Salon Archive

Issue: 44

Weekly meeting report

One of the far-reaching consequences of the Reformation was the rejection of liturgical textiles, whose role in the liturgy and in the decoration of English churches was drastically reduced from 1552. Drawing on her research into surviving vestments and into church inventories compiled for the 107 parishes of mid-sixteenth-century London, Dr Maria Hayward gave Fellows an account at this week�s meeting of the diversity of textiles in use just prior to the Reformation (including theatrical costumes and painted banners), the various fabric types and colours, the design motifs, and the subsequent sale and dispersal of this textile legacy.

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

20 February: �Urban Archaeology: where now? by Dr Peter Addyman, FSA

27 February: �Theodore Jacobsen, FSA (ob 1772): a Gentleman well versed in the Science of Architecture�, by Dr Alan Borg, FSA

No SALON next week

SALON is taking a half-term break next week, but will be back again on 3 March 2003. The weekly meeting report will appear as usual on the Society�s website, on Friday 21 February.

Antiquaries Journal back numbers

Oxfam has contacted the Society to say it has been donated twelve copies of the Antiquaries Journal dating from 1969 through to the 1970s. If anyone is trying to complete a run and is interested in making an offer, please contact Lisa Elliott: lisa.elliott@sal.org.uk.

Stonehenge built by the Swiss?

That was just one of the headlines used last week to convey the news that the Amesbury Archer (aka the �King of Stonehenge�) discovered near Stonehenge last year was a Central European migrant. The Sun greeted the news with the headline �Stone me. Henge is foreign�, while The Express printed a picture of Stonehenge with an inset of a large German in lederhosen and captioned it 'Steinhenge�.

Even Maev Kennedy of The Guardian fell in with the prevailing mood of punning jocularity, claiming that the Archer imported �cutting edge� continental technology into prehistoric Wiltshire, while the team on Radio 4�s News Quiz joked that his skill in melting copper ore and fashioning the metal into knives meant he could be the true inventor of the Swiss army knife!

More sober accounts appeared in the broadsheet newspapers, saying that tests on the tooth enamel of the Amesbury Archer revealed that he was born and grew up in the Alps, somewhere in the region of modern-day Switzerland, Austria or Germany. �Different ratios of oxygen isotopes form on teeth in different parts of the world and the ratio found on these teeth prove they were from somebody from the Alps region,� said Tony Trueman from Wessex Archaeology.

Andrew Fitzpatrick, FSA, whose Wessex Archaeology team made the discovery last year, said that �Archaeologists have long suspected that people from the continent of Europe initiated the trade that first brought metal working to Britain; this find is important proof that a culture imported from the continent helped bring Britain out of the Stone Age�.

Dr Fitzpatrick went on to say that: �He was clearly of the highest status in his community, and there is an inescapable connection with metalwork. To the people of those days somebody who could take lumps of rock from the ground and transform them into metal objects would have seemed an alchemist, a magician. I think it may not be too far-fetched to believe that that is how he was seen�.

The Archer was aged between thirty-five and forty-five when he died, and of a strong build. A second skeleton of a younger mans, aged twenty to twenty-five, was also found close to the first grave. Bone analysis shows that the two were related � possibly even father and son. Isotopes from the younger man�s teeth suggested that he was probably born in the UK, and had spent time in the Midlands and in Scotland, as well as in the Stonehenge area.

Buried about 2300 BC, the Archer was surrounded by over a hundred grave goods, including a slate wrist guard found next to his forearm, a bone pin next to his hip that may have held a leather cloak or mantle, and a copper knife, which was probably worn in a leather sheath across his chest. Alongside were found flint tools, including fire starters, arrowheads and scrapers. The Archer probably carried these tools in a small bag of leather or cloth. Boar tusks, beakers, a smaller copper knife, another wrist guard, a shale belt ring, a whetstone, stone arrowheads and a red deer spatula, which would have been used to work the flints, were also found in the grave.

Intriguingly, some of the gold ornaments buried with the Archer were already 170 years old at the time of burial, suggesting that antiquarian sensibility and an affection for old objects were already alive in the third millennium BC. The copper knives interred in the grave came from France and Spain, indicating just how extensive the trade networks of the early Bronze Age were.

The excavation will feature in a Meet The Ancestors programme to be broadcast on BBC2 on 19 February at 9pm.

Francis Pryor to star in Britain BC

Francis Pryor, FSA, is the latest Fellow to be given his own TV show, with a two-part series called Britain BC, to be broadcast on Thursdays 20 and 27 February, at 9pm on Channel 4. Francis �looks like a man who would be at home in a distant era�, says one preview, and another says that he is �a man with a mission: to prove that Britain before the Romans was not a mystical land of woad-faced barbarians, but a highly developed 1,000-year-old island civilisation with perfectly good roads, laws and language�. The series attempts to discover �why we persist in rejecting our ancient past, in favour of the belief that British history began with Julius Caesar�.

Viewers of this week�s Time Team from Bath will have seen a perfect illustration of Francis�s thesis. Pre-Roman Bath was characterised as nothing but �a muddy wet hole�, and evidence for Bronze Age and Iron Age occupation of the hill, on which the Royal Crescent now sits, was dismissed as disappointing (because not Roman). Worse still, nothing at all was made of Stuart Ainsworth�s deduction that the reason why the Fosse Way deviated from its expected route through Bath was that it was built on top of a Bronze-Age road that was still a major landscape feature 1,000 years after its construction. So what did the Romans do for us? Certainly not roads, as Francis will no doubt ably prove.

Richard Allan to introduce bill to curb illicit antiquities trade

Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan is introducing a Private Members Bill that will make trading in illicit archaeological artefacts a serious criminal offence, with a maximum penalty of seven years� imprisonment. He wants a total ban on the sale of archaeological artefacts without a certificate of provenance. �This would make it harder for those who steal artefacts to sell their ill-gotten gains�, he says.

The Bill is aimed at clamping down on metal detectorists who scour the countryside in search of treasure, and on shady London dealers who trade in cultural artefacts from overseas. In 2000 alone, the Metropolitan police say they have seized suspect articles worth �22 million in raids, including looted antiquities from Nigeria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Bill has the backing of the Government and of Britain�s foremost archaeologists. Time Team�s Tony Robinson has also welcomed it as an attempt to �provide the historical environment with the same protection we now offer the natural one�.

�5m Rose theatre restoration plan

In 1988, our Fellow Harvey Sheldon directed an excavation that uncovered the well-preserved foundations of Phillip Henslowe�s 1587 Rose theatre, including the footings of the stage on which Shakespeare�s play, �Harey the vj� (�Henry VI�) was first performed in 1592 (perhaps with Shakespeare himself taking one of the parts).

Angered at the thought that the theatre would be bulldozed away, Susannah York, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen led a passionate public campaign to save the theatre, as a result of which the office block planned for the site was redesigned to provide a concrete vault protecting the remains.

One important result of that protest was the framing of PPG 16, ably guided by our Treasurer, Geoff Wainwright, which has largely succeeded in preventing the subsequent destruction of nationally important archaeological remains.

The Rose, meanwhile, has been forgotten, buried for fifteen years under protective sheeting and a thick layer of sand. Only last Friday - 14 February 2003 � did Susannah York return to the site to announce an ambitious �5m project to complete the excavation and preserve the remains on site as a permanent visitor attraction.

Harvey Sheldon, now chairman of the Rose Theatre Trust, said: �we missed a unique opportunity in 1989; we must not miss it again now�.

Titian is a hit

Fellow David Jaffe, Chief Curator at the National Gallery, used unscholarly language last week to deliver his verdict on the Titian exhibition due to open on Wednesday, saying: �He's the tops, the greatest. Awe-inspiring, gob-smacking. He�s the goods.�

In an age when conceptual art sometimes seems more popular than the art of the High Renaissance, audiences have nevertheless been flocking to buy advance tickets for the blockbuster show, which brings together works from all over the world that have not been together for 475 years, including four paintings made for the Duke of Ferrara�s Alabaster Chamber.

David Jaffe, who spent two years planning the exhibition, thinks Titian is one of the world�s all-time great artists: �He painted until the day he died aged 93 - one of the longest painting lives we know of - but he never took things for granted, never just churned out another painting. Every time he took up his paintbrush, he tried something new. He was a marvel�.

The Titian exhibition opens at the National Gallery, London, on 19 February and continues to 18 May. It is open daily, and until 9pm Wednesday to Saturday. Further information can be found at: www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/titian

Van Dyck's devoted couple reunited

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent of The Guardian, wrote an appropriately romantic story for the newspaper�s St Valentine�s Day edition. This concerned William and Mary Killigrew, friends of Charles I, who fell foul of the Puritans and plunged so deep into poverty that, in 1655, Mary went back to living with her family, leaving her husband heartbroken. To a friend he wrote: �All our frends doe knowe that in thirty yeares beinge Maried we have never had one discontent or anger between us. [I] doe desire nothinge in this world more then to have my Wife live [with] me.�

Now the devoted pair have been reunited, thanks to the Tate, which bought Sir William's portrait by Van Dyke last year, then set about tracing that of his wife. This could have taken years of scholarship, but Mary resurfaced unexpectedly in a New York auction room a month ago. The Tate managed to raise the �418,438 purchase price, helped by a grant of �80,000 from the Art Fund charity.

The couple now hang side by side in the conservation studios of the Tate in London and will be exhibited by Tate Britain later this year as the artist, Anthony Van Dyck, intended. Linked by the same romantic landscape, Mary is flatteringly depicted as a child of nature in a russet gown, positively girlish given that they had already had seven children, while William leans against a classical column, an allusion to his scholarly qualities.

Biggest and earliest are dangerous words

Last week�s Ananova report on Europe�s �biggest ever� Bronze Age hoard brought a reminder from John Nandris that �biggest and �earliest� have a fatal attraction in the archaeological profession but are claims that are rarely sustained. �As usual, we can do better than that in Transylvania�, he says, �particularly during the final Bronze Age, when those Bronze Age hordes really got substantial hauls of metal together. The hoard of foundry scrap from Uioara de Sus (a site now lost under Ocna Muresului) has been in Cluj Museum for over half a century, and it weighs more than a ton.�

Book now for Kelmscott weekend on 9 to 11 May 2003

Places are still available on the Rewley House weekend that will take an in-depth look at every aspect of the Kelmscott landscape, from the historic ecology and ancient monuments of the parish, to its village, houses, church and manor, and the role that Kelmscott played (as home to William Morris) in influencing our idea of Englishness and forming the philosophy of the conservation movement.

For Fellows, this is an opportunity to learn more about one of the Society�s most treasured possessions, and to hear the results of recent research by Fellows into the Kelmscott environment. Speakers from the Fellowship include Malcolm Airs, Tom Hassall, Peter Salway, Nicholas Cooper, Linda Parry, Julian Munby, Mary Hodges and John Cherry.

For information contact the Day School Administrator at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education on ppdayweek@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Soil scientists investigate site of Trojan battlefield

Speaking on Radio 4�s Science in Action programme last week, John Luce from Trinity College Dublin, explained the results of a systematic programme of drilling work undertaken by an international team of soil scientists attempting to document landscape changes around the supposed site of Troy, in north-western Turkey.

The researchers drilled sediments to map how the coastline would have looked around the city more than 2,000 years ago, at the probable time of the Trojan War. When they compared their findings with Homer�s descriptions of the Trojan plain, they found a close match, leading Dr Luce to conclude that �the Homeric picture of the fighting at Troy is in close accord with the geological findings�.

Homer's account sets Troy on a large inlet of the Aegean Sea, but the ancient settlement of Ilium - claimed in the 1870s as the site of Troy by Heinrich Schliemann - lies well inland of the coast. Dr Luce now believes that the Homeric inlet became silted up with enormous quantities of deposits brought down by the great rivers of Scamander and Simois, pushing the coastline back to its present-day position.

The research is described in more detail on the BBC website at news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2736059.stm.

Archaeologists find grave of early British settler in US

Archaeologists working at the fort in Jamestown, Virginia, believe they have found the grave of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, friend of Sir Walter Raleigh and one of the leaders of the 1606/7 expedition to �plant an Inglishe nation� in Chesapeake Bay. Artefacts found in the grave have been identified as belonging to Gosnold, who died of an unexplained sickness in August 1607 and, according to the expedition�s chronicler, was �honourably buried, having all the ordnance of the fort shot off with many vollies of small shot�.

As Captain of the Godspeed, Gosnold was second-in-command to Captain Christopher Newport in the three-ship fleet that landed the 107 Virginia Company settlers at Jamestown in May 1607. All but forty of the settlers died during that summer of 1607 from a mystery disease that only stopped when John Smith agreed to trade with the Native American chief, Powhatan, and the settlers began to receive supplies of fresh fruit, water, bread and fish.

The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, which has been excavating the Jamestown fort area since 1994, is arranging DNA tests to compare the remains to Gosnold's descendants.

Culture strategy for London

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has launched a draft �Culture strategy for London�, to cover the next ten years. The 170-page discussion document has four main objectives: excellence, creativity, access and value, and underpinning all of these is the principle of diversity.

The report assembles a wealth of data on culture in the capital. London�s cultural and creative sector generates revenue of over �25 billion a year, providing more than 500,000 jobs. Among the numerous facts and figures are that the city has three World Heritage Sites, 150 scheduled monuments, �twice as many museums as Paris or New York�, 200 arts events every day, and �more paper conservation studios than in the rest of Europe put together�. In recent years more than �600 million has been invested in London�s cultural facilities.

The report draws attention to places where action is needed, including the South Bank Centre, where the buildings have suffered from a lack of investment in their fabric, and the cluster of museums in South Kensington where, the report admits, �the environment around the individual museums is of very poor quality�.

There is little that the Mayor can actually do, since his budget for culture is extremely limited. The aim of the report is therefore to highlight what needs to be done in the form of an Action Plan, and then cajole the organizations involved in running London�s cultural activities to come up with the money, Among those publicly supporting the Mayor�s strategy is Fellow Charles Saumarez Smith, Director of the National Gallery.

Copies of the draft report can be obtained from tel: 020 7983 4777.

Leonardo da Vinci research project

The Art Newspaper reports this week that Professor Martin Kemp, the Oxford-based art historian, is hoping to launch a detailed technical study of all works attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, to be completed in time for a series of Leonardo exhibitions scheduled for venues across Europe in 2006. The Universal Leonardo Project is still at an early stage, but initial backing has come from Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire who bought the �Codex Leicester� for $31 million (�19.1 million) in 1994. The plan is to set up a London office in May, at Saint Martin�s College of Art and Design, where Professor Kemp�s colleague Marina Wallace is based. It is hoped that the Council of Europe will shortly agree to back the project, providing both funding and its imprimatur on the international venture.

The Universal Leonardo Project will seek to verify the authorship of some twenty-two works attributed to Leonardo, including unfinished works and those done in collaboration with other artists. The project will examine the artist�s technique using infra-red reflectography, which makes it possible to see the underdrawing. Researchers will also look for the artist�s fingerprints, which have recently been found on several Leonardo paintings. One theory is that Leonardo may have achieved some of his sfumato effect by using his fingers and hand on the wet paint.

For 2006, the Victoria and Albert Museum is planning an exhibition on �Leonardo: Imagination, Experiment and Design�, to examine the artist�s use of paper as a vehicle for his thoughts. The V&A has the Forster Codices, but it hopes for loans from the Royal Collection, the British Museum and the British Library.

The other main UK event will be �The Oxford dimension�, a series of displays at four venues in the university town. The Ashmolean Museum and Christ Church College both have important groups of Leonardo drawings. Magdalene College chapel houses the best of the early full-scale copies of the Last Supper, on loan from the Royal Academy. The Museum of the History of Science has a notable collection of Renaissance scientific instruments.

British Academy lecture

Professor Brian Pullan will be delivering the British Academy�s Italian Lecture on 19 February on the subject of �Charity and Usury: Jewish and Christian lending in Renaissance and early modern Italy�, at 5.30pm. The lecture takes place at the British Academy�s premises at 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1. Further information can be found on the BA�s website at www.britac.ac.uk.

News from Sir John Soane�s Museum

Sir John Soane�s Museum is mounting a series of events this year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Soane�s birth (on 10 September 1753). The Concise Catalogue - of some 30,000 architectural, topographical and ornamental drawings in Soane�s collection (except those of Robert and James Adam) - has just gone on-line on the Museum�s website (www.soane.org). In February work will start on the restoration of the three small courtyards to the rear of Nos 12, 13 and 14 Lincoln�s Inn Fields. Later in the year, work will also start on the restoration of the crypt and then of No. 14. All are to be returned as nearly as is possible to the state in which Soane left them.

On 14 February a new exhibition will open at the museum, concerned with the wooden bridges of Switzerland, which Soane saw in 1778 as a young architecture student undertaking his Grand Tour. The bridges, constructed in the 1760s and 1770s by the Grubenmann brothers, and others, so fascinated Soane that he referred to them constantly in his Royal Academy lectures as exemplars of innovative design. The exhibition looks at bridge construction since antiquity, and traces the influence of bridges on Soane�s imagination and career as a teacher. As well as drawings, documents and prints, the exhibition will feature three mid-eighteenth-century models of bridges attributed to Hans Ulrich Grubenmann. The exhibition continues until 19 April.

On 24 April, another exhibition at the museum traces the career of sculptor John Flaxman (1755-1826), who was widely admired here and on the Continent in the early nineteenth century and who carved some of Britain�s finest monuments, including that of Nelson in St Paul�s Cathedral. The exhibition will include many of Flaxman�s own drawings, including those he made whilst living in Rome, as well as the original designs for his illustrations to works by Homer and Aeschylus.