Salon Archive

Issue: 59

Fellows� news

The Society was informed this week of the deaths of two Fellows. Roger Frances Hugh Summers died on 26 June at the age of 95 years, at Fish Hoek in South Africa, and Dr Margaret Roxan died on the same day at her north London home. David Breeze, FSA, writes that �Margaret was the world expert on Roman military diplomas (certificates of privileges issued to soldiers in the Roman army) and had many published works to her credit. She had produced three volumes of Roman Military Diplomas, with the fourth about to go to press. For many years Margaret occupied a minuscule room in the Institute of Archaeology, in Gordon Square, crammed full of books, where her many friends from Britain and abroad would be certain of a warm welcome and robust conversation.

Lisa Elliott has four complimentary tickets for Elizabeth, the exhibition at the National Maritime Museum curated by David Starkey, FSA, which runs to 14 September. Tickets are available � one per Fellow � on a first-come, first-served basis from lelliott@sal.org.uk.

Iraq meeting

A meeting jointly organised by the Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities, ICOMOS UK, the Historic Environment Forum and English Heritage was held on 27 June at the British Academy to discuss the current state of play in Iraq.

Representatives from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport reported that they were using their efforts to influence the way in which cultural policy was shaped within the interim Authority, and in ensuring that culture receives a suitable share of the resources being made available for the reconstruction of Iraq. DCMS also said that it was hosting a database that was being used to log offers of help received, and that this information would be forwarded to Unesco, who are co-ordinating the international reconstruction effort.

Other speakers included Christopher Walker, Deputy Keeper of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum, who gave an account of the BM�s activities in Iraq, Harriet Crawford of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq who made a plea for the better policing of Iraq�s borders, and Chris Young of English Heritage who reinforced the message that everyone should wait to see what the Iraqis� own perception of their needs was before rushing to offer untargeted aid.

A pre-circulated resolution calling on the Government to bring about an end to looting at Iraqi sites within a month was discussed and rejected as unrealistic, but an amended version of the resolution is now being circulated for agreement by all the organisations concerned about the situation in Iraq.

Meanwhile in Iraq itself, two rooms at the Baghdad National Museum were reopened on 3 July for precisely two hours in what eyewitnesses have dismissed as a cynical attempt by the interim Authority to prove that the losses from looting and destruction had been exaggerated by the press and were not as bad as had been reported. Paul Zimansky, Professor of Boston University�s Department of Archaeology, said �This is a stunt� as soldiers at the museum gates warned visitors that they would be arrested if they tried to wander beyond the two rooms that had been opened. Professor Elizabeth Stone, a specialist in Iraqi archaeology at New York State University, said that, far from a return to normality, the looting at sites in the Iraqi countryside was worse than ever, with thieves using bulldozers to break into tombs and take anything of value.

Durham closure campaign

Durham University�s Council is to decide on 15 July whether to ratify the Senate�s decision to close the Department of Far Eastern Studies and restrict the Department of Middle Eastern Studies to postgraduate courses. These measures have been recommended as part of a trend towards closing smaller departments in order to fund additional places in more popular subjects. Both departments are highly regarded, and many voices have been raised to protest against what is being portrayed as a short-sighted decision. Even the Foreign Office has written to Durham�s Vice-Chancellor recommending a change of heart and pointing out that Britain has an acute shortage of specialists in Arabic, Islamic and Chinese studies.

Chris Patten speaks out on university access and funding

Chris Patten has joined the debate on university access and funding, saying that Britain�s universities risk being �torpedoed by philistinism and envy�. Speaking after his installation as the 294th Chancellor of Oxford University on 25 June, Chris Patten said that he did not intend to be a mere figurehead, but that he intended to attack �two decades of public parsimony� over university funding. He said universities were suffering from growing interference from populist politicians and social engineers who �put at risk academic standards by falsely asserting a tension between them and equality of opportunity�. He called on Britain�s universities to be recognised for the assets that they are, and said that he wanted Oxford to be �a magnet for the best of the nation�s and the world�s young�.

The Lottery

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport published its thoughts on the future of the Lottery on 3 July, making the case for enabling local communities to vote on lottery grants affecting them up to �10,000 ... and for �citizens� panels to be set up across the country to advise lottery distributors on how to make these choices�.

The Secretary of State also argued in an article published the same day in The Daily Telegraph that people were disconnected from the real benefits of the Lottery because of a �widespread feeling that the awarding of grants has been professionalised. A new cadre of experts has been put in charge of giving out the money�.

We must all hope that the Secretary of State�s comments do not reflect an underlying antipathy towards the Heritage Lottery Fund, which supports many important projects that are not necessarily well known to the man and woman in the street. Perhaps the proposed National Lottery Day � starting from next year, and billed as an annual UK festival in celebration of Lottery-funded projects � will give HLF the chance it deserves to shout about the many excellent projects that it has funded: from the restoration of urban parks and the funding of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to support for Gujarati cultural festivals and African Caribbean heritage.

Full details of National Lottery Day and other proposed changes to the Lottery can be downloaded from www.culture.gov.uk/default.htm.

A Canaletto in your kitchen

Last week�s scheme to �put works of art from the National Art Collection Fund in surprising places where non-museum-goers might encounter them� led to Canaletto�s huge canvas, Regatta on the Grand Canal, being moved from the Bowes Museum in County Durham to a council flat in north London last week. The brothers who gained the painting for a day had to put up with the complaints of neighbours objecting to security vans blocking access to their homes, two burly security guards standing alongside the painting all day to prevent anyone touching it, and a string of bad journalistic puns along the lines of �A Canaletto in the kitchen? It�s just starting to sink in�.

Not surprisingly, very few museums were willing to participate in the scheme, and David Barrie, the organiser of the event, said he was �disconsolate because it seemed as if every good idea fell at some obstacle or other�. He doesn�t seem to have learned his lesson, however, and claims that: �we�ve started something ... similar things should happen in the future�.

British Museum acquires Ringlemere gold cup

When not indulging in such gimmicks, the National Art Collection Fund does excellent work in helping UK museums and galleries acquire objects and works of art, such as the Ringlemere gold cup, valued at �270,000, which the British Museum was able to acquire in June, thanks to funding from the NACF, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of the British Museum.

This gold vessel, dating from 1700 to 1500 BC, was found in 2002 by a metal detectorist scouring a newly ploughed field at Ringlemere Farm, near Sandwich, in Kent. The cup, found 18 inches (45 cm) below the surface, has been struck by a plough, causing it to crumple, but its form and sophistication is still evident. Stuart Needham, FSA, Curator of the European Bronze Age at the British Museum, says that its rounded bottom suggests ceremonial use, perhaps for pouring libations. The cup will take pride of place in the Museum�s forthcoming exhibition on the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, called Treasure: Finding our Past, which runs from November 2003 until March 2004.

Quinquennial Review of the National Heritage Memorial Fund

Not be confused with the NACF, the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up after the war as a fund of last resort for works of outstanding importance to the national heritage that are at risk of being developed, damaged or destroyed � such as Tyntesfield, which the fund helped to buy last year for the National Trust.

DCMS has now announced that it has completed its quinquennial review of the NHMF and has concluded that it should continue in existence, subject to modernisation. In order to ensure greater transparency, fuller information relating to decisions on grant-funded projects will be included in future publications, such as the Fund's Annual Report and on the website. The website information will be extended to include a range of documents and guidance on grant procedures. Copies of the Quinquennial Review document can be downloaded from the DCMS website.

Licensed Premises Bill

High hopes that opposition in the Lords would see off provisions in the Licensed Premises Bill that are antagonistic to the performance of live music were dashed last week when the Bill received its third reading. Despite defeating the Government ten times over the bill, Tory peers yesterday decided this time not to support an amendment exempting live music where the number of listeners or spectators does not exceed 200 and the entertainment ceases no later than 11.30pm. After a lengthy debate, the amendment was defeated by 145 votes to 75, but Lord Redesdale, who has led the revolt in the Lords, was able to secure two key concessions: that only amplified music will be covered by the provisions of the bill and that morris dancing will be completely exempted. Congratulating Lord Redesale on securing the latter concession, Lord Phillips of Sudbury said that �it is an achievement that he will cherish to the end of his parliamentary days�.

Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill

Richard Allan�s bill successfully passed through its Third Reading stage in the House of Commons on 4 July.

Arts Minister Estelle Morris spoke warmly of the bill and its supporters, saying that �I was surprised at the size of the all-party group on the issue [a reference to the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group]. I had not realised the extent of interest and expertise both in this House and in the other place, and that is to the great credit of Members. I suspect that that explains why this is a good Bill � the people who have guided it through the House care about it and about what it will mean. Perhaps with greater enthusiasm than on many occasions, I congratulate the promoter, and I suspect that in years to come, when he looks back on all his contributions to politics, he will see this as a major one.�

The Bill will now go to the Lords where Lord Redesdale, Secretary of APPAG, will manage the Bill�s progress. In wishing the Bill well in another place, Richard Allan thanked all those who had helped the Bill on its way, including Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, FSA, David Gaimster, FSA, at DCMS, Roger Bland, FSA, and Michael Lewis, FSA, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum, and all the members of APPAG and its working group.

On a personal note, the debate elicited the fact that Richard Allen does not intend to stand for parliament again at the next election � a sad loss both to politics and archaeology. On the other hand, Tim Loughton�s contribution to the debate was noted with great interest by Tory colleagues, one of whom commented that �I am sure the Conservative party will use [that expertise] to great effect in the future'.

Written evidence invited on the Illicit Trade in Cultural Objects

In a related move, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced that it is to host a short enquiry into the Government's current policy, performance and plans in relation to the illicit trade in cultural objects. The overall focus of the Committee will be on developments since the Committee's conclusions on the subject in 2000 (see this website).

The enquiry will consider:

 progress on the recommendations of the former Committee and those of the Illicit Trade Advisory Panel (see this website) with particular regard to the development of databases on relevant international legislation and unlawfully removed cultural objects;
 progress with tackling the two areas for further work identified by the previous Committee: human remains, and items potentially removed from their lawful owners between 1933 and 1945, within the collections of publicly funded museums and galleries; and
 the scale and implications of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and museums and archaeological sites elsewhere in the country (see this website).

The Committee will hold an initial session of evidence with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and DCMS officials on the morning of 8 July 2003 at the House of Commons. Further sessions will be arranged for the autumn. Written evidence is invited from any interested individual or organisation. The deadline for the submission of memoranda is Monday 8 September 2003. Memoranda should be addressed to: House of Commons Committee Office, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA, tel: 020 7219 6188, fax 020 7219 2031, email: cmscom@parliament.uk.

Lords written answer on VAT on building works

On 1 July 2003, Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government �whether they support English Heritage's campaign for a 5 per cent flat rate of VAT on all building work whether new build or repair and maintenance to existing building?�.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey replied, saying that: �The Government have no plans to remove the zero rates of VAT on the construction of new housing, residential buildings and charity buildings, so have not accepted the case for a 5 per cent rate of VAT on all building work. However, the Government will carefully consider the representations from English Heritage and other bodies for a reduced rate on all building repair work in the context of the upcoming European Commission review of the reduced rates provisions in EC VAT law�.

As part of its Flat VAT campaign English Heritage is urging heritage bodies to write to the Treasury, putting reasoned arguments for the reform of the punitive level of VAT on historic building maintenance and repair. Letters should explain why reform of the VAT regime would be helpful and should express the hope that the Treasury will support such reform. Letters should be addressed to John Healey, Economic Secretary, HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ.

Further details of the campaign are available from the English Heritage
website.

Aviation and compensation

Campaigners opposed to the Government�s plans to build twelve new airport runways in the UK (with devastating effect on the natural and historic environment) have received help from an entirely unexpected quarter. Whilst the National Trust and the Campaign for Rural England (CPRE) have been calling for fair taxation on aviation fuel as a way to damp demand for air travel, the European Parliament has delivered a far more devastating blow to low-cost flights by raising substantially the amount of compensation that airlines must pay to passengers who are denied seats on overbooked flights, whose flights are delayed or whose luggage goes missing. Low-cost operators say that such rates of compensation will force them to raise fares and bring an end to cheap flights. If so, the Government will perhaps have to reconsider whether lower levels of demand justify going ahead with their ambitious airport expansion plans.

Kew joins list of World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Site status was awarded to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew on 2 July when Unesco officials met to decide which sites would join the list of places considered to be of cultural and historic importance not just in their own countries, but also to the international community. Kew was honoured because of the international significance of its botanical collections, its research work and its influence on the development of garden landscapes.

Altogether, twenty-four new sites were added to the list this week, bringing the total to 754. Controversially, Unesco agreed to inscribe Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, even though its fabled Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban regime in March 2001. A Unesco spokesman said that the decision to list the site was symbolic of �the hope of the international community that extreme acts of intolerance, such as the deliberate destruction of the Buddhas, are never repeated again'.

As well as adding new sites to the list, Unesco has also moved the ancient Iraqi city of Ashur on to the organisation's List of World Heritage in Danger. Located on the Tigris river in northern Iraq, Ashur was the capital of the Assyrian empire and dates back to the third millennium BC. Under Saddam Hussein, the city was threatened by a dam project, and its future remains uncertain.

Among the other sites newly inscribed on the list are the Jewish Quarter and the early thirteenth-century Basilica of St Procopius, in Trebic, in the Czech Republic; James Island and Related Sites in Gambia, significant for its relationship to the origins and the abolition of the slave trade and as a document to early access to the interior of Africa; the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in India, displaying paintings that date from the Mesolithic to the Historical period; the archaeological site of Takht-e Suleyman, in north-western Iran, the fourteenth-century Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkestan; the wooden churches of southern Little Poland; the citadel, ancient city and fortress buildings of Derbent in the Russian Federation; and the cities of �beda and Baeza in southern Spain.

A complete list of newly inscribed sites can be found on the Unesco website.

York Minster library to be saved

Following the intervention of Dr Hope, the Archbishop of York, it has been announced that the Library at York Minster will not now be closed, as had been proposed as a cost-cutting measure, but that the compulsory charge of �4.50 a head for admission to the Minster will go ahead. The charge of �4.50 is the second highest for admission to a major church or cathedral, after Westminster Abbey. Dr Hope said the charge was regrettable but necessary as a means of reducing the Minster�s �500,000 annual deficit. The cathedral authorities had appealed previously for visitors to make a voluntary donation of �3.50; in reality, donations averaged �0.40 a head. Opponents of the charge say it turns the cathedral into a cultural leisure venue rather than a place of worship. Defenders say that most visitors already treat the Minster as a tourist attraction and should be made to help pay for its maintenance.

Mary Rose Trust revisits historic wreck site

The Mary Rose Trust has announced that it is in consultation with the Royal Navy over plans to dredge a deeper approach channel to Portsmouth harbour, to take new and larger Type 45 destroyers planned to be in service before 2008.

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of The Mary Rose Trust, said: �We acknowledge that the Mary Rose historic wreck site could be compromised by one of the proposed routes. Since the project is at a consultative stage, it would be premature to speculate further. However, the public and the archaeological community should be reassured that detailed and consultative discussions are taking place.

�The current intention, subject to funding being provided, is to carry out a four-week diving operation this summer to bring up known secondary deposits from the Mary Rose historic wreck site and to clean up the site. The visit last week of the survey ship Strilbas to the historic wreck site has enabled the Trust to complete a detailed survey of the site, the results of which will help us to establish our programme of excavation and stabilisation of the site, should the requirement arise�.

Painted cave discovered near Sydney

Archaeologists in Australia have announced the first significant new find of prehistoric rock art to be made in fifty years. The paintings lie in eleven superimposed layers ranging in date from 2000 BC to the early nineteenth century, and were found eight years ago by hikers in the Wollemi National Park, north west of Sydney. The inaccessible site was only investigated fully last year, when an expedition led by archaeologist Paul Tacon, of the Australian Museum, recorded some 203 paintings, including life-size depictions of eagles, kangaroos. lizards and wombats, as well as godlike human-animal composites. The paintings are said to be in pristine condition, and their exact whereabouts are being kept secret for fear of damage by vandals and sightseers.

Europa Nostra Awards: call for entries

Europa Nostra, which administers the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage (open to EU member states and organisations) and the Europa Nostra Awards Scheme (non-EU countries in Europe), is calling for entries for the 2004 awards. Six prizes of 10,000 euros each are awarded annually to recognise outstanding projects in the fields of architectural heritage, archaeology, cultural landscape conservation or art collections. Europa Nostra�s website gives a full list of this year�s winners, plus entry forms for next year�s awards, which have to be submitted by 15 September 2003.

Quite separately, Europa Nostra continues to assist restoration projects related to endangered monuments or sites in private ownership through its Europa Nostra Restoration Fund. Entries for the 2004 allocation must be received by 15 December 2003; full details are to be found on the same website.

Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowships

Entries are also being invited for Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowships, which are available to applicants of all ages in all walks of life and offer British citizens the opportunity to travel overseas to undertake study projects related to their interests, trade or profession. Details can be found at www.wcmt.org.uk.

Rosyer Lecture 2003

Dr Ken George will give a lecture on the medieval Cornish-language play on the life of Saint Kea that was recently discovered in the National Library of Wales. Organised by the City Lit Cornish Society, the lecture will take place on 19 July at 3pm in Room 1 at the City Literary Institute, 16 Stukeley Street, London WC2, admission free.

Archaeology on TV

At 9pm this Thursday, 10 July, BBC 2 will broadcast an hour-long documentary based on an attempt made by 4,000 Scottish settlers to establish a colony in Panama in 1698. The settlers planned to get rich by creating a strategic trading post straddling the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The Darien venture was sponsored by public subscription, and nearly half of Scotland�s wealth was poured into it, so that when the colony failed, the financial repercussions led directly to the unification of Scotland and England in 1707.

Some three hundred years later, a team of archaeologists led by Mark Horton, FSA, hacked their way into the jungle to see whether any part of the colony had survived. After two weeks of hard labour they discovered the fortifications, the remains of huts, a wrecked ship, cannon balls, a pocket sundial and two Scottish coins from the period.

The film intersperses straightforward documentary with dramatic scenes showing why the colony failed. The fortuitously named actor Bill Paterson plays William Paterson, the man who instigated the Darien scheme. Advance publicity for the programme says that the interweaving of drama and documentary highlights the many uncanny parallels between the original Scottish expedition and the experience of the archaeologists. The Daily Telegraph�s TV critic concludes that the programme is: �a fascinating and wholly absorbing hour�.

The Big Dig

Fellows of the Society were out in force last weekend in support of Time Team�s Big Dig, billed as Britain�s biggest community excavation. While Helen Geake, FSA, and David Gaimster, FSA, tried to stay cool and collected under the heat of the studio lights, other Fellows, including Richard Reece, Neil Holbrook and Francis Pryor, perspired freely under the hot sun in various parts of England, as over 1,000 test pits were dug in participants� back gardens.

Salon�s editor also took part in the Groundwell Ridge excavation, supervising fifty first-time archaeologists, and he is proud to say that only two of them decided, at the end of a gruelling weekend, that they never wanted to see a trowel again. The rest were mesmerised by every snail shell, rat bone, fossilised crinoid and abraded Roman sherd to emerge from their metre-square pits, and all wanted to know how they could become involved in archaeology on a regular basis.

The day ended when members of the public were finally allowed on to the site. One visitor caused great amusement when she approached one of the diggers and asked: �so, are you one of these alcohologists then?�.

Vacancies

Durham County Council, Project Officer (Regional Research Framework for the Historic Environment)
Salary �21,282 to �22,689, closing date 16 July 2003

Based in the archaeology section at County Hall Durham, and in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Durham, the job involves working with colleagues in local authorities, universities, special interest groups, museums and English Heritage to produce a resource assessment and research agenda for the historic environment in the region. For an informal discussion, contact Fiona Macdonald, tel: 0191 383 4212. For a job description and application form see www.durham.gov.uk/jobs.

English Heritage: Architectural Conservator
Salary �24,000 to �28,000, closing date 18 July 2003

Working as part of the team responsible for the development and promotion of sustainable standards and national policy in the area of building conservation, with an ambitious programme of work that includes implementation of new technical research projects and the revision of EH�s highly influential series of technical publications. Further details from Carole Arjoon, Human Resources Department, Room 409, English Heritage, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET, quoting reference number R/100/03 and enclosing an A4-sized self-addressed envelope (no stamp needed).

Cadw, Chief Architect
Salary �42,999, closing date 25 July 2003

To manage the team of professional and technical staff responsible for building conservation work on 127 ancient monuments in Cadw�s care throughout Wales. Application pack can be obtained by emailing: recruitment@danielssmalley.co.uk.

Architectural Heritage Fund, Chief Executive
Salary c. �55,000, closing date 25 July 2003

Reporting to the Chairman and trustees, the chief executive has overall responsibility for the running of the AHF and for all its resources, for developing and implementing strategies and plans, for representing and promoting the AHF and ensuring the efficient management of resources for loans and grants, including fund raising. Further details from response.manager@odgers.com quoting ref: NAO/5507ST.