Salon Archive

Issue: 65

Weekly meeting report

At this week�s meeting, Fellows learned that Lambeth Palace has London�s only surviving medieval prisons (one for the parish located in the Gatehouse, and one at the top of the turret attached to Lollard�s Tower, lined with oak boards bearing the graffiti of prisoners held on suspicion of heresy in the late fifteenth century). Tim Tatton-Brown�s detailed account of the palace also included insights into the age of the chapel undercroft, the oldest part of the palace complex, dating from the late twelfth century, and the continuity of use of the medieval garderobe chutes, which are still used to flush the modern lavatories.

A full report of the meeting held on 9 October is now available on the Fellows� side of the Society�s website.

Forthcoming meetings

16 October: Curators and Curatorship at Sir John Soane�s Museum, 1837�1995, by Margaret Richardson, FSA
23 October 23: Ballot

Fellows� news

Fellows will no doubt be proud to know that several objects from the Society�s collections have been given a prominent place in the Victoria and Albert Museum�s Gothic exhibition, which opened last week. Thomas Sutcliffe wrote a lyrical and wistful account of the exhibition in The Independent in which he took as his theme the iconoclasm of later ages, so that scarcely an object survives from the medieval period that has not been scarred in some fashion. To illustrate his theme, he singled out an object that Fellows know well: ��This is one of the finest surviving alabasters� reads the caption on a sculpture of St George and the dragon � and yet St George has lost his arm, the maiden has lost her head, the lance and sword have gone and the shield has been nibbled like a biscuit. What survives makes it look as if survival has been hard won.�

Fellows might also be interested to know that Helen Webb, who has been the Property Manager at Kelmscott for the last thirteen years, has decided to move on to new pastures: to Ilfracombe, in fact, where she plans to run a bed and breakfast business. Helen�s job (see Vacancies below) will be advertised locally and nationally over the next two weeks.

Belatedly news has reached the Society of the death of Dr Jochen George Garbsch, FSA, on 25 April this year.

Corrections and amplifications

Following the Salon 64 report on the fine second-century AD enamelled bronze bowl (or patera) found in Staffordshire bearing the name of one Aelius Draco, John Nandris, FSA, has written with a counter-suggestion to the idea that owner, Aelius Draco, was Greek. In a letter published in The Daily Telegraph, John wrote that �His Latin name, the link to service on Hadrian�s Wall, the date of the bowl, and the �Celtic� style of its decoration all suggest that he was a Dacian. After the conquest of Dacia by Trajan in AD 103/106 many Dacian soldiers served with distinction in the Roman legions on the wall. Their admiration for Roman culture helped to transmit late provincial Latin into today�s Romanian language. Dacians had been in close symbiotic contact with Celts since the fourth century BC. Draco may be taken as an allusion to the Dacian battle standard.�

On the subject of Henry V�s funerary shield � one of the star exhibits in the Victoria and Albert Museum�s Gothic exhibition � Claude Blair, FSA, writes to say that: �the reason why I � like others before me � think that it must have belonged to Bolingbroke is that the arm-pad on the inside is embroidered with the heraldic charge known as a �charbocle�, which had nothing to do with the English royal arms, but was part of those of his second wife, Joan of Navarre, Henry V's stepmother. If, as is virtually certain, the arms once on the front of the shield were the normal English ones, they were appropriate to both monarchs, and so it was also appropriate for display at the funeral of the younger one. The use of obsolete armour for this purpose was to become common.�

On the subject of Turner�s paintings showing the arrival and disembarkation of King Louis-Philippe of France at Portsmouth, on 8 October 1844, Robert H Thompson, FSA, writes to point out that Salon incorrectly described him as the �future king� of France during his 1838 exile in England. He had, of course, already been crowned �citizen king� in 1830 � first under the Revolutionary title of �Lieutenant General of the Kingdom� � and he reigned until his abdication in 1848. The king�s period of exile in Twickenham in 1838 was one of two episodes during which Prince Louis Napoleon, the future Napoleon III, seized control of the country.

Thanks are due to Graham Speake, FSA, for pointing out that the author of the new biography of Robert Byron, reviewed last week, is James Knox, and not James Know � an important point for anyone thinking of buying or referring to the book.

Finally Francis Pryor writes to say that his Britain BC series was made for Channel 4, and not for the BBC, as was stated incorrectly in Salon 64, prompting the reflection that one does tend to make the automatic assumption that all good archaeology programmes on TV emanate from the BBC � whereas the recent Hidden Treasure programme has proven that that assumption is a mistake, and that, in reality, it is Channel 4 that deserves the credit for intelligent TV programmes about archaeology.

Time Flyers on Tuesday

Having said that, Fellow Mark Horton returns to the screens this Tuesday, 14 October, with another series of Time Flyers, which is a BBC series (made by BBC Scotland but networked on BBC2). The first episode of Time Flyers was rather unkindly reviewed by the Daily Mail as being like the adventures of the Famous Five, with presenter Mark Horton much given to exclaiming �gosh� and �golly�. Those who stuck with the programme saw it rapidly evolve into an entertaining and instructive series on landscape archaeology. The present series promises to continue that theme, beginning with an investigation into the use of film industry specialists during the Blitz to create decoy docks in order to draw German aerial bombing away from British port cities, such as Hull.

Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill

The Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill, which was introduced as a Private Members Bill by Richard Allan MP (Lib Dem, Sheffield Hallam), successfully passed through its final reading in the House of Lords on 10 October, and now awaits Royal Assent before becoming law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not in Scotland (the Scottish Executive is currently examining the Westminster bill to see what would be required to secure similar protection in Scotland).

The full text of the Bill and explanatory notes can be found online. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will issue guidance on the implementation of the Act to coincide with its coming into force, which is likely to be at the end of December 2003.

Richard Allan, MP, calls for Parthenon marbles to be 'reunited'

Richard Allan was in the news for a different reason last week when he spoke in support of the Parthenon 2004 campaign, which is calling for the marble sculptures removed from Greece by Lord Elgin 200 years ago to be reunited with those he left behind in Athens. He said: �Going to see the marbles in the British Museum is not a satisfying experience � it can't possibly be when you know the building from which they were taken is still standing 2,500 km away. The display in London only works and makes sense for a small number of academics. It is like having a few stones from Stonehenge in a museum in Rome. It would be more dignified for the UK to give them back now, rather than having them dragged back kicking and screaming, as will happen in the end.�

But the British Museum�s Director, Neil MacGregor, rejected this argument in a speech he gave to the Museums Association�s annual conference in Brighton last week. Neil MacGregor said that it was the museum's duty to preserve the universality of the marbles, and to protect them from being appropriated as a �nationalistic political symbol�. �This is one of the roles of a universal museum, to refuse to allow objects to be appropriated to one particular political agenda,� he said.

Neil MacGregor insisted that the British Museum was �a resource against fundamentalism�, one of the few places in the world where objects such as the marbles could be seen in the context of world history and culture. The marbles were only fully comprehensible when the contributions of Asia and Europe were both considered, he added.

Roman Frontiers as a World Heritage Site

David Breeze, FSA, has written to inform Fellows that he recently gave a short address to the International Congress of Roman Frontiers to propose the creation of a multi-country World Heritage Site to encompass all the European frontiers of the Roman Empire � which might also be extended to cover the frontiers in Asia and in Africa. David also reported that UNESCO has agreed to consider changing the way it lists World Heritage Sites that cover two or more countries to create the new heading of �transboundary sites� but component sites � such as Hadrian's Wall, the Antonine Wall and the German Limes � will also appear under the heading of the individual country.

Co-ordinators for the five countries that have so far proposed their frontiers as World Heritage Sites (Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and the UK) will meet in London later in November to discuss the formulation of a management philosophy. Separately, discussions have been taking place among archaeologists concerning research strategies for all the European frontiers of the Roman Empire, and a working party has recommended that funds be sought from the European Science Foundation and the Culture 2000 programme to explore six separate aspects:

1. the creation of an international database for Roman frontiers;
2. improved public access to information to Roman frontiers;
3. the definition of gaps in basic information about the frontiers;
4. the definition of frontier zones;
5. the definition of other potential World Heritage Sites;
6. the creation of basic standards of site management for the World Heritage Site.

Until now, David says, these discussions have taken place within a relatively small group of people but the time has now come to bring all interested parties within the framework of discussion, research and action. Anyone who has views on how this might be done can contact David by email.

IFA on the move

For those who are not already aware, the Institute of Field Archaeologists has moved to a new location and the postal address is now:

School of Human and Environmental Services
University of Reading
Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AB.

All other contact details remain the same.

Society for Arabian Studies lecture

At 6.15pm on 15 October, Dr Robert Hoyland, of St John�s College, Oxford, will be lecturing at the School of African and Oriental Studies (Room G2) on the subject of �Language and Identity: the entwined histories of Arabic and Aramaic�. Dr Hoyland is the author of the recently published book entitled Arabia and the Arabs: from the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam. Enquiries to the Hon Secretary, Ionis Thompson.

Conference on the Upland Heritage of Wales

On 24 October, RCAHM Wales is hosting a half-day conference (from 9.00 am to 1.30 pm) at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff on �Our Upland Heritage and the Future of Wales�. Alan Pugh, Welsh Assembly Member and Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport, will make the keynote address, and speakers include our Treasurer, Professor Geoffrey Wainwright, speaking on the well-preserved and largely unrecorded archaeological remains that lie above the 250 metre contour � which in Wales accounts for more than a third of the total landscape. Tickets and further details available from David Browne.

Earliest use of fire in Europe

Archaeologists working for Wiltshire County Council are claiming to have discovered the earliest use of fire in Europe at a site close to a tributary of the River Avon on the route of the proposed Harnham Relief Road. Along with 44 flint hand axes, charcoal and animal bones have been found at what could be a seasonal encampment dating from between 250,000 and 300,000 years ago. Helena Cave Penny, Wiltshire County Council's county archaeologist for the Salisbury district, said: �The presence of charcoal at the site suggests the people there made fires ... it could be the earliest evidence of such fires in Britain and probably in Europe�.

Maltese cart ruts could be abandoned fields

Claudia Sagona, from Birmingham University, has suggested that the famous �cart tracks�, consisting of parallel lines scored into the flat limestone plateau south of Rabat, on Malta, could simply be water channels associated with cliff-top field systems. The conventional explanation is that the ruts were worn by sledges used by inhabitants to move the huge stone blocks used in the construction of the island�s Neolithic temples. There are many problems with this theory, not least the fact that many of the tracks lead nowhere except to the edge of sheer cliffs.

Dr Sagona now suggests that Malta�s Neolithic farmers created fertile soil using a system she has observed in the Aran Islands, where generations of farmers created fertile fields out of sand and seaweed, protected by dry stone walls, and also scored channels into the rock both to channel away and to save rain water. Her studies suggest that such fields were vulnerable to minor climate change and that torrential rain could have washed away up to a metre of soil from Malta�s exposed sites, causing the catastrophic crop failures that led to the abandonment of the island by its Neolithic temple builders around 4,500 years ago.

New method for dating pottery

An article in September�s Analytical Chemistry, the journal of the American Chemical Society, reports that Richard Evershed and colleagues from the University of Bristol have developed a new method for dating ancient pottery, through the analysis of animal fats preserved inside the ceramic walls. Chemical analysis has already been used to examine residues found on pottery surfaces, but contact with the soil often means that the any dating evidence derived from this source is likely to be corrupt. Now Evershed�s team has perfected a technique for extracting lipids (animal fats) from within the fabric of unglazed pottery, and in sufficient quantities to allow radiocarbon dating. Fifteen pieces of pottery ranging in age from 4000 BC to the fifteenth century AD have been blind-dated using the new method and then compared with dates gained from associated objects using conventional techniques. In all cases there was good correspondence between blind and validated dates.

Lutyens' Delhi under threat from developers

According to a report in The Guardian (7 October) conservationists are worried by plans from India�s urban development ministry to construct a new defence ministry and a new foreign ministry building next to the Lutyens-designed national archives building in New Delhi. The plan would involve the demolition of half the existing 104 bungalows in the Lodi Estate, realigning the plots, and constructing new houses for ministers, officials and senior military officers. A team from the Lutyens Trust arrived in Delhi last week to meet the influential Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and discuss how to prevent what they see as a threat to Lutyens' Delhi, an area of 2,800 hectares (6,920 acres) designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the city's chief planner in 1912�30.

Lutyens did not himself design the bungalows designated for demolition, but conservationist Sunita Kohli argues that they are �an important element in what Lutyens described as the ordered beauty of the city�. Nalini Thakur, another conservationist said the problem was the lack of comprehensive heritage protection and management system in India. Syed Shafi, a former government chief planner, is campaigning for world heritage status for the area.

Seahenge to be displayed in Lynn Museum

An application for �940,000 has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund and a bid sought for �80,000 from Norfolk County Council towards the cost of displaying timbers from the Holme Henge (also known as Seahenge) timber circle in Lynn Museum, in King�s Lynn. The timbers are currently being stored at Flag Fen Bronze Age site, near Peterborough. Area museums officer Dr Robin Hanley said that only half the circle would be displayed in the museum, but suitable storage space would be found for the other timbers where people could access them. He added that all the timbers would undergo �a very delicate and slow� freeze-drying process. The central stump could take up to five years to conserve, so a replica will be used for the display until it is ready. The new Lynn Museum is expected to open to the public in September 2005.

Laban Dance Centre wins Stirling Prize

The Laban Dance Centre in Deptford, south-east London, has been judged the winner of this year's �20,000 Stirling prize for architecture � beating s shortlist of finalists that included Norman Foster's Great Court at the British Museum and a ferry shelter on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. The Laban Centre was designed by the Swiss team of Herzog & de Meuron, who were also responsible for converting Bankside power station into Tate Modern. The Centre is described as a �shimmering, translucent building that changes colour according to the light�, bringing glamour to a London district that has previously had little cultural investment.

Vacancies

The Kelmscott Manor Estate, Property Manager
Salary c �25,000, closing date 7 November 2003

The Property Manager is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Kelmscott estate, including finance and staff and the supervision of major and minor works, and acts as Secretary to the Kelmscott Management Committee. The state comprises the Grade-I listed house and its furniture, textiles, carpets, ceramics and works of art by Morris, his family and his associates, along with a small amount of tenanted land and several tenanted cottages. The house is open to the public and has a listed garden, a shop and a restaurant.

The Post is tenable from 1 January 2004. Further particulars can be obtained from the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE.