Salon Archive

Issue: 247

Slimline Salon

Because of the holidays, this issue of Salon is shorter than usual, focusing mainly on New Year Honours, Lives Remembered, and time-limited news (such as the vacancy for a new National Trust post of Historic Environment Director, about which see more below). Normal service will be resumed with the next issue, on 17 January 2011.

New Year Honours 2011

Our warmest congratulations to those Fellows whose achievements have been recognised in the 2011 New Year Honours List.

CBE: Michael Gordon Fulford , Professor of Archaeology, University of Reading, for services to scholarship, including his work as Chair of BASIS (the Board for Academy-Sponsored Institutes and Societies), the British Academy body that oversees the work of twelve sponsored institutions, including the British Schools at Athens, Rome, Ankara, Amman and Nairobi, and for his long-term contribution to Roman archaeology, notably at Silchester.

OBE: Sonia Rolt , for services to industrial archaeology and to heritage.

Among non-Fellows who feature in the list are:

DBE: Caroline Humphrey , Professor of Collaborative Anthropology, University of Cambridge, for services to scholarship, including her important work in Mongolia.

CBE: Christopher Paul Hadley Brown , Director, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, for services to museums; Professor Barry John Kemp , Senior Research Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, for services to archaeology, education and international relations, especially in the field of Egyptology; Carole Lesley Souter , Chief Executive, National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, for services to conservation; Janet Vitmayer , Chief Executive and Director, the Horniman Museum, for services to museums.

OBE: Helen Ashby , Curator, National Railway Museum, York, for services to heritage; Robert Balmer , for services to maritime heritage in the north east; Professor William (Bill) Finlayson , Director, Council for British Research in the Levant, for services to international relations and archaeological work in Jordan; Dillian Rosalind Gordon , formerly Curator, National Gallery, for services to early Italian painting.

MBE: Patricia Selina Birley , Co-founder, Vindolanda Trust, for services to Roman heritage in Northumberland; Peter Brown , Director, Fairfax House, for services to heritage in York; Gavin Booth , for services to the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust; Jean Margaret Miller Dagnall , for services to the Clevedon and District Archaeological Society, Somerset; Anna Watson , Senior Archivist, Lancashire Record Office, for services to Local Government.

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 (copies are also available now at Burlington House).

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.

Letter from Russia

Our Fellow Heinrich Härke spent his Christmas and New Year in Moscow, from whence he sends us this third in his occasional series of letters from Russia, beginning with his eyewitness account of the destruction that has taken place to the capital’s historic environment, the subject of a letter signed by a number of Fellows that was sent to President Medvedev in December 2010 (see Salon 246).

‘A walk through Moscow city centre, and talks with Russian colleagues, confirm the sheer scale of the destruction of historic buildings and the damage to archaeological deposits done by the deposed mayor of Moscow, Yurij Luzhkov, and the building empire “Inteco” of his wife, Elena Baturina. Luzhkov simply ignored the law in the interest of family profits, and while this was hardly the major factor in his downfall in the late summer of 2010, it is certainly part of the long list of charges against him now.

‘A weekend visit to the World Heritage site of Suzdal, a monastery town some 150 miles east of Moscow, shows a different picture. In the town centre, the only eyesores disturbing the old street fronts and diminishing the impact of the sixteenth- to eighteenth-century ecclesiastical architecture are an administrative complex and a school built in Soviet times directly on, and next to, the high street. Now, any new buildings in the “heritage zone” have to be in traditional style, and are limited to two storeys in height. While the controls seem to work in the centre, they appear to be less strict in the suburbs of the small town, where modern guest houses, in a variety of sizes and styles, from neo-traditional Russian to global-post-modern, have been put up right next to and opposite the enclosure walls of historic monasteries. A massive new hotel and conference complex has been built, but that has been sited as far away from the town centre as was feasible, and is half-sunk in an artificial hollow.

‘The danger of new legislation facilitating the “modernisation” of historic buildings (see Salon 246) has receded with the fall of Luzhkov who had been pushing for this “liberalisation”, and some potentially very damaging building projects in Moscow have even been abandoned under the new mayor. But there is bad news on the monument protection front elsewhere. Russian federal law no longer requires bidders for rescue archaeology contracts to demonstrate that they have staff with the necessary experience and the technical capabilities required for the respective contract. Now it is sufficient if the contractor holds a general licence issued by the authorities (on whatever criteria) and has … a book-keeper! Such two-person firms can then use sub-contractors who are not subject to any checks or minimum requirements.

‘There is also a suspicion that central institutions — primarily federal and regional ministers of science and education — may be intent on clawing back the direct control of monument protection and rescue archaeology which they had before the mid-1990s. The independent and semi-independent units that were the success story of the late 1990s and early 2000s have been weakened as a result of the financial crisis which led to a temporary decline in building activities. The slump seems to be over, but the crisis of many rescue archaeology units is not.

‘There appears to be another kind of pressure from the political centre on archaeology and history. Careful observers have noted an increasing trend towards a Russification of the past, which is perfectly in line with the officially promoted Russian nationalism under Putin’s presidency, and now under his government. It may not be much of a coincidence that the recently re-appointed Director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, by far the most important institution in archaeological research in the country, is a specialist on medieval Russia. There are reports that he has commented on the irrelevance of all other fields of archaeological research, and while there may be an element of typical scholarly tunnel vision in this, there can be no doubt that such a position would find favour with the political masters.

‘Some colleagues have been quietly expressing their concern about the current political atmosphere and its potential impact on the historical disciplines, and I get the distinct impression that such concerns are a factor behind the invitation to me to lecture on “Nationalism and Nazism in German Archaeology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries” at Moscow State University (MGU). I gave the lecture, with pictures of German archaeologists in Nazi uniform, on the evening of the third day that youths rioted in Moscow city centre and gave the Nazi salute in front of the TV cameras — an unhappy coincidence indeed, and something that is as disturbing to a German visitor to Russia as it is to historically aware Russians themselves.’

National Heritage Protection Plan interim version and consultation

The National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP) sets out what English Heritage sees as the priorities for the foreseeable future in terms of protecting and managing England’s historic environment. This new interim version is a modification of the first draft (issued for consultation in June 2010), taking into account the resource constraints that English Heritage now faces as a result of its much-reduced Government funding arrangements. In effect it serves as a guide to the themes and activities to which EH will devote its own direct heritage protection expertise and resources and what it will fund other bodies to do — hence it is a critically important document for EH partners in the historic environment sector. The deadline for responses (by means of an online questionnaire) is 14 February 2011.

Fears over the future of the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The planned abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2012, and the transfer of its responsibilities to the Arts Council, have led to uncertainty about the future of one of the MLA’s key functions: the funding of the Purchase Grant Fund, which supports acquisitions by museums, libraries and archives in England and Wales. The scheme is administered by a small staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum who are well respected across the museums, libraries and archives community for providing an efficient service with the minimum of bureaucracy.

Our Fellow Sir Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, has written to organisations that have recently received grants to suggest that they express their concerns about the impact of the possible loss of the Purchase Grant Fund through their boards of trustees and governing bodies to MPs and the press.

In a letter published in The Times on 13 December 2010, our Fellows Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, Lord Howarth of Newport and Lord Redesdale, along with Lord Allan of Hallam, pointed out that: ‘Last year the fund gave grants totalling £876,000 to ninety-six different institutions. Within the last year the acquisitions that the fund has supported have ranged from a unique gold coin of the Roman emperor Carausius to the papers of Sir Miles Sandys relating to the drainage of the Fens. The fund has been in existence since 1881, and it plays a vital role in helping museums to add to their collections. The closure of the fund would leave our museums, libraries and archives very much the poorer. We urge the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the MLA and the Arts Council, which will be taking on most of the MLA’s current functions, to ensure that the fund continues to be supported.

Lord Howarth has now tabled a starred Parliamentary Question (which normally leads to a 10-minute debate) in the House of Lords on 13 January 2011. Fellows who have points that they wish to make concerning the impact that the loss of the fund might have should contact either Lord Howarth or Lord Renfrew (using the contact details that are on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website).

Lives remembered

At least three Fellows have spent a part of their Christmas break penning tributes to friends and colleagues who have departed this world too soon. Salon will report further on all three in due course.

Warwick Rodwell is writing an obituary for our Fellow Alan Rome , who died on Christmas Eve, very unexpectedly. Warwick says ‘he was a conservation architect of outstanding ability, architect to eight cathedrals, including Wells’.

Marcus Binney is writing an obituary for our Fellow Peter Bird , who died on 10 December after a long battle against cancer. Four cathedrals that Peter looked after now need a new architect: Wells, Winchester, Exeter and St Davids.

Salon’s editor is writing an obituary for Geoff Egan , who died suddenly of a coronary thrombosis ten days or so before Christmas. What Geoff did not know about medieval and post-medieval small finds probably wasn’t worth knowing, and though he worked for Museum of London Archaeology for most of his career, he recently joined the Portable Antiquities and Treasure Department at the British Museum, which he described as his dream job. He was also immensely proud to have served a year as Master (from May 2009) of the Company of Art Scholars, Collectors and Dealers, the newest of the City of London’s guilds, founded in 2006; possibly the first time an archaeologist had become the head of a London guild.

Two Fellows whose deaths have already been announced in Salon have been the subject of obituaries over the Christmas period. A tribute to our late Fellow Bill White appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 28 December 2010, and this can be read on the internet, unlike the obituary that Salon’s editor wrote (with much help from Elaine’s friends, family and former colleagues) for our late Fellow and Council member Elaine Paintin; this was given a whole page in The Times on 28 December 2010, but can only be read by those with a subscription to the Times Online. Our Fellow Norman Hammond has, however, obtained permission for the obituary to be reproduced here.

Elaine Paintin (1947—2010)

Historian, antiquary and former Head of Art at the British Library who helped to frame new laws on the finding and reporting of treasure

When Elaine Paintin joined the Department of National Heritage (now the Department of Culture, Media and Sport) in 1993, there was little enthusiasm on the part of the Government for a reform of the arcane and archaic law of Treasure Trove. It was thanks to her efforts that government opposition to the Earl of Perth’s Treasure Bill changed to active support, leading to the passage of the Treasure Act in 1996 and to such important developments as the establishment of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which registers, and where appropriate rewards, those who find and report ancient treasures.

She recognised that Treasure Trove, defining who owns buried gold and silver objects when rediscovered in terms of the imputed intention of the original concealer, was under strain because of the surge in popularity of metal detecting. New procedures were needed capable of coping not with the occasional find pulled up by the plough, but with thousands of finds a year. She and her colleagues, including Roger Bland at the British Museum and the archaeologist Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn in the House of Lords, cared most about the loss of information when archaeological finds disappeared into private collections or into secretive antiquities markets.

Paintin played a central role in persuading John Major’s Government not only to back legal reform but also to fund the Portable Antiquities Scheme, with its regional network of finds liaison officers, which has transformed formerly hostile relations between detectorists and museum specialists into a fruitful and friendly collaboration. A measure of its success is not just that spectacular treasures, such as the Staffordshire Hoard unearthed last year, now end up in public ownership, but that even non-treasure artefacts, such as the rare Tudor vizard mask of velvet and silk, found in a cavity of a sixteenth-century wall in Daventry and once used to protect delicate faces from sunburn, now get reported and studied.

It was Paintin’s forensic mind, piercing intelligence and practical approach that enabled her to steer the Treasure Act into law, and these qualities were equally in evidence during her time at the British Library (BL) to which she transferred in 1976 as Head of Exhibitions, Education, Loans and Publications, after joining the British Museum in 1975 as Curator of Archaeology as part of Sir John Pope-Hennessy’s innovation of attaching education curators to the major departments. At the BL she was responsible for mounting the major exhibitions of the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the Virgil 2,000th anniversary exhibition in 1983.

In 1987 she became Head of Art at the BL at a time when Colin St John Wilson’s new building, intended to house the major BL collections in a single building for the first time, was slowly taking shape on Euston Road. She raised the funds for the works of art for the new building, including Bill Woodrow’s Sitting On History, purchased for the British Library by Carl Djerassi and Diane Middlebrook in 1997. Her firm grasp of the artistic process enabled her to work creatively with the architect, and with Eduardo Paolozzi and Antony Gormley to produce the gates to the library and the bronze forecourt statue based on William Blake’s study of Isaac Newton, as well as the R B Kitaj tapestry, If Not, Not, that hangs in the main entrance, works on a suitably monumental scale to match the ambitions of the building.

It was at this time that she wrote her book on The King’s Library (1989) at the British Museum, as part of an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to keep George III’s book collection, given to the nation by George IV, in the magnificent purpose-designed room in the British Museum, rather than see it moved to Euston Road. She also edited Bookshop of the World: The Role of the Low Countries in the Book-Trade 1473—1941 (2000), and for more than a decade contributed to the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Elaine Margaret Paintin was born in Oxford in 1947. She read history (1966—9) at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and then spent three years as Editor of the Journal of African Law. She returned to Oxford in 1972 to do a Diploma in Prehistoric Archaeology, before spending two years as Senior Editor for Archaeology at the publisher Elsevier Phaidon and then joining the British Museum. A true antiquary, her hunger for knowledge about the past knew no disciplinary boundaries, and was fed by a succession of inspiring teachers, including Mary Price, the legendary headmistress at Milham Ford School, and Humphrey Case and Barry Cunliffe at Oxford. Her radical streak was in evidence from an early age: she was secretary of the Oxford Young Liberals and a staunch supporter of the CND, and later in life she was a tireless upholder of the rights of her colleagues as Chair of the British Library Branch of the First Division Association, the top civil servants’ trade union, as well as a member of a community health council in Westminster.

Because she had herself mastered so many different branches of knowledge, Paintin was a firm opponent of those who tried to define anyone by their ‘specialism’. She was especially disdainful of those who made a mystique out of development and fundraising, believing that personality, aptitude and commitment to the cause were the best qualifications, a belief that was triumphantly borne out by her own success in this field. For on taking early retirement in 1997 she threw herself into pro bono work, most notably for the Institute of Historical Research (IHR). With the IHR Director, our Fellow Sir David Cannadine, she launched a huge fundraising campaign to safeguard the institute’s future, drumming up support from former historians now enjoying careers in banking, the law and accountancy, and raising £12 million in the process. At the time of her untimely death she had just been appointed to the IHR’s Advisory Council, and the institute now plans to set up the Elaine Paintin Memorial Fund in her memory.

She was also vigorous in her work as a trustee of the BL Friends, trustee and director of the Cartoon Art Museum, committee member of the King’s Library Advisory Group and a member of council and deputy chair of the Development Committee at the Society of Antiquaries of London, of which she was elected a Fellow in 2006.

Her expertise on treasure meant that in 2000 she was asked to conduct the first, and so far the only, review of the Treasure Act as a consultant in heritage law to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and her recommendation, that the definition of treasure be extended to cover prehistoric base-metal hoards, was accepted by the Government, meaning that a much wider range of objects can now be saved for the nation.

From 2002 she was also director of the Marc Fitch Fund, a charity funding research and publication in the fields of archaeology, the history of art and architecture and cognate subjects. As such she made a huge difference to countless publishing projects through her strategic application of small sums of money that made the key difference between projects going ahead or not, from small publications by independent scholars to large national projects, such as the Victoria County History.

Her sudden death in St Thomas’s Hospital, London, having suffered a heart attack on December 6, took everyone by surprise: petite and always immaculately dressed, she never seemed to suffer illness, and was always full of energy. Sharp-witted and funny, she had a remarkably wide circle of friends, many of whom shared her passion for music and for history. Perhaps none was closer to her than her own daughter, Isabel, born in 1986; Paintin had separated from Isabel’s father not long after the birth and was a selfless, loving and supportive single parent. Her daughter survives her.

Elaine Paintin, heritage advocate, museum educator and charity administrator, was born on October 21, 1947. She died on December 9, 2010, aged 63.

Events

20 January 2011: ‘Communities, ecomuseums and sustainability’ , a lecture by Peter Davis, Professor of Museology, International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, University of Newcastle, to be given at 6.15pm in the Archaeology Lecture Theatre, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31—34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY. Please email Bethia Tyler, Centre for Sustainable Heritage Administrator, if you wish to attend.

Peter Davis will explore the concept of the ecomuseum, defined as ‘heritage projects led by local communities that promote sustainability’, by describing examples from around the world. The concept of the ecomuseum evolved in France in the late 1960s; from initial experiments carried out in the French Regional Natural Parks they have evolved into a suite of heritage practices that meet local environmental, social and economic needs and are now utilised worldwide. Their ultimate goal is to conserve tangible and intangible heritages, and to sustain communities by developing varied forms of capital. The ecomuseum’s key characteristic is the empowerment of local communities; local people make decisions about what features of their natural and cultural landscape should be regarded as ‘heritage’, hence ecomuseum philosophy and practices have provided a means of overcoming authoritative strictures and promoting an alternative heritage discourse.

26 January 2011: ‘Tyrants’ Tombs’, by Dr Gwendolyn Leick , The Soane Museum Study Group, Seminar Room of Sir John Soane’s Museum, 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP, 6pm for 6:30pm, places must be booked in advance by contacting Beth Walker. Gwendolyn Leick is senior lecturer at Chelsea College of Art and Design and the author of numerous books, including Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City, A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Architecture and The Babylonians. Her talk will be based on her forthcoming book Tyrants’ Tombs (Reaktion Books), which investigates the role of the mausoleum as a political monument during the twentieth century.

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships (closing date 7 Jan 2011)

The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research requests proposals from post-doctoral researchers (defined as having their PhD thesis submitted by 10 March 2011), the strongest of which will be supported for subsequent application to the University of Cambridge’s Isaac Newton Trust who in turn will support the strongest for application to this year’s round of Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships (further details of the eligibility criteria can be found on the Leverhulme website. Preference may be given to candidates whose research will complement existing research strengths in archaeology at Cambridge. Application forms are available from Rebecca Burtenshaw, and completed forms have to be returned to her by 5pm on 7 January 2011. Informal enquiries can be directed to our Fellow Professor Graeme Barker, Director of the McDonald Institute.

National Trust Conservation Director posts

In a further move to consolidate conservation at senior level, the National Trust has created five new Director posts, including that of Historic Environment Director (salary c £75,000, closing date 23 January 2011; see the website that the National Trust has set up to promote these posts.

Our Fellow Sarah Staniforth sets these in context by explaining that her current job, as Historic Properties Director, is to be split in two: she has been appointed Museums and Collections Director, and the new post of Historic Environment Director has been created to lead on conservation strategy relating to the historic environment, including archaeology, designed and cultural landscapes, buildings conservation, architecture, parks and gardens. Similarly the post of Land Use Director has been divided into two new posts: Natural Environment Director and Rural Enterprise Director.

‘The net result of this’, Sarah says, ‘is to double the capacity for conservation at Director level. Meanwhile, the majority of the conservation section heads remain in post as Heads of Profession (our Fellows David Thackray, Head of Archaeology, and David Adshead, Head Curator, for example).’