Salon Archive

Issue: 56

Meeting report

This week�s meeting took the form of a ballot, at which John Cherry, FSA, exhibited a papal bull of Gregory XI (1370�78), found in 2002 in the garden of a cottage in Kelmscott village, Oxfordshire, generating lively discussion about how it got there and what sort of letter it might have been attached to. The Society�s Librarian exhibited letters and books by John Piper and discussed the influence of archaeology on the artist�s work, who was born one hundred years ago, and whose early art is the subject of an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The General Secretary exhibited charred barley grains and a plaster model of a Roman mosaic to illustrate further the riches and oddities of the Society�s Collection.

A full report of the weekly meeting can be found on the Fellows' pages of the Society�s website.

Ballot results

As a result of the Ballot held on 5 June 2003, the following have been elected Fellows of the Society:

Robert James Dalziel Harding
Paul Jeremy Lane
Lin Foxhall
Roger Maxwell Clive Sims
Carol Neuman de Vegvar
Fraser John Hunter
Eberhard Wolfram Sauer
Roger Turvey
John Guy
Samantha Jane Lucy
Timothy Andrew Murray
Mary Teresa Webber.

Forthcoming meetings

12 June: Excavating the monastery of St Lot at Deir �Ain �Abata, Jordan, by Dr Konstantinos Politis
19 June: A Miscellany of Papers followed by the Summer Soir�e

Fellows� news

As announced in Salon 55, the funeral of John Hurst, FSA, took place on 30 May 2003. The President, Professor Rosemary Cramp, attended and represented the Society.

It is with great regret that we have to inform Fellows of the death of Ann Hamlin, FSA, former Director of Built Heritage, Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, who passed away on Wednesday 4 June having for some time now been suffering from motor neurone disease. More news will follow as and when funeral arrangements are announced.

Obituaries for Peter Lasko, former Fellow, appeared in The Independent on 28 May and in The Times on 29 May 2003, describing him as both energetic and scholarly, and saying that visitors to the Courtauld Institute Galleries at Somerset House �need to know how much [the Galleries] are the result of Lasko�s vision�. Both obituaries say that retirement enabled Peter to return to research. The Independent says that last book, The Expressionist Roots of Modernism, is about to be published by Manchester University Press, and The Times reported that the British Academy�s �Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland�, which Peter co-founded with George Zarnecki, FSA, is due to be completed within the next two to three years.

Fellows in America

The Annual Meeting of the American Fellows will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday 14 November 2003. The President and General Secretary will be the speakers, and as this will be an Ordinary Meeting of the Society, Fellows will be admitted. A detailed notice will be sent out to the American Fellows at the end of the summer or before, but information can also be obtained from the Secretary for the Americas, Professor Norman Hammond, at ndch@bu.edu.

AHRB Research Grants

Several Fellows are expected to benefit from the most recent round of research grants made available by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB). Further details will be reported in a future edition of Salon, but Professor Nigel Saul, FSA, has already written to say that the AHRB has awarded him and Professor Caroline Barron, FSA (both of Royal Holloway, University of London) a grant of �170,000 for a project to make publicly available the massive inventory of Richard II's treasure compiled in 1399/1400. Professor Saul is the author of the standard biography of Richard II, while Professor Barron has worked on Richard's relations with the city of London.

The aim of the project, which will run for three years, is to publish both electronic and hard-copy versions of the inventory, with full introduction, commentary and appendices. The inventory is the largest of its kind to have come down to us from medieval England and is a major source for the study of English court culture at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The research officer for the project will be Dr Jenny Stratford, another Fellow of the Society, and well known for her outstanding edition of The Bedford Inventories: the worldly goods of John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France (1389�1435), published by the Society in 1993.

Nigel Tranter Memorial Award

Fellow Alastair Maxwell-Irving writes to inform us that he has been awarded the Nigel Tranter Memorial Award for 2003 by the Scottish Castles Association for his recent book, The Border Towers of Scotland: their history and architecture � The West March. This annual award has previously been given to two people (Robert Clow and Nicholas Groves-Raines) who have restored tower-houses (Aiket Castle and Fenton Tower, respectively). The award was instigated in memory of Nigel Tranter, the Scottish novelist and architectural historian, who was the Association's president from the founding of the Association until his death. His successor is Lord Steel of Aikwood.

Publication of Pevsner�s Westminster

�Every London building that you ever want to look up in Pevsner turns out to be in the missing volume!� Such has been the cry of frustrated architectural scholars for several years, as the magisterial series undergoes thorough revision � giving us four outstanding volumes on the City, the South, the North and the North West but not on Westminster, at London�s heart. At last, the gap has been filled, with the launch of Westminster on 4 June.

Revised and greatly expanded from Pevsner�s original by Simon Bradley (who also wrote the City volume), the book covers an area of London richer in historic buildings than anywhere else in the world, and includes Westminster Abbey, Parliament and the palatial Government buildings of Whitehall, together with the great band of Royal Parks stretching westward toward Kensington. It also includes London�s West End (Covent Garden, Soho, Mayfair and St James�s) and the less well-known Belgravia and Pimlico. The book is so new that it is not yet listed on the �Buildings of England� website but it can be ordered from bookshops (Yale University Press, ISBN 0300095953, 944 pages, �29.95).

Archbishop of York intervenes to protect Minster Library

Salon 55 reported the threatened closure of the York Minster Library, and letters subsequently appeared in several newspapers deploring the loss of a major library that had been in existence since the fifteenth century.

Now it appears that the protestors have a strong ally in the form of Dr David Hope, Archbishop of York, who is reported to be so disturbed at the proposal to close the library, and to charge a compulsory admission fee to the Minster, that he is considering an official visitation as a last resort. Visitation rights, very rarely used in recent times, date from the Middle Ages and give the Archbishop power to conduct an inquiry and over-rule the Chapter�s decisions.

The Guardian reported sources close to the Archbishop as saying that he intervened in similar circumstances at St Paul�s, as Bishop of London, and would do so again if necessary. The York Diocesan Synod has already voted unanimously against the proposal.

So far the only response from the Chapter has come from the Steward, Peter Lyddon, who has said that: �We have looked closely at all the options available in the present circumstances of the current budget deficit [estimated at �600,000 per annum] and the Chapter has had to take the decision to close the library section. But we hope to ensure that the archives and conservation studio remain available, and to develop the use of the building into the future�.

European Museum of the Year Award

The accolade of European Museum of the Year was awarded to the Victoria and Albert Museum�s British Galleries last week. This is the fourth time a British museum has won the award in its twenty-six-year history. The other shortlisted candidates were the Kierikki Stone Age Centre in Finland, the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Greece, the National Museum of Antiquities in the Netherlands, CosmoCaixca in Spain, Hungary�s Danube Museum and the Holocaust Exhibition at London�s Imperial War Museum.

Treasure Trove website

Alan Saville, FSA, writes to draw attention to a new website devoted to treasure-trove finds in Scotland. �In all the publicity surrounding development of the Treasure Act 1996 and the Portable Antiquities Scheme�, he says, �it is sometimes forgotten that the treasure trove system still applies in Scotland. Application of the treasure trove process in Scotland has traditionally diverged in many respects from that which formerly applied in the rest of the UK, in particular by not being restricted to finds of metal, precious or otherwise�. Full details can be seen on the Scottish treasure trove website on which comments from Fellows would be very welcome (email: info@treasuretrove.org.uk).

Designation Review � the English Heritage view

A speech given by Sir Neil Cossons, FSA, at the City University, London, on 22 May gave an insight into English Heritage�s thinking on the current DCMS review of heritage protection. In it Sir Neil bemoaned the fact that �people still think of listing as �pickling in aspic�. It isn�t. It�s about managing change�. Sir Neil argued that a new designation regime must �allow us to fight against the loss of character and creeping degradation of quality in our streets and landscapes while at the same time encouraging regeneration ... [it must] ... protect what is important about a historic place or building, but also equip developers with clear thinking on how a building can be changed and how projects can be proceeded with to ensure their long-term economic future.

�We need a system that can still identify buildings worth protecting, but that allows them to be managed in different ways. The present procedure puts a very high priority on identifying the value of a building or monument, and a very low priority on how to change it. Chatsworth House and Centre Point, London, are examples. Both are listed buildings, but whereas one would not want to alter Chatsworth House very much, there are lots of changes that could be permitted to the interior of Centre Point.�

DCMS performance targets

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has set out its strategic targets for the period 2003 to 2006 in its newly published business plan. This gives details of the targets agreed with the Treasury on which its funding will be based, and on which much of their resources and associated projects will be focused. Two of the four targets are relevant to the historic environment. They are to increase significantly the take up of cultural and sporting opportunities by new users aged 20 and above from priority groups; and to improve the productivity of the tourism, creative and leisure industries. Further details are to be found on the DCMS website.

HLF invests �320 million in city parks

The Heritage Lottery Fund recently celebrated its achievement in bringing hundreds of inner city parks back to life at a parliamentary reception hosted by Frank Dobson, MP. Liz Forgan, Chair of the HLF, said that �parks were better than telly: research showed that children prefer to spend a sunny day in the park to watching TV, and that 30 million people (half the UK population) say they use their local park regularly�.

Other findings reveal that little has changed in the way that people use and love parks since their original creation � often in the mid-nineteenth century. Parks are valued as social meeting places, sporting spaces, as uplifting gardens, as playgrounds for children, as places to read, feed the ducks and enjoy contact with wildlife. Forty-seven per cent of respondents say they associate parks with romance, and 83 per cent say that going to the park was very important to them whilst they were growing up.

Liz Forgan said that HLF commitment to parks would continue, with �35 million being expended annually on around thirty parks a year. But she also sounded a note of caution for the future of the nation's urban green spaces. �We still have concerns for the future�, she warned. �There is a dangerous gap between need and provision. Our investment so far needs to be sustained � how sad it would be to see the Heritage Lottery Fund ten years hence having to revisit the same parks again�.

Allotment audit

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, has commissioned Richard Wiltshire, a geography lecturer at King�s College London, to carry out an audit of the nation�s allotments prior to a review of the 1908 law governing their ownership and use. It is estimated that there are more than 330,000 allotments in the UK, but that the number is well down from the 1.5 million plots in use after the Second World War. The first allotments date back to the outbreak of war with France in 1793. They were prompted by severe food shortages. In the 1830s, machinery in agriculture brought massive under-employment in rural areas and landowners let allotments to workers to compensate.

National Heritage Training Group

The English House Condition Survey of 1996, showed that 23.5 per cent of the total number of dwellings in the UK were built before 1919. The same report estimates that one in ten dwellings needs urgent repairs to the roof and external wall finishes. So there is a huge potential demand for traditional building skills at exactly the same time as these skills are in decline, giving way to new system building methods, such as the use of prefabricated units and stick-on bricks.

English Heritage and the Construction Industry Training Board are now working together to address this problem, through the creation of the jointly sponsored National Heritage Training Group. Work is about to start on a Foresight Plan, the essential prerequisite for unlocking DfES funding, and this will be underpinned by research into the barriers to recruitment. The NHTG business plan will be launched by Tessa Jowell at St Xavier�s Church, Gorton, Manchester, as part of National Construction Week, in October 2003.

New archaeology series seeks potential sites

�Extreme Archaeology� � a new eight-part television series for Channel 4 � is taking up the challenge of investigating sites that are too difficult or too dangerous for the majority of archaeologists to investigate. Each programme in the series involves the application of cutting-edge technology to record archaeological deposits in a way that could not be achieved by standard field techniques (and budgets).

The programme research team is now looking for potential sites, initially in the UK. The team will either investigate archaeology under threat of destruction (natural or man made) or record previously inaccessible archaeological deposits. It is essential that an archaeologically justifiable reason exists for investigating every site under consideration and that a beneficial contribution to academic knowledge is made. To that end, a concise project design will be produced which will include provision for post-excavation analysis and publication.

Interested parties with comments or suggestions should contact Jim Mower, Archaeological Researcher, Extreme Archaeology, Mentorn TV, tel: 020 7258 6743, mobile: 07977 921 064.

The Ordnance Survey and places of worship

Fellows might have read stories in the press recently saying that the Ordnance Survey was no longer going to show churches on Ordnance Survey maps. The Survey has now said that, in response to public consultation, it has decided to retain special symbols for places of worship that continue in use. Redundant churches and chapels will be shown so long as they have not been given new uses. Those that have been given new uses will be shown if they have a tower, spire, minaret or dome, as the OS argues that these are helpful as navigational aids. Where a former place of worship has a new secular use but has no landmark architectural features � and is therefore deemed to be of little or no help for navigation � the building will not be highlighted. The OS says that this is in line with policy that has been in place for many years.

Temple of Dionysus in Bulgaria

Professor Nikolao Otcharv, leader of a team of archaeologists excavating at Perperikon, says that thousands of rock-cut wine presses, linked by stone canals, suggest that this could be the site of the lost Sanctuary of Dionysus. Perperikon is located in the Rhodope mountains, on Bulgaria�s southern border with Greece. Professor Otcharv says that this is only a hypothesis at this stage, but the site, with its vast complex of ruins, was certainly used as a centre for pilgrimage and worship in which wine played a major part.

RAE reform � Sir Gareth Roberts�s report

After extensive consultation, Sir Gareth Roberts, President of Wolfson College, Oxford, has published the results of his year-long review of the Research Assessment Exercise. He concludes that the RAE has been a qualified success over nearly two decades in distributing scarce resources to the best research departments and prompting universities to think strategically about research. But he believes that it cannot go on as it is, saying that: �When more than half of all researchers are in the top rated 5 and 5* departments, the expensive and time-consuming process is not distinguishing the best departments with sufficient accuracy�.

For the forty English universities and colleges that get less than 2 per cent of their funding for research, the RAE is a waste of time, he argues. Their 240 submissions to the 2001 RAE yielded an average of �27,580 in funding compared with a sector average of �455,000 for each submission. The conclusion that such universities should not undertake research at all and function instead as pure teaching institutions was nevertheless greeted with dismay by many commentators.

A further tranche of university departments who don't undertake international quality research will be encouraged to opt for a less onerous research capacity assessment, or RCA, in return for a smaller, but more assured, cheque from the funding council.

Those who believe they qualify for national or international recognition will be subject to a research quality assessment (RQA), under which stars will be awarded to individual researchers - three stars for the top 10 or 15 per cent of the academics in a discipline, down to no stars for those not reaching a high national standard. A department's stars will be totalled and funding will be awarded proportionately. A research team could also enter as a group and be awarded a joint total of stars based on its output.

To enable new departments to break into the funding stream, vice-chancellors will be allowed to nominate a promising department for additional funding. This would then be checked after three years to see if it was fulfilling its potential.

On the fundamental question of the criteria for judging quality, the report allows for flexibility. Each subject panel will decide its own criteria to replace the current system whereby academics submit four publications. As a result of the present system, UK academics publish more than any other nationality, including the Americans.

RQAs will take place every six years, with light-touch monitoring at the mid-point. In an amusing aside, Sir Gareth Roberts said there had been some debate about whether this should be called �hexennial� or �sexennial� � naturally enough, everyone consulted has opted for �sex�.

Vacancies

Museum of London: Group Director, Public Programmes
Attractive salary, closing date 16 June 2003

The Group Director, Public Programmes, is a new role, providing leadership in access and learning, driving collections research and development and web-based outreach. Working with a team of 35 specialists, the post holder is responsible for the Museum�s public interface, including the new exhibitions and galleries programmes. Further information at www.saxbam.com/arc quoting ref: UMLB.

National Maritime Museum: Curator of Maritime History
Salary �24,150 to �35,000, closing date 20 June 2003

A key appointment at the museum that will involve preparing for the bi-centennial commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar, and generally making the collections exciting and accessible to diverse audiences by placing people, places and events into a broader social and cultural context. Further information from Human Resources, National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10, 9NE quoting ref: G/CNH.

Royal Mail: Heritage Trust Chief Executive, plus Chair and Trustees
Salary to �50,000, closing date 20 June 2003

To develop and manage the Royal Mail�s archives and museum collection, illuminating the role of the postal service in the development of society, with the aim of launching a new museum. The Trust is also seeking a Chair and Board Trustees. Further information from Mary Jackson by email at mj@charityrecruit.com.

English Heritage: Inspector of Ancient Monuments based in Birmingham
Salary �25,361 to �30,567, closing date 23 June 2003

Securing the preservation of ancient monuments by providing advice, including consents for statutory casework, grant programmes and general conservation and promotion of the historic environment. Further details from The Human Resources Department, English Heritage, Brooklands, 24 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 2BU or email midlands.recruit@english-heritage.org.uk quoting reference number E/012/03.

East of England Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (EEMLAC): Chief Executive
Salary up to �65,00, closing date 4 July

EEMLAC seeks a chief executive to lead this new cultural agency, which becomes fully operational later this year. Details from info@eemlac.org.uk.