Salon Archive

Issue: 32

Weekly meeting report

This week’s meeting took the form of a ballot. The General Secretary exhibited objects from the Society’s collection, explaining that the British Museum had asked for the loan of these items for an exhibition to be mounted in the King’s Library from late 2003 to illustrate the history of antiquarianism. Mixed in among them were objects that were now known to be copies or fakes, and the General Secretary challenged Fellows to identify which were forgeries. His subsequent account of each object turned into an interesting insight into the world of gentlemen collectors and unscrupulous forgers in the nineteenth century, involving under-cover agents and large sums of money.

A full report of the meeting held on 24 October is now available on the Society’s website at www.sal.org.uk.

Forthcoming meetings

31 October: ‘The Ancestry of the Medieval Great Tower’, by Dr Edward Impey, FSA, to include the presentation of prizes to GCSE and A-level archaeology students (see below) by our Patron, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester.
7 November: ‘No Gain without Pain: Putting the Heritage On-line’ by Dr Elizabeth Hallam Smith, FSA.

Society of Antiquaries awards prizes for top marks in GCSE and A Level Archaeolo

The Society of Antiquaries of London is to award prizes for the top marks in this year’s GCSE and A Level Archaeology examinations. �500 will be awarded to the best student in each exam and a further �500 to the institution where they studied.

The prizes will be presented by the Society’s Royal Patron, HRH the Duke of Gloucester, at the Society’s weekly meeting on the evening of Thursday 31 October at 5pm. The President of the Society of Antiquaries, Professor Rosemary Cramp CBE, said, ‘We are delighted that the subject of archaeology is now attracting such outstanding students at GCSE and A level and that the Antiquaries can recognise the students’ achievements. They are the next generation of those who will advance the knowledge of Britain’s history’.

This year winner for top marks in GCSE Archaeology is Alison Jewell from Truro College. Alison is a mature student who is now studying for A Level Archaeology. Her tutor, Mike Dymond, is accompanying her on the trip to London. Glenys Wass, from Peterborough Regional College, gained the top marks in A Level Archaeology and will be attending the ceremony with her tutor Paul Middleton. All four will be treated to a special ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the British Museum by the Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, Susan Youngs, who is Curator in Early Medieval Celtic and late Saxon Archaeology at the Museum.

The awards are intended to encourage and support the study of archaeology or, in the spirit of the Society of Antiquaries Royal Charter of 1751, for ‘the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this other countries’. Lord Redesdale, Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, who originally suggested the prize, said ‘Members of the APPAG took a mock version of the GCSE along with Mick Aston, Julian Richards and Dai Morgan-Evans recently — everyone passed, though not everyone got an A grade! This award highlights the hard work of students and their teachers and the growing popularity of the archaeological exams’.

Fellows’ news

Peter Davenport, FSA, says he hopes it will not be seen as too blatant an advert if he informs Fellows that his book Medieval Bath Uncovered has just been published by Tempus Publishing. Peter describes the book as an ‘unofficial companion to Fellow Barry Cunliffe’s Roman Bath Discovered and adds that the book is ‘aimed at a general readership but covers a much-neglected aspect of Bath’s history’.

The report in SALON 30 of the discovery of an inscription from Southwark set up by ‘Tiberinius Celerianus, chief negotiator [moritex] of the traders of London [Londiniensi]’ has sparked a debate amongst Fellows as to the grammatical correctness of the Latin on the Society’s seal, which has ‘Londinensis’. Some Fellows now argue that, to be correct, this should be properly derived from Londinium and thus be ‘Londiniensis’. To add to the confusion, the Society used the form ‘Londini’ on the title page of Vetusta Monumenta. The General Secretary is now left wondering whether the Society needs a new seal, or whether hallowed usage is enough to overcome bad grammar.

Special Honorary Fellows

The request for suggestions for the title of Special Honorary Fellows in SALON 31 has divided along gender lines. Female Fellows have endorsed the nomination of Professor Indiana Jones, while male Fellows, inspired perhaps by the cinematic release this week of ‘Mission Cleopatra’, have debated whether Asterix (played by Gerard Depardieu) or Obelix (Christian Clavier) should be so honoured, concluding that Obelix ‘carries more weight’. A lone Fellow has nominated Gandalf on the grounds that ‘he oversaw long and pointless expeditions — often in absentia!’.

Lottery consultation

Much concern has been expressed by leading charities about stories in the press to the effect that Ministers are considering plans to allow local communities to vote on the distribution of lottery grants via referendums. DCMS is also reviewing whether lottery players could tick a box on the back of their ticket, indicating which category of good cause they would like their ticket to benefit. It is feared that the effect of such proposals would be to benefit animal welfare and cancer charities at the expense of less popular causes. Critics are also concerned that consulting people on the distribution of lottery funds would lead to a blurring of the additionality concept: the critical difference between core services that the Government rightly funds through taxation, and good causes that are properly funded by the Lottery.

The deadline for responding to the DCMS consultation on Lottery fund distribution is 30 October 2002. Copies of the consultation document (in English and in Welsh) can be downloaded from the DCMS website at www.culture.gov.uk/lottery/. Heritage bodies are being urged to express their support for the Heritage Lottery Fund, to stress what a difference the HLF has made to our financially challenged sector, and how much work still remains to be done — the list of causes that will hope to gain HLF funding in the future is far from being exhausted.

Public participation in archaeology

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is examining the extent of public participation in British archaeology. The new study is prompted by a perception that although there is enormous public interest in archaeology in all its forms, this enthusiasm is not being utilised. Further information about the purpose, terms of reference of the study, and details of how to respond can be found on the CBA website at www.britarch.ac.uk/participation/index.html. The deadline for responses is 15 December 2002.

Whitby Abbey latest finds

English Heritage archaeologists working on the headland adjoining Whitby Abbey have uncovered an extensive area of industrial activity, including lead smelters, glassmaking workshops and slagheaps, associated with the Saxon abbey. An unexpected surprise was the discovery of an Iron Age round house, possibly dating from the second or first century BC. Much of the site is doomed to disappear through coastal erosion, which has already claimed a four-star hotel that collapsed into the sea four years ago. An Anglo-Saxon cemetery with over 1,000 burials has also been located, and individual finds include two ninth-century copper-alloy belt or strap ends decorated with animal motifs.

Thieves pillage Yeavering Bell

Thieves using metal detectors have left deep holes all over the site of the Iron-Age hilltop fort at Yeavering Bell, a scheduled ancient monument. The site has never been excavated, and scraps of decorated bronze left by the thieves suggest that they might have dug up the remains of ornate ritual vessels. Leading archaeologists have cited this latest desecration as evidence that current legislation does not work because of the lack of policing.

Fellow Roger Bland, co-ordinator of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, called for a law to make trading in illicit archaeological artefacts a serious criminal offence, with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. He also wants a ban on the sale of archaeological artefacts without a certificate of provenance. ‘This would make it harder for them to sell their ill-gotten gains’, he said. Lord Redesdale, Secretary of APPAG, the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, added: ‘This is a national problem and an area in which the Government has been really feeble in coming forward with legislation’.

Launch of the Fourth Annual Report of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

The Fourth Annual Report of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (2000—2001), launched on 24 October at the British Museum, shows that 37,518 archaeological objects — including jewellery, coins and prehistoric household items — were reported during millennium year. Copies of the report can be downloaded from www.finds.org.uk/documents/annual4.pdf.

Earlier this year, the future of the scheme was in doubt, but Lottery funding, together with money from the DCMS, will now ensure the Scheme's future until at least 2006, and secure its extension to all parts of England and Wales from 2003.

At the launch of the report, Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone said: ‘The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been a resounding success since its introduction in 1997. The country's archaeology is its hidden heritage, providing a priceless — and irreplaceable — record of the culture and social history of this island. I pay tribute to the hard work of the Finds Liaison Officers who record the objects found’.

A new Portable Antiquities website — www.finds.org.uk — has also been launched as the principal means by which the data gathered by the Finds Liaison Officers is published and made available. The on-line database now holds information about more than 30,000 finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, offering an important research tool for both academics and the public at large.

Changing London: an historic city for a modern world

English Heritage has just published a consultation document (supported by The National Trust, The London Forum of the Amenity Societies, The Royal Parks and Historic Royal Palaces) calling for closer co-operation between architects, developers, politicians, planners and conservationists in the future development of the capital. Launching the document, Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘We must stop polarising the old and the new. London's future lies in the integration of both into the daily lives of the 7.5 million people who live and work in this great city. It is the very diversity of London's built environment that in the future will underpin London's enviable position in the global market. It is the key aim of English Heritage to encourage a creative dialogue between conservationists and developers’.

The publication coincides with the release of a MORI poll commissioned by English Heritage asking Londoners about their views on London's built environment. The poll, undertaken in August 2002, showed that nearly 70 per cent of Londoners questioned felt that as well as landmark buildings, their local neighbourhood played a part in adding to quality of life in the city. Greatest concern was shown for the streetscape, with 75 per cent considering that the condition and appearance of the streets and pavements were a serious conservation issue for London.

Commenting on the poll results, Simon Thurley said: ‘The results prove that there is an urgent need to reappraise short-sighted planning and development attitudes, as witnessed most recently in Mayor Ken Livingstone's Draft London Plan, which fails to recognise what gives London its special edge. It has been proven time and time again that the best way to regenerate run-down areas is to build on their historic value. The threat comes from unmanaged incremental change to our streetscapes through traffic schemes that gradually transform our streets to a prison of bars, bollards and briquette paving’.

Adding that ‘our history and architecture is the reason that visitors flock to London from all over the world and the tourist industry is London's second biggest earner at approximately �9.4 billion per annum’, Thurley called for improvements to be made to the presentation and management of the public realm. ‘London is a green city and its parks and squares are scandalously under-funded’, he said.

Copies of Changing London: an historic city for a modern world can be downloaded from the English Heritage website at www.english-heritage.org.uk.

The name of Jesus sparks debate

The Washington-based Biblical Archaeology Review revealed this week that a limestone ossuary has been found inscribed with the words: ‘Yakov [James], son of Yosef [Joseph], brother of Yeshua [Jesus]’. Ossuaries were only in use from 20 BC to AD 70, and the style of the inscription suggests a date of around AD 63. That has led to claims that the box once contained the remains of St James, who was stoned to death in AD 62, according to Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and that this is the earliest known reference to the Jesus and the Holy Family of the Gospels.

The author of the article, palaeographer Andr� Lemaire of the Sorbonne, says that twenty men are known from inscriptions and records to be living in Jerusalem at this time with a father called Joseph and a brother called Jesus. On the other hand, he says that the mention of the father and brother of the deceased is highly unusual (a brother is named on only one other ossuary with an Aramaic inscription). The implication is that these names are all significant.

The brothers of Jesus are mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John. Since their existence might be seen as conflicting with the doctrine of Mary’s lifelong virginity, some Christians believe that ‘brother’ was a term used of any close relative and the term that the early disciples used of each other. Another interpretation has proposes that Joseph had children from a previous marriage. All that can be said for certain at this stage is that the debate will continue.

Museums disappointed at size of grant

Museum directors expressed disappointment last week when the Government announced that it would provide �70m in funding to enable museums to take forward the programme of reform envisaged in Renaissance in the Regions, instead of the �167m that the museums have argued for. David Barrie, director of the Art Fund, said the money fell far short of what was needed. ‘The extra money,’ he said, ‘amounts to �12,000 for each museum for the next four years. The Government is going to have to reach more deeply into its pockets if the promised Renaissance is ever to be realised’.

Looking on the bright side, Lord Matthew Evans, head of Resource, said the extra money represented a turning point, the first time central government had committed itself to sustained funding for regional museums and galleries. Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, said this was regional museums’ largest ever allocation of government money, and that there was likely to be more later from the education department and the Creative Partnership schemes.

The British Museum, which was hoping for an emergency grant to cover its projected deficit of �5m, received an extra �400,000 to go towards reopening galleries closed to the public. The museum is therefore proceeding with 15 per cent cuts in spending, including the loss of 150 jobs. The Director of the British Museum, Fellow Neil MacGregor, commented that: ‘The museum is grateful for the real uplift in funding for 2004 and 2005. However, in the longer term it still leaves us unable to realise the museum's full potential.’


The full text of the new funding agreement is available from: www.resource.gov.uk/documents/dcmsfa2002.pdf.

Museums may be forced to bring back entry fees

Giving evidence to the Commons Culture Select Committee last week on the impact of free admission to national museums, Sir Neil Chalmers, Director of the Natural History Museum, said that visitor numbers had risen by 70 per cent since the �9 admission charge was dropped last December. However, this increase in visitor numbers was costing the museum �500,000 a year more than the compensation it had received from Government to compensate for lost entry charges because of the need to employ extra staff to cope with the crowds

Rather than opening up the museum to a more diverse audience, as intended, free entry simply encouraged the same people to ‘dip in’ regularly for brief visits, Sir Neil said. He also said that consideration would have to be given to a return to charging for entry if the Government would not compensate them in line with inflation and real visitor numbers.

Fellow Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said that his museum’s commitment to free admission had cost it �80 million in lost income and reclaimed VAT in the past decade, while the real value of government funding had dwindled by 22 per cent. ‘Had the museum previously been charging, it would have been entitled to �8 million in compensation last autumn’, he said, pointing to the absurdity of a system that allowed charging institutions to share a �29 million compensation package to make up for lost ticket sales when those that had resisted admission charges had effectively been penalised.

Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, also gave evidence and said that she would not consider a return to charging, warning that museums would jeopardise their general grant if they abandoned free entry. ‘These are publicly funded bodies and the money they get comes with strings attached, and one of the strings is that they maintain free entry’, Ms Jowell said.

Conference on Managing Library and Archive Collections in Historic Houses

The theme of the National Preservation Office Annual Conference 2002, to be held on 5 November 2002 at the British Library Conference Centre, will be ‘Managing Library and Archive Collections in Historic Houses’. The day-long conference will focus on problems and issues relating to the preservation and management of library and archive collections based on the research funded by Resource (the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries). The conference will be of particular relevance to collection managers, as well as architects and others, involved in conversion projects. Further details from: Conference 2002 Organiser, National Preservation Office, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB. Tel: 0207 412 7612, email: npo@bl.uk.

Building on Water

A one-day conference is to be held at Austin Court, Birmingham, on 4 December 2002, to focus on the built heritage associated with the UK’s rivers and canals. The conference is being organised by British Waterways, the Inland Waterways Association and the Waterways Trust, and will bring together key waterway groups, developers, local authority planners and individuals from the voluntary, statutory and private sectors to discuss practical solutions for the best use and management of the built waterside environment. Full details from: www.waterways.org.uk/building-on-water.htm.

Vacancy for a Planning Adviser, Theatres Trust

The Theatres Trust is a Statutory Consultee working to protect and improve theatres throughout the UK. As a Planning Adviser, you will provide advice on planning and development matters to the Trust and to theatre organisations, planning authorities and local groups. This will include dealing with formal consultations, and other requests for help, advising on issues ranging from how to ‘save’ a threatened theatre to negotiating a Section 106 Agreement.

For a job description and further information, visit the Theatres Trust website at www.theatrestrust.org.uk, or write to: The Theatres Trust, 22 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0QL. The closing date for applications is 8 November 2002. Salary �28,000–�33,000.

Vacancy for a General Manager, Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Estate, National

The job involves responsibility for implementing the World Heritage Site Management Plan, building partnerships with local stakeholders, balancing conservation and income generation, and managing a large team of staff and volunteers.

For further details, send an A4 self-addressed and stamped (57p) envelope to Jane Singleton, HR Department, The National Trust, Goddards, 27 Tadcaster Road, Dringhouses, York YO24 1GG. Closing date 8 November. Salary �33,000–�36,000.

Vacancy for an Inspector of Historic Buildings, English Heritage

Based in Northhampton, the job involves providing advice and help with grants to owners and others responsible for the care of historic buildings and gardens in the Midlands region. Advice is also given to local authorities, church authorities and the Secretary of State on specific cases.

For further details, email the Human Resources Department at midlands.recruit@english-heritage.co.uk quoting ref: D/025/02. Closing date 11 November. Salary �24,000–�29,000.

Campaign to save Alburnus Major

A group of internationally respected scholars, including Fellows John Nandris and Sherban Cantacuzino, CBE, former director of the Royal Fine Arts Commission, have lent their support to a campaign to save Alburnus Major, one of the most important Roman towns in Europe. Located in Rosia Montana, in western Transylvania, it supplied most of the gold and silver on which Rome depended for its survival. The Emperor Trajan alone took more than �1.2 billions-worth of gold from Rosia Montana and it was on the proceeds of Rosia's gold that the amphitheatre in Verona was built. It is the oldest documented town in Romania and the Moti, the people who live there and in the surrounding villages, can trace their history back over 4,000 years.

Rosia Montana is now under threat from plans to create Europe's largest open-cast gold mine and to dump 196m tonnes of cyanide-laced waste, destroying the area’s archaeology and displacing some 2,000 people. The World Bank president, James Wolfensohn, has already intervened to stop a �64m planne