Maurice Howard, President of the Society of Antiquaries of London, is pleased to announce the appointment of John Lewis FSA to the post of General Secretary of the Society following the resignation of David Gaimster to take up the post of Director of the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.
After ten years working as Project Officer for the Museum of London Archaeological Service, John has worked since 1998 for Wessex Archaeology as Manager of Framework Archaeology, serving the British Airports Authority in leading major archaeological projects across most of its sites. He has published widely in major archaeological journals and monographs and has always championed the human story behind the discoveries of excavation.
Professor Howard commented: There was a huge and impressive application for this post across the many fields of scholarship that the Society represents. I hope we will all welcome John and support him in his aim, as a proud Fellow of the Society, to include and listen to all of us as we consider the aspirations of the Society in the challenges ahead.
Fellows and other Library users are reminded that the Societys apartments and Library are now closed for the summer and will re-open on Monday 6 September at 10am. During this time Library staff will still reply to email and telephone enquiries, although responses may not be as prompt as usual.
This visit to the Bodleian Library, with which the Society has long-standing connections, offers the opportunity to see one of the worlds greatest research libraries at work and to see a special display of selected material of antiquarian interest in Convocation House.
Fellows will be welcomed by Fellow Richard Ovenden, Keeper of Special Collections and Associate Director Bodleian Libraries, who will talk about the Librarys ambitious development plans, then hear papers from Fellow Richard Sharpe on Humfrey Wanley, antiquarian, and the Bodleian Library and from Fellow Justin Reay on A Masse of Papers Unconnected: Pepys manuscripts in the Bodleian collections. This will be followed by a guided tour of the Old Bodleian Library, including the medieval Divinity School and the Universitys original library, founded by Duke Humfrey.
After a buffet luncheon in Chancellors Court, guests are invited to visit the Bodleians summer exhibition, John Aubrey and the Development of Experimental Science, in the Exhibition Room, Old Schools Quadrangle.
Places are limited so please book as soon as possible by contacting Jane Beaufoy. Tickets (including buffet luncheon and wine) cost £10.
Fellows Claire Gapper and Paula Henderson are organising a one-day conference to be held at the Society of Antiquaries on Saturday 22 January 2011. They are calling for proposals for short papers (approximately 30 minutes long) on new research in Tudor and Stuart architectural history. Short abstracts should be submitted by the end of August. Specific details and the programme will be announced in September.
Our congratulations to the following Fellows of our Society, who have just been elected as new Fellows of the British Academy:
Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, who specialises in the history, literature and culture of the classical world, and its impact on later periods
Deborah Howard, Professor of Architectural History, University of Cambridge, who specialises in the art and architecture of Venice and the Veneto, Renaissance architectural history and theory, the relationship between Italy and the eastern Mediterranean and music and architecture in the Renaissance
Andrew Louth, Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, University of Durham, specialising in the history and theology of the Christian Church in Late Antiquity and in the Byzantine Empire, and in modern Eastern Orthodox theology
Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, specialising in Italian painting of the sixteenth century, European Sculpture 14801920 and in the history of the collecting and display of European art
Roland Smith, Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art, University of Oxford, specialising in ancient Greek and Roman art and visual history, marble sculpture and portraits, late antiquity and the archaeology of Greek cities of the Eastern Roman Empire
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Master of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, specialising in the social and cultural history of Rome in the late Republic and early Empire.
The last issue of Salon reported on an article published in the Art Newspaper concerning the future of the Warburg Institute. Sir Graeme Davies, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, has responded as follows.
The future of the Warburg Institute is not threatened, as stated in Salon on 12 July. The University has absolutely no intention of closing the Warburg Institute or merging its unique book and photographic collection into another institution. The University respects, and takes great pride in, the unique character of the Warburg Institute.
Rather, the University is examining the best way to secure the future of the Institute. Much has changed since the Institute became part of the University in 1944 and, as a result, the University is giving consideration to seeking an alteration to the terms of the Trust Deed to make it more appropriate in the current circumstances. These deliberations are being carried out with the full involvement of other interested parties, including the Advisory Council to the Warburg Institute.
It is not correct, as stated, that the University has any proposals for reducing the number of specialist library staff or curtailing the Institute's independent governance and administration. The Institute is part of the University and continues to be governed through the Board of the School of Advanced Study, a body of ten prestigious Institutes, which reports to the University's Collegiate Council.
Writing in the London Evening Standard on 20 July 2010, our Fellow Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance, argued that heritage was vital to the dynamism of London as a world city, and was integral to what made this a better place in which to live and work. London, perhaps more than any other of the worlds great cities, he says, profits from the exhilarating and beautiful way in which the past helps to define and nourish the present.
He accuses the last Government of cruelly neglecting heritage, cutting funding by heritage bodies by 19 per cent while increasing spending on arts, museums and sport by 40 per cent over a sustained period. That means that heritage bodies have already taken the financial pain that other organisations are about to experience: our sector already operates frugally and efficiently. In terms of overall expenditure, spending on heritage is peanuts: for every £100 the Government spends, just over three pence is earmarked for history and architecture, he says.
He argues forcefully against the idea that heritage is an elite interest, saying that it touches everyone: the present grows out of the past, as smoothly and as inevitably as everything that we do today turns into tomorrows world. Our distinctiveness, our sense of community, our competitiveness are all rooted in our heritage and enhanced by an understanding of where we have come from, a legacy that ranges from castles and cathedrals to terraced houses, historic ships and vintage buses.
He also points to the sector as an outstanding example of government-funded champions and voluntary, charitable and private sector organisations and individuals working together, constantly finding innovative and practical ways of making our heritage serve current demands and future needs.
He concludes with a direct plea to Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt: I say to him that we in heritage are ready and willing to play our part but please do not continue the last governments destructive policy of cutting heritage in order to protect the arts and sport.
Oblivious, it seems, to Loyd Grossmans appeal, Jeremy Hunt announced last week that the cuts programme he has submitted to the Treasury as the Department of Culture, Media and Sports contribution to the Comprehensive Spending Review includes making half of the DCMSs staff redundant, and moving out of its departmental headquarters in Cockspur Street. He argued that he could not win support for coming cuts in arts and media budgets unless he leads by example.
Rumours have also been circulating that the Secretary of State is considering the merger of compatible heritage bodies as a way of making efficiency savings and eliminating administrative duplication. Building Design magazine has reported an unnamed source in the DCMS as saying that an even bigger merger is potentially on the cards than the wildest of pre-election speculation could have predicted.
Jeremy Hunt trailed the possibility of a merger between English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund in pre-election speeches, but no mention of this was made in the Conservative Party manifesto and it was widely viewed as a difficult marriage, given that the HLF has a far wider remit than English Heritage, covering all four nations of the UK and funding natural heritage and the museums, libraries and archives sector, as well as the historic environment.
More credible rumours have since suggested a merger of Historic Royal Palaces and English Heritage, but Building Designs source says that a possible merger with CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, is now also being considered, in view of the overlap in function. CABE is the body that succeeded the Royal Fine Arts Commission of yore, and it is concerned with ensuring the highest standards of design in contemporary architecture, though CABE and English Heritage work in close partnership on sites that have historic elements, such as the restoration of the stations at St Pancras and Kings Cross.
All these proposals form part of the negotiations between departments of state and the Treasury as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), whose outcome will be announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in October 2010.
The DCMS has one of the smallest of Whitehall budgets at £2.1bn (0.07 per cent of the public purse) and one of the smallest workforces (590 of the 468,700 civil servants employed by central government). Heritage and cultural organisations argue that every pound invested in the sector earns £2 for the economy. The Government believes that there is a greater role for private philanthropy in cultural finding, but a group of prominent private donors, including Sir John Riblat and Anthony DOffay, have written to ministers pointing out that their sponsorship and donations are intended to be in addition to, not a substitute for, public spending.
Merging heritage bodies to save money is a better solution perhaps than the response of the Italian government to the challenge of reducing its £1.5 trillion national debt; it has ceased its funding to a number of research institutes, including the Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medioevo (the Rome Institute for Medieval Italian History), the Istituto per la Storia e lArcheologia della Magna Grecia (the Institute for the History and Archaeology of Ancient Greece, based in Taranto) and, perhaps most seriously of all, the Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene (the Italian Archaeological School at Athens, known as SAIA).
The latter has just celebrated its centenary, having been founded in 1909 and having served as a graduate training school for many of Italys leading archaeologists and historians of antiquity, including officials of the Italian Archaeological Superintendence. More recently it has served to train conservation architects engaged in the restoration, preservation and study of ancient Greek monuments, and it has mounted major excavations at Pale (Cephalonia), Poliochni (Lemnos) and the Cretan sites of Ayia Triadha, Phaistos, Monastiraki Apodolou, Thronos, Prinias and Gortyna. SAIA is now trying to raise private funding for the continuity of its activities, library and archive.
The Italian government is also planning to privatise a huge range of state-owned assets, including Romes Villa Giulia, home to the National Museum of Etruscan Archaeology, and the former royal palace in Palermo, Sicily. Salvatore Settis, the archaeologist and head of the prestigious Pisa-based university, the Scuola Normale Superiore, has denounced the sales as draining and dismantling the state, adding that the country hasnt realised that we are all having our pockets picked. The scale of the sell-off reveals the range of assets owned by the Italian state. They include the island of SantAngelo della Polvere, in the Venetian lagoon, home to a ruined Benedictine monastery, parts of Romes Porta Portese flea market, beaches on Lake Como and ski resorts in Cortina dAmpezzo, in the Dolomites. The concern amongst conservationists is that new owners will want to develop assets that have been protected up to now.
The winners of the six 2010 British Archaeological Awards were announced to a packed audience at the British Museum on 19 July at a ceremony attended by John Penrose, the Minister for Tourism and Heritage , and hosted by our Fellow, historian and broadcaster Michael Wood. Before announcing the awards, Michael gave a rousing speech in which he said that Archaeology is our primary tool for understanding what Bronowski called The Ascent of Man, an essential tool for understanding ourselves.
The winners of the six Awards were as follows:
Best Archaeological Project: The Tarbat Discovery Programme
Best Community Archaeology Project: Fin Cop: Solving a Derbyshire Mystery
Best Archaeological Book: Europes Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland by Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch and David Smith, published by the Council for British Archaeology
Best Representation of Archaeology in the Media: The Thames Discovery Programme website
Best Archaeological Innovation: the Lindow Man: a Bog Body Mystery exhibition at the Manchester Museum (April 2008 to April 2009)
Best Archaeological Discovery: The Staffordshire Hoard
Also speaking at the ceremony was our Fellow Diana Murray, who presented the prizes for the best book and best media projects. Diana said that all the entries for the awards demonstrated the high standards of achievement in UK archaeology, and the thirst for knowledge and discovery that archaeology satisfies, while Judy Cligman, of the Heritage Lottery Fund, presenting awards for best community and innovation projects, said that the enthusiasm of the public for archaeology was demonstrated by the engagement of avocational groups in so many of the nominated projects. Heritage Minister John Penrose, presenting the prizes for best project and best discovery, said that this Government takes archaeology very seriously.
Summing up, our Fellow Mike Heyworth, Chairman of the British Archaeological Awards board of trustees, congratulated all the winners and announced that the board was planning to make the British Archaeological Awards an annual event in future.
The humble sandstone figurine dubbed the Orkney Venus made it to the shortlist for the Best Discovery in this years British Archaeological Awards, but lost out to the glamour of the glittering garnets and gold of the Staffordshire Hoard. As a consolation prize, the Orkney Venus now has a partner for the archaeologists digging the Links of Noltland site on the island of Westray, where the Orkney Venus was discovered, have now uncovered a second Neolithic figurine. This one is the same size and shape as the original sandstone Venus figurine but is made of clay and is missing its head, so stands only 34mm high. A thumb shaped depression in the top of the body shows where the head was attached.
Both figurines come from a site that Historic Scotland has described as like Skara Brae with greater time depth, having at least five Neolithic and six Bronze Age buildings, all of them at risk from coastal erosion, hence their excavation by Hazel Moore and Graeme Wilson of EASE Archaeology. Despite the name, it is by no means certain that the figure, discovered in a midden last year, represents a woman. Marks on the figures chest have been interpreted as breasts, but one of them is square, so they could represent clothing fasteners, and slight traces of cross-hatching on the front and rear are thought to represent clothing fabric.
Our Fellow Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotlands Head of Cultural Resources, said: The new figurine has a similar A-line shape to the stone figurine. The front of the torso has a rectangular panel, possibly the front of a tunic, sharply divided into a number of triangles. There is a central punched hole rather like a belly button. A number of small clay balls have been found in the same midden, and it is possible that these could have been meant as heads for one or more such figurines. Large stones have also been found with scratched and incised geometric decoration. Some of these may have been incorporated into door and passageways. The best example has surfaces completely covered with pecked chevrons and key pattern.
Apart from the figure, which is a very rare example of human representation at this period, the Links have revealed further surprises: not least the discovery of ten cow skulls inserted upside down with their horns dug into the ground, set into the earth packing within the foundation wall of the house from which the Venus figurine came. The inclusion of the skulls is an indication of the very important symbolic role played by cattle in Neolithic and Bronze Age society, but also has echoes of the very far distant settlement at Çatalhöyük, in Turkey, dating from the very dawn of the agricultural revolution, which is also rich in clay figurines and structures that incorporate horned cattle skulls.
Locals on Westray are meanwhile celebrating the Venus Effect on the local economy. Visitor numbers at the Westray Heritage Centre have gone up from 700 this time last year to 1,700 this year and local businesses are reporting increases in turnover up 45 per cent. One local baker is doing a brisk trade in biscuits modelled on the Neolithic figurine, affectionately known as the Westray Wife on the island.
Fellow Vince Gaffney was one of the winners at the British Archaeological Awards. His book Europes Lost World: the Rediscovery of Doggerland, written with Simon Fitch and David Smith, won the Best Book award for its redrawing of the landmass of Britain and the near continent to show the great lowland plain that once connected East Anglia to the Netherlands, northern German and Denmark. The reconstruction of this ancient drowned landscape some 23,000 square kilometres in extent, and as large as a modern European country was made possible through the use of seismic records compiled by oil-prospecting vessels working in the North Sea.
Later in the same week, Vince was back in the limelight, speaking on Radio 4s Today programme on 23 July about the new monument that he and his team have found some 900m north west of the stone circle at Stonehenge. The monument consists of an outer segmented ditch surrounding a circle of pits, possibly to support timber posts, and an internal mound. While there is some debate about what exactly this monument might be (see, for example, the thoughts of our Fellows Mike Pitts, on the BBC website, of Fellow Maev Kennedy in the Guardian and of Vice President Tim Darvill on Yahoo News), what is not in doubt is that the Stonehenge landscape once had many more monuments than is now apparent from above the ground, and Vince is part of a team that is testing new geophysical survey equipment that promises to reveal many more new finds over the next three years.
The new monument was found just two weeks into a three-year international study that forms part of the multi-million Euro international Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project. The project is using advanced scanning equipment developed at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna. Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, the Institutes Director, says its aim is to develop non-destructive technologies for the discovery, documentation, visualisation and interpretation of Europes archaeological heritage.
Meanwhile at Marden Henge, located near Devizes, roughly midway between Stonehenge and Avebury, Fellow Jim Leary has uncovered a chalk-floored dwelling, like those excavated recently by Fellow Mike Parker Pearson and his team at Durrington Walls, with similar midden material outside it containing grooved ware, some beaker sherds, flint flakes, bone pins and masses of pig bone, some of it articulated. Its absolutely fabulous and has exceeded all of our expectations, Jim told the BBC, adding: Were getting a really good insight into life in that building. I dont think were looking at a normal house. I think were looking at something equivalent to a priests quarters.
David Keys, writing in the Independent, speculates that the building might have been constructed specifically for some kind of ceremonial feast that involved the slaughter and consumption of pigs on a massive scale.
A geophysical survey carried out on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), with grant support from Historic Scotland, has also yielded spectacular results. Using a range of techniques, including resistivity, magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar to provide images both horizontally and vertically through the earth, a team from Orkney College, led by Dr Sue Ovenden, has mapped a succession of enclosure ditches and banks in the fields around Ionas medieval abbey forming a large rectangle, about 400m long by 200m wide.
The restored twelfth-century Benedictine Abbey, which forms the focus of spiritual life on the island today, is located at the centre of this series of enclosures; on the assumption that the enclosure surrounded the early-Christian monastery built by the sixth-century missionary, Saint Columba, and that the Columban monastery was also centrally located within the enclosure, then it looks as if the later medieval monastic complex sits on top of its early medieval predecessor.
The survey has been an outstanding success. For the first time we can easily follow the outline of the ditches that surround both the early monastic site and the later Abbey, said NTS archaeologist Derek Alexander. One of the ditches in the survey was excavated in the late 1970s by John Barber; wood-turning debris and leather-working scraps from the ditch gave radiocarbon dates in the seventh to eighth centuries AD. Another major discovery has been the rectilinear ditched enclosure in the field to the south of the Abbey and just to the south east of the ruins of St Marys Chapel, defining an area 44m long by 30m wide. Derek Alexander suggests that this might represent a cemetery for the monks of Iona, with the famous Reilig Odhrain, burial place of Scotlands early medieval kings, further to the west, being reserved for high-status individuals. The NTS will now work with Historic Scotland to draw up an archaeological research strategy to determine how best to answer the questions that this survey and previous work at Iona has thrown up.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced last week that Derry/Londonderry had beaten Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield to secure the title UK City of Culture 2013. Modelled on the European City of Culture concept, the UK title means that Derry/Londonderry will become a focus for national attention in 2013, will host high-profile events, such as the award ceremonies for the Turner Prize and the RIBA Stirling Prize, and will mount a programme of arts and cultural events designed to attract visitors and investment to the region.
The news about Derry followed closely on the heels of the news that the Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries 2010 has been won by the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Kirsty Young, Chairman of the Art Fund Prize Judges, said that the transformed Ulster Museum is an emblem of the confidence and cultural rejuvenation of Northern Ireland.
Tim Cooke, Director of National Museums Northern Ireland, said: this is the first time in Northern Irelands history that a prestigious cultural prize of this nature has been awarded to an institution in the region. This prize will encourage us as we endeavour to play a meaningful role at the heart of our changing society. Since its £17.8 million redevelopment (completed in October 2009), the Ulster Museum has become Northern Irelands busiest visitor attraction.
Milton Keynes shopping centre has joined the list of buildings designated for their architectural or historic significance at Grade II. Making the announcement, Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose also confirmed that Coventry Market and the Castle House Co-op in Sheffield would stay on the list, despite appeals against their listing decisions. An application to list the Gatehouse at St Annes College, Oxford, was rejected, however.
The owners of Milton Keynes shopping centre had lobbied hard for its exclusion from the list, despite the wish expressed by Jon Wright, of the 20th Century Society, that they should wear the listing as a badge of pride. Describing their own buildings as nondescript and characterless, the owners argued that listing would strangle commercial development of the site.
In justifying the designation, John Penrose said that his job was to help protect whats truly excellent. My decision to list Milton Keynes Shopping Centre and to reject calls to de-list important modern buildings in Coventry and Sheffield demonstrates this. These are interesting and eye-catching buildings that clearly merit the extra protection that comes with listed status. He added that listing did not guarantee immortality. The point of listing is to make sure that, if plans come forward in the future to demolish or redevelop them, the locally elected decision makers are made fully aware of the buildings importance.
Ferocious debate is raging in the newspapers of south Wales about the pros and cons of a planning application submitted by the owner of the Celtic Manor Resort, above Newport, who wishes to relocate a listed farmhouse that stands on the edge of the resorts golf course, which will host the Ryder Cup on 13 October 2010.
The owner, Sir Terry Matthews, wishes to re-site and restore the Grade II listed building and outbuilding, known as Little Bulmore Farmhouse, in the grounds of another nearby property, called Draenllwyn Farm. The building, which dates from around 1630 and was probably built as an extension to a medieval timber hall that has since gone, stands close to the Celtic Manor clubhouse, and has fallen into a state of disrepair, exacerbated by a fire set off by vandals a few years ago.
The application to re-site the building is opposed by conservation bodies on the grounds that the removal of a historic structure from its location will have a major impact on the significance of the building, especially when floors and earlier parts of the structures associated with the building remain at the original location. They argued that a building does not consist only of the superstructure, but also of the foundations, which can reveal the full history of the building. Section 16 and 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires that special regard be had to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.
At a meeting of the Newport City Council planning committee on 7 July, this was the view that prevailed, and permission to relocate the building was turned down, to the fury of Matthew Evans, the Councils leader, who said: I am bitterly disappointed and mystified by the planning committees decision. Those who support the application have argued that the building is not of operational merit, despite the fact that the farmhouse was to have been restored and incorporated into the clubhouse as part of the 2001 planning permission for the new golf course.
The local community is divided between those who see Sir Terry Matthews as a heroic businessman pouring much-needed money into the Newport economy and who therefore wish to accede to his every wish, and those who argue that if he can afford to pay for it to be moved, he can surely pay to restore it properly in situ.
The Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Burials in England (APABE) has recently been set up with support from English Heritage, the Church of England and the Ministry of Justice. Its membership includes archaeologists, osteologists and museum staff and the panel has three main aims. Firstly, to provide a free source of casework advice to professionals who deal with archaeological human remains on scientific, legal, ethical and other matters. Secondly, to support those involved with human remains in interpreting the guidance documents issued in 2005 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums) and English Heritage/Church of England (Guidance for Best Practice for Treatment of Human Remains Excavated from Christian Burial Grounds in England). Thirdly, to produce new guidance where necessary, and here the panel is currently working on policy papers on ancient DNA, crypt clearances and dealing with large burial grounds. It has also initiated work on a guideline on best practice for human remains from non-Christian burial sites in England to supplement the 2005 guideline on remains from Christian burial grounds.
For further details, or to request casework advice, see the APABE website.
Earlier this year, Salon reported that many senior figures in the world of archaeological metallurgy had written letters to Exeter University protesting against what they perceived to be the demotion to part-time lecturer status of Dr Gill Julef, whose ability to continue with her pioneering field work in India was thereby jeopardised. The University subsequently asked Salon to point out that the University of Exeter has no mechanism by which staff can be demoted… but, where targets are not achieved, the employer has the right not to extend the contract. Dr Juleff has now written to say: I am very pleased to be able to let you know that Exeter University has now confirmed my appointment to full-time Senior Lecturer from August 2009. I want to thank you hugely for all the support you have given me over past months. I hope you will also pass on my profound thanks to all those around the world who have written in support. I am very proud to be part of such a steadfast community of researchers.
For some unaccountable reason, Salon managed to omit York from the list of potential, World Heritage Sites reported in the last issue. Fellow Peter Addyman, staunch defender of all things Yorkist, was quick to spot the oversight and writes to say that if you take a quick look at the City of York World Heritage Site application, then under Documents to download download City of York World Heritage Site application, you will see that it is precisely thebelow-ground archaeology that forms the basis of the York bid. We like to think here in York that this is something that is generally under-represented on the World Heritage list. Of course the fact that at York it is associated with more obvious heritage resources, such as the Minster, stained glass, city walls, historic buildings from the Roman period to the present, etc, simply makes the case for listing stronger.
Some further errors crept in to the last issue: the bubbles in the champagne glass sculpture that stood in the Burlington House courtyard last year was not the work of Jeff Koons, as Fellow Roger Thomas points out, but of Anish Kapoor; and Fellow David Cranstone observes that if Paxton truly had designed the conservatory at Chiswick House at the age of ten, the better term to describe his feat would be precocious (or even prodigious, in the sense of child prodigy) rather than prolific.
Fellow Alan Saville writes: In view of the continuing disappointments and inadequacies over resolving Stonehenge problems, including the recent withdrawal by the Coalition Government of central funding for the visitor centre, it may be highly appropriate to draw attention to and to celebrate the opening scheduled for 24 July of the stunning Prehistory Welcome Center, at Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, in the Dordogne. This is, in effect, a major and ambitious visitor centre for the World Heritage Site of the Vézere Valley, inscribed in 1979 (so seven years before Stonehenge and Avebury) in recognition of its wealth of prehistoric sites and decorated caves. The building is a bold modernist design, sited with typical aplomb in a prominent, yet unobtrusive, position at the entrance to the village and a short walk from the National Museum of Prehistory. Alan ends by pointing to the projects website) and asking if one of our Fellows going on holiday in the area this summer would like to provide a review for Salon?
The Society has been informed that our Fellow Corinne Bennett died on 10 July 2010, at the Countess Mountbatten Hospice, Southampton. A Thanksgiving Mass, with reception, will be held at St Georges Roman Catholic Cathedral, Southwark, London, on 30 September 2010 at 11am, and all are welcome. Corinne was well known as a conservation architect based in Winchester, specialising in work on historic places of worship.
We have also learned of the death of our Fellow the Revd Dr Roy W D Fenn, on 20 July 2010. Roy Fenn, a former trustee of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, was also the Archivist of the Hergest Trust for twenty years and had an omnivorous interest in the history of the area around Kington, in Herefordshire, where he lived, contributing papers to journals on subjects as diverse as the early Christian origins of Montgomeryshire, the influence of W A S Benson and the Arts and Crafts Movement on the regions architecture and the history of stone quarrying and of geological survey in the Marches (see, for example, Geology and the Border Squires in the Transactions of the Radnorshire Society, written with Jim Sinclair in 1999).
Friends of our late Fellow Jonathan Horne were in the process of preparing a Festschrift for his seventieth birthday, and hope to go ahead and produce this as a memorial volume (entitled: This blessed plot, this earth: English pottery studies in honour of Jonathan Horne) if sufficient funds can be raised. The editor, Amanda Dunsmore, Keeper of Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, has persuaded a team of thirty international contributors (most of whom are Fellows) to write about their recent pottery-related research, and a memoir has been contributed showing why Jonathan was so admired in the City for his charity work. Anyone willing to make a contribution towards what promises to be a handsome and important publication, or to obtain a flyer and order a copy at the pre-publication discount price, should contact Amanda Dunsmore or Fellow Philippa Glanville.
6 September 2010, a concert of music inspired by London, including a performance of Orlando Gibbons Cries of London, to be given at 7pm in St Gabriels Church, Warwick Square, London SW1, by the HOLT singers and string quintet conducted by Rupert Bond in the presence of HRH The Duke of Gloucester (our Societys Royal Patron). Hosted by the Heritage of London Trust, the concert is to help raise funds for historic churches in London, and to launch the first London Ride and Stride event. Tickets (£15) and further information from our Fellow Tara Draper-Stumm.
1617 September 2010: Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe Two Decades On, a symposium in honour of our Fellow Peter Spufford, to be held at Queens College, Cambridge. Peter Spufford is the leading medieval monetary historian of the day. His work has transformed our understanding of money in later medieval Europe and inspired and stimulated a generation of historians and numismatists. In particular, his Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe (Cambridge, 1988) was the first full-scale study of the history of money (not merely coinage) to have been written for medieval Europe and it remains the standard work in this field. In its preparation Peter also created the innovative Handbook of Medieval Exchange (Royal Historical Society, 1986) and he continued to explore some of the main themes further in Power and Profit: the merchant in medieval Europe (Thames & Hudson, 2002).
The Symposium will be held in Professor Spuffords own college, Queens. The thirteen papers will cover a variety of topics, including minting and mint organisation, mint output and money supply, financial networks and trade, the role of Italian bankers, merchants and mint masters elsewhere in Europe during the Commercial Revolution and later, the effects of the silver famine of the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the use of commodity money in northern Europe.
To book online, see the Cambridge University website; queries about booking and payment should be addressed to Laura Cousens at the Cambridge Faculty of History and queries about the symposium should be addressed to our Fellow Martin Allen, in the Department of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
18 September 2010: The 2010 Deerhurst Lecture will take place at 7.30pm at St Marys Church, Deerhurst, Gloucestershire, when Emily Howe will speak on the subject of Painted Anglo-Saxon sculpture in St Marys, Deerhurst: materials, techniques and context. Tickets will be available at the door. Further information may be found on the website of the Friends of Deerhurst.
18 September 2010: Hillforts and Beyond, South Somerset Archaeological Research Groups biennial Cadbury Day takes place at North Cadbury Village Hall from 10am to 4pm. The panel of speakers includes our Fellows James Gerrard and Michael Costen and the topics range from Villas, Hillforts and Biscuit Eaters in South Somerset to New Technology, Ancient Landscape, Using Lidar in Landscape Survey and The Life of Things Long Dead; Display and Deposition at Battlesbury Bowl. Tickets are £10 (or £13.50 with a pre-booked Ploughmans Lunch); please send cheques, payable to SSARG, to Tony Dickinson, Thuis, Sticklepath, Combe St Nicholas, Chard TA20 3HH.
810 November 2010: the first UK Landscape Conference, jointly hosted by Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Scottish Government and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland, will be held in Liverpool and will celebrate the UKs engagement with the principles of the European Landscape Convention. Speakers, contributors and case studies will represent UK, European and international experience and the event will include the announcement of the winner of the first UK Landscape Awards. For the full programme and online registration see the conference website.
Suddenly it seems that everyone is interested in the social history of houses. As well as Bill Brysons latest book (At Home: a short history of private life) and that of Amanda Vickery (Behind Closed Doors: at home in Georgian England), we can look forward to our Fellow Lucy Worsley on TV in the autumn presenting her four-part series for BBC2 called If Walls Could Talk: an intimate history of the home, and to a new six-part BBC series to be presented by Dan Cruickshank, each episode of which will focus on one building to trace its social and architectural history and the methods and materials used in its construction, along with the stories of previous owners and occupiers.
Two complementary books from Fellows address these same themes from different perspectives. From Matthew Johnson comes English Houses 13001800: vernacular architecture, social life (ISBN 9780582772182; Longman), whose overriding theme is the way that the house functioned as a mini Commonwealth in the past, the layout, form and furnishings and the uses assigned to different rooms reflecting the social and gender functions and hierarchies of the wider world. This is obviously so in the case of the medieval hall, a communal space with established places and roles for different members of the household. Matthew argues that the same holds true for dwellings of the middling sort as well as high-status halls; and that, for all its regional variations and differences of building material, the hall, and its parlours and service rooms, represents a long-lived and geographically dispersed structure, common to much of medieval Europe, that is very different in its mesh of relations with the wider world than the dwellings of the Georgian period, which mark a watershed between houses as communal dwellings and as private domestic realms.
From this summary, it should be clear that a strong theoretical framework supports the book, and Matthew explains terms such as materiality, performance and agency with characteristic clarity but large sections of the book require no such structure, and are interesting and informative for what they tell us about the cost of building a house (regional styles are partly a response to the fact that it cost so much to transport stone and timber hence you made best use of local materials), the crafts involved, or on such folkloric topics as apotropaic practices in traditional buildings, protecting the hearth, chimney, corners, doors, windows and roof from outside forces with inscribed daisy-wheel patterns or ritually killed shoes or items of clothing.
One of the problems that Matthew admits to facing when writing the book was to find medieval buildings that could genuinely be classed as vernacular, as distinct from polite (that is to say, architect-influenced). Almost every medieval building that has survived in England betrays some evidence of polite influence, so Matthew prefers a graduated scale from one to the other, rather than a clean-cut definition of vernacular as home-made homes, built by the inhabitants themselves, as distinct from homes built by landowners or tenant farmers for their workers, or constructed by specialist masons or carpenters.
This is a problem that our Fellow Eurwyn Wiliam also discusses in his beautifully illustrated book, The Welsh Cottage: building traditions of the rural poor 17501900 (ISBN 9781871184372; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales). In some ways the greater poverty of rural Wales before the mass migration of people from the countryside to the industrial parts of Wales in the mid-nineteenth century means that more genuinely vernacular homes have survived some of them cunningly disguised as modern bungalows, but with the massive walls that betray a building or rammed earth or of boulders bound with mud. In his search for evidence Eurwyn makes full use of every possible source, including the paintings of eighteenth-century travellers in Wales searching for the picturesque, or the writings of satirists pointing up the poverty of the Welsh to make the English feel superior.
He is also able to call on photographs and oral history, for some Welsh vernacular housing traditions persisted into the twentieth century, and there is a fascinating account from 1915 of the construction of an overnight house; such houses, built as a form of communal activity, were based on the tradition that squatters could lay claim to land if they could build a house on it between sunset and sunrise, and then live in it unchallenged for a year. Eurwyn argues passionately for the conservation of the best surviving examples of Welsh cottages often overlooked in designation programmes because they lack outstanding architectural features; and yet, Eurwyn argues, they have historical significance not only as typifying the homes of the majority, but also because the skill in constructing home-made houses out of turf, rock, mud and reeds, with clay-lined wickerwork chimneys and smoke hoods, was what enabled migrant Welsh to survive in new worlds and to colonise parts of Australia and America successfully.
The newly published Critical Edition of the Private Diaries of Robert Proctor: the life of a librarian at the British Museum by our Fellow John Bowman (ISBN: 9780773436343; Edwin Mellen Press) contains several strands that are likely to appeal to Fellows. Born in 1868, Proctor was appointed to the British Museum in 1891 and in 1898 he published his Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum. His private diary spans the period 1899 until his death in 1903. Among bibliophiles, Proctor will always be remembered for his rearrangement of the incunabula in the British Museum in what has become known as Proctor order, based on the way in which printing spread in its early days. For historians of collecting and curating, the interest of the diary lies in the many references to Proctors British Museum colleagues and other bibliographers at home and overseas. For anyone with an interest in William Morris and the history of conservation, there is Proctors account of his membership of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and his obsession with William Morris, as he constantly tries to acquire all his works. Pervading everything is a sense of middle-class life at the end of the Victorian period. John points out that the catalogue price of the book is given as £74.95, but that an order placed directly with the publisher qualifies for a substantial discount, down to £29.95 (including p&p).
Another book with a strong human interest element is Petitions to the Crown from English Religious Houses c 1272 to c 1485, edited by Gwilym Dodd and our Fellow Alison McHardy, with the assistance of Lisa Liddy (ISBN: 9780907239727; published by Boydell for the Canterbury and York Society and free to members (the sub is a mere £15 pa) or £25 to others). This consists of a selection of more than 200 examples of petitions addressed to the Crown as a last resort, requesting the monarch to exercise qualities of generosity, compassion and sound judgment when the normal channels of law and government had failed them, a system used to full advantage by landowners, neighbours, citizens, individuals and religious orders. The subjects covered range from requests for tax rebates and complaints about royal officials to disputes with tenants, townsmen, monastic rivals and ecclesiastical superiors. National politics and international warfare are represented, as are coastal erosion and higher education. English summaries, explanatory notes and an extensive introduction enhance the readers appreciation of this rich and remarkable resource for ecclesiastical history, and the human interest stories they reveal are perhaps the nearest thing to local newspaper reports that the Middle Ages have left us.
Fellow Ralph Hyde has just published a book on an unexpected source of information about the topography and history of London. His book, London Displayed: headpieces from the Stationers almanacks (London Topographical Society), concerns the annual almanacks that the Stationers Company published from 1747 in the form of a single sheet designed to be displayed on a wall recording significant events of the preceding year beneath an engraved headpiece in the form of a view of London. These topographical engravings have survived in some numbers, because the owners found them too attractive to throw away, and so they cut out and kept the views, even if they disposed of the rest of the almanack. Inexpensive examples can now be found in the portfolios of London print dealers, and they are, says Ralph, potentially very useful to London historians hence his book, which provides a means of identifying the year in which each of the views was published.
Can a map have an author? In this case, perhaps it is fair to say that many Fellows will have contributed, whether wittingly or not, to the new 1:25,000 scale Archaeological Map of Hadrians Wall that has just been published by English Heritage. The map shows the locations of all the known archaeology around the Wall, as well as the Roman defences along the Cumbrian coast down to Maryport, distinguishing between those remains that are visible and those that lie below the ground.
Fellow David Adshead is one of the consultant editors of the excellent National Trust abc bulletin (abc stands for arts buildings collections) whose summer 2010 issue has just been published (see the National Trust website). The fourteen pages of the bulletin are packed with case studies, including the restoration of the nationally important mid-nineteenth-century gazebo at Tyntesfield, which involved commissioning new ceramic tiles to match the original Minton ceramic tiles of the floor and rear walls, the conservation of Thornhills wall paintings at Hanbury Hall and of a lavish eighteenth-century silk counterpane at Belton Hall.
Our Fellow Sarah Staniforth, National Trust Historic Properties Director, contributes an account of her namesake, Sarah Staniforth, who was employed at Holkham Hall, initially as a dairy maid, and eventually as Housekeeper, for thirty-five years from 1737 until her death in 1772. And our well-named Fellow Mark Purcell, the Trusts Libraries Curator, writes about the rich treasury of printed and manuscript music that exists in National Trust properties, often in association with the instruments on which they might originally have been played. Mark reports that these collections have recently been catalogued as part of the Trusts library programme (now online at Copac), and that a pilot project is in hand, with the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, to digitise a small but representative part of the music collection at Tatton Park and even to make some of the music available in performance.