Salon Archive

Issue: 35

Weekly meeting report

Dr Nicola Coldstream, FSA, gave Fellows a full account of the life and achievements of the Society’s first lady President at this week’s meeting, saying that Joan Evans’ core belief — that art has to be seen within the wider economic, geographical and social context of the time — though self-evident now, was rare in the 1930s when she did much of her pioneering work.

A full report of the meeting held on 14 November is now available on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website at www.sal.org.uk.

Forthcoming meetings

21 November: ‘“The Little House on the Prairie?” The excavation of a major Neolithic building at Claish, near Stirling’, by Gordon Barclay, FSA, K Brophy and G MacGregor.
28 November: ‘Urban Regeneration and Heritage Issues: the Gloucester Experience’, by John Pugh-Smith, FSA, Richard Sermon and Albert Williamson-Taylor.

Fellows’ News

Belatedly SALON has learned that Professor Anthony Harding, FSA, of the University of Durham, was elected President of the European Association of Archaeologists at its Annual Conference in Thessaloniki on 25 September 2002. Not only is Anthony the first English President to have been elected, he also says that he is one of the first not to have had the same forename as surname (his most recent predecessors include Willem Willems and Kristian Kristiansen).

The Association works towards an integrated view of European archaeology – something that has perhaps only become possible since the ending of the Communist era in Eastern Europe, and it now has some 1,100 members in forty-one countries. Further information is to be found on the EAA’s website at: www.e-a-a.org.

With sadness we report the death of Stewart Cruden, FSA, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland from 1946 to 1980. David Breeze, FSA, writing Stewart's obituary in The Independent, said that Cruden's interests ranged widely in time and space: ‘He excavated at the great hill-fort of Traprain Law and at the Brough of Birsay in Orkney ... He studied and produced the earliest papers to be published on Scottish medieval pottery. But his first love was medieval churches and castles and he wrote the Ministry guide-books on many such monuments; The Scottish Castle (1960) and Scottish Medieval Churches (1986) represent the distillation of his wide knowledge.

If friends are the measure of a man, David concluded, it should be recorded that Cruden's great friends were Gordon Childe, legendary Professor of Archaeology at Edinburgh University, Bryan O'Neil, formerly Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, and W. Douglas Simpson, the great expert on Scottish castles, after whom he named his sons.

The obituary of Heather Peek, FSA, who died on 31 October, appeared in The Independent on 18 November. It related Heather’s appointment first as Deputy in 1955, and then as Keeper of the University Archives at Cambridge in 1958, and her fierce resistance to the proposal to move the archives from the Old Schools to their present home in the University Library. Heather’s argument was that the archives needed to be close at hand in order to encourage constant consultation by Senate members.

2002 British Archaeological Awards

The CBA walked away with a healthy share of the top prizes at this year’s British Archaeological Awards ceremony. Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, presented the awards in the historic Town Hall in Liverpool on 7 November. The CBA’s Defence of Britain project, a pioneering study of the archaeology of twentieth-century military sites in Britain, won both the IFA Award and the Spear & Jackson Silver Trowel Award for the year's most innovative project in British archaeology.

The Defence of Britain project was a seven-year collaboration between professional archaeologists and some 600 volunteers. The resulting project archive holds records on almost 20,000 individual sites, with information on army and prisoner-of-war camps, air-raid shelters, anti-aircraft batteries, D-Day embarkation hards, radar stations, searchlight batteries and military hospitals.

The prestigious Press Award was won by Simon Denison for his work as editor of the CBA Magazine, British Archaeology. Fellow Mark Rednap was presented with the Archaeological Book Award for his Vikings in Wales: an Archaeological Quest (NMGW, 2000), while Francis Pryor got a special commendation for his Seahenge — A Quest for Life in the Bronze Age (Harper Collins).

For the complete awards list plus pictures of the winners, see www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/nwh/ART14093.html.

Newport Ship

Fears for the future of the bow and stern of the Newport ship have been allayed following a statement made last week. A spokesman from the Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust confirmed that excavation of the bow and stern will take place after building work on the new Arts Centre is completed in late January 2003. The spokesman added that the remaining parts of the ship were quite safe.

RIBA to set up a Friends organisation

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is considering introducing a new class of RIBA membership — called ‘Friends’ — for people who are not practising professionals but who have a keen interest in the subject.

A focus group will convene on the evening of Thursday 28 November at the RIBA (66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD) to discuss what potential Friends would want from this type of membership. If you are interested in taking part, please email Liz Walder, Communications Manager, RIBA London, on Liz.Walder@inst.riba.org.

Conferences and Events

As part of the SPAB’s first ever National Maintenance Week (from 22 to 29 November) English Heritage is hosting a conference on 22 November entitled Maintenance Matters: a co-ordinated approach to the better care of historic buildings.

Baroness Blackstone, Minister of State for the Arts, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will give the keynote speech and the conference is aimed at conservation officers, architects, surveyors, owners and managers of historic buildings stock, building preservation trusts, and the estates management, refurbishment and maintenance sectors. It is intended to create a platform for some of the latest initiatives in the field, and for a discussion of how the heritage sector and allied interests dealing with the nation’s existing building stock can stimulate greater public awareness and action in this important area.

Copies of the programme and a booking form can be obtained from Rebecca McCaffry, Building Conservation & Research Team, English Heritage, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET. Telephone: 0207 973 3375, fax 0207 973 3130 or e-mail: rebecca.mccaffry@english-heritage.org.uk.

The Regional Furniture Society is holding its annual Christopher Gilbert Memorial Lecture at the Society of Antiquaries on Monday 2 December 2002, starting at 6.15pm with a wine reception. The lecture will be given by Dr Scott Shank on ‘Shaker Furniture Design: Religion in Wood Revisited’. Tickets cost �12 and are available from Polly Legg, Regional Furniture Society Events Secretary, 8 Church St, Dorchester DT1 1JN, with cheques made out to the Regional Furniture Society and enclosing an SAE. Enquiries to Polly Legg, tel: 01305 264596.

Help for the Prague Institute of Archaeology

SALON 26 reported on the catastrophic losses suffered by the Institute of Archaeology in Prague during the floods of 14 August 2002. The library, which contained some 70,000 volumes and represented the finest archaeological library in the entire region, was all but destroyed, along with storerooms, laboratories, photographic archives and other facilities housed on the ground floor of the building at Letensk� 4.

Organisations and individuals in several countries are now trying to help with the process of reconstruction. Thanks to the generosity of English Heritage, Sue Cole has been seconded to assist with the co-ordination of efforts from the UK. Sue’s email address is sue.cole@english-heritage.org.uk.

There are several ways to help. One is to make a cash donation to the account that the Council for British Archaeology has set up specially for the purpose. Cheques should be sent to the CBA at 111 Walmgate, York YO1 2UA, and made out to ‘CBA Prague account’. Another is to offer books, in which case it is best to send a list of books to Sue Cole first. Finally, anyone who can offer specialist assistance should contact Sue Cole to discuss the matter — this particularly applies to the rebuilding of reference collections.

The devastation caused by the August floods is enormous, and has seriously set back the work of the Institute of Archaeology, with profound consequences for the archaeology of the Czech Republic and the whole of Central Europe. Please help if you can!

South Downs National Park comes closer to realisation

Countryside Agency board members, meeting on 14 November, decided to go ahead with the creation of a new South Downs National Park and agreed a boundary for the new national park, covering a swathe of land across Sussex and Hampshire. The Countryside Agency will now issue the South Downs National Park Designation Order. This will be published in January 2003 for one month, to allow representations or objections to be made to the DEFRA Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett, before she decides whether or not to confirm the designation.

Historic Houses Association AGM

Last week the Historic Houses Association AGM took place at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London, with Baroness Blackstone as the guest speaker. Introducing the Minister, Lord Leicester, Chairman of the HHA, said that ‘more and more, the main engine of the rural economy is heritage-based tourism’. He then praised the Minister for her support for the HHA’s campaign to persuade the Chancellor to introduce tax relief on the cost of repairing and maintaining historic homes. ‘We have argued that encouraging owners to spend a little now would reduce the eventual need for grant-eligible major repairs in the future, on the “stitch in time” principle’ Lord Leicester said.

In reply, Baroness Blackstone paid tribute to the energy with which the historic houses sector had set about diversifying and attracting inward tourism. She said that visitors to the countryside last year spent �13.8billion, supporting 380,000 jobs and 25,000 small businesses. ‘I think this growth in culture tourism is going to become even more important,’ she said. ‘People are not coming to Britain to sun themselves on beaches but they are coming here for the culture, the country houses and the countryside. The interest in historic houses and old industrial buildings is bound to grow. The Government should work with owners and encourage this form of public/private partnership.’

The Minster admitted that she might not have an easy ride. She said that she was willing to lead a charm offensive among doubting backbenchers but added: ‘I am more concerned about convincing the Treasury’.

Sports news

Last week all the major papers carried the news that ancient Greek athletes used lead or stone weights, called halteres, to enhance their performance in the long jump and triple jump. Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University have demonstrated that, used correctly, the halteres could increase the distance travelled by an athlete from a standing start between 5 and 7 per cent. By swinging the arms forwards at take off the weights help to shift the body’s centre of mass forwards and upwards, giving the jump extra height and distance. Swinging the arms backwards towards the end of the jump and then dropping the weights had a similar effect.

Far more amusing, if less credible, was the assertion made last week by Didier Marchois, former President of the French Cricket federation, that the game of cricket was invented by the French. Marchois claimed to have found references to a game in which the defender used a bat to defend a set of wickets in thirteenth-century manuscripts in St-Omer. Marchois stated that ‘cricket was born in the north of France and taken across the Channel by English soldiers who picked it up during the Hundred Years War’.

Temple to Antinous found at Hadrian’s Villa

The ruins of an enormous semi-circular structure found at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, 20 miles east of Rome, is being interpreted as a hitherto unknown temple built by the Roman emperor Hadrian to honour the death of his young lover Antinous. Hadrian (AD 76–138) was grief stricken when Antinous drowned in the Nile in AD 130. The emperor declared him a god and founded the memorial city of Antinopolis in Egypt on the spot where the boy's body was found.

Excavations at the villa began in 2000 with the intention of exploring the main entrance to the villa. Instead of an entrance gate, archaeologists found the walls of the temple, along with a series of fountains and planters for interior gardens, niches for statues and marble fragments, some inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphics. ‘I'm sure this discovery will cause a lot of controversy, because it flies in the face of previously accepted theories, but only further excavations will give all of the answers,’ said Anna Maria Reggiani, the superintendent of archaeology for the Lazio region.

Vacancy for a Curatorial Assistant at the ADS

The post involves the accessioning, mounting and indexing of data collections, validation of data and conversion into preferred formats; curation and migration of collections; design and development of user interfaces; discussion of and execution of data audits with data depositors. You will need to be proficient in the use of databases, CAD, GIS and VR, and have excellent HTML and web design skills.

The post is a full-time (36.5 hours per week) fixed-term appointment for twelve months. Job share is a possibility. Salary within the range �17,416 to �18,984. Closing Date: 29 November 2002. Further details and application forms can be downloaded from the web site at: www1.york.ac.uk/admin/persnl/jobs (the vacancy is listed under Secretarial and Clerical).

New National Trust Director for Wales

The National Trust has announced the appointment of Iwan Huws to take the helm as the new National Trust Director for Wales from March 2003. Iwan is currently Chief Executive of the Snowdonia National Park Authority where he has been in office since 1996. Iwan takes over from Peter Broomhead who is retiring after serving the charity for thirty-two years, the last eleven years as Director for Wales. Born in Dolgellau, Gwynedd, 41-year-old Iwan is a native Welsh speaker and is married with two young daughters.

Special Honorary Fellows

David M Wilson writes to commend that great and good American archaeologist who introduced new techniques for the excavation of Viking remains to the Scottish Highlands and made significant strides in the study of the Viking presence in the USA. His excavations are recorded in J Buchan, John Macnab, 1925 passim.

Mr Bandicott, a rich amateur, was the discoverer of the tomb of that great Viking chieftain, Harald Blacktooth. ‘The only reason’, David says, ‘why I have some reluctance in nominating him for honorary fellowship is that he has not yet published the results of his excavations, although he did list the major finds, viz “two massive [gold] torques, several bowls and flagons, spear-heads from which the hafts have long since rotted, a sword-blade, and a quantity of brooches, armlets and rings”’.