Salon Archive

Issue: IFA-138

Stonehenge consultation: the Society’s response

The Council of the Society of Antiquaries has finalised its response to the A303 Stonehenge Improvement Scheme Review and has submitted a statement to the Highways Agency giving its reasons for supporting the published plan (the short-bored tunnel). The final version can be read on the Society’s website and is amended slightly from the draft that was circulated last week to take account of comments received from Fellows. Fifty-three Fellows responded to the draft, and forty-two endorsed the draft statement. Of the eleven who were unhappy with the statement, five represented bodies such as the Council for British Archaeology and ICOMOS-UK who are long-standing opponents of all five options, and who made their opposition clear at the public inquiry held in 2004. These bodies have issued a separate statement (see below), and the Society’s Council has added a paragraph to its submission acknowledging that there are Fellows who dissent from Council’s view.

David Gaimster, the Society’s General Secretary, said he was very pleased with the response from Fellows and that it was important that the Society should be seen to have an independent view on matters that are of core concern to the Fellowship. He anticipated that the Society would participate more often in public policy consultations in the future, including the forthcoming Heritage Protection White Paper (due to be published in July 2007), which would establish the legal framework for designation and management of the historic environment for decades to come. He also argued that the Society’s approach, which included open public debate about the issues and the consultation of Fellows on the draft response, was all the more authoritative because it was transparent and consensual. ‘Using our collective knowledge to influence public policy’, he said, ‘is an important and appropriate role for a learned society in the twenty-first century.’

National Trust, ICOMOS-UK and CBA reject Stonehenge proposals

Whereas the Society’s response to the Stonehenge consultation could be characterised as the pragmatic position, the National Trust, ICOMOS-UK and the Council for British Archaeology are among a group of ten organisations who have adopted what might be described as a more idealistic approach; the ten bodies, who include Friends of the Earth, CPRE, RESCUE and Transport 2000, have issued a press release saying that they reject all five of the road-scheme options contained in the Highways Agency consultation and want the Government to come up with better proposals.

The National Trust, which owns much of the land within the designated World Heritage Site, is a long-standing opponent of the Highways Agency’s proposals and made clear its opposition when the consultation was launched in January 2006, saying that: ‘We do not believe that the shortlist of options for further detailed consideration represent the full range of alternatives.’

Issued on 30 March 2006, the press release (see the ICOMOS-UK website) describes the options in the Highways Agency Scheme Review as ‘lacking a long-term vision that respects the international significance of Stonehenge as a World Heritage site’. The press release goes on to say that the co-signatories would consider challenging the Government by means of a judicial review if the published plan were to be adopted.

Instead, they propose ‘small-scale, interim improvements’ for the short term ─ ‘notably closure of the A344/A303 junction’ ─ to be followed by the exploration of different options, including ‘above ground, or mainly above ground, routes, within northern and southern corridors, together with tunnel options that avoid impacting on the World Heritage Site’.

The Highways Agency and its consultants Halcrow commented by saying that the search for alternative solutions had already been exhaustive, while Sir Neil Cossons, FSA, Chairman of English Heritage, said that anyone who was unhappy with the published scheme needed to be very specific about what precise route they would propose as an alternative.

UK National Commission for UNESCO also supports short-bored tunnel

The Culture Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) has adopted the same view as the Society of Antiquaries in lining up in support of the short-bored tunnel. The UKNC’s lengthy and detailed response to the consultation concludes that ‘in an ideal world longer bored-tunnel solutions might bring maximum benefits, they would also add significantly to engineering and hydrological difficulties. Therefore the UKNC considers that the Published Scheme is the best balanced option for achieving a sustainable solution to meet the objectives of the Management Plan, the principles of the [World Heritage] Convention and deriving substantial public benefit.’

The UKNC says that, before arriving at its decision, ‘a site visit was made by a number of Committee members on 5 April 2006 to inspect the route options and meet with the National Trust, the owner of much of the central part of the World Heritage Site. Members of the Committee have attended local public meetings, attended (chairing one introductory session) a seminar hosted by the Society of Antiquaries in which over ninety experts from the heritage sector participated; sought opinions from individuals including representatives of bodies opposing the published scheme and local landowners, consulted relevant documentation (including the Inspector’s Report from the Public Inquiry, the WHS Management Plan, UNESCO records, web sites, etc) … this response has therefore been informed from a wide variety of sources and opinions, as well as the expert advice from our own Committee.’

Under the UNESCO Charter, the UKNC is tasked with advising the UK government on all matters to do with UNESCO programmes and issues. Like the Society of Antiquaries, the UKNC is a body of independent experts, appointed ad hominem because of their expertise in fields of education, science and culture. In the case of the Culture Committee, its twenty members were nominated by organisations representing the arts, museums and cultural heritage. A number of Fellows are either members of the Committee or advisers to it. Further information can be found on the UKNC website.

Defining ‘National Parks’

Salon’s editor has been alerted by Robert Rainsford Milner-Gulland, FSA, to a little-publicised dispute over the precise legal definition of national parks in England; at issue is the question of what is natural and what is wild (yes, only a lawyer could devise a question like that!).

The need to scrutinise the decision come about as a result of a legal challenge in the New Forest, where the judge ruled that Hinton Admiral Park should be excluded from the new national park boundary on the grounds that ‘well-maintained historic parkland [such as the Hinton Estate] providing the setting for a Grade-I listed building, and well-ordered dairy fields of dairy farms would seem to be the antithesis of naturalness’.

Existing national parks are not affected by what is being called ‘the Meyrick judgement’ (named after Meyrick Estate Management Ltd, owners of Hinton Admiral Park), but those who are opposed to the designation of the South Downs as a national park have seized upon it, arguing that the Downs are not sufficiently ‘natural’ and that the area is more properly designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Government failed last month in a hasty attempt to overturn the Meyrick judgement by means of an amendment to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill, which was debated in the Lords and the Commons in late March. A proposed Lords amendment that embraced designed and managed landscapes within the definition of national parks was rejected by the Commons on the basis that the amendment did not simply return to the status quo ante, but actually created a new and wider definition of national parks.

Even so, in moving the defeated motion, the Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight made clear the Government’s view that ‘cultural heritage has been at the core of our concept of national parks in England since the 1940s. It was recognised by the founding fathers of the national parks movement that England and Wales have nothing that approaches the wilderness areas that were being designated in the United States at the time. In England and Wales, it was always recognised that the most exceptional landscapes demonstrate a harmony between man and nature. That encompasses cultural heritage, which … includes the built heritage produced by working the land.’

The Government seems determined to have its way on this issue, and has been given leave to appeal against the Meyrick judgement in the High Court: the appeal is expected to be heard in early autumn ─ meanwhile the South Downs designation process has been suspended, pending the outcome.

More funding for National Parks

Meanwhile Jim Knight has announced a welcome £3.1 million of additional funding for the English National Park Authorities over the next two years. Ruth Chambers, Head of Policy at the Council for National Parks, responded warmly to the news, saying that: ‘Jim Knight should be congratulated on his efforts in securing this additional funding for the English National Park Authorities. The Parks had been facing the dismal prospect of two years of standstill budgets which was threatening important services such as providing information to visitors.’

The funding increase is particularly welcome in the light of the well-publicised problems suffered by the Lake District National Park in January, when two-thirds of the park's visitor centres were closed down, twenty-nine staff made redundant and archaeological and environmental projects abandoned after the audit commission deemed its finances to be ‘in a precarious position’. At the time, park authorities in England were told to prepare for spending freezes over the next two years ─ even though all eight authorities have average deficits of £250,000 a year. According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the extra money is being made available ‘to fund projects involving the community in the Parks, aimed at developing and testing new ways of achieving more sustainable living related to the National Parks’.

Revolutionising youth volunteering

The Russell Commission (established by the Government in 2004 to develop a new national framework for youth action and engagement) has announced that it is making £10 million available over the next five years to enable organisations to develop strategies for youth volunteering. The aim is to attract 1 million new volunteers. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has said that it hopes the heritage sector will come up with ideas for using this funding stream. Further details are available on the Russell Commission website.

English Heritage to be subjected to a ‘peer review’

A peer review of English Heritage ─ the process that has replaced the former quinquennial reviews of government agencies ─ has been jointly commissioned by English Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The review will take place during late June and early July 2006 and will be carried out by a team of six ‘peers’, chaired by Dame Mavis MacDonald, former Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The other five ‘peers’ have yet to be named.

During the course of the review, the team will meet representatives of the heritage sector, developers and national and local government. It will consult widely in advance, and a range of organisations with whom English Heritage works will be asked to submit written views.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘The findings will provide a valuable view on the progress English Heritage has made over the last few years.’

English Heritage and the Arts and Humanities Research Council sign concordat

A research concordat signed on 30 March 2006 by English Heritage and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) commits both parties to a jointly funded and collaborative programme of research relating to the historic environment. The concordat will provide a framework for future co-operation between the AHRC and English Heritage allowing for the development of activities and plans for the support of research and post-graduate study.

Work has already commenced on a new landscape and environment programme, which will encourage cross-disciplinary research to bring new perspectives on the way human activity and ideas have shaped the construction, representation and perception of our urban and rural surroundings. Future collaborative opportunities in areas such as collections care and management, information management and law are also possible.

Speaking at the signing ceremony Dr Simon Thurley, FSA, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘By sharing research and research results in the arts and humanities field the concordat will broaden the multidisciplinary scope of our own research and help reinforce the holistic approach to understanding the historic environment and its value.’ Professor Philip Esler, Chief Executive of the AHRC, added: ‘The historic environment has the potential to involve people from across our diverse subject domains and creates exciting possibilities for future research projects.’

Cuts to heritage services in Northamptonshire

At a time when very extensive developments are planned for Northamptonshire, the County Council has decided to abolish all of its non-statutory heritage services, leaving the county’s archaeology and heritage vulnerable.

The news is contained in the April edition of NASNEWS, the newsletter of the Northamptonshire Archaeology Society (NAS), which reports that Northamptonshire County Council closed down its Built and Natural Environment Service, which includes the Historic Environment Team (formerly known as Northamptonshire Heritage) at the end of March 2006. The report says: ‘Most of the existing posts, including the Team Leader (previously known as the County Archaeologist) and the Historic Environment and Conservation officers, have been axed. The Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) will continue to be maintained by NCC but will in future be managed by Northamptonshire Record Office. As an externally funded post, the Northamptonshire Finds Liaison Officer post will be largely unaffected and will continue with its recording of archaeological artefacts found by metal detectorists and members of the public.

‘These changes involve only the County Council's historic environment ‘curatorial’ service, not the archaeological field unit ‘Northamptonshire Archaeology’, which will continue to operate as normal. Two new historic environment posts are being created but these will only be concerned with the County Council’s strategic planning and work on management of its heritage assets. The County Council intends in future to focus its resources on its core strategic priorities and have a much less active role with Northamptonshire's historic environment. The services which it has previously provided are not statutory and as a result the County Council will no longer provide these.

‘The role fulfilled by the now defunct team included provision of archaeological advice and guidance to the local District and Borough authorities, developers, land owners and members of the public on planning applications across the county ─ in line with Government advice. They also set standards for the conduct of archaeological fieldwork undertaken by the myriad of archaeological contractors that operate in the county as well as monitoring their work. Other services included wide-ranging advice and guidance to local councils, other organisations and individuals on everything ranging from the impact of new tree-planting schemes to the care of individual monuments, historic buildings and landscapes.

‘NAS is finding it difficult to establish which planning and management advice roles will be maintained by the County Council and which may be picked up by the District and Borough councils. Without such input there will be no means to assess and where appropriate mitigate the impact of new development proposals on archaeology and related heritage. The absence of clearly defined responsibility for such work could be a recipe for disaster with archaeological sites and monuments potentially put at risk of damage or destruction from new development. NAS encourages its members to contact the County Council, West Northamptonshire Development Corporation and their local District and Borough councils to seek assurance that effective measures will be put in place to ensure that their local heritage is taken into account when planning applications are being considered. The extensive new growth planned across the Northamptonshire makes this more important than ever. Without adequate safeguards, the county's archaeological heritage may be in serious danger of sliding into the situation we witnessed before the 1970s with local authorities unable or unwilling to stop the destruction of our past in the face of new development.’

IFA conference report

The Society’s Secretary, Alison Taylor, reports that the Institute for Field Archaeologists held its annual conference on 11 to 13 April in the glorious surrounding of central Edinburgh, with receptions in the nineteenth-century splendour of the City Chambers and the regal style of Edinburgh Castle itself. Some 300 delegates attended nine sessions over the three days, with walking tours around the Old and New Town led by local archaeologists.

Highlights among the sessions included Mike Parker Pearson’s Beaker People Project, in which scientists studying migration patterns through various isotope analyses explained pitfalls and problems alongside the potential for tracking a mobile population in this period, and David Breeze’s session covering a very different way of looking at ethnicity and identity, this time in the Roman period and with speakers from Holland, Austria and Romania as well as Britain looking at the ways in which auxiliaries retained their identities, for example through food and burial custom, and how the archaeologist can track these antecedents of the ‘Scottish soldier’ during their time at home and abroad. Roger Mercer brought together highlights from excavations across Britain, from the earliest Palaeolithic colonization to nineteenth-century glassworks, and the conference ended with IFA staff explaining a new system of National Vocational Qualifications, which is being developed as a form of accreditation for various aspects of professional archaeological work.

The search for ‘isotopic aliens’: more from the IFA conference

It was a salutary lesson for Salon’s editor to learn that you cannot believe everything you read in the press (or, indeed, on the Wessex Archaeology website). We were told, were we not, in June 2004 that geo-chemical tests on the teeth of the so-called ‘Boscombe Bowmen’ (aka the Band of Brothers ─ seven individuals found in a single grave on Boscombe Down) showed that they were almost certainly born in Wales ─ and hence were very likely to have formed part of a gang of hauliers who brought the blue stones to Stonehenge from their source in the Preseli Hills and erected them on the chalk downs of Salisbury Plain.

In fact, as Dr Jane Evans of the British Geological Survey told delegates to the Institute for Field Archaeologists’ annual conference in Edinburgh last week, the story is nothing like so conclusive. All that can be said is that all seven individuals came from outside the Stonehenge area: the levels of strontium 87 isotope in their tooth enamel indicated that they spent their childhood and adolescence (the period when the strontium 87 signature is acquired during the formation of tooth enamel) somewhere with the high strontium levels associated with very old rocks, or with younger rocks with a high rubidium content.

In the UK they could have acquired their strontium in Cornwall, north Wales or north-west Scotland ─ Wales was the nearest place to Stonehenge that they could have come from, but they could just as easily have spent their childhood and adolescence in Brittany, Portugal or the Massif Central. Tooth analysis, warned Jane, is much better at ruling out where people didn’t spend their childhood than indicating positively where they did ─ and this will continue to be the case until much more detailed maps of bio-sphere strontium values have been created for Europe and beyond, taking into account the underlying geology and the vagaries of weather and weathering.

The same need to understand what is normal for any particular region is complicating the interpretation of ancient bone collagen in an attempt to understand ancient diets. The ratios of nitrogen to carbon to sulphur isotopes can be used to separate out people with different diets provided that you have a control group to say which values clearly identify a plant-rich, meat-rich, marine-rich or omnivorous diet. Collagen from contemporary fish or seals will provide a base-line for the marine diet and cattle or sheep bones will provide the herbivorous equivalent, but researchers on the Beaker people project happen to have started their studies in east Scotland where the soil conditions do not favour the preservation of bone, so control groups are so far lacking.

A year from now, as the project moves on to other parts of the UK, firmer results might well emerge. And, as Mike Parker Pearson, FSA, MIFA, said, in explaining the Beaker people project, there were several strands of data that would eventually be brought to the table, so that correlations could be established across multiple data sets, including tooth enamel micro wear and the analysis of food residues in Beaker vessels. Mike said he hoped to be able to answer some important questions: were Beaker people immigrants to Britain (were they, to use a phrase that the conference took to heart, ‘isotopic aliens’?); were they sedentary or mobile; to what extent was their diet a cultural choice, or gender based; how did health and physique relate to diet, mobility and status? And could beakers have been in use before they start to be used in burial rites?

Without knowing the answers, Stuart Needham, FSA, had a stab at a theoretical framework that might be used to generate questions to test the eventual results: single-grave Beaker burials are relatively rare in north-west Europe, and thinly spread in the UK from 2450 to 2250 BC; between 2250 and 1950 they become institutionalised as the prevailing burial practice, which Stuart interpreted as the adoption by indigenous people of Beaker culture and no longer indicative of Beaker lineage; in the third phase (1950 to 1700 BC) beakers cease to have any cultural significance and are simply the products of potters working in the traditional style: they no longer indicate a Beaker mode of existence and are no longer exclusively associated with burials.

Whereas all three phases were present in the UK, Stuart could only find Phase 1 in northern France and Belgium ─ while in Ireland, other Beaker-style artefacts were adopted enthusiastically but not Beaker burial ─ thus encounters between Beaker people and indigenous groups did not always lead to the same outcomes.

Assuming that ‘isotopic aliens’ are eventually identified, the three-phase framework could be tested by looking at the relative numbers of incomers to indigenes, their distribution over time (one wave of migration or a constant trickle), and the proportion of Beaker people buried in the Beaker mode over time.

As ever with good archaeological research, more questions were raised than answered, more people went away hungry than sated, and everyone left looking forward to 2007 and the next chapter in this intriguing story (note for the dairy: next year’s IFA conference will take place on 3 to 5 April 2007, at a venue yet to be decided).

York-based researchers trawl the origins of sea fishing in Northern Europe

Perhaps for a future IFA conference is a new project designed to look at the significance of the fishing trade in establishing long-distance trade and contact between coastal communities of northern Europe in the medieval period. The project builds on earlier research by the project team which discovered that extensive sea fishing began in Europe in the century between AD 950 and 1050. Dr James Barrett, of the University of York's Department of Archaeology, co-ordinator of the new project, has pinpointed a major shift from freshwater to sea fishing during this period, which he attributes to a combination of climate, population growth and religion.

By studying fish bones from archaeological sites from York, Ghent in Belgium, Ribe in Denmark, Schleswig in Germany and Gdansk in Poland, the researchers now hope to establish what long-term impact this rapid switch to intensive sea fisheries had on medieval trading patterns, which began with the trading of dried cod but opened up across the Viking world to allow the long-range trading of bulk staple goods.

Dr Barrett said: ‘We are using the fish trade as a way of understanding long-term economic and social changes in Northern Europe. We want to look at how a large-scale trade in commodities developed and the way it has been influenced by so many socio-economic and environmental factors.’

‘We shall use both traditional zooarchaeological techniques and new biomolecular approaches. Dried cod for trade was cut up in certain ways, which can be detected by the cut marks on the bones. Moreover, we will use biomolecular tests to establish whether fish found in towns such as York originated locally from the North Sea or from distant sources such as Arctic Norway.’

The biomolecular studies may also provide a direct insight into changes in marine ecosystems and help to improve our understanding of the early human impact on fish stocks. The project will depend on interdisciplinary and international co-operation. Its core members are drawn from five European countries and include zooarchaeologists, biomolecular methods experts and a fisheries ecologist, supported by a team of international collaborators.

Neanderthals were not stupid, just a bit anti-social

Ofer Bar-Yosef, FSA, is one of four authors of a study published in the February issue of the US journal Current Anthropology comparing ‘Middle and Upper Palaeolithic hunting behaviors in the Southern Caucasus’ to see whether the extinction of Neanderthals can be attributed to their lack of hunting skills. The paper concludes that Neanderthals and modern humans practised largely identical hunting tactics and that the two populations were equally and independently capable of acquiring and exploiting critical information pertaining to resource availability and animal behaviour. As with tool-making skills, differences in hunting skills are not able to explain the major behavioural differences between Neanderthals and modern humans that led to the Neanderthal extinction.

Work carried out by the research team examined thousands of mountain goat bones from a Neanderthal rock shelter at Ortvale Klde, in the Republic of Georgia, and concluded that two-thirds of the animals were the strongest, fastest, most nutritious and most difficult to capture members of the herd. Neanderthals, like modern humans, maximised their dietary intake and deployed sophisticated hunting tactics, involving group co-operation and knowledge of animal behaviour, timing their hunts for the late autumn to early spring seasonal migration.

That being the case, the authors hypothesise that developments in the social realm of Upper Palaeolithic societies allowed the replacement of Neanderthals in the Caucasus by Homo sapiens sapiens. In simple terms, the authors believe that Neanderthals met their evolutionary end because of a failure to maintain social links with other groups, unlike modern humans, who travelled widely, making the friends who would help them during hard times. Neanderthals tended to be relatively sedentary and to stay in small isolated groups, while Homo sapiens sapiens ranged more widely and interacted with other groups.

Dr Adler, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut and one of the authors of the report, explained in interviews reported in the US press: ‘If you find yourself in an area where the resources just aren't there any more ─ it's a bad season or you have killed all the game ─ you need to move into another territory where other people are. If you don't know them the chances are they are not going to like that. It's within the social realm where modern humans have an advantage. I think they knew more people and lived a richer life in terms of cultural contact than the Neanderthals did.’

How long did it take to domesticate wheat?

The 31 March issue of the journal Science reported on the results of a study of 10,000 wheat spikelets (the flowering part of the wheat plant that is dispersed when it reproduces) from four settlements in northern Syria and south-eastern Turkey, where wheat was first domesticated. Archaeobotanist George Willcox of the National Center for Scientific Research in Lyon, France, and plant geneticist Ken-ichi Tanno of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan, concluded that the domestication of wheat took up to 3,000 years.

Their conclusions are based on the ratio of wild to domesticated wheat found in sites of varying dates: at the 10,500-year-old site called Nevali Çori in Turkey, for example, about 90 per cent of the spikelets were from wild varieties, while 64 per cent were still wild at the 8,500-year-old site at el Kerkh in Syria while only 36 per cent were wild at 7,500-year-old Kosak Shamali, also in Syria. The suggestion is that the cultivation of wild plants began 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, and that farmers selected plants with desirable characteristics, but that there was no sudden replacement of wild varieties with selected ones, and that three millennia passed before wheat resembling modern domesticated varieties began to appear. Willcox and Tanno say that similar results were found when they looked at barley cultivation from two other sites near Damascus.

Amy Bogaard, an archaeobotanist at the University of Nottingham, has responded by saying that the data set is too small for anything but provisional conclusions to be drawn, but she welcomed the evidence that early farmers were growing wild plants long before they were domesticated.

Graves of the western Pacific's first seafarers

The same issue of Science reports on a paper given by Matthew Spriggs, FSA, and colleagues to the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Congress, held in Manila on 20 to 26 March 2006 on the Lapita people, the first settlers of the western Pacific.

As previously reported in Salon, a major step towards understanding more about the first Polynesians came with the discovery in 2003 of an early Lapita cemetery on Efate, in the Vanuatu Islands. The cemetery was found when workers constructing a prawn farm found patterned pottery that they showed to Salkon Yona, of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, who consulted Australian National University archaeologist Stuart Bedford, who happened to be on the island for a wedding. Bedford missed the wedding and set off to protect the site, near Teouma Bay.

When Bedford, Spriggs and Ralph Regenvanu of the Vanuatu National Museum returned to excavate, they found twenty-five graves containing thirty-six individuals. All the skeletons were headless, and some graves had cone shell rings placed in lieu of the skulls, indicating that the graves were reopened after burial and the heads ceremonially removed. Vessels from the graves are similar in form to early red-slip pottery found in Taiwan and islands of south-east Asia, which might have been a staging post for Lapita people on their eastward migration. Carbon dating confirms that the graves date from 1000 BC, around the time that the Lapita peoples began crossing the Pacific from New Guinea's Bismarck Archipelago, fanning out as far as Samoa and Tonga. DNA from the bones may offer further clues as to their origins.

Neolithic dentistry

Readers who suffer dental phobia should perhaps skip this rather painful story, which appeared in The Times of 6 April, and reported the discovery of a collection of drilled teeth in a graveyard in Pakistan dating back to the seventh millennium BC. The Neolithic dentists of Mehrgarh, in Baluchistan province, used flint-tipped bow-drills (like those designed for making jewellery) to remove tooth decay. ‘In all cases, marginal smoothing confirms that drilling was performed on a living person who continued to chew on the tooth surfaces after they had been drilled,’ said Roberto Macchiarelli, of the University of Poitiers in France, who led the research. No fillings have survived, but Dr Macchiarelli said it was likely that something was used to plug the holes, as these would otherwise have been very painful. The dental work, originally published in the journal Nature, could not have been for decorative or aesthetic purposes, as the only drilled teeth were molars from the back of the mouth, which would not have been visible to other people.

Organ pipes, licensing laws, guerrilla gardeners and the Fitzwilliam vase smasher

There were further developments this week in four stories that Salon has covered in previous issues. The first concerns the lead content of organ pipes, and a letter to The Times from Martin Neary, former President of the Royal College of Organists, deploring the state of confusion over the future of organ-building in Europe. The letter said that Margot Wallstrom, vice-president of the European Commission, had given an absolute assurance to the European Parliament that the EU directive on the restriction on the use of lead would not cover church organ pipes. Despite this, the UK Department of Trade and Industry insists that it does apply, and that from 1 July 2007, any use of lead in new organs powered by an electric blower will be banned. ‘This,’says the letter ‘would strike a fatal blow at any future organ-building, and threaten the survival of an industry and a tradition which has been at the heart of Europe’s musical culture and liturgical practice for centuries.’

The second concerns the vexed issue of licences for events involving live music. Country Life magazine has joined Salon in deploring the unnecessary and heavy-handed bureaucracy involved in the requirement for all live music events to be licensed. In its editorial last week, the magazine said that it was not the £300 cost of the licence that was so potentially destructive of our musical traditions (though that would surely wipe out the profits from most amateur music making and deny charities of a small but valued source of income); what was putting people off was the form-filling necessary to apply for a licence ─ according to the magazine, organisers of village fetes and summer fairs this year were being faced with a set of forms as thick as a telephone directory demanding to know the exact placement of every stall. Country Life predicted that there would be far fewer such events in the future. And while Fellows and MIFAs are unlikely to be fans of the long-running TV show, ‘Top of the Pops’, the news this week that local authorities are insisting that BBC studio events involving live music must also be licensed shows that Salon was not wrong in characterising this as a tyrannical piece of legislation that will go a long way to undermine the legitimate activities of musicians of all genres.

Thirdly, as a follow up to the story about heritage terrorists making life difficult for developers who wreck historic landscapes and buildings, The Times reported on 8 April on the activities of another street craze that involves gangs of hooded individuals wielding trowels and spades, meeting covertly at midnight beside roundabouts and road junctions: this rapidly expanding guerrilla movement picks on neglected patches of green space and plants them with anything from herbs to Day-Glo primulas.

According to The Times’s report, they call themselves the Guerrilla Gardeners and in five months they have grown from one man with a passion for shrubs to more than five hundred. Earlier this month they appeared at a triangular traffic island a mile south of Waterloo station and started weeding. A night employee of Morley College, which overlooks the junction, said: ‘It was like a flash mob. Suddenly there was nearly a hundred people out there, gardening.’ Richard Reynolds, 28, the group’s founder, thinks that getting permission to garden would entail a lot of red tape, and bureaucrats spouting garbage about health and safety and risk assessments ─ ‘so we decided just to go out and get on with it’ (Salon thinks this man should be awarded a peerage).

Finally, the Cambridge Evening News reported two weeks ago that Nick Flynn, the man who smashed three Ming vases at the Fitzwilliam Museum, claiming to have tripped on a shoelace, has been arrested by local police who are investigating the possibility that the incident was a deliberate act of criminal damage. The ‘accident’ occurred on 25 January 2006, and anyone who heard him being interviewed on the ‘Today’ programme the following day might remember that he seemed arrogantly unrepentant, and appeared to be relishing his fifteen minutes of glory. Now it has emerged that Mr Flynn had also been arrested in connection with an alleged assault at a shop in King's Parade, Cambridge, in February. He was also escorted out of the Fitzwilliam Museum by security staff recently when he tried to gatecrash a press conference at the museum called to unveil plans for restoring the vases: Flynn claimed he wanted to go to the conference ‘to check there were no hard feelings’.

Milestone Society member spots stolen plaque on eBay

The Milestone Society (whose Chairman is David Viner, FSA) works hard on behalf of a neglected aspect of our heritage, so it is disappointing when, as often happens, restored milestones get stolen. According to a report by Maev Kennedy, FSA, in last week’s Guardian, this happened recently to an early nineteenth-century cast-iron plaque on Lansdown Hill on the edge of Bath. Having been restored by Bath and North East Somerset Council it was then crow-barred of its stone plinth ─ a typical example of the increasing number of milestones that are vandalised or stolen, or smashed and buried in roadworks. On this occasion there was a happy ending: a member of the Milestone Society spotted the missing milestone when it was offered for sale on eBay, the internet auction site. The Milestone Society contacted the local authority and police, who recovered the stolen plaque.

Mervyn Benford, a member of the Milestone Society, told Maev that there are no more than seven or eight thousand milestones left, where once there were literally hundreds of thousands. ‘These objects,’ he said, ‘are precious and should be respected and cherished. They may have outlived their original use, but they are a priceless part of our heritage.’

May/June issue of British Archaeology

British Archaeology has some stunning pictures this month, including a crisply detailed image on the front cover of the Anglo-Saxon stone carving of the Archangel Gabriel, recently excavated inside Lichfield Cathedral by Warwick Rodwell, FSA, and possibly from the late eighth- or early ninth-century shrine of St Chad. Further in there is a full-page picture of St Pancras cemetery under excavation that looks like an exercise in post-modern irony, juxtaposing the ideology of health-and-safety (archaeologists in Day-Glo safety vests and white safety helmets) with the grey grave slabs of mortality. There is even a picture that would not look out of place in a Lad’s Mag: an article by Stephen Cosh and David Neal on the second volume of their four-volume corpus of Romano-British mosaics is illustrated by a detail from the Low Ham pavement, Somerset, depicting a seductively naked Dido, with perfect body and fetching hair-do, kissing and cuddling with a leather-clad Aeneas (the authors interpret the mosaic as evidence that the client liked to show off his/her knowledge of Virgil’s epic, rather than that he/she liked erotic art).

Elsewhere in the magazine, Tom Williamson and Gerry Barnes report on a landmark study of nearly 3,000 Norfolk hedges, with comments by Stephen Cousins based on his work in Northumberland, proving that the dating formula based on 100 years for every species does not work, but demonstrating how much more there is to hedge history than we realise (for example, the fact that even long-established hedges were often replanted and realigned in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to conform more closely to the ideals of agricultural improvers, which might account for the Kelmscott Landscape Project’s failure to find multi-species hedges even on boundaries that are known to be at least 1,000 years old).

British Archaeologist also scores when it comes to stirring controversy: in the back-page interview, ‘Time Team’’s Tony Robinson says he is frustrated with archaeologists’ failure to stand up to the myriad threats to Britain’s irreplaceable heritage. Salon’s editor has an answer to that: ‘Stop ranting Tony and set the example ─ you have made yourself very rich on the back of other people’s archaeological expertise ─ now is the time to give something back to the heritage; as a personal friend of Tessa Jowell, and as a Labour party insider, who better than you to help us get the message across to Government that heritage matters: you lead and we will follow!’

Current World Archaeology

Looking beyond these shores, the latest issue of Current World Archaeology takes readers to France in the company of David Miles, FSA, MIFA, who enthuses about the Gault-Millau viaduct, an Anglo-French engineering and transport wonder of the modern world that enhances the dramatic natural and historic landscape through which it passes (why can’t we have something like that for Stonehenge: Ed). Dominic Perring, FSA, MIFA, gives a vivid account of his work in Beirut, wresting archaeology from the war-torn wreck of the downtown area, and finding evidence for continuous occupation from the early Bronze Age. Lawrence Barfield, FSA, reports on his work in northern Italy where he believes he has detected a megalithic frontier dating from the third millennium BC, perhaps marking the eastern extremity of the tradition of collective burial characteristic of the north-west European Neolithic: to the east of that line, single burials are the norm. For further information on subscribing see the Current Archaeology website

Important developments in stained-glass conservation

Sarah Brown, FSA, writes to alert readers to the fact that the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi has just augmented the conservation section of its website with translations (from German) of a number of important recent articles on the latest developments in stained-glass conservation. These will be invaluable to all those engaged in stained-glass conservation, whether as practitioners or as advisers and heritage managers in different guises. The papers can be downloaded free of charge.

Forthcoming meetings of the Society of Antiquaries

27 April: Anniversary Meeting

Tickets (at £18 per head) are still available for the President’s Reception that will follow the Anniversary Meeting on 27 April; if you would like to attend, please contact Jayne Phenton.

4 May: ‘Beautiful remains of antiquity’: the medieval monuments of the former Trinitarian priory church at Ingham, Norfolk, by Sally Badham, FSA

The former Trinitarian priory church at Ingham once housed a magnificent collection of medieval monuments. An important series of seven brasses to the Stapeleton family was sold for the value of the metal around 1800, although their former appearance can be reconstructed from rubbings made in the eighteenth century (most of them in the Society’s collection of rubbings) and from other antiquarian sources. The surviving, but damaged, fourteenth-century high tombs to Sir Oliver Ingham and Sir Roger and Lady Margaret de Boys throw much light on the complexity of painting technology used for medieval sculpture and the sophistication of the effects thus obtained. The former is noted for its perplexing imagery, while the latter has unique Trinitarian iconography.

11 May: The Rock-cut Churches at Lalibela, Ethiopia: continuity and innovation, by David Phillipson, FSA

Newly elected Fellows

The Society of Antiquaries is very pleased to welcome the following new Fellows who were all elected in the ballot held on 6 April 2006:

Martin Dean, Clive Robert Burgess, John Howard Farrant, Michael John Lewis, Alexandra Hildred, Neil Price, John Francis Rhodes, Henry Freeland, William Mark Ormrod, Constance Virginia Glenn, Richard Buckley, Timothy Aiden John Knox, Christof Sebastian Sommer, Robert D Smith, Stephen Peter Clarke, Audrey Jane Horning, Michael Dawson, Eamonn Antoin O Carragain, Edward Herring, Christopher Loveluck, Leo Schmidt, Andrew Mark Nicholls, Stewart Bryant, Jacqueline Annili Nowakowski and Dana Arnold.

Obituary: Norman Pounds, FSA

In true antiquarian spirit, the historian Norman Pounds, FSA, is said to have exclaimed, on being diagnosed as having leukaemia: ‘But I can't die yet: I've got another book to write.’ In fact, between that diagnosis (at the age of 87) and his death at the age of 94 on 24 March 2006, he published no less than three volumes and had nearly completed another.

According to the obituary contributed by Peter Searby and published in the Guardian on 13 April, Norman wrote more than thirty works on the history and geography of Europe from ancient times to the present, his masterpiece being A History of the English Parish (2000), published when he was 88. This essential thread in English history was taken for granted until Norman revealed the Anglo-Saxon origins of the parish, and explained how, since its resources were dedicated to the support of the church, they could not be lightly interfered with: its fixity meant that the parish was the main authority that ordinary people encountered for 1,200 or 1,300 years. In 2004 Norman explored the same themes in a micro-study of his own county: Cambridgeshire: a history of church and parish, his penultimate publication.

Norman’s interest in history began with studies at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, in 1931 to 1935, where he revered G G Coulton, whose lectures on medieval life and thought he found ‘wildly exciting’. His own lectures were to prove equally engaging. After a PhD on the historical geography of Cornwall, a research fellowship at the London School of Economics and a Fellowship at Fitzwilliam, he moved in 1950 to a professorship at Indiana University, where he remained until retirement in 1977. Rapidly promoted, he was given the coveted title of distinguished professor in 1959, and a year later was voted ‘the most popular professor’ on campus. Some 550 students enrolled on his most popular course, the Historical Background of Contemporary Problems. Enlivened by maps and Tom Lehrer records, the sessions ranged from the Cold War to the Irish question.

Literary earnings enabled him to maintain a house in Cambridge, to which he returned every summer; he and his wife moved back there on retirement and Norman was a familiar figure in the University Library until very recently, speeding through the building in his electric invalid carriage at the age of 94.


In announcing the appointment of Jane Kennedy as one of the two new English Heritage commissioners, Salon incorrectly described Jane as Chairman of the Cathedral Architects’ Association: as Philip Dixon, FSA, has pointed out, she is in fact the Secretary, the Chairman being Nicholas Rank of Buttress Fuller and Alsopp.

Conferences, workshops and seminars

Chepstow Castle Day School, 20 May 2006, from 10am to 5.30pm
The third Chepstow Day School will look at the later history of the castle from the Tudor period to the present day, its sculptural decoration, the associated hunting preserves and the development of the town. Nicola Coldstream, FSA, Jeremy Knight, FSA, Ron Shoesmith, FSA, MIFA, and Rick Turner, FSA, will be giving papers. The day will end with a showing of Ivanhoe, a silent film classic shot at the castle in 1913, with full piano accompaniment. The event will also see the launch of Chepstow Castle: its history and buildings edited by Rick Turner and Andy Johnson for Logaston Press. For tickets send cheques at £10 a head payable to: The Chepstow Society, c/o Chepstow Museum, Gwy House, Bridge Street, Chepstow NP16 5EZ.

‘The History of Archaeology: the Durham Perspective’
17 May 2006, from 2.15pm at the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham. Further information from the department’s website.

‘Networks, Contacts and Competition in the History of Archaeology’
15 July 2006, from 9.30am at St John's College, University of Durham. Further information from the department’s website.

Managing the Marine Cultural Heritage II: Significance
This two-day conference will present and debate issues surrounding, determining, presenting and managing significance in the marine archaeological field. It follows on from the very successful International conference organised in September 2004 by the Maritime Affairs Group of the Institute of Field Archaeologists entitled ‘Managing the Marine Cultural Heritage’ and held in September 2004. The idea behind that conference was the recognition that recent decades have witnessed an expansion of archaeological activity under water and in the coastal zone, which has raised awareness of the potential and importance of the resource and has led to the realisation that the threats to this material are widespread and ongoing. This conference will have an equally international cast of distinguished speakers who will present their experiences from different countries and backgrounds, and it will take place once more in the auditorium of Action Station ─ HM’s Naval Base in Portsmouth ─ on 27 and 28 September 2006. For more information please visit the conference website or email Paola Palma.

‘The Book in Venice’
The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) is hosting a conference in Venice on 9 and 10 March 2007 on the city’s role as a host to some of Italy’s earliest book printing enterprises. Topics to be considered include the book trade in Venice, print and manuscript in Venice, libraries and collectors in Venice and Venice as depicted in early books and prints. Short proposals (up to 300 words) for twenty-minute papers (in English or Italian) on these and other topics should be submitted to the conference organizers, Craig Kallendorf and Lisa Pon by 15 October 2006.

Books by Fellows and MIFAs

From Neil Christie, FSA, Reader in Archaeology at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, comes a new overview of the late Roman and early medieval periods in Italy called From Constantine to Charlemagne: an archaeology of Italy AD 300─800 (further information is available on the publisher’s website). Neil argues that this is one of the most fascinating and dynamic periods of European history, spanning the adoption of Christianity and the emergence of Rome as the seat of Western Christendom. Based on recent discoveries by archaeologists, historians, art historians, numismatists and architectural historians, Neil identifies the changes brought about in town and country by the Church and by the settlement of non-Romans and Germanic groups, such as the Ostrogoths, Byzantines and Lombards. The emphasis is on human settlement at various levels ─ town, country, fort, refuge ─ and an assessment of how these evolved and the changes that impacted on them.

Timothy Mowl, FSA, has just published an account of William Kent: architect, designer, opportunist (see the publisher’s website for further details) in which he argues that Kent’s Baroque and Gothic Revival work was just the breath of fresh air that England needed at a time of stylistic chaos, and that it saved England from the imposition of ‘chaste and dreary Palladianism’. Humorous, strongly expressed (and often revisionist) views (underpinned by solid scholarship and a real mastery of the subject) are what make Tim’s books so readable: as the review by John Carey in last week’s Sunday Times concluded: ‘We tend to admire what received opinion admires: Mowl’s book reverses the process and healthily advises us to “draw back from praising past culture simply because it happened”’.

Martin Henig, FSA, writes to remind us all that 25 July 2006 is the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Constantine as emperor, an event that took place in York, following the death of his father, the Emperor Constantius. Both were in Britain as part of a military campaign against the Picts. York is marking the event with a major exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum (open daily until 29 October). More than 270 objects sourced from thirty-six museums and private collections across Europe have been brought together for the exhibition, mounted with input from large numbers of Fellows. Retelling Constantine’s story and looking at his legacy, the exhibition demonstrates the richness of the late Roman world through mosaics and painted plasterwork, sculpture, silver plate, gold jewellery, textiles, games, weapons, coins, jewellery and furniture.

Edited by Elizabeth Hartley, Jane Hawkes, Martin Henig and Frances Mee, the exhibition catalogue includes authoritative essays by a team of specialists (including Fellows Paul Bidwell, Averil Cameron, Roger Tomlin and Ian Wood) offering an art-historical, historical and archaeological overview of the period. Key themes include the transition from the classical to the medieval world, and from paganism to Christianity. Further details from the website of the publishers, Ashgate.


Institute of Historic Building Conservation: Projects Officer
Salary c £28,000, closing date 5 May 2006

To be responsible for initiating, developing, managing and signing off projects that reflect the needs of the Institute and its members. Projects will usually be outsourced, but some will be managed internally, often with support and input from the IHBC’s extensive voluntary network. The successful candidate will have extensive experience and understanding of all aspects of project initiation, development and delivery, and have the capacity to operate from a home-office.

For further information, see the IHBC website.

Royal Holloway University of London and the Department of Prehistory and Early Europe at the British Museum: AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship
Closing date 15 May 2006

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Collaborative Doctoral Awards Scheme, to investigate the topic, ‘Sharing human origins: from Palaeolithic collections to community involvement at the British Museum’. The student will be jointly supervised by Professor Clive Gamble, FSA, at Royal Holloway, and Dr Jill Cook, FSA, at the British Museum.

Further details of the programme are available on the Royal Holloway website, as is general information about applying. Informal enquiries can be addressed to Clive Gamble. Application forms are available online on the Royal Holloway website. Applications can also be made online; please specify ‘Doctoral Studentship in Sharing Human Origins at the British Museum’ in section E of the form.

University of Sheffield and English Heritage: ESRC-funded Doctoral Studentship
Closing date 19 May 2006

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD research studentship, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Collaborative Doctoral Awards Scheme, to evaluate historic landscape characterisation as a multi-stakeholder decision-making tool. The studentship reflects the growing importance of characterisation of the historic environment as a basis for informing strategic spatial planning and land-use decisions and engaging stakeholders.

For further information, please contact Professor Paul Selman at the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield.