Salon Archive

Issue: 270

The Society of Antiquaries of London’s Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of news from the heritage sector, focusing especially on the Society and its Fellows and the contribution that they make to public life through their many and varied activities. Like the intellectual salons of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it aims to amuse and to stimulate debate as well as to inform. A copy of Salon’s editorial policy can be found on the Society’s website and feedback should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.

Forthcoming meetings

The full meetings programme for January to July 2012 can be seen on the Society’s website.

2 February 2012: ‘The Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon: recent research and new discoveries’, by Peter Guest FSA, Andrew Gardner and Tim Young FSA
This paper will present a summary of the results of new research carried out since 2006, including extensive geophysical surveys inside and beyond the fortress walls, a major excavation of the legionary store-building in Priory Field, and the discovery of a previously unknown suburb of monumental buildings between the amphitheatre and the River Usk.

9 February 2012: ‘“Brethren of the quill”: antiquaries and discoveries in eighteenth-century Cambridge’, by Lucilla Burn FSA
This lecture centres on the chance discovery of a rich Roman-period burial on the outskirts of Cambridge in 1709. Contemporary letters that document the find shed light on the circumstances of the discovery and provide an introduction to a network of Cambridge and East Anglian antiquaries collaboratively and energetically engaged in collecting and communicating evidence for the reconstruction of the history of their local area.

Fellows based in the US may be interested to know that a version of this lecture will also be delivered at the Yale Center for British Art on 24 April 2012, as part of the programme of events relating to the exhibition Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, on display in Yale from 1 February to 27 May.

16 February 2012: ‘Collector, dealer and forger: the perils of collecting bookbindings and caskets in the nineteenth century’, by Mirjam Foot FSA
Unscrupulous dealers and forgers took advantage of men like the East India merchant, John Blacker, whose book-collecting passion ‘was like a man’s love for his mistress’. After his death in 1896 it was discovered that many of the books on which he spent a fortune of around £80,000 were not, as he thought, once owned by royalty and famous figures from the past. This paper unravels the story and describes the attempts to trace the later whereabouts of the forged books, which culminated in the discovery of the only casket ever to have come to light of the many that Blacker had made for storing and displaying his revered collection.

23 February 2012: ‘Westminster Abbey re-examined: archaeology and research since 2000’, by Warwick Rodwell FSA
Among the finds that will be discussed in this paper are the earliest structural remains known on the site, almost certainly part of Dunstan’s ‘West Minster’ of the 960s, revealed by excavations for a new restaurant, evidence that part of the east cloister range probably dates from Edward the Confessor’s reign, the oldest door in the UK still in use (dated by dendrochronology to c 1060) and a series of hitherto unrecognised decorated floor tiles of the eleventh century.

Newly studied aspects of Henry III’s new church include the unfinished suite of upper-level chapels in the triforium, the site of his demolished Great Sacristy, and key furnishings. Major advances in knowledge have accrued during conservation work on the Cosmatesque pavement in the sanctuary (pictured above courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster), the Westminster Retable and the Coronation Chair, and further detailed research has been carried out on the chapter house and Pyx chamber. A study of the crossing, from the eleventh century to the present day, has revealed a remarkable succession of schemes for towers, lanterns, spires and domes, some begun and partly built, and others existing only as drawings and models.

Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam

There are many appealing aspects to the idea of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are called upon to make if they are physically able to do so as one of the Five Pillars of their faith. How much better might our society be if everyone, from banker to dishwasher, had to pay their debts, reconcile their enmities, put all worldly concerns aside and go on a spiritual journey dressed (in the case of men) only in two strips of pure white cloth.

There are also many unappealing aspects: for anyone with a fear of crowds and a tendency to claustrophobia, Hajj must be a stressful time: how much spiritual experience is it possible to achieve if you are part of a crowd of three million people, worrying about becoming detached from their family and friends, so that a mobile phone for keeping in touch is as important a Hajj accoutrement as a digital Qur’an or a multi-lingual booklet hanging from a lanyard round your neck, detailing the prayers and rituals appropriate to each moment of the journey. The abiding image from this British Museum exhibition (to 15 April) is a work of art called Magnetism by Ahmed Mater (b 1979) in which the black cube of the magnet represents the Ka’ba, the most sacred site in Islam, and the iron filings are the swirling pilgrims walking seven times anti-clockwise round this textile-draped house of Abraham.

This constantly shifting focus — from the tiny to the huge, the individual to the communal — is a characteristic of the British Museum’s exhibition in its entirety. Huge maps and photographs fill entire walls in the Round Reading Room, showing ancient and modern pilgrimage routes or aerial views of massed pilgrims that reduce individuals to swirling patterns. Also large in scale are the most immediately striking exhibits: large textiles in gorgeous colours — black and gold, scarlet and green — intricately covered in extracts from the Qur’an in silk stump-work embroidery, used to wrap the Ka’ba during the month of the Hajj — for more than a thousand years a new one has been made every year before being cut up and distributed to Muslim shrines and dignitaries.

At the smaller end of the scale are equally gorgeous illuminated medieval books of prayer, atlases and early travellers’ tales complete with colourful depictions of Hajj pilgrims on camels and horses that call to mind the journey of the Magi. One such manuscript, for example, worth an exhibition in its own right, is an atlas commissioned by Mary I from the best cartographers of the day as a wedding gift for Philip II of Spain, showing Africa and south-west Asia in intricate detail, with Mecca accurately represented.

Hajj is said to be life-transforming for those who take part: it would be an exaggeration to say the same about this exhibition, which is unashamedly didactic, introducing most visitors to a subject and a world about which they know very little before they enter, but, if you are prepared to work hard at it, you do come away with a better understanding of the antiquity of the Hajj and of the enormous logistical task involved in acting as host to three million pilgrims every year and with a certain amount of envy that one’s own faith lacks an equivalent requirement to take time out to nurture the soul.

British Museum HLF grant of £10m confirmed

The Heritage Lottery Fund confirmed last Friday (27 January 2012) a £10 million grant for the new World Conservation and Exhibition Centre (WCEC) at the British Museum. The grant means that £118m out of the total project costs of £135 million have now been raised. The centre is due to open in spring 2014 with a special exhibition on the Vikings. Our Fellow Andrew Burnett, British Museum Deputy Director and WCEC Project Champion, said that the WCEC ‘will equip the museum for the twenty-first century, taking conservation, scientific research, collection management and exhibitions to a new level of efficiency and excellence while greatly enhancing the museum’s capacity for regional and international scholarship and collaborations.’

Funding from the HLF is intended to enhance the museum’s outreach work: the BM currently lacks suitable spaces for visitors to go ‘behind the scenes’, but the WCEC will enable it to satisfy demand tours of the conservation studios and science laboratories, provide object-handling sessions and make improvements to the museum’s public digital resources, including the broadcasting of object conservation work live via the internet.

The BM said that excavation and piling work for the site of the new centre began a year ago. In parallel with this construction activity, work continues on the building’s design: although the exterior and technical design elements are broadly in place, the design team is focusing on the interior and fit-out of the new building.

The Head That Wears The Crown: decoding royal portraits in Chester

Another exhibition of potential interest to Fellows because of our own collection of royal portraits is The Head That Wears The Crown: decoding royal portraits in Chester, mounted at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (to 1 April).

Curated by James Pardoe, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Chester, the exhibition highlights the city’s wealth of royal sculpture and painting, decodes the representations of monarchs through their portraits and explores Chester’s long relationship with the Crown.

Left: from the exhibition, Charles I and Henrietta Maria after Van Dyck

Persecution and Survival: a wartime refugee’s story

A number of Fellows helped provide information that has led to the exhibition that has just opened at The Gallery, Oxford Town Hall and Museum, St Aldates (to 10 March 2012). Based on archives held at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford, Persecution and Survival: a wartime refugee’s story traces the life of Professor Paul Jacobsthal (left), founder of the first Chair in Prehistory in Germany, from his early life in nineteenth-century Berlin, through life at the University of Marburg, exile from Nazi Germany, war and internment and the building of a new life in Oxford.

Instigated by Fellow Chris Gosden and curated by Fellows Katharina Ulmschneider and Sally Crawford, the exhibition addresses such questions as why Celtic art was a dangerous topic of study, what was it like to be a German refugee in Oxford during and after the war and what part Oxford played in helping refugees to escape from Nazi Germany, using original letters, artefacts and photographs, a film, and oral histories collected by Megan Price from people who knew Jacobsthal or who were refugees in Oxford at the same time. A booklet on Jacobsthal’s life is also available.

HS2 and the Edgcote battlefield

Judging by their media comments, there is little support amongst the Fellowship for the Government’s plan for HS2 (High Speed 2; HS1 being the Channel Tunnel rail link) — although it may well produce a much-needed flow of work to archaeological units employed to undertake environmental and archaeological impact and mitigation surveys along the proposed route. Fellow Simon Jenkins, for example, was to be heard on Radio 4 last week arguing that HS2 was ‘Concorde for slow learners’, threatening to ‘wreck the Vale of Aylesbury’ so that ‘a few rich business people can get to Birmingham half an hour earlier than they already do’. Others, including Fellow Loyd Grossman, have argued that there are far better uses for the £15.8 to £17.4 billion that the first 120-mile section from London to Birmingham is estimated to cost.

Then there is the impact on the historic environment, which is only in the early stages of assessment (because the route has been fluid up to now). Now that a proposed route has been published, the Battlefields Trust has been among the first to respond, saying in a statement released last week that the Trust is ‘very pleased that the proposed HS2 route had been adjusted to avoid a number of heritage sites’, but concerned nevertheless that ‘whilst the revised route avoids Edgcote House it appears that the railway will still destroy a significant part of the probable location of the battlefield. Although it is called the Battle of Edgcote the evidence suggests that the battle was actually fought on Danesmoor, a mile or so to the east of Edgcote. Indeed, in some early accounts it was called the Battle of Danesmoor.’

The Battlefields Trust says that it is in principle ‘neither for nor against HS2’ but it believes that it is essential that the battlefield at Edgcote is recognised as an historic site of national and not purely local importance. The Trust’s statement goes on to say that it would prefer the route of HS2 to be diverted away from the battlefield area because ‘building HS2 through the centre of this site as is currently planned will almost certainly lead to the destruction of valuable archaeological evidence and quite probably the destruction and desecration of the mass grave pits which we believe to be in the area. Historians are horrified by the wilful damage carried out to important historic sites by Victorian railway builders, it would be a bitter irony indeed if, a 150 years later, we demonstrated that we have learnt nothing from the past.’ Battlefields Trust members are being urged to write to the Department of Transport asking that every effort be made to avoid damaging this important site. Further details can be found on the Trust’s website.

£4 million grants announced for English museums under DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund

Grants totalling £4 million to help improve thirty-six museums and galleries across the country were announced by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey on 23 January 2012. The grants, jointly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Wolfson Foundation, include:

£215,000 for the Ashmolean for the restoration of the Randolph Sculpture Gallery, with its collection of Greek and Roman sculpture and inscriptions formed in the seventeenth century by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, and the earliest of its kind in Britain.

£100,000 for the Roman Baths Museum to re-display the Precinct of the Temple of Sulis Minerva.

£65,000 for the refurbishment of the Soho House Museum, Birmingham, to house a new exhibition about the life and times of industrialist and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton (1728—1809) and the activities of the Lunar Society.

£200,000 for the British Museum’s plan to refurbish the Late Antique and Early Medieval Gallery, housing the Sutton Hoo helmet.

£75,000 towards the creation of a new World Archaeology gallery, including the Maudslay casts, at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.

£86,000 for the National Portrait Gallery to renovate three galleries on the top floor and thus create a space for changing displays of Tudor and Jacobean portraits.

£100,000 for Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum to create a new Archaeology of Wessex gallery, telling the story of Salisbury and the surrounding area from prehistory to the Norman Conquest.

£17,400 for Compton Verney to re-display the work of Enid Marx, one of the most important designers of the twentieth century and creator of the striking geometric designs of 1937 for the upholstery of London Underground.

£100,000 for a new gallery that will showcase some of the 5,000 printed posters and nearly 1,000 original artworks in the collections of the London Transport Museum.

£150,000 towards a new permanent display of baroque art, furniture, state beds and wall paintings at Hampton Court Palace.

£50,000 towards the reconstruction of a labourer’s cottage (originally built between 1675 and 1725 and dismantled to make way for a reservoir in 1974) at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

Details of all thirty-six grants can be found via the DCMS website as can a video clip featuring our Fellow Lucy Worsley explaining how the DCMS/Wolfson Fund will help Historic Royal Palaces to mount a display in 2013 on the ‘Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber’, which she promises will be ‘not boring but very salacious and brilliant’.

In defence of the Cultural Gifts Scheme

Fellow Tim Knox writes to Salon to say that while he is ‘a great admirer of your esteemed organ’ he ‘bristled somewhat at the reference to the new Cultural Gifts Scheme in the December 2011 issue’. This reported that the Chancellor’s autumn budget statement contained a proposal to allow individuals and businesses to donate ‘pre-eminent’ art or objects to the nation in payment of capital gains, corporation and income tax. Currently the ‘acceptance in lieu’ scheme applies only to inheritance tax and to a maximum of £15m, but the budget proposal is to raise the ceiling to £30m for all forms of tax.

Salon went on to say that critics of the scheme questioned whether the scheme represented value for money, arguing that ‘independent’ government valuations tended to be very conservative in estimating the monetary value of donated works and asserting that the donor would often benefit by selling a work on the open market to raise the necessary funds to pay tax, even with the additional taxes that would be involved in the sale of the work.

Tim chairs the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) Panel, which will have to assess any offers under the new scheme. He says that ‘the independent valuations that the Panel commissions to ensure that works of art, artefacts and archives are fairly valued are scrupulously objective, and by no means particularly conservative. Evidence of comparable prices achieved are carefully reviewed, and indeed there are regularly cases where an object is valued above the price put on it by the offerer. Indeed, the success of the AIL scheme over the years attests to the trust that people have in the fairness of our procedures — and that includes all the major auction houses and most art consultants. In any case, in no sense is this a “government” valuation, as we are an independent body who makes recommendations to the Secretary of State.’

Tim goes on to say that ‘the threshold of the existing AIL scheme is £20 million a year (not £15m) and that this has been exceeded in some years with permission from the Treasury. The rise to a combined threshold of £30 million is welcomed, but there is no indication that we will be able to exceed this figure if needed, as was the case formerly.’ Tim admits that the new Cultural Gifts Scheme is not as generous as those that operate in other countries, but believes that it is a very positive start that he hopes will prove equally attractive to living benefactors as to the executors of the deceased.

Treasures saved for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme

As further evidence of the success of the scheme, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport recently published a list of outstanding cultural, historical and artistic treasures accepted in lieu of inheritance tax. The scheme was introduced in 1910 by David Lloyd George, who would no doubt have taken pleasure in the fact that one of Wales’s most prized ancient artefacts, an Iron Age firedog in the form of a chimera — part ox and part horse — was among the artefacts accepted last year.

A masterpiece of the blacksmith’s art, and one of the finest surviving prehistoric iron artefacts in Europe, the firedog was discovered in May 1852 by a labourer cutting a ditch through a peat bog at Carreg Coedog Farm, near Llanrwst, Conwy. Found on its side, it had been carefully placed at the bottom of a pool, with large stones placed at each foot, perhaps to mark the end of its life, or that of its owner.

The firedog is on display in the archaeology gallery, ‘Origins: In Search of Early Wales’, in the National Museum Cardiff. Our Fellow Adam Gwilt, Curator of Bronze and Iron Age Archaeology at Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales, describes it as ‘an evocative symbol of authority … originally one of a pair that defined the hearth at the centre of an Iron Age roundhouse’.

Picture: Firedogs have been found as grave goods in richly furnished Iron Age burials, but Professor Stuart Piggott once said that this example ‘stands out from all the other British and Continental pieces in its elaboration and rococo flamboyance’.

Thanks also to the AIL scheme, Rubens’s The Triumph of Venus (1628) is on public display for the first time in years at the National Gallery, J M W Turner’s stunning and atmospheric View of Rome from Monte Mario, last seen more than a decade ago in the Royal Academy exhibition on Turner’s great watercolours, is being shown at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, Barbara Hepworth’s green marble Meditation has been allocated to Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Adoration of the Shepherds, by Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo (1481—1559), has gone to the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge.

A comprehensive archive documenting the lives of Lord Louis and Lady Edwina Mountbatten from 1930 to the 1970s has also been accepted and allocated to Southampton University and a wealth of materials from the archive of the Wyndham family of Somerset, dating from the fourteenth century and including important papers concerning the founding of Wadham College, Oxford, has been placed at the Somerset Heritage Centre and at the Wiltshire and Swindon Historical Centre, pending the decision on permanent allocation.

A gallery of pictures of these and other objects accepted for the nation under the AIL scheme can be seen on the website of the Guardian newspaper.

The Ince Blundell Marbles: better news

Salon started the year with the news that the members of the Society of Dilettanti had written to the Daily Telegraph to highlight the threat to the Ince Blundell marbles, a large collection of antique marble sculptures displayed since the 1790s at Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool. It is thus encouraging to be able to report that the lobbying work of the Dilettanti, supported by the Georgian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and publicised in the Art Newspaper, has had the effect of halting the immediate threat: the removal of the sculptures from the Garden Temple and the Pantheon, purpose-built by Henry Blundell for their display.

According to ‘Piloti’ in the latest issue of Private Eye, English Heritage has now ‘performed a volte face’ (we will pretend not to have noticed Piloti’s assertion that it was ‘blinkered archaeologists’ at English Heritage who initially said that removal was justified ‘on conservation grounds’) and is recommending to Sefton Council that the current application for listed building consent to remove the sculptures be refused.

This at least gives time and breathing space for the campaigners to decide what to do next: ideally, they would like to see all the Blundell marbles (including those that are in store or on display in Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery) returned to their original settings in the Temple and Pantheon at Ince Blundell Hall. The immediate priorities, however, are to try and work with the Augustinian nuns who own Ince Blundell Hall, and who run it as a nursing home, to achieve better protection, conservation and increased public access for the in situ marbles.

The art world in Britain 1660 to 1735

Not only do we have Fellows who tweet, we now have an art historian (Richard Stephens) who has adopted the name of the Society’s official engraver, George Vertue (appointed to the post in 1717), as his hash tag. Richard (who describes himself as an ‘obsessive compiler of intelligence about artists, collectors, dealers, colourmen, print sellers and auctioneers between 1660 and about 1735’) is also the editor of the newly launched research resource called ‘The art world in Britain 1660 to 1735’. This consists of a corpus of the key primary sources for the study of the visual arts in late Stuart and early Hanoverian Britain. The components include a biographical dictionary, a database of art sales, a topographical dictionary, a database of financial records and a checklist of works of art produced in Britain during what Richard describes as ‘a fascinating and dynamic period in the history of the arts in Britain’, when ‘London attracted an international traffic of artists and artefacts from across Europe and was at the centre of a nation-wide circulation of skills and ideas about art’.

Among the resources already available on the site are 17,000 advertisements transcribed from 120 periodical titles covering the art trade and material culture of the period, a checklist of 8,100 paintings by 400 artists working in Britain and Ireland at the time and transcriptions of fifty London sale catalogues, comprising 8,000 lots of paintings, prints, drawings and books on art.

The project is part of the AHRC-funded research collaboration between York University and Tate Britain, in which our Fellow Nigel Llewellyn (Head of Research, Tate) and Dr Martin Myrone (Curator, Tate) are both involved. A three-day conference on this theme will be held in York on 20 to 22 September 2012. Potential contributors should see the call for papers (deadline 2 March 2012) that is on the York University website.

News of Fellows

Our Honorary Fellow Sir David Attenborough was the guest on the seventieth anniversary edition of ‘Desert Island Discs’, first broadcast on 27 January 1942 and the world’s longest-running ‘factual’ radio programme. The media have hailed Sir David as a fitting choice, as he too is something of a national treasure with a career of impressive longevity. During that long career he has made three previous appearances on the programme. Some might consider that multiple appearances are not quite in the spirit of the show, which asks guests to select just eight records, one book and one luxury that they would like to take to a desert island — Sir David now has four different desert island packs to choose from, but he is not alone: Arthur Askey also made four appearances and Kenneth Williams is amongst several people who have appeared on more than one programme. On this occasion, Sir David’s eclectic choice of music ranged from a traditional Balinese gamalan piece to Handel’s ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ from the Messiah.

Our Fellow Loyd Grossman (pictured left; just the one ‘Desert Island Discs’ appearance, so far) was interviewed in last week’s Sunday Times on the pleasures of returning to university as a mature student. In 2008, Loyd took a year out from his hectic work schedule to read for a MPhil in eighteenth-century art history at Magdalene College, Cambridge, his only regret being that he put off studying for so long. Far from being unusual, Loyd is one of some 116,500 students over the age of forty who enrol for postgraduate degree courses at British universities every year.

The MPhil is Loyd’s second postgraduate degree. After graduating from Boston, he completed an MSc at the London School of Economics (with a dissertation on gin consumption in eighteenth-century London) and was about to begin a PhD when he was offered a job as a writer on Harpers & Queen: ‘The dilemma between going to work for the hippest magazine on Earth at the time or spending another four years at university was pretty easy, I hate to say.’ This time, he has opted for further study, and has now embarked on a PhD on the American-born British artist Benjamin West.

Keen to encourage older people to think about returning to formal study, he says ‘being a mature student can offer a transformational experience … you get huge benefits, not just in economic terms but simply from finding life more interesting’.

Fellow Richard Mortimer has retired as Keeper of the Muniments after nearly twenty-six years in the position. The title and office of Keeper of the Muniments dates from the appointment in 1893 of Dr Edward Scott, who compiled the great index to the medieval documents that is still in daily use. In his retirement, Richard plans to continue his work on editing the sixty Anglo-Saxon charters that are the oldest documents in the Abbey library, to be published as part of the British Academy’s national series on Anglo-Saxon Charters.

Fellow Francis Pryor has joined the bloggerati, so those of us who are annually deprived of his company during the lambing season can still follow his exploits via the web. Francis (who often says that running a small Fenland farm has given him many important insights into Bronze-Age agriculture and landscape use) promises gardening and farming bulletins as well as insights into rural life, the lessons of history and his career as an archaeologist, writer and media personality.

Jack Lohman to leave Museum of London for Royal British Columbia Museum

Jack Lohman is to step down as Director of the Museum of London in March 2012 to take up a new role at Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria in Canada. Announcing the news, Professor Lohman said: ‘Next month will mark the tenth year of my appointment to the post of director of the Museum of London. With this anniversary in mind and having completed the key projects I set out to achieve in time for the Olympics, I have accepted the post of Chief Executive and President of the Royal British Columbia Museum.’ The governors of the Museum of London have begun the process of recruiting a new director.

Feedback

Salon’s editor is blushing from head to toe having last week moved Peterlee, home of the Apollo Pavilion (aka ‘Pasmore’s Pavilion’), newly listed at Grade II* and restored to its original white concrete purity, from County Durham some 300 miles south to Hampshire. Many Fellows pointed out the unfortunate error, including Peter Fowler who explained that Victor Passmore was Professor of Architecture at what was then King’s College, University of Durham, at the time he designed the sculptural pavilion, now Newcastle University, of which Peter is proud to be Professor Emeritus.

Fellow William Price is intrigued (as we all are) to know what the Queen will do instead of ‘clunking a sword on [the] shoulder’ of our Fellow Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch when he is knighted. Perhaps Diarmaid will let us know in due course; there are no clues on the British Monarchy website, which simply says that ‘by tradition, clergy receiving a knighthood are not dubbed, as the use of a sword is thought inappropriate for their calling’. William adds that ‘it is not quite true to say Church of England clergy are not called Sir unless they are hereditary baronets. Clergy who were knighted before ordination are called Sir (the Reverend Sir John Smith); clergy knighted after ordination are not (the Reverend John Smith, Kt). This seems to be to be rather unfair on the latter category.’

Fellow Sandra Wedgwood points out that Salon muddled up our two Lady Wedgwood Fellows in the last issue. It is Sandra who is the Patron of the Pugin Society, rather than our Pamela Tudor Craig (her stepmother-in-law).

This is also the year of Charles Dickens’s bicentenary (born on 7 February 1812, he was older than Pugin, born on 1 March 1812, by just three weeks), and many of us have been re-reading his absorbing books, including Fellow Mike Stammers, who found the following in Dickens’s first novel, The Pickwick Papers (1836—7), and wondered whether he had our Society in mind. Mr Pickwick has acquired an ‘antique’ stone that had been lying outside a cottage door at Cobham, strangely inscribed thus:
B I L S T
U M
P S H I
S M
A R K
Mr P immediately set about trying to discover the meaning of this strange inscription. An engraving of the curious stone was presented to the Royal Antiquarian Society, and other learned bodies — what heartburnings and jealousies without number were created by rival controversies which were penned upon the subject. Mr Pickwick himself wrote a pamphlet, containing ninety-six pages of small print, and twenty-seven different readings of the inscription. Mr Pickwick was made an honorary member of seventeen native and foreign societies, for making the discovery. No one could discover the meaning of the inscription but all agreed it was extraordinary.

However, a certain sceptical Mr Blotton went to Cobham and interviewed the cottager who had sold Mr Pickwick the stone. The latter said he had carved it in an idle moment and it read BIL(L) STUMPS HIS MARK. The Pickwick Club (as might be expected from so enlightened an institution) received this statement with the contempt it deserved. The presumptuous Blotton was expelled forthwith. Dickens doesn’t tell us what the Royal Antiquarians thought.

Finally, staying with well-known writers, Fellow Richard Pfaff chides Salon’s editor for suggesting that our Fellow Montague Rhodes James (1862—1936) is famous mainly for his ghost stories. For the world at large that might be true, but ‘given the readership of Salon’, Richard writes, ‘that strikes me as a bit cavalier. There will be very few medievalist Fellows who have not used one or more of his vast number of scholarly works; quite a number, mostly now dead, were also much influenced by him personally. It is true that the antiquarian backgrounds of many of the stories are unequalled for authenticity — and hence their fascination for the reader. In my (long) biography of James [Montague Rhodes James, by Richard William Pfaff, Scolar Press, 1980], I tried to give attention to the ghost stories in proportion to the role I sensed they had assumed in his life: it wasn’t, I found, very big.’

Lives remembered: Brian Shefton FSA

Photograph: Fellow Brian Shefton on his ninetieth birthday in October 2009 in the museum that he founded. Far from retiring, Professor Shefton set off after this picture was taken for Perugia to give a paper at the Italic and Etruscological Congress; from there he travelled to Cologne University for a symposium given in his honour before returning to Newcastle to deliver a celebratory lecture on the subject of the University’s Greek and Etruscan collection and then heading for the British Museum in early December 2009 to give the Lorant Lecture.

The University of Newcastle announced last week the death on 25 January 2012 of our Fellow Emeritus Professor Brian Shefton. Brian was appointed as Lecturer in Greek Archaeology and Ancient History in the Department of Classics in October 1955, and one of his first achievements was to set up what became known, in his honour, as the Shefton Museum of Greek Art and Archaeology, originally housed by Newcastle University and now part of the Great North Museum, which he built up to a collection of more than 800 objects with an initial purchase grant of £20. He also established the Shefton Collection of books on Greek, Roman and Etruscan archaeology within the University’s Robinson Library, which now has some 50,000 volumes. Brian was promoted to Senior Lecturer in August 1960, followed by a Personal Readership in Greek Art and Archaeology in August 1974 and a Personal Chair of Greek Art and Archaeology in August 1979.

He was elected a Fellow of our Society on 19 January 1980 and appointed Emeritus Professor upon his retirement in 1984. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1985, he was awarded the Kenyon Medal in 1999, and was presented with the medal itself at a conference on Greek contact with the western Mediterranean held to mark his eightieth birthday, the papers from which were published as a Festschrift, Greek Identity in the Western Mediterranean: papers in honour of Brian Shefton (ed K Lomas, Leiden, 2004).

Tony Spawforth, Professor of Ancient History at Newcastle University and a former curator of the Shefton Museum, said that ‘Brian’s larger-than-life personality made him an irrepressible presence in any gathering, scholarly or social. As well as his seemingly inexhaustible erudition, he had a mischievous sense of humour, which made him entertaining company. He was kind, not least to younger scholars, in whose work he would take a well-judged interest. He never lost his curiosity about everything, nor his appetite for the next project. Until the end he lived the scholar’s life to the full.’

As evidence of living life to the full, Salon readers might also remember that Brian enjoyed a moment of media glory in 2004 when the two halves of a terracotta lion’s head dating from 500 BC were reunited for the first time in centuries. The two pieces once formed part of a terracotta waterspout in the roof of a sanctuary at San Biagio, near the Greek colony of Mentaponto in southern Italy. It is likely that the head split apart and became buried after the building collapsed, centuries ago.

Professor Shefton acquired half of the head as a loan for the museum in the 1970s after it was bought from Christie’s by Lionel Jacobson, a major benefactor to the university’s Greek collection. Years later, Brian spotted what he thought could be the other half when browsing through the catalogue of an exhibition of ancient animal images belonging to the Swiss collector Dr Leo Mildenberg. ‘I knew the curator in Cleveland, Ohio, where the exhibition was taking place and asked her to take a cast of the break line of the image and send it to me. It fitted like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, it was fantastic!’ said Professor Shefton at the time. Dr Mildenberg bequeathed his half of the lion to the Shefton Museum and the Jacobson family subsequently donated their half to the museum, where the two halves were reunited in April 2004.

Lives Remembered: Ilid Anthony FSA

Fellow John Kenyon writes to say that Dr Ilid Anthony died recently (her funeral is on 6 February in Llandaff Cathedral). Elected a Fellow on 7 January 1960, Ilid began her career as a Roman archaeologist at St Albans; by the time John got to know her in the early 1980s as a colleague she was a member of staff covering costume at what was then the Welsh Folk Museum and is now St Fagans National History Museum. She published a number of books, including the Official Guide to Verulamium (St Albans City Council, 1966), Roman London (1971), Quilting and Patchwork in Wales (1972), Costume of the Welsh People (Welsh Folk Museum, 1975), Wales (1974) in the Shire ‘Discovering Regional Archaeology’ series and The Roman City of Verulamium (1983).

Lives Remembered: Ronald Butler FSA

York Antiquaries were saddened to learn that our Fellow Ron (Ronald) Butler died on 13 January 2012 at the age of eighty-two (his funeral takes place on 30 January 2012 at the Church of Our Lady, on the corner of Gale Lane and Cornlands Road, York, followed by burial at Fulford Cemetery). Ron attended every York Antiquaries event, bringing his grandson Dominic as his guest to the last meeting just before Christmas.

A Nottinghamshire man, Dr Butler gained a triple first (Parts I and II in Classics and Part II in Archaeology) at Peterhouse, Cambridge, followed by a doctorate on Britain’s Saxon Shore forts. An early experience of Yorkshire archaeology came when excavating with Professor Grahame Clark at Star Carr in the 1950s. He then served as an Investigator with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in London, where he had major responsibility for producing A Matter of Time (1960), one of the first books ever published on landscape archaeology. This showed how complex and ubiquitous were the sites threatened by the gravel quarrying that accompanied the building boom of the period, and the book stimulated a spate of rescue excavations on gravel sites throughout the country.

Ron then moved to the York office of the RCHM, where he stayed until his retirement in 1989, working with colleague Herman Ramm on the Commission’s survey of earthworks and aerial photographic evidence for ancient settlement on the Yorkshire Wolds. He was also a key member of the team that produced the Commission’s magisterial York inventories — still the basic reference books for the city’s archaeology and building history. As well as working on Volume III: York South West of the Ouse and other volumes, he had a major responsibility for Volume II: The Defences, still the standard work on the city’s bars, walls and castles, and parts of Volume V: The Central Area.

Dr Butler was for twenty years the secretary — and ‘institutional memory’ — of the York Minster Excavation Committee, which oversaw the massive campaign of excavations that took place in the 1960s and 1970s when York Minster underwent a massive restoration campaign to save the central tower and strengthen other parts of the building. He helped to edit the resulting publications and was Editor of the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal for more than a quarter of a century, producing twenty-six volumes of the county’s premier archaeological journal. For much of this time he was also a member of the committee that produced the Society’s Record Series, publishing important documentary sources for Yorkshire history. From 1989 to 1993, he was President of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, being succeeded in that post by his brother, our Fellow Dr Lawrence Butler.

Ron was an enthusiastic member of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS), being Vice-President for many years. He produced a regular flow of articles in its publication, the York Historian, drawing on his voluminous knowledge of ancient York to write about subjects such as the earliest views of the city, the Minster Close and Sir Arthur Ingram’s long-since demolished mansion. For the York Archaeological Trust, of which he was a long-serving member, he was an ever-ready and willing source of information and advice, his vast knowledge of York providing many corrections, for example, to the draft of the York volume of the Atlas of Historic Towns shortly to be published.

His expertise in Roman archaeology, gained particularly in his doctoral research at Cambridge on Roman and Gaulish town defences, made him an acute and helpful critic of work done in this field by the Trust. It also made him a valued member of the Malton Museum Foundation with its rich Roman collections. A quiet and retiring scholar, but when approached an acute and helpful adviser, critic and source of useful ideas, Dr Butler will be a significant loss to York and Yorkshire’s history and archaeology, and to the York Archaeological Trust.

Are you feeling generous? Sponsored walk in aid of the Young Archaeologists Club

A cause that Ron would no doubt have supported is the sponsored walk that will take place on 1 February 2012 when our Fellow Mike Heyworth, and a group of CBA colleagues, will walk around the city walls six times in a single day, dressed as Roman soldiers, to raise money for the ‘Dig Deep for YAC’ fundraising appeal. If you would like to support their efforts, you can donate online through JustGiving, a simple, fast and secure system that sends your money directly to the campaign and makes sure that Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation. You can also donate by texting YACR12 £ and the amount you wish to donate to 70070. You can find out more about the ‘Dig Deep for YAC’ on the YAC website and you can follow the progress of the walk on Twitter.

Lives remembered: Jim Summerly

Our Fellow David Breeze writes to say: ‘Jim Summerly, who died on 10 January 2012, aged fifty-seven, was not a Fellow, but was sufficiently involved in our interests to merit mention. Born at Percy Main and educated at Tynemouth High School and Leicester University, Jim returned to the north east to undertake a PhD on the centurions of the Roman army at Durham under Brian Dobson, which was awarded in 1992. He developed an interest in Hadrian’s Wall, excavating at Housesteads under John Gillam and Charles Daniels when a student at Leicester, and he acted as one of the main guides on the last three Hadrian’s Wall Pilgrimages. Jim’s chosen career, however, was as a schoolteacher; he spent the last twenty-three years at Radley College where he was an inspirational teacher of history. He was also an enthusiastic tour leader, most recently to Syria where he was also able to indulge in his love of Crusader architecture. The archaeological world was represented at his well-attended funeral at Radley by Lindsay Allason-Jones, Valerie Maxfield and myself.’

British Institute of Persian Studies: awards and research grants 2012—13

Applications for grants are invited from scholars wishing to pursue research in all fields of Persian/Iranian studies at postgraduate level, including anthropology, archaeology, art, history, linguistics, literature, philosophy, religion, political science and cognate subjects. The deadline for applications is 29 February 2012. Most of the grants available will be given to research that falls under one of three umbrella programmes: ‘Ancient Iran’ (a research programme directed by our Fellow Eberhard Sauer), ‘Empire and Authority in the Persianate World’ (Professor Charles Melville) and ‘Chivalry in Persianate Cuture’ (Dr Lloyd Ridgeon). Further information can be downloaded from the BIPS website, as can application forms for the Institute’s travel bursaries of up to £900 for academic study bearing on Iran.

Call for papers: 'Towns, Topography, Tapestry'

7 and 8 June 2012: ‘Towns, Topography, Tapestry’, Manchester. This symposium is being organised in memory of our late Fellow Dr David Hill and the title reflects his Anglo-Saxon and Continental interests (‘Tapestry’ in this case refers to the one at Bayeux; David was mapping the repairs). Anyone wishing to contribute a 20-minute paper should send a title and 200-word synopsis by 29 February to our Fellow Gale Owen-Crocker. It is hoped that a memorial volume will be produced from some or all of the papers. Salon will provide further details of the seminar and speakers as soon as they are available.

Events

19 February 2012: ‘Conservation Values, Conservation-Planning and Climate Change’, by Dr John Pendlebury, 6.15pm, JZ Young Lecture Theatre, UCL Anatomy Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. The desire to reduce carbon emissions and the desire to sustain historic buildings and environments are two powerful contemporary value systems that are potentially in conflict with each other. This paper will focus upon the relation between conservation values and the powerful emergent agenda of carbon-reduction through a number of planning case studies. Accepting that carbon control aims and heritage values both have legitimacy, there is a need to explore how these two forces might positively interact. This is a public lecture and all are welcome; please email Bethia Tyler if you would like to attend. Details of further Nigel J Seeley Memorial Lectures can be seen on the website of the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage.

20 February 2012: ‘Archaeology and the Media’, the first of the UCL Institute of Archaeology’s 75th Anniversary Debates will be chaired by our Fellow Maev Kenndy. These will follow a 'Question Time' format where panels of key public and professional figures will consider a series of major themes relating to the role of archaeology in the modern world. Each debate starts at 6.15pm in the Archaeology Lecture Theatre (G6) followed by a drinks reception in the A G Leventis Gallery. For a full list of subjects and participants and to register to attend, see the Institute’s website.

27 February 2012: CBA Winter General Meeting: ‘Publishing and Accessing Archaeological Knowledge’, at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House. Issues relating to publication, digitisation, dissemination and access to knowledge in archaeology will be the subject of a day seminar, held in conjunction with the bi-annual business meeting of the CBA, with a keynote address and overview to be given by our Fellow Julian Richards (Head of Department, Department of Archaeology, York; Director of the Archaeology Data Service; Co-Director of Internet Archaeology). Topics to be covered include experience of previous digitisation programmes, a librarian’s perspective, tips on archiving digital material, and updates on the Archlib service and from a number of archaeological societies on their current thinking.

Details on the CBA website.

7 March 2012: ‘Localism and Heritage: Working Together’, Bristol City Conference Hall, a joint English Heritage and Bristol City Council conference exploring what localism means for heritage aimed at community groups, local amenity societies, elected members, local government and private sector conservation, design and planning professionals and any individuals involved in planning and managing change in the historic environment in the south west.

Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, will deliver the conference’s keynote speech on the opportunities and challenges for the historic environment presented by the localism agenda. Her speech will be followed in the morning by three case studies illustrating new ways local authorities are working with communities in the heritage sector. In the afternoon the theme of the conference will be ‘Local Placemaking’, focusing on Bristol case studies.

The event is free but must be booked in advance. See the English Heritage website for a booking form.

11 to 14 April 2012: Buddhist Art Forum, at The Courtauld Institute of Art, organised by Fellow David Park and Kuenga Wangmo, with many Fellows amongst the forty speakers. Prompted by the Courtauld Institute’s engagement with the complex challenges of preserving Buddhist art in China, India and Bhutan, and The Ho Family Foundation’s aim to promote understanding of Buddhism, this Forum aims to make a genuine contribution to awareness and understanding of the issues concerning Buddhist art, its creation and function, its conservation and its role in the contemporary world. This will be the first time that a representative group of those with a stake in Buddhist art — monks, artists, art historians, archaeologists, conservators, curators, and officials — have come together to consider these issues, and the Forum will include evening receptions jointly hosted with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.

For further information, see the website of the Courtauld Institute.

18 to 20 April 2012: ‘Working in Partnership’, the IfA Annual Conference and Training Event. The IfA Annual Conference has become established as the premier archaeological conference in the UK, attracting more than 400 participants. With its combination of keynote addresses, wide-ranging sessions, workshops, displays, poster sessions and other events, it is a vital forum for discussing topical professional issues, as well as providing updates on current research. The theme for the 2012 Oxford conference will be ‘Partnership Working’ — creating effective networks throughout the historic, natural and built environments to maximise resources, increase public benefit and build a stronger sector. Further details from the IfA website.

11 to 13 May 2012: ‘Seventeenth-century Painted Glass in Oxford’, Rewley House, Oxford. The first half of the seventeenth century saw a significant revival of glass painting, related to new thinking concerning the appropriate way to adorn a church, in a desire to create the ‘beauty of holiness’. This course brings together art and architectural historians, religious historians and conservation experts to explore the history, meaning and context of this body of religious art. There will be visits to some of the Oxford colleges that contain a substantial proportion of the surviving glass of the period. Speakers include Fellows Tim Ayers, Sarah Brown, Graham Parry and Anthony Wells-Cole.

Further details from the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education.

Books by Fellows: Towards World Heritage

Books on the history of heritage conservation tend to begin with such Victorian sages as Pugin, Ruskin and Morris, and give the impression that Britain led the world in developing the philosophy of conservation, while Lubbock (supported by our Society) fought for the pioneering Ancient Monuments Act that gave protection for the best of what are now termed ‘heritage assets’. That Anglo-centric view of the world is not one that anyone could sustain after reading the ten essays in Towards World Heritage: international origins of the preservation movement 1870—1930 (ISBN: 9781409407720; Ashgate), edited by our Fellow Melanie Hall, in which we learn that the issues being debated in Britain, and the legislative responses, were part of an international movement, as much American, Swedish, German or French in origin as British.

The aim of this book is not to write a global history of conservation thinking, however, but to trace one specific strand: the growing sense that some manifestations of heritage were global in significance, not just of national importance. Some of the essay titles indicate which sites were the focus of such debates: Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and Buddhist sites in Anuradhapura and Kandy, on Sri Lanka, for example, and Washington’s Mount Vernon and Sulgrave. The point, of course, is not whether or not these are worthy of world heritage designation, so much as that they were sites around which early international preservation efforts were concentrated and that served as the catalyst for working out the practical means of managing these sites for all of humanity. Not that this was a process that was universally supported, even within the growing conservation profession: plenty of people were hostile to the idea that the interests of local people could be trampled by the bigger concept of world heritage, or that living heritage should become crystallised as a museum exhibit (just as tourists today are perplexed at the closure of Westminster Abbey on a Sunday).

Most of the essays in the book are written from the perspective of the conservation historian seeking to understand the 150 years of heritage policy that have led to the world we know today. Peter Mandle’s thoughtful concluding essay, subtitled ‘an anti-history of the preservation movement in Britain’, seeks to view the past from the perspective of those who do not share our conservation values, or who, if they do, have to weigh them against such competing interests as housing, industry, defence, health and economic prosperity. He does a good job of characterising conservationists as a small, embattled elite battling the ‘powers of darkness’, but he tellingly concludes by reminding us of the words of George Trevelyan in Britain and the Beast (1937, edited by Clough Williams-Ellis): ‘in disputes and bargains between these rival interests, the interest of amenity is unduly handicapped; it is not represented in Government departments’. Arguably the existence of a Department of Culture in England has not changed the truth of that observation.

Books by Fellows: Making Archaeology Happen

Many of the issues laid out for analysis in Melanie Hall’s book recur in this book by our Fellow Martin Carver, in which he returns to a major theme of his archaeological career: how to do archaeology in ways that break free of academic or commercial constraints and genuinely contribute something to the community whose archaeology is being trashed in order to turn it into new knowledge. The message of Making Archaeology Happen: design versus dogma (ISBN: 9781611320244; Left Coast Press) is that if you believe ‘archaeology is for people’ (and most archaeologists say they do hold this to be one of the fundamental principles of their profession) then we are a) not very good at it and b) need to stop blaming factors beyond our control for this state of affairs and instead everyone needs to begin to build ‘the people’ into project designs and insist on this element not as a luxury but as the raison d’être.

Based on the Rhind Lectures that he gave in 2010, sponsored by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Martin’s book draws on inspiring examples from all over the world of how archaeology can be a more communitarian activity. He acknowledges that it is difficult to persuade developers to fund that cost: shareholders demand profit and developers pay as little as they can get away with in order to discharge archaeological conditions imposed by the planning regime. He believes that the job of those who work in the fields of archaeological advocacy and policy (including English Heritage) is to put archaeological value, community value, knowledge value and human values on a par with commercial value: ‘the archaeologist then comes in as a creative agent, like the architect, rather than as a supplier of services’. Theoretically archaeologists can then be selected on the basis of the new knowledge they create rather than on how cheap and pliable they are, and developers who do the right thing and provide a public benefit could be given rewards in the form of tax advantages or public grants.

Much of Martin’s thinking is, of course, reflected in PPS5 and the Southport Group’s brave attempts to persuade everyone to use the considerable powers that this planning guidance already gives to local authority custodians to maximise the public benefit from developer-funded archaeology. Martin believes that we have failed so far because the state has not given sufficient powers to the curators (he says the State Historical Preservation Offices in the US have much more control over the terms under which development approval is given). He might also have added the fact that for every pro-heritage PPS5, there are hundreds of other pieces of policy, guidance and regulation that are in direct conflict with heritage policy and when local government staff and elected members make a choice, heritage rarely wins.

That isn’t to say that we should give up the fight — and Martin’s book inspires us with a vision of how things could be. It does beg the question, though, whether archaeologists can fight the battle alone. If ‘archaeology is for people’, then people have to fight for it. Communities need to use their new powers under the Localism Act to make it clear that development on their patch is conditional upon the developer doing the right thing by the natural and cultural heritage. Archaeological charities need to devote some of their resources to community facilitation — going to public meetings and explaining the heritage that is at stake and galvanising people to make demands on the developer. Equally they need to sell to the developer the idea that archaeologists are skilled at helping them win community approval for their plans and that there are real tangible dividends to be gained for their shareholders by acting towards the heritage in a socially responsible manner.

Books by Fellows: Discovered in Time

The team of curators (most of whom are Fellows) who look after archaeology at Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales have come together under the editorship of Fellow Mark Redknap to produce a book that tells the story of seventy of the most significant objects in the early Wales part of the Welsh national collection, ranging in date from about 230,000 BC to about AD 1450. Discovered in Time: treasures from early Wales — Canfod y Gymru Gynnar (ISBN: 97807200 06049 in English; 9780720006056 in Welsh; Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales) is a handsome paperback packed with page after page of close-up photography with expert commentaries on each of the objects that sets them firmly in the context of the development of Wales but also of their wider European significance (as, for example, the Iron Age firedog, featured above in ‘Treasures saved for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme’).

Salon’s editor has an instinctive dislike of the word ‘treasure’ to describe ancient objects, because it implies bling and monetary value. Many of this book’s ‘treasures’ are made of far humbler materials, but tell a rich story of ordinary lives: a beautifully balanced and shaped Neanderthal hand axe, an engraved Mesolithic pebble, a piece of flint transformed (after who knows how many months of shaping and polishing) into a mace head covered with folds of rippling cloth and, at the other end of the date range, St Gwynhoedl’s bell, cast in copper alloy in the ninth century, made to mark the liturgical hours in a church in early medieval Wales and still in use in 1848 to call children to school in the local church.

Books by Fellows: The Frontiers of Imperial Rome

Over several years our Fellow David Breeze has written or co-written a series of books on different Roman frontiers, from the Antonine Wall to the Black Sea. He has also devoted a great part of his career to the cause of creating the ‘Frontiers of the Roman Empire’ World Heritage Site, the first to reject modern national boundaries in favour of co-operation between all the nations on three continents whose heritage includes sections of Roman frontier. Who better then than David to bring together in one book (the first edition of which has already sold out; a reprint is under way) an account of the vast and very varied stretches of frontier defining the Roman Empire at different stages of its history.

The Frontiers of Imperial Rome (ISBN: 9781848833278; Pen & Sword Military) is divided into three parts: the first discusses the sources for our knowledge — archaeological evidence from surviving structures but also a great body of written material in the form of inscriptions, regulations and treaties. Part 2 looks at the physical frontiers in more detail, the many different forms they take, from linear barriers of turf, brick, mud, timber or stone to discontinuous barriers of close-spaced towers, fortlets and enclosures. This section also examines the placing of the frontier within the landscape, the reasons for choosing specific sites and the incorporation of natural features — rivers, deserts, mountains, sea, forest and swamps — into the frontier system, and also the militarisation of the surrounding landscape, and the provision of supply lines and support services.

Part 3 asks important interpretative questions: what function did these frontiers serve, how did their use change over time, and were they successful? This is where archaeologists can fill many conference hours, pub sessions and published works debating whether frontiers are symbolic, military, part of the tax and customs bureaucracy, a means of preventing banditry and cattle raiding, defensive, offensive, a force for peace or for antagonism, parasitical on the people in whose midst they were built or a force for economic prosperity, a meeting place of cultures, a métissage (Salon’s editor has just learned this new word and has been looking for an opportunity to share it: it means the creative merging of cultures, languages and identities). David wisely avoids favouring any one explanation: they were all of these at different times and even simultaneously.

The book includes fifteen new maps of Roman frontiers, drawn for David by Kurt Schaller of the University of Salzburg. David has very generously placed these maps on a website, along with many other maps from his earlier publications and downloadable PDFs of his multi-lingual World Heritage Site monographs. They are available for anyone who wishes to make use of them in lectures or for other non-commercial uses and, says David, ‘it is our intention to keep the maps up-to-date and upload many photographs in due course’.

Books by Fellows: The Fall of the Western Roman Empire

Any author who tackles a subject like The Fall of the Western Roman Empire (ISBN 9780340759660; Bloomsbury Academic) must be aware of the weight of previous authors on your shoulders, starting with Gibbon and including the many books that have come out in recent years on the history of the end of the Roman world, Germanic and Barbarian Europe, the Migration period and early medieval Europe. Fellow Neil Christie finds much to say that is fresh by giving full weight in his book to the input of archaeology, and what we can learn from the built and buried heritage about change in the Roman West from c AD 250 to 500.

Two concepts are key to the book: one is that Roman culture is not something against which one can measure ‘decline’, because it is constantly changing — there is no fixed point at which one can say ‘this is the moment of glory and all else is decline’, and everyone’s experience of the Roman Empire was different depending where they lived. The second is related to the first: we have retrospectively imposed a teleological narrative on the period, and we tend to look for residual elements left amongst the decay that survive from a once glorious past, whereas the archaeology tells us that for those living through it, this was not a period of endings, or a period of which one can use the words ‘late’ or ‘last’ but of continuity, change, of newly created things as well as of old ones passing away.

Neil thus looks at the differences between being Roman in the fifth century, compared, say, to the second and prefers to discuss transformations, even if the title inevitably uses the ‘fall’ word. In doing so, he presents a gripping and readable account of the many ways that people responded to the kinds of stress that were peculiar to this period, the measures they took to adapt and survive, the new ways that some found to express power and authority and the growing influence of a new centralising force competing with the old authority in the form of the Christian religion. For some this might have been a period of decline characterised by a loss of water supply or public baths; for others it might have been anything but: what value do you place, for example, on the development of variety of expression in the forms of brooches, buckles and ceramics versus the mass-produced homogeneity of the earlier Empire? This is, in other words, a thought-provoking book that more than meets the challenge of moving on from Gibbon.

Books by Fellows: Provenance, Collectors, Dealers and Scholars in the Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain and America

Fellow Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek have produced a major new resource for the study of Chinese ceramics in Britain and America that is all the more timely for the interest being shown by newly wealthy Chinese collectors looking overseas for examples of their heritage that were largely destroyed within China itself during the Cultural Revolution. This 490-page book contains 1,065 biographies of collectors, dealers and scholars from Queen Mary II (1662—94) onwards, along with an introduction that is the fullest account to date of ceramic trade contacts between China, Britain and America from the sixteenth to the twenty-first-centuries.

Also included are sections on fakes, the psychology of collecting and a dissertation on export versus domestic wares, showing the many ways in which pieces from major collections in China, not made for export and made for Chinese aesthetic tastes, nevertheless found their way to the West. The book also includes unique and extensive information from the archive of Bluett’s, one of the main English dealers in Chinese ceramics of the twentieth century, with some 150 illustrations from Bluett’s archive.

As well as being packed with facts about China essential to an understanding of Chinese ceramics, the book also has a number of appendices, including collectors’ and dealers’ labels, details of auction sales (including pieces from Beijing’s Summer Palace) and a list of sales in America between 1869 and 1942. Roy says: ‘There is no similar book containing so much information on this subject, a very great deal of it not available anywhere else or in so accessible a form.’

Published privately, copies can be purchased from Roy Davids, The Old Forge, Rectory Road, Great Haseley, Oxford OX44 7JG, at the special Fellows’ price of £175 plus p & p (normally £200 plus p & p).

Vacancies

Royal Museums Greenwich: Director of Programming and Exhibitions
£60,000 to £75,000; closing date 3 February 2012

The postholder will ‘lead Royal Museums Greenwich in conceiving, programming and implementing world-class major temporary exhibitions, pursue a significant programme of permanent exhibitions replacement and renewal and drive the digital media strategy and learning activity’. A strong track record of delivering complex programmes in a museum, gallery or similar environment is required. More information form search consultants Odgers Berndtson.

Council for British Archaeology: four posts
Head of Communications and Marketing (full-time: £28,000—£30,000); closing date 9 February 2012
Membership Development Officer (full-time: £23,000—£26,000); Events Officer (part-time: £21,000); Information Officer (full-time: £22,000); closing date 20 February 2012

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) wishes to appoint three new members of staff to improve the communication and marketing of the CBA’s work, and to take forward a membership drive in line with the CBA’s strategy for ‘Making Archaeology Matter’. The CBA also has a vacancy for a full-time Information Officer. Further details and applications forms for each post are available from the CBA website and queries may be addressed to our Fellow Mike Heyworth, the CBA’s Director.

Reading University: one Senior Research and two Research posts
Senior Research Fellow (Team Leader) £37,012 per annum; Research Fellows £27,578 to £30,122; closing date 24 February 2012

Three researchers are being sought by Reading University for the Rural Settlement of Roman Britain project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, that will draw on the extensive body of grey literature resulting from developer-funded archaeology in England and Wales, and specifically to populate an online, geo-referenced database and to co-author a synthesis for printed publication, collaborating with the Archaeology Data Service, the University of York and Cotswold Archaeology. To discuss the posts informally, contact our Fellow Michael Fulford, Professor of Archaeology and Principal Investigator. To apply, visit the Reading University website.