This week the media spotlight has been cast on the pitiful state of museum and gallery acquisition budgets and on the high price that buyers (especially in the US) are prepared to pay for outstanding works. Under the headline It's Luton v New York in the battle to save medieval jug, The Times reported on 21 Feb 2006 that Luton Museums Service, a modest local history collection with an acquisitions budget of just £2,500 a year, had taken on the Goliath of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, one of the worlds wealthiest institutions, in a battle over the future ownership of the medieval bronze Wenlok jug, valued at £750,000.
Made between 1377 and 1469, the jug is embellished with the Royal Arms of England, surmounted by a crown and it bears the inscription, in capitals: My Lord Wenlok. Lord Wenloks identity is still being researched, but a likely candidate is John, the first Lord Wenlock, who served every king from Henry V to Edward IV and was closely associated with Luton.
The Art Fund, Britains largest art charity, has given Luton a grant of £137,500, while friends and local supporters have donated a further £20,500; Luton now waits to hear whether its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a grant to cover the balance of the purchase price has been successful.
An even bigger task awaits the National Gallery, faced with the challenge of raising £6 million to purchase a pair of historic paintings of London by Canaletto View of the Grand Walk, Vauxhall Gardens and Interior of the Rotunda, Ranelagh (an anonymous donor has now come forward to assist the National Gallery with funds and the granting of an export licence has been put on hold until 20 June).
This and other high-profile campaigns have highlighted the increasing number of works of art that are leaving the UK (many of which had previously been on loan to UK museums and galleries). Figures published last year by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport show that twenty-five objects, worth £46.4 million, were initially refused an export licence by the Governments advisory body, the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, but that only nine objects, worth £5.6 million, were saved.
Museum and Gallery trustees are calling on the Government to respond with regulations similar to those that apply in the US and in several other European countries from where exporting (or even borrowing) works of art is extremely difficult. Sir Hugh Leggatt, the former Museums and Galleries Commissioner, wrote last week to Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to suggest that while a ban on exports would be unacceptable, a substantial tax should be levied on any such object which leaves this country, and that the funds raised in this way should be used to establish a national acquisitions fund. He also called for tax incentives to encourage gifts of works of art during peoples lifetimes.
Among paintings that have recently been withdrawn from loan to public galleries is Titians Portrait of a Man (1515), removed from the walls of the National Gallery, where it has been on display since 1992, and rumoured to have been sold to a US buyer for £70 million. Charles Saumarez Smith, FSA, the director of the National Gallery, admitted that a rescue package for the painting simply wasnt feasible, and said that the system for buying great works of art for the nation has broken down.
On the other hand, one cannot help wondering whether the case for Government support would not be considerably stronger if export bars were more strictly limited to works of art of UK provenance or with a very strong UK connection. It is difficult to understand, for example, what the case might be for placing a temporary export bar (as happened on 8 February) on wall-hangings designed by Jean-Demosthene Dugourc for King Carlos IV of Spain and woven to order by Camille Pernon in Lyon around 1799. The justification offered by the Committee that recommended that the export decision be deferred said that the hangings are of outstanding aesthetic importance
and of outstanding significance for the study of eighteenth-century taste in Europe, the study of French textiles and aristocratic collecting in Britain, none of which seems, on the face of it, a good reason for their remaining in the UK. Full details are on the Government News Network website.
It is not just private owners who are tempted to realise the value of sought-after works of art. David Barrie, Director of the Art Fund, wrote to The Times last week to highlight the decision of Bury Council to sell a Lowry painting to fund a budget deficit. David Barrie characterised this as an example of the alarming willingness of local authorities to make cuts to heritage services to cover budgetary shortfalls and went on to say while understanding the financial difficulties to which many local authorities are exposed, the Art Fund is concerned that several are following a similar course. A Welsh council is selling a significant oil painting by Edward Lear, while Derby, St Edmondsbury and Lancashire councils are among those planning to close museums and cut staff. Legally, Bury Council can sell the Lowry, but ethically the sale would be questionable. Sales of this kind clearly fall foul of the museum sectors ethical guidelines as there is a presumption against disposal, particularly if the principal aim is to generate funds. Is there really no better way for councillors to respond to their rainy day problems than by sacrificing the heritage of current and future generations?
The threat to heritage from the sale of assets can only get worse under new proposals published this week by the Accounting Standards Board (ASB) that will require owners of heritage assets to declare their value in their annual accounts. How long will it be before trustees, faced with the challenge of repairing a leaking roof, are told to sell objects from their collection to raise the necessary funds? Worse still, how long will it be before the Charity Commissioners say that owning valuable historic assets is incompatible with charitable status and that the assets should be sold to enable the funds raised to be deployed in the charitys defined purposes?
The Accounting Standards Board was set up under the Companies Act 1985 and its recommendations have quasi-statutory force in other words, it will not be an option to ignore their recommendations and accountants will certainly not be willing to ignore the ASBs pronouncements. Announcing the publication of its discussion paper on valuing heritage assets, the ASB uses the coded Big Brother language that we have all become used to now from Government consultations: the aim of the recommendations, the ASB says, is to improve the consistency and transparency of the financial reporting of heritage assets [owned] by entities such as museums holding collections of art, antiquities and books or who own and manage landscape or buildings for their environmental or historical qualities. What is even more comforting is to be assured that the proposals have been developed in collaboration with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board though not, one suspects, in collaboration with any of the bodies referred to by the ADS as entities, ie the museums, galleries and heritage charities that are the major owners of such assets.
The full discussion paper can be found on the ABS website. Comments on the proposals are requested by 31 May 2006: one suspects that the comment an unnecessary, unwanted and dangerous interference in our work will simply be ignored. Attempts to explain to the ASB that there is a very real and serious philosophical difference between custodianship and ownership will probably not be heard or understood.
Encouraging people who find archaeological treasures to spurn the temptation to make lots of money, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced that it will reward the virtuous with official certificates. These will be given to anyone who waives their claim to a reward in order to help museums acquire the finds. It would be lovely to think that this would change the minds of the property developer who told The Times a fortnight ago that he was expecting to sell the Roman tombstone found in his land for £750,000 or the finder of the Hoxne Hoard who received £1.3 million for the treasure, but one suspects the certificates will only appeal to finders of artefacts with no real monetary value. For further information, see the DCMS website.
In his weekly architectural column in The Times, Marcus Binney, FSA, reported last week on the exhibition of watercolours by John Crowther currently on show at the Guildhall Library in London. The little-known Crowther was commissioned in 1879 to make drawings and watercolours of London buildings that were about to be demolished or likely to vanish in the future. His patron was Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and it was Sir Charless grandson who donated the 400 views to the Guildhall Library in 1961. Marcus describes Crowther as an artist with a superb eye for architecture, especially interiors, and an ability to capture colour, mood and fine detail. Crowthers watercolours and drawings are more than just a topographical record. He had a genuinely artistic feeling for atmosphere and an ability to compose his pictures so they conveyed the scale and grandeur of civic buildings or the simple vernacular charm of modest houses and alleys.
The collection captures the City between the rebuilding that followed the Great Fire of 1666 when London was left the most extensive and complete Baroque city in Europe, a place where stone churches contrasted with 9,000 new houses handsomely rebuilt in red brick and the post-Blitz redevelopment. Crowther records lost Wren churches (St Michael Wood Street, St Matthew Friday Street and St Olave Jewry), livery halls (including the Ironmongers and the Barber Surgeons, both reduced to rubble in the Second World War), vanished streets such as Wych Street and Holywell Street and demolished public houses (such as the Cock Tavern, which stood on the north side of Fleet Street and was frequented by Pepys, Dickens and Tennyson).
Crowthers work, concludes Binney, is worthy of more study than it has received. Perhaps this exhibition will prompt it. Late Victorian Watercolours by John Crowther (c 18371902) is on show in the Guildhall Library Print Room until 10 June.
The results of one hundred years of research on London's history carried out by the Survey of London is to be made available on the website of the Institute of Historical Research. The first eight of the Surveys forty-five area volumes to be made available online cover St Jamess, Soho and Mayfair. The remaining volumes will be published over the next two years, with completion scheduled for September 2008. Since its foundation in 1894 the Survey has built up an unrivalled reputation for its detailed studies of the capitals architecture and topography; these are essential reading for anyone interested in the development of London, its buildings and its monuments. Further information about the Survey and its current work can be found on the English Heritage website.
More controversially, Marcus Binney wrote a critique of the National Trust that was published in The Times on 18 February, picking up some of the concerns aired in Salon last year, when Salon accused the National Trust of behaving more like a commercial organisation than a conservation charity. Given the stormy reception that Salons comments generated on that occasion, it is perhaps necessary to precede this report with a disclaimer: the following report consists of quotations extracted from a column published in The Times and are reproduced here solely for the purposes of informing readers what was said in the column the opinions expressed should not be construed as representing the views of the Society of Antiquaries!
Marcus began by expressing concern at the recent serious loss of longstanding experts from the Trusts staff, saying that: the structure of historic buildings representatives, archaeologists and conservators that advised and served each regional director so well has been dismantled. He argues that the loss of expert and independent-minded staff is symptomatic of an increasingly top-down organisation in which staff are required to be on-message, avoid discussing business with outsiders, where all initiatives come from the top and commercial targets take increasing precedence.
He goes on to say that the organisation has changed from a system of broadly representative and powerful property, finance and executive committees to a close-knit new board of twelve trustees. The new trustees are impressive in their own fields finance, management, running estates but only a minority have long experience of the Trust. They are far from [being] the literary and intellectual countrymen and women who for so long were both the Trusts conscience and champions.
Having delivered some pretty heavy punches, Marcus then seems to relent and he quotes numerous examples of outstanding conservation work undertaken recently by the Trust, including serious repairs at great houses such as Castle Drogo, Cragside and Lyme. A remarkable rescue of a baroque fresco by Guido Reni at Kingston Lacy will soon be unveiled. New orchards of rare apples are being planted at Cothele and £1.4 million has been raised to buy 56 hectares of coast overlooking Plymouth Sound. Large runs of portraits have been secured for Coughton Court and Rufford Old Hall.
He then returns to his underlying theme, which is his concern that, without expert guidance, the trustees will take inappropriate decisions. Given their lack of conservation expertise, he says it is all the more incumbent upon them to seek policy advice from the larger Council and to seek specific technical guidance from the Trusts expert panels on architecture, arts, gardens, nature conservation and land use, which bring together the best people in each field. Marcus is concerned that these panels no longer have any power to veto trustees decisions, but he says the architecture panel was nevertheless successful in preventing a proposal for a large ungainly marquee for corporate entertainment standing all summer by the lake at Osterley. Visitors, they realised, would view it as an intrusion and it has been modified. That was a critical test, as the trust has to find means of increasing revenue without succumbing to rampant commercialism. The trust must not go the way of public parks with semi-permanent encampments of lorries and tents.
Marcus concludes: The Trust is at a critical moment in its history. If it works with the grain of its houses and builds on its growing system of property and house managers, and ensures the free flow of expertise and ideas up and down the organisation, its houses and gardens will become ever more lively and interesting places to visit. But if the trustees become high-handed, out of touch or mislay the trusts institutional memory it would lead to a haemorrhaging of people with a knowledge of the trusts 300 houses and a decline in the scholarship that has put the organisation at the forefront of showing houses. It would mean trust shops that all stock the same knick-knacks, fleets of cars belonging to corporate guests, and museum deadness to rooms. This alternative is too grim to contemplate.
Shortly after Marcuss article was published, The Scotsman reported that Scotlands leading conservation charity was thrown into crisis after the shock resignation of its chief executive over the organisation's financial difficulties. Dr Robin Pellew, who was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 Honours List, is said to have stunned the board of the National Trust for Scotland last Thursday night when he resigned with immediate effect. The Scotsman went on to quote a source close to the board who said that Pellew, who joined the Trust five years ago, had simply had enough of balancing the books and could not face another term sorting out its financial difficulties.
Dr Pellew is credited with modernising the Trust, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and two years ago he achieved a surplus of £2m; despite efforts to increase membership, the surplus has since dwindled to £652,000, which puts at risk some major NTS projects, such as the new £10m Robert Burns visitor centre in Ayrshire and the running of Sir Walter Scott's former home at Abbotsford.
In a letter to NTS staff informing them of his decision, Dr Pellew described his five-year tenure as a roller-coaster. The letter says: When I started we were on the floor. We have picked ourselves up over three years clearing a backlog of work, trading our way out of trouble and increasing visitor numbers and membership. But this has proved unsustainable and this year we have struggled to match last year's numbers
a programme of concerts and events seemed the best course but we got it wrong. We have over-extended our property commitments in relation to the resources available for maintenance and conservation.
The Trust's new chairman, Shonaig Macpherson, a leading Scottish lawyer, will take over as interim executive chairman. A spokesman for the Trust told The Scotsman: It is understood that the new chairman favours a change of ethos, away from a marketing-led approach and towards a concentration on the Trusts core conservation values. There is a feeling that the Trust has been too marketing-conscious in the past and there is a move to retrench and get back to what the Trust is about.
Maev Kennedy, FSA, reported in The Guardian last week on the finding of a letter from Philip Webb to William Morris beneath the floorboards of a guest bedroom at Morris's first home, Red House, in Bexleyheath. The letter, dated 18 November, 1864, was found as a result of rewiring work at the house. Despite being newly married to the beautiful Janey Burden, the 25-year-old Morris was clearly despondent at the time, for Webbs letter to his close friend says Things are never quite so bad as they look.
In fact, Morris was suffering from rheumatic fever, exacerbated by the stress of commuting to work in central London from a house deep in the Kent countryside. Webb conveys news about the works foreman who manages to keep things going pretty smoothly at the shop, adding that it will do some of your brutes of customers good to wait a bit. He expresses the hope that you are not in great pain and that you manage to keep up your spirits.
Jan Marsh, author of a new book on William Morris and the Red House, described the letter as particularly exciting because so little evidence survived from the period there were no original letters at all by Morris for the year 1864, a crucial moment in William Morris's life and that of the firm when the youthful idealism that powered both was checked.
It is not often that a national daily newspaper devotes its leader to the defence of Neolithic remains, but this was the case on 20 February when The Guardian praised the Friends of Thornborough Henges for their erudite and sparky campaign to prevent further quarrying of the landscape around the henges and argued that the planners of Northallerton should reject the gravel extraction scheme presented by Tarmac for the area, and realise that North Yorkshire will not earn a living by digging up its finest asset.
In the event, Northallerton took heed, and the Friends of Thornborough Henges won their long and hard-fought campaign to protect the integrity of the henge landscape, consisting of three vast earth-walled circles (originally there were eight) and a cursus, surrounded by traces of dozens of huts and burials.
Determined lobbying by the friends has ensured that this previously under-appreciated landscape is now a cause célèbre, thanks to TV programmes, virtual-reality reincarnations and websites that have brought the henges to life and ensured that Stonehenge is not the only henge whose name is familiar to the public.
All is not over yet, however: Tarmac has said it plans to appeal against the decision, which would mean a public inquiry.
Meanwhile at Goss Moor, in Cornwall, where work is in progress to widen the A30 road between Bodmin and Indian Queens, archaeologists have discovered a late Neolithic henge at Deep Tye Farm, about one kilometre south of Castle-an-Dinas hillfort. Stuart Foreman, of Oxford Archaeology, which carried out the excavation work on behalf of the Highways Agency, said: The Deep Tye Farm site is a modest example of this type of monument; it consists of pits forming a segmented ditch, 10m in diameter, and an inner arc of 10 postholes, with a large gap facing due south. The postholes may have contained a simple arrangement of free-standing wooden posts or a more elaborate structure.
It is believed to be the first example of this type of henge to be found in Devon and Cornwall, though large-scale henge monuments are known at Castilly Henge, and at the Stripple Stones on Bodmin Moor.
The remains of a large late Iron Age or Roman roundhouse has also been found at Lower Trenoweth, near Belowda. The site was excavated by twelve Archaeology Foundation Course students from Truro College, who are taking part in a one-week training excavation hosted by professional archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology. Goss Moor contains the most accessible alluvial tin deposits in the county and it is speculated that the building might have been used as a seasonal shelters by tinners, although no evidence for tin ores or working have been found at either of the sites so far.
Stuart Foreman commented that: The Roman writer Diodorus Siculus recorded, in c 8 BC, that the late Iron Age inhabitants of the peninsula extracted and smelted tin ore and traded it to the Mediterranean region via middlemen, but little is known for certain about the scale, or the social and economic context, of the industry.
Norman Hammond, FSA, Archaeology Correspondent of The Times, reported this week that modern humans entered Europe earlier, and spread across it faster, than we used to think. As a result, the period of overlap with the existing inhabitants, the Neanderthals, was shorter than previously thought, and the possibility of their extinction being directly due to Homo sapiens sapiens is greater. The evidence for this is contained in an article by Professor Paul Mellars in the journal Nature reporting on new developments in carbon-dating calibrations. Professor Mellars suggests that many of the dates published over the past forty years will have underestimated the true ages of the samples and that revisions are necessary to dates in the crucial 40,000 to 50,000 year timespan when modern humans are thought to have arrived in Europe.
Data from deep sea cores from Spain and Venzuela, combined with dates obtained from stalagmite formations on the island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea and tropical coral growth from the Atlantic and Pacific, have been matched with fluctuations in oxygen-isotope levels in the Greenland ice core GISP-2 to yield a new radio-carbon-dating calibration curve; Professor Mellars also reports that more effective purification of bone collagen for use in radiocarbon dating has resulted in greater dating accuracy.
Together these developments suggest the need to rethink the absolute chronology of the period when modern humans entered Europe from the Middle East. The famous Chauvet cave art in southern France is 4,000 years older, made 36,000 years ago, than previously thought and that at Grotta Fumane, near Verona, is now 38,000 years old. The bone and ivory personal ornaments from the upper Danube caves in southern Germany would be at least 41,000 years old, Professor Mellars calculates, noting that a high proportion of radiocarbon dates for the Palaeolithic are almost certainly serious underestimates of the true ages.
Modern humans evolved because they were hunted and not because they were hunters, according to Professor Robert Sussman, of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. Dr Sussman told the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that avoiding being killed by predators was the most significant factor in early man's socialisation. His research has identified that teeth belonging to Australopithecus afarensis were poorly adapted for meat eating, suggesting that this early hominid was not a hunter. About six per cent of all A. afarensis bones, however, show tooth marks that are consistent with predation, indicating that this was a frequent cause of death.
The findings support the idea that the communication skills and group living that are characteristic of modern Homo sapiens evolved as defensive measures against lions, hyenas, crocodiles and eagles. The prevailing view, said Professor Sussman, is of Man the Hunter, but early man was a prey species the hunted. Our intelligence, co-operation and other features developed from attempts to outsmart the predator.
Tewkesbury Borough Council's Head of Development Control, David Jones, has described the demolition of an uninhabited sixteenth-century listed building in Apperley, near Tewkesbury, Glos, as the most blatant act of vandalism against a listed building that the council has ever seen, adding that we will seek authorisation from the planning committee to prosecute those responsible. The Grade II listed Oak House was repeatedly rammed by a digger on Saturday 18 February, leaving what William Morris, the chairman of the parish council, described as a beautiful building in ruins. A fire damaged the roof of the property in March 2002 but the owner, Ruth Greenshield, issued a statement through her solicitor denying responsibility for the demolition and saying that she had planned to renovate the house and live there.
A farmer, Gerald Kinahan, who is also a parish councillor in a neighbouring parish, admitted to driving the digger. He said a builder, whom he refused to name, had asked him to do it, and he had no idea the building was listed. He said: I was instructed to do the work by another builder and I just went ahead with it. I thought it was all above board and just did the job I was told to do.
The police have been informed and are investigating the demolition with the council.
Conspiracy theorists will no doubt see something sinister and significant in the fact that two articles appeared in different newspapers on 24 February, both attacking the designation of listed buildings in similar terms as a modern nightmare of red tape and regulations. Andrea Watson, writing in The Daily Express informed her readers that the objective of listing was to help preserve the romance of Britains past, and erroneously stated that there are more than 200,000 listed buildings in the UK (there are actually 372,038 according to Heritage Counts 2005). The overall tone of her article was that listed buildings are a good investment and represent the crème de la crème of the property world, but the downside is that nasty people from English Heritage get to tell you what you can and cannot do.
But according to The Times, people from English Heritage are not nasty any more. It will come as a shock to many of us who work in buildings conservation to discover that, according to Steven Bee (Director of Planning and Development at English Heritage), our primary concern is limiting damage to the fronts of buildings. We are also told that at some time in the next five years it [English Heritage] proposes to simplify the listings, so there will be only Grade I and Grade II buildings.
One very much hopes that Mr Bee was misquoted on both counts. It is a popular myth that it is only the façade that is listed you can do what you like inside (even demolish all but the façade). It is a myth that is fostered by the fact that listing descriptions focus on the exterior but list descriptions are designed purely in order to enable the property to be identified: they are not intended as an exhaustive description, nor as a statement of what justifies the listing. That is why statements of significance are critical to the future of heritage protection. But for English Heritage to appear to be confirming the myth is very dangerous, and it flatly contradicts the trend in recent conservation thinking which is not to narrow the scope of what is protected, but rather to expand it to take in the buildings context as well as its fabric.
As for the proposal to eliminate the Grade II* category, one has to ask why? What is it about a three-tier grading structure that is so problematic? If civil servants dont like stars, perhaps we can rename them Grades I, II and III or is the underlying message from Government really that they think too much is designated and that they really only want a small number of highly protected Grade I buildings and then a second tier of Grade II buildings that are subject to a more relaxed planning regime?
The rest of The Times article makes sad reading: the basic thesis was that owning a listed building is a problem, not a privilege and that the whole process of making changes or doing repairs to a listed building is a bureaucratic minefield.
Hidden amongst a string of sob stories featuring aggrieved owners shocked at having to pay a skilled joiner or stonemason a fair price for a good job using traditional materials or angry that they were prevented from ripping out inconvenient historic features was proof that owning a listed building need not be a nightmare. Richard Riley, an architectural consultant, recently moved into part of a Grade I listed manor house in Lustleigh, Devon. Determined to rectify botched repairs carried out without permission over the previous fifty years he did the job properly and now lives in wonderful medieval hall. It took him a mere three months to get listed building consent. Rileys advice is simple and to the point: unless you know what youre doing, dont buy a Grade I listed building.
Much better is the news that the UK Government has signed the European Landscape Convention, which aims to promote landscape protection, management and planning and commits the signatories to integrate landscape into land use planning, involve the public in landscape issues, protect outstanding landscapes through national landscape laws and policies, raise awareness through education and the assessment of landscapes and co-operate at a European level.
If, as expected, Parliament ratifies the convention it could come into force later this year. Twenty other European nations have already ratified the treaty and a further twelve have signed it but have yet to ratify it. Further information can be found on the Council of Europes website.
Heritage Works is a new practical step-by-step guide for developers, owners, practitioners or community groups for creating successful heritage-led regeneration projects. By identifying common pitfalls and ways of overcoming them, and including links to more than 30 other information sources, it is designed to be a one-stop reference document or "checklist" for regeneration in the historic environment. The publication brings together the expertise of English Heritage, the British Property Federation, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Drivers Jonas. Its contents include a chart for navigating listed building consent, lists of issues to consider when carrying out buildings surveys and information on issues such as breaking cycles of decline, concept development, economic benefits, characterisation, VAT, fund-raising, the public realm and management planning.
Heritage Works argues that there are three important principals that underlie all successful heritage-led regeneration schemes: understand the heritage assets in question, finding a viable economic use and paying the right price for the asset. The benefits are spelled out by Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, who said at the launch that Re-using quality historic buildings has been one of the cornerstones of the economic and social revival of our towns and cities. Heritage assets play a central role in successful regeneration and represent an opportunity rather than a constraint.
An eighth-century limestone panel, which retains much of its painted decoration, has been found during excavations at Lichfield Cathedral. The panel might have formed part of the shrine of St Chad, Bishop of the Mercians. St Chad was buried in the church that underlies the cathedral in the late seventh century. His tomb became a place of pilgrimage, according to Bede, and the angel could have come from one end of the shrine, perhaps forming part of an Annunciation scene.
The carving emerged from the cathedrals nave during an excavation of the site preceding the installation of a rising platform. Warwick Rodwell, FSA, consultant archaeologist to Lichfield Cathedral, told The Times that, just as the workmen were packing up after six weeks work, someone let out a scream, and there it was, among some stone slabs.
Dr Rodwell went on to say: The panel is unparalleled in this country and indeed on the Continent for the amount of original paint which survives. Nothing like it has been found since the Victorian age.
The angel, which is just over 2ft (635mm) high, will go on display in the cathedral until the end of March; it will then undergo conservation work before going on permanent display.
More than forty memorials are to benefit this year from a £100,000 fund set up by English Heritage and run by the War Memorials Trust for the repair, cleaning and conservation of damaged war memorials. The recipients include Kirkby, near Liverpool, whose 10-metre-high stone cross was vandalised in 1991. Since then, all that had remained on view was a stump in the ground; the rest lies in the church cellar. Pedro Gaspar, the conservation officer at the War Memorials Trust, said: We hope that this grant will encourage more local authorities to come forward and work with us to maintain these memorials.
The search is now on for the best in British archaeology after David Lammy, Culture Minister, officially launched the 2006 British Archaeological Awards on 22 February at the British Museum. Thirty years after they were originally founded, these Awards are still doing a vital job of encouraging people of all ages to discover the breadth of opportunity and experiences that archaeology can provide, Mr Lammy said. Archaeology really is for everyone and I want to congratulate those of you who work on interpreting the past, promoting accessibility and education, protecting our heritage and opening up the subject to an ever wider public.
The awards are given to projects that bring volunteers and professionals together on research projects, for developers who fund archaeology, for books that bring archaeology to a wide audience and TV programmes that inform as well as entertain. They are of all ages, amateurs and professionals, David Lammy said. They represent the huge wealth of diversity and experience in the sector.
Time Team star and archaeologist Raksha Dave was also on hand to help promote the Young Archaeologist of The Year Award, saying that the challenge for budding Young Archaeologists of the Year for 2006 is to dig around for clues to the history of a building and tell its story.
Full details of all the awards, along with instructions for making nominations, can be found on the CBA website. The same site also hosts a questionnaire seeking views on the future of the Awards.
2 March: The Bishops Palace at Mirepoix (Ariége) and French Renaissance Panelling in Scotland, by Charles Tracy, FSA
9 March: Reflections on the Cistercian Buildings of Wales, by David Robinson, FSA, followed by a reception to mark the publication by the Society of David's book, The Cistercians in Wales.
16 March: The Architectural Patronage of Two Late Medieval Bishops: Edington, Wykeham and the rebuilding of Winchester Cathedral nave, by John Hare, FSA
In the later fourteenth century, the Romanesque nave of Winchester cathedral was remodelled into the building that we know today. But precisely who did what and when? This reassessment is based on the evidence of the building and documentation (including the less familiar indirect evidence of the bishopric manorial accounts). It is suggested that Edington and Wykeham, his successor, adopted very different approaches to the problem of rebuilding the nave, and that Wykehams early work in the 1370s included the south arcade, and therefore the main design elements of his later work. The significance of the nave is discussed in the context of Wykehams well-documented residential buildings. This reassessment should further enhance the reputation of a remarkable architectural patron.
The Society is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 16 February 2006: Kevin Butcher, Katherine Giles, Jonathan Finch, Richard Hobbs, Duncan Brown, Sebastian Whitestone, Cecilia Powell, Elaine Paintin, Nigel Tattersfield, Susan Wood, Anna Gannon, Howard Williams, (David) Duncan Robinson, Manfred Gläser, Patricia Baker, Zsolt Visy, Roland Fletcher, Roger Bowdler, Peter Smith, Elizabeth Lewis, Philip Bennett (MIFA), Toby Driver, Paula Henderson, Rupert Mitford (Lord Redesdale).
From our Ann Payne, FSA, at the British Library comes the welcome news that Dr Scot McKendrick, FSA, of the Department of Manuscripts at the British Library was last month appointed as Head of Manuscripts to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Dr Christopher Wright, FSA.
Philip Lankester, FSA, and Dr Richard Hall, FSA, MIFA, have both written to say that two Fellows were recently presented with the Yorkshire Archaeological Societys Silver Medal in recognition of their outstanding contribution to research in Yorkshire (to a lengthy standing ovation from an audience of some 200). They are Terry Manby, doyen of Neolithic and Bronze Age studies in Yorkshire, and Dr Ian Stead, who has done so much to elucidate the county in the Iron Age and Romano-British periods. Richard Hall was himself recently elected President of the YAS and it was a pleasure to be able to make this presentation at the CBA Yorkshire annual symposium in York on 11 February, especially as the Silver Medal, the Yorkshire Archaeological Societys highest award, has only ever been given on six previous occasions.
David Woodcock, FSA, has been named Director of the newly created Center for Heritage Conservation at Texas A&M University. Supported by twenty-five Professional Fellows across the United States, and a similar number of Faculty Fellows in a wide range of disciplines on campus, the Center will play a critical role in the recording, analysis and understanding of the built and cultural heritage. Commenting on his appointment, David said that a particular challenge he wants the Center to meet is that of finding ways to make the past an even more significant part of the future. The Center will host the Seventh Historic Preservation Symposium on 24 and 25 March 2006 (further details from Kristi Harpst); this years topic will be Preparation for Preservation Practice: A Comprehensive Perspective. The Center has also recently acquired a donation of some 30,000 documents from Raiford L Stripling, one of the pioneers of preservation architecture in Texas, whose work includes restoration at the Presidio of La Bahai and Mission Espiritu Santo in Goliad, and many other Texan landmarks. The collection will be housed in the Cushing Archives, and is expected to be open to scholars within the next two years, with selected parts of the collection available digitally.
Thank you to all those Fellows who quite rightly pointed out that Boston Spa, the location of the British Librarys repository, is in West Yorkshire, and is a different place from Boston in Lincolnshire, with which it was confused in Salon 134.
Vincent Megaw, FSA, MIFA, writes to say that while Australians internationally have the reputation for being fearless in criticism (particularly against their own Federal or State governments, irrespective of political affiliation), he is saddened by the total silence from Australian conservationists over the retrograde proposal of the Federal Government's Productivity Commission (highlighted in previous issues of Salon) that only those private properties that enter into a negotiated conservation agreement should be granted heritage listing and thus given at least some protection against development. Despite his strenuous efforts to elicit a response from various heritage bodies and academic institutions in Australia, Vincent says that the deadline for comments has now passed without comment from interested parties.
Could the same happen in the UK? Surely not: that is why Matthew Saunders, FSA, trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, has asked Salon to remind Fellows and MIFAs of the consultation on the future of the Heritage Lottery Fund. A core question for the consultation is what share of Lottery funds will be given to each of the three good causes (heritage, sport, arts and film) after 2009. HLF hopes to retain its 16.7 per cent share in order to meet the growing demand for support for heritage projects. The consultation closes on 28 February and taking part involves answering a short questionnaire, to be found on the DCMS website.
Salons report on the failure of the UK Government to address the issue of the proper care of historic shipwrecks has prompted Peter Marsden, FSA, MIFA, to write and highlight the reluctance of the Ministry of Defence to protect as a war-grave the British government-owned merchant ship SS Storaa sunk by a German torpedo off Hastings in 1943, with the loss of twenty-one years lives. Peter writes: For six years I have repeatedly requested the MOD to protect her under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, but the MOD has consistently turned this down because they considered that she was not in 'military service', even though the ship was armed by the Admiralty, had Royal Navy and Army gunners, was sailing in convoy under strict Admiralty regulations, had a cargo of parts of Sherman tanks and US military lorries for the war effort, and was sunk in a military conflict. In support of their view they have even classed her seven Army and Navy gunners and the Dover pilot (whose job was to navigate the convoy through the Dover Straits minefields) as passengers!
With considerable help from others I found the relatives of a Royal Navy gunner who died when the SS Storaa was sunk. Free legal representation given by a solicitor and three barristers enabled an action to be brought against the MOD in 2005 for judicial review in the High Court, and last December the judgment was given that defined military service in a way that ensured that the SS Storaa qualified for protection; the judge ruled that the MOD must reconsider their decision on the SS Storaa in accordance with this judgment.
Last month the MOD lodged an Appeal based on their view that the 1986 Act should only refer to the MOD's definition of the military 'status' of ships rather than to the military circumstances of the 'action' that caused their voyage and sinking.
When Salon publicised this court case last year our Fellow, Martin Dean, at St Andrews University, generously offered to make available to me the results of a high-grade sonar survey of the SS Storaa that by chance, and unknown to me, he had carried out last April. This helped to confirm the identity of the wreck when the wreck owner claimed that our site dive evidence was not valid because in his opinion we had the wrong wreck! Two High Court judges have now protected the seven of us against the MOD claiming costs against us personally, and directed that the MOD has to pay our legal costs, because the matter is in the public interest. The stakes are very high: if the Appeal Court confirms the High Court judgment, that SS Storaa is eligible for protection, then hundreds of merchant ships that were sunk in both world wars in which men and women died will also be eligible for protection.
Below we pay tribute to five Fellows (and one MIFA) who have died in recent weeks: William W Howells, anthropologist, who championed an interdisciplinary approach to the study of man; Alwyn Ruddock, historian, who pioneered research into the voyages of English mariners trying to rediscover the North American continent in the fifteenth century; Tony Werner, Keeper of the Research Laboratory of the British Museum who led the study of the treasure and grave goods discovered at Sutton Hoo; John Brooke-Little, the former Clarenceux King of Arms who did much to popularise heraldic studies as founder of the Heraldry Society in 1947; and John James Wymer, MIFA, the world-renowned expert on Lower Palaeolithic archaeology.
William W Howells, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Harvard, died on 20 December 2005, at the age of ninety-seven. He was most noted for his work showing that modern humans are all of a single species. Howells made his most significant findings in the 1960s, when anthropology was racked by heated debates about racial issues.
With his wife, Muriel, he embarked on an ambitious study of global cranial variation, collecting well over 100,000 measurements on more than 1,500 individuals representing seventeen living populations. These data are still widely and frequently used. A brief but influential textbook, Evolution of the Genus Homo (1973), summarised the state of knowledge on various aspects of human evolution, based on patterns of variation within and between living populations and various fossils. Among other conclusions, he showed that living humans are homogeneous beneath the skin, and that non-sapiens hominids, such as the Neanderthals, are quite distinct.
Howells regretted the growing gulf between biological and cultural anthropology that occurred during his lifetime. Howells had strong interests in encouraging an integrative human biology. In the early 1960s he helped to organise what became the famous Harvard Solomon Islands Project. This involved a strongly interdisciplinary approach to the interactions of culture, natural selection and disease, linking such variables as habitat, nutrition, acculturation and health (reported in The Solomon Islands Project, edited in 1987 by Jonathan Friedlaender). Amongst other things, the project documented the effects of an increasingly Western diet on previously isolated populations.
Of his popular books, two in particular are very important: Mankind in the Making (1959) because it probably influenced more embryonic palaeo-anthropologists and primatologists half a century ago than any other book and Getting Here published in 1993 when Howells was 84 (and that he updated four years later).
Tony Werner died on 21 January 2006, at the age of ninety-four. In 1948 Werner accepted a post as research chemist at the National Gallery, London, and thus began his association with the arts and museums that lasted for the remainder of his career. At the National Gallery he worked on the characteristics of resins and in developing the study of paint sections under the microscope. By showing that the stain on the teeth of the Piltdown skull was not natural, he played a part in the unmasking of the Piltdown forgery.
In 1954 Werner was appointed principal scientific officer under Dr H J Plenderleith at the Research Laboratory of the British Museum, becoming Keeper on the retirement of Dr Plenderleith in 1959. At that time, the department was concerned with the conservation of objects as well as fundamental research into the materials of antiquity and their dating, having one of the earliest radiocarbon-dating facilities in Britain. During his keepership he inaugurated a project to study the composition of copper alloys in antiquity, which included a detailed study of the regalia and all the other grave goods that had been found at Sutton Hoo, as well as many of the great treasures of Ireland, such as the Tara brooch and the Ardagh Chalice.
Elected a Fellow on 9 January 1958, Werner lived most recently in Tasmania, having taken early retirement from the British Museum in order to head the newly formed Conservation Centre for the Pacific Region, for which he himself had done the planning. When he finally retired his habit was to spend half the year enjoying summer in one hemisphere with his daughter who lives in Tasmania and the other half enjoying a second summer in the northern hemisphere with his other daughter who lives in East Anglia. Journeys between the two destinations involved visits to friends and relatives all over the world. On these trips, the last when he was about 90, he never failed to visit his department in the British Museum.
Alwyn Ruddock, who recently died at the age of 89, grew up in the Southampton area and her first published work, in collaboration with D B Quinn, comprised two volumes of The Port Books or Local Customs Accounts of Southampton (1937 and 1938). During the war years, she taught English and European courses in the history department of what became Southampton University. Her move to Birkbeck College, University of London, in 1946 brought Alwyn into another small and diverse department where, after the publication of her Italian Merchants and Shipping in Southampton, 12701500 (1951), she was appointed reader in history.
Subsequent articles appeared over a span of more than thirty years reflecting a shift in her interests away from Southampton-based commerce towards the world of exploration, and specifically to the efforts of the fifteenth-century merchants and mariners of Bristol to rediscover the North American continent, with its lucrative off-shore fishing grounds, of which they learned through their trading contacts with Iceland. This led Alwyn to investigate Cabot. Sadly, though she eventually finished a draft of her book on Cabot, she destroyed it because it did not meet her exacting standards. She began work on the book again, but her progress was slowed by failing eyesight and declining health. The second version was not completed, and she left strict orders that all research papers were to be destroyed at her death.
John Brooke-Little, who died on 13 February, aged 78, did more than anyone else in the last century to popularise the study of heraldry, according to his obituary in The Independent, contributed by P L Dickinson. Probably his greatest achievement was the creation of the Heraldry Society, an organisation founded by him when he was barely out of his teens and still flourishing today. Along with three other uniformed colleagues, he had the distinction of appearing on the front cover of Private Eye in 1969, and a few years later he was one of Roy Plomley's castaways on Desert Island Discs (expressing the hope that a passing mermaid would manifest herself during his incarceration).
It was during the snowbound winter of 1947, while teaching at a prep school in Warwickshire, that he had the idea of setting up the Society of Heraldic Antiquaries. Initially conceived as a society for young enthusiasts, it recruited many of its first adherents through publicity in The Children's Newspaper but its membership soon bestraddled all age-groups and it was re-named the Heraldry Society in 1950. The same year saw the commencement of its quarterly magazine The Coat of Arms, which Brooke-Little himself edited for a long period. He was chairman of the society from its inception until its 50th anniversary in 1997, when he became president for life.
Partly on account of National Service, it was not until 1949 that he went up to New College, Oxford, to read History. There he edited Cherwell, the undergraduate newspaper. He retained a great affection for Oxford, and one of his first publications was a guide to the university and colleges written for the Pitkin Pictorials series.
He had toyed with the idea of going on the stage (even seeking John Gielgud's advice at one point) but on going down from Oxford he joined the Earl Marshal's staff in the run-up to the Coronation, acting as general factotum to Sir George Bellew, Garter King of Arms. Following the Coronation he went to work at the College of Arms, serving on the staff of Anthony Wagner, then Richmond Herald, and acting as part-time library assistant. In 1956 he was appointed Bluemantle Pursuivant, thus becoming one of the thirteen officers of arms who make up the College of Arms. The English heralds are best known to the public for their appearance, wands in hands, in their richly embroidered tabards, at the State Opening of Parliament and at the Garter Service at Windsor in June each year. Brooke-Little took great enjoyment from the theatricality of these two pieces of state ceremonial.
From 1963 he was responsible (at first jointly, then from 1970 solely) for successive editions of Boutell's Heraldry, a manual originally published in 1863. Though now out of print, it remains the textbook most often turned to by heraldic practitioners. He also produced an annotated edition of Arthur Fox-Davies's Complete Guide to Heraldry.
Promoted to the office of Richmond Herald in 1967, Brooke-Little helped to organise the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarvon in 1969, being appointed MVO in the special honours list that followed the ceremony. At the College of Arms he held the post of Librarian for many years, in which capacity he was responsible for setting up the in-house conservation department to repair and bind its own books and manuscripts, as well as to take in a certain amount of outside work to cover running costs. In 1973 he produced An Heraldic Alphabet, an invaluable guide to the arcane terminology of his subject, which is still in print. He was also director of the Heralds' Museum in succession to Sir Anthony Wagner; but despite his efforts to find suitable alternative premises the museum fell into abeyance, following its eviction from the Tower of London after the reorganisation of the Royal Palaces in the 1980s.
He was chairman of the council of the Harleian Society, where he played a significant role in its choice of antiquarian subjects for publication. He was also a convivial man, who enjoyed his food and wine. In common with other heralds of his generation, he was an assiduous patron of El Vino's in Fleet Street, to which he and his long-time colleague Colin Cole donated a Heraldry Society chair. He and Cole also formed a heraldic dining club, which they named the Bullicorn (unicorns and bulls figuring in their respective coats of arms).
In 1980 he became Norroy and Ulster King of Arms. Four years later, in the College of Arms' 500th anniversary year, he was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. A stroke suffered at the College of Arms in 1994 seriously impaired his mobility but this did not prevent his becoming Clarenceux King of Arms (the second senior office in the college) following the death of Sir Anthony Wagner a year later. He retired on his 70th birthday in 1997.
A frail figure in his last years, Brooke-Little none the less paid regular visits to the College of Arms until the end of 2004 and maintained an active interest in armorial matters. The 50th anniversary of the Coat of Arms was marked in 2000 by the publication of a festschrift volume, Tribute to an Armorist, comprising twenty-four essays written in his honour.
John Wymers contribution to British prehistory cannot be overstated, writes Andrew Lawson, FSA, who has contributed the following obituary. John Wymer was one of Britains finest archaeologists. During a lifetime dedicated to the study of the earliest human traces, he made many important discoveries in England and abroad. Equally at home talking to academics or those with little knowledge of the subject, he generated a huge interest in the most remote episodes of human history.
Born in 1928 and brought up near Kew Gardens in London, John Wymer was introduced to the quest for ancient flint implements by his parents. He accompanied them on many visits to gravel pits where, amongst the Quaternary sediments, flint implements and the bones of extinct animals were to be found. At the age of twenty-seven, while working at Swanscombe in Kent, he found part of the skull of a fossil hominin, a discovery which remains the oldest human cranium from Britain.
Although his professional career had started in teaching, John soon turned to archaeology and in 1956 was appointed to the staff of Reading Museum. With his first wife, Paula, he set up home in Wokingham from where he could commute by train (his preferred mode of transport), continue his search for Palaeolithic implements in the Quarternary sediments of the River Thames, and raise his five children.
The research soon led to his first great monograph, Lower Palaeolithic Archaeology in Britain as represented by the Thames Valley, published in 1968, which catalogued thousands of discoveries and used them as a basis for the chronology of the Lower Palaeolithic period. The volume was illustrated by hundreds of pen-and-ink drawings of the characteristic hand-axes and other flint tools of the period, the quality of which were to be a hallmark of each of Johns copious reports.
In 1965, he was recruited by Professor Ronald Singer of the University of Chicago to direct a series of excavations at early man sites in South Africa. The most famous of these was at Klasies River Mouth, west of Port Elizabeth, where a remarkable stratigraphic sequence, more than 25 metres thick and spanning the entire Middle and Late Stone Age, was examined. The sample excavated contained more than 250,000 stone tools, as well as animal bones, sea shells and other environmental indicators, but most importantly a number of human bones. One of these was as much as 100,000 years old, and was at the time of its discovery the Worlds oldest specimen of the truly modern Homo sapiens sapiens.
John returned to England in 1968 and on behalf of the University of Chicago conducted a series of outstanding excavations at a number of key Palaeolithic sites, including Clacton, Hoxne and Ipswich. These excavations set a high standard, hardly witnessed before, and each was fully published. In 197980, John was appointed as Senior Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, a brief period which nonetheless resulted in a world perspective, entitled The Palaeolithic Age (1982), and another monumental regional survey, Palaeolithic Sites in East Anglia (1985). By the time these appeared in print the funding for the university posts had finished but John had been recruited to dig sites of later periods in Essex and then Norfolk. Although he had bought a house in Bildeston, Suffolk, he moved with his second wife, Mollie, to Great Cressingham in Norfolk and between 1983 and 1990 worked for the Norfolk Archaeological Unit, investigating many sites of different periods on its behalf.
However, from 1991 he began a hugely ambitious project to relate every Palaeolithic discovery yet made in Britain to its relevant geological deposit, and on the basis of these relationships to interpret the early presence of people in Britain. The project was sponsored by English Heritage and organised through Wessex Archaeology. In only six years John had amassed the requisite details and with help from Wessex Archaeology, notably from our Fellow Phil Harding, he had personally visited almost every site and significant museum collection in the country. The output comprised a series of detailed regional reports which could be used by mineral operators and planning authorities to tell them of the potential importance for Palaeolithic archaeology of different Quaternary sediments. In 1998, the work was distilled into two remarkable volumes, entitled The Lower Palaeolithic Occupation of Britain. It is doubtful that anyone will ever achieve such a feat again.
After this, though past normal retirement age, John continued to be actively involved in fieldwork and its publication. It is typical of his energy and continued enthusiasm that the latest volumes of the popular journals Current Archaeology and British Archaeology (Jan/Feb 2006) should carry his drawings of the latest (and oldest) Palaeolithic finds from the country. Throughout his career, as well as fulfilling the responsibilities of his employment, John took upon himself the role of lecturer, secretary or editor of many different local archaeological societies. Amongst others, he had been President of the Quaternary Research Association, Chairman of the Lithic Studies Society and Vice-President (and briefly President) of the Prehistoric Society.
Though modest of his own abilities, John received a number of honorary awards, including a doctorate from the University of Reading (1993), and the Stopes Medal. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1963; he was also a Fellow of the British Academy. Although undoubtedly an outstanding academic, John also had the gift of translating his subject into terms that anyone could understand; consequently he was loved and respected by an enormously broad spectrum of people. It is doubtful if anyone has ever done more to promote the subject of Palaeolithic archaeology. His other great interests of blues and jazz, of ancient art and of gardening were shared with many. He was also an enthusiastic, lifelong supporter of CAMRA.
Paul Jeffery, the author of The Collegiate Churches of England and Wales (Robert Hale, ISBN 0 7090 7412 3, published May 2004), has written to the Society to say that he has copies of the book available to Fellows and MIFAs at the special authors price of £39 (the published price is £60). The book is divided into two main sections. In the first, the author traces the development of colleges from their beginnings in the Anglo-Saxon era to their dramatic decline in the sixteenth century, and deals with their nature, historical evolution, demise and legacy. The second section comprises an extensive gazetteer, divided into counties, with the history and architecture of every example considered individually. The text is illustrated with 300 photographs. To take advantage of the offer, contact the author at 36, Olivers Battery Road North, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4JB, tel: 01962-861300.
English Heritage, Programme Manager (Historic Environment Commissions)
Salary c £30,000 per annum, closing date: 10 March 2006
To provide managerial leadership in support of the delivery of English Heritages strategic plan of 200510, directly through the mechanism of the Historic Environment Enabling Programme, one of the countrys most significant commissioning programmes for the historic environment. To be responsible for co-ordinating, assessing and assuring the quality of applications to this grants programme, managing a dedicated casework team responsible for contractual, administrative and financial matters relating to the programme and ensuring timely delivery of results and outcomes.
For an application pack, please email recruitHQ@english-heritage.org.uk quoting R/12/06 in the subject box.
The Institute of Field Archaeologists, HLF Workplace Learning Bursaries Co-Ordinator
Part-time post of 18.5 hours per week; salary £18,457 to £22,295 pro rata dependent on experience, closing date: 17 March 2006
The Institute of Field Archaeologists has recently been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund workplace learning bursaries in archaeological skills development. The bursaries will support placements with a variety of host organisations. A bursaries co-ordinator is needed to administer the scheme. The main duties will include developing placement opportunities within the scheme, recruiting placement holders, monitoring and evaluating placements in line with scheme targets and publicising the scheme.