Salon Archive

Issue: 234

Library closure

The Society’s apartments and library at Burlington House will be closed on Monday 31 May and Tuesday 1 June 2010 for the late-May Bank Holiday.

Forthcoming meetings

Thursday 27 May 2010: ‘Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia: a legend rediscovered’, by John Sanday, FSA, and James Hooper, Global Heritage Fund

Thursday 10 June 2010: ‘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.

17 June 2010: ‘Lady Anne Clifford’s Great Triptych’, by Karen Hearn, FSA, and ‘Music in the Household of Lady Anne’, by Lynne Hulse, FSA.

24 June 2010: Summer soirée (details to come).

Fellows’ tour of Burlington House, 24 June 2010

Places are still available on the introductory tour of Burlington House that takes place on 24 June 2010. Designed for any Fellow not yet familiar with the Society’s library and museum collections, the tours start at 11am (coffee from 10.30am) in the Council Room and will last about one and a half hours followed, for those who wish to stay, by a sandwich lunch (for which a charge of £5 is made). Places can be booked by contacting Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Administrative Assistant.

York Antiquaries summer dinner, 30 June 2010

The York Antiquaries will be holding their summer dinner on Wednesday 30 June 2010. Local members have already been sent details, but non-York Fellows and their guests are most welcome to and can apply for further details to our Fellow Philip Lankester before 8 June 2010.

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) 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.

A week is a long time in politics

The last issue of Salon — written when Gordon Brown was still Prime Minister (it seems such a long time ago) — was, it now turns out, unnecessarily gloomy in predicting that electoral reform would prove a barrier to coalition and that there would soon be another election. Instead it now looks likely that the UK is in for a period of stable government by a Liberal Conservative coalition, whose Programme for Government (PFG) was published on 21 May 2010.

This re-affirms the coalition’s plan to ‘give national museums greater freedoms’ and to ‘encourage philanthropic and corporate investment’. On Lottery reform, it says it will ban ‘lobbying activities’ on the part of the National Lottery distributors and cap the amount that they can spend on administration at 5 per cent of their total income; it will ‘examine the case for moving to a “gross profits tax” system for the National Lottery’ [that is to say, taxing the gross profits of Camelot, the lottery operator, as well as receiving a percentage of ticket sales] and increasing the percentage that goes to sport, the arts and heritage at the expense of the Big Lottery Fund.

For musicians and music lovers there is good news in the promise to ‘cut red tape to encourage the performance of more live music’, a reference to the Licensing Act of 2003 which has imposed onerous conditions on amateur musical activity.

There is nothing in the PFG on the Heritage Protection Bill, but Ed Vaizey, the new Culture Minister, speaking to heritage professionals at the Heritage of London Trust’s annual conference on 20 May, said that the Queen’s Speech would only cover the major bills. Over the eighteen months of the parliamentary session that begins with the State Opening of Parliament on 25 May 2010, other bills could be introduced. The Heritage Protection Bill might be one of these, the Minister said, possibly linked to a Museums Bill, giving national museums and art galleries the powers to create endowment funds.

He said that his civil servants were still keen on a Heritage Protection Bill, so as to give greater coherence to the treatment of the historic environment, and he confirmed that ‘we will put as much as possible into practice that doesn’t need legislation’. He concluded by saying that there would be an opportunity to revisit the draft bill before it is introduced to Parliament.

Built environment minister for four days

Earlier in the same address Ed Vaizey revealed that he was no longer responsible for heritage and the built environment. That part of his portfolio has instead been transferred to John Penrose, the forty-five-year-old Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, whose background is in textbook publishing and educational software, now Minister for Tourism and Heritage.

The words ‘shock announcement’ were used by the media to describe this reallocation of responsibilities. Only the previous day, Vaizey had been warmly welcomed as a heritage minister with a ‘vast interest in architecture and the built environment’ by the RIBA, where he spoke about his passion for improving standards of design and of ensuring that new buildings complemented historic buildings rather than replacing them.

Forty-two-year-old Vaizey, Conservative MP for Wantage and Didcot, retains responsibility for arts, media and libraries, museums and galleries and takes on additional responsibility for telecoms, broadband and the creative industries (working in tandem with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The press speculated that the change came about when it was realised that John Penrose could not be given responsibility for media and the digital economy because of his marriage to Dido Harding, the managing director of the Talk Talk telecom company.

And one more archaeologist in the House

Also somewhat pessimistic was the statement in the last issue of Salon to the effect that John Howell was the sole archaeological voice in the new House of Commons. Once it was clear that Nick Clegg was going to be appointed Deputy Prime Minister in the Liberal Conservative Coalition, biographies and profiles began to appear describing the Liberal Democrat leader as having a Cambridge degree in social anthropology. Fellow Jason Wood points out that there is no such thing: in fact the Deputy Prime Minister has a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge (Robinson College), though he specialised in social anthropology. Perhaps we can hope that archaeology will rise up the political agenda in the future — and we also now have an answer to all those sceptics who say ‘a degree in archaeology? That will not get you anywhere’.

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

Forty-five Fellows entered Lambeth Palace on 19 May 2010 through Archbishop Morton’s redbrick gatehouse of 1495, enjoying brief glimpses of the palace courtyards and gardens full of flowering irises before entering the Great Hall of 1660—3 (replacing one destroyed during the Commonwealth, that now serves as Lambeth Palace Library). What Pepys called an ‘old fashioned’ building’ (because Gothic rather than classical) has perhaps one of the latest hammer-beam roofs constructed in England, beneath whose golden-oaked magnificence Archbishop Howley’s neo-Jacobean library bookcases of 1829—33 seemed almost domestic in scale. Selected from those shelves for the current Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library exhibition are some of the plums of the collection, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year.

Lambeth Palace Head Librarian, our Fellow Giles Mandelbrote, explained that the library was founded in 1610 at the death of Archbishop Richard Bancroft who bequeathed the contents of his study to encourage future archbishops to do the same, with the aim of turning what had been a series of personal libraries into an institutional resource. Bancroft’s bequest included books that he had acquired as an arsenal of knowledge at a time of great religious turbulence, and some of the books and pamphlets on display revealed the controversies with which he had to deal, from the question of whether witches should be put to death to attacks on Episcopal authority.

Bancroft’s bequest also included books and manuscripts collected in the 1550s and 1560s from the spoils of the monastic libraries of England by Matthew Parker (1504—75), partly as a result of his quest for evidence that the Anglican Church had been independent of Rome in the past. The circle of scholars who helped him in his research was disbanded after Parker’s death, and Corpus Christ Library got most of his manuscripts, though a punitive clause in his will says that the Fellows of Trinity Hall and Gonville and Caius should acquire the collection if any of the manuscripts go astray: consequently, said Giles, the Librarians of the latter two colleges carry out an annual ceremony in which they scour the shelves of Corpus Christi Library (where our Fellow Christopher de Hamel is Librarian) in the hope of finding gaps. Lambeth did, however, manage to hold on to some of Parker’s gems, including the mid-twelfth-century Lambeth Bible and the Lambeth Apocalypse.

Lambeth also benefited from the libraries of English monarchs: it has the second largest collection of books known to have come from Henry VIII’s library, marked with his marginalia, including Thomas Abel’s arguments in defence of the validity of Henry’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon (for which he was executed for treason in 1540). James I’s angry comments written in a Puritan tract and blind John Milton’s application for a marriage licence, his signature falling off the page, are amongst the other materials on display that link books from the collection to their former owners. A final case in the exhibition continues this theme with non-book items from the Lambeth Library collection, including Archbishop Laud’s ivory Nuremberg Chalice and the shell of his pet tortoise, living on in the gardens of Lambeth Palace after his master’s execution in 1645 until a careless workman disturbed its hibernation in 1753 and the animal froze to death.

All these and more are fully described and set in context in the newly published library catalogue, Lambeth Palace Library: treasures from the collections of the Archbishops of Canterbury, edited by our Fellows Richard Palmer and Michelle Brown (ISBN 9781857596274), which can be purchased at the exhibition or by post from the library at the bargain price of £15 during the exhibition (in paperback; the hardback costs £35).

The verdict of those Fellows and guests who attended the private view was a request to Salon’s editor to organise more of such outings in the future (the Stonehenge visit in September 2009 had also been much appreciated), including a return trip to Lambeth Palace for a tour of the buildings and the gardens; this will be done, though the waiting list for tours is currently 18 months. But watch this space for news of possible Fellows’ tours of Strawberry Hill and of the Bodleian Library’s exhibition called ‘My wit was always working’: John Aubrey and the development of experimental science, which opens on 28 May.

Parker Library manuscripts now on website

Meanwhile, in Cambridge, the University has issued a press release announcing that the Parker Library at Corpus Christi is ‘the first research library to have every page of its collection digitised and published online’. The project to publish the 550 manuscripts (200,000 separate pages) that make up the Parker Library is a joint venture between the college, Cambridge University Library and Stanford University and was funded to the tune of nearly US$6m by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation.

Website users now have access to a collection that begins with the sixth-century Gospels of St Augustine and that ends with sixteenth-century records relating to the English Reformation and that includes the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c 890), the ninth-century Corpus Glossary (MS 144), with its definitions of well over 2,000 words in Old English, King Alfred’s translation of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care, key Anglo-Norman and Middle English texts such as the Ancrene Wisse, the Brut Chronicle, and one of the finest copies of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Other subjects represented in the collection are theology, music, medieval travelogue, maps, apocalypses, bestiaries, royal ceremonies, historical chronicles, including the Chronica maiora of Matthew Paris (c 1230—50), and Bibles, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (c 1135 and c 1150).

Those for whom nothing but the real thing will do will also be pleased to learn that a new reading room has also been built under the Library, and that tours are to begin later this year.

English Heritage’s archive catalogue now online

English Heritage has taken another step towards the eventual publication online of the holdings of the National Monuments Record (NMR) by making its catalogue online. Although you cannot yet download the records themselves, you no longer have to visit the NMR’s public search rooms in Swindon just to find out what records exist. The catalogue lists more than a million historical photographs and documents covering archaeology, architecture and social and local history. Each catalogue item consists of a description and users can place orders online.

New English Heritage website

Last week English Heritage also launched a new website, with a clearer, simpler design, and far less cluttered than the version we have been used to over the last few years. The website is divided into two main sections, one aimed largely at members and visitors, and the other intended for heritage professionals. A third section, ‘About us’, has information on governance, funding, vacancies and contact details. Speedier searches are promised.

Ivy can be good for historic buildings, says report

One of the items featured on the new EH website is a report that overturns the received wisdom that ivy destroys buildings. The new study, carried out by Oxford University and commissioned by English Heritage, involved analysing the effects of ivy growing on buildings in five different parts of England over a period of three years. The report concluded that walls where ivy was growing were less prone to the damaging effects of frost, pollution and salts than exposed walls without ivy, and that the ivy canopy acts as a protective blanket.

Among the walls monitored were garden walls at Trinity, Pembroke and Worcester Colleges, in Oxford, and the Old City Wall. Elsewhere, the research team examined ivy at the Dover Drop Redoubt site, at Byland, North Yorkshire, Nailsea, near Bristol, and Leicester. Monitors were fixed to the walls to measure the temperature and relative humidity of the microclimate beneath the ivy canopy as compared with uncovered walls.

To set against this positive finding, the research teams admitted that the protective effects of ivy only benefit walls that are intact: as all owners of ivy-covered walls know from first-hand experience, ivy is adept at finding its way into the tiniest of cracks and will separate masonry from mortar with great destructive effect. To learn more about this, the researchers built a test wall containing different flaws so that they could measure and compare the different deterioration rates with and without ivy. English Heritage plans to issue guidelines for staff and provide guidance for the public based on this research early next year.

Alan Cathersides, Senior Landscape Manager at English Heritage, said: ‘English Heritage is always keen to avoid unnecessary work to monuments and hopes this research will lead to a more balanced approach to ivy. Removal should not be automatic as so often in the past, but a carefully considered element of long term management.’

CBA report reveals voluntary archaeology has doubled in twenty years

Another report that comes to a surprising conclusion is the one published by the Council for British Archaeology, which says that the number of people involved in voluntary archaeology in the UK has more than doubled (to 200,000) since a similar survey was carried out in 1987.

The CBA suggests that one factor behind this impressive growth is the impact of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, both of which have (or had, in the case of the ALSF) funding streams to encourage volunteer involvement in local heritage projects. The growth is also likely to reflect the wider range of activities that would now be considered as ‘archaeological’ compared with twenty years ago. Counteracting this is the ‘dramatic decline in continuing education departments and the closure/down-sizing of many archaeological organisations’.

The report highlights the fact that volunteer activity and expertise is ‘significantly influenced by local conditions, such as relationships with professional archaeologists, legislation, and availability of grants’. Also variable is the publication output from community archaeology groups: some are very good at broadcasting and publishing their work, others less so: 11 per cent of groups that responded to the survey claimed not to publish or broadcast their work at all.

The CBA says it will be ‘acting on these conclusions, with ambitious plans to train a new generation of professional community archaeology facilitators to help groups make the most of their activities. The CBA will also be expanding its suite of advice and guidance facilities, and focusing on raising the standard of work carried out by volunteers.’

To access the full report, and for further details on the CBA’s community archaeology work, see the CBA's website.

The National Trust’s ‘Going Local’ strategy

Also undergoing a process of change is the National Trust, which has, over the last three months been briefing staff and stakeholders on its new ‘Going Local’ corporate strategy (if the idea of ‘local’ and ‘corporate’ is not too oxymoronic). The core idea behind the strategy is for the Trust to engage more with local communities, so as to ‘make everyone feel like a member’. Already the Trust has four times as many members (3m) than the Church of England (750,000 active members), and it aims to raise membership to 5m by the year 2020. This will be done by ‘reaching out to local communities, facilitating local initiatives’ and ‘increasing its relevance to the whole nation’.

A large part of the burden of delivering such an ambitious plan falls on the shoulders of some 180 Property and General Managers, who, under the new strategy, will be ‘tasked with exploring the uniqueness of their property and locality and its special value to the community and the nation, bringing properties to life and engaging people more deeply in what happens there’. At the same time as giving managers more freedom, the members of a head- and regional-office task force — the National Trust Consultancy — will be available to advise them on conservation, wildlife, archaeology, land management, education and interpretation, retail and catering and community engagement.

National Trust Director General Fiona Reynolds says that: ‘The aim of these changes is first and foremost to make us fitter to deliver our vision for a more universal and relevant Trust in the twenty-first century … however, there will also be business efficiencies that will allow us to put even more money back into conservation and improving the visitor experience. The changes will also help eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, remove duplication of effort and concentrate the wide range of skills within the Trust at the point of delivery.’

Lives remembered

Our late Fellow ‘Bobby’ St John Gore was influential in the formation of policy at the National Trust in an earlier age, as was emphasised in the obituaries that appeared in The Times and the Daily Telegraph (for both, see the ‘Obituaries’ page of the Society’s website. The Times said that he was part of a talented team (that also included Sir Brinsley Ford and our Fellow Martin Drury) who worked at the Trust for thirty years from the late 1950s, developing the Trust’s collections and preparing such properties as Clandon, in Surrey, and Chartwell, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill, in Kent, for public opening. He was a purist, acutely aware of the importance of all elements being in historical and aesthetic harmony, but he also had an acute sense of what the public wanted, and was a pioneer of the inclusion of gift shops and restaurants in the Trust’s historic houses.

From 1974 to 1981 he was Historic Buildings Secretary (the post first held by James Lees-Milne and immortalised in his diaries) with responsibility for the presentation, curatorship and conservation of all the Trust’s houses and their contents. He set up the Trust’s first textile conservation workrooms and established principles of conservation and curatorship by which the National Trust is still guided.

The Society has also learned of the death on 6 May 2010 of Richard John Boileau Walker, at the age of ninety-three. Though not a Fellow at the time of his death (having resigned in 2008), he made a valuable contribution to the catalogue (in preparation) of the Society’s pictures when, working with the earlier notes of our Fellow Dr Pamela Tudor-Craig, supplemented by his own research, he provided the draft entries for some twenty or so of our later portraits in 2003.

One of Richard’s lasting memorials is the Government Art collection, which he curated during the 1950s to 1980s, buying works by Paul Nash, Matthew Smith, Graham Sutherland, Barbara Hepworth, Elizabeth Frink and David Hockney when many of these artists where just starting their careers. In this capacity he supplied pictures for the walls of No. 10 Downing Street, keeping happy prime ministers from Atlee to Thatcher. Most appreciated him, others not so much. Harold Wilson preferred photos of himself to ‘namby pamby’ Gainsboroughs. When he told Margaret Thatcher: ‘I’ve come to speak to you about art in your office’, she replied: ‘I’m not interested in art, goodbye’.

News of Fellows

Fellows may remember that Professor Timothy Darvill, Vice-President, assisted with the celebration of the Society’s Tercentenary with a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2008. A recording of one of the lectures (‘Merlin’s magic circles: Stonehenge and the Bluestones’) forming part of that tour has now been posted on iTunes by the University of Otago who hosted the event in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 23 May 2008. The lecture can be downloaded for free from the iUniversity section of the iTunes website.

Tim notes that ‘this form of lecture delivery is increasingly popular as a means of providing wide access and is no doubt a sign of things to come’, which Salon’s editor takes to be a gentle hint that it is time our Society started broadcasting weekly lectures and seminar papers on the web …

In a similar vein, Fellow Pamela Jane Smith reports that the transcript is now available for downloading of the talk that our Fellow Sir David Attenborough gave in a packed Babbage Lecture Theatre in Cambridge on 12 October 2009 in that year’s Personal Histories seminar. The transcript is every bit as entertaining as you would expect, as Sir David recalls the early years of ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’, the programme on which he worked after joining the BBC in 1952. Look in particular for David’s hilarious account of the many ways that Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Glyn Daniel found to prick the pomposity of Sir Julian Huxley on air.

Our Fellow Ray Sutcliffe also took part in that seminar, and he makes the very good point that archaeology has always been very popular on TV, and that our Fellow Colin Renfrew, for example, would attract audiences of 4-million plus for his ‘Chronicle’ programmes on Minoan Crete or the megaliths of Malta: more people, Ray points out, than watch the heavily promoted ‘Newsnight’ today.

Inter alia, there is a discussion sparked off by our Fellow and former President Rosemary Cramp about women in television, and another, in response to a question from our Fellow Tim Schadla-Hall, on what is wrong with some of today’s TV archaeology programmes (quote: ‘Both the Scotsman who emoted on top of [Silbury] hill with his flowing locks and the girl who looked like a Goth and rushed around expatiating about I know not what … it seemed neither of them knew or understood the first thing about Silbury. Neither of them had done their homework’).

From our Fellow Professor Gwyn Meirion-Jones comes news of our Fellow Madame Catherine Laurent, who retires at the end of May following twenty years as Conservatrice-en-Chef of the Archives de Rennes; previously she spent ten years setting up and directing the municipal archives of Saint-Malo. For seventeen years she was President of the Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie de Bretagne, responsible for the organisation of its annual Congrès, as well as editing the substantial annual journal. In recognition of her services Catherine has just been promoted to the rank of ‘Officier’ in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Fellow Heinrich Härke, whose despatches from Russia have featured in Salon recently, has just been appointed Honorary Professor at the Universität Tübingen, in Germany, where he will contribute to teaching and research in the Archäologie des Mittelalters (Department of Medieval Archaeology) and develop links to, and exchange programmes with, higher education institutions in Russia. Heinrich adds that he retains his affiliation to the University of Reading where he has been, since taking early retirement in 2007, a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Human and Environmental Sciences.

Fellow John Hemming writes to say: ‘I particularly enjoyed Salon’s report on that wonderful exhibition Magnificent Maps. It made me think of places that have deliberately been omitted from maps, for political or security reasons. Dozens of places of military or nuclear significance did not feature on Cold War era maps. In Apartheid South Africa, town plans of Johannesburg simply had a large blank where the huge township of Soweto (‘SOuth-WEst TOwnship’) lay, presumably because whites were not supposed to go there. In central Brazil, a small air force base called Cachimbo (on the upper Iriri River, where I travelled in the early 1960s when it was totally unexplored and unmapped) later disappeared off maps again during the twenty-one years of military rule of Brazil; rumour had it that the base was being used to try to make an atom bomb.’

John’s book on Inca architecture — Monuments of the Incas (ISBN 9780500051634; Thames & Hudson) has just been republished as a greatly expanded and rewritten book that takes into account ‘the splendid research, excavation and (occasionally controversial) restoration of the past two decades’. John adds that he has recently lectured about these changes at the Asociacion Cultural in Lima, and at the Instituto Cervantes in London, after which ‘the Peruvian Ambassador kindly gave me a launch party at his embassy, during which he invested me with the order El Sol del Peru — the oldest order of chivalry in South America, founded by San Martin when he first set foot in Peru in 1821, five years before he and Bolivar finally liberated that nation’.

Our Fellow Emeritus Professor Rodney Thomson, Honorary Research Fellow at the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania, was recently inducted as a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, at Yale University’s biennial conference held on 18 to 20 March 2010. Apart from being the first Australian to be so honoured, Rod says that the significance of this is ‘the recognition of the growing strength of medieval studies in the Antipodes’.

After reporting that Fellow Kevin Blockley has added the post of cathedral archaeologist at Bristol to his existing post at Lichfield, Salon has now learned that Fellow Julian Litten is similarly well-endowed with cathedral hats, having been appointed Chairman of Norwich Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee in January of this year, adding to his ordinary membership of the cathedral fabric advisory committees at Ely Cathedral and St Edmundsbury Cathedral and that of the Fabric Advisory Commission at Westminster Abbey.

The longevity of Fellow Peter Spufford whose fifty years as a member (and latterly as Chairman) of the Council of the British Record Society reported in the last issue of Salon is matched by the achievement of Fellow Cecil Humphery-Smith, who retired on 31 January 2010 after no less than fifty-three years with the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury, the last fifty of those as Principal. He is succeeded as Principal by Dr Richard Baker, FHG, who was appointed Vice-Principal five years ago. There will be a special presentation at the annual Awards and Open Day, which will be held at the Institute on 17 July 2010, to which Cecil’s friends and acquaintances are cordially invited. Cecil’s most recent work, a Catalogue of Heraldry in Canterbury Cathedral, was published as a guidebook for Cathedral Guides earlier this year, and a copy has been donated to the Society’s Library.

More news of the UK textile conservation centre

The Art Newspaper’s May issue carries an article with an update on the formation of a new textile conservation centre at Glasgow University. Kate Frame, head of conservation and collection care at Historic Royal Palaces, says that the opening of the new Glasgow centre will mean that ‘the UK regains its position at the forefront of textile care and treatment’, after the closure last year of the Southampton-based textile conservation centre.

Glasgow will launch a two-year Masters in Textile Conservation and a one-year Masters in the History of Textiles and Dress in September 2010, alongside PhD programmes. The university’s existing Masters’ course in Technical Art History, Making and Meaning will also be available at the new centre. Students will have access to textile collections held by Glasgow Museums, the National Museums of Scotland and the university’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.

Professor Nick Pearce, head of history of art at the University of Glasgow, says: ‘we are confident the new postgraduate courses in textile conservation and dress and textile history to be offered from September will be financially viable … we will be developing funding to support a number of conservation-based research projects, some of which will be in collaboration with institutions abroad.’

Meanwhile, recruitment has begun of a Reader/Senior Lecturer in Textile Conservation at the new centre (see ‘Vacancies’ below), a post that in effect is that of Programme Leader and Head of Department.


27 May 2010: ‘One Previous Owner: Exploring Book Provenance’, a talk to be given at 5pm in the Berrick Saul Auditorium, University of York, by our Fellow David Pearson, Director of Libraries, Archives and the Guildhall Art Gallery for the City of London, to complement the exhibition, One Previous Owner, currently running at Laurence Stern’s former home, Shandy Hall. David, a world expert on book provenance and bookbinding, will talk about the history of book ownership and the marks left on the books by owners in the form of comments, exclamations and profanities, dedications, letters and notes and even stains that tell a story.

5 June 2010: ASPRoM Spring Symposium. The Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics (ASPRoM) is holding its spring symposium at the Legionary Museum, Caerleon, from 2pm to 5pm on 5 June 2010. The speakers are Fellow Peter Guest on ‘Isca: recent work on the site of the legionary fortress at Caerleon’, Mark Lewis, on ‘Saved by vandals: a recently recovered mosaic from Caerleon’, Penny Hill on ‘Moving mosaics: transfer and storage at the National Museum Wales’, and Pari White, on ‘A geoarchaeological approach to the stone mosaic materials of Fishbourne Roman Palace’. All are welcome to attend.

3 and 4 July 2010: Building a Medieval Castle: Corfe Castle, Dorset. A stonemason and a shingle-maker will be explaining medieval construction techniques at National-Trust owned Corfe Castle over this weekend, demonstrating quarrying, stone cutting, tracing, shingle-making and carpentry. The demonstrators are members of the fifty-strong construction team who are building a castle using medieval techniques and materials in Guédelon, Burgundy, in an ambitious example of experimental archaeology that began in 1997 and is scheduled to take twenty-five years to complete.

The weekend will include three presentations each day on the construction skills used in building the castle, including the methods used to transport and put in place the heavy roof trusses, tie beams and wall plates, and the use of the windlass used to haul stone. There will also be an exhibition of photographs and tools from the Guédelon, a slide show of work in progress and a video of the treadmill in use. Booking is not needed but normal admission charges apply.

11 September 2010: The Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked, a major interdisciplinary seminar to be held at the National Museum of Scotland in association with the exhibition of over thirty chess pieces from National Museums Scotland and the British Museum currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland (until 19 September 2010), after which they will continue to Aberdeen Art Gallery (7 October 2010 to 8 January 2011), Shetland Museum and Archives (29 January to 27 March 2011) and Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway (15 April to 12 September 2011).

The seminar will highlight recent research into the origins, history and making of these iconic figures from a range of perspectives, with papers from our Fellow David Caldwell, Keeper of Scotland and Europe, National Museums Scotland, and co-curator of the exhibition, on ‘The Lewis Chessmen: their place in the Kingdom of the Isles’ and from our Fellow and co-curator Mark Hall, of Perth Museum and Art Gallery, on ‘To you he left … his brown ivory chessmen’: ships, play and cultural value in the Lewis gaming hoard’. Further information can be found on the National Museums Scotland website.


Once again, Salon has fallen into the trap of stating that something is the ‘oldest’ example of its kind. Fellow Alan Millard points out that the painted friezes from Thera dating from just before the 1500 BC eruption of Santorini ‘are not the earliest maps by any means. There are earlier maps on clay tablets from Babylonia with cuneiform inscriptions. One, dated about 2300 BC is apparently oriented to the cardinal points’. Alan helpfully points to his paper on ‘Cartography in the Ancient Near East’ in J B Harley and D Woodward (eds), History of Cartography I, 107—16, Chicago: University Press (1987) as a source of further information.

Fellow Howard Williams, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Chester, responds to the report in Salon concerning the decision of English Heritage and the National Trust to allow a prehistoric child’s skeleton to stay on display in the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury, Wiltshire, by saying that his research suggests that many people consider excavating and studying the dead not as desecration, but as ‘the ultimate form of respect, allowing the stories of past lives to be told’. Howard organised a session at the recent Institute for Archaeology’s annual conference (with Mel Giles of the University of Manchester) on ‘Mortuary Archaeology and Popular Culture’. ‘Popular culture portrays archaeologists as detectives’, he argued at the conference, ‘and for many, digging graves is iconic of both what archaeology is and what archaeologists do … beyond the study of history and popular stereotypes, there may be a more fundamental reason why the public supports the excavation and display of ancient human remains. This is because archaeology is one of the few means in modern society by which we “see” the dead, connecting us both to an ancient person and providing a window onto our own mortality.’

Fellow Robert Merrillees responded to the report in Salon on research into the lives of refugees in Oxford during the Second World War with the recollection that Professor Claude F A Schaeffer-Forrer, originally Alsatian and later French, celebrated as the excavator of the major Bronze Age settlement of Ras Shamra, ancient Ugarit, on the north coast of Syria, was among those who sought refuge in Oxford. Robert writes: ‘He joined the Free French in London during the Second World War but used his spare time to compose a major work on comparative archaeology in Western Asia, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1948 and that must be one of the longest, if not the longest, work in French ever published by OUP. Schaeffer recounts his wartime experiences in the preface to this volume, Stratigraphie Comparée et Chronologie de l’Asie Occidentale (IIIe et IIe millénaires).

Appeals for help

Fellow Harry Johnstone would be grateful for help in identifying the armorial bearings that appear in a bookplate of around 1680 (see the Society’s website), which he has been told ‘are those of a female, possibly a marchioness; she (if she it is) is most probably French since the person to whom the volume belonged a few years later was an Englishman (Henry Bond) who followed James II into exile in 1689. The volume to which it is attached is a French opera by J B Lully published, in 1680. If someone in the Society is able to tell me whose bookplate this is I shall be very pleased indeed, and, needless to say, happy to acknowledge their assistance in any article which may (or may not) materialize.’

Fellow Richard Sharpe wonders whether there is any such thing as the ‘Annals of British Archaeology’, in the sense of a year-by-year record, with references, of (say) pre-1850 archaeological observations and finds in the UK (or any of its constituent nations)? If not, says Richard, would there be any merit in making a start on such a record?

‘To take an example that crossed my desk this week in the latest Lincolnshire Record Society volume, Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society 1710—1761’, writes Richard, ‘there are four letters (nos 48—51; April to August 1723) that discuss the recently discovered inscription at Chichester. Camden would provide a base-line, I suppose, for the physical remains. After Camden one could perhaps manage a year-by-year record, with a column for place/county, and a quotation and reference, down to the period when county journals start to announce a flood of finds.’

Richard cites the ‘so-called “silver shield” (the Sutton Brooch), discovered in the Isle of Ely in 1694, deposited in the time of William I, as an example of what one might learn from such a register. ‘Picking up on a reference to the brooch in a draft letter written by Lhwyd allowed me to work out that it was addressed to Sir Andrew Fountaine, which, in turn, contained evidence that Fountaine was interested in drawing Lhwyd into contact with Leibniz’.

As a footnote to Richard’s suggestion, it is worth flagging up the fact that Cambridge University Press is currently scanning all of our Society’s serial publications (Archaeologia, the Proceedings and the Antiquaries Journal). When these go online towards the end of 2010 (with free access for Fellows), these publications will provide the raw material from which to begin a chronological account of nationally significant archaeological discoveries since the early eighteenth century.

Books by Fellows

Our Fellow David Starkey recently attacked the ‘historical Mills and Boon’ approach to writing that he said was practised by female historians who are keen to show off their good looks on their book covers and have names that ‘usually begin and end with A’ (newspapers speculated that he was thinking of Amanda Foreman, who once posed for publicity shots naked but for strategically placed copies of her book, Georgiana, Duchess Of Devonshire). Not a hint of such censure therefore attaches to our Fellow Lucy Worsley (beginning with L and ending with Y), whose latest book, Courtiers (Faber: ISBN 9780571238897), has been garnering praise for its ‘depth of scholarship’ and its ‘carefully and complexly structured’ account of the characters depicted in the staircase mural at Kensington Palace (where Lucy has an office in her capacity as Chief Curator with Historic Royal Palaces), commissioned from William Kent by George I. One reviewer went as far as to say that Lucy’s biographies of the characters of the early Hanoverian court are more ‘vivid and realistic than Kent managed’.

At the core of Lucy’s book is a discussion of the waning power of the monarchy, as the court became a backwater and the monarchy ‘just another branch of London’s tourist industry’, along with an examination of the degree to which court intrigue influenced state policy, but what gives this book mass market appeal is the liveliness of Lucy’s writing and her talent for telling stories about such minor characters as Peter the Wild Boy, the child of unknown parentage found living wild in the woods near Hamelin in 1725, who was kept as court pet by George I and who excited much philosophical speculation at the time about what it meant to be human; or Stephen Duck, the self-taught farm labourer who (like John Clare and Robert Burns in later generations) rose to social prominence through his natural talents as a poet. Once tipped as a possible poet laureate, Duck was appointed ‘keeper of the Queen’s library at Merlin’s Cave in Richmond’, by Queen Caroline, where the duties included posing in the royal gardens as a picturesque hermit. Duck was later ordained, became chaplain of Kew and pastor of Byfleet, Surrey, but something of his inner turmoil is indicated by his suicide by drowning between 30 March and 2 April 1756.

We will see more of Lucy in the autumn: she has just finished filming a four-part series for BBC2 called ‘If Walls Could Talk: an intimate history of the home’, in which she looks at the history of the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen.

Dealing with a similar period in history, and equally packed with revealing anecdotes, is a book of essays on Scots in London in the Eighteenth Century (Bucknell University Press, ISBN 9780838756539), edited by Stana Nenadic with contributions from Fellows Iain Gordon Brown, Patricia Andrew and Viccy Coltman. The book is one of a series called ‘Studies in Eighteenth-Century Scotland’ published by this Pennsylvania-based publisher, and it concerns the surprisingly neglected subject of Scottish migration to London and the impact this had on intellectual life in the English capital.

Iain’s chapter is a study of one individual, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (1676—1755), who, in 1725, became the first Scotsman resident in Scotland to be elected to our Society. Penicuik divided his life between London and his country estate in Midlothian, working in London as a commissioner for the Treaty of Union and subsequently serving as a member of the first parliament of Great Britain from 1707. Ian’s chapter also deals with Alexander Gordon, sometime Secretary of our Society and a leading member of the London Scottish cultural ‘mafia’, some of whose other members are the subject of Patricia Andrew’s paper on the success (or failure) of such Scottish artists working in London as William Aikman (Sir John Clerk’s cousin), James Gibbs (the architect), Cosmo Alexander, Allan Ramsay (another Fellow of our Society), Katharine Read, Ann Forbes and David Allan. Viccy Coltman’s paper pursues the theme of Scottish architects in London by examining the rivalry between George Steuart and the brothers Robert and James Adam.

All in all this is a rich and fascinating book, which reveals that the Scottish community in London enjoyed considerably greater social, intellectual and economic success in London than some other migrant groups. The worst that anti-Scottish satire of the time could level against them was ‘cannyness’, cleverness; Scots were unpopular for exactly the virtues of sobriety, orderliness and industriousness that made them so successful. The accusation of ‘clannishness’ was also levelled against them, but again, this building of strong support networks was a strength. Ironically, the growing ‘Anglicisation’ of Scots in London did not go down well back at home, especially when it involved marriage to an English spouse, even though many Scots used this as a route to social and economic betterment.

Far from being a one-way process, London too was shaped by its Scotsmen; as Stana Nedanic says in her introduction, not only was eighteenth-century London paved with Scottish stone and its spires designed by Scots-born architects, they introduced to London the very idea of the panorama, the cityscape viewed in its entirety, that was first developed not in London but in Edinburgh, and that concerns members of this Society to this day as we campaign to protect historic views of key buildings and to persuade architects and planners to accept the notion of ‘setting’ as an important concept in town and city planning.

Turning to archaeology, Fellows might remember that Professor Paul Åström (1929—2008), the Swedish archaeologist and classical scholar, was nominated for Honorary Fellowship but, sadly, he died on 4 October 2008, only days before he would have been elected. One of Paul’s achievements was to start the publishing firm Astrom Editions in 1962 out of a desire to share and spread knowledge about Mediterranean archaeology and to help young archaeologists at the beginning of their careers by publishing their doctoral theses. Since his death, there has been considerable uncertainty over the future of the imprint, and of such major series as ‘Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology’ (SIMA), which he founded, edited and published. Now, with the strong support of Paul Åström’s family, it has been announced that Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology will continue, and an Advisory Board of senior scholars has been appointed, which includes our Fellows Manfred Bietak, Hector Catling and Robert Merrillees and Honorary Fellow Vassos Karageorghis, along with an Editorial Board with expertise in all facets of eastern Mediterranean archaeology. The latter includes Fellows Edgar Peltenburg and Dimitrios Michaelides. The new Editors-in-Chief of SIMA are Fellow Jennifer Webb and Fellowship candidate David Frankel of La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Further information is available on the new SIMA website.

The first publication of the new SIMA partnership has also been launched in the form of The Bronze Age Cemeteries at Karmi Palealona and Lapatsa in Cyprus. Excavations by J R B Stewart (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Volume CXXXVI; ISBN 978-91-7081-241-5) by Fellow Jennifer Webb, David Frankel, Kathryn Eriksson and J Basil Hennessy. This brings to publication the results of excavations at Early and Middle Bronze Age cemeteries near Karmi, on the north coast of Cyprus, excavated in 1961 by the late J R Stewart of the University of Sydney. The material recovered includes over 900 ceramic vessels, figurines and other items in Red Polished, Black Polished and White Painted wares, thirty-nine metal tools and weapons and skeletal remains, all of which are described and illustrated, including such significant finds as an imported Middle Minoan Kamares ware cup, providing rare evidence of contact between Cyprus and Crete in the early 2nd millennium BCE, and a unique carving of a human figure at the entrance to one of the tombs. The volume also discusses symbolic behaviour associated with mortuary activities and provides important evidence for ceramic production in one of the most densely settled and dynamic regions of the island in the late third and early second millennia BCE.

Ceramics and trade are also the subject of a new book from our Fellow Paul Reynolds, ICREA Research Professor in the Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology in the University of Barcelona, called Hispania and the Roman Mediterranean, AD 100—700 (Duckworth; ISBN 9780715638620). Paul says that he was first encouraged by our late Fellow Vivien Swan to write this book, in order to reveal to UK researchers who cannot read Spanish the fruits of many years’ research and publication on the ceramic scene in Spain and Roman maritime trade (despite the title, this includes Black Sea and Atlantic trade, including with Britain, as well as the Mediterranean). Paul adds that there is also much data in his book drawn from work that he has carried out in Beirut that was part-funded by the Society of Antiquaries.

Our Society also helped to fund the writing and publication of BAR 503: Excavations at Pevensey Castle 1936 to 1964, by our Fellow Malcolm Lyne (Archaeopress; ISBN 9781407306292). This concentrates on the hitherto unpublished excavations at the site of the Roman fort and Norman castle at Pevensey that took place just before the outbreak of the Second World War by Frank Cottrill (who excavated parts of the Roman fort for eight months in 1936), Arthur Burgess (castle custodian who continued Cottrill’s work in 1937) and B W Pearce (whose excavation of the medieval castle moat in 1938—9 was abruptly curtailed by the war), as well as Stuart Rigold’s work on the medieval south-east postern carried out in 1964 (the work of Fellow Mike Fulford and his Reading University team on the medieval keep and the east side of the Roman fort in 1993—5 has already been published). This book thus adds hitherto inaccessible evidence to the study of a site that has long aroused antiquarian interest. The report supports Mike Fulford’s re-dating of the fort to c AD 293 (the reign of Allectus) on the basis of dendrochronological dates from construction piles; Malcolm suggests that the fort’s unusual characteristics, which had led to its being dated to the later Constantinian period (c AD 335) might result from the construction of the fort to serve as a joint army and naval base.

The turmoil in the Roman Empire that led to the construction of Pevensey and the chain of late Roman shore forts that stretched round the English coast to Brough eventually came to a symbolic climax in AD 410, the subject of a new book by our Fellow Sam Moorhead and David Stuttard called AD 410: The Year That Shook Rome (British Museum Press; ISBN 9780714122694). Sam’s co-writer, David Stuttard, is the founder director of a theatre company called Actors of Dionysus, which specialises in performances of Greek tragedies in translation, and there is no lack of theatricality in this book which unashamedly casts Alaric the Goth, Stilicho the Roman General, Honorius the Emperor and Galla Placidia, the femme fatale, as actors in an ‘epic tale of imperial folly and court intrigue, of honour and duplicity, heroism and cowardice’. The telling of the story is solidly underpinned by Sam Moorhead’s discussion of the archaeological evidence, which is accompanied by well-chosen pictures (many of them drawing on the BM collections) in a book that is an excellent general introduction to a key moment in history.


University of Glasgow: Reader/Senior Lecturer in Textile Conservation; closing date 4 June 2010
To undertake high-quality research in the field of textile conservation and textile studies, to teach at postgraduate and undergraduate level in line with the Department’s teaching programme, to contribute to departmental administration and to participate in the department’s overall contribution to the University. The Senior Lecturer would be expected to make a particular contribution to the administration and leadership of the Department by acting as Programme Leader of the MPhil in Textile Conservation and also, for instance, by formulating and managing funded research projects (including advising colleagues), or leading postgraduate development, or leading curriculum development or acting as Head of Department. For further information, see Glasgow University’s website.

Society of Antiquaries: General Secretary, closing date 14 June 2010; interview dates: 15 and 16 July 2010
The Society is seeking a new General Secretary and CEO in succession to Dr David Gaimster who is taking up the Directorship of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at Glasgow University from September 2010. A dynamic General Secretary is sought, with the stature, experience, vision and drive to provide strategic leadership and operational management during a period of ambitious development. As the chief executive the General Secretary will be responsible for all aspects of the Society’s operational management, together with the development and implementation of its longer term strategy. He/she will also lead the Society’s capital development programme. For further information, see the ‘Vacancies’ page of the Society’s website.