Salon Archive

Issue: 46

Weekly meeting report

This week�s meeting took the form of a ballot, at which Paul Craddock, FSA exhibited a late third-century BC Iron-Age sword from Syon Reach, bearing two foil-covered stamps that represent the first known use of brass (an alloy of bronze and zinc) in Britain, and the General Secretary exhibited a wooden model of the ancient baths at Lipari, presented to the Society in 1830, to discuss the use of models as a means of communicating antiquarian information in the nineteenth century.

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

13 March: Meols: long-term settlement and trade in the Irish Sea coastal margin, by Dr David Griffiths. After the meeting, the Society will be welcoming the widow and family of the late Hugh Thompson, former General Secretary, to commemorate the publication of Hugh�s posthumously published book entitled The Archaeology of Greek and Roman Slavery. Fellows are welcome to join the reception that follows the weekly meeting.

20 March: Museums and National Identity in Post-Devolution Wales by Paul Loveluck. Fellows are reminded that this meeting is an away day, to be held at the National Museum and Gallery in Cardiff.

New Fellows

As a result of the ballot on 6 March, the following have all been elected Fellows of the Society:

Alan Simon Esmond Cleary
Barbara Wascher Fash
Christian Theuerkauff
Duncan Harrington
Rosemary Sweet
Richard Catling
Grace McCombie
Ian Riddler
Kieran O�Conor
Bruce Redford
Carmen Blacker
David Coke
Elspeth Veale
Evan Gwilym Hughes
Roger Cline
Jonathan Horne
Patrick Wormald
Frank Meddens
Catherine Cubitt
Christine Graves.

Fellows� news

Prior to the meeting on Thursday, the General Secretary announced the sad news of the death of David Peace, FSA, who, amongst other interests, was a glass engraver. The glass bowl that is used for counting votes cast at ballots was donated by David, and was engraved by him with the Society�s name and lamp, serving as a memento of his skill and continuing presence.

It is with sadness that we also report the death of Pauline Fenley, FSA, and of John Chevenix Trench, FSA. John was the author of several novels, wrote on the early history of the Chilterns and on Buckinghamshire�s timber-framed buildings and was, for many years, the editor of the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society�s journal, the Records of Bucks.

Kelmscott Manor website

Work to design a new website for Kelmscott Manor has come to fruition this week with the launch of the new-look site, with greatly enhanced information about the manor and a state-of-the-art online shopping facility. It is hoped that the site will eventually contribute to the Society�s objectives by providing educational materials associated with William Morris and his designs. Would-be visitors can now check on opening dates and times, and shoppers all over the world can select gifts and books at their convenience. The only thing that hasn�t changed is the site address: it can be accessed from the Society�s website www.sal.org.uk or directly at www.kelmscottmanor.co.uk.

Test Pit Challenge

Time Team has responded to last week�s item on the ambivalence that many archaeologists feel towards the forthcoming �Test Pit Challenge� by asking the profession to reserve judgement until full details have been announced. The programme is now to be called �The Big Dig�, and the Time Team website, with information on how to get involved, will go live on Sunday 16 March at www.channel4.com/history/timeteam/test_pit.html. This will explain how the scheme will work � and the members of Time Team are confident that others in the profession will be reassured once they see the detail. Fellow Mick Aston says he is quite happy to defend limited test pitting as a proper exercise, provided that the recording mechanism is robust. The aim is not to encourage uncontrolled digging, but rather to address the question of how to involve the public at large in archaeology, responding to the large numbers of people who watch Time Team and would like to enjoy the experience of hands-on archaeology for themselves.

Volunteers wanted

The Shovel Down Project, on Dartmoor, is offering volunteers the rare opportunity to take part in a major research excavation during July 2003. The project will focus on the Dartmoor reaves, the Bronze-Age field systems located around the fringes of the moor. The project hopes to test ideas concerning the development of these boundary systems over time and to find out more about past environments and land use. Trenches will be opened at the junctions of major boundaries to find out more about their construction and chronology and to obtain samples for soil micromorphology. For further information, contact Dr Joanna Br�ck by email: joanna.bruck@ucd.ie.

Aggregates Levy money for amateur-led excavation

An excavation begun twelve years ago by a lone amateur has turned into one of the biggest and most important archaeological sites in the country and has just been awarded the first part of a �160,000 publications and archive grant from a fund providing benefits to the community from the quarry industry.

The Bestwall Archaeological Project has uncovered more than 7,000 years of history at a 55-hectare quarry to the east of Wareham, Dorset. The quarry includes one of the largest areas of Middle Bronze Age landscape ever to be excavated and the most substantial ranges of Bronze Age pottery yet discovered in Britain. Among the nationally important finds are rare domestic assemblages of beaker pottery from the Early Bronze Age, a feasting site with ritually placed copper alloy bracelets and ceremonial pottery drinking sets from the Middle Bronze Age and extensive evidence of pottery production from the Late Bronze Age. Altogether more than twelve thousand pieces of Bronze Age pottery have been discovered,

A vivid picture of Bronze Age Dorset, previously only visible as burial mounds, has now emerged, indicating that generations of prehistoric farmers lived on the shores of Poole Harbour in large, well-constructed round houses growing wheat, tending flocks of sheep and enjoying great feasts. They made their own pottery, developed trade networks, spun wool and wove it into cloth and adorned themselves with attractive jewellery.

Amateur volunteers from all over Dorset have carried out most of the excavation, led by Wareham historian Lilian Ladle who was asked to undertake archaeological excavations at the site prior to commercial gravel extraction. The Bestwall Dig has provided training for hundreds of volunteers and 95 archaeology students over the years. It is one of the longest-running amateur excavations in the country and must be one of the most-visited - open days, tours and talks are regularly laid on for schools, societies and interested members of the public.

The Project has a website at www.bestwall.co.uk.

Britain BC and politics today

Following his two-part Britain BC series on Channel 4, arguing that Britain�s sophisticated culture was terminated in AD 43 by the dead hand of Rome, Francis Pryor has written a thought-provoking essay on the impact of imperialism. �If you look back at Britain after AD 410, when the Romans officially withdrew, you see a culture trying to re-assemble itself - and it took a long time� says Francis. He goes on to say that �I am convinced that intervention in the affairs of another culture almost always causes more problems in the long term than it solves in the short. Our politicians and statesmen must learn to take a longer view. In the past, short-sighted decisions could sometimes be accommodated. However, in today�s crowded world, they could well prove disastrous�.

The full article can be read on the Channel 4 website

Seas of Change

In response to the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) report on the future management of the UK maritime environment, the Council for British Archaeology has made a detailed case for a better understanding of the maritime cultural heritage. The CBA points out that UK waters are among the richest in the world for underwater cultural heritage, embracing drowned prehistoric landscapes, some of the oldest shipwrecks in the world, numerous vessels and aircraft from the wars of the twentieth century and innumerable human remains of lost civilian and military personnel. This heritage remains largely uncharted and unmanaged, lacking proper provision for informed conservation. The full consultation response can be accessed via the CBA website.

Hedgerow regulations review

DEFRA meanwhile has announced another review, this time of the 1997 regulations that protect countryside boundary features, including hedgerows. Among changes to the Regulations being canvassed are proposals to give specific protection to hedgerows that make a contribution to local landscape character or that are especially ancient or species-rich. Full details of the consultation are on the DEFRA website and the deadline for responses is 18 April.

Farm heritage pilot scheme

On a related theme, a guide for farmers has just been produced by English Heritage, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers and the Council for British Archaeology, telling them how they can protect the heritage of their farm through the new pilot Entry Level Agri-Environment Scheme, launched on 27 February 2003 by Environment Minister, Michael Meacher.

Chief Executive of English Heritage, Dr Simon Thurley, said: �This scheme will make a huge difference to the way that farmers view historic buildings and stone walls on their farms and in many cases, the archaeological remains beneath their fields. By signing up to it, they will be helping to maintain the character and fascination of our much-loved countryside�. The new guide will help the farming community to identify important environmental features and areas on their farms. By entering the new scheme they will make a commitment to carry out a range of simple environmental management activities, including care and maintenance of traditional farm buildings, managing archaeological sites, including reducing damage from cultivation, and maintenance of traditional farm boundaries. The pilot programme will cover Tiverton in the south west, Mortimer in the south east, Market Deeping in the east midlands and Barnard Castle in the north east. The scheme will be piloted for two years before being rolled out nationwide in 2005. More details about this scheme can be found at the DEFRA website and copies of the leaflet can be downloaded from English Heritage .

Irish trees used to build Salisbury cathedral�s roof

The Times this week reported that Salisbury cathedral�s original thirteenth-century carpenters may have run out of home-grown timber for the roof because of a dispute between the chief carpenter Godardus and the warden of nearby Clarendon Forest which threatened wood supplies. The cathedral had to import trees from Ireland in order to keep pace with stonemasons building the walls to support the vaults.

Dendrochronological analysis has shown that much of the oak timber used in the two fine roofs of the eastern chapels was felled in the spring of AD 1222 in the Dublin area. This precise dating supports records of the dispute dating from 1224, and the subsequent importation of wood from Ireland by a man called William of Dublin.

The wood also bears out documentary evidence that the chapels were completed in 1225 and shows that their roofs were designed as an integrated whole - the same trees, or at least those from the same forest, appear to have been used in both. They are among the few remaining original roofs in the cathedral and some of the oldest in Britain. Evidence has also been found on the east chapel roofs for the earliest known use of arabic as well as roman numerals to mark timbers for assembly.

The great oak west doors to the nave (12ft 4ins high by 6ft 5ins wide) are also made entirely of boards from Irish wood, from the same area of Ireland as the east roof timbers. These and two doors to the Parvis Chamber (over the North Porch) are now known to have been part of the thirteenth-century fabric, and are not Civil War or later replacements, as some writers have suggested in the past.

Fellow Tim Tatton-Brown, along with Dan Miles of the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory, will be giving a lecture on the dating of the cathedral structure on 14 March 2003 at 2pm in Salisbury and South Wilts Museum, 65 The Close, Salisbury.

Guidance on tall buildings

New Guidance on Tall Buildings has just been published jointly by CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and English Heritage. In launching the guidance, Paul Finch, Deputy Chairman of CABE, said: �The number of column inches generated by this emotive subject shows that there is rarely a consensus on what makes a good tall building, or on where they should be built. The CABE and English Heritage Guidance seeks to address these thorny issues by setting out a clear plan-led framework within which local authorities, developers and architects can work�.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: �Government policy is to get the right developments in the right places. The CABE and English Heritage Guidance sets out the importance of a plan-led approach to the location of tall buildings based on rigorous character analysis in order to identify areas that are appropriate, or inappropriate, for tall buildings. This should ensure that, in future, tall buildings come forward as part of a planned exercise in placemaking rather than in an ad hoc speculative way�.

The Guidance on Tall Buildings is available to be downloaded from the CABE website or from English Heritage .

Save Severalls Hospital campaign

Campaigners are working to find a way of rescuing Severalls Hospital, a good and relatively complete example of a large Edwardian asylum, the majority of which has been empty since its closure in 1997. The hospital (located about two miles north of the centre of Colchester in Essex) is set in several acres of mature parkland, and the hospital buildings have been described by Marcus Binney, FSA, of SAVE Britain's Heritage, as being of major importance.

Severalls is an example of an echelon plan hospital, the main hospital complex being surrounded by a variety of villas built as accommodation blocks between 1910 and 1935. The site represents changed attitudes to asylum design, away from large hospital complexes popular in the nineteenth century to the more �homely� Colony Style. Most of the buildings on the site are built in �Neo Georgian� or Arts and Crafts style with few architectural embellishments. The buildings are set in several hundred acres of parkland deliberately designed to create a sense of serenity.

Plans have now been submitted which, if adopted, would result in the destruction of 50 per cent of the parkland and the majority of the hospital buildings, replacing them with over 1,500 houses and 500 square metres of �retail space�. Local people are fighting to retain the maximum amount of buildings and parkland and to encourage their sympathetic reuse, perhaps as an international school for the performing arts linked to Essex University.

Further information can be found on the campaign website .

Vacancies

Built Environment Forum Scotland: Administrator
Salary: c �20,000, application deadline 21 March 2003

A dynamic person is needed to drive forward this dynamic new charitable company dedicated to promoting Scotland�s cultural environments through partnership. A knowledge of the built environment sector and of policy work is desirable. Further details available from Pauline Robinson, tel: 0131 557 0019.

RIBA Foundation: Executive Director
Salary c �60,000, application deadline 21 March 2003

The Royal Institute of British Architects� mission is to advance architecture by demonstrating benefit to society and promoting excellence in the profession. To further these aims the RIBA is creating a new cultural foundation to take the lead in issues which address the public - such as sustainability and regeneration, architecture as art, our library and drawings collections - and to disseminate news and information to the widest international audience.

The Executive Director�s role is to establish and develop the architecture foundation by managing activities which include developing the Architecture for All Partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum, taking responsibility for the British Architectural Library and Drawings Collections, securing grants, sponsorship and external funding for cultural and charitable activities, building partnerships with government, arts, cultural and grant-awarding bodies and developing a range of electronic and other media.

More information about the post can be found at www.riba-jobs.com or email appointments@inst.riba.org.

Institute of Historical Research: Director
Salary not less than �60,000, application deadline 3 April 2003

The Institute�s present Director, Professor David Cannadine, will relinquish the post in August 2003 to take up a research fellowship, and a successor is sought who will be a historian of the highest distinction, capable of sustaining and enhancing the Institute�s national and international role. A professorship in the University of London is normally attached to the Directorship.

A job description can be obtained from the Institute, tel: 020 7862 8758, email: elaine.walters@sas.ac.uk, website: www.history.ac.uk. To discuss the post informally, please telephone the Dean of the School of Advanced Study, Professor Nicholas Mann, tel: 020 7862 8659, or Professor Peter Marshall, Chairman of the IHR�s Advisory Council, tel: 01920 822232 (evenings) or email: petermarshall@braughing.fsbusiness.co.uk.