Salon Archive

Issue: 275

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

23 April 2012: Anniversary Meeting and Reception
The President will announce the names of Council members and Officers for 2012—13 and deliver his Presidential Address. This will be followed by a reception in the Hall and a display of items from the Society’s collections in the Library. Tickets for the reception cost £8, including drinks and canapés. To book, please contact Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant; tel: 0207 479 7080).

3 May 2012: ‘The fourteenth-century painting of The Dream of the Virgin, by Simone dei Crocefissi, in the Society's collection: an iconographic exploration’, by Jill Franklin FSA
This small panel (depicted on the left) has been on loan to the National Gallery since 2006 and was given to the Society shortly before his death by Gordon McNeil Rushforth, FSA (1862—1938), first Director of the British School at Rome and Council member of the Society of Antiquaries in 1919. It was identified by Bernard Berenson (1865—1959) as the work of Simone di Filippo Benvenuti (known as Simone dei Crocefissi after his four large painted crucifixes), the leading figure in Bolognese painting from 1359 to 1410.

The panel, thought to have been adapted from a detached cimasa, the topmost portion of a polyptych, was discovered during conservation at the Courtauld Institute between 1994 and 1998 to have undergone a number of changes at some point after the early 1800s, including the dramatic simplification of its composition. When these alterations were reversed, the extremely unusual subject of the original panel was revealed. The only other contemporary example of this interpretation of a theme known as The Dream of the Virgin, showing the Crucifixion ascending from the Virgin’s prostrate body, is also by Simone dei Crocefissi, and the creation of this image appears to be uniquely associated with him.

The paper examines the dense layers of meaning incorporated in this extraordinary picture, which emerges as a highly innovative pictorial meditation on several conventional strands of Christian iconography, characteristic of the visionary spirituality of its age.

10 May 2012: ‘Gathering time and time gathered: dating the causewayed enclosures of southern Britain and Ireland’, by Alasdair Whittle, FSA, Frances Healy, FSA, and Alex Bayliss, FSA

17 May 2012: ‘The archaeology of English royal burial: a neglected subject?’ , by Tim Tatton-Brown

24 May 2012: ‘How Scots Renaissance architecture turned French: Huntly Castle in 1553’, by Charles McKean
When Mary, Queen of Scots went to France in 1547, it was anticipated that she would marry the Dauphin, whereupon Scotland would become an appendage of France. With her marriage in 1558, it did so. Six years earlier, the country’s language, dress, food and architecture had begun to shift accordingly. Its first expression was in Huntly Castle, Aberdeenshire. This paper will consider what changes were made to Huntly, and how its innovations spread to other country seats over the following decade. It will then consider how that process went into reverse during the de-Frenchification period of the 1570s and 1580s, only to re-emerge in the 1590s as the catalyst for ‘Scotland’s most national architecture’, as Robert Hurd put it, of the 1600s.

31 May 2012: A Miscellany of Papers
The Society’s 2011—12 programme of lectures will conclude with two short papers, both connected with the Society’s collections. Jennifer Young will talk about her creative writing project, ‘The Story of Thursdays: narratives of antiquity’, based on her reading of the minute books of the Society’s Ordinary Meetings. Pamela Fisher’s title will be ‘William Burton’s notebook and its place in Leicestershire history’. The antiquary William Burton (1575—1645) was the author of The Description of Leicestershire, first published in 1622. The Society owns an important panel portrait of Burton, which is currently undergoing conservation. The May Miscellany will give Fellows an opportunity to see the newly conserved painting re-hung in the Meeting Room on its return to Burlington House.

The latest news on ... heritage policy

VAT on listed buildings
This week’s Salon revisits a number of themes and subjects that have featured in past issues and provides a brief update on the latest developments, starting with policy issues. Opposition to the Government’s proposal to ‘tidy up’ the tax regime by imposing VAT on work to listed buildings has brought numerous protests, including a petition from Janet Gough, Director of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, which says that the extra 20 per cent tax will ‘have the effect of penalising the Church of England’s 12,500 listed cathedral and church buildings, almost entirely maintained by volunteers and voluntary giving, who are currently altering their buildings to make them suitable for use by the wider community’. See the Easter 2012 ChurchCare eBulletin for further information on this campaign.

Pamela Greener, who is married to the Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, has another petition that she wants you to sign and she has cleverly promoted this by writing and performing a protest song called the ‘VAT Ditty’; you can see her performing the song on YouTube, seated at an electric organ, clad in a hard hat and high-viz vest, surrounded by the scaffolding as she makes the point that the cathedral’s restoration project is now in jeopardy because of the extra cost.

Cleverly rhyming ‘VAT’ and ‘antiquity’, she sings:

‘There's a threat to levy VAT
on any changes to buildings of antiquity
So please sign the e-petition
Launched from our cathedral
Please help; this is an SOS.’

Parts of the Licensing Act 2003 to be repealed
If Pamela had performed her song in a public place and added, say, a second and third instrumentalist, she would have been acting illegally, under the pernicious Licensing Act 2003, against which Salon has been campaigning since the first issue (as have Fellows in both Houses of Parliament), because it criminalises the unlicensed performance of live music, dance and theatre in small venues and because, to put it bluntly, it raises very serious questions regarding civil liberty and freedom of expression (but then, the same could be said for so much in modern government policy). It is therefore very pleasing to be able to report that the sections of the act that regulate small-scale and amateur entertainment are about to be repealed! Let live music and dance once again thrive and perhaps become as essential a part of English life as it continues to be in Scotland and Ireland.

Rock music’s legacy: £26m for graduate scholarships
On the subject of music, how many of us were chastised for listening to rock music when we were young by parents and teachers who saw the likes of Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones as a threat to all civilised values? Today the music of Robert Plant is more likely to be played on Radio 3 than any other station, and as further proof that rock and academia are not mutually opposed, it now turns out the legacy of all those great albums of the 1960s and 1970s that were the soundtrack to our misspent youths is a massive gift of funds to Oxford University for the creation of graduate scholarships in music, literature, history, archaeology and art history.

The announcement of the £26m donation was made by Mica Ertegun, widow of Ahmet Ertegun, who founded Atlantic Records in 1947 and who was mentor to some of the most significant musicians of the jazz and rock era. Mica Ertegun said: ‘For Ahmet and for me, one of the great joys of life has been the study of history, music, languages, literature, art and archaeology. In these times, when there is so much strife in the world, I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time, that bind people together from every culture, and that enrich the capacity of human beings to understand one another and make the world a more humane place.’

Andrew Hamilton, Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, called it an act of ‘immense generosity’, adding that ‘this is without question the largest donation in the history of Oxford for the support of humanities students and for that it is a magnificent example of visionary philanthropy, one that will dramatically affect the way in which students can come to carry out graduate studies’. The money will create an initial fifteen Mica and Ahmet Ertegun scholarships a year, eventually rising to thirty-five. They will come with exclusive use of a five-storey Georgian house on St Giles.

Taxing charitable donations
That is, if the Government doesn’t decide to tax the lot … given that the Chancellor seems to think that philanthropy and giving to charity is one big fiddle. His budget proposal to cap tax relief on charitable giving at £50,000 or 25 per cent of an individual’s income, whichever is the greater, has caused puzzlement and distress in the charity sector, whose leaders are left wondering whether this really is the same Chancellor who announced only a matter of weeks ago that the Government was going to increase substantially the amount of tax relief that philanthropists could claim on charitable donations and whose party has been proclaiming a brave new ‘Big Society’, in which private donors will replace taxpayers as the main source of funding for the arts and heritage sectors, not to mention education.

The volte-face is the result, apparently, of a confidential study by HM Revenue and Customs examining ‘the scale of legal tax avoidance by the very rich’, which shows that charitable donations are ‘among the top three tax loopholes used to reduce income tax bills’. Presented with such a report, a quicker-witted Chancellor might have replied ‘yes, that’s our policy; check our manifesto; by the way, that’s an oxymoron isn’t it? If it’s legal it is not a loophole’. Instead, he pronounced himself to be ‘shocked’ by the report. With one word, he undermined his party’s efforts to cultivate a culture of philanthropy by lumping everyone who gives money to charity in the same category as the dodgy few who are abusing the system.

Charities have been queuing up since to report their own ‘shock’ at the scale of the damage that the Chancellor’s words and policies have already done to their fundraising efforts. 1,800 charities and benefactors have signed a petition opposing the changes. John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, which set up the petition, said: ‘This is not a ploy to save tax. Philanthropists who make large donations give away far more than they could ever claim in tax relief. We should recognise and celebrate today’s great philanthropists, not brand them as wealthy tax dodgers.’

The National Planning Policy Framework
Finally, the definitive version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March, and heritage bodies that had loudly condemned the first draft have all expressed themselves satisfied with the outcome and happy that the Government had done so much to take their concerns on board. They could hardly have said otherwise without losing face: nobody wants to admit that, for all their lobbying, their views were ignored. Besides, the Government was never going to keep publishing rewrites until everyone was satisfied. It will now be up to courts of law and planning inquiries to test the ill-defined concepts that remain in the framework, and there will undoubtedly be losses over the next few years of valued and valuable buildings, archaeology and landscapes (and if you want to know what the legal experts think of it, listen to 'Unreliable Evidence', presented by Clive Anderson on Radio 4 last week).

Our Fellow Peter Hinton was one of those to hint that all was not 100 per cent perfect when, speaking as Chief Executive of the Institute for Archaeologists, he said: ‘It was essential that the NPPF carried forward the principles of PPS5 to achieve Government’s twin objectives of conserving the historic environment in a sustainable manner and of ensuring wide public benefit from expert investigations of those elements affected by development. While the NPPF may not contain all the provisions we consider necessary to achieve that end, it provides timely support for the historic environment at a time when local authority archaeology and heritage services continue to be under severe pressure. IfA has campaigned hard to ensure that the NPPF has not brought the end of developer-funded archaeology. What we need now is a firm response from Government to those local authorities that mistakenly believe that they can comply with the framework without securing the services of professional historic environment advisers.’

The latest on ... heritage management

Left: English Heritage and the Church of England now recommend well-designed stackable pews for church seating, in preference to individual chairs, because they ‘give the same sense of order and visual rhythm to the interior of a place of worship as traditional pews’.

War memorials
Moving from heritage policy to the management of heritage resources, the latest news on the war memorials front is that thirteen heritage organisations (including the Imperial War Museum, English Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) have come together under the aegis of the Heritage Lottery Fund to form an action group, ahead of the 2014 anniversary of the start of World War One. At the group’s first meeting in March, members agreed to set up an online register, with information on the location, condition and ownership of war memorials. They also want to make it easier for groups to apply for grants for the repair of memorials, hundreds of which are said to be in a poor state as a result of theft, vandalism and neglect.

Heritage crime
The theft of metal, stone and sculpture from war memorials is part of what has been called a ‘heritage crime wave’, which the Government is proposing to tackle by means of new legislation. Clauses to be added to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently passing through Parliament, will ban metal dealers from paying cash for scrap and will remove the £1,000 cap on fines for offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act.

Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has also promised a ‘robust’ crackdown on metal thieves, such as those who, for example, stripped Grangetown Cemetery, in Sunderland, of its nineteenth-century cast-iron grave markers on Easter Monday (8 April 2012). There is evidence to suggest, however, that this alone will not prevent thieves from targeting churches, cemeteries, railings and copper cabling in their appetite for an easy profit: police in the east of England who targeted ports as part of a special operation seized more than £500,000 of stolen metal destined to be sold abroad.

The Church of England Cathedral and Church Buildings Division also expresses doubts about the efficacy of the proposed new law because it excludes itinerant traders from the ban on cash transactions. They want everyone to write to their MP about the issue: see the Easter 2012 ChurchCare eBulletin for further information on this campaign.

Ecclesiastical, the church insurance company, has a number of suggestions on its website for reducing metal theft, including electronic roof alarms that have been installed at selected ‘at risk’ churches across dioceses in England, Wales and Scotland on a pilot basis.

Stackable pews rule OK
From the stripping of church roofs, we move on to the vexed question of re-ordering, the polite term for removing Victorian pews in favour of stackable seats that enable churches to be opened up for new uses. Such moves have divided parishes and introduced enmity between parishioners and clergy; the pew removers say that medieval churches did not originally have fixed seating while their opponents accused them of ruining the character and atmosphere of historic churches with intrusive modern seating.

English Heritage has now decided to offer advice, in the form of the second edition of its guidance document on New Work in Historic Places of Worship, published at the end of March. This states that ‘total removal of a good Victorian or later seating scheme is likely to be harder to justify’ than in the past and says that where this does occur, the new seating should be of ‘good design and construction and appropriate to the character of the building’. The guidance recommends ‘portable benches’ in preference to individual chairs because they ‘give the same sense of order and visual rhythm to the interior of a place of worship as traditional pews’.

This chimes with Church of England guidance, which also encourages the use of portable pews where possible, and has been welcomed by Luke Hughes, who designed the benches in our own Society’s meeting room and who has also designed the new seating for many cathedrals and historic churches in recent years: ‘the truth of the matter is that church chairs are diminishing some of the greatest architectural designs of all time,’ he says, describing some of the horrors he has seen as ‘making the place feel like a motorway service café rather than a church’.

Pompeii gets EU money
Finally, there is good news on the face of it for Pompeii in the announcement that the European Union and the Italian Government will jointly spend 105 million euros (about £87m) on restoration projects to prevent further deterioration such as the collapse of the ‘House of Gladiators’, which occurred some eighteen months ago. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the project aimed to secure ‘all the insulae currently at risk’. He added: ‘we want to ensure that this is accomplished through honest and capable workers and companies while keeping away the organised crime that is still strong in this area’. The environmental campaigning organisation, Italia Nostra, said that the real cost of securing the whole site was probably twice the amount the government and European Union are putting up, but that this new investment was ‘a great start’.

The latest on ... human evolution

Left: Wonderwerk Cave, in northern Cape Province, South Africa, site of the world's oldest hearth

New members of the human family tree
So many stories have been published in the media in recent months concerning our ancestors that it is difficult to keep up. The latest position seems to be that it is all a lot more complex than current diagrams of the human family tree might suggest. The outcome has not changed — we are still the only human species left on the planet (at least, until the illusive bigfoot and yeti are tracked down), but that there were probably more hominids than we know about, some of which only became extinct in very recent times, and some of which may live on in modern genes thanks to inter-breeding.

Among the latest additions to the human family tree are the ‘red deer’ cave people of south-west China, named after one of the cave sites, Maludong (or Red Deer Cave), near the city of Mengzi, in Yunnan Province, where three skulls were first excavated in 1989. A fourth partial skeleton found in 1979 in a cave near the village of Longlin, in neighbouring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is now thought to belong to the same species, and was accompanied with the remains of the butchered and charred bones of giant red deer.

In a paper published in PLoS One, Professor Darren Curnoe, of the University of New South Wales, and Professor Ji Xueping of the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, say that the four skulls found so far are ‘a highly unusual mix of archaic and modern anatomical features’. They may represent a new evolutionary line or a previously unknown modern human population that arrived early from Africa and became isolated for tens of thousands of years but surviving until the very end of the Ice Age around 11,000 years ago.

‘I think the evidence is slightly weighted towards the red deer cave people representing a new evolutionary line’, Professor Curnoe says, thus potentially adding another human species to those recently discovered — the Denisovans, of the Denisova cave site in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, who became extinct about 40,000 years ago, and the ‘Hobbits’ (Homo floresiensis), living on the Indonesian island of Flores until about 18,000 years ago.

The origins of the barbecue
This week has also seen the age of cooking by early humans pushed back from some 800,000 years ago to at least a million years ago. Fellow Norman Hammond reported in The Times that his Boston University colleagues, Dr Francesco Berna and Professor Paul Goldberg, have found ‘unambiguous evidence — in the form of burnt bone and ashed plant remains’ that burning took place in the Wonderwerk Cave, in northern Cape Province, during the early Acheulean occupation, approximately one million years ago, making this ‘the earliest secure evidence for burning in an archaeological context’.

Reporting their find in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Berna and colleagues noted that claims for the use of fire going back to 1.5 million years ago have been made for sites in East Africa such as Chesowanja and Koobi Fora, and slightly later at Swartkrans in South Africa, but that these have not been fully accepted. ‘The controversies stem from the fact that these are open-air sites and it is not possible to completely exclude the action of wild fires,’ they say.

At Wonderwerk Cave, by contrast, there is plentiful evidence for human occupation over an extended period, with first Oldowan and then more advanced Acheulean stone tools such as handaxes. The deposit named Stratum 10 contained a complex sequence of thin layers, including ‘abundant remains of ashed plants and minute bone fragments’; the layer is sandwiched between two dated samples at 1.27 and 0.98 million years.

Neanderthal extinction: nothing to do with us
Meanwhile, the latest Neanderthal extinction theory exonerates our species from accusations of genocide and says that Neanderthals were already close to extinction long before we arrived in Europe. Far from being stable in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years until modern Homo sapiens arrived, Neanderthals had virtually died out 50,000 years ago, all but for small isolated groups that clung on in central and western Europe for perhaps another 15,000 years.

Researchers in Uppsala, Stockholm and Madrid came to this conclusion after studying Neanderthal DNA, which revealed that the amount of genetic variation in the oldest Neanderthal populations was as great as in modern humans, which suggest an abundance of potential breeding partners; by contrast, genetic variation among European Neanderthals was extremely limited during the last 10,000 years before the Neanderthals disappeared, suggesting a much smaller and more isolated population, probably under strain and vulnerable to the dramatic climate changes that took place in the last Ice Age.

The latest on ... Fellows on TV and radio

Left: Fellow Mary Beard's latest book

Class, the English and food
Fellows are now appearing on TV with such frequency that it is difficult to keep up. Sadly, since the BBC only lets you view programmes for a week after they have been broadcast, you will have missed our Fellow Ferdinand Mount first talking about Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee on Andrew Marr’s documentary on the life and reign of our Royal Fellow, Queen Elizabeth II, in BBC 1’s ‘Diamond Queen’, then expertly dissecting the English class system and analysing the subtle nuances that distinguish one social class from another (clue: it has nothing to do with money) in Melvyn Bragg’s ‘Class and Culture’ series on BBC 2. In a not dissimilar vein, our Fellow Diarmaid MacCulloch examined the origins and history of some fondly held notions about what it means to be English — such as why the English think themselves better than others, why they think they are more tolerant and welcoming to migrants and refugees and, indeed, whether there is even such a thing as English ethnicity — in his three-part series on BBC 2 called ‘How God made the English’.

There is still time, however, to catch Fellow Lucy Worsley in the BBC 2 series called ‘Our Food’ (Wednesdays at 8pm), in which she is a member of the team exploring regional food products, such as Norfolk turkeys and Vale of Evesham asparagus, asking how the foods we eat have ‘shaped our landscapes and our lives’. Lucy’s role in the programme is the subject of a profile in the Telegraph.

‘Meet the Romans’ and a party for All in a Don’s Day
And coming to your screen tomorrow (17 April) at 9pm on BBC 2, and for the next two Tuesdays, is Fellow Mary Beard’s series, ‘Meet the Romans’. Advance publicity for the series says that this is the story of the city and of its empire from ‘the bottom up’, as Mary takes us to the cheap seats in the Coliseum, rides a boat down the Tiber to Ostia and penetrates the bowels of Monte Testaccio, the giant rubbish heap that is 35m high and spreads for a kilometre. Mary herself says ‘each part is going to look at different aspects of life for ordinary ancient Romans, from the child brides to the pushy parents, the hairdressers to the ancient equivalent of the ASBO boys. The bottom line is that this programme really does capture a big slice of my view of Rome … it’s what I’ve been thinking about for years and years, crystallised in a few months … I do want to interest more people in ancient Rome, and in a different way from usual … it’s a bit of a mission.’

Just before the programme is broadcast, from 6.30pm on 17 April, Mary will be welcoming guests at Heffers, 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge, for the launch of her latest book (tickets for the event are free but must be booked in advance from Heffers, tel: 01223 463200; email: events.tst@heffers.co.uk). Whilst you are there you might like to note that Fellow Paul Cartledge also has a book launch coming up at Heffers, on 3 May, for The Sites of Ancient Greece: scroll down to the bottom of this page on Blackwell’s website for further details.

Back to Mary: the book — All in a Don’s Day (Profile Books), is based on the blog, ‘A Don’s Life’, that Mary has been writing for the Times Literary Supplement for the last five years, and on the responses and comments of readers. Such a book really has no right to exist: who would buy a book when you can read the same stuff for free online, and anyway, has not the internet sounded the death knell for those old-fashioned things made of paper bound by boards? Blogs are ephemeral, aren’t they, and we all know that readers’ comments are generally illiterate and abusive, rarely address the topic and are written by sad and lonely people known colloquially as trolls. Mary has shown that none of these applies in the case of ‘A Don’s Life’, in which the readers engage in an erudite, witty and informative dialogue with Mary on such unlikely topics as the condoms in Zoffany’s self-portrait on show currently on at the Royal Academy or the use of Virgil’s Aeneid as an oracular aid: you open the book at random, plunge your finger in and whatever phrase it lands on, that’s your answer.

Left: Wenceslaus Hollar's drawing of The Globe, Shakespeare's theatre, drawn around 1642 and published in 1647; see ‘Shakespeare's Restless World’ below

Paul Holden’s blog
On the subject of blogs generally, our Fellow Paul Holden writes to ask whether Salon could follow up its surprisingly successful series of reports on Fellows who use Twitter as a social medium with a call to Fellows to let us know about their blogs. Paul starts the ball rolling with his own offering, in which he reports on his work as an architectural historian and as House and Collections Manager for the National Trust at Lanhydrock House in Cornwall. Paul says: ‘I have found it quite a useful exercise first, to get unpublished but useful research out to a wider audience and second, to make new contacts in hyperspace. In the first four weeks of the blog being live I had over 500 hits which is, I thought, a high audience for material that may not normally see the light of day.’

Paul and Mary may not know this but they are definitely in the vanguard of what could become a major trend. The multi-millionaire communications entrepreneur Sir Martin Sorrell was heard to say on Evan Davis’s Radio 4 business show, ‘The Bottom Line’, recently that he had just acquired a new company that specialises in the crowd-sourcing of ideas. Sorrell (like Mary) has realised that there is a huge amount of knowledge and creativity out there in the world, so instead of paying creative types large sums of money to come up with advertising slogans and campaign ideas, he now gets it all done for free by asking for ideas via social media.

The history of decorative ironwork
Another blogger is our Fellow Lars Tharp who featured last year in a memorable BBC 4 series on ceramics when he visited China's porcelain capital, Jingdezhen, to explore the history of trade between China and Europe and the porcelain fever that gripped Britain in the eighteenth century, fuelled by the parallel craze for drinking tea. That programme was part of a planned series on the decorative arts made in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the next three programmes — on the history of metalwork — are about to be shown, featuring Fellows aplenty.

‘The Golden Age of Silver’ will be broadcast on 30 April on BBC 4 at 9pm, followed by ‘The Knight’s Tale’, on armour, on 7 May, and ‘The Blacksmith’s Tale’, on ornamental ironwork, on 14 May. Further programmes are planned in the series looking at textiles, woodwork and paper. Further information on the series can be found on the V&A’s website.

‘Shakespeare's Restless World’
Finally today, at 1.45pm, on Radio 4, you can hear the first in our Fellow Neil MacGregor’s new series, ‘Shakespeare's Restless World’, but don’t worry if you missed it, because the entire twenty-programme series will be available to download. As with Neil’s ‘A History Of The World In 100 Objects’, the Shakespeare broadcasts will focus on objects, with various experts (many Fellows among them) discussing with Neil what they tell us about Shakespeare, his plays and the way they would have been understood at the time: ‘trying to get inside the heads of the people who lived here over 400 years ago and imagining what the world looked like to the groundlings inside the Globe Theatre around 1600’, says Neil on the British Museum’s blog site.

News of Fellows

Peter Salway
Congratulations are in order to a number of Fellows who been honoured in various ways for their achievements. Perhaps one of the more unusual but gratifying ways of being honoured is to have a building named after you. Step forward Fellow Peter Salway, whose contributions to the interpretation of Chedworth Roman Villa, newly reopened after a £3m refurbishment, has been acknowledged through the naming of the Salway Learning Room, a purpose-built educational facility providing schools and community groups with a dedicated area in which to explore Roman life and culture at the villa. Decorated in the style of a Roman room, with murals on the walls, a mosaic floor and under-floor heating, it has a re-creation of a Roman kitchen at one end. The villa itself is well worth visiting, even if you have been many times before, since the new conservation shelter, built to replace the Victorian cover buildings, rests on the original walls of the villa and thus gives a much better sense of the scale and proportion of the rooms inside the villa and the ways in which the owners, guests, household and servants circulated round the building complex.

Bill (William) Kelso
It is also very rare that our Royal Fellow, HM The Queen, bestows honours on people who are not citizens of a country in which she is Head of State. Congratulations are therefore due to Fellow William Kelso, Director of Archaeology at Historic Jamestowne, on being created an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Such honours are awarded for ‘especially inventive and celebrated contributions to the recipient’s field’, and in Bill’s case this is for his leadership since 1993 of the field research at Jamestown Island, as a result of which the site of the first permanent English settlement in America, founded in 1607, has been located and excavated. Bill commented: ‘I am humbled to receive this prestigious recognition for my lifelong passion for British-American Colonial archaeology and for leading teams of talented scholars to reveal its many significant stories.’

Elizabeth Kostelney, executive director of Preservation Virginia, said that ‘Bill’s remarkable skill, knowledge and approachable manner have given us all the opportunity to stand at the exact place where the great American experiment in democracy, government and culture was launched. Preservation Virginia congratulates Bill on this high honour recognising his achievements and contributions.’

Richard Pfaff
Still in the USA, the Medieval Academy of America, made up of some 4,000 scholars who have made notable contributions to furthering the stated purposes of the Academy, have awarded their prestigious Haskins Medal 2012 to our Fellow Richard Pfaff for his magnum opus, The Liturgy in Medieval England: a history (Cambridge University Press). The laudatio that was read at the meeting when the award was announced said that Richard’s book ‘represents the sum of a life’s work dedicated to the recovery and analysis of the sources for the first comprehensive account of the liturgy in medieval England, from early Anglo-Saxon origins right up until the Reformation. Based on prodigious knowledge of primary sources, the book combines a sovereign overview with penetrating forays into the particularities of specific periods, regions, religious orders and liturgical uses … Pfaff has provided a new footing and standard point of reference for innumerable colleagues … Historians of all of medieval Europe, not just medieval England, will have reason to be profoundly grateful to Richard Pfaff, not only for his learning and long labor, but also for his humor and, equally important, his reticence in not going farther than the sometimes scanty evidence permits.’ The full citation can be read on the Academy’s website.

David Park and the Courtauld Institute
Another form of honour is to have your work recognised through financial support: in this case, the work of a Courtauld Institute team led by our Fellow David Park in conserving Buddhist murals in Bhutan has attracted the attention of the philanthropist Robert Y C Ho, whose donation of more than £2.5m will allow the Courtauld to establish a postgraduate degree devoted to the history and conservation of Buddhist art.

Commenting on the gift, Courtauld Institute Director Deborah Swallow said the donation would allow the Courtauld to return to its pre-Second World War roots when the syllabus included programmes in Chinese, Japanese and Indian art and archaeology. Responsibility for the ‘non-western’ world was ceded to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), leaving the Courtauld devoted to the western tradition, but, says Swallow, ‘we have felt the need to redress this imbalance … to embrace the arts of the world. The Courtauld will collaborate with SOAS, which has the highest concentration of students of Buddhist studies at any university outside Asia, in its new degree’.

Robert Y C Ho’s donation has been made through the Robert H N Ho Family Foundation, a philanthropic organisation founded by Ho’s father in 2005 to promote Chinese culture and an understanding of Buddhism. ‘Until now, Buddhism and Buddhist art and its conservation have been studied separately’, said Ho. ‘We are delighted to support the integration of these fields in a new programme that will impact not only on academia, but on the preservation of irreplaceable treasures around the world. For the first time the conservation of Buddhist art will be the focus of academic and practical study rather than being a sideline or ignored completely.’

Left: Fellow Ian Graham at work recording a Mayan inscription

Ian Graham
The last two issues of Salon have trailed an evening reception at the Society to honour our Fellow Ian Graham, Director Emeritus of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions at Harvard University, at which our Fellows Norman Hammond, Liz Graham and her husband, David Pendergast, were going to speak.

Sadly the event had to be cancelled because of Ian Graham’s ill health, but a generous tribute to his work was published in the Sunday Times on 8 April 2012. This compared Ian Graham’s adventurous life to that of a John le Carré character, braving the dangers and privations of the Guatemalan jungle to sketch and photograph temples and settlements lost for hundreds of years, determined to fight the global trade in stolen historical artefacts by making detailed records of the monuments of ancient Mayan civilisation that he was later able to use in court actions to identify and recover looted Mayan artefacts. By this means, according to the US magazine Archaeology, ‘Ian Graham has done more than any other person to save the fragile written record of the ancient Maya’.

The Sunday Times said that Graham was a celebrity within American academic circles, hailed as the founding father of the corpus of Mayan language inscriptions at Harvard, held at the Peabody Museum, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius award’, which rewards long-term creative efforts, whilst in Guatemala officials at the National Museum of Archaeology credited Graham’s work with having prevented ‘cultural stripmining’ by wealthy collectors in the 1980s. Now retired and living in his native Suffolk, Graham remains a prophet unknown in his own land, the newspaper said: while his witty autobiography, The Road to Ruins, was cheered across the Americas when it was published but was largely ignored by the British media (except for the Times Literary Supplement, which devoted a whole page to a review, written by our Fellow Ferdinand Mount. The book quickly sold out in the hardback edition; the paperback is on its way.

Christina Riggs
Dr Christina Riggs is to present the Evans-Pritchard Lectures at All Souls College, Oxford, in April and May 2012. Established by a benefaction to the College in 1998, the annual Lecturership is named in memory of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard, Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow of All Souls (1946—70), and is focused on the disciplines (social anthropology, classical studies, archaeology, modern history, oriental studies) and the geographical areas (Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean) that most occupied him.

Dr Riggs’s lectures are entitled ‘Unwrapping Ancient Egypt: The Shroud, the Secret, and the Sacred’. A series of six talks — Desecration, Revelation, Mummification, Linen, Secrecy and Sanctity — will explore the process of wrapping bodies and objects in textiles, and its significance in ancient Egypt. The lectures also examine the archaeological and museological practice of the opposite process, namely, the unwrapping of mummies and artefacts, whether in the field, the public theatre, or the hospital scanner. Christina will argue that both customs — ancient wrapping, modern unwrapping — are a nexus for ideas about the human body, the sacred and the ownership of knowledge in their respective societies.

The Evans-Pritchard Lectures are open to the public and will be held in the Old Library at All Souls, starting at 5pm each Tuesday and Wednesday from 24 April to 9 May.

Julie Gardiner, David Brown and Oxbow Books
Fellow Julie Gardiner has announced that she will be leaving Wessex Archaeology to join Oxbow Books at the beginning of May 2012. Having already worked part-time on a freelance basis for Oxbow for a couple of years, Julie joins the publisher as Managing Editor to work alongside Oxbow’s long-serving Editor in Chief, Clare Litt. Julie says that Oxbow’s founder, our Fellow David Brown, finally took retirement at the end of 2011 (at the age of seventy-three!). Oxbow has since merged with Casemate Publishing, one of the world’s leading publishers of books on military themes, from the Roman army to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts of today. Oxbow will continue under its own imprint as the leading specialist bookseller in archaeology and ancient history, while the publishing side of the company ‘will be further developed and new initiatives are planned’.

The Grosvenor Museum acquires the earliest surviving portrait of a mayor of Chester

Peter Boughton, Keeper of Art at the Grosvenor Museum, feels an affinity with the subject of the museum’s latest acquisition, a portrait of William Aldersey (1543—1616), Mayor of Chester in 1595—6 and 1613—14, because, in addition to his considerable achievements as mayor and merchant, he was an early antiquary, whose observations on Chester’s Roman archaeology were documented in a manuscript now in the British Library, entitled ‘A collection of the mayors who governed the cittie of Chester with the antiquities of the same’.

The portrait, painted in oil on an oak panel and dated 1615, was purchased with help from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, the Grosvenor Museum Society and the Weiss Gallery. The portrait will hang in the museum’s Stuart Dining Room alongside those of other Chester people whom Aldersey knew.

Aldersey was a very conscientious mayor, as he had to be given the considerable strategic importance of Chester as the principal port operating in support of the standing army in Ireland: Aldersey himself supervised the construction of barracks for the troops and horses stationed in Chester before despatch to Ireland, and he took great pride in Chester’s efficient re-provisioning of English warships.

His wealth was built on extremely lucrative investments in East India voyages, but he seems not to have been a grasping man: Aldersey’s nephew, Thomas, recorded his reputation as ‘A man whom all the days of his life truly feared God, a true lover of all good preachers, a wise sage and grave citizen’.

Best church monuments guide: a competition

Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick (1382—1439), in St Mary’s Church, Warwick

The Church Monuments Society (CMS) has launched a competition, with a prize of £500, for the church guidebook or leaflet that provides the best guide to that church’s funerary and other monuments. The competition’s organisers stress that this is not a competition for the best church guide as such: the treatment of the monuments is the critical criterion, and the superlative treatment of a group of ‘undistinguished’ monuments would beat a mediocre account of outstanding ones. The aims of the competition are to increase knowledge of monuments amongst those who care for churches; improve interest in church monuments amongst those who visit churches; and improve the quality of church guides as they address monuments: often the building’s architecture and history are covered in detail, but the monuments in and associated with the church are stinted.

The prize comes from a bequest of the late President of the CMS (and our late Fellow), Claude Blair, and our Fellow Julian Litten will chair the judging panel, who will compile a shortlist of six guides from which our Fellow Sir Simon Jenkins, author of England’s Thousand Best Churches, will make the final choice. Entries should be sent to Dr Clive Easter, 55 Bowden Park Road, Crownhill, Plymouth PL6 5NG, by 30 June 2012.

For a full list of rules, see the CMS website CMS website.

Feedback

The Friends of Arundells
Readers may recall a report filed by Fellow Jim Humberstone last year (Salon 258, 11 July 2011), which outlined progress with a campaign aimed at preventing the sale of the home of Sir Edward Heath in Salisbury’s cathedral close. Jim now writes to update us on the campaign, which culminated with the Charity Commission’s decision in September 2011 to reject an application for the terms of the trust to be varied to allow for the sale of the house, saying that the trustees had not properly identified and explored the range of alternative ways of generating income.

‘One hurdle,’ writes Jim, ‘standing in the way of extending the opening times remained to be surmounted, that of the requisite Planning Consent. In the event this was given earlier this year — due in no small measure, it is believed, to the representations (over 140 in number) that were sent to Wiltshire Council supporting the proposal. Regretfully, the Cathedral authorities were among a very small number of objectors. Thus the house will continue to be accessible to the public for a further three years and hopefully its viability will be aided by much overdue fundraising initiatives.

‘Many lessons can be learned from the Arundells story. What is clear is that it is now possible for a small body of committed volunteers to mount a successful challenge to moves that would result in an erosion of heritage without recourse to any assistance from a major conservation body.

‘The Friends and their tireless co-ordinator, Tony Burnside, now have the satisfaction of knowing that they have achieved their aims. They are also being rewarded for their doggedness because they will be allowed to assist the professional team of guides. Friends will now act as volunteer room stewards one day each week, for a trial period. This is a particular cause for satisfaction, because core to our campaign has been the belief that Sir Edward’s historically important collections should not be severed from their rightful home. The significance and value of Arundells is enhanced immeasurably by the presence of these very personal contents.

‘Those supporting the continuation of public access have the satisfaction of seeing visitors emerge once again from the Arundells tour experience. It has become clear that many do so with a wholly changed view of the personality of the late Sir Edward Heath KG.’

Fellows and their friends who have not yet visited the house and its collections and garden are urged to do so: further details are on the Arundells website.

Stolen alabaster panels
Fellow Robert Merrillees writes to say that ‘The item in Salon about the theft of a late fourteenth-century alabaster panel from the reredos in a church near Abingdon reminded me immediately of a similar incident in the Collégiale of Notre Dame at Montréal near Avallon in northern Burgundy. I have just had the opportunity of revisiting this fine twelfth-century church and informing myself on the disappearance of four of the seven alabaster panels belonging to a retable devoted to the history of the Virgin Mary and secured to a wall in the choir. They were stolen in November 1971 and represented St Stephen, the Adoration of the Magi, the Mass for St Gregory the Great and the Assumption. They have now been replaced by photographs to accompany the remaining originals depicting the Annunciation, the Crowning of the Virgin and St Lawrence.

‘No-one seems to know how the retable arrived in Montréal or how parts of it left. The crime has never been solved and the missing panels have never been recovered. The ensemble is dated to the fifteenth century and attributed to a sculptors’ workshop in Nottingham. There is some speculation, but no proof, that the retable came to Montréal during the Hundred Years War; we are reminded locally that the town was occupied and sacked by an English army led by Edwards III. It also had a narrow escape from destruction during the French Revolution. Is it simply a co-incidence that the alabaster panel stolen from the church near Abingdon represented the Annunciation while the alabaster panel depicting the same scene was left by the thief in the Collégiale de Montréal?’

Fellow’s Rant: Friends of Radio 3

Readers of the excellent Oldie magazine, which has just celebrated its twentieth anniversary (long may it continue to thrive), will know that one of its many witty columns is called, simply, ‘Rant’. Fellow Paul Latcham, who detects similarities between Salon and the Oldie, suggests that we too should have an occasional ‘Rant’, and he sends this inaugural offering, which he hopes will attract some recruits to the Friends of Radio 3.

‘“I hope you had as much fun as I have,” says the Radio 3 presenter as she signs off at the end of her programme. This apparently innocuous remark embodies the thinking that lies behind the misguided effort of the BBC to bring low a much-loved institution. This is dumbing down writ large.

‘The Third Programme in its successive guises was one of the most notable landmarks of British cultural life. Not the least of its attributes was to afford listeners the opportunity to hear classical music with all the emphasis on the music and as little as possible on the presentation, excepting those programmes which were intentionally instructive. Music was the essential ingredient and everything else subservient to it.

‘The old Radio 3 wasn’t “fun”. Fun is when I get together with my grandchildren, watch an amusing film, have a laugh with friends, attend a football match. Classical music, when allowed to stand on its own, unembellished by relentlessly upbeat presenters, is marvellously uplifting, unalloyed enjoyment and balm for the soul. More than that, the old format allowed each listener to form a personal bond with the music and the programme, to feel that it was our own Radio 3: a dear friend and constant companion.

‘Instead listeners have been encouraged to become a community of emailing, tweeting, texting enthusiasts whose reward for even the most commonplace contribution is to have their name read out. They are regaled with regular “brain-teasers” and other wheezes to encourage as much participation as possible, all followed by lists of a dozen or more names of people who haven’t managed to get the right answer followed by those who have. “Sorry if you didn’t hear your name read out” indicates, thankfully, that not every inane interpolation is acknowledged.

‘“Your call” involves a listener being interviewed live about a favourite piece of music and the emotive context in which it was originally heard. No one can doubt the sincerity of these callers but such devices reduce what was once a fine broadcasting service to the level of any commercial radio station. Half an hour every morning is devoted to interviewing a guest celebrity or personality whose musical choices, the appeal of which escapes me and many others entirely, are interspersed.

‘The presenters, predominantly young and apparently intent on establishing their broadcasting personalities, are as much a part of their “show” as the music, which is reduced to being the vehicle for whatever discussion can be squeezed out of it. Sad, sad, day! Is there any hope? The BBC is notoriously reluctant to reverse any change it makes but having discovered the Friends of Radio 3 I have joined the hundreds of others who have registered their dissatisfaction with this wanton adulteration of what was a precious element of our heritage — and a unique jewel of the BBC if it did but know it.’

Ceilidh in a cave

Proof that the good people of Scotland have been enjoying a Saturday night ceilidh for a lot longer than we might imagine has come from a cave on the island of Skye, where archaeologists have excavated the remains of the earliest stringed instrument ever found in western Europe — estimated to be at least 2,300 years old. The find, from High Pasture Cave, is in the form of the burnt and broken wooden fragment of a lyre-like instrument.

Cambridge-based music archaeologist Dr Graeme Lawson said that the earliest known lyres date from about 5,000 years ago, in what is now Iraq. Pictures of ancient musical instruments survive in carvings and murals (for example, a lyre and plectrum are depicted on the side of a Roman altar excavated from Musselburgh in 2010), but no actual instruments. ‘For Scotland — and indeed all of us in these islands — this is very much a step change. It pushes the history of complex music back more than a thousand years, into our darkest pre-history. And not only the history of music but more specifically of song and poetry, because that’s what such instruments were very often used for,’ Dr Lawson said.

Archaeologist Steven Birch, co-director of the excavation, said that ‘the cave provided a major focus for a wide range of activities, including metalworking, craft specialisation and the deposition of everyday objects, human remains and the debris from some major feasting events. These activities took place at the site over a period of some 800 years between the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, although the use of the site extends back in time for at least 5,000 years.’

Our Fellow Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator of Iron Age and Roman Collections at National Museums Scotland, one of the sponsors of the High Pasture Cave excavations, said ‘this find puts sound into the silent past and casts fresh light on the lives and beliefs of people 2,000 years ago’.

The Australian Historic Shipwreck Protection Project

Excavation work has just started on a significant colonial shipwreck — the Clarence — in Port Phillip, the large and densely populated bay in southern Victoria, Australia, around which the suburbs of Melbourne and Geelong are built. Clarence is an early Australian-built wooden coastal trader, wrecked in the bay near St Leonards in 1850.

The fieldwork, led by Chief Investigator Mark Staniforth, of Monash University, is part of the three-year Australian Historic Shipwreck Preservation Project (AHSPP). Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), this aims to investigate a number of Australian wooden wrecks in order to gain a better understanding of colonial ship-building industry, technological innovation and daily life in colonial Australia, all of which, says Mark, is still poorly understood. The project also aims to develop world-class best-practice protocols for the rapid recovery, recording and reburial of artefacts from historic shipwrecks, aiming at in situ preservation of historic shipwrecks at risk from natural and human impacts.

The project website will have daily updates as the excavation progresses between now and 12 May 2012.

The Nebra Sky Disc Master copy on display in Falmouth

A ‘master copy’ of the Nebra Sky Disc, claimed as the oldest representation of the cosmos in the world, has gone on display in Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum Cornwall as part of the special exhibition, 2012 BC: Cornwall and the Sea in the Bronze Age, which opened on 13 April 2012 and runs until 30 September. The original Sky Disc is on display in the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte, in Germany, where analysis of the metal has identified the gold on the disc as having come from the Carnon Down mines, while the tin is also from the county, demonstrating powerfully how well connected Cornwall was to European trade networks 4,500 years ago. Tin and copper ingots from the Bronze Age Salcombe wreck will also form part of the exhibition, central to which will be the recreation of a 16m-long Bronze Age sewn-plank boat, built to scale using replica tools under the expert guidance of our Fellow Robert Van de Noort, from the University of Exeter.

Late Roman treasure find from Vinkovci

Croatian newspapers have been reporting the ‘sensational’ discovery of a hoard of fourth-century AD silver utensils during recent archaeological excavations in the eastern Croatian city of Vinkovci. Some fifty items have been found, including plates, saucers, bowls, jugs, cups and spoons, with a total weight of more than 30kg.

Comparisons are being made to the Sevso treasure, though little else appears to be known about the latest find, other than that it appears to have been moved to Zagreb for study and conservation.

The Trumpington bed burial

A field at the edge of the village of Trumpington on the outskirts of Cambridge has been revealed to be the last resting place of a sixteen-year-old woman buried on a bed around AD 700 with a gold and garnet cross on her breast, with three more graves, of two younger women and an older person whose sex has not yet been identified, nearby. The field that holds these graves, now being developed for housing, is not recorded as the site of an Anglo-Saxon settlement or religious community. The young woman’s burial rite incorporates Christian and pagan elements, for she was buried on a real bed, of which only the iron supports have survived, along with the traditional accoutrements of a female Saxon burial — iron knife, a key chain hanging from her belt and glass beads that possibly decorated a purse — as well as the pectoral cross stitched into place on her gown.

Our Fellow Sam Lucy, an Anglo-Saxon expert from Newnham College, Cambridge, who helped excavate the site, said that the gold and garnet pectoral cross was a beautiful and sophisticated example of Anglo-Saxon metalwork of a kind likely to have been owned by a member of an aristocratic family. She also said that arms of the cross were worn, suggesting that the woman had probably worn the cross during her short life.

The find belongs to a small group of bed burials, all believed to be of women, all from the same region and all of the same late seventh-century date. Dr Lucy said the beds may well have been the ones the women used in life, as they are all believed to be pieces of real furniture, not made specially for a funeral ceremony. At Trumpington the evidence suggests the bed was lowered first into the ground, and then the body laid on it.

The same fields have yielded a wealth of Iron Age and earlier material but the Anglo-Saxon finds were a complete surprise. The bones and teeth are in good condition, so DNA and isotopic tests will be carried out in an attempt to find out more about the origins and diet of the members of the burial group, and whether they are related. It is possible that there is a link between Trumpington and the Ely monastery founded by St Etheldreda in AD 673, some twenty miles to the north of Cambridge. A cemetery at Westfield, Ely, dug by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit in 2006, also contained a later seventh-century of a child aged ten to twelve, probably a girl, buried with a similar cross pendant and thought also to have been a royal or aristocratic burial associated with the Ely monastery (see ‘The Burial of A Princess? The Later Seventh-century Cemetery at Westfield Farm, Ely’, by Sam Lucy and colleagues in the Antiquaries Journal, Vol 89 (2009), pages 81—141).

Post pits under York Minster

Field archaeologists Ian Milsted and Jim Williams at the dig site at York Minster that hints at Saxon remains. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for The Guardian

Further light has been shed on the early origins of Christianity in Britain by the discovery of two postholes and a small pit packed with human bones, found within the crypt at York Minster during excavations for a new lift shaft. Our Fellow Maev Kennedy reported the find in the Guardian, saying that there was no dating evidence to prove that the two massive post pits, the thirty skulls and the jumble of bones dumped here by the medieval builders of the present cathedral date from the time of the earliest Christian church on the site, but the finds are overlain by the foundations of the pre-Conquest and Norman churches.

The size of the post pits, according to Jim Williams of the York Archaeological Trust who is working on the site, suggests a very significant structure, located just outside the walls of the Roman basilica. Post-excavation work on the bones and soil samples should reveal more. Annals record that in AD 627 King Edwin of Northumbria and his family were baptised by St Paulinus in a small wooden church, the first minster; several sites have been suggested, and burials and grave markers from the period discovered, but no trace of the structure has yet been found.

Hajj is a hit

A 700-year-old Koran in the care of the House of the Arabic Manuscript

The British Museum has announced that another of its special exhibitions has proved to be a sell-out success, with 119,948 adult tickets (under-16s get in free) having already been sold for Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam: advance tickets have sold out (though you can still buy tickets for admission on the day at the museum) and the exhibition’s opening hours have been extended to accommodate the extra demand. It took less than seven weeks out of the planned twelve for the exhibition to exceed the target of 80,000 visitors. Our Fellow Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, says that the museum does not monitor the religion of its visitors, but probably more than half were Muslim, an unprecedented number, and that the reaction from Muslim visitors was strongly positive. Mehdi Hasan, who reviewed the exhibition for the New Statesman and Radio 4, said the exhibition ‘said something positive about Muslims in a country where all you get is terrorism and Halal meat scares’. Having tapped into a new audience of British Muslims, the museum hopes they will return.

Fellow Cliff Webb writes to Salon with a clipping from Gulf News, reporting on the efforts of Sultan Abdullah Al Marzouqi, of Abu Dhabi, to rescue and conserve Islamic manuscripts. Al Marzouqi has set up the House of the Arabic Manuscript in Al Ain as a charity that collects and studies ancient documents, some of which are more than 800 years old. Al Marzouqi estimates that there are thousands of ancient Islamic documents, books, manuscripts and Qurans kept in conditions that will lead to their destruction, and he is appealing for anyone who knows of such material to donate it to the organisation.

Can anyone throw light on these murals and tiles?

‘Carrow Abbey’ in Norwich, built on the site of the twelfth-century Carrow Priory, was the home of Jeremiah James Colman, of the famous mustard family. His great hall (known as ‘The Library’ and fashioned within the remains of the Prioress’s Lodging) has a mural high on the south wall, of good quality, but by an unknown artist (a detail of the right-hand side is shown here). The Norwich Society is anxious to discover who painted it. In addition, they would also be grateful for suggestions for the designer or manufacturer of the fine tiles used for the fireplace in the hall (see next image). Fellow Brian Ayers, our Society’s Hon Secretary, can supply further images and will pass information on to the Norwich Society.

The Carrow Priory tiles


Events

20 April 2012: The Winchester Mint: Winchester Studies, Volume 8. Our Fellow Martin Biddle extends an invitation to Fellows to join him at a reception to celebrate the publication of the next volume in the Winchester Studies series, to be held at 6pm in the Old Museum at Winchester College. RSVP to Jock Macdonald, Vice-Chairman of the Winchester Excavation Committee. This volume, says Martin, ‘is the first major study of an English mint for forty years: 740 pp, 123 plates, 5,500 coins catalogued, 3,200 illustrated on BOTH sides, full discussions, and all the coins and para-numismatica (Byzantine seals and coins, Kufic coin, Hebrew token, etc., etc.), from the 1961—71 excavations.’

3 May 2012 and every Thursday evening in May: Played in London 2012 lecture series and exhibition: exhibition opens at 5.30pm, lecture starts 7pm, at Alan Baxter & Associates, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EL. An exhibition and series of events celebrating London’s sporting heritage, featuring images and findings from English Heritage’s forthcoming publication, Played in London. The lecture series begins with author Simon Inglis speaking on ‘the heritage of a city at play’; subsequent talks will cover London’s first Olympics, the city’s historic swimming pools, darts and skittles and the architecture of the 2012 Olympic stadia. Full details can be found on the Played in Britain website.

17 and 18 May 2012: ‘Norman Connections Castles Conference: towards the conservation, interpretation and display of Anglo-Norman castles’, Town Close Auditorium, Norwich Castle. Our Fellow Professor David Bates (University of East Anglia and University of Caen) will give the keynote address on ‘Living in the Twelfth-Century Cross-Channel Empire’; the speakers from both sides of the Channel include our Fellows Robert Liddiard, Edward Impey, Roland Harris, Sandy Heslop, John Crook and Steven Ashley. The programme and booking form can be downloaded from the Norwich Castle Museum website.

28 June 2012: ‘First of all respect your paper: 500 years of artists and their papers’, a lecture by Peter Bower, forensic paper historian, at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, doors open 9.45am lecture 10.15am, followed by coffee. Entrance fee £5 (£2.50 concessions); for further information see the website of Master Drawings London, where you can book to attend the lecture: alternatively, you can book through Cawdell Douglas, tel: 0207 439 2822.

5 and 6 July: ‘Ancients and Moderns’: the 81st Anglo-American Conference of Historians, Senate House, London. This conference jointly hosted by the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of Classical Studies will address the ways in which the classical world resonates in our own times, and how successive epochs of modernity since the Renaissance have situated themselves in relation to the various ancient civilisations. From political theory to aesthetics, across the arts of war and of peace, to concepts of education, family, gender, race and slavery, it is hard to think of a facet of the last millennium which has not been informed by the ancient past and through a range of media, including museums, painting, poetry, film and the built environment. The participants will include scholars who work on Roman, Greek and Judaeo-Christian legacies and influences, and historians of the ancient kingdoms and empires of Asia and pre-Colombian America. Further information can be found on the website of the Institute of Historical Research Institute of Historical Research.

Vacancies

Gloucestershire County History Trust: Editor for Victoria County History: Gloucester
Closing date: 24 April 2012; £30,000 for 225 days work
over a one-year period researching and writing the history of the parish of Yate (in the south of the historic county, now officially South Gloucestershire). For further details see the academic jobs website.

Royal Armouries, Conservator
Closing date: 27 April 2012; £22,469 per annum

To work as part of the collections team at Fort Nelson, to conserve the Royal Armouries’ collection of artillery and associated objects and archives. Applicants need a relevant degree and proven continuous professional experience in a similar role. Experience of conservation in and working with a large object collection and experience of working with objects made from or incorporating timber is essential. Membership of ICON and good reporting skills are desirable. For a full job description and application pack please contact the Royal Armouries’ recruitment team, tel: 0113 220 1949.