Salon: Issue 446
8 April 2020
Next issue: 21 April 2020
The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of heritage news. It focuses on the activities of the Society and the contributions that the Society's Fellows make to public life. A copy of Salon’s editorial policy can be found on the Society’s website.
Please send news, comment and feedback for publication to the Editor, Mike Pitts, at Salon Editor. Salon doesn't review books, but the Editor is pleased to receive details and cover images of new titles written by Fellows. Scholarly publications are reviewed in The Antiquaries Journal.
Fellows may occasionally find they do not receive email notification of a new Salon. There are suggestions for solving this, and an online archive where new editions are posted. You can also unsubscribe at any point, by following this link.
From the Desk of the General Secretary
Burlington House may be closed for now, but the Society continues with the important task of disseminating key research. Hence, the Society is pleased to announce the imminent publication of its latest monograph, Isurium Brigantum: an archaeological survey of Roman Aldborough. Volume 81 in the Society’s Research Reports series, it is written by Rose Ferraby and Martin Millett FSA and is available in hardback, priced £35, from Oxbow Books.
Modern-day Aldborough, in North Yorkshire, lies on the site of Isurium Brigantum, the former administrative capital of the Brigantes, one of the largest indigenous tribes of Roman Britain. Strategically located on Dere Street, by the second century AD it had become a key Roman town engaged with the supply of the northern frontier, with buildings and mosaics that reveal a thriving economy through to the fourth century. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the site was the subject of important antiquarian investigations. However, unlike southern counterparts such as Calleva Atrebatum or Verulamium, in the twentieth century it attracted less attention. Then, in 2009 a team of archaeologists led by Dr Rose Ferraby and Professor Martin Millett began a major re-examination of the site. This included large-scale geophysical surveys using both gradiometry and high-resolution ground-penetrating radar. Most of the town and its surroundings were revealed, allowing its development from the second century AD to the medieval period to be mapped with great accuracy. This groundbreaking monograph:
• Brings together in one volume for the very first time the results of a major re-examination of the site of the Roman town of Isurium Brigantum, with recent geophysical surveys and a re-evaluation of earlier antiquarian work and archaeological fieldwork and excavations – some never before published.
• Provides historians and archaeologists with exciting new information about the topography and development of Isurium Brigantum and its later landscape, together with a thorough review of the town in the broader context of Roman Britain and the western Empire.
• Reveals most of the town and its environs, allowing Isurium Brigantum's development from the second century AD to the medieval period to be mapped with great accuracy.
• Is highly illustrated throughout, with maps, geophysical scans, antiquarian drawings, and colour photographs.
• Includes a gazetteer and concordance with CSIR and RIB.
• Is complemented by a free-to-access digital archive.
Library services during Burlington House closure
The Library at Burlington House is closed until later in the year and all collections staff are working remotely. Unfortunately, as we cannot access the physical collections, we cannot offer postal loans or a photocopying service. We can still issue licences for the use of existing images, but we cannot commission new photography. We are also working hard to respond to as many research enquiries as possible. All current loans will be extended until the Library re-opens. It is not necessary to post any book returns back to the Library.
A decision to subscribe to JSTOR in the new financial year had already been made before the Society’s apartments had to be closed. In view of our closure, we have decided to prioritise our subscription in order to offer our Fellows full text access to the online archive of thousands of journals as soon as possible. JSTOR is a highly selective digital library of academic content in many formats and disciplines. The collections include more than 2,600 top, peer-reviewed, scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. This represents a total of over 12 million academic journal articles. JSTOR works with a diverse group of nearly 1,200 publishers from more than 57 countries to preserve and make their content digitally available. The Society’s Library staff are working on selecting the best content for our Fellows from this wealth of material and we will be making an announcement as soon as our subscription is up and running.
In the meantime, please see below for details of resources our Fellows already have access to.
Online journals and electronic resources
We would like to remind Fellows that around 70 of the Library’s journal titles can be accessed from home. Our subscription e-journals range from the Agricultural History Review to the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, and our general reference resources include the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who’s Who, and Grove Art Online.
All of our e-resources are provided via the OpenAthens portal, and we encourage any Fellows who have not yet done so to sign up for an OpenAthens account. This service is at no additional cost – we just require you to sign the OpenAthens registration form and return it to us at email@example.com. We will then be in touch with instructions for setting up your account. The registration form and a complete list of our online holdings are available to download from the 'For Fellows' page of the Society’s website.
After you’ve registered for OpenAthens, you can also access our online holdings through the Library catalogue. (Tip: if you’re searching specifically for journals, once you run an initial search for a title in the catalogue, click the filter for ‘Periodical & Series Titles only’ on the right-hand side. It will save you trawling through a lot of irrelevant results!)
Since the last SALON, Library staff are delighted that over 30 Fellows have registered for the OpenAthens portal to access the Library's subscription e-journals and databases from home. A reminder that the OpenAthens registration form and a complete list of our online holdings – around 70 titles - are available to download from the 'For Fellows' page of the Society’s website.
Becky Loughead, the Serials & E-Resources Librarian, was also pleased to receive a number of suggestions from Fellows for the list of free online resources. Added to the main list (available on the Society’s website here) are the following:
National Emergency Library on the Internet Archive - temporarily makes some 1.4 million copyrighted books available online for a 2-week loan period simultaneously (i.e. without the need to join a waiting list for a copy). Waitlists are suspended until 30th June 2020 or until the US declares the coronavirus pandemic to be ended.
ResearchGate - a professional network for scientists and researchers who use it to share, discover, and discuss research. Though ostensibly for physical sciences, its huge membership – with over 16 million members worldwide – covers a wide array of social sciences and other related fields. Unlike Academia all content is free to access after registering for an account.
Arachne - the central object database of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the Archaeological Institute of the University of Cologne. It aims to provide archaeologists and classicists with a free internet research tool for quickly searching hundreds of thousands of records on objects and their attributes.
AWOL (Ancient World Online) - a guide to Open Access material relevant to the study and public presentation of the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean world. A fantastically useful resource with links to over 1,800 free e-journals, both digitised paper journals from the 18th-century onwards and recent born-digital content.
Index of Medieval Art – based at Princeton University, the Index is the largest archive of medieval art in the world and documents primarily medieval art from early apostolic times to around 1400AD. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Princeton have made the online database Open Access until 1st June 2020.
Gallica – a major free digital library hosted by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) which provides access to a range of material, such as printed documents (books, press and magazines) in image and text mode, manuscripts, sound and iconographic documents, maps and plans. The site can be viewed in French, English or Italian.
Persée - a digital library of Open Access, mostly French-language scholarly journals covering human and social sciences, established by the Ministry of National Education of France. Over 800,000 documents are available for free.
Heidelberg University’s Digital Library - access to electronic full text resources licensed by Heidelberg University Library. A vast array of content is available: over 100,000 full-text e-journals, 600,000 ebooks and 900,000 thesis; bibliographic databases; online reference resources; digitised manuscripts, incunabla, archival material, maps… and more!
WDL (World Digital Library) – managed by Library of Congress, the WDL provides free access to manuscripts, rare books, maps, photographs, and other important cultural documents from all countries and and cultures, in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
JSTOR - free read-online content - registering for a free personal account on JSTOR will now allow you online access to 100 articles per month (up from 6) until June 30th, 2020.
If you have any comments or additional recommendations for the free online resources list, please email Becky Loughead, Serials & E-Resources Librarian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Society staff working remotely
During these difficult times staff are still all working remotely. You can contact staff by using the corresponding email address on our Staff Profiles page on our website.
We are sharing our collections online using our Collection Highlights section on our new website and a forthcoming blog. You can follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Our event programme has been postponed until September but we will be working to reschedule all of these events. We are currently scheduling our 2021 programme but encourage Fellows and friends to get in touch with proposals for lectures, conferences or events for consideration. If you have anything you would like to propose or have any questions about our programme please get in touch with our Communications Manager, Danielle Wilson Higgins at (email@example.com) All of our past lectures and conferences papers are recorded and are accessible on our YouTube channel. If you need some educational entertainment throughout this time you can find them all here.
Additionally during this time we encourage Fellows to share their work with us through our new Fellows' Platform (connect.sal.org.uk) or to get in touch with us if they would like us to share anything through our social media platforms or through our Fellows' e-mailings at (firstname.lastname@example.org) As always please do send any news for inclusion in SALON to our editor Mike Pitts FSA at (email@example.com) for consideration.
Let’s Get Digital
A few years ago Mary Beard FSA, talking in the BBC Radio 4 series A Point of View, addressed the way we write emails. In the old days of letter writing, she said, we understood the complexities of different levels of formality. No longer. We have not mastered the art of the email, and the old ‘certainty of the relationship between sender and recipient’ eludes us. In the absence of rules and conventions, we rely on cliché. We write, ‘I hope this email finds you well’, though we don’t mean it, or expect a response.
We do now. We want to know how people are. Time spent exchanging anecdotes about health, exercise and the occasion we saw a duck sitting peacefully in the middle of a normally busy road junction, is sought and valued. I hope you are well. And I know, in all probability, that some of you are not.
It’s a fortnight since the UK went into lockdown, and we are supposed to have stayed at home except for very limited reasons. All but ‘essential’ businesses and services have had to close. The situation was set to be reviewed after three weeks, but with the Prime Minister in intensive care, and – on the available evidence of the effects of Covid-19 – likely to be in hospital for a further ten days, it’s unclear what will now happen, or even who is really leading the country. And hey, as per my last email, this is not where we ever thought we’d be.
Where we are is ever more digital. The British Museum offers ten ways to explore its galleries and collection, from a virtual museum (‘the world’s largest indoor space’ on Google Street View on your phone or tablet) and virtual galleries on its own website, to audio tours, YouTube videos and podcasts. On 20 March it reported that since the start of the month, compared to the same period last year the number of online visitors had more than doubled – most came from Italy and Spain.
At Birmingham Museums you can take a virtual tour of the Museum & Art Gallery, visit the Staffordshire Hoard website and look at pictures in a variety of places (among them thousands of free images, including the painting below of Stonehenge in 1845 by James Ward). Back in London the Natural History Museum has a page of ‘exhibits’ on Google Arts & Culture; you can take virtual reality tours on your phone or tablet, and you can listen to Sir David Attenborough FSA enthuse about the Hinze Hall. In Edinburgh you can wander around the National Museum of Scotland on Google Street View on any computer, while at National Museum Cardiff you can look at blogs and photos. Of course digitally there are no boundaries, and the Evening Standard and the Guardian offer their own selections of virtual museums and galleries around the world.
The interruption of temporary exhibitions can be severe for galleries and curators. Tate Modern’s Andy Warhol retrospective opened on 12 March and closed five days later. The gallery promised an online tour of the show on its YouTube channel and website from 6 April, which currently has taken the form of a 7 minute film in which curators discuss his life and work to a background of gallery views. And now is the time for catalogues.
‘As you pointed out in the latest Salon,’ writes Karen Hearn FSA, ‘museums are currently closed for the duration of the virus measures, and many of their exhibitions are in suspension – perhaps never to re-open. However the catalogues and accompanying books for many of these exhibitions are still available.’
Hearn curated Portraying Pregnancy: from Holbein to Social Media, which opened at the Foundling Museum in London on 24 January – early enough for it to receive a considerable amount of media attention (‘Somewhat to my surprise,’ says Hearne), including a good spread in the New York Times. You can buy the accompanying book from the publisher’s website (supporting the museum), adding the promotion code FOUNDLING before paying.
Leaving the present, the Council for British Archaeology has made all of its publications free to download, many of them written or edited by Fellows. This is a remarkable trove if you are interested in archaeology, including handbooks, books aimed at a wide readership (Star Carr, Stonehenge) and at a narrow one (175 Research Reports, published between 1955 and 2016), education guides and more.
The Prehistoric Society has a blog, introduced by its President Clive Gamble FSA, containing school work programmes and much of wider interest. It has integrated resources (National Curriculum Key Stage 2), information about lesser known fieldwork sites (Key Stage 3), and background information for teachers and older students.
Archaeologists are building sort-of-tours on Twitter. Susan Greaney FSA will guide you round the centre of Stonehenge (hard to see at the best of times), and just to the north but in a quite different world, Richard Osgood FSA has put together a walk across Salisbury Plain, most of it uninhabited Ministry of Defence land and no less easy to access.
‘Culture gives comfort in times of turmoil,’ said Hartwig Fischer FSA contemplating the BM’s burgeoning online audience, ‘it unites us and makes us understand what it means to be human.’ We are adjusting to a more hands-off view of the world, and becoming better at using social media. Send me your favourite online tours – better still, your own onine tours if you've made them. And keep well.
The Untold Secrets of a Passage in Westminster
At the Society’s Christmas Miscellany last December Elizabeth Hallam Smith FSA gave a talk about a lost Tudor doorway and passageway in Westminster Hall – lost no more, as she had found it, though it had proved not to be Tudor. More than two months later the discovery has been in the news. It’s a terrific story, and if you weren’t at the meeting in December it’s well worth watching Hallam Smith’s telling of it on the Society’s YouTube site (it’s 20 minutes in, after a talk by Maurice Howard FSA about a portrait by L F Abbott).
However, the recent news reports missed the fact that a key part of the research was a new approach to tree-ring dating, named stable-isotope dendrochronology. Applied in the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey World Heritage Site for the first time, the technique has, say the scientists who developed it, ‘the potential to revolutionise the dating of wooden structures and artefacts’. So here is a full account.
A shiny bronze plaque (right), set there in 1895, marks a former archway in Westminster Hall explaining that it served as the principal entrance to the House of Commons from 1547 to 1680. Academics and a few insiders, says Hallam Smith, had long been aware of the doorway and passageway, which joined the Hall with the west range of St Stephens’s Cloisters, but they believed it had all been sealed up.
In October 2018 Hallam Smith was in Swindon, working – ‘most enjoyably’, she tells me – ‘through the vast cache of Palace of Westminster material at the Historic England Archives.’ By chance she found a photo of the passageway’s ceiling, taken in 1949, and after ‘piecing together material from the plans in Swindon and the files at the National Archives in Kew’, in December she and her colleagues found a ‘tiny keyhole’ in the Hall panelling. A parliamentary locksmith opened the lock and forced back the hinged section. Mark Collins FSA was the first to clamber in. ‘When I came in,’ he told BBC News, ‘one of the first things I saw was an old barrister’s wig hanging up on a nail.’ It had probably been there since 1952, when they think the room was last seen. Other finds included complex masonry in the walls, iron pintles for two doors, pencilled graffiti and a still functioning Osram lightbulb.
‘Behind the saga’, says Hallam Smith, ‘lies a huge amount of cross-disciplinary collaboration, which exemplifies the Society's values. John Crook FSA has carried out an in-depth archaeological analysis and recording of the site, which has been vital in its interpretation. Nor could we have understood the context and development of this most eccentric hidden space without the wonderful collections in the Parliamentary Archives and Parliamentary Art Collection and, amongst others, the Soane Museum and the British Library.’ But it was a scientific date that set off an unexpected line of inquiry.
Conventional dendrochronology relies on the matching of sequences of wide and narrow tree rings in a sample of wood of unknown age, against a reference chronology derived from many trees. The technique has its limitations, however. The year-to-year variability in tree-ring width, Daniel Miles FSA of the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory tells me, depends on the influence of climate or other growth-limiting factors to preserve a reliable dating signal. Trees that experience significant growth stress will form highly variable ringwidth series, good for dendrochronology; but trees that experience little or no such stress will typically produce wide, invariant ring sequences of less use.
So it was that in October 2019, when Miles analysed samples from two of the ceiling joists in the Westminster passageway (right), conventional dendrochronology failed to produce a clear date. He turned to Neil Loader and the Isotope Dendrochronology Group at the Department of Geography, Swansea University, and Christopher Bronk Ramsey FSA, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.
Loader and his research team – who included Bronk Ramsey and Miles – had just set out the principles of their new dating process in the Journal of Quaternary Science (34, 2019). The ratio between oxygen 18 and oxygen 16 of tree rings primarily reflects the isotopic composition of water taken up by the tree as it grows. In the UK this is related to the amount of summer rainfall, and is likely to vary from one year to the next creating distinctive annual signatures in the wood.
To test this, the scientists produced a master tree-ring chronology spanning AD 1200–2000 for southern central England. From this wood they took samples to determine oxygen isotope ratios, and used the results to develop a new isotopic master chronology. Timbers of known age dating from between 1384 and 2000 were then analysed for isotopes, which matched the isotopic chronology. It worked. Most importantly, trees do not need to be physiologically stressed to record a reliable dating signal. Isotope dendrochronology can be applied to the sort of invariant or short – less than 80 rings – ringwidth sequences that are common across the UK, but often difficult to date.
Applying this technique to the Westminster joists produced a felling date of Spring 1659. This was, says Hallam Smith, ‘an immense surprise to us’: the bronze plaque claimed that the passageway had been closed only shortly after this date, following well over a century of use.
Further documentary research and analysis of the remains proved the isotopic dendro date exactly right. Works accounts show that a medieval door was blocked off in 1660–61 ahead of Charles II’s coronation, and a new passageway and door were knocked through the walls of the Hall to replace it. Crook found dimensions in this account exactly matched the doorway and passageway, and the type of stone looks right. It was finally walled up in 1851: graffiti includes a message reading, ‘This room was enclosed by Tom Porter who was very fond of Ould Ale’, with a list of masons all of whom have been identified from contemporary records.
The passage, originally featuring a portrait head of Charles I over the doorway, was a new grand processional route for the King says Hallam Smith, and the main way to the House of Commons. The story of its Tudor origins, featuring on the plaque, was made up – (‘without affecting too greatly a showman’s undaunted faith’, as he put it in a lecture at the time) by Sir Reginald Douce Palgrave, Clerk of the House 1886–1900.
• The image at the top, a version of a print from 1727, features the only depiction of the doorway in use, described as the ‘enterance of the House of Commons’. The plaque photo is by UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor, and the others are from a BBC News film.
Archaeology on the Move
The publication of Fifty Years of London's Archaeology, edited by Victoria Ridgeway, Diana Briscoe, Jenny Hall FSA and Becky Wallower, invites a consideration of archaeology in the capital, a great world city under lockdown, already worried about Brexit and now facing unpredictable but possibly long-term effects of Covid-19 on leisure, business, development, employment and daily lives. Already there has been gossip that London’s largest archaeological practice might be leaving. Is it?
The book derives from a conference held in 2018 that celebrated a half century of London Archaeologist magazine. The city’s archaeology is rich with characters and a complex history of organisations striving to record and benefit from remains disturbed by wartime destruction and subsequent construction. In the 1970s the Department of Urban Archaeology (DUA), building on a recording system created by Ed Harris FSA at excavations in Winchester, produced a site manual that became adopted around the world. Two excavations caused international concern and affected the course of archaeology in Britain: in 1954 at a Roman Temple of Mithras, directed by Peter Grimes FSA, and in 1989 at the Shakespearean Rose Theatre by the Museum of London’s Department of Greater London Archaeology (DGLA) under the direction of Harvey Sheldon FSA. The latter, where controversy plagued archaeologists as much as the wider scene of heritage and development, prompted the government of the time to ask the late Geoffrey Wainwright FSA to sort things out. The following year planning advice was introduced whose principles remain at the heart of most excavations across the UK today, and which fundamentally changed – and enlarged – both the practice and the rewards of archaeology.
This and much more is charted in the book in articles by Jelena Bekvalac FSA, Peter Marsden FSA, Harvey Sheldon FSA, Roy Stephenson FSA, Bruce Watson FSA, Sadie Watson FSA and Eliott Wragg FSA; Jon Cotton FSA, Robert Cowie FSA, Jacqui Pearce FSA and John Schofield FSA write chapters on what has been found; and other Fellows contribute to discussion features. It is clear that London’s archaeology was already on the move (if some of the concerns seem remote in immediate times). ‘I would like to see our sector go further and get braver’, writes Janet Miller FSA, ‘when we are working with people and archaeology.’ Noting the scale of London's excavations – around 400 projects a year between 2008 and 2016, run by up to 38 organisations – Gary Brown FSA looks forward to more thematic research and improved communication between archaeologists. The Museum of London is literally moving, from its remote 1970s building into the nearby semi-derelict Victorian meat market at Smithfield; its planned 2021 re-opening may now be delayed (and when the Crossrail station will open is anybody’s guess).
A couple of weeks ago talk on social media suggested that Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), London’s largest archaeological practice, was moving too – to Northampton, where it has another base. ‘Disturbing news from members @MOLArchaeology’, tweeted the Archaeologists Branch of Prospect Union (@prospectarchs), ‘where a large number are At Risk of Redundancy: senior field team, engagement professionals (@ThamesDiscovery) and comms.’ One Fellow responded to this by sending me an email headed ‘RIP the Museum of London Archaeology Service’. What’s going on? I asked MOLA: but first, a quick bit of history.
The Museum of London was founded in 1976 (see the next piece, below). Rescue excavations were done mainly by the free-ranging DUA and DGLA, founded in 1973 and a decade later, to cover the City and inner London respectively. The DUA’s unique contribution, Mark Samuel FSA tells me, ‘was the revolutionary (and refreshingly anti-hierarchical) idea that excavation was an “objective” process with only one outcome if carried out correctly. Though this aim was arguably wrong-headed, it allowed every excavator to participate in the interpretative process. The DUA’s and its successors’ influence on the world of archaeology – internationally – is incalculable.’
The DUA and DGLA merged in 1991 to form MoLAS (Museum of London Archaeology Service), based at the museum. In 2011 what by then was known as MOLA left the museum entirely (confusingly, without changing its name) to become an independent heritage practice and charitable company. It has since, under the leadership of Taryn Nixon FSA and more recently Janet Miller FSA, grown and adapted, opening offices in Birmingham, Northampton (as MOLA Northampton) and Basingstoke. It is home to CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network), a citizen science project, and in 2014 it achieved Independent Research Organisation status, the only such archaeological practice to do so, allowing it to apply to Research Councils for funding. There is more to MOLA than digging holes in the City. So is it going?
‘MOLA has no plans to “leave London”,’ I was told firmly in a statement. ‘London is very much part of our heritage, and we are proud to be headquartered in London.’
But things are changing. ‘Like any organisation, MOLA is subject to the same social, economic and technological challenges in an ever-changing external environment. London is particularly subject to these changes, given its status as a world city, and this has an effect on the varying number of construction schemes each year which require substantial archaeological excavation.’ Meanwhile work outside London grows, particularly in the East Midlands, where, Janet Miller tells me, MOLA Northampton ‘goes from strength to strength’ in a region with the busiest housing and infrastructure setting in the UK.
Archaeology in London, on the other hand, has passed the heydays of the 1980s and 90s, as working and construction practices have changed and costs of living have rocketed. But that is not all, and Miller went on to talk about changes in thinking that reflect MOLA’s expansion into areas of research and wider public engagement.
MOLA has been digging in London for a long time, she says, and what’s underground is a ‘diminishing resource’ – ancient deposits are literally disappearing. Public interest, however, does not diminish. Sadie Watson FSA, a MOLA archaeologist, has a four-year UK Research and Innovation grant to seek ways to ‘transform public benefit from UK Government infrastructure investment in archaeology’ (see Salon 435). Sara Perry recently joined MOLA – significantly, leaving a post of Senior Lecturer at the University of York – to lead research and engagement. People want more digital access, says Miller.
A potentially important route to wider engagement is Miller’s ambition for Mortimer Wheeler House, MOLA’s London base which it shares with the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), said to be the largest archaeological archive in the world, still managed by the Museum of London. The site beside the Grand Union Canal in Hackney, once a run-down part of London, has much changed in recent years: ‘The area is getting much groovier!’, says Miller. They hope to collaborate with other organisations to create a hub for archaeologists and researchers to come together, to create a ‘knowledge centre’ with university doctoral partnerships, engaging with the worlds of business, charities, Londoners and contemporary life (MOLA archaeologists recently ran the Dzhangal Archaeology Project on items collected from the Calais Jungle).
With Covid-19, almost all site works have been paused. Miller hopes that one effect of dealing with the pandemic may be beneficial. ‘Experts are back in fashion,’ she tells me. ‘We want archaeology to capitalise on that.’ I suggest they begin to sound like a university in the making. ‘That has not been lost on us,’ she replies.
• Photo at top shows the Bloomberg construction site during demolition in 2012, with archaeological excavation by MOLA taking place ahead of construction; internationally significant Roman remains were found, and the new office block now houses a Mithras temple museum in its basement (MOLA).
Jean MacDonald FSA and the Museum of London
Max Hebditch FSA, with London archaeological colleagues Jonathan Cotton FSA, John Clark FSA, Harvey Sheldon FSA and Jenny Hall FSA, has written this piece to celebrate the 100th birthday of Jean MacDonald FSA (third from left in the photo above):
‘The Museum of London is on the move again, carrying on the wandering tradition of its predecessors, the London and Guildhall Museums. It is good to know that Jean MacDonald FSA (elected a Fellow in May 1978), one of the London Museum’s curators when it moved from Lancaster House to Kensington Palace and reopened in Festival of Britain year 1951, is alive and well. She celebrated her 100th birthday on 6 March this year. She was born in the year the Society of Antiquaries allowed women to become Fellows.
‘Jean is the surviving member of the team William (usually Peter) Grimes FSA formed to recreate the London Museum in what was to be its temporary home for the next 25 years. The others were Walter Henderson (the Museum’s administrator), Martin Holmes FSA (who started as Sir Mortimer Wheeler FSA’s secretary) and conservator Arthur Trotman FSA. Grimes had spent the Second World War in rescue archaeology, excavating defence sites for the Ministry of Works. He succeeded Wheeler as Director of the London Museum in 1945. Jean joined as his secretary the following year and remained as a very Scottish member of the Museum until her retirement in 1985. Grimes spotted her potential as a historian and suggested she attended evening classes at Birkbeck College from where she obtained her degree. Jean provided the curatorial archaeologist the Museum needed, especially as Grimes was excavating sites in the City of London and publishing his wartime excavations.
‘When the the London Museum and the Guildhall Museum amalgamated in 1975, Jean shaped the first prehistoric gallery, working in the Prehistoric and Roman Department headed by Ralph Merrifield FSA, from the Guildhall Museum. Jean’s meticulous documentation of the museum's prehistoric holdings has provided a solid foundation for their future development. Jean has made important contributions to understanding the prehistory of Greater London. Good examples are her later prehistoric chapters in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1 (Victoria County History, 1969) and the Neolithic chapter of The Archaeology of the London Area: Current Knowledge and Problems (1976). Intriguing is her publication of an Iron Age dagger in the Royal Ontario Museum published in Collectanea Londiniensia: Studies Presented to Ralph Merrifield (1978). This had been bought by the Canadian museum from the London antique dealers, Fenton and Son. Her article describes the four other daggers of this type. Jean has maintained her interest in museums and London archaeology since retiring.
‘Another member of the old London Museum team was Davina Fennemore, a friend of Jean who joined in 1954. A great source of knowledge about the early days, she celebrated her 85th birthday a week or so earlier. She later became PA to three London Museum and Museum of London directors: John Hayes FSA, Tom Hume FSA and Max Hebditch FSA.’
• The photo at top was taken on Jean MacDonald’s retirement in 1985, from left: Hugh Chapman FSA (later General Secretary, Society of Antiquaries), Peter Grimes FSA, Jean MacDonald FSA, Max Hebditch FSA, Christine Jones, Ralph Merrifield FSA and Jenny Hall FSA. On the right shows Jean Macdonald (centre) on her 100th birthday with two friends: Davina Fennemore (standing) and Dominique Wilson, her carer.
Fellows (and Friends)
Colin McEwan FSA
, archaeologist of Pre-Columbian America, died in March.
Ofer Bar-Yosef, archaeologist and prehistorian and former Fellow, died in March.
Appreciations appear in Fellows Remembered below.
Neil Redfern FSA
has succeeded Mike Heyworth FSA
as Executive Director of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA). Redfern studied geography and archaeology at university, and worked at the Wordsworth Trust and the CBA (on projects recording structural remains from the two world wars) until, he told me, he joined the Cambridge Archaeological Unit to learn how to dig. He then spent ten years with English Heritage as North Yorkshire Team Leader, Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Field Monument Warden, and went on to become Development Advice Team Leader and Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Historic England. ‘Our landscapes and cities’, Redfern says in a CBA statement
, ‘contain the most fantastic stories locked away in the fabric of their buildings and the undulations in their fields. Our role is to help the public ask questions about their places, to drive curiosity and inquisitiveness and use archaeology to help create meaningful places and experiences for all.’ ‘Neil joins at an exciting time for the CBA,’ says the archaeological charity, ‘as it progresses a transformation project to modernise the organisation’.
Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council have announced Seren Griffiths FSA
as one of ten researchers selected for the list of 2020 ‘New Generation Thinkers’. She follows Susan Greaney FSA
, also an archaeologist, who was among the 2019 New Generation Thinkers. In its tenth year, the scheme offers those selected ‘the prestigious opportunity to communicate their research by making programmes for BBC radio and television’. Griffiths is a heritage specialist, says UK Research and Innovation
, who has worked across Europe, Iran, Australia and the USA using her knowledge of radiocarbon dating; she has just been awarded a major million pound research project dating monuments from the time of Stonehenge. She directs a public archaeology excavation at Bryn Celli Ddu, a Neolithic burial mound on Anglesey, working with the public, artists, composers and heritage agencies: last year they uncovered Early Bronze Age burials, and 6,420 visitors took part in the associated Festival of Archaeology. After studying at Oxford and Cardiff universities, and working for Oxford Archaeology and at the University of Central Lancashire, she is about to become Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Science and Heritage at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Interviewed by Jonny Dymond on BBC Radio 4's World at One
(30 March, 17 minutes in), Lord Sumption FSA
said that ‘human societies lose their freedom’ when people ‘willingly surrender [it] in return for protection against some external threat … [which] is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated;’ and he fears that that is what is happening now. ‘Hysteria is infectious,’ he said. ‘We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease … this is how societies become despotisms … The executive, the government, is all of a sudden really rather powerful and really rather unscrutinised … This is what a police state is like. It's a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers' wishes.’ The Law Society Gazette
reported that his comment on the police ‘appears to have struck a chord in the legal profession’.
Lisa Reilly FSA
has written The Invention of Norman Visual Culture: Art, Politics, and Dynastic Ambition
, aiming, says the blurb, at those interested in ‘the study of cultural construction and identity politics’. Reilly sets out to establish the commonalities of Norman visual culture across Normandy, England and Sicily through examples such as the Abbey of St Étienne, Caen, the Bayeux Embroidery (Tapestry), Durham Cathedral and the Cappella Palatina. Traditionally, she says, scholars have considered such iconic works in geographical isolation, missing their full significance. Instead, she examines them ‘individually and within the larger context of a connected Norman world. Just as Rollo founded the Normandy “of different nationalities”, the Normans created a visual culture that relied on an assemblage of forms. To the modern eye, these works are perceived as culturally diverse. As Reilly demonstrates, the multiple sources for Norman visual culture served to expand their meaning. Norman artworks represented the cultural mix of each locale, and the triumph of Norman rule, not just as a military victory but as a legitimate succession, and often as the return of true Christian rule.’
Gergő István Farkas, Réka Neményi and Máté Szabó have edited Studia in Honorem Zsolt Visy
, a birthday tribute from former students to Zsolt Visy FSA
, Professor Emeritus in archaeology at the University of Pécs, Hungary (photographed last year in happier times). It contains many essays on Roman and historic sites, landscapes and artefacts. David Breeze FSA
has written a Laudatio, celebrating a shared interest in Roman frontiers and their time working together on international projects, Visy’s excavations at Roman sites, his academic career at the University of Pécs, his time as Deputy State Secretary for Culture (‘an appointment which I suspect he did not find entirely congenial’), his positions at UNESCO and ICOMOS – and his talk to the Society in 2006 about the controversial Sevso Hoard. The editors recall Visy examining ‘secret aerial photos in a darkened room during the paranoid Communist era’, and his pioneering work in Eastern European aerial archaeology following the Roman limes
with no regard to modern political borders.
Between 1968 and 1971 – some 50 years ago – Henry Hurst FSA
directed excavations at three sites at the centre of Roman and medieval Gloucester. Gloucester: The Roman Forum and the Post-Roman Sequence at the City Centre
is the final report about what he found, especially at the site of the former Bell Hotel in Southgate Street, telling a story from the setting-out of the Roman legionary fortress in the AD 60s to the building of Britain's second-largest Woolworths. Features include remains of a twice-lifesize bronze statue of a rampant horse and its rider from the forum; substantial remains of a large in situ Roman column; remains of Late Anglo-Saxon wattle buildings, followed by others with plank walls that echo the sequence at Coppergate, York; and later medieval and postmedieval buildings integrated with abundant documentary evidence. There are significant reports on early Roman pottery by Jane Timby FSA
, Late Saxon and later pottery by the late Alan Vince FSA
and 10th–15th century leather shoes by Frances Pritchard FSA
, among others.
While most of us worry about what’s going to happen to the office pot plant, Sir David Attenborough FSA
is tasked with higher things: ‘Can the godfather of natural history television help save the planet?’ asks the Economist
, introducing a podcast (26 March)
. For decades, says the newspaper, Attenborough has brought the natural world into our homes. ‘But his upcoming film, A Life On Our Planet
, offers a stark message about human impact on the environment. Anne McElvoy asks … where he draws the line between wonder and warning. Does his work have the power to change hearts and minds or is he preaching to the choir? They talk about whether the climate could be the only winner from the global covid-19 pandemic and why he has stopped trying to get through to President Trump.’ Colin Butfield, WWF’s Executive Producer for the Our Planet
project, also joins the conversation.
On 6 April the National Lottery Heritage Fund
announced a £50 million ‘emergency coronavirus fund’, under a photo of Stonehenge (managed by English Heritage, a charitable trust set up by the government in 2015, as part of what it calls its ‘national heritage collection’). This will offer grants of between £3,000 and £50,000 to organisations which have received funding in the past or are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant, and will be available for historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature. ‘Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live,’ says the NLHF, ‘creating economic prosperity and supporting personal wellbeing. All of these are going to be vitally important as we emerge from this current crisis.’
Welcoming the news from NLHF, Duncan Wilson FSA
said in a statement that Historic England is ‘also planning emergency financial support to run alongside this and other measures introduced by the Government and our partners in the heritage and cultural sectors, and will announce details soon.’ It is collecting evidence from the whole of the UK in an online survey ‘to fill in gaps in the qualitative data collected by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and … to inform Government policy.’ The survey closes on 13 April
, and is aimed at businesses and other organisations in the heritage sector.
‘Collaboration has never been so important,’ says Ben Cowell FSA
, Interim Historic Environment Forum Chair. ‘We need to work together to communicate the value of our crucial and life-affirming sector, to support each other and to continue to connect with and engage the public.’ In a message for HEF members
, Cowell lists a variety of advice, surveys and information across the heritage sector.
BBC Arts has published new programmes for Culture In Quarantine
, ‘a virtual festival of the arts rooted in the experience of national lockdown, with more to be announced over the coming weeks’. Already a huge range of material has been promised, from Museum in Quarantine to drama, ballet and opera, with ‘extraordinary access to shuttered exhibitions and performances around the country’. Mary Beard FSA
will host a new series of Front Row Late on BBC Two from her study. The BBC earlier announced that Radio 4 will rebroadcast A History Of The World In 100 Objects
presented by Neil MacGregor FSA
. There will be a new commissioning fund run in collaboration with Arts Council England.
Colin McEwan FSA
died from leukemia on 28 March; he was in his late 60s. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in May 2006.
Colin McEwan led a distinguished career in Central and South American archaeology and anthropology, based mainly in Chicago, London and then Washington, DC. In the 1970s he worked with UCL’s Warwick Bray in Araracuara, on an Anglo-Colombian rain-forest project, and in 1979 began his doctoral field research directing the Agua Blanca Archaeological Project in coastal Ecuador. The latter, as he wrote in 2017, underpinned the creation of a community museum and a growing ‘ecological and cultural awareness complemented by economic advances’ in the Machalilla National Park. When a new constitution recognised Ecuador’s multi-ethnic character in 2008, Agua Blanca and adjacent communities asked to be officially recognised as ‘Pueblo Manta’, an identity derived from the area’s pre-Spanish archaeology.
McEwan joined the British Museum in the early 90s, rising from Curator of Latin American collections at the Museum of Mankind to head of the Americas Section in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. At the BM as well as opening the permanent Mexican Gallery, he curated an impressive list of special exhibitions, and wrote or co-edited their linked catalogues. These included Ancient Mexico in the British Museum
(1994); Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory and Ethnography at the Uttermost End of the Earth
(1997); Pre-Columbian Gold: Technology, Style and Iconography
(2000); Unknown Amazon: Culture in Nature in Ancient Brazil
(2001); Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico
(2006); El Caribe Pre-Colombino
(2008); Ancient American Art in Detail
(2009); Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler
(2009); Turquoise in Mexico and North America
(2012); and Inca Sacred Space: Landscape, Site and Symbol in the Andes
Jose Oliver, a long-time friend and colleague, has written that ‘London was possibly the most prolific of times for Colin: major exhibitions launched and led by him, all of them gigantic enterprises. El Caribe Pre-Colombino
travelled from Barcelona to Madrid and then Santiago de Compostela, as usual, accompanied by a marvellous book we all edited under Colin’s leadership. He fought tooth and nail so that these publications (however costly) were not mere catalogues with pretty pictures, but contained substantial scholarly works to enlighten the readers and scholars of the worth and value of what was in the gallery.’
In 2012 McEwan became Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC. Remembering him
, Daniel Boomhower, Director of the Research Library at Dumbarton Oaks, has written of his support for ‘a vibrant community of resident fellows, shepherding a succession of ambitious symposia and resultant volumes, and organising discussions of future directions in scholarship at venues in Central and South America as well as in Washington, DC.’
He was co-editing a catalogue of the Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art from Central America and Colombia, with an accompanying scholarly volume which is in press. A second co-edited volume in preparation (with Christopher Beekman) re-examines the evidence for Pacific Coastal Contacts from Mexico through Ecuador.
Born in Scotland in 1951, Colin McEwan grew up in New Zealand and obtained his BSc at the University of Aberdeen. He obtained first an MA then a PhD (2004) in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
‘Colin was more often at home in collaborative research, as well co-authorship, than as a lone rider,’ writes Oliver. ‘No question he was ambitious, but only regarding the quality/sophistication of his work, not jockeying for academic ranking.’ He ‘was always driven and on a perpetual search for deeper meaning and truth in all he examined’, says Beekman. ‘Colin loved and enjoyed life fully and his work passionately.’
• Jose Oliver’s photo shows Colin McEwan with his wife Norma Rosso at Parc Güell, Barcelona, on a bench created by Antoni Gaudí, in 2008.
Ofer Bar-Yosef died on 14 March aged 82. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in May 2002, and resigned in December 2017.
Ofer Bar-Yosef was a distinguished teacher, academic and field archaeologist who specialised in earlier prehistory, and in a long career led significant field projects in Israel, the Sinai, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Russia, Georgia and China. Harvard University records
that he ‘contributed substantially to debates on human dispersals out of Africa, lithic analysis, human-Neanderthal interactions, the relationship between environmental and behavioural change, early pottery production, and the development of agriculture'. He took part in excavations at many iconic sites, including ’Ubeidiya, Kebara, Qafzeh and Hayonim Cave, Israel, and Zhoukoudian, Xianrendong and Yuchanyan Cave in China.
Bar-Yosef, writes Rowan Flad at Harvard, ‘was an active, engaged, and supportive mentor throughout his entire career. It is a testament to his mentorship that all his students from the 25 years as a Professor at Harvard remain in the field at prominent institutions, spread around the world. For many years after retirement he continued to be an active participant in conferences, fieldwork, mentoring and scholarly activities around the world, until health problems began to curtail his travels in early 2018.’
Born in Jerusalem, Ofer Bar-Yosef served in the Israel Defense Forces (1955–58) before studying archaeology and geography at Hebrew University, where he went on to take an MA (1965) and a PhD (1970) in prehistoric archaeology. Having started in 1967 as an Instructor in the Department of Archaeology, he stayed there at the Institute of Archaeology, as Lecturer (till 1973), then Associate Professor (till 1979) and finally Professor. In 1988 he moved to Harvard University as Professor in the Department of Anthropology, where he was also Curator of Palaeolithic Archaeology at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, retiring in 2013 as Professor Emeritus of Prehistoric Archaeology.
He was much honoured. As well as being a Fellow of the Society, he was a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the Academy of Science, Republic of Georgia, a recipient of Honoris Causa from the University of Bordeaux, the first recipient of the Lloyd Cotsen Prize for Lifetime Achievement in World Archaeology, and a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate at Ben-Gurion University, Israel.
‘Most of all,’ says a tribute from the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
, Ofer Bar-Yosef ‘was a warm-hearted person who cared deeply about the discipline and especially about his students. With a great sense of humour and a mischievous smile, he would bring his theories about dispersal of knowledge to the fore, always based on a deep knowledge of the subject at hand, but never in a tone that would discourage alternate opinions. As a mentor, his role was to stimulate independent thought.’
Memorials to Fellows
Noting that ‘Salon
will be even more appreciated than usual at the moment’ (thank you!), Brian Gittos FSA
and Moira Gittos FSA
send this photo of a memorial tablet to Philip Kermode. ‘Whilst not actually a Fellow,’ they say, ‘he was the Society’s local secretary, a notable antiquary and a key archaeological figure in the Isle of Man.’ He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and surely deserves a place here. The Gittos write:
‘Philip Kermode, who was founding Director of the Manx Museum and Secretary of the Manx Archaeological Survey, was the first to draw attention to the Isle of Man’s rich archaeology. He pursued a life-long interest in the island’s cross-inscribed stones, instituting a formal register of them. Manx Crosses
, his seminal work published privately in 1907, discussed, catalogued and illustrated every one of the 116 crosses then known, and he later published a series of addenda, covering subsequently discovered examples. In his recent book (Manx Crosses
, 2018), David M Wilson FSA
describes Kermode’s publication as still “the indispensable study”, and it continues to underpin modern research. High quality 3D scans of every monument
have now been made publicly available online.
'Kermode’s own monument is part of a family group in the churchyard at Maughold. This is also the location of an important early Christian monastery and a large collection of early monuments survive from it (photo below). A better appreciation of importance the Isle of Man’s early cross slabs is one of Philip Kermode’s enduring legacies.'
The inscription on his tablet reads:
Philip Moore Callow Kermode
Master of Arts Honoris Causa University of Liverpool
Storridderi (Grand Knight) of the Order of the Falcon of Iceland
Author of ‘Manx Crosses’ and other important works
Born at Ramsey 21st March 1855 Died at Douglas 5th Sept. 1932
Director 1922–32 of the Manx Museum the creation of which
was due to his Leadership
This Memorial is erected by the Members of the
Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society
which he founded in
The Wisdom of Fellows
‘Many thanks’, writes Katherine Barker FSA
, ‘for your inclusion of current work on the Cerne Giant.’ I’d written in the last Salon
about some new fieldwork on the Dorset hill figure
, led by Martin Papworth FSA
, aimed at obtaining a scientific date for its original creation. I described a mock trial held in Cerne Abbas in 1996, at which historical and archaeological evidence was debated prior to a vote on the giant’s age. The event was both prompted and convened by Barker. She writes:
‘I was at that time Senior Lecturer at the then newly instituted Bournemouth University, and was setting up and running a Continuing Education programme. The exercise was prompted by the discovery by Vivian Vale – newly retired from Southampton University where he was Lecturer in Political Theory, and living in Cerne Abbas – that the earliest known reference to the Giant is presented in the Cerne Churchwardens Accounts for 1694, “for repairing of ye Giant … 3s”. In short, does something which looks old have to be old?
‘The day was run in association with both the National Trust and the Society of Antiquaries of London (yes) – and including Martin Papworth. Hill figures, of course, need constant maintenance or they grow over. Cases presented for the Prehistoric Origin were led by Timothy Darvill FSA
, for the Medieval/post Medieval origin by Ronald Hutton FSA
(to which I spoke), and the case for “A living Giant” led by Barbara Bender – the Giant is important irrespective of age. This “Commission of Enquiry” was chaired by Colin Patrick, a Bournemouth barrister who kindly gave his services for nothing (and on a Saturday). And the “witnesses” included archaeologists, historians, folklorists, etc – 21 of us in all. In short, the the jury remained out… the age of this hill-figure remained unknown. The day was filmed by BBC West, I mounted displays, and the papers were all written up and published by Oxbow Press (The Cerne Giant: An Antiquity on Trial
, by Darvill, Barker, Bender and Hutton, 1999).
‘The following year, 1997, I organised the taping out of a Giantess by my students. It was a thought-provoking exercise indeed in experimental archaeology. The Cerne hillside is very steep – those at the top of the figure cannot see those at the bottom. It was not until we got down to the bottom of the hill we could look up and see the two figures, ours taped out using a basic grid – a moment I will never forget. T-shirts and sweat-shirts I “commissioned” decorated with the two figures’ “Brief Encounter” sold well (I still have a few left). I described this project in the Trial
book, and in a fuller paper published in the Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society
• The photo of Katherine Barker’s giantess at the top is by Francesca Radcliffe, from The Cerne Giant.
Martin Papworth has completed his daily blogs on the new fieldwork
, concluding with the taking of samples for OSL dating and molluscan analysis (photo below). Mike Allen FSA
identifies a shell from a snail introduced to Britain in medieval times (‘if this is found in the lower colluvium it will extinguish our hopes of a Roman or prehistoric Giant’). Wooden stakes which at first were thought might have been a century old are dated, from the level at which one is preserved, to ‘the 1956 rechalking at the earliest’. Hope now rests on the lab work.
In the last Salon
I noted some correspondence in the Times
about the planned restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. One letter was from Alasdair Glass FSA
, who as Project Manager for the refurbishment of the House of Lords kitchens after a salmonella outbreak in the 1980s, thought that a ‘full decant’ from both Houses was now essential. I omitted to note that Glass was a Fellow, apologies.
‘The “ancient Egyptian-inspired frontage” of the Temple Mills flax works in Salon 445
’, writes Norman Hammond FSA
, ‘is in fact copying rather precisely the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, one of the first icons of early 19th-century Egyptomania. It was drawn in 1799 by the French savants for the Description de l’Egypte
and within a decade had in France featured as a clock, a table-centre-piece in porcelain, and various other knick-knacks. You can read all about it in the National Gallery of Canada exhibition catalogue Egyptomania: Egypt in Western Art, 1730–1930
, edited by Jean-Marcel Humbert, Michael Pantazzi and Christiane Ziegler (1994).’
Historic England says that the factory building at Temple Mill copied the Typhonium at Dendera, and the office building (Grade I), with matching Gate Lodge (Grade II*), was a copy of the Temple at Edfu. There was also a chimney in the style of an obelisk which was demolished in 1852 (has anyone got a picture?).
Hammond also notes that his co-author, former Fellow Warwick Ball, is due to be awarded an Honorary Litt D by the University of St Andrews in June. This is for work over several decades that culminated in The Archaeology of Afghanistan
(1978, new edition 2019) and Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan
(1982, revised 2019), and the founding Editorship of the journal Afghanistan
in 2018. St Andrews has said that. ‘After careful consideration, the University has taken the difficult decision to cancel graduation ceremonies planned for 22 to 26 June 2020.’ Photo above from Google street view.
Forthcoming Events for Fellows
You can catch up on meetings you've missed by visiting our YouTube Channel.
Ordinary Meetings of Fellows
Interested in proposing a lecture? Please download the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Danielle Wilson Higgins, Communications Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All upcoming events have been postponed. Please keep an eye on our website for updates on our event programme. Our Autumn programme is available on our website here.
Forthcoming Public Events
All upcoming events have been postponed. Please keep an eye on our website for updates on our event programme.
Regional Fellows Groups
South West Fellows
Further information on talks at Exeter can be found here.
Want to join the South West Regional Fellows Group? Please see bulletin above regarding potential upcoming activities. You can sign-up to hear about future activities, here.
Want to join the Welsh Regional Fellows Group? Please see bulletin above regarding potential upcoming activities. You can sign-up to hear about future activities, sign-up here.
Want to join the York Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings in York, sign-up here.
Call for papers
Integrating Recording & Understanding
A one-day conference for early-career researchers at the Society of Antiquaries
Friday 23 October 2020, 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
The Society of Antiquaries of London is keen to bring together early-career researchers in the field of historic building recording to see how the latest methods of digital recording, laser-scanning and photogrammetry can be used effectively with other historic sources, including the study of original design and survey drawings, topographical views, documentary material, and the results of archaeological investigation. What are the models of ‘best practice’ in this field? The aim is a sharing of knowledge among leading and recently qualified practitioners.
We invite presentations at a one-day conference in the Society’s lecture room in Burlington House, Piccadilly, on Friday 23 October 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., chaired by Dr Gordon Higgott (an architectural historian and member of the Society’s Research Committee) and Rodolfo Acevedo Rodriguez (an independent historic buildings investigator).
By ‘early career’ researcher the Society means an individual who is within eight years of the award of their PhD or equivalent professional training, or within about six years of their first academic appointment.
Please submit a proposal to the Society’s Communications Manager –email@example.com – in the form of a short abstract (up to 250 words) for a paper of 30 minutes in length that describes a recent or current project of historic building recording. As well as standing fabric, subjects can include monumental sculpture, garden structures, below-ground remains and architectural models. Proposals should be submitted by 15 May 2020. The final programme will be announced in mid-June. Please include a short biography with your proposal. Travel and other expenses of up to £100 are paid to each presenter.
Image: Laser Scan of Thornton Abbey Gatehouse, Lincolnshire © Rodolfo Acevedo Rodriguez/Historic England
Propose a Lecture or Seminar
Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Danielle Wilson Higgins (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Society's Communications Manager, if you are interested in giving a lecture at one of the Society's Ordinary Meetings (Thursday evenings at 17.00) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 13.00). We welcome papers based on new research or themes related to the Society's field of interest: the study of the material past. You can view our current lecture programme in the Events section of our website.
Fellows are also encouraged to propose topics or themes for conferences or seminars that bring scholars and professionals from a variety of disciplines together to explain, discuss and debate our material culture. Please download and complete the Conference Proposal Form, and email it to Danielle Wilson Higgins (email@example.com), if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.
Presently we are scheduled approximately a year in advance.
Other Heritage Events
This section, normally updated in every edition, lists cultural heritage meetings and talks. In the last Salon I explained that I had deleted everything up to 13 April, when the Prime Minster said the present restrictions on movement imposed to help combat the spread of coronavirus would be reviewed. As I write, it seems likely that these restrictions are not about to be lifted.
Major events around the world have been cancelled or postponed. The London Marathon, scheduled for 26 April, has been postponed until 4 October; the Cannes Film Festival (12–23 May) has been postponed; the Glastonbury Music Festival (24–28 June) has been cancelled; the Wimbledon Tennis Championships (29 June–12 July) have been cancelled; all five of Edinburgh’s festivals in August have been cancelled, the first time since the original International Festival was launched in 1947; and the Tokyo Olympics (24 August–5 September) have been postponed.
TAG42 – the 42nd Theoretical Archaeology Group conference – is still hoping to run at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, in December. But it has said that the 2021 TAG hosts in Edinburgh ‘are happy to delay if the worst comes to the worst and we have to postpone’.
More in the spirit of a reminder that things will get better than an invitation to get out your diaries, I have now retained listed events from 1 September, while deleting all those before. Everything previously listed can be found in Salon 444, and perhaps if we’re lucky some of those events can be brought back into a future edition. Nonetheless, you should not assume that anything still here will actually happen, and organisers should be consulted.
14–18 September: From College Library to Country House (Cambridge)
This residential course directed by Andrew Moore FSA for the Attingham Trust at Clare College, University of Cambridge, focuses on iconic libraries. These include the historic libraries of Houghton Hall (created by Robert Walpole) and Holkham Hall (home to one of Britain’s greatest private manuscript and printed book collections); the library designed by James Gibbs for Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford at Wimpole Hall, and Anglesey Abbey, created by the Anglo-American oil magnate Huttleton Broughton, first Lord Fairhaven (both now owned by the National Trust); the barely known and privately owned Narford Hall, Norfolk (Sir Andrew Fountaine’s library, built after his return from Europe in 1718); the Old Libraries of St John’s College and Queens’ College; the Wren Library, Trinity; the Pepys Library, Magdalene College; the Parker Library at Corpus Christi; the Founder’s Library at the Fitzwilliam Museum; and historic book collections in the University Library designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. Lecturers include James Campbell FSA, David McKitterick FSA, David Pearson FSA and Mark Purcell FSA. Details online.
16–17 September: Photographing Historic Buildings (Oxford)
Digital cameras have greatly changed the way we record our architectural history, simplifying the process and reducing the cost of image capture, thereby encouraging a scatter-gun method of photography. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online.
23–25 September: Heritage Values and the Assessment of Significance (Oxford)
Significance is now a core concept within our planning process. Its assessment is a key part of management and development within the historic environment. This course will introduce the process, show you what is involved in preparing assessments of significance, teach you how to read and judge such assessments, and explore the ways in which they can be used. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online
28 September: Germanic and Gentle? The Foundation and Early Collections of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg (London)
Heike Zech FSA, Head of Decorative Arts before 1800 and History of Craft, Germanisches NationalMuseum, Nuremberg, will talk in the Wallace Collection’s 2020 History of Collecting seminar series. Details online.
8 October: Project Management in Archaeology: An Introduction (Oxford)
Project management has become a core function for those working at senior levels within the historic environment sector, but many historic environment professionals still progress into management roles with little or no formal management training. This course is designed for those who are new to the project management role and will draw on the extensive experience of the tutors in development-led archaeology. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online.
26 October: The Paintings by Horace Vernet in Louis-Philippe's Private Collection: Commission, Purpose, Display and Destination (London)
Valérie M C Bajou, Chief Curator, Versailles Palace, will talk in the Wallace Collection’s 2020 History of Collecting seminar series. Details online.
25–27 November: Public Inquiry Workshop (Oxford)
This course introduces potential witnesses and advocates to the techniques and procedures of public inquiries dealing with the historic environment, including preparing proofs of evidence. A mock inquiry will be staged. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online.
30 November: Creating a Market: Dealers, Auctioneers and the Passion for Riesener Furniture, 1800–1882 (London)
Helen Jacobsen, Senior Curator, the Wallace Collection, will talk in the Wallace Collection’s 2020 History of Collecting seminar series. Details online.