Salon Archive

Issue: 97

Forthcoming meetings

The first meeting of the autumn session will take place on Thursday 7 October when Andrew Reynolds, FSA, will give a paper entitled ‘Headstakes and Heathen Burials: the archaeology of execution in Anglo-Saxon England’. The lecture explores the contribution that archaeological evidence can make to the debate about the development of social institutions, including the mechanics of governance and the emergence of royal authority from the Age of Sutton Hoo up to the eleventh century. The paper examines cemetery evidence in its landscape context to argue for a highly organised judicial system whose origins lay in the seventh and eighth centuries rather than later as is traditionally argued by constitutional historians. The spatial organisation of judicial agencies (prisons, courts, locations for judicial ordeal and execution sites) will also considered in relation to territorial arrangements.

News of Fellows

The Society has been informed that Miss Marion Wilson, FSA, of Toller Porcorum in Dorset, passed away on 7 August 2004. Miss Wilson was elected a Fellow on 15 January 1953.

Beatrice de Cardi looks back

September’s edition of British Archaeology was, as ever, full of enjoyable articles, not the least of which was a profile of our Fellow — and the recipient of the Society’s Medal in 2003 — Beatrice de Cardi, OBE. Talking to the magazine’s editor, Mike Pitts, FSA, Beatrice skipped breezily through an incident-filled life of border hopping in Asia and hobnobbing with khans and emirs.

Having graduated from University College in 1936, Beatrice became Secretary to Sir Mortimer Wheeler, then Keeper of the London Museum, working with the Wheelers at Maiden Castle, where, she recalls, ‘in the evenings, if you’d shown any kind of promise on the excavation, you were allowed to go up to Tessa Wheeler’s bedroom and she would explain the significance of what had been found’.

Transferring to the Foreign Office for the duration of the war, Beatrice then opted to work in Pakistan in 1947, because she had been inspired by Stuart Piggott’s article on the pottery of the Indus civilisation, and wanted to find out more: ‘I thought, well, pottery that sophisticated must have been in demand for use on more than five small sites, I’ll go and see what the distribution is. I received a great deal of help from the Khan of Qalat. I was lent a clapped-out jeep and a driver, and away I went. I can’t drive, I’m lethal!’.

Two years later, Beatrice was appointed as the first permanent Secretary to the Council for British Archaeology, and she spent the best part of the 1950s working for the CBA without a break. By 1957 she was able to return to Baluchistan for an extended period using up her accumulated leave entitlement. But, she recalls, ‘there was too much tribal unrest to continue working there, so I decided to hop across the border and work in south-eastern Iran, at Bampur. After the excavations, I went on survey, only to be pounced on by Iran’s secret police. I thought, I’ll look at the nearest point to Iran, and chose Ra’s al-Kayma emirate. After the survey there in 1968, I sent a copy of the report to the ruler and the next thing I knew I was invited to put forward a programme of research’.

Tucked away in the interview are unimportant little dates, such as the fact that Beatrice officially ‘retired’ as long ago as 1973, and that she celebrated her 90th birthday this June. None of this means that Beatrice has stopped working: instead she has been ‘to-ing and fro-ing each winter to Ra’s al-Kayma’ and is currently ‘involved in a project to put their accessions on computer’.

Reflecting on the lessons of a long and eventful life, Beatrice says that there are two principles that she holds dear: that archaeologists should not be insular and should get to know other countries; and that ‘the person who is not paid a salary for doing archaeological work can still make a contribution’.

The site of Seahenge

Elsewhere in the September issue of British Archaeology, Mark Brennand, director of the ‘Seahenge’ excavation at Holme-next-the–Sea in Norfolk, gives an account of his latest thinking on the timber circle and its central inverted oak stump. One important new fact has emerged since the excavation was completed in 1999: the existence of an earlier monument, 100 metres to the east. Mark suggests that the Seahenge circle’s site was ‘chosen for its proximity to this monument’, which ‘is represented by two concentric rings of roughly split oak timbers, surrounding an oak hurdle-lined pit containing two large oak logs. There are good reasons for suggesting that the pit was a grave and that the wood was all that remained of a palisaded barrow, not unlike examples excavated in the Netherlands. Radiocarbon dating indicates this monument was probably constructed several centuries before the [‘Seahenge’] circle [c 2400—2030 BC, compared to the Seahenge dendro date of 2049 BC], but it is possible that both monuments at some time were in use together’.

Mark also points out that the circle of split timbers surrounding the inverted stump, with their bark to the outside, is itself a representation of a very large tree. Significantly, perhaps, the tree mimicry is interrupted at just one point, where there appears to be a deliberate inversion of the interior and exterior texture of the circle with the split face of post 30 facing out of the circle and the bark facing inside.

Somewhat more speculatively, Mark wonders whether some of the posts of the Seahenge circle might have been carved in the form of a human figure — citing the 50cm tall pine figure found in the Thames at Dagenham in 1912 (and dated to 2460—1980 BC) as a possible parallel.

Plans for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance collections

Salon 95 summarised a report that appeared in The Times of 21 July which commented on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s plans for the redisplay of its Medieval and Renaissance collections. Paul Williamson, FSA, Director of Collections and Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass at the museum, has written to say that this was ‘a completely misleading piece of journalism and full of errors’. We are grateful to Paul for contributing the following piece, which puts the record straight for the benefit of Fellows.

‘There has been a long-felt need at the V&A to improve the Medieval and Renaissance galleries which, with the exception of the Medieval Treasury, have been largely untouched for over forty years. Many visitors have commented on the unsatisfactory nature and position of the present galleries for the display of this material — around the garden. After much consultation and debate, the decision was made to relocate these wonderful collections to a large suite of galleries immediately to the east of the main entrance, balancing the highly-acclaimed British Galleries to the west and giving the Middle Ages and Renaissance a higher profile at the Museum than they have ever enjoyed. The suggestion that this material is being moved to make way for a shop and restaurants is a mischievous one. The shop will indeed be relocated to the space until recently occupied by the Medieval Treasury, but this was a decision made after the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries were planned rather than before; and the move of the restaurants, which will be returning to the Victorian dining rooms on the north side of the garden and the adjoining spaces, will release space for a new educational centre.

‘Work has already started on this ambitious project, with the new galleries intended to open in 2009. A specially dedicated team has been formed to plan the displays and secure funding; and object moves have started, with the vast majority of the contents of the Medieval Treasury now displayed in Room 46, the handsome long gallery between the Cast Courts. Inevitably, in such a complex process of decanting and rebuilding there will be periods of gallery closure and temporary storage of works of art, but we will be striving to keep this to a minimum; and as other galleries around the garden are emptied, new spaces will be found for the temporary display of the most important works.

‘Of course, any interested scholar will have objects made available for study on request should they be displaced in the process of redisplay. We are also taking advantage of the closure of some of the galleries to lend a number of our most important works of art for extended periods. An exhibition of several of our most celebrated relief sculptures by Donatello will be opening at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds this autumn. We have also lent a group of English medieval stained-glass panels to the Stained-Glass Museum in Ely for a period of five years. In this way the country at large will benefit from the changes we are making.

‘Alongside the work on the galleries devoted to the Middle ages and Renaissance, we will be renewing and expanding our displays elsewhere in the Museum. A new sculpture gallery will be opening later this year, which will include many pieces from our great collection of medieval ivories, alabasters and wood sculpture. Next year two galleries dedicated to sacred silver and stained glass will highlight the medieval riches of our collection. The jewellery gallery will be completely refurbished and extended, re-opening in 2007.

‘Fellows can be assured from all of this activity that the V&A is fully committed to the continuing display of its Medieval and Renaissance collections.’

The looting continues in Iraq

In our hearts we all know that the looting and destruction of Iraq's heritage has continued unabated since the ‘ending’ of the war against Saddam Hussein, but perhaps we also believed that the reason why coalition forces were doing little to prevent this cultural disaster was that they were over-stretched and faced with more urgent priorities. Now, however, it is becoming clear that the troops themselves are among the culprits.

Writing in The Guardian on 1 September 2004, Zainab Bahrani, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, says that ‘active damage of the historical record is ongoing at several archaeological sites occupied as military camps. At Babylon, I have seen the continuing construction projects, the removal of and digging into the ancient mounds over the past three months, despite a coalition press release early in June stating that work would halt, and the camp would be removed … A helicopter landing zone, built in the heart of the ancient city, removed layers of archaeological earth from the site. The daily flights of the helicopters rattle the ancient walls and the winds created by their rotors blast sand against the fragile bricks. When my colleague at the site, Maryam Moussa, and I asked military personnel in charge that the helipad be shut down, the response was that it had to remain open for security reasons, for the safety of the troops.

‘Between May and August, the wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the Temple of Ninmah, both sixth century BC, collapsed as a result of the movement of helicopters. Nearby, heavy machines and vehicles stand parked on the remains of a Greek theatre from the era of Alexander of Macedon. The minister of culture has asked for the removal of military bases from all archaeological sites, but none has yet been relocated.’

Bahrani concludes that: ‘In the midst of the disasters of Iraq under occupation, the condition of its cultural heritage may seem a trivial matter. But, as a historian of antiquity, I am painfully aware that there is no parallel for the amount of historical destruction that has taken place over the past 15 months in Iraq. The Geneva and Hague conventions make the protection of heritage the responsibility of the foreign powers during occupation. Instead, what we have seen under the occupation is a general policy of neglect and even an active destruction of the historical and archaeological record of the land’.

Burying GCSE Archaeology

Another cause for sorrow and a sense of helplessness is the decision by the AQA examination board to drop GCSE Archaeology. AS and A level Archaeology are still available, but there is now no exam available for anyone who wishes to study archaeology below the age of 16. When Salon 93 broke this news on 12 July, the response from archaeologists was muted, but several newspapers used the release of the 2004 GCSE results last week to refer to the cull of archaeology, quoting our Fellows Don Henson, Carenza Lewis and Julian Richards as deploring the decision — and reiterating the important point that there is no lack of demand from students for GCSE archaeology — rather the problem lies in the shortage of trained teachers. The AQA has regularly praised the quality of its archaeology candidates, despite these teaching shortages.

For the record, the number of students taking GCSE and A-level exams in archaeology has risen from 25 in 1970 to 2,220 in 2003; the number of GCSE candidates peaked at around 600 in 1999, since when the availability of the new AS level has seen the numbers taking GCSE fall to 356 in 2003. Around 1,200 students took archaeology at AS level this year, most of them adults.

Tony Robinson, the presenter of Channel 4’s Time Team, called the abolition decision ‘plain daft’ and said it was ‘elitist’, because it means there is no ‘first-stage’ exam for those who leave school at sixteen, and who do not proceed to further education at college or sixth-form level. ‘We should be making the past more accessible, not burying it’, Tony Robinson said. ‘There's a huge interest in archaeology these days, and it's an interesting, exciting and open-air science which specially appeals to the young. How sad it'll be if only those students who stay on into the sixth form are able to take an archaeology exam.’

Our Fellow Don Henson, education spokesman for the Council for British Archaeology, accused the AQA examination authority of abandoning its moral responsibilities and said he objected to the board taking decisions affecting 14-year-olds’ education on a commercial basis. The CBA and the Young Archaeologists' Club have launched an online opinion poll and petition to demand a change of heart: voting will run until September 30.

Lost and found column

Salon hesitates to repeat what might well turn out to be a series of silly season stories, but for what they are worth, three separate articles appeared in the national press over the summer, hailing the discovery of hitherto unknown settlements.

On 18 August 2004, The Times reported that a previously unrecorded Roman town had been found in the Cotswolds. Established shortly after the Roman invasion in the 1st century, the 37-acre fortified settlement is large enough to have been a regional capital and trading centre and had a grand entrance gate, a forum, a smelting works and several rows of houses. Its discovery was made after David Isaac, a farmer, showed Roman coins, brooches, dice, thimbles and pottery that he had found on his land at Hill End Farm, Rangeworthy, near Thornbury, north of Bristol, to Andrew Young, of the Avon Archaeological Unit Partnership. Mr Young has since surveyed the site, which lies on the route of the Bath to Gloucester road. ‘This fills in a very big hole in our understanding of Roman Britain because until now there wasn’t a single focal point for the population of the area’, he said.

Several papers reported a week later that a 'lost medieval city' had been uncovered near Trellech in Monmouthshire. Apparently historical evidence shows that one of the largest settlements in Wales existed in the area during the thirteenth century, but the exact location was in doubt until this summer, when volunteers working for Monmouth Archaeological Society unearthed the remains of two dwellings dating from around 1250 (based on pottery evidence). One had been destroyed by fire. The date and the deliberate destruction led Stuart Wilson, the excavation’s Director, to suggest that medieval Trellech — a city of 400 burgages, bigger then contemporary Cardiff — might have been found. ‘We believe that it was an alien town set up by the Norman French and that in 1296 there was a battle where the Welsh destroyed it’, Mr Wilson said, adding that there was landscape evidence for many more dwellings near by, as well as evidence that the city’s economy was based on iron production — a ‘medieval Merthyr’, as he described it.

Finally, the BBC reported the discovery of a previously unknown prehistoric settlement and Roman farmstead a little further north from Monmouth, near Leominster. The settlement was discovered on the Arrow Valley floodplain near Pembridge in the course of a community fieldwork project led by Herefordshire Council's County Archaeologist, Keith Ray. The project involves working with local residents to record vulnerable archaeological sites on farms in the Arrow Valley, helping farmers understand how the land has been used in the past and encouraging them to protect the archaeology on their land. The discovery and excavation of the site ‘provided new insights into the Roman and prehistoric occupation of the valley and is a great opportunity to work closely with the community of Arrow Valley’, Keith said.

Farming the historic landscape

The Arrow Valley project is an excellent example of dialogue between farmers and archaeologists, and is exactly what English Heritage would like to see happen in more parts of the country. EH has just published three separate leaflets on Caring for Archaeological Sites on Arable Land, Caring for Archaeological Sites in Grassland and Caring for Farm Buildings, available from the HELM website. The leaflets are designed to help farmers, land managers and farm advisers prevent or minimise damage to the historic environment, and by doing so to benefit from grant aid and the financial incentives available under the new agri-environment scheme that is to be introduced next April.

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

Another story that bobbed in and out of the news all summer was the repeated opening and closure of the £3.6m Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park. It would be interesting to speculate how archaeologists of the future will interpret this marble structure — a place of recreation or of ritual? The designers of the fountain themselves do not seem to have been able to make up their minds, saying first that the fountain was designed for children to paddle and play in, but later (after several children had been hurt) arguing that this would be disrespectful and that the fountain was designed for contemplating the healing powers of water. The popular press would have none of this sophistry and called on Charlie Dimmock to come to the rescue, on the grounds that her water features always work.

What the papers did not report was the fact that a thorough archaeological survey and excavation took place at the site before the garden was constructed, so we now know that the fountain sits on the site of an Iron-Age farmstead, with early Roman quarrying activity, later second-century post-built structures, and enclosure ditches dug in the third and fourth centuries. One of the ditches contained substantial quantities of Roman tile, probably derived from a building within the enclosure.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport: Business Plan 2004—05

If you want to understand Government priorities for the heritage, you should download a copy of the department’s latest business plan.

This not only has a handy guide to who’s who in the department (from which we learn that Harry Reeves, who was previously the department’s Head of Sport and Recreation Division is now the senior civil servant with responsibility for Architecture & The Historic Environment), it also includes details of all the Treasury-set Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets for 2005 (ie the targets that DCMS Is expected to meet in return for its share of the public purse) and the names of the civil servants ultimately responsible.

Priority heritage targets include: producing a DCMS/DfES education strategy by summer 2004 for increasing the number and quality of educational sessions for young people delivered by national and regional museums and galleries, particularly in deprived areas (Nigel Pittman); attracting 40,000 visits by new users, especially from ethnic minority and socially deprived groups, to historic environment sites by the end of March 2005 (Harry Reeves); attracting new users, especially from under-represented C2/D/E socio-economic groups, on visits to sponsored museums and galleries in 2004/5 (Richard Hartman and Nigel Pittman); embed the reform of the British Library, delivering further savings of at least £3.4m per annum by March 2005 (Richard Hartman); complete Phase 2 of the British Museum reform programme by March 2005, consolidating the £6.9 million per annum savings achieved in 2003/4 and delivering further savings of £0.3 million per annum (Richard Hartman); and complete the English Heritage modernisation programme by March 2005 (Harry Reeves).

The plan comes with a health warning, however: the Chancellor set new priorities in the 12 July spending review, and a new strategic plan will be published in the autumn, setting out DCMS plans for the period 2005—10.

Ban on vehicular use of 'green lanes'

Several newspapers reported last month that Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs Minister, is proposing to close a legal loophole that allows recreational motor vehicles to drive along unsurfaced green lanes, such as the Ridgeway. Current legislation, allowing byways to be used by all forms of traffic, pre-dates the invention of the motor car and pressure has been mounting on Government from such bodies as the Friends of Ridgeway to act to protect green lanes. Apparently a consultation document published earlier this year received 15,000 submissions, most of them calling for the closure of unsurfaced byways to motor vehicles. A decision document setting out proposed new legislation is expected in October.

DCMS announces plans to list a 1950s house

Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh has announced plans to list 114 Kenilworth Road in Coventry, a house built in the mid-1950s by the architect Robert Harvey for members of his family. Robert Harvey is considered one of the most significant of a small group of architects who began to practice in the 1950s and who combined modernism with traditional materials and the romantic spirit embodied by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Andrew McIntosh said: ‘Although this house is modest in scale it is regarded as among Robert Harvey's most personal and successful works. Because it was built for his brother the design is more experimental and innovative and the attention to detail is exceptional. Robert Harvey, like many of his contemporaries at the Birmingham School of Art in the 1930s, showed considerable interest in the early of work of Frank Lloyd Wright and was one of his first disciples in England. 114 Kenilworth Road is an early example of Wright's influence and one of the best works by a significant regional architect.’

Local people and interest groups now have the chance to tell the Minister whether they believe the building merits the extra protection that listing provides. Further details can be found on the DCMS website.

Apethorpe Hall compulsory purchase order

The long-running saga of the Grade I listed Apethorpe Hall came to a head on 19 August when Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell finally decided to serve a Compulsory Purchase Order on the hall’s owner. Acting on the impartial advice of the independent Inspector who heard all the evidence at this spring’s public inquiry into the case, Tessa Jowell confirmed that the compulsory purchase of the estate should proceed. It was the Inspector’s conclusion that this step alone provided an unequivocal guarantee that the fifteenth-century hall and other listed buildings would be properly preserved, and he did not accept that reasonable steps were currently being taken to protect the property. The Order allows for the property to be purchased by the State at a fair price based on the District Valuer’s estimate and agreed between the parties. If agreement cannot be reached the value of the land and buildings is to be determined by the Lands Tribunal.

DCMS said that the freehold of the Apethorpe estate will eventually be transferred to English Heritage whose preferred option is to sell it on to a private owner who will keep it intact and in single occupation. In the meantime, EH Commissioners have agreed to re-prioritise their grant-aid budget to ensure that funds are available to meet the full cost of repairs. In advance of another winter, English Heritage will begin as soon as possible on repairs in accordance with the works scheduled in the Repairs Notice served in October 2001, and it will at the same time market the property. If a new private owner can be identified before the restoration programme is in full swing, it will grant-aid the works. In either case, in return for the public money that will be committed to urgent repairs, English Heritage will negotiate with any prospective new owner to allow for public visitor access, for a specified period each year, to areas of the Hall such as the once magnificent Staterooms, which are of historic and architectural importance.

Full details can be found on the DCMS website.

Neil Cossons responds to Tessa Jowell on ‘The Value of Culture’

In May this year Salon 89 reported on a speech made by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell examining the relationship between Government and the cultural sector in which she asserted that ‘culture and the arts are fundamental human rights’ and that the arts are ‘at the heart of what it means to be a fully developed human being’.

Now our Fellow Sir Neil Cossons has penned a short but robust response, setting out five challenges that the Department has to meet hand in hand with its partner organisations in the cultural and Governmental sectors if fine sentiments are to be translated into positive action. Challenge number one is to make sure that local and regional governments, who implement national policy, actually know what their duties and responsibilities are towards the heritage and make properly informed decisions, as well as creating properly resourced heritage services.

Challenge number two is to break down the Whitehall silos that prevent the historic environment being treated in a holistic way.

Third is the need for the champions of heritage and of new design to work together rather than in opposition, so as to produce a creative fusion of new and old.

Fourth is to educate people to realise that heritage is not about visiting historic houses, but is fundamental to the quality of everyone’s daily lives. That involves stitching heritage back into the education system to equip people and communities to analyse and understand their own historic environments better.

The fifth challenge is addressed more to the heritage sector than to the Government. Sir Neil calls on historic environment bodies to move on from their protectionist agenda, which he believes is rooted in romantic nostalgia for a pre-industrial idyll, and to accept that the main argument for nurturing the historic environment today is the role it plays in improving people’s lives.

Summing up, he says the five points are about changing perceptions and widening commitment. ‘People should be given the opportunity to understand their surrounding, as from understanding comes value and from value comes the care that makes places worth living in’, he says.

A copy of the English Heritage pamphlet, called People and Places, can be downloaded from the organisation's website.

The doors open at Christ Church, Spitalfields, and St George’s Hall, Liverpool

Two of Britain’s finest buildings have just emerged from restoration programmes that have together taken the best part of fifty years to complete, costing more than £28 million pounds. Our Fellow Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, formally reopened Christ Church, Spitalfields, Nicholas Hawksmoor's Baroque masterpiece, on 2 September, restored to its original glory thanks to thirty years of hard work and fundraising. In Liverpool, St George's Hall, which closed to the public more than twenty years ago, is opening its doors for Heritage Open Days next weekend, and will officially open again for concerts in September 2005, after receiving £18 million worth of repairs.

Christ Church, Spitalfields, was abandoned in the 1950s, when its roof threatened to cave in, and the church only narrowly escaped demolition in the early 1960s thanks to the efforts of local campaigners, including Sir John Betjeman. Builders' accounts from the 1720s, annotated by Hawksmoor himself, have been used as the basis for recreating long-lost fittings. Nineteenth-century galleries have been removed and the side aisle windows reopened, so that the church is now flooded with light, as Hawksmoor intended. The restorers decided not to recreate Hawksmoor’s original box pews, and have left the large nave, newly paved in Portland stone, open for concerts and other events.

The work was backed by nearly £6m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and vigorous support from the fund's chair, Liz Forgan, who once sang in the choir. Still to be renovated is the organ, installed to the disapproval of Hawksmoor, who preferred a choir and orchestra and called the organ ‘a box of penny whistles’. The building will soon host concerts and be a focus of the Spitalfields Festival, which was itself originally established to raise funds for the renovation of the church.

The sound of music will also fill St George’s Hall once again within the next twelve months, as Charles Cockerell’s domed circular shrine to high art, hailed as the finest neo-classical building in the world and praised by Queen Victoria as ‘worthy of ancient Athens’, is returned to its original form. The last public event to be held here was a snooker demonstration given by Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins over twenty years ago. Despite its grandeur, St George’s is an intimate space, with a mere 500 seats and just enough space for an orchestra of 60 and a choir of 7.

Plans for the former Chatterley Whitfield colliery

English Partnerships, the regeneration agency, has submitted a planning application for the first phase of works at the former Chatterley Whitfield colliery site in Stoke-on-Trent. Chatterley Whitfield is held to be the best remaining example of a coal-mining complex in the UK and, as such, part of the site was given Scheduled Ancient Monument status by English Heritage in 1993.

The planning application includes the creation of a building skills training centre in the former Main Office complex adjacent to the site entrance and the provision of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business accommodation.

Neil Mortimer, Senior Regeneration Manager for Coalfields at English Partnerships, said: ‘The team has been working very hard over the last year alongside the local community and stakeholders to develop a plan which will sustain a wide variety of social, economic and environmental mixes. The proposed plan we have submitted to Stoke-on-Trent City Council is the first step in bringing forward a unique vision of a place with a strong sense of identity which enhances and respects the heritage of the area.’

Andrew Patterson, Project Director at English Heritage with responsibility for Chatterley Whitfield, added: ‘The plans for Chatterley Whitfield aim to conserve, interpret and develop the potential of this tremendous site to the highest international standards as a beacon of good practice and heritage-led regeneration. The building-skills training proposed within the refurbished Main Office complex can assist local people in taking advantage of the investment in Chatterley Whitfield and indeed the investment in the wider city regeneration.’

And did those (Neanderthal) feet ever walk upon northern Europe's pastures green?

A report appeared in Germany's Der Spiegel newspaper last month saying that German and English anthropologists — Thomas Terberger and Martin Street — had cast doubt on the accuracy of the carbon dates ascribed to supposedly Neanderthal skeletal remains by the leading German anthropologist Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten. The dates are critical to establishing whether Neanderthals ever set foot in northern Europe. Professor von Zieten dates the remains to 36,000 years ago, but the Oxford University carbon-dating laboratory has suggested that they date back a mere 7,500 years, by which time Neanderthals were extinct.

Remains recently examined by the Oxford scientists include the ‘Bischof-Speyer’ skeleton, from the south-west German town of Speyer, which has always incited suspicion because of the unusually good state of preservation of the teeth. The Oxford lab has dated the remains to 3,300 years ago, not 21,300 as previously published. Another apparent misdating involves a skull discovered near Paderborn in 1976 and considered to be the oldest human remains to be found in the region. Professor von Zieten dated the skull as being 27,400 years old. The latest research, however, shows that it belongs to an elderly man who died around 1750.

Germany's Herne anthropological museum, which owns the Paderborn skull, was so disturbed by the findings that it did its own tests. ‘We had the skull cut open and it still smelt,’ the museum's director, Barbara Ruschoff-Thale, said last week. ‘We are naturally very disappointed.’

Professor von Zieten has tested hundreds of prehistoric bone finds from Europe and Africa over the past 30 years and he says the new Oxford dates are all wrong because of contamination by shellac used to preserve the specimens. Martin Street said the redating was a routine examination using modern techniques and not an attempt to discredit Professor von Zieten, though the result was to highlight a ‘dating disaster’. Chris Stringer, Head of Human Origins at London's Natural History Museum, said that if the Oxford results are right, ‘what was considered a major piece of evidence showing that the Neanderthals once lived in northern Europe has fallen by the wayside’.

Lucozade, neon lights and commonplace heritage

Neon-lit advertising signs — once regarded as a brash American-style intrusion into the landscape — are now an endangered part of our heritage, according to the Twentieth Century Society. ‘Much of the notable neon signage of the mid-twentieth century has now been destroyed’, the Society said last week, responding to the news that GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical multinational, has donated the Lucozade sign, a landmark on the M4 into London at Brentford, to Gunnersbury Park Museum.

For more than half a century the advertisement has shown a hand continuously pouring Lucozade from a chunky glass bottle with the slogan ‘Lucozade replaces lost energy’. The sign is a rare example of early 1950s ‘kinetic sculpture’, and is seen ‘reflecting the wit and delicate whimsicality of Festival of Britain Modernism’. The now derelict Lucozade factory on which it sits has been sold for redevelopment and the sign has been deemed too fragile to withstand another winter. In response to a chorus of calls from locals and motorists for a sign to remain in the area, a planning application has been submitted for the erection of an exact replica on a solicitor's building some 250 metres away, facing the M4.

The Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year 2005

The submission process for The Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year — the UK’s single biggest arts prize — opened on 1 September 2004. The £100,000 prize is open to all registered museums and galleries in the UK. Applicants must have opened, redeveloped or launched a new project or innovative programme of activity that has come to fruition in the calendar year to 31 December 2004. Judging visits will take place between January and April 2005. The closing date for entries is 1 November 2004. More information can be found at www.thegulbenkianprize.org.uk. The shortlist of ten will be announced in January 2005, followed by the announcement of the four finalists in March 2005. The winner will be announced during Museums and Galleries Month in May 2005.

The Secret Heritage of London

The Heritage of London Trust is hosting a series of lectures on the theme of the Secret Heritage of London. Our Fellow Steven Brindle will give the first lecture, on Paddington Station, at Wilton’s Music Hall, Grace’s Alley (off Ensign Street), near Tower Hill Station, on 7 September at 6 for 6.30pm. Our Fellow Rory O’Donnell gives the second lecture on The Secret Catholic Heritage in London at the Society of Antiquaries on 14 September, at 6 for 6.30 pm.

The lectures, sponsored by Awards for All, Lottery Grants for Local Groups and the London Development Agency, are free of charge, but any donations will be used towards the work of the Heritage of London Trust. For further information e-mail info@heritageoflondon.com or telephone 020 7973 3237.

Barn Conversions Seminar

Barn conversions are the subject of a half-day seminar in 15 September, from 1.30pm, at the Gilbert White Field Studies Centre, Selborne, Alton, Hampshire. The seminar will consider the many aspects of the repair of barns, of their re-use and the associated planning problems. Contact RIBA South Conservation Group for information and booking details.

Managing the Marine Cultural Heritage

It is still not too late to sign up for the conference on Managing the Marine Cultural Heritage, which takes place on 29—30 September 2004, at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This conference aims to inform those involved in managing the submerged cultural resource of trials, developments or best-practice models from around the world. The conference will provide a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas and approaches. Further information from the conference website.

The Politics of Human Remains and Museum Practice

The Museum of London is hosting a symposium on the ethics of research, preservation, storage and the display of human remains, at the Museum in Docklands on 30 and 31 October. Speakers will include members of the Church Archaeology and Human Remains Working Group and museum professionals from Australia, Italy, Egypt, South Africa and North America, as well as the UK. Further details from the Museum of London website.

William Morris in the 21st Century: call for papers

The Fiftieth Anniversary Conference of the William Morris Society will take place on 7—10 July 2005, at Digby Stuart College, London. Papers are now invited on any aspect of William Morris's life, work, circle and influence in Britain and elsewhere. A 300-word abstract should be sent by 31 January 2005 to: Morris in the 21st Century, The William Morris Society, Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London, W6 9TA or by email to R.Miles@wlv.ac.uk.

Guidance on church archaeology

The Association of Diocesan and Cathedral Archaeologists has just published its first Guidance Note called Archaeological requirements for works on churches and cathedrals. It is intended to promote a consistent approach to the main types of works upon which ADCA members advise Diocesan Advisory Committees, Cathedral Chapters and Fabric Advisory Committees. The note can be downloaded from the CBA website.

Books by Fellows

Or, in this case, websites by Fellows: Christopher Evans, FSA, of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, is the creative force behind a new site called Unearthing the Past, funded by the Aggregate Sustainability Fund Grant Scheme and Hanson Aggregates, which covers recent excavations and fieldwork in Cambridgeshire.

Also of potential interest to Fellows is Christopher’s recent paper entitled ‘Modelling Monuments and Excavations’, which has just appeared in Models: The Third Dimension of Science, Soraya de Chadarevian and Nick Hopwood (eds) (Stanford University Press/Writing Science Series), as this includes a photograph and discussion of the Society's model of the ‘Druidical Temple’ at Mont St Helier, Jersey (Cat no. 57). For further information, see the Stanford University Press website.

Patrick Ottaway, FSA, Head of Archaeological Fieldwork at the York Archaeological Trust, has just celebrated the publication of an extensively revised second edition of his Roman York (Tempus, £17.99; ISBN 0752429167). The new edition takes account of the substantial amount of new research and excavations since the first edition of 1993.

Also newly extended and updated is Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn (Thames & Hudson, ISBN 00500284415, 656 pages, £24.95). The advance publicity promises new sections on Neanderthal art, the earliest plant and animal domestication, archaeogenetics and archaeolinguistics; summaries of new theoretical approaches, such as agency, materiality and engagement theory; and online support for students and instructors.

Fellows on TV

What new insights will you get when a prehistorian crosses the dateline from BC to AD? Find out on Monday 6 September when Bronze-Age specialist Francis Pryor tackles the early medieval period in his new series, Britain AD, on Channel 4 at 9pm. Last year, in Britain BC, Francis argued that Roman occupation had little impact on the sophisticated indigenous culture of the British Isles; this year he will presumably be looking for evidence of continuity across the rift valley represented by 350 years of Roman administration. It will be fascinating to watch, and the new series will no doubt feature a succession of Fellows, called in as experts to help Francis interpret the archaeological evidence.

Advance publicity for The True Story: Search for the Holy Grail, on Channel Five on Wednesday 8 September at 8pm, suggests that our Fellow Richard Barber does not feature, since the presenter, Simon Kirk, apparently believes that he ‘knows where the real Grail is’. If so, he clearly hasn’t read Richard’s comprehensive survey of the Grail legend (The Holy Grail: A Study in Imagination and Belief), which proves beyond reasonable doubt that the Grail is a literary artifice.

Tailpiece

Fellows who do not like terrible puns should look away now. Following the item in Salon 97 on obesity in members of London’s medieval monastic communities, Fellow Peter Hinton has written to ask whether their excavation involves the study of deep fat friars?

Vacancies

Heritage Lottery Fund, Committee Chairs and Members
The Heritage Lottery Fund is seeking to recruit Chairs for the regional committees in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, and members of the committees in the North East, London and the West Midlands.

Regional committees normally meet four times a year and award grants up to £2 million in value, as well as providing strategic advice to the HLF’s main Board of Trustees. Ideal candidates would be heritage professionals and specialists, people with a community or voluntary sector background, and people with experience in regeneration, tourism or education.

Committee members must be resident in the region, and be prepared to devote one day a month to committee business. Travel and expenses are reimbursed and a daily fee is payable.

Full details from the HLF Secretariat by email addressed to CommitteeRecruitment@hlf.org.uk or from the HLF website.