Salon Archive

Issue: 246

Elaine Paintin

It is especially sad to have to report that our Fellow and Council member Elaine Paintin died on 9 December 2010, having suffered a heart attack on Monday 6 December. Elaine had much left to give to the world and to the Society, having been elected to Council in April this year and having been a most energetic Vice-Chairman (under David Starkey’s Chairmanship) of the Society’s Development Committee. As Director of the Marc Fitch Fund, Elaine made a huge difference to countless publishing projects in which Fellows are involved through her strategic donation of small sums of money that made the key difference between the project going ahead or not. It is difficult to sum Elaine up in a few words, but Salon’s editor benefited hugely and frequently from her wise council and her piercing common sense: there will be many in the Fellowship who will be shocked and saddened to learn of her sudden departure. Our thoughts are with Elaine’s daughter, Isabel.

Fellow Alan Bell, Chairman of the Marc Fitch Fund, paid tribute to Elaine in the following words: ‘Elaine joined the Marc Fitch Fund in 2003, succeeding the long-serving Roy Stephens FSA as Director. Her varied experience of library and museum administration was invaluable, and she rapidly brought the Fund up to date in its business methods and range of operations. She was also involved in fundraising and financial management for a number of bodies, such as the Institute of Historical Research Trust, and as soon as she was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2006 she began to apply her energies here too, leading to her election to the Antiquaries Council this year.’

Our General Secretary, John Lewis, adds: ‘I was looking forward to working with Elaine on Council and with the Development Committee. Elaine spoke to me as a Fellow-representative when I was interviewed for this post, and I was struck by how deeply she cared for the Society, and how she was working hard to bring practical benefits in the form of fundraising. I was counting on her experience and wisdom, especially with the Development Committee, and she will be a tremendous loss.’

Salon illustrated

There has been a warm welcome for the inclusion of pictures in Salon, though a few Fellows have reported difficulties in viewing them. Before pictures are downloaded, some web browsers require you to click on a button that usually appears just below the upper tool bar and that might say ‘Show remote content’, or something similar. If that doesn’t work, you can see the illustrated version on the Society’s website or you can send an email to Salon’s editor, asking to be put on the distribution list for the PDF version, which has both pictures and hotlinks to the websites and email addresses cited in the text (you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to open this version).

Calling Fellows in Ireland

Fellows Elizabeth Okasha and Susan Youngs will deliver the Statutory Meeting lecture of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland on Thursday 16 December in the Helen Roe Theatre of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, at 7.30pm. The subject of the address will be ‘A Glittering Prize: the Anglo-Saxon Hoard from Staffordshire’. All Fellows are welcome to attend. For further information please contact the Executive Secretary of the Society, Colette Ellison.

Newly elected Fellows

The following were elected to the Fellowship at the ballot held on 2 December 2010 as Ordinary Fellows:

Adam Nicolson (Lord Carnock) , historian and award-winning writer, whose books include The Power and The Glory, on the making of the King James Bible, Men of Honour, on Admiral Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar, Restoration: the rebuilding of Windsor Castle, Earls of Paradise, an exploration of Arcadianism in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and Sissinghurst: an unfinished history.
Judith Barringer, Professor of Greek Art and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, widely known as a specialist in the archaeology, art and culture of Greece, particularly the intersection between art, myth and religion, from the Archaic through Hellenistic periods.
Susan Foister, Deputy Director of the National Gallery and Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Painting, author of Holbein and England (2004) and co-author of Giotto to Dürer (1991) and Dürer to Veronese (1999). Curator of exhibitions, including Holbein in England (2006) and Art of Light (2007).
David Sekers, former Director of the Gladstone Pottery Museum and Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, and Director of the Regions, Policy and Planning for the National Trust; Chairman and co-founder and past Chairman of the Association for Independent Museums.
Despina Pilides, Curator of Museums in the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, who has for thirty-five years combined an active programme of excavations with museum duties, personal research and publication, playing a high-profile public role in promoting domestic and international awareness of the cultural heritage of Cyprus.
David King, leading expert in the stained glass of Norfolk and Suffolk, a subject on which he has published widely, most recently in the Harlaxton conference transactions; major contributor to the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi. His identification of the sitter in Holbein’s portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel (National Gallery) was recently published in the Burlington Magazine.
Christopher John Yates Fletcher, Head of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, author of studies on the manuscripts of works by William Morris, Lord Byron, William Stukeley and Joseph Conrad, and curator of many exhibitions at the British Library and the Bodleian.
Gary Brown, founder and Managing Director of Pre-Construct Archaeology, now one of the UK’s larger archaeological contracting companies. Author of numerous papers on Roman and Saxon remains (for example, ‘Pits, bones and foodstuffs: excavations at the Lyceum Theatre, Exeter Street’; ‘Archaeological evidence for the Roman London to Colchester road between Aldgate and Harold Hill’; and ‘Roman Greenwich’).
Leslie Weller, art historian and valuer, former Chairman and now Vice-President of the Sussex Archaeological Society, Chairman of the Heritage Committee of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, member of the Heritage Committee of Christ’s Hospital and Chairman of the Fabric Advisory Committee of Chichester Cathedral.

The following were elected to the Fellowship at the ballot held on 9 December 2010 as Ordinary Fellows:

Hilary James Young, Senior Curator, Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass at the Victoria and Albert Museum, leading expert in British pottery and porcelain 1680—1820, European porcelain 1700—1800 and on the design sources for decorative arts and English silver. Publications include The Genius of Wedgwood (1995), English Porcelain 1745—95 (1999) and Masterpieces of World Ceramics (2008).
Christopher Webster, architectural historian and author of numerous journal papers on the architecture of the late Georgian and early Victorian period as well as a recent monograph on the Leeds architect R D Chantrell. He is a Council Member and officer of the Ecclesiological Society and is the West Yorkshire representative of the Victorian Society.
Katherine Susan Coombs, Curator of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum, author of The Portrait Miniature in England (2005), published to coincide with the opening of the V&A Portrait Miniatures Gallery; contributor of numerous articles on miniaturists and their work, including ‘Horace Walpole as a collector of miniatures’ in Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill (2009), edited by Fellow Michael Snodin.
John Stewart Adams, businessman with numerous archaeological interests, including membership of the Manchester Museum and National Trust Alderley Edge Landscape Project, on whose behalf he secured £150,000 and managed the project’s groundbreaking educational website; publisher and editor of local history books; archivist to the Syon Abbey Research Archive Group; researching the origin of ‘ford’ place-names in Britain.
Bruno Eloy Jan Stephan Werz, archaeologist and historian, pioneer of maritime archaeological research in southern Africa, discoverer of the oldest artefacts yet found under the sea, director of the excavation of sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest shipwreck, author of The Shipwrecks of the Oosterland and Waddinxveen, 1697, Table Bay among many academic works.
Elisabeth Rose Fairman, Senior Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, responsible for building on Paul Mellon’s foundation collection to create the finest British collection of its kind in North America; curates annual exhibitions at the Center and is currently working on bringing our Society’s Making History exhibition to Yale in 2012.
Michael Gavin Bundock, barrister, Director of Dr Johnson’s House Trust, Editor of The New Rambler and expert on eighteenth-century literature and history, especially Samuel Johnson, Dr Johnson’s house and eighteenth-century London.
Jacqueline Glomski, Lecturer in neo-Latin, King’s College, London. Her publications include Patronage and Humanist Literature in the Age of the Jagiellons (2007); former Vice-President of the Society for Neo-Latin Studies, Director of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Toronto, and Assistant Librarian at the Warburg Institute.
Victoria Jane Avery, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, shortly to be Keeper of Applied Arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; a leading scholar of European Renaissance sculpture (especially Venetian bronzes), her major publications include Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (2002) and Vulcan’s Forge in Venus’ City: a documentary history of the commissioning, production and uses of bronze objects in Venice, 1350—1650 (2010).

Forthcoming meetings

The programme of meetings for the period January to June 2011 has been posted on the Society’s website. The meetings calendar will be posted out to Fellows early in January, though copies will be available at Burlington House before Christmas.

22 January 2011: ‘New insights into sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British Architecture’

This day-long seminar, hosted by the Society at Burlington House, 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

27 January 2011: ‘Ruins and Revelry: the Society of Dilettanti’, by Charles Sebag-Montefiore FSA

The Society of Dilettanti was founded in 1732 by a group of young men who had visited Italy. Although perhaps originally seen only as a convivial dining society, its members soon assumed a responsibility for promoting an interest in the Arts and were responsible for some outstanding architectural publications in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Society continues to flourish 278 years later! The Dilettanti, whose membership is limited to sixty, owns a superb collection of portraits by such artist members as Knapton, Reynolds, West, Lawrence, Archer Shee, Sargent and John Ward. The Society dines five times a year and also operates a charitable trust.

3 February 2011: ‘Roman mosaics: the good, the bad and the ugly’, by David Neal FSA, and ‘The history of recording Romano-British mosaics’, by Stephen Cosh FSA; papers to mark the launch of Roman Mosaics of Britain. Volume IV: Western Britain.

David Neal’s paper will describe a range of Romano-British mosaics of varying quality and will assess what they tell us about the attitudes of the villa owners who commissioned them. A number of mosaics are without parallel and the inspiration for these will be discussed. Inferior repairs will be examined. The paper by Stephen Cosh will consider the evolving methods of illustrating Romano-British mosaics and the artists involved, from Aubrey and Stukeley, via Vertue and Lysons through to the present day. Particular emphasis will be laid on the long association which the Society of Antiquaries has had with recording mosaics, culminating in the publication of this final volume of the Romano-British mosaic corpus.

Meeting report: Christmas Miscellany

The latest addition to the Society’s paintings collection: Rosemary Cramp (2010), by Beka Smith, acrylic on board, 90 x 75cm.

The Society’s meeting on 9 December 2010 saw the unveiling of a new portrait of our former President, Rosemary Cramp, which is now displayed on the east wall of the Inner Library. Our Treasurer, Martin Millett, said that the painting had been paid for by the donations of Rosemary’s numerous friends, colleagues and students, and that it revived a tradition of Presidential portraiture in paint that had lapsed since the eighteenth century and that he hoped would now be revived. Our current President, Maurice Howard, said that it was important that the Society’s collection should include new works, as well as the historic, as a means of keeping the place alive. Rosemary herself admitted to having been beguiled into sitting for the portrait only after much plotting and subterfuge, but said she was very pleased with the result and paid tribute to the skill of the artist, Beka Smith.

After giving a characteristically witty and informative paper on early photographs (mainly from the 1850s) in the Society’s collection, Adrian James, our Assistant Librarian, was presented with a bottle something very old and very rare in the whisky line to mark the thirtieth anniversary of his joining the staff of the Society. Our President Maurice Howard said that those were ‘thirty years of very dedicated service, and Fellows have much appreciated what you have done for us, and have yet to do’. Adrian replied that the thirty years ‘have not seemed too long in the present company’.

Major art find at Kelmscott Manor

Thanks to the persistence of the Society’s Collections Manager, Julia Dudkiewicz, the full significance of two paintings left at Kelmscott Manor by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1874 has now been recognised. In the course of cataloguing the Kelmscott Manor collection, Julia was not happy with the description of the pair of paintings as ‘Spanish, c 1700 depicting workaday crowds in Plaza Major, Sahagú, Spain, a town on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela’. For a start, none of the figures depicted in the paintings had the cockle-shell and staff attributes normally used to denote a pilgrim on the Way of St James.

Julia showed photographs of the paintings to a large number of puzzled experts within and without the Fellowship, including our President, and a number of suggestions were made, and then ruled out (including Venice, Valladolid, Ponferrada and even Latin America) on the basis of the distinctive colonnade depicted in the paintings. Eventually Fellows Jeremy Warren and Dora Thornton suggested that the pictures should be sent to our Fellow Professor Kate Lowe, because of her expertise in the depiction of Black Africans in the art of Renaissance Europe, and Dr Annemarie Jordan Gschwend, an expert in Portuguese Renaissance art, was then enlisted to help find comparative material.

As a result of their collective endeavours, the revised catalogue entry for these two paintings now reads: Two Views of the Rua Nova dos Mercadores in Lisbon, by an anonymous Flemish painter, Portugal or Netherlands, 1570—1590, oil on canvas’.

Both paintings currently feature prominently in a major exhibition that has just opened at the Museum Reitberg, in Zurich, called Ivories from Ceylon: Luxury Goods from the Renaissance (on until 13 March 2011: ). Curated by Dr Gschwend, the main focus of this exhibition is the collection of ivory objects that came to Lisbon as diplomatic gifts following the establishment of trade relations between Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Portugal in 1506. Ceylon became the first Asian nation to set up an embassy in Europe when, in 1542, Sri Radaraska Pandita, a Brahmin priest from Kotte, arrived in Lisbon as his country’s first ambassador. The Lisbon he saw was very like the Lisbon depicted in the Society’s paintings, which are now to be counted among a very small number of depictions of the Renaissance city, most of which was destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake that took place on Saturday 1 November 1755.

The catalogue entry for the Zurich exhibition says that the two paintings once formed part of a single panoramic vista of the waterfront and lower streets of Lisbon, of which the other sections are now missing or lost, and that they are very close in style to a third painting of the King’s Fountain (Chafariz del Rei), now in the Berardo Collection in Lisbon. All three paintings were possibly executed by the same anonymous artist, probably Flemish rather than Portuguese in background, specialising in city scenes and topographical views, a genre that developed in the Netherlands under the influence of cartography and growing civic pride.

The Rua Nova dos Mercadores (‘New Street of the Merchants’) played an integral part in the urban renovation of medieval Lisbon undertaken by King Manuel I (who reigned from 1495 to 1521), whose building works redefined the character of the city: Rua Nova was the first street in Lisbon to be paved (at the king’s instruction), to become the widest, largest and most frequented street in the city, its principal commercial street, an important financial centre and a prime location for the shops and residences of Portuguese and foreign merchants.

The long iron rail in the middle of the street with chains at either end was erected to enclose the precincts of the luxury shops located here, allowing merchants to negotiate business without disturbance from pedestrians or traffic. Welser, Fugger, Imhof, Affaitaidi and Rovalesco were among the merchants located within this iron grid, as was Lucas Giraldi, who supplied Catherine of Austria (Queen Consort of Portugal during the minority of her grandson from 1557 until 1562) with her favourite Italian textiles and jewels. Among the shops here were eleven booksellers and nine apothecaries selling drugs and spices from Portuguese Asia and six shops specialising in Chinese porcelain. Contemporary visitors expressed amazement at the range of Asian luxury goods and exotica for sale here, including precious stones and diamonds from India, crystal and ruby buttons from Ceylon, mounted coconut and nautilus shells, lacquer furniture and chests from the Far East and mother-of-pearl caskets from Gujarat.

One of the most striking features of the two Kelmscott paintings (and the Berardo panel) is the number of people of African descent who are portrayed. In sixteenth-century Portugal, black Africans who had been enslaved in West Africa were commonplace, as were freed former slaves, and the freeborn descendants of slaves.

It is possible, says the catalogue entry, that the Kelmscott and Berardo paintings could be related to Philip II’s project to record the main cities of his vast empire. He commissioned Anton van den Wyngaerde (c 1512—71), the Flemish topographical painter, to travel throughout his territories from the 1560s until 1571, drawing cityscapes. Philip II became king of Portugal in 1581 and he lived in Lisbon from 1581 to 1583. Before his death in 1598, a 3.35-metre panorama of Lisbon, now lost, was documented as being in his collection of paintings at the Alcázar palace in Madrid.

Save the Zurburáns

Another outstanding group of pictures has been in the news this week, thanks to a campaign supported by the Society to persuade the Church Commissioners to change their minds about selling the paintings by the Spanish master, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598—1664), that currently hang in the dining room of the official residence of the Bishop of Durham at Bishop Auckland.

Along with twenty other distinguished Fellows, our President Maurice Howard was one of fifty-five signatories to a letter published in Country Life (8 December 2010) and addressed to Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner. The letter questions whether the Commissioners have the legal right to sell the paintings and points out that the significance of the pictures lies as much in their present setting as in the artistic merits of the paintings.

The twelve paintings by Zurbarán depict Jacob and eleven of his sons, the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel, along with a thirteenth painting that is a copy of the original. They were probably painted by Zurbarán for a church or patron in South America, but they were captured in transit by privateers, bought to London and purchased by Bishop Richard Trevor of Durham from a London dealer in February 1756.

Three years earlier, Bishop Trevor had been a leading member of the campaign to allow Jews to become British citizens, a controversial measure at the time, and the purchase and display of the paintings was a deliberate statement by the bishop of his support for the legislation known as ‘the Jew Bill’. As such, argue the critics of the proposed sale, their presence in the dining room of the Bishop’s residence, where they are on public display and where they have been since the day Bishop Trevor brought them to County Durham, is a significant and tangible celebration of a key moment in the history of Britain’s relations with the Jewish community.

The Commissioners argue that it is their duty to manage the assets of the Church to best advantage and that the money raised by the paintings (likely to be in the region of £15m) could be better used for charitable purposes. Legal opinion is currently divided as to whether the paintings, defined as ‘heirlooms of the see’, belong to the bishop or to the Anglican Church. The last bishop was opposed to the sale, but the see is currently vacant.

Moscow Architectural Preservation Society calls on Medvedev to halt legal changes

Even more challenging than the task of persuading the Church Commissioners to reconsider their position is the campaign, also supported by prominent Fellows (including Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage), to persuade Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvedev, to think again over proposed amendments to Federal Law No. 163864-5. Those amendments, says the Moscow Architectural Preservation Society, which is leading the campaign, will legitimise the practice of the ‘reconstruction’ of historic monuments, involving the demolition of the original and its replacement by a modern ‘replica’.

In a letter to the President, the signatories say that rebuilding and redevelopment in the name of reconstruction has already led to the loss of more than 2,000 historic buildings in Moscow, including 200 listed architectural monuments, and that many hundreds more have been lost in Russian cities beyond the capital. The letter expresses particular concern for St Petersburg’s historic cityscape, so well preserved throughout the Soviet period, and reminds the President that Russia was once renowned for its restoration schools, ‘famous for meticulous work on the palaces around Leningrad after the Second World War, which created a new generation of skilled craftsmen and restorers’.

The letter reminds the President that Russia has ratified the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage which, based on the Venice Charter of 1964, does not allow reconstruction, and it requests the President to veto the proposed amendments laid out in white paper No.163864-5.

Museum of the Order of St John reopens to acclaim

The new Museum of the Order of St John, in Clerkenwell, was officially opened on 2 November 2010 by our Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, who is also Grand Prior of the Order of St John. With the help of a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the museum is set to be transformed from one of London’s less-well known museums into a ‘must see’ attraction, telling a number of stories that link this part of London to the Knights Hospitaller and the Crusades, to the history of medicine and to the modern Order, best known for running the St John Ambulance and the famous Eye Hospital in Jerusalem.

The story told by the museum covers the founding of the Order of St John, whose members are known as Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of Malta, at the beginning of the twelfth century in Jerusalem, and of their peregrinations from the Holy Land to Cyprus, then Rhodes and then, after the Turkish capture of the island in 1522, to Malta where they built the city of Valletta as their new capital and ruled the island until Napoleon’s army captured Malta in 1798.

In Britain, the Order built a Priory in Clerkenwell in the 1140s, which became their English headquarters until the Order was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. The sixteenth-century Gatehouse in Clerkenwell is all that survives above ground of the Priory, and it variously served as a coffee shop run by William Hogarth’s father, the offices of the Gentleman’s Magazine, where Samuel Johnson once worked, and as the Jerusalem Tavern. It then became the fitting home of the St John Ambulance Association, formed in 1877 with royal patronage to provide a voluntary first aid service, inspired by the Hospitallers’ example. It is now the headquarters of an international organisation whose membership stands at 300,000 in forty-two countries.

Left: Our Fellow Alan Borg, Librarian (left), was Project Director of the museum’s transformation, along with Pamela Willis. Alan is shown here with Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s London Committee, and HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

Visitors to the museum are encouraged to join a guided tour (Tue, Fri and Sat: see the museum’s website), which takes in the architectural history of the building, including John Oldrid Scott’s Gothic-Revival wing, with its magnificent chapter hall, and the Grand Priory Church, in its post-war rebuilt form, but standing on top of the eleventh-century crypt.

Museum of the Order of St John reopens to acclaim (continued)

The new museum adds a twenty-first-century element to the ensemble, with newly built galleries, such as the Link Gallery shown here, displaying two panels from the Weston Triptych (1470—80), by Rogier van der Weyden, which was presented to the Priory Church around 1480 by John Weston, Grand Prior of England from 1476 to 1489, and that formed the altar-piece of the Priory Church until the suppression of the Order.

Five Fellowships to celebrate twenty years of the McDonald Institute

The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge is to create five new Fellowships to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Based within the Cambridge Department of Archaeology, the Institute was founded in 1990 following a generous bequest from Dr Daniel McClean McDonald, the founder and chairman of the BSR Group. Our Fellow Colin Renfrew was the Institute’s first director and the present incumbent is our Fellow Graeme Barker, who said that ‘The Institute’s fluid community of twenty-five to thirty post-doctoral research fellows is now among the largest in the world.’

Five further three-year posts for early career researchers will be created over the next five years as a result of the new McDonald Anniversary Fellowships. Anniversary Fellows will work within the major research areas of current interest to the Institute: human-environment interaction, social change, symbols, material culture and heritage. As well as providing funding support for their research, the Institute will enable the new Fellows to organise a conference in Cambridge bringing leading speakers from the academic community together to discuss their chosen research theme.

Graeme Barker said that: ‘funding for graduate study in archaeology is increasingly hard to come by, and opportunities for post-doctoral study, the key transitional stage before a permanent academic post, are the most limited of all. We believe researchers at that level make the Institute what it is and represent the future health of archaeology as a subject. That’s why we are creating these new Fellowships to mark the 20th anniversary at a time when career prospects in UK universities look increasingly bleak. We seek Fellows who are adventurous rather than risk-averse, who propose challenging rather than comfortable research themes. Our hope is for them to continue to affirm why archaeology has important things to say about the human past and why understanding that past is important for the present and future health of our species.’

Southport Group initiative: making PPS5 work

Despite the gloomy news about the financing of heritage in England over the foreseeable future (compounded by the effects of recession and central and local Government spending cuts), the members of the Southport Group (so named because the group was formed in Southport during the 2010 conference of the Institute for Archaeologists) see much potential for developer-funded archaeology as a result of the policies contained in PPS5 (Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment)), published in April 2010.

The Group (further details of which can be found on the IfA’s website) has now announced a series of four workshops on the theme of ‘realising the benefits of planning-led investigation of the historic environment’, free and open to all, to take place at the Museum of London Dockland, as follows:

 Workshop 1: 24 January 2011, 10am to 1.30pm: ‘How to achieve better quality in delivery’, chaired by Fellows Peter Hinton and Stewart Bryant;
 Workshop 2: 24 January 2011, 2.30pm to 6pm: ‘How to achieve better opportunities for public participation and involvement in decision making, and improved quality of publication and dissemination’, chaired by Fellows Mike Heyworth and Matthew Slocombe;
 Workshop 3: 25 January 2011, 10am to 1.30pm: ‘How to achieve proper compilation and transfer of archive material and improved access to archives’, chaired by Fellows Duncan Brown and Hedley Swain;
 Workshop 4: 25 January 2011, 2.30pm to 6pm: ‘How to achieve a better research focus in delivery, and how to address fragmentation in the sector’, chaired by Fellows Chris Gosden, Adrian Tindall and Frank Kelsall.

At a later date, a fifth workshop of invited delegates from the property sector will ask how we are to achieve clearer focus on the needs of the client (or funding body) in terms of product and proportionality.

Each workshop will focus on a different aspect of understanding and sharing the significance of the historic environment and will cover the diverse needs of the built, buried and underwater resource. Workshop discussions will lead to a report, to be published in April 2011, setting out a road map for change. Further details of the agenda for each workshop are available on the IfA website and written comments on these agendas are invited.

To book your place, please email the Southport Group by 10 January 2011, indicating which of the four workshops you wish to attend. You are welcome to attend one workshop or several. Spaces will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

EU consultation on the future of VAT

An opportunity has arisen to express concern about the way that VAT Is levied on the cost of maintenance and repairs to historic buildings (but not on replacement or new builds) in the form of a European Commission Green Paper: ‘Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system’. The aim of the consultation is to launch a debate on the structure of the current VAT system, ways to make it more coherent within a single market and to reduce the cost of compliance. Responses to the Green Paper are invited by 31 May 2011, details of which can be found on the Commission’s website.

Lives remembered

The Society has learned of the death of our Fellow Major Frederick W L Vatcher MBE of St Brelade, Jersey, but we have no further details at present.

Everyone is welcome to attend the memorial service for our late Fellow John Alexander (whose death was announced in Salon 240), Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, since 1976 and University Lecturer in Archaeology 1974—84, that will be held in St John’s College Chapel, Cambridge, on Saturday 5 February 2011, at 12 noon. Refreshments will be served in the Combination Room after the service.

Left: John Alexander, photographed by Gwil Owen at the reception following the 2006 McDonald Annual Lecture.

Tributes by David Lowenthal and Bobbie Wells to our late Fellow Peter Gathercole (whose death was announced in Salon 245) can be seen on the Antiquity website.

Obituaries have appeared in The Times and the Independent for our late Fellow Julian Roberts (who died at the age of eighty, and not, as reported in Salon 245, at seventy-one). Access to The Times obituary (published on 17 November 2010) requires payment of a subscription, but the Independent and it describes Julian as a librarian who led his field for half a century through his work at the British Museum (1958—74) and the Bodleian (1974—97), renowned for his work, with friend, colleague and Fellow Andrew Watson, on the manuscripts of John Dee, the sixteenth-century mathematician and astronomer.

Since the report in Salon 245 on the death of our Fellow Bill (William James) White, an obituary has also appeared in the Guardian, written by our Fellow Roy Stephenson, recording that Bill’s first career was as an organic chemist with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, and that archaeology had been a hobby until he took a course in human skeletal remains in archaeology at the University of London and decided that what he really wanted to do with his life was to study excavated human remains. Working first as a volunteer, then as a freelance, Bill eventually became part of the osteology team at the Museum of London Archaeology Service, where he helped found the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology and played a pivotal role in establishing the Wellcome Osteological Research Database.

During the course of his career, Bill was consulted by, among others, Patricia Cornwell, the crime writer, and the artist Damien Hirst. His intellect ranged across diverse subjects, from mummification in ancient Egypt to popular music, of which he had an encyclopaedic knowledge — he was a big fan of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. Such a glorious variety of information was put to devastatingly good use on the BBC quiz-show ‘Eggheads’, when he was captain of the Museum of London team which defeated the resident eggheads.

There is a further brief notice of Bill’s career on the Museum of London’s website.

The Daily Telegraph carried an obituary on 11 December 2010 for our late Fellow Robert James Potter OBE, who died on 30 November 2010 at the age of 101. Robert Potter was a conservation architect and pioneer of innovative church design, a former Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral who was also responsible for major work at Chichester and Chelmsford cathedrals. He lived to see St Francis, Old Sarum, one of the first churches that he ever designed (at the age of twenty-nine), designated as a Grade II listed building; subsequently his Church of the Ascension, Crownhill, Plymouth, designed in 1958, was also listed and it is perhaps only a matter of time before his innovative church of St George, Oakdale, in Poole, also joins the list.

He worked closely with Dean Walter Hussey on the renovation of Chichester Cathedral between 1955 and 1977, on the Bodleian Library in Oxford and on a number of London landmark churches, among them St Stephen Walbrook and All Souls, Langham Place.

News of Fellows

Our Fellow Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue was presented with the Apollo Book of the Year Award at a gala reception held at Bonhams on 25 November 2010 for his work on French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, published by the Royal Collection.

The award citation said that the three-volume, 1,291-page catalogue, with its 2,400 illustrations, nearly all of them in colour, describes what is ‘probably the finest, and certainly the largest, collection of Sèvres porcelain in the world, most of it acquired by that voracious collector, George IV … from the 1780s until the death of the king in 1830’. Paying tribute to the author’s ‘meticulous and profound scholarly research’, it said that ‘the catalogue is enriched by de Bellaigue’s exceptional broad knowledge of France and its history. His determined research in all manner of areas results, for example, in the identification of the regimental uniforms in Sèvres’ characteristic scenes of military encampments’.

Left: Our picture shows Fellow Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue (centre) receiving the award from Oscar Humphries, Apollo’s editor. On the far right is our Fellow Kate Owen, who, as well as being the Society’s Publications Manager, edited the prize-winning volumes and is responsible for scholarly and academic publishing at the Royal Collection.

Look out for our Fellow Mary Beard on BBC2 at 9pm on Tuesday 14 December 2010 presenting a programme called Pompeii: Life and Death in a Roman Town. Mary (who was included in the Daily Telegraph’s recent feature ‘The 100 Most Powerful Women in Britain’) uses archaeology to examine the lives of the Roman town’s residents, providing a snapshot of their lives just before the deadly eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Our Fellow Antti Matikkala, Research Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, has been awarded the 2010 Prix Dr Walburga von Habsburg Douglas of the Confédération internationale de généalogie et d’héraldique for her book The Orders of Knighthood and the Formation of the British Honours System, 1660—1760.

Fellows are well to the fore in the list of panel members who will decide which of the thirty-eight applications received earlier this year will go forward to be considered as official UK nominations for World Heritage Status. Membership of the independent panel was announced by Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose on 30 November. The panel will be chaired by Fellow Sue Davies, who already chairs the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Culture Committee. Panel members include Fellows Peter Fowler, Paul Drury and David Thackray, as well as Birgitta Ringbeck, Susan Williamson, Mike Pienkowski, Christopher Pound and Mike Robinson. Based on the panel’s recommendations, the Government proposes to submit a new Tentative List to UNESCO in 2011.

Fellow Joe Flatman and Katie Meheux are working to produce a paper and a display on the life and work of Joan du Plat Taylor, the distinguished former Institute of Archaeology (UCL) librarian and influential maritime archaeologist as part of the wider celebrations planned for 2012 when the Institute celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary. Joe is appealing to Fellows for anecdotes, documents, photographs or other material to help with the project and is happy to travel (within a reasonable distance of London) to record, photograph or scan these. Anyone able to help should contact Joe Flatman at the Institute.

Lost to the Fellowship (perhaps)

Here are three new contributions to Salon’s very occasional series on people who might have been Fellows of our Society had they not been diverted from the path of antiquarianism at an early age. First, thanks to Brendan O'Connor, who spotted an interview with Baroness Julia Neuberger in the New Statesman (29 November 2010, page 36) in which she admits to having been a frustrated archaeologist; at Newnham College, Cambridge, in the late 1960s, she was set on a career as an Assyriologist, but she found she was unable to visit Turkey, being British, and unable to travel to Iraq, being Jewish, so she switched to Hebrew for the second part of her degree and then studied to become a rabbi at the urging of her tutor ‘even though I was not religious’.

Miles Russell recalls once being told that Ann Widdecombe had thought of being an archaeologist when she was a girl and reflects that politics’ gain is very much archaeology’s loss.

And Salon’s editor, a keen fan of Robert Plant in all his various manifestations (most recently fronting the ‘Band of Joy’ to great acclaim at the Electric Proms in November), watched a documentary on BBC2 recently called ‘Robert Plant: in my own words’, in which the former Led Zeppelin frontman admitted that ‘before I discovered music, I was just a Stourbridge grammar school boy obsessed by my stamp collection and Romano-British history’.

Feedback

Mention of the work to restore the mosaics at Chedworth Roman Villa in Salon 245 prompted our Fellow Peter Salway to provide an update on progress. As well as being a ‘volunteer special adviser’ to the project, Peter has also been appointed Chair of the Research and Publication Board for Chedworth, ‘set up by the National Trust mindful of the backlog of publication (last major report 1866!)’. The Board’s members include Fellows Dai Morgan Evans, Mike Fulford, John Williams, David Thackray, Jason Wood (chairman of the National Trust Archaeology Panel) and the English Heritage inspector (currently Mel Barge).

Peter further reports that ‘we have managed to secure the services of Fellow Simon Esmonde Cleary full-time for a year. This is not being funded by the HLF project but in parallel by means of putting his University of Birmingham study leave and vacations together with some replacement teaching paid for by the Trust from a number of small sources. The plan is that he will compile an academic monograph bringing together and analysing all available previous work on the site. It will incorporate the report on excavations from 1994 onwards during Phil Bethell’s period as Property Manager that is already in final draft stage, having been paid for out of a National Trust defined purposes legacy. Simon will also write a more general book, looking at the history of the site from the Victorian period onwards and looking at the place of Chedworth in the context of the Late Roman world. He will also write a new guidebook and work with the consultants designing the on-site interpretation to accompany the new building.’

Peter adds that ‘you might also be interested to know that Henry Cleere’s son — Chris Cleere — is in charge of the protection of the mosaics as they are uncovered and of their long-term conservation — a very tricky series of mosaic jobs that is being carried out to a much higher standard than I have previously seen at Chedworth (with the honourable exception of the annual UCL field course on conservation run by Dean Scully). And how pleasing to see the next generation at work in archaeology!’

Above: Peter Salway (left) on site at Chedworth. Further pictures of the restoration work in progress can be seen on the National Trust’s Chedworth Excavations blog, including a profile of Chris Cleere (Home page, ‘Meet the Team’, sixth entry down).

Still with the National Trust, a couple of last words on the Disneyfication debate. Fellow Michael Hill writes to say: ‘I was pleased to read Sarah Staniforth’s explanation of the research work that is being promoted by the National Trust. It occurs to me that there is an opportunity to make more of this by reviving a useful publication — variously known as The National Trust Yearbook or National Trust Studies. Edited by our late Fellow Gervase Jackson-Stops, this was produced annually between 1975 and 1981 and contained a useful mix of articles illustrating the wealth of research then being carried out under NT auspices. Even if traditional printing and publishing cannot be afforded, what about an online edition? I can think of nothing better to demonstrate succinctly and practically the Trust's scholarly commitments.’

And from Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) comes a note on how they do things there: HRP has just taken on three MA students to work on a series of research projects across the palaces alongside, and gaining experience from, the HRP’s expert in-house curators. Mary Gillespie will catalogue and research sixteenth-century architectural terracotta excavated at Hampton Court; Bruce Simpson will study the ‘love letters of Queen Victoria’ for new displays that will feature at Kensington Palace in 2012; and Emily Fildes will work at the Tower of London to ‘devise a better system for the management of archaeological records’.

Our Fellow Lucy Worsley, HRP’s Chief Curator, says: ‘in challenging economic times when we are seeing many cuts in the cultural and heritage sector it is lovely to have some good news for a change. The interns will provide vital support behind the scenes to Historic Royal Palace’s team of curators, while building their own CVs, cutting their teeth on research projects, and spending two years surrounded by some amazing buildings and collections. We’re thrilled to have them.’

‘No, not on the Celts/no Celts debate’, writes Vincent Megaw; ‘as readers of Salon will surely know, Ruth’s and my attempts to present a defence against the Simon James/John Collis front have been largely ignored and now that John has gone public at a recent symposium in Hallein (home of the Keltenmuseum and the treasures of the Dürrnberg) stating that he is giving up on that front and is “returning to archaeology”, that probably doesn’t matter. No, but your announcement of the London Archaeologist award for the Rose and Globe volume reminds me, as a North Londoner whose schoolboy wish was to excavate “Queen Boadicea’s Grave”, a barrow on Hampstead Heath, that the London Archaeologist itself must be overdue an award. Since it was founded by Nick Farrant — whose death is memorialised in the current issue — and under the long-time editorship of Fellow Clive Orton, recipient of the 2008 British Archaeological Awards lifetime’s achievement award, it has blossomed into a finely designed full-colour journal of record which combines the best of professional and amateur contributions to the archaeology of Greater London. No London archaeologist should be without the London Archaeologist

A snippet from our Fellow Ferdinand Mount’s recent review of the Berkshire Pevsner guide, quoted in the last issue of Salon, caught the eye of our Fellow William Price, who writes to say: ‘I hesitate to correct Ferdinand Mount, but Betjeman and Piper did not recommend ‘the excellent Official Guide to Windsor Castle (price 1/-)’ in their Shell Guide because there has never been a Shell Guide to Berkshire, although a guide to Berkshire was in preparation when the series came to an end in 1984, and it is believed that the manuscript still exists. The volume on Berkshire that Betjeman and Piper did edit, and that contained this reference to the Guide to Windsor Castle, was one of Murray’s Architectural Guides. Only three such county volumes were published by John Murray: Buckinghamshire (1948), Berkshire (1949) and Lancashire (1955).’

Something that Salon’s editor got wrong when reviewing the new Pevsner volume for Hampshire was to attribute the papers published in the Antiquaries Journal on the stalls in the chapel of St Cross Hospital to our Fellow Charles Tracy. The first (published in 2002) was written by Fellow Nicholas Riall and Angela Smith, the second (2008) by Riall solo.

Asking that credit be given where it is due, Charles Tracy says that he and Fellow John Crook had, some ten years ago, thought of writing a paper on the stalls, but then discovered that the Riall and Smith paper was already in progress. ‘Nicholas’s impressive contribution in these two papers was based on his PhD thesis, “Bringing the Renaissance to early Tudor England: the role of Richard Fox and his frieze at St Cross, Winchester”, University of Swansea (2005), in which he demonstrated a forensic interest in the patronage of Cardinal Archbishop Georges d’Amboise in the chapel at the Château de Gaillon. Happily, I was able to introduce him to the stalls at Amiens Cathedral, which he assimilated with interest’, says Charles.

Claire Worland, Learning and Interpretation Officer for the National Trust, based at Sutton Hoo, has written to thank those several Fellows who wrote to throw light on the teachers — Barbara Wagstaff and Mercie Lack — whose albums of 400 photographs of the 1939 Sutton Hoo excavations have gone on display at the visitor centre. Our Fellow Andrew Pike was able to identify Barbara Wagstaff as a teacher at Putney High School, in London, who taught his mother. ‘I remember my mother telling me about her and of her photographic skills. Indeed Miss Wagstaff described the excavations at Sutton Hoo to her pupils’, Andrew writes. Andrew’s mother wrote a history of the school (The Oak Tree) in which Miss Wagstaff is mentioned as ‘running a very successful gymnastics team’, so she might have been the gym or games mistress. The National Trust will now contact the school archivist for further information.

Fellow Stuart Harrison recalls ‘attending a lecture in the 1970s given by Charles Phillips on Sutton Hoo and he mentioned these two ladies acting as photographers during the excavation. Unfortunately I cannot recall for certain how they became involved but I think they were on holiday visiting the area … Phillips himself used glass slides to illustrate his talk — all black and white including one showing a large group of naval ratings or cadets lined up alongside the ship looking down into the trench. Phillips was by then pretty old and walked with a stick, but he was bright as a button when he recalled the excavation.’

Events

12 March 2011: 'Catholic families in Britain: patronage and collecting'. This day-long seminar to be held at the Society’s Burlington House apartments on 12 March 2011 is being organised by Fellows Tessa Murdoch and John Martin Robinson and will explore the role of Catholic families as centres of patronage in England from the sixteenth century to Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and their important links with the European continent.

Speakers will include Abbot Geoffrey Scott of Douai Abbey, Reading, on ‘The Throckmortons of Coughton, Warwickshire’; Caroline Bowden of Queen Mary College, University of London, on ‘Convent supporters and convent patronage: the English convents in exile 1600—1800’; Bridget Long on ‘Vestments’ and Tessa Murdoch on ‘Sacred silver of the Arundell family's Wardour Chapel, Wiltshire’; John Martin Robinson on ‘The antiquarian taste of the Howards of Norfolk’; Clare Hornsby and James Stourton respectively on ‘The collecting activities of Charles Towneley, and the Welds’; and Sophie Andreae and Benedict Read on ‘Hidden Heritage and the challenge facing us today with particular reference to the collections at Ushaw’.

This will be followed by a concert programme devised by Andrew Cecchi and I Dedicati of Oxford, including music by William Byrd for the Petres of Ingatestone, Essex, and Richard Dering, who served as a musician in Queen Henrietta Maria’s chapel.

For further information and a booking form please contact Maria Cristina White da Cruz.

Books by Fellows

The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, edited by Fellow Nicholas Higham and Martin Ryan (ISBN: 9781843835820; Boydell), results from a conference held in 2007 and is the first of two volumes: it will be interesting to see whether the forthcoming companion volume, concerned with textual and place-name evidence, supports the conclusions of this archaeological volume.

One aim of the volume is to encourage scholars to think of this period as being more than just ‘the end of the Roman period’ or ‘the start of the medieval’ and to study the long Anglo-Saxon period, which Nicholas Higham defines in his introduction as the period ‘from say 450 to 1100’ (one might want to quibble with the earlier of the two dates — 450 being about a century too late for some of the changes charted in this volume).

Popular misconceptions are corrected, such as that England reverted rapidly to scrub and woodland in the fifth century, and that a new pattern was written on the landscape with the eventual cutting down of this woodland to create new types of nucleated settlement surrounded by open-field agriculture later in the period. The truth is much more complex, as subsequent essays reveal; pollen evidence, for example, reveals no large-scale regrowth of trees and ‘a distinct lack of evidence of wholesale abandonment of the landscape in the fifth century, such as would be consistent with widespread population collapse’. Instead, the ratio and volume of pollens from domesticated crops remained stable or even increased, suggesting a high degree of continuity into the sub-Roman and early medieval period of a heavily exploited landscape, with large numbers of small farms and complex field systems.

These and many other ideas about settlement types and field systems, and regional varieties thereof, are subjected to scrutiny and revision in what the book describes as ‘a fast-moving field … capable of absorbing a great deal of scholarly energy over the next few decades’. Fellow Tom Williamson’s paper on the ‘Environmental contexts of Anglo-Saxon settlement’ gives some clues about where such scholarly effort might be focused when he argues that the simple facts of agricultural life, such as topography, soil type and water supply, tell you a great deal and correlate to a high degree with cultural indicators and place-names to suggest ‘three great provinces facing the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the Channel / Thames Estuary’. Fellow Peter Murphy adds a fourth province in the form of the coastline: one result of recent coastal zone assessment surveys, triggered by concerns about coastal erosion, is the huge amount of new information about post-Roman expansion of arable farming and fish-trap construction in coastal wetland and estuaries — yet more evidence of agricultural intensification rather than of economic decline in the Anglo-Saxon period.

One of the themes treated in The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England has been developed into a full-scale monograph in Trees in Anglo-Saxon England: literature, lore and landscape, by our Fellow Della Hooke (ISBN: 9781843835653; Boydell). Della too begins by dismissing the idea of large-scale woodland regeneration in the Anglo-Saxon period, attributing this idea to nineteenth-century writers influenced by the newly discovered landscapes of western America and imagining that Britain reverted to a similar state of nature without Roman rule (extraordinary as such an idea now seems). Combining her two loves — those of literature and of landscape — she analyses the evidence from charters, place-names, literature and Domesday Book to create a much more nuanced picture of the distribution of woodland, its different uses and management regimes and the species they contained. In the process, she reveals an Old English vocabulary as rich in words for the many different types of woodland and associated feature as there are reputed to be words for varieties of snow in the Inuit language — and thus, of course, emphasising the importance of woodland as a resource to an economy in which almost everything was made from timber.

But this is not just a book about the uses of wood: Della also analyses the iconography of trees and woodland and the place of trees in the mind’s eye, reminding us that trees in general, and specific varieties in particular, have a rich symbolism. To look at any tree after reading Della’s book is to have a clearer grasp of what someone might have made of it (literally and metaphorically) a thousand years ago.

One strand within the two preceding books is the change that Christianity wrought by introducing new site types — especially churches and cemeteries — to the landscape, often recolonising Roman structures and enclosures, and introducing a new focus for settlement and new land ownership and management regimes. By contrast, there was far less by way of a Roman heritage to reclaim in the Celtic-speaking areas of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, south-west Britain and Brittany, where the impact of the early Church on the landscape is studied in considerable detail in The Archaeology of the Early Medieval Celtic Churches, edited by our Fellow Nancy Edwards (ISBN: 9781906540616; Maney). The papers in this joint Society for Medieval Archaeology and Society for Church Archaeology monograph result from a joint conference held in Bangor in 2004 and demonstrate the many different ways in which the landscape was Christianised in the Celtic west, setting the scene for subsequent conflict between the Roman Church, with its emphasis on central control and uniformity of belief and practice, and the much more varied and individualistic Celtic churches.

Even so, archaeology is able to suggest some features that the Celtic churches had in common, and one aim of this monograph is to identify and describe the character of different types of early Christian site, from the major ecclesiastical sites that functioned almost as a monastic town and as hubs of regional agricultural and industrial activity, often the seat of a bishop who combined seigneurial and clerical roles, down to the humbler shrines of local saints, places of pilgrimage and hermits’ caves.

That the Society for Medieval Archaeology should devote an entire monograph to matters Celtic would have reassured the un-named ‘Celtic correspondents’ who wrote to our Fellow David Wilson in 1957, at the time when the new Society’s constitution was being drafted. They wrote to object to the ‘unfortunate impression’ given by the draft constitution that southern England would dominate the Society, in terms of ordinary membership, Council membership and in the spread of articles in the Society’s journal, to the neglect of the Celtic west in the Society’s affairs. The careful crafting that subsequently went into the creation of a regionally balanced Council is told in the Society’s commemorative volume, Reflections: 50 years of Medieval Archaeology 1957—2007, edited by our Fellows Roberta Gilchrist and Andrew Reynolds (ISBN: 9781906540715; Maney), in one of five scene-setting papers that look at the foundation, early years, milestones and future of the Society, contributed by the editors and by Fellows David Wilson, Rosemary Cramp, Christopher Gerrard, Mark Gardiner and Stephen Ripon.

Much more of concern to the members then and now was the potential not for southern England to dominate, but for history to lead the Society by the nose, and several contributors to this volume remark how the Society’s early research agenda was dominated by such historical themes as the impact of the Black Death and (what was, at the time, seen to be) the associated phenomenon of village desertion. The fifty years of the Society’s work reflected in this volume shows the Society’s members gradually defining medieval archaeology, as a distinct discipline, often modifying or challenging the myths of medieval history, and often on the basis of science-based research, such as the dating of standing buildings or the study of human and animal remains for a better understanding of health, disease, medicine, diet, gender and belief.

Belief — couched in terms of the dichotomy between Christianity and paganism, and the replacement of one by the other — is another theme that is explored not only in several of the books already described, but also in Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon paganism revisited, edited by our Fellow Martin Carver, Alex Sanmark and Sarah Semple (ISBN: 9781842173954; Oxbow). Just as Della Hooke argues that Christianity never fully succeeded in undermining pre-Christian beliefs about trees, so the authors of this volume argue that ‘paganism’ has always co-existed with Christianity and that it is only because Christians are/were better propagandists that we think otherwise. The authors set about looking for the archaeological evidence for Anglo-Saxon paganism, whilst acknowledging that this never consisted of an institutional religion with widespread rules, practices and beliefs. Instead, they seek the ‘signals of belief’ of the book’s title in landscapes, funerary and burial practice, animal iconography, the ritual nature of the hall, and in the literature of the period, drawing widely on examples from all over northern Europe.

A fascinating chapter by Sue Content and our Fellow Howard Williams looks at the historiography of the Saxons, and the ambivalent role they have played in national histories, ‘migration’ and ‘paganism’ both being ideas that have required ‘careful management’ in stories of Englishness and English origins. Our Fellow Ron Hutton adds an ‘Afterword’, in which, among many thoughts relevant to the subject, he raises the need to study ‘the nature of conversion’ (from ancient paganism to medieval Christianity) and the need to understand better ‘what ancient and medieval Europeans expected from religion’.

Having read Signals of Belief, it is impossible to turn to The Lindisfarne Gospels and the Early Medieval World, by Fellow Michelle Brown (ISBN: 9780712358019; British Library), without seeing the synthesis of pagan and Christian on virtually every page of this copiously illustrated book. Michelle Brown hints that this might have been quite deliberate: that ‘the Lindisfarne Gospels display their vision of the Christian present in a manner that was designed to be welcoming to all’, in the spirit of Gregory the Great who instructed missionaries not to destroy pagan shrines and festivals but to ‘make them Christian’ — hence the Lindisfarne Gospels’ enmeshing of animal iconography, runes and carpets of guilloche with fresco-like portraits of the Evangelists.

The author looks into multiple aspects of the Book of Lindisfarne, including the artistic influences that went into its creation, the sources for the text, the orthography and the annotations and corrections, and the subsequent history of the book and its bindings, setting all of these subjects in context by explaining how they compare to other contemporary manuscripts and crafts. What comes over from every page of the lively and accessible text is the author’s enthusiasm for what she believes is a transformative object — not a passive work but one that played an active role in winning converts from the warrior ideals of Beowulf and the mead hall to the charitable ideals of the Gospels.

Fellow Jonathan Wooding has been working in the same fields and has produced two new books as a consequence. One of these is an edited volume on one of the most influential and original writers and churchmen of the early Middle Ages: Adomnán of Iona: theologian, lawmaker, peacemaker (ISBN: 9781846821028; Four Courts Press). The volume includes studies by Fellows Ewan Campbell, Thomas O’Loughlin, Jennifer O’Reilly and Barbara Yorke, amongst others. Adomnán, perhaps most often remembered as the author of the Life of his kinsman St Columba, was a churchman of enormous influence in the early history of Scotland and Northumbria and a key figure in the Easter controversy. His works — Vita Sancta Columbae, De locis sanctis and Cáin Adomnáin, the latter a pioneering work of law concerning non-combatants — are among the most important works of insular theology of their era. This collection of studies arises from a conference to mark the thirteenth centenary of Adomnán’s death.

The second of Jonathan’s new books is a volume of essays concerning the religious history of Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli), which includes studies of medieval pilgrimage, the Life of St Elgar, modern hermit life on Bardsey and Lleyn, and studies of the work of the Revd Derwas Chitty (husband of our late Fellow Mary Chitty (Kitson Clark) and brother of our late Fellow Lily F Chitty). Solitaries, Pastors and 20,000 Saints: studies in the religious history of Bardsey Island (Lampeter, 2010) is available from Trivium Publications, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter SA48 7ED, for £15.

Vacancies

The Editorship of Antiquity
Our Fellow Martin Carver will complete his term as Editor of Antiquity at the end of 2012. The Trustees are therefore seeking to appoint a new editor within the next twelve months in order to allow a smooth transition. The editorship is a part-time post, currently undertaken by secondment from university employment, although other models are possible. The editor is responsible to the Trust for the content and production of the journal. A budget is also available to run a modest publications office and employ support staff. The terms of engagement are open to discussion and negotiation in order to enable the Trust to appoint a respected and forward-looking editor and team.

Initially, the Trustees would welcome expressions of interest from anyone who might wish to be considered for the post (to be received by email no later than 31 January 2011). Full proposals will be requested from selected applicants soon after this date.

Council for British Archaeology (CBA): Community Archaeology Bursaries Co-ordinator
Salary: £20,810 (pro-rata); closing date 7 January 2011

The Community Archaeology Bursaries Project supports work-based training placements across the UK, which aim to provide workplace learning opportunities for individuals with a background in archaeology who are seeking to develop their skills in working with community groups and running community archaeology projects.

You post-holder will be managing a UK-wide project, and will have a number of responsibilities, including managing the project budget, filling the vacant bursary places and overseeing their placement experience, liaising with project partners across the UK, overseeing, coordinating and evaluating training events, identifying and selecting appropriate bursary host organisations and reporting regularly to the Project Board and funding bodies. Awareness of CPD, people management and the NVQ process/the use of NOS would be an advantage.

The part-time Bursaries Coordinator post (21 hours a week) is likely to be based in York (although other options are possible) and is on a fixed term contract ending in July 2014.
For complete details of this post (including an application form) please download an application pack from the CBA’s website.