Salon Archive

Issue: 54

Weekly meeting report

This week�s meeting took the form of a ballot, at which John A Goodall, FSA, exhibited two Romanesque bowls engraved with Classical decoration.

As a result of the ballot, the following were elected Fellows of the Society:

Peter Bruce Boyden
Colin Saunders White
Malcolm Denis Brown
Bruce Watson
Mike Pitts
Graeme John Rimer
Barry Melvin Ager
Nicholas Kingsley
Roland Smith
John Francis Dillon
Robert John Silvester
Anne Dodd
Jonathan Mark Wooding
Ian Haynes
Jeremy Clive Sampson
Philip Michael Stell
Charlotte Ann Roberts
Andrea Noelle Smith
Roderick McCullagh
Michael Hall.

Forthcoming meetings

22 May: �Offering places at unauthorized medieval shrines in England�, by the Revd Mark Spurrell, FSA

5 June: Ballot

Fellows� news

Our Fellow Peter Jackson died on 2 May 2003, at the age of 81. Having trained as an artist, Peter specialized in drawing cartoons on historical subjects, which were published in the London Evening News, the Sunday Express and on the back page of the Eagle comic. While scouring London�s markets for source material, he developed a passionate interest in the history of London and amassed a collection of maps, drawings, books, playbills and ephemera connected with the capital that was envied by many a museum curator. He lent freely to museums and exhibitions, and published parts of the collection in the journals of the London Topographical Society, of which he became Chairman in 1974 in succession to our late Fellow, Professor W F Grimes. Last year, Peter Jackson was presented with the Samuel Pepys Medal for his contribution to ephemera studies by Lord Briggs, President of the Ephemera Society.

Richard Allan�s bill passes to committee stage � but only just

Richard Allan�s Private Member�s Bill to outlaw the illicit trade in art and antiquities successfully negotiated its Commons Committee Stage on 14 May 2003. In supporting the Bill, Culture Minister, Kim Howells, confirmed that the bill was a cornerstone in the Government�s strategy for �choking off the trade in Iraqi artefacts stolen during � and following - the Iraq war�. Nevertheless, there were ominous signs of future opposition to the bill in the form of an amendment from Tim Loughton MP, prompted by the British Art Market Federation. Having supported the Bill previously, the Federation appears now to object to the scope of the Bill because it might compromise their dealing in features integral to listed buildings and structures, which it will do if they are unlawfully removed.

�100,000 Gulbenkian prize goes to Nottingham Justice Museum

The newly created �100,000 Gulbenkian museums prize has been awarded to the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law, a museum created on a shoestring within Nottingham�s historic courts and prisons complex. The museum uses the well-preserved historical structures as the backdrop for trial re-enactments. Children found guilty of stealing sheep or picking pockets are locked up in bleak cells in a Georgian prison on the site, or in a holding pen awaiting transportation to Australia.

The museum has recently expanded its education work to include young offenders or those judged at risk of offending, nominated by teachers, youth workers or police officers. By discussing real cases, studying a film of a riot and analysing its causes, and debating the treatment of offenders by the media, they are brought to thinking about the effects of their own actions on society. A majority of those who have been through the project do not reoffend and some have returned to full-time education.

The Nottingham museum plans to use the money to restore and bring into use a prison dating from 1833, currently locked up and largely empty.

English Heritage acquires Boxgrove quarry

English Heritage announced on 13 May that it had paid �100,000 to acquire the disused quarry located close to Boxgrove, West Sussex, where the remains of Boxgrove Man were discovered in 1993. Boxgrove Man - Homo heidelbergensis - lived 500,000 years ago. Since the first discovery, archaeologists have found thousands of bones and tools, including the oldest known antler tools and the first evidence of a wooden spear being used to kill an animal. The quarry once formed part of a raised beach at the foot of an 80-ft chalk cliff. A spring fed a small lake that became an important watering hole for wildlife and early hominids. From the remains of butchered elephants, red deer, extinct giant deer, rhinoceroses, bison and horses at the site - and the 250 hand axes left behind - it was clear that the site was repeatedly used as a food source by hunters.

Among the finds was the record of a single day's hunting, butchering and feasting. At the centre of the site lay the remains of a horse whose shoulder bone had been punctured by a wooden spear. Around the carcass were eight patches of flint scrapings - chipped away as the hunters squatted down to make knives. The pattern of napping debris on the ground revealed the �shadows� of the hunters' lower bodies.

Lindisfarne Gospels at the British Library

The Lindisfarne Gospels are the subject of a special exhibition at the British Library from now until 28 September. New research carried out in preparation for the exhibition suggests that the Gospels were inscribed in the period from AD 716 to 721, rather than the 690s, as was previously thought, and that they are therefore contemporary with Bede�s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. The revised dating has emerged from a study of the dates for religious festivals mentioned in the preliminary pages of the manuscript.

The Gospels were created by Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in about 721. They also contain the oldest surviving translation of the Gospels into the English language. In around 950-960 Aldred, a member of the Community of St Cuthbert, added his Old English translation between the lines of Latin. Michelle Brown, FSA, curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library and the organizer of the exhibition, has studied Eadfrith�s technique and says that he was a sophisticated chemist who developed new colours from plant dyes, that he used a pencil (which he himself might have invented) for setting out the preliminary details, and that he pioneered the use of the medieval equivalent of a light box to enable him to trace repeated patterns on to the page.

She also believes that there was a political purpose to the Gospels, and that their elaborate fusion of artistic motifs from the different cultural traditions meeting (and often colliding) in Northumbria in the eighth century was a conscious attempt to create a sense of unity. �The message�, she says, �is, respect one another�s culture, learn from one another, take what�s good from them all and move forward�.

Pocahontas� village

John Smith, the leader of the Virginia Company�s expedition of 1607, was about to be clubbed to death at the orders of Powhatan, the powerful Native American chief, when his daughter, Pocahontas, ran to the kneeling man and laid her head on top of his. Around this simple but dramatic act, the whole future of North American colonization pivoted, for the peace that was subsequently forged between Smith and Powhatan was the key to the success of Jamestown, the first English colony in America.

Now archaeologists believe they have found the site of Werowocomoco, the village at the heart of Powhatan�s kingdom where this event took place. The site lies on a farm located twelve miles north of Jamestown, on a spot whose topography fits well with English descriptions of the village, and that conforms to Smith�s own 1612 map of Virginia. Field walking and excavation has yielded thousands of Native American and English artefacts, including pottery, arrow heads, and English glass beads, which Smith traded with the Americans for much-needed corn. Archaeologists at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources say the site is significant not just for its iconic value, but as a resource that will enable them to understand the native side of early colonial history.

Higham Ferrers Roman village

Around 50 per cent of a Roman village founded in the second century AD has been excavated by Oxford Archaeology near Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire in advance of a housing scheme (the remaining 50 per cent already lies beneath a 1950s housing estate). The excavated part of the village lies to one side of the main road connecting Ringstead and Irchester, and consists of eighteen structures � a mix of homes, shops and workshops � built of stone, timber and thatch, with finds indicating small-scale textile, pottery and metal working. There is some evidence of Saxon occupation, but the village appears to have been abandoned in the early fifth century. A wayside shrine on the opposite side of the road to the village yielded hundreds of brooches and pins left as offerings, as well as lead curse tablets. Burial plots on the edge of the village contained a mix of cremations and inhumations.

Vacancies

Churches Conservation Trust: Director
Salary �50,000 to �60,000, closing date 28 May 2003

A leader with drive and imagination is sought to maintain the Trust�s record of achievement in conservation and to drive forward policies for the public use, understanding and enjoyment of churches in the care of the Trust (formerly The Redundant Churches Fund). Details can be downloaded from www.cfappointments.com, and further details of the Trust�s work can be found at www.visitchurches.org.uk.

Victoria and Albert Museum: Trustee
Closing date for applications: 30 May 2003

The V&A is seeking to recruit an academic trustee with a distinguished reputation as a historian, preferably with an interest in the history of art and design. The appointee needs to be able to contribute to a number of strategic issues, including the development and display of the museum collections and education policy.

An application form and full job description can be obtained from Ian Blatchford, Director of Finance and Resources, Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL, tel: 020 7942 2259, email: i.blatchford@vam.ac.uk.

Jersey Heritage Trust: Director
Salary �60,000 to �70,000, closing date 11 June 2003

Following the appointment of the current director, Michael Day, as the new chief executive of Historic Royal Palaces, the Trust is seeking a highly skilled museums and heritage sector professional to lead the Trust through the next stage of its development � including the implementation of a major conservation and interpretation scheme for Mont Orgueil Castle (the subject of an Antiquaries paper on 17 October 2002). Information packs may be obtained by emailing: jhtadmin@jerseymail.co.uk.