The full meetings programme for this autumn can be seen on the Societys website.
17 November 2011: Between these
a great deal of my time is engaged: Henry Baker (16981774), the Royal Society of Arts and the Society of Antiquaries, by David Allan FSA
This paper will explore the activities of the antiquary Henry Baker and the links between our Society and the RSA, of which he was a founder. Known in its early days as the Society that pokes its nose into everything, the RSA was typified by Baker, with his appetite for curiosities and belief in human betterment. The lecture sheds light on a period when it was possible for the educated layman to comprehend what Samuel Johnson called the wider range of knowledge.
24 November 2011: Mapping Roman London: using GIS from site context to town plan, by Julian Hill, of Museum of London Archaeology
The subject of Julians talk will be Museum of London Archaeologys recently published Londinium map and guide to Roman London and the Streetmuseum Londinium iPhone app, which uses the map as its base. Julian will briefly discuss its content (and the editorial difficulties of what to present), and demonstrate how GIS mapping and the way that sites are now recorded during excavation should make the production (and updating) of such maps considerably easier than in the past. To that end he will take the late Roman buildings excavated at No. 1 Poultry and track them through from their physical remains, to their preservation by record within the MOLA digital database and how that digital resource can then be used for map making.
1 December 2011: Lifting the Heavy Stone of Classicism: regional vernacular portraiture in post-Reformation England to c 1620, by Robert Tittler FSA
Our traditional notion of Tudor and early Stuart portraiture, as supported by the art-historical canon and the exhibits of our major galleries, emphasises those paintings that celebrate the formal and polite aesthetic of the age. Works have tended to be judged chiefly on aesthetic grounds, and on how closely they reflect the standards set by the heavily theorised, and classically inspired portraiture being produced on the continent at the same time. But once we lift the heavy stone of classicism, we find a native English vernacular portraiture chiefly motivated by utilitarian rather than aesthetic objectives, deeply rooted in craft production, highly receptive to such indigenous concerns as heraldry and genealogy, and often reflecting regional rather than national patterns of patronage and production.
8 December 2011: Parish churches and the post-Reformation landscape, by Andrew Spicer FSA
The religious and sacred landscape was fundamentally shattered by the Reformation. The rejection of the contemplative life and the efficacy of prayers for the dead, for example, led to the dissolution of the monasteries and the despoiling of the chantries. Their ruins stood as permanent visual reminders in the landscape of the previous religious order. Yet, in contrast to this destruction, an air of permanence seems to surround the early modern parish church. While its interior was altered to accord with the liturgical demands of the new order and a different religious aesthetic, the building itself remained as a place of worship at the heart of parish life. This paper sets out to question the apparent permanence of the parish church and to reflect on how the Reformation altered its place in the early modern landscape.
At the ballot held on 10 November 2011, the following were elected as Ordinary Fellows (short career summaries can be found on the Societys website): Jennie Uglow, Nicholas Phillip Branch, Mark Harrison, Andrew Frank Richardson, Susan Kathleen Cecilia Palmer, Matthew Ian Pope, David Beevers, Anne Louise Irving and Christopher Neville Rowell.
With Armistice Day (11 November) and Remembrance Sunday (13 November) just gone, and the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War (28 July 2014) only thirty-two months away, several organisations have been highlighting the condition of the UKs 100,000 or so war memorials.
Hundreds of these are in urgent need of repair, according to the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials, based at the Imperial War Museum, whose surveys of the condition of the memorials has seen the number being assessed as being in a poor state rise by 79 per cent in the last two years. The separate War Memorials Trust, the charity that works for the protection and conservation of war memorials in the UK, has reported a 63 per cent increase in its workload over the last year, and is now dealing with almost 300 cases each month of war memorials that are in need of funding for essential repairs, a problem aggravated by the recent spate of metal thefts that has left memorials stripped of their bronze plaques and statuary.
One issue is that many monuments were built using donations from the public, so there is no obvious owner, and no official body to carry out regular maintenance. As part of its In Memoriam 2014, the War Memorials Trust is hoping to remedy this by asking every local authority in the UK to appoint an officer to the task of assessing and monitoring their condition and ensuring that the public knows who to contact if they wish to report problems or form a voluntary group to look after their memorial.
Frances Moreton, Director of the Trust, firmly believes that the best way to preserve memorials is for them to be cared for by people who are living in the communities from which the men and women who died went out to serve: we don't want to break that connection by saying they should all be the responsibility of government, she said.
Even so, communities need access to funds and expertise if they are to take proper care of the memorials, which is why the Heritage Lottery Fund marked the 2012 Armistice Day by announcing the launch of a booklet and online resource designed to highlight what sources of funding are available. Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said: The HLF is deeply committed to supporting the many aspects of remembrance that will be developed as the centenaries of the First World War approach. We anticipate that there will be greater interest than ever before in honouring the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the First World War.
At the same time, the HLF stressed that it does not give money solely for the restoration and refurbishment of memorials, which would be to duplicate the work of the War Memorials Trust and other organisations. Instead, it funds restoration and conservation work that helps people learn about the heritage or that incorporates training opportunities.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has acquired one of the finest pieces of neo-classical sculpture carved by a British artist, a sculptural relief of Caesar Invading Britain and being repelled by heroic Britons, carved in Rome in 17916 by John Deare (175998). The work has gone on display in the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Sculpture Galleries after having been purchased with funds left to the V&A by Count Caruana and Ivan Booth, who bequeathed a generous sum for the purchase of a work of art in their memory in recognition of the enjoyment the V&A gave them during their lives.
The sculpture once formed part of a large overmantel commissioned by John Penn for a fireplace in his Stoke Park mansion in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, from where it was removed in the mid-twentieth century. John Penn, grandson of the William Penn who founded Pennsylvania, was a British patriot and a supporter of the American Revolution, and the theme of Britons repulsing Roman invaders may well have appealed to his sympathy for American forces struggling to combat a dominant imperial power.
John Deare is now celebrated as an innovative and gifted neo-classical sculptor. Having entered the Royal Academy schools in 1777, aged eighteen, he became the youngest artist ever to achieve the Academys gold medal. In 1784, he won an Academy bursary to study for three years in Rome, arriving in 1785. After this, he supported himself with commissions from English patrons, such as John Penn, visiting Rome on the Grand Tour. Deares most distinguished works are reliefs of historical, mythological and allegorical subjects. He remained in Rome until his death in 1798, said to have been caused by catching a chill by sleeping on a block of marble for inspiration.
Our Fellow Paul Williamson, Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass at the V&A, said: John Deares artistic standing, until recently undervalued, has in the past few years been reassessed. Caesar Invading Britain is one of Deares major masterpieces, displaying astonishing technique and narrative mastery. Were thrilled that a generous bequest has allowed us to acquire this magnificent work which will now be on permanent display in the V&As sculpture galleries.
The work of another under-appreciated artist has just been re-appraised at Hampton Court, after a campaign to conserve the terracotta roundels made by Giovanni da Maiano (c 1487c 1542) for Cardinal Wolsey before his fall from grace. Hailed as being amongst the earliest Renaissance sculptures to be seen in England, the roundels were showing signs of serious physical deterioration after nearly 500 years of exposure to the weather.
Arresting that decay led to historical and scientific research, which has revealed that the roundels were not made in Tuscany and shipped to Britain, as had once been thought, but were made in England, using the same London clay as the palace itself and such Tudor brick buildings as Lambeth Palace and St Jamess.
Equally, close inspection suggests that the roundels contain busts of martial worthies, such as Scipio, Pompey, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, rather than Roman emperors, as previously assumed.
A letter to Wolsey, dated June 1521, survives in which the artist, Giovanni da Maiano, originally from the village of Maiano, near Fiesole, Florence, where his family had a thriving business as carvers in wood and stone, requests payment for his work at Hampton Court, charging £2 6s 8d each for the eight roundels that he made, painted, and gilded and an additional 20 shillings for fixing the sculptures to the walls, some of which remain in situ.
Having established himself in London, Maiano went on to produce as many as twenty or more similar busts, as well as other antique or classical decorations, for royal and aristocratic buildings. By the late 1520s he was a salaried member of Henry VIIIs group of court artists, working and collaborating with the likes of Hans Holbein.
Sadly, our appreciation of Maianos great skill as a sculptor has been lost with most of his works, says Kent Rawlinson, Curator of Historic Buildings for Historic Royal Palaces. These really are outstanding works by a major Italian artist, masterpieces of Renaissance sculpture, hiding in plain sight.
Whatever Wolsey sought to do at Hampton Court (begun in 1514) Henry VIII sought to outdo at Nonsuch (begun in 1538), as we learn from Fellow Martin Biddles recent article in Country Life (26 October 2011), with its stunning photographs by Fellow John Crook of the new model of the palace made by Ben Taggart for the Friends of Nonsuch and based on Martins 1959 excavations as well as contemporary views of the palace and written descriptions.
Those views and first-hand accounts tend to focus on the exteriors of the building, which John Evelyn described as having two courtyards, the first of stone, the other of Timber a Gotique fabric, but … incomparably beautified. The birds-eye views of that second and more elaborate courtyard, drawn by Jacobus Hondius (Josse de Hondt) some time between 1583 and 1593, offer tantalising glimpses of that incomparably beautified decoration, as does Samuel Pepys description of good paintings of Rubens and Holbeins doing set within frames of moulded stucco.
Archaeology has filled in the rest, revealing both the plan and the remains of the materials and reliefs used in the decorative scheme, which Martin describes as having been arranged in three registers, subdivided by frames of carved black slate with gilded detailing. Uppermost [set just below the eaves] were the busts of Julius Caesar and thirty-one Roman emperors from Augustus to Aemilianus, each apparently represented by a terracotta bust in a circular wreath. Beneath, on the kings side of the court, the west, were fifteen Roman gods and on the queens side opposite [the queen then being Jane Seymour] fifteen goddesses, each named in letters of gilded lead nailed to the stucco, and at least some of them with admonitory mottoes in Latin, for example: Repentance attends on Venus. Beneath, in the lower register on the kings side, were the sixteen Labours and Adventures of Hercules, perhaps the longest series in art. Opposite, on the queens side of the court, were figures of the Liberal Arts and Virtues, each with a personification … or, as a German visitor remarked in 1613 of the queens side, there was a variety of pagan stories of naked women. Martin argues that the entire scheme offered a tutelary pageant for Prince Edward, Henry VIIIs longed-for legitimate male heir, designed for the education and enlightenment of a prince on whom much hope rested.
The model of Nonsuch, along with finds from the excavations, plans and further information, can be seen in the museum run by the Friends of Nonsuch in Nonsuch Park, in Cheam, Surrey.
Another house on the fringes of London that has just reopened is the Chiswick home of William Hogarth (16971764), which has been restored to its eighteenth-century appearance, based on depictions of the house in Hogarths own work and incorporating replicas of furniture made in 1904, again based on the artists prints. A number of personal items belonging to the Hogarths have been traced in other collections and will return to the house, including his palette and mahl stick, his punchbowl and card counters and a stand made to support the bowl of his pug dog, Trump, whose features in Hogarths self-portrait, The Painter and his Pug (1745; now in the Tate), resemble his own and serve as an emblem of the artists own pugnacious nature.
Visitors consulted before the restoration work began said that the previous displays, mainly of Hogarth prints, did not help them understand the history of the house, the use of the rooms nor the many other past residents. Though this has now been remedied, the museum owns an extensive collection of the artists prints and engravings, a selection of which will always be on display.
Hogarths House, Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London W4 2QN, is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 5pm, admission free.
Fellow Dr Susan Oosthuizen is the Course Director of a new part-time Masters degree in Historic Environment being offered by the Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) in collaboration with the universitys Department of Archaeology. The programme is unusual in making an explicit connection between archaeological theory and research with modern policy and practice in the management and conservation of landscapes, parks and gardens. Year 1 is made up of four taught modules: Theory and Concept; Sources, Methods and Research Skills; Policy and Strategy; Active Management of Conservation and Restoration. In Year 2, students research and write a 15,000-word dissertation under the direction of a personal supervisor.
The MSt will be taught part-time over two years from September 2012, with tuition at the Universitys Department of Archaeology, and it has been designed to be accessible to those in full- or part-time employment. Full details of the course can be found on the ICE website.
Salon 258 reported in July that the Friends of Arundells, the former home of the late Sir Edward Heath, situated in Salisbury Close, were unhappy with a scheme put to the Charity Commission to sell the property and its contents and to devote the proceeds to charitable causes. The principal reason given by the Trustees for this course of action is that Arundells is not financially viable as a visitor attraction.
The decision of the Charity Commission was published on 23 September 2011, and it went against the scheme, saying that the Commission is not satisfied that the trustees have properly identified and explored the range of alternative ways of generating income. Trustees were advised to consider whether they have all the right skills on their trustee Board or whether it is necessary to co-opt additional trustees with marketing, fundraising and/or events management expertise; obtain professional advice on fundraising and explore the viability of a public appeal to raise funds to preserve Arundells; obtain professional advice from events management professionals on the viability of raising funds for the trust through holding events at Arundells and explore with the local authority planning authority what their attitude would be to events being run from Arundells; explore with the National Trust (Mompesson House), The Rifles Museum and Salisbury Museum whether there is greater scope for collaborative initiatives that would enable the trustees to increase visitor numbers to Arundells and/or reduce running costs; meet with the Friends of Arundells and consider whether there is the possibility to use volunteers to raise funds for the Trust and to increase revenue and reduce overheads; and consider whether a trading subsidiary should be established to run a commercial operation.
The Friends of Arundells, who attracted the support of Tony Benn, amongst other prominent figures from the world of politics, say they are delighted with the outcome, and that the Charity Commission included so many of their own recommendations in its report, and that they stand ready and willing to assist the Trustees to ensure Arundells is safe, sound and successful for many years to come.
It looks increasingly likely that there will be a happy outcome to the application for a faculty made on behalf of St Mary the Virgin, Selling, in Kent, for a faculty allowing it to dispose of two flags surviving from the Battle of Trafalgar. The parish now proposes that the flags be transferred to the National Maritime Museum, which already has items from the HMS Minotaur, the ship on which Stephen Hilton, whose family donated the flags to the church, served during the battle. It is argued that this is the best outcome for the flags, which would have been vulnerable to theft if left in the church, and which need conservation and to be displayed in a controlled environment if they are not to decay further.
The fate of Burlington Arcade, however, still hangs in the balance, with Westminster Council due to take a decision soon on plans to develop the historic site that has led to existing tenants having been given notice to quit and fears that small proprietor-owned shops will be driven out in favour of international brands. The deadline for comments on the scheme passed on 8 November, but not before our Fellow Geoffrey Munn, of Wartskis, had sent a letter arguing that the proposed changes run contrary to government policy for the protection of designated heritage assets, and that they threaten the architectural fabric and historical character of a famous Regency landmark, comparable in its ambience to the shops on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence (his letter can be seen on the website of silver dealer Daniel Bexfield.
Londons Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse has also written to Councillor Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster Council, objecting to a scheme that he describes as insensitive and awkward, vulgar even, and calling on Westminster to protect a small and treasured oasis in this desert of ubiquity and to prevent it from being turned into yet another parade of dreary brands. Author and broadcaster Stephen Fry made the same point but less diplomatically in his Tweet on the subject: Revolting plans to turn the glorious Burlington Arcade into a tarty Prada, G&B hell like any vulgar street anywhere, is how he put it.
Finally, Salon has on many occasions in the last decade drawn attention to the deleterious impact of the 2003 Licensing Act on the performance of live music, including folk song, amateur choral concerts, bandstand concerts in parks and musical entertainment at fêtes and garden open days, all of which now require a licence, which in turn involves otiose form filling and the expense of insurance, health and safety checks, child protection checks and general council interfering and busybodying. It is, in sum, just one example of the many ways in which successive governments have, over recent decades, stolen our freedoms from us, diminished democracy and made life in England (and Wales) much the duller, as people have simply stopped putting on amateur performances.
Now, somebody has seen sense, at least on this issue, and the Government has published a consultation that does not yet propose the abolition of the requirement for a licence in England and Wales to host a performance of a play, film, sporting event, dance and live or recorded music, but does at least promise to re-examine the legislation: views are sought by 3 December, and details can be found on the website of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Let it not be said that Fellows live too much in the past. Twitter, the micro-blogging service launched in 2006, whereby users can send tweets, or messages, of up to 140 characters to the twitter.com website and to the mobile phones of their followers, has at least eleven Fellows amongst its 200 million users. Inevitably, some of these are semi-professional tweeters, using their tweets to promote the campaigns and initiatives of the organisations that they work for, whilst giving a personal touch to their messages. Others, however, are purely private tweeters, keen to spread the word whenever they come across an article, event or website that they wish to share with like-minded followers. Here, then, is a list of Fellows who have admitted to tweeting:
Gillian Darley: twitter.com/#!/floratrype (author and broadcaster, tweets about landscapes, buildings of quality, utopian and unlikely places, interesting lives)
Mary Beard: twitter.com/#!/wmarybeard (needs no introduction: listen to her hugely enjoyable Point of View series on Radio 4, last week on tyrants, this week on Miss World)
Lucy Worsley: twitter.com/#!/Lucy_Worsley (ditto: we all loved Lucys brilliant programmes on the Regency, but some have attacked her for cheapening history by dressing up in bonnets and climbing in and out of carriages; read her tweets for a stout defence of the dressing-up box)
Daniel Woolf: twitter.com/#!/queensprincipal (the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Canadas Queen's University shares with us the challenges and rewards of his job)
Nick Merriman: twitter.com/#!/McrNick (life as a museum director, in this case of the Manchester Museum)
Simon Thurley: twitter.com/#!/ehsimonthurley (ditto, as Chief Executive of English Heritage)
Brian Kerr: twitter.com/#!/jamesbriankerr: (life at the archaeological coal face from the Head of Intervention and Analysis at English Heritage)
Richard Ovenden: twitter.com/#!/richove (Deputy Librarian, Bodleian Libraries; everything to do with books, libraries, history, photographic history and the Digital Preservation Coalition)
Caroline Shenton: twitter.com/#!/dustshoveller (thoughts on history, archives, London and cakes from the Clerk of the Records, Parliamentary Archives)
Caroline Stanford: twitter.com/#!/LandmarkHistory (the Landmark Trust Historians strapline is building conservation and beyond)
Mike Heyworth: twitter.com/#!/mikeheyworth (the Director of the Council for British Archaeology makes the case for the value of archaeology and heritage to society)
plus a couple of other suggestions from Salon readers:
The Heritage Lottery Fund: twitter.com/#!/heritagelottery (all the good news about deserving heritage projects that have won funding)
The Royal Society of Architects in Wales: twitter.com/#!/ArchitectsWales (promoting the very best of contemporary and conservation architectural practice in Wales).
Our Fellow David Mattingly, Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Leicester, has secured a grant of nearly 2.5 million from the European Research Council, adding to funds awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Society for Libyan Studies and the GeoEye Foundation, for a five-year project to investigate the remains of the Garamantes in the Libyan desert. Professor Mattingly and his team were forced to flee Libya in February this year at the outbreak of the anti-Gaddafi revolt, but are now working closely with the Libyan antiquities department and hope to be able to return to the field shortly.
The Garamantes were farmers and traders whose remarkable ability to thrive in the most inhospitable parts of the desert was based on sophisticated underground irrigation systems. So far several towns and more than 100 fortified farms and villages, mostly dating from AD 1 to AD 500, have been identified using satellite images and aerial photography. On the ground, the Leicester team has recorded the mud-brick remains of defensive walls standing up to 4m high, along with traces of dwellings, cairn cemeteries, wells, sophisticated irrigation systems and associated field systems. These represent the first towns in Libya that werent the colonial imposition of Mediterranean people such as the Greeks and Romans, Professor Mattingly said.
Dr Martin Sterry, also of the University of Leicester, who has been responsible for much of the image analysis and site interpretation, says these are quite exceptional ancient landscapes, both in terms of the range of features and the quality of preservation. The findings challenge a view dating back to Roman accounts that the Garamantes consisted of barbaric nomads and troublemakers on the edge of the Roman Empire. In fact, they were highly civilised, living in large-scale fortified settlements, predominantly as oasis farmers. It was an organised state with towns and villages, a written language and state-of-the-art technologies. The Garamantes were pioneers in establishing oases and opening up trans-Saharan trade, said Professor Mattingly.
Interpol has warned 188 national police forces to be on the lookout for attempts to smuggle antiquities that form part of the so-called Benghazi Treasure, stolen from the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi, Libya, in May 2011. The treasure consists of 7,700 gold, silver and bronze objects, including coins, jewellery and figurines dating back to 570 BC. Serenella Ensoli, a specialist in Libyan antiquities, described the robbery as a very serious loss for archaeological heritage on a global scale.
Anti-Gaddafi rebels seized power in Benghazi in February and used the city as its main operational base, but a report in the Art Newspaper suggests that the theft was not connected with the uprising. Instead, it appears to have been a well-organised job carried out by people who knew what they were looking for.
Some of the material making up the Benghazi Treasure was excavated in 1917 by Italian archaeologists after Italy occupied Libya following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The finest items come from the Temple of Artemis in Cyrene (Shahat in present-day Libya), the largest Greek site in Africa, which lies east of Benghazi. Other material came from the Palace of Columns in Ptolemais (between Cyrene and Benghazi), which was excavated from 1937. During the Second World War the treasure was shipped to Italy, ending up at Romes Museo Coloniale. The collection returned to Libya in 1961 and was lodged in the Benghazi bank vault. Libyan archaeologists say that the lack of an inventory with photographs will seriously hamper the recovery of pieces from the treasure, should they ever appear on the market.
Some 120 years after a Roman bronze military helmet was found near Olfen, in Germanys Ruhr Valley, hinting at a nearby military camp linked to the Emperor Augustus conquest of Germany, led by Decimus Claudius Drusus, the fort has finally been found. Volunteers searching fields around Olfen, a small town near Münster, discovered Roman pottery sherds, coins and clothing fasteners earlier this year, alerting archaeologists working for the Westphalia-Lippe Municipal Association (LWL), whose investigations ended the twelve-decade hunt for the missing link in the chain of Roman camps on the Lippe River.
LWLs chief archaeologist, Michael Rind, said that the Olfen camp was protected by walls of timber and earth and was relatively small but strategically very important for controlling the river crossing during the Drusus campaigns in Germania, from around 12 BC.
Our primary concern is to protect and preserve this monument for the future, Rind said. The exploration of the camp will probably take several decades. The monument has been undisturbed for over 2,000 years an absolute rarity, and from an archaeological point of view, absolutely ideal.
A new online catalogue has been launched by the team that is studying the handwriting of the scribes who made the first manuscripts copies of works by five major Middle English authors: Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Trevisa, William Langland and Thomas Hoccleve.
Combining the research of our Fellow Linne Mooney, Professor in the Department of English and Related Literature and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, with that of Dr Estelle Stubbs, of the Universities of York and Sheffield, and Dr Simon Horobin, of the University of Oxford, the project has identified the characteristic letter forms of 524 scribal hands. Some individual scribes have even been identified, such as Adam Pinkhurst, Scrivener of London, who wrote the first copies of works by Chaucer, and to whom Chaucer addressed a tongue-incheek poem chastising him for careless errors.
The new website provides a description of each manuscript, including details such as dating and dialect, detailed descriptions of each scribes handwriting, and illustrations of a typical page written by each scribe. It also features illustrations of eight letter forms typical of each scribes writing so that further identifications of work by them can be made.
As part of the project, Professor Mooney and Dr Stubbs discovered that scribes in the civic secretariat at the London Guildhall were responsible for some of the most significant early copies of English literary manuscripts. The discovery was made by matching the handwriting of scribes copying literary manuscripts with the hands of Guildhall clerks copying documents and custumals (civic records). Professor Mooney said: The clerks of the London Guildhall form the invisible link between medieval authors like Geoffrey Chaucer and their first audiences, the original owners of the medieval manuscripts we study today.
They included John Marchaunt, the Common Clerk of the City from 1399 to 1417, who copied two of the four earliest manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. He also copied parts of eight manuscripts of Gowers Confessio Amantis and works by Langland and Trevisa. Richard Osbarn, the Clerk of the Chamber of the City from 1400 to 1437, copied two early manuscripts of Chaucers Troilus and Criseyde, Langlands Piers Plowman and works by anonymous authors based in the north and west of England.
John Carpenter, Common Clerk of the City from 1417 to 1438, copied the manuscript of Chaucers Troilus and Criseyde that belonged to Henry V and two manuscripts of Gowers Confessio Amantis. Carpenter was the principal executor of the will of London mayor Richard Whittington, with whose legacy he partly funded the building of the Guildhall Library, the first civic library in the country. He and his colleagues at the Guildhall had personal libraries including literary works, some of which may have formed the first collection in the Guildhall Library.
Michael Pidd, HRI Digital Manager at the University of Sheffields Humanities Research Institute, said that the website was already attracting international recognition … and I anticipate that it will become a flagship resource for anyone undertaking research into the written culture of the late medieval period.
Left: King Edgar and Christ in Majesty, Winchester, AD 966, celebrating the introduction of Benedictine rule at Winchester
Curated by our Fellow Scot McKendrick, Head of History and Classical Studies at the British Library, Fellow John Lowden, of the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, this stunning new exhibition features some of the most outstanding examples of illuminated manuscript art to have survived from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries: specifically, from manuscripts owned and treasured by English monarchs. Thus the exhibition has two major themes: the artistry of the illuminations themselves and what these objects tell us about the private lives and public personae of successive medieval monarchs, their moral codes, religious beliefs, politics and royal identity.
Dr McKendrick says: the surviving manuscripts associated with successive kings and queens of England form a remarkable inheritance. Together they offer by far the largest body of evidence for the relationship between two critical parts of British cultural heritage: its monarchy and its medieval art. Parts of the built legacy of the British monarchy, such as Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey, occupy a very special place in the public consciousness but the royal manuscripts have largely remained hidden from view. The very fact that they have been less accessible has in turn meant that they are fantastically well preserved; their gold still making their pages glow and flicker in the light for us, as they did for those who first viewed them centuries ago.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are Matthew Pariss A History of England (St Albans, c 1250) made for Henry III with its map, in Pariss own hand, showing the pilgrimage route from London via Rome to Jerusalem, with a large map of the Holy Land featuring crusader castles, towns and churches, and descriptions of distant lands; a group of seventeen out of nearly fifty historical and literary manuscripts in French ordered by Edward IV (146170 and 147183) that have survived as a coherent collection and that provide the basis for the generally accepted view of Edward IV as the founder of the Old Royal Library; and Henry VIIIs Psalter (London, c 1540), with its opening portrait of Henry seated in a chair in his bedchamber posing as King David, Gods chosen king, Christs ancestor, acclaimed warrior, musician and poet and author of the Psalms, the very book that Henry is depicted as holding in his hands.
Our Fellow Sarah Brown, Director of the York Glaziers Trust, writes to say that the Trust has a new website. Not only does this provide information about the work of the Trust, details of past projects and a range of information resources, but visitors will be able to follow the progress of the HLF-funded conservation of York Minsters Great East Window, John Thorntons stained glass Apocalypse of 14058. The Panel of the Month feature will reveal the extraordinary quality of this exceptional window. Fellows Tim Ayers, Sarah Brown and Christopher Norton are all members of the expert advisory group supporting the conservation process, which is chaired by our Fellow Richard Marks.
Left: Novembers Panel of the Month shows St John the Evangelist, believed in the Middle Ages to have been the author of the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse), sailing into exile on the island of Patmos where he was sent on the orders of the Emperor Domitian. While on the island he experienced the visionary dreams recorded in the Apocalypse. There is no Biblical source for this episode, but it was well known to medieval readers thanks to the popular Golden Legend, written in the thirteenth century by the Dominican friar Jacobus de Voragine. Recent conservation has ensured that the desolate character of the island is made clear, as its bleak, towering cliffs can now be seen more clearly thanks to cleaning and removal of mending leads.
The Setting of Heritage Assets: English Heritage guidance, published in October, sets out English Heritage advice on managing change within the settings of heritage assets, including archaeological remains and historic buildings, sites, areas and landscapes. The guidance provides detailed advice intended to assist implementation of Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment and its supporting Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide, together with the historic environment provisions of the National Policy Statements for nationally significant infrastructure projects (though following the publication of the Governments National Planning Policy Framework in 2012, English Heritage anticipates it might need to review and update the guidance).
Issues of setting do not just effect heritage assets on land: the Landmark Trust, owners of the island of Lundy, have expressed shock at plans to build a large-scale windfarm in the Bristol Channel covering 350 square miles and sited 13km to the north of the island. Not only will the 400-foot-high turbines dominate views from the island and obscure the view between the island and the Welsh coast, they will also have a damaging impact on wildlife at a time when conservationists are celebrating the success of measures that have led to the coral reefs of Lundy being designated a Marine Conservation Zone. Noise and vibration from the turbines will also have a detrimental impact on visitors to the island who are attracted by its peace and unspoilt environment. Equally, the Atlantic Array will have an impact on those living on the southern Welsh and north Devon coasts. For more information, see the Landmark Trusts website.
Fellow David Stocker writes with the news that the efforts of a number of Fellows have been recognised by two external awards for the development of innovative and integrated heritage management systems in Lincoln. Earlier in the year the Lincoln system was selected from amongst hundreds of government websites as a finalist for two National e-Government Awards, whilst this month the Royal Town Planning Institute awarded it first prize in the Planning Process category of their East Midlands Awards for 201112.
The Lincoln system builds on the financial and intellectual investment that the English Heritage Characterisation Team has made in developing a series of interrelated GIS-based spatial heritage management tools, latterly in partnership with the City of Lincoln Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, with David Walsh and Adam Partington building on the work of a succession of archaeologists: notably John Herridge, our Fellow Mick Jones and our late Fellow Alan Vince.
The system includes not just a large HER-style database, but also a series of characterisations of the archaeology, the buildings, the modern townscape and the natural environment converting all that information into a form accessible to residents, visitors to the city, educational institutions, planners and potential developers alike. The overarching component, known as the Lincoln Townscape Assessment (LTA), establishes a core group of 108 neighbourhoods in the city, which now form the basis for many place-based analyses of different aspects of city life. The system has been designed to harmonise with new local imperatives of the emerging planning system and is accessed through a single portal called Heritage Connect Lincoln.
The system has been in use in the public and private sectors for more than two years now, during which time its operation has been the subject of a detailed study by Adam Partington. The report on Adams study (the LTA Implementation Project, or ImP) will be launched early in the New Year.
David Stocker says: The Lincoln team are delighted with the RTPI award, not least because it confirms that the Lincoln heritage specialists have succeeded in producing an information and management system that is genuinely useful for constituencies remote from the heritage bubble.
Speaking of awards, 1 November 2011 saw the official launch of the hunt for the Best Archaeological Project, Best Community Archaeology Project, Best Archaeological Book, Best Public Representation of Archaeology, Best Archaeological Innovation and Best Archaeological Discovery of the last two years. Nominations have to be in by 29 February 2012 and must relate to work undertaken in the period between February 2010 and February 2012. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on 9 July 2012, to be held at the British Museum in London, marking the start of the 2012 Festival of British Archaeology. Further details from the BAA website.
Still with awards, we congratulate our Fellows Mark Jones, Master of St Cross College, Oxford, and former Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, on being selected as members of the judging panel for the Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries 2012. Chris Smith, the former Culture Secretary, will chair the prize, worth £100,000 to the winning museum or gallery, deemed to have demonstrated excellence, originality and imagination for a project in the previous year. The other judges are Professor Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster, Charlotte Higgins, Guardian journalist and author, architect Rick Mather and artist and Head of Graduate Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, Lisa Milroy.
Applications for the prize are open until 1 December 2011. The longlist will be announced in February, the shortlist in May and the final winner on 19 June 2012.
A propos the report in Salon 264 on Hallstatt astronomy, Fellow Vincent Megaw takes Salon to task for bad German and says the correct name of the museum journal in which our Fellow Allard Mees has published his findings is the Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz.
Fellow David Horovitz wonders whether any Salon reader understands why the Sunday Times persists in spelling archaeology and archaeologist as archeology and archeologist? Perhaps the answer requires deeper understanding of the Murdoch mind than anyone has yet been able to achieve, but it is just one of the many examples of grating language that one encounters every day. Many Fellows are known to dislike the term artwork for work of art (artists produce works of art, designers produce artwork, and there is a difference), but that is probably a lost battle now (even artists themselves describe their productions as artwork, as witnessed by the delightful Imagine profile of Grayson Perry broadcast on BBC2 recently). But perhaps it is not too late to erect the barricades against the creeping and insidious use of imagery as a trendy substitute for pictures (as in: I really like the imagery on your website). Editors everywhere, please fight back by striking out this sloppy usage: if we lose the true meaning of this word, how else can we refer specifically to images or language that are figurative or metaphorical?
Fellow Lorna Watts Rahtz has generously offered to donate the teaching files of our late Fellow Philip Rahtz to anyone who can make use of them. They consist of around 100 hard-backed files containing offprints organised by theme and period (archaeological theory, politics, ethics and methods, prehistory, Roman, Dark Age, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, church archaeology and cemeteries, rural settlement and landscape, medieval art and industry, vernacular architecture, and a large amount of material on towns; intriguingly, there is also a file marked Lunatics, Arthur, humour, though Lorna warns that some of the contents (on Glastonbury) were loaned to the BBC some time ago and never returned).
Lorna says: Philip was held in great affection as an excellent and inspiring teacher and he would often loan material from his files to students; they also have value as part of the recent history of archaeology. I would prefer them to be taken over by an institution or at least by a young teacher, who could therefore put them to many years use. They would just need collecting.
Our Fellow Collin Bowen OBE, elected a Fellow on 1 May 1958, and hence one of our longest-standing Fellows, died peacefully at home on 25 October 2011, at the age of ninety-one. Many tributes were paid to Collin last week. Our former President, Geoff Wainwright, said that Collin, a Pembrokeshire man like himself, had been enormously influential in the careers of the generation of archaeologists who worked with Collin at the Salisbury office of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (of England) from the 1950s; he introduced many of us to the concept of landscape archaeology, Geoff said.
Our Fellow Christopher Taylor, who was part of that Salisbury team, paid tribute to Collins influence during Collins own lifetime, with a paper published in Landscapes 11 (1) (Spring 2010) in a series that profiled founders of the discipline: to outsiders, Christopher wrote, he appeared only as a thoroughly professional, somewhat old-fashioned, civil servant, with all that that implies. But those who worked under him found themselves part of a group of young people whom he taught through hands-on experience. No books, no theoretical examples, just detailed work in the field.
His principal interest lay in the development of non-excavational archaeological fieldwork, a tradition that led from Camden via Aubrey and Stukeley to more recent practitioners such as Williams-Freeman, Allcroft, Curwen and Crawford. Collin Bowen was on a different, higher, plane than all of these. His ability in the field to see and understand the smallest scarp and vaguest ditch and to place them in their correct overall relationship to everything else in the landscape now may seem old hat to present-day field archaeologists. But in the 1950s and 1960s it was a level of analytical fieldwork that never before had been achieved even by those of the stature of Crawford … the methods of detailed field analysis that he showed us and the tough, utterly professional ways he made us decipher complex landscapes were in sharp contrast to the somewhat whimsical and romantic ideas of Hoskins and others.
Speaking at Collins funeral service, held in Salisbury Cathedral on 7 November, it was the turn of another former member of the Royal Commissions staff, our Fellow Alan Aberg, to give the address, in which he said that Collin had a pre-eminent position in British archaeology, and was admired and liked by all who knew him. He joined the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1949. By the time he retired he, more than anyone else, had raised its reputation to the high esteem that it enjoyed during that period. He set new and high standards in the survey of field monuments, and placed the Commission at the forefront of the evaluation of the archaeological legacy in Englands rural landscape. Collin possessed a unique ability to understand the most complex of earthworks, to unravel their mysteries, to depict them clearly and accurately, and a skill that could distinguish the salient features of any monument without omitting any of the detail. The features, setting and context were taken into account as part of the historic legacy around us, and he introduced all to the value of the visual appreciation of archaeological sites so often overlooked by a concern for research on single monuments.
The Commissions Salisbury office became, under Collin, a centre of expertise where his colleagues and friends all benefited from his teaching, friendship and advice, and the team he created possessed unrivalled skills at an important formative period in British archaeology. Salisbury became a mecca for both national and international scholars, consulting Collin on prehistoric settlement, early agriculture, aerial photography and early agriculture, all seeking to learn from his expertise and intuitive understanding of the landscape. We were all equal in Collin's eyes, treated kindly and encouraged in our research.
The publications produced at this time the Dorset inventory volumes, Bokerley Dyke, the Long Barrows of Hampshire, Stonehenge and its Environs, A Matter of Time all bear the imprint of this master of field survey, whose capacity to recognise the significance of the slightest scarp or ditch has seldom been equalled. Prehistoric, Roman and medieval settlement archaeology all benefited from his insight. Other branches of the Royal Commission also gained from his intellectual vision, and his support of the Aerial Photography Unit and the National Archaeological Record was an important contribution in their development.
His stimulus was also felt in other directions. Collins studies of sarsen stones with Isobel Smith, on rabbit warrens, water meadows and, even during his holidays, submerged forests on the beaches of his native county, Pembrokeshire, all served to demonstrate their significance and context in our countryside. Many other aspects of landscape research profited from this wide intellectual curiosity.
Until Collin turned his attention to it, the subject of the agricultural techniques used by prehistoric and Roman societies had received only cursory attention. He realised perhaps more than others how important these were if we were to understand the field patterns, dykes and settlements of these period, and how successive waves of cultivation in later periods blurred their shape and form while leaving distinctive traces of their own.
He had a formative influence on the Committee for Ancient Agriculture created by the British Association for the Advancement of Science after its Dublin meeting in 1958, and led a programme of experimental archaeology on ploughing techniques, crop yields and storage methods which he believed gave greater accuracy and understanding of the evidence gathered elsewhere. More than anyone else he was responsible for the creation of the experimental Iron Age farm at Butser (pictured), now transferred to Chalton in Hampshire, and he harnessed the support of colleagues such as Hawkes, Grimes, Atkinson and John Evans to muster the resources to fund it.
To Collin we owe an unending debt for the inspiration and techniques he gave us, the questioning of evidence as a test of its strength, and the wider vision that has helped us to understand our inheritance from the past.
1420 November 2011: Honiton Antiques Festival. Fellow Roderick Butler is mounting a small exhibition of Chairs Through Four Centuries: a personal selection at Roderick Butler Antiques, Marwood House, High Street, Honiton EX14 1PY, from 10am to 5pm daily, which Fellows are very welcome to attend.
5 December 2011: The Duchess of Windsor, villain or victim?, a talk by royal biographer Hugo Vickers, to be given at The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, from 6.30pm, preceded by an informal drinks reception from 6pm. For tickets (£12), tel: 01628 825925. All the proceeds will help support the work of the Landmark Trust, the charity formed by our late Fellow Sir John Smith and which now owns Le Moulin de la Tuilerie (pictured), the eighteenth-century mill at Gif-sur-Yvette, south of Versailles, to which the Duke and Duchess of Windsor retreated after the abdication of 10 December 1936. Author of The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (1995), Hugo Vickers, will mark the 75th anniversary of Edward VIIIs abdication and celebrate the Landmark Trusts involvement with the Windsorss house in a talk that will examine Wallis Simpsons role in the abdication crisis and their subsequent life in France.
6 and 7 December 2011: Archaeology The Musical!, in the Foyle Centre, at the British Library. Journey beyond Time Team and discover the secret world of firtling, (geo)fizzing and flotting in this very special performance of Archaeology The Musical!, based on Fellow Paul Bahns best-selling book, Bluff Your Way in Archaeology. Performances take place at 5.30pm and will end promptly at 7pm. Tickets costs £5 and the proceeds are being donated to the homeless charity Crisis. Tickets must be booked in advance by contacting Henry Girling.
Choice magazine, published by the Association of College and Research Libraries in the USA and the premier source of information on new books for the higher education community in the US, has selected our Fellow Francisco Estrada-Bellis new book, The First Maya Civilization: ritual and power before the Classic period (ISBN 9780415429948; Routledge) as one of its highly recommended publications in its September 2011 issue. Franciscos book is concerned with the question of how the Maya civilisation developed, between 2000 BC and AD 200, into one of the most sophisticated city-based societies in pre-Hispanic America.
In a book that is clearly written and communicates well the authors own sense of excitement as he pursues hitherto unanswered questions, Francisco Estrada-Belli rejects the idea that the third century AD saw the unprecedented construction of new types of carved monument, inaugurating the 600-year Classic period of Mayan history. Instead, he demonstrates much earlier origins and a much more gradual process of development as he analyses sites where he has conducted his own fieldwork (at Cival and Holmul) and those recently excavated by other Mayanists (at San Bartolo, Nakbe, El Miradr and Tikal). Rather than marking the start of something new, the Classic period is thus presented as being the culmination of lifestyles, social patterns, art, architecture and ritual that date back centuries. Franciscos analysis shows that many of the characteristics of the Classic period had already developed by 500 BC, and that the dense settlements and ceremonial centres of the early Maya are among the oldest of their kind in the New World.
What then, if anything, did change in that arbitrary temporal division that Mayanists of old have argued marked the watershed between the pre-Classic and the Classic periods? The transition is marked by the abandonment of some sites and the growth of new settlements and ritual centres renowned for their art and architecture. Francisco suggests that two factors might be at play: one is the growing homogenisation of art, architecture and ceramic styles that might reflect the influence of political change, with new and powerful rulers rationalising and re-organising their kingdom and founding new ceremonial centres, more architecturally splendid than before but there is also evidence that previously reliable water supplies dried up, either through over-exploitation or by natural causes, and that environmental change might also have played a part an ancient problem with a very contemporary relevance.
In his book, Francisco Estrada-Belli describes Copan, in the Honduran Highlands, as the brightest star among Highland centres in the Classic period. The Copan kings controlled the all-important river route that linked the Highland sources of jade and obsidian with the Maya Lowlands, and the resources that they wrested from the trade went into the creation of a massive ceremonial complex, of temples and royal tombs, renowned for their intricate high-relief sculptures. Our Fellow Barbara Fash has long been involved with the Harvard project to excavate and conserve Copan, now a World Heritage Site, and as one of the creators of the Copan Sculpture Museum she is amply qualified to write the newly published guide to the museum, which goes well beyond the conventional form of a museum guide to encompass the entire history of the site and its excavation.
With its copious illustrations and engaging text, The Copan Sculpture Museum: ancient Maya artistry in stucco and stone (ISBN 9780873658584; Peabody Museum Press) is a book that can be read on several levels: not just as a lucid and digestible introduction to Mayan archaeology and culture, and not just as a guide to Copan and the museum exhibits in all their glory, but also as a historiography of Mayan archaeology and the main players, their methods, discoveries and theories, of modern museology and the thinking that went into the design of the museum, and of the influence of the whole project on todays Copan community, many of whom have worked on the project as excavators and continue to work as artists, administrators and teachers.
The archaeology of water is a huge and multi-faceted subject that can be approached from many different perspectives. Fellow Matt Edgeworth has surely come up with one of the most novel in his new book called Fluid Pasts: archaeology of flow (ISBN 9780715639825; Bloomsbury Academic) in which he examines the ways that humans have sought to exploit the properties of water in motion. Matt argues that the level of human intervention in water flow has been far greater than has been appreciated so great, in fact, that most rivers today are not natural at all, but (to quote the title of the books opening chapter), are a complex entanglement of the natural and the cultural, part wild, part artefact.
To demonstrate the truth of this proposition, Matt looks at river systems as different as the mighty Mississippi (with some choice quotations from Mark Twains Life on the Mississippi) and the humbled and tamed Westbourne (one of Londons lost rivers: a telling photograph in the book shows Sloane Square tube station and asks where is this formerly vibrant and sparkling river?; the answer is in the large metal conduit that crosses the platform above the heads of commuters). The book then goes on to discuss and illustrate all the many different reasons for human intervention in river flow to defend towns, drive industrial processes, provide energy, fish, transport, drinking water, a waste disposal system, irrigation and the role that flowing water plays in myth, symbol, poetry, art and metaphor. No such book could end without considering the critical role of flow in contemporary politics: changing the course of rivers, building vast dams, extracting water to leave formerly well-watered parts of the globe arid Matt gives examples of archaeologists being complicit in ill-thought-out schemes promoted by governments and corporations and of other archaeologists who have resisted such schemes and aligned themselves with disenfranchised people. He cites these examples not to take sides, but to show that archaeology is an implicitly political act, and that in the case of the archaeology of water the ethical dilemmas are particularly acute.
Archaeology has been transformed in the last ten years by the application of new techniques for analysing the biomolecular materials in human, animal and plant remains, including DNA, stable isotopes, lipids, carbohydrates and proteins. It is almost now a guarantee that an archaeological story will capture the public imagination if it involves the use of DNA or isotope analysis to trace the story of human migrations in general or individual journeys, such as that of Eadgyth (AD 91046), bride of Otto, Holy Roman Emperor, from Wessex to Magdeburg, or of the Amesbury Archer from the Alps to Salisbury Plain. Yet few of those who relish the results of biomolecular archaeology understand the underlying science, the laboratory techniques, or the limitations and caveats that surround the results of any such tests. For those who feel inadequate in this regard and care enough to want to find out more, Biomolecular Archaeology: an introduction (ISBN 9781405179607; Wiley-Blackwell), by our Fellows Terry Brown and Keri Brown, has come to the rescue. Written as a textbook, it takes you from the foothills of familiar science and concepts into the higher latitudes of biochemistry in gentle steps that, in the early chapters at least, require curiosity rather than specialist knowledge. Having read the sections on how the genome provides a record of ancestry and how ancient DNA is extracted and studied, you are in a far better position to judge the claims that are made in popular books about human evolution and migration, for example.
Equally, the clearly written sections on the survival of ancient biomolecules, the causes of their degradation and the technical challenges involved in the study of biological material will help any field archaeologist wanting to know how to handle samples and specimens and when to bring in the specialist (who will probably be dressed as scarily as the figure on page 140 in appropriate protective clothing for working with ancient DNA).
Having introduced us to the science and the techniques, the latter part of the book looks at applications of biomolecular archaeology, with lots of case studies on sexing human remains, identifying kinship, and studying diets, the origins and spread of agriculture, prehistoric technology, disease and the origins and migrations of early modern humans.
Fellows responded warmly when our Fellow Anthony Barnes appealed through Salon for help with his research into the history of Bodinnick, a 200-acre Cornish farm which formed part of the Manor of Brannel in the Duchy of Cornwall (Bodinnick near St Stephens, rather than the better known one opposite Fowey). Anthony now says that the work is complete and that he has a very small number of self-published copies if any Fellow is interested (£6.50, to cover printing and postage). Anthony says the report consists of 44 pages of the farms history, together with an account of what the owners are about (the farm is organic) and a survey of the flora in the hedges which gives support to the impression that the field boundaries are very old indeed. All this is followed by 24 pages of Eric Berrys account of the farm buildings themselves and the probable influence on them of the architect (and their landlord) Thomas Pitt, later Lord Camelford, all of which is generously illustrated.
Research Development Awards: Research for Community Heritage; closing date for proposals: 6 December 2011
As a part of the Connected Communities research programme, the AHRC wishes to invite proposals for enhancing outreach and engagement between research groups in the arts and humanities on the one hand and community groups and organisations interested in exploring their local histories and heritage on the other. Working closely with the Heritage Lottery Fund, and potentially with other partners, the aim of this initiative is to catalyse and develop sustainable links between research organisations in the area of community histories and heritage and relevant community groups. It is expected that this will lead to the development of innovative collaborative or co-produced community heritage research projects led by community groups. Further information is available from the AHRC website.