Salon Archive

Issue: IFA-133

Bridging the Two Cultures: commercial archaeology and the study of British prehistory

The paper that Professor Richard Bradley, FSA, gave at the Society’s meeting on 12 January 2006 has been published on the home page of the Society’s The paper that Professor Richard Bradley, FSA, gave at the Society’s meeting on 12 January 2006 has been published on the home page of the Society’s website. In this important paper, Professor Bradley argues that the results of 'public' archaeology have outstripped all attempts at synthesis to such an extent that much that is taught and written about British prehistory is now out of date. His paper considers how that problem can be redressed, based on his own experience of writing a prehistory of Britain and Ireland that has drawn extensively on the results of developer-funded fieldwork.

British Archaeological Awards 2006

The line up of speakers at the launch of the British Archaeological Awards on 22 February (supported by the Society of Antiquaries) has been firmed up. David Breeze, FSA, Chairman of the British Archaeological Awards Committee, will set the scene, after which Culture Minister David Lammy will give the keynote address. Time Team’s Phil Harding, FSA, MIFA, will launch the Young Archaeologist of the Year Award and Nicky Milsted, YAC Secretary, will talk about past winners.

Dr Roger Mitchell, Chief Scientist at the Earthwatch Institute, will then talk about the environmental charity’s work in forging links between volunteers and professional scientists who then jointly undertake scientific (including archaeological) field research. Finally, Irene Glendinning, Secretary of the Rugby Archaeological Society, winner of the 2004 Pitt Rivers Award, will talk about archaeology and the community in the context of the Rugby Society’s excavation of the Tripontium bath-house.

The launch is from 6pm to 7pm on 22 February in the British Museum’s BP Theatre, followed by drinks and canapés. The event is open to anyone who wishes to attend but we need to know numbers for catering, so if you intend to come, please send an email to the organiser, Christopher Catling.

Valuing the heritage: nanny knows best

A two-day conference on ‘Valuing the Heritage’ started on a sour note last week when Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, delivered an opening speech in which the heritage sector was accused of not listening to ordinary people, of not giving value for money, of behaving arrogantly and of failing to deliver quality results (see the DCMS website for the full text).

The Secretary of State kicked off by telling her large and distinguished audience of heritage professionals that they needed to ‘engage with a wider swathe of society, take a genuine interest in what our citizens think, and not just to consult in a ritualistic and formulaic “because we have to” manner’.

The Secretary of State went on to say: ‘Instead of funding what we think is important, we [should] start by asking people what’s important to them and then think about how to protect it. In terms of heritage, that would mean asking the public which buildings and open spaces they value in their local area, and then allocating funding accordingly … instead of experts making all the decisions, experts would share their knowledge with the public, and facilitate people making more of their own informed judgements’. Ms Jowell ended up by asking: ‘Am I describing a radical departure from the current way of doing things?’ and answered her own question with the word: ‘Absolutely’.

These extracts sum up the tone and content of a speech that was peppered with references to the Secretary of State’s own pamphlets, in which she claimed credit for ideas that have actually been the stuff of debate within the heritage sector for three decades or more and in which familiar concepts were presented as radical ideas newly minted by the Department of Culture. Delegates were told to adopt practices and ideas (such as inclusive and multicultural approaches to heritage) that have, in reality, underpinned the everyday practice of heritage management practice for more years than DCMS has been in existence.

The heritage sector was repeatedly chided for imaginary misdemeanours. Delegates were told, for example, to ‘adopt an approach where we don't just care that something is delivered; we also care about its quality, and how it was delivered’. Such needless admonition (appropriate perhaps for an audience of lethargic Saturday girls) displayed the Secretary of State’s ignorance of the passion and absolute commitment to quality and delivery that characterises the way that heritage people actually conduct themselves and carry out their work — indeed, it would be hard to think of a sector more committed to quality.

One opinion poll after another has told the Government that people care very deeply about the historic environment: but their concern, and especially their opposition to destructive change, is commonly dismissed by the Government as ‘nimbyism’. Is it the heritage community or the Government that is not ‘taking a genuine interest in what our citizens think’ when we support the citizens of Liverpool, Merseyside, Blackburn, Nelson and Colne who say they do not want their attractive and flexible Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses demolishing (see the story below about SAVE’s latest Pathfinder campaign). Who is not listening when the Government refuses to pay the cost of providing an environment worthy to serve as the setting for one of the world’s most remarkable monuments (see Stonehenge story below)?

The Secretary of State saved her most extraordinary thoughts to the very end, when she challenged the sector to ‘pass the public value test’ if they wanted to continue protecting and enhancing our heritage. The attitudes betrayed by such a comment reveal the very real gulf in understanding between the sector and the Secretary of State: the implication that protecting and enhancing the historic environment is an option, a treat to be measured out by nanny as a reward for good behaviour, shows no awareness of the Government’s duties and responsibilities under national statute and international treaty, nor of the many ways that the Government’s tiny investment in heritage is magnified and repaid in social, economic and educational benefits (the tourism value off heritage alone is worth in excess of 4 per cent of GDP) — nor of the fact that public value is hardly a relevant concept for the enormous amount of heritage endeavour that is voluntary and paid for out of private resources.

Perhaps we might suggest a simple test for the Secretary of State to take: statements made in the House of Commons suggest that she has been too busy over the last twelve months to visit any English Heritage properties — that state of affairs needs urgent amendment: she should go to Stonehenge, talk to visitors, ask them why they are there and what the monument means to them … and when she has heard the people speak, she should go back and frame a new, relevant, positive and adequately funded national heritage policy based on what real people want.

And now for something (not) entirely different

Later in the same conference, David Lammy gave an altogether more thoughtful speech in which he proved that he had been doing his homework since being appointed Culture Minister (see the DCMS website for the full text). He looked back to William Morris as the originator of many of the ideas that underpin the philosophy of conservation and notions of heritage and traced the evolution of those concepts through key stages in the development of our present legislative framework. His tone throughout was positive and supportive: he described as ‘extraordinary’ Enoch Powell’s decision in 1957, when serving as Treasury Minister, to ‘slash the budget of the National Land Fund by 80 per cent’, and he sounded like a fully paid-up life member of SAVE and SPAB in deploring ‘the steady deterioration in our care for the natural and built environment [in the 1960s and 1970s when] our great medieval and Victorian city centres were gutted by planners and politicians, while our stock of historic houses were left to rot.’

Directly contradicting Tessa Jowell, he said that time and again it was conservationists who ‘responded to what the public wanted, and what society needed’ and described them as ‘the radicals of their day’. He concluded by saying that the heritage movement needed to recapture that radicalism, and build on popular support for heritage, learning from the ‘green’ movement how to build ‘passion in communities’.

So far so good; but then it was as if the departmental speechwriters took over as David Lammy descended into the same unfounded accusations as his boss. He accused heritage experts of ‘only being willing to engage with communities on their own terms — and in a language that excludes those to whom they are talking’. To back this up he claimed that Pevsner had dismissed the mining town of Castleford (in south Yorkshire) as ‘a cultural wasteland’ (what Pevsner actually wrote (in 1959) was: ‘What can an architectural recorder say about Castleford? There does not seem to be a single building in the centre of the town which would justify a mention’ — a very different summing up of Castleford than is implied by the phrase ‘a cultural wasteland’).

He also accused the heritage community — ‘the very people who claim to be representing what the public value’ — of putting ‘a raft of obstacles’ in the way of the Castleford Heritage Group when they wanted to celebrate their heritage, but then undermined that statement by making it clear that it was the Heritage Lottery Fund (surely part of the heritage sector) that had funded and guided the Castleford project and then by quoting the words of an unnamed heritage expert involved in the project who said that: ‘Heritage management is about the technical aspect of conservation, but it is equally about encouraging and drawing out local skills, knowledge and experience of place rather than dictating what is of cultural significance.’

David Lammy’s final thought was far more positive. He said that ‘Our task is to revive that radical, empowering conception of heritage; to engage that mass of the public interested in the historic environment and its meaning for them; and to help build a Britain at ease with its present because it understands, values and is able to access its past.’

What everyone in the heritage now needs to say to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport at every opportunity is this: are you with us or against us? If you are with us, then please act as the champions of the heritage community rather than its critics and stop the hectoring and false accusations of arrogance and elitism. Change your rhetoric to recognise and celebrate the fact that inclusive and broadly based heritage practice is already the norm — the changes you desire have happened; you are preaching to the converted. And could we now have an intelligent discussion about the kind of resources that we need in order to do an even better job and make an even bigger contribution to that empowering conception of heritage that you have set up as a vision for Britain’s future — based not only on parity of esteem between the historic environment and other cultural and environmental causes that the Government supports, but also to go some way towards compensating for the vast amount of environmental damage that results from the Government’s investments in other fields?

Scotland's cultural landscape to be transformed

It is tempting to think that they do things far better north of the border, if the report published by the Scottish Executive last week is anything to judge by. The report affirms in the warmest possible terms the importance of heritage and culture to the Scottish nation, asserts that it is the right and entitlement of every Scottish citizen to enjoy a rich and diverse cultural life and identifies key initiatives, legislation, investment and infrastructure changes needed to implement those aspirations.

Describing these initiatives as ‘the start, not the end, of a new journey towards achieving our ambitious aspirations for Scotland's cultural life’, Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson announced plans to invest an extra £20 million a year in Scotland’s culture from April 2007, saying that the Scottish Executive already dedicates one per cent of its total budget to culture (£187 million in the current financial year) and that the Executive's annual cultural spend was planned to increase to £234 million per annum by 2007—8.

The Culture Minister’s statement to the Scottish Executive commending the report include the following heart-warming statements:

‘Scotland's culture sits at the very heart of the nation's life and identity. The country has an enviable reputation reaching far beyond its shores for innovation, skill, and as an authentic source of inspiration. It is essential that these attributes — in their full twenty-first century diversity — should be celebrated and cherished.

‘Under new legislation local authorities will develop plans to ensure every person in Scotland is entitled to access cultural activity, reflecting the needs and wishes of local people and communities.

‘We will establish a clear route from school, through further and higher education, to the institutions which will have an important part to play.

‘We will expand our world-beating national collections. To the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Museums of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland, we shall add: the National Archives of Scotland, the Scottish Screen Archive and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.’

Copies of the report and the Culture Minister’s statement can be found on the Scottish Executive’s website.

Society to host Stonehenge consultation exhibition

The Society of Antiquaries is to host a public exhibition on options for the rerouting of the A303 around Stonehenge, the Department of Transport announced last week. The exhibition will be held at Burlington House, on 17 and 18 February 2006, as part of a three-month public consultation asking people to comment on five options: the 2.1-km bored tunnel that was considered at a Public Inquiry in 2004; new bypasses either to the north orto the south of the Stonehenge site; a 'cut and cover' tunnel; keeping the existing A303 but rerouting the A344 via the Winterbourne Stoke Bypass. The decision to go to a public consultation followed the announcement by the Transport Minister in July 2005 of a review of options after estimates for the cost of the bored tunnel rose significantly, to £510m.

Copies of the consultation leaflet and questionnaire are available on the Highways Agency website.

Reaction to the announcement was largely negative. The National Trust issued an uncompromising statement characterising the Government’s position as ‘disappointing’ and saying that none of the five options was acceptable, as they ‘will not return the world famous stones to the tranquillity they deserve’ but will ‘threaten to damage valuable archaeology’. ‘We do not believe that the shortlist of options for further detailed consideration represent the full range of alternatives’, the Trust said, accusing the Government of failing to carry out a thorough review and failing to allow environmental and heritage organisations to have an input into the consultation.

CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that ‘the dead hand of the Treasury has meant that the most environmentally sustainable options have been left off the list’. Having campaigned for a longer bored tunnel, CPRE said it was sad that consideration was now being given to new road building through open countryside.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said that plans for the recovery of the stone curlew would be threatened if plans to build a road tunnel were scrapped: the two overground alternatives would destroy stone curlew nesting and roosting sites in one of the bird’s two UK strongholds.

The frustration felt by members of the public was perhaps best summed up in an ironic letter to The Daily Telegraph proposing a sixth option, cheaper than all the rest, which would be to leave the road where it is and move Stonehenge instead. Simon Jenkins, FSA, added his own unique twist in The Guardian with a Swiftian essay modestly proposing that Stonehenge should be given back to the ‘pendragons, druids, warlocks, Harry Potters, sons of the sun and daughters of the moon’ who are no less weird than ‘Wiltshire county councillors, health-and-safety officers, archaeologists … and Ministry of Defence virgins [who] dance across the Great Bog of Wylye clad in nothing but white papers’. ‘Stonehenge’, he wrote, ‘is a place of pagan worship and as such should be handed to those for whom it means something, the druids and astronomical clock-watchers. They should be given a lottery grant and told to put the stones back in working order’.

‘Halt the demolitions’ says SAVE

The latest report from SAVE Britain's Heritage condemns the mass demolitions that are planned under the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal Initiative, which envisages the demolition of 168,000 terraced homes in the Midlands and north of England by 2015. The SAVE report illustrates the quality and interest of the historic areas threatened by Pathfinder, and analyses Pathfinder’s flaws and motivations, strongly condemning the scheme for its focus on the demolition of Victorian housing rather than refurbishment and adaptation of the existing building stock.

According to the report: ‘Houses are being condemned on the basis of cursory inspections. Lines are drawn on maps based on evidence that is in many cases out of date. Local wishes are ignored. Areas are blighted and communities are destroyed. Registered social landlords, owners of social housing, are maximising their incomes from the “marriage value” of sites — the difference in value between the run down area and the value of the site cleared in anticipation of redevelopment.’ Redeveloped housing is then often priced beyond the means of the displaced residents.

Marking the launch of the report, SAVE’s Secretary, Adam Wilkinson, said: ‘A more delicate, approach is needed to these areas, based on proper area management, small scale interventions and improving market conditions, not the clumsy tool of demolition, which should only ever be a last resort.’

SAVE’s President, Marcus Binney, FSA, said: ‘Mr Prescott is mounting an all-out attack on one of the classic forms of the English house. When SAVE was founded thirty years ago, thousands of similar houses stood boarded up and condemned all over north and east London. Following sustained pressure on the local authorities which owned these houses, almost all of them have been repaired and modernised. It is a tragedy and an outrage that Mr. Prescott’s Department is bent on repeating the mistakes of the past, creating so much misery and anxiety in the process. The overwhelming majority of the houses Mr Prescott proposes to demolish could be repaired and modernised for less than the cost of compulsory purchase and clearance.’

SAVE has set up a £10,000 fund to support local groups fighting the needless destruction of their homes, which has already helped local campaigners fighting a public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of their homes in the Edge Lane area of Liverpool.

The report is available (priced £10) from SAVE Britain’s Heritage, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ; tel: 020 7253 3500; fax: 020 7253 3400; email:

Grade II* category to be axed for historic buildings

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph published on 19 January 2006, the Government is planning to abolish the Grade II* category for listing buildings of architectural and historical merit so as to simplify the listing system. The changes are to be introduced despite 91 per cent of respondents to an English Heritage consultation saying that the present system should be kept. Ministers think that Grade II* is not readily understood: Grade I buildings are regarded as outstanding and Grade II special but what Grade II* means exactly is not clear. Some conservationists have said that renaming the categories ‘outstanding,’ ‘excellent’ and ‘special’ would be a better move.

Adam Wilkinson, of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said he was concerned that reclassification would lead to the downgrading of some Grade II* buildings, especially twentieth-century structures. ‘It is astounding that they are proceeding having heard from the experts that this is the wrong thing to do and will result in the weakening of Grade I and the possible downgrading of protection given to present Grade II* buildings’, he said. English Heritage has commented by saying that: ‘This is still under consideration. It is certainly worth considering anything that simplifies the system. It would not be the case that all Grade II*s became Grade I. There would have to be a reassessment.’

Cathedrals receive vital funding

English Heritage announced grants last week for funding repair and maintenance work at twenty-five cathedrals round the country. This year, grants of between £51,000 and £100,000 go to the cathedrals of Carlisle, Coventry, Hereford, Lincoln, Salisbury and Durham for major masonry and roof repairs. Nineteen smaller grants of between £8,000 and £50,000 have been offered to projects as diverse as photogrammetric drawings of the central tower at Southwell Cathedral to inform future repairs, replacement of the cloister drainage system at Norwich Church of England Cathedral and repairs to the gables on the west front of Peterborough Cathedral.

The announcement of an additional £1 million in funds for this year came against the background of the Church of England’s demand for an urgent government cash injection of £55 million a year to avert the closure of hundreds of medieval churches. The Right Revd Richard Chartres, FSA, Bishop of London, the Church’s third most senior bishop, recently called on the Government to stop treating the Church as a ‘museum piece’, to recognise its contribution to modern Britain, and to contribute to the cost of keeping churches open and serving the community. The bishop compared the £26 million that the Church receives from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund with the £23.1 million that the Royal Opera House alone receives from the Arts Council. The Church has an annual repair bill of £120 million, but there is a £373 million backlog of repairs. To meet new laws on disabled access will cost each church an average of £49,000.

The Bishop of London’s remarks sparked a lively correspondence in the letters pages of The Times. Paula Griffiths, of the Archbishops’ Council, wrote to widen the debate to cover the funding of places of worship of all denominations and faiths, saying that many buildings of other denominations embody architectural significance, support community activity and deserve greater recognition in terms of funding. Anthony Jennings, Director of Save Our Parsonages, wrote to put in a plea to the Anglican Church to stop selling off its historic rectories and vicarages (whilst admitting that 90 per cent had already gone).

Andrew Brown, of the Church Commissioners, wrote in answer to correspondents who wanted to know why places of worship should be supported at public expense to argue that not only does the built heritage contribution deserve support, so too does the role of churches as a vital hub for social cohesion. ‘Many parish churches are the only community building left in their area’, he wrote. ‘Surveys undertaken on behalf of regional development agencies have revealed that, on average, every church hosts two forms of community activity, from mother and toddler groups, through art exhibitions to internet cafés and self-help groups’.

National Portrait Gallery appeals for £1.6m to save portrait of John Donne

As it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary, the National Portrait Gallery (founded in 1856) has set a target of raising £1.65 million by June 2006 to acquire a painting of 1595 depicting John Donne, poet, preacher and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, as a young man. The Ancram family has owned the painting ever since it was bequeathed to their forebear, Robert Kerr, a close friend. Donne's will referred to it as ‘That Picture of myne wch is taken in Shaddowes and was made very many yeares before I was of this profession [of minister].’ Perhaps mishearing Duns for Donne, the portrait was long held to be that of the medieval poet Duns Scotus. The error was only discovered and corrected by the National Portrait Gallery in 1959. The current owner, Lord Lothian, the Conservative MP Michael Ancram, is selling the portrait to meet liabilities from the estate of his father who died in 2004.

The Art Fund charity has started the fundraising with the pledge of £200,000. The Fund’s Director, David Barrie, warned that the National Portrait Gallery would be hard-pressed to raise the money. ‘It crystallises the problems museums and galleries face. It's an issue for ministers,’ he said. Lottery help has been ruled out ‘because of the Heritage Lottery Fund's poor record on saving works of art’. Also supporting the campaign is Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, who said it would be a catastrophe if the painting were lost overseas. ‘It is self-evidently a very, very beautiful painting and Donne is one of the greatest poets writing in the English language. The National Portrait Gallery is its proper home’. Sir Roy Strong, FSA, a former director of the NPG, described the portrait, which shows the poet emerging from the shadows with a floppy hat, piercing eyes, sensual lips and a suggestively unlaced collar, as ‘the most famous of all melancholy love portraits’ and the historian Dame Helen Gardner describes it as ‘the most striking portrait we have of any English poet’.

The true face of Lady Jane Grey?

A painting found in a Streatham house was claimed last week as the sole contemporary portrait of Lady Jane Grey (died 1553), the only English monarch since 1500 for whom a portrait does not survive from her lifetime. One fine painting, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, was once thought to depict her, but is today generally accepted as being of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife, painted by the artist known as Master John. This new portrait shows a slender young woman in an opulent gown of a type that was in fashion in the early 1550s. Above her shoulder is a faint inscription reading ‘Lady Jayne’.

New research by Libby Sheldon, of the painting analysis unit at University College London, suggests that the inscription ‘appears to have been put on at the same time as the rest of the paint’. Thomas Woodcock, FSA, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms at the College of Arms, has discovered four possible contemporary ‘Lady Jaynes’ but based on their ages and marital status at the time this portrait was painted, he believes Lady Jane Grey is the best candidate, though the painting could be a contemporary copy of a lost original. David Starkey, FSA, was quoted by The Guardian as saying that he was sceptical, even though he had not seen the painting after its recent conservation work: ‘To me this picture doesn't sing’, he said. ‘There isn't that over-the-top quality you get with royal portraits of the period, where the sitters look as though they've just come back from Asprey … at the moment I would be reluctant to support the painting, though that is simply my judgement.’

Archaeologists find chapel where Henry VIII married his wives

Maev Kennedy, FSA, gives an amusing lecture in which she says that newspaper editors look for a striking picture when they report archaeological stories, and that doesn’t mean ‘a muddy hole with a ranging rod stuck in it’. On this occasion The Guardian seems to have made an exception, because a muddy hole under a car park at the Royal Hospital in Greenwich, south London, has made the front page because it contains all that survives of the royal chapel from Henry VII’s palace of Placentia, built between 1500 and 1504, and the place where Henry VIII was born, worshipped and married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Completely destroyed by centuries of later re-building at Greenwich, all that survives of the chapel are the black and white glazed floor tiles from the floor, with a border in an elaborate lozenge pattern, some stumps of red-brick wall, and a piece of door or window frame made of Caen stone. Even so, Simon Thurley, FSA, MIFA, Chief Executive of English Heritage, described it as ‘an astonishing survival’, while David Starkey, FSA, described it as ‘the absolute heart of the palace’, adding that ‘when Henry was married … what he saw through the window was the tiled floor and altar that have now been revealed.’

A team of four archaeologists from the Museum of London has been working at the site for a month: as well as the 10ft by 5ft section of floor tile, they have also found a subterranean vault (so far unexplored). To the east of the chapel, more works have unearthed the foundations and fireplaces of its vestry. Julian Bowsher, the Museum of London's senior archaeologist, said: ‘This is the most important find I've made in the past ten years.’

‘Making the LEAP’: second call for papers

‘Making the LEAP’ is an Archaeology Data Service and Internet Archaeology project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) designed to investigate novel ways of publishing research findings on the internet along with the underlying data. Funding of up to £4,000 is available to successful applicants to facilitate the preparation of integrated electronic publications and archives on condition that the archive and publication are delivered by 1 December 2006. Priority will be given to AHRC-funded research grant or resource enhancement projects within the fields of archaeology, classics, ancient and medieval history and the cultural heritage aspects of performing arts and visual arts (so long as the paper is within the editorial scope of Internet Archaeology). Applications should be received by 31 March 2006. Full details are given on the project website at

Londoners and the Law in the Middle Ages

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a grant of £243,354 to the Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH) for a new research project called 'Londoners and the Law: pleadings in the court of common pleas, 1399—1509'. The project will open up a major source of information about the everyday life of Londoners in the age of the Pastons, revealing disputes over such things as unpaid bills and runaway servants and apprentices, as well as personal and familial rivalries. The research will significantly deepen our understanding of how the law interacted with everyday life, whether in the areas of work, domestic and family life or urban regulation.

The project will analyse and make available online information from the 'plea rolls' of the court of common pleas — the largest surviving body of medieval English common law records, which are held in The National Archives. Data from the project will be made available on British History Online, the Institute for Historical Research’s digital library of British history, alongside other important resources for the history of London.

Conferences and seminars

The Crisis of Curatorship, The Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Courtauld Institute of Art, 30 January 2006, 6pm to 7.30pm
Andrew Burnett, FSA, (Deputy Director, British Museum) joins Maurice Davies (Deputy Director, Museums Association) and Deborah Swallow (Director, Courtauld Institute of Art) to debate whether the importance of curatorial expertise has diminished over the years, whether museums now favour accessibility at the expense of curatorial scholarship, whether universities are producing individuals with the necessary know-how to cope with the challenges of curating and the degree to which museum studies and curatorial expertise are valued in academic circles.

The discussion is followed by a drinks reception. Tickets cost £5 on the door, but admission for staff and students at the Courtauld Institute of Art and other academic institutions and museums is free. For further information, tel: 020 7420 9406.

Courtauld Institute of Art Renaissance section research seminars, 8 March 2006, 6pm, Seminar Room 4
Dr Bridget Heal (University of St Andrews) will talk about Images of the Virgin Mary and Marian Devotion in Early Modern Germany. Seminars are free and open to all.

Arts and Humanities Research Council, Historic Environment Workshop, Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, 29 March 2006
The AHRC is asking for expressions of Interest from anyone who would like to attend a facilitated workshop to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration amongst members of the historic environment research community. The event will lead to the formation of up to five research clusters in cross-cutting themes to be agreed during the event. Each cluster will be funded for one year to build interdisciplinary research communities. Only those people attending the workshop will be eligible to apply for research cluster funding as the principal investigator. The remit of the workshop will include the arts, humanities, engineering, physical sciences, economics, social sciences and natural environment research. The deadline for expressions of interest is 15 February 2006 and further information can be found on the AHRC website.

Managing the Marine Cultural Heritage II: Significance, Portsmouth, 27 and 28 September 2006
Following on from 2004’s successful international conference on Managing the Marine Cultural Heritage organised by the Maritime Affairs Group of the Institute of Field Archaeologists, a second two-day conference is now planned for 2006 to present and debate issues surrounding determining, presenting and managing significance in the marine archaeological field. A range of international speakers will present their experiences from different countries and backgrounds. Speakers include Marnix Pieters (VIOE Flanders Marine Institute, Flanders), L N Santhakumaran (Kerala State, India), Jonathan Moore (Parks Canada), Ole Varmer (Titanic Team, US), and Mark Staninforth (Flinders University, Australia). The conference will take place in the Auditorium of Action Stations — HM Naval
Base in Portsmouth. For more information please visit the conference website or email Paola Palma, MIFA, of the IFA Maritime Affairs Group.

Forthcoming meetings of the Society of Antiquaries

2 February: The Manor Court in Westmorland 1589—1693: an opportunity for antiquarian play-acting or a source of local justice? by Philip Holdsworth, FSA.

There has been much disagreement about the practical function of post-medieval manor courts. The records of five manor courts in the former county of Westmorland have been analysed to investigate their procedures and the character and range of business they dealt with. Evidence will be presented for the composition of manor court juries, the appointment and responsibilities of constables and other officials, the protection of manorial resources and the resolution of conflict. It will be shown that the manor court was increasingly a vehicle for manorial tenants to regulate society in their own interests rather than to safeguard the privileges of the lord of the manor. While the Civil War was a watershed for the powers of early modern manor courts they continued to be a forum for obtaining justice and resolving issues of common concern throughout the seventeenth century.

9 February: Çatalhöyük: new interpretations and insights from the recent excavations, by Ian Hodder, FSA

In this paper, Ian Hodder looks back over the campaign he has directed at Çatalhöyük since 1993, evaluates the results in relation to the earlier work carried out by James Mellaart, and considers what has been learnt that is relevant to wider understanding of the Neolithic in Anatolia and the Middle East. Theories concerning the factors leading to the adoption of agriculture and a settled way of life are evaluated in terms of long-term change. (Photographs of the site and of key finds as well as news of recent work can all be found on the Çatalhöyük website.

16 February: Ballot

New Fellows

The Society is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 26 January 2006:

Colm Donnelly; Peter Rowsome; James Campbell; Hazel Forsyth; Simon Kaner; Mary Alexander; Colin Breen; Thomas McErlean; Richard Oram; Duncan Coe; William Kilbride; Maev Kennedy; Phil Harding; John Maltby; Philip Andrews; John Jacobs; David Taylor; Neil Rushton; Yvette Staelens; Miles Russell; Pamela Slocombe; Martin Goalen; Andrew Argyrakis; Brian Sprakes; James Fenton.

News of Fellows and MIFAs

John Nandris, FSA, has written to say how well attended was the memorial service for our late Fellow Oliver Impey, which took place on 14 January in St Mary’s University Church, Oxford, followed by a reception in Oriel College. The service left nobody in any doubt, says John, that Oliver Impey was a fine scholar of Japanese art, and a person of distinctive character. On 12 January there was an equally well-attended performance of Verdi’s Requiem in the Sheldonian Theatre, given in memoriam.
After four years working for English Heritage as Assistant Project Director (Stonehenge Visitor Facilities and Access Scheme), our Fellow John Maloney, FSA, MIFA, has recently joined Halcrow Group Limited as Principal, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. John says that Halcrow is best known as an international engineering company but that it has also developed a burgeoning Environmental Group with some 440 staff over the last four years, of which the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage group is a key part.

Fellows’ obituaries

Obituaries were published last week for no less than four Fellows who have died in recent days: Philip Grierson, Giles Worsley, John Hayes and David Bick.

Professor Philip Grierson, numismatist and historian, died on 15 January 2006, at the age of 95. His obituaries made much of the fact that Dublin-born Grierson was one of the last Cambridge dons to have embodied the great and dying tradition of the bachelor Fellow resident in college — he went as a student to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1929 and became a Fellow in 1935. At his death he had been a Fellow for more than seventy years and had occupied the same set of rooms, overlooking Cambridge marketplace, for over sixty years. He was the College Librarian from 1949 to 1969 and President from 1966 to 1976. From 1949 until his death he was Honorary Keeper of Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as being Reader in Medieval Numismatics from 1959 to 1971, then Professor from 1971 to 1978.

The obituary in The Times said that Grierson was essentially a political historian, whose great contribution was to place coins alongside written documents as evidence for political history, relating coinages to the economies in which they circulated, particularly for the early Middle Ages. He began as a historian of Flanders, publishing a critical edition of the Annals of Saint Peter’s at Ghent (1937) and a dozen articles in journals in England, France and Belgium. In 1947 he inherited the task of synthesising the eight immense volumes of the Cambridge Medieval History into the two volumes of the Shorter Cambridge Medieval History (1952).

His interest in coins began in 1945 when, rummaging in a box of coins accumulated by his father, he saw one that he could not recognise. He worked out with difficulty (the reference books he was later to write did not then exist) that it was a ten follis piece of the Emperor Phocas (602—10). Within three years he had become recognised as the greatest scholar in the field, and by 1948 he was Professor of Numismatics and the History of Coinage in Brussels, where he gave an inaugural lecture on ‘Numismatics and the Historian’.

From then on, Grierson proved to be immensely productive, writing a new article every six weeks or so (a rate that diminished only in the 1980s), as well as producing numerous multi-volume catalogues and bibliographies. Lecturing in Washington, New York, Ghent, Brussels and Cambridge, and advising numerous museums, he kept wardrobes in several cities so that he never had to travel with anything more than a briefcase.

In 1982 he announced his plan of publishing a fourteen-volume standard work on medieval European coinage to match his earlier multi-volume work on Byzantine coins. This large series was still in progress at the time of his death, by which time there was a team of eminent historians working with him and the plan had expanded to seventeen volumes. Grierson himself wrote the volume on the Low Countries. The first part goes to press this year and the second early next year.

The obituary in The Guardian noted that Philip played squash until well into his 80s and finally gave up so as not to hurt the feelings of the soundly beaten undergraduates, some sixty years his junior. Scholars revered him for his learning and research but colleagues liked him for his encyclopaedic knowledge and sense of fun and students, who were in awe of his longevity and his academic reputation, loved him because he shared their taste in horror films and science fiction: a library of more than 2,000 videos attracted an endless stream of students to his rooms. He rejected the offer of a CBE because he could not be bothered to dress up to go the palace and he could fly a plane but could not drive a car. He possessed a racing bike on which he swished round Cambridge like a teenager.

It is very sad when someone dies young and full of promise, as was the case with Giles Worsley, writer and architectural historian, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 44. Determined to work until the very end, Giles died on 17 January 2006 ten days after delivering a lecture on the subject of Burlington House, having also seen very warm reviews for his pioneering book on The British Stable (2004). Born in 1961, Giles worked for Country Life from 1985 to 1994 (the last ten years as Architectural Editor), was Editor of the Georgian Group Journal from 1991 to 1994, Editor of Perspectives on Architecture from 1994 to 1998, Architecture Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph from 1998 until his death and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research from 2002 until his death.

His obituaries paid tribute to his ability to span the worlds of scholarly research and popular journalism, writing treatises on Palladian architecture with panache and bringing an unusual depth of knowledge and perception to his newspaper pieces. His formidable mastery of his subject — Georgian architecture — found expression in his magnum opus, Classical Architecture in Britain: the Heroic Age (1994), which our Fellow David Cannadine, writing in The Guardian, described as ‘an audacious work for so young an author’, taking on a field dominated by Sir John Summerson's Architecture in Britain: 1530—1830, which envisaged architecture as a succession of styles, and insisting instead that stylistic diversity had always prevailed in the past, as in the present.

Strongly held beliefs made him a natural polemicist who enjoyed writing leaders, and relished the pursuit of an argument in print. He also stood his ground with editors when space for architecture was threatened. The Daily Telegraph, where he became architecture critic, forced him to accommodate what had until then seemed an ivory-towerish personality to the rough and tumble of journalism. The Telegraph gave him a new platform and a new sense of direction: while continuing to lambast unimaginative planners and to support conservation, he discovered a passion for contemporary architecture, praising (for example) the ‘sinuous, spaghetti-like forms’ of the radical Zaha Hadid’s BMW building in Leipzig. Yet he did not abandon the country house. In 2002, he published England's Lost Houses, from the Country Life photographic archive. This immediately went through several printings and the exhibition that accompanied it became the most popular in the history of the Soane Museum.

On top of this, Worsley found the time to attend the meetings of the many bodies of which he was a member. His expertise brought him invitations to serve on many advisory bodies, including the Royal Fine Art Commission, English Heritage's Buildings and Areas Advisory Committee and the executive committee of SAVE Britain's Heritage. He was a member of the executive committee of the Georgian Group and of the Somerset House Trust, and served on the building committee of the National Gallery trustees and on the architectural advisory committee of the World Monuments' Fund of England.

John Hayes, who died on 25 December 2005 just short of his seventy-seventh birthday, was an art historian and museum administrator who worked for the London Museum from 1954 under the directorship of Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and in 1970 became the Director himself, helping to oversee the museum's move to its new location at London Wall. In 1974 he succeeded our Fellow, Sir Roy Strong, as Director of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), retiring in 1994.

During the twenty-year period of his NPG directorship, he concentrated on making acquisitions of historical portraits and on commissioning contemporary portraiture for the gallery. Hayes was particularly proud of the acquisitions of Joshua Reynolds portraits of Laurence Sterne and Sir Joseph Banks, Thomas Gainsborough's portrait of Johann Christian Bach, William Hogarth's portrayal of the mathematician William Jones, and the conversation piece of the family of Jonathan Tyers, proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens; but there were many others, including important sculptures by Roubiliac and Rysbrack.

In the contemporary field, the NPG's acquisitions included Graham Sutherland's self-portrait (specially commissioned for the gallery's Sutherland exhibition in 1977) and Rodrigo Moynihan's portrait of Margaret Thatcher. In respect of contemporary portraiture, a field he was keen on from the start of his directorship, and apart from the commissioned work, he oversaw the establishment, in 1980, of an annual Portrait Award, initially sponsored by John Player and then by BP. Some fine exhibitions were mounted during Hayes's tenure, on Johann Zoffany (1977), Sir Thomas Lawrence (1979) and the exhibition entitled ‘The Raj’ (1990) among them.

After complicated negotiations with government, Hayes succeeded in securing added exhibition space with the new twentieth-century galleries and the Wolfson exhibition gallery, both opened in 1993. Staff were provided with new accommodation and the Heinz Library was opened on the north side of Orange Street. The gallery flourished during Hayes's tenure and he was appointed CBE in 1986.

His personal interest in the work of Gainsborough bore fruit in the form of several studies that are now standard works on the artist: The Drawings of Thomas Gainsborough (1970), Gainsborough: paintings and drawings (1975) and The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough: a critical text and catalogue raisonné (1982).

David Bick, who has died aged 76, was an industrial archaeologist whose passions were awakened as a schoolboy by cycling with his father and friends from Cheltenham into the Forest of Dean, where coal mining and railways were then still very evident. After taking early retirement from Dowty Engineering, Bick devoted himself to industrial history and its artefacts. He self-published a series of books on metal mining, and founded (and for many years chaired) the Welsh Mines Society. He was an active promoter of industrial archaeology, cajoling public bodies, serving on committees and publishing widely; his last article appeared within a week of his death. Generous with his advice and knowledge, he did much to promote the embryonic discipline.

Non-Fellows obituaries

Maysie Webb, described in The Times as a scientist and librarian who successfully wheedled funds for the British Museum from the Treasury, died on 11 December 2005 at the age of eighty-two. Maysie was the first deputy director of the British Museum, and the first woman to be appointed keeper in a national museum.

According to The Times, the BM trustees reluctantly agreed to the introduction of a manager rather than the traditional scholar-administrator to their small and overburdened central administration in 1968. Webb was not the first choice as assistant director, three others having refused the appointment, but the trustees, led by Lord Eccles, were impressed by her work in creating the National Reference Library of Science and Invention (NRLSI) which she had headed since 1960, and which came under the museum’s aegis in 1966.

Once appointed as deputy director, she ‘worked with three very different and strong-minded directors: Sir John (later Lord) Wolfenden, Sir John Pope-Hennessy and Sir David Wilson, and three chairmen of trustees: Lord Eccles, Lord Trevelyan and Lord Trend. In addition she had to cope with departmental keepers, often likened to satraps, and a powerful, active, sometimes opinionated board of twenty-five trustees. She early identified where power resided, bringing under her control the management of finance and administration, with oversight of the new public service departments such as education and public relations. Webb also took firm hold of the official funding of the museum and with her staff she explored the obscure depths of government accounting (and its loopholes) and had the ability successfully to fight for or cajole money and posts from the Treasury. These skills were of particular value when financial devolution for national museums and galleries was introduced in 1975. Lord Trevelyan wrote: “the deputy director treats the intricacies of financial devolution like a crossword puzzle for the morning train”.

‘She supported scientific conservation and research and was actively involved in some important acquisitions, including the outstanding Hull Grundy collection of jewellery, Martinware, Japanese inro and ojime. She was always prepared to deal courageously with the bewildering range of the museum’s more difficult and sensitive problems, such as the fraught arrival of the treasures of Tutankhamun, thefts, witchcraft, intransigent unions, leaks to the press and an explosion in the museum’s cat population. She was to describe the BM, with some accuracy, as “a strange and endearing mixture of the mundane and the profound, of the grave and the hilarious, the commonplace and the splendid”.’

Mary Littauer, an expert on the chariots of the ancient world, died on 7 December 2005 at the age of ninety-three. Born in Pittsburgh in 1912, and a keen horsewoman from an early age, she and her husband began collecting books on horses and history in the 1940s. The acquisition of a set of the archaeological journal Antiquity sparked off her interest in ancient horse equipment and its use. Relating her knowledge of horses and their equipment to items discovered in Egyptian tombs, she submitted an article entitled The Function of the Yoke Saddle in Ancient Harnessing (1968), followed by other articles and comments, always both practical and well researched. This led to correspondence with many distinguished archaeologists, and the forming of many lasting friendships.

On a visit to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Littauer was introduced to the young Dutch archaeology graduate, Joost Crouwel, who was researching Mycenaean chariots for his doctoral thesis. Typically, Littauer shared her practical knowledge with him, leading to a collaboration that was to last more than three decades. Dr Crouwel was appointed professor of Aegean archaeology at the University of Amsterdam, and together with Littauer published some 65 articles in academic journals, sometimes individually and occasionally in collaboration with other scholars. These were republished under the title Selected Writings on Chariots and Other Early Vehicles, Riding and Harness, edited by Peter Raulwing, in 2002. They also wrote two books together that became standard reference works: Wheeled Vehicles and Ridden Animals in the Ancient Near East (1970) and Chariots and Related Equipment from the Tomb of Tutankhamun (1985).


John Smith, FSA, has leapt to the defence of Punch and Judy as an English icon following Salon-IFA 132’s suggestion that the seaside puppet show was a Neapolitan import. He writes: ‘True, Samuel Pepys saw puppet plays in Covent Garden which can be associated with a “Signor Bologna alias Pollicinella”, and the name Punch is almost certainly derived from Pollicinella via Punchinello, but giving Punch and Judy a Neapolitan origin merely from name derivation totally ignores the prehistory of a thriving English glove puppet tradition of the Middle Ages. The well-known marginal illustration in the fourteenth-century manuscript “The Romance of Alexander” (Bodl MS 264, fol 54v and fol 76r — Flemish, but probably for an English patron, certainly in English ownership from the fifteenth-century onwards) could easily be mistaken for a modern Punch and Judy show — glove puppets in a small curtained portable stall with a Punch like puppet wielding a club, seemingly beating a woman (his wife?).

‘The Punch and Judy show only developed its modern form from the late eighteenth century and is English through and through; Judy only got her name at this time. Perhaps the little man taking on the whole world accorded with the spirit of the age and the nation at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

‘Finally, I can't resist the infant Edmund Gosse's take on Punch and Judy in Father and Son: “I thought that with a little more tact on the part of Mrs Punch and some restraint held over a temper, naturally violent, by Mr Punch, a great deal of this sad misunderstanding might have been prevented!”’

Salon-IFA 132 gave the impression that the Mound of the Hostages in Ireland was under threat from the proposed M3 motorway, whereas in fact the Mound, probably a passage tomb, is located on the Hill of Tara itself and is a National Monument in State Care, which lies approximately 2km distant from the M3’s proposed route. Thanks to Jonathan Dempsey, MIFA, for pointing this out and for the references to the M3 Motorway website, which has more information on the archaeological investigations that have been carried out along the route of the motorway and to the book called The Mound of the Hostages, Tara, prepared for publication by Muiris O'Sullivan and available through Wordwell Books, the Irish archaeology publisher.

Books by Fellows and MIFAs

Geoff Egan’s book on Material Culture in London in an Age of Transition is subtitled ‘Tudor and Stuart period finds c 1450 to c 1700 from excavations at riverside sites in Southwark’ (MoLAS Monograph Series 19) and uses finds from waterlogged riverside sites in Southwark, London, as the basis for a wide-ranging discussion of changing styles and more general aspects of production and trade. Objects of leather, bone, wood, glass and metal are illustrated and catalogued by functional categories, including dress and accessories, fixtures, fittings and furnishings, cutlery, kitchen equipment and vessels, and items attesting literacy and leisure pursuits, including toys. Objects relating to production comprise equipment for textile working, non-ferrous and ferrous metalworking, leather working, woodworking, bone, antler and glass working. Proximity to the River Thames is reflected in shipwrights’ tools and fishing equipment. There are weights, coins, tokens and jettons representing commerce, horse equipment and a notable range of arms and armour fragments. Pilgrim souvenirs overlap with political and secular badges in the same manufacturing tradition. The metallurgical analyses of an extensive range of the metal objects are also reported on.


University College London: Director of Museums & Collections
Salary c £48,000 plus £2,400 London Allowance; closing date 6 February 2006

Following the appointment of Nick Merriman, FSA, as Director of the Manchester Museums, UCL is recruiting a replacement as Director of Museums and Collections, to be responsible for the university’s four registered museums and twelve departmental collections. Candidates need to have extensive experience of leadership in the cultural heritage sector, and a track record in managing teams through change and development, in fund-raising, in building new audiences and in project management. Applicants should submit a covering letter, curriculum vitae and the names and contact details of three referees to Professor Michael Worton, Vice-Provost (Academic & International), Vice-Provost’s Office, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, from whom further particulars may be obtained. Tel: 020 7679 7854; fax: 020 7916 8505; e-mail:

Wessex Archaeology, Post-Excavation Manager
Salary up to £33,983; closing date 7 February 2006

Candidates will need to be able to demonstrate substantial relevant experience in post-excavation analysis to publication level and have a track record in the management of the post-excavation process to successful completion. Excellent communication and people management skills, ability to work to tight deadlines and a wide archaeological experience (in fieldwork and post-excavation) are essential. For an informal discussion, please contact Karen Walker, MIFA, on 01722 326867. Further details and an application form can be obtained from Denise Speirs.

Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, Director
Salary £130,000; closing date 21 February 2006

A Director is being sought to succeed Michael Pattison who steps down in autumn 2006; the Director leads and manages forty staff and works with settlors and trustees as ‘a credible source of wisdom and advice’, in distributing funds held in eighteen different trusts with varying aims in the arts, sciences, education, health and social welfare and the environment. Further details from the website of the employment agency Saxton Bampfylde Hever, quoting ref DYMB.

The Russell Group of Universities, Director General
Six figure salary; closing date 13 February 2006

Representing research-intensive universities in the UK, generating over £1.7bn of research income annually, the Russell Group is committed to playing a role at the heart of policy development in higher education and to that end intends to appoint a Director General to enhance the group’s profile and impact. Further details from the website of the employment agency Odgers Ray and Berndtson, quoting ref ADA9305/ST.

Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships: Chair of the Committee
Closing date 14 February 2006

The Chair of the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships which will advise Government on historic ships and raise public awareness of their significant contribution to our cultural and maritime heritage. Applications are invited from individuals with outstanding communication, representational, and organisational skills, to act as a respected advocate for the historic vessels sector and to deliver the Committee’s objectives. Further details from Mark Greenwood, Public Appointments, Department For Culture, Media & Sport.

Kent County Council: Conservation Officer/Conservation Architect
Salary £27,107 to £37,862 (under review); closing date 13 February 2006

A dynamic, well-motivated individual is sought to join the Heritage Conservation group to help protect and manage the rich and varied historic environment of Kent and in particular to provide specialist historic buildings input to all aspects of planning policy formulation and implementation, project development and design advice; advise on the maintenance of KCC’s historic buildings including the supervision, care and repair of KCC’s eight historic windmills; promote best conservation practice within the County Council and across Kent. For an application form and job description email reference SP/06/005.

English Heritage, Education Assistant
Salary around £20,000; closing date 27 January 2006

The main responsibility is to provide administrative support for education programmes in London and co-ordinating the education workshops and activities at Apsley House. To receive an application pack by email, please send a request to, quoting reference number LON/1/06.