Salon Archive

Issue: 242

Forthcoming meetings

Thursday 21 October: Finds and exhibits meeting, preceded by a ballot. Museum of London staff will present a group of seventeenth-century items from London: a bone harpoon found on the foreshore at Deptford, three Delftware dishes excavated from Southwark and a London stoneware bottle.

Thursday 4 November: ‘Edmund Tyrrell Artis FSA: a curious polymath’, by Geoffrey Dannell FSA

Edmund Tyrrell Artis (1789—1847) was a self-taught prodigy, who rose from a rural background in Suffolk to become a Fellow of our own Society and of the Geological Society. His employment as House Steward to the Fitzwilliam family gave him the opportunity to collect fossils from the coal mines they owned in Yorkshire and to conduct excavations, with the encouragement of his employers on the Fitzwilliam estate at Castor. His two major works are Antediluvian Phytology, dealing with fossils of the coal measures, and The Durobrivae of Antoninus, a series of plates recording his excavations and the objects found in them. In the 1840s he published seminal papers on Romano-British pottery kilns. He also acted as owner and major domo of the Doncaster Race Club, where he entertained such notables as the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel.

Thursday 11 November: ‘Excavating the Lapita cemetery at Teouma, Vanuatu, and the background to the current exhibition of 3,000-year-old Lapita pots at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris’, by Matthew Spriggs FSA

The Lapita culture (3350—2700 BP) represents the first human settlement of the South Pacific beyond the areas settled over 40,000 years ago in New Guinea and the Solomons. It represents the initial settlement of much of Island Melanesia and Western Polynesia. The discovery of the Teouma site in Vanuatu in 2004 was the first find of an early cemetery of this culture in the Pacific. Its discovery has allowed insights into the mortuary practices and beliefs of this culture. Bodies were associated with highly decorated pottery with more than 100 complete vessels reconstructed. The display of the Teouma pots and others from New Caledonia and elsewhere at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris is the first major exhibition of Pacific archaeological material outside the region. One might ask why is this taking place in an ethnographic art museum?

Thursday 18 November: ‘The Jewish catacombs of Roman Melite’, by Mario Buhagiar FSA

Getting to know the Society tour 4 November 2010

Places are still available on the introductory tour of Burlington House that takes place on 4 November 2010. Designed for any Fellow not yet familiar with the Society’s library and museum collections, the tour starts 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 the Society’s Administrative Assistant.

York Antiquaries lunch 11 December 2010

The York Antiquaries will be holding a lunch in York on Saturday 11 December 2010. Fellows who are not also York Antiquaries members are very welcome to join in this festive occasion. Further details can be obtained from the Honorary Steward, Jim Spriggs. The closing date for bookings is 15 November 2010.

New Insights into Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century British Architecture

This day-long seminar, hosted by the Society at Burlington House on 22 January 2011, includes the following speakers and papers: Martin Biddle on ‘Reconstructing Nonsuch: a digital analysis’, Kate Newland on ‘The acquisition and use of Norwegian timber in seventeenth-century Scotland’, Kent Rawlinson on ‘Household ceremony in the early sixteenth-century’, Emily Cole on ‘State Apartments in Jacobean country houses’, Gillian White on ‘New light on Elizabethan Chatsworth’, Nick Molyneux on ‘Sir John Yonge’s house in Bristol: an architect identified?’, Edward Town on ‘Thomas Sackville and the transformation of Knole 1605—8’ and Matthew Walker on ‘The Wren/Hooke relationship re-examined’. For a booking form, please contact the organisers Claire Gapper or Paula Henderson.

Quango review: English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund respond

As the heritage sector waits to hear how deep the cuts in central government spending will be when they are announced as part of the once-in-three-years Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on 20 October 2010, we do at least now know that there are no plans to merge English Heritage with the Heritage Lottery Fund (nor for that matter with any of the other bodies with whom English Heritage’s name has been linked in recent months). The Cabinet Office published the results of the Government’s review on 14 October of all Non-Departmental Public Bodies (still popularly known by their older acronym as quangos, or quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations), revealing which it intends to discontinue, merge or retain.

English Heritage is to be retained on the grounds that it is performing a necessary technical function that should remain independent from Government. Furthermore, merger with the HLF was ruled out — not least because it would require primary legislation, for which there is no time in the current parliamentary session. A statement from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that ‘any future decision on changes which require legislation would be considered at a later date’. In the meantime, said the statement, ‘DCMS has asked English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as a matter of urgency, to identify and reduce any overlap of activities’.

Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, responded to the news by saying: ‘We welcome the Government’s conclusions that English Heritage should be retained as an organisation that provides valued technical advice, independent of Government. As the Government requests, building on previous work, both the Heritage Lottery Fund and ourselves will look further at how we can use our resources in a smarter way. We will set out a clearer understanding about our complementary skills and strengths to determine who is best placed to do what. A further announcement will be made in eight weeks, once the outcome of the CSR is known and our Commissioners have had an opportunity to discuss the way forward.’

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: ‘Our priority has always been to ensure that Lottery funding is available for the full range of heritage we support. We will continue to work independently across the entire UK with a range of partners in various sectors. In England, we have committed to working even more closely with English Heritage as a result of this review, to ensure that our respective roles are defined as clearly as possible, maximising effectiveness for our customers.’

Further quango decisions

The Government announcement also confirmed that the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites (which advises Government on matters relating to the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973) is to have its functions in relation to England transferred to English Heritage; that the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships (the advisory body on funding related to the preservation of historic ships) is to be abolished and its functions are to be transferred to another body (not yet identified); and that the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will be also be abolished and its functions transferred to appropriate bodies.

All of the following bodies that are funded by the Department of Culture are to be retained with their current status and functions intact: the British Library, the Churches Conservation Trust, Historic Royal Palaces, National Museums and Galleries (British Museum, Horniman Museum, Geffrye Museum, Imperial War Museum, Museum of Science and Industry Manchester, National Gallery, National Maritime Museum, National Museum of Science and Industry, National Museums Liverpool, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Royal Armouries, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Wallace Collection), the National Heritage Memorial Fund/Heritage Lottery Fund, the Treasure Valuation Committee and the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.

The future of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is still under consideration, with the DCMS considering options for reform.

Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, England’s nine National Parks Authorities are to be retained, but there is to be a review of their governance and accountability. Natural England and the Environment Agency are to be retained but ‘substantially reformed … through structural process and cultural change to become more efficient and customer-focused organisations and to clarify accountabilities’, with a further announcement to be made after the spending review. Finally, as was trailed in the Conservative Party manifesto, British Waterways is to be abolished as a public corporation in England and Wales and turned into a new waterways charity by April 2012, which the Government says will be ‘similar to a National Trust for the waterways’, implying that some or all of its land and property assets will be inalienable. The move is intended to ‘give waterways’ users and the communities that live alongside a greater involvement in how they are managed and improve the long-term financial sustainability of the waterways’.

At the Department for Transport, the Railway Heritage Committee, whose membership includes several of our Fellows, is to be abolished. The Committee was set up to ensure that significant railway history objects and archives did not disappear between the cracks in the wake of railway privatisation if and when they are no longer required by the railway business that owns them. The Committee decides what should be preserved and by which institutions on what terms. The reason given for the abolition is that ‘no equivalent protection applies to the heritage of any other transport sector’. Perhaps it should …

Roman helmet sells for £2.3m

The guide price of £200,000 to £300,000 set by Christie’s when it announced the sale of the Crosby Garrett helmet (see the last issue of Salon) proved to be every bit as far off the mark as most of us suspected; in the event, the helmet sold for £2,281,250 (including taxes and buyer’s premium), which was a cruel blow to the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, which had raised £100,000 through a well-supported public appeal aimed at securing the helmet for public display in the region in which it was found. The museum can now hope that the new owner is public-spirited enough to lend the helmet to the museum, or — if the new (and anonymous) owner wishes to take the helmet out of the UK — that the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest might ask for a temporary export licence block in order to let a UK buyer match the auction price — something it can do if the helmet is judged to be an object of national importance.

Some of our Fellows have called for a review of the Treasure Act to ensure that finds like the Crosby Garrett helmet are covered by the provisions of the Act in future. The helmet would have been covered if it had been part of a hoard or made of precious metal. Single Roman finds of base metal are not covered. In a letter to The Times (9 October 2010), our Fellows Lords Renfrew, Howarth and Redesdale (officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group) said that the definition of treasure needed to be ‘extended without further delay to ensure that the public interest is more reliably safeguarded in the future’. They called on the Government to undertake the review of the Treasure Act that had been promised in 2007, and to set aside time for a parliamentary debate.

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) echoed that call and said in its statement: ‘The review of the Treasure Act was due to have taken place back in 2007. We are writing to the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey MP to ask him to ensure that the long-promised review happens as a matter of urgency. It was a tragedy that the Crosby Garrett helmet has now apparently disappeared into a private collection and may never be seen in public again. This is not in the public interest, and it is certainly highly frustrating for all the supporters of the fantastic appeal to raise funds to keep the find in Cumbria in a public museum where it surely belongs.’

The CBA is also urging everyone to use the new DCMS facility to put email questions to Ed Vaizey (see the DCMS website) to ask for a timetable for the Government review of the Treasure Act. Our Fellow Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA, added: ‘It would also be helpful to ask your local MP to raise this with DCMS as Ministers are then obliged to respond.’

Human remains guidance needs reform, says CBA

The CBA is also calling for a review of the guidance, introduced by the Ministry of Justice in 2008, which decrees that all human remains found in Britain must be reburied within two years. Burdensome regulations of this kind are doing harm to scientific research, says our Fellow Mike Pitts, Editor of British Archaeology, who makes this problem the cover story in the magazine’s latest latest issue. Mike was interviewed on the subject on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Material World’ on 14 October, where he said that over-zealous application of rules is stifling archaeological research and making it harder to run digs that involve human remains.

The Observer also carried a report on the subject, saying that members of the Stonehenge Riverside Project ‘are already facing the prospect of having to rebury a horde of human bone fragments, the remains of more than fifty individuals, that were excavated in 2008 at a site known as Aubrey Hole 7 … project members, including Mike Pitts, had hoped that they could study these pieces to gain new knowledge about the people who built and used Stonehenge, with a preliminary study of the 50,000 bone fragments being expected to run until 2015 … they face the prospect of having to rebury the remains when their research has only just begun. “We have applied for an extension”, adds Pitts, “and we may get one, but even if we did, it would only be for a couple more years. Then the bones would have be reburied.”’

Also causing unexpected problems is the requirement to screen the excavation of human remains from the public which, says Dr Duncan Sayer of the University of Central Lancashire, who is leading an excavation at a Saxon cemetery at Oakington in Cambridgeshire, only invites people’s suspicion that ‘you are doing something sinister’, as well as excluding the public from having access to scientific research. We find that ‘local folk want to learn about the men and women who used to live in their village or town’, he said. Mike Pitts concluded that: ‘It is utterly inappropriate to use this law to control archaeology.’

Badgers and human remains

Also in the news this week was the problem of badgers digging through graves in the churchyard at St Remigius Church in Long Clawson, Leicestershire. Natural England and English Heritage have both advised the vicar, the Revd Simon Shouler, that blocking up the sett will not work as a solution because, as our Fellow Tim Allen, Assistant Inspector for English Heritage, advised when he was interviewed on the BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show, this would lead to more digging for a fresh tunnel a few yards away, resulting in more human remains being disturbed and making the problem even worse. Badger activity on the site is being monitored in order to understood it better and come up with a solution to the problem. As Tim Hill of Natural England said: ‘We fully share the Revd Shouler’s concerns and are committed to finding a workable solution that properly protects the graveyard and the nearby ancient monuments without compromising the welfare of the badger population.’

The hoardings of Venice

In her capacity as Chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, our Fellow Anna Somers Cocks has begun a campaign against the vast advertising hoardings that are now disfiguring major buildings and bridges in Venice. The Fund has written to Sandro Bondi, the Italian Minister of Culture, appealing for a change in the legislation that permits huge advertisements to be erected on the scaffolding of public buildings while they are under repair. Among those who signed the letter are our Fellows Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum. Even two years ago, Anna says, ‘Venice was a city free of large and visually intrusive advertisements. Today they are everywhere, spoiling everyone’s experience of one of the most beautiful of human creations, and they are worse at night when they are more brightly lit than the city’s historic buildings’.

The Art Newspaper, of which Anna Somers Cock is the General Editorial Director, points out that the hoardings are not even earning substantial sums of money for building conservation: ‘it costs about €40,000 a month for three years to cover part of Doge’s Palace overlooking the lagoon and connecting with the Bridge of Sighs — less than two pages of advertising in a daily paper. And even with this money coming in, the restoration is still €600,000 short of the €2.8m needed to finish the job.’

The Art Newspaper’s report goes on to draw a telling contrast between Venice and Florence: ‘In October 2009, the Florentine superintendency allowed a chain of supermarkets, Esselunga — one of the partners in the restoration of the Corridoio Vasariano — to hang a mega-ad on the Ponte Vecchio, but the howl of protest from the Florentines, led by Mayor Matteo Renzi, was so loud that it was removed after a few days; Esselunga begged everyone’s pardon and gave its money anyway.’

Visible in Stone: a history of women through buildings, 1850—1950

English Heritage has developed a new online resource for anyone studying women’s history where it has gathered together pictures and information about buildings that reflect women’s lives from the mid-nineteenth century, at work, at play and campaigning for better housing, education, wages and employment opportunities (). The Visible in Stone website draws on the collections of the Women's Library and the TUC Library Collections, as well as the collections of English Heritage, and it is hoped that users of the site will add further material from their own collections.

Among the buildings featured is Mary Sumner House, 24 Tufton Street, in the heart of Westminster, the Grade-II listed headquarters of the Mothers’ Union, completed in 1925 with funds raised by its members; the Unitarian Chapel, 39 Newington Green, London N16, home of the radical intellectual group to which Mary Wollstonecraft (1759—97) belonged and where she founded her own school in 1784; and model housing built by the housing pioneer (and National Trust co-founder) Octavia Hill (1838—1912).

On a lighter note, the section on shopping and fashion makes the point that the rise of the department store gave women their first taste of independence: stores such as Bainbridge, in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Kendal, Milne & Co, in Manchester were established, while Marshall & Snelgrove, in London, Leeds and Scarborough, and Harrods in London were deliberately designed to create public spaces where women could appear alone in public with propriety. Even so, when William Whiteley applied for a licence to open a restaurant in his Bayswater store in the late 1870s the local magistrate refused on the grounds of its potential for immoral ‘assignations’ — hence the rise of tea shops such as Lyons, with their uniformed waitresses re-creating the atmosphere of the ultra-respectable middle-class home.

English Heritage also suggests that public conveniences result from the emergence of women into the public from the domestic sphere, and it illustrates the point with a photograph of the Grade-II listed public lavatories with tiled cubicles and ornate ironwork at the junction of Guildford Street and Lambs Conduit Street in Camden (not, as claimed by the caption, in Hampstead’s West End Lane).

What the website does not tell you is that these Grade-II listed lavatories have been locked and disused for many years, and in this they suffer the fate of similar Victorian conveniences in cities all over the UK, including those in the island in the middle of Holborn, right outside the head office of English Heritage. So English Heritage: how about a buildings at risk campaign (with the Vic Soc) to bring back into use the UK’s many handsome conveniences (and the drinking fountains that are often associated with them).

Saving London

Such a campaign should surely not be beyond the means of an organisation that has already done so much good through its Heritage at Risk campaigns, achievements that are celebrated in a new report by our Fellow Philip Davies, Planning and Development Director for London and the South East, who follows up the best-seller success of his book on Lost London 1870—1945 with this new call to arms, called Saving London — 20 Years of Heritage at Risk in the Capital. The 56-page report can be downloaded from the English Heritage website, and it considers the lessons learned over those twenty years, through illustrated case studies and statistical analysis, finding good cause to celebrate past successes and to continue with efforts to ‘breath life back into some of the city's most important buildings’, as London Mayor Boris Johnson put it at the report’s launch.

Victorian Society’s list of buildings most at risk

Which brings us to the Vic Soc’s just-published annual list of the ten Victorian and Edwardian buildings most at risk in England and Wales, drawn up using nominations from members of the public following a nation-wide appeal.

The 2010 list includes the Unitarian Chapel, Upper Brook Street, Manchester (1837—9, Charles Barry, Grade II*), the first known example of a Gothic nonconformist chapel and believed to have been an early collaboration between Sir Charles Barry and A W N Pugin before they worked together on the Palace of Westminster — now without a roof and open to the elements; the Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphanage, Newsham Park, Tuebrook, Liverpool (1871—4, Alfred Waterhouse, Grade II); the Grimsby Ice Factory (1900—1, W F Cott, Grade II*), the vast factory that produced ice for Grimsby’s fishing industry for ninety years, which has its early twentieth-century ice machinery intact; and 30 Euston Square, London (1906—8, Arthur Beresford Pite, Grade II*), which is threatened by the Government’s plans for High Speed 2, the controversial high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham — ironically, the neo-Grecian building is currently under restoration by the Royal College of General Practitioners, having been empty for thirty years, but is now under threat once again.

These and the other six are all significant buildings: seven in this year’s list are designated Grade II*, placing them in the top 6 per cent of all listed buildings. Our Fellow Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society, said that ‘poor planning, stalled developments and simply neglect’ was to blame, and that the scale of the problem could be measured by the phenomenal response to the Society’s appeal for nominations. ‘Sadly we heard stories of countless endangered buildings in need of help’, he said. More details can be found on the Victorian Society’s website.

More Heritage at Risk

Before leaving this subject, Salon would like to draw attention to the Hackney Society’s petition and campaign to do something about the parlous state of the New Lansdowne Club, 195 Mare Street, London E8, a Grade-II* listed building that is important to women’s history because it once housed the Elizabeth Fry Institute for Former Women Prisoners and for the heritage of Hackney, being one of the borough’s earliest surviving buildings, constructed in about 1699 and with many of its original features intact (as can be seen on the Hackney Society’s website).

A different perspective on Stonehenge

Our Fellow Sir George White won himself a bottle of champagne for his ‘Letter of the Week’ in Country Life (6 October 2010) suggesting that the oldest surviving aircraft hanger in Britain should form part of any visitor scheme for Stonehenge. Standing in Wood Road, Durrington, it was built by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company in 1910, and was the training base for at least half of Britain’s First World War pilots, playing a major role in the founding of the Royal Flying Corps and hence the RAF. Sir George says that the listed hangar is ‘remarkably unchanged, although well-intentioned tree-planting encroaches, making a nonsense of its context’.

‘Profile of a Doomed Elite’

The last two issues of Salon have reported on the new Domesday database, part of the online Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE) at King’s College, London. The History Department at King’s is now home to a new research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which will refine and build on the Domesday database. ‘Profile of a Doomed Elite: the structure of English landed society in 1066’ will use innovative methods for interpreting Domesday Book to survey the whole of English landed society on the eve of the Norman Conquest in 1066, identifying landowners at all levels of society — from the king and earls down to parish gentry and, in some shires, even to the prosperous free peasantry. The project is led by Dr Stephen Baxter, Reader in Medieval History at King’s, and is employing Duncan Probert and our Fellow Chris Lewis, a leading authority on eleventh-century England, to whom enquiries can be directed.

IHR Digital launched

The Institute of Historical Research launched its IHR Digital website last week, placing a huge amount of primary and secondary source material for the history of Britain into the public domain. The ‘Reviews in History’ section has in-depth reviews of many of the most important books that have been published recently and — an innovative feature — allows for the author and readers to respond.

A new and growing area of the website is the ‘History SPOT’, the acronym for the IHR’s ‘Seminar Podcasts and Online Training’. Miles Taylor, the IHR’s Director, made the point at the launch that the IHR hosts an astonishing fifty-three seminars a fortnight, all of which intellectual activity is lost the moment it is over — though now the aim is to pilot a system that will deliver seminars live (so that remote participants can take part and contribute questions and comments) and as podcasts. Academic meetings and conferences might well go the same way, and postgraduate research training will also be delivered in a virtual learning environment in the future. Ten seminar series are already available as podcasts, covering the topical subjects of the history of volunteering and the history of sport and leisure, as well as seminars on military history, the long eighteenth century and the philosophy of history.

The in-house web team that is developing the site is going to be very busy over the coming months, but the IHR also accepts commissions to advise historians on digitisation projects and it designs and hosts websites for third parties.

Bargain of the Year?

One of the services that IHR Digital hosts on behalf of other organisations is the Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH: formerly the RHS Bibliography), a subscription to which normally costs £110 plus VAT per year. As an incentive to join the British Association for Local History (annual subscription £25; see the website BALH), anyone who signs up before 15 November 2010 can add in a year’s subscription to the BBIH, including remote access, for a further payment of only £5. Fellows already have access to the BBIH at Burlington House, but not by remote access.

Leicester claims first fully flexible archaeology degree

Another development in virtual learning is the announcement by our Fellow Ruth Young of the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History of what is claimed to be the ‘world’s first fully flexible undergraduate degree course in archaeology’. This allows students to obtain a BA degree by combining campus-based and distance learning, and part-time and full-time study.

Dr Young said: ‘We believe this to be the first complete BA archaeology programme available through distance learning in the world, and our cohort includes students from all continents, and from a wide range of educational backgrounds.’ The course is in part a response to the fact that many students come to archaeology as adult learners, fitting their passion for the subject around full-time jobs and other responsibilities. Sometimes a change in personal circumstances makes part-time study the only option, and sometimes ‘remote’ students come to join campus-based cohorts to complete their studies.

Leicester has long been a pioneer of flexible approaches to learning, allowing candidates who have studied for an extra-mural certificate in archaeology to gain entry to the second year of the campus BA degree and introducing undergraduate courses via distance learning in 2001.

‘The Art of Faith’: 3,500 years of art and belief in Norfolk

A new exhibition, The Art of Faith, has just opened at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery (until 23 January 2011) celebrating art and objects that have given material form to the different faiths of Norfolk. Faith is interpreted broadly to include the belief systems of the Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods, as well as medieval Judaism (Thetford, Kings Lynn and Norwich hosted thriving Jewish communities until 1290) and the many post-Reformationary branches of Christianity and faiths introduced to Norfolk within the last two centuries by the county’s Sikh, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist, Hindu and Baha’i communities.

Highlights of the exhibition include the magnificent Bronze Age Oxborough dirk (from the British Museum) and the Bodleian Bowl, a unique medieval Jewish ritual vessel (from the Ashmolean Museum), Rubens’ Return of the Holy Family from Egypt (from Holkham Hall), a newly restored fifteenth-century clunch-stone St Christopher (from the church of Terrington St Clement) and a magnificent fifteenth-century embroidered silk and velvet cope (originally from the church of St James, Pockthorpe, Norfolk). Contemporary works by artists living in Norfolk today are interspersed with the historical objects.

The project has been jointly managed by our Fellows Andrew Moore (Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service) and Margit Thofner (University of East Anglia), while the catalogue includes essays and entries by Fellows Tim Pestell, John Davies, Sandy Heslop, Andrew Moore and Margit Thofner.

Silver christening gift returns to Chester

The nationally important collection of silver at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum has been enhanced by the long-term loan of the Monmouth Box to the museum by the Chester-based Tyrer Charitable Trust.

Peter Boughton, the museum’s Keeper of Art, explains: ‘This silver box has passed by descent through the Mainwaring family. According to family tradition, it was the gift of James, Duke of Monmouth (1649—85), the illegitimate son of King Charles II, to Henrietta Mainwaring (1682—8), the youngest daughter of George Mainwaring (1642—95), mayor of Chester (1681—2) and later MP for Chester (1689—90). On a tour of Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Cheshire, the duke stayed with the mayor at his house in Watergate Street on the night of 9 September 1682. He stood godfather to the mayor’s new-born daughter at a service in the cathedral the following day, naming the baby after his grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria. Two days later, having won a horse race at Wallasey, the duke sent back his winnings — including this silver box — as a gift to his godchild.’

The Monmouth Box was made in London in 1620—1, probably by Thomas Jemson. Its cover is formed as a scallop shell with alternate plain and finely engraved bands, opening to reveal two compartments. A small hinged shell-shaped clasp is attached to the front of the cover, and the box stands on four shell feet. About twenty such shell-shaped English silver boxes survive, dating from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. They held sugar for sweetening wine, and were designed to be admired when drinking in convivial company.

Lives remembered

The Society has been informed of the death on 12 September 2010 of Honor Elizabeth Frost, who was elected a Fellow on 6 March 1969.

News of Fellows

Salon 238’s list of Fellows of our Society newly elected to the British Academy omitted the name of Nick Vincent (thanks to Fellow Ed King for pointing this out), who is Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, specialising in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and currently finishing an edition of the charters of the Plantagenet monarchs, from Henry II to John.

Fellow David Parsons has just taken over from our Fellow Pamela Tudor-Craig as Chairman of the Friends of the Sussex Historic Churches Trust. David says that a number of Fellows (notably our Past President Eric Fernie) have generously taken part in the Trust’s field visits to places of worship in the county in the past, contributing their knowledge of ecclesiastical buildings, sculpture and related topics. These excursions take place three times a year — at present on Sundays — and David would greatly appreciate hearing from any Fellow willing to help in a similar way.

Mike Farley is also seeking help from Fellows. He writes to say that ‘Buckinghamshire County Museum, Aylesbury, fearing substantial cuts to its budget as a non-statutory service provider, is making contingency plans to form a trust to manage both its premises and collections. The main museum building is leased by Buckinghamshire County Council from the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society (BAS), which owns the building and perhaps 50 per cent of the collections.’ Mike is currently chair of the BAS and would be most interested to hear from anyone involved with running museums who has had experience of the implications of such a transfer.

Feedback

Salon 241’s report on the finding of the Crosby Garrett parade helmet led Fellow Hugh Cheape to wonder if he had travelled back in time: the reference to the Newstead helmet as ‘now housed in the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh’, should, he suggests, have said ‘now displayed in the National Museum of Scotland’.

Salon also referred to the Worthing Roman cavalry helmet, now in Norwich Castle Museum, as fragmentary. Far from it, says Fellow Tim Pestell, the museum’s Curator of Archaeology. ‘The helmet and a visor-mask were found in river dredgings in 1947 and 1950 and are near-intact and in an excellent state of preservation. The helmet was published by Toynbee and Norwich Castle’s then Keeper of Archaeology, the redoubtable Rainbird Clarke, in the Journal of Roman Studies in 1948 and the visor in the same journal in 1951. Probably Danubian, the helmet depicts an eagle’s head on the crest with foliate-tailed beasts on either side. The visor, also of third-century date, has particularly fine repoussé images of Mars and Victory on the cheeks with Medusa’s head on the chin. The impression that the helmet is fragmentary perhaps stems from the fact that both are “incomplete” in coming from different helmets. As another former Keeper, our Fellow Barbara Green, commented in a letter in 1967: “it may well be that there are two other pieces still hidden in the river” … an intriguing thought!’

Somehow Salon also managed to translate Crosby Garrett, near Appleby, in Cumbria, to the county of Cheshire in the title of the report. Apologies too for misspelling Aidan Dobson’s name in the report on his new book on ancient Egyptian coffins in the collections of National Museums Scotland.

Fellow Dan Potts, Professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney, writes to challenge Salon’s observation that ‘there has been very little interest in the pre-Islamic history and archaeology of ancient Iran within the Islamic Republic for the last three decades’. This, he says, ‘is simply untrue. I have been co-directing a joint Australian—Iranian archaeological research project in the Mamasani region of Fars since 2003, along with a number of Iranian colleagues (Kourosh Roustaei, Alireza Askari Chaverdi, Arash Lashkari) and two former students — now colleagues — in Britain (Cameron Petrie, of Cambridge University, and Lloyd Weeks, of Nottingham). There have been dozens and dozens of prehistoric excavations, as well as many investigations of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian sites, by Iranian archaeologists since the revolution. Anyone who has had dealings with the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR) and tried to undertake fieldwork would know that never is the issue of a preference for work on Islamic-era sites raised. It simply doesn’t happen and the list of Iranian archaeologists conducting research on the pre-Islamic periods in Iran is very, very long’, all of which is excellent news, and a corrective to the impression that is given in the UK media of life in contemporary Iran.

‘While I'm at it’, writes Dan, ‘let me put in a plug for our 700-page monograph on the earlier stages of our research in Mamasani, south-western Iran: The Mamasani Archaeological Project Stage One; a report on the first two seasons of the ICAR/University of Sydney expedition to the Mamasani District, Fars Province, Iran by members of the Mamasani Archaeological Project Team, edited by D T Potts, K Roustaei, C A Petrie and L R Weeks (ISBN 9781407306209; BAR S2044). This large volume presents the results of test soundings at Tol-e Nurabad and Tol-e Spid, and a regional survey of the Dasht-e Rostam-e Yek and Do plains, conducted over two six-week seasons in 2003, with a subsequent one-month study season in 2004.’ (See also below, in ‘Books by Fellows’, Dan Potts’s new monograph on Mesopotamia, Iran and Arabia from the Seleucids to the Sasanians.)

Fellow and Vice-President Tim Darvill points out that Salon made the common mistake of referring to Jacquetta Hawkes’s A Land (published by Cresset Press in May 1951) as The Land, which is the title of Vita Sackville-West’s epic poem of 1926. ‘The difference is subtle but important’, says Tim, ‘especially as the book was born of a romanticist spirit akin to that flowing through post-processualism. It starts with the intriguing and memorable sentence: “When I have been working late on a summer night, I like to go out and lie on the patch of grass in our back garden.” Salon readers will have to look up the original volume to find out what happens next … .’

James Doeser contributes to the debate in Salon concerning archaeology on TV by urging Fellows to read his account of working for BBC television in the latest issue of The Archaeologist (the magazine of the Institute for Archaeologists). ‘I think there is a huge mismatch between the desires of archaeologists and those of programme-makers’, Jim writes, ‘and each side fails to understand what the other is up to. The problem for our sector is that a once-powerful and productive archaeology unit within the BBC is no longer in existence. On a more practical level I would be happy to put together a deputation of archaeologists to go and see Martin Davidson (Commissioning Editor of History and Business) if such a thing can be arranged. The persistence of Michael Wood in getting his series commissioned shows that good ideas can win the hearts and minds of those who control what gets made — but it’s a constant battle.’

Of course, Fellows don’t only appear on our televisions in history and archaeology programmes. Recently our Fellow Robert Tear featured prominently in an absorbing account of ‘The Passions of Vaughan Williams’ (BBC 4), tracing VW’s career as he developed from the shy and self-deprecating pupil of Stanford and Parry, collector of English folksong and editor of the English Hymnal and Oxford Book of Carols (who almost gave up his musical career) into the towering composer of nine symphonies of extraordinary freshness, passion, inventiveness and musical range. The programme made a very good case for regarding VW as a giant of twentieth-century music, or, as Robert put it, ‘equal to Britten and Tippett but so very different’, and he should know, having worked closely with all three.

Fellow Robin Milner-Gulland makes a number of observations on topics in the last issue of Salon and ends with a question for Fellows. ‘Re “Beauty and Heritage”’, he writes, ‘you are quite right to emphasise that beauty is not the only positive aesthetic judgement.’ It is surprising that such a concept should have survived in the face of the fierce onslaught to which it was subjected over 100 years ago by Tolstoy (in Chapter 4 of What is Art? ).

As for barn conversions, he believes that the English Heritage campaign came far too late — certainly for his part of Sussex, where scarcely any barn survives that has not been turned into a commuter home. A more pressing problem for today, he says, is the fate of church pews and choir-stalls. In his own village, the Grade II* church has pews that are entirely appropriate for the building and an integral part of its largely Victorian design. These are under threat as part of a scheme to make the church fit for new forms of worship. ‘Given that the Church is apparently exempt from planning controls it is difficult to see how the wider community can influence such decisions’, Robin says, ‘but we might find that there are no characteristic C of E pews left in a few years’ time.’

And finally, Robin’s question: why are the Irish Antiquaries ‘Royal’, but not our own Society?

Another question, this time from Heinrich Härke. A non-archaeological friend has drawn his attention to the detective stories of Ellie Griffiths in which the heroine is one Ruth Galloway, Head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk. Heinrich (and Salon) would welcome a short review (positive or negative) from anyone who has read the books, and for recommendations generally on well-written contemporary books with archaeological or antiquarian characters or themes.

Fellow David Sherlock was interested in the gift-giving ritual that accompanied the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict to Holyrood last month, when HH gave an illustrated copy of the Lorsch Gospels to our Royal Fellow, Her Majesty The Queen, who gave in return a facsimile edition of sixteenth-century drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger. The previous day’s Times had reported that the British Library was returning to Italy the twelfth-century Benevento Missal, looted from Benevento Cathedral in 1943 and purchased by a British Army officer in Naples in 1944 before being sold to the British Library in 1947. ‘What a pity HH couldn't have returned one of our originals from the Vatican instead of a replica’, David observes, adding that ‘the Bury Psalter of c 1025—50 would have made a good start!’

Following on somewhat loosely from the Salon piece on museum ownership versus museum stewardship, Fellow Patrick Ottaway sends news of a report that he prepared earlier this year for MLA Renaissance Yorkshire on archaeological archiving and collecting in the Yorkshire and Humber region (see the MLA website). Patrick says: ‘The report was commissioned following the problems experienced by the ARCUS contracting unit at Sheffield University, which caused them to cease to trade in October last year. As a result local museums were in a position of having to take archives from ARCUS at very short notice. My brief was to contact: a selection of archaeological units to gain an appreciation of the backlog for deposit currently awaiting processing; the local authority archaeologists or equivalent in the Yorkshire and Humber region to ascertain their views on the potential future pressure on museums and recommendations that they could make on future management of the archiving process; and a selection of museum staff and volunteers responsible for the management of archaeological depositories to establish an overview of current capacity to accept archives and their position on accepting under-resourced archives in extraordinary circumstances.

‘The resulting report looks at the key challenges for collecting archaeology at present; the external drivers that may affect archaeological collecting in the next five years and the key risks that should be considered; skills and knowledge gaps in the teams associated with the process; the degree to which practice within the sector reflects professional museum guidance on the issue.’

Houses of the Welsh Countryside

Fellows in Wales will be able to see a new six-part series called ‘Cartrefi Cefn Gwlad Cvmru’ (‘Houses of the Welsh Countryside’)on the Welsh-language station S4C starting on 20 October 2010 at 9pm (repeated with English subtitles on Sundays at 10.20pm, and available online on the S4C website. Many Fellows will recognise the title as that of the book of the same name first published in 1975 by our Fellow Peter Smith and published by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. The series, presented by Aled Samuel, explores some of the houses featured in Peter’s book in order to tell the story of how people have lived in Wales over the centuries. Programme One looks at some of the earliest houses to have survived in Wales, exemplified by the hall house (y tŷ neuadd), such as that at Tŷ Mawr, Castell Caereinion, near Welshpool, built in 1460, Gloddaeth Hall, in Llandudno, Egryn Hall, in Llanaber, Gwynedd, and Rhydycarw, in Trefeglwys, Powys. A bilingual book of the series, written by our Fellow Richard Suggett and Greg Stevenson, will be published by Y Lolfa.

Events

26 to 28 November 2010: ‘Going for Gold: craftsmanship and collecting of gold’, an international conference hosted by the Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum celebrating the art of the gold box in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, one year after the opening of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries at the V&A. Leading international experts (many of them Fellows) will speak on the different centres of production, design sources, diplomatic gifts, the leading collections assembled by monarchs and bankers and the challenge of recognising fakes. Tickets are selling fast, so book now via the V&A website.

10th November 2010: ‘“This Unfortunate and Ignored Locality”: the lost squares of Stepney’, a lecture hosted by the Heritage of London Trust in the Pewterers’ Hall, Oat Lane, London EC2V 7DE, at 6.30pm. Historian William Palin, of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, will chart the history of the streets and squares surrounding Hawksmoor’s great masterpiece of St George in the East. Once home to sailors, Swedish merchants and Jewish immigrants, its Georgian terraces survived the Blitz only to be swept away in the 1960s to make way for new housing. Following the lecture there will be an opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine and view the Pewterers’ display of metalwork in the Livery Room. For a booking form, please contact our Fellow Tara Draper-Stumm.

Books by Fellows

Fellow Mark Downing has published the first in a planned series of eight volumes recording every medieval military effigy in England and Wales (excluding brasses and incised slabs). This first volume — Military Effigies of England and Wales. Volume 1: Bedfordshire—Derbyshire (ISBN 9780953706518; Monumental Books; 149pp, b&w ills) — is available from Mark Downing, 9 Kestrel Drive, Sundorne Grove, Shrewsbury SY1 4TT, for £20 + £4 p&p.

Paul Williamson’s book on Medieval Ivory Carvings: Early Christian to Romanesque (ISBN 9781851776122; V&A Publishing) is being described as a ‘landmark’ publication, not just because of its scale and the number of colour photographs taken specifically for the publication, but also because — remarkably — this is the first account of the V&A’s world-class collection of ivory carvings to have been published since 1927. The catalogue describes and discusses the 120 objects dating from c AD 400 to 1200 in a collection that includes major masterpieces from every era: the Symmachi Panel from Late Antiquity, the front cover of the Lorsch Gospels from the Carolingian era, the Ottonian Basilewsky Situla, the Veroli Casket from tenth–century Byzantium, the St Nicholas Crozier and the enigmatic whalebone carving of the Adoration of the Magi from the Romanesque twelfth century, as well as a notable group of twelfth–century gaming pieces and a small group of fakes and copies of early medieval and Byzantine ivories.

Dan Potts’s new book on Mesopotamia, Iran and Arabia from the Seleucids to the Sasanians (ISBN 9781409405351; Ashgate) is part of the Variorum collected studies series, in which renowned experts in their field bring together important journal papers and book extracts that together explain the latest and most influential thinking in the field. Dan says in his preface that Ancient Near Eastern studies, like many disciplines, are severely fractured along disciplinary and chronological lines. He seeks to mend this situation by looking at how the region’s prehistoric archaeology illuminates the later classical and historic periods into late Antiquity and vice versa so as to reveal the greater story of the ancient Near East through time. He concludes that these studies also demonstrate how rich a field exists for the further investigation of Mesopotamia, Iran and Arabia in the later pre-Islamic era.

Our Fellow David Parker, Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham, led the team that spent four years creating a transcription of the mid-fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus as part of an international project to create the website where all 800 surviving pages can be studied in the form of high-resolution digital images, and that also led to the major exhibition at the British Library in 2009 and the accompanying conference on this earliest surviving copy of the complete New Testament.

David’s new book, Codex Sinaiticus. The Story of the World's Oldest Bible (ISBN 9781598565768; Hendrickson Publishers), reminds us of how the Codex Sinaiticus was created and used in the ancient Church, how it was preserved for centuries at the monastery of St Catherine in Sinai, Egypt, its subsequent history and how its pages came to be scattered to locations in the UK, Germany, Egypt and Russia, and how it has been compiled again and made accessible to a world-wide audience for the first time.

Vacancy

Institute for Archaeologists: Communications Manager
Salary scale: £26,125 to £36,622 pro rata; closing date 29 October 2010

As part of a strategic restructuring, the Institute for Archaeologists is seeking a part-time (three or four days a week) Communications Manager to promote IfA’s standards to the historic environment sector and beyond. IfA sets standards for ethics, practice, products, membership and organisational registration; it publicises them via publications in various media, conferences, learning/CPD opportunities and the Institute’s advocacy initiatives. This management team post will be responsible for designing and implementing a comprehensive communications strategy for a wide range of sectoral, commercial and decision-making audiences. For a job description, person specification and further information see the IfA website.

Gifts to the Library July to September 2010

The Society is very grateful to the donors of the following books, given to the Library in the period from July to September 2010. The on-line catalogue has full records for all of these books, which are now available in the Library.

From the author, Brian Ayers FSA, Norwich: archaeology of a fine city (2009)
From the co-editor, Sally Badham FSA, Monumental Industry: the production of tomb monuments in England and Wales in the long fourteenth century, edited by Sally Badham FSA and Sophie Oosterwijk FSA (2010)
From the joint author, Roger Bland FSA, Roman and Early Byzantine Gold Coins found in Britain and Ireland with an Appendix of New Finds from Gaul, by Roger Bland FSA and Xavier Loriot (Royal Numismatic Society special publication 46) (2010)
From the author, Matthew Canepa FSA, The Two Eyes of the Earth: art and ritual of kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran (2009)
From the author, Gillian Darley FSA, John Evelyn: living for ingenuity (2006)
From Gillian Darley FSA, A Celebration of John Evelyn: proceedings of a conference to mark the tercentenary of his death, edited by Mavis Batey FSA (2007)
From David Gaimster FSA, Handbook of South American Archaeology, edited by Helaine Silverman and William Isbell (2008)
From the joint editors, Karen Hearn FSA and Lynn Hulse FSA, Lady Anne Clifford: culture, patronage and gender (2009)
From the joint authors, Erla Hohler FSA and Nigel Morgan, Painted Altar Frontals of Norway 1250—1350 (in three volumes), by Erla Hohler FSA, Nigel Morgan, Anne Wichstrøm and Unn Plahter (2004)
From Aideen Ireland FSA, Ancestral Interiors: photographs of the Irish country house, by Patrick Prendergast (2010)
From the author, Philip Kiernan, Miniature Votive Offerings in the Roman North West (2009)
From the author, Sonja Marzinzik FSA, The Sutton Hoo Helmet (2007)
From Vincent Megaw FSA, Les Gaulois et la mort en Normandie: les pratiques funéraires à l’Âge du Fer (VIIe-Ier) siècle avant J-C, by Fabien Delrieu (2009)
From Derek Renn FSA, A Neolithic Ring Ditch and Later Prehistoric Features at Staines Road Farm, Shepperton, by Phil Jones (2008)
From the editor, Heather Sebire FSA, Pursuits and Joys: great Victorian antiquarians and intellects. The Lukis Family of Guernsey and Their Contemporaries (2009)
From the author, Maria Toscano, Gli archivi del mondo: antiquaria, storia naturale e collezionismo nel secondo settecento (2009)
From Brigadier C W Woodburn, The Bala Hissar of Kabul: revealing a fortress-palace in Afghanistan (Institution of Royal Engineers Professional Paper 2009 (1)) (2009)