The Society of Antiquaries of Londons 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 Salons editorial policy can be found on the Societys website and feedback should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.
The meetings programme to July 2012 can be seen on the Societys website.
15 March 2012: Digging at the Gateway: archaeological discovery on the East Kent Access Road, by Ken Welsh and Simon Mason
Kent County Councils new road link, the East Kent Access Phase 2, crosses the Isle of Thanet, one of the richest archaeological areas in Britain, long recognised as a gateway to the country for new peoples, cultures, ideas and trade. The landscape has important historical associations, including the Claudian invasion at nearby Richborough, the arrival of the Saxons and of Christianity, through St Augustines mission. The building of the road offered an unparalleled opportunity to explore the lives and customs of the people who lived in this important gateway, the contacts they made and the impact that these historically important events made upon them.
This paper describes the approach to one of the largest excavations in Britain in 2010, covering almost the entire road route and discovering a wealth of important archaeological remains. It presents the highlights of the fieldwork, including monuments dating to the Neolithic and Bronze Age, a landscape rich in settlements, enclosures, trackways and burials from the Iron Age to the Saxon period, a medieval farmstead and the defences of a Battle of Britain airfield.
A team of archaeologists from Bristol University has found a huge burial ground containing the remains of an estimated 5,000 slaves on the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena. Our Fellow Mark Horton, one of the excavations directors, said that the discovery was one of the most moving that I have ever seen in my archaeological career.
The excavation is taking place in advance of the construction of a new airport on the island, which lies 1,168 miles (1,870km) off the coast of south-west Africa and is only accessible by sea for the time being. The islands isolation was the reason why it was chosen for the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte after he was captured in July 1815. He died there in 1821, and St Helena was subsequently used as a landing place for slaves rescued from the ships of slave traders during the Royal Navys efforts to suppress the illegal slave trade between 1840 and 1872. Records show that some 26,000 freed slaves were brought to hospitals and refugee camps on the island, but the size of the newly discovered cemetery indicates the high mortality rate amongst those who had been held captive in appalling conditions before they were rescued.
Most of those who died were buried in shallow graves. Bristol Universitys Andrew Pearson, the Director of the project, said that 83 per cent of the burials excavated so far were of children, teenagers or young adults; most will have died of dehydration, dysentery and smallpox, which leave no pathological trace, but bone evidence suggests that scurvy was widespread, while some of the victims had suffered traumatic violence and two adolescents appear to have been shot. Despite being stripped of possessions at the time of their enslavement, a few had managed to retain beads and bracelets, and a number had metal tags identifying the slaves by name or number. The human remains are to be re-interred on St Helena, but some of the artefacts will be exhibited at Liverpools International Slavery Museum in 2013.
The National Trust announced on 6 March 2012 that Fiona Reynolds is stepping down from the post of Director General of the National Trust to become Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Lord Wilson of Dinton, Emmanuels current Master, retires on 30 September 2012 but Dame Fiona will not take up her new post until October 2013, having been granted a years leave of absence. A spokeswoman for the National Trust said that Dame Fiona would remain in post with the National Trust until her successor had been found, and that she was determined to see through the campaign that the National Trust has led to ensure that the new National Planning Framework (the revised version of which is due to be published later this week) was fit for purpose. Once she leaves the National Trust, Dame Fiona plans to write a book about her time with the organisation.
Dame Fiona said: as a graduate of Cambridge [Newnham College], I am thrilled to be going back to head one of its finest colleges. I have loved every minute of leading the National Trust and working with our passionate and dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters. I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved in the last eleven years.
Our Fellow Simon Jenkins, National Trust Chairman since 2008, said the organisation would miss her: Fiona has presided over a triumphant era in the history of the National Trust. Her strategic vision and personal leadership have made it one of Britains most popular institutions. She guided us with panache, first to financial solvency and then to four million members. We shall miss her, and wish her every success in the future.
Inevitably the news of Fionas resignation has set off a flurry of speculation about who might succeed her at the helm of the National Trust. Apparently, one can even bet on the outcome. The names suggested in the press range from the plausible to the bizarre; they include our Fellows Simon Thurley (English Heritage) and Sandy Nairn (National Portrait Gallery) as well as Kevin McCloud (journalist and TV presenter), Zac Goldsmith (MP), Lord Melchett (environmentalist) and Jonathan Porritt (ditto).
An article in the February issue of the Art Newspaper says that some sixty directors of major museums are due to retire by 2019, but that whereas in the past these jobs might have gone to someone with a business background, increasingly the top jobs in the museums and galleries sector are being awarded to people who have risen through the curatorial ranks.
Erica Cooke, the articles author, says that trustees in the past have wanted candidates with administrative experience to manage museum endowments and numerous departments and to raise funds. Hiring a curator with little experience of budgets or fundraising was perceived to be risky. But as special exhibitions are increasingly the engine of income and the catalyst for fundraising, trustees are turning to curators and a more creative approach. As an example, Philippe de Montebello, the former director of the Met, points to the appointment of our Fellow Thomas Campbell as his successor. Trustees, he says, realised that promoting an accountant was not going to land a great exhibition.
Elizabeth Easton, former Head of the Department of European Painting at the Brooklyn Museum, says that It is easier to teach business to art world professionals than it is to teach people from business about the art world. She has joined forces with Agnes Gund, President Emerita of New Yorks Museum of Modern Art, to set up the New York-based Center for Curatorial Leadership after growing increasingly frustrated at selection committees who put curators last. So far forty-one curators have taken part in the Curatorial Leadership programme; two-thirds of those have since been promoted to more senior posts, and five have been appointed to top posts.
One of those is Gary Tinterow, the new Director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, formerly Head of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Tinterow lists some of the skills involved in being a Director: one has to be not only an energiser, a motivator and a visionary, but one also has to be a consensus builder, as well as managing an organisation and balancing the budget. Above all, you have to be good at shifting structures and managing relationships, in a world that tends to be risk averse and wary of change.
The Institute of Archaeology at UCL is launching a new Heritage Policy Group, which, says our Fellow Joe Flatman, the groups facilitator, will provide critical intellectual leadership on issues of domestic and international heritage policy. Joe went on to say that the Heritage Policy Group will comment upon, monitor and inform the aims and objectives of governmental and non-governmental organisations as well as national, regional and local bodies concerned with archaeology and heritage, from the unique perspective and collective experience of the Institute of Archaeology.
Specifically, the group will organise heritage policy debates and events, formulate statements on heritage policy and provide an online collation of heritage policy statements and guidance produced by other organisations (though the latter objective is subject to funding being found). See the Institutes website for further information.
Coins salvaged by the Florida-based company Odyssey Marine from a wreck that they codenamed Black Swan have been returned to Spain after a five-year legal battle. Some 17 tons of eighteenth-century gold and silver coins (around 595,000 in number) were taken from the wreck in 2007 and flown to the United States, where they have been held in bond ever since. Once the discovery was made known, the Spanish government filed a claim arguing that the coins originated from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, the 36-gun Spanish frigate sunk off the coast of Portugal in 1804 with 200 people on board following a battle with four British navy ships. Spain claimed ownership of the wreck and its cargo on the grounds of sovereign immunity, under which naval vessels sunk while on active non-commercial duty remain the property of the country that commissioned them.
Odyssey Marines counter argument was that there was not enough evidence to prove that the wreck was the Mercedes and that, even if that were true, the ship sank while on a commercial voyage from Montevideo to Cadiz, carrying cargo owned by private merchants.
The legal issues were clouded when it was revealed as part of the so-called Wikileaks affair that US officials had handed over official documents to the Spanish authorities that would assist their case in return for Spains assistance in a separate claim, whereby Claude Cassirer, a US citizen, was seeking to recover Camille Pissarros painting, Rue St Honoré. Après-midi. Effet de Pluie (1897), which hangs in Madrids Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Spanish Culture Minister César Antonio Molina refused to link the Odyssey dispute with the issue over the painting, arguing that they were separate issues and that there was little the Spanish government could do about a painting that it did not own, and that belonged to a charitable foundation.
In the end, the coins were returned to Spain on a technicality: a US federal judge ruled that the United States had no jurisdiction in the case and ordered the coins to be returned to Spain, whence they were taken in on board two Spanish military aeroplanes, so great was the quantity. Spains ambassador to the United States, Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, said that a 200-year journey had now reached its conclusion and that we are recovering a historical legacy and a treasure. This is not money. This is historical heritage.
Mined, refined and minted in Peru while the country was part of the Spanish empire, the coins are valued at US$500 million, but Spain has ruled out the idea of selling the coins to help meet the countrys national debt. Instead, the coins will be divided and exhibited in several national museums.
Glasgow University criminologist Dr Simon Mackenzie and archaeologist Neil Brodie have secured a £1m grant from the European Research Council to study the illegal trade in antiquities. They will spend four years gathering and analysing data on the movements and motives of looters and traffickers, the types of activities involved, the methods used to transport and sell artefacts and the pricing structures. The aim is to develop new approaches fighting such criminal activities by understanding them better.
The illicit antiquities trade is extremely widespread, said Dr Mackenzie, who will lead the project; archaeological sites are being looted all over the world, including Britain and the USA. Nowhere is safe, and those involved have become adept at covering their tracks. The team plans to identify and interview those involved in the trade at each stage, including looters, police, customs officials, dealers and collectors.
Dr Mackenzie said that the people who sell looted material are very good at promoting their wares and creating a market. The buyers do not necessarily understand art and antiquities; they tend to be more casual consumers, people with money seeking a status symbol, and not concerned about the provenance of the object. Neil Brodie said that up-market magazines featuring antiquities as part of the décor also helped to fuel the market; buyers needed to be made more aware that looting limits our archaeological knowledge and destroys the cultural identity of those communities who suffer from looting: often these are groups that have been politically oppressed and whose political and cultural identities are intertwined.
It doesnt help, of course, that newspapers always report on works of art and archaeological discoveries in terms of their monetary value; nor do we in the heritage sector help by constantly referring to them as treasure. A case in point is the report that Italian police have just recovered a collection of thirty-seven stolen works of art worth an estimated £6 million (7.5 million euros). They include Judith and Holofernes, by Guido Reni, a Crucifixion by Rubens and another by Taddei Gaddi, a Baptism of Christ by Poussin, three thirteenth-century altarpieces, including one by Berlinghiero Berlinghieri, a Pisan School Virgin and Child and works by Luca Giordano, Salvator Rosa, Pietro Longhi, Luca di Leida, Palma il Vecchio, Paolo Veronese, Pieter van Laer, Van Dyck (pictured left) and Fragonard.
The works were stolen in 1971 from the house of a wealthy businessman in Rome and rediscovered when police raided two homes in the capital owned by a fifty-year-old woman who claims to have bought the works twenty years ago. Police were alerted to the whereabouts of the paintings when the woman decided to put four of them up for auction and photographs of the works appeared in an auction house catalogue. Five other art works, which were stolen at the same time, are still unaccounted for.
New excavations will go ahead this summer at threatened Flag Fen if the sum of £25,000 can be raised by the end of April by means of a technique known to internet aficionados as crowdfunding. The idea is to attract internet users to the digs website where they will be encouraged to sign up for different levels of engagement in return for a donation. A gift of £10 will give you access to features such as live video streaming from the dig, the find of the day and interviews with super-star archaeologists. For £125, donors can turn up at the dig and spend a day experiencing archaeology at first hand.
Several archaeologists are involved with the DigVentures project, including Brendon Wilkins (Wessex Archaeology), Raksha Dave (Time Team archaeologist) and Lisa Westcott Wilkins (former editor of Current Archaeology magazine). They say they are seeking to create a new model for funding community archaeology as an alternative to university research projects and developer-funded excavations. Flag Fen has been chosen for the first DigVentures project because unexcavated parts of the internationally important Bronze-Age site are under threat from the drainage and the slow drying up of the site, parts of which were first excavated by our Fellow Francis Pryor in 1982. A video interview with Francis supporting the project can be seen on the Digventures website.
Photograph: The Church of the Good Shepherd, Nottingham
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has just announced more than £15m of Lottery funding to support urgent repairs to 153 of Englands most important Grade I and II* listed places of worship, which Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the HLF, described as an irreplaceable part of our heritage that continue to play a vital role within local communities today.
Among the grants, £193,000 has been awarded to St Leonards Church, Shoreditch, a Grade I listed parish church built in 1736 to the design of George Dance the Elder. Currently on English Heritages At Risk register, this classical church will now undergo vital repairs to its roof and gutters along with investigative work to ascertain the condition of its 192ft spire.
£119,000 has also been awarded to the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Woodthorpe, Nottingham. Built in 1964 by Gerard Goalen, this Grade II* listed building incorporates striking stained glass by Patrick Reyntiens. The structure is suffering a form of decay known as concrete cancer, which is eroding the fabric of the building. This vital grant will enable the replacement of significant fascia panels, replace the buildings roof membrane and remove damaging rainwater from its flat roof.
Photograph: 'Yr Ysgwrn', Trawsfynydd, home of Hedd Wyn, with a collection of empty bardic chairs
The home of war poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, who wrote in Welsh under his Bardic name of Hedd Wyn, has been acquired for the nation with financial support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the Welsh Government and the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Hedd Wyns greatest poem Yr Arwr (The Hero) was written just a few months before he was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. It went on to secure him the bardic chair, the highest honour for poetry, at that years National Eisteddfod. In a moving ceremony attended by the Prime Minster David Lloyd George, his empty bardic chair was draped in black cloth.
Representing every empty chair across the nation where a son had not returned from the war, the Black Chair became a poignant symbol of Waless lost generation; it stands in the Grade II* listed farmhouse called Yr Ysgwrn that was Hedd Wyns home for most of his short life, and that has been preserved by his family as it was in the poets lifetime, reflecting its precise domestic arrangement of 100 years ago.
Announcing that it had been bought for the nation after the house came on the open market, Dr Manon Williams, NHMF Trustee for Wales, said it was a lasting memorial to the sacrifice made by Britains young men and women as the centenary of the First World War approaches and to Hedd Wyn, whose work continues to inspire todays new generation of Welsh-language poets.
Photograph: Archaeologist of the Year Tony Wilmott receives his award from Fellow Juliain Richards. In accdepting the award, Tony said: 'Thank you, Current Archaeology readers, for nominating me for this award it was a bright spot at the end of a very difficult year during which English Heritage had its funding cut by 32%. Im accepting this award on behalf of all people working in public service archaeology.
Our Fellow Jim Leary has been awarded the post of Field Archaeologist in Residence at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge. The post allows an archaeological practitioner to spend a term at the Institute pursuing research and giving seminars. Jim will be researching and writing up his work on prehistoric mounds (of the Silbury Hill, Marden Henge and Marlborough College variety). Jim will therefore be on sabbatical leave from English Heritage from April to June 2012.
Jims book, The Story of Silbury Hill, was one of those up for a prize at the Fourth Annual Current Archaeology Conference, held on 2 and 3 March 2012 at Londons Senate House, at which our Fellow Julian Richards handed out the awards. In a poll of the magazines 17,000-plus readers, it was another Fellow Joe Flatman who ended up with the award for Book of the Year 2012, however, for Becoming an Archaeologist (see Salon 268). The award for Archaeologist of the Year went to our Fellow Tony Wilmott, who faced stiff competition from Fellows Martin Carver and Mike Heyworth.
Salon 272 gave the wrong information about the location of the current Making History exhibition: It is, of course, on at the Yale Center for British Art, in New Haven, until 27 May ( ### Two errors crept into the list of gifts to the Society listed in the last issue of Salon, which omitted to say that Francisco Estrada-Belli, author of The First Maya Civilization: ritual and power before the Classic period (2011), is a Fellow, whilst wrongly describing Sturt Manning, co-editor of Tree-rings, Kings and Old World Archaeology and Environment: papers presented in honor of Peter Ian Kuniholm, as a Fellow. ### Fellow Frances Palmer comments wittily on Salons occasional spelling errors that can be more apt than the intended word, as in leaned societies rather than learned: this is, says Frances, an example of the phenomenon of in typo veritas, where your fingers type the truth your mouth dare not articulate. ### Several Fellows wrote to welcome the news that the Carpow Bronze Age logboat was now on display in Perth Museum but to point out that the freeze-drier mentioned in Salons report is not an oven (quite the opposite)! Salons report omitted to say that the conservation work was carried out at the National Museums Scotland Conservation and Analytical Research Laboratory, Granton, Edinburgh, by the (now-retired) NMS conservator Dr Theo Skinner, assisted by NMS conservators Jane Clark and Charles Stable, and that the work was funded by Historic Scotland and the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust. ### Fellow Margaret Faull OBE returns to the question of why Donald Margary, author of Roman Roads, might have turned down the honour he was offered. Margaret says the theory that he might not have known about the offer if the envelope had been wrongly addressed is a little unlikely for two reasons. Firstly the envelope in which the offer of an honour arrives could scarcely be mistaken for junk mail, as it is of very good quality paper with the origins clearly marked on the outside. Secondly if somebody does not respond, the Honours Office does not simply assume they are not interested, they follow it up. The offer letter for one of my colleagues arrived while he was away on holiday; a fortnight later, as he came through the front door the telephone was ringing to enquire whether he had received the letter and what his response was. ### Fellow Alan Saville questions whether the report in Salon 272 (on a paper just published in Antiquity (Vol 86, no. 331, March 2012) is saying anything new in pointing to Teilhard de Chardin as the hoaxer behind Piltdown Man. Quite apart from the initial suggestions by Louis Leakey and then the attacks by Stephen Jay Gould in the 1980s, J Francis Thackeray, the author of the Antiquity paper, has himself been banging this drum for decades (see his note in Current Anthropology 33.5 (1992), 5879). Alan goes on to say: it remains the position that nothing that Thackeray has to say proves the case against Teilhard de Chardin conclusively, and he ignores conflicting accounts, such as that published by Lukas and Lukas in Antiquity (57 (1983), 711) when countering Goulds accusations. Thackeray is also selective in focusing on the skull and ignoring the rest of the Piltdown fraud (recently covered in admirable detail by John McNabb in Archaeological Journal 163 (2006), 141). ### Fellow Jack Ogden, Chief Executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, writes to say that the mention of the British Museums Olympic medal exhibition in Salon 272 raises an interesting issue of terminology. The gold medals awarded to Olympic champions are not made of gold, but of gold-plated silver. To refer to them as gold (especially in any formal UK context) is totally contrary to the Hallmarking Acts. The question has to be asked as to whether an additional Act of Parliament is required to allow such misleading descriptions to be used on a temporary basis during the Games? It will be interesting to see how the BM handles this issue in their exhibition.
Two errors crept into the list of gifts to the Society listed in the last issue of Salon, which omitted to say that Francisco Estrada-Belli, author of The First Maya Civilization: ritual and power before the Classic period (2011), is a Fellow, whilst wrongly describing Sturt Manning, co-editor of Tree-rings, Kings and Old World Archaeology and Environment: papers presented in honor of Peter Ian Kuniholm, as a Fellow.
Fellow Frances Palmer comments wittily on Salons occasional spelling errors that can be more apt than the intended word, as in leaned societies rather than learned: this is, says Frances, an example of the phenomenon of in typo veritas, where your fingers type the truth your mouth dare not articulate.
Several Fellows wrote to welcome the news that the Carpow Bronze Age logboat was now on display in Perth Museum but to point out that the freeze-drier mentioned in Salons report is not an oven (quite the opposite)! Salons report omitted to say that the conservation work was carried out at the National Museums Scotland Conservation and Analytical Research Laboratory, Granton, Edinburgh, by the (now-retired) NMS conservator Dr Theo Skinner, assisted by NMS conservators Jane Clark and Charles Stable, and that the work was funded by Historic Scotland and the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.
Fellow Margaret Faull OBE returns to the question of why Donald Margary, author of Roman Roads, might have turned down the honour he was offered. Margaret says the theory that he might not have known about the offer if the envelope had been wrongly addressed is a little unlikely for two reasons. Firstly the envelope in which the offer of an honour arrives could scarcely be mistaken for junk mail, as it is of very good quality paper with the origins clearly marked on the outside. Secondly if somebody does not respond, the Honours Office does not simply assume they are not interested, they follow it up. The offer letter for one of my colleagues arrived while he was away on holiday; a fortnight later, as he came through the front door the telephone was ringing to enquire whether he had received the letter and what his response was.
Fellow Alan Saville questions whether the report in Salon 272 (on a paper just published in Antiquity (Vol 86, no. 331, March 2012) is saying anything new in pointing to Teilhard de Chardin as the hoaxer behind Piltdown Man. Quite apart from the initial suggestions by Louis Leakey and then the attacks by Stephen Jay Gould in the 1980s, J Francis Thackeray, the author of the Antiquity paper, has himself been banging this drum for decades (see his note in Current Anthropology 33.5 (1992), 5879).
Alan goes on to say: it remains the position that nothing that Thackeray has to say proves the case against Teilhard de Chardin conclusively, and he ignores conflicting accounts, such as that published by Lukas and Lukas in Antiquity (57 (1983), 711) when countering Goulds accusations. Thackeray is also selective in focusing on the skull and ignoring the rest of the Piltdown fraud (recently covered in admirable detail by John McNabb in Archaeological Journal 163 (2006), 141).
Fellow Jack Ogden, Chief Executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, writes to say that the mention of the British Museums Olympic medal exhibition in Salon 272 raises an interesting issue of terminology. The gold medals awarded to Olympic champions are not made of gold, but of gold-plated silver. To refer to them as gold (especially in any formal UK context) is totally contrary to the Hallmarking Acts. The question has to be asked as to whether an additional Act of Parliament is required to allow such misleading descriptions to be used on a temporary basis during the Games? It will be interesting to see how the BM handles this issue in their exhibition.
Fellow Hugh Cheape says that he is enjoying Salons hoaxes thread and writes to throw further light on the episode from The Antiquary quoted in the last issue, which we in the National Museums of Scotland used as the centrepiece for an exhibition we ran in Glasgow in 1990, called Scotland Creates, since when I have always relished this description of the meeting on the Kaim of Kinprunes.
Hugh goes on to say that some of the jokes in this cameo moment in the novel might be lost on those not well acquainted with Scottish material culture and dialect. Edie Ochiltree (whom you denigrate as an old beggar) was proud to be a blue-gown beggar, which carried a certain status in Scotland [bluegowns or bedesmen were licensed paupers who, on the monarchs birthday, were entitled to a bread roll, tankard of ale, leather purse for collecting alms and a new woollen cloak dyed blue]. He himself seems to have been involved in the construction of the Kaim, indeed may have been its sole architect, as revealed by his throwaway remark: I biggit [built] it wi a flauchter.
A flauchter (pictured) was a particular form of spade that most Scots of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would immediately recognise and Scotts deft use of dialect would conjure up a very potent image. This picture (left) shows an example from 1838. The tool would be about six feet in length and would be worked at a low angle to the ground, with the large cross-bar or handle braced against the waist or thighs, to push the blade under the sod and lift long strips of turf. In this case, the old spade-type is being adapted to the modern process of stripping off the turf preparatory to digging a drain. Its earlier and principal function was to lift turf in the cultivation process, in opening up new ground in order to dig peat, in the careful removal of turf that is destined to be relayed, or in raising turfs for roofing and thatching. Scott, in this exchange in The Antiquary, heightens the humour of the situation created by two different worlds and cultures in tension by using the Old Scots term, which simply adds to the confusion of Oldbuck and the mystification of Lovell.
The word flauchter itself is cognate in its root with flay, which, says High, is probably considered to have an Anglo-Saxon or Old English etymology. I think the dictionaries are a bit ambivalent (not surprisingly) but it rather shows the conservatism of Scottish dialects and the concept that what the linguists call Northern English should just be labelled Scots! Long service in the National Museums of Scotland introduced me to the flauchter spade and its use, and I was able to add two examples to the collections significantly, they came from North East Scotland where I believe the novel is at least notionally set. The coach from Edinburgh, the visualisation of the landscape and the mention of the Hospitalfield by Arbroath are all pointers to Scott's accurate scene-setting in The Antiquary.
Photograph: The former Oxford Arms, on Warwick Lane, demolished to make way for an extension to the Old Bailey in the late 1870s
Our Librarian, Heather Rowland, responds to two of the points raised in the last issue of Salon. First, in regard to Fellow Ian Leiths comments on photographs of nineteenth-century London, Fellows might like to know that the Society has an incomplete set of the photographs of the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London (SPROL). We have numbers 1 to 48, which were issued between 1875 and 1880. SPROL originated when a few individuals decided to preserve a record of the Oxford Arms Inn on Warwick Lane (adjacent to the Old Bailey), threatened with destruction in 1875, and actually demolished a few years later. The project, which was promoted to the public by means of a letter to The Times, was so well received that it enabled SPROL to embark on a series of photographic records, publishing 120 photographs in total, over a period of twelve years. Id be very interested to hear if anyone comes across numbers 49 to 120 so we can complete our set.
Fellows might also like to know that an almost complete set (119 out of 120) of SPROL photographs can be seen on the website of the Royal Academy. Furthermore, there is an exhibition currently showing at the Wandsworth Museum of historic London photographs, twelve of which can be viewed on the website of the Daily Telegraph. The photographs are unusual in that many of them show people at work; something that some architectural photographers sought to exclude from their photographs in order to give them a timeless air.
In reply to Robert Merrilleess question regarding the whereabouts of the archives of the brother of Bishop Robert William Willson, Tasmanias first Roman Catholic bishop, I can confirm that the Society did indeed acquire a substantial part of the collection of Edward James Willson (17871854), architect, antiquary and Fellow. The collection of papers, drawings and plans that the Society acquired relates to Lincoln and Lincolnshire where Willson, in his capacity as County Surveyor, restored Lincoln Castle and many Lincolnshire churches. It consists of a series of twenty volumes (MS 786/120), plus drawings, plans, engravings, etc, in portfolios and albums (MS 786/AN).
Fellow Mark Samuel wishes to call on the prodigious knowledge of the Fellowship to find out more about a picture that he was given as a present: an appropriate gift for a scholar, it is a nineteenth-century engraving of Christ among the Doctors; does anyone know the original painting, which Mark suspects might be French?
Fellow Robert Waterhouse, of the Société Jersiaise, writes to say that he is researching the origins of a small cast bronze breech-loading swivel gun found on the Minquiers Reef between Jersey and Normandy in the 1960s (pictured). I have made a detailed drawn record of the gun, which conforms to a type known as an Esmeril, or man killer, commonly mounted on the rails of galleys or galleasses, notably in ships of the Spanish Armada of the 1580s. In order to compare it with other such weapons, I have been looking at finds from Spanish Armada wreck sites in Ireland and Scotland. One esmeril is known from the Armada galleass Girona, now in the Royal Ulster Museum, Belfast, and which to date is the only published example known to me. In order to compare more such weapons, I have been in contact with Fellow Alex Hildred, who put me on to a gentleman in Scotland who has knowledge of several such guns salvaged from the San Juan de Sicilia, one of the Spanish Armada ships that sank in Tobermory Bay, near Oban, Scotland in 1588. He has been most helpful, but does not know what has become of several of the salvaged guns from the site.
The wreck site of the Tobermory Galleon has had a chequered history of fairly crude salvage, with a Colonel Foss dragging the wreck site from a salvage vessel in 1922, grubbing up 2 small guns, both breechloaders, 1 with small bore, 1 with larger bore. It is possible that a castle in the Highlands acquired them, but it is not known where they are now. A further small-bore gun was found in 1955, when the Royal Navy had a go, which was given to the Admiral in charge. After his death, it was sold via Christies in London in 2001. It may have been bought by an antique dealer in London, to be an exhibit outside his shop, but this one too has disappeared. To date, I have only traced two guns from the wreck, one being owned by Charterhouse School, Surrey, while another is in the possession of the Duke of Argyll. Does anyone know what became of the others?
Photograph: John Steer (right) receiving his honorary degree from St Andrews in 1990
It is with regret that we announce the recent deaths of Fellows Professor John R Steer (elected 8 January 1981), John Wacher (elected 7 March 1957) and Veronica Tatton-Brown (elected 5 May 1977). We hope to be able to publish obituaries for John and Veronica in the next issue of Salon.
John Steer (19282012) was appointed to the first Chair in Fine Arts at the University of St Andrews in 1967. At the time universities around the UK were only just beginning to realise the importance of the history of art as an area of academic study. John started teaching in a hut in the grounds of the building that housed the Philosophy department; by the time he left in 1980 to take up the position of Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck College (as it was then), he had created the burgeoning department now known as the School of Art History that enjoys a reputation as among the best in the UK. John remained at Birkbeck, until his retirement in 1984. Specialising in Venetian Renaissance painting, his scholarly works include A Concise History of Venetian Painting (Thames & Hudson 1970) and the standard monograph on Alvise Vivarini (CUP 1982).
Before moving to London, John played a played a leading role in the development of ballet in Scotland, being involved for several years with the artistic direction and management of the Scottish Theatre Ballet. He was Chairman of the Association of Art Historians (AAH) of Great Britain in 19803, and an interview with John Steer can be heard on the AAH website, recorded in 2009 as part of the AAH Oral Histories project, in which he speaks about the early days of art history teaching and about the influence on the subject of the Courtauld Institutes Director, Anthony Blunt, and Deputy Director, Johannes Wilde.
15 April 2012: Urbs Turrita: towers in medieval cities and towns, the Third Conference on Towers in Medieval Europe will take place in Krakow, Poland, on 20 to 23 July 2012 at the Institute of Archaeology, The Jagiellonian University in Krakow. An abstract (up to 300 words) for a thirty-minute paper should be submitted to our Fellow Professor Richard Oram or Dr Przemyslaw Nocun by 15 April 2012. Proposals regarding tower houses and urban elites in medieval cities and towns and towers as landmarks of the medieval city and town would be especially welcome. The official language of the conference is English (in special situations French or German can be accepted). The papers will be published as the third volume of the Towers series. Acceptance for papers will be confirmed by the conference committee by 25 April 2012.
1 May 2012: Memory, monuments and history in the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age archaeology of Europe with special reference to Scotland and Sardinia. Titles and abstracts to be sent to Dr Isabelle Vella Gregory by 1 May 2012 for this conference to be held on 21 to 23 September 2012 at the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research and Magdalene College, Cambridge, on archaeological approaches to memory in later European prehistory. While the focus is on Scotland and Sardinia in the Bronze and Iron Ages, papers are very welcome on archaeological approaches to memory in later European prehistory from other regions and periods. For further details see the conference website, or contact our Fellow Simon Stoddart.
1 June 2012: Plantations amidst Savagery? Reformed monastic orders in north Europe c 1100c 1600. In 1113 David, youngest son of St Margaret of Scotland, founded a colony from St Bernard of Abbevilles abbey of Thiron-Gardais at Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. This community was the first of any of the reformed Benedictine or Augustinian monastic orders to be founded in the British Isles. The arrival of these continental monks heralded an era of profound religious, political, cultural, social and economic transformation in the lands along the northern rim of Christendom from Scotland and Ireland in the west, through England, Scandinavia and north Germany, to Poland and Estonia in the east. To celebrate the 900th anniversary of this event, the University of Stirling, supported by Historic Scotland, is hosting a multi-disciplinary conference (on 9 to 12 July 2013) that will bring together scholars from across Europe and North America to explore the monastic impact on the culture and society of northern Europe from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries and its modern legacies.
The organisers invite proposals for sessions (panels of three papers), individual papers and posters by 1 June 2012 from all areas of monastic studies, but proposals which fall within the general scope of the following headings will be especially welcome: The Orders (monks, nuns and canons regular); Monastic hospitals and medicine; Colonist monks and native peoples; Economies and trade; Monasteries and patrons; Estates and estate-management; Music; Water and aquatic resource management; Liturgies and liturgical arrangements; Engineering and technology; Literature and Learning; Interpreting for the non-academic public; Art and architecture; Sources and data-management; Secularisation and reform; Virtual modelling; Shrines and pilgrimages; Crafts and industries.
Proposal outlines and enquiries should be sent to our Fellow Professor Richard Oram, School of Arts and Humanities, University of Stirling.
13 March 2012: The medieval peasant house in the Midlands, by our Fellow Nat Alcock, 5.15pm, Stewart House, Room 273, 32 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DN (adjacent to Senate House). Nat Alcock has published fifteen books and more than sixty papers in the field of vernacular architecture, most recently the handbook, Documenting the History of Houses (British Records Association, 2003). His work has included the first major studies on vernacular architecture in Devon and Bedfordshire, and at a national level the examination of cruck and base-cruck construction, and the application of radiocarbon dating to buildings. He has also been particularly interested in the correlation of documentary and architectural evidence for buildings, especially using probate inventories. For further information, see the website of the Institute of Historical Research.
19 March 2012: Collecting in the Mughal Courts: Akbar and Jahangir, by Rachel Parikh, 5.30pm, Wallace Collection Lecture Theatre. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, just as Europeans were introduced to man-made and natural curiosities through their explorations of the new world, so too did the peoples of the once unreachable lands of India also enjoy the fruits of new connections, not just with the western world, but also with their equally exotic neighbours. This paper will examine the collections and collecting practices of the third Mughal emperor, Akbar (reigned 15561605), and his son, Jahangir (reigned 16051627). This paper will place these Mughal emperors within the global history of collecting and demonstrate the importance of collecting in the non-western world, which has been overshadowed by the European Age of Exploration and the rise of western early modern collecting.
Further information and details of future seminars can now be found on the Wallace Collections website.
29 March 2012: The Road to Ruins, an evening in honour of our Fellow Ian Graham, Director Emeritus, Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, Harvard University, 6pm at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, London W1J 0BE. Three guest speakers (Fellows Elizabeth Graham and Norman Hammond and David Pendergast) will give a general introduction to Maya hieroglyphs and discuss the role of Ian Graham in the history of their decipherment, after which there will be a reception, when Ian Graham will sign copies of his recently published autobiography, The Road to Ruins (pictured left). All are welcome; please confirm that you wish to attend by sending an email to Clara Bezanilla.
Ian Graham is best known as the founding director of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Program at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation genius grant in 1981, and remained the Maya Corpus program director until his retirement in 2004. Grahams careful recording of Maya inscriptions are often credited with making the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphics possible. He now lives in England and, in addition to the many volumes of his Corpus, he is the author of Alfred Maudslay and the Maya, a biography of the early Mayanist Sir Alfred Maudslay.
31 March 2012: Celebrating early applied arts: Mosaic, organised by ASPRoM and the British Museum, 9.30am to 6.30pm, Anatomy Theatre, Kings College London (6th floor of the Kings Building, part of the Strand Campus, at London WC2R 2LS). Tickets cost £15 and include lunch; they can be booked via the Kings website. Several Fellows will be speaking, and the mornings general topics will include the historiography of mosaic studies in Britain, new directions for mosaic studies, the conservation of mosaics and new approaches to mosaics and tourism. The afternoon will largely be devoted to the Hinton St Mary mosaic, its archaeological context, conservation and display, iconography and place within the provincial art of fourth-century Britain.
28 April 2012: The repatriation of archaeological artefacts and reburial of human remains is the theme of the Durham University Archaeology Society Conference 2012, 10am to 5pm, at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Dawson Building, Durham University Science Site, Stockton Road, Durham. This interdisciplinary event will bring together staff from Durham Universitys Archaeology, Anthropology, Philosophy and Law departments, as well as academics from Newcastle Universitys International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies and experts from around the UK, including Professor Piotr Bienkowski (University of Manchester), Dr Tiffany Jenkins (sociologist and author of Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections: the crisis of cultural authority) and Dr Duncan Sayer (University of Central Lancashire); a paper by Emma Restall-Orr (Honouring the Dead) will be presented by Lauren Moreau (Leeds University). For further information see the conference website.
28 April 2012: The Annual Cambridge Heritage Seminar, at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Site, Cambridge, brings together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to reflect on their personal contributions to heritage studies and on the emergence and trajectory of heritage as a discipline and to explore the most pressing issues in heritage studies today. For more information, see the McDonald Institutes website.
3 May 2012: Diana and Callisto and its place in the work of Titian and in the context of sixteenth-century Venice, a lecture in aid of Venice in Peril to be given by our Fellow Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, following the acquisition of Titians masterpiece, Diana and Callisto. Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR; doors open at 6pm, lecture begins at 7pm. Tickets: £15 for members of the Fund and £20 for non-members, available online from the Venice in Peril shop.
10 May 2012: Stained Glass: a symposium and tour of Strawberry Hill. Leading figures will give lectures on the panels of c 1200 from the Corona of Canterbury Cathedral, the early fifteenth-century work of John Thornton, master of York Minsters east window at St Michaels, Coventry, and Strawberry Hill itself with Walpole's eclectic assemblage of Netherlandish glass. Lunch is then followed by a tour of the house. To book see the website of the World Monuments Fund.
6 to 8 June 2012: The making of a monarchy for the modern world, a three-day conference at Kensington Palace hosted by Historic Royal Palaces. Papers will address a range of inter-related topics covering the period from 1688 to the present day, including: the differences between British and continental monarchies, the global reach of the British monarchy, royal dress and material culture, the portrayal of monarchs in film and theatre and the relationship between royalty and the media. Keynote speakers include our Fellow Professor Sir David Cannadine (Princeton University), Professor Maya Jasanoff (Harvard University) and Professor Emeritus Aileen Ribeiro (Courtauld Institute of Art) and amongst those scheduled to take part are our Fellows Giles Waterfield, Jonathan Marsden and Lucy Worsley. For a detailed programme and online booking see the conference website.
14 July 2012: Archaeology in Hertfordshire: recent research, a conference hosted by the Welwyn Archaeological Society to mark the eightieth birthday of our Fellow Tony Rook, to be held in the Terrace Suite, Campus West, Welwyn Garden City, starting at 9am. Speakers include Fellows Kris Lockyear, Stewart Bryant, Gil Burleigh and Isobel Thompson, plus John Baker, Pete Boyer, Keith Matthews, Anne Rowe and Simon West. Tickets cost £17.50 (includes morning and afternoon tea/coffee but not lunch). Please enclose a stamped, addressed envelope with payment to: Kris Lockyear, 3 Lamer Park, Lamer Lane, Wheathampstead AL4 8RJ. Further details will be posted on the Welwyn Archaeological Societys website as details become available.
28 July 2012: Thetford: the medieval church in context, a one-day conference organised by the Society for Church Archaeology, will be held in the town, an important Anglo-Saxon centre whose minster church became the cathedral of the diocese of Norfolk from 1075 until 1094, when it moved to upstart Norwich. Confirmed speakers include Fellow Joe Elders on The Road to ruin (and redemption?): the story of Thetford St Mary the Less; Fellow Jackie Hall on Dissolution, excavation and the Howard tombs at Thetford Priory; Duncan Wright on Minsters, settlement and society in eastern England: the Middle Saxon Church in context; and Richard Hoggett on The East Anglian dioceses before the Conquest. For further information, see the Societys website.
Our Fellow John Schofield (of London) reports that the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) has digitised its entire run of journals from 2005 back to 1860 (though with gaps) and has put them on its website. A contents list is provided for each volume, but you can only download complete volumes (in PDF format), not individual papers. This series comprises fifty-six volumes a complete London archive at your fingertips.
Picture: Ossie Clark/Celia Birtwell dress from the Bath Fashion Museums study centre: photographed by Sally Grant 2011; reproduced with kind permission from Bath City Council
Last year, the Societys Janet Arnold Award was given to Sally Grant to enable her to study the work of Ossie Clark, one of the pioneers of the style that we now associate with the 1960s and 1970s. Sally says that Clarks clothes were cut to be seductive, in response to an increasingly permissive society, and they blended a number of influences, including the North African ethnic look that was popular at the time, the bohemian chic of the Chelsea set and 1950s Hollywood glamour.
Sallys work has involved analysing the cut and construction methods used by Clark, who not only designed the clothes, but also made them himself, unlike many of the celebrity designers of today. By analysing the secrets of his technique, she is helping to explain what had previously been anecdotal, the often repeated view that his ability to cut was central to his success. Sallys work is creating a new body of information about the history of fashion design in London between 1968 and 1977, and a new understanding of material held by such museums as the V&A and the Bath Fashion Museum. Sally has since been given a second Janet Arnold Award to enable her to study the work of Celia Birtwell, Clarks main collaborator.
If any of the many Fellows of our Society who are interested in textiles history would like a copy of Sallys summary report, she would be very happy to send it in PDF format, illustrated with examples of the eras fashion: a chance, perhaps, to remind yourself of what you wore in those romantic decades when, for an all-too brief time, to be young was very Heaven.
Salons editor has been greatly enjoying a slim book (a mere 104 pages) packed with pictures (three, four or five to the spread) of vernacular buildings in various states of repair or ruination, and of people quarrying stone, making bricks, splitting slate, making lime mortar, building an oak roof truss, laying thatch, building a cob wall. Fellow Matthew Slocombes book, Traditional Building Materials (ISBN: 9780747808404; Shire Library), is Clifton-Taylor condensed, a book that begins with a map of Englands geology, whose pictures and text show us what we have lost in an age of anytown architecture, and one that shows us what remains from an earlier age that we need to cherish. As you would expect from the Director of the SPAB, the book also tells us how best to look after this precious legacy and is larded with good advice on the maintenance of traditional buildings.
Another slim booklet that is nevertheless packed with compressed information is Oxfordshire Contributors to the Free and Voluntary Present to King Charles II, 1661, by Fellow Jeremy Gibson (ISBN: 9780905863214; available from Jeremy (tel: 01993 882982) for £5 plus £1 p&p; or from the Oxfordshire Family History Society). The so-called Free and Voluntary Present is a little bit like the current 50 per cent rate of income tax in England: if, as is claimed by its opponents, it is a voluntary tax that is easily avoided by the wealthy, how come they are spending so much time and energy lobbying for it to be scrapped? The lobbying rather suggests that it is not so voluntary after all, and the same could be said of this seventeenth-century quasi-tax, one of the first attempts by the Parliament of the day to raise money to support Charles II on his Restoration, to which most of the better off did contribute. This transcription (by Gwyn de Jong) identifies the contributors by parish, name and amount and thus is a census of the prosperous people of the day that can be tied to other types of householder record, including the Hearth Tax that was introduced the following year, in 1662, once Parliament had got into its taxation stride.
Monetisation is very much a vogue word at the moment, whether used by economists to discuss government borrowing (converting loan bonds into cash in massive amounts to pay for sovereign debt) or by entrepreneurs looking for ways to monetise the idea for a new website, say: in other words, to turn it into a stream of real money income. Fellows James Graham-Campbell and Gareth Williams together with Søren Sindbæk use the word in Silver Economies, Monetisation and Society in Scandinavia AD 8001100 (ISBN: 9788779345850; Aarhus University Press) to argue that there is nothing new in the idea and that we can trace the origins of the modern money-based economy to medieval Scandinavia specifically to that period of transition when the stuff of display the bling worn by a few people in the past to show their power and status was being hacked into smaller pieces of silver to create currency with a universally accepted value.
You could call it money laundering, given that much of the bling was taken in raids, but we are supposed these days to regard the Vikings in a more positive light, as skilled traders and artisans. This book makes a strong case for seeing them as precursors to modern central banks: by monetising their loot literally cutting up the jewellery to create pieces of a specified weight they laid the foundations of an egalitarian money-based economy out of the possessions of the few.
The essays in this volume reveal the complex workings of the monetisation process, during which several different silver economies co-existed and interacted, alongside a barter economy. Dedicated to the memory of our late Fellow Mark Blackburn, the book has been hailed as bringing archaeology and numismatics into positive interaction.
Mount Athos: microcosm of the Christian East (ISBN: 9783039119950; Peter Lang) consists of a series of essays edited by our Fellow Graham Speake, founder and secretary of the Friends of Mount Athos, and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, on the 1,200-year history of the holy mountain and its monastery founded in AD 963. Mount Athos, we learn, is the sole survivor of a number of such holy mountains and associated monasteries spread across Asia Minor that had all been destroyed as the Byzantine Empire lost power and influence to the Seljuq Turks in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. Being unique and ancient, it thus commands a place of immense importance in the Orthodox Christian world, being both international in its ethos and at the same time so secretive as to be little but a name to most people. This book opens a window onto the surprisingly cosmopolitan world of Mount Athos, the one place in the world, perhaps, where Georgians, Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Amalfitans, Greeks and Romanians live together in fraternal peace.
Edited by Fellows Julian Luxford and John McNeill, The Medieval Chantry in England (ISBN: 9781907975165; Maney Publishing) consists of eleven essays on the theme of the chantry, which perhaps we associate with a physical structure, the chantry chapel, but which began as a religious institution, an endowment of lands, goods or money to pay for a priest to perform mass at regular intervals for the spiritual benefit of the donor, and more generally for the souls of all faithful dead. Predicated on the idea that you can buy, bargain or pray your way into Paradise, you can see why Protestant reformers saw chantries as the epitome of all that was corrupt in the medieval Roman Catholic Church.
Fortunately for us, the iconoclasts of the sixteenth century tended to focus on the destruction of chantry altars, statuary and paintings, often leaving the gloriously carved screens of wood or stone demarcating chantry chapels. From these tantalising remains, the authors of these essays manage to recover a wealth of information about the origins and development of chantry art and architecture, along with the liturgy and music associated with chantries, the textiles donated to them to provide for vestments and altar clothes, and the specific provisions for chantries made in the wills of such founders as William of Wykeham and Bishop Edmund Audley of Hereford and Salisbury.
The work of our Fellow Robert Tittler, who gave a lecture to the Society on the subject on 1 December 2011, Portraits, Painters and Publics in Provincial England 15401640 (ISBN: 9780199585601; Oxford University Press) contrasts the foreign-influenced portraiture of the court and metropolis in Tudor and early Stuart England with English provincial portraiture. Robert shows that there was a burgeoning of demand for family portraits in post-Reformation England, which was surprisingly widespread both socially and geographically throughout the realm. His study of surviving vernacular examples suggests that there was a ready supply of craftsmen painters working in other fields that readily turned their hands to portraiture. In considering the aims and vocabulary of English provincial portraiture, he suggests a closer connection between portraiture and heraldry in England than was true elsewhere in Europe at the time.
Were you aware that there are now enough international heritage laws and conventions to fill a book of 343 pages of densely packed text? Fellow Patrick OKeefe, a consultant to many governments in the drafting of heritage protection legislation, has brought them all together, along with Lyndel Prott, former Director of UNESCOs Cultural Heritage Division, in a volume called Cultural Heritage Conventions and Other Instruments: a compendium with commentaries (ISBN: 9781903987124; Institute of Art and Law). Most of the instruments in the book are conventions, protocols and recommendations: in other words they are non-binding expressions of hope rather than laws that can be enforced, which says a lot, unfortunately, about the priority that governments place on heritage protection. This book includes tables showing which states parties as they tend to be called in international law (countries to you and me) have ratified which treaties, and when. The commentaries that introduce the text of each convention draw out the key points and discuss any subsequent case law that might affect the interpretation of specific phrases and words. Looking back at some sixty years worth of standard setting for the cultural heritage, the authors conclude that important groundwork has been done, but that sometime in the future there will be a need to try to rationalise this great body of material so as to make it consistent and easily accessible to future managers.
It turns out that the divide in the title of this volume should be plural, for the editors, our Fellow Tom Moore and Xosê-Lois Armada, identify several deep divisions in the study of the later Bronze Age and the Iron Age in western Europe, namely the methodological, theoretical and nationalistic (characterised by studies that focus on regional and national concerns and agendas). The aim of Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BC: crossing the divide (ISBN: 9780199567959; Oxford University Press) is to return to the old-fashioned enterprise of broader geographic approaches, narratives and syntheses. Starting as the book means to go on, the editors introductory discussion includes maps and tables that look simple but that represent the fruit of years of research, showing comparative chronologies for western Europe and geographical zones linked by cultural and economic activity (one of which, extending from the Alps in an arc northwards to Danebury, is named the economic banana). Having set out the issues, the remainder of the book consists of papers grouped under the four principal themes of landscape studies, social structure, continuity and change and life and death, plus a final historiographical section examining the origins of some of the models that have become pervasive in our thinking about this period.
Overall the book makes a powerful case, applicable to all periods and not just the first millennium BC, for breaking free of modern borders, languages and academic traditions that have no relevance to the past: the trouble is, as our Fellow Kristian Kristiansen points out, the nations with the international language claims tend to be the most insular: linguistic dominance of the world tends to go hand in hand with a monolingual approach to reading; vice versa, academics from countries with smaller populations, such as Scandinavia and the Baltic States, are the ones who demonstrate most familiarity with other languages and reading outside their own borders. Perhaps the unspoken conclusion from this book, then, is that language teaching ought to form part of undergraduate archaeology degrees and that fluency in at least one other language than English ought to be a requirement for admission to a postgraduate degree course.
Salons editor tries very hard always to be as positive as possible about the books that Fellows write, but this one can only be described as filthy, disgusting, scatological, depraved ― but also hilarious, especially as the text by our Fellow Paul Bahn is so wittily accompanied by Bill Tidys wonderful cartoons that always seem so innocent even when illustrating some outrageously perverted activity. Gathered together in Disgraceful Archaeology: or things you shouldnt know about the history of mankind (ISBN: 9780752465968; History Press) are hundreds of the kind of anecdote that we might associate with the Gabinetto degli oggetti riservati in Naples; but where once you needed a royal permit to study the evidence of classical decadence, now you need only buy this book.
Paul Bahn has an almost poetic touch when it comes to retelling these anecdotes: Salons editor would love to quote one especially choice passage on the Easter Island rock carvings but sadly it would mean that Salon would not get through your email systems unacceptable language filter. Instead, there is this thought, from the introduction to the book, from our late Fellow Glyn Daniel: we should remember, he often emphasised, that archaeology is a vast and multifaceted subject, with many roles to play, not the least important of which is to remind us that our ancestors were not always serious, downtrodden, spiritual and fearful creatures: they had a sense of humour, and they were human beings like ourselves.
The question why cultivate is not one that can sensibly asked in over-developed parts of the world where population numbers are now too great for a hunting and gathering lifestyle to be an option, but in south-east Asia, the location for the anthropological and archaeological fieldwork featured in this volume, there are still groups of people whose diet, if not wholly pre-agricultural, does include a high percentage of foods gathered from the wild. The nine papers in Why Cultivate (ISBN: 9781902937588; McDonald Institute), edited by Fellow Graeme Barker and Monica Janowksi, consist of detailed studies of such communities in Borneo, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, and the subtle balance in their lives between hunting, foraging and farming. On one level the purpose is to flesh out theoretical ideas about the nature of the Mesolithic by looking at what people living Mesolithic-like lifestyles actually do and what they say about their subsistence strategies; the conclusion is that there is no simple conceptual or practical division in the tropical environment between activities that westerners class as either farming or foraging; nor is there any concept of farming as superior to foraging; instead there is a spectrum of activities and nothing like a linear one way process, but a continually and subtly shifting mix.
The answer to the question why cultivate turns out not to be because it is a practical response to dietary stress. Instead, the reasons for adopting one or another strategy at any particular time is embedded in social and ritual behaviours. Hence, the authors argue, current theoretical models that propose a place (or a few circumscribed places) of origin for agriculture, which then spreads outwards and is adopted by people as they see its advantages, is probably unhelpful.
It is rare that a PhD thesis is considered so important that it is afforded the status of publication as a monograph, but such is the case with Ironwork in Medieval Britain: an archaeological study (ISBN: 9781907975455; Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 31) by our late Fellow Ian Goodall. As Fellow Christopher Gerrard, who has edited Ians work for publication, says in his Foreword, more than thirty years after its submission as a doctoral thesis (in 1980) it remains the definitive survey of iron tools and other fittings in use during the period c 1066 to 1540.
Beginning with an account of the iron smelting and smithing processes, the book goes on to describe and illustrate the products of the blacksmiths forge, beginning with tools used in the metalworking process itself, then working systematically through woodworking, stone working, textile manufacturing, leather processing, agricultural and domestic tools and equipment, edge tools, locks, keys, buckles and horse harnesses. Most of the objects illustrated come from rescue excavations conducted in the two decades before Ian wrote his thesis, but they catalogue a repertoire of tools whose functions, if not their detailed forms, probably date from the dawn or iron working.
The Bible and Antiquity in Nineteenth-century Culture; six postdoctoral Fellows, deadline 2 April 2012
The Bible and Antiquity in Nineteenth-century Culture is a five-year project, funded by the European Research Council, which will begin in September 2012. Its team of directors includes our Fellow, Scott Mandelbrote, as well as Professor Simon Goldhill, Professor James Secord, Professor Janet Soskice, Dr Michael Ledger-Lomas and Dr Jeremy Morris. The project is based at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge. The projects programme of research, seminars, conferences and events will focus on the themes of the Bible in and as history, the Bible in and as fiction, the Bible and its institutions, the physical and material Bible and archaeology and the Bible. Further details may be found on the projects website.
The project is currently seeking six postdoctoral Fellows (term of appointment: four years, nine months). Fellows who are aware of suitable candidates in any relevant field of study are urged to encourage them to apply before the deadline of 2 April 2012. For further details, see projects website.