Salon Archive

Issue: 29

Weekly meeting report

Dr Silke Ackermann told Fellows at the weekly meeting on 3 October that Gregorian reform of the calendar (introduced in 1582) was made necessary by arithmetical and astronomical errors in the Julian calendar, but was nevertheless resisted by Protestant Europe because the source of the reform was the Counter-Reformationary Council of Trent. In introducing the reforms, Gregory XIII was motivated more by a desire to prove that the Catholic Church still had the power to command wide-scale social reform than he was by an interest in astronomical exactitude. With echoes of England’s attitude to the single European currency, this country was one of the last to adopt the reformed calendar, holding out until 1752, when the dates 1 to 13 September were simply left out of the calendar and the start of the year changed to 1 January.

A full report of the meeting held on 3 October will be published on the Society’s new website at www.sal.org.uk on Wednesday 9 October.

New website

Changes have been taking place to improve the Society’s website during the summer. The new site will be go live on Wednesday 9 October at the same address as before (), so you can access the site in exactly the same way as before. The existing password also continues to apply for gaining access to the Fellows’ area.

The purpose of the change is to ensure that the site content can be managed effectively as the site grows in volume. Underlying the new site is a database that will allow content to be found using a simple search engine.

Transferring the old content to a new database has been time-consuming, so the search facility has not yet been implemented — though all the groundwork has been completed. Adding the search facility is just one of the improvements to the site that will be introduced over the coming months.

In the meantime, we hope that Fellows will forgive any spelling and stylistic errors they may encounter when using the new site. We do know that the errors are there, and we are actively working to create an error-free site.

Forthcoming meetings

10 October: (Re-) Building the Christian City: Carthage in the Byzantine Era, by Dr Richard Miles, FSA
17 October: Mont Orgueil Castle, Jersey: Recent Work on the Medieval and Tudor Royal Castle, by Dr Philip Dixon, FSA and Dr Warwick Rodwell, FSA

Fellows’ News

We are saddened to report the death of Clare Fell, FSA, who died on 17 July, aged 89, and whose obituary appeared in The Times last week. Clare went up to Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1931 and switched from reading Economics to Archaeology and Anthropology, obtaining a First in 1933. She stayed on in Cambridge to catalogue Lord Braybrook’s collection of antiquities and became assistant curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1947. In 1949 she joined the first season’s excavation at Star Carr and in September of that year began the work at the Neolithic axe factory at Langdale, in Cumbria, that was to make her reputation as an expert on Neolithic trade routes. In 1951 she was elected FSA, and in 1952 she became secretary to the Archaeology and Anthropology faculty. In that same year Clare was also instrumental in the founding of New Hall, the third women’s college at Cambridge.

In 1953 she returned to Cumbria, where she spent the next fourteen years studying prehistoric sites in Cumbria. Even after her move to Kent in 1967, Clare continued to research and write about the archaeology of the Lakeland Counties and returned every May to lead archaeological fell walks for members of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society.

Society’s General Secretary warns that the Newport ship is still at risk

Dai Morgan Evans, our General Secretary, has highlighted the fact that archaeologists working to rescue the Newport ship might be forced to leave the stern and prow unexcavated. The ship was discovered when a coffer dam was sunk into the banks of the Usk during the construction of a new arts centre. Archaeologists now realise that the dam slices the hull in three. Funds granted by the Welsh Assembly in July cover the cost of rescuing the central portion, but not of excavating and recovering the stern and prow. Speaking to The Guardian on 2 October, Dai said that to rescue the central portion alone ‘would be like excavating a skeleton, but deciding not to bother with the feet and skull’.

While arguments about money continue to exercise the funding authorities, Kate Howell, leader of the archaeologists working on the ship, has described a deep split in the mast, possibly representing storm damage, that runs through the structural timbers and into one of the ribs. It may have been the reason why the ship, built in 1465, ended its ocean-going days in the tidal mud of the Usk

Society of Antiquaries Art Exhibition and Sale

Fellow Alan Ball has offered to organise an exhibition and sale of works of art in aid of the Society’s general funds, and has set the ball rolling by donating a number of his own very accomplished watercolour landscapes. So long as there is sufficient support, the exhibition will be mounted in the entrance hall to the Society’s premises during December – a perfect opportunity for finding Christmas presents. Alan is very keen to hear from Fellows willing to donate works for sale – whether their own work or that of other artists. Emails can be sent to Lisa Elliott at lelliott@sal.org.uk, or Alan can be contacted at 71 Cassiobury Park Avenue, Watford WD18 7LD, tel: 01923 228882.

Do you remember Richborough?

Darlow Smithson Productions is making a documentary film for BBC2 on the excavations conducted by the Society of Antiquaries between 1922 and 1938 at Richborough in Kent. The producers are looking for anyone who may have visited the site during that period — or who may have shot cine film of the excavations. If you are able to help, please contact either Jonathan Dent or Nick Powell at Darlow Smithson on tel: 020 7482 7027.

Another stolen brass

The spate of thefts of monumental brasses from churches continues unabated. The latest to be found missing is the high-quality armoured figure of Sir John Seyntmaur from the 1485 brass at Beckington, Somerset. It went missing between 18 and 25 August and is likely to be the work of the same person responsible for thefts this summer at Lacock, Swainswick, Langridge and Fairford, as well as a number of other brasses taken earlier. The accompanying figure of Elizabeth Seyntmaur has now been removed by the parish for safekeeping.

As usual, further details, including pictures of all the stolen brasses, have been posted on the Monumental Brass Society’s website at www.mbs-brasses.co.uk, and anyone seeing any of these brasses should get in touch with the MBS Secretary, Martin Stuchfield, at martin.stuchfield@intercitygroup.co.uk or the website editor at Suttonbadham@btinternet.co.uk.

Heritage and education

Prince Charles has added his voice to those calling for history and heritage to play a more central place in the core curriculum. This weekend he presided over a summit at Dartington Hall attended by luminaries from the worlds of education, literature and historical research, to discuss ways to counter what the Prince sees as an increasingly utilitarian approach to the curriculum, and a tendency to confuse education with training. Summit participants will be asked to propose effective ways of using history and literature to encourage pupils to ‘think independently, beyond the limitations of exam specifications’.

This is a theme that the CBA, English Heritage and the National Trust have all been stressing in recent years: the value of the historic environment as a rich educational resource, its potential to be the basis of a genuinely rounded education — bridging the sciences and the humanities — and its capacity to develop such transferable skills as empirical deduction, problem solving and team building.

Fellows are prominent in this debate. An English Heritage team, led by Fellow Mike Corbishley, is developing a comprehensive range of teachers’ resource materials and lesson plans for integrating heritage studies into the new Citizenship curriculum. The Attingham Trust, under the direction of Fellow Giles Waterfield, is planning to publish a report on Learning and Access in the Historic Built Environment in February 2003. The Trust also plans a series of colloquia on aspects of heritage and education for later this year, many of which will be led by Fellows (details will be published in SALON once they are finalised).

And the Society is doing its bit to encourage the teaching of archaeology by awarding prizes for the best GCSE and A-level performances. This year’s awards, which go to the individual pupil for furthering his/her studies and to the school to provide archaeological teaching resources, will be presented by our Patron, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester, at the Society’s meeting on 31 October.

Vacancy for a Partnership Manager, World Monuments Fund

The New York-based World Monuments Fund is looking for a Partnership Manager to develop collaborative relationships with funding partners outside the US to support the work of the Robert W Wilson program, which contributes US$10 million a year to architectural conservation projects worldwide. Candidates need to have at least five years’ experience of working in a field related to architectural conservation, and the capacity to play a creative role within the World Monuments Fund. Enquiries should be addressed to Henry Ng, Executive Vice President, email: hng@wmf.org.

Vacancy for Chief Executive, Mary Rose Trust

The Mary Rose Trust has secured a �4.1 million HLF grant for the conservation of the Mary Rose and for a new museum building. The Trust is now seeking to appoint a creative and motivational chief executive with the commitment, drive and vision to lead and inspire the Trust’s staff through the next stage of its development. The chief executive will also be responsible for building the Trust’s fundraising capability to its full potential and promoting the Trust’s image, brand awareness and influence. Full details from Odgers Ray and Berndtson, tel: 020 7529 1111, email: response.manager@odgers.com, quoting Ref: NAO/4775ST. Salary �65,000.

Vacancy for Director of Collections, Tate Gallery

The Tate Gallery is seeking a Director of Collections to lead the development and care of the Tate Collection. Reporting to Nicholas Serota, the Director of Collections will provide the overall leadership for acquisitions and research, as well as having an overview of the conservation and management of the Collection. This role involves reviewing the Tate's policies and strategies for the development of the Collection, leading research and helping to guide the Tate's intellectual development, and advising on the best uses of the Tate Collection in Tate exhibition and display programmes.

Candidates should be recognised experts, ideally specialising either in British Art from 1545 to the present day or in international art from 1900 with a record of research and publication coupled with the intellectual breadth to offer advice and support across the full range of the Tate's collection work.

Further details of the post, including the benefits package and an application form, are available from the Human Resources Department, Tate, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, tel: 020 7887 8937. Alternatively, you can e-mail sharon.doyle@tate.org.uk. In both cases, you need to quote ref: 281/CL. Completed applications must be received by 25 October 2002.

Sons of Woden — Soldiers of Christ?

The Council for British Archaeology South-West and the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Committee for Archaeology in Gloucestershire are holding a symposium on the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Gloucestershire and Somerset on 9 November. Entitled Sons of Woden — Soldiers of Christ?, the day's speakers include Mick Aston, Ken Dark, David Dumville, Peter Fowler, Della Hooke, Martin Welch and many more. It will be held at the Park Campus of the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham and the ticket price is only �10 (lunch not included). For tickets and further details contact Martin Ecclestone, Princess Royal Cottage, Butterow, Rodborough, Stroud GL5 3UA (tel: 01453 759516).

Dirty linen

The Women’s Library, Old Castle Street, London E1, is hosting an imaginative exhibition on the related themes of women, washing, water and laundry. Called Dirty Linen, it runs until 21 December and is accompanied by a series of talks on such compelling topics as Madam Geneva (the government campaign in the eighteenth century to persuade women to sober up and stop drinking gin), The Great Stink (Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s achievement in riding London of its sewage) and Charles Dickens’ Toilet (about the writer’s loathing of dirt and his vivid portrayal of the grubbiness of everyday life in Victorian London). Full details of the complete programme of talks and events can be obtained from the Women’s Library website at www.thewomenslibrary.ac.uk/exhib_ev.html.

Treasures of Babylon to be protected from war and looting

As a precaution against the possibility that the United States will declare war on Iraq, the country’s Director of Antiquities, Manhal Jabar, has visited the UK to consult British specialists (including Fellows John Curtis of the British Museum and Professor David Oates of Cambridge) on measures to protect Iraq’s antiquities from war damage and looting. Any loss to Iraq’s heritage would, said Mr Jabar, be a loss for the whole world. Ancient sites around Mosul in northern Iraq have already sustained damage from American bombers enforcing the ‘no fly zone’, and looting after the Gulf War led to the theft of items from museums that later ended up in the hands of European dealers. This time the plan is to move portable antiquities to secret underground locations.

Post boxes get stamp of approval from English Heritage

All 115,000 of the UK’s surviving traditional red-painted letter boxes are to be listed and conserved, English Heritage said this week. The announcement was timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the very first letter box, introduced as an experiment in Jersey's capital, St Helier (where one still remains in its original position), on 23 November 1852. Post boxes were the brainchild of Anthony Trollope, the great Victorian novelist who worked for much of his life as a postal official. The announcement means that practical guidance will be given to all Royal Mail area managers and local authority conservation and highways staff on letter box conservation. Letter boxes will only be moved in future if exceptional circumstances necessitate relocation (for example, where a letter box is exposed to damage from traffic or vandalism or where its position is no longer convenient or safe for use).

Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, said: ‘Traditional red letter boxes are a classic icon of British design and are inextricably linked to our national image. The nation's 115,000 letter boxes are a much-loved part of the everyday street scene, making a positive contribution to the character and appearance of villages, towns and cities across the country.’

London's photographic treasures online

Holders of some of the largest collections of London photographs, dating back to the mid-1800s, have come together to create a new website where researchers can view their holdings online. Users of PhotoLondon (www.photoLondon.org.uk) can search for details of collections in all of London's 33 boroughs, as well as London-wide collections such as the London Transport Museum and the Metropolitan Police Museum. The site has been launched jointly by the Guildhall Library, the Museum of London, London Metropolitan Archives, Westminster City Archives and English Heritage's National Monuments Record as a way of showcasing their collections and of providing easier access to the range of archives of London images in existence.

Culture Online Director

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has appointed Jonathan Drori as the first director of Culture Online (), the new organisation responsible for increasing digital access to the nation's cultural heritage. Mr Drori, who was Head of Digital Media and Learning Channels at BBC Education from 1996 to 1999 and Head of Commissioning and Editorial Director for BBC Online 1999—2001, will be responsible for a �13 million funding budget. Museums and cultural institutions will be able to bid for Culture Online funding to create digital access to their collections. The resulting content is intended to be used by teachers as part of the ‘digital curriculum’ proposed by the Department for Education and Skills.

Resource announces members of its Archives Task Force

Two Fellows — Dr Chris Kitching, Secretary, Historical Manuscripts Commission, and Sarah Tyacke, Keeper of Public Records and Chief Executive, Public Record Office – have accepted invitations from Arts Minister Baroness Blackstone to join the new Archives Task Force, which has been set up to map out new ways of identifying and exploiting the UK's rich legacy in public and private archives.

The Task Force, announced in July, will focus on ways of making archives more accessible and will explore new ways to secure investment, build capacity and forge new partnerships for the archives domain. An important area of focus will be ways of developing and co-ordinating electronic access to archive material.

Sarah Tyacke said: ‘This is a hugely exciting project for all who use and care for archives. Together with the recent announcements concerning the creation of the National Archives [by the merger of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission] and proposals to bring forward new archive legislation, it heralds some of the most significant opportunities for archives in the last 25 years.’

National Trust acquires Chambr� Hardman's house

The Edward Chambr� Hardman Trust has announced its donation to the National Trust of the home of Liverpool photographer Edward Chambr� Hardman, helped by a grant of �928,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Chambr� Hardman's house is at 59 Rodney Street, Liverpool, and it is home to a collection of 150,000 evocative images, as well as the photographer’s studio, equipment and personal and business papers. Conservation work increases this autumn in order to meet the planned opening date of June 2004. The house will be restored to the period of the Hardmans' occupation from 1948 to 1988 and the decorative schemes will reflect the condition of the house in the 1960s.

Conservation starts on John Lennon's home

Meanwhile, in another part of Liverpool, the National Trust has started to restore ‘Mendips’ – John Lennon’s family home, donated to the Trust by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono — with a view to opening the house in 2003. The plan is to return the house to the way it looked when John Lennon lived there as a child and teenager in the 1950s and early 1960s. Contemporary photographs and sources are being used to recreate the interiors.

The National Trust and the Stonehenge tunnel

According to reports in the weekend papers, the National Trust has added its voice to those calling for the A303 to be buried within a 2�-mile-long bored tunnel, costing �350 million, rather than the �100-million option of a cut-and-cover tunnel of just over one mile in length. Apparently members of the Council voted for the bored-tunnel option after evidence from ICOMOS—UK, the international body responsible for World Heritage Sites, convinced them that this would do least damage to the archaeology and natural environment around Stonehenge. The National Trust is the principal landowner in the vicinity of the World Heritage Site. The Government has indicated a preference for the cut-and-cover approach but no final decision has yet been reached.

Mystery of the Van Eyck masterpiece

Christiaan Noppe, a police officer from Antwerp, claimed this week to have discovered the whereabouts of the missing panel from the Adoration of the Lamb altarpiece in Sint Bavokerk in Ghent. This superb polyptych, one of the great epic works of early Renaissance art, was painted in 1426—32 by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, employing their trademark oil-painting technique that gives the illusion that painted fountains and jewels literally sparkle with reflected light. The Ten Just Judges panel has been missing since 1934. Ars�ne Goederier, an enigmatic Ghent finance broker, confessed to the theft a few months later as he lay dying of a heart attack. Goederier did not reveal the hiding place other than to say that it was in a place that could not be reached without attracting public attention.

Christiaan Noppe now claims that it is hidden in the coffin of Albert I of Belgium, who died in a climbing accident in the same year that the panel was stolen, and who lies buried in the crypt of the Belgian royal family’s palace at Laeken, outside Brussels. Noppe argues that Goederier was the sort of man to have left clues, and one of them is the apparently random choice of post offices from which Goederier posted his thirteen ransom notes. Straight lines drawn on a map linking the post offices to Goederier’s home all converge on the royal palace. As for a motive, Goederier’s father had been sacked as a school inspector, and had thus been unable to pay for Ars�ne to attend the school of his choice. This was Ars�ne’s revenge.

The Ghent Justice Department is considering Noppe’s theories before deciding whether to apply to open King Leopold’s tomb. But an art expert in Ghent commented that while he hoped the panel would be found, the missing panel was like the elusive Loch Ness monster — ‘every month someone claims to know where the panel is, but it has never yet been found’.