Salon Archive

Issue: 83

Weekly meeting report

This week�s meeting took the form of a ballot, during which Roger Bland, FSA, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, exhibited the newly discovered coin of Domitian that featured in Salon 81, and Geoff Egan, FSA, of the Museum of London Archaeology Service, exhibited a Winchester-style strap-end and clay mould, and two seventeenth-century �Surrey ware� buttons.

Roger Bland argued that because the volume of coins produced by the Gallic empire was huge � perhaps hundreds of millions a year �the production of a very small number of coins bearing the name of Domitian was probably indicative of a very short reign. From the style and fabric of the coin, it was likely that Domitian made his short-lived attempt to claim the purple during the period of turmoil immediately following the death of Victorinus in AD 271 and the installation of Tetricus as Gallic emperor in succession to Victorinus.

Geoff Egan exhibited a mould and waster from the London Guildhall Yard site as evidence that Winchester-style strap-ends, so-called because that is where most examples have been found, were being manufactured in eleventh-century London. He also exhibited two Surrey ware buttons and argued that their manufacture, traditionally dated to the post-Restoration period, probably spanned the whole of the seventeenth century.

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

Forthcoming meetings

18 March: West Heslerton: new views of a much-visited landscape, by Dominic Powlesland
25 March: St Weburh: the evolution of a regional cult, by Dr Alan Thacker, FSA, to be held at the Blue Coat School, Chester
1 April: An Anglo-Saxon Painted Figure at Deerhurst: discovery and context, by Michael Hare, FSA, Richard Bryant, FSA, and Steve Bagshaw

Ballot results

As a result of the Ballot held on 11 March, the following candidates were duly elected Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries:

Paul Thomas Nicholson
Vincent Charles Pigott
Maria Anne Hayward
Anthony Hugh Barnes
Pamela Rosemary Robinson
David Antony Gurney
Mark Adam Newman
Simon Thurley
Scot McKendrick
Martin Green
Julia Boffey
Helen Fleure Dorey
Alison Eva Mary Shell
Arnold Conway Hunt
Heather Sebire
Edward Vaughan Roberts
Nicholas Bateman
Elisabeth Okasha
John Nicholas Peregrine Horden
Thomas Felix Rudolph Braun.

Missing Fellow

The Society�s Assistant Administrator, Lisa Elliott, would be grateful for information about the current contacts details of Dr Richard Foster, FSA, recently living in Twickenham.

More on the Lindisfarne Gospels

On 10 March, The Times published the following letter from the Chief Executive of the British Library, setting out the Library�s response to demands for the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to Durham cathedral.

�Sir, The Lindisfarne Gospels came to the British Library in the foundation collection formed by Sir Robert Cotton in the 17th century. Notwithstanding the unquestioned status of the Gospels as a world-heritage item (400,000 visitors see them every year in our exhibition galleries), the Library recognises their particular resonance for the North East. Thus, we have made strenuous efforts to ensure that people in the region have access to the Gospels.

�The Gospels have been lent for two lengthy exhibitions in the North East over the last eight years, unprecedented for a manuscript of such age and fragility. We presented facsimile volumes of the Gospels to Durham Cathedral and the Lindisfarne Heritage Centre, for display there, at special thanksgiving and dedication ceremonies.

A further facsimile is currently on a British Library-sponsored tour of the region, where it can be seen at many venues.

Yours faithfully, Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, The British Library.�

Meanwhile Gwilym Hughes, FSA, Director of Cambria Archaeology (the Dyfed Archaeological Trust), has written to say that a comparable discussion is going on in west Wales �with regard to the so-called �Book of St Chad�, also known as the �Lichfield Gospels� or the �Llandeilo Gospels� depending on which side of the fence you stand on. This particular document spent two hundred or so years at the church of St Teilo, in Llandeilo, between AD 800 and 1000, after which it found its way in uncertain circumstances to Lichfield Cathedral where it has been ever since. The cultural significance of this book is significantly enhanced by the presence of marginalia written in Welsh � amongst the earliest known written form of Welsh anywhere. The community in Llandeilo is very keen to raise sufficient funds to have a digital copy of the book on display locally, although inevitably there are also calls from some quarters for the original to be returned.�

More on the fire at Mount Athos

Dr Graham Speake, FSA, who is Honorary Secretary of the Friends of Mount Athos, has written to say that the Friends� website has detailed reports, and some very graphic photographs, of the recent fire at the monastery of Chilandar.

I am campaigning on Gift Aid, says Estelle Morris

Estelle Morris, the minister for the arts, made it clear that she was on the side of museums and historic houses in their dispute with the Government over its U-turn on Gift Aid. Previously the Inland Revenue had encouraged heritage charities to take full advantage of the scheme whereby income tax could be reclaimed on admission fees. Now the Treasury is describing this as a loophole that must be closed, to the consternation of those museums and houses (including Kelmscott Manor) that have come to depend on the extra income they derive from the scheme. In a debate on the future of museums held on 2 March in Westminster Hall, the Arts Minister said that she was campaigning about Gift Aid. �It is not my sole difference of opinion with the Treasury,' she stated, adding that �I know where the priorities lie in my portfolio and in my department's responsibilities. I will do my best, but more than that I cannot pledge.�

The minister said that she would also be persuading the office of the deputy prime minister to allocate some of its regeneration money to museums, and that 'more money is expected to come from the next spending review (this summer) for regional museums�.

The debate was instigated by Michael Portillo, MP, to herald the publication of four new reports by the National Museum Director's Conference (NMDC) (see story below) looking at the role and funding of museums in the UK. Mr Portillo said that an additional �50million was needed on top of inflation each year for the next five years in order to continue digitisation projects, update permanent collections, and address the backlog of property repair and maintenance work.

Free admission to national museums judged a success

Arts Minister Estelle Morris further endeared herself to the heritage community when she announced last week that the policy of universal free admission for England�s national museums and galleries was a huge success, attracting nearly 11 million extra visitors in its first two years. New figures, published on 7 March, show that there were 5.3 million extra visits in the first year of the policy, and 5.6 million extra last year.

Estelle Morris said: �This is excellent news. Government investment to help scrap admission charges has paid a rich dividend, with 13.3 million people visiting the former charging museums last year, compared to 7.7 million when the turnstiles were in place. Our national museums and galleries have an international reputation for excellence and innovation. That they are free for all is something that is the envy of the world. We are determined to continue this policy for the benefit of everyone.�

The minister�s comments were markedly different in tone from those made by her predecssor, Baroness Blackstone, last year, when the increase was argued away as the result of repeat visits by habitual museum visitors, rather than by new audiences, implying that the Government�s free admissions policy was somehow perversely benefiting mainstream visitors, rather than the Government�s target audience of people from the ethnic communities and from the C2DE socio-economic class.

This time Estelle Morris has chosen to be upbeat and inclusive, saying that: �These figures give the lie to those that say that people aren�t interested in �serious� culture. They show that, when the obstacles to going � like admission charges � are swept away, the public has a huge and growing appetite for the best of our cultural heritage.�

But museums say they are the victims of that success

Three days later, the representatives of the UK�s 2,000 or so national, regional and independent museums came together under the aegis of the National Museums Directors� Conference (NMDC) and launched a manifesto challenging the Government to give them an extra �115m a year in order to enable them to build on all that has been achieved so far. The alternative, according to museum-sector leaders, was to prepare for �the orderly management of decline�.

In a punchy statement backed by four research documents commissioned from the London School of Economics and Imperial College London, the NMDC piled fact on fact to prove that they were achieving the social and educational targets set them by the Government and making a substantial contribution to the economy through tourism revenue of �2 billion a year.

Yet the increase in income allocated to the museums, libraries and archives sector by the Department of Culture Media and Sport barely kept pace with inflation, at 26 per cent during the 2001 to 2006 spending period. By contrast, funding for sport had increased by 91 per cent and for music and theatre by 63 per cent. One of the four reports underpinning the museums manifesto said that museums and galleries were victims of their own success in quietly getting on with delivering the objectives set them by government. Other parts of the cultural sector had been more successful at harvesting public resources by making a regular feature out of funding crises: the English National Opera had only recently been granted �10 million as a �stabilisation� bailout by the Arts Council, for example.

One reason for launching the manifesto now is to avoid a repeat of the situation that occurred after the 2002 government spending review when museums were only allocated �70m of the �267m they said was needed to implement the Renaissance in the Regions strategy. Because the funding was so much less than the amount needed, the Renaissance scheme has only been fully implemented in three of the nine English regions. The other six will be given small sums of money for development and planning. Museum leaders pointed to the outstanding results they have achieved so far with the �70 million allocated as proof that the sector was very effective at using the money it was given. The alternative, said this week�s report, was to accept that the Government had no intention of providing the necessary funding and to start to prepare for �the orderly management of decline� with staff layoffs, cutbacks in access to galleries and fewer special exhibitions.

The Manifesto for Museums can be downloaded from the National Museum Directors' Conference website. The same web address can be used to obtain copies of the four new reports: Valuing Museums details the economic, educational and broader cultural impact of the national museums and galleries; Creative Engagement demonstrates the extent, variety and nature of the roles undertaken by national museums and galleries to engage with different communities across the UK to inspire and empower individuals and groups and create social capital; National Dimensions examines the many forms of collaboration between national museums and the rest of the sector; Needs and Impacts is a summary of the key findings of the other three reports, with an examination of the funding implications for national museums.

Though Public Accounts Committee says museums should do more for themselves

Ahead of the launch of the Museums Manifesto, a meeting of the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, held on 8 March, looked at ways for museums and galleries to achieve better revenues by focusing on branding and partnerships with the private sector.

Sue Street, the permanent secretary for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said that efforts had been made to encourage the appointment of museum trustees with entrepreneurial skills and experience, insisting that �there must be room for innovation�. Museums had much to do to catch up with the USA, said Street, pointing to Tate Modern as an example of good management and successful branding, raising around �25m each year � almost double that of other national museums.

Among the other ideas suggested were the use of museums as venues for weddings, which Roy Clare, a director at the National Maritime Museum said had not only proved profitable for them, but also increased sponsorship, and as a venue for corporate events, which Robert Crawford, the director general of the Imperial War Museum, said had brought new audiences to the museum.

Cultural attractions encourage more people in the UK to holiday at home

Proof that the heritage sector makes a very real and increasing contribution to the economy came last week from a Visit Britain survey showing that more people than ever in the UK � some 24 million in total � chose to take a holiday at home last year, choosing to visit cities with a concentration of cultural activities � museums, theatres, churches, cathedrals, parks and fine buildings � as an alternative to holidays abroad. Another of the survey�s findings was that 97 per cent of people questioned said they were interested in doing more cultural activities and only money and lack of time were holding them back.

Visit Britain marketing director Michael Bedingfield commented: �Investment in tourist attractions such as Tate Modern, The Deep in Hull and the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, has made England richer in terms of variety. People are seeing it as a credible alternative to going abroad.�

Heritage is also a human right!

Thanks to Kate Clark, FSA, for spotting this parliamentary question and answer on human rights and listed buildings (asked on 7 March), which seems to confirm that public interest in the heritage does have precedence over the rights of any individual or organisation to destroy that heritage � a momentous thought with many (as yet unexplored) implications:

�Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government: Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 5 February (WA 116), how they reconcile the principle of respect for private and family life and the home, guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, with the current power of government to determine the interior layout of private dwelling houses which have not received state subsidies or tax concessions. [HL1365]

�The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): Buildings are listed because they are of special architectural or historic interest. Listed building legislation provides that listed building consent must be obtained before carrying out work to a listed building which will affect its character as a building of architectural or historic interest. This will only entitle local authorities to �determine the interior layout of a private dwelling house� where the layout of the interior is part of the character of a listed building.

�This legislation is compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8 gives people the right to respect for their private and family life, their home and their correspondence. The Government consider that the restrictions on carrying out works to listed buildings do not interfere with this right to any significant degree and so do not engage Article 8.

�If, however, Article 8 is engaged by the listing system, it is justified on the grounds that the system protects our historic buildings, and protects the rights of the general public and of future generations to enjoy the nation's heritage. The system which requires listed building consent before alterations affecting the character of a listed building is proportionate to achieve these aims.�

Medieval buildings found beside Tower of London moat

Last week�s Times reported that a group of fourteenth-century buildings had been discovered lining the riverside front of the Tower of London. The existence of these buildings was known from a 1544 drawing by Anthonis van den Wyngaerde, in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and from a contract dated 1389, which records their construction during the time that Geoffrey Chaucer was Clerk of the King�s Works at the Tower.

Physical evidence of the buildings only emerged when a large section of the south moat wall collapsed in February last year, undermined by the roots of a nearby plane tree. Subsequent excavations uncovered some of the structures that once crowded along Tower Wharf, an area of industrial significance for the Tower where arms and armour were manufactured and stored.

Extra money for war memorials

English Heritage announced last week that another �60,000 a year is being made available for repairing, restoring or improving the setting of war memorials, thanks to a grant from the Wolfson Foundation. The War Memorials Grant Scheme, established four years ago, has already disbursed around �100,000 in grants for repairs to some of the most urgent cases identified in the UK National Inventory of War Memorials, which holds details of some 55,000 memorials.

Described as a great national gallery of sculpture, most of the UK�s memorials date from the two world wars, but some are from the Boer war or even earlier. Some were sculpted by famous artists and some by village craftsmen. Examples of recent restoration work include a grant of �5,000 to restore the figure of Peace, and the wall of names she faces, at Hinckley in Leicestershire, a Grade II-listed memorial and another of �5,000 to repair the memorial in Royston in Hertfordshire, showing an ordinary soldier, a raven at his feet, flanked by military figures from Royston's history. Further details can be found on the Friends of War Memorials website.

Rijksmuseum acquires Jan Steen painting from Penrhyn Castle

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has agreed to pay �8.1 million for a painting by Jan Steen that has hung in Penrhyn Castle for the last 150 years. It is the most expensive purchase that the Dutch national museum and art gallery has ever made. The Rijksmuseum already owns twenty-two paintings by Jan Steen (1626�79), but lacked an example from his important Delft period, to which this painting, entitled The Burghermaster of Delft and his Daughter (1655), belongs.

The painting was bought in the mid-nineteenth century by the first Lord Penrhyn, whose family made their fortune from Jamaican sugar and Welsh slate. Penrhyn Castle and a large part of the estate were transferred to the National Trust in the 1950s, and the family�s art collection has long been on public display, though remaining in private ownership. When Lady Janet Douglas Pennant died in 1997, the executors of her estate allowed the National Trust two years to raise the money to buy the art collection, but reached agreement to sell the painting to the Rijksmuseum once that deadline had passed.

Perugia does justice to Perugino at last

Art critics have been hailing the discovery of a new Renaissance artist this week � not that Pietro Vannucci (1445�1523, better known as Perugino) is a complete unknown, but for twenty years it has been difficult to see his work because Perugia�s National Gallery of Umbria seems to have been closed almost permanently: first because of a long drawn-out restoration and then, shortly after the gallery reopened, because of major damage caused by the same earthquake that saw the frescos of Cimabue and Giotto come tumbling off the walls of the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi.

Now Perugia is making up for past omissions with no less than six simultaneous exhibitions, featuring more than 150 of Perugino�s works. The main exhibition at the National Gallery of Umbria brings together early masterpieces from Berlin, Liverpool, New York, Birmingham (Alabama) and Paris to reveal the influence on his art of Piero della Francesca, Verrocchio and Flemish art. There is an attempt to recreate from preparatory studies the frescos that Perugino painted in the Sistine Chapel that were later obliterated to make space for Michelangelo's Last Judgement, and a stunning recreation of Perugino�s huge polyptych known as the Chigi altar-piece, made for the church of St Augustine of Siena and depicting The Life of Christ in thirty sections, borrowed from museums around the world and put back together almost in its entirety.

The exhibitions continue until 18 July. Further information can be found at english.perugino.it.

Greeks call halt to �Elgin Marbles� museum

A month after its election victory in Greece, the centre-right New Democracy Party has stopped work on a �700 million museum that was being built to house the Elgin Marbles. The New Democracy Party had tried to block the project while in opposition, and has instituted legal action for breach of duty of professional duty against those who authorised the project, including the Central Archaeological Council, which approved the plans and gave permission for the building work to start. Construction work has caused irreparable damage to the remains of ancient buildings on the 10-acre site on the Acropolis.

The previous Socialist government had been determined to go ahead with the project despite last year�s ruling by the Greek Supreme Court that the building was illegal because it contravened laws designed to protect ancient monuments. The government simply passed a law exempting the museum from all controls, and went ahead with the complex in the belief that the British Government would not be able to resist pressure to return the sculptures once it was completed.

Ismini Trianti, chief archaeologist at the Acropolis, consistently argued against the museum�s construction and warned that of the damage that would cause. Spiros Kalogeropoulos, speaking for an international coalition of archaeologists, art historians, artists and architects opposed to the museum, described its construction as �a catastrophe�. �The building work has destroyed mosaics, walls, floors, casts, and possibly an ancient sculpture factory,� he said. �At least seven layers of archaeological remains have been destryed, dating from the original prehistoric settlements through to the classical, Hellenistic and Byzantine periods ... ancient remains kept appearing under the bulldozers, even when the workmen were digging at a depth of 20 metres. The museum was supposed to preserve artefacts and objects from Greece's ancient heritage; it has ended up destroying them indiscriminately.�

Those who opposed the museum�s construction do not necessarily support the British Museum�s retention of the Elgin Marbles. �We simply need to find a place for them that does not involve destroying our heritage�, Mr Kalogeropoulos said.

Oxford conferences

More details are now available of the Future Landscapes conference to be held at Oxford from 7 to 9 May 2004, to promote an understanding of the purpose and scope of the European Landscape Convention. Among the stellar cast of speakers are some of the UK�s most influential heritage figures, including Fiona Reynolds of the National Trust, Professor Adrian Phillips of the IUCN, Dame Jennifer Jenkins, Sir Simon Jenkins, Richard Wakeford of the Countryside Agency, Julia Thrift of CABE Space, Sir Martin Doughty of English Nature, Chris Baines, Sir Angus Stirling of ICOMOS-UK / IUCN, Sir Terry Farrell, Architect, and last but not least our own David Thackray, of the National Trust. For full details of this important conference, contact the Short Course Administrator at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.

A week later, on 14 May 2004, OUDCE once again plays host to the annual Oxford day devoted to planning and the historic environment, organised by the Institute for Historic Buildings Conservation, the Institute for Field Archaeology, the Archaeology Training Forum and English Heritage. This year�s theme is �Planning and the Historic Environment: aspects of regeneration�, which will explore the idea that �heritage is fundamental to the quality of daily life and should be central to every regeneration scheme�. With the recent publication of the Heritage Lottery Fund�s New Life report on heritage and regeneration, and policy statements on regeneration due to be published in the spring by both DCMS and English Heritage, together with the report of the ODPM Select Committee on heritage and regeneration, this is a very relevant and topical subject. For full details contact the Short Course Administrator.

Books by Fellows

Richard Mortimer, FSA, Keeper of the Muniments, Westminster Abbey, and co-editor with Tim Tatton-Brown of the recently published Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VI (which includes articles by many Fellows), has written to say that the book is available at half price from the Abbey Museum or from the Westminster Abbey bookshop (to order copies by email, write to Bookshop@westminster-abbey.org). Richard points out that the foundation stone of the chapel was laid on 24 January 1503, whilst the book came out in November 2003, and so only just scraped in to the 500th anniversary year, whereas the publicity for the book is only now emerging, just after the 501st anniversary.

More on the availability of Theses On-Line via the Archaeology Data Service

Paddie Drake, FSA, has written to say that the Archaeology Data Service is not only making doctoral theses available on its website, it is also putting the full text and illustrations of books produced with the help of British Academy publication grants. Paddie�s own book on Romanesque Fonts is on the ADS data-base � but is currently embargoed for reference until the last few copies have been sold.

Vacancies

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, Chief Executive
Up to �100,000 (including pension and performance bonus), closing date 2 April 2004

You would have to be very committed to do such a big job for such a menial salary, but we can only hope that whoever does get this job fully fits the job description given in the adverts that appeared in Sunday�s newspapers. The advert calls for an exceptional person, who is both passionate and persuasive, as well as professional. Let us hope that he or she is as passionate about the historic environment as they are about contemporary architecture. Let us also hope that this same person is persuasive enough to convince the Deputy Prime Minister that the task of building �sustainable communities� should mean what it says, and not stand as a comforting phrase to describe untrammelled development. Paragons who feel up to the challenge can obtain an information pack from the Veredus Executive Resourcing website, quoting reference 6797.