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.
31 May 2012: A Miscellany of Papers
The Societys 201112 programme of lectures will conclude with two short papers, both connected with the Societys 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 Societys Ordinary Meetings. Pamela Fishers title will be William Burtons notebook and its place in Leicestershire history. The antiquary William Burton (15751645) was the author of The Description of Leicestershire, first published in 1622. The May Miscellany will give Fellows an opportunity to see the Societys important panel portrait of Burton that has just been re-hung in the Meeting Room following conservation.
At the ballot held on 17 May 2012, the following were elected as Fellows of our Society:
Lucie Marie Abel Smith, historian, art historian and author; Susan Elizabeth Lawrence, Associate Professor of Archaeology, La Trobe University; Laurajane Smith, Fellow of the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University; John Richard Minnis, Senior Investigator, English Heritage; Graeme Peter Earl, Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Computing, University of Southampton; Stephen John Daniels, Professor of Cultural Geography, University of Nottingham; Clare Margaret Rider, Archivist and Chapter Librarian, St Georges Chapel, Windsor; Margaret Jane Dunn, Director of the North West Wales Dendrochronology Project.
At the ballot held on 24 May 2012, the following were elected as Fellows of our Society:
Chris Jones-Jenkins, freelance illustrator; Barry Richard Joyce, Manager of the Design and Conservation Section, Derbyshire County Council; Neil Redfern, Team Leader, National Planning Dept, English Heritage, York; Noel Fallows, Professor of Spanish, University of Georgia and an authority on Spanish and Portuguese chivalry, tournaments and armour; Adam Thomas Welfare, Field Investigator, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland; Faye Simpson, Lecturer in Archaeology, Manchester Metropolitan University; Anthony Joseph Frendo, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Malta.
Fellows who are unable to attend the Societys weekly meetings will in future be able to watch them on the internet. Our new Communications Officer, Matt Harle, has succeeded in mastering the technology that allows the lectures to be broadcast, and it is perhaps appropriate that a paper given by our President. Maurice Howard, should be the first to go online (see the home page of the Societys website.
Maurice volunteered to speak at the meeting held on 24 May 2012 when the original speaker had to cancel, and his lecture on Conserving the 1960s: Basil Spence at the University of Sussex engendered a lively discussion on the care and conservation of twentieth-century buildings, from the newly listed petrol station canopies off the A1 at Markham Moor, West Drayton, Nottinghamshire (pictured left), and on the west carriageway of the A6, Loughborough Road, Red Hill, Birstall, Leicester (pictured below), to the controversial decision not to give listed status to the Albert Sloman Library at the University of Essex, whose innovative octagonal staircase now faces demolition as part of a plan to extend the library.
Most of the Fellows and guests who attended Maurices lecture were already converts to the cause of preserving the best examples of post-war architecture, but any doubters would have been converted by the superb pictures that accompanied the lecture including Maurices own photographs, Spences watercolours and pastels and the filmic black-and-white architectural photography of Henk Snoek and by Maurices own enthusiasm for Spences architecture at Sussex, which he characterised as the arts and crafts tradition, imbibed from working in Lutyen's studio at the end of the 1920s, married with his admiration for Le Corbusier and his use of pre-cast concrete for the concrete of Le Corbusier, linked to the flint of the Sussex downland landscape.
Several Fellows have their own memories of Sir Basil Spence, including our Fellow Nigel Maslin who says that in autumn 1966, as editor of the Sussex University student arts paper Sussex Outlook, I went to interview Sir Basil Spence in his Canonbury offices about designing the campus buildings. These included the circular Meeting House [planned as a place where people of all faiths can go to pray, meet and meditate], built of concrete blocks alternating with panes of stained glass under a conical copper roof. He said that Mies van der Rohe had advised him: Never look at modern buildings, only the old, going on to explain that in Greece I was tremendously moved by some of the forms which are very simple, tremendously basic and very big, and there are some wonderful beehive tombs at Mycenae which are round great chunks of stone and these experiences are stored in ones mind, and they digest and lie dormant, and then when the problem comes, you know, the solution comes out, and one wonders just where it was triggered off. I think possibly it was the Mycenaean tombs ….
Another Fellow and Sussex alumna, Justine Bayley, revealed a nostalgia for the rebellious days of the 1960s when, at Thursdays meeting, she recalled students using weedkiller to burn political slogans into Spences immaculate lawns at Sussex, and she too mentioned the Meeting House as a special building, especially on a winters evening when the stained-glass windows glowed with the warmth of candle light, inviting passers by to come in.
Fellow Diana Murray adds that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, of which she is Secretary, holds the Basil Spence Collection and has an exhibition on at the moment of his work. Details of this and of the accompanying book, jointly published with the RIBA, can be seen on the RCAHMS website, along with a gallery of 175 images from the collection, including the one shown below, a pastel by Sir Basil that suggests that he too was in love with the romantic aura of the early days of motoring!
If one detects in England a certain wariness on the part of the Department of Culture to list post-war buildings, Glasgow City Council does not share that diffidence: the citys thirty-eight listed post-war buildings (one-fifth of the national total of post-war listed buildings) are celebrated in a new book jointly published with Historic Scotland that is free to download. Historic Scotlands Head of Listing, Elizabeth McCrone, said: Glasgow is an incredible city that manages to mix different styles and periods of architecture in such a way that reflects all the social and economic changes throughout the centuries.
Gillespie Kidd and Coia are represented most in the post-war listed buildings currently found in Glasgow, with nine buildings included on the lists. Thomas Cordiner is the second most represented, with five listed buildings. Both these practices worked extensively for the Glasgow Diocese and many of their listed buildings are churches.
Campaigners seeking to change the Chancellors mind about VAT on alterations and repairs to listed places of worship have welcomed the news that an extra £30m has been allocated to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme for the rest of this Parliament. Added to the schemes existing £12 million, the total annual value of the new scheme will be £42 million. This means that from 1 October all claimants should receive a full payout on the equivalent of the VAT they have incurred on repairs and alterations.
Patricia Greener of Wakefield Cathedral (see Salon 276 and 277) and the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRB) had been campaigning for retention of the zero rating on approved alterations to all listed buildings, but that was not to be. Becky Payne, HRBs Development Officer, said there are many secular listed buildings, such as community centres and village halls, that will now face acute challenges in raising money to alter their buildings to give them a viable twenty first century lease of life. The HRB is still calling for a full review of the impacts of the VAT change.
A full statement on the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme can be found on the schemes website.
Meanwhile, now that the Government has undermined its previous argument that only Europe can vary VAT, campaigners are renewing their call to the Government to abolish VAT altogether on all works done to listed building or to equalise the VAT so that repairs, maintenance and refurbishment are not seen as more expensive than new build. William Palin, Secretary of SAVE Britains Heritage, says that VAT rules are out of kilter with wider government policy, both on heritage, and sustainability, and that the Treasury is simply adding another deterrent to individuals and charities wishing to take on, rejuvenate and sustain listed dwellings and places of worship. SAVEs President, our Fellow Marcus Binney, says George Osborne is penalising thousands of ordinary homes which are in urgent need of improvement and repair … by abolishing VAT relief on listed buildings, the Chancellor is foisting new burdens on to house owners, small builders, housing associations, congregations and building preservation trusts the foot soldiers in the never-ending slog to retain and enhance the character of cities towns and villages.
John Penrose MP, Englands Minister for Tourism and Heritage, spoke on 23 May 2012 of the need to nail for the ever the canard that economic growth and heritage are mutually opposed. Speaking at the English Heritage event Next steps for Englands heritage, he said they coexist brilliantly, and noted the essential contribution the historic environment makes to the other half of his portfolio, tourism, and to the nurturing spaces that stimulate and support the creative economy.
But to make that synergy work, he said, some streamlining is required. Presaging the DCMS consultation we expect this summer, he outlined some important steps to be undertaken by that part of his department that is not engaged on Olympic duties. Many of these measures are familiar already from the Penfold review and the draft Heritage Protection Bill. They include defining the physical extent of a listed buildings special interest, extending the circumstances under which it is possible to apply for a certificate of immunity from listing, and giving statutory backing to Heritage Partnership Agreements. Also in line with the Penfold proposals is the idea of setting up a system whereby accredited agents could be trained to inspect and certify applications for Listed Building Consent (similar proposals have been made for the natural environment).
Responding to these Next Step proposals, our Fellow Peter Hinton, Director of the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA), said that disappointingly, once again, there was no reference to any parallel process for Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC). IfA has recently obtained confirmation from English Heritage that the process of granting SMC for archaeological purposes continues to be managed without reference to the professional accreditation of the archaeologists concerned. Quite why management of this particular type of heritage asset (some might say the most important type) continues to be operated in an accreditation vacuum remains an enduring mystery, and one that calls into question the extent of the Governments compliance with the Valletta Convention. IfA will continue to press for a more enlightened approach, and hopes that others will too before the consultation process that must now be imminent.
Emails are circulating amongst archaeologists sounding the alarm at plans to create a huge landfill at a quarry site close to Hadrians Villa, at Tivoli. The threat to the World Heritage Site was reported in November in the Guardian and has not gone away despite the demise of the Berlusconi government, and the opposition of the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Culture, the Mayor of Rome, the Mayor of Tivoli and 100 or so members of the European Parliament, not to mention community groups. Prime Minister Monti is apparently going to make a final decision in the near future; meanwhile, an international petition opposing the plan has attracted 4,961 signatures and is being cited by opponents as evidence of the strength of expert opinion (the petition website prompts you to make a donation but this is not required simply to add your name).
Local opposition is being led by Prince Urbano Barberini, actor, farmer and descendant of seventeenth-century popes and Roman aristocrats, who produces olive oil in the vicinity of the villa and who predicts that visitors to the villa will have to bring masks against the stench if the plan goes ahead. This is like dumping rubbish next to the pyramids, he said. The plan also risks polluting the Roman aqueduct, dug into the porous tufa, that still feeds Romes fountains, which is fed by a stream that runs within 30m of the landfill site.
Recently we learned about the oldest stringed instrument yet found in western Europe in the form of a 2,300-year-old lyre bridge from Skyes High Pasture Cave and now we have a new date for Europes earliest surviving musical instruments. Teams from Oxford and Tübingen universities have used new carbon-dating techniques to produce dates of around 40,000 BC for flutes made from bird bones and mammoth ivory excavated at Geißenklösterle Cave, in the Swabian Jura region of southern Germany. This key site is widely believed to have been occupied by some of the first modern humans to arrive in Europe, around 42,000 to 43,000 years ago.
In a paper published in the Journal of Human Evolution, Professor Tom Higham and his team at Oxford University describe the use of an improved ultrafiltration method designed to remove contamination from collagen preserved in the bones and thus provide a more accurate date. The new dates are the earliest so far for the Aurignacian, pre-dating equivalent sites in Italy and France and suggesting that the Danube Valley is a plausible homeland for the Aurignacian, with the Swabian caves producing the earliest record of technological and artistic innovations that are characteristic of this period. The results also indicate that modern humans entered the Upper Danube region before the extremely cold climatic phase of around 39,000 to 40,000 years ago. Previously, researchers had argued that modern humans initially migrated up the Danube immediately after this event.
Lead author Professor Higham from Oxford University said: High-resolution dating of this kind is essential for establishing a reliable chronology for testing ideas to help explain the expansion of modern humans into Europe, and the processes that led to the wide range of cultural innovations, including the advent of figurative art and music.
Professor Nick Conard, of Tübingen University and excavator at the site, said: These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago. Geißenklösterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments.
France can still hold its head high, however, as another study, Further constraints on the Chauvet cave artwork elaboration, by Benjamin Sadier et al, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argues that the paintings of bears, rhinoceroses and horses in the Chauvet cave in southern Frances Ardeche region are the oldest of their kind in the world. Discovered as recently as 1999, the paintings have been dated from charcoal and animal bones in the Chauvet cave to between 28,000 and 30,000 BC. Such dates have been greeted with scepticism by those who believe that such sophisticated art is more likely to date from the end of the last Ice Age, from 12,000 to 17,000 years ago.
Now a team from Frances University of Savoie, Aix Marseille University and the Centre National de Préhistoire has used chlorine-36 dating to prove that rockslides from an overhanging cliff began to make access to the caves difficult from 29,000 years ago and repeated falls finally sealed the cave entrance around 21,500 years ago. Lead author Benjamin Sadier says the findings put an end to any debate about a more recent date for the drawings based on their style and makes it more likely that previous radiocarbon dates are valid.
It has been yet another bad fortnight for heritage crime, with the theft of the Wenlok jug from Luton Museums Stockwood Discovery Centre and of two military effigies from churches in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.
The Wenlok jug was subject to a tussle between Luton Museums Service and New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005 (see Salon 135) when an export stop order and a major fund-raising campaign enabled the Luton museum to raise the £750,000 needed to buy the medieval bronze jug, which was made between 1377 and 1469 and bears the inscription My Lord Wenlok, thought to be a reference to John, the first Lord Wenlock, who served every king from Henry V to Edward IV and was closely associated with Luton.
The jug was taken from the Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton at about 11pm on Saturday 12 May. Director of Museums, Karen Perkins, called the theft extremely serious and upsetting, adding that we are working extremely closely with police and investigators to do all we can to recover it.
The first of the church thefts was from Newland, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, where the top section of a broken late fourteenth-century effigy of a priest was taken. This was lying loose on a wooden support (see photo)
The second theft, from Castle Frome, near Ledbury in Herefordshire, was of a demi effigy that had been secured to the base of a window above an arch with a monumental slab below, so the thieves must have come with the intention to steal the effigy and equipped with the tools to chisel the piece away from its mortar bed.
Our Fellow Sally Badham describes the stolen piece as being of a military effigy holding a heart (about 9in / 22cm high and 6in / 15cm wide), indicating a heart burial, probably commemorating Adam de Lacy (d. 1297). Sally and others are worried that this could mark the beginning of a spate of thefts, such as occurred in the summer of 2002, when monumental brasses were taken from Wiltshire (Lacock), Somerset (Beckington, Langridge and Swainswick) and Gloucestershire (Fairford). Janet Gough of the Church Building Council has asked Diocesan Secretaries to warn churches in the area to be extra vigilant, especially if they have small and portable items in their care.
A new website hosted by the Arthur Rank Centre offers a one-stop shop for anyone seeking creative ideas and practical advice on ways of caring for and using rural places of worship of all denominations. The website is described as a comprehensive guidance and information hub … answering the question how can our church building be a blessing rather than a burden?
Fellow Martin Brown, for the last nine years Archaeological Adviser to the Ministry of Defence, is exploring new pastures as Principal Archaeologist with White Young Green, where he will be based in Bristol.
Salon 276 reported on the Festschrift presented to Fellow George Cunningham on 14 April 2012 to mark the occasion of the fiftieth consecutive bi-annual Roscrea conference. Fellow Naimh Whitfield now writes to say that Fellows George Cunningham (left in the picture) and Peter Harbison (centre) presented a copy of the book, A Carnival of Learning, to Michael Higgins (right), the new Irish President, when they met at Arus an Uachtaran (The Place of the President) in Phoenix Park, Dublin. George was received by the President on 17 April 2012, along with Carmel, his wife, Jerri and Maureen Cahir (fundraiser and distributor for the book respectively), Valerie Hall (co-editor), Amanda Pedlow (Heritage Officer for Co. Offaly and North Tipperary) and Peter Harbison (co-editor). George will be getting an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland Galway later in the year.
Fellow John Smith wrote a paper on A reformed House of Lords: appointed or elected? last year that has become topical again in the light of the Queens Speech and the promise that this session of Parliament will see some progress on the question. John was pleased to see a reference to his paper in the House of Lords debate on the subject held on 30 April 2012, in which Lord Low of Dalston referred to John Smith of Stamford, Lincolnshire [who has] submitted a well-worked out scheme of indirect election from constituencies of expertise with a general college for those not affiliated to any particular constituency and a parliamentary college for politicians. Johns proposals are set out on the website of the think tank ResPublica.
The Society for American Archaeology honoured our Fellow Norman Hammond at its seventy-seventh Annual Meeting, held in Memphis, Tennessee, with a symposium titled Four decades of Belize archaeology: honoring the work of Norman Hammond. Sixteen speakers from the USA, the UK, Austria and Belize gave papers in which the importance of Normans discoveries at the Maya cities of Lubaantun, Nimli Punit, Colha, Cuello, Nohmul and La Milpa were reviewed and their overall impact on the development of Maya archaeology assessed. Many of the speakers had worked with Norman at different times over the past forty years, and gone on to pursue distinguished careers in archaeology on both sides of the Atlantic.
While the papers were largely on Maya topics, as might be expected, Professors Richard Wilk and Anne Pyburn from Indiana University talked about Norman Hammond as a public intellectual, analysing his journalistic career in Britain since 1965 and the impact of his contributions to The Times, the Illustrated London News and other media on the public perception of archaeology in Britain. They made the salient point that he is one of the best-known Maya archaeologists in the Americas but barely known as a journalist in those academic circles; the reverse is true in the UK. They described his range of more than 1,750 Times articles as truly global, covering all ages of prehistory and most continents, and noted the profound influence he has had on the public perception of archaeology in his homeland, reaching a huge audience through The Timess circulation of some 450,000 copies a day as well as online.
Normans academic reputation is not limited to the Americas, however: following a visit to New Zealand last year as the Aronui Lecturer for the Royal Society of New Zealand, he has been elected the 2013 De Carle Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Otago, at Dunedin, and will deliver a series of talks there in the autumn of 2013.
A dissenting voice on the future for HMS Victory is that of our Fellow Charles Trollope, who writes in response to the concerns expressed by the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (JNAPC) that current proposals contravene the 2001 UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage and its Annex. JNAPC members live in an ideal world, Charles writes, and believe that the UNESCO Convention can be implemented without policing and substantial finance and that fishermen and in particular those with scallop dredges will avoid the site, that nautical scrap merchants will also stay away and that the underwater currents with sweeping sand will not erode the exposed bronze of the guns in short order. English Heritage has now been well aware of this most important wreck site for four years and seems to have neither the will nor the finance to carry out rescue archaeology. Compare their response to the Victory site with the Shropshire Hoard. Was the site of the Shropshire Hoard allowed to be ploughed up for four years before anything was done to save it?
I, and others, live in the real world and have been keeping a close watch on all the published work on Victory since I was called in by the Receiver of Wreck in 2009. The scallop dredgers, with their seven-ton dredge, have not stayed off site. The site has been disturbed, guns moved and probably some have been broken; human bones have been disturbed and many small artefacts of importance have been scooped up in the dredges and dumped elsewhere. The nautical scrap merchants have been on site. A bronze 24 Pdr dated 1723 is now in Holland and others could well be in France. Bronze is a valuable metal and the scrap value of the guns that are (or were) on site is more than £1 million, while the antiques market value is nearer £4 million. The JNAPC proposes that the site should be safeguarded by the charity Promare with quarterly surveys. Just how will this monitoring stop the pillaging of the wreck site and will it stop the erosion?
On the question of payment to Odyssey Marine, did not those, who found the Hoard and owned the land in Shropshire, not get fair payment for the Hoard? If JNAPC members have a better scheme that will start on site within weeks, let them bring it forward. They have had four years. The next survey report on the Victory site is due out in a very few weeks time. I just hope my predictions set out above are unfounded, but I doubt it.
The Society will host the third conference on new insights into sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British architecture at Burlington House on 19 January 2013, and the organisers, Claire Gapper and Paula Henderson, are calling for 250-word proposals for papers of approximately thirty minutes in length. The emphasis remains on new developments in architecture, but proposals on related themes, such as decorative arts, gardens, sculpture and monuments, are also welcomed. Proposals should be submitted by mid-August and the final programme will be announced in September 2012. The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain will be sponsoring ten bursaries for students and Claire and Paula are keen to encourage the participation of new scholars.
Jointly presented by the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the Folklore Society, this will be held on 13 and 14 October 2012 at the Institute. Contributions are invited that may discuss, but are not limited to, the following topics: Antiquarians and Antiquarianism; The Folklore of Archaeological Sites and Objects; The Archaeology of Folklore; Folk Revivalism, Nationalism and the Appropriation of Archaeological Materials; Folklore and Heritage; Transmission and Communication. Please email abstracts of 250 words for twenty-minute papers to the conference organisers. For further information see the Folklore Societys website.
6 June 2012: Sèvres mania in England: from early patrons to the Goût Rothschild. Our Fellow Dame Rosalind Savill will explore the extraordinary phenomenon of the English passion for Sèvres porcelain in a lecture to be given at the Institut Francais, 17 Queensberry Place, London, at 7pm. Tickets cost £8; box office tel: 0207 871 3515.
8 and 9 June 2012: Two-day anniversary event in Gordon Square gardens to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, to include musical entertainment, a day of archaeologically related activities for all ages and a performance event. Further details can be found on the Institutes website.
13 July 2012: members and non members are welcome to attend the meeting of the Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections (AMARC) that will take place at Dulwich College, London SE21, and that will focus on the archive holdings of secondary schools, some of which (like Dulwich College itself) have very rich holdings by virtue of age and policy, often unknown to the wider public. The speakers will include our Fellows Christopher de Hamel, AMARCs Chairman, Robert Weaver, Keeper of the Fellows Library at Dulwich College, who will talk about the John Reading Music Manuscripts at Dulwich, and Grace Ioppolo, who will talk about digitising the Henslowe Papers of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre history at Dulwich. Also speaking will be Geoffrey Day on the treasures of Winchester College, Elizabeth Wells on Westminster Schools archives, and Penny Hatfield on the archives at Eton. For a booking form, contact our Fellow Robert Weaver.
13 July 2012: Fit for purpose? Skills and employability in UK archaeology. Held in association with the Archaeology Training Forum, this years FAME Forum will bring together a wide range of practitioners to discuss what we can do to attract new entrants to the profession and to develop and retain those we already have. The conference will take place at Merchant Taylors Hall, York, with speakers that will include Anthony Sinclair, Chiz Harward, Peter Connelly and Fellows Andrew Marvell, Robin Turner and Dominic Perring. For further details and a booking form, see the FAME website.
28 September to 1 October 2012: Legacies of Northumbria: recent thinking on the fifth to fourteenth centuries in northern Britain. The Royal Archaeological Institutes 2012 conference will be held at the Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne. Our Fellow Professor Dame Rosemary Camp will give the keynote speech on 28 September and the conference will showcase new research and explore a number of themes, including the prehistoric north and the legacy of Rome during the formation of fifth- and sixth-century chiefdoms, the Golden Age of Northumbria, Northumbria in the Viking Age and the role of Northumbrian culture in the High Medieval period. The conference will be followed by a coach trip to the early medieval sites of north Northumberland on 1 October. Further details can be found on the RAI website.
4 October 2012: Canons Cloister, Windsor Castle: restoring and researching a fourteenth-century architectural gem. A one-day conference is to be held at the College of St George, Windsor Castle, at which participants in the current programme of refurbishment of Canons Cloister (including project archaeologist Fellow Dr John Crook) will talk about their work. Some astonishing discoveries have been made: much more of the original timber-framed structure of 13524 survives than had hitherto been supposed, including much of the medieval roof and floorboards and evidence for chimneys and staircases. The works have also revealed important areas of original wall painting as well as later decorative schemes. For a downloadable programme and application form see the News section of the College website.
12 and 13 October 2012: Looking Ahead: the future of the country house. This year the Attingham Trust will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary with a major two-day conference at the Royal Geographic Society, London, on the country house and the house museum in Britain, Ireland, Australia and the United States. Speakers from each of those countries will discuss successful current developments as well as the varying problems that each country faces including the rapid decline of the traditional house museum in the USA, the attempts to preserve houses in the Republic of Ireland, the developing role of the historic house in Australian conservation, and the British country house faced with depressing cuts in funding but never more prominent in the public eye thanks to Downton Abbey.
The conference is open to all (alumni and non-alumni) and promises to be a very stimulating event. For programme details and a booking form, see the Attingham Trust website.
24 October 2012: Elias Ashmole, Restoration Windsor and the Order of the Garter, the 2012 Bond Memorial Lecture, will be delivered by our Fellow Adrian Ailes of The National Archives at 7pm in St Georges Chapel, Windsor. Admission is free but guests are required to apply for a named ticket. Applications for tickets, listing the names of all those who wish to attend, should be addressed to: The Chapter Office, Windsor Castle, Berkshire SL4 1NJ, with a stamped addressed envelope, by 10 October 2012.
Salons editor has been contacted by Dr Alan Richardson, of Sockbridge, in Cumbria, as a result of a casual remark about the evidence for centuriation in Roman Britain (the practice of dividing the countryside around newly established coloniae into rectilinear plots of standard size to define property rights and tax liabilities: the principles are set out in a body of Latin texts known as the Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum, discussed in O Dilkes The Roman Land Surveyors (1971) and B Campbells Shaping the rural environment, in J Roman Stud 86 (1996) 7499).
While the evidence for centuriation on the continent and in North Africa is well known (the classic example is the Po Valley), the evidence for similar land division in Britain is disputed. Hence, Salon 224 (14 December 2009), reporting on the Societys Silchester seminar, held on 27 November 2009, said that our Fellow and Director, John Creighton, who has carried out an extensive geo-physical survey of the area beyond Silchesters walls, did not know whether to believe or not the fact that he had found rectilinear land divisions that looked remarkably like the fabled centuriation.
Dr Richardson is convinced that such evidence exists and has donated two of his most recent reports to the Library based on his fieldwork in Cumberland and the Manchester area. These present evidence for the use of surveying in Roman Britain, and suggest how and why this was carried out. He argues that it is possible to construct Roman land holdings in these areas by studying road, ditch and boundary alignments, and the Roman basis for these land divisions (as distinct say from more recent enclosure) is the size of the plots, which measure 120 by 120 Roman feet, making up centuriae of 2,400 Roman feet in area. Dr Richardson argues that the gridded landscape between Carlisle and Shap was farmed by veteran freeholders who supplied the needs of the Hadrianic frontier; likewise the fields south and east of Manchester supplied the fort and town, and that the Roman land divisions here were adopted by later settlers as the basis for the early medieval field measure, the Lancashire acre.
For this CBA Practical Handbook 21 (ISBN: 9781902771922), Fellows Marilyn Palmer and Michael Nevell and Mark Sissons have tackled an immense subject by creating a number of conceptual categories into which most industrial archaeology can be fitted, hammered out, shaped, tested and refined during a series of day schools held between 2008 and 2011. Defining industrial archaeology as the study of people at work (which therefore includes home-based production as well as factory-based), the handbook covers agricultural processes, power production, the extractive and manufacturing industries, workforce housing, moving goods and people around (roads, canals, rivers, railways and air transport), commercial buildings, utilities and sewage.
Within each of these major categories, the authors serve up a condensed summary of the industrys geographical and/or geological locus (where, for example, you find the iron ores that serve as the raw material of the iron and steel industries); of the processes involved in converting raw materials to commodity; key dates and technical developments; the archaeological evidence for the industry; key sites and further reading. The history of the iron and steel industry is thus captured in less than five pages, but you dont feel that the subject has been skimped: rather you feel grateful for such a succinct summary and for a handbook that serves as a guide to vast amounts of additional data that you can follow up once you have mastered the basics.
In many ways too the book is a tribute to the achievements of industrial archaeology pioneers, because page after page provides examples of structures that have been conserved and preserved, either as working museums, or as buildings and landscapes sensitively adapted to new uses.
If industrial archaeology is less than sixty years old (Michael Rix is credited with being the first to use the term in print in 1955, and the CBA did much to nurture the subject in the 1960s, having hosted the first conference on the subject in 1959), battlefield archaeology is an even more recent development, and one in which Fellows have played a leading role. Two of them Glenn Foard, Reader in Battlefield Archaeology, and Richard Morris, Professor of Conflict and Culture, both at the University of Huddersfield have now come up with the first substantive study of the subject in the form of CBA Research Report 168 (ISBN: 9781902771885).
The Archaeology of English Battlefields: conflict in the pre-industrial landscape dates the inception of battlefield archaeology to 1984 and work in the USA at the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn; the first systematic application of battlefield archaeology techniques in England followed in the mid-1990s at the Civil War sites of Naseby (Northants) and Towton (North Yorks). The results were significant enough to encourage English Heritage to fund the creation of the first database of battlefield sites and an assessment of their archaeological potential, and it is on that survey that this book is based, with its very useful maps and tables, including Appendix A, a list of English battles by name. It is a surprisingly short list (roughly 175 battles), which in itself contrasts pre-industrial conflict, when the fate of a nation could be decided by the martial activities of a few thousand men, and the conflicts of the industrial era, involving years of inconclusive fighting, the horrific slaughter of millions and, in the current era, the end of the concept of the battle at all; replaced by decades of attrition, resistance and guerrilla warfare that takes its greatest toll on civilian populations.
This book is as objective as it can be about a matter as inhumane as warfare, explaining as it does the techniques that define battlefield archaeology (the integration of military history, landscape history and archaeological survey, particularly with metal detectors, aiming to set the known events of a battle into its landscape context). At the same time, the book never forgets that human lives were involved, so the authors are also concerned with the way that the data from battlefield archaeology are used to educate and communicate, as well as to commemorate those who died. Ironically, the authors find that most monuments are unhelpful as guides to the site of the battlefields they commemorate, often being placed for convenience and visibility, rather than accurately locating the battlefield. But then, that could be the overall theme of the book: how little we know about events that loom large in our national history, and how much there is to learn.
This report is redolent of an era that is now part of history, as witness Dominic Sandbrooks TV series, The 70s. And just as there is a large amount of hindsight in Sandbrooks series, so there is in Excavations at Grimes Graves Norfolk 19726 (ISBN: 9780714123318; British Museum), by Fellows Ian Longworth and Gillian Varndell and Jacek Lech. The result is positive, in that the report not only sets out the research questions that engaged the excavators of this key late Neolithic and Bronze Age site forty years ago, it also discusses the progress that has been made in the subsequent four decades.
One of the most interesting of these questions is to what purpose was the flint from Grimes Graves used? To answer this, the excavators carried out pioneering work to map flint waste from chipping floors and attempted to fit the pieces back together to see what types of tool might have been manufactured on site. A parallel approach was an attempt to find a unique chemical signature that would help identify material excavated from Grimes Graves wherever it might occur across late Neolithic Britain and Europe.
Such ambitions came to little: good questions, but the answers proved elusive. Others have continued the enquiry, however and the report is thus able to discuss more recent research. Our Fellow Frances Healy, for example, has made an extensive study of East Anglian flintwork and now thinks she can distinguish the high-quality Grimes Graves floorstone, won from deep in the ground at such cost and probably a prestige material used for larger artefacts, from flint derived from surface sources, such as glacial tills and gravels.
Salons editor visited these excavations as a student, and can remember how they promised to break new ground in the application of (then) new techniques: soil sampling to detect phosphates and identify centres of habitation; large-scale geophysics to identify the extent of the mined area; extensive carbon-dating to phase the overlapping mine pits. The reports authors say that such aims were the product of feeling of great optimism; at forty years distance, however, it is now possible to see that some of the hopes were doomed to failure.
That is something that could be said about the early 1970s as a whole, but never say die: if we had found all the answers in the 1970s, there would be nothing left for the next generation to do. As it is, they can build upon this data and think about such questions as whether the individual mine shafts can be phased, where the miners lived and what their lives were like, what was made of the flint extracted, how far was the flint from Grimes Graves dispersed and was this flint regarded as having special properties that justified all the effort of seeking it from deep below the ground.
Excavations at Chester: the western and southern Roman extramural settlements: a Roman community on the edge of the world (ISBN: 978140736; Archaeopress) by Fellow Simon Ward with major contributions by Fellows Peter Carrington and David Mason, plus many others, presents the final reports on ten excavations carried out for the former Chester City Council between 1964 and 1989. These attest high-status civilian occupation in a distinct zone lying between the western and southern defences of the legionary fortress and the River Dee. The opportunity is also taken to summarise all other significant discoveries across the whole of the canabae, the civilian settlement servicing the fortress. Building on this data, a series of discussions examines the development of the river channel; the nature of the occupation of the western extramural area and the status of the Infirmary Field cemetery through functional analysis of the small finds; the spatial and chronological development of the canabae as a whole; the origins and size of the civilian population of Roman Chester; and the role of the canabae in framing the economy and society of the region.
A lifetime of study on the part of our Fellow and Council member, Leslie Webster, has resulted in the first for twenty-five years to tackle the 600-year history of Anglo-Saxon art, and a book that is a model of clarity and analysis. As Leslie herself says, Anglo-Saxon art can, at first glance, seem baffling in its busyness, a seemingly impenetrable jumble of dismembered bits. In Anglo-Saxon Art: a new history (ISBN: 9780714128092; British Museum) we are shown how to make sense of it all, as the art we call Anglo-Saxon emerges out of late-Roman metalwork styles, taking motifs from the regalia of late Roman soldiers and officialdom, mixing in elements from Germanic metalwork, absorbing Christian and pagan symbolism, later taking in Viking and Irish artistic influences. The result is an insular style that includes some of the greatest works of art of all time: no idle boast Leslie is emphatic that the Sutton Hoo treasure, for example, is unmatched in seventh-century Europe for both craftsmanship and artistry.
The art is mesmerising and the quality gives the lie to the idea that there was anything dark about the period from the fifth to eleventh centuries. What we might have lost of that bright and colourful world in terms of objects made of textile, leather and wood is amply demonstrated in gorgeous pictures of gold and garnet, silver and niello, polychromatic stone, ivory and enamel, vellum and textile. In explaining all of this, Leslie makes good use of the 400 or so works of literature that are among the less tangible survivals from the period and that provide insights into the Anglo-Saxon mind and its love of riddles, ambiguity, binary contrasts, and poetry that is as richly patterned with internal rhymes, alliteration and rhythmic patterns as a brooch or the carpet page of an illuminated manuscript.
This is an entirely different book from any that have been written on the subject in the past simply because of the quantity of new material that it contains from research that has been undertaken in the past ten to twenty years the Lichfield Angel and Deerhurst sculptures that you read about first in the Antiquaries Journal, for example, or the contents of the Vale of York Hoard. The Staffordshire Hoard (increasingly now being referred to as the Mercian Hoard) also features large: even in their fragmentary and broken form, the contents of that hoard, when added to finds such as the grave of the Prittlewell Prince, show that Sutton Hoo was not a one-off. Leslie wants to know, as do we all, how work of such accomplishment came about was Anglo-Saxon England full of skilled artisans capable of making work of such quality, or was there just the one workshop, or did every aspiring king have a team of tame artists on the books? Whatever the answer, it is clear that the creative arts as they are now known, were then seen as core to establishing leadership and status. Would that that were true today.
The full achievement of Fellow James Graham-Campbell and colleagues in compiling this catalogue is only revealed when you know the full title of the work The Cuerdale Hoard and Related Viking-Age Silver and Gold from Britain and Ireland in the British Museum (ISBN: 9780861591855; British Museum Research Publication 185). This is, in other words, not just an account of the Cuerdale Hoard, discovered in 1840 and only now subjected to full scholarly scrutiny: it is a catalogue of the entire British Museum collection of non-numismatic Viking Age gold and silver.
Because of its size (more than 1,100 items, weighing 42.6kg) the Cuerdale Hoard is the focus of the book and the reference point for considering smaller hoards and single finds, which are analysed by object type (coins, ingots, rings, brooches, buckles, pins, chains and so on). The Halton Moor cup, perhaps the single most significant artefact in the British Museum collection, gets a chapter to itself, comparing it with the similar Vale of York cup (the Vale of York Hoard itself was found too recently for detailed consideration in this book). Egon Wamers, the author of the chapter, concludes that both were produced at the monastery of St-Germain-des Prés between AD 820 and 850 and probably represent loot from the Viking raid of AD 861, when the monastery was plundered and burnt down.
This leads into a discussion of what such hoards represent: James Graham-Campbell refuses to speculate and instead runs through all the permutations of the current debates about ritual deposit versus deposit for safekeeping with the intention of recovery and presents the evidence, such as it is, for peaks in deposition dates (one such occurs in the 970s and 980s), the sites of deposition and the type of material deposited. Reading this chapter one suspects that, if pushed, James would say that it is pointless to look for a single explanation for Viking-Age gold and silver hoards: the same phenomenon can arise from a variety of different reasons.
Subtitled archaeological investigations at a high-status farm in western Iceland, Reykholt (ISBN: 9789979790358; jointly published by the National Museum of Iceland and the culture and medieval centre, Snorrastofa; available from the National Museum: contact Vala Olafsdottir), price Icel. kronur 6.990 + pp) is the work of our Fellow Gudrun Sveinbjarnardottir and it concerns one of the most important historical sites in Iceland. One of Icelands first staðir, or church centres, established in the early twelfth century, Reykholt remained a major ecclesiastical and political centre throughout the medieval period and beyond. The site is probably best known as the home of the thirteenth-century writer and chieftain Snorri Sturluson, author of the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, among other works. Reykholt was his main residence from the early thirteenth century until his assassination there by the emissaries of the Norwegian king in 1241, and it features prominently in the contemporary Sturlunga saga.
This volume is concerned with the first systematic excavations at the site, which took place in 19879, and in 1997 and 2003. The farm seems to have been continuously occupied from around AD 1000 until the first half of the twentieth century. The first dwelling was a traditional turf-built longhouse but, in the twelfth or thirteenth century, the settlement developed with individual wooden buildings of types not encountered elsewhere in Iceland, but with parallels in Norway. Descriptions in contemporary written sources corroborate the physical evidence that the buildings at Reykholt were special and different to those at other sites at the time. Although there is some indication of the high status of the site in its material culture, such as the cultivation of cereal and evidence of foreign trade, Reykholts status in the medieval period was largely expressed through its impressive structures, including some that offer clear evidence for the use of the geothermal energy at the site in the medieval period making this the first site in Iceland to yield such remains.
One of the great truisms of archaeology is that everything is symbolic: even a blank white wall has connotations though some of them will be purely personal, based on ones own memories and experiences, while others will be cultural, based on long-standing associations between the colour white and ideas of simplicity, purity and cleanliness (in the western tradition) or death and absence (in the eastern). Fellow Carole Biggam has attempted the huge task of pinning down not only as many as possible of the connotations that colours have, but also (as the subtitle says) to take a historical approach and see how those connotations have changed and why; and then, as if such an enterprise were not ambitious enough, her references range across the worlds cultures, drawing out what might be specific to Peruvia, Polynesia or Iceland at any particular time in history. The Semantics of Colour: a historical approach (ISBN: 9780521899925; Cambridge University Press) is thus one of those books that condenses a staggering amount of reading and assimilation on the part of the author with clarity of insight and analysis whilst doing so with a lucidity that makes the book very readable proof that it is perfectly possible to write a jargon-free book on semantics!
For many years our Fellow Peter Woodford has been editing a stream of local history books for the Camden History Society (that is Camden, the London borough rather than Camden the Elizabethan and Jacobean antiquary). Peters most recent production has proved to be something of a best seller locally: A Better Life, by Olive Besagni consists of forty oral histories telling the story of the Clerkenwell Italian community which, even after five or more generations, still gives a distinctively Italian character to the Little Italy district, the triangle of streets bounded by Rosebery Avenue, Farringdon Road and Clerkenwell Road.
Surprisingly for so recent an event, the origins of Little Italy are somewhat vague. The introduction to A Better Life tells us that artists, gilders and barometer makers from what we now know as Italy were here from the late eighteenth century, while the census records 2,000 or so people with Italian names living here by 1851, mostly from the mountainous Trentino region of northern Italy and from Italian-speaking Ticino in Switzerland. Some arrived as seamen, others endured gruelling journeys across Europe, walking all the way quite a few were itinerant knifegrinders, arriving with their possessions and grindstones in a wheelbarrow. Once in London, they made livings as ice-cream makers and sellers in summer, chestnut vendors in winter, as well as barrel-organ grinders and buskers.
Like attracted like, with new migrants from southern Italy joining their compatriots in Clerkenwell in the latter half of the nineteenth century, attracted by the combination of cheap lodgings and a Catholic community (for this was also a major focus of Irish migration) served by priests who held mass in secret, because of British hostility to Catholicism even at this date. Londons building boom attracted a new influx of Italians with skills in asphalt, terrazzo, mosaics, ceramics, marble, gilding, glass blowing and mould-making for the manufacture of plaster statuettes. In time, the community became wealthy enough to fund church, school, hospital and social clubs. Against this bigger picture, the book recounts the experiences of individuals and their families, with some fascinating documentary photographs, including pictures of the annual street procession for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the event that has brought Londoners of Italian heritage back to Little Italy every year on the Sunday nearest to 16 July since 1896, interrupted only by the years of the Second World War.
Titanic Threads, by Mary South (ISBN: 9780957189508), is another book that tells the story of larger historical events through the details of particular lives. One of these was the father of Fellow Tom Beaumont James who, as a young clergyman in Southampton, had the sad task of breaking the news to some of his parishioners that they had lost family members when the Titanic went down in 1912. Mary Souths father was one of those to whom the news had to be told: her grandfather, Fred Simmons, had been a steward on board the Titanic. Tom and Mary grew up playing in the same Southampton parks and streets, though they never met then, perhaps separated by a social gulf: Tom was born the son of the Rector of Holy Trinity, Milbrook; Marys father, Ted Simmons, benefited from the Titanic Fund, set up to help the relations of families left destitute by the loss of the main breadwinner. Only decades later did they meet, by chance, and if this is beginning to sound like a popular romance, it ought to be made clear that Titanic Threads is, in Toms own words, a well-researched book on the Titanic families in Southampton, telling the story from a womans point of view and a very good read.
That said, as with so many Titanic stories, there are some strange coincidences in the book: as Tom writes in the Foreword, one of the children of Titanic victims that his father subsequently baptised was named Ernest Hope … the very same name that his father (Toms grandfather), Charles Thomas Clement James (18591930), had chosen as his nom de plume when writing his semi-autobiographical three-decker novel Always Wrong (1895).
This isnt exactly a book by a Fellow, begins Richard Barber, who goes on to say that Joanna, George and Henry: a Pre-Raphaelite tale of art, love and friendship (ISBN: 9781843836179; Boydell Press), by Sue Bradbury, results from the rediscovery of the letters and diaries exchanged by his great-great grandmother, Joanna Boyce, with her brother, George Price Boyce, and her suitor, later her husband and hence Richards great grandfather. All three were painters, and all were active participants in the youthful Pre-Raphaelite revolution that swept England in the 1850s. Their most important paintings were thought to have been destroyed in one of Hitlers Baedeker raids on Bath, along with their correspondence, but, says Richard, at a study day on Joanna and Henrys work, a family member produced a carrier bag containing a copy of the typescript of their letters. The survival of this material was remarkable and the letters proved to be of extraordinary quality and directness, telling a fascinating story. Both studied in Paris in the 1850s and had moved in circles that included Dante Gabriel Rossetti (with whom Henry Wells was at art school in 1849) and the journalist John Cook, founder of The Saturday Review. Joannas paintings and art criticism were both admired by Ruskin, who also knew her brother, George Price Boyce, well.
As it is so close to home, it is difficult for me to comment on this discovery, but scholars who have seen the book confirm that the material it contains, both on a personal level and on the artistic side discussions of new techniques, contrasts between French and English painting of the period and the contacts with the Pre-Raphaelites is certainly impressive and likely to open up new fields of scholarship.
In terms of presentation (as distinct from content) research strategies can be dull documents, but East Midlands Heritage (ISBN: 9781874454601; a free copy can be downloaded from the Trent & Peak Archaeology website) shows how it can be done, with pictures, maps and diagrams to enhance the words on every page. Fellows David Knight, Blaise Vyner and Carol Allen modestly describe themselves not as authors but as compilers on behalf of the regions historic environment community. They have done a superb job of characterising a region rich in archaeology of every period (it helps that they claim Doggerland, aka the North Sea, as part of the East Midlands), and one in which a huge amount has already been achieved, while setting out with clarity some 120 detailed research questions that will carry the study of the region forward and some thirty-five over-arching themes.
Picking out some of the novelties, there is research to be done by anyone looking for a PhD topic on the little-studied topic of the post-medieval use of caves (Nottingham alone has some 500 artificial caves dug into the citys soft sandstone for use as dwellings, for storage, for entertainment and for industrial use); a pottery specialist might like to study the regions dairy ceramics, and the competition that existed between manufacturers in sixteenth- to eighteenth-century Staffordshire and Derbyshire; or how about a question as large but deceptively simple as how many castle sites have we lost in the region?
Fellow Matthew Spriggs says my latest publication, edited with two non-Fellows, results from a session at the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Congress held in Hanoi in 2010. A very limited number of copies are available from the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan. As a public institution, the Museum cannot sell these books but can only give them away. Requests for copies (with your postal address included) can be sent to SES78 request. Only 100 or so copies are available for free distribution as the rest are sent to subscribers, so be quick!
The volume demonstrates the deep historical importance of taro in the Indo-Pacific region, in places ranging from the Austral Islands in Eastern Polynesia to Hawaii, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Philippines. Whereas there have been many other studies looking at the practical aspects of crop production, this book looks at the origins of domesticated taro, and the history of its introduction to the region, its distribution and its many uses.
- Spriggs, M, Addison, D and Matthews, P J (eds) 2012. Irrigated Taro (Colocasia esculenta) in the Indo-Pacific: biological, social and historical perspectives, Senri Ethnological Studies 78, Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.
National Trust: Head of Archaeology
Salary c £52,000; closing date: 6 June 2012
The advert says: youll work at a strategic level within the National Trust, having professional oversight of our extensive portfolio of archaeological assets. Youll have a direct impact on our long-term aims and objectives, championing the role of archaeology and the historic environment, while helping to expand and improve the technical capability of our archaeologists and other specialist advisers. Youll also be responsible for making sure we maintain accurate records and archives of our assets. By doing so, youll make sure that were providing our properties and key sites with the archaeological advice they need and deserve. And where you see room for improvement, where you see gaps in knowledge, youll coach and mentor colleagues, transferring important skills and expertise. As the public face of archaeology here at the Trust, youll actively contribute to the profession and be involved in public speaking and networking. Wed like you to be out in the field too, working on important projects, ranging from vernacular buildings to World Heritage Sites.
To find out more about the role, and to apply online, please download the National Trusts application pack.
National Trust: Director General
Closing date: 14 June 2012
The recruitment company Odgers has begun the search for a successor to Dame Fiona Reynolds as Director General of the UKs largest conservation charity. Further details can be found on this page of the Odgers website.
University of Oxford, Faculty of Classics in association with Somerville College: Sybille Haynes Lectureship in Etruscan and Italic Archaeology and Art / Katherine and Leonard Woolley Fellowship. Salary: £42,883£57,581; closing date: 8 June 2012
Further details from the Oxford University website.
University of Aberystwyth: Lecturer in Medieval History
Salary: £32,901£35,938; closing date: 11 June 2012
The successful applicant will have a strong research record or exhibit evidence of the capacity to develop such a record in any relevant field of the history of the British Isles and/or continental Europe in the high or later Middle Ages. Further details from the Aberystwyth University website.
Victoria County History: Assistant Editor
Salary: £30,851£33,661; closing date: 12 June 2012
A thirty-month contract (with possible renewal) to work on the VCH volume scheduled for 2015 that covers Ewelme Hundred in the Oxfordshire Chilterns. Requirements include a postgraduate research degree in history or a cognate subject and experience of academic historical research and writing. Further information from the Oxfordshire County Council website using ref no. AE097.