Salon Archive

Issue: 67

Weekly meeting report

This week�s meeting took the form of a ballot during which John A Goodall, FSA, exhibited a German armorial tile, and David Morgan Evans, the General Secretary, spoke �of games that Spaniards play�, exhibiting a rare set of eighteenth-century playing cards from the Society�s Collection.

A full report of the meeting held on 23 October is now available on the Fellows� side of the Society�s website.

Ballot result

As a result of the ballot held on 23 October 2003, the following were all elected to the Fellowship:

Jill Channer
Aidan Mark Dodson
Aideen Mary Ireland
Mary Cahill
Andrew John Shortland
Mary Gale Glynn
Elizabeth O�Brien
Christopher Nigel Date
Nigel David Clubb
Malcolm Ashton Cooper
Loyd Grossman
Brendan John O�Connor
Mark Downing
Jonathan Adams
Christopher Ridgeway
Colin Ridler
Elizabeth Gordon Angelicoussis
Peter John Hinton
Steven Hobbs
Caroline Mary Jackson

Forthcoming meetings

30 October: The Archaeology of the Book, by Dr Mirjam Foot, FSA
6 November: Artistic Propaganda in the Wars of the Roses, by Elizabeth Danbury, FSA
14 November: Meeting to be held in Boston, USA

Fellows� news

At the meeting held on 23 October, the President made an appeal for more Fellows to come forward to exhibit material at ballots. �We hear�, the President said, �through the medium of inferior television programmes of the many intriguing finds that are being reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme�. Given that Fellows could bring a very substantial diversity of expertise to the identification of such objects, she hoped that some of theses objects would be brought before the Society, restoring to ballot days the lively discussions and debates of old. During the 2004 spring and summer session, ballots will be held on 29 January, 11 March, 13 May and 17 June.

Lisa Elliott would like Fellows to contact her if they have changed their address or employment in the last six months, or since they completed the Fellows Database form earlier in the year. Lisa is preparing a new Fellows� List for printing and would like this to be as up to date as possible.

We are sorry to report that Anthony Laughton Pacitto, FSA, recently passed away.

Prizes for top marks in GCSE and A level Archaeology

The winners of the Society�s annual prizes for the top marks in the year�s GCSE and A level Archaeology examinations have just been announced. The GCSE award goes to Colin Merrett, from Poole Adult Education Oakdale Centre, Dorset, and the A level prize goes to Michael Graham Bamforth, from Peterborough Regional College. This is the second year running in which the A level prize has gone to a student from Peterborough Regional College. �500 is awarded to the best student in each exam, and a further �500 goes to the institution where they studied. The awards are intended to encourage and support the study of archaeology or, in the spirit of the Society of Antiquaries Royal Charter of 1751, for �the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries�.

Digital publication for archaeological journals

Our Director, Martin Millett, chaired a meeting last week at the Society to discuss issues relating to the electronic publishing of archaeological journals. The meeting, held jointly with the Council for British Archaeology, was attended by sixty people and considered three key issues: the publishing of current journals in digital form; the digitisation and distribution of back numbers of journals; and the potential for a consortium of archaeological journal publishers to work together on issues of common interest in digital publishing.

As a result of the meeting, Martin Millett and Mike Heyworth will produce a paper setting out how a consortium might operate. The paper will be circulated for consultation before the end of the end of the year. Further details can be found at www.britarch.ac.uk/pubs/epublishing/.

Redundancies in Winchester�s Archaeology Service

Barbara Yorke, FSA, writes to say that �Fellows will no doubt be disappointed to hear that, as a result of government reductions in the rate support grant, Winchester City Council is proposing to make savings by axing three jobs from its Museums Service. One of the effects will be that local archaeological evaluations, etc, will no longer be carried out by an experienced in-house team, but will have to be contracted out. Fellows who agree that such cuts are a false economy may care to share their views with S Campbell, Leader of Council, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester SO23 9LJR (scampbell@winchester.gov.uk)�.

Verulamium saved from the plough

English Heritage has just announced a landmark agreement to ensure that fields covering part the internationally important remains at Verulamium are taken out of cultivation and converted to permanent pasture. Ancient hedgerows that had been removed to facilitate cultivation will be re-instated.

It was at Verulamium that the Society�s late President, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, made his name and developed many pioneering archaeological techniques. Covering about 200 acres, Verulamium now represents a major part of a farm located on the outskirts of St Albans and owned by Gorhambury Estates. The Roman city was never built over, but the remains have been ploughed almost continuously since the 1940s.

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: �This is a landmark achievement in English Heritage�s campaign to curb the damage done to our heritage by intensive ploughing�. He added that Verulamium was only one of at least 3,000 nationally important scheduled monuments that are being put at risk by ploughing. �English Heritage�s campaign, Ripping Up History, calls for a new strategy�, he said, �one which has the support of farmers and which, in return, will properly reward them for their good management of historically important sites. English Heritage will continue to campaign for changes in heritage legislation to ensure that Verulamium is the first of more good news stories�.

English Heritage Regional Strategies 2003 to 2005

This year, instead of producing a single national Strategic Plan, English Heritage has published nine Regional Plans that explain how the organisation�s overall strategy will be delivered in each region. Copies of the regional reports can be seen on the website (www.english-heritage.org.uk) under �Policy�. Copies can also be requested from the Customer Services department on 0870 333 1181 or by email from customers@english-heritage.org.uk. EH�s annual report and accounts for 2002/3 have also just been published, including a comprehensive analysis of performance against targets and key facts for 2002-03. The report can be downloaded from the English Heritage website.

Aston Hall and Park to be saved

Birmingham City Council has announced that it has been awarded a stage one grant of �4.1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to rescue Aston Hall and Park from decline and vandalism. The Council plans to use the money to restore the Grade I-listed buildings set in Thomas Holte�s 329-acre deer park. Through the creation of new community, visitor and education facilities the Council hopes to develop a sense of community ownership for the Hall and Park. Restoration works to the extensive Grade II-listed parkland will reinstate many of the influential planting schemes laid out by the Birmingham Civic Society in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as regenerating the open green spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Iraqi conservators to train at BM

Four of the Baghdad National Museum�s team of eight conservators will be given intensive training at the British Museum as soon as they are granted visas, the museum has announced. The conservators were due to arrive in August, but the coalition government in Iraq has yet to devise a system for issuing Iraqi passports. Once the Iraqis have completed their BM training, seven international conservators will go to Baghdad to work alongside Iraqi conservators for ten weeks. One of their priorities will be to deal with the most urgent cases of war damage, which has primarily impacted on the museum�s ivory, stone and ceramic objects, according to British Museum conservators Kenneth Uprichard and Birthe Christensen. Their report also singles out for urgent attention the Warka Vase, seized by looters, but returned to the museum on 12 June, ceramic lions from Tell Harmal and Haditha and three Parthian marble statues.

Roman barge excavated in the Netherlands

Dutch archaeologists have excavated a Roman barge dating from around AD 100 in the Dutch town of Woerden (in South Holland province, north of Gouda), a strategic settlement on the banks of the Rhine and the site of the Roman military settlement of Castellum Laurium. The flat-bottomed barge was propelled by a team of twelve rowers and was probably used to transport building stone from the nearest source, the Eiffel region of Germany. The barge is exactly 100 Roman feet long (about 30 metres). Thirty similar vessels have been discovered in north-west Europe, dating from the time when the Romans were improving their fortifications along the northern borders of their empire. It has been argued that such bulky boats only travelled one way: that barges were broken up on reaching their port destination for use as building material. Wouter Vos, the Director of the Woerden excavation, believes now that the oars would have allowed the crew to navigate strong currents back upstream�.

Government considers scheme to take art in lieu of tax

The Goodison Review, commissioned by the Treasury to look into tax and funding arrangements and the way that museums and galleries acquire works of art, has yet to report, but an article in The Independent on 25 October gave some clues about the Government�s thinking on this issue. The �Acceptance in Lieu� scheme, which allows owners to settle tax bills by donating important works of art, only applies to inheritance tax at present. In future, according to the article, the scheme could be extended to cover all forms of tax, including capital gains tax and income tax. Apparently drafts of a Treasury report recommending the extension of the scheme have already been circulating amongst tax and art experts, and the reception from both has been positive. If such a scheme does go ahead, it will make a very important contribution towards securing cultural and historical treasures for British collections that could otherwise be sold on the international market.

Vacancies

Cambridgeshire County Council, County Archaeologist
Salary �31,941 to �37,254, closing date 7 November 2003

An inspirational leader and first-rate communicator is required with senior management experience and a thorough understanding of current issues in archaeology, local authority financing and strategic planning. For details visit the website or email: cambridgeshire@tmp.com quoting job reference SW1744.