Salon Archive

Issue: 91

News of Fellows

Congratulations to two of our Fellows who received OBEs in the Queen�s Birthday Honours list: Cecil Humphery-Smith (for services to education in genealogy and heraldry) and Thomas Owen Saunders Lloyd, DL, former Chair of the Historic Buildings Council for Wales (for services to heritage).

Congratulations also to Nick Merriman, FSA, Curator of Museums and Collections and Reader in Museum Studies at University College London, who is one of twenty-seven successful applicants for the first ever Clore Foundation Fellowships. The Fellowships were set up last year under the management of Chris Smith, MP, the former Culture Secretary, and are designed to train future leaders in the arts and heritage world. The Scholars will each spend a third of a year in formal business and management training, another third developing a project of their own choosing and a third on secondment to a cultural organisation on an assignment designed to give them a crash course in the skills of a modern arts leader.

More than 440 applications were received for the twenty-seven available Fellowships. Other successful applicants from the heritage sector include Ciara Eastell, principal assistant county librarian for Somerset County Council, Keith Merrin, the Director of the Bede's World museum, Jacqueline Riding, director of the Handel House Museum in London, Axel R�ger, curator of Dutch paintings for the National Gallery, Kathleen Soriano, head of exhibitions and collections management at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and Deborah Tritton, archive services manager for the historic collections at Cornwall County Council.

Obituaries

The Society has been informed that Professor Philip Stell died at the end of May. Professor Stell, a retired surgeon and former specialist in Oto-rhino-laryngology at Liverpool University, devoted his retirement years to publishing transcriptions and translations of medieval documents in the York City and York Minster archives, and was only elected a Fellow on 14 May last year.

Archaeology in parliament

On 24 May, there was a two-hour debate in Westminster Hall on the future for the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003. The debate was opened by Richard Allen, MP, whose private member�s bill led to the passing of this act, making it an offence to buy, sell, import or export cultural objects removed from heritage sites and buildings illegally anywhere in the world. Richard said that he wanted to �prod the Government to commit to doing what they know they should be doing and probably want to do anyway�, which included making a long-term financial commitment to the continuity of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as �a core activity for DCMS� and the setting up of a database of stolen objects.

Much of the debate centred around the large number of antiquities being traded on eBay, the online auctioneer, which Robert Key, MP, described as �the largest marketplace for antiquities in the UK�. Richard Allen reported that meetings had been held with eBay to discuss the problem of illicit material being traded on its site. �If we are to require legal compliance from those people�, Richard said �we must offer them an easy and straightforward link to � guidance that would assist them in establishing whether an object was illegal � but as we examined that matter further, we realised that there was no definitive and authoritative set of guidance available. I suggest that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is the obvious body to provide that guidance, so that people can find out easily what their responsibilities are with regard to export licences, the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003, heritage legislation and the Treasure Act 1996. If people do not have that source of information, they can continue to plead ignorance.�

It was also very apparent from the debate that MPs and government have been actively and energetically lobbied on the subject of antiquities trading by the National Council for Metal Detecting and by organisations and individuals representing the antiques and antiquities trade, and many of the remarks made during the debate suggested that they have been very successful in influencing parliamentarians with their perspective on the legalities of digging up and selling the nation�s heritage. By contrast, the archaeological perspective seems to be being weakened. In that context, Robert Key asked why there was no �single, non-governmental organisation to lobby for archaeologists?� Echoing the recommendations of the APPAG report, he suggested that �the Council for British Archaeology, the Institute of Field Archaeologists and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, and possibly other organisations, should have a review under an independent chairman to ascertain how they could better lobby for archaeology in general.�

The full debate can be read on the Hansard website.

Enforcing the law

Another issue raised by Richard Allen during the debate was the question of enforcement. Referring to the recent case in which the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the prosecution of Robert Duquemin who was alleged to have removed a hoard of coins from a scheduled ancient monument in Wiltshire, he said �that has caused an enormous amount of dismay because it sends out the signal that such activities are low risk. It should be made clear that, from a legal point of view, such activities are high risk and that prosecutions will take place. I hope that the Minister will examine that case, and will use her offices to press the prosecuting and law enforcement agencies to enforce heritage legislation�.

Robert Key suggested that the police were �perfectly keen to catch people removing archaeological finds illegally, but when such cases get to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is all about prioritising, the priority of heritage is very low�. All agreed that this was a situation that needed further work and Tam Dalyell, MP, observed that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 really only became effective once stiff penalties were handed out to people who stole birds� eggs or endangered plants, and that a few prosecution cases were necessary �pour encourager les autres�.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the APPAG report

On the same day as the Illicit Antiquities debate, over in the chamber of the House of Commons, Tim Loughton, MP, asked Estelle Morris, Minister for the Arts, for her views on the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group�s first report, to which she replied: �the Government welcome the All-Party Archaeology Group's report. Its recommendations will form a useful contribution to the ongoing review of heritage protection�. Tim Loughton then reminded the Minister that her predecessor had undertaken to give a formal response to the report, which has been out since January 2003. The Minister replied by saying that she took the point and would speak to her colleague, Lord McIntosh, Minister for Media and Heritage.

Tam Dalyell, MP, then asked Estelle Morris whether the Government was �giving a friendly response to [the] funding of the portable antiquities scheme?�. Estelle Morris replied that �I personally am giving it an exceptionally friendly response. The problem is persuading other Ministers to give a more friendly response to it than to other bids � All I can say now is that the bid is there and the intention is to continue the funding. It would be silly to say more than I have dared to say thus far without knowing exactly what will happen to our settlement in the next spending review.�

Tessa Jowell�s war on �heritage waste�

The context for Estelle Morris�s reticence over future DCMS spending plans is provided by a article that appeared in The Sunday Times on 13 June entitled �Brown goes to war on labour waste�. According to the report, Tessa Jowell, DCMS Secretary of State, is one of five members of the Cabinet singled out for a tough talk with the Chancellor on their departmental spending plans. Worryingly, the report mentioned Stonehenge as one project that the Chancellor specifically criticised as �not affordable�.

Judging by a report in today�s Independent (14 June), it looks as if Tessa Jowell has taken the Chancellor�s lesson to heart and reacted with alacrity. The report says that 'the Government is to slash the plethora of bodies safeguarding the national heritage to crack down on waste ... a reorganisation of the heritage sector now appears to be on a hit list of issues to be tackled in a third term of a Labour government.'

The Secretary of State is quoted as saying that she wants to take money out of organisational infrastructure costs to invest in what I would call, rather militarily, the frontline. That means reducing the number of bodies that the Government funds to represent different parts of heritage and conservation. Those bodies include English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the Churches Conservation Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). I think there are almost certainly too many, Ms Jowell said.

A similar overhaul of Sport England led to a cut in staffing levels from 570 to 270 and a saving of �40m over five years. Around seventy-five different funding schemes were cut to just two. At Arts Council England, a reorganisation completed last year led to the loss of 100 staff out of 660 with a saving of �20m for the first three years and �8m a year thereafter. The number of grants schemes through which individuals or organisations could apply for support was cut from 100 to five.

Chilly reception for �Coming of Age� birthday party invitation

The Guardian on 1 June 2004 reported that English Heritage staff were organising an email protest after receiving an invitation to attend a fancy-dress party in February 2005 in Blackpool�s Winter Gardens to celebrate the 21st birthday of English Heritage. Staff have been asked to dress as their favourite historic building or monument for the climax of a two-day birthday conference designed �to review our past and present successes and look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead�. It has also been suggested that they might like �to provide theatrical entertainment as part of the evening's celebrations�.

The invitation has not gone down well with staff who are disgruntled with English Heritage's Coming of Age modernisation programme, which has led to job losses following the reorganisation of the regional offices, vacancies being frozen, and jobs being shed in conservation and field survey work, with English Heritage aiming to become an �intelligent client� for such services, rather than a direct employer.

Staff representatives are advising their members to respond to the invitation by informing the management that �I will not be attending and want you to put the money saved into the pay budget�.

Somerset House site for supreme court

The Times has reported that the constitutional affairs secretary, Lord Falconer, is in discussion with the Treasury over the use of the so-called �New Wing� of Somerset House as a possible home for the UK's new supreme court. The New Wing, designed by James Pennathorne, who trained under John Nash, was purpose-built for the Inland Revenue and completed in 1856. Lord Falconer said that the neo-Gothic Middlesex Guildhall, on Parliament Square, dating from 1913, was still a possible alternative, but English Heritage is reported to be unhappy at the prospect that the existing interiors would be lost if Lord Falconer insisted on a modernisation scheme.

The Foundling Museum shares its Georgian treasures

The Foundling Hospital, in Brunswick Square, London, Britain�s first home for abandoned babies, will reopen on 15 June as a museum, having closed fifty years ago as a children's home. Public access is not a new event in its history, however. Thanks to the generosity of the hospital�s early artistic supporters, the Foundling Hospital was also London's first public art gallery. When it opened in 1745, wealthy and socially ambitious visitors were encouraged to make charitable donations having come to see paintings donated by William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Those paintings still survive, along with original autograph scores given by George Frederick Handel of the hospital anthem and the Messiah and the keyboard on which he first performed it.

The museum does not own the collection, however, and it faces a twenty-five-year struggle to raise �30 million to buy the collection and renew the lease. This is because of a legal ruling that the maintenance of an art collection was in conflict with the aims of the Coram Family charity, which Thomas Coram set up in the 1730s to found the hospital. Instead, the collection and the charity have been split; the charity has leased the building, and loaned the collection to the museum, which must now raise funds to acquire both. The curator, Rhian Harris, says the size of the task �does seem utterly daunting � but when you think of the alternative of having this wonderful collection scattered, it has to be the right thing to do.�

National Geographic Society opens its archive

William Morris�s copy of Ptolemy�s Cosmographia (1486) is one of two million items from the archive of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) that are now accessible to the public for the first time thanks to a �7.2m venture partly paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The vast archive consists of maps, photographs, manuscripts and expedition reports from David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Scott and Shackleton, the British Everest expeditions and from the thousands of Arabists, orientalists, missionaries, military campaigners, civil servants, naturalists, sailors, climbers and eccentrics who have explored the globe over the last five years.

Rita Gardner, the Director of the RGS, said that �this valuable resource was squirreled away in 40 rooms on five different floors, in Dickensian conditions. We had to ask ourselves what we should do with one of the world�s finest geographical collections. Should we give it away, sell it, or let it gently decay? We chose the toughest option, and that was to protect it and put it on display for public benefit.�

As a result, the collection has been rehoused in The Glass Pavilion, a new building on London�s Exhibition Road designed by architects Studio Downie, which Dr Gardner calls �not a museum � it's a learning space.� Here visitors can see choice items from the collection � such as the set of chains taken by Livingstone from slave traders in Africa, which the explorer brought home to Britain to campaign against the slave trade. For a fee of �10 a day, visitors can also consult the catalogue and call up items from the collection, such as Dr David Livingstone's hand-drawn sketch made the first time he saw the Victoria Falls in 1860 or the original maps used during the D-Day landings. School groups will have free access to the archives and advance application will be required for viewing fragile or particularly valuable maps and documents.

The RGS website also has a searchable catalogue of its archive (under �Collections�). So far 250,000 items from the archive have been catalogued. The site also has online resources for teachers linked to the secondary school curriculum and provides a showcase for pictures and information on three specific themes: Everest expeditions, polar exploration and �images of empire�.

Domesday Book on line

In the recent round of new AHRB grants, it was announced that Professor John Palmer of the University of Hull has received a Resource Enhancement award to produce a complete electronic version of the Domesday Book, which would be accessible through the internet. By linking an English translation and its Latin facsimile to a database of names, places and statistics, and including a scholarly commentary, Professor Palmer and his team hope to produce a comprehensive on-line version that will be easy to search and that will address gaps in existing electronic versions of the Domesday Book.

Festival Hall plans branded as �outrageous�

The Twentieth Century Society, doughty campaigners for the best of the century�s modern architecture, has described planned alterations to the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank as �disastrous� and an �act of architectural vandalism�. The Society is furious that Lambeth council granted permission last week for the removal of the curving wooden canopy that hangs over the stage and that English Heritage has �supported this brutal intervention�. The Festival Hall is one of the three Grade I-listed post-war buildings in the country, and the canopy is one of its most distinctive features. �It shapes the hall in a very strong way�, said Alan Powers, the architectural historian and trustee of the Society. The Festival Hall is being refurbished by the architects Allies and Morrison, and is planned to close from summer 2005 until early 2007. The removal of the canopy is, according to the architects, crucial in order to improve the acoustics, widely regarded as problematic.

Teachers saddened by plan to ditch Latin and Greek

Latin and Greek � the foundation of the education system throughout Europe for centuries � are close to disappearing altogether, now that the biggest examination board in the country has decided to drop Latin and Greek from its GCSE and A-level syllabuses in England and Wales. The decision by AQA (the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) means only one examining body � OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA) � will now offer the subjects at GCSE and A-level. The exams regulator, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, has defended the move as �a business decision� which was justified because of the decline in the numbers of candidates taking the subjects.

David Tristram, chairman of the council of the Joint Association of Classics Teachers (JACT), has written to the AQA urging the board to reconsider, saying that JACT members were �frankly outraged that such a far-reaching decision can have been reached ... without any consultation�. He said: �The classical languages occupy an almost unique position in our education system ... There are many schools � in both the independent and maintained sectors � which still hold the Classics in high regard and recognise their worth.�

The AQA will retain its qualification in classical civilisation which last year was taken by 945 candidates at GCSE, 1,698 at AS-level and 1,462 at A-level. The Department for Education responded to the decision by saying that �Classics can be a ... challenging subject, worth studying on its own merits. The revised rules ... allow individual schools greater flexibility in their choice of extra-curricular subjects and it is up to heads and governors whether they wish to include the classics on those terms.�

Learning a second language keeps old age at bay

Perhaps the future for language learning lies with more mature learners, especially given that, from September of this year, learning a second language will no longer be compulsory in English schools beyond the age of 14. The Sunday Times reported on 14 June that learning and using a second language helps protect the brain from the effects of ageing. Researchers at York University, Toronto, Canada, tested monolingual and bilingual people in two age groups � 30 to 59 and 60 to 88 � and found that those with a second language were intellectually more advanced, better able to concentrate, and more able to perform complex cognitive tasks in both age groups, but that the difference was especially marked in the older group. What the research does not seem to address is the usual chicken and egg question: does learning a language develop brain function, or is the learning of a second language an indication of a superior brain?

Britain's film heritage at risk

Britain's rich heritage of film and television archives is under threat, according to a newly formed alliance of film historians, curators and directors. The new lobbying force, called the Curatori Lucis Group (AQA please note!) (or �Treasures of Light�), claims that the threat arises because of proposed cuts to the income of the National Film and Television Archive (NFTVA). A confidential internal report proposes losing thirty curatorial staff and cutting the annual budget from �4.5m in 1998, to �2m.

The group is particularly incensed by the proposal for selective conservation, focusing on saving what is regarded as �culturally significant�. On its website, the group argues that: �It is a truism that many films (or other art or documentary products), totally disregarded or even reviled on their appearance 20, 40 or 80 years ago, are now recognised as of primary importance in interpreting the culture or history of their times�. Fifty years ago, for example, the negatives of Mancunian Films, regional producers of populist comedies, were rejected as culturally unworthy, with the consequence that a whole generation of regional music-hall artists is not represented in the archive.

For its part, the British Film Institute insisted that its critics were mistaken. A spokesman said that expenditure on the archive was to be increased by �8m over the next five years, but admitted there would be job cuts.

Rare Saxon carving used as cat�s headstone

The Times reported on 27 May 2004 that a stone used to mark the grave of a stray cat called Winkle has been identified as a rare early medieval carving. The owner, a widow who wishes to remain anonymous, said that her late husband, a stonemason, found the slab among stone bought for his business. Our former President, Professor Rosemary Cramp, said the find was of �national importance�. The carving carries the Latin inscription Sanctus Petrus and depicts St Peter giving a Benedictine blessing. It is thought to have been part of a frieze in a Saxon church. �It is one of the best pieces from that period that has been dug up in a long time,� Professor Cramp said. �I just wish we knew where it had come from.�

Shipwreck atlas suggests fourth-century AD trade boom

Marine archaeologist Sean Kingsley has drawn up a new map of 222 shipwrecks dating from the fourth to tenth centuries AD, which suggests that the Mediterranean became a springboard for remarkably vibrant commercial trade following the supposed decline of the Roman Empire. Dr Kingsley, Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at the University of Reading, believes that the division of the Late Roman Empire between Rome and Constantinople created a multitude of bustling new markets as the backwaters of the eastern Mediterranean became vibrant sea lanes. Some 92 of the 222 shipwrecks have only come to light in the last twelve years in Italy, Sardinia, Israel and Eritrea and had been transporting wine, oil, fish and prefabricated churches � marble slabs complete with sculpted capitals and staircases.

Dr Kingsley�s new master map of Mediterranean shipwrecks has just been published in the Encyclopaedia of Underwater Archaeology Vol 4: Barbarian Seas � Late Rome to Islam (�25, ISBN 1-902699-57-2). In the introduction he argues that: �once the shackles of Rome were cast off, Eastern merchants jumped into this vacuum to eagerly sell produce how and wherever they saw fit � despite the web of catastrophe and strain that beset the world of Late Antiquity, it was a testimony to the human spirit that maritime trade found a way not only to survive, but to thrive�. Further information about the encyclopaedia can be found on the Periplus Publishing website.

Call for papers: Canon William Greenwell (1820�1918) and his contemporaries

The Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, is inviting papers relating to the life and work of William Greenwell, antiquarian, archaeologist, collector, historian, numismatist, fisherman � polymath. Papers on the broader context of Greenwell�s archaeological researches are particularly encouraged. The conference aims to give a flavour of the rich and varied research environment of Greenwell�s time and of the history of British archaeology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The conference will take place on 16 and 17 April 2005 in the cathedral city of Durham, where Canon Greenwell spent much of his life. A reception will be held in the Monks� Dormitory in Durham Cathedral on the Saturday night and Professor Tim Murray, FSA, from La Trobe University, Australia, will be the keynote speaker.

For further information, see the Greenwell website, or contact Dr Anne O�Connor, Greenwell Organising Committee, Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK.

It�s an Open Day, so we are closed

Professor Norman Hammond, FSA, has written to Salon to share his disappointment at the number of City of London churches that were locked on the occasion of the Annual City Church Walks on 8 and 9 June, organised by the Friends of the City Churches. These walks are always well attended, and this year�s was no exception: several large groups of visitors turned out hoping to see St Peter Cornhill and St Andrew Undershaft (both administered from St Helen, Bishopsgate) but were frustrated to find them inaccessible from mid-afternoon on 9 June. When Norman and his wife Jean Wilson, FSA, asked why, a St Helen�s official told them that: �We can't be expected to keep the churches open just because it is an Open Day�.

Books by Fellows

Simon James, FSA, of the University of Leicester�s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, has just published a book providing a unique insight into the lives � and sometimes violent deaths � of Roman soldiers on the eastern limits of the empire, based on Roman arms from the lost city of Dura-Europos. The city, which overlooks the River Euphrates near the Iraqi border, was forgotten until 1920, when Indian troops accidentally revealed wall-paintings whilst digging trenches, one of which named the city and showed its Roman garrison on parade. The site was extensively excavated between the world wars, producing spectacular finds such as a painted synagogue and early Christian chapel, which led to its being dubbed the �Pompeii of the Syrian Desert�.

Not the least of the finds was an assemblage of astonishingly well-preserved arms and armour belonging to the Roman garrison, which was besieged by the Persians around AD 256. The Persians destroyed the city, which was never fully reoccupied, helping to explain the remarkable survival of the finds, which included painted wooden shields, complete horse-armours and hundreds of other items.

Only in recent years has detailed work on the military equipment been undertaken by Simon James whose new book � Excavations at Dura-Europos 1928 to 37, Final Report VII: The Arms and Armour � has already been hailed as uncovering �the most important single collection of arms, armour and other equipment to survive from the Roman period�. The volume features a series of the author�s own highly detailed reconstruction paintings of the equipment and appearance of the Roman soldiers of Dura-Europos, which, Simon James explains, �helps me work out how the equipment was put together � painting the illustrations is part of the research process�.

The Excavations at Dura-Europos conducted by Yale University and the French Academy of Inscriptions and Letters 1928 to 1937, Final Report VII: The Arms and Armour, and Other Military Equipment, by Dr Simon James, is published by the British Museum Press and costs �95 (ISBN 0-7141-2248-3).

Vacancies

Kelmscott Manor, Temporary Custodian
A temporary Custodian is needed to live and work at Kelmscott Manor from the beginning of July until the end of September 2004, when the house closes for the season. The Custodian reports to the Property Manager and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the house and its contents, security, visitors, group bookings, guides and a roster of some 60 volunteers. The Custodian is also responsible for managing the cleaning and care of the house and artefacts and for liaising with the Restaurant Manager and the Shop Manager over catering arrangements and shop opening times for group visits. Experience of running a house open to the public or similar visitor attraction is essential. Applications, with a CV and the names of two referees should be sent to Megan Parry, Property Manager, Kelmscott Manor, Kelmscott, Lechlade GL7 3HJ; tel: 01367 253348; email: admin@kelmscottmanor.co.uk.

English Heritage, Guidebooks Managing Editor
Salary c �30,000, closing date 25 June 2004

English Heritage is looking for an enthusiastic specialist manager to head the team of experienced in-house guidebook editors and to oversee plans to launch a new series of guidebooks in the spring of 2005 that will be recognised as setting a new standard in the field of heritage interpretation. The ideal candidate will have a degree in architectural history, art history, archaeology, history or a related discipline, and must be able to demonstrate a degree of first-hand publishing experience. For an application pack, please email recruithq@english heritage.org.uk, quoting R/45/04 in the subject box.

Cadw, Architectural Team Leader (Historic Buildings)
Salary �34,997 to �46,179, closing date 21 June 2004

To manage a team of three professional staff dealing with historic buildings and conservation areas, setting and maintaining standards of professional advice on the care and preservation of historic buildings, ensuring high standards in architectural conservation and liaison with local authorities, professional bodies and other agencies within Wales. Further details from cadw.personnel@wales.gsi.gov.uk.