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Salon: Issue 358
15 February 2016

Next issue: 29 February 2016

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 (if you are reading this in an email, do not reply directly as we will not receive your message). 

Salon does not review books, but the Editor is pleased to receive details and front cover images of new titles written by Fellows. Scholarly publications are reviewed in The Antiquaries Journal: for details see Publications.
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Inside this issue

From the Desk of the General Secretary

Battlefield Recovery

Since the last edition of Salon, the programme Battlefield Recovery, broadcast on Channel 5, has ended. After the second episode of the programme, the Society wrote to express our great concern and dismay. Our criticism focused on the careless, insensitive and unethical treatment of the human remains, but also the mistreatment of other finds, the inept standards of excavation and the shocking disregard for safe systems of working. A copy of the Society's official letter, in its entirety, is available on our website. The Society also registered a formal complaint with Ofcom.

On 8 February, we received the following response from Channel 5. We have now published this response to our website as well.

[Image of Channel 5's email]

Society Responds to the Church Buildings Review Report

The Society's Policy Committee has submitted a response to the Church Buildings Review Report. The Review Group’s Report is very welcome, in view of its updated look at the problems posed by 16,000 church buildings in the care of the Church of England, the first such review since the late 1980s. Thanks to Government and Lottery support, many church buildings are in a reasonable state of repair, and there are some answers to the problems posed. There is time to implement some of the solutions that the Report suggests, so long as the momentum generated by the Report is sustained.

The Policy Committee's response applauds some of the solutions put forward, but also makes some recommendations, including a more robust national delivery of certain initiatives. The Society has also supported the Chairman of Historic England's suggestion that an independent Royal Commission should thoroughly investigate and report on the future of at least listed places of worship; a Royal Commission might take several years to complete, but could have more political clout to persuade Government that the current burden on parishes is too onerous and increased state care is necessary.

You can read the Society's full response on our website at

Conservation at Kelmscott

Picture of UV filters being replaced. Kelmscott Manor will be opening its doors to the public again beginning 2 April 2016, and there are several good reasons to visit (not the least among them being the new acquisition of the 'Homestead and the Forest' cot quilt reported in the last issue of this newsletter).

However, for now, the house has been put 'to bed' for the remainder of the winter and staff and volunteers have been busy completing necessary conservation and maintenance works, in addition to preparation for the forthcoming open season. One such activity was the replacement of the UV filters on all the windows in the Manor (carried out by Sun-X on 29 January), along with the repair and replacement of blinds. This essential work was generously funded by The Barbara Whatmore Charitable Trust, The Idlewild Trust and the Friends of Kelmscott Manor membership programme.

William Morris Fruitcake Easter Offer — Kelmscott Manor Receives £5.50 for Each Order

Award-winning artisan baker Ursula Evans follows Morris’s fruitcake recipe almost to the letter, soaking the vine fruits in brandy, baking slowly in her AGA. ‘The luxury glace fruits used in the original William Morris fruitcake mixture are used as a topping now’, she says, ‘but otherwise, these are the cakes that the Morris family enjoyed for tea in the 1880s.’
Each order supports the future care and development of Kelmscott Manor, Morris's 'heaven on earth'. Christmas sales of these special cakes raised more than £260 to support conservation at the Manor. This Easter, you can choose between a cake topped with glace fruit (like the Christmas cake) or a festive marzipan topping.

To enjoy a William Morris fruitcake with family and friends this Christmas, please place your order  via the My Cottage Kitchen website.


Unlocking Our Collections: The President's Silver Mace

The Society of Antiquaries has, over more than 300 years, accumulated astonishing collections. Through the Library and Museum collections at Burlington House (London) and Kelmscott Manor (Oxfordshire), the Society cares for a vast array of material, ranging from Old Master paintings to archaeological objects, from prints and drawings to one of the finest libraries for antiquarian and archaeological research anywhere.

This year, we have launched new programme to highlight a variety of the treasures in our collections, focusing on one special object each month. The features, which will consist of short text, sometimes with supporting material or short videos, will be published on the Society’s website and shared via this newsletter and our social media profiles (such as Facebook and Twitter). Their aim is to raise awareness and appreciation of the Society’s wonderful collections, but also to engage Fellows more closely in the life of the Society by calling on those Fellows with knowledge and expertise of objects in the collections to share their that knowledge with our public audiences.

Our first feature is by President Gill Andrews, who has spent time researching the history and significance of the Society's Presidential Mace – or rather, maces! You can watch the video below, or visit our website for full details on President Andrews' discoveries.
Click on the video above to watch a five-minute presentation on the maces.
If you have a favourite object in the collections, please do consider contributing! For more information, please contact the Collections Manager, Anooshka Rawden, at

Dark Times for Regional Heritage

According to an uncontrolled poll on the Shropshire Star website, over two thirds of voters would pay more council tax to keep their museums. They may be too late. Shropshire Council has warned of ‘draconian and unthinkable things’ (among them reducing its museum and tourism budget to zero), as it grapples with the central government grant cuts being faced by councils across the country. Shropshire’s Financial Strategy 2016/17–2018/19, published on 27 January, says, ‘All museums and locally commissioned tourism facilities are at risk of likely closure.’
Lancashire County Council has said it will close its historic environment services from 1 April. This will affect not just Lancashire: the Council’s work includes archaeology planning advice for Cumbria. Five county museums will also close. An online petition to ‘save Lancashire’s archaeology’ has received over 1,000 votes.
In Norfolk, however, in a rare case of better news, the Historic Environment Services seem secure for now, after a public consultation encouraged the County Council to raise the council tax rate by 3.99%, to bolster £42 m of savings.
Vanessa Thorpe, writing in The Guardian on 7 February, considered the ‘jeopardy’ confronting regional museums. The Royal Photographic Society’s collection at Bradford’s National Media Museum is moving to the V&A in London (which the Conservative leader on Bradford Council called an ‘act of cultural rape on my city’). In West Yorkshire the Tolson Museum, Oakwell Hall, Red House Museum, Bagshaw Museum and Dewsbury Museum ‘are all under consideration for closure’. The Light Infantry Museum in Aykley Heads, Durham, will close in April. Brixham Heritage Museum in Devon will close if a proposed 40% support cut goes through. And so on. 

Colchester’s Roman Arcade

A Roman arcade was in the news last week, as the Colchester Archaeological Trust revealed that new discoveries will go on permanent display this summer opposite Colchester Museum. Phillip Crummy FSA, the Trust's director, told The Telegraph, ‘This arcade is the largest of its kind in Britain. Its closest rival in terms of size stands in what was Gaul, in northern France, and shares some of the architecture we can see in Colchester today.’ But the French arcade, he said, was only 70 m long – 50 m less than Colchester’s. The 28-arched arcade was still standing in Norman times, thinks Crummy, and survives today as substantial foundations and blocks of fallen masonry.
The structure was first identified in 1954 by Rex Hull FSA, after a fire destroyed a shop. Max Hebditch FSA found more remains ten years later at another shop development. It was apparent that the arcade was a grand entrance into the precinct of the Temple of Claudius, a sight, wrote Crummy in 2014, ‘unparalleled in Britain and on a scale with buildings in Rome.’ Excavations were then in progress at 97 High Street, where new housing was due to replace an office block. In the summer the developer, the Flying Trade Group, will open a display of parts of three arches under the floor of Castle House beneath glass panels, with ‘animated reconstructions’. The photo (right) is from the East Anglian Daily Times, and the illustration from BBC News.

Depicting Layeredness


Continuing from at least the Great Fire, when Sir Christopher Wren thought (wrongly as it turned out) he’d found Roman buildings beneath the shell of St Paul’s Cathedral, the discovery of London’s buried history received a powerful boost with the introduction of development–led (and paid) excavation in 1990. Such is the present city’s drive to rebuild itself, London is fast becoming one of the most investigated settlements in human history. The National Geographic Society cleverly commissioned a photographer known for his thoughtful interpretations of contemporary battle zones and military technology to illustrate the theme. Simon Norfolk’s photos appear in the current edition of National Geographic magazine, and can also be seen exhibited at the Museum of London.
Roy Stephenson FSA, Head of Archaeological Collections at the Museum, said, ‘The huge number of archaeological excavations which have taken place in London since the middle of the 20th century have led to some amazing discoveries and as a result, the Museum of London is in the privileged position of having a truly rich collection of historical objects from pre-history to the 20th century. The Under London display really highlights how much our city’s trade, industry, culture and inhabitants have changed and progressed.’
‘All of my photography over the last 20 years’, said Norfolk, ‘has been the seeking out of … “layeredness”. I wanted the photographs to follow an arc, beginning with simple artefacts, passing through the violence of conquest, the slow acquisition of culture and trade, and ending with intimations of a vast overseas empire and the dawn of mass industrialisation.’
You need to see the whole set to appreciate that story, but the example here shows the treatment. A stone Maori war club – a patu onewa – turned up in rubble from a construction site on Old Kent Road, presumed to have been brought to Britain by an 18th- or 19-century traveller, and subsequently lost or thrown out. Norfolk photographed the club, artificially lit in a clear case, beside a statue of Captain James Cook near Admiralty Arch. Under London continues at the Museum of London until 3 July.

The Day Dr Mac Came to Lunch

‘What I want to tell you about’, says Colin Renfrew FSA, leaning back in his chair, ‘is how it all began.’
It started with a letter from a lawyer, he continues, in 1988, representing a person of means. Dr Daniel McLean McDonald approached the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, with a view to sharing the proceeds of a successful business career in record turntables. The outcome was the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, which rose from a former car park and opened in 1990, with Lord Renfrew as founding Director. The Institute’s logo, a wing-footed triskele, was inspired by McDonald’s adopted home – on the Isle of Man.
Lord Renfrew’s was the first in a series of short talks about the McDonald Institute and its early achievements, given at a seminar on the occasion of its 25th anniversary held in February last year, in honour of the late Dora Kemp. The Personal-Histories Project, led by Pamela Jane Smith FSA, has edited them together into an immensely impressive hour of video. The other speakers were Anthony Snodgrass FSA, Paul Mellars FSA, Peter Forster, Jenny Doole, Chris Scarre FSA (one-time Deputy Director of the Institute), Martin Jones FSA, Graeme Barker FSA (the Institute’s former Director), Cyprian Broodbank FSA (current Director) and Kate Pretty FSA.
The Personal-Histories Project describes itself as ‘an on-going, educational, oral-histories research effort spearheaded by the McDonald Institute. Each year, during term, senior scientists are invited to share their memories and life stories. Through their recollections, we better understand 20th-century science and the development of anthropology and archaeology.’ A further 10 films are online, of which the most popular is currently a discussion in 2006 about the ‘New Archaeology’ of the 1960s, with Mike Schiffer, Robin Dennell, Ezra Zubrow FSA, the late Marek Zvelebil FSA, Rob Foley FSA, Lord Renfrew, Barker and Mellars. Other reminiscing Fellows over the years include Richard Bradley FSA, Chris Stringer FSA and Sir David Attenborough FSA.

The McDonald Institute has invited applications for the first Renfrew Fellowship in Archaeology, a three-year postdoctoral award named in honour of our Fellow. Contenders with ‘an intellectually innovative, well-focussed research project within any field of archaeology, broadly construed’, should apply by 29 February 2016.

You Wait Years for a Brooch …

Last October Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar on a beautiful – and rare, said to be one of only 13 examples known – Anglo-Saxon brooch. The export bar expired on 26 January. There has been no announcement, but I understand the interest has been considerable. We can perhaps hope that the vision of Leslie Webster FSA, a member of the Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, may come to bear. The brooch, she said in October, ‘would be a marvellous acquisition for a UK museum.’
In the meantime, we now know of 14 examples of the brooch type. The new one, described in the March/April edition of British Archaeology, is unique among its class for having been retrieved at an archaeological excavation. It was found in 2007 in a test trench at an early stage of a long-term research project into an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and settlement at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. The brooch ‘is extremely interesting’, said Webster, ‘not least because of its very explicit cross’.

Who wore the brooches or why are unknown, but a possible example is sported by the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells. Unfortunately the drawing is too vague for the association to be more than hypothetical. The photo of the brooch is from Richard Mortimer, Oxford Archaeology East.

Award for Wordsworth Trust

The Wordsworth Trust has secured support for a £4.75 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The Wordsworth Museum’s world-class collection, says a press release dated 3 February, ‘will be reinvigorated and expanded, historic buildings will become a hub for visitors and the exploration of themes such as the human mind, democracy and our relationship with nature will bring the Wordsworth story into the 21st century.’ Last year Arts Council England cut the Trust’s annual grant by £80,000.
Perhaps visitors will be able to learn more about Joseph Wilkinson FSA (1765–1831), a cleric and amateur watercolourist represented in the Trust's collection by nearly 50 sketches (illustrated is St Bees Priory, a Dissolution ruin until its restoration in the later 19th century). Wordsworth, says Jenny Uglow in a blog, wrote a text for a book of Wilkinson’s Lake District views, although he ‘almost ignored the pictures, enthusing about the Lake District’s gradations of colour through the seasons, and about its cottages and farms and traditional economic development, now under threat from new building and planting.’ The book was not a great success, continues Uglow. ‘It was well known that [Wordsworth] actually hated the engravings – this was not Wilkinson’s fault, as the engravings were done by William Frederick Wells, and went seriously wrong when the publishers tried to colour them.’
The Wordsworth Trust was founded in 1891 to secure Dove Cottage at Town End, near Grasmere, as a place to think about its one-time occupants, William Wordsworth, his family and sister, and their literary and artistic visitors at the start of the 19th century. On the first open day there were apparently four visitors, ‘including a lady from Chicago who stumbled upon it by chance’. The Trust’s Annual Review says 50,176 people went on guided tours and visited the Wordsworth Museum in 2014. Heritage does not stand still. The HLF grant, says the Trust, ‘will transform Dove Cottage and The Wordsworth Museum from an attraction to a destination, drawing more visitors to Grasmere and benefitting the local economy’.

Indigenous Barks

Paul Daley, writing for The Guardian, claims to have seen correspondence between the British Museum’s Deputy Director, Jonathan Williams FSA, and an Aboriginal clan ‘about potentially returning its sacred artefacts from London’. Items in the Museum’s collections, among them a piece of eucalyptus bark with incised designs, are being considered as loans for an exhibition at the Bendigo Regional Art Gallery, Victoria in 2017, following the BM’s Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation last year. Gary Murray, a Dja Dja Wurrung spokesperson, would like the permanent return of three artefacts.
Last August, wrote Daley on 9 February, Williams wrote to Murray, saying ‘the terms of the British Museum Act 1963 restrict the removal of objects from the collections except in very limited circumstances … Notwithstanding this, the museum would be pleased to engage in dialogue with Dja Dja Wurrung people about the matters you have raised.’
The photo shows a detail of a rare bark etching, collected before 1854. Exhibited in Enduring Civilisation, it was among pieces which featured in a court case after an exhibition at Museum Victoria, Melbourne in 2004. Mari Nugent wrote about it in the BM’s 2015 exhibition catalogue, highlighting the complexities in a long story of ‘fraught and challenging issues’ where nothing, it seems, can be taken for granted.

News of Fellows

Mark Collard FSA divides his time between the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where he is Canada Research Chair and Professor in the Human Evolutionary Studies Program and Department of Archaeology, and the School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen, where he holds a Chair in Archaeology. With Dutch colleagues, he hopes ‘to provoke debate about the nature of an iconic artifact – the Acheulean handaxe. Specifically,’ says the abstract of a new paper in Evolutionary Anthropology, ‘we want to initiate a conversation about whether or not they are cultural objects. The vast majority of archeologists assume that the behaviors involved in the production of handaxes were acquired by social learning and that handaxes are therefore cultural. We will argue that this assumption is not warranted … [The] alternative hypothesis is that the form of Acheulean handaxes was at least partly under genetic control.’ ‘A small fortune’, he says, was paid to allow open-access to the paper. ‘The Acheulean handaxe: more like a bird’s song than a Beatles’ tune?’ can be read online. The photo shows flint handaxes from Boxgrove, made around half a million years ago.

The world, says the BBC, expects Leicester City football team to win the Premier League, something it has not done since it was formed in 1884. Could Fellows by responsible? Yes, some say, thanks to an archaeological excavation led by Richard Buckley FSA, at the instigation of Philippa Langley, advised by John Ashdown Hill FSA. On 6 February the team beat Manchester City 3-1, putting it five points ahead of the next contender. A week before, Duncan Alexander, a sports commenter, had tweeted that he was ‘Increasingly convinced that Leicester’s form is due to the ending of 530 years of Plantagenet fury.’ Alexander drew up a chart of ‘Leicester City’s top-flights wins’: Before Richard III’s remains were discovered (32%), Period before Richard III was reburied (14%), Since Richard III was reburied in March 2015 (63%). Leicester’s shirts, noted The Guardian, carry their Thai owners’ branding: a travel retail group called King Power.
Fellows wondering what happened to Look and Learn-style cutaway drawings explaining how things work, may enjoy the Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual to the Mary Rose: King Henry VIII’s Warship 1510–45. It is written by Brian Lavery, naval historian and Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. The book covers the ship’s history (including how she was sailed), excavation, restoration and display, and offers ‘a close look at the ship’s anatomy and key features, including her hull, bow, sterncastle and firepower.’ ‘The Mary Rose project’, said Alex Hildred FSA, who dived on the wreck in 1979, became Curator of Ordnance and then Curator of Human Remains at the Mary Rose Trust, ‘is about to enter its next exciting chapter as the ship completes her final drying phase, after which visitors will enjoy a full and unobscured view of the entire hull. The new Haynes manual documents this complex restoration process.’

Kate Tiller FSA has written Parsonages (Bloomsbury Shire Publications), an illustrated book about ‘vicarages, rectories, and later manses, presbyteries and chapel houses’. Parsonages, says the blurb, ‘have been among the most significant dwellings in every kind of British community. Their roles have been wide and varied. Architecturally important, and ranging from medieval vernacular buildings to the bespoke house designs of leading architects of the 19th and 20th centuries, to the more modest homes of today's clergy, parsonages are important not only as buildings but for the part they – and their occupants – have played in the life of local communities, and in their links with the wider world. This study draws on the evidence of architecture, official documents, private records, literary accounts, and contemporary and modern images.’ There is also a section on tracing a parsonage’s history.

The Australian Government has reappointed eight eminent Australians as members of the National Cultural Heritage Committee for a term of two years, including Patrick Greene FSA, who continues as Chair of the Board. The National Cultural Heritage Committee advises the Government on the granting of export permits for Australian protected objects under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986, on applications for funding under the National Cultural Heritage Account and on the National Cultural Heritage Control List. The Committee’s work is critical to ensuring that Australia’s most significant cultural objects remain in Australia so that current and future generations of Australians continue to have access to these vital parts of the nation’s shared identity. The Committee represents Australia’s collecting institutions, universities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the cultural heritage sector.
The Guy Ladriere Collection in Paris, says I. B. Tauris’s blurb, is one of the world’s ‘finest assemblages of rings and gemstones, … of major importance both to the collector and the art historian’. For the first time, Diana Scarisbrick FSA, John Boardman FSA and Claudia Wagner FSA have catalogued, illustrated and described it all, in The Guy Ladriere Collection of Gems and Rings. ‘Comprising some three hundred items, and including a rich and varied mixture of cameos and intaglios, the Collection ranges from ancient artefacts originating in the Minoan period to gemstones and rings of the 19th century. It also boasts many medieval pieces, Christian crystal plaques and Lombardic stones with inscriptions.’ Prize pieces include ‘the famous rhinoceros, most probably depicting an identifiable animal … taken from Portugal to Spain in 1583’, and Elizabeth I ‘crowned with the mythological lionskin of Hercules’.

As a new year resolution for 2016, Manchester Museum and the Whitworth (University of Manchester) and Manchester Art Gallery (Manchester City Council) are supporting Selfridges’ Project Ocean, a retail activism campaign committed to raising awareness of the danger plastic poses to the world’s oceans. The galleries have pledged to remove all single-use plastic water bottles from their restaurants. Nick Merriman FSA, Director of Manchester Museum, said, ‘We are supporting the Project Ocean initiative because it chimes exactly with the Museum’s aim of working towards a sustainable world, that is also reflected in our major exhibition next year on climate change. It is clear that plastic in the oceans is affecting marine life on a massive scale and we can no longer sit on the fence about this issue.’
Angela Gannon FSA and her colleague George Geddes have written St Kilda – The Last and Outmost Isle, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland’s final publication (the Commission and Historic Scotland merged in October last year; their functions are now undertaken by Historic Environment Scotland, a non-departmental public body analogous to Historic England, formed last April). Gannon and Geddes explode the myth of this distant archipelago as a ‘lost and primitive world’, demonstrating instead how it has been connected to and influenced by communities across the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland for at least 3,000 years. They reveal the enduring capacity of the islanders to respond to their local environment, yet at all times remain part of a much wider social and economic network. The book features maps, plans, drawings and photographs produced by the authors and the RCAHMS survey team during their time on St Kilda, and includes an extended section that showcases photographs of St Kilda, many of them drawn from the collection of the National Trust for Scotland and never before published.

The lead feature in the Spring 2016 edition of The Archaeologist, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists’ magazine, calls for ‘the mobilisation of CIfA talents and capabilities to participate in the protection of World Heritage Sites and resources under threat’. Frank Meddens FSA and Gerry Wait FSA survey recent damages and threats to World Heritage Sites, and argue that the CIfA ‘has a role to play’, with ‘a great deal of expertise and experience which could be deployed to be active in prevention, support and training as well as damage control, recovery and reconstruction.’ At an Advisory Council meeting in September, there was unanimous support for CIfA to apply to join ICOMOS-UK, which advises UNESCO, and ICOM UK, a museum organisation.

In 2011 the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Archaeology at Aarhus University celebrated its 40-year anniversary – and thus that of Medieval archaeology as a university discipline in Denmark – by holding an international conference. The proceedings have been edited by Mette Svart Kristiansen, Else Roesdahl FSA and James Graham-Campbell FSA, as Medieval Archaeology in Scandinavia and Beyond: History, Trends and Tomorrow (Aarhus University Press). Olaf Olsen FSA, who died last November, was appointed the first Professor of Medieval Archaeology at Aarhus University in 1971; his summary of ‘The first ten years – why and how’ accompanies a full 40-year historical survey by Roesdahl, who retired in 2012. In three parts, the book covers Denmark; Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland; and ‘Elsewhere in Europe’, including papers by Neil Price FSA on the future of Viking studies and Mark Gardiner FSA on the English Medieval hall. In its coverage, says Graham-Campbell, it complements the proceedings of a 2007 conference organised by the Society for Medieval Archaeology, published in 2009 as Reflections: 50 Years of Medieval Archaeology 1957–2007, edited by Roberta Gilchrist FSA and Andrew Reynolds FSA.
Paul Everill FSA, Pamela Irving, Joe Flatman FSA, Tony Howe and Reuben Thorpe have edited Rescue Archaeology: Foundations for the Future (Rescue), in which practising archaeologists assess British archaeology’s ‘current frameworks’. Other contributors include Malcolm Cooper FSA, Neil Holbrook FSA, Dominic Powlesland FSA, Ian Ralston FSA, Harvey Sheldon FSA, John Shepherd FSA, John F S Walker FSA, Pete Wilson FSA and myself, writing under the themes of Current Framework, Experiences of the 21st Century Archaeologist, Crisis Points and Rescuing the Future. The book was conceived, says Everill, as a successor to Rescue Archaeology (1974), edited by Philip Rahtz FSA as an introduction to the then new campaign to ‘rescue’ threatened historic remains, and the organisation created to campaign for more protective legislation.

Lives Remembered

Christopher Brooke FSA, who died in December, was a distinguished Fellow in addition to his achievements as a historian. He was the Society’s oldest-surviving President, a post he held from 1981 to 1984. An important aspect of his presidency, writes Adrian James, the Society’s Assistant Librarian, was the decision to re-open excavations at Sutton Hoo under the direction of Martin Carver FSA.
‘His presidential addresses from the chair at the Society’s anniversary meetings were the most elegant (and best) of my time,’ recalls James. ‘No subsequent incumbent has rivalled Brooke’s literary accomplishments and range of learned allusion. He was a most unaffected and approachable man who liked to wear a green suit. He would set off from his remote home in the Lake District at 5 a.m. to chair the Society’s Thursday meetings, arriving impeccably tailored except for being shod in what looked like fell-walking boots.’
In an obituary in The Times (February 2, subscription needed), Brooke is described as ‘one of the most prolific medieval historians of the past 70 years’, who ‘demonstrated the importance of reaching a wider audience by way of well-illustrated surveys and textbooks.’
He was also ‘a master of exact scholarship, with a penchant for the editing of Latin texts (particularly the letters of the monk and prelate Gilbert Foliot). He long advocated that medieval historians should take into account visual evidence – such as illuminated manuscripts, architecture and archaeological remains – as well as primary texts.’
He was General Editor and co-author of the four-volume A History of the University of Cambridge, and author of A History of Gonville and Caius College (1985). Other books included London 800–1216: The Shaping of a City (with Gillian Kerr, 1975), From Alfred to Henry III (1961), Europe in the Central Middle Ages 962–1154 (1987/2000), The Medieval Idea of Marriage (1989) and Jane Austen: Illusion and Reality (1999).
He was unusual among historians of his era in the extent to which he felt architectural and archaeological remains could assist in understanding the written past. In the opening chapter of The Saxon and Norman Kings (1963 – I quote from the paperback edition I bought when I was studying A Level history), he wrote about sources.
‘If [a man] wishes to understand and enjoy the detective element in history,’ he says (betraying the culture of his own times in appearing to address only one gender), ‘to see how one can wring information from a few scattered clues – or if he wishes to see human nature at work in a different context from his own, to stir his imagination by studying his own remote ancestors, remote not only in time but in their thoughts and interests – then he will be well advised to study the Middle Ages.’
‘Beowulf’, he writes, ‘helps us to clothe the kings and imagine the houses they lived in; and it has in these respects been marvellously supplemented in recent years by archaeology … But the archaeologist can only dig up what is lasting; that is, broadly speaking, stone and pottery, metal which rust has not wholly corrupted, and bones.’ It is thus ironical, he continues, that the most sensational archaeological finds have been the wooden ship at Sutton Hoo and the timber halls of Yeavering Palace, discovered ‘from an aeroplane, flying low over the field in early dawn or late evening, when the sun is low.’
The Normans as Cathedral Builders (1980) and The Architectural History of Winchester Cathedral (with Robert Willis, 1980) were among his others books.
In a 2008 interview for the project Making History: The Discipline in Perspective, Brooke described himself as an ‘hereditary historian’, having learned from his father and medieval historian Nugent Brooke, under whose inspiration he ‘gave up collecting engine numbers and took to collecting medieval archdeacons instead’.
‘I do think history is incomparable as cultural instruction,’ he said. ‘The difficulty is that it mustn't be propounded by people sort of ex-cathedra, as if they were issuing papal encyclicals … It is potentially one of the most powerful educational forces in the world, and the more scientific it is, the more effective and powerful it is.’

Robert Anderson FSA died on 24 November 2016, at the age of 88. Howard Davies, executor, has written this tribute.
‘Robert Anderson will have been known to you as a distinguished Egyptologist, and former Honorary Secretary of the Egypt Exploration Society. He was associated in particular with their excavations at Qasr Ibrim in the mid-1970s, where the first fragments of the Latin poet Cornelius Gallus were discovered; he also contributed the volume on ancient Egyptian musical instruments to the British Museum's Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities. He has since written extensively on ancient Egypt and its relations with the classical world.
‘In tandem with these interests, he also pursued a notable career in music and musicology, being the founder-conductor of the St Bartholomew's Hospital Choir, and at the same time associate editor of The Musical Times, music reviewer for The Times, and more recently for the online journal Music & Vision. His collected music criticism, as well as his last volumes on The French in Egypt, 1978–1801 and Palmyra, are in the course of publication. He founded the Robert Anderson Research Charitable Trust in 1988 to promote excellence in scholarship.’

The Wisdom of Fellows

Lorna Watts FSA would like to see an exhibition highlighting the work of archaeological illustrators and artists, thinking in the first instance of excavations at an Anglo-Saxon church at Deerhurst, Gloucestershire, and a royal settlement at Yeavering, Northumbria (the latter having impressed the late Christopher Brooke, see above).
‘Not so long ago’, she writes, ‘I talked to the Society’s Secretary (when Deerhurst material went to the Society) about the possibility of an exhibition of archaeological drawings, many of which are works of art as well as presenting information graphically. Think of all those pre-computer, publication-ready, site drawings. An exhibition could have the bad as well as the good, in a real celebration of several hundred years of archaeological publishing. Thinking of only the most immediate: the drawings of Brian Hope-Taylor FSA (Philip Rahtz FSA once mounted a figure of all his N signs in Yeavering, which a journal editor thought worthless – it's still here, up on the wall), and all Philip's drawings of Deerhurst which the Society is custodian of. I would agree that computer reconstructions can be excellent, but I've yet to see admirable site drawings from that source. Sometimes it seems as if the obvious is being missed, that only the glaringly-visible is being celebrated, even if my starting-point is all too obvious!’

Vincent Megaw FSA recently found himself engaged in aerial site spotting, with a photo montage on the back of Time magazine. The back cover of the Aus./NZ issue for February 15, he writes, had a full-page colour advert from Unite4Heritage under the heading, ‘Stand up against attacks on cultural heritage … and celebrate the culture, objects and places that matter to you. JOIN THE CONVERSATION Powered by UNESCO’. ‘Always did think’, he adds, ‘that Time was the better class of in-flight reading.’
My apologies to Lucilla Burn FSA and Tim Knox FSA for confusing their authorship, in the last Salon, of what Knox describes as ‘the splendid new book’, The Fitzwilliam Museum: A History, published to celebrate the Museums’ first two centuries. It was written by Burns alone. Knox did, however, write the introduction to the catalogue for Death on the Nile: Uncovering the Afterlife of Ancient Egypt, the Fitzwilliam’s first major bicentenary exhibition, which opens on 23 February.
‘I have just enjoyed a good read of this issue but have noticed a serious misprint,’ writes Andrew Oddy FSA. Salon 357 announced that a talk by Christina Riggs FSA, a Society Public Lecture, was ‘unfortunately … fully booked’. This should have read, says Oddy, ‘We are delighted that this lecture is now fully booked,’ a perspective with which all speakers, if not all of their intended audiences, will identify. Reading the same Salon, Stephen Greep FSA noticed that his email address for details of a public lecture on the Staffordshire Hoard (hopefully not yet unfortunately if satisfactorily fully booked) should have been, but was not, written as
Please note that Salon is pleased to encourage and assist with publicity for events involving Fellows. You stand the best chance of seeing your proceedings described exactly as you would wish them to be, if you focus in your submission on the essential information required. A little bit too long can be helpful, allowing a modicum of editorial choice, and a good image is always very welcome. A dump of loosely relevant posters, calendars, online links, sweet wrappers and frequent long emails inquiring about progress (I parody, of course), can make fascinating reading, but risks an editorial eye missing the key points you wish to get across. But, as I say, let’s hear about your events.

Forthcoming Ordinary Meetings of Fellows

Unless stated otherwise, tea is served from 16.15 and meetings start at 17.00. Guests are welcome if accompanied by a Fellow. Details of forthcoming meetings and events can be found on the 'Events' page of the Society's website.

18 February 2016: 'The Islip Roll Re-Examined', by Matthew Payne FSA.

25 February 2016: 'The 'Mithraeum' at Burham, Kent', by Mark Samuel FSA.

3 March 2016: 'Motherboards and Motherloads', by Christine Finn FSA.

Details for the full spring programme are available on the website: You can also catch up on meetings you've missed by watching our lecture recordings (visit the events page and filter the results list by choosing 'past events').

Interested in proposing a lecturer? Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer (

Forthcoming Public Lectures

Public Lectures are held from 13.00 to 14.00 on Tuesdays. These lectures are very popular, so advance booking is advised to be sure of a place. Details of forthcoming lectures can be found on the 'Events' page of the Society's website.

23 February 2016: 'The Camera and the King: Photographing the Excavation of Tutankhamun's Tomb', by Christina Riggs FSA. This lecture is now fully booked, but we hope to post a recording after the event!

There will also be a public tour of Burlington House on this day (booking required).

22 March 2016: 'Denim: Fashion's Frontier', by Emma McClendon, Janet Arnold Award Recipient (for research into historic dress). A few places are still available! Book now!

There will also be a public tour of Burlington House on this day (booking required).

26 April 2016: 'Royal Gold and Royal Rubbish: Metal-Detecting and the Anglo-Saxon Palace at Rendlesham, Suffolk', by Christopher Scull FSA. This lecture is now fully booked, but we hope to post a recording after the event!

There will also be a public tour of Burlington House on this day (booking required).

Click here for more information on our public lectures.

Society Dates to Remember


Introductory Tours of Burlington House for Fellows

The next in the Society’s regular series of introductory tours will take place on 24 March and 23 June.

Tours are free, but limited to 25 people, so places should be booked in advance. Please contact the Society’s Executive Assistant (call 020 7479 7080 or email Tours start at 11.00, and coffee is served from 10.45. Lunch is available at the end of the tour for £5, but must be ordered in advance. There will be further tours scheduled in the autumn.

Burlington House Closures

The Society's apartments, including it's Library, will be closed during the Easter holiday from Friday to Tuesday, 25 March to 29 March (inclusive), reopening on Wednesday, 30 March. The apartments will also be closed on 2 May, 3 May, and 30 May. Finally, the Society will be closed for its summer conservation and maintenance programme from 1 August to 2 September (inclusive), reopening on Monday, 5 September.

Other Forthcoming Heritage Events

February: Courses for Historic Environment Professionals (Oxford)
For a list of short courses and workshops put on for historic environment professionals at Rewley House by the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, see this earlier Salon

11–12 March: Crisis or Continuity? Hoarding and Deposition in Iron Age and Roman Britain, and Beyond (London)
A free conference at the British Museum (BM), arising from the work of the Hoarding in Iron Age and Roman Britain Project, a three-year joint research initiative between the BM and the University of Leicester, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The conference will explore the deposition and hoarding of coins and other artefacts in later prehistoric and Roman Britain and Europe, and will critically re-examine the evidence for social, economic and political instability during the third century AD. Speakers include Roger Bland FSA, Kevin Butcher FSA, Adrian Chadwick FSA, Simon Esmonde Cleary FSA, Richard Hobbs FSA and Sam Moorhead FSA. On the evening of 11 March Philip de Jersey will talk on ‘Jersey, Treasure Island: discovering the world's largest hoard of Celtic coins.’ Booking for both events is essential. Details can be found online about both the conference and the hoarding project. There is an exhibition at the BM about hoards until 22 May.

13 March: Mapp and Lucia: The History Behind the Town of Rye (Canterbury)

Gillian Draper FSA leads a day school at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent. Details of this and other courses can be found on the University website.

17–19 March: Matthew Parker: Archbishop, Scholar, Collector (Cambridge)
A conference at the Parker Library and at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities will explore collaborative scholarship, the retrieval of the past, and the history of the book in 16th-century England. The conference is convened by Anthony Grafton, William Sherman and Scott Mandelbrote FSA. Plenary speakers include Debora Shuger, Alexandra Walsham and James Carley FSA. Speakers include Brian Cummings FSA, Arnold Hunt FSA and Elisabeth Leedham-Green FSA. Those wishing to attend should register by applying to Katie Weeks ( early booking is recommended since space in the Parker Library is limited.
22 March: Bleak House? Rich and Poor in Victorian England (Tunbridge Wells)
Gillian Draper FSA leads a study day at University of Kent, Tonbridge Centre. Details of this and other courses can be found on the University website, by emailing or by phoning the Centre on 01732 352316.
31 March: The Staffordshire Hoard: Six Years on (York)
A public lecture by Kevin Leahy FSA, National Adviser, Early Medieval Metalwork, Portable Antiquities Scheme, in the Bedingfield Room, The Bar Convent, York. For details contact Stephen Greep FSA at
1–2 April: Finds from Roman York, Brigantia and Beyond (York)
A major conference organised by the Roman Finds Group, at Kings Manor, Department of Archaeology, University of York, 13.00 Friday until 16.30 Saturday. Keynote speaker will be author Lindsey Davis, with a reception at Yorkshire Museum. For further details contact Stephen Greep FSA ( or see the Roman Finds Group website.

1–3 April: Post-Medieval Archaeology Congress: 50 Years of SPMA (Sheffield)
The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, founded in 1966, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special congress at the University of Sheffield. A long list of provisional speakers, with a strong international representation, includes Hugh Willmott FSA, Harold Mytum FSA, David Petts FSA, Richard Newman FSA, Michael Nevell FSA and Caron Newman FSA. Details can be found on the conference webpage.
The SPMA is keen to hear from Fellows and others with photographs, memorabilia and memories of the society’s foundation, and the 50 years since, for display at the congress and incorporation into an online archive. Please contact the Hon. Secretary Emma Dwyer at

24 September: Anglo-Saxon Rendlesham A Royal Centre of the East Anglian Kingdom (Bury St Edmunds)
A one-day conference to present the results of archaeological investigation at Rendlesham 2008–14, at the Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Speakers include Chris Scull FSA and Jude Plouviez FSA, and discussions will be led by Martin Carver FSA, Catherine Hills FSA and Leslie Webster FSA. For details see Suffolk Heritage Explorer.
5–6 October: Auricular Style: Frames (London), call for papers
A two-day international conference at the Wallace Collection will be the first dedicated to the Auricular style, centring on one of its most significant manifestations, the picture frame. The conference aims to stimulate awareness and study of this style by bringing together research in fine and decorative art histories. It will consider the origins and development of the style in different materials, together with its dissemination between European centres.
Fourteen speakers are anticipated, and currently include Karen Hearn FSA and Jacob Simon FSA. Displays to run simultaneously with the conference are planned with the Guildhall Art Gallery, and Ham House, London. Relevant topics include connections between countries, the Van Vianens, Fontainebleau, the grotesque. ‘Medici’ frames. the influence of prints, Auricular settings, craftsmanship, the style’s decline and its revivals, and more. Enquiries and submissions (300–400-word abstracts) to by 29 January, 2016. Convenors Gerry Alabone FSA and Lynn Roberts, in association with the Institute of Conservation (Gilding & Decorative Surfaces Group). 


The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists invites applications for a structured work-based training placement for 12 months, based in Swindon and then Cambridge (the placement holder will be seconded full time for a year to Historic England), with a salary of £17,299 and benefits. This is an opportunity to develop skills in the recognition, interpretation and analysis of archaeological monuments and landscapes using a variety of non-invasive techniques. These include the interpretation of aerial photographs and other forms of airborne remote sensing data, as well as analytical field survey and some geophysical survey. The work involves the interpretation of sites and landscapes ranging from Neolithic to 20th century.
Send a CV and a covering letter to Closing date for applications Friday 11 March 2016 at 5pm. Full details can be found online.

Propose a Lecture or Seminar

Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, 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 Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.


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