Salon Archive

Issue: 40

Weekly meeting report

Refusing to speculate on the meaning and function of Bronze Age rock art in Scandinavia, Professor John Coles nevertheless threw up some intriguing possibilities at this week’s meeting. In a paper entitled ‘Chasing the Shadows: some field studies of south Scandinavian rock carvings’, he showed an association between rock-art sites and barrow cemeteries, demonstrated that natural flaws and lines in the rock play a role in the overall design, produced evidence for numerical systems and the opposition between odd and even, left and right in processional motifs, and held out the possibility that individual schools of carvers might one day be discernible.

A full account of the meeting can be found on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website at www.sal.org.uk.

Forthcoming meetings

23 January: ‘Ten years at Butrint, Albania: archives, surveys and excavations of an Adriatic port, c 800 BC to AD 1990’, by Dr Richard Hodges, FSA.

30 January: Ballot

New Year Honours

Congratulations to all those Fellows who received awards in the New Year Honours list. OBEs were awarded to Hugh Cobbe, FSA, lately head of British Collections at the British Library, for services to libraries, to Richard Morris, FSA, lately Director of the Council for British Archaeology, for services to archaeology, to John Percival, FSA, lately Pro Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, for services to higher education, and to Philip Venning, FSA, Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) for services to conservation and heritage.

MBEs were awarded to Donald Moore, FSA, for services to archaeology and to Welsh cultural life, and to Timothy Strickland, FSA, for services to archaeology and the community of Middlewich, in Cheshire.

Overall, it was a good year for people of antiquarian interests, with Sir Denis Mahon, art historian, being admitted to the Order of the Companions of Honour, Nicholas Baring being made a CBE for charitable services, especially to the heritage, OBEs being awarded to Ed Bradley, for his work on the Stonehenge Improvement Scheme, to James Close, Deputy Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, for services to museums, to Ann David, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Manchester, for services to Egyptology, to Christopher Jones, lately Director of Operations at the British Museum, for services to museums, and to Julian Spicer, Director of the Heritage of London Trust, for services to architectural heritage and museums.

MBEs were awarded to Peter Bennett for services to heritage and education in the East Midlands, to Michael Carden for services to the conservation of the built heritage in Hampshire, to Frances Hindmarsh for services to heritage in the north east of England, to Penelope Hoare, Director of the Textile Conservation Centre at Southampton University, for services to museums and textile conservation, to Daniel Katz for charitable services, especially to the arts, to Daphne Lorimer, Chair of Orkney Archaeological Trust, for services to Scottish archaeology, to Rosemary Musgrave for services to the heritage of Clifton and Bristol, and (in the Overseas List) to James Finlayson for archaeological and museum services in Gibraltar.

Fellows’ news

It is with regret that we record the deaths of Canon Maurice Ridgeway, FSA, who passed away on 20 December 2002, of Michael Robbins, FSA, our President from 1987 to 1991, who passed away on 21 December 2002, of Arthur David Baynes-Cope, FSA, who passed way on 27 December 2002, and of Victor Watts, FSA, whose death was announced in The Times on 28 December 2002.

Peter Boughton, FSA, Keeper of Art and Architecture at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum
has provided the following obituary notice for Canon Ridgway. ‘The Reverend Canon Maurice H Ridgway was ordained in 1941 and served forty-one years in the Diocese of Chester as Vicar of Bunbury and then Bowdon. Elected FSA in 1952, his numerous publications included studies of medieval church woodwork in Wales, stained glass in Cheshire and the history of Beeston Castle. He is best known for his four books on silver: Chester Goldsmiths from early times to 1726 (1968), Chester Silver 1727-1837 (1985), Chester Silver 1837-1962 (1996) and Church Plate of the St Asaph Diocese (1997). His forthcoming Compendium of Marks on Chester Silver and Gold, compiled jointly with Philip Priestley, will provide a triumphant conclusion to a lifetime of scholarship. His work fundamentally informed the development of the pre-eminent collection of silver at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, which is displayed in the Ridgway Gallery, named in his honour and opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1992. Canon Ridgway's name will remain indissolubly associated with Chester silver, and his publications will be used as well as admired for generations to come.’

Obituaries for Michael Robbins appeared in several papers, describing him as a railwayman, an accomplished historian and a talented administrator. Michael spent much of his career in various senior positions at London Transport, overseeing the construction of the Victoria Line (from 1969), the Piccadilly line extension to Heathrow (opened 1977) and the Jubilee line (1970s). He nevertheless found time to write and lecture on transport subjects throughout his career, including such pioneering works of railway history as The Railway Age (1962) and the two-volume History of London Transport (1963 and 1974, with T C Barker). He was instrumental in the creation of the National Railway Museum in York (1975), and the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden (1980).

Among his many public offices, he served as a Governor of the newly founded Museum of London from 1968, and as Chairman of the Governors from 1979 to 1990. He was President of the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society from 1969 to 2002, Chairman of the Victorian Society from 1978 to 1981, and served on the Ancient Monuments Advisory Committee at English Heritage from 1986. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1957 and served as Treasurer in 1971, and as President from 1987 to 1991, where he is, perhaps, best remembered for encouraging the Society to sponsor the Sutton Hoo excavations from 1983 to 1992.

A memorial service for Michael Robbins will take place at St James Piccadilly on 19 March 2003 at 3pm.

J C Harrington Award in Historical Archaeology

Merrick Posnansky, FSA, Professor Emeritus UCLA, has been awarded the John Harrington Medal of the Society for Historical Archaeology for 2003. Established in 1981, the J C Harrington Award is named in honour of John Carl Harrington (1901-98), one of the pioneer founders of historical archaeology in North America. The award, which consists of an inscribed medal, is presented for a life-time of scholarly contributions to the discipline.

Royal Archaeological Institute Undergraduate Dissertation Prize

The Royal Archaeological Institute has announced that the Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner for 2002 is Chris King, formerly of the Department of Archaeology at Reading University, for his dissertation on ‘The organisation of social space in later mediaeval manor houses’. A cheque for �500 was presented to the winner at the December meeting of the RAI by our Director, Martin Millett. The bi-annual prize will next be awarded in 2004. Further details can be obtained from The Administrator, care of the Society of Antiqauries.

Launch of Library Appeals

The Society is not alone in needing a large sum of money to maintain its Library. In December the Royal Society of Arts launched a �0.5 million appeal to repair and restore the Adam ceilings within its John Adam Street house, and to relocate the Library to a purpose-built space. The ceilings of the Library are of great importance because they are one of the few surviving examples of Adam plasterwork from the original house of 1771. Settlement movement and water damage has caused large cracks to appear, putting the ceilings, and the staff who work in the Library, at risk. The first phase of work to stabilise the ceilings and prevent further deterioration was completed in the summer of 2001. This second phase will involve cleaning the panels attached to the Library ceiling with their school of Antonio Zucchi and Angelica Kaufmann roundel paintings. Further information is available on the RSA website at www.theRSA.org.

In Manchester, the John Rylands Library is seeking �3 million towards a redevelopment scheme that will add a modern extension to the existing Victorian Gothic building, completed on 1 January 1900. The redevelopment will add a modern extension on the side of the building, creating a reception area, atrium, cafe and shop. Essential structural repairs will begin this year, and it is hoped that work will be finished by autumn 2005. The Library has secured �8.19 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and has bid for European Regional Development Fund money. Among the Library’s many treasures is a Caxton Chaucer of 1476, the first book to be printed in England. Further information is available on the Library’s website at: rylibweb.man.ac.uk/.

Lectures and seminars

The Furniture History Society has announced that the topic for its forthcoming annual syposium will be royal thrones. The speakers will be Dr Paul Binski, FSA, of Caius College, Cambridge; Dr Maria Hayward of the Textile Conservation Centre, Southampton; Sir Hugh Roberts, FSA, Director of the Royal Collection; Christopher Rowell of the National Trust; Jean-Pierre Samoyault of the Mobilier National in Paris; Dr Eva Ottillinger of the Bundesministerium fur Wirtschaft und Arbeit in Vienna, and Dr Amin Jaffer of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The symposium takes place on Saturday 15 February at the Victoria and Albert Museum lecture theatre; the fee is �30 (or �25 for students and OAPs), and registration is at 10am. Tickets can be bought at the door, or apply to the Activities Secretary, Clarissa Ward, on furniturehistorysociety@hotmail.com.

Ptolemy Dean will deliver a Special Soane Lecture on ‘Sir John Soane in London: more than meets the eye’, on 23 January 2003, at 7pm, at the Royal College of Surgeons, 35–43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2. The lecture will describe the scale of Sir John Soane's London townhouse, including previously unpublished parts of Soane's extensive works at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, and the important and rich fragments of his public work in Westminster. Tickets cost �6 (�2 to students) and can be purchased on the door. For more information please contact William Palin, Assistant Curator, tel: 020 7440 4246, email: wpalin@soane.org.uk.

The Diocese of Lincoln is organising a training and information day on building maintenance for the 652 church buildings within the diocese on 22 March 2003, from 10am to 3pm, at the Riseholme Campus, University of Lincoln. Further details from The Ven Dr Tim W Ellis, tel: 01673 860382, email: arch.stowlind@virgin.net.

Good news for cathedrals

Estimates for urgent repair work to England’s forty-two Anglican and nineteen Catholic cathedrals have fallen from �100m to �50m in the last twelve years, English Heritage has announced. English Heritage signed a further �2 million in cheques at the beginning of 2003, including grants towards the repair of leaking roofs at Ripon, Salisbury, Norwich, and post-war Coventry.

Other grant recipients include Durham, for repairs to the north elevation of the Nine Altars Chapel, Hereford, for stonework repair to the east face of the Lady Chapel, Lincoln, for work on the Dean's Eye Window, Plymouth, for masonry repairs to the Victorian spire and tower of the Catholic cathedral, and Worcester, for roof, gutter and balustrade repairs on the shrine of St Oswald.

Wall painting found in Wells

A well-preserved wall painting of a woman in a low-cut gown, thought to date from the 1470s, has been discovered in the Bishop’s Palace at Wells, hidden within a three-foot void created when a ceiling was lowered in the nineteenth century. Historic buildings archaeologist Jerry Sampson described the subject as: ‘a woman dressed in the height of fashion in a low-cut, tight-waisted gown with her hair drawn back tightly into a net, on which there are extensive remains of gilding. A pale fawn area of drapery seems to belong to a butterfly headdress which, with the gown, suggests a date of around 1470 to 1485. Both the dress and position of the hands can be related to monumental brasses of the period’.

Mr Sampson said: It seems likely that the lady belongs either to a narrative sequence, such as that of Susannah and the Elders, or conceivably is a depiction of Mary Magdalene, who was generally shown dressed in the height of fashion, although her conventional symbol, the pot of ointment, is not in evidence. Further parts of the painting may emerge when post-medieval limewash is removed from the wall.

British Museum’s top exhibits

BBC viewers were invited to nominate their favourite British Museum artefacts in a programme broadcast on New Year’s Day and presented by Adam Hart Davis. The poll was limited to artefacts discovered in Britain. Top of the list were finds from the Sutton Hoo boat burial, followed, in order, by the Vindolanda tablets, the Lewis Chessmen, the Snettisham torcs, the Mildenhall treasure, the Mold gold cape, the Ringlemere/Rillaton Bronze-Age cups, the Hoxne hoard, the Fishpool hoard and the Cuerdale hoard.

Shortly after the programme was broadcast, the BBC announced that the British Museum was to be the subject of an eight-part documentary, to be broadcast in the autumn, to celebrate the museum’s 250th anniversary.

Meanwhile, a 94-year-old visitor to the Mildenhall Museum, in Suffolk, has told staff that a silver goblet that he helped to clean when the Mildenhall treasure was discovered in 1943 seems to be missing. Jack Thompson, of Mildenhall, was disappointed not to see the cup when he went to see a replica of the hoard on display at the museum.

Resource launches Museum Development Fund

Resource has launched a �2 million Museum Development Fund to enable the English Regional Agencies (RAs) to provide support for small and medium-sized local and community museums and galleries. Stuart Davies, Resource's Director of Strategy and Planning, said: ‘Grants will be awarded to projects that demonstrate a commitment to new or materially expanded museum development activities aimed at delivering agendas as laid out in Renaissance in the Regions. These may include learning programmes, outreach services and exhibitions that contribute to developing new audiences, particularly children and local communities’.

The Fund will be allocated over four years and divided pro-rata according to the number of registered museums in each region. Proposals are invited from the nine regions through the RAs or representative bodies where RAs do not yet exist. Proposals should be for a four-year programme of activity where possible. The awards to the regions will be announced at the beginning of March 2003.

Long list for the first �100,000 Gulbenkian prize

The first �100,000 Gulbenkian museum prize has attracted more than 100 entries, according to broadcaster and author Bamber Gascoigne, chairman of the judging panel, who last week announced the fourteen museum projects that are on the long list for the prize. The shortlist will be announced in March and the winner on 15 May. The prize combines the old Gulbenkian and Museum of the Year awards and is worth �40,000 more than the Turner and the Booker prizes.

Final contenders for the prize are: Banbury Museum and Tooley's Boatyard project, Oxfordshire; Brighton Museum and Art Gallery redevelopment; cast-iron sculpture workshops, Ironbridge Open Air Museum, Shropshire; The Collections, Communities and Memories community project, Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham; the Darwin Centre phase one, Natural History Museum, London; the Downland Gridshell, Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, Sussex; the Family Falmouth temporary exhibition, Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall; the Imperial War Museum North, Trafford, Manchester; the new Manchester Art Gallery; the National Centre for Citizenship, Galleries of Justice, Nottingham; the New Hackney Museum, London; and the RRSA Discovery renewal programme, Discovery Point, Dundee.

Art on the Line wins first William M B Berger Prize for British Art Histo

A worthy winner has emerged from the judging process to find the year’s most outstanding book, exhibition or exhibition catalogue dealing with British art. Judges have awarded the �5,000 prize to Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1936. Those who saw this exhibition, mounted at the Courtauld Institute Gallery between 18 October 2001 and 20 January 2002, were treated to a recreation of a typical Royal Academy summer exhibition of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a thrilling insight into the way that pictures were displayed and viewed at the time, and showing masterpieces by Turner and Constable, for example, within the context of the art that was being produced at the same time.

Professor David Solkin, curator of the exhibition, was presented with his prize (sponsored by The British Art Journal and the Berger Collection Educational Trust of Denver, Colorado) by Sir Roy Strong, at a ceremony held in the Courtauld Institute Gallery on 16 December 2002.

Roman warship found in Pisa

Archaeologists working in Pisa have uncovered an intact Roman warship, 12m (40 feet) in length, which Andrea Camilli, project director at the site, describes as ‘the best preserved antique ship aver found’. Camilli’s team have been working at a site just 500m from the Leaning Tower of Pisa discovered in 1998, when Italy’s state railway began sinking foundations for a new control centre and stumbled across the Porto delle Conche (Port of the Basins), located on a branch of the long-vanished River Auser. Sixteen ships have been identified at the site, including three cargo ships containing amphorae, glass beakers, mats and leather products, three river boats and the recently extracted warship, an oar-driven vessel, with reinforced prow designed for ramming. After conservation, the ships will be displayed in Pisa’s planned new Museum of Ancient Ships.

Vacancies

Public Record Office, Non-Executive Director: the PRO is seeking to recruit a non-executive Director. For full details, see the website: www.nonexec.com.

Director, The Hackney Society
Closing date: 20 January. Salary: NJC Scale PO1 �30,000

The Hackney Society was formed thirty years ago to involve and support local people in the regeneration and conservation of Hackney’s built environment and public spaces. The Director’s role is to take forward the strategic development of the organization. Further details from Lisa Rigg on tel: 020 7254 0212, or email: lisa@hackneysociety.org.

Portable Antiquities Scheme
Eight posts: Administrator, ICT Adviser, Finds Adviser (Prehistoric and Roman Objects), and Finds Liaison Officers for Bucks, Herts and Beds, Lincs, Staffs and West Midlands, and Surrey.
Closing date for all posts: 22 January 2003

Applications are being invited for eight posts (all three-year contracts), funded in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The main aim of the Scheme is to advance our knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales by establishing a system for the voluntary recording of finds of archaeological objects made by members of the public, including metal-detector users, and to increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology. The data is published on www.finds.org.uk and is made available to the relevant Sites and Monuments Record. A further twenty-one posts will be filled in two further batches in March and July 2003, joining the fourteen staff already in post. All post-holders will work closely with the Head and Deputy Head of Portable Antiquities. Further details of all eight posts can be obtained from the Resource website at www.resource.gov.uk/home/jobs.asp.

English Heritage, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments
Salary c �30,000. Closing date: 22 January 2003

To take curatorial responsibility for English-Heritage-owned buildings, contents, monuments and landscapes in London, including Chiswick House, Kenwood and Eltham Palace. Further details from Vicky Folan, Human Resources Department, Room 409, English Heritage, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET, quoting ref: LON/35/02.

English Heritage, Historic Areas Adviser
Salary c �30,000. Closing date: 31 January 2003

To act as a source of expert advice and contribute to area-based conservation grant schemes in Central and West London, especially with regard to properties at risk and areas in need of economic and environmental regeneration. Further details available by sending an A4 self-addressed envelope (no stamp needed) to Vicky Folan, Human Resources Department, Room 409, English Heritage, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET, quoting ref: LON/04/03.

English Heritage, Senior Architectural Conservator
Salary c �30,000. Closing date: 31 January 2003

To work as part of the interdisciplinary Building Conservation and Research Team. Applicants must be a chartered architect, building surveyor, or PACR-accredited architectural stone conservator with specialist postgraduate qualifications in conservation, with a minimum of ten years’ relevant work experience. Further details available by sending an A4 self-addressed envelope (no stamp needed) to Carole Arjoon, Human Resources Department, Room 409, English Heritage, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET, quoting ref: R/02/03.

University of Oxford, Edward Hall Professorship of Archaeological Science
Closing date: 3 February 2003

The professorship will be held in the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art and the professor will be head of the laboratory for a five-year period. The current research strengths of the laboratory are science-based dating, bio-molecular archaeology and materials analysis. Further details from: www.admin.ac.ox.uk/fp/ or from The Registrar, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JD.