Salon Archive

Issue: 26

Fellows’ News

Professor Vincent Megaw who, as many Fellows already know, is back in the UK until December, writes with news that Basil Richardson Stanley Megaw (the ‘younger’ — albeit ninety-year-old — of his two archaeological uncles) died a fortnight ago after a series of heart attacks. A celebration of his life will take place in Edinburgh, at a date to be arranged. Vincent adds that this sadly reduces the number of Society nonagenarians and the Megaws’ record-breaking number of living FSAs from the same family (from four to three).

We have also learned the sad news of the death of Honorary Fellow Professor Theodoor Wilhelm Lunsing Scheurleer of Leiden University in the Netherlands, who died on 25 August.

Thieves strike Fairford church

Sally Badham writes with the distressing news that another brass has been stolen, this time from Fairford church, in Gloucestershire, where a depiction of the Holy Trinity was removed from the upper part of the brass to Sir Edmund Tame (died 1534, son of the wool-merchant founder of Fairford church) on 24 August. One of the church’s sixteen misericords was also stolen. Depicting scenes from fable, the misericords were donated to the church by Sir Edmund, and may well have come from Cirencester Abbey.

For further information, including a picture of the stolen brass, see the Monumental Brass Society’s website at www.mbs-brasses.co.uk/latest_news. If anyone sees this brass offered for sale, either in the UK or abroad (stolen brasses may pass quickly through a succession of dealers before being offered for open sale), please alert the MBS, who are in touch with the parish. Contact either: The MBS Secretary, Lowe Hill House, Stratford St Mary, Suffolk CO7 6JX, tel: 01206 337239 or e-mail Martin.stuchfield@intercitygroup.co.uk.

Newport Save Our Ship campaign

Fellows of the Society played a prominent role in the campaign to save the Newport ship, which came to a satisfactory conclusion on 23 August with the announcement that the Welsh Assembly had allocated �3.5 million for the ship’s excavation, conservation and display, intervening at the last moment to save the ship from the bulldozers (see www.newport.gov.uk/News/ for full details of the announcement).

Our own Secretary, Dai Morgan Evans, set the tone for the campaign when he told the press ‘This is the Welsh Mary Rose — it is shameful that a ship of such importance is not going to be preserved’. Thenceforth, the BBC and leading newspapers habitually referred to the ship as ‘the Welsh Mary Rose’.

Fellow George Lambrick, Director of the CBA, addressed a public meeting in Newport, along with Fellow Alan Aberg, of the Society for Nautical Research. The CBA organized an email campaign, encouraging those who wanted to rescue the ship to write to MPs, Ministers, Members of the Welsh Assembly and Newport City councillors. A campaign website was set up by the CBA with pictures and background information and will continue to be updated regularly: for the latest news see www.britarch.ac.uk/sosnewport.

The most heartening feature of the campaign, however, was that it was rooted in the local community, with hundreds of Newport citizens turning out to take part in all-night vigils, hooting their vehicle horns in support as they passed the site, forming a protest flotilla of small boats in the Usk, and attending fundraising discos and campaign meetings.

Led with enormous determination and energy by Simon Rutherford, Chairman of Chepstow Archaeological Society, this grassroots campaign left Newport City Council in no doubt about the strength of local feeling. Indeed, one protestor told the BBC’s Wales Correspondent: ‘They have taken away the rest of our heritage, demolished our old buildings ... we were determined not to let them have this as well’. Perhaps there is a message here for anyone in government, at whatever level, who is tempted to dismiss the heritage as an elitist concern without popular support.

Edward Impey joins the Executive Board of English Heritage

Following Simon Thurley’s re-organization of English Heritage into five new Directorates, it has been announced that Fellow Edward Impey will be joining EH as the new Director of Research and Standards. Edward is currently Curator of Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) and a member of the HRP Board of Directors. Previously he was Head of Historic Buildings at HRP, having been a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford, and the Oxford Institute of Archaeology. Edward will join English Heritage full time on 1 November, although he intends to spend some time at EH in advance of this.

The other vacant Directorship has been filled by Deborah Lamb, who will be joining EH as Director of Policy and Communications on 7 October. Most recently she has been the Deputy Director of the Women and Equality Unit at the Cabinet Office and Head of the Equality and Diversity team at DETR. Prior to this she led the English Rural White Paper team and was Principal Private Secretary to the Minister of State for the Environment and Countryside, both at the Department of the Environment.

Floods in Dresden and Prague

The full impact of the recent floods in the historic cites of Prague and Dresden have yet to be assessed, but Fellow Vincent Megaw has been in touch with Dr Natalie Venclova, Deputy Director of the Archaeological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and reports that the Archaeological Institute — located within metres of the river in a listed building in the Mala Strana district below Prague Castle — has lost 80 per cent of its books.

It will be October before the Institute is physically able to start the long job of checking what little it may be able to recover through freeze-drying. An appeal for help in restocking the library has already gone out to libraries and publishers. The Roemisch-Germanische Kommission of the German Archaeological Institute has launched a regional appeal, while the European Association of Archaeologists is canvassing all of its members, and Professor Anthony Harding, Director of Durham’s Centre of Central and East European Archaeology, is hoping to recruit further aid in the UK. At present the Institute is canvassing notices of intent, lists of possible titles and — particularly — offers of journal runs.

Vincent Megaw can be contacted for further information at vincent.megaw@flinders.edu.au.

Missing Titian found

Rest on the Flight into Egypt, stolen from Lord Bath's Longleat estate in Wiltshire in January 1995, has been recovered intact after a search led by the leading art detective and former Scotland Yard officer Charles Hill, who is now security adviser to the Historic Houses Association. Painted on a wooden panel 2ft wide, the picture depicts the Virgin cradling the infant Jesus while Joseph looks on. Few other details have been released because Charles Hill, who has enjoyed considerable success in tracking down stolen works of art, does not want to jeopardize his efforts to recover several other missing works, including two paintings by Turner stolen from a Frankfurt Gallery in 1994, and C�zanne’s Auvers-sur-Oise, stolen from the Ashmolean in Oxford on Millennium Eve.

Pilgrim Trust Conservation Awards 2002

Eleven entries have been shortlisted for the Pilgrim Trust Conservation Awards (announced last week), including the Royal Navy Submarine Museum’s project to restore the pioneering vessel Holland 1. Conservators at the Hampshire-based museum saved the 1901 vessel from rampant corrosion and constructed a special humidity-controlled gallery to display it to the public. Also shortlisted is the work of the Wallace Collection in deploying new techniques to re-apply the marquetry and clean the surface of an eighteenth-century secretaire by Jean-Fran�ois Leleu — one of the jewels of the Collection. The restoration of historic wallpaper and paintwork at Nostell Priory, in West Yorkshire, features in the National Trust’s shortlisted entry.

The Award scheme’s three categories comprise the Award for Conservation (worth �15,000), Student Conservator of the Year (worth �10,000 — �5,000 each for the student and the training organization) and the Anna Plowden Trust Award for Research and Innovation in Conservation (worth �2,000). Judging will focus on how well the candidates have used their scientific, technological, aesthetic and historical knowledge to conserve heritage items and reveal their significance to a wide audience. The three winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony at the British Library on 12 November 2002.

RAI sponsors innovation to the tune of �100,000

The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) has set aside �100,000 to sponsor a project ‘at the cutting edge of academic research’ but with a wide popular appeal, and with volunteers playing a significant role. The project does not have to involve excavation, nor need it be limited to one site or area in the British Isles. You have until 1 October 2002 to submit your innovative ideas. Further details from Miss W E Phillips, Assistant Secretary, The Royal Archaeological Institute, c/o The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE.

The 100 Most Endangered Sites

World Monuments Fund is inviting nominations for its 2004 list of the world’s ‘100 Most Endangered Sites’. The purpose of the list, which is reviewed every two years, is to raise public awareness of sites at risk, with the aim of finding solutions, so that those sites can be taken off the list at the end of the two-year cycle. As well as raising the profile of threatened sites, the WMF raises funds from charities, corporations and individuals. Since launching the programme in 1995, the WMF has given 250 grants to 132 sites in 32 countries worth a total of US$20 million, and helped raise a further US$55 million from other sources. For further information, visit the WMF’s website at www.wmf.org.

IFA conference dates

Next year’s IFA conference is to be held at the University of Wales, Bangor, on 15—17 April 2003. The conference programme will be available shortly on the IFA’s website at: www.archaeologists.net/confer.html.

Trafalgar Piazza

Trafalgar Square will be transformed into Trafalgar Piazza following Westminster City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the conversion of the northern side of the square into an outdoor caf�. This side of the square has already been closed to traffic and a grand stairway is to be built linking the lower part of the square with the National Gallery. The area in front of St-Martin-in-the-Fields will also be paved over. Fellow Charles Saumaraz-Smith, Director of the National Gallery, has welcomed the scheme as revitalizing the approach to the Gallery and opening up a splendid vista. The work is due to be completed by May 2003.

Mont-Saint-Michel to be restored as an island

The eleventh-century Benedictine abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of France’s top visitor attractions, is to ban cars and remove the causeway linking it to the mainland. At the same time, changes are to be made to the flow of water from the River Couesnon into the Mont-Saint-Michel estuary, with the aim of washing away the silt that has accumulated around the rocky outcrop on which the monastery sits. At present, Mont-Saint-Michel is only surrounded by water at exceptionally high tides, and local farmers use the mudflats to produce saltmarsh lamb. Changes to the river flow will begin after public consultation in 2003, and tests suggest that Mont-Saint-Michel will be an island again within five years. Meanwhile, the abbey’s three million annual visitors will gain access by means of a new pedestrian bridge.

Bronze Age brain surgery

The upper part of a skull exhibiting evidence of major head surgery was retrieved from the banks of the River Thames at Chelsea last October and has now been dated to 1750—1610 BC. Bone regrowth round the edge of the hole, which measures about 45 by 30 millimetres, proves that the patient survived, and that there were people in Bronze Age Britain with significant anatomical and surgical skills, ones not bettered in Europe until Classical Greek and Roman times more than a thousand years later.

Dr Simon Mays, English Heritage expert on human skeletal remains, said of the find: ‘The trepanning on this skull would have been carried out with a scraping tool, probably a flint, using great care to avoid piercing the brain. There is no evidence of any post-operative infection, which would have been the main cause of death in these operations, and the trepanation probably didn't cause this patient any lasting problems.’

It is difficult to determine exactly why the trepanning was carried out: practitioners may have thought that it could cure migraines, epilepsy or mental illness. In historic times the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates recommended the procedure for wounds of the head and for haematoma (blood-filled swellings).

The skull was discovered by Fiona Haughey of the Institute of Archaeology during one of the regular inspections of the river foreshore she has undertaken since the completion of the first Thames Archaeological Survey of 1996—9. Fiona Haughey said: ‘The finding and dating of the skull is another demonstration of the archaeological importance of the Thames foreshore — and its fragility. We know that the archaeology of the foreshore is eroding — that is why the skull was found — and there is far more work than one person can do here, so English Heritage and staff at the Institute are working towards a second phase of Survey work. The Thames foreshore has been described as the largest single archaeological site in London, and we are really only just beginning to understand it.’

Second Bronze Age burial near Stonehenge

Fellow Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, has found a second Early Bronze Age burial at Red House Farm, near Amesbury in Wiltshire, some 5 metres from the richly furnished grave found in May of an archer, dubbed by the press as ‘The King of Stonehenge’. The only artefacts in this grave were a sharpened boar’s tusk and a pair of basket-shaped gold ear-rings — identical to those found with the earlier burial. DNA tests will now be carried out to see if the two were related — perhaps members of the same royal family.

Vacancy at the National Trust — Country Director Wales

The National Trust is seeking to recruit a Country Director for Wales, whose job will be to ‘harness the exciting potential of the Trust in Wales’, working in a partnership role with devolved government, and playing a vital part achieving the Trust’s purposes throughout Wales. For further information and an application form, visit the website of recruitment consultants Succession Planning Associates, at www.spa-uk.com, or contact John.Smith@spa-uk.com. Closing date 25 September, salary to �60,000.

Vacancy at the Heritage Lottery Fund — Deputy Director (Policy and Researc

This key post involves providing high-level strategic/policy advice across the wide range of issues relating to the heritage. Candidates will be expected to have the intellectual rigour essential to delivering authoritative research projects. For further information, contact TMP Worldwide tel: 020 7649 6007, quoting reference 26667, or visit www.hlfrecruitment.co.uk by 4 September (the closing date for applications is 11 September). Salary range �48,600—�54,000.

CADW Guidance on Listed Building Consent Delegation

Local planning authorities in Wales will not have to notify the Welsh Assembly Government about most applications for Grade II (unstarred) listed buildings if they can make a satisfactory case for delegation of the right to decide them, the Minister for Environment, Sue Essex, has announced.

Ms Essex explained that: 'The proposals we made reflected the Assembly Government's belief that planning matters were best dealt with locally. There was strong support for the idea that delegation would provide a better and more efficient public service, so long as there were appropriate safeguards for the historic environment. I plan therefore to invite all local planning authorities to make a case for delegation and intend that those that demonstrate sufficient expertise and competence in handling listed building consent applications will receive it. It will be for authorities themselves to decide how a case is made, though we will set out certain requirements which must be in place before delegation will be considered.'

To guide local planning authorities who want to make a case for delegation, CADW — Welsh Heritage has published a document called Guidance on Applying for a Listed Building Consent Delegation, which can be downloaded from
www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/news/LBCe.htm.

DCMS Annual Report

DCMS has just published its comprehensive two-volume Annual Report, detailing its past and future expenditure plans, and its core objectives. Copies can be downloaded from the DCMS website at: www.culture.gov.uk/role/annrep_2002.html.

Making the Most of Our Civic Heritage

English Heritage has published this consultation draft guidance as a first step in fulfilling a commitment in the Government's policy statement The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future to issue advice to local authorities on the care of historic assets in their ownership. It is being circulated for comments to local planning authorities in England and other interested organizations, so that the final version can reflect as wide a range of experience as possible.

Copies of the consultation draft guidance can be downloaded from the Policy pages of the English Heritage website at: www.english-heritage.org.uk.

Waterways Trust Grants

Grants of up to �5,000 are available through the second round of funding under the Waterways Trust's Small Grants Scheme. Applications can be made in categories that include wildlife, access, recreation, heritage and restoration. The applications are considered twice yearly but forms can be submitted at any time. For more information and applications call Jenny Rogers on tel: 0151 373 4387.

The National Trust and the Euro

Every year, campaigners try to use the National Trust AGM to make political points, and this year is no exception. Among the motions submitted for debate at this November’s meeting is the proposal that the National Trust should accept the Euro at all of its sites. ‘The purpose of the resolution is not to commit the National Trust to membership of the European single currency’, the motion adds. It is unclear how exactly this would assist the National Trust in its conservation work.

Archaeological photographer for hire

Ken Walton will be familiar to Fellows as the person who occasionally operates the slide projectors at Thursday meetings. Ken is also a trained photographer with special experience in archaeological excavations. He has a BA (Hons) in Archaeology (including Archaeological Photography) and a City and Guilds 747 Professional Photography diploma, with experience in black and white, colour, 35mm, medium-format, and large-format photography. He takes pictures for buildings, excavations, monuments and artefacts, to publication standard, and can undertake printing from archive and glass negatives. Ken has lodged examples of his work at the Society of Antiquaries Library, and he can be contacted by tel on 020 7679 4743 by day and by tel/fax on 01322 522153 at home.