Salon Archive

Issue: 233

Elections to Council

The last issue of Salon contained an error; in the list of new Council members we included the names of two Fellows who have, in fact, retired from Council. The correct list is as follows:

Maurice Howard MA DPhil (President)
Martin John Millett BA DPhil (Treasurer)
John Creighton BA PhD (Director)
Brian Stirling Ayers BA (Hon Secretary)
Timothy Charles Darvill BA PhD DSc (Senior Vice-President)
John Stephen Johnson MA DPhil (Vice-President)
Sian Eluned Rees CBE BA DPhil (Vice-President)
Gillian Margaret Andrews BA
Graeme William Walter Barker BA PhD
David John Breeze OBE BA PhD
Sir Neil Cossons OBE MA
Valerie Cromwell, Lady Kingman BA MA
Anthony Emery BA DLitt
Colin Cliff Haselgrove BSc MA PhD
Aideen Mary Ireland BA MA
Colin, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn MA PhD Hon DLitt
Elaine Margaret Hampton Paintin MA
Margaret Richardson OBE BA
Dominic Tweddle BA PhD
Leslie Elizabeth Webster BA

Forthcoming meetings

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 full programme for the day can be found on the Society’s website. 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 on 19 May 2010

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.

SAL-Australia lecture 24 May 2010: Islands as model systems for human ecodynamics

The Australian branch of the Society of Antiquaries and the Australian National University are co-hosting this free public lecture at which our Fellow Patrick Kirch will speak on ‘Islands as model systems for human ecodynamics’ at 6pm to 7.30pm, in Theatre 2, Manning Clark Theatre Centre, Building 26, Union Court ANU, Canberra.

Professor Kirch is the Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology and Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley and the Curator of Oceanic Archaeology of the P A Hearst Museum of Anthropology at Berkeley. In this lecture Professor Kirch uses a comparative approach to understanding long-term dynamic relationships between human populations and their ecosystems (ecodynamics) based on the results of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research from the island systems of Mangaia, Mangareva and Hawai’i. The three islands have similar socioeconomic patterns but vary considerably in environmental factors, including scale, geological age and marine resources. Comparison of these islands provides insight into the impact of humans on pristine ecosystems, differential ecosystem vulnerability and socioeconomic and political responses to human-induced environmental changes.

Further details from Christine Dwyer.

Kelmscott Manor Fellows’ Day 10 July 2010

This year’s Fellows’ Day at Kelmscott Manor will take place on Saturday 10 July, when the gates will open for registration from 1.30pm. Along with the usual access to the Manor and a special seasonal tea, there will be a small, additional exhibition on the garden. The programme finishes at 5pm. The event, which is always enjoyable, is open to Fellows and their guests. Tickets costing £14 (£6 for children under the age of sixteen) are available from 1 May and can be booked by email or by telephone (01367 253348), and as this has proved to be a popular event in past years, early booking is advised.

General Election results

The General Election is over, with results that show once again how biased the system is towards two of the parties: on a proportional basis, the results would have been (with actual seats in brackets): Conservative 234 (306), Labour 188 (258), Liberal Democrat 149 (57) and Other 78 (12). These figures simply illustrate why electoral reform is highly unlikely (turkeys do not vote for Christmas, to borrow an American phrase) and why the newspapers will soon be full of speculation about the date of the next election: June, September or October?

Archaeology now has a lone voice in the current UK parliament: John Howell, an archaeology graduate with a first degree from Edinburgh and a DPhil from Oxford, was re-elected as Conservative MP for the safe seat of Henley. Also elected was the historian Tristram Hunt, who won Stoke-on-Trent Central for Labour, the former seat of our Fellow and former Arts Minister, Mark Fisher.

Our Fellow Jeremy Evans, Roman pottery specialist and graduate of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, failed in his bid to take Birmingham Hall Green for the Liberal Democrats; he polled a respectable 11,988 votes but was pushed into third place by competition from the Respect party (second, with 12,240 votes), allowing the Labour candidate to win with 16,039 votes.

But we are not alone in losing some of our parliamentary support: seven MPs with a science background either resigned or lost their seats at this election, including Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat for Oxford West and Abingdon, who lost his seat by 176 votes, leaving Parliament bereft of a champion of science; in part compensation, the other place elected a computer scientist: Julian Huppert, the new Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, is now one of the few MPs with a science degree and direct recent experience of university research.

Magnificent Maps

You would think that there was a world of difference between the realms of cartography and politics, but anyone visiting the Magnificent Maps exhibition, curated by our Fellow Peter Barber (Head of Map Collections), at the British Library (to 19 September 2010), or watching Peter on BBC Four’s ‘The Beauty of Maps’ series, will soon learn that the two are firmly intertwined, as the exhibition’s subtitle tells us (Power, Propaganda and Art; BBC Four, meanwhile, has a second concurrent series on maps that shows an equal fondness for alliterative ‘p’s, as it is called ‘Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession’).

In his eminently readable catalogue to the exhibition, Peter reminds us of the many ways in which maps are used as metaphors for power: he cites the opening sequences of Dr Strangelove and of Godfather III; in the latter, the extent of global corruption is symbolised by the world maps that serve as the backdrop to a secret meeting between mafia leaders and senior American politicians. He also cites Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator spoof of Hitler playing with the world, in the form of a globe, only to have the globe blow up in his face.

These are but twentieth-century versions of a truth inherent in map-making since its classical origins; even the earliest surviving maps (a painted frieze showing three seaside towns on Crete’s northern shores, excavated at Thera, just pre-dating the 1500 BC eruption of Santorini) have what Peter calls ‘emotive power’; that is to say, their purpose is not just scientific, nor are they intended just for administrative use; rather they are commemorative, and they tell us much about the values of the makers, as do the fact that many early maps were intended for display in the grandest of locations, on the walls of Nero’s Golden House, or in the libraries and palaces of monarchs and princes: for example, the magnificent frescos of the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche in the Vatican.

Many early maps were vast in scale: far too large for paper, and hence painted on walls plaster or on cloth, or on parchment, like the ‘large mappe of the whole worlde of parchement sette in a frame of woode havinge the kynges armes therein’ that Henry VIII owned (item no. 10752 in our Society’s published transcript of the Inventory of King Henry VIII). Peter cites James Welsh, writing in the late 1820s of a visit to the Surveyor General of Bombay, Charles Reynolds, who was working on a map of India so large that Welsh was given silk stockings and gloves for his hands and feet so that he could literally explore the map by crawling over it on hands and feet (this reminds Salon’s editor of the brilliant techniques used by the Hackney Building Exploratory to introduce children to the concept of maps: the whole floor of the building that houses the Exploratory is printed with a map of the borough, and the first activity that children visiting the building are given is to crawl over the map to locate their own homes or schools; after which they are then let loose on computer terminals with historic maps and photographs of those same buildings and streets).

The exhibition itself begins with a series of sixteenth-century maps bearing blunt messages of power: the ships, the fortifications, the images of Neptune, Mars and Pallas Athene reinforce the sense of power and authority in maps of Venice, Amsterdam, Florence or of the various states of Europe. ‘These are our glories; our lands’, the maps seem to say. That pride in ownership can sometimes take the most endearing of forms: one of the most enjoyable exhibits is the 1582 map by John Darby of the parish of Smallborough in Suffolk, made for Sir Philip Parker, which depicts in faithful details the mix of marshland, heath, meadow, arable and pasture, orchard and garden, strip farming and enclosed fields, the animals of the countryside, buildings and farmyard activities, hunting and shooting, and even a strolling beggar with a monkey on his shoulder (which the catalogue suggests is copied from prints of work by Pieter Brueghel and is a satirical reference to the recently deceased ne’er-do-well elder half-brother of Sir Philip, as if the whole map were a statement to the effect that ‘all of this is now safe in my hands’.

At the other end of the timescale — the modern era — the maps that Peter has chosen for the exhibition force you to realise that maps are a selection, rather than a faithful representation, of reality: contrast the intentions, for example, behind Charles Booth’s 1889 colour-coded Descriptive Map of London Poverty with MacDonald Gill’s 1914 satirical Wonderground map, highlighting places of particular significance to the socialites of Edwardian London. And are maps still used as propaganda? You bet: Jerry Brotton, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, presenter of the other BBC Four series, reveals that even the satellite images on Google Earth contain manipulated images: the Swiss, for example, ‘colour in Switzerland much greener than it already is to make it look nicer’, he says.

Did Neanderthals and humans interbreed?

Until last week there was much scepticism about claims that Homo neanderthalensis and H sapiens mated and produced offspring. Now a paper published in the journal Science, written by Dr Ed Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and fifty other members of an international team of research colleagues, has undermined such certainties in a pioneering study showing that there was a ‘flow of genetic material’ between early Homo sapiens and our extinct cousins.

The evidence is compelling: Dr Green is not saying that Neanderthals and humans have genes in common; all hominids do. What he has found is that the bits that we share with Neanderthals are absent from sub-Saharan African genes, but present in all non-Africans, even in a person from Papua New Guinea, where Neanderthals have never lived.

This suggests that the interbreeding occurred soon after H sapiens first migrated out of Africa whenever that was (estimates vary from between 120,000 and 60,000 years ago). This first migration might have involved a handful of people; but somewhere in North Africa, Arabia or the Middle East, the migrants encountered Neanderthals, or perhaps some other species that had Neanderthal genes, and interbred. As modern humans continued to spread round the globe, successive offspring of the human/Neanderthal child took with them a little bit of Neanderthal DNA. ‘The proportion of Neanderthal ancestry in non-Africans today is between 1 and 4 per cent so it’s a small but very real proportion of ancestry in non-Africans today’, Dr Green said.

The findings also suggest that the gene flow was only in one direction: from Neanderthal to human, and not in the opposite direction. The best explanation for this might be that a male Neanderthal bred with a female human; the authors wisely do not speculate about the precise social and cultural nature of this sexual interaction.

Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said the findings had surprised him; he previously believed it more probable that Neanderthals and humans were separate species and that interbreeding could not occur. Chris Stringer, Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum, said that this was ‘an intriguing twist to our evolutionary tale; these surprising results are probably only the first of many, as the emerging science of fossil genomics builds up momentum.’

To auction or not to auction: antiquities of doubtful provenance

Several articles have appeared in the press in the last four weeks throwing the spotlight on the continuing trade in looted antiquities. Dalya Alberge, in The Observer, on 11 April 2010, for example, quoted our Fellow Colin Renfrew who accused the UK Government of complicity in the illegal antiquities trade: liquidators acting for the Government plan to sell ‘looted’ Italian artefacts to recover tax owed by the bankrupt antiquities dealer Robin Symes. They include an ancient Etruscan bronze mask of Acheloos that is among one thousand antiquities allegedly stolen from Italy, where Symes is under investigation for antiquities theft and smuggling. Professor Renfrew described their proposed sale as a ‘scandal’ that would further confirm London’s reputation as a ‘clearing house for looted antiquities’.

That reputation was reinforced by the planned sale on 28 April 2010 of a collection of Roman sculptures, including a first- or second-century AD marble figure of a youth and three funerary busts. Bonhams auction house was pressured into removing the sculptures from the sale at the last minute when our Fellow David Gill, Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at Swansea University, and Christos Tsirogiannis, a researcher at Cambridge University and formerly an archaeologist with the Greek ministry of culture, provided evidence that the marble figure had been illegally trafficked by the antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici and that the busts were once part of the collection of Robin Symes. The style of the Roman busts suggests they are of eastern Mediterranean origin and were possibly dug up in Syria or northern Greece. The marble statue probably originates from Italy.

In theory, selling illicitly acquired antiquities is punishable by up to seven years in prison, but antiquities dealers in effect killed the legislation (originating in a private member’s bill introduced in 2003 by the former Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan) when they demanded that the Government create a register of looted or stolen antiquities against which they could check objects submitted for sale. Counteracting the trade depends on the vigilance of campaigners such as our Fellow David Gill, who is a long-standing opponent of the trade in ‘tainted cultural objects’.

Profiled in the Western Mail recently as Indiana Jones in reverse, because instead of ‘plucking priceless artefacts from ancient tombs, Dr Gill does the process in reverse — and sends the relics back to where they came from’, Dr Gill is quoted as saying that ‘the looting of human history has become a full-scale industry’. Writing on his blog, called ‘Looting Matters', David explains how police raids on the warehouses of antiquities smugglers in Geneva and in Basle have yielded thousands of photographs and bundles of receipts that have helped investigators and archaeologists identify antiquities in public and private collections that have been excavated, smuggled and traded illegally. The scale of the problem is measured not in tens or hundreds of artefacts, but in terms of the ‘three truckloads, some 4,400 items’, returned to Italy in November 2008 as the result of one police raid.

David warns that ‘toxic’ antiquities are likely to continue to appear on the market and that dealers, collectors and museums have to be more rigorous in conducting due diligence searches to comply with the law and ensure that they are not unwittingly complicit in this trade.

Modern trawlers cannot compete with the sailing equivalents of the nineteenth century

The surprising headline of the week was the one that reported that fisherman now have to work seventeen times harder to catch fish than they did in the nineteenth century. The story was, of course, not about the efficiency of the vessels nor the skills of the modern trawlerman, but rather about the extent to which fish stocks have been depleted, so that all the efficiency gains of sonar and bigger nets is to no avail if the fish are just not there to catch.

Of interest to Fellows in this story was the use of historical records to compare the sizes of catches today and in 1889. Ruth Thurstan, lead researcher from York University’s Environment Department, said that extreme and aggressive overfishing had reduced stocks of some varieties of fish, such as halibut, to the point that catching one fish now took as much time and resources as went into catching 500 in the past. Trawler fleets landed twice as many fish into England and Wales in 1889 and four times as many in 1910 as than they do today, while yields of halibut, turbot, haddock and plaice have dropped by 94 per cent.

Until recently, said Professor Callum Roberts, of the University of York, one of the study’s authors and an expert on the history of Britain’s fisheries, reports of large fishing catches from early in the last century and before had been anecdotal, but ‘three years ago we realised that relevant information had been collected by port authorities since 1889 but had never used. We joined up the data across methodologies, and have created one of the longest data sets on fishing available on a national scale anywhere in the world’.

Commercial archaeology analysed in Nature

Nature magazine turned its attention recently to an assessment of what has been achieved by the ‘explosion in commercial archaeology’ of the last twenty years, and the resulting ‘flood of information’. The article concludes that the legacy of commercial archaeology is a huge amount of ‘unpublished literature’, and that archaeologists are struggling to ‘figure out how to find and use this’.

The report quotes our Fellow Richard Bradley saying that his research into so-called ‘grey literature’ (unpublished or low print-run reports that are difficult to access through libraries and archives) transformed his understanding of the Bronze Age and made him aware that ‘what I was teaching would be out of date without looking at the grey literature’. For example, he found dozens of reports showing that settlements in England had remained strong during the Bronze Age and had not suffered a population crash, as academics had long thought.

The problem, argues the report, is not just that the evidence is buried in the offices of archaeological units or local planning officials; academics also struggle to keep up with the avalanche of new data. Our Fellow Barry Cunliffe is quoted as saying that ‘there is such a vast body of untapped stuff out there; this means there is a hold-up in academic development’. Professor Cunliffe is especially concerned about units that say ‘I’m sorry, my client is not prepared to make such and such a report public’. ‘It ought to be made mandatory that all these reports should be made available’, he says.

Echoing Barry’s view, Oxford colleague Gary Lock, Fellow, wrote in British Archaeology in 2008 that he was unable to access reports on several developer-funded projects that had been carried in the part of Oxfordshire that he was studying and that ‘archaeological information is being treated as a commodity to which developers control access’.

Fellow Kenneth Aitchison, head of projects and professional development at the Institute for Archaeologists, disagrees. Grey literature ‘does what it is supposed to do, and it is essentially accessible’, he says, arguing that the issue is not one of access, but rather of awareness, attitude and understanding: ‘the major archaeological contractors are run as charitable trusts with educational aims. They forge links with universities and are working to get their grey literature online. More material is published on the internet than ever before, and the situation has improved massively in the past few years’.

All agree that grey literature contains important information and must be used. Our Fellow Michael Fulford, who has been piloting a study of the grey literature about Roman Britain, says ‘We’ve almost found “another Roman Britain”, and one that we would have never seen without developer-funded archaeology’. Commercial excavations have produced a massive increase in the number and type of sites now known, especially low-status rural settlements where indigenous communities co-existed with Roman invaders, keeping their vernacular architecture, but furnishing their homes with Roman manufactured goods.

In a twist to the tale, he says he advises PhD students who want to keep their hand in fieldwork that they might be better off working in commercial archaeology because it often involves large projects that are properly funded. ‘We have to adapt to an archaeological record that is massively expanded and, at its best, of far better quality than has been achieved by academics, who are often very part-time fieldworkers’, he concludes.

News of Fellows

Congratulations to our Fellow Kevin Blockley, who has just been appointed as the new cathedral archaeologist at Bristol Cathedral, to succeed our Fellow Warwick Rodwell, who recently retired from the post. Kevin also took over from Warwick as archaeological consultant to Lichfield Cathedral in April 2009, since when he has been recording and analysing the fabric on the North Choir Clerestory and Lady Chapel prior to stone repairs, including the mainly fourteenth-century fabric, but also the Civil War damage and the repairs of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Congratulations, too, to our Fellow Ruurd Halbertsma, who has just been appointed Professor of Museum Heritage in the University of Leiden’s Faculty of Archaeology. He will combine this chair with his curatorship of Classical Archaeology in the National Museum of Archaeology of Leiden. In his new function he is responsible for promoting awareness of the results of archaeological research, the value of such research to society and the important role that museums can and must play in transmitting knowledge about the past to the audiences of today. The Museum Heritage post also encompasses the history of archaeology, the history of collections and the presentation of archaeological research to a broad audience.

Our Fellow Peter Spufford stepped down as Chairman of the Council of the British Record Society at its recent Annual General Meeting, having clocked up no less than fifty years as a Council member: twenty-five years as Secretary and twenty-five as Chairman. He is replaced by the well-known local historian, Professor David Hey. At the same time the Society has a new Treasurer — James Henderson — and a new Secretary — Dr Patrick Wallis of the London School of Economics, who replaces Patric Dickinson, who has just been appointed Norroy and Ulster King of Arms in succession to our Fellow Thomas Woodcock, now Garter Principal King of Arms. The two General Editors remain in place: Dr Catherine Ferguson for the Hearth Tax Series and our Fellow Cliff Webb, for the Probate Series. ‘The old guard leaves the Society with numerous volumes in its pipeline’, Peter says: ‘a Hearth Tax return for Essex and an index to probate records at Lichfield are both likely to appear by the end of the year.’ For details of recent volumes see the Society’s website.

Fellow Mary Beard was much in evidence during the election campaign as the BBC invited her to contribute a classicist’s perspective on the events of the last three weeks; Mary bemoaned the sameness of the manifestos, the people and their messages, pointing out that there was little evidence that politicians understood their own ‘time for a change’ messages. She was wickedly dismissive of Gordon Brown’s claims to be Demosthenes to Clegg and Cameron’s Cicero: ‘when Cicero spoke, people clapped and said “what a good speech”; when Demosthenes spoke, people marched’, he said. To which Mary responded: ‘Does Gordon know who Demosthenes was? He was a rabble rouser who led Athens into a disastrous uprising against Alexander the Great and ended up taking his own life to escape the consequences!’

She also pointed up the similarities between Gordon Brown’s unguarded comments about Mrs Duffy of Rochdale, condemned now to be known as ‘that bigoted woman’, and the case of Scipio Nasica, candidate for office in Rome in the late third or early second century BC. On walkabout, Scipio shook the hand of a peasant and was heard to comment on the rough skin of the farmer’s palm: ‘What!’ said Scipio, ‘Do you walk on these?’ Needless to say, his disrespect for one honest and hard-working voter cost him the election.

Our Fellow Pamela Jane Smith has given us all reasons to be grateful by pursuing her interest in the lives and careers of prominent archaeologists, hosting a series of ‘Personal Histories’ seminars at the McDonald Institute in Cambridge and the UCL Institute of Archaeology in London, and publishing the results. Pamela is currently working on a downloadable transcript of the packed talk that our Fellow Sir David Attenborough gave as part of this seminar series in Cambridge last year. In the meantime, a montage of clips from the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 ‘Personal-Histories’ seminars has been submitted to the Society of American Archaeology’s film competition; featuring Colin Renfrew, Mike Schiffer, Meg Conkey, Richard Bradley, Meave Leakey and David Attenborough, this can be viewed online. Pamela says: ‘If anyone would like any of the films mentioned for teaching, please ask them to contact me, tel: 07976 919083>'. Also available to view online is the film of the 2008 seminar, with Meave Leakey, Leslie Aiello, Chris Stringer, David Pilbeam, Rob Foley and Adam Kuper discussing the development of human origins research.

The lives of refugees living in Oxford during the Second World War

Fellows Sally Crawford, Katharina Ulmschneider and Chris Gosden have received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Reva and David Logan Foundation for a social history project piecing together the lives of refugees living in Oxford during the Second World War, focusing principally on the archive of Paul Jacobsthal, an eminent archaeologist who was forced to flee Nazi Germany because of his Jewish origins.

Sally Crawford explains that ‘Professor Jacobsthal found refuge in Oxford, and was a senior academic in the University until his death in 1957. He made his name as a world leading expert in Celtic art, publishing the ground-breaking book Early Celtic Art in 1944. He also left an archive of 127 notebooks, 57 boxes of drawings, photographs, research notes and ephemera, including over 1,500 letters, which reveal his and his wife’s experience as refugees in Oxford.

‘Jacobsthal’s interest in Celtic art was politically dangerous in Nazi Germany: the pan-European origins of Celtic art did not fit with the regime’s nationalistic doctrines. But Jacobsthal’s letters reveal that, even after he had fled Germany, many of his former colleagues continued to write to him with information and support for his research, in direct defiance of the Nazi regime. The quiet German resistance to Nazism shown in these letters has rarely been recognized.

‘The project will also provide a human picture of what Oxford was like for wartime refugees, which was not always plain sailing: “the other problems of our life are too complicated to even hint at”, Jacobsthal noted to a friend in 1946; “England is very, very different to how guidebook writers present it … that life between the nations as we lead it is not easy, is evident, and the contact with friends, which is possible now, illuminates these difficulties even more.”

‘The project, in collaboration with the Oxford City of Sanctuary Group, the Association of Jewish Refugees, local schools and volunteers, will result in an exhibition in Oxford, due to take place in 2012. The exhibition will contain information from Professor Jacobsthal’s own archive of his wartime and refugee experiences. The project will also collect oral histories and will make Professor Jacobsthal’s letters available to the public. They will be catalogued, digitized and published on the web from 2011.’

Further information can be found on the project’s website, and Sally adds that ‘we would be delighted to hear from any Fellows who remember Jacobsthal or wartime Oxford; please contact Dr Katharina Ulmschneider or Dr Sally Crawford, Keepers of the Archive at the Oxford Institute of Archaeology.

Lives Remembered

The Society was informed that our Fellow Francis St John Corbet Gore CBE (1921—2010) died peacefully at home on 23 April 2010.

Full obituaries for our late Fellows Colin Wells and Alan McWhirr have now been posted up on the Society’s website. The details have been announced of Alan McWhirr’s memorial service: this will take the form of Choral Evensong at 6.30pm on Sunday 20 June at St James the Greater in Leicester (opposite Victoria Park and about 10 minutes’ walk from Leicester railway station). The service will include short tributes to Alan, and all are welcome to attend.

Meanwhile, from our Fellow Vincent Megaw, comes this addendum to Marilyn Palmer’s tribute in the last issue of Salon. ‘As Alan McWhirr (“Mac” to all who got to know him) was one of the first people we got to know during our decade in Leicester, it is sad indeed to learn of his death. Marilyn Palmer, in her full and moving tribute, is, of course, correct in stating that it was not until 1988 that Alan formally joined the Department of Archaeology but, in a very real sense, from his undergraduate days with Stanley Thomas he never really left it. It seemed that hardly a day, or, indeed, hardly a week went by but Alan would drop by the Department imparting archaeological — and other — knowledge over what passed for tea and coffee in the Departmental Drawing Office.

‘As part-time tutor in the classroom, as well as the field, Alan provided invaluable support when the Department — seemingly against the odds — was growing into an individual unit of the University with its own degree. More formal informal events, like the annual Departmental outing to Wessex via the Cotswolds and Cirencester, were graced by Alan as the tour guide par excellence with a nose — or perhaps a tongue — for the best refreshment stops en route. And that laugh, almost contagious rather than infectious, I can still hear. Archaeology, and not just archaeology, has lost one of the nicest of men.’


Exeter University has asked that the following corrective statement be published in Salon in respect of the report that appeared in the last issue, headed ‘Leading archaeological metallurgist has post downgraded’.

‘The University of Exeter would like to make clear that Dr Juleff was not demoted or downgraded; indeed, the University of Exeter has no mechanism by which staff can be “demoted”. However, it does, on occasion, appoint staff to temporary academic contracts with further employment linked to specific targets. In such cases, the targets, and the processes of ascertaining whether these targets have been achieved, are mutually agreed between employer and employee. As is the case with probation, where the targets are not achieved, the employer has the right not to extend the contract.’


In the ‘Locality and Region’ seminar series held at 5.15pm in the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU, Dr Robert Peberdy, Assistant Editor, Oxfordshire VCH and co-author of Burford: buildings and people in the England’s Past for Everyone series, will lecture on ‘Small towns and economic change’ on 18 May 2010; Dr Sue Berry. Editor of the VCH Brighton volume, will lecture on ‘Myths beside the seaside: the influence of myths on how the history of the City of Brighton and Hove is perceived’ on 1 June; and our Fellow Dr Christopher Currie, Senior Research Fellow of the IHR and General Editor of the Victoria County History from 1994 to 2000, will lecture on ‘The other Londons: North America’ on 15 June. All are welcome.

20 May 2010: ‘Pepys’s “Secret Code” Revealed’, St Olave’s Church, Hart Street, London, at noon; a talk by our Fellow Guy de la Bédoyère to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the commencement of Pepys’s diary (which he began writing, in shorthand, on 1 January 1660). Further information from St Olave's.

Saturdays from 29 May 2010: Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library. In this series of short talks on Saturday afternoons throughout Lambeth Palace Library’s 400th anniversary exhibition, leading experts highlight some of the treasures currently on display, starting on 29 May at 2.15pm with Fellow Giles Mandelbrote talking about ‘The first 400 years’, and followed by Fellow Michelle Brown talking at 3.15pm on ‘The MacDurnan Gospels: a masterpiece of Celtic illumination’. The talks are free to ticket holders; a PDF file listing the complete series can be downloaded from the Lambeth Palace Library website.

19 June 2010: Neo-Classical Metalwork. This day symposium begins with a visit to the exhibition The Classical Ideal: English silver 1760—1840 guided by the curator, our Fellow Christopher Hartop, at Koopman Rare Art, 53—64 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1QS. This is followed by a buffet lunch and lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35—43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE, during which our Fellow Philippa Glanville, former Keeper of Metalwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum, will introduce Dr Steven Parissien, speaking on Robert Adam, Oliver Fairclough, on Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s Great Dinner Service, and Charles Truman, on neo-classical gold boxes, with concluding remarks by Dr Heike Zech, Curator of the Gilbert Collection. Further information on the symposium from Carole Weaver and on the exhibition from Koopman Rare Art website.

3 and 4 July 2010: Flint knapping course, with tutors John and Val Lord. 31 July and 1 August 1: letter cutting in stone with tutor John Neilson. Both are weekend courses with all food and accommodation provided at Old Chapel Farm, Tylwch, Llanidloes, Powys. Further details of these and other courses can be found on the website Cambrian Archaeological Projects.

Books by Fellows

The Friends of Friendless Churches (FoFC) is an admirable organisation founded in 1957 by Ivor Bulmer-Thomas (1905—93), sometime spy, Times leader writer and MP for Keighley, which plays a vital role as the friend of last resort for churches that lack a congregation: often they are the only marker of an ancient settlement that has long since disappeared. But what gems many of them are is revealed in Saving Churches (Frances Lincoln; ISBN 9780711230415; ), written by our Fellow Matthew Saunders, who now runs the FoFC, with a Foreword by our Royal Fellow, HRH The Prince of Wales, and an introduction by our Fellow Simon Jenkins. Many of the buildings featured in the book are located in isolated rural locations, and yet such is the strength of the FoFC membership network that funds are raised to keep them in good repair, with concerts, exhibitions, candle-lit harvest suppers and summer barbecues, as well as regular services. Typical FoFC churches are St Mary the Virgin, Llanfair Kilgeddin, in Monmouthshire, with its colourful sgraffito decoration by Heywood Sumner on the walls of a church lovingly restored by John Dando Sedding, the Arts and Crafts colleague of William Morris, Philip Webb and Norman Shaw in the office of G E Street; or the charming church of St Margaret Marloes, set in a green hollow in Llandawke, Carmarthenshire, which features on the book’s cover. Needless to say, buying the book not only opens your eyes to some beautiful and atmospheric churches that you might not otherwise have discovered; it also contributes to a very good cause.

Some of those Welsh FoFC churches also feature in The Archaeology of the Early Medieval Celtic Churches (Maney: ISBN 9781906540616) edited by our Fellow Nancy Edwards and dedicated to our Fellow Charles Thomas in the Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph series. The ‘Churches’ of the title refers to the separate traditions of the Celtic-speaking areas of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, south-west Britain and Brittany, and the title therefore explicitly rejects the notion of ‘the Celtic church’ with a uniformity of belief, practice, organisation and culture. It was exactly that plurality and autonomy that the Roman Church so deplored in its lax Celtic sister, and that it sought to bring into line, but for the archaeologist and historian, the diversity is the attraction, and the twenty-one papers in this volume do the subject full justice, revealing how the very difficulty of distinguishing between sacred and secular, pagan and Christian, tells us much about the intertwining of Church and society at this fascinating period, when some major ecclesiastical sites functioned like monastic towns.

In the same monograph series is Reflections: 50 years of medieval archaeology (Maney: ISBN 9781906540715; ), edited by our Fellows Roberta Gilchrist and Andrew Reynolds. The cover photograph depicts the Knight playing chess with Death from Ingmar Bergman’s film, The Seventh Seal, about a knight who returns from crusade to find his native Sweden in the grip of plague, released in 1957, the year in which the Society for Medieval Archaeology was founded and summing up popular perceptions of the Middle Ages at the time (the final paper in the volume, by our Fellow Mark Hall, delves further into the representation of the Middle Ages in film).

Introductory essays by our Fellows David M Wilson, Christopher Gerrard and Rosemary Cramp look back on the Society’s founding, the early years and the major milestones, while Fellows Mark Gardiner and Stephen Rippon examine the research themes and aspirations of the future (like the prehistorians and Romanists quoted in the Nature report cited above, they too see huge potential, and huge challenges, in absorbing the data from grey literature and development-led fieldwork). The remaining twenty papers look at different regional approaches to medieval archaeology (in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia and south-eastern Europe), landscape and settlement studies, the growing contribution of science, and especially the bio-chemical analysis of human remains, to the discipline and social approaches to the period: addressing such themes as cultural identity, belief and lordship, challenging the view that medieval archaeologists do not engage with theoretical archaeology.

The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society has just published The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Blacknall Field, Pewsey, Wiltshire, by our late Fellow Ken Annable, former curator of the Devizes Museum (now the Wiltshire Heritage Museum), who directed the excavation of the site between 1969 and 1976, and our Fellow Bruce Eagles, with the support of an international team of twenty-two specialists, including many of our Fellows who specialise in this period (Oxbow; ISBN 9780947723149). The cemetery, with its one hundred or so inhumations, contained the remains of adults, children and infants, the majority of whom were buried with grave goods that have enabled the individual graves to be closely dated to the period AD 475 to c 550. Kin-based burial plots have been tentatively identified amongst the earliest burials, and the osteology suggests a healthy population, without marked nutritional deficiency, but ‘a significant level of weapon-inflicted violence’. No settlement has ever been found to link to the burial field, but sword, belt buckle and brooch styles have enabled the community’s contacts to be reconstructed, extending to the south-east Midlands, the lower Thames and Kent, but also, closer to home, to communities at Collingbourne Ducis and Portway, near Andover.


The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge: Research Assistant; closing date 20 May 2010
As part of its ambitious programme of redevelopment, the Cambridge Museum of Arch & Anth is seeking to appoint a Research Assistant with a background in archaeology and experience of museum work, to support the development of new British and World Archaeology displays, drawing on the museum’s world-class collections of approximately 800,000 artefacts. Details can be found on the Cambridge University website.

English Heritage: Historic Environment Traineeship Scheme; salary from £18,000 to £23,000, depending on experience, skills and location; closing date 21 May 2010
The last time English Heritage offered HET scheme places, it was inundated with applicants, so popular is this initiative, which offers up to ten two-year professional work placements within EH regional planning and development teams, allowing trainees to gain experience in the application of professional conservation management skills in a planning and development context.

Candidates will ideally have some practical work experience already in a heritage discipline (such as archaeology, historic building survey, history, conservation, landscape architecture or planning) and a degree in a subject such as archaeology, architecture, conservation, environmental sciences, history, landscape architecture, planning or urban design, but non-graduates with substantial practical work experience in a heritage discipline are also encouraged to apply. Further information can be found on the English Heritage website.

University of Chester, Lecturer in Archaeology within the Department of History and Archaeology; closing date 27 May 2010
Candidates are sought to teach British archaeology with a focus upon archaeological method and practice. This newly created post is tenable from 1 September 2010. Details of the job and application packs can be found on the University of Chester’s website.