Salon Archive

Issue: 77

Weekly meeting report

This week�s meeting took the form of a ballot. Andrew Fitzpatrick, FSA, exhibited a Bronze Age rapier from Testwood in Hampshire, and discussed the ritual deposition of Bronze Age blades. Judith Blezzard, FSA, exhibited letters and musical manuscripts by Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and discussed the musical life of Liverpool�s Anglican Cathedral in the 1930s when the cathedral was in the forefront of pioneering new forms of worship.

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

Forthcoming meetings


5 February:
�Antiquarian Gleanings in the North of England�, by William Bell Scott, c 1851, by Simon Jervis, Hon VPSA
12 February: Laurence Nowell, Cartographer, Linguist, Archivist and Spy, and his Anglo-Saxon Atlas of 1563, by David Hill, FSA
26 February: Phalanx versus Legion: a classical problem from a Renaissance perspective, by Sydney Anglo, FSA

Newly elected Fellows

As a result of Thursday�s ballot, the following were elected Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London:

Pamela-Jane Shaw
Alan Rushton Williams
James Symonds
Thomas John Jude O�Loughlin
Antonio Guiseppe Sagona
Rachel Margaret Newman
Margaret Cox
Kate Owen
Christopher Paul Catling
Martin Robert Allen
Jennifer Alexander
Richard Henry Meadow
David Wyn Griffiths
Richard Hugh Osgood
Mary Whiteley
Robert Courtenay Yorke
Carole Rawcliffe
Roland Thomas Richardson
Revd Malcolm Arthur Johnson
Elizabeth Baigent.

The Burlington House court case

The hearing in the Court of Chancery into the status of the five learned societies at Burlington House came to a temporary close on 30 January. The Judge, Mr Justice Peter Smith, has reserved his judgement for twenty-eight days. During that time, he has asked the two parties to enter into mediation, to see if they can find a mutually acceptable solution to their differences. Neither party is obliged to accept the outcome, and the nature of the mediation will be left to the parties themselves to agree. If at the end of the twenty-eight days mediation is unsuccessful, the Judge has said that he will give a ruling.

The Society�s General Secretary, David Morgan Evans, has supplied the following comments. �Strictly the judge has �stayed proceedings� and ordered compulsory mediation, which the Society is happy to co-operate with. If, after the twenty eight days which he has allowed, there is no agreement, the judge has asked for confidential reports from both sides to explain the reasons for the failure. He is proceeding to write his judgement and this will be issued after the mediation period. If the mediation fail, the reasons for failure will not be examined by the judge until after he has issued his judgement. Fellows will realise that, as the court proceedings are stayed, the matter is still sub judice and further comment would be inappropriate. I am aware that the Geological Society spokesman commented to The Guardian, and that this was reported last Saturday. Could I make it clear that he does not speak for the Society of Antiquaries and that I regard his actions as most ill-advised. Once we are in a position to comment we will. Fellows can be assured that Officers and Council are very much on top of all the issues that are being raised.�

News of Fellows

Salon has been informed that Mrs Dilys Neate, OBE, FSA, has passed away. Dilys was a founding Chairman of the Winchester project (1962) and remained Chairman until 1996. We hope to publish an obituary in the near future.

Church visiting remains a very popular activity

The Church of England has recently published the results of a national opinion poll showing that church visiting is a national pastime, with four out of five adults in the UK having visited a church or place of worship over the last year other than for a religious service. The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Business on behalf of the Church of England and English Heritage, showed that 89 per cent of those claiming to be Christian had visited a place of worship, 75 per cent of those professing another faith, and 80 per cent of those with no religion.

Ten per cent of those polled said they had attended a concert or theatrical performance in a place of worship over the past year; 13 per cent said they had just walked in and another 10 per cent said they visited to find a quiet space: interestingly, the number of people visiting a church to find a quiet space was highest (28 per cent of those polled) among non-church-going inner city residents.

The ORB poll also found that 83 per cent of adults in Britain regard their church as a place of worship, 63 per cent think of it as a local landmark and 53 per cent regards it as a historic place. More than six in ten (63 per cent) said they would be concerned if their local church or chapel were no longer there. The majority of those polled were happy to consider alternative uses, with two-thirds agreeing that churches should be social meeting places. Poor understanding of the financial responsibilities for ecclesiastical building was apparent, with nearly a quarter of those polled believing that churches were maintained at tax payers� expense � though 42 per cent of those polled thought that they should be!

Commenting on the results of the poll, our Fellow, the Bishop of London and Chairman of the Church Heritage Forum, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, acknowledged the claims of the whole community on its ecclesiastical buildings and said: Church buildings have an important place in local affections, with an impact on cultural and community life which extends far beyond the worshipping congregation.

Copies of the poll report can be obtained from the Church of England website.

Cathedrals given �2 million in grants for repairs

English Heritage announced last week that it was awarded grants totalling �2 million to pay for roof and masonry refurbishment, as well as fire detection and prevention projects, at twenty cathedrals, from ancient Durham to modern Liverpool and Coventry. Lincoln received one of the largest grants (of �200,000) for its continuing work on the restoration of the Dean's Eye window. The final phase in the restoration of the thirteenth-century window is expected to be completed by 2006. Salisbury also received �200,000 for repairs to the south nave aisle roof, north nave masonry and leaded light windows.

The grants mark the fourteenth tranche of funding released under the cathedral grants scheme, which has distributed a total of �39.8 million since English Heritage launched the scheme in 1991. English Heritage has warned, however, that the total grant available will be reduced to �1 million annually from next year, and that funding will then shift to parish churches.

The concept of eternal rest

Last week�s Salonreport on the debate concerning the treatment of human remains produced responses from two fellows. Richard Reece, FSA, wrote to say that �reading about the concept of �eternal� rest for material bones (and so a contradiction in terms) a story from Peter (Professor W F) Grimes came to mind. When excavating St Bride�s in Fleet Street he was often visited by a friendly judge from the law courts across the road. On one visit the judge saw a recently cleared iron coffin which gave him cause for thought. He came back a few days later with details of a court case from the 1860s which turned on the fact that you were only legally entitled to your earth-space for a set number of years (30?) and iron coffins clearly transgressed this rule � as a result of the case, the use of iron coffins was discontinued unless an extra fee was paid.�

Alan Savile, FSA, wrote to say that he disagreed profoundly with the bald assertion that �everyone agrees that Christian remains should be reburied with a religious ceremony� and with the subsequent suggestion that all human bones should be reburied. �Human remains from antiquity are�, he says, �essentially no different from any other ancient remains and should be treated with exactly the same appropriate professional archaeological integrity with regard to the information they can provide now and in the future, in which case their retention in museum collections makes perfect sense. I would be appalled if the Neolithic human bones I excavated from the Hazleton North chambered tomb in Gloucestershire were ever removed from museum care � over the last two decades they have been a valuable resource for numerous researchers pursuing new angles of study and I trust such research will be allowed to continue.� Alan concludes: �This is an extremely important issue�.

Medici family members to be exhumed

The Italian authorities do not seem to share British qualms when it comes to studying human remains. Gino Fornaciari, a history of medicine professor at Pisa University, announced at a news conference in January that fifty members of the Medici family, currently buried in the Medici Chapel at the rear of San Lorenzo church in Florence, are to be exhumed in June.

The Medici ruled Florence on and off from 1434 � when Cosimo il Vecchio returned to the troubled city from exile in Padova and became, in the words of the future Pope Pius II, �king in all but name� � until the death, in 1734, of Anna Maria Lodovica, the last of the Medici line.

The ostensible reason for excavating the Medici graves is to see what needs to be done to preserve the remains and the chapel itself, which is thought to have suffered damage in the distructive flood of 1966. But exhumation also allows for samples to be taken from the graves for detailed analysis at the University of Pisa, where it is hoped that more will be learned about the Medici lifestyle, diet, ailments (including a genetic predisposition for the arthritic disease gout) and the causes of their deaths.

Red ochre used in burials 100,000 years ago

Further news about death and burial practice comes from Qafzeh Cave in Israel where, according to an article that appeared in the December issue of Current Anthropology, fragments of red ochre � a form of iron oxide that yields a pigment when heated � have been found alongside 100,000-year-old human bones. According to Dr Erella Hovers, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the seventy-one pieces of ochre seem to have been used as part of a ritual, thus establishing a clear link between the red ochre and the burial process.

Examples of association between red ochre and burial have been discovered before, but not this early. �The red ochre meant something to them � exactly what we do not know � but it is not inconceivable that they painted their dead with red ochre,� Hovers says. Puzzlingly, there is a long gap between this first very early evidence of symbolic behaviour in the Qafzeh Cave and the re-emergence of ochre use about 13,000 years ago.

Ancient tools unearthed in Siberian Arctic

Another set of dates published in the January issue of the journal Science (Vol 303, page 52) reveals that humans colonized Arctic Siberia almost twice as early as previously thought. Russian archaeologists working at a site on Siberia's Yana River have found hundreds of axes, stone scrapers, worked quartz crystals, tools made of wolf bone, and spear shafts made of mammoth tusk and rhinoceros horn that have been dated to around 31,000 years ago. Prior to this find, which was made by chance when a Russian geologist visited the remote area and found a rhino horn shaft, the oldest known settlement in the Arctic was a 13,000-year-old site discovered in the late 1960s at a latitude of 70 degrees north.

�The Yana discovery doubles the history of human occupation in this part of the world,� said archaeologist Vladimir Pitulko of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg, who led the research team. �It also demonstrates that humans were adapted to the harsh, unforgiving Arctic environment much earlier than we might have thought.�

Pollen samples taken from the site suggest the Arctic landscape was grassy and tree-less. The abundance of reindeer bones at the site indicates that this was the most common food, but bone from mammoths, musk ox, brown bear, wolverine, rhinoceros, hares, bison, horses, reindeer and cave lion were also found.

The Yana site lies just 2,000 kilometres from the Bering Strait in an ecosystem that stretched continuously between Asia and North America, so the findings have intriguing implications for understanding the peopling of North America via the Bering Land Bridge. The earliest dated settlements in North America date from around 12,000 years ago, though there are one or two older sites that have always puzzled archaeologists, such as the Meadowcroft rock shelter near Pittsburgh and the Monte Verde site in Chile, where charcoal deposits have been given dates of 33,000 BP. Evidence from the so-called DNA �clock�, which looks at the rate at which DNA mutates over time, also suggests that humans could have been in North America for at least 20,000 years. This new discovery does not prove that migration started earlier than the conventional theory, but it does at least show that it was not impossible.

Carvings reveal ancient artistic skill

At about the same time as people were settling the Yana site, some of Europe�s earliest sculptors were creating three tiny figurines from mammoth ivory in the Hohle Fels Cave, 20 kilometres south of Ulm in southwest Germany. The figurines have been dated as being between 30,000 and 33,000 years old, and are thus among the oldest human carvings ever found. One of the carvings depicts a bird extended in a headlong dive into water. Another shows detailed features on the head of large animal, probably a horse. The third is of a character with a human body and a feline head. All three are less than 50 mm in length.

For further information, with a picture, see the New Scientist website.

National Trust Purcell Room Lectures 2004

Fiona Reynolds, the Director-General of the National Trust, will launch the National Trust�s Purcell Room Lecture series for 2004 when she gives the Alec Clifton-Taylor Memorial Lecture on 2 February, highlighting the educational work of the National Trust in a lecture entitles Britain�s Biggest Classroom. Thereafter lectures will take place every Monday until the 22 March, at 6pm. Among those scheduled to speak are three Fellows: Sir Roy Strong, FSA, will talk on 8 March about the creation of the UK�s largest post-war formal garden, which happens to be his own, in The Laskett: A Garden Revisited; Linda Parry, FSA, will talk on 15 March about William Morris and Red House, which is now a National Trust property; and the final lecture in the series, on Life Below Stairs, will be given on 22 March by Giles Waterfield, FSA, curator of the National Gallery�s recent Below Stairs exhibition.

Full details of all the lectures can be obtained from the National Trust website.

Pam Alexander interviewed

Pam Alexander, who gave a paper to the Society in October 2002 summing up the lessons she had learned from four years at the helm of English Heritage, was interviewed by The Guardian last week at the start of her new job as chief executive of the South East England Development Agency (Seeda). This is a key post given that Seeda will have a major into the redevelopment of the Ashford area as well as Thames Gateway, the UK�s biggest ever regeneration project.

In the interview, Pam Alexander said it was too early to say exactly how she would approach the job, though she did stress that she wanted to see the emphasis on building quality and not building numbers. Speaking about her departure from English Heritage, she said: �I�d led a massive change in the structure of the organisation ... [Sir Neil Cossons] felt we needed to look at the structure and direction again, while I felt that I couldn�t, with credibility, restructure an organisation that was of my making�.

English Heritage accused of hindering regeneration

Despite the best efforts of the sector to persuade developers that heritage is a opportunity, not an obstacle, the Corporation of London last week accused English Heritage (EH) of hampering inner-city regeneration. In its written submission to the parliamentary select committee enquiry into the role of historic buildings in urban regeneration, the Corporation said that EH had used its powers over listed buildings to cause �severe delays� to developments.

The cause of this outburst was last year�s high-profile battle to preserve Bishopsgate's historic railway goods yard. EH argued that the new East London Line could have been built without harming the yard; the Corporation pointed out that EH had said a few years previously that the yard was not worth listed building status, and that its change of stance had delayed the development of this strategically important area. The yard has since been demolished.

The Corporation further accused EH of �taking no account of commercial reality� and it recommended that economic demands should be considered when EH makes its recommendation for listing historic buildings � an option that was specifically ruled out when the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published its Designation Review recommendations late last year.

Despite having one of the highest concentrations of listed buildings anywhere in England, the Corporation came across as hostile to the historic environment, saying that �the City of London is full of Victorian and early twentieth century banking halls � do we really need all of these? Underlying this problem is the approach of the conservation bodies who have many experts to recognise architectural quality but few resources to assess the wider strategic and economic impact of their actions.�

CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), which jointly hosted a conference on heritage and regeneration with the Heritage Lottery Fund in January, seemed also to be pulling back from a wholehearted support for the historic environment as part of the regeneration mix, arguing in its submission for �the designation [listing] process [to be taken] out of the ivory towers of academic scrutiny and into the realities of people's lives and their sense of communal identity�. CABE was especially critical of moves to preserve certain historic building types, including �housing in northern England� and �Victorian schools, hospitals and prisons�, warning that, with too much emphasis on conservation �our towns and cities could become increasingly ossified, to the detriment of managing economic and social change.�

National Monuments Record Review

Fellows are reminded that the closing date for responding to the review of the National Monuments Record (NMR) is 4 February 2004, though the NMR has said it will accept responses up to 18 February. Full details of the review are available at the NMR Review website.

The CBA has recently circulated its response to the consultation, making the point that the role of the NMR as a source of information on the historic environment is to preserve information in place of destroyed assets and in parallel with surviving assets. In particular, the NMR holds the knowledge base for English Heritage and has a duty to make that information widely available. �The NMR�, it says, �is important not just for England but as part of the UK-wide network of national archives for the historic environment�.

Fighting for our Future � lobbying for museums and the heritage sector

The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, in association with the British Museum and the Society of Antiquaries of London, is hosting a seminar at the Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, British Museum on 10 March 2004, from 2.30pm to 5.30 pm. This is an open seminar for anyone working in museums and the heritage sector.

The aim is to look at ways of lobbying decision-makers and the wider public against the cutbacks that we have seen in recent years and that look like going deeper: the next Government Spending Review looks severe for museums and heritage, and local authority budgets continue to target this area for cuts. The seminar will put forward practical and achievable ways of building support to prevent cuts.

Speakers include Lord Redesdale, Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, and representatives from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (formerly Resource), the Museums Association, Prospect and the Royal Society of Chemistry. If you wish to attend please register with Jayne Phenton, Administrator, Society of Antiquaries of London, from whom further details will be available in due course.

Re:source name change

Resource announced last week that it was dropping its trendy designer name and that in future it will be called the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) � a name that is more informative, if prosaic. Further information will follow in due course.

Recent books by Fellows

The University of Arizona Press has recently published Archaeological Landscapes of the Near East, by Tony J Wilkinson, FSA. The book covers the cultural and physical landscapes from Yemen in the south to Armenia in the north and from the Levantine coast to western Iran. The emphasis is upon the interaction of humans with their environment and with the provision of recognizable signature landscapes. The book is distributed in the UK by Oxbow Books.

Philip Priestley, FSA, has just donated to the Society�s Library a copy of The Compendium of Chester Gold and Silver Marks, 1570 to 1962, which he wrote jointly with the late Maurice Ridgway, FSA, formerly Canon of the Chester Diocese. Published by the Antique Collectors� Club, this is the first publication in a single work of all known Chester punch marks, and the first time that the twentieth-century Chester marks have been published (the Chester assay office closed in 1962). As well as a preface providing a historical background and details of all extant records the work covers nearly 10,000 makers, over 2,000 of which were based in Birmingham. Ecclesiastical vessels, table ware, thimbles, pipe mounts, labels, watchcases, jewellery, and wares from the Arts and Crafts movement are all covered in the volume.

Vacancies

National Heritage Memorial Fund: Historic Buildings Trustee (North East of England)
Deadline: Monday 9 February

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport is seeking a person with the right blend of experience and expertise in the conservation of historic buildings to serve on the Board of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). The Fund is a resource of last resort which makes grants to acquire, maintain and preserve heritage of outstanding national importance and interest, which is also either at risk or memorial in character. NHMF Trustees also administer the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which distributes National Lottery proceeds to good causes in the heritage sector, promoting conservation, education and access for all.

Applications are invited from people who live in, or have a detailed knowledge of, the North East of England, have a commitment to the UK�s heritage and the promotion of the public�s understanding and enjoyment of it, and expertise in the sympathetic conservation of historic buildings.

Application forms and a full role specification are available by sending an email to Mark Greenwood, Public Appointments Adviser at the DCMS.

ICOMOS�UK, Office Manager
Salary (for 4 days), �15,000, closing date 16 February

Having moved to 70 Cowcross Street in the City of London (nearest tube: Farringdon), ICOMOS�UK, The International Council of Monuments and Sites�UK, is now looking for a four-day-a week Office Manager. This interesting and varied post involves work with committees and a range of events. For more information, and a job description, please email: admin@icomos-uk.org.