Salon Archive

Issue: 95

News of Fellows

Liverpool University has awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters to Professor Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, FSA, to mark his retirement from the Disney Chair of Archaeology at Cambridge and to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the Institute of Archaeology at Liverpool, the centenary being celebrated at a conference the weekend before the degree ceremony on 5 July. As the University's Public Orator said: 'It is fitting that we should mark the centenary by honouring someone with an international reputation as a teacher, scholar and researcher in archaeology and one of the world's most influential archaeologists.'

Colin White, FSA, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Portsmouth, on 12 July 2004. The citation said that the award was being made 'in recognition of Mr White's contribution to naval history scholarship' and particular mention was made of Colin's work on the letters of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson which has led to the location, in archives all over the world, of over 1,200 hitherto unpublished letters written by the Admiral. 500 of the most important of these letters are to be published in Dr White's forthcoming book, Nelson: the new letters, due in the summer of 2005.

Our librarian, Bernard Nurse, FSA, reports that the funeral of our late Fellow John Samuels took place on 2 July 2004, and the sum of almost £1,250 was received for the Society's library in donations made in John's memory. ‘We are very grateful,’ says Bernard, ‘for the generosity of his family and friends. The money will be used to purchase second-hand items on the library's wanted list and for new acquisitions, and a note will be placed inside each book to record that they were purchased “In memory of Dr John Samuels, Fellow”.’

The reshuffle that never was

Last week’s speculation in Salon about the likelihood of a new Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport proved to be premature. If The Independent is to be believed, the reshuffle foundered because of John Prescott’s opposition to the proposal to replace Ian McCartney as Chairman of the Labour Party. Tessa Jowell, the Prime Minster’s choice as Mr McCartney's replacement, was said not to be keen to move because of unfinished business at her department, including the Olympics bid and a Green Paper on the future of the BBC.

On the other hand, the PFK report on the future of English Heritage, which examines the case for a merger with the Heritage Lottery Fund, has now been published on the DCMS website. This shows potential savings of £16.11m over three years if the two organisations are merged, though the report admits that merger would be a high-risk strategy with political and administrative difficulties. It therefore recommends ‘considering targeted efficiency gains and closer working in the short term, followed by a move to merged functions, possibly as part of a fuller review of allocation of service responsibility across the Heritage and DCMS sector’ (editor’s italics). In other words, look out for a bigger and wider review of all DCMS heritage functions, if not now, then certainly after the election (assuming the Labour Party is still in power).

For a copy of the report, entitled Review of the Structure of Government Support for the Historic Environment in England (May 2004), see the DCMS website at website.

A new advocate in the House of Lords

Professor Margaret Omolola Young is among a group of newly created Peers to take her seat in the House of Lords this week, adopting the title Baroness Young of Hornsey. Born in 1951, Lola has been an effective and passionate advocate for the study of history and archaeology, and will no doubt continue to be a powerful advocate for heritage causes in the House of Lords.

As Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority (GLA) from 2002 to 2004, Lola set up the Mayor’s Commission on Black and Minority Ethnic History, with the aim of encouraging more people from London’s non-white communities to discover the pleasures and excitement of studying history. Lola has always believed that the key to ensuring that non-white communities are properly represented in the tapestry of history is for those communities to produce their own historians and archaeologists. She also firmly believes that black and minority ethnic history should not be studied in isolation, but is all about inter-connected communities, and that ‘British’ is an umbrella term, incorporating a range of ethnic identities.

Before joining the GLA, Lola was Professor of Cultural Studies at Middlesex University and Project Director of the Archives Museum of Black Heritage. She was also a member of a Research Assessment Exercise panel, Chair of the Arts Council's Cultural Diversity Panel, and a member of the board of Resource (now MLA). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was awarded an OBE in 2001.

Oxford gets £2.25m for Islamic studies

Oxford looks set to consolidate its position as a major centre for Islamic culture and scholarship with the news that Professor Nasser Khalili has donated £2.25 million to enable the university to set up a research centre for the art and material culture of the Middle East. The centre, with Dr Jeremy Johns as its first director, will open in 2005 and will draw together and expand existing programmes taught in the university’s Oriental Institute and in the faculties of Archaeology, Ancient and Modern History and the History of Art.

The donation will be used to increase the number of teaching staff, broaden research into pre-Islamic Iran, pre-Islamic Arabia and Jewish art, and safeguard the teaching at Oxford of minority languages such as Aramaic. The centre will employ scholars with expertise on ceramics and metalwork, painting and iconography, textiles and carpets, archaeology, numismatics and the interaction between Christian and Muslim cultures in the medieval Mediterranean.

Islamic art for London

At the same time as he announced his Oxford donation, Professor Khalili also said that he intends to donate his collection of 20,000 Islamic artefacts to a new museum, to be built in London and fully endowed. It is hoped that once a suitable site is found for the new museum, it will be open within two years.

The Khalili Islamic art collection consists of manuscripts, copies of the Koran, ceramics, carpets, miniatures, swords, vases and musical instruments. Professor Khalili has already engaged a team of scholars to produce a comprehensive catalogue, scheduled to fill twenty-seven volumes, and material from the collection is frequently loaned to exhibitions, such as Heaven on Earth, the display of Islamic treasures from the Hermitage and the Khalili collection currently on at Somerset House, London. His plans for the new museum would, he says, unite the essential elements of collecting: acquiring, conserving, cataloguing and displaying.

The Spiral and the Cloud (with apologies to E J Thribb)

So
Farewell Spiral and farewell Cloud
Two big buildings
Now dead on the drawing board.
Some said you were an architectural abomination:
A ‘cowpat’ and a ‘wart’, a ‘deflated balloon’
And ‘a pile of falling cardboard boxes’.
But the Vic Soc did not oppose your construction
So that’s something to be said in your favour
At least.

For Fellows who require a translation, this week saw the demise of two controversial building designs: the Spiral, designed by Daniel Libeskind as an extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Cloud, Will Alsop’s ten-storey globe intended to become Liverpool’s ‘Fourth Grace’ on the city’s waterfront, joining the Edwardian Cunard, Liver and Port of Liverpool buildings, which have just been designated as part of the new Liverpool World Heritage Site.

Both buildings proved highly controversial — not because of their radical design, but because of their lack of respect for neighbouring structures. But officially at least aesthetic judgements were not the reason for their demise. The Spiral required £15 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The Fund’s trustees, meeting on 21 July, faced a mountain of applications (see next story) and decided that the proposed extension simply did not deliver ‘the major heritage benefits that we expect to see for such a large request for lottery players' money’. Carole Souter, Director of the HLF, went on to explain that: ‘There is no doubt that Daniel Libeskind's vision for the V&A's Spiral is both imaginative and technically impressive but it did not deliver well against our key requirements of conservation, education and enjoyment of the UK's heritage.’

As for the Cloud, plans to build Liverpool's Fourth Grace were cancelled by the City Council because of rising costs, and concern that a public inquiry, followed by Deputy-Prime-Ministerial review, would add further to the uncertainty and cost. David Henshaw, Liverpool City Council’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The public sector partners have been determined to ensure that the Fourth Grace would not be a Millennium Dome, with spiralling costs which would have represented an unacceptable drain on the public purse. However, the city remains committed to delivering our aspiration for a sustainable and deliverable cultural and leisure development on this important site’.

Good news for the Ashmolean and Cotswold Canals

This week’s quarterly meeting of Heritage Lottery Fund trustees brought home forcibly how different the world is now from eight years ago, when the Heritage Lottery Fund was formed. Then, awash with money (or so it seemed), every project that met HLF funding criteria could reasonably expect to receive funding. Today, the projects have grown in size and ambition, and tough decisions are having to be made between competing schemes.

There was good news on Wednesday for the Ashmolean in Oxford, which gained approval in principle for a £15m grant towards the cost of sweeping away the existing extensions, replacing them with a purpose-built six-storey building designed by Rick Mather. This will give the museum proper education space for the first time and increase overall gallery space.

The Cotswold Canal Partnership was also celebrating the award of £11m to restore and reopen the 9.5km Stonehouse to Brimscombe Port stretch of the Cotswolds Canals and to create an additional 6km walking trail on through to Saul Junction and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. As well as returning the waterway to full use, many historic structures along the route will be restored and new opportunities in traditional skills training will also be created.

The National Trust, however, had its £20m application for conservation work at Tyntesfield deferred, ‘pending further information from the National Trust in support of its plans’. The Trust said that the £20m was to have been used for ‘adapting the estate for a wide range of access, to attract new audiences and to provide training opportunities, for immediate capital repairs and for providing funds to help it operate in perpetuity’. Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, commented that: ‘Our staff, our members and our tens of thousands of visitors and supporters are keen to resolve the outstanding questions which the HLF have raised as soon as possible.’

Musuems and galleries told to learn how to make money

What do you do if the HLF decides not to fund your plans — indeed, what do you do if it does, and you are faced with the struggle to raise large sums in match funding? According to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the answer is very simple: you appoint more entrepreneurs as museum trustees and you insist that museums take a keener approach to such money-raising activities as catering, shops and mail order.

According to the PAC’s new report, Income Generated by the Museums and Galleries, seventeen institutions that last year received £270 million from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport generated an additional income of £108 million from fundraising, trading activities and admission charges. MPs on the PAC believe that though this is a ‘creditable performance’, it is not enough: museums and galleries need to be more entrepreneurial and to tap into the ‘unrealised potential’ for generating further income.

The report concludes: ‘Many of the museums and galleries do not know with any accuracy what profit they make on some of their income-generating activities and some have lost money. For each of their money-making activities, including those not undertaken solely for commercial reasons, they need clear objectives and financial targets, and accounting systems to measure financial performance.’

The report singles out ‘money-making ideas’ from museums overseas. The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, for example, opens satellite venues outside Russia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York uses its website to engage with younger people and encourage membership and online donations.

But scholars oppose the V&A’s plans to do just that

Our Fellow John Cherry was one of several scholars quoted in the press this week as being opposed to the V&A’s plans to turn the Medieval Treasury into a shop, and to turn the Morris Room and Gamble Room, as well as some of the Renaissance galleries around the courtyard, into cafés and restaurants.

Although the museum argues that the plans are part of an ambitious scheme to open new Medieval and Renaissance galleries elsewhere in the museum, those spaces are not due to open until 2009 and only £3 million of the £25 million required has so far been raised.

Referring to the notorious 1980s Saatchi & Saatchi advertising campaign, John Cherry said: ‘They’ll have a profitable shop with a nice museum attached.’ Another critic went further and said: ‘Why have a museum at all? Why not have a hotel?’ Professor Mark Ormrod, head of the history department at the University of York, said: ‘The V&A’s medieval collection is one of the jewels in the crown. Anything that even temporarily prevents public access to that material is something which is going to have an adverse impact on the institution.’

New Anglo-Saxon Gallery at Norwich

As the V&A reduces its gallery space, let us hail a museum that has done the opposite. Our Fellow Loyd Grossman did the honours at Norwich Castle museum on 6 July when he officially opened a new Anglo-Saxon & Viking Gallery, exploring the development of early English society before, during and after the Viking invasions.

Dr Tim Pestell, curator of the gallery said: ‘There are 1,000 objects on show, the majority of which were found locally. They reveal the full range of life in the Anglo-Saxon world, from everyday pottery to stunning gold and silver jewellery and the unique ‘Spong Man’ pottery sculpture’. The centrepiece of the gallery is the Harford Farm hoard of seventh-century jewellery. The British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Museum of Denmark have also loaned objects to the gallery.

Turn supermarkets into museums

Meanwhile, the Museums Association and the Campaign for Learning through Museums and Galleries have published a consultative document containing radical ideas for getting museum objects out of basement store rooms and into people’s lives by loaning them to travel agents, doctors’ surgeries, schools and supermarkets.

‘Collections for the Future’, available from the Museums Association website, is intended to stimulate museum professionals into thinking ‘more creatively’ about the estimated 900 million artefacts kept in storerooms, and how these might be ‘diffused’ into everyday life.

The consultation process, which involves regional meetings to discuss the report, will run until October and the conclusions will be published early in 2005.

Restoration season

The launch last week of the new series of Restoration on BBC2 has sparked a vigorous debate about the funding of historic building conservation.

Michael Coupe, formerly of English Heritage but now retired, and so free to speak his mind, argues in Planning magazine that Restoration fails to answer difficult questions, such as ‘why have so many important historical buildings been allowed to fall into disrepair? He argues that the heritage sector is still held in low esteem by the government, who sees it as ‘elitist, backward looking and a block on development’. That is why the heritage sector has never been a beneficiary of the chancellor’s largesse (by contrast with the generous sponsorship lavished on CABE by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minster and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport), and why English Heritage’s grant-in-aid has declined in real terms for every year of the Labour government — not to mention the loss of key specialist professionals in the name of ‘modernisation’.

Griff Rhys-Jones himself, presenter of the BBC2 series, says that heritage is suffering from the bitter wind of change. Writing in The Times he refers to the Barker report published in the spring which called for a relaxation of planning laws on the grounds that hundreds of thousands of extra homes are required in the south east. Despite the fact that CPRE have proven that the supposed shortage of housing land is a myth, Rhys-Jones says that Barker’s report will be accepted because ‘clever Kate slaps x plus y equals z houses on to paper with staggering ease’, and comes up with the kind of apparently objective data that this Government loves. What you cannot reduce to a convincing formula, he says, is ‘the definition of the value of our environment’.

He goes on to say: ‘All the elements that make up Kate Barker’s graphs … are, of course, subject to change at any moment. Kate’s vector could wobble off in a very different direction at the drop of an interest point. The high price of homes may be caused, Ms Barker, by the lack of capital gains tax on sales of personal property, and the ludicrous VAT on repairs to existing stock, and a thousand other variables. They would spoil your formula. But here’s one for you. Add bureaucratic, predictive, non-science to ambitious and slightly dense politicians and a sense of emergency. Result: the destruction of the very fabric that makes life worth living in this country.’

Another perspective comes from our Fellow Giles Worsley, writing in the Daily Telegraph, who praises Restoration for trying to educate the viewers into realising that there are no quick fixes and that conservation is not a question of handing out dollops of cash (though that helps, of course). The fact that the future of the Manchester Baths, last year’s winner, is still unresolved, shows that life is more complex: ‘successful conservation is a mix of perspiration and inspiration, of hard graft and clever ideas’.

What Worsley does not like is the selection of candidates for restoration on the basis of ownership rather than on merit and need. He believes that privately owned historic houses fare better than those looked after by trusts or local authorities: they can be more sustainable as a house than as a ‘fossilised visitor attraction’, and ‘are looked after far more economically and at far less (if any) cost to the public — just compare the number of people the National Trust needs to look after a small country house with that required at a private house’.

What everyone agrees about is the iniquity of the VAT regime, which penalises building maintenance, and encourages demolition and new build.

Well nearly everyone — Janet Street-Porter typically takes the contrarian view and says that we should have a programme called Demolition in which the public nominates listed buildings to be swept away and replaced by brave new ones. And quite a few TV reviewers all made the same point after the first programme (which came from Scotland), that several of the candidates for Restoration were far more beautiful and evocative as ruins than they could ever be once restored. As one reviewer put it, ‘let’s not ruin the ruins’.

Harrogate’s Turkish baths get a good scrub

While Bath Spa is getting something of a bad name for cost over-runs and delays, the nineteenth-century Turkish baths in Harrogate reopened last week after their own intensive scrub and brush up costing £1 million. Lesley Durbin, head conservator of the Jackfield Tile Museum at Ironbridge, Shropshire, who led the restoration, described the baths as having ‘the most splendid and intact Victorian tiling I've ever seen’. The quality of the baths is a tribute to Yorkshire businessmen, Richard Ellis and Charles Fortune, successive mayors of Harrogate, who pushed through the town's Royal Spa complex and opened its Moorish-style buildings in 1896.

Uncertain future for Dumfries House and Abbotsford

Writing in The Times, our Fellow Marcus Binney recently highlighted the uncertain future of two major Scottish houses, calling on the National Trust for Scotland to intervene. Dumfries House, in Ayrshire, is a complete and undisturbed work of the three Adam brothers, John, Robert and James. It contains ‘more documented mid-eighteenth-century Scottish furniture than in the whole of the rest of the world, including Chippendale’s first important commission, consisting of an extensive set of mahogany chairs, sofas, giltwood overmantels, girandoles and pier glasses, exotically crested rococo four poster beds, and towel rails, chamber-pot cupboards and trays — the full range of kit that could be bought or commissioned from England’s most famous cabinetmaker’.

The present Marquess of Dumfries — the racing driver Johnny Dumfries —has offered to sell the house, with 2,000 acres and its principal contents, to the National Trust for Scotland. A Christie’s sale is planned for next year if a package cannot be agreed by the autumn.

Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, in the Borders, is not threatened with imminent sale or break-up, because much of the contents were placed in trust ownership after Scott himself was ensnared in financial difficulties following the bankruptcy of his publisher. But uncertainty surrounds its future presentation because of the sudden death of Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott, who had inherited the task of showing the house from her sister. If no member of the Scott family wishes to live there and become the standard bearer of the Scott legacy, Binney warns, the NTS may be invited to become involved.

Regional Environment Strategy for the South West

When the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced two years ago that strategic planning would in future be conducted at regional, rather than county, level, many feared that the historic environment would be ignored in the process. English Heritage and the South West Historic Environment Forum has proved that this need not necessarily be the case by launching the first ever Regional Environment Strategy for the South West, providing a model for other regions to follow.

The document is intended to help target the work and responsibilities of regional agencies, by identifying key issues of importance. It emphasises the crucial contribution of the historic environment to the quality of life, culture and identity of the region and aims to make sure it is fully reflected in any plans for change in the region in the coming years. It shows, for example, that the historic environment brings millions of visitors to the region who spend some £5 billion annually, accounting for 10 per cent of the region’s GDP, playing an increasing role in engendering prosperity and aiding regeneration.

Twelve key priorities have been identified in the strategy:

1. Improve knowledge and understanding of the South West's historic environment
2. Put conservation at the heart of urban renewal and regeneration strategies
3. Encourage the wider appreciation and conservation of the historic environment in rural areas
4. Increase understanding of the South West's coastal and maritime historic environment
5. Promote the design of buildings and landscapes that are sensitive to their locations
6. Promote the use of traditional conservation and management skills
7. Ensure the education sector in the South West takes account of the value of the historic environment
8. Remove physical, cultural and social barriers that inhibit access and enjoyment of the historic environment
9.Tackle the legacy created by poor management and maintenance of the historic environment across the South West
10. Develop a co-ordinated and prioritised research strategy for the South West to fill gaps in our understanding
11. Improve communication between the public, private and voluntary interests on the historic environment
12. Increase the historic environment's contribution to the economic well being of the region by encouraging and supporting its sustainable use and its sensitive reflection in new development.

New countryside bodies announced

Following the Haskins review published this spring, Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has announced the Government’s response, promising to create two new bodies by April 2005.

The first, dubbed the ‘New Countryside Agency’, will refocus the core role of the existing Countryside Agency as a statutory advocate, expert adviser and independent watchdog ‘providing strong and impartial advice to Government’ by acting as advocate ‘for rural people and communities, especially those suffering disadvantage’. Its role will be to ‘suggest innovative solutions to their needs and monitor and report on progress in delivery’.

The second body, dubbed the ‘Integrated Agency’, will bring together English Nature, parts of the Countryside Agency and most of the Rural Development Service, which is charged with the delivery of agri-environment schemes under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy. This ‘new, large, powerful and independent statutory public body’ will be responsible for ‘protecting and enhancing the natural environment, biodiversity and landscape while realising the benefits for people, through improving access and recreation, for enjoyment, health, and general quality of life for us and for future generations’.

DEFRA said that the establishment of the Integrated Agency will require primary legislation, but in the meantime the three organisations will work very closely together in a confederation of partners, to a common vision and purpose. It added that ‘we plan to introduce legislation next year, and will publish a draft bill as an early step’.

Campaigners for the natural and historic environment gave a cautious welcome to this news, saying that it was an important step towards a joined-up approach to habitats and landscapes, but that its success would depend on strong leadership and adequate funding.

Further details from the Government News Network website.

Lecture in aid of the British School at Rome

Robert Harris, the best-selling author, will join Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Director of the British School at Rome, in a talk entitled Pompeii: Fact and Fiction, looking at the ancient city from the different perspectives of novelist and historian. The event — to take place at 7pm (reception at 6.15) on 28 September 2004 at the Royal Geographic Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London — is to raise funds for the work of the British School. Tickets cost £30: send a cheque made payable to ‘The British School at Rome’ to Christopher Mann, 16 Leigh Street, London WC1H 9EW.

Seaside architecture: a three-day conference

A conference will take place on England’s Seaside Architecture in the very appropriate setting of Cromer’s Grade-II listed Pier Pavilion Theatre on 29 to 31 October 2004. The aim of the conference is to look at the history and impact of English seaside architecture, to examine issues relating to the conservation and regeneration of seaside structures and to look at the benefits of the resource to tourism, heritage and the future prosperity of English seaside towns.

Our Fellow Mark Girouard will open the conference with a keynote speech, and other speakers include Alan Brodie and Jenny Carlile of English Heritage and Catherine Croft of the Twentieth Century Society. Further details from Tony Kirby at Anglia Polytechnic.

Books by Fellows

If you are anywhere near Edinburgh this summer, don’t miss the stunning new exhibition called Treasures from Tuscany: The Etruscan Legacy on at the Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland, from now until 31 October. Astonishingly, while the British Museum’s trivial summer exhibition of modern lapel badges with slogans along the lines of ‘John Prescott, Sex God’ has hit the headlines, this rare opportunity to see some outstanding examples of ancient Etruscan sculpture, jewellery, ceramics, bronze statues and decorated sarcophagi has gone unnoticed by the London-based media.

Second best to visiting the exhibition is to buy the handsome catalogue, edited by our Fellow Elizabeth Goring, Curator in the History of Art and Applied Arts at the National Museums of Scotland (192 pages, 200 illustrations, ISBN 1 901663 906, £25).

The introduction to the catalogue demolishes some of the prevalent myths about the Etruscans, including the popular belief that their language is ‘a mystery’. Etruscan writing is well understood, even if we don’t know how the words were pronounced: the 13,000 surviving texts relate mostly to burials, giving the names and family connections of the deceased.

As for their origins — did they migrate to central Italy from Asia Minor or from central Europe? — Gilda Brtoloni and Elizabeth Goring argue that the archaeological record shows proto-Etruscan material from the late Bronze Age (around 1300 BC) but changing under the influence of Greek colonists who began arriving on Italy’s shores from 900 BC. These colonists integrated with the local inhabitants and played a significant role in the development of their crafts and culture: for example, producing wheel-turned vessels with new designs in impasto decoration, made from higher quality clay, fired to higher temperatures in closed kilns. Grapes and olives are intensively cultivated for the first time; field boundaries implying private land ownership begin to appear.

The exhibition — organised and presented by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Tuscany — brings all this to life, showing how the local bronze workshops — already skilled in producing cups and boxes, swords and sheaths, flasks, mirrors and razors decorated with animal motifs, brooches and bracelets — adopted new ideas and began to produce ever more sophisticated wine jugs, harness mounts, cauldrons and ladles. Among the ritual and military objects there are homely domestic objects: a bronze cheese grater from the 7th century BC (Homer’s Iliad, XI, 628-43, describes just such an object being used to grate goat’s cheese) and perfume flasks in the shape of a grasshopper, a duck and a running hare.

For further information, see the National Museums of Scotland website.

From Dr Huw Walters, of the Bibliography of Wales Unit, National Library of Wales, comes something completely different: Cynnwrf Canrif: Agweddau ar Ddiwylliant Gwerin (published in Swansea by Cyhoeddiadau Barddas, ISBN 1900437678, £16) is a volume of essays on the folk culture of the south Wales valleys in the nineteenth century. Various chapters discuss the impact of the temperance movement on valley communities from 1830 to the end of the century, and the growth and development of the Welsh-language newspaper press in the Aberdare and Merthyr Tdyfil areas. Another chapter describes the activities of a group of self-proclaimed bards who held druidical rituals near the Rocking Stone on Pontypridd Common. These meetings were held at the time of the two equinoxes and the two solstices annually from 1849 to 1879, much to the grief of the local clergy. Welsh ballads and songs are also discussed as well as the prose writings of David Rees Griffiths, the collier-poet of the Aman Valley in east Carmarthenshire.

And who could resist a book entitled with such aplomb, The Joy of Flint — included here not because its author, Clive Waddington, is a Fellow, but because it is published by our sister body, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, with the Museum of Antiquities at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, under the direction of our Fellow, Lindsay Allason-Jones. The book is an introduction to lithics in general and flint artefacts in particular and includes a gazetteer of all the flints in the Museum of Antiquities' collection (over 25,000 in number). The volume retails at £11.99 + £2.50 postage and packing and can be ordered from the Museum of Antiquities, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU. Cheques should be made payable to the ‘University of Newcastle upon Tyne’.

Vacancies

National Heritage Memorial Fund, Trustees
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is currently assembling a field of suitably qualified candidates from which the Prime Minister will appoint two people to serve as Trustees on the board of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). As the NHMF would like to fill one of these posts with someone who has expertise in the conservation of historic buildings, the Society of Antiquaries is one of a number of organisations that has been asked to suggest names of suitably qualified individuals. Fellows who would like to nominate possible candidates should contact the General Secretary, David Gaimster, as soon as possible (the closing date for nominations is 2 August 2004).