Salon Archive

Issue: 260

Forthcoming meetings

The Society’s autumn meetings programme has now been posted up on the website.

6 October 2011: ‘East of Lübeck: medieval monuments along the southern Baltic shores’, by Fr Jerome Bertram FSA

This paper will explore the iconography and epigraphy of monumental brasses and incised slabs in the countries east of the old Iron Curtain, along the Baltic coasts from Lübeck to Tallinn, including areas in the former Soviet Union that were closed to Western antiquaries for most of the twentieth century. Sepulchral monuments along this coastline consist mainly of flat incised monumental slabs, some with metal inlays, and a number of monumental brasses. Most slabs consist of inscription and heraldry or symbol only, but a significant number depict full-length figures. These sometimes closely imitate imported examples from Flanders, Nuremberg and London. There are very few effigies in the round, or low-relief effigies, in contrast to other areas of Europe. There is a recognisable ‘Baltic’ style, although there was more than one centre of manufacture.

13 October 2011: ‘The Society’s Portrait of Queen Mary’, by Pamela Tudor-Craig FSA
The Society’s portrait of Queen Mary I (left), painted in 1554 by Hans Eworth, was the greatest purchase made by the Reverend Thomas Kerrich, and is now amongst our Society’s finest possessions. Pamela Tudor-Craig spoke briefly to the Fellowship in 2005 about its content, but there is much more to explore. As the first Queen Regnant for 400 years, her image was carefully and consciously worked out, apparently by herself, within the rapidly evolving and always revealing quasi-secular iconography of the Tudor court. The disfavour which darkened her memory accounts for the obscurity from which, in 1800, our most discerning collector rescued this wonderful picture.

20 October 2011: ‘Matthew Cotes Wyatt’s colossal equestrian statue of Wellington (1846) and Turner’s Hero of a Hundred Fights (1800—10, reworked and exhibited at the RA in 1847)’, by Jan Piggott FSA

27 October 2011: ‘Prior’s Hall, Widdington, Essex: an Anglo-Saxon secular building?’, by Nicola Smith FSA

Making History: Antiquaries in Britain

This exhibition, based on the Society’s collections, will open to the public at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College with a special evening viewing on Sunday 4 September 2011, and will continue through to 11 December 2011.

Fellows are warmly invited to attend the Patrons’ Opening Celebration on Saturday 10 September 2011, from 7pm, when there will be short presentations from our President, Maurice Howard, Amy Meyers, Director of the Yale Center for British Art, Mary Bilder, of Boston College, Fellow Robin Fleming, of Boston College, Fellow Melanie Hall, of Boston University, and Fellow William Stoneman, of Harvard University. For further information about this event and a formal invitation, contact the Society’s Communications Officer, Jane Beaufoy.

After its North American debut at the McMullen Museum, the exhibition will move on to the Yale Center for British Art, in New Haven, Connecticut, where it will be showing from 2 February to 27 May 2012.

Among the exhibition’s highlights will be the Winton Domesday, the Magna Carta of 1225, English royal portraits from Henry VI to Mary I and works associated with William Morris, Fellow, along with paintings and drawings by Samuel Palmer, Edward Burne-Jones and Augustus Welby Pugin on loan from the Yale Center for British Art.

Our Fellow Nancy Netzer, McMullen Museum Director and Professor of Art History, said: ‘The McMullen is pleased to share the distinguished and unparalleled collections of the Society of Antiquaries with a North American audience and to have the opportunity to celebrate the Society’s contribution to more than three hundred years of writing history.’

Coate Water: a test case for the National Planning Framework

Left: the first Richard Jefferies festival, at Coate Water, held on 11 June 1913

Here is an example of the kind of conflict that is likely to occur with greater frequency if the draft National Planning Framework for England (see Salon 259) becomes official policy. On the south-eastern fringes of Swindon, one of the few remaining areas of undeveloped land around the burgeoning new town is the Coate Water Country Park, named after the 70-acre lake that was created here in 1822 as a reservoir fed by the River Coale to supply water to the Wilts and Berks Canal.

Close by is Coate Farmhouse, better known as the Richard Jefferies Museum, the birthplace and childhood home of the author, who died from tuberculosis aged thirty-eight in 1887. Hundreds of people who love Jefferies’s innovative work as a novelist, countryside writer and social commentator much influenced by William Morris, will gather on August bank holiday weekend for the Richard Jefferies Festival. The cloud hanging over the festival is the knowledge that the green fields, ancient trees, wildlife and archaeology of this cherished landscape, the setting for such novels as Amaryllis at the Fair and Bevis: The Story of a Boy, could soon disappear under a business park and 900 homes.

A proposal to develop the land was rejected by Swindon Borough councillors after an opposition campaign that saw letters in the Times Literary Supplement and a petition signed by over 52,000 people. The developers have appealed, however, and a public inquiry is to be held.

It is hard to think of a place that better illustrates the problems of the draft National Planning Framework: it is not designated, but is greatly cherished by Swindon residents, who voted the Country Park ‘our favourite place’ in a poll run by the Swindon Civic Trust. Members of the Richard Jefferies Society believe that local planners and councillors are just not sufficiently proud of the local heritage, nor are they sensitive to the significance that this landscape has acquired through Jefferies’s writing and the distinctive conservation philosophy that he wrote about in The Story of My Heart.

Reporting on the case in the Independent, Jack Watkins says that Jefferies’s books are being read once more because ‘they carry heightened value at a time when a backsliding David Cameron has gone from vowing to make his government “the greenest ever” to preparing a loosening of the planning rules that could unleash a bonfire of the countryside … officialdom, if it had its way, would like to parcel up the best parts of the countryside into “approved” areas, facilitating a developers’ profitable free-for-all over the remainder, having thought it sold us the dummy that anything undesignated must therefore be without value.’ Jefferies, he says, was their spiritual enemy, a writer who urged us not to take the commonplace for granted: ‘no wonder the planners of Swindon would have us believe he wasn't a major writer’, he says, predicting that Jefferies’s prose will nevertheless ‘hound them from his grave, 120 years after his death’.

Fellows write to The Times to point to flaws in the ‘Green Deal’

Opening up another attack on Government policy, a number of our Fellows signed a letter to The Times (copied to Chris Huhne, Secretary of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change), arguing that the Government’s ‘Green Deal’ initiative, a key element of the Energy Bill that will be laid before Parliament next year, is flawed.

The letter says: ‘We are seriously concerned that the drive to promote the complete thermal upgrading of pre-1919 buildings could be storing up expensive future problems for both building fabric and human health. Inappropriate forms of insulation and the sealing up of interiors take little account of the fact that these buildings, which number millions, perform differently from modern ones and need to “breathe”. They are likely to require a different approach, in particular over the movement of moisture within them. While we strongly support the aim of reducing carbon emissions from the nation’s building stock, we call on the Government to involve bodies knowledgeable about old buildings in research and planning for the Green Deal. Many of these bodies already have helpful research to contribute but to date have not been called on to do so.’

The letter was signed by, among others, our Fellows David Heath, Chairman of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), Sarah Staniforth, Historic Properties Director at the National Trust, Loyd Grossman, Chair of the Churches Conservation Trust, and Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society.

A press release issued by the SPAB elaborated on the points made in the letter, saying that: ‘SPAB is currently conducting and collating research into the energy efficiency performance of a range of older properties built using traditional materials. Results to date suggest that these buildings actually perform better than expected. The study suggests that conventional industry practices are struggling to accurately represent the thermal performance of traditionally built walls. Ultimately, this could have negative consequences for historic buildings as calculated theoretical U-values (suggesting a poorer performance) may lead owners and professionals to adopt disproportionate energy saving interventions that may not only be unnecessary, but also invasive and potentially harmful to the fabric of a building.

‘SPAB’s on-the-spot research suggests that 79 per cent of the traditionally built walls sampled — including walls of timber, cob, limestone, slate, and granite — actually perform better than expected. Even taking into account a possible error margin of up to 10 per cent, SPAB’s findings show that old buildings may not be as energy inefficient as the building industry has generally understood them to be.’

Mapping the landscape of England, from the Bronze Age to the Normans

The Hampshire landscape has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. On Hazel Down (left) lynchets (field boundaries), probably of Late Bronze Age can be seen contrasted with modern agriculture. Photo: courtesy of Ian Cartwright

A team led by our Fellow Chris Gosden, Professor of European Archaeology at the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, has secured a €2 million grant from the ERC (European Research Council) to create a digital map that will bring together vast amounts of data relating to the landscape of England as it changed and developed in the period spanning the Middle Bronze Age to the Domesday Book (AD 1086), a critical period for the formation of the English landscape of fields, trackways and settlements that we know today. The results will be made available on a website to be called ‘A Portal to the Past’.

Aerial photographs curated by English Heritage will form the basis for the project, which will also draw on records held by the Archaeology Data Service, county historic environment records and the finds made by metal detectorists that are recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The Oxford team will also work with local experts to analyse regional variations.

Professor Gosden said that England is ‘extraordinary in the level of potential information about the ancient landscape’, but that it was all about ‘potential’, at this stage, and that in-depth analysis is needed to discover what this huge database of information on ancient sites can reveal about overall patterns and the regional variations that characterise the English landscape. The researchers will also carry out new research to map the distribution of artefacts; for example, to look for landscape and topography-based patterns of metalwork deposition.

Software for the project is being developed in collaboration with Oxford University’s e-Research Centre. John Pybus, from the Centre, said: ‘Our software should allow cross-referencing and an ability to map national patterns in land use on a scale never attempted before.’ The ‘Portal to the Past’ website is expected to go live in 2014.

The future of the Victory wreck site

Following the public consultation on the future conservation and management of the wreck site of Admiral Balchin’s Victory, which was lost in the Channel with all hands in 1744, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have issued their report. This says that, ‘in line with the provisions of the rules of the Annex to the UNESCO Convention, in situ management will be adopted as an initial approach pending further study of the site, before deciding on any further physical intervention’. The report also says that it is unlikely that the Government will be able to find the money to support this policy, and that an interdepartmental steering group will be looking into transferring responsibility for the future management of the Victory site to a charitable trust. In the meantime it says that it intends to accept the offer of a charitable foundation (not named in the report) to carry out non-intrusive monitoring of the site for the period of twelve months.

‘Your paintings’ online

The BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) have launched a new website, called ‘Your paintings’, that will, by the end of 2012, have scanned images and catalogue information on all the 200,000 oil paintings held in the collections of public institutions in the UK. Some 63,000 works have already been catalogued, and our Fellow Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, said at the launch that the project would ‘transform people’s knowledge of exactly what works of art the state owns and where the works are’.

By no means are all of the paintings in galleries and museums: they have been found in schools, hospitals and universities and even in such unlikely locations as a lighthouse and a nuclear fallout shelter. There is even a magnificent Hogarth altarpiece (depicted left) that forms the backdrop to the working lives of the staff of BARAS, the Bristol and Region Archaeological Service, whose office is located in the church of St Nicholas, Bristol. Commissioned in 1756 by St Mary Redcliffe Church, in Bristol, the altarpiece is made up of three huge large panels depicting the Entombment of Christ, the Ascension and the Three Marys at the Tomb.

Call for UK’s government collections to merge

Some 30,000 publicly owned paintings, works on paper and sculptures are curated by three separate organisations: the Government Art Collection (British art from 1530 to the present day), the British Council Collection (post-1900 art) and the Arts Council England Collection (post-1945). All three are now waiting for a report assessing the pros and cons of merging the three collections into one.

All three have different histories. The GAC was founded in 1898 to provide works of art for display in government offices and embassies abroad and is funded by the DCMS. About 70 per cent of its 13,500 works are on show at any one time. For the first time in its 113-year history, the GAC has recently mounted a public exhibition (at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery until 4 September 2011; to be followed by a second exhibition at the same venue but with a different selection of seventy works from 16 September to 4 December 2011).

The Arts Council England collection, founded in 1946, also funded by the DCMS, has 7,500 works, which it lends to travelling exhibitions and to galleries, while the British Council collection, established in 1938 with Foreign Office funding, has 8,500 works, shown in overseas touring exhibitions designed to promote UK artists and at British Council cultural centres in 110 countries.

Each collection has its own storage and conservation facilities and administration. Even if merger is not the outcome, pooling the meagre acquisition budgets might be considered: the GAC’s acquisition budget is £104,000 this year and the British Council’s just £30,000.

Lady Anne Clifford’s triptych on display

The autobiographical Great Picture Triptych, which was the subject of a paper given to the Society by our Fellows Karen Hearn and Lynne Hulse in June 2010, is on show again in its entirety at the Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Cumbria (until late December 2013). The triptych, attributed to Jan van Belcamp, was commissioned by Lady Anne Clifford (1590—1676) in 1646 when, after a protracted legal battle, she finally succeeded to her inheritance. Until recently, only the two side panels have been on display, depicting Lady Anne at the age of fifteen (shown left) and at fifty-six (the ages at which she was disinherited and at which she regained control over the Clifford estates, respectively). Now they have been reunited with the central panel, which depicts the life-size standing figures of her parents and her older brothers, both of whom died in childhood. Portraits on the walls behind these foreground figures depict Lady Anne’s governess, tutor and two husbands, while books, musical instruments and inscriptions provide multiple clues to her education, character, beliefs and accomplishments.

British Library launches £9m bid to buy the St Cuthbert Gospel

The British Library has launched a fundraising campaign in the hope of raising £9m in order to purchase the seventh-century St Cuthbert Gospel from the British Province of the Society of Jesus. The National Heritage Memorial Fund has already given the campaign a significant boost by contributing £4.5m towards the acquisition fund. The Jesuit order plans to use the money for educational work at schools in London, Glasgow and Africa, and to restore the Grade I listed nineteenth-century parish church of St Peter at Stonyhurst.

The seventh-century leather-bound Gospel of St John was made at Wearmouth—Jarrow monastery. Complete with its original decorated binding, it is considered to be the oldest intact book surviving in Europe. It was placed in the coffin of St Cuthbert, Prior of Lindisfarne, either when he died in AD 687 or shortly afterwards, then disinterred, along with St Cuthbert’s remains, when the monks of Lindisfarne fled from Viking raids in AD 857. After sojourns in Chester-le-Street, Ripon, Durham and Lindisfarne (again), Cuthbert’s relics were finally laid to rest in the purpose-built shrine in Durham Cathedral in 1004.

The Gospel was not returned to Cuthbert’s grave; instead it passed into the hands of a private collector after the Cathedral priory was dissolved in 1540. By the eighteenth century it was in the possession of the 3rd Earl of Lichfield (d 1772), who gave the book to Canon Thomas Phillips (d 1774), who in turn donated the book to the Society of Jesus in 1769. The Gospel was kept at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, until 1979, when it was loaned to the British Library, where it has regularly been on public display in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery.

The British Library says that ‘Ownership will allow us to conserve the Gospel and address its fragility in the Library’s internationally renowned Centre for Conservation. This will enable us to display it for all to see, both on site and online, and we will be working with partners in Durham to bring it to audiences in the north east in a range of contexts, including bibles, decorative bindings, and manuscripts connected with the north-east.’

Maryport excavations turn up evidence for large timber building

Our Fellow Tony Wilmott, famous for finding a large late Roman timber granary at the Roman fort of Banna (Birdoswald) has done it again: this time, working with our Fellow Ian Haynes to excavate the fort at Maryport in Cumbria, he has discovered that the numerous altar fragments that fill the local Senhouse Roman Museum were used as packing stones around the posts of a very large timber building, whose date and plan have yet to be ascertained.

Previously the seventeen military altars, excavated by Humphrey Senhouse in 1870, were interpreted as having been part of a ritual deposit. The more prosaic truth, this summer’s excavations revealed, is that the altars were just regarded as handy packing stones and used in post pits alongside Roman masonry and granite boulders. Surviving within some of the pits were post-pipes of sand, stained light green from the rotting of the posts, which were 300mm (one Roman foot) square, set in pits that were typically 1.3m deep and 1.2m square. Six of the post pits form a line, and another group of four forms a curve. Because none of the pits intersect, it is not clear whether these are two separate buildings, and questions still remain over the dimensions, plan(s) and chronology of the building(s).

The excavations were carried out in advance of the construction by the Senhouse Museum Trust of a new £10.7m visitor centre at the fort, which forms part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.

Effigy looted in the Blitz returns to St Olave’s

The Jacobean effigy of Dr Peter Turner, an eminent botanist and physician at London’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital, has been returned to St Olave’s Church, near the Tower of London. The effigy, dating from 1614, disappeared after bombing severely damaged the church on the night of 17 April 1941. In 2009, churchwardens at the restored church learned from the Museum of London that the statue was about to be sold by Dreweatts, the auctioneer, for an estimated £70,000.

Detective work by the Art Loss Register’s lawyer, Christopher Marinello, tracked the ownership back to an antique dealer, Gray Elcombe, already in prison for serious drug-related crimes. The effigy will undergo conservation work before being reinstalled in the church.

Angels that survived the Blitz

There is no suggestion at all that the angels in this photograph were acquired by anything but honest means. They belong to a lady who lives in California, now in her eighties, who bought them from an antique shop forty years ago and is keen to know more about their history. The antique shop proprietor told her that they were part of a set of six pairs of angels that ‘went across the front of a church in London that was bombed during the Blitz’. They had been taken down during the bombing and placed in the basement of the church. They stand about six feet tall.

Fellow Diarmaid MacCulloch says that he thinks they are ‘early twentieth century, but carved with tremendous verve and earthy physicality on a monumental scale. I’ve been puzzling as to how it might fit into any sort of conventional church furnishing scheme, particularly if it was one of a set of six, but it’s not easy to envisage. The character of the carving suggests that it was meant to be seen from quite a way below, and it’s not in high relief, so it’s meant to be part of something fairly flat and wide; maybe we are looking at the cresting of a particularly large-scale rood screen. If so, one could see why these might have been discarded after the War from a church that was rebuilt on a smaller scale and at a stage when such carving might be seen as unfashionable.’ Any further thoughts would be very welcome.

Help needed with tomb inscription

Fellow Warwick Rodwell is also looking for help with a puzzling (possibly Latin) inscription. Warwick is writing up his investigation of the tomb of Major Francis Peirson, of the 95th (Yorkshire) Regiment of Foot, who led the British troops who successfully resisted an invasion of the island of Jersey by 900 French soldiers on 6 January 1781. Peirson was killed in the dying moments of the Battle of Jersey, 1781, and was accorded a hero’s burial, with full military honours, in St Helier Church. His achievement was celebrated in J S Copley’s famous painting, The Death of Major Peirson (Tate Gallery).

Warwick’s excavations at the church led to Major Peirson’s coffin being exposed, and at the ‘head’ end, an inscription was recorded in gold leaf laid on an arc of black paint on the cloth cover. The inscription is fragmentary and appears to be in Latin, beginning ‘VENI … ’. It is not certain whether that is a complete word (‘I came’), or merely the first part of one. No definite spaces are apparent between any of the surviving letters of the inscription. The incomplete final (?) letter begins with a vertical stroke. The decipherable letters appear to read: ‘VENI..AV..P…SIUS…UVAI’.

Warwick says that he has shown the inscription to various colleagues, but no one has so far been able to identify it. Do any readers of Salon recognise this as a military motto or classical quotation? Or was it a Latin tag composed for the occasion?

Kelmscott Manor, Alan Sorrell and the Festival of Britain

Our Fellow Derrick Chivers spotted the mural shown here when he was visiting the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank recently. Appropriately enough, given that the mural is entitled The Englishman’s Home, the artist, John Piper, included the gables of Kelmscott Manor, the archetypal Englishman’s home, in this vast work, one of the key images of the Festival of Britain.

Piper painted the mural in oil on 42 panels, measuring 16ft by 50ft in total, in the garden of his home, Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire. Piper and Osbert Lancaster were the main designers of the South Bank Pleasure Gardens for the festival and the mural adorned the exterior wall of the Homes and Gardens Pavilion. After the Festival, Sir Frederick Gibberd, master planner of Harlow, asked for this mural to be entrusted to the Harlow Development Corporation, along with Barbara Hepworth’s Contrapuntal Forms and two other large murals: 1851, by Leonard Manasseh, and Boats, by our Fellow Alan Sorrell.

The latter work consisted of five panels depicting working boats from around the British coast, painted by Sorrell for the bar of the Festival of Britain ship, HMS Campania, built as a refrigerated cargo ship, converted into an aircraft carrier in the Second World War and then used during the Festival of Britain for a travelling exhibition that ‘celebrated Britain’s technological ingenuity and status as a world economic power’, visiting the UK’s major ports.

You still have time to see Piper’s mural, and the evocative ‘Museum of 1951’ exhibition that is on in the Festival Hall (to 4 September), which brings together Sir Hugh Casson’s designs and models for the Festival of Britain, archive film footage, souvenirs and programmes, and the reminiscences of visitors to the festival and those involved in its planning and construction.

Splendour and Power at the Fitzwilliam

Vienna comes to Cambridge from 16 August 2011 to 8 January 2012, when a collection of jewellery and other objects made from gems and precious metals from the Kunstkammer collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum goes on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Many of the mainly late Renaissance, Mannerist and baroque works on display belonged to the Emperor Rudolph II (1552—1612) and Empress Maria Theresa (1717—80), and were designed to demonstrate the wealth and power of the Hapsburg dynasty: only members of the nobility and of diplomatic delegations were originally permitted to visit the Kunstkammer.

Our Fellow Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, said: ‘the Vienna Kunstkammer provides a fascinating insight into how European princely collections have evolved, from medieval troves of relics to the cabinets of curiosities of the Renaissance and Early Baroque, eventually giving birth to the modern-day museum.’

(Left) Cup cover with Venus and Cupid sleeping on a shell being observed by Jupiter in the form of a swan. Attributed to Giovanni Ambrogio Miseroni (1551—1616), Milan, late 16th century.
Private collection

News of Fellows

Our Fellow John Walker, Chief Executive of the York Archaeological Trust, will be putting his deep knowledge of York’s archaeology to use in a new context in future, as he has recently been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor, at the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Announcing the appointment, the university said that John’s career to date has been driven by a deep-rooted passion for linking archaeological exploration to innovative and effective education, which has led the YAT to take over the direct management of three accredited museums and added Micklegate Bar Museum to its portfolio, to broaden its relationships with a range of academic institutions, to launch a successful international training programme, an oral history series, a community archaeology programme (at Hungate) and various schemes for disadvantaged people.

John said: ‘Working in collaboration in recent years has enabled the York Archaeological Trust and the University of York to attract significant research funding, as well as international scholars. Another positive outcome from this collaboration is that York’s reputation as one of the most important centres for archaeology in Europe is growing, and I’m sure that this appointment will cement links between the Trust and the university, leading to greater recognition for the city and further positive growth.’

The Holyer an Gof Trophy for the best book on a Cornish subject published in 2010 has been awarded to The Lanhydrock Atlas (ISBN 9781904880320; Cornwall Editions, 2010) by our Fellows Paul Holden and Oliver Padel and Peter Herring (a copy of which has been donated to the Society’s Library). The Trophy is awarded by the Gorsedh Kernow, the charity that promotes Cornish language and culture, and was won against fierce competition from books published by local, national and university presses. Paul Holden (pictured left holding a copy of the book), who is House and Collections Manager for the National Trust at Lanhydrock, said that the book consisted of 258 hand-drawn maps surveyed and drawn in the 1690s by Joel Gascoyne showing the lands owned by the Robartes family, then owners of the Lanhydrock estate, detailing a swathe of the county, from Land’s End to Liskeard, and hence a significant reference point in Cornish history.

‘The Lanhydrock Atlas is a truly unique work, in both its size and quality, and it really gives us an insight into the shape and uses of the lands they owned and the buildings that were on them … the sheer level of detail and the quality and the condition in which they remain is remarkable’, said Paul, adding that ‘Peter Herring carefully sets the mood of the maps; lucidly explaining archaeological features and land use, while Dr Padel’s commentaries on people and places breathe life into the maps.’

From our Fellow Professor Zsolt Visy, of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Archaeological Department of the University of Pécs, comes news that he has secured funding from the General Assembly of the Union Académique Internationale, in Brussels, for a major project, the Corpus Limitis Imperii Romani (CLIR), to make a comprehensive record of Roman limes (frontier) sites in the ancient provinces of Noricum, Pannonia, Moesia and Dacia. The work will involve aerial reconnaissance, geophysical survey and all kinds of fieldwork, including excavation. No doubt we will hear more about the progress of this project at the XXII International Limes Congress, which is to be held in Ruse, in Bulgaria, in September 2012.

Fellow Mark Blackburn, Keeper of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum since 1991, has been awarded the British Academy’s Derek Allen Prize for outstanding published work in numismatics. The prize is named after Derek Fortrose Allen (1910—75), former Treasurer and Secretary of the British Academy, who made a distinguished contribution to the fields of numismatics, musicology and Celtic studies. Mark Blackburn, who was also recently awarded the Doctor of Letters degree by Cambridge University in recognition of his long and distinguished record of research and publication, specialises in Anglo-Saxon numismatics and the monetary history of early medieval Europe. He is a reader in Cambridge University’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. His book on Viking Coinage and Currency in the British Isles will be published shortly.

Lives remembered

Obituaries have recently been published in the Guardian for our late Fellow Philip Rahtz (written by our Fellow Catherine Hills), and in the Daily Telegraph for our late Fellow Rachel Maxwell-Hyslop.

Fellow Alison Taylor writes to say that ‘those of us who were undergraduates in the first years of Southampton’s Department of Archaeology were saddened to hear of the death of David Hill (Salon 259, 1 August). He joined us as a mature postgraduate student (despite lacking a first degree) and brought a new dimension to an already stimulating environment. Although now best known for his work on Offa’s Dyke, it was the practicalities of late Saxon towns and defences that drove him then, and it was us students who found ourselves testing his hypotheses in the mud of Hamwih, Christchurch and any possible burghal town where a spade or surveying staff might produce evidence of defences.’

Jane Carr (then Hassall) adds this further appreciation: ‘the lives of undergraduates in the late 1960s at Barry Cunliffe’s brand-new Department at Southampton were enlivened, exasperated, entertained and informed variously by the arrival of David Hill in their midst. Maybe the last (PhD) student to wear a duffel coat, his abilities to persuade and provoke a debate achieved results — in the teaching of surveying (dumpy level and staff reading in imperial, results recorded in metric), in procuring the departmental white van for overnight visits to Anglo-Saxon churches, and in excavating in Northern France. His brilliance as an Anglo-Saxon scholar and enthusiasm verging on obsession with the towns of the Burghal Hidage could not be ignored by anyone within his ambit. With a pint of brown ale and cigarette in hand he would hold forth on Anglo-Saxons, Danes and earthworks to any prepared to listen and argue. Large in form and personality, David will not be easily forgotten.’

An obituary for our late Fellow Thomas Anthony Birrell appeared in the Independent on 10 August 2011. Professor Birrell, who was elected a Fellow on 5 March 1987, was described as a ‘scholar and historian who charted the miraculous survival of the Royal Library of England (given to the British Museum by George II in 1757) amid political upheaval, government neglect and successive librarians’ insensitivity’.

Giving the Panizzi lectures in 1986 on ‘English monarchs and their books’ was an achievement preceded by thirty–five years as Professor, Head of Department of English and American Literature, and ultimately Rector of Nijmegen Catholic University. In 1984 his colleagues celebrated his sixtieth birthday and impending retirement with a festschrift, Studies in Seventeenth-Century English Literature, History and Bibliography that included a copious bibliography of his own works. In retirement he set about reconstructing the contents of the Royal Library, which had been merged with that of Sir Hans Sloane and duplicates sold (even when those so-called ‘duplicates’ bore the autograph annotations of Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer). Nicolas Baker, the obituary’s author, says that Birrell’s latest work, The British Museum Duplicate Sales, 1768—1832, tells the unhappy tale ‘with customary authority’ and is ‘the coping-stone of a scholarly career marked by humour and grace as well as learning’; he predicts that Birrell’s work on the Royal Library ‘will be crowned one day by the publication of a full catalogue’.

Marek Zvelebil (1952—2011)

Salon’s editor is very grateful to Fellow Malcolm Lillie for the following obituary, which he wrote with the help of Peter Jordan and Jenny Moore, for our late Fellow Marik Zvelebil.

‘Marek Zvelebil, Professor of European Prehistory in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, died on 7 July 2011, aged fifty-nine. Despite recent illnesses, including heart surgery, Marek’s passing was still a great shock to all who knew him.

‘It is perhaps easiest to start this most difficult of tasks with some general information about Marek’s life as summarised in the dedication to him at his funeral, attended by family and friends from around the world. The eulogies reinforced the image of an individual who embraced life to its fullest, a man who was clearly a well-loved son, brother, father and partner, an intellectual, and, as many of his former students have said, an inspiration and a mentor, and someone who still had much to give.

‘Marek was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1952. After his family left Prague in 1968, victims of the suppression of the Prague Spring, he lived with his family in both the USA and the Netherlands. He enjoyed saying that he had been called up to do national service in three separate armies, but had managed to serve in none. More recently his family lived in France.

‘Graduating from Sheffield in 1974, Marek went to Cambridge for his doctoral research under Grahame Clark. His thesis, on a socio-economic prehistory of southern Finland and the East Baltic (with an emphasis on the transition to farming), completed in 1981, set the framework for his later research.

‘Marek joined the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology at Sheffield in 1980, and in 1999, he was awarded a Personal Chair in European Prehistory. During this period, he also taught at the universities of South Carolina (1980—1), Boston (1987) and California at Berkeley (1997).

‘Both in Britain and abroad Marek was widely regarded as being among the most important and influential archaeological thinkers of his generation. He continued to produce seminal papers and syntheses right up to his death, and few people in archaeology have produced as many important works. Such publications as the 1986 Hunters in Transition or the 1994 “Plant Use in the Mesolithic and its role in the transition to farming”, which was awarded the R M Baguley prize after appearing in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, are but two that spring to mind. His CV includes over 100 books and papers, and the broad range of Marek’s intellectual endeavours means that his work includes essential reading for any student of hunter-gatherer societies and the origins of agriculture, as well as other aspects of culture, language and ethnicity, and landscape archaeology.

‘His embedded theoretical approach to hunter-gatherers, the Mesolithic and the transition to agriculture made his research both innovative and simulating. More recently two important volumes, LBK Dialogues (2004) and Ceramics before Farming (2010), reinforced Marek’s continuing active research career, and at the time of his death he was working on a comprehensive synthesis of his theoretical work in relation to the social aspects of the Mesolithic.

‘The fact that Marek was fluent in English, Czech and Russian, with a sound knowledge of Dutch, German, French, Polish, Ukrainian, Slovenian and Serbo-Croat, facilitated collaboration with colleagues through Europe, leading to several major research projects — most recently the AHRC-funded ‘Biological and Cultural Identity of the First Farmers: Multiple Bio-Archaeological Analysis of a Central European Cemetery’, centring on the early LBK cemetery of Vedrovice, in Moravia.

‘Marek’s innovative and engaging teaching style made him enormously popular with generations of Sheffield undergraduates and postgraduates, all of whom will be saddened by his passing. The greatest attribute that a mentor and teacher can have is the desire to impart their knowledge and experience to younger academics. Marek was generous with both his time and intellect, even if you were not his student. If you had a project in mind, a workshop, conference or research idea, Marek would frequently make a significant contribution, even if it were not a high profile event, and he would regularly contribute to any subsequent publication.

‘Marek worked hard to increase international collaboration and mutual understanding by taking students on excavations and cultural field trips in the Czech Republic, and it was apparent, for example, that the Erasmus students attending the excavations at Švarzenberk were all inspired by Marek’s combined love of archaeology and of South Bohemia.

‘Marek applied his intellectual principles to his own life and social activities: he was enthusiastic, inspirational and supportive, gregarious and international in outlook, always seeing the best in people to whom he was drawn by their ideas and depth of character, rather than their social status or ethnic or national background. As a result, he had a tremendously wide and diverse circle both in academia and beyond. If he could sometimes be infuriatingly confrontational and provocative, that was only because he was a consummate intellectual, who lived his too-short life to the full.’


Bob Kindred has supplied the attached photograph of the demolished Regency house to compare with the picture that appeared in the last issue of Salon under the headline ‘Record fine for demolishing listed house’. Bob says that ‘the text was correct in saying that this was a house deemed to be of landscape merit in a designated conservation area, but the headline is not quite, in that the house was not listed. Readers might also have assumed from the photo that this was a detached dwelling when, in fact, it was one half of a pair of semi-detached villas. The owner of the other half was completely unaware of intended demolition until the works commenced! This may in part explain the severity of the sentence.’

Salon 259’s review of Stone Axe Studies III should have made clear that both of the book’s editors — Vin Davis as well as Mark Edmonds — are Fellows.

In announcing that David Peacock will be receiving the Archaeological Institute of America’s 2012 Pomerance Award as a tribute to his outstanding contributions to the study of ceramics, marbles, millstones and querns, Salon 259 said that two Fellows (Ian Freestone and Peter Ian Kuniholm) had previously received the same award; in fact the tally is three Fellows because our Fellow Professor Michael Tite was the award’s recipient in 2008.

Responding to the report in Salon 259 of the Westminster Abbey Evensong on 13 July 2011 to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir George Gilbert Scott, our Fellow Julian Litten recalls organising a similar event at the Abbey on 6 April 1978, to mark the centenary of Scott’s death. Again, many of the surviving members of the Scott family were present, and the address was given by the late Stephen Dykes-Bower, Surveyor Emeritus of the Abbey. For the hymns I chose F Pott’s “Angel-voices ever singing”, and J M Neale’s “Blessed city, heavenly Salem” to Purcell’s tune “Westminster Abbey”. Psalm 122, “I was I was glad when they said unto me”, was sung, as was Weelkes’ anthem, “O how amiable are thy dwellings”. I think the wreath at the grave was laid on this occasion by Richard Gilbert Scott's grand-daughter.’

Fellow Alan Saville suggests that the current tendency to look back over archaeology’s most recent past, mentioned in the last issue of Salon, ‘must be something to do with the fact that those of us who came into archaeology in that first major expansion of the 1960s and early 1970s are now of an age when looking back over our own careers is only natural’. Alan says he fears that he has also contributed to the retrospective bubble with two recent publications that have appeared in the past few months: Saville, A 2010. ‘The origins and first thirty years of the Lithic Studies Society’, Lithics, 31, 78—87; and Saville, A 2010. ‘Anatomizing an archaeological project — Hazleton revisited’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 128, 9—27.

Following on from that thought, Salon’s editor has an article in this month’s Current Archaeology magazine asking what are the key ingredients of a great excavation, with selected extracts from the book of the same name edited by our Fellow John Schofield. The article asks whether great excavations belong in the past, or whether they are still experienced by archaeologists working in the field today. By coincidence, an answer was provided by the BBC Radio 4 ‘Tribes of Science’ programme broadcast on 4 August, in which the presenter joined a recent excavation at La Cotte de St Brelade, on Jersey, to understand what ‘makes archaeologists tick’ and what distinguishes their science from that of, say, astronomers and geologists. It is pleasing to be able to confirm that all the ingredients of a great excavation were present in the programme: the sociability of an excavation (as distinct from the more solitary work of an astronomer or naturalist), the combination of intellectual and physical activity, the in-jokes and the culture that develops amongst a group of people who work closely together for a period of time in a confined space, and the rite of passage that an excavation is for many young people learning how to cope on their own for the first time in their lives.

Finally, lest we think that the problem of antiquities smuggling in Iraq is yesterday’s news, Fellow Carol Farr draws our attention to an opinion piece on the CNN website in which Matthew Bogdanos, the former colonel in the United States Marine Corps who led the investigation into the looting of the Iraqi National Museum while serving in Iraq in 2003 and who gave a lecture to our Society on the experience, says that the illegal antiquities trade is still active and has become a revenue stream for terrorist activity in the region.

The Chained Library at Wimborne Minster

Continuing our theme of unwrecked museums, Fellow Linda Hall writes to share her experiences of visiting the Chained Library at Chained Library while attending a Regional Furniture Society conference in Dorset recently. ‘Frank Tandy, the curator, is a mine of information and clearly loves every inch of his library passionately — our allotted half hour in no way did him justice. His excellent 44-page guide to the library, simply entitled The Chained Library in Wimborne Minster (ISBN 9780955708701), not only details the books and their donors, but also has a chapter entitled “Chaining” which looks at the history of chained libraries in Britain and Europe, describes how they functioned and includes a detailed description and drawing of the chains themselves.

‘The library’s contents are both religious and secular and include The French Gardiner: Instructing How to Cultivate all Sorts of Fruit-Trees and Herbs for the Garden, translated from the original French by John Evelyn and printed “by S.S. for Benjamin Tooke at the Ship in St Pauls Church-yard” in 1672. Another of the same year is The Gentlemans Companion or, a Character of True Nobility and Gentility by “A Person of Quality”; this was “Written at first for his own Private Use, and now Published for the Benefit of all”, and contains sentiments that are far from politically correct! It was printed “by E. Okes, for Rowland Reynolds, at the Sun and Bible in the Poultrey”. These notes of printers and booksellers, also found on broadsheets of the time, provide glimpses of seventeenth-century London that are as fascinating as the books themselves and would be worthy of a study in their own right. Or maybe someone has already done this?’

Books by Fellows: Herculaneum Past and Present

It is strange that Herculaneum, which succumbed to the same volcanic eruption in AD 79 as Pompeii, is so much less widely known and written about than the bigger city, which continues to be the subject of best-selling books (not least that by our Fellow Mary Beard) and TV documentaries (ditto), a best-selling novel (by Robert Harris) and even salacious comedy (thanks to the late Frankie Howerd). Perhaps this new work by our Fellow Andrew Wallace-Hadrill will do something to correct that undeserved imbalance, though in the preface to Herculaneum Past and Present (ISBN 9780711231429; Frances Lincoln). Andrew makes it clear that he would not like to see the 2.5m annual visitors to Pompeii transfer their affections to Herculaneum, as that would destroy the site’s intimacy, immediacy and tranquillity.

Comparisons between the two are invidious but inevitable, and the one that will be uppermost in the thoughts of many reading this book is the contrast in conservation strategies between the two sites. If Andrew Wallace-Hadrill ‘knows more about Herculaneum than anyone since AD 79’ (Mary Beard), it is because he was invited by Dr David Woodley Packard in 2001 to set up a project to tackle key conservation issues at the site, a collaborative project involving skilled architects, engineers, surveyors, geologists and materials scientists as well as historians, archaeologists and conservationists, and even a falconer, employed to keep the pigeons at bay.

The book thus has a dual narrative: the story of the town and its people (astonishingly we know the names and intimate details of the legal and commercial lives of nearly half the free adult male inhabitants in the years immediately preceding the eruption) and the story of the politics of conservation and restoration in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Italy, along with a discussion of what the future holds.

The combination makes for a rivetingly readable book, but also one that is superbly illustrated, with scores of informative sections and plans and several panoramic fold-out images that almost fill your field of vision so that, but for the lack of the smells and the heat, you might just be there — and what is most striking about being there is just how little different superficially the Herculaneum of AD 79 is from the modern town that surrounds and melds into it.

Books by Fellows: Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall (ISBN 9780954734237; Hadrian’s Wall Heritage), by Fellow and Council member David Breeze, is the seventh and latest work in a tri-lingual (English, German and French) series devoted to the Roman frontiers that make up the trans-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

David says that its publication ‘coincides with the announcement by the government of the Netherlands that they intend to place their section of the Roman frontier on their Tentative List. This means that every country across Europe has now declared its intention to put forward its section of the Roman frontier as a candidate for the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS, a major step towards bringing all the Roman frontiers, including those in western Asia and north Africa, under the WHS umbrella’. The first part of David’s new book is devoted to discussing the character of the wider frontier system, while the second half serves as a potted history of a guide to Hadrian’s Wall.

Books by Fellows: Defending Scilly

Protecting, policing, dividing and defending — the purpose of Hadrian’s Wall could be described as an amalgam of all of these, whereas the title of Defending Scilly (ISBN 9781848020436; English Heritage), by our Fellows Mark Bowden and Allan Brodie, suggests a simpler rationale for the military heritage of these islands: acting as the first line of defence against continental invaders arriving by sea from Spain or France. Ironically, the expected invasions, whether from Philip II’s Spain, Napoleonic France or Nazi-occupied territory in Europe, never came: the only shots fired in anger on Scilly, the authors remind us, was between Englishmen, during the Civil War.

Still, the military legacy, stretching from thirteenth-century Ennor Castle on St Mary’s, via the first two forts built by Edward VI (1547—53) on Tresco through to the concrete pill boxes and anti-aircraft gun emplacements of the Second World War, is very rich; and it is now under threat because of rising sea level and coastal erosion, hence this book which results from surveys to record what is mainly a coastal heritage before it succumbs to the sea.

Copiously illustrated, the book serves as a guide to the most significant remains, and as a summary of the more detailed record that has been made of Scilly’s military monuments and that now forms part of the National Monuments Record.

Books by Fellows: The Synagogues of Britain and Ireland

Thanks to our Fellow Sharman Kadish, the religious buildings of the Jewish community in Britain and Ireland have now been subjected to the same level of study as was once reserved only for Anglican churches and cathedrals, making up for decades of neglect (as was also once the case with Catholic and non-conformist architecture) out of a sense that buildings of such recent origin are less worthy of scholarly understanding and appreciation than those with centuries of heritage. Sharman’s book, The Synagogues of Britain and Ireland (ISBN 9780300170511; Yale University Press), proves through page after page of archival photography and photographs taken especially by English Heritage how rich is the story of synagogue design.

It is a story that begins in the seventeenth century with buildings deliberately hidden from the public gaze, the result of legal constraints on the Jewish community on property ownership and a desire not to attract attention, understandable in a community that faced hostility in many parts of Europe, but that eventually results in the lavish ‘cathedral synagogues’ of the High Victorian period, their interiors colourful with rare and precious marbles, gilding, metalwork, mosaic, stained glass, tilework and rich textiles.

Reaching this high point of architectural self-confidence involved important debates within the Jewish community about the distinctiveness of synagogue architecture, the degree to which it should absorb the tracery styles and decorative schemes of Christian architecture, the influence of oriental, secular, Moorish and Byzantine influences, all complicated by the search for different answers amongst communities that varied in their interpretation of Judaism and the strictness of their orthodoxy.

Progressive and reformed Jewish communities embraced the prevalent styles of their day, and some of the most striking buildings in this book are not the ones that can appear as gaudy as a Gaumont or Odeon cinema, but the simpler buildings that adopt the idioms of Art Deco, or the International Modern movement. A great strength of this book is that it does not draw an arbitrary distinction between ‘heritage’ synagogues and more recent design; it continues through to the striking designs of architects working into the 1990s.

A sad note is the number of picture captions that include the words ‘closed’, ‘gutted’, ‘demolished’, ‘photographed before stripping’ or ‘converted to other uses’. Sharman Kadish, in her capacity as the Director of Jewish Heritage UK, has done a huge amount in recent years to ensure that the most significant have now been recognised and listed.

Books by Fellows: Pews, Benches and Chairs

A striking feature of many of the synagogues in Sharman’s book is the complexity and symbolism of the seating arrangements. This has become a major issue within the Church of England, and those of us who sit on Diocesan Advisory Committees are only too familiar with the scale of ‘re-ordering’ (ie getting rid of the pews) that is currently taking place in parish churches the length and breadth of England, and the divisions that such schemes can cause within church communities.

This is, after all, about more than seating, though seating is, in T S Eliot’s famous phrase, the ‘objective correlative’ around which the ferocious arguments swirl: to evangelicals, pews get in the way of flexible forms of worship and other forms of social and spiritual activity and are a symbol of an authoritarian, paternalistic, rule-bound Church that has lost its sense of joy and social vision, whereas to traditionalists they stand for a heritage that they value, along with the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible, and that they feel is under attack from people they regard as vandals whose happy-clappy rituals are questionably Christian.

DAC members try very hard to be objective when faced with such deeply felt divisions, but they have lacked an authoritative source of advice and guidance until now; belatedly — but well worth the wait — the Ecclesiology Society has published Pews, Benches and Chairs: church seating in English parish churches from the fourteenth century to the present (ISBN 9780946823178), edited by Trevor Cooper and Fellow Sarah Brown, which is packed with information on the history, dating and identification of church seating, from an archaeological point of view (timber type and thickness, joints and construction techniques, carpenter’s assembly marks, the diagnostic signs of hand-made and machine-made pews) and from a stylistic point of view (decorations, mouldings and motifs). The book throws light something as simple as an apparently insignificant series of holes (designed to hold candle prickets), slots (for hinged or sliding seats) and the relationship of seating to floorboards.

Having read this book, you will never be tempted, as our Fellow Sir Roy Strong was, in controversial lectures he gave three years ago, to advocate building bonfires even of Victorian pews; neither should you ever accept anyone’s word for it that the pews lack significance until you have sought specialist advice — just in case those contemptuously dismissed ‘Victorian’ pews turn out to be rare and seventeenth century. And Chapter 23 of the book, on ‘Pews: the view from a DAC Secretary’, written by our Fellow Jonathan Mackechnie-Jarvis, Secretary of the Gloucester DAC, is so full of level-headed common sense on how to achieve a balance between heritage and modernity in the pews debate that it ought to be made available as a free guidance note to every parish in the land.

Books by Fellows: The Architecture of the Scottish Medieval Church 1100—1560

If you have read last year’s Antiquaries Journal you will know that our Fellows Richard Fawcett, Richard Oram and Julian Luxford discuss there the findings of a survey of medieval churches in the Scottish diocese of Dunblane and Dunkeld, and find that more medieval fabric has survived than is often held to be the case. Even so, reconstructing the appearance of Scottish medieval churches is a very difficult task, given that the Scottish Reformation was so much more destructive than its equivalent in England and Wales: in Scotland, many churches were radically restructured either by demolishing the medieval building and using the masonry to build a reformed church, or by reordering the nave, having destroyed the chancel, tracery, altar and other reminders of the ‘idolatrous’ past.

In The Architecture of the Scottish Medieval Church 1100—1560 (ISBN 9780300170498; Yale University Press) our Fellow Richard Fawcett has succeeded in overcoming such difficulties and has used his detailed knowledge from years as Historic Scotland’s Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments to reconstruct and celebrate what is distinctively Scottish in the character of medieval religious architecture north of the border. He shows that Scottish patrons and masons were much more directly influenced by the architecture of France and the Low Countries than has been credited in earlier accounts, that tend to portray England as the dominant influence. This is hardly surprising, given the strained nature of the relationship between the two contingent neighbours and the strong trade and diplomatic links between Scotland and France, but guessing this might be the case is no substitute for evidence, which Richard supplies with his comparisons, for example, between the cathedral in Vienne and the window tracery of St Michael, Linlithgow, or between Utrecht Cathedral and King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen.

Books by Fellows: Pevensey Castle

Pevensey Castle, Sussex, by our Fellows Michael Fulford and Stephen Rippon (ISBN 9781874350552; Wessex Archaeology), presents the results of excavations in the Roman fort and medieval keep that were carried out in 1993—5, establishing through dendrochronology that the fort wall of the ‘Saxon Shore’ fort was constructed in AD 280—300, and that it continued to be occupied through the late Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Saxo-Norman periods. Finds from at least three vessels in African Red Slipped Ware, for example, along with amphorae sherds of late date attest to trade between Pevensey and the Mediterranean between the fifth and seventh centuries, perhaps associated with the Weald as a source of iron.

Roman masonry, banks and ditches were then incorporated into the castle that William the Conqueror built at Pevensey, then granted to his half-brother, Robert, Count of Mortain. The excavations discovered important evidence for the castle’s construction, development, repairs and decay between 1200 and the fifteenth century, after which the keep was filled with clay and used as an artillery platform against the threat of the Armada, then refortified once again during the Second World War.

Books by Fellows: The Medieval Great House

Almost all the contributors to The Medieval Great House (ISBN 9871907730078; Shaun Tyas) are Fellows, as are the editors, Malcolm Airs and Paul Barnwell, who acknowledge that our Fellow Anthony Emery’s survey of the Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales was a major influence in the decision to host a conference on the subject at Oxford’s Rewley House in January 2008. This book, the first in a new Rewley House Studies in the Historic Environment series, is the result, addressing questions that Anthony Emery’s three volumes opened up, such as the distinction between the castle and the great house, what they have in common and what functions each performs, and why some owners chose to ‘clad their palaces with military overcoats’ while others built houses that performed the same administrative functions and served just as well to demonstrate status, but in a more secular guise. The contributions to the book also look at the landscapes surrounding great residences, as important a statement of lordship as the house, serving to support the household with water and food and equally as a place of courtly entertainment and scenic value. As well as demonstrating the variety of ways in which such houses and their environments can be studied, the papers demonstrate that most of the great houses of the period are best understood as a response to particular events, particular influences (including the romantic, poetic, literary and artistic culture of the day) and the particular interests of the patron.

Books by Fellows: Shrewsbury

Fellow Nigel Baker’s book on Shrewsbury (ISBN 9781842173152; Oxbow) is the antidote to the great house in many ways, revealing not the architectural choices of the individual, but rather the conglomerated results of lots of people living in close proximity and all constrained by numerous factors — in the case of Shrewsbury, that includes a loop in the River Severn that almost encircles the town and gives it its distinctive shape, with the castle occupying the narrow (290m wide) neck of land that is enclosed by the river, and two pre-Conquest churches, St Mary’s and St Chad’s, occupying the two hills (70m) within the loop.

Crowded within, and further constrained by the river’s flood plain, is a landscape so modified by humans over the centuries that the removal of the buildings would reveal a giant ziggurat, consisting of a series of terraces cut into the natural hill to accommodate houses, churches, yards and gardens. In an eloquent passage, Nigel Baker reminds us, however, of our Fellow Martin Carver’s thoughts on terracing: ‘a monument to the success of the High Medieval town; a gravestone to the archaeology of earlier centuries’. If that were literally so, this archaeological assessment of the Shropshire county town would be a much slimmer book. As it is, the idea of a town whose earlier archaeology has been destroyed by medieval engineering turns out to be an oversimplification, albeit one that requires considerable ingenuity to model Shrewsbury’s terrain and predict where deeply stratified sequences might survive.

These tell a story of Shrewsbury’s origin as the site of two secular minsters, St Mary’s and St Chad’s, each perhaps serving large rural parishes in the hinterland; a tempting hypothesis is that they represented a transfer of ecclesiastical function from Wroxeter in the later seventh century and that the site was chosen because the island-like topography appealed to early monastic sensibilities. From misty beginnings, a more secure account of the town can be given once it begins to appear in the documentary records from AD 900, and Shrewsbury is a town that makes up for the lack of below-ground stratigraphy with a wealth of historical evidence and of above-ground stratigraphy in the form of standing buildings.

Studying the buildings and the documentation together leads Nigel Baker to ask if medieval Shrewsbury was an elite town, dominated by religious institutions and super-rich top tax payers working in the professions or as wealthy merchants, without the social mix of some other towns; he wonders too if there is such a things as an urban hierarchy, with some towns, such as Shrewsbury, Ludlow and London, having a different social mix to smaller towns, such as Wenlock and Bridgnorth. Such thoughts are offered as part of the comprehensive discussion of themes and questions for future research with which the book concludes.

Books by Fellows: The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping

The perennially best-selling National Trust Manual of Housekeeping (ISBN 9781907892189; RRP £50 but on offer for a mere £25 if ordered online from the National Trust’s online shop) has just appeared in a fully revised edition, and is worth buying for its gorgeous photographs alone, as well as for its 928 pages of distilled wisdom on the care of everything old and precious, from books and porcelain to stuffed birds and shell grottoes, suits of armour and vintage vehicles, should you happen to have any of those in your personal collection (and yes, there is a chapter on the care and conservation of archaeological collections).

Our Fellow Sarah Staniforth, National Trust Museums and Collections Director, contributed several of the chapters and describes the book as the ‘“bible” for our own staff in the care and conservation of historic houses and a way of sharing our knowledge and experience with everyone who is interested in looking after their own valued possessions’.

Books by Fellows: The Cambridge World History of Slavery

Our Fellows Keith Bradley, of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and Paul Cartledge, of Cambridge University, are not only General Editors of The Cambridge World History of Slavery (with David Eltis, of Emory University, and Stanley Engerman, of the University of Rochester), they are also the editors of Volume 1 in the four-volume series, which is the first to survey the entire history of slavery across the world, from antiquity to the present day.

Their volume surveys the history of slavery in The Ancient Mediterranean World (ISBN 9780521840668; Cambridge University Press). The book’s twenty-two chapters explore the centrality of slavery to ancient Mediterranean societies, which is seen as the concomitant to the incessant warfare of the period.

Books by Fellows: A Dated Type Series of London Medieval Pottery

Fellows Lyn Blackmore and Jacqueline Pearce are the authors of A Dated Type Series of London Medieval Pottery. Part 5: shelly-sandy ware and the greyware industries (ISBN 9781901992939; Museum of London Archaeology Monograph Series 49).

The book charts the development, peak and decline of two types of pottery commonly found in London: the sandy shelly wares of c 1140—1220, produced in or near London and exported up the east coast of Britain to reach Scotland and across the North Sea to Bergen and Trondheim, in Norway; and the greywares of c 1170—1350, one of the first mass-produced medieval ceramics, made in Hertfordshire and Surrey and so widely used in London that scarcely a household lacked a greyware jug or cooking pot.

In addition to fabric analyses, form typologies, a gazetteer of find spots and scientific data, the study includes a summary of greyware production centres, and considers function, use, the marketing of medieval pottery and the chronology of selected consumer sites in London and its region. Reviewing the book in British Archaeology, our Fellow Mark Gardiner said: ‘it would be a shame if this was only read by pottery experts’, because it ‘tells us about a good deal more than just ceramics; it gives an insight into commerce both at home and abroad, and the changing economy within which these pottery industries operated’.

Books by Fellows: Roman London

Or rather a map in this case, rather than a book, for this is a new edition by our Fellow Peter Rowsome of the long out-of-print and out-of-date Ordnance Survey map of Roman London, which many of us own, and that was last revised around 1983, thus, as Peter says, ‘pre-dating many important discoveries and unforgivably omitted Roman Southwark entirely, only showing the area north of the Thames! The expanded map makes up for such omissions, with illustrated text on the flipside; Tracy Wellman, of MOLA, has done a great job in designing the map and it has been published in time to be linked to a new Museum of London iTunes and iPhone app. The Roman London map was kindly funded by CoLAT, LAMAS and SLAEC and is available for £6.25 from the Museum of London.'

The iPhone app to which Peter refers is called Streetmuseum Londinium, and it allows users to see what lies beneath their feet while walking round London, and to see Roman buildings overlaid against today’s street scene; the Museum of London website has further details.


CADW: Assistant Director, Properties in Care
Salary: between £54,500 and £66,800; closing date 31 August 2011

This role requires a professionally qualified architect or surveyor with significant experience of monument conservation and the credibility to give confidence to the people Cadw works with. Further details from the Cadw website.

CADW: Senior Conservation Architect/Surveyor (2 posts)
Salary between £34,000 and £42,000; closing date 31 August 2011

Each postholder will lead a multi-disciplinary team of conservation design and works specialist staff, including teams of conservation craft workers based across Wales, and working closely with colleagues responsible for visitor services, interpretation and archaeological protection. One post will be responsible for Cadw sites in south Wales and the other for sites in north Wales. The role requires an experienced professional qualified architect or surveyor with conservation and ancient monument experience. Further details from the Cadw website.