Salon Archive

Issue: 48

Back issues of Salon

Server problems have interrupted the distribution of the last two editions of Salon. When this happens there is, unfortunately, no way of knowing who has and who has not received their copy. Work is in hand to remedy this deficiency. In the meantime, if you did not receive Salons 46 or 47, you can view them on (and print them off from) the Society�s website, or email the Editor and ask for copies to be sent.

Weekly meeting report

Speaking about �Museums and National Identity in Post-Devolution Wales�, Paul Loveluck, President of the Museums and Galleries of Wales, gave Fellows an account of the challenges involved in running an institution charged with �teaching the world about Wales and Wales about the world� at the weekly meeting held in Cardiff on 20 March 2003. Research has been at the heart of the delivery of that mission over the last ninety-six years, he said, and so it should continue, allied to a recognition that museums can become islands cut off from the communities they exist to serve unless they open their windows and doors and engage actively with their society.

A full account of the meeting can be found on the Fellows� side of the Society�s website.

Forthcoming meetings

27 March: �Discovering the Past: Online Research and Publication� by Dr Julian Richards FSA and Ortrun Peyn

3 April: �The Tudor Naval Gunnery et pompa et usa Project�, by Nicholas Hall, FSA, and Alexzandra Hildred

Fellows� news

Jeremy Montagu, FSA, writes to say that our late Fellow, Pauline Fenley, who died earlier this month, had been a member of the British intelligence team led by his father, Ewen Montagu, who carried out one of the most famous deception operations of the Second World War, wryly dubbed �Operation Mincemeat�. Montagu and his team planted the corpse of a 34-year old man purporting to be that of �Major Martin�, a junior staff officer, supposedly killed in a plane crash on his way to help Allied HQ in North Africa plan the invasion of Sardinia. Attached to the corpse were forged documents designed to convince Abwehr - Germany's military intelligence - that plans for an attack on Sicily were decoys from the real target.

Britain's ability to intercept German military communications allowed Montagu to confirm within days that the Abwehr believed the documents to be genuine and he telegraphed Winston Churchill with the message �Mincemeat swallowed whole�. As a result, when the Allies began their attack on the southern tip of Sicily on 9 July 1943, they met only limited resistance.

After the war, Ewen Montagu wrote a book about Mincemeat, entitled The Man Who Never Was (1953), which was subsequently made into a film of the same name by Ronald Neame.

Designation Review: key issues discussion document

Details have just been circulated of the DCMS Review of Heritage Protection, to be run in partnership with English Heritage, which aims to �improve and refocus the way in which England�s built environment receives statutory protection�. Because this is a subject of great interest to many Fellows, the contents of the key issues document are set out below almost in their entirety.

The discussion paper explains the reasons for carrying out the review as being:
 the desire to review and consolidate the separate systems that currently exists for designating ancient monuments, buildings of historic importance or architectural merit, gardens, battlefields, ecclesiastical buildings and wrecks
 the need to ensure that heritage protection operates effectively alongside the new legislation currently before Parliament designed to reform the land-use planning system
 the growing interest in the context and setting of historic environment as a whole, rather than just the component parts
 the desire to direct English Heritage resources to programmes and projects in areas of regeneration and redevelopment.

The Review has three phases:
 between now and the end of May DCMS and English Heritage will be seeking views and ideas from all stakeholders � developers, local authorities, other Government Departments, archaeologists, architects, heritage experts, owners of listed buildings and many others;
 DCMS will issue a Consultation Paper in July setting out the main changes the Government is minded to make;
 having listened to the response, the Government plans to publish a White Paper early in 2004.

During the first phase, DCMS will be seeking views on the following issues:

1. The purpose of designation: is the purpose of designation clearly defined and agreed?

2. Significance and Value: how can we best discern consistently what needs to be protected and what does not? Is there a clear value system in the present legislation? At present designation establishes the inherent interest and importance of a building, monument or area but its management, preservation and adaptation are dealt with by the consent regimes. Is this two-stage approach valuable and effective?

3. Regeneration and sustainability: the present system runs entirely apart from Government policies for sustainable development and regeneration. How could a reformed system help bring the protection of the historical environment centre stage in future planning strategies? Should economic considerations be a factor in designation?

4. Protecting the whole, not just the parts: designation does not deal well with protecting extensive landscapes (urban or rural), settings and groups of buildings where it is the impact of the whole which matters rather than individual parts. What kind of system could effectively protect heritage environments and what role should designation play in such a system? Do conservation areas provide a model?

5. Management: designation protects against unacceptable change but does nothing to help preserve the heritage in a good state. Could management become part of a new regime? How would burdens on owners be managed? Do Farm Plans provide a model? Should management agreements act as an alternative to designation or run alongside it?

6. Integration: there are now several regimes with different rules and criteria. Consistency is not obvious and there is substantial overlap. Is it possible or desirable to devise a single designation regime to cover all types of protection? Could such a system be linked with variable management regimes (eg a system which applied the criteria of significance, condition and usability)?

7. Inflation: one of the criticisms of the present system is that the total volume of designations has increased strongly and is likely to go on doing so. The system caters for a future generation valuing something more than the previous generation but it does not cater for values changing. Of course, if a building is demolished it is lost to all future generations, but the logic of that argument is to list everything just in case. How can a designation system prevent runaway inflation?

8. Criteria: the present criteria for listing differ from scheduling and the various types of registration. At present listing is non-discretionary, scheduling discretionary. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both systems in delivering clarity to decision-makers and could better-defined criteria help?

9. Defining what is of value: the descriptions that accompany designations do not usually define what is of value. Buildings not of interest but situated within the curtilage are usually caught within the listing. Would better initial defining of value and extent help to ensure that enforcement effort is focused?

10. Who makes the decisions: is the present split of functions between the Secretary of State, English Heritage and local authorities right? Is there now a role for regional institutions? Should more responsibility lie with local authorities?

11. Competence and resource: the more flexible a system is the more it tends to require people to administer it who are competent to make difficult judgements. How can that competence be grown within the present system or in a transition phase? What principles should underpin EH and local authority use of resources?

12. Twentieth century: how can the system cope with the very different needs of large-scale post-war buildings designed for flexibility and with the very large and intrusive industrial and military sites where the historic interest rather than architectural merit are the reasons for designation? Do the experiments with management regimes give an answer? How could they be enforced with unwilling partners? Can they be made to work with a mix of public and private owners? And how can designation of such sites promote rather than impede regeneration?

13. Timescales: at present the designation and consents process under each regime often takes a disproportionately long time and has become driven by precedent. How could a reformed system be framed to prevent that tendency breaking out again?

14. Records: are improvements in recording buildings which may be lost a key element in reaching designation criteria which can acknowledge historical interest while stopping short of a need to preserve?

DCMS is keen to stimulate debate on these topics and gather views. If Fellows wish to contribute to the debate formally, they can do so through the amenity societies or professional bodies to which they belong, all of whom are being consulted, or they can send views in writing to the review secretariat.

Antiquity website

Antiquity, now under the editorship of Fellow Martin Carver, has a revamped website, which includes new features such as a letters page, newsflashes on the latest archaeological issues and events from around the world, and articles on current archaeological research. You can also see a list of contents for the current issue (March 2003), which features articles by several Fellows, including Simon James on �Whither Roman Archaeology�, and Catherine Hills on �What is television doing for us: reflections on some recent British programmes�, plus an obituary of our late Fellow, Robert Braidwood.

Archaeologists on TV

On the subject of archaeology on TV, Fellows might like to know that a documentary on Richborough ('Britain's Lost Roman Wonder�) will be transmitted by the BBC2 at 9pm on Tuesday 1 April. BBC Scotland has been given the go-ahead to make another six programmes in the Time Flyers series, featuring Fellow Mark Horton.

Mark�s Bristol colleague (and TV rival?), our Fellow Mick Aston, is much improved and looking forward to leaving hospital very soon. Mick says he has enough get well cards to paper his ward, and has managed to convert the entire hospital staff to archaeology. Visitors also report that he annoys everyone by listening and singing along to Rigoletto on his Walkman!

Viewers of Time Team on Sunday 23 March saw the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, being given a tour of the Roman small town that the Team had uncovered in his Sedgefield constituency. The Prime Minister looked bewildered to be out of his normal environment, and clearly had never encountered an archaeological excavation before, but he ended up saying that he felt �very honoured� to have such a site in his constituency. Perhaps now that the Prime Minister knows a little more about archaeology we can now hope that the historic environment will receive slightly more sympathetic treatment from the Government in future.

On the other hand, there were hints of a backlash against archaeology on TV in The Times on 19 March, when TV reviewer Joe Joseph asked whether the viewing public really is as obsessed with archaeology as the number of programmes seems to suggest. He asks readers to �ask your work colleagues ... did they come into work this morning and announce they had watched a TV programme last night that changed for ever their view of Bronze Age Britons?� Archaeology, he goes on to say, �involves posing lots of questions to which you will probably never know the answer.�

Henry Loyn Memorial Lecture

The first Henry Loyn Memorial Lecture will be given in Cardiff by Professor Nicholas Brooks, on �English Identity from Bede to the Battle of Hastings�, on Thursday 15 May 2003, at 6.15pm for 7.00pm. A pre-lecture reception will take place in the Atrium of the Julian Hodge Building, and the lecture itself will take place in the Sir Julian Hodge Lecture Theatre, Colum Drive, Cardiff.

Tickets will be issued next week to all those who contributed to the Henry Loyn Lecture Fund.

Additional tickets (which include admission to the reception) are freely available from Rachel Powell, External Relations Division, Cardiff University, tel: 029 2087 4731, email: publicity@cardiff.ac.uk. The organizers say that booking in advance is essential so that they know what numbers to cater for, but that this is a very large lecture theatre, so there should be no problems getting tickets.

First evidence of slave sales in Roman Britain

A week after the Society celebrated the publication of The Archaeology of Greek and Roman Slavery by the late Hugh Thompson, former General Secretary, the Museum of London unveiled its newest exhibit: a legal document dating from between AD 80 and 120 detailing the sale of a Gallic slave girl Fortunata (�Lucky�) for the sum of 600 denarii, a price considerably higher than the annual salary of a legionary soldier. The complexity of slavery in the Roman world is illustrated by the fact that Vegetus, the buyer, was himself an assistant slave owned by Montanus, who was himself an imperial slave, owned by yet another slave called Secundus, all three of them being officials in London.

The document takes the form of a silver fir tablet, which once had a wax face. The wax has gone but the inscription carved with a sharp metal stylus has survived in the form of faint scratches in the wood. It records Fortunata�s nationality as Diablintian (from near Jublains on the modern Normandy/Brittany border), warrants that she is in good health and is not liable to run away, and says that if anyone can establish a better title to her, the purchaser will be reimbursed.

Despite the fact that the Roman Empire was built on slavery, this is a very rare survival which, in the words of David Miles, FSA, Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage, �gives us a unique insight into the intricate structure of London�s slave society and its links with the continent�. The tablet, found at No 1 Poultry in 1996, will remain on display at the Museum of London until 27 April 2003.

Digital publishing system for the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Oxford ArchDigital has been chosen to develop a new system that will allow the thirty-seven finds liaison officers working for the Portable Antiquities Scheme to update the Scheme�s central database from anywhere in the UK. The same system will enable new finds to be published without a separate web publishing process, allowing almost instant access to the most up-to-date finds information. In addition, registered members of the public will be able to enter data, thus involving the public directly in the creation of a major new archive. Trials of the software will begin in April 2003, and the final version will be launched in July 2003. Further information from the Portable Antiquities Scheme website at website or from Nicholas Case at Oxford ArchDigital.

Management Plan for the Palace of Westminster World Heritage Site

Property owners, key stakeholders and representatives of the local community in Westminster met on 17 March at one of three consultation workshops to start preparing the first Management Plan for the Westminster World Heritage Site. The comprehensive Plan will be the first to define the area�s outstanding historic significance, identify key problems relating to the movement of traffic and visitors and put forward proposals for enhancing the area for tourists and Londoners alike.

English Heritage, the GLA, Transport for London, Westminster Abbey, Westminster City Council, The Parliamentary Estate Directorate and Westminster School are co-funding the scheme and have appointed consultants Atkins to develop the Plan framework. The first draft will be completed by the end of the year and put out for public consultation before a final version is published in 2004.

Sir Neil Cossons, FSA, Chairman of English Heritage, said: �Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret�s Church are all magnificent buildings in their own right, but together they form a group of international cultural importance on architectural and historical grounds. The Management Plan is a product of real teamwork and will set the basis for a co-ordinated approach to managing Westminster�s unique historic environment.�

Water: friend or foe

The 2003 National Conservation Conference, to be held at Aston University, Birmingham, on 16 May, will look at the benefits and problems of water, asking what lessons can be learned from the recent flooding in Prague and Dresden, and how historic buildings and works of art can be better protected. The subject has gained in topicality following the warnings given recently by Martin Roth, director-general of Dresden�s twelve museums, about the risks to European art from the fact that so many archives are located in basements � and by the decision of the French authorities to remove to safer storage all works of art stored below ground along the banks of the Seine in Paris.

Speakers at the conference include John Fidler, FSA, Conservation Director at English Heritage, and Dr Joseph Stulc, Conservator-General at the Czech National Institute for Heritage Preservation. Further details from: info@conservationconference.co.uk.

Threat to Pugin church

The Independent on 15 March reported that the future of Mount St Mary�s Church, in Richmond Hill, Leeds, partly designed by Edward Welby Pugin, was in doubt. Known as the �famine church�, Mount St Mary�s was built by Irish Catholics who settled in Leeds in the 1850s after fleeing the potato famine. The church, which closed for worship in 1989, occupies a prominent site in the city, and is described by the Pugin Society as a fine example of Victorian Gothic architecture. Sanctuary Housing Association, the owners of the cathedral-sized church, say they are looking at various options to bring the church back to use, possibly as a music or arts venue, but a spokesman said: �we cannot close the funding gap because the building is in such a bad condition�.

Several other buildings by E W Pugin are also under threat, including St Mary�s Star of the Sea, at Leith near Edinburgh, and the Abbey Church of Our Lady of Consolation, Worcester. Five years ago, Pugin�s Monastery of St Francis, in east Manchester, was named as one of the world�s most endangered buildings by the World Monuments Fund, but has since been rescued, partly with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Bad weather destroyed the Maya

Civil war, palace revolution and overpopulation have all been put forward as reasons for the sudden demise of the Mayan civilization, but German scientists studying mud cores from the Cariaco basin, off the coast of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean Sea, say that the probable cause was drought. Between AD 810 and 910, the region suffered a century-long decline in rainfall, which corresponds to the time when many Mayan cities were abandoned and when the population seems to have collapsed.

In an article in the journal Science, Gerald Haug, Professor of Geology at Potsdam in Germany, shows that titanium deposited into the Cariaco basin from local rivers makes the amount of titanium contained in seasonal layers an accurate indicator of regional rainfall. The drought periods match the dates for city abandonment deduced by archaeologists from the last dated carvings and inscriptions found at Mayan sites.

The origins of human speech

The clicking sounds used by the San (or Kung) people of southern Africa and the Hadzabe of East Africa are remnants of our earliest language, according to an article in the journal Current Biology. Joanna Mountain and Alec Knight of Stanford University, California, have looked for genetic links between these two groups of click-language users, who live thousands of miles apart, and concluded that they have had no discernible contact for at least 40,000 years.

The very close similarity of the two language groups argues against the hypothesis that the two languages evolved independently. For one group to have borrowed the language from the other would have involved close contact over a long period of time that would have resulted in some interbreeding � whereas the Stanford researchers found a deep genetic divergence between the two groups. They therefore concluded that click language dates to a time before the out-of-Africa expansion of modern humans, and that it has survived as a fossil in these two groups, having been lost by most other African populations.

They speculate that click language evolved to help people communicate while hunting: animals apparently take little notice of click speaking, whereas they flee the sound of human speech. The language would have become redundant and extinct among populations less dependent on hunting, or living in a different hunting environment.