Reflecting on some thirty years of work at the leading edge of urban archaeology, Dr Peter Addyman, FSA, founder of the York Archaeological Trust, told Fellows at the weekly meeting on 20 February that there had been nothing short of a revolution in funding and in our understanding of the past. Nevertheless, we were faced with many major challenges: replacing rescue archaeology with research strategies, clearing up the backlog of publication, providing adequate archiving facilities, and defining areas of towns where the archaeological resource was so important that we shouldnï¿½t dig or build on them at all.
Workmanlike rather than inspired, was the verdict of Dr Alan Borg, FSA, on the work of gentleman architect, Theodore Jacobsen, FSA (ob 1772). Speaking at the Thursday meeting on 27 February, Dr Borg pieced together Jacobsenï¿½s portfolio of buildings in London and Ireland, including East India Company House, the Foundling Hospital, and Trinity College Dublin, showing that a tightï¿½knit circle of friends had worked on these and other institutional buildings during the 1740s and 1750s, their merits being that the buildings were well-thought out, and built to tight budgets on time.
A full account of both meetings can be found on the Fellowsï¿½ side of the Societyï¿½s website at www.sal.org.uk.
6 March: Ballot: Among the exhibits, Paul Craddock, FSA, of the British Museum, will show ï¿½Britainï¿½s first brass: an Iron Age Sword from Syon Reachï¿½.
13 March: Meols: long-term settlement and trade in the Irish Sea coastal margin, by Dr David Griffiths
It is with sadness that we report the death of the Rev William Maynard Atkins, FSA, on 13 February 2003,at the age of 92.
Fellows are reminded that the reception that follows the Anniversary meeting on 8 May is a ticket-only event, since the ground-floor rooms at Burlington House are only able to accommodate 100 people. Fifty-two tickets have already been sold, so if you wish to reserve one of the remaining forty-eight, please contact Lisa Elliott by email at: email@example.com.
Fellow David Gaimster writes to say that Richard Allanï¿½s private memberï¿½s bill, designed to create a new criminal offence of illicit dealing in cultural objects, was talked out by Tory Whips (led by Eric Forth) in the Commons on 7 February. Lord Renfrew, FSA, drew attention to the loss of the Bill in the Lords debate on the annual report of the Export Committee on the Export of Works of Art on 20 February. He pointed out that the Whipsï¿½ behaviour was particularly unacceptable given that the Bill has cross-party and cross-sectoral support ï¿½ not only is it Conservative party policy to support the bill, DCMS has also said that it has the Governmentï¿½s full support.
Richard Allan (who is Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam and a graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge, with a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology) is hoping to get more time for debating the Bill on 4 April. If this fails, members of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group in the Lords will consider attaching the offence as an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.
George Lambrick, FSA, Director of the Council for British Archaeology, writes to inform Fellows that DCMS has officially announced the much-expected (pre-determined?) merger of the Community Fund with the New Opportunities Fund. In its summary of the consultation responses, DCMS says that there was ï¿½cautious support for a possible merger of the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fundï¿½. The merger will mean that 50 per cent of all lottery money will now be distributed by a single body.
The press release may also indicate that DCMS is considering further mergers. Tessa Jowell is quoted as saying: ï¿½These results [of the consultation] chime with our own thinking, which is why I am so keen to go ahead with the mooted proposal to merge the Community Fund with NOF. The result would be a single community distributor. A single brand. A single front door for would-be applicants ... and I am thinking hard about whether to extend the single brand principle right across the distributorsï¿½.
It is worth remembering that NOF is a significant source of funds for the heritage. Amongst the projects that it is funding is a huge nationwide programme to digitize local history archives, in order to enable remote access via the internet. In their responses to the recent lottery consultation, many heritage bodies expressed concern at the idea of the creation of one single lottery distributor, fearing that the historic environment would lose out to more populist causes.
The full press release can be found at: www.gnn.gov.uk/gnn/national.nsf/Today's+Releases+Frame/79626837F36C3D9B80256CD800359AB2?opendocument.
Following the announcement by Tessa Jowell in December that DCMS was to undertake a comprehensive review of the listed buildings and scheduled monuments designation regime, further details have emerged of the timetable and process for the review. Gillian Ashmore, a former civil servant and now a consultant, will project manage the review for DCMS, working with Peter Beacham, Head of Designation at English Heritage. The time from now until the end of May will be spent in fact-finding and interviewing stakeholders. A public consultation document is expected in early July, with responses required by early October. Recommendations based on the responses will then be drawn up for publication early in 2004.
Two teams of advisers have been set up: a small steering committee consisting of practitioners with detailed knowledge of the existing regimes, and a larger sounding board, on which the CBA, the IFA and Heritage Link are represented, amongst other historic environment sector bodies.
A parallel review is being undertaken by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to consider the practicalities of merging planning and listed building consent into a single regime. A central dilemma in the system is that the presumption against damaging change enshrined in the listed building regime is in competition with the assumption of the planning regime that consent will be granted. Consultants Halcrow are undertaking research to understand the scale of the problem ï¿½ in some cities, such as Bath, almost every planning application has to be accompanied by a separate application for listed buildings consent. Our Fellow Matthew Saunders is a member of the steering group. The review process is expected to follow a similar timetable to that of the designation review.
Heritage Open Days, the scheme that encourages the public to take an interest in architecture, urban and interior design, is looking for owners willing to allow access to their property or to organize tours, lectures and events. Run by the Civic Trust with sponsorship from English Heritage, Heritage Open Days will take place on 12-15 September 2003, and there will be considerable publicity for the event on BBC2. The Civic Trust provides comprehensive support and guidance and free insurance for registered properties and events. For further information, see the Civic Trust website at www.heritageopendays.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Far less welcome is the news that Channel 4 intends to go ahead with its controversial Big Dig programme, also known as Test Pit Challenge. Members of the public throughout the UK will be invited to dig a one-metre-square ï¿½test pitï¿½ on land they own over the weekend of 28/29 June. Quite apart from the potential damage that this can do to the historic environment (especially if people get the ï¿½treasure huntingï¿½ bug and start random digging under less-controlled conditions) there is very real concern that over-stretched archaeologists, SMR officers and museums staff will be faced with a huge amount of extra work, ensuring that land registered for the dig is not a known archaeological site, identifying finds, and so on.
Many archaeologists who were ambivalent about the Valetta Conventionï¿½s proposal to licence all excavation are now beginning to wonder whether Valetta should not be implemented in full after all.
Last Friday saw the closing date for responses to the Governmentï¿½s consultation on the next stage in the development of agri-environment schemes. Leading heritage bodies, including the CBA and English Heritage, have made submissions, welcoming the Governmentï¿½s proposal to place greater emphasis within the schemes on the conservation of the historic environment, and stressing the need for expert input from historic environment specialists into future schemes.
Steve Trow, responding on behalf of English Heritage, said: ï¿½We believe if the new scheme framework is to reach its full delivery potential in terms of the historic environment, the current severe limitations in the capacity of advisory services for the historic environment (for archaeology and for historic buildings and landscapes) must be addressed. These limitations in capacity extend not only to English Heritage, but also to DEFRA and to those advisory organisations funded by DEFRA. Most crucially they include our partners in local authorities who provide the ï¿½backboneï¿½ of the historic environment advisory service. This is not a problem that can be addressed by English Heritage alone. It will require concerted action by the DCMS and DEFRA, and by others in the historic environment sector.
The threat of war in Iraq is already taking its toll on cultural research. Paul Arthur, FSA, writes to say that not only is there a threat to archaeology from bombing and from looting if war does break out, but also that it is proving nearly impossible to dig anywhere in the Middle East at present because insurers are unwilling to provide insurance for students and researchers ï¿½ even those visiting Israel, Egypt and southern Turkey.
In the UK it was announced last week that a major exhibition of Islamic art, long planned to open at the Hermitage Rooms in Somerset House on 1 May, would not now go ahead. Lord Rothschild, Chairman of the Trustees, told staff last week that the cancellation was due to the threat of attracting attention from ï¿½the wrong sort of peopleï¿½. Newspapers reported that staff were upset because they felt the exhibition would contribute to a better understanding of Islam. An unnamed spokeswoman for the Hermitage Rooms gave a more mundane explanation for the cancellation, saying that potential sponsors had been deterred by the current climate of potential conflict, and that it had proved very difficult to raise sponsorship for the exhibition of religious artefacts, textiles, jewellery and books.
As the Titian exhibition at the National Gallery wins praise from every quarter, Resource has made the timely announcement that Titianï¿½s Venus Anadyomene has been accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax. The painting will remain on display at the National Gallery of Scotland (NGS) where it has been since 1945, when the 6th Duke of Sutherland placed it on long-term loan. The actual value of the painting is well in excess of the tax liability of ï¿½2.4 million. As a result the NGS has had to raise an additional ï¿½11.6m and this has been secured partly through a grant of ï¿½7.6m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The National Art Collections Fund has given one of its largest grants - of ï¿½500,000 - and the Scottish Executive has contributed a special grant of ï¿½2.5m in recognition of the importance of the Sutherland paintings to the NGS collection. The Gallery has also contributed ï¿½1m of its own funds.
Minister of State for the Arts, Tessa Blackstone, has placed a temporary bar on the export of a portrait of Richard Arkwright Junior with his wife Mary and daughter Anne, painted in 1790 by Joseph Wright of Derby. The Ministerï¿½s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art that the export decision be deferred. This reflects the inseverable connection of the sitter to the development of industrial power in the Derwent Valley, and the historical importance of the resulting cultural landscape. The deferral will enable purchase offers to be made at the agreed fair market price of ï¿½1,217,500 (inclusive of VAT).
The bar stays in place until 18 April 2003. The deferral period could be extended until after 18 August 2003 if there is a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase. For full details, see the DCMS website at www.dcms.gov.uk/heritage/index.html and click on ï¿½Press Releasesï¿½ at the bottom of the web page.
A one-day conference entitled ï¿½Opening Doors: web portals for the historic environment' will be held on 17 June 2003 at the British Museum. Jointly hosted by the Historic Environment Information Resources Network (HEIRNET) and the British Museum, the conference will explore initiatives by heritage agencies, museums, universities and professional bodies to provide integrated access to their own and related content to serve the needs of their users.
The emphasis of the day will be on developing an overview and considering ways of serving user communities now and in the future ï¿½ technological aspects will be kept to a minimum. This conference will be a good opportunity to explore solutions, to share experiences and create a basis for future partnerships. Speakers will include Fellows Liz Hallam Smith, Julian Richards, David Dawson and Roger Bland.
A booking form and more information about the programme can be found at: www.britarch.ac.uk/heirnet/conference.html or by contacting Kate Fernie by email at email@example.com.
A conference is to be held on British collectors of sculpture, from 1700 onwards, on 19 and 20 May 2003. The conference is being organized by the National Trust, the Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The first day will be at the Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London, and the second at Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge.
Speakers include Jeremy Warren, Charles Avery, Julius Bryant, Jonathan Marsden, Helen Dorey, David Watkin, Alastair Laing, Tim Knox, Robert Wenley, Edward Morris, Rebecca Naylor and Timothy Clifford, Marjorie Trusted, Tim Llewellyn and Cyril Humphris.
For further information please contact Robert Wenley on tel: 020 7563 9559, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tim Knox on tel: 020 7447 6506, email: email@example.com.
Susan Palmer, archivist at the Sir John Soane Museum, has supplied further details of the concise catalogue of drawings now on-line at the museumï¿½s website (www.soane.org) and launched at the start of the 250th anniversary year of Soaneï¿½s birth. Researchers will now be able to check the contents of the drawings collection on-line before making a Library appointment.
The catalogue contains some 30,000 entries and consists not only of drawings from John Soaneï¿½s own architectural practice (including the celebrated watercolours he commissioned to illustrate his Royal Academy lectures) but also of drawings by other architects and artists collected by Soane up until his death in 1837. Architects represented in the collection include the Jacobean John Thorpe, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir William Chambers, George Dance the Elder and Younger, James Playfair, John Carr and William Kent as well as lesser-known names such as Henry Hakewill, Thomas and Joseph Bateman and Launcelot Dowbiggin Junior. The collection includes architectural perspectives by Piranesi, C-L Clï¿½risseau and J M Gandy and work by topographical artists such as John Robert Cozens, George Cooper, Richard Dalton and Edward Dodwell. Students of sculpture will be interested in a volume of designs for monuments by Scheemakers, Rysbrack, Nollekens and others, while those whose interest lies in the field of ornamental drawings will wish to see details of several volumes of English, French and Italian designs dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The only drawings not included are Soaneï¿½s collection of drawings by Robert and James Adam.
Images are not included on the website, but the catalogue is designed to accompany a set of microfilms of the drawings, which has been available for some years from ProQuest Information and Learning (formerly Chadwyck-Healey) and already purchased by a number of libraries in the UK and overseas (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details).
For more information about the Concise Catalogue of Drawings and for images contact Susan Palmer, the Archivist, on tel: 020 7440 4245 or email email@example.com.
Wessex Archaeology, Chief Executive
Salary: ï¿½40,000+, application closing date 12 March 2003
One of the most important jobs in British field archaeology was advertised this week following the decision by Fellow Andrew Lawson to pursue a career as a writer and consultant, after more than two decades at the helm of Wessex Archaeology. Andrewï¿½s successor will be responsible for the management of a large and successful archaeological business, and needs to have proven leadership qualities, demonstrable business skills and a high standing in the historic environment community. Applications in writing, marked ï¿½Private and confidentialï¿½, including a CV and the names of two referees, should be sent to The Chairman, Trust for Wessex Archaeology Ltd, Portway House, Old Sarum Park, Salisbury SP4 6EB, by Wednesday 12 March 2003.
Fulham Palace Project Director
Salary ï¿½40,269 ï¿½ ï¿½43,269, application closing date 12 March 2003
A project manager with substantial experience of historic building refurbishment is needed to lead the four-year programme of works to restore the Grade-I listed Fulham Palace, along with its museum and garden. For further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 020 8753 3415.
Nottingham City Council, Assistant Director, Cultural Services, salary to ï¿½53,700 (Ref: LC8809/G); Museums and Galleries Service Manager, salary to ï¿½36,204 (Ref: LC8810/G); Wollaton Hall and Park, General Manager, salary to ï¿½30,297 (Ref: LC8811/G); application closing date 21 March 2003
For further information about these three key posts, contact Claire Hands of Tribal GWT for an information pack by email on email@example.com or by tel: 0121 685 0808.
The Historic Churches Preservation Trust is looking for partners to share a new office. The Trust has found a heritage property on the edge of the City of London, with an asking rent of ï¿½22 per square foot. They need a partner to take on about 1,000 feet and a shared meeting room. The property is immaculate order, but is on three floors without a lift, so would not suit anyone for whom the Disability Discrimination Act features large (eg a charity that needs to give access to the general public to carry out its business). For further information, contact James Blott by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Times reported this week that builders in Berkhamsted, Herts, who thought they had a acquired a Victorian shop on the High Street, have instead ended up with Englandï¿½s second-oldest dated building (after the Jewï¿½s House, of 1160, in Lincoln). Noticing that there was a considerable discrepancy between the external and internal measurements, the builders began investigating and discovered a crown-post roof, and other structural timbers that have now been dated by dendrochronology to the period 1277 to 1297. Fellow John Schofield described the find as an exceptional survival, since it fills in the missing record of what a thirteenth-century shop cum house would have looked like. English Heritage has provided a ï¿½250,000 grant for the building to be studied further and to enable the thirteenth-century structure to be preserved when the building is converted to a flat and office.