Salon Archive

Issue: 280

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.

2012 Birthday Honours List

We congratulate the following Fellows on the honours bestowed upon them in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

CBE: Dr Jennifer Iris Rachel Montagu, LVO, Honorary Fellow, Warburg Institute, for services to Art History.

OBE: Peter Michael Barber, Head of Map Collections, British Library, for services to cartography and topography; Dr Jennifer Margaret Freeman, Director, Historic Chapels Trust, for services to heritage; Richard Charles Turner, Senior Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Cadw.

MBE: Jonathan Betts, Curator of Horology, National Maritime Museum, for services to horology.

BEM: John Francis Howe Smith, Secretary, The Stamford Mercury Archive Trust, for services to conservation.

Among those people from the wider heritage sector who also received honours are:

CBE: Professor Jack Lohman, lately Director, Museum of London; Kit Martin for services to conservation; Gordon Rintoul, Director, National Museums Scotland, for services to the museum sector. OBE (Overseas): Professor Catherine Anne Morgan, Director, British School, Athens, for services to classical scholarship. MBE: Peter Clowes, Trustee and Curator, Wigston Framework Knitters Museum, for services to heritage; Michael David Freeman, lately curator, Ceredigion Museum, for services to heritage in Ceredigion and to museums in Wales; Virginia, Mrs Scott, Secretary, Hewell Grange Conservation and Advisory Group, for services to conservation and to heritage in Worcestershire; Dr Carol Swanson, lately Service Manager, West of Scotland Archaeology Service, for services to archaeology in Scotland.

Prizes for museums and church seats

The winner of this year’s £100,000 Art Fund Prize is the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, described by one of the judges, Guardian arts writer Charlotte Higgins, as ‘quite simply a magical place, modest in scale but vast in its ambition and imagination’ after its recent £24m HLF-funded makeover. Charlotte went on to say that ‘every exhibit delights with a new surprise, and provokes with a new question, and at a time when local authority museums in particular are in such danger, this brilliant achievement proves how daring, adventurous and important such institutions can be’. The museum beat three other shortlisted galleries: the Hepworth Wakefield in West Yorkshire, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and the Watts Gallery, near Guildford in Surrey.

Last year’s winner, the British Museum, which won the £100,000 award for its linked exhibition and BBC Radio 4 series, ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, announced that it was using the prize money to enable some of the finest objects in its collection to be lent to other museums. The Gayer-Anderson cat, named after the Egyptologist who donated it, and one of the most popular objects in the collection, is to travel to Lerwick, in Shetland, while the museum’s 13,000-year-old carved ivory tusk of a swimming reindeer is going to Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, and the Mildenhall Great Dish is going to Ipswich, near the site where it was excavated. A 2,000-year-old bronze of Herakles, the legendary founder of the Olympic Games, is off next week to the De La Warr Pavilion, in Bexhill, East Sussex.

The winners of the Design a Church Chair competition were announced by our Fellow, the Bishop of London, at an awards ceremony last week held at St John’s Church, Hyde Park, London. Nick Shurey and Sebastian Klawiter won the student and recent graduate award, the Japanese designer Tomoko Azumi, of TNA Design Studio, won the professional award (her winning design is shown above) and the awards for seats already in production went to Luke Hughes & Company for a stacking bench and to Simon Pengelly, on behalf of Chorus, for a wooden stacking chair. The judges also commended the rush-seated wooden chairs and bench displayed at the exhibition by Treske Furniture.

Pictures of the winning designs can be seen on the ChurchCare website. Announcing the winners, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, said the competition’s aims had been met: ‘We wanted to engage designers with the potential that exists in a very flourishing church context; we wanted to help parishes consider very carefully how they replace pews when their removal has been agreed; we wanted to encourage the highest possible standards of design in our churches; and we wanted to widen the range of affordable as well as well-designed chairs.’

NADFAS Church Records: a new online resource

Visit just about any parish church in England and you will find that a NADFAS Church Recorder has been there before you to make a comprehensive record of the contents, from stained glass to memorials and historic furnishings. More than 1,650 churches have been recorded in the forty years that NADFAS members have been undertaking this work, and the fruits of their labours are now accessible via the Church Records Online Index that has just gone live.

The Index does not contain text or photographs from the Records themselves but acts as a signpost to church contents and to the relevant printed copy of the Church Record, copies of which are deposited in county record offices, the Church Buildings Council Library, the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the English Heritage Archive (previously the National Monuments Record).

‘Britain from Above’

Left: Crimscote ridge and furrow

Another major new research resource has just gone live in the form of ‘Britain from Above’, an online archive of 15,000 images from the Aerofilms Collection, taken between 1919 and 1953. The photographs document Britain during a period of major change. Highlights from the collection include the Thames Flood of 1947, crowds gathered on the banks of the River Clyde to watch the first voyage of RMS Queen Mary in 1936 and views of Rhondda Fawr, one of the largest mining valleys in southern Wales.

Users of the database are being invited to share personal memories and add information to enrich our understanding of individual images. They are also invited to identify the locations of a number of mystery images that have left the experts stumped.

The Aerofilms Collection consists of more than 1 million pictures, taken between 1919 and 2006. It was acquired for the nation in 2007 with the help of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Foyle Foundation. English Heritage and the Royal Commissions in Wales and Scotland then embarked on a programme to conserve, catalogue and digitise the collection and make it freely available online. Further pictures from the collection will be added over coming months.

Paintings from the Society’s collections published online

Left: George Vertue (1684–1756) by Thomas Gibson (painted 1715–1723); Vertue served as our Society's official engraver from 1717 until his death

Last but by no means least, another 21,000 works of art have been added to ‘Your Paintings’, the website run by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF), in partnership with the BBC, that aims in time to publish every oil painting in public or charity ownership in the UK. The latest batch to be added to the site includes ninety-four paintings from the Society’s collection at Burlington House and eleven pictures from Kelmscott Manor (though you will search in vain for these under Oxfordshire: they have been wrongly indexed under Gloucestershire).

The Society’s paintings join some 3,000 new works from the National Portrait Gallery, 2,400 works from Amgueddfa Cymru ― National Museum Wales, 1,500 from the Ashmolean, 900 from the Royal Academy of Arts and more than 2,500 paintings drawn from forty-six National Trust properties in the West Midlands, north west of England and Northern Ireland.

Cave paintings

Paintings of a different kind have been in the news recently, thanks to the discovery of Aboriginal rock art dating from 28,000 years ago in a cave called Nawarla Gabarnmang, in Australia’s Northern Territory cave. The discovery is the subject of a paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science; the author, Bryce Barker, from the University of Southern Queensland, said he found the art had been made using charcoal, which gives a more accurate carbon date than the more usual rock-art medium of mineral paint, and at 28,000 years old, it is the ‘oldest unequivocally dated rock art in Australia’.

In a separate paper, this time in Science, João Zilhão, formerly of Bristol University, now of the University of Barcelona, is claiming that Europe’s oldest known rock art ― hand stencils and red disks made by blowing paint on to the wall in Spain’s El Castillo cave ― are the work of Neanderthals, and that they, not H sapiens, were the first human species to create cave paintings. Work carried out at Bristol by a team led by Alistair Pike date the hand stencils at El Castillo cave to more than 37,300 years ago and a red disk to more than 40,800 years old. The latter date is on the cusp of when modern humans arrived in Europe, between 42,000 and 41,000 years ago. Since Neanderthals were using El Castillo cave at the time, Professor Zilhão believes it is probable that they made the art. ‘In the context of what we’ve learned about Neanderthals in the last decade it really should not be very surprising’, he said.

New dates for paintings at El Castillo and at nine other cave sites have been obtained from samples of thorium in the calcium carbonate crust overlying the paint, rather than from the pigment itself, giving a minimum age for the drawings rather than an absolute date. The team working with Pike and Zilhão has refined the method so that results can be obtained from a sample about the size of a grain of rice, rather than the hundreds of grams of calcium carbonate that this dating technique needed in the past.

Tudor or Tudor-style?

The Economist recently reported a case in which two of our Fellows, Marian Campbell and Philippa Glanville, were called to serve as expert witnesses in a dispute over the provenance of a treasured family heirloom. Was it, as the one-time owner Lord Coleridge believed, a rare Tudor chain of office worth £500,000 or more, or was it a later copy, perhaps worth £25,000 to £35,000. Lord Coleridge sold it for £35,000 in 2006, on the basis of Sotheby’s opinion that it was a later ‘Tudor-style’ collar. When the new owner sold it at Christie’s two years later for a hammer price of £260,000, it was described as ‘Tudor’. Lord Coleridge sued Sotheby’s on the grounds that their expert had misidentified the piece.

The piece in question was a six-foot-long gold chain of office — the kind worn on grand occasions by the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, a court that was dissolved in the late nineteenth century. John Duke Coleridge was the last person to serve he got to keep the gold chain, which tradition said might originally have been a gift from Henry VIII. At the core of the case was the search for documentary evidence that would prove the chain was mid-sixteenth century in date. Since none emerged, the case rested on the expert testimony of Marian and Philippa. Both were firmly in agreement that the chain was not Tudor and Lord Coleridge lost his case.

Might then the new owner sue Christie’s for misidentification? The Economist concludes that this is unlikely since the chain was bought by Christopher Moran, ‘who has built an enormous Tudor-style house alongside the Thames. Perhaps he will not mind having a collar that now is widely considered to be Tudor style, rather than the real thing.’

The ScARF (Scottish Archaeological Research Framework)

Feedback is being sought on the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF), an initial version of which has been launched as a resource for exploration and comment. Just completed, ScARF brings together an immense amount of expert knowledge, freely provided by the heritage sector in Scotland and beyond (amounting to some 320 people), on Scotland’s past, from the first humans to set foot in what is now Scotland to our recent past.

The culmination of more than 12,600 hours of voluntary time to produce more than 800,000 words of text, ScARF aims to reflect the current state of knowledge about our past and provide recommendations for future avenues of research. A public launch will follow later this year, including a short publication celebrating Scotland’s past. In the mean time, please feel free to explore the online resource and to leave comments.

CBA Research Bulletin on diversity in the historic environment workforce

New research commissioned by the Council for British Archaeology’s Diversifying Participation Working Group and funded by English Heritage highlights low levels of ethnic diversity in the historic environment, The research report, just published, concludes that those involved in the historic environment sector need to take more action to ensure success in developing the ethnic diversity of its work and volunteer force and to remove barriers to participation

James Doeser, of the UCL Centre for Applied Archaeology, the report’s lead author, says that ‘From the start it was clear that ethnic diversity was a sensitive subject amongst the historic environment sector … we found that people offered a lot of good intentions to address the issue of workforce diversity and I hope this report will act as a springboard for action.’

Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, which supported the report, welcomed its findings and said: ‘careers advisers, universities, professional bodies and skills training providers, as well as employers like English Heritage, all have a part to play in opening up the heritage workforce to the full range of talent amongst young people … we need to ignite enthusiasm for history, heritage and archaeology in a wider range of children and encourage broader access to training and work experience for young people so that we develop a heritage workforce for the future that is both diverse and highly skilled.’

Homeless Heritage

Fellow John Schofield, now Director of Studies, Cultural Heritage Management, and Deputy Head, Department of Archaeology, University of York, initiated a challenging project in 2009 when he was still working for English Heritage, mapping and documenting the culture of homelessness from an archaeological perspective.

This project has continued in York (where it is now the subject of Rachael Kiddey’s PhD research), and John has posted a film about the project on YouTube, split into three parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3.

Do watch: as Rachael says at one point in the first film, we perhaps forget that homeless people have a strong oral culture and a strong tradition of story telling; listening to homeless people in York talking about their lives, their favourite parts of the city and how they pass their day is a revelation. It is also heartening to learn that just taking part in this project has enabled some of the participants to secure the jobs or services that they need in order to move on in their lives. More information can be found on the Homeless Heritage website.

Lives Remembered: Peter Connolly FSA (1935—2012)

Left: Peter Connolly, The Cavalryman, Oxford University Press, 1988

Salon’s editor is very grateful to our Fellow Simon James for the following obituary for our late Fellow Peter Connolly, author, illustrator, historian and experimental archaeologist, who died aged seventy-six on 2 May 2012.

‘Peter Connolly was most widely known for his meticulously researched, full-colour popular history books, translated into many languages. These were written and illustrated in his highly characteristic style, packed with immensely detailed paintings (normally gouaches) both of original artefacts and reconstructions of life and action. His volumes covered topics as wide ranging as the Holy Land in the time of Jesus, Pompeii, Athens and Rome, and (his final book, with Hazel Dodge) the Colosseum. But his special passion was the military history and archaeology of the Greco-Roman world, its neighbours and antagonists, presented in a succession of books exploring armament, strategy, specific battles and battlefield tactics, and not least siege warfare, forts and fortifications. A pair of slim volumes explored many of these themes through the life story of a real Roman legionary turned cavalryman and decorated military hero, Tiberius Claudius Maximus, known from a tombstone.

‘The vital underpinning to Connolly’s success as popular author/illustrator was his ability as a scholarly researcher, bringing authority and authenticity to his books. His growing academic reputation led to an Honorary Research Fellowship at University College London and culminated in his election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1985. These were notable honours, because Connolly had no formal qualifications as archaeologist or historian; he was entirely self-taught. Born in Surbiton, Surrey, in 1935, he was one of six children of an artist father. After boarding school, Connolly relieved the boredom of National Service in the RAF through commissions to paint officers’ portraits, and reading about the ancient world. He then trained as a commercial illustrator at the Brighton College of Arts and Crafts, but his burgeoning passion for antiquity led to a more multi-faceted career.

‘From the early 1970s his interest in the Roman army brought him into contact with academic specialists, who came to respect his meticulous studies of battlefields and weaponry. He became a regular participant in Brian Dobson’s annual Durham University “Roman Army School”. A key early collaboration was with H Russell Robinson, curator of the Tower Armouries, who was preparing his seminal Armour of Imperial Rome (1975). Robinson worked out how the famous iron-strip armour was actually constructed, and Connolly prepared technical drawings of the new reconstructions for the book. These, the colour paintings of legionaries on the cover, and simultaneous publication of Connolly’s own first book, The Roman Army, marked the real start of his career as an archaeological reconstruction illustrator.

‘Unlike Alan Sorrell, who built on the work of Amédée Forestier to popularise the genre of archaeological reconstruction painting in Britain, Connolly did not regard himself as an artist, but always described himself as an illustrator, emphasising the craft skills needed to convey academic information and ideas clearly and compellingly, in aesthetically appealing ways, through visual means. For him the techniques and aesthetics of image making were, like those of composing text, critically important, but illustration was the medium for the messages he wanted to convey, much more than an end in itself.

‘What also distinguished Connolly from other well-known illustrators of historical topics like Ronald Embleton and Angus McBride was the depth to which he researched every detail of his pictures for himself. To understand how ancient artefacts were made and how they worked, he would make full-scale replicas and experiment with them; he became a skilled experimental archaeologist. His greatest achievement in this regard was recovering the secret of a fundamental piece of ancient technology: the Roman saddle.

‘Since Victorian times it has been widely assumed that, before early medieval introduction of the stirrup, horsemen must have been prone to falling, and so cavalry could not have been very effective. No complete Roman saddle survives, but leather saddle covers do, along with ancient depictions. Building on earlier Dutch work, in collaboration with archaeological leather expert Carol Van Driel-Murray, through dozens of experiments Connolly evolved a full-size reconstruction replicating and explaining every stitching hole, stretch- and wear-mark on the leather fragments, and corresponding to the ancient images. The resulting four-pommel saddle looks strange to modern eyes, but proves highly effective, offering a secure seat even without stirrups, as Connolly demonstrated by riding it himself.

Reconstructing the Roman saddle was just one of Connolly’s many contributions to understanding the past, going beyond communicating ideas to generating original knowledge. He also had a profound impact on a popular aspect of the heritage industry: “living history”. The many Roman military re-enactment societies across Europe and beyond owe a great deal to the detail and authenticity of Connolly’s books. He worked especially closely with the oldest and most respected group, the Ermine Street Guard, becoming their President. Today Connolly’s books are widely found in schools and libraries, and his work has inspired not only historical re-enactors, but also an entire new generation of archaeological researchers, especially those studying the Roman military.’

Lives Remembered: David Ridgeway FSA (1938—2012)

The Times published a obituary for our late Fellow David Ridgway on 11 June 2012, from which the following extracts have been taken.

‘David Ridgway was the pre-eminent classical archaeologist of his generation, specialising in the study of the earliest Greek colonists in the western Mediterranean. Born in 1938, he graduated from University College London in 1960, after studying Classics with the philologist Otto Skutsch, the classical polymath Thomas Webster and Martin Robertson, the distinguished scholar of Greek pottery. At Oxford Ridgway spent five years as a postgraduate, including the Diploma in Archaeology (1962), under the principal guidance of Professor Christopher Hawkes, the distinguished European Iron Age archaeologist. In 1965—7 he was Sir James Knott Research Fellow in the Department of Classics of the University of Newcastle. From 1968 until his retirement in 2003 he was successively Lecturer and Reader in the University of Edinburgh.

‘He will be principally remembered for his magisterial two-volume publication (with Giorgio Buchner) of the Greek cemetery of San Montano on Ischia near Naples, Pithekoussai I (1993). This was one of those classic sites that overturned textual history, while also discovering poetry in one of the graves: scratched on what has become known as the “Cup of Nestor” was a three-line inscription: “Nestor’s cup I am, good to drink from / Whoever drinks this cup empty, straightaway / the desire of beautiful-crowned Aphrodite will seize”. The inscription is now famous as being one of the oldest known examples of writing in the early Euboean form of the Western Greek alphabet. Ridgway provided his own elegant and durable interpretations of this site, most notably his model for the Greek family burial group and his study of Greek—Etruscan relations, built out of excellent parsing of well-collected data.

‘The Etruscans were another focus of his scholarship; he wrote important extended essays on the status quaestionis, both in the midst (1980) and at the end (2002) of his career, and he was one of the key scholars to bring the Etruscans and other Italic peoples to an English-speaking audience, most clearly through the volume Italy Before the Romans (1979), edited with his wife [our late Fellow Francesca Romana Serra, who pre-deceased him in 2008]. His Festschrift — Across Frontiers: Etruscans, Greeks, Phoenicians and Cypriots (2006) — admirably demonstrates his connections to the leading scholars of Europe and the US, and his tireless work as a bridge between Italian and British scholars, reviewing Italian publications in English in a style that was memorable even when anonymous and making extraordinary discoveries known.

‘In September 2011, he was proud to be on “In Our Time”, the BBC Radio 4 programme, discussing Etruscan civilisation, surrounded by younger scholars with interests running in parallel to his own, but in some ways he belonged to another time, confessing with characteristic irony “to a certain nostalgia for the stately pace of nineteenth-century discovery and exegesis”. He was equally proud to defend the values that he considered important against Young and even Ageing Turks. These values included discovering the real people behind the artefacts rather than abstruse, theorised abstractions that concealed them.

‘Ridgway was active as a scholar to the very last. He died in Athens on 20 May 2012, aged seventy-four, after a day spent visiting the Greek island of Euboea and the excavations at Lefkandi. The earliest Greeks in the west were from Euboea, and this last day was a fitting finale for a man whose work understanding the origins of western European civilisation took as its starting point the colonists from that island.’

Feedback

Fellow Patrick Ottaway says it was good to have the link to the photos of the Raj in the last issue of Salon, and adds that there must be many families who were in India who have similar archives. He offers one of his own family photographs (left), taken c 1895 of a potter in Kashmir by his grandfather, who was an engineer in what is now Uttar Pradesh. Patrick has more than 200 prints and negatives, some of family scenes and some of historic buildings, and says he would also welcome advice as to where they might be deposited so that they could be of use to scholars.

One of the many services that Salon offers to Fellows is the chance to knock a few years off your age. Unfortunately, this did not succeed in the case of our Fellow Vincent Megaw because several other Fellows who have known Vincent for many years realised that if he was only sixty-eight, as Salon said, in summing up Vincent’s autobiographical profile in Antiquity, then he had been an especially precocious over-achiever as a teenager and young man. What Salon should have said is that, ‘when he retired, a decade ago, aged sixty-eight, Vincent asked himself “how have I measured up” and concluded that “the goals may not yet be fully achieved but the ambition is still there”’. Ten years later, the same remains true.

The last issue of Salon reported briefly on the good news that plans for a huge landfill site close to the World Heritage Site at Hadrian’s Villa had been scotched. Fellow Kenneth Painter has since passed on further details: the campaign group, ‘Protect Hadrian's Villa’ thanks everyone who signed their petition; they say it was very useful in pleading their cause with the Italian government. They also say that the campaign goes on because the landscape around Hadrian’s Villa has already been compromised by ‘reckless development’. An action plan is now being developed by local civic groups, working with the World Monument Fund, with the intention of ‘reversing the blight and rot’.

One of the books reviewed in the last issue of SalonDivers Devices by T F, edited by Fellow John Blatchly and Martin Sanford, featured in the Eastern Daily Press last week, when one of the drawings from this intriguing book, compiled between 1592 and 1598, was hailed as depicting the earliest known image of Halesworth (see below).

Dr Blatchly said that Thomas Fella’s book offered ‘a very rare window into the Elizabethan world in Suffolk … crammed with [sketches of] people he would have seen every day in Halesworth and Dunwich, and showing such activities as baking, ploughing and woodcutting.’

Ancient and not so ancient graffiti continues to be a subject of fascination for many Fellows, including David Gurney, who says that he lives ‘on the perimeter of a World War Two USAAF airfield, and he has recently become interested in tree graffiti, especially of WW2 vintage, having discovered that a piece of woodland adjacent to one of the airfield's “dispersed” sites contains a number of beech trees with inscriptions, primarily the initials of USAAF service personnel. These lay undiscovered and unrecorded, and only came to light by chance when a local dog walker mentioned that one tree she passed had “USA” inscribed on it. I have been able to trace quite a few references to extant WW2 tree graffiti elsewhere, but suspect that this might just be the tip of the iceberg. Further afield, similar graffiti by GIs was once to be found in abundance on the beech trees of Saint Pierre de Varengeville-Duclair forest in Normandy, to cite just one example from mainland Europe. It should come as no great surprise that contemporary trees were inscribed with graffiti by military personnel, leaving us with poignant but ultimately fugitive evidence of the military presence.

‘It also raises an interesting question about the moment in time when graffiti ceases to be considered a heritage crime and becomes an integral part of a monument or building’s history, to be recorded and even conserved, as we have seen with examples of graffiti at the Tower of London and the castles at Kenilworth and Carlisle. There is also work in progress to record graffiti in medieval churches in Norfolk and by twentieth-century tourists who have left their marks on the ruins of St Benet’s Abbey, Horning), where scaffolding for conservation works (and graffiti recording) has just gone up.’

The last issue of Salon also mentioned the debate in Antiquity led by Fellow Robin Derricourt on the subject of pseudoarchaeology and the misrepresentation of the past. This week, says Robin, we saw a perfect example of that in the form of a press release from Oxford University headed ‘Dating evidence: relics could be of John the Baptist’. As ever, when this kind of nonsense is pumped out to the media, it turns out to be a puff for a TV programme, but why, asks Robin, do serious scholars and serious institutions allow themselves to be used in this way, with the result that a bone from a church in Bulgaria, traditionally reputed to be the knuckle of John the Baptist, is presented as ‘the hand that baptised Christ’ on the strength of nothing more than the fact that it has been radiocarbon dated to the first century AD. Presumably, says Robin, ‘rival universities are even now rushing to authenticate the other remains of this many-boned and multi-skulled character in Samaria, Jerusalem, Damascus, Rome, Halifax (yes, Halifax), and the other dozen spots where his remains are buried’.

Origen's Homilies on the Psalms in their original Greek version

That is not to say that genuine discoveries cannot still be made ― they are indeed being made through diligent scholarship every day. One such was reported recently in the context of the work at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library: BSB) to catalogue a collection of Greek manuscripts previously owned by Johann Jakob Fugger. While working through a twelfth-century manuscript, philologist Marina Molin Pradel discovered numerous hitherto unknown passages from the original Greek version of the Homilies on the Psalms by Origen.

Origen Adamantius of Alexandria (AD 185―253/4) is considered the most important theologian of the Early Christian Church before St Augustine of Hippo. He is one of the earliest practitioners of biblical exegesis and his numerous works had a profound influence on the history of theology, philology and preaching throughout the late antique and medieval period. Until now, his interpretations of the Psalms were known only in fragmentary transmission or in Latin translations.

Rolf Griebel, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, said ‘this discovery is extremely important, both for its age and for the sheer number of texts concerned. Origen’s works were read by all the Church Fathers and had a profound influence on them’. The manuscript has been digitised by the BSB and can be accessed via the internet.

Timbuktu’s heritage at risk from extremists

All the more distressing then to read in the June issue of the Art Newspaper that thousands of ancient manuscripts are at risk in Mali, where militant Islamic fundamentalists have already set fire to the fifteenth-century tomb of a Muslim saint in Timbuktu and are threatening to destroy other tombs as well as anything else they perceive as being idolatrous or contrary to their version of Islam. Timbuktu is a World Heritage Site, home to several such tombs and three historic mosques as well as many small museums.

Timbuktu also has between 600,000 and one million ancient manuscripts housed in public and private collections, having been a celebrated centre of Koranic culture, home to such academic institutions as the University of Sankore, which attracted scholars from all over Africa to the city to exchange ideas. As a result, the city became a major centre of manuscript production, with texts on a variety of subjects, including astronomy, agriculture and religion as well as biographies and diplomatic correspondence.

Manuscripts such as those now cared for by the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research, which has more than 25,000 texts, are at risk because, according to Habib Sy, a west African scholar who is working with the Ford Foundation to document Timbuktu’s manuscripts, ‘Islamists do not like some views articulated in these manuscripts by some old African thinkers who believed in moderate Islam and called for co-operation with the rest of the world, particularly the West’. According to Sy, ‘People are nervous and are either burying the manuscripts or taking them to Bamako [Mali’s capital]’. Such efforts are hampered by numerous road checks between Timbuktu and Bamako, the monitoring of phone lines and the internet by the Islamists, and the presence of dealers seeking to buy the manuscripts and smuggle them to private buyers in neighbouring countries.

News of Fellows

Heritage crime in the UK has now reached such a scale that our Fellow Mark Harrison has been appointed permanently to the post of National Policing and Crime Adviser with English Heritage. Mark had previously served as an officer with the Metropolitan Police and Kent Police services for thirty-two years before being seconded to English Heritage in 2010 where he developed the Heritage Crime Initiative and ARCH, the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage. In 2011 crime was identified as a key component within the National Heritage Protection Plan, and Mark is organising conferences in Cambridge on 13 September 2012 and Sheffield on 27 September 2012 to explore what can be done to tackle heritage crime. Further details are on the HELM website.

Congratulations to our Fellow Roger Bland who tells Salon that he has just been appointed Keeper of Prehistory and Europe at the British Museum. He will take up his new role from 23 July 2012, and will remain as Keeper of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, which surely means that he has one of the longest job titles in British archaeology.

Our Fellow Philip Venning has just retired as Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) after twenty-eight years in the post. We hope that Philip enjoys a long and fulfilling retirement and we wish Fellow Matthew Slocombe, his successor, well in this most demanding but enjoyable of jobs. Philip says that his last month in the post was marked by a very agreeable event when, on 1 June 2012, he accepted the European Union Cultural Heritage Prize/Europa Nostra Award from Placido Domingo and the EU Commissioner for Culture, Mrs Vassilou. The presentation was made at a ceremony in Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery and the award to SPAB was made to recognise SPAB’s 135 years of dedicated service to the conservation cause and its considerable contribution to world conservation.

The twenty-eight organisations and projects to which awards were made at the ceremony included ‘Crossing Cultures’ (transforming the Ashmolean Museum), London’s Leighton House Museum and the Poundstock Gildhouse (sic), in Bude, Cornwall. The latter went on to win one of six Grand Prix awards at the gala event on 1 June, receiving an award of 10,000 euros and acclamation as one of Europe’s leading examples of heritage protection for 2012. The citation said that modest vernacular church houses like the early sixteenth-century Poundstock Gildhouse ‘were truly communal buildings, combining functional spaces such as kitchens and meeting rooms, with an open hall above for village feasting and dancing. Few have survived. Poundstock Gildhouse, after periods as a school and a poorhouse, has since reverted to its original purpose. The Jury expressed unqualified admiration for the traditional techniques adopted in giving the cob walls, windows and timber-cruck roof a renewed lease of life.’

No sooner had Salon listed our Fellow Andrew Wallace-Hadrill as one of the Society’s four heads of Oxbridge colleges than his college, Sidney Sussex, announced that he will stand down at the end of the academic year 2012/13. The statement said that ‘Professor Wallace-Hadrill has combined his duties as Master with the role of helping the Packard Humanities Institute plan and manage a major conservation project at Herculaneum. In an exciting new development, David Packard has asked him to take a more active role in helping explore further steps, including a potential new museum at Herculaneum.’ Andrew will continue his association with Sidney Sussex as a Fellow and he will take up the new position of Director of Research in the Cambridge Faculty of Classics.

In further news from Cambridge, it has been announced that ten of the university’s archaeologists and historians, led by our Fellow Carenza Lewis, will be working with community groups in the east of England to develop ideas for researching aspects of local heritage. The Cambridge Community Heritage initiative has grown out of the work of our Fellow Michael Wood, whose BBC TV series, The Great British Story: a people’s history, has led to the launch of a number of local heritage initiatives: the Heritage Lottery Fund is helping to support these through a fund called ‘All Our Stories’, and the AHRC is funding a parallel initiative, ‘Research for Community Heritage’, to pay for the academic support that community groups will need in order to apply successfully for HLF awards.

Carenza ran the community excavations that were featured in The Great British Story. She and her Cambridge colleagues, who include Fellows usan Oosthuizen and Helen Geake, hosted two public meetings this weekend to discuss possible projects with community groups who have come up with a number of proposals for archaeological investigations, archival research, educational initiatives and oral history projects.

The Berkshire Archaeological Society: preserving the past digitally

Trevor Coombs, Chairman of the Berkshire Archaeological Society, writes to say that volumes of the annual journal, covering the first 102 years of the society’s activities (1878—1980), have been digitised and can be accessed for free on the ADS website. Though the Society was founded in 1871, it was not until 1878 that it began to produce an annual report of its activities: launching the first issue, the then chairman of the society remarked from the top of Whittenham Clumps, Oxfordshire, that: ‘we know nothing of what was going on in this country before the arrival of Julius Caesar’. The journal for 1890 reports that archaeological excavations had started at Silchester, Hampshire, under the aegis of the Society of Antiquaries, and members followed the course of the work very closely.

Four years later, in 1894, the Reverend Ditchfield was appointed to attend the annual conference of the Society of Antiquaries and his report in the Berkshire Archaeological Journal for the year says that delegates had discussed a proposal for an archaeological survey of England and had proposed that ‘archaeology should be on the curriculum of Elementary Education so as to arouse the interest of the working classes in the antiquities of their district’.

More recently, the Berkshire Archaeological Journal has carried reports of excavations throughout Berkshire and surrounding counties, which demonstrate the progressive improvements in archaeological technique that took place from the 1960s. Today the society is alive and well, organises an annual conference and afternoon lectures and continues to publish the Journal, the most recent volume of which is entitled Living in the Iron Age in Berkshire and the surrounding counties.

South African Government statement on the wreck of the SS Mendi

Salon 169 (23 July 2007) reported that Wessex Archaeology had located and surveyed the wreck of the SS Mendi, which sank in the English Channel on 21 February 1917 with the loss of 646 lives, mainly of young Africans who had sailed from Cape Town as English army volunteers, only to drown when the Mendi was struck and cut almost in half by the SS Darro, an empty ship sailing for Argentina.

Wessex Archaeology was able to locate the wreck, and to map and film the remains using a remote-controlled submarine, as a result of which SS Mendi was designated by the UK Ministry of Defence under the Protection of Military Remains Act. Now the South African Government has announced its intention to make the SS Mendi a flagship project in its war graves policy. Addressing the South African Parliament in May, Thabang Makwetla, the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, spoke of the ‘real opportunity to retrieve the full story and gain access to the legendary maritime tragedy of the sinking of the troopship the SS Mendi just five years before we mark the centenary of this occurrence’ in 2017.

Fellow Sue Davies, Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology, said: ‘this is a special but tragic story that brings together two nations. At Wessex Archaeology we stand ready to work with the South African Government and its people in their quest to give the men of the Mendi the recognition they deserve.’

Books by Fellows: Image, Memory and Monumentality

A remarkably well-kept secret was the production of this Festschrift for Fellow Richard Bradley, edited by Fellows Andrew Meirion Jones, Joshua Pollard, Julie Gardiner and Michael Allen, which was presented to Richard at the Prehistoric Society’s Europa conference on 9 June 2012, when Richard also gave the 2012 Europa lecture on ‘Houses of commons, houses of lords: domestic dwellings and monumental architecture in prehistoric Europe’.

Image, Memory and Monumentality: archaeological engagements with the material world (ISBN 9781842174951; Oxbow Books) contains twenty-nine papers on themes in prehistoric archaeology that have defined Richard Bradley’s career, such as monumentality, memory, rock art, landscape, material worlds and field practice. The scope is deliberately broad, covering both Britain and Europe, and while the focus is very much on the archaeology of later prehistory, papers also address the interconnection between prehistory and historic and contemporary archaeology. The result, say the editors, is a rich and varied tribute to Richard’s energy and intellectual inspiration.

Books by Fellows: The British Palaeolithic

The 980,000 years during which tool-using humans have intermittently occupied the British Isles accounts for about 99 per cent of human history in these islands, and yet for most of us the period is a closed book. Fellows Paul Pettitt and Mark White have succeeded in writing an engaging account of what used to be dismissed as ‘all bones and stones’, but that now includes important environmental evidence and the cave art of Creswell Crags, in The British Palaeolithic: human societies at the edge of the Pleistocene world (ISBN 9780415674553; Routledge).

Indeed, it is with landscape and ecology that the authors start their exploration of the practical and cultural ways in which the first humans to occupy Britain (Homo heidelbergensis, H neanderthalensis, H sapiens) addressed issues of life and death at the margins of the habitable world. Along the way, the authors look at all the key British Palaeolithic sites, the tool types, the human bone remains, the food assemblages, the climate and habitat, using these to make deductions about clothing and shelter, hunting, weapons and tool use, fire and food. All this is written in such clear language, with plenty of explanatory diagrams, boxes and photographs, that there really is no longer any excuse for not knowing something of the key facts about cultures of our ancestors and their hominin cousins.

Books by Fellows: An Examination of Prehistoric Stone Bracers from Britain

The stone bracers found in the grave of the Amesbury Archer are the reason why we call him the Archer: it has long been assumed that these thin pieces of rectangular stone, pierced in the four corners, were worn as guards to protect the inner wrist from the snap of the rebounding string when an arrow is let loose from a bow. The fact that quite a number are found in Beaker graves located in a position that suggest they were worn on the outer arm, not the inner, has been explained, as Fellow Andrew Fitzpatrick did in the book he edited on the Amesbury Archer, as indicating that a bracer could also be worn as a badge, advertising one’s status as a hunter; indeed, perhaps stone bracers were never meant to be used, but are rather a symbolic rendering of a more workaday and practicable leather wrist guard.

In their Examination of Prehistoric Stone Bracers from Britain (ISBN 9781842174388; Oxbow), Fellows Ann Woodward, John Hunter and Fiona Roe and David Bukach come up with an intriguing alternative suggestion: that they might have been associated with falconry. In addition, then, to a comprehensive illustrated database of all known bracers, classified by shape, size and other morphological characteristics, and an account of the materials they are made from and the sources of the stone, and an assessment of the incidence and significance of heirloom examples, this book includes a thorough look at the evidence for hawking in the Neolithic and the authors find a surprising amount. They reinterpret objects from Beaker graves that are commonly called belt fittings and toggles, variously made from bone, jet or shale, as part of the falconer’s set of equipment for training and tethering raptors, and they point to the presence of raptor bones in barrows and graves, including sea eagle, golden eagle, goshawk, peregrine falcon and buzzard. If they are right, and the arguments look very convincing, we need new terminology for bracers, and we need to include falconry amongst the many innovations of what is increasingly being termed the chalcolithic (copper) era, intermediate between the ages of stone and bronze.

Books (and an exhibition) by Fellows: Gold: power and allure

The Amesbury Archer (or should that now be the Amesbury Falconer?) features again in this book. The gold hair ornaments found in his grave, dating from c 2300 BC, are the oldest gold artefacts yet found in the UK. They are also among the 400 objects made of gold that are on display at the free exhibition at Goldsmiths’ Hall this summer. Gold: power and allure (on until 28 July 2012) covers 4,500 years of gold use in Britain and includes a large room devoted to ancient gold, from prehistoric torques and lanulae, through the early seventh-century Kingston brooch, and the Canterbury pendant to the fifteenth-century Middleham Jewel. The exhibition is worth a visit for these exhibits alone, but it also has some fine examples of modern jewellery.

The book that complements the exhibition — Gold: power and allure (ISBN 9781907372346; Paul Holberton), edited by Helen Clifford — has contributions by our Fellows Philippa Glanville and Timothy Schroder, on, for example, the gold collars that feature in the exhibition of The Most Noble Order of the Garter and The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle. Other significant pieces include a gold ampulla, which held the holy oil used to anoint Charles I at his coronation as King of Scotland in 1633, and garments made of cloth of gold — including an extraordinary modern work of art, a ‘fur’ hat made by Giovanni Corvaja, the Italian goldsmith, which can be seen as a wry comment on the rise of the oligarch — demonstrating the extraordinary ductile qualities of gold.

Books (and an exhibition) by Fellows: The Noble Art of the Sword

Another linked book and exhibition is The Noble Art of the Sword: fashion and fencing in Renaissance Europe 1520—1630 (ISBN 9780900785436; Paul Holberton), edited by Fellow Tobias Capwell, which complements this summer’s Wallace Collection exhibition of the same name (to 16 September 2012), curated by Tobias and Fellow Ruth Rhynas Brown.

This is an exhibition that will surely leave male visitors rather glad that the fashion for duelling and for carrying and using swords as a sign of masculinity has died out — or rather, has tragically gone down the social ladder, for this exhibition is really all about what would now be called knife crime. But modern knives are rarely this gorgeous, and if we can mentally dissociate the purpose of the object from the craft that produced it, feelings of distaste and queasiness can just about be put aside. And it is unlikely that these deadly blades, in their bejewelled and enamelled settings, were ever used by their imperial and princely owners for fighting — they had others to do the task — except in the symbolic form of fencing, which this exhibition also explores through the medium of illustrated fencing manuals, and for which one wore the most gorgeous of fashionable silk breeches, topped by embroidered doublet, examples of which are among the highlights of the exhibition.

Books (and an exhibition) by Fellows: The Horse

Similar themes are explored in the British Museum’s enjoyable free exhibition, The Horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot (to 30 September 2012), except in this case the change in social status has gone in the opposite direction: almost every innovation in horsemanship has come out of the marginal lands of the Eurasian steppe — from the initial domestication of wild horses, to the invention of the saddle and stirrup and lightweight armour — to be adopted by the aristocracy, to the extent that horsiculture is still largely the preserve of the upper strata of society (or those who would like to be thought such) in many parts of the world to this day. In the lavishly illustrated book on The Horse (ISBN 9780714111834; British Museum Press) that accompanies the exhibition, Fellows John Curtis and Nigel Tallis make the point that there is scarcely a room in the museum that has not got some kind of horse-related image or artefact in it, so important has the domesticated horse been to human culture.

The book and the exhibition pursue two principal themes: the first, the ways in which horses have been used to gain advantage in battle, pulling fast and lightweight chariots in which warriors armed with bows, arrows and spears could easily outflank foot soldiers in battle; the second English racing culture. The tenuous link is provided by the history of the purebred Arabian horse, swift in battle and on the racing field, and an extremely rare example of continuity stretching back centuries: the Arabian horse has been bred under controlled circumstances, with pedigree records strictly maintained, in the remote parts of the Arabian peninsula for perhaps 2,000 years; in turn, all Thoroughbred race horses are themselves descended from just three pure-bred Arabian stallions, crossed with English mares.

This connection provides the excuse for a fine display of racing artefacts, from the gorgeous pink and scarlet racing colours of Her Majesty The Queen and medals from the 1908 Olympics depicting equestrian events, to the splendid Stubbs portrait of the wealthy racehorse and stud-farm owner, Laetitia, Lady Lade (1793), whose demure pose as she sits side-saddle in blue riding habit and feathered cap on a prancing Thoroughbred is somewhat undercut by the caption: this informs us that she was the mistress of a highwayman known as ‘sixteen string Jack Rann’ and of the Duke of York, and was so notorious for her colourful language that the Prince Regent once said of someone that ‘he swears like Lady Lade’.

Stadia: sport and vision in architecture

There is, as ever, a rich choice of exhibitions on this summer in various parts of the UK — in addition to those that have already been mentioned in previous issues of Salon (such as Picasso Prints: the Vollard Suite and Crowns and Ducats: Shakespeare’s money and medals and those still to come (Shakespeare: staging the world), which will be reviewed in the next issue of Salon.

For example, an exhibition that seems to have escaped the notice of the organisers of the Cultural Olympiad, but that is missing from their round-up of Olympic-themed events, is Stadia: sport and vision in architecture, opening at Sir John Soane’s Museum on 6 July 2012 (on to 22 September 2012). Who better to tell us about this than our Fellow Tim Knox, the museum’s director, who writes ‘at a time when the eyes of half the world are directed upon the Olympic Games at Stratford, East London, with their impressive array of new sporting buildings, including the gigantic state-of-the-art main Olympic Stadium designed by Populous (see picture left), it may seem superfluous for London’s most idiosyncratic and atmospheric museum to mount a small exhibition on this particular genre of sports building: the stadium. However, not only is the Soane the oldest architectural museum in the world, but our collections — assembled by our founder, Sir John Soane, between c 1790 and his death in 1837 — happen to contain a small but significant body of material which relate to the ancestry of the sporting arena that is centrepiece of the Olympic site in Stratford.

‘Not only do we have a rare fifteenth-century survey of the Coliseum in Rome, contained within the Codex Coner, a precious architectural sketchbook that once (briefly) belonged to Michelangelo, but we have John Soane’s own meticulous watercolour renderings of the Coliseum — plans, elevations and sections, as well as comparative studies to show its scale — which he used to illustrate the lectures he gave as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts. Then we have topographical drawings showing the ruined stadium pressed into service as a place of pilgrimage, with altars and shrines to the Christian martyrs who never actually perished here ranged around the arena, and Carlo Fontana’s ambitious proposal to build a Roman baroque basilica to their memory in the ruins — mercifully unrealised.

‘Piranesi’s fanciful engraved reconstructions of the Circus of Mars are also in the museum, but loans from other museums and private collections were necessary to show the full development of sports stadia from ancient Greece to the present day — we are particularly grateful to the British Museum for generous loans from their encyclopaedic collections, as well as a number of exceptionally generous private collectors. Other material has necessarily had to be shown in facsimile, and contemporary architects and designers have sent us original sketches and presentation drawings — my favourite being Jacques Herzog’s sketch design for the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (realised with the artistic advice of Ai Weiwei), done on a restaurant menu, with the bill for the meal still attached!’

The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729—1786

Sport of a different kind was on the menu at Vauxhall Gardens, which is the subject of a special exhibition at the Foundling Museum — The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729—1786 (to 9 September 2012), curated by our Fellow David Coke and based on the prize-winning book that he and Fellow Alan Borg published with Yale last year. ‘Vauxhall Gardens’, says the blurb, ‘was an all-embracing sensual experience, becoming an international byword for pleasure’. The museum promises that visitors will ‘experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the Gardens once more’, not least through the programme of concerts, talks and family fun sessions that are planned as an accompaniment to the exhibition.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker: 850 years of rare livery company treasures

Already mentioned several times in this issue of Salon, Fellow Philippa Glanville has been busy this year, as she is also one of four Fellows on the Curatorial Advisory Panel for Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker, an exhibition of rare and curious Livery Company treasures that has just opened at the Guildhall Art Gallery (to 23 September 2012). The panel is chaired by Fellow Geoffrey Beard, and the other Fellow members are Huon Mallalieu and Timothy Schroder. Their aim has been to select choice items that bring to life the story of the Livery Companies, from their origins as the regulators of their professions to their modern role supporting charity, education and the future of their trades. Among the exhibition’s highlights is the oldest recorded livery charter (granted to the Weavers’ Company in 1155 by Henry II and attested by Thomas à Becket), Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons, and a shop sign painted c 1800 on a turtle shell (left) bearing the name of fishmonger Joseph Tabor, of 8 Queen Street Place, near Southwark Bridge, who supplied the turtles for soups and stews that featured regularly on the menu of the Lord Mayor’s banquet in the nineteenth century.

You can also see historic footwear from the collection of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers, early spectacles, on loan from the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, and a book called Plocacosmos: or the whole art of hairdressing, by James Stewart (London, 1782), lent by the Worshipful Company of Barbers, with engravings of the exuberant hairstyles favoured by Londoners in the late eighteenth century.

Another highlight is the Weoley Cup, a rare Venetian goblet (one of only three in the world) that was bequeathed to the Worshipful Company of Founders by Richard Weoley, Master of the Company in 1631. The tooled, enamelled and gilded glass cup dates from c 1500, is said to have been taken by an English archer from Boulogne when it was captured by Henry VIII and is used every year, in accordance with Richard Weoley’s will, when the retiring Master drinks to his or her newly elected successor.

Six free Livery-themed lectures will be held in association with the exhibition in the Basinghall Suite, including one to be given by Fellow Philippa Glanville on 14 September 2012 at 1pm. Called ‘A Noble Piece of Plate’, this will explore the themes of pleasure and conviviality, material, memory and investment based on objects collected by the Livery Companies. Details of all six lectures can be found on the Gresham College website.

Books by Fellows: Patrons and Professionals in the Middle Ages

Edited by Fellows Paul Binski and Elizabeth New, Patrons and Professionals in the Middle Ages (ISBN 9781907730122; Shaun Tyas) is Volume XXII in the Harlaxton Medieval Studies series and contains the papers given at the twenty-seventh Harlaxton Symposium, on the relationships between client (individual and institutional) and maker from the Carolingian period through to the high and later medieval periods in Europe.

As you would expect, it is a rich mix, examining patronage and craftsmanship in terms of such large-scale multi-faceted projects as the building of Salisbury Cathedral or the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Clermont, to the much smaller scale of a missal, tomb monument, stained-glass window or poem set to music. Other papers look at what the terms ‘patron’ and ‘professional’ might mean. If you want to know when, how and why lawyers and bureaucrats took over the world, you will find some of the answers here along with Claire Gobbi Daunton’s thought-provoking paper on why priests were the first professionals and why medieval parishes were, in effect, small businesses, a theme later picked up by David Lepine in pointing to the important role of senior clergy (below the rank of bishop) in commissioning and managing so much art and architecture of distinction in cathedrals and in collegiate and parish churches.

Books by Fellows: A Country Merchant 1495-1520

New from Fellow Christopher Dyer, A Country Merchant 1495―1520: trading and farming at the end of the Middle Ages (ISBN 9780199214242; Oxford University Press) can be ordered at a 20 per cent discount (£52 instead of £65) by entering the code AAFLY12 in the promotional discount box when ordering via the OUP website.

In this book, Christopher Dyer uses the account book of John Heritage, of Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, wool merchant and sheep farmer, to explore themes in economic and social history, arguing that Heritage epitomises the spirit of an age not unlike our own, in which a few people grew immensely wealthy at the expense of the many. Heritage was involved in the removal of a village that stood in the way of agricultural ‘improvement’, ran a large-scale sheep farm, and as a ‘woolman’ spent much time travelling around the countryside meeting with gentry, farmers and peasants in order to buy their wool. He sold the wool he produced himself, and the fleeces he gathered, to London merchants who exported wool through Calais to the textile towns of Flanders.

Christopher’s central concern is to demonstrate the importance of the peasant contribution to the changing economy of the time by contrast with profit-hungry landlords who dispossessed the poor, creating an army of rebellious beggars whose existence was a major cause of concern to the rulers of the day.

Books (and a conference) by Fellows: Vagnari: the village, the industries, the imperial property

Fellow Alastair Small’s new book on Vagnari: the village, the industries, the imperial property (ISBN 9788872286081; Edipuglia) is an account of a settlement located close to the Via Appia, 60km south west of Bari (the provincial capital of Puglia), which began as a small village or large farm in the fourth century BC and became part of a large imperial estate at the beginning of the first century AD, being rebuilt on a much larger scale to serve as the economic and industrial centre of the area, home to various industries, especially tile-making and iron-working.

The report shows how the story of the site and its environs has been uncovered through a combination of surface collection, geophysical exploration (resistivity and magnetometry) and trial trenching. The dimensions and main building lines of the settlement have been identified, along with tile kilns, a courtyard complex with possible slave quarters, a smithy and a large possible market building. Seventy-three burials have been excavated from the settlement’s cemetery, mostly dating between the late first and early third century AD.

So far the evidence suggests that Vagnari was a settlement of artisans and lower status individuals. The most likely location for the house of the imperial procurator who would have managed the estate is up the hill near the top of the plateau now called San Felice where a building provisionally interpreted as a villa is being excavated by a Canadian team.

Alastair is now organising an international conference called ‘Beyond Vagnari: new themes in the study of south Italy in the Roman period’, which will be hosted by Edinburgh University’s School of History, Classics and Archaeology on 26 to 28 October 2012. This will bring together leading archaeologists, historians and epigraphers to explore further the historical development of south Italy in Roman imperial times. This will consider the extent to which Vagnari’s development over half a millennium was typical and whether, for example, there is evidence for a shift from slavery to freedom in the make-up of the population at Vagnari and in the Italian south as a whole in this period, and whether the decline of Vagnari in the fifth and sixth centuries was part of a general pattern all over southern Italy, or was the kind of change that may occur in any locality in any historical period. Further details can be found on the website of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Books by Fellows: Early Thailand: from prehistory to Sukhothai

Fellow Charles Higham and co-author Rachanee Thosarat have drawn on major new discoveries made in the last ten years to write Early Thailand: from prehistory to Sukhothai (ISBN 9789749863916; River Books), which covers the history of the kingdom from the first human settlement to the earliest civilisations and gives a fresh appraisal of the early hunters and gatherers, and of the origins of the first rice farmers.

A new chronology reveals the dynamic social changes that came with the Bronze Age and the rapid advance to the foundation of early states that followed. The outstanding art of the Bronze Age, as seen in painted ceramic vessels a thousand years earlier than those from Ban Chiang, is portrayed, as is the wealth of Iron Age chiefs who contributed so much to the foundation of the kingdoms of Angkor and Dvaravati. In the far south, the book shows that early cities founded along the Southern Silk Road were the means by which exotic ideas and goods came to Thailand through sea-borne trade.

Books by Fellows: The Origins of the Civilization of Angkor. Volume Five

The Origins of the Civilization of Angkor. Volume Five: the excavations of Ban Non Wat. Part Three: the Bronze Age (ISBN 9789744176271; Fine Arts Department of Thailand; price £32 plus postage until 20 September 2012 if ordered from Charles; £130 plus postage thereafter; also available from Oxbow Books) is edited by Fellow Charles Higham and Ampham Kijngam, and describes a site that is key to the later prehistory of south-east Asia because of its long sequence, starting in the early Neolithic and ending in the Iron Age. This volume, the third in a series to report on excavations undertaken in 2001―7, describes the occupation of the site during the six phases of the Bronze Age and characterises the nature of the bronze industry.

It also presents new data for the chronology of the Bronze Age, for long a controversial issue. With seventy-five radiocarbon determinations interpreted through OxCal 4.0, it is shown that copper-base technology at this site began in the late eleventh century BC. Another key finding is the huge increase in the wealth of those buried during the first three phases, a level of wealth unparalleled in any other site in south-east Asia. Among the items interred with the dead were pottery vessels embellished with beautiful and sophisticated painted designs. Many were also accompanied by bronzes, a remarkable number of marine shell and marble ornaments, and thousands of shell beads. These people, says Charles, represent a social elite not previously identified at this period.

Call for papers: Scotland in Early Medieval Europe

Our sister society, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, is hosting the fourth of its themed international conferences from 22 to 24 February 2013 in conjunction with the Dark Age Studies Committee on the theme of ‘Scotland in Early Medieval Europe’. The conference will examine Scotland and its connections and identity in the period AD 200 to 1000. Contributions from all disciplines, utilising all sources of evidence, are welcome, especially those that combine overarching themes with specific case studies. Themes for the conference will include power and identity, groups and communities, ideologies and economies and contacts and communications. Contributions should in some way relate to at least one of the following: scales of analysis (individual, family, community), regionality, continuity and change, Scotland in the wider context of Britain and/or Europe and multi-disciplinary approaches.

Please send a 400-word summary of the paper or poster title, plus contact details of all contributors and correspondence and email addresses, by 29 June 2012. Further information can be found on the conference Facebook page.

Events

17—19 August 2012: Church Monuments Society Symposium, to be held in the University Hall, Pen-y-Lan, Cardiff. This will be the first weekend symposium to be held by the Society in Wales. Speakers, including Rhianydd Biebrach, Nancy Edwards, Brian and Moira Gittos, Adam White, Diane Walker and Clive Easter, will discuss Welsh monuments through the ages. There will also be a full-day coach excursion to Roath, Llandaff Cathedral, St Athan and Margam, for the Stones Museum and abbey. Further details can be found on the CMS website.

Ince Blundell options appraisal: closing date 13 July 2012

English Heritage is putting out to tender the task of presenting options for the future of the sculpture collection at Ince Blundell Hall, Lancashire. As reported in Salon 268 in January 2012, the Ince Blundell estate contains the remains of the highly significant Ince Blundell collection of marble sculptures whose future is now under scrutiny. Much of the collection was given to Liverpool Museums in the 1950s by the Weld family. The purpose of this study is to assess the potential for the statuary that remains at Ince Blundell (together with some in storage) to be maintained as a collection, adequately conserved, and in public or appropriate charitable ownership.

Tenders are now being invited from people or organisations interested in undertaking the options appraisal work, with a closing date of 13 July 2012. For copies of the tender documents setting out the brief in full, contact Linda Calvert, Casework Officer at English Heritage.

Vacancies

Wallace Collection Trustees: four appointments; closing date 9 July 2012
The Wallace Collection invites applications for four vacancies on the Board of Trustees with expertise in one of the following areas: fundraising and development work; curatorial work and research on French art in particular and on the history of collecting; legal experience in employment and charity law and corporate governance; expertise in the field of preventive conservation to help the Wallace Collection develop best-practice policies. Further information and forms can be obtained from Dragica Carlin at the Wallace Collection.

Four AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards: applications by 29 June 2012

The Centre for Studies of Home (CSH) is a partnership between Queen Mary, University of London, and The Geffrye Museum of the Home, London. The centre aims to be a unique national and international hub for innovative research and learning on the theme of ‘home’. The centre is currently inviting applications for four PhD studentships, due to start in October 2012. These are:

Domestic servants and domestic space in London 1650—1820
Domestic labour, metropolitan households and the wider world 1850—1914
Home, work and migration in the East End of London since 1945
Men juggling work, home and family in contemporary London.

Further information can be found on the CSH website.