell, of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. Fiona Newson from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Land and Sea Council says: ‘We’re talking about a worldwide significant site in regards to the scientific values and heritage values. It would be a total waste and not a good look on Tasmania if they were going to destroy it.’

The Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources had been planning to construct a bridge over the river valley; Department Secretary Norm McIlfatrick said the Government will ‘do all it can to protect the significant site’.

Human remains will stay at Avebury museum

An important stage in the debate about the study and display of human remains was reached on 6 April when English Heritage and the National Trust announced that ‘the public overwhelmingly supports the retention and display of prehistoric human remains in museums’. The announcement was based on the results of extensive public consultation on the issue after a group of modern Druids made a formal request in June 2006 that the human remains on display in the Avebury museum should be given to them for reburial. The Bronze Age remains are legally owned by English Heritage on behalf of the nation and the National Trust, which owns the museum, has curatorial responsibility for the management of the collection.

In responding to the Druids’ request, English Heritage undertook opinion research and a public consultation, both of which found that 90 per cent of respondents were happy that prehistoric human remains should be kept, studied and displayed in museums. The principles set out in the Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2005 were also applied in arriving at the decision. This guidance recommends that claims for remains over 500 years old are unlikely to be successful except where very close and continuous links can be demonstrated.

Our Fellow Dr Sebastian Payne, Chief Scientist at English Heritage, said: ‘We respect the beliefs that have led to this request, and we have taken the request seriously. These remains are important for our understanding of the past. We found that the public overwhelmingly support the retention and display of prehistoric human remains in museums, and that there is no clear evidence for genetic, cultural or religious continuity of a kind that would justify preferential status to be given to the beliefs of the group which requested reburial. While every case is different and must be determined on its merits, we feel that the general considerations given to this case are likely to apply to most prehistoric human remains in this country. We hope that other museums considering such requests in future will benefit from the evidence we have assembled and made accessible, saving them time and expense in reaching their decisions.’

Our Fellow Dr David Thackray, Head of Archaeology for the National Trust, said: ‘Some of the remains are an important part of the Museum’s exhibits, and the Museum survey shows that most visitors value this. Many of those who responded to the consultation also commented on the importance of public access and education.’

Our Fellow Professor Ronald Hutton, of Bristol University, author of works on the history of Druidism, said: ‘This decision represents the resolution of a question of great moral importance and with major practical implications, by reference to government guidelines, expert opinion, and general public opinion. All three have supported the same outcome.’

A summary report on the case and the findings of the public consultation and the opinion poll are available on the English Heritage website.

Decapitated bodies in Dorset revealed to be those of Vikings

A good example of public support for human remains research comes from Dorset where, as reported in Salon last year, a mass grave was discovered by Oxford Archaeology staff working on the route of the Weymouth relief road. Huge crowds gathered last month to learn more about the discoveries when the remains went on display in the town’s Pavilion Ocean Room. Steve Wallis, Dorset County Council’s Senior Archaeologist said: ‘We had over 1,000 people in the first two hours; we were counting on a good turn out because we know people round here are interested in archaeology, but we weren’t expecting anything like this.’

Public interest was stimulated by the results of analysis that suggested the remains were those of Viking males who might have been publicly executed 1,000 years ago. Radio-carbon dating has placed the remains in the period between AD 910 and AD 1030. Isotope analysis indicated that the fifty-one men found with their heads hacked off and their torsos tossed into a pit, came from a variety of places in Scandinavia. All were well-built young men in their late teens and early twenties, and at least one of them had lived much of his life inside the Arctic Circle.

All died a brutal death: Ceri Boston, who studied the remains, said they were all hacked around the head and jaw, and cuts on their upper torso, hand and arm bones show they tried to defend themselves. ‘It doesn’t look like they were very willing or the executioners very skilled’, she said. It is possible that the men were from a captured raiding party.

Elms set to stage a comeback

Those many Fellows who attended the Soane Study group lecture given by Fellow John Harris on 25 March 2010 were treated to a nostalgic trip back to the long hot summer of 1959 as John showed us slides of the Lincolnshire houses that he visited that year as part of his research for the Buildings of England volume on Lincolnshire. One of the many differences between then and now was not just the fact that many of the houses in John’s lecture no longer exist — nor too do the magnificent elm trees that framed so many of his pictures.

Without those elms, the English lowland landscape still seems bare and impoverished but, forty years on from the time when Dutch elm disease arrived in the UK to remove some 25 million trees, efforts continue to find resistant trees. In a scheme run by the Conservation Foundation, known as the Great British Elm Experiment, elm saplings taken from trees that have survived so far have been sent to some 250 schools, whose pupils will monitor the growth of the young trees to establish if they have inherited immunity to the effects of the fungus that causes the disease.

Thousands more saplings will also be sent to local authorities, golf clubs and other large landowners in an experiment that will take years to complete. Typically elms regenerate from the roots of diseased elms: but as soon as they grow to between 12ft and 20ft, after ten to twelve years, they are sought out by elm bark beetles carrying spores of the deadly Ophiostoma novo-ulmi fungus that first arrived in a consignment of logs from the US in the 1930s and that blocks the pores of the tree leading to its desiccation.

Some mature elms have managed to survive, however, and when the Natural History Museum invited the public to report examples of elms to them in 2003, some 207 examples were logged (Fellows may know, for example, the fine elm that grows at the entrance to Wigmore Castle, in Herefordshire). The parent trees that have now been used as the source for the experiment are all at least sixty years old, and they include a mixture of several species and sub-species. We must all now wait to see whether any of them have a genetic resistance to the fungus, or some other feature that makes them unattractive to the elm bark beetle, so that the clock can be turned back to the 1960s.

Church Monuments go hi-tech

The last issue of Salon reported that 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. Further details have now been published that reveal that our Fellow Philip Lindley is among the sixteen recipients. Philip becomes an AHRC half-millionaire with the award of £497,907.00 (plus a further £152,397 to support research studentships) for his University of Leicester project ‘Representing Re-Formation: Reconstructing Renaissance Monuments’, which will bring space-age technology to an examination of the Howard tombs at Framlingham.

Philip describes his project as follows: ‘In 1934, large-scale excavations on the site of the ruins of Thetford Priory produced hundreds of late-medieval and Renaissance sculptural and architectural fragments, which are currently in storage with English Heritage. Many of these are known to be related to two of the Howard tombs in Framlingham parish church, which commemorate the third duke and his son-in-law, Henry VIII’s bastard son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond. The tombs as erected at Framlingham are not what they appear: they seem to have been put together from salvaged components and finished off with new materials. Determining what is original and what was added is very difficult. Our research will offer a radical new solution to the problem. Using cutting-edge 3-D scanning and analytical techniques developed for space science, we shall “disassemble” the tombs into their constituent parts, and recombine those components virtually, to recreate their original appearance and differentiate the later components from the earlier ones. We will be able to recreate the first, lost stages in the existence of the tombs. Further, our scientific investigation and analysis will determine which fragments excavated at Thetford originally belonged to these tomb-monuments and enable us to reintegrate virtually the appropriate fragments into our reconstructions.

‘We shall use the same techniques to recreate other lost monuments and sculptures once in Thetford Priory, and will bring them back to (virtual) life. This collaborative project, which will combine research tools from space science, art history, archaeology, museology and computer science will effect a small revolution in our understanding of the late middle ages and early Renaissance in England. The Howards were the most important noble family under Henry VIII and their fortunes provide a fascinating case study into a turbulent period in our national history. This gripping episode, and the detective story of its reconstruction, will prove fascinating to many diverse audiences.’

European Association of Archaeologists annual meeting 2010

We reported in Salon 224 that many Fellows are involved in this year’s annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, which will take place in The Hague in the Netherlands from 1 to 5 September. Sessions for the conference are now being firmed up. Our Fellow Zsolt Visy is organising a session on ‘Aerial archaeology — World Heritage’ on the role of aerial archaeology in the nominating and monitoring process of archaeological World Heritage Sites. Zsolt is keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute to the session with lectures or posters.

Our Society is organising a session on ‘Studying our past: the value of historiography to the future of European archaeology’. Speakers will address the contribution that antiquarian societies in Europe have made (and continue to make) towards the development of the disciplines that are encompassed within the antiquarian tradition. We are also planning to host a reception at the conference jointly with Cambridge Journals to enable conference participants to meet the editors of the Antiquaries Journal and members of the Journal’s International Advisory Board.

Further details of the conference can be found on the EAA website.


Apologies to Graham Connah whose name Salon’s spellchecker managed to change to Connor in the last issue. Graham, now based at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra, records: ‘at the end of the nineteenth century, my father’s tribe were very much restricted to a small area in North-East Wales where there is even a town on the Dee Estuary called Connah’s Quay, though now Connahs seem to have become scattered around the world’.


28 April 2010: ‘An Emperor’s Exile: the architectural legacy of St Helena’, by Tom Devlin: a Soane Museum Study Group lecture, 6pm for 6:30pm, Seminar Room of Number 14, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Once the prison of Napoleon and stronghold of the East India Company, the island of St Helena has been in decline since the mid-nineteenth century, and is home to one of the most complete and unaltered small Georgian towns still in existence, in addition to many fine country buildings. This talk will comprise an illustrated survey of the varied and interesting historic buildings and fortifications of one of the world’s most isolated inhabited islands, including Longwood, where Napoleon lived from 1815 until his death. Places must be booked in advance by contacting Beth Walker.

7 May 2010: Llandudno, ‘Make do and mend: the creative re-use of buildings’: Royal Society of Architects in Wales Spring School 2010. Historic buildings symbolise our architectural heritage and can offer enormous potential and opportunities for creative re-use and reinvention. This Spring School gathers together designers who have met this challenge head-on with a wide range of buildings, producing exemplary projects both at home and abroad. Further information from the RSAW’s website.

21 May 2010: ‘Airborne Laser Scanning and LIDAR: a practical workshop for archaeologists and heritage managers’, to be held from 11am to 3.30pm at the Owain Glyndwr Centre, Machynlleth. The IfA Wales/Cymru AGM will be held beforehand at 10.15am. Contact Fiona Gale for more details.

19 June 2010: Chapel of All Saints, Wardour Castle Exhibition and Open Day, 10am to 6pm. Our Fellow Lisa Monnas commends this open day when Wardour’s splendid vestments, dating from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, (including a chasuble whose orphrey bears the arms of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and Margaret of York) will be on show, together with nineteenth-century lace albs and church plate in the chapel of All Saints, Wardour Castle, itself an English neo-classical masterpiece, designed by James Paine, opened in 1778, and extended by Sir John Soane in 1790 to include the altar by Giacomo Quarenghi. The fine eighteenth-century organ which was built by Samuel Green in 1791 can be viewed and will be played at intervals during the day. Further information from the website of the Wardour Chapel Trust.

19 June 2010: Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum, The Queen’s Hall, Hexham, 9.30am to 4.30pm. This second meeting of the newly established Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum will present news of recent, current and imminent archaeological investigations and research throughout the entire ‘frontier zone’, including the Cumbrian coast. Seven talks will be given by those at the forefront of Wall studies on subjects to include recent excavations at Newcastle, Benwell, Birdoswald and Vindolanda, preparation of the new map of Hadrian’s Wall and geophysical surveys at the outpost forts. Further information can be had from Fellow and Durham County Archaeologist David Mason and places can be booked via the Queen’s Hall’s website.

10 July 2010: ‘Rethinking the Bronze Age and the arrival of Indo-Europeans in Atlantic Europe, St Anne’s College Oxford. This one-day forum, hosted jointly by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies and the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, will provide an account of the latest thinking on the Indo-Europeanization of Atlantic Europe from a variety of perspectives, including the study of language, genes, swords, pottery and ritual. Our Fellow Barry Cunliffe will lead what is likely to prove a lively discussion, and the event includes the launch of Celtic from the West: alternative perspectives from archaeology, genetics, language, and literature, edited by Barry Cunliffe and John Koch (Oxbow), a book that explores the idea that Celtic languages and art originated in the Atlantic Zone during the Bronze Age rather than with the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures of Iron Age west-central Europe. Registration costs £29 (including tea/coffee breaks and finger buffet) or £22 (sans frills). To book, contact Angharad Elias; tel: 01970 636543.

15 to 17 September 2010: ‘Documenting destruction in Yorkshire: the dispersal of monastic artefacts’, this year’s Society for Church Archaeology (SCA) conference, to be held at the Bar Convent in York. Medieval Yorkshire was known for the size and number of its monastic houses, and for the strength of its adherence to Roman orthodoxy. Unsurprisingly the county became the centre of national resistance to the dissolution of those foundations in the 1530s. In Yorkshire the avarice and greed of those who sought to benefit from the Dissolution came into stark conflict with the piety of those who aimed to retain vestiges of the Old Religion. This year the SCA aims to explore this conflict by charting the dispersal of monastic artefacts through a series of lectures on the reuse of monastic artefacts and landscapes. There will also be visits to Holy Trinity, Micklegate, and St Mary’s Abbey in York on Saturday afternoon, and to Byland and Rievaulx Abbeys on Sunday. Access to English Heritage’s archaeological store at Helmsley has also been arranged, where many of the most spectacular remains of these dissolved monasteries are now held. Further information and booking forms can be downloaded from the SCA’s web page.

Books, videos and exhibitions by Fellows

Fellow John Oxley is helping to bring the Mesolithic alive and remind everyone that the UK’s history does not begin with Julius Caesar in 55 BC, with a video that he is contributing as one of four artists participating in a new installation that will be on view at York City Art Gallery from now until 2 May 2010. ‘Mesolithic Interventions’ is made up of the responses of four artists to the question ‘What can we learn from the people who lived at Star Carr during the Mesolithic and how can we apply this to our lives today?’ John Oxley’s answer is conveyed through video, while Kippa Matthews uses photography, Damian Murphy sound and music and Mark Hildred interactive digital technology in their responses to the site and to objects dating from the Mesolithic in the Yorkshire Museum.

Fellow Ruurd Halbertsma writes to say that ‘on 27 April 2010 an exhibition will open in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, to which three Fellows have made considerable contributions. The exhibition — “At First Sight: two-hundred unexpected antiquities of Frits Lugt and Helene Kröller-Müller” — focuses on the Egyptian and Classical antiquities of the Dutch collectors Frits Lugt (1884—1970) and Helene Kröller-Müller (1869—1939). Both are renowned for their outstanding art collections: Lugt assembled a collection of Dutch and Flemish drawings and prints (especially by Rembrandt), and Kröller-Müller collected modern art, especially paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Both collections are kept in public institutions: the Fondation Custodia in Paris and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, in the Netherlands. Although their interests were specifically focused on art-history, both also collected antiquities. Their keen and trained eye led them to purchase highly interesting archaeological pieces, which are now shown to the public for the first time.

‘For the exhibition, Fellows Thomas Mannack and Claudia Wagner have written the catalogue of Greek Vases in the Frits Lugt Collection in Paris (Paris, 2010). Fellow Ruurd Binnert Halbertsma did the same for the Ancient Glass and Various Antiquities from the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, 2010), while the catalogue of the Egyptian Artefacts from the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, 2010) was written by Arnold Jan Stuart (not (yet) a Fellow of our Society). More information on the exhibition is available on the website of the National Museum of Antiquities and anyone attending the European Association of Archaeologists’ annual meeting in Den Haag in September will be able to catch the exhibition just before it closes on 19 September 2010.’

Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen, better known to the world by his French name, Frédéric François Chopin, wrote the vast majority of his work for the piano, but some of that work is as heroic in scale as an orchestral symphony: for example, the innocently named ‘Polonaise in F sharp minor’, which the trade union Solidarity adopted as its stirring anthem. Chopin chose to base his music on the mazurka and polonaise, the peasant dance music of central Poland, to express his own solidarity with the oppressed nation of his birth, as our Fellow Adam Zamoyski reveals in his biography of the composer, Chopin: Prince of the Romantics (HarperPress; ISBN 9780007341849), celebrating the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth and deservedly high in the best-seller list (and chosen to be broadcast as Radio 4’s ‘Book of the Week’ in March).

Reviews have praised Zamoysky’s ability to convey what matters in Chopin’s music, without impenetrable musical jargon, and his stripping away of the myths cloaking the composer as a doomed, melancholic exile, pining for Mother Poland; even the idea that he was a romantic is challenged in the evidence that he revered Bach, Mozart and Haydn and greatly disliked Berlioz and Liszt. Chopin emerges as a shy, amiable soul, miraculously gifted as a musician, whose compositions, according to Zamoysky, intensify and spiritualise as his illness (tuberculosis) worsened, as if, in the words of Chopin’s friend, the painter Eugène Delacroix, ‘God had descended upon his divine fingers’.

Books with a single date as the title are something of a publisher’s cliché at the moment, but turning convention on its head is Fellow Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s book, 1492 (Bloomsbury; ISBN 9781408800706), which seeks not to retell the events of a single year (notably the sailing of the ocean blue by Columbus and his ninety crew) but rather to decide whether there is any merit in taking this year as the ‘the year our world began’, to quote the book’s subtitle. In the longue durée, and seen from a global perspective, there are other more potentially significant events and Felipe deliberately pokes our settled Euro-centric vision of history by dismissing the Reformation and the Renaissance as ‘small-scale phenomena’, while reminding us what else is going on, for example, in China, India and Mesoamerica. Closer to home, he wonders whether the fall of Andalucia to the Catholic Monarchs of Spain and the expulsion of the Jews from Catholic Spain might not be more significant events for our later history, but both, as it happens, also occurred (on 2 January and 1 May respectively) in the year fourteen hundred and ninety-two.

British and Continental Gold and Silver in the Ashmolean Museum (Ashmolean Museum, ISBN 9781854442208), by Fellow Tim Schroder, is the first complete catalogue of one of the most important collections of its kind in the world, consisting of more than 450 objects, many of which are of spectacular quality and rarity. Built up largely since 1946, the collection was created principally from four bequests, all the more remarkable in that these proved to be complementary to each other, resulting in a comprehensive collection of English silver spanning the sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries, to which has been added a number of recent major acquisitions and important loans from Oxford colleges. A copy of the 1,500-page, three-volume set (with 1,600 illustrations) costs £350, but Tim has donated a copy to the Society’s Library, and you can also browse the collection using web pages based on pictures and text from the book on the Ashmolean’s website.

Writing for children is a very special skill, as our Fellow Peter Robertshaw, Professor and Chair in the Department of Anthropology at the California State University, acknowledges, for he teamed up with Jill Rubalcaba, a professional children’s writer, for The Early Human World (2005), his first book aimed at readers aged about ten to fourteen, and now he has done so again for Every Bone Tells A Story: hominin discoveries, deductions, and debates (Charlesbridge Publishing; ISBN 9781580891646). In this partnership, says Peter, his job is to supply the facts that anthropologists and archaeologists have to deal with, the deductions that they been able to make based on the discoveries of the Turkana Boy, the Lapedo Child, Kennewick Man and the Iceman, and the broader debates to which these discoveries have added fuel. His co-author shoulders the burden of writing this up to create an engaging book! The formula clearly works, for the result has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection and a review in the School Library Journal concluded: ‘this is an excellent look at an engaging area of science that should find broad readership and use’.

If, like Salon’s editor, you frequently travel up and down the M5 motorway through Somerset, you will be familiar with the names of the River Parrett and the coastal towns of Burnham-on-Sea, Bridgwater, Weston-super-Mare, Watchett and Porlock. A Maritime History of Somerset: Volume 1: Trade and Commerce (Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society) tells the story behind these intriguing names, with essays on the civil engineering projects that led to the county’s rivers being made more navigable and the opening up of the county’s coastal towns to trade from the sixteenth century onwards. Edited by our Fellow Adrian Webb, this is the first in a series of volumes covering original research into all aspects of the maritime history of the ancient county of Somerset.

Our Fellow Peter Kuniholm is proud to be the recipient of a Festschrift called Tree-Rings, Kings and Old World Archaeology and Environment: papers presented in honor of Peter Ian Kuniholm, edited by Sturt Manning and Mary Jaye Bruce (Oxbow; ISBN 9781842173862), with a galaxy of Fellows among the contributors, including Colin Renfrew, Mike Baillie, Lisa French, Malcolm Wiener and Christos Doumas, all experts in the study of tree-rings for determining dates for cultural chronology and for investigating past climate and environment. Peter himself is hailed in the book as being ‘synonymous with dendrochronology and dendroarchaeologyIn the central and east Mediterranean region [where] he led the creation of numerous tree-ring chronologies (from forests, buildings, archaeological sites) and demonstrated the enormous potential and power of dendrochronology to a range of topics. The papers derive from a conference held at Cornell University and given in Peter’s honour; they provide wide-ranging and up-to-date discussions and assessments of a number of key topics concerning the chronology and environment of the central to east Mediterranean and Near East and the field of dendrochronology.


Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS): Head of Survey and Recording, salary range: £41,210 to £49,304; closing date 26th April 2010
An experienced archaeologist and/or architectural historian is required to oversee all aspects of surveying and recording for RCAHMS. Interested candidates should email Personnel for an application pack.

Torquay Museum: Director; salary £33,000 to £41,000, closing date 30 April 2010
Further information from the museum’s website.

Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge: PhD studentship in Middle and Late Bronze Age European Archaeology; stipend: £13,489 pa, closing date 30 April 2010
Applications are invited for a fully funded three-year PhD studentship funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s HERA programme. The PhD research will contribute to an international project entitled ‘Creativity and craft production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe’ co-directed by Dr Marie-Louise Stig Sørensen. The studentship will focus on creativity in metal production in northern and central Europe in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. The studentship will cover University and College fees in addition to the above stipend. Further particulars can be obtained from Sara Harrop, at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

The J Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles, Director, closing date 10 May 2010
The Getty is seeking a Director who desires a very visible position, with significant influence, stature, and authority who will continue the strengthening of the collections through purchase and gift, drawing on the scholarly expertise within the Museum’s established collection areas. The post holder reports to the Trust’s President, with responsibility for all museum activities including budgets, acquisitions strategy and personnel decisions. The position oversees six curatorial departments — paintings, drawings, photographs, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts and antiquities — as well as educational and interpretive activities, conservation functions and a wide ranging exhibitions, publications and public engagement program. Further information from the museum’s website.

Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge: PhD studentship in Zooarchaeology; stipend: £14,489 pa, closing date 14 May 2010
Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship, to contribute to an international project directed by Professor Graeme Barker entitled ‘Cultural transformations and environmental transitions in North African prehistory’ funded by the European Research Council. The project is investigating the relationship between environment and human settlement over the past 200,000 years, combining the excavation of the Haua Fteah cave in Cyrenaica, north-east Libya, with geoarchaeological and archaeological survey in the region. The studentship is to focus especially on small mammals and microfauna from old and new excavations, as a contribution to a suite of studies being undertaken by members of the project team (eg geomorphology, micromorphology, palynology, isotope studies of bones and shells) on the local environment at the Haua Fteah and indicators of wider trends in climate and landscape change in which human life was situated. Further particulars may be obtained from Sara Harrop, at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.