Salon Archive

Issue: IFA-137

Stonehenge: a time for decisions

As John Barrett, FSA, MIFA, reminded everyone at the Stonehenge seminar hosted by the Society of Antiquaries on Friday 31 March, Stonehenge is a great catalyst for enquiry and debate: that is one important aspect of its contemporary significance ─ its power to make us think about so many fundamentally important things. But, as was implicit in the title of the seminar, and as Sir Neil Cossons, FSA, and other speakers insisted again and again, there is also a time when debate has to lead to a conclusion, and that is what Friday’s day-long meeting was all about: listening with an open mind to everyone’s thoughts about the five options on the table for removing two major roads from the Stonehenge landscape and then moving towards a solution acceptable to as many people as possible.

It was a rare day of which it can truly be said that there was not a dull speaker; most spoke eloquently and with real passion about what Susan Denyer, FSA (quoting the World Heritage Site inscription), described as ‘an unrivalled demonstration of human achievement in prehistoric times’ and that Peter Stone, FSA, MIFA (quoting the Stonehenge Management Plan), said was ‘an archaeological landscape without parallel in the world’. Just what that means in terms of universal value and recognition was illustrated by Sir Neil’s account of being stuck in a broadcasting studio in Washington DC in the aftermath of foot and mouth disease, doing his bit to encourage Americans to visit the UK: over two days he recorded interviews with scores of US radio stations and the one question every interviewer was keen to ask was ‘can we still visit Stonehenge?’.

Kate Fox, from consultants Halcrow, demonstrated how far from simple was the task of finding alternative road routes around Stonehenge: leaving aside archaeological considerations, Stonehenge sits in the middle of a landscape protected by international and European conventions because of its outstanding bio-diversity: one quarter of all the surviving unimproved chalk downland in Europe is at stake here, having escaped the agricultural intensification that has impoverished the ecology of much of Europe thanks to the use of Salisbury Plain as a training ground for the armed forces.

Chris Jones, of the Highways Agency, reinforced the point with his map showing just some of the 152 route options that have been investigated since 1990: ‘it is fanciful or disingenuous’, he said, ‘to think that there are other options out there that we haven’t looked at’.

The Government has reduced those options to just five, and Mike Pitts, FSA, MIFA, took everyone on a vividly illustrated journey round the Stonehenge landscape to see what was at stake if the northern or southern bypass routes were built, leaving nobody in any doubt that the toll on archaeology and biodiversity would be substantial. David Thackray, FSA, MIFA, spoke of the symbolic, spiritual and associative resonance of Stonehenge and argued that all schemes had to be measured against a fundamental principal of conservation: ensuring that the maximum significance is transferred to future generations, rather than further eroding what has been inherited.

Sir Neil Cossons succinctly outlined the reasons why it was important that archaeologists should form a view ─ and preferably a unanimous one: the current situation was wholly unacceptable; the people of Winterbourne Stoke had waited decades for a solution to the traffic blighting their village; lives were being lost every year at the accident blackspot where the A303 and A344 diverge; millions of visitors to Stonehenge were being given a raw deal because of the squalid visitor facilities and the aural and visual intrusion of heavy traffic.

Sir Neil emphasised that a solution to all of this was at last within our grasp, and that our failure to seize the day would not necessarily lead to a better solution than any currently on offer. The likelihood is that the Government would impose a decision based on transport perspectives rather than archaeological priorities; even if the Government agreed to a rethink, any alternative proposals would undoubtedly generate further dissent and disagreement: in the meantime, archaeologists would be blamed for the failure to find a solution to the roads problem.

Sir Neil concluded that all solutions to the roads problem involved a compromise, but he passionately believed that the situation at Stonehenge was an atrocious compromise already, and that the published scheme (the short-bored tunnel) was the one that best balanced the advantages and the adverse effects. He called on archaeologists to have the generosity, vision and determination to sink their differences and support the published scheme and to do so with such enthusiasm that the Government could be persuaded not just to fund the scheme, but to present it as something that they were proud to pay for.

If Sir Neil argued from a position based on realpolitic, John Barrett reached a similar conclusion from a philosophical perspective. He argued that an encounter with Stonehenge was capable of changing lives, of exciting peoples’ curiosity, and of stimulating people into thinking and debating all sorts of ideas, but that this transforming experience was not available at present because Stonehenge was like a locked library: people are physically excluded and they were further disenfranchised by our failure to teach them to read. Stonehenge today fails to live up to its potential to shock people out of complacency and provide an encounter with ideas about life and death, earth and cosmos, present, past and future that leads people down the path of enquiry, understanding and love of the past that is core to conservation and to wisdom. The published proposal, he argued, was rational, buildable, fundable and would make available that experience that we currently deny to millions of visitors.

As the day wore on, the questions and comments from the floor made it abundantly clear that opinion in the meeting room was polarised between those who were prepared to back ‘the published plan’, and those who rejected all five options and wanted the Government to think again. As Christopher Young, FSA, reminded everyone, calling it the ‘published plan’ was misleading, because the whole reason for the current consultation was the Government’s reluctance to fund the short-bored tunnel after a substantial upwards revision of the estimated cost. ‘If we want the short-bored tunnel’, he said, ‘we will have to work hard to persuade the Government to fund it rather than any of the cheaper options’.

Not everyone in the room accepted these arguments. In particular some felt that there were better options that had been ruled out by the Government on grounds of cost (Chris Jones, of the Highways Agency, estimated that the short-bored tunnel would cost £500 million, the long-bored tunnel £1 billion, and the cut-and-cover tunnel £400 million). Sir Neil challenged those who believed that there might be a better route to say what that route would be and to prove that it would have less of an impact on people, archaeology and bio-diversity than the published plan. ‘I know what you are opposing’, he said; ‘I don’t know what you are proposing’.

The Societies’ President, Eric Fernie, concluded the day by asking people to go away and think about what they had heard, consult the other members of the organisations they represented and frame an appropriate response to the Government’s consultation. He stressed the necessity of being open to compromise and of assessing the risks of rejecting the five options currently on the table in the hope that a better solution might emerge.

As far as the Society of Antiquaries is concerned, it is now proposed that an outline draft of a response be circulated to Council for comment early next week. A draft statement will then be published in a special edition of Salon (and on the website) next week, inviting feedback and comment by Fellows so that a final response to the consultation can be submitted by the 24 April deadline. That statement could be accompanied by minority reports from any Fellows who feel unable to support the consensus view.

Parliamentary inquiries

Two parliamentary inquiries are in progress in England at the moment, and if you want to follow their progress in detail, you can do so through the UK Parliament website.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is in the middle of an inquiry that is looking at issues to do with ‘Protecting, preserving and making accessible our nation’s heritage’. The uncorrected transcripts of the first two oral sessions (held on 14 February and 14 March) have been published on the site, and a transcript of the third (held on 28 March) should be available over the coming days (the site allows you to sign up for email alerts when new reports are published).

Far too rich to summarise here, the transcripts range across a huge number of topics and are well worth reading, even if the common theme ─ that the present system isn’t working ─ is ultimately depressing. And nothing could be more sad than the example given by Phillip Venning, FSA, SPAB Director, about the failure of conservation area status to afford any kind of meaningful protection to the historic environment: ‘In a village in Norfolk there was a very nice village hall converted from an early nineteenth-century foundry and the windows had been made in that foundry ─ very nice early ironwork in good condition ─ and when I went back yesterday there were all horrible plastic ones; all done absolutely with permission and so on, but they had utterly transformed that building. That same story can be told absolutely anywhere you go.’

A more positive story is told in the written submissions made to the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee (one of whose members is our Fellow Lord Redesdale), which is looking into the application of scientific and engineering techniques to conservation, and at the ways science and technology can enhance public understanding of and access to cultural objects. The oral evidence, however, tells a similar story to that of the DCMS committee: inadequate funding, lack of a coherent national strategy, lack of joined-up thinking in Government.

At one stage Lord Sutherland of Houndwood suggests to a DCMS civil servant that his department gives the impression that it is ‘not walking the same path’ as the British Library. That is a comment that could be used to sum up the evidence at both inquiries: many different routes are mapped and described but sadly they fail to add up to a common path.

Draft Strategy for Sustainable Construction

That being the case, it is not surprising (though very regrettable) that there is no reference to the historic built environment in the consultation paper on Sustainable Construction recently published by the Department for Trade and Industry. IFA Member Richard Kelly (also a member of the ICOMOS UK Cultural Landscapes and Historic Gardens Committee), says that he will be expressing his disappointment at the lack of recognition of the contribution that the historic built environment can make to sustainability and urges fellow IFA members to do the same. The consultation paper is available at: and responses are invited by 26 April 2006.

Cuts to local government archaeology services

The Archaeology Forum (TAF), of which the Society of Antiquaries and the Institute of Field Archaeologists are members, has written to English Heritage to express concern about a succession of recent local government cuts to archaeological and heritage services. The letter says that: ‘Northamptonshire County Council, Leicester City Council and Surrey County Council have all made substantial reductions in the staffing and resources for their archaeological advisory services. The Isle of Wight and Northumberland National Park are also seriously considering the same action. The cuts so far have brought service levels in some authorities close to, or below, the bare minimum required to deal with planning advice related to development and have been at the expense of wider conservation, information, education and outreach services. They have the effect, crucially, of reducing the important work of local heritage services in engaging local people, keeping them properly informed and encouraging appreciation and care for the quality of their neighbourhood environment.’

The letter goes on to say that the cuts are particularly worrying at a time when new demands on local authorities are increasing: rather than building capacity to prepare for proposals in the new Heritage Protection regime, some authorities have begun to dismantle the public services for archaeology that they were providing.

The Forum’s letter asks English Heritage to ensure that clear guidance is issued on standards for local heritage services and asks for an update on action taken by English Heritage in the regions or centrally to seek to prevent proposed cuts.

The full contents of the letter will shortly be published on TAF’s website.

Five million take advantage of free entry at museums

It is becoming an annual ritual now for the Government to declare that its policy of free entry to national museums is a resounding egalitarian success: according to Government figures, national galleries and museums have attracted 5 million extra visitors since entrance charges were scrapped in 2001, with some museums recording that visitor numbers today are 67 per cent higher than in 2001.

Not everyone regards the policy as a success, however. Critics say that the increase can largely be accounted for by overseas tourists (who would expect to pay to enter museums in their own country), not the ‘socially excluded’ classes that the policy is aimed at (proof of this is the 11 per cent drop in visitor figures after last July’s London bombs because overseas visitors stayed away, and the fact that whereas London museum visitor figures are largely on an upward trend, they are largely falling at national museums outside London).

Euan W MacKie, FSA, Honorary Research Fellow at the Hunterian Museum, in Glasgow, also spoke for many in a letter published in The Times on 24 March 2006, in which he expressed his concern that using museums as a tool of social policy was detracting from their core purpose: ‘I support efforts to widen the range of people who visit museums’, he wrote, ‘but why ruin a good museum when, if the aim is a good and popular one, something like an Institute for Social Enlightenment could be built and — not being responsible for the material heritage — filled with informative displays about all manner of contemporary issues? The real danger to museums of these new ideologies of relevance and social inclusiveness is that they provide an intellectual justification for staff to abandon their traditional roles as researchers, custodians of priceless historical evidence and informed educators for the much less demanding ones of children’s entertainers and propagandists for specific topical causes.’

David Barrie, director of the National Art Collections Fund charity, drew attention to nuances in the figures that he said needed analysing further — such as the 6 per cent decline at the British Museum and the 14 per cent fall at the National Gallery since 2001, and the fact that overall visitor numbers had only risen by 2 per cent since 2001 at those museums that had always been free.

‘It's worth keeping a very close eye on what is going on and trying to interpret it,’ David Barrie said. ‘The competition for leisure time is becoming more intense and my suspicion is that were it not for free admission, we would be looking at a significant drop across the board. But we've always said that free admission by itself was not enough. What we really need is adequate consistent funding for all these institutions so they can not only keep their doors open but offer the public the service they're capable of.’

Museums: unable to cope with archaeological finds?

The debate sparked off by Euan MacKie’s letter produced further thoughts on the role of museums when Roy Friendship-Taylor, Chairman of Rescue — The British Archaeological Trust, wrote to The Times to deplore the lack of resources to enable museums to cater properly for the finds from archaeological excavations. ‘Britain has an international reputation for the quality of its archaeological work, he wrote, ‘with some 4,500 professional practitioners working largely for developers and paid by them for their work through the planning process. Universities, local societies and local people also contribute to investigations but many of our poorly resourced local museums cannot cope with the quantity of material generated. It is this material, which is the subject of specialist study and research and which generates the information for public display and outreach and in turn promotes inclusivity and access to knowledge and understanding. Some museums refuse to accept important new archaeological archives while some counties no longer have an effective museums service. It seems that some joined-up governmental thinking is urgently required to link the DCMS, ODPM, English Heritage and the museums sector.’

Battle for soul of London’s royal parks

Anyone who tried to walk across London’s Hyde Park last summer would have found their route blocked by metal barriers and large white tents. Litter marred the park, and the ground, already suffering from lack of rain, was the colour of baked mud with hardly a blade of grass in sight. This was the result of Live 8, the successful (and, it has to be admitted, highly enjoyable) free concert mounted to draw attention to the plight of the world’s poorest nations.

But after Live 8 the tents then stayed up for a series of commercial rock concerts, and now the royal parks have submitted a licensing application to Westminster council that would give them the right to stage events in Hyde Park, St James's Park, Kensington Park and Green Park on 365 days of the year. London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, and Lord Coe ─ chairman of the London 2012 Olympics campaign ─ support the move and argue that such events are part of the branding of a world city in a competitive age. A royal parks spokesman said events were ‘critical to the maintenance and conservation of the parks’ as they generated £5m in income (compared with the £24m received from Government).

Opponents, made up of residents, community groups and even the artists who sell their paintings on the pavements outside the parks, are asking the council to reject the application and Londoners are asking what the parks are for: are they historic green havens in the city centre for everyone to enjoy, or are they commercially exploitable open air stadiums, to which nobody can have access unless they can afford expensive concert tickets? Campaigners say they are fighting over the very soul of the parks that have been a spiritual and symbolic feature of London since 1637, when Charles I opened Hyde Park to the public.

Their views were summed up in a letter to The Times, published on 1 April 2006 and signed by members of the Friends groups for each of the Royal Parks, which said that the Royal Parks ‘are vital to everyone who lives, works in and visits our capital city. Their attraction rests in their wide open spaces, wildlife and the scope they offer for quiet, peaceful enjoyment. They are a national asset and their role deserves proper recognition and funding from central government, not commercial exploitation.’

The letter went on to say that the ‘Public Accounts Committee disapproves of large commercial events which “can result in damage to the Parks” but does not identify where we believe the blame really lies — with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport … and systematic under-funding by central government … The last published corporate plan for the Royal Parks Agency says that in real terms the grant in 2005─6 is worth 70 per cent of that in 1991─2, when the agency was formed. No wonder there is a £65 million backlog of maintenance work.’

Ms Jowell breaks her own law in a royal park

Salon readers with good memories will recall that early issues of Salon reported on the efforts of Lord Redesdale, FSA, to remove some of the worse aspects of the Licensing Act as it passed through parliament two years ago: in particular the draconian requirement for live music events to be licensed was seen as threat to amateur choirs, folk clubs and morris sides. At the time, DCMS countered the concerns of musicians by making friendly noises about the light-handed way the law would be operated, but since then, folk clubs have been forced to close and people who open their gardens for charity have been threatened with fines of £20,000 or six months in jail for allowing the local brass band to play while visitors wander round the herbaceous borders.

Now the Daily Telegraph has reported a breach of that same law by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Having joined with other Labour MPs to mark International Women’s Day by giving a public rendition of the campaign song, ‘The Truth is Marching On’, in Victoria Gardens, Westminster, earlier this month, the Secretary of State made herself liable to prosecution for performing live music without a licence. Audrey Lewis, cabinet member responsible for licensing at Westminster City Council, confirmed that technically Ms Jowell had broken her own law ─ but said that she and her fellow Labour MPs were unlikely to be prosecuted.

Whithorn’s early Christian crosses redisplayed

Peter Yeoman, FSA, MIFA, Senior Archaeologist at Historic Scotland, writes to inform Fellows and MIFAs that the Whithorn collection of early medieval sculpted stones has been given a makeover. The pride of the collection is the country's earliest surviving Christian memorial, the Latinus Stone, carved some time around AD 450 to mark the grave of a man called Latinus and his unnamed four-year-old daughter. That stone is one of sixty early grave markers and crosses in the new display, the majority of which were created in the decades around 1000 during the heyday of the Whithorn School, when local carvers established a distinctive style of ring-headed crosses with interlace decorated shafts.

Historic Scotland felt that the cultural significance of the collection was not matched by the quality of the old display, and indeed had become overshadowed by the new archaeological displays created next door by the Whithorn Trust ─ hence the decision to create something more fitting. This new display, partly funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, restores something of the sense of wonder medieval pilgrims would have felt for the crosses when visiting St Ninian’s shrine.

Special visits can be arranged to the newly displayed museum by contacting Peter Yeoman.

Outstanding manuscripts saved for the nation

Salon has belatedly caught up with the excellent news, announced in January, that the Hengrave Hall collection of manuscripts has been saved thanks to a long-running campaign led by the Cambridge University Library and a grant of nearly £285,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the operation of the 'Acceptance in Lieu' scheme whereby outstanding works can be given in lieu of inheritance tax.

The manuscripts comprise papers accumulated or collected by various families whose main home was the celebrated Tudor mansion of Hengrave Hall in Suffolk, built in the 1520s. They include correspondence from King Henry VIII, Queen Mary, Sir Philip Sidney, Fulke Greville, Thomas Washington (ancestor of George Washington) and many other prominent figures of the sixteenth century.

Of particular value are the household accounts, and the building contracts for the Hall itself, which provide an insight into the construction of the building in the early sixteenth century. There are records of frequent pre-Shakepearean theatrical and musical performances in the house. The purchase also includes sketches and watercolours by Sir Thomas Gage of Suffolk churches prior to Victorian restoration, the papers of madrigalist John Wilbye, watercolours by John Linneell, friend of William Blake, and an extensive collection of the papers of the antiquary, Peter Le Neve (1661─1729), including many medieval and Tudor documents of great importance to the history of Suffolk.

Heritage extremists threaten revenge

While one always has to be wary of newspaper stories published on 1 April, the Guardian story of that day claiming that house-builders and demolition contractors have received threats from a group calling itself the Historic Buildings Liberation Front has the ring of truth to it.

A Google search reveals that a group calling itself HALF (Historic Architecture Liberation Front) was founded in the US in 2000, calling on like-minded people to ‘go out and fight for historic buildings’ and to be ‘a developers' worst nightmare’, but this stresses the use of humour, persuasion and non-violent demonstrations, whereas the group described in the Guardian report has caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to vehicles, plant and property.

Though news of the attacks has only just come to light, the Guardian quotes Sergeant Howard Travis of Bedfordshire police saying that very serious damage has been caused by the HBLF over a ten-year period, especially in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. New buildings have been damaged with paint and angle-grinders, demolition contractors' vehicles have been covered in white paint and tyres have been slashed and punctured.

A ‘call to arms’ from the group sent to SAVE Britain's Heritage describes these attacks as acts of ‘retaliation’ for the ‘nationwide devastation’ of ‘beautiful buildings, full of history’ that have been ‘ripped apart and replaced with featureless junk’ by ‘developers’ greed and planners’ indifference’.

SAVE’s Director, Adam Wilkinson, said: ‘There is no way we could condone violent action, but this reflects widespread concern and anger at the continuing loss of great historic buildings and the continuing erosion of the wider historic environment’.

A tale of two statues

Two statues were in the news last week for entirely different reasons. At Herculaneum, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, archaeologists from the British School at Rome and the Superintendency of Pompeii recovered the head of an Amazon warrior remarkable for the preservation of its original paint pigments.

Project manager Jane Thompson told The Times: ‘To find this much pigment is very, very special ─ only faint traces of pigment had been found before now. It has been assumed that classical statues were painted brightly but the colouring on the head is a delicate shade of orange-red, which, although faded, indicates that classical colouring was subtle and sophisticated’.

The collapsed escarpment where the Amazon head was found was close to the great Basilica, which has been partially excavated. The Basilica was linked to the cult of Hercules, who, as part of his labours, had to fight Hippolyte, the Amazon Queen.

The second statue in the news is a 2,200 year-old alabaster work known as the Amarna Princess which Bolton Council bought recently with a grant of £360,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund as well as £75,000 from the National Art Collections Fund and £2,500 from the Friends of Bolton Museum and Art Gallery. The draped torso is 52cm high and is said to depict the daughter of King Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti.

Its ancient Egyptian provenance is now under doubt after police from Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques squad raided a house in Bromley Cross, Bolton, and arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of forgery. The police were alerted after the British Museum were asked to inspect an ancient Syrian relief for a private client and observed that it had come from a similar source to the Amarna Princess: the anonymous vendor claimed that his great-grandfather had bought both at the auction of the property of the earl of Egremont in 1892. The catalogue for that sale lists a draped figure of a female, five marble statuettes and eight Egyptian figures amongst the lots, but police say that the house they raided in Bolton resembled a marble workshop. The arrested man and his father are bailed to appear at a Lancashire police station on 10 and 11 May 2006.

Palace of Homer's hero Ajax

The Times reported on 28 March that Yannos Lolos, the Greek archaeologist, had discovered a Mycenaean-era palace at a site near the village of Kanakia on the island of Salamis, a few miles off the coast of Athens. Mr Lolos believes that the palace, which measures about 750 sq m (8,000 sq ft)could have been four storeys high with thirty rooms and was the base for members of the Aiacid dynasty, a legendary line of kings mentioned in the Iliad and in Greek tragedies. The palace was abandoned and left to crumble in about 1180 BC — at about the same time, according to Mr Lolos, as the Trojan War. Mr Lolos has suggested that this might have been the home of Ajax (or Aias). ‘This is one of the few cases in which a Mycenaean-era palace can be almost certainly attributed to a Homeric hero,’ Mr Lolos said.

Ancient Afghan relics smuggled into UK

An article published in the Independent on 21 March 2006 reported on the work of Robert Knox, FSA, Head of the Asian Department at the British Museum, in tracking down antiquities smuggled from northern Afghanistan and traded in up-market antiques shops in London’s Bond Street and St James’s district. The article recounted the discovery of 4,000-year-old bronzes for sale at £40 at Mazar Antiques, in Grays Antiques Market, just off Bond Street. The report quotes Scotland Yard's arts and antiques squad as saying that London is the number one destination for looted Afghan antiquities; three to four tons of Afghan antiquities have been impounded by customs officers at ports and airports but much more finds its way on to the open market and, because provenance is difficult to prove, prosecutions are rare.

Robert Knox said that Afghanistan was home to several prehistoric civilisations, as well as a substantial Islamic culture, and that this material was being removed from largely undocumented ancient sites without any chance for examination in situ. The museum’s role is to record objects seized by the police and customs, then to return all seized goods to Afghanistan. Akbar Zeweri, from the Afghan embassy, blamed the smuggling on opportunists exploiting the Afghan poor by paying peasant farmers small sums to dig for antiquities.

British Archaeological Awards: nominate your favourite books

The last issue of Salon drew attention to the Channel 4 Awards for 2006, but theses are, of course, just one of fourteen awards that form part of the galaxy of awards under the British Archaeological Awards banner and designed to recognise the very best in UK archaeology. The awards depend on your nominations, which have to be submitted by 31 May 2006 for judging over the summer and the announcement of the results in November.

The Society’s General Secretary, David Gaimster, is Chairman of the book awards panel which will make two awards this year: the Archaeological Book Award, sponsored by the Ancient & Medieval History Book Club, worth £500 to the author judged to have written the most outstanding book that brings British archaeology to the widest audience; and the Scholarly Publication Award, sponsored by a consortium of national archaeological societies, worth another £500 for a work that demonstrates excellence in archaeological publication (conventional or electronic, to include site or subject monographs, conference proceedings and collection or exhibition catalogues).

Fellows are very strongly encouraged to make nominations (nomination forms are on the British Archaeological Awards website) ─ and for possible contenders, one has to look no further than the splendid books featured every fortnight in the ‘Books by Fellows’ section of Salon.

Study tour of medieval Ireland

Niamh Whitfield, FSA, has announced that her ever-popular annual study tour of Ireland will take place this year between 24 July and 1 August 2006 on the theme of Medieval Ireland. Based on Dublin and the Midlands, there will be an opportunity to see archaeological treasures in Dublin, including the new exhibition of bog bodies in the National Museum of Ireland, and to visit the medieval town of Kilkenny as well as two of the highest ranking monasteries of early medieval Ireland, Glendalough and Clonmacnoise. Also to be visited are smaller ecclesiastical sites, a number of high crosses (including the Moone cross), medieval churches of various dates (including Clonfert Cathedral), the Cistercian abbey of Jerpoint and (though not strictly medieval) the Jacobean house at Portumna, the eighteenth-century mansion at Emo Court and beautiful gardens at Altamont and Birr. The cost on the basis of two people sharing (which includes dinner on all but two nights) is £811, with a single room supplement of £90. For more information, contact Niamh Whitfield.


Understanding monuments in their landscape: a conference in memory of Graham Ritchie
Royal Museum of Scotland, 29 April 2006

Friends and former colleagues of the late Graham Ritchie, FSA, have organised a day-long conference with some intriguing papers: Richard Bradley, FSA, MIFA, promises some new thoughts on Scottish stone circles, whilst Clive Ruggles, FSA, is booked to talk about archaeoastronomy. No less than three speakers will address aspects of Orcadian archaeology (Trevor Cowie, Colin Richards and Patrick Ashmore, FSA) but Caroline Wickham-Jones, FSA, MIFA, Orckney’s archaeological queen, has decided to address a different topic, and one that is both topical and perennial: ‘Publishing large-scale archaeological projects: does size matter?’ Further details from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, tel: 0131 247 4115.

Forthcoming meetings of the Society of Antiquaries

6 April: Ballot with exhibits.

In what promises to be a steamy (or fiery) encounter, Liz Lewis, FSA, and Arthur MacGregor, FSA, will present observations on a closely related pair of anthropomorphic aeolopiles (or fire-blowers). One of these was recorded at Hilton Hall, Staffordshire, by Robert Plot in 1686, and has recently been placed on loan to the Ashmolean. The other was found at Basingstoke and entered the Society's own collection at an early date, where it remains but is seldom seen. The two items will be introduced to each other and suggestions will be put forward as to their relationship.

Geoff Egan, FSA, will also exhibit and discuss ‘Medieval lead hands ─ flexible master forms for casting religious figurines’.

27 April: Anniversary Meeting.

Memorial service: Anthony Werner, FSA

A memorial service for the late Anthony Werner, FSA, will take place at 12 noon on 6 May 2006 at the Church of Our Lady and St John, Sudbury, Suffolk. Those who would like to attend should contact Mrs Marie-Louise Waghorn (elder daughter) on 01787 210 231.

Obituary: Paul Morgan, FSA

The following extracts are taken from the obituary for the late Paul Morgan, FSA (died 10 March 2006 at the age of 90), written by Nicolas Barker and published in the Independent on 24 March 2006.

‘Paul Morgan, librarian and local historian, was as English as Shakespeare. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, he devoted his life to and spent most of it in the land where Shakespeare grew up and returned to live. As an undergraduate at Birmingham University he contributed to the Victoria County History of Warwickshire and regretted afterwards that he had not read History, rather than a general degree, which he had been told would better qualify him for a career in libraries. In 1937 he was taken on by Birmingham University Library as a library apprentice and when he graduated next year he got a job as assistant in the Shakespeare Memorial Library at Stratford.

‘On 3 September 1939 he volunteered for immediate service in the Warwickshire Yeomanry, still then a cavalry regiment. He adored riding, and it was with horses that he set off for the war. A storm in the Bay of Biscay prevented him from reaching active service until after 31 December, thus depriving him of the 1939 Star, but he had every other campaign medal. Converted first to lorries and then tanks, he was busily engaged, first in Palestine and Iraq, then fighting at El Alamein in 1942 and following the Eighth and First Armies from North Africa to Italy. After five years' continuous engagement, he finally got home leave and was demobbed in December 1945. He loved the Yeomanry and kept in constant touch with old comrades for the rest of his life.

‘Morgan went back to the Shakespeare Memorial Library, but Birmingham had not forgotten him, and next year he was back, first at the science library at Edgbaston, then in Edmund Street in charge of history and archaeology. He also found time to finish his MA in 1952, and, outside the library, he began a long series of articles on matters of local antiquarian interest. He was Honorary Secretary of the Birmingham Archaeological Society from 1949 to 1961, editing its Archaeological Journal. He was an energetic member of the Dugdale Society and became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

‘In 1958 he published English Provincial Printing, a pioneering study. He compiled the first handlist of the great collection of Joseph Chamberlain's papers when they came to the university. He also worked on the libraries of Thomas Wigan of Bewdley, and St Mary's Church, Warwick, where he discovered a hitherto unknown book printed by Caxton, which was acquired by the British Museum.

‘All this time he had been living in Stratford, taking the train to Birmingham every day. When the university library moved to its new Main Building at Edgbaston in 1960, the extra length of the journey seemed increasingly a waste of time. He was quite glad to leave at the end of the year to become an assistant librarian at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. There he was in his element, one of a singularly talented and congenial group who shared his antiquarian interests. Together they made the Bodleian a magnet for others with the same passion for books and antiquity in general.

‘Settled in Oxford, he became a member of the Council of the Oxford Bibliographical Society, editor of its publications (1968─80), and later its President. He took his Oxford MA in 1968, and became a Fellow of St Cross College in 1978. He compiled an invaluable guidebook in Oxford Libraries Outside the Bodleian (1973). He was also Librarian of the Printer's Library at the Oxford University Press, 1970─80, and served on the Council of the Bibliographical Society. He retired from the Bodleian in 1983.

‘He did not lose touch with his Warwickshire roots. He was General Editor of the Dugdale Society, 1977─84, and, halfway between Oxford and Stratford, President of the Shipston-on-Stour and District Local History Society, 1979─86. With his cousin Penelope, Librarian of Hereford Cathedral, he joined the successful campaign to frustrate the Chapter's nefarious attempt to sell the famous Mappa Mundi in 1985. In 1954 he was made a governor of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (later the Royal Shakespeare Company); in 1996 he became life trustee of the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust. His last publication, Printing and Publishing in Warwickshire: miscellaneous notes, came out in 2004.

‘Paul Morgan's burly figure and brusque manner of speech quite failed to conceal a very warm heart. If he took all his duties, official and self-imposed, seriously and dealt with them punctually and efficiently, he enjoyed all the gossip that they generated as well. He took an almost limitless delight in helping friends and even casual visitors with information, sometimes asked for but often unsolicited. The Autobibliography that he published in 1999 is the record of over seventy years spent in preserving the small but no less important details of Shakespeare's country over five centuries.’

Obituary: Robert Carson

Salon’s editor is grateful to Roger Bland, FSA, for permission to publish extracts from his obituary (written for publication in the Independent) for Robert Carson (who resigned from the Fellowship after he retired in 1982), who died on 24 March 2006 at the age of 87.

‘Robert Carson was the leading British expert of his generation on Roman coins. After war service in the Royal Artillery, Robert joined the staff of the British Museum in 1947 as Assistant Keeper of Roman coins in the Department of Coins and Medals, arriving a few months after his life-long colleague Kenneth Jenkins, an expert in Greek coins who preceded him as Keeper of the Coin Department. Their arrival coincided with the start of the slow recovery of the Museum from the effects of the Second World War. Robert was joined in 1951 by Michael Dolley, an expert on British coins, and two years later by John Kent, another expert on Roman coins but whose responsibilities included the collection of medals. Together they formed a very disparate but vibrant group of colleagues, all very different in character and temperament, who collectively rebuilt the pre-war traditions of numismatic scholarship in which the Department had been pre-eminent, above all through the publication of monumental catalogues of the collection which are still standard reference works today.

‘It was in his prolific contributions on Roman numismatics that Robert has left his most lasting legacy. Some of his most important work was done in collaboration with his brilliant but mercurial colleague John Kent and the slim volume they published, together with a third colleague, Philip Hill, in 1960, Late Roman Bronze Coinage, provided a ground-breaking and elegantly compact classification of the bronze coins of AD 324─491, a period neglected by previous scholars because of the sheer volume and complexity of the coinage. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this work, still the Bible of Roman numismatists after more than forty years, has revolutionised our understanding of the extremely common coins of this period.

‘Two years later Robert continued the series of catalogues of Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, initiated by his predecessor Harold Mattingly, with volume VI, covering the period from Severus Alexander to Pupienus (AD 222─38). This was the first attempt to classify the coinage of these reigns and it remains the definitive reference.

‘One of the most potentially exciting ─ but also time-consuming ─ responsibilities of curators of Roman coins at the British Museum is to study hoards of coins reported under the common law of Treasure Trove. Robert’s career spanned the period when metal detectors started to become widely available and these led to a huge increase in the numbers of hoards being discovered. Robert quickly became frustrated by the irrationality of the old common law under which only hoards of gold and silver coins received legal protection and, making use of new evidence from the metallurgical analysis of Roman coins, successfully argued that hoards of late Roman coins that contained a silver content as low as one or two per cent should be regarded as Treasure Trove. In this way many important hoards which might otherwise have been dispersed were recorded and acquired by museums. But the practice had to stop in 1982 when, as a result of a legal challenge, the Master of the Rolls (Lord Denning, no less) decided that only objects with at least 50 per cent of gold or silver could be Treasure Trove (it took another fourteen years before a new law, the Treasure Act, finally brought in an objective definition of Treasure).

‘Robert was actively involved in the affairs of the Royal Numismatic Society, editing its journal for ten years and serving as President from 1975─9. With Hugh Pagan, he also wrote its history. Robert was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1980 and received an honorary doctorate from his old university, Glasgow in 1983. He had an international reputation ─ he was President of the International Numismatic Commission from 1979 to 1986 ─ and many numismatic societies around the world awarded him their medals, starting with the Royal Numismatic Society in 1972.’

News of Fellows and MIFAs

Nick Merriman, a member of the Society’s Library and Collections Committee, not to mention current President of the Council for British Archaeology, has recently moved to Manchester to take up the post of Director of the Manchester Museum.

Barry Cunliffe, FSA, soon to retire as Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford, a post he has held since 1972, has recently been appointed as an English Heritage Commissioner, as has Jane Kennedy, of the architectural practice Purcell Miller Tritton, Surveyor to the Fabric of Ely Cathedral and current Chairman of the Cathedral Architects Association. The two new commissioners will serve for four years. This is Professor Cunliffe’s second term as Commissioner: he previously served between 1986 and 1992.

Australia’s controversial Productivity Commission review of designation principles continues to be a source of concern, not least to Patrick Greene, FSA, Chief Executive Officer at Museum Victoria (Australia’s largest museum organisation, comprising the Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks, the Immigration Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building World Heritage Site). Giving evidence at one of the hearings in Melbourne, Patrick argued that the Productivity Commission’s proposals failed to realise the potential of historic buildings to provide a sense of place and identity for Australians and visitors from overseas, underestimated the economic impact of museums and heritage places, and failed to capitalise upon the selection of the Royal Exhibition Building as a World Heritage Site for enhanced public access and interpretation and for raising international awareness of Australia’s history and heritage.


Responding to the news that a team of archaeologists from Sheffield have found a Neolithic settlement on North Uist, Caroline Wickham-Jones, FSA, MIFA, writes to point out (inter alia) that Rhum is now spelt Rùm and that one good reason for the lack of early sites in the Western Isles may well be sea-level change. ‘It is interesting to note’, Caroline says, ‘that the two parts of Scotland where the early archaeological record is weakest (on land) are precisely those areas likely to have submerged landscapes that date back to the Neolithic and earlier. There is a lot of interesting work on submerged prehistory going on elsewhere in the UK, and this is going to have implications for funding and management ─ I am sure it is going to be a big thing in the near future. So far Scotland is the only part of the UK not doing research on submerged prehistory, though it has been flagged up in a series of DTI technical reports ( Together with Sue Dawson, I am just completing the report for SEA7 (which is the area relevant to the Western Isles), and in May we shall be starting research to draw up a sea-level curve for Orkney (sponsored by Historic Scotland, Crown Estates (Marine Stewardship Fund) and Orkney Islands Council) as a precursor to looking for the submerged landscape and possible sites in the archipelago.’

They say of the 1960s (for which read early 1970s in the UK) that you couldn’t have been there if you can remember it. Salon’s editor is the proof that this could be true: having confidently asserted in the last issue of Salon that the picture in the IFA 2006 yearbook of Alan McWhirr, FSA, MIFA, standing on the hare mosaic in Cirencester was taken in 1974, he has been corrected by several Fellows and MIFAs who were also there at the time (including Bob Zeepvat, MIFA). For the record, the wonderfully naturalistic hare mosaic was found in 1971, but wasn’t fully revealed until 1972 (when our Director, Martin Millett, then a mere sixteen-year-old but already an experienced archaeologist of several summers’ vintage, was entrusted with the task of cleaning it up.

To compound the error, Salon gave the wrong information about where to obtain copies of the yearbook: the information given in Salon 136 was for back issues of the annual IFA Directory: for this year’s version, you need to contact the IFAIFA directly. Members get one complimentary copy, and then further copies cost £15; for non-members the yearbook costs £30.

Finally, apologies to all those readers who were confused by Salon’s story about the astonishing discovery of a second millennium BC boatyard at the Red Sea port of Marsa Gawasis. Salon introduced quotes from Cheryl Ward of Florida State University without explaining that she was the chief maritime archaeologist on the project (see the EurekAlert website and without mentioning that the project was led by two archaeology professors from Boston University, Kathryn Bard and Rodolfo Fattovich (the latter also of the University of Naples l'Orientale). Further information about the excavation will appear in a future issue of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Books by Fellows and MIFAs

The fruits of what must surely be a true labour of love have been published by the Logaston Press under the title The Pubs of Hay-on-Wye and the Golden Valley. Written by John Eisel, FSA, and Frank Bennett, this completes the series on Herefordshire that Salon readers will remember started some years ago with The Pubs of Hereford City Ron Shoesmith, FSA, MIFA. Ron stresses that these books are not a drinker's guide to pubs, though the introductory chapters do cover local beers and ciders, licensing laws, the differences between inns, taverns and pubs and other information of a general and local nature. Their main subject is social history: they show how inns and taverns were, and still are, essential features of our towns, villages and countryside. Meticulous research, for example, has uncovered details of many small beer and cider houses that only lasted for a few years ─ often on drovers routes across the Black Mountains.

The latest book contains the usual mix of details of pubs old and new, of owners and landlords, of events and occurrences ─ such as hounds being laid a scent through one inn, of badgers making a home in another (even taking to the landlord's bed) and of one landlord who turned teetotal and is reckoned to have poured his entire stock down the drain.

Although the series on Herefordshire is now complete, other writers have extended the series beyond the county boundary, with Pubs of Ludlow, Pubs of the Forest of Dean and two volumes covering parts of Pembrokeshire.

A History of the Stained Glass of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle is the title of the long-awaited volume 18 in the series of historical monographs relating to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Edited by Sarah Brown, FSA, this book covers the stained glass of the chapel from the early sixteenth century to the Piper window commissioned in 1967 in memory of King George VI. As well as Sarah Brown herself, the volume’s authors include Fellows Michael Archer, the late Peter Begent, Hubert Chesshyre, the late William Cole, Martin Harrison and the late Hilary Wayment. Priced at £30, it is available from Oxbow Books.

Library donations: February and March 2006

From Vincent Megaw, FSA, MIFA, Treasures Under the City: a survey of the archaeological heritage of Budapest 1989─2004 (2005) and Ur-und fruhgeschichte Thuringens, edited by Sigrid Dusek (1999)
From Alan Williams, FSA, The Book of Memory, by Mary Carruthers (1992) and The Civilisation of Iron from Prehistory to the Third Millennium, edited by Walter Nicodemi (2004)
From the author, Heather Sebire, FSA, The Archaeology and Early History of the Channel Islands (2005)
From the author, Rosemary Cramp, FSA, Wearmouth and Jarrow Volume 1 (2005)
From the bequest of the late Lady Aileen Fox, Barrow Digging, by A Barrow-Knight (1845) and Copies of reports … on the Faussett Collection of Anglo-Saxon Antiquities (1854).
From Brendan O'Connor, FSA, La Normandie a l'aube de l'histoire (2005)
From Colin Haselgrove, FSA, Keramik vom Niederrhein (1988), German Stoneware (1996) and other works formerly belonging to Dennis Haselgrove
From the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, The History of the Worshipful Company of Painters, otherwise Painter-Stainers, by Alan Borg, FSA (2005)
From Laurence Keen, FSA, The History of the Painter-Stainers Company of London Volume II, by A P Arnold and A G Ingram (1998)
From the author, Maureen Meikle, FSA, A British Frontier (2004) and Women in Scotland c 1100 to c 1750, edited by Elizabeth Ewan and Maureen Meikle (1999)
From Christopher Currie, FSA, MIFA, The History of the Diocese of Clogher, edited by Henry Jefferies (2005)
From Martin Millett, Director, Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power: the Batavians in the early Roman period by Nico Roymans (2004)
From Brenda Buchanan, FSA, Gunpowder Plots (2005)
From the University of Leicester, The Archaeology of the East Midlands, edited by Nicholas J Cooper, FSA (2006).


SAVE Britain’s Heritage, Buildings at Risk Officer
Salary £17,500; closing date 7 April 2006

An opportunity has arisen to manage the Buildings at Risk project at SAVE Britain’s Heritage, a small independent organisation campaigning for the built heritage. We are looking for an outgoing, flexible individual with a relevant qualification and a passion for historic buildings. For more information and a job description please contact Adam Wilkinson, tel: 0207 253 3500.

Council for British Archaeology, Head of Information and Communications
Salary £26,000 to £31,000; closing date 13 April 2006

This is a new permanent post being created within the senior management team of the Council for British Archaeology, funded by the British Academy and based in York. The main purpose of the job is to develop the CBA’s information and communication strategy to encourage public participation in the conservation and study of the historic environment, to develop resources for archaeological research and knowledge and to enhance the communication facilities of the CBA network, including members, volunteers and National and Regional Groups. The post holder will also oversee the CBA’s publications programme, including British Archaeology, the British & Irish Archaeological Bibliography, the consortium of electronic journal publishers and the CBA’s website, and will assist with the CBA’s input to relevant Government and other consultations, and other advocacy work.

Further details from the Director, tel: 01904 671417.

English Heritage, Assistant Investigator (Architectural Investigation Team)
Salary £17,800 to £20,100, closing date 13 April 2006

This temporary post (initially for one year with the possibility of a further one-year extension) based in Cambridge or Swindon involves working as part of a small team of investigators undertaking architectural and historical research and analysis on a wide variety of historic buildings and areas and producing drawings and reports in support of these projects and casework programmes. For further information and an application pack, please telephone 01223 582700 or email

Historic Environment Planning Advice Officer, Cornwall
Salary £20,751 to £26,928, closing date 19 April 2006

Operating in one of the most culturally distinctive and attractive areas of the country, Cornwall’s Historic Environment brings a holistic approach to the management of the historic and natural environments of Cornwall and Scilly. The post holder will give development control advice and have input to policy development and strategic plans on matters concerning the conservation and enhancement of Cornwall’s historic environment.

An application form and further details can be obtained from the Cornwall County Council website (please quote the reference number 1572). If you would like an informal discussion about the posts please contact Veryan Heal, FSA, Historic Environment Advice Manager, tel: 01872 323623.

Society of Antiquaries of London, Museum Collections Officer
Salary £22,000 to 24,000 plus £2,330 London weighting; closing date 1 May 2006

The Society is seeking a Collections Officer for an initial term of two years, starting on 1 July 2006 to be responsible for all aspects of curatorial care, documentation and interpretation of the Society’s museum collections, together with the development and implementation of a longer term strategy. The post holder will be expected to assist with the Society’s tercentenary exhibition plans for 2007 and beyond. Further details can be obtained from Nina De Groote.

Historic Buildings and Areas Adviser, West Yorkshire (based in York)
Salary £28,200 per annum, pro rata (24 hours per week), closing date 2 May 2006

As an experienced conservation professional, you will take a lead role in securing the preservation and enhancement of the historic environment in the West Yorkshire region, providing expert advice on changes to conservation areas and listed buildings, responding to planning consultations and managing grants. For an application pack, please email, quoting ref C/008/06.