Salon: Issue 374
1 November 2016
Next issue: 15 November 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.
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.
From the Desk of the General Secretary
Join Us to Celebrate Adrian James
Fellows and guests are invited to join us on Thursday, 3 November
(18.15 - 19.15, following the Ordinary Meeting) for drinks in the Entrance Hall to thank our former Assistant Librarian, Adrian James
This summer, after leaving his long-held post of Assistant Librarian, Adrian took on the new post of Project Librarian. In the past five months, he has used his incredible knowledge to identify and audit more than 90 discrete collections in the Library, including six that were unrecorded. Thanks to his work, we now have a clearer idea of the extent of our special collections, how far each has been catalogued and the significance of each. This data is invaluable in helping to make our Library collections more widely known and accessible to researchers.
AQA A and AS Level Archaeology
Shocked by the news that AQA have announced that it will not support A and AS Level examinations
in a number of subjects, including archaeology, our Policy Committee
agreed a letter, which the President has sent to AQA, on 20 October. In it, we pointed to the substantial claims for archaeology which are made by AQA themselves, which include making it "one of the most exciting subjects…the ultimate subject for an 'all-round' student, in that it combines elements of many other academic disciplines, such as Science, Art, Technology, Geography, History, Sociology and Religious Studies." The examination courses AQA have provided "challenge students to understand and use a range of evidence to draw substantiated conclusions and raises their awareness of the uncertainty of knowledge." We asked the AQA Board to reconsider their decision in the light of the benefits which the courses provide for its students.
We have received a reply from Andrew Hall, the CEO of AQA, which fails to answer these points directly, but sets out the reasons behind their decision to discontinue the courses. These appear to be primarily the breadth of the subject, and the consequent difficulty in finding examiners of sufficient competency, in addition to the comparatively low numbers of students (around 300 in 2015-16) who studied for and set the exams. Mr Hall stressed that they do not regard archaeology as a "soft" – or easier – subject, as some have claimed, and that financial considerations did not lie behind the AQA decision. The full correspondence about this, both the President’s letter to Professor Paul Layzell, the Chair of AQA’s Board, and Andrew Hall’s reply, can be seen on the Society's website.
Burial Law Reform
The Policy Committee has also recently responded to the request from the Law Commission to advise them on possible changes to the laws surrounding burial and cremation. After consultation with those working in this area, we concluded that within the archaeological profession there is a high level of satisfaction with the present licensing arrangements for the excavation of human remains for archaeological purposes. We consequently urged that provision for archaeology should be maintained within this system, and endorsed the common standards and guidelines for the excavation and cremation of human skeletal remains of the British Association for Bioanthropology and Osteoarchaeology, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, and Historic England. Otherwise we would look for no change to the current procedures and requirements, which are operating in an entirely satisfactory, reasonable and practical manner. We request, therefore, that the greatest care be taken with any proposed changes or adjustments to the legislation so that, intentionally or not, those do not have the effect of restricting archaeologists’ ability to conduct proper study of excavated remains. Our full reply to this consultation can be found on our website
, and we acknowledge, with thanks, those who contacted us with their views about this subject, following the article in Salon 370 (20 September)
News for the Antiquaries Journal
of the Antiquaries Journal
is on the press at the moment and will be dispatched shortly. Fellows should receive their copies by mid-November at the very latest. This volume is the last to be published by the Society of Antiquaries under the editorship of Kate Owen.
Papers are sought for Volume 97
of the journal. For further information on submitting a paper, please see the 'Publications
' area of our website. Send your papers in the fields of antiquarianism, conservation, landscape study, art history, world archaeology and British archaeology (especially Prehistoric Britain and Britain from AD 43 to AD 410) to Publications Manager Lavinia Porter (firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelmscott and Morris: Past, Present and Future
Cherry Peurifoy, Sandy Nairne FSA
, Richard Dorment FSA
, Jeremy Warren FSA
and Janie Money (pictured left to right) have come together to discuss plans for the £6 million conservation-led development programme for Kelmscott Manor.
Members are aware that we have received a Stage 1 Pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund
to begin the Kelmscott project. To receive the remainder, the Society is tasked with raising £1.4 million. While still in the formative stage, you are invited to become involved with this major undertaking and help guarantee its success. This is the first major intervention by the Society at Kelmscott Manor for more than 50 years. Your participation is encouraged.
Contact Dominic Wallis, Head of Development, by email at email@example.com
or by telephone at 020 7479 7092.
Unlocking Our Collections: Portrait of Martin Folkes
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.
Our current 'Unlocking Our Collections
' feature is by Dr Anna Marie Roos, FLS, FSA
, a Reader at College of Arts, University of Lincoln. She has researched the Society's intimate portrait of Martin Folkes
, one of it's earliest members.
Fellows, We Need Your Help!
If you have a favourite object in the Society's Library or Museum collections and would be willing to research and write a short feature for our website, please contact the Collections Manager, Anooshka Rawden, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Order a William Morris Fruitcake for Christmas
(Order by 8 November and Kelmscott Manor Will Receive £5.50 from Each Cake)
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.'
Your order will go directly into the future care and development of Kelmscott Manor, Morris's 'heaven on earth'. To enjoy a William Morris fruitcake with family and friends this Christmas, please place your order no later than 18 November via the My Cottage Kitchen website
Recording Historic Fears
Apotropaic marks, says Historic England, can be found in Medieval structures, dating from around 1550 to 1750. The sites of known marks include Shakespeare’s birthplace, Witches’ Chimney cave in Wookey Hole, churches and other public and private buildings. On 31 October – Halloween – Historic England (HE) launched a public appeal
for information and photos about ‘witches’ marks’, which it defines as ‘ritual protection symbols or apotropaic marks’. Such marks, says Duncan Wilson FSA
on the HE website, ‘really fire the imagination and can teach us about previously held beliefs and common rituals.’
Commonest is a daisy wheel, or hexafoil. Others include pentangles, AM (for Ave Maria), M (Mary) or VV (Virgin of Virgins). Nick Molyneux FSA
, historic buildings inspector at HE, told Maev Kennedy FSA
in the Guardian
that he spotted marks in Shakespeare’s house several years ago. ‘They possibly date from the period when the house became a pub,’ he said, ‘and the beer would have been stored there. You certainly wouldn’t have wanted witches turning your beer sour.’ ‘They are well recorded in many churches,’ he continued, ‘but much less well so in secular buildings. We just don’t have enough data to say whether they are more concentrated in certain parts of the country, or whether patterns are regional.’
The marks fell out of common use with the arrival of efficient oil lamps in the early 19th century, says Molyneux. Ian Evans, who completed his doctoral thesis
on Touching Magic: Deliberately Concealed Objects in Old Australian Houses and Buildings
in 2010 (University of Newcastle, NSW), found similar marks in Australia. Sites included a stable, a kitchen, an inn, a courthouse mantelpiece, a rectory and a toilet door. They must have been arriving just as they were falling out of use in Britain, and, claims Evans, were still being made into the 20th century.
The photo shows daisy-wheels inscribed with compasses or dividers in the 14th-century tithe barn, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire (Historic England).
First Archaeologists to Win Philip Leverhulme Prize
Five university archaeologists have been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize, each receiving £100,000: Susana Carvalho (Oxford), Manuel Fernández-Götz (Edinburgh), Oliver Harris (Leicester), Camilla Speller (York) and Fraser Sturt FSA (Southampton, pictured).
Carvalho is researching wild chimpanzee tool-use, resource exploitation strategies, raw material preferences, the evolution of carrying and other technology-related behaviours among primates and early hominins.
Speller has been investigating the micro-ecology of the human body through analysis of ancient human microbiomes, applying ancient DNA and protein analyses to archaeological sources such as dental plaque and faeces.
Fernández-Götz is researching ‘the archaeology of identities’ in iron age Europe, including urbanisation, sanctuaries, imperialism and mass violence, and Roman provincial society.
Harris says he plans to put the money towards a new project ‘examining how the work of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze can help us to develop new concepts with which to analyse archaeological problems’; he will build on his current research on the nature of archaeological assemblages and the theory and philosophy of the discipline, and materials recovered from fieldwork in Ardnamurchan.
Sturt’s interests include Holocene palaeoenvironmental and palaeo-oceanographic change, modelling prehistoric landscapes with geophysical and geotechnical data, prehistoric seafaring, and understanding the changing relationships between people, land and sea throughout prehistory.
David Mattingly FSA
, Head of School and Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Leicester, described the Philip Leverhulme Prizes
as ‘a benchmark of disciplinary esteem for early career researchers’, noting that this is the first year they have been open to archaeologists. There will be History awards in 2017 (which ‘could be interpreted to include Ancient History, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern History, or History of Art’), Classics in 2018 and Archaeology again in 2019.
Unique Ms Features Great Fire Protagonists
The Museum of London has acquired ‘a mysterious and highly unusual piece of manuscript evidence.’ It is a two-and-a-half page, anonymous document which, says the Museum, appears to have been drafted from a verbal report presented to the House of Commons on 22 January 1667 by Sir Robert Brooks, Chairman of the parliamentary committee established in September 1666 to investigate the origins of the Great Fire of London.
Leaping from the top of one page is the phrase ‘the house of Mr Farriner a baker’, the owner of the bakery on Pudding Lane where the fire famously began. Robert Hubert, a Frenchman who confessed to arson on 27 October, and was hanged for so doing, also gets a mention, with a twist not seen before: 'That this Mosyer Hubert, lived & died one [a Papest]: all though if ever given out ye He was a Huginet.' It was later said that the unfortunate man was not in England at the time the fire began, and the jury at his trial included three members of the Pudding Lane bakery family. Catholics, strangers and foreigners were accused of starting the fire, in a London searching for scapegoats.
Clumsy phrasing and phonetic spellings, says the Museum of London, including ‘Frinch’ for ‘French’ and ‘marchant’ for ‘merchant’ among 17 depositions, suggest witnesses had regional accents and poor schooling. The manuscript’s phrasing differs from printed versions in many places and, says the Museum, is probably the only surviving handwritten copy of the Committee’s findings.
Hazel Forsyth FSA
, the Museum’s Senior Curator, Medieval & Post-Medieval, who researched the document, said in a press release, ‘We are absolutely delighted with this incredibly rare find.’ The Museum did not say where it came from. The acquisition was made possible by the support of The Worshipful Company of Bakers. It is now on display in the Fire! Fire!
exhibition, open until 17 April 2017.
Such was the scale of the fire that destroyed the Clarence Hotel in Exeter on 28–29 October, and badly damaged adjacent historic buildings, the Bishop of Exeter
thanked the services for the safekeeping of the Cathedral on the other side of the green. 150 firefighters from Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, pumping water from the river Exe, failed to save the premises credited as the first in England to be called a hotel: built in 1769, its French manager advertised it as a hotel the following year. Visited by royalty, Franz Liszt, Beatrix Potter, Thomas Hardy and Clark Gable, it was among few significant historic structures in Exeter to survive a Blitz in the Second World War. The fire was said to have started in an adjacent art gallery undergoing renovation. Photo Devon and Cornwall Police.
‘Market Failure’ leads to Crumbling Heritage
Historic England published its annual Heritage at Risk Register on 21 October, describing 5,341 places of historic significance threatened by neglect, high repair costs and over-development. Prehistoric burial mounds remain the highest type of site at risk (782). Though both of these figures are a little down on 2015, the percentage of Grade I and II* listed buildings, and structural scheduled monuments capable of beneficial use, has reached an all-time high, at 46%.
‘Thousands of historic sites are at risk of being lost,’ said Duncan Wilson FSA in a press release. ‘Many lie decaying and neglected and the gap between the cost of repair and their end value is growing.’ Such buildings include the Newington Green Unitarian Church, home to the intellectual group which inspired Mary Wollstonecraft to write A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), and described by Wilson as ‘a place known historically for dissent and radical thinking.’
The Times (subscription) highlighted Wilson’s comment that a shortage of skilled workers and problems with obtaining scaffolding were exacerbating the risks. ‘Despite a fervent belief that cheap Polish builders teem in British streets like salmon in Canadian rivers,’ said the paper in a Leader, ‘this country’s construction industry employs 300,000 fewer people than it did in 2008. Britain today lacks bricklayers, carpenters, joiners and scaffolders alike. If many filling these jobs are immigrants (and more than one in ten of them are) this is less a result of easy immigration, and more a result of us not training enough of our own. This is what market failure looks like… Contentious as it may be, for more poles, we need more Poles. Otherwise our heritage shall continue to crumble and in time, our houses, too.’
Photo shows the Grade II*-listed Mosely Road Baths, Birmingham, opened in 1907. One of the most complete examples of an Edwardian Bath House in England, it has been on the Register since 2005, and continues to decline in condition. The Friends of Mosely Road Baths, the Mosely Road Baths Action Group and Historic England hope they can save it (photo Historic England).
A Levels: How to Stretch Minds and Expand Sympathies
For school subjects on which so few are examined, relative to the things pupils love like Maths, English and PE, the degree of protest about the end of A Levels in Archaeology and History of Art
might seem surprising to some. The examining body AQA announced on 12 October it would be dropping these subjects, along with Classical Civilisation, adding to a total of 20 deemed no longer required. Media gave overnight space to people defending History of Art, and a week later Archaeology got its turn: see reports in The Times
(subscription) and Telegraph
; a Guardian
Editorial said, ‘First art history, then classical civilisation and now archaeology [all actually announced simultaneously] … In the name of a more demanding curriculum, the government is narrowing access to the culture that shapes our sense of ourselves and what it means to be human.’
Michael Gove, the former Education Secretary targeted by many as the ultimate source of the exam cuts, fought back on Twitter
on 13 October, claiming they were not linked to curriculum reform. ‘Nonsense that [ditching History of Art A-level] has anything to do with our drive to raise standards,’ he wrote in the first of four tweets. ‘It appears to be a decision taken by a single exam board driven by commercial factors’ (2); ‘Why were so few state schools offering the subject? … Who on earth thinks it's "soft" – not me’ (3); and, ‘Our reforms were about celebrating rigour – and History of Art properly taught stretches minds and expands sympathies’ (4).
Archaeology was discussed on BBC Radio 4’s World at One
on 18 October (39 minutes in), when David Willetts, a Visiting Professor at King's College London and former Minister of State for Universities and Science, said it was a good degree subject, but universities did not need the A Level – taking it was narrowing down pupils’ options too early (though he conceded that it might be useful for older folk). Lin Foxhall FSA
replied that archaeology does the opposite of narrowing perspectives. (Writing an online comment, Rosalind Blakesley, Head of the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge
, took the same line, saying that while an A Level is not necessary to study the subject at Cambridge, ‘we find the erasure of the subject from Britain’s schools incomprehensible.')
Tony Robinson defended Archaeology A Level at every opportunity. On 18 October, talking on his phone from somewhere in England (he’s promoting his book, No Cunning Plan: My Story
), he told Sam Delaney at Talk Radio
that studying archaeology helps develop ‘broad, flexible minds’. Nobody knows what skills might be needed in ten years time, he said. What matters is that we have an education ‘which gives adroit, smart, clever people who can adapt themselves to different situations. Archaeology is just as capable of offering that kind of education as anything else.’ This happened on Michael Gove's watch, he added. ‘Now we've got a new minister in, Justine Greening, and my guess is she's not really through her brief fully yet and hasn't realised the terrible damage and impact this will do.’ He told the Guardian
that scrapping Archaeology was a 'barbaric act'.
Stewart Lee, another comedian with an interest in history, defended both subjects in The Observer
on 30 October. ‘Brexit Britain doesn’t care,’ he wrote. ‘Historians and archaeologists are just more “experts”, slowing down our thrilling progress towards the cliff, with their cumbersome facts and obstructive understanding. Surely some ideas are inherently valuable in and of themselves. There could be no clearer example of the extent to which we have lost our way than the abandonment of Art History and Archaeology.’
Mark Horton FSA
was among letter writers to the Guardian
(19 October), saying the loss of Archaeology A Level would have ‘a disproportionate impact on the nation’s prosperity. Most of these students are so enthused by the subject that they go on to study archaeology at university… these same students are among the highest achieving and enthusiastic in their cohort, and many then go on to postgraduate study and become committed professional archaeologists.’
Amid rumours that History of Art may be saved, but not Archaeology, defences of both have continued. ‘Leading cultural voices’ stood up for Art History in the Guardian
. ‘There is an answer to this problem,’ wrote Alice Thomson in The Times
on 19 October, under the headline ‘History of Art matters just as much as Maths’, ‘We should scrap inept exam boards, rather than subjects that challenge children. Then we can create a national board that is not financially driven, but focused on academic rigour. It could subsidise niche subjects with the money made from more popular ones – and concentrate on the true value of each course, rather than its commercial appeal.’
Charles Saumarez Smith FSA
was among Royal Academician signatories to a letter to The Times
(19 October), expressing ‘profound disappointment’ at the loss of History of Art. ‘This short-sighted decision’, they wrote, ‘denies the value of art and its appreciation both to the economic and cultural life of the nation, and to the individual… art history teaches rigorous analytical skills and requires students to engage not only with art but with history, literature, politics, languages and the sciences. In a culture dominated by the visual, there is a powerful argument that we need such skills more than ever.’ Michael White, Head of History of Art at York University, wrote on the Royal Academy website
that ‘History of Art has never been more relevant than in 2016.’
Graeme Barker FSA
and Craig Clunas, writing to The Times
as Chairmen of the British Academy’s History of Art and Archaeology Sections, said, ‘We believe this is a narrowing of opportunities for young people to engage with some of the most pressing issues of human culture, of what it means to be human, as well as providing important routes to careers in the burgeoning heritage sector. The Academy strongly supports the bodies seeking to ensure access to these qualifications is retained.’
Classical Civilisation found its proponents, too (it can still be taken with another exam board). Natalie Haynes wrote in the Guardian
on 19 October under the heading, ‘Ditching classics at A-level is little short of a tragedy.’ Several classicists wrote to The Times
, among them Greg Woolf FSA
, calling the AQA’s decision to drop Classical Civilisation ‘a dreadful mistake’.
The Art Newspaper
noted on 19 October that ‘More than 200 academics and art professionals have written an open letter to Andrew Hall, the Chief Executive of AQA, expressing their “grave concerns regarding the decision to discontinue the AQA history of art A-level”.’ Three days later, The Times
reported that History of Art may be saved – ‘but archaeology may be dead and buried.’ ‘A Levels in Art History and Statistics’, wrote Greg Hurst, Education Editor, ‘looked set to be saved last night after ministers ordered exam boards to come up with a rescue plan. Pearson, which owns the Edexcel awarding body, indicated that it was hoping to step in to develop new A Levels in both subjects, although these would need regulatory approval. The future of A-level archaeology remained unclear,’ continued Hurst, ‘with exam board sources saying that the subject’s specialist nature made creating a qualification more demanding technically.’
On 30 October, online petitions stood at 12,365 votes
to ‘save Archaeology', and 17,997
for two supporting History of Art.
Finally, a word from our Fellow, Catherine Johns FSA:
‘Archaeology’, she writes to Salon
, ‘was not available as an A Level in my youth: indeed, when I went up to university in 1959, there were only two universities (Edinburgh and Cardiff) that even offered aspects of the subject as a first-degree course. Yet it seems to me to be such an ideal subject for training the mind precisely at that point in late adolescence when it will do the most good. It is perfect for developing critical faculties, for understanding the importance of both hard evidence and imaginative thinking, for combining widely different skills, in making sense of, well, almost everything in human society. Archaeology seems especially suitable to me because it is so wide-ranging, with major visual as well as verbal elements, and with the need to examine primary evidence rather than only to take in what scholars have written about it. Not to mention the fact that unlike most written history, it concerns the real lives of “ordinary” people like ourselves.
‘I suppose our present government is anxious to prevent access to any civilising influences in the educational system, such as the study of archaeology, Classical civilisation and the history of art. Hoi polloi, if granted access to such heady fare, may get above themselves.
‘As for the condescending label “soft subjects”: a very old friend of mine remarked succinctly on hearing the news: “History of Art a SOFT subject? I must have been teaching it wrong…”
‘We are steadily becoming a less civilised society.’
Raising the Profiles of Women Geo-scientists
Fellows will feature in an exhibition called Raising Horizons
, which seeks to highlight the role of women in science. The project is a collaboration between Leonora Saunders (a photographer) and TrowelBlazers
(three archaeologists and a palaeobiologist promoting the work of pioneering women scientists), and is supported by Prospect Union.
The plan is to photograph 14 contemporary archaeologists, palaeontologists and geologists (among them Amara Thornton FSA
and Nicky Milner FSA
, in the photo below one up on right and bottom left). They will be partnered with historic researchers (Thornton joins Margaret Murray FSA
), and pictured dressed as their counterparts. ‘The portraits’, says the project, ‘will show the real diversity of women working today, at the same time drawing striking visual connections to their forebears.’ The scientists will also be interviewed, and the recordings will form part of the exhibition and contribute to a new oral history archive.
The project is seeking to raise £10,000 through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo
. In the photo at top, a clip from a promotion video, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist post-postdoc at University Bordeaux, puts the case from the Fellows’ Room. ‘I have been working for over a year on Raising Horizons
,’ writes Saunders, ‘and we are now in the final stages of getting the production off the ground and ready for our exciting launch at Burlington House in February 2017.’
Chance to Keep London Tapestry in UK
This sumptuous tapestry, inspired by Indian, Chinese and Japanese design, was made by Michael Mazarind. Little is known about his workshop, but it is believed to have been in Portugal Street, London, between 1696 and 1702. Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock has placed an export bar
on it, allowing potential UK buyers to raise the required £67,500 by 19 January 2017 (extendable to 19 April).
‘This beautiful blue ground tapestry,’ says Reviewing Committee member Christopher Rowell FSA
, ‘with an equally unusual border of Chinese inspiration, dates from the late 1600s and is the only one to bear the woven signature of the mysterious Michael Mazarind, who was a rival of the more well-known London tapestry weaver, John Vanderbank. This type of “Indian” tapestry depicting a Chinoiserie fantasy paradise in Cathay, with courtly and hunting scenes, was devised for the court, but soon became more broadly popular. Saving the tapestry for the nation will allow specialists to study it in detail and help to reconstruct Mazarind’s contribution to tapestry production in early-Georgian London.’
The design includes small groups of oriental figures, buildings, exotic creatures and plants. This combination of elements was described as ‘in the Indian manner’, says a government press release, and was one of the most popular decorative fashions of the period.
Fellows (and Friends)
Joseph Decaens FSA, medieval archaeologist and Mayor of Louvigny, died in October.
Benedict Read FSA, art historian and authority on British Victorian sculpture, died in October.
Anthony Bryer FSA, expert in the history and culture of Byzantium, died in October.
Appreciations appear in Lives Remembered below. The section also contains a further notice on the late Alison Kelly FSA.
Mark Maltby FSA is co-author, with Jacqueline Pitt, Phillipa K Gillingham and John R Stewart, of an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science (74, 2016) about the ecology of ancient domestic fowl. Very little is understood about the origins and spread of early domestic chicken, they say, which were introduced into Europe during the Bronze and Iron Ages as an exotic, non-native species. The European climate is unsuitable for south-east Asian red junglefowl, where the bird originates (not China as traditionally said), suggesting that human intervention was vital during early domestication. Models indicate that a northern route via China and Russia into eastern Europe would be environmentally challenging. Areas predicted as suitable correspond well with Greek and Phoenician trade routes through the Mediterranean and up into southern Britain and Ireland. The November edition of PAST, the Prehistoric Society’s newsletter, leads with an article on the project, describing a collection of articulated chicken bones from an early iron age pit at Houghton Down, Hampshire. Research continues.
VisitEngland figures show 220,000 people toured Leicester Cathedral last year, 414% up on 2014 from 42,800. Across the now pedestrianised street, the new Richard III Visitor Centre, according to the Leicester Mercury, had 89,000 paying visitors. This was more than its first year (81,600), but remains below the target of 100,000.
The award-winning The Making of the Middle Sea, by Cyprian Broodbank FSA, is praised in an article in the New York Review of Books (27 October). Broodbank, writes G W Bowersock, ‘has utterly refashioned the big picture through a bold and persuasive attempt to look at the Mediterranean world from the Ice Age down to Greco-Roman antiquity.’ This contrasts with the authors of one of the books he is actually reviewing, who follow a model set out by Fernand Braudel which Broodbank overthrows. Broodbank’s approach is also ‘far more sophisticated’ than that of Jared Diamond or William McNeil.
The Jorvik Viking Centre, York, flooded over the 2015/2016 new year, has announced that the refurbished ‘Viking Centre experience’ will open on 8 April 2017. New features will include animatronics, replacing ‘many of the [static model] men and women who populate the famous ride through Viking-age Coppergate.’ ‘Large parts of the Viking city are being completely rebuilt,’ integrating the results of archaeological research since the last major refurbishment in 2010.
Asked on BBC Radio 4 if he would perform at the Royal Shakespeare Company while BP is a sponsor, actor Mark Rylance said, ‘No, probably not,’ comparing the oil and gas company’s sponsorship to money obtained by neighbourhood selling of guns and knives.
‘It is wonderful to present this book to the world at last,’ says Frank Olding FSA of The Archaeology of Upland Gwent (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales). The south Wales valleys and their communities, says the blurb, ‘have a special character formed by a combination of landscape and history. The uplands here are a treasure house of archaeological monuments, which show how people have lived, worked and farmed from earliest times to the recent past… Olding… takes the reader on a journey from the flint tools and hillforts of prehistory to the Chartist uprising and the industries of the 20th century.' The book includes nearly 100 images drawn from the Commission’s archive, with specially taken aerial and ground photographs, maps and plans.
Has someone had a word with Ed Vaizey’s office? He sends out a weekly email with links to news in arts, heritage and media. Though he lost his job as Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries when Theresa May became Prime Minister in July, the message continued to go out under the heading, Weekly Email from Ed Vaizey’s Culture and Creative Industries Team. Late in September it changed to Ed Vaizey’s Culture and Creative Industries, and now it’s become Ed Vaizey’s weekly newsletter. Whether or not he still has a team, the newsletter remains very helpful. You can subscribe here.
Richard Bevins FSA, Nicola Atkinson, Robert Ixer FSA and Jane Evans continue the project to pin down sources for the megaliths at Stonehenge with a new study in the Journal of the Geological Society. Before, the Fishguard Volcanic Group in north Pembrokeshire had been dated geologically only by fossils. They have now dated two types of rock by uranium-lead analysis of zircon crystals. They compare these with dates similarly obtained from pieces of stone from Stonehenge, and conclude that the results strengthen their case that most of the Stonehenge bluestones came from the northern-facing slopes between the Preseli hills and Cardigan Bay.
Martin Bailey reports in the Art Newspaper that a visiting caterer at the British Museum knocked a thumb off the Townley Venus, a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture. It happened last December at a corporate event. Conservation work was ‘straightforward’, said the Museum.
In the Guardian, Maev Kennedy FSA reported on a project in Arnos Vale cemetery, Bristol, by artist Marcus Coates. He invited people to leave questions of the dead at the cemetery, and then organised a public reading event. Coates’ work, says Kennedy, ‘often explores shamanism and ritual’.
‘It soars with the dignity of a medieval town hall in Italy or Flanders,’ wrote Marcus Binney FSA in The Times in 2000, of the newly opened New Art Gallery Walsall. Richard Morrison quoted him in the same paper on 28 October (subscription), when he discussed the news that the local council is to cut more than half the gallery’s annual grant. ‘Over the past decade’, writes Morrison, ‘300 local libraries have closed, and dozens of museums too. Many more have cut their hours – and the cull goes on.' The Inverleith House gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is closing, and Edinburgh is to cut opening hours at other museums and galleries; Wolverhampton is to open Bantock House only at weekends; Kirklees will close three museums; Warwickshire proposes a 43 per cent cut to its heritage and culture budget; and Lancashire has closed five museums. ‘At this rate’, Morrison concludes, ‘there may be almost no museums or galleries left outside the big cities in a decade’s time.’
The epic poems of Ossian, say Joseph Yose and colleagues in Advances in Complex Systems, were written in the 18th century, and are not early Gaelic oral survivals as claimed by their original publisher James Macpherson. The authors investigated Ossian ‘from a networks-science point of view,’ comparing ‘the connectivity structures underlying the societies described in the Ossianic narratives with those of ancient Greek and Irish sources.’ They found ‘significant network-structural differences between Macpherson’s text and those of Homer,’ and ‘a strong similarity between Ossianic networks and those of the narratives known as Acallam na Senórach (Colloquy of the Ancients) from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology.’ There was no such person as Ossian, co-author Ralph Kenna told The Independent, other than Macpherson, though he held back on calling the poems a hoax. Research continues.
‘This doesn’t sound like the sort of museum any professional would recognise,’ Nick Merriman FSA told the Times (subscription). ‘It’s more like a freak show.’ He was commenting on a crowdfunding campaign by the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History in Hackney, to buy ‘an exceptionally fine and absurdly beautiful 1,000-year-old mummified head of a young boy from the Chimú in Peru’. In a video on Indiegogo, Wynd shows the skull which he says was formerly in the Uppsala University Museum. The Museum has described the claim as ‘completely false’, adding that it ‘does not of course trade in human remains’. ‘This raises major legal and ethical issues,’ Mike Heyworth FSA told the Times. ‘Archaeologists have a good record of treating human remains with respect and this proposal appears to run counter to that.’ Photo shows ‘shrunken heads’ in the museum’s collection (The Last Tuesday Society).
Gudrun Sveinbjarnardottir FSA has published Reykholt: The Church Excavations (National Museum of Iceland). Reykholt is probably best known, says the blurb, for its 13th-century occupant, Snorri Sturluson, author of the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, but it was an important ecclesiastical and political centre long before he arrived. The earliest remains at the farm site date from around AD 1000, placing it with the second generation of Icelandic farms. In the early 12th century It became one of the first benefices, at which time it was also occupied by a chieftain. A church was erected, probably soon afterwards. In the 19th century the church was moved, freeing the old church site for archaeological investigations (2002–2007). Investigations focussed on the buildings, since the surrounding cemetery was in use until well into the 20th century. Four different building types, divided into a total of eight phases, were unearthed; the earliest three buildings were dug down by more than a metre, a feature unknown in churches elsewhere in the North Atlantic area. While grave excavation was kept to a minimum, a named group of family members interred within the 18th-century buildings is of particular interest.
‘Even in the Neolithic period people had cakes’, said food historian Annie Gray. The first recorded sponge cake recipe is Gervase Markham’s in 1615, she added, in a cake investigation by BBC Radio 4’s World at One on 27 October. The evening before, BBC TV broadcast its last programme in The Great British Bake Off, whose makers have sold the rights to Channel 4. Fourteen million people watched.
Bettany Hughes presents a series of podcasts set at ten National Trust properties, chosen to tell a story of England, ‘unravelling Europe’s influence on our national heritage’. She opens at a Neolithic enclosure on Windmill Hill, Avebury, with archaeologist Nick Snashall, and later talks to Ros Cleal FSA in the World Heritage Site's museum. Episode 2 was at Chedworth Roman villa, and episode 3 (7 November) will be at Sutton Hoo.
On 18 October Jeremy Warren FSA, Honorary Secretary of the Society’s Publications Committee, was elected a Corresponding Member (equivalent to an honorary member) of the Accademia dell'Arte di Disegno in Florence. This is Italy's oldest academy, he writes, founded by Grand Duke Cosimo I in 1563, ‘and is I suppose a sort of Florentine Society of Antiquaries. Among its early members were Michelangelo and Benvenuto Cellini. It has its own chapel, in the church of Santissima Annunziata!’ Every year since its creation, the Academy has celebrated the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, patron of arts and artists, especially painters. Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence, ministered the Eucharistic in the chapel, and Academicians ‘renewed what was once the pinnacle of artistic creation of the Medici state’ at a dinner.
The Times of 25 October (subscription) published a prominent obituary of Alison Kelly FSA, who died in August. Describing her as ‘an industrious art historian,’ the paper says she ‘unravelled the mysteries of Coade stone and its creator,’ Mrs Eleanor Coade.
‘Dressed in 1950s-style skirts and dresses that she stitched herself’, continues the obituary, ‘and leading countless tours and talks for small bands of enthusiasts around London, Kelly was as stoutly indomitable as the entrepreneurial Coade … Both women remained unmarried – indeed Kelly established that Mrs Coade had been forced to take the honorific as in those days a woman could not have a business without it.
‘Both were also brought up as Quakers and channelled their energies into hard work. Cutting a deceptively matronly figure, Kelly taught herself photography in order to illustrate her book – Mrs Coade’s Stone, published in 1990, after two decades of research. She also spent a great deal of time studying Belmont House, in Lyme Regis, where Coade had once lived. She struck up a rapport with its then owner, the author John Fowles, and the pair corresponded for years about Coade. “It was Coade, Coade, Coade,” a friend said...’
‘While caring for her [mother], she embarked on a busy lecturing schedule at the City Literary Institute… Her talks at the Furniture History Society were always captivating if a little chaotic with slides upside down – and Kelly barking out good-natured instructions to the projectionist.
‘Once, while staying with friends, she suddenly said that she would like to watch Mastermind on television, having failed to tell them that she was a contestant, with Wedgwood as her specialist subject. In typical fashion, she had answered each question so fully that she used up valuable time and deprived herself of more questions.’
Joseph Decaëns FSA, Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur and Chevalier des Palmes Académiques, died on 16 October, aged 90. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in May 1992.
Born in Normandy, Decaëns taught at Baclair (1947–57) and at Argentan (1960–62), and lectured on Medieval archaeology at the University of Caen (1985–91). He began his archaeological career alongside Michel de Bouärd, first as a volunteer (1959–62) then as an Assistant in Medieval Archaeology, ultimately becoming Director of what is now known as the Michel de Boüard Centre – CRAHAM (Centre de recherches archéologiques et historiques anciennes et médiévales, CNRS/University of Caen). His many excavations included the Castle of Rivray.
The paper Liberté Bonhomme Libre quoted François Decaëns, a photographer, as saying that his father gave his life to archaeology. ‘He took me as a kid to excavations, I loved to follow him, it was exciting. When we went to a museum, we would choose some paintings, and as a good teacher, he would shows us how to look at them.’
‘Travaillant beaucoup avec les Anglais,’ says the paper, Joseph was admitted as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, ‘la plus prestigieuse société archéologique.’ In his R Allen Brown Memorial Lecture in 1994, he wrote in a fond memoir that he had known the late Fellow for nearly 30 years; his tribute to the late John Hurst FSA was published in Archéologie Médiévale 33 (2003).
Decaëns was a Socialist Party Councillor and then Mayor of Louvigny for 16 years, one of his projects being Eau Vive, of which he was Director, working to bring water to drought-stricken parts of Africa. Philippe Duron, Member for Calvados and a former Mayor of Louvigny, describes Decaëns in Liberté Bonhomme Libre as ‘a mayor close to its citizens, appreciated for his availability and his kindness. Driven by humanistic values and concern for social progress, he led the development of Louvigny with consideration, environmental concern and a desire to offer all the opportunity to live in the village.’
The photo is from the guide, Caen Castle: A Ten Centuries Old Fortress Within the Town, edited by Joseph Decaëns with Adrien Dubois (2010).
Benedict (Ben) Read FSA died on 19 October aged 71. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in March 1999. Leeds University, where he had been a Senior Lecturer in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, has posted an obituary notice. He was born in Buckinghamshire, it says, and ‘brought up in a household that treasured and debated both art and literature’ – he was the son of art critic and poet, Sir Herbert Read, along with writer Piers Paul Read and BBC documentary maker the late John Read.
Ben Read read English Literature at Oxford, studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and taught there as well as serving as Deputy Witt Librarian. He became a noted expert on Victorian sculpture, and the sculpture of the inter-war period, on which he wrote, says the Leeds notice, ‘one of the definitive essays in Sculpture in Britain between the Wars’ (1986).
Read joined the University of Leeds in 1990 as a Senior Lecturer under the auspices of the Henry Moore Foundation. Here he was able to explore ‘in further depth, with characteristic enthusiasm and erudition, a wide range of movements in sculpture, both historical and contemporary. He made a hugely significant contribution to the teaching and research of the School and to the wider art world – for example as an external examiner for the Cyprus College of Art; as Chair of the Editorial Committee of the Sculpture Journal; and as Chair of the Leeds Art Collections Fund... On his retirement from the University in 2010 he was made a Senior Visiting Research Fellow in Fine Art and continued to contribute with great energy and insight to the work of the School.’
On the same University web page, Joanne Crawford says he inspired students, who ‘always remember him with fondness. From his rendition of Vera Lynn singing “We’ll meet again” in lectures on mid 20th public sculpture (you had to be there!) to his vast knowledge of British art and architecture, Ben Read was a person who demonstrated great understanding of what it is to be both social and academic… He grew up surrounded by the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Peggy Guggenheim, and although he liked to recite anecdotes about growing up in the Read household his great (albeit often secret) loves were the Arsenal football team and a good gin and tonic!’
He allowed his ‘impressive art collection,' adds Crawford, 'to be shown and appreciated by all… He was a great man, not only with regards his academic profile and achievements, but especially to the people who knew and loved him.’
His books included Victorian Sculpture (1982), Millais (1983) and Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture (edited with Joanna Barnes, 1991). Another friend and colleague was Robin Simon FSA, who has written this tribute for Salon:
‘Ben was someone of whom I was deeply fond. I had known him since Courtauld Institute days around 1970 when we were both studying under the regime of Anthony Blunt, who on one memorable occasion was persuaded to join us at table football, which took up any spare time we had. Ben was also a mad keen supporter of Arsenal, as he remained to the end. Even in those days he had a taste in art for what seemed arcane, and had a particular passion for the then wildly unfashionable Victorian painter Albert Moore. Over the last couple of years I was lucky enough to be working with him on a new history of the Royal Academy, for which he wrote a remarkable chapter about 19th–20th century sculpture of the kind that only he could have produced. He bore severe eye trouble and a series of operations with his usual good humour. He was a delight to be with, his eyes twinkling, his wit dry and self-deprecating. We shall all miss him, and the world of art history is the poorer without his scholarly but refreshing originality.’
The funeral service will at 12 noon on 14 November at The Church of the Holy Ghost and St Stephen, 44 Ashchurch Grove, London W12 9BW.
Anthony Bryer FSA died on 22 October aged 78. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in May 1973. Robin Milner-Gulland FSA knew him since 1960 as a great academic and family friend (‘He put me up for the Antis,’ he tells Salon, ‘on the basis that this was “the best free car park in central London”’), and has written what he describes as this ‘short memoir’:
‘Professor Anthony Bryer OBE – universally known as just Bryer, even to his family – gained an international reputation as first Director of the Centre for Byzantine Studies, founded in 1965 (and later adding Modern Greek and Ottoman studies to its title) by Sir Ellis Waterhouse at Birmingham University. Though his primary interest was in the Medieval Empire of Trebizond, he was a mine of information on all things Greek, Turkish and Mediterranean generally – but above all the history, material culture, literature, art, buildings, coins and rituals of Byzantium.
‘Son of a distinguished naval and RAF commander, Bryer lived as a child above Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem during the British mandate, then in the New Forest; he went to Canford School. As an Oxford undergraduate reading history, he already seemed a larger-than-life personality, hosting Saturday parties in his Balliol room to which anyone sufficiently gregarious could come, if bearing food or drink, to relish the gossip and wide-ranging conversation. His wit was sometimes outrageous, sometimes rather boisterous, which disconcerted a few acquaintances but charmed nearly all.
‘He was a tireless traveller in the Balkans and Near East at a time when this was neither common nor particularly easy, and involved himself in the everyday life of the countries he got to know (he acquired a Turkish blood-brother). He married a student, later teacher, of maths, Elizabeth Lipscomb; he and Liz had three daughters. At first they lived, improbably, in the Tom Quad rooms of the Dean of Christ Church. Once settled in Birmingham, they were famous for their hospitality – especially at the time of the internationally renowned Spring Symposium that Bryer conjured up out of a further education class. Liz sadly died in 1995. A second marriage to Jenny Banks brought subsequent happiness.
‘Conviviality in a broad sense was really Bryer’s watchword: he knew everyone at Birmingham, it seemed (above all, those to be found at the Staff House bar). He was endlessly solicitous towards his friends, as indeed towards anyone who sought his help. These qualities informed his role as a teacher – the Birmingham Centre has become a famous ‘nursery’ of Byzantine scholars. He was an entertaining yet highly informative lecturer. While still a student, he was holding forth to visitors in Santa Sophia of Trebizond, when Sir Mortimer Wheeler FSA walked in, listened for a bit, and enrolled him on the spot to lecture for Swan Hellenic, which he did for nearly 40 years.
'He was a painstaking supervisor and editor, produced a stream of well-written articles, but never wrote "big" books (the major one was an account, with David Winfield, of the buildings and topography of Trebizond and Pontos). He was honoured by a special Spring Symposium under the evocative title Eat, Drink and be Merry (Luke 12: 19) in 2003, and on a larger scale at the International Congress of Byzantine Studies in London, 2006. His last years, alas, were dogged by increasing infirmities and immobility, about which he – once so active – never complained. What brought him particular delight was the award of OBE, an honour his father had received, presented to him by the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands when he couldn’t get to London.’
Robin Milner-Gulland’s photo shows Anthony Bryer in northern Russia in 1998. The funeral will be at St Peter’s, Harborne, B17 0BB on 10 November at 2 pm.
The Wisdom of Fellows
‘I really think it is high time that all museums, art galleries and other places open to the public faced the reality of the 21st century. While they all, or almost all, piously state that “NO PHOTOGRAPHY IS PERMITTED”, this completely ignores the reality of modern technology and what is actually happening in practice.’
So writes Alastair Maxwell-Irving FSA, who has returned from a trip to Madrid with gadgets swimming in his eyes.
‘I visited the Prado and other galleries, several museums and the royal palace, and in all of them scores of visitors were blithely taking photographs with iPhones, iPads, etc, unnoticed and unseen. Flash used to be conspicuous, but nobody now needs flash, as the electronic gadgets are now infinitely more sensitive. Unless these places employ metal detectors at the entrance and take away every item of electronic equipment for the duration of the visit – and that would require a quite impractical level of administration – there is nothing that the security staff can do. Even the airports do not go that far.
‘A few years ago, I saw a Japanese tourist, with a cine camera “innocently” running on his shoulder, recording the entire interior of the Sistine Chapel right under the noses of the security staff, and they suspected nothing. It is too easy. In earlier days, when photography was freely permitted in the chapel – without flash or a tripod – it was extremely difficult to get any photograph sharp enough for reproduction, and I know as I tried; but no longer is that the case.’
The photo, by Elena Marimon Munoz, won the 2015 British Life Photography Awards (though some wondered whether things were really that bad at Stonehenge, or if the shot broke the competition rules against digital image manipulation).
Forthcoming Ordinary Meetings of Fellows
You can 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'). Unless indicated otherwise, tea will be served at 16.15, and the Meeting will commence at 17.00 precisely. Online ballots close at noon at the date of the scheduled ballot. At Ordinary Meetings, ballots open at 16.00 and close at 16.20. The results are read at the beginning of the Meeting.
3 November: 'St Kilda: Mapping a Future for the Past', by Angela Gannon, FSA
10 November: 'The Anglo-Saxon Parts of the Church of St Wystan at Repton: Chronology and Function', by Prof Eric Fernie, Hon VPSA
17 November: 'Chequered Histories: Image, Process and Time in Neolithic Britain and Ireland', by Prof Andrew Meirion Jones, FSA
Interested in proposing a lecture? Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Manager (email@example.com). Please note that lecture programmes are planned between 6 and 12 months in advance.
Forthcoming Public Events
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.
22 November: 'Motherboards and Motherloads: The Evolving Excavation of the Digital Age', by Dr Christine Finn FSA.
31 January: 'From the Dungheap to the Stars: The History of Early Gunpowder', by Kay Smith, FSA.
14 February: 'Revealing Verulamium: Community Heritage, Geophysics and the Archaeology of a Roman Town,' by Dr Kris Lockyear, FSA, and Dr Ellen Shlasko.
Click here for more information on our public lectures. We also run public tours of our building and collections (£10 per person) preceding the lectures above.
Society Dates to Remember
Join Us to Celebrate Adrian James
Fellows and guests are invited to join us on Thursday, 3 November, (18.15 - 19.15, following the Ordinary Meeting) for drinks in the Entrance Hall to thank our former Assistant Librarian, Adrian James.
This summer, after leaving his long-held post of Assistant Librarian, Adrian took on the new post of Project Librarian. In the past five months, he has used his incredible knowledge to identify and audit more than 90 discrete collections in the Library, including six that were unrecorded. Thanks to his work, we now have a clearer idea of the extent of our special collections, how far each has been catalogued and the significance of each. This data is invaluable in helping to make our Library collections more widely known and accessible to researchers.
Burlington House Closures
The Society's apartments (including the Library and Fellows' Room) will be closed for the Christmas holidays 24 December to 2 January (inclusive)
Regional Fellows Groups
South West Fellows
2 March 2017: Archaeology at Rendlesham, Suffolk: An East Anglian Royal Settlement of the Time of Sutton Hoo by Prof Christopher Scull, FSA, a joint lecture with the Department of Archaeology of University of Exeter (14.30-15.30 at University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Laver Building, Lecture Theater 3).
Want to join the South West Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings, you can subscribe online at: http://eepurl.com/MvHUr
Want to join the Welsh Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings, email Bob Child at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26 November: Christmas Luncheon at Library, The Grange Hotel, York. Save the date and email Stephen Greep FSA at email@example.com for details.
Want to join the York Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings in York, you can subscribe online at: http://eepurl.com/8nvxL
Other Forthcoming Heritage Events
See end for 'Call for Papers'
1 November: St Stephen's Chapel: Bringing a Building Back to Life (London)
Rosemary Hill FSA will address the Westminster History Club in the Lord Mayor's Reception Rooms, Westminster City Hall, at 7pm. St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster was one of the glories of medieval Christendom, England's Ste Chapelle. Today it is one of London's most poignant ghost buildings, a subtle influence on the present Houses of Parliament. The story of its death, resurrection and afterlife is part of the history of Romanticism, of antiquarianism and of the Gothic revival. The Westminster Club was set up to raise funds for local scholarly research by the Victoria County History. This is one of four social events, with a glass of wine and a talk. All welcome but please RSVP, see online. Tickets £10 at the event.
5 November: The Roman Empire Off Limits (London)
A conference hosted by the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies with the Association for Roman Archaeology, at the BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum. This year we explore the archaeology of countries where sites have been damaged or destroyed, and where fieldwork is not currently possible. The experiences of Gertrude Bell remind us that the political and archaeological issues in these areas are hardly new. Speakers include Robert Bewley FSA, and Mark Jackson will talk about Gertrude Bell. See online for details.
7 November: Beatrice de Cardi Lecture (London)
This annual event will take place at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, this year preceded by a celebration of the life of Beatrice de Cardi FSA, at 2.30–4 pm. Following the CBA's Annual General Meeting for 2016, the presentation of the Marsh Archaeology Awards and a drinks reception, at 6.30 pm Mark Knight, Must Farm Site Director from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, will talk about the ongoing exciting discoveries at Must Farm. Details and booking online.
November 2016–June 2017: Lectures on the History of English Architecture (London)
Simon Thurley FSA is giving a series of free lectures in his capacity as Visiting Professor of the Built Environment at Gresham College, a positon created in 2009 for his continuing lectures on the history of English architecture. They will take place at the Museum of London, and will be accessible to the general public on a first come first served basis, beginning promptly at 6pm. The lectures are:
2 November 2016: Saving the Twentieth Century
How far can experimental buildings of the 1960s and '70s be altered for new uses? Should there be new rules for a new era of conservation?
7 December 2016: Tough Choices: Heritage or Housing?
The one built environment issue on which there is political consensus is an urgent need to build more houses. Housebuilding and heritage can be reconciled, but at the moment far too few local authorities know how to do it.
1 February 2017: Perfection or Pastiche? New Buildings in Old Places
The blight of the concrete municipal buildings of the 1960s and 70s in the historic centres of our cathedral cities is all too familiar. Everyone wants to avoid the same mistakes being made again, but can we reconcile old and new in our historic cities?
8 March 2017: The Value of Heritage and the Heritage of Value
There was a time when old places were valued simply for their beauty and interest, but now this is not enough. Are calculations of the financial contribution of our history adding to the value of our heritage or have they fundamentally devalued it?
7 June 2017: Fifty Years of Conservation Areas (Simon Thurley and Desmond Fitzpatrick FSA)
The first Conservation Areas were designated in 1967, today at the golden anniversary there are some 10,000 sites. The presentation will explore the origins, variety and some challenges for the future.
24 November: Research Agendas and the VCH: Recent Partnerships and Approaches in Oxfordshire (London)
Simon Townley (County Editor, VCH Oxfordshire) and Kate Tiller (VCH Oxfordshire Trust) will give a lecture at Senate House, Malet Street followed by a reception, to mark the publication of VCH Oxfordshire XVIII (Benson, Ewelme and the Chilterns: Ewelme Hundred). The research has run in close parallel with the Oxford University History Faculty and Leverhulme Trust project, Perceptions of Landscape, Settlement and Society in South Oxfordshire, c.500–1650. The event is free and open to all, but advance booking is required.
24–25 November: Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World (Oxford)
This year is the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616), which the Hakluyt Society will mark with a programme of events in Oxford, of which the principal is a two-day international conference. The programme includes a keynote lecture by Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University) and a free public lecture, Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries, by broadcaster and historian Michael Wood FSA. Details online.
26 November: Romantic Antiquarianism: A Conference Celebrating Scott's The Antiquary (London)
A day conference organised by Fiona Robertson and Peter Lindfield at the Georgian Group, 6 Fitzroy Square, celebrates the bicentenary of the publication of Sir Walter Scott's novel, The Antiquary, by looking at the multi-faceted nature of antiquarianism in Georgian Britain. Leading scholars from across the UK will gather to present new and engaging material on the topic, including Rosemary Sweet FSA. See online for details.
26 November: ‘What the Romans built for us’ in Kent (Canterbury)
The importance of Roman villas in the landscape and history of Kent will be the theme of a one-day conference sponsored by the Kent Archaeological Society (KAS) in association with the Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies, University of Kent, to be held at Rutherford College. Speakers include Edward Biddulph FSA and Keith Parfitt FSA. Application form on the KAS News & Events page.
27–28 November: The Destruction Of Books (London)
This year’s 38th Annual Conference on Book Trade History, at Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, is concerned with the attrition and loss of books and manuscripts. Speakers will explore misfortunes that can befall books, ranging from accidental or wilful destruction of books to the cutting up and re-use of text and pictures. The impact of book-trade practices and changing fashions in collecting, with the recycling of paper and parchment and the rebinding of books, will form another major theme. Speakers include Brian Cummings FSA, John Goldfinch FSA, Christopher de Hamel FSA, Giles Mandelbrote FSA and Nicholas Pickwoad FSA. See online for full details.
6 December: A Colourful History/A Bright Future: Celebrating the Reredos Project at St Cuthbert’s (Wells)
The summer's investigations into two magnificent 15th-century painted reredos frameworks at St Cuthbert’s church, Wells, and the 449 pieces of broken sculpture which once populated them, are now complete. A day of presentations and discussion will share the project's findings and start the conversation about the sculptures' future. Cataloguing undertaken by Jerry Sampson FSA sheds light on the original composition and structure of the two reredoses. What can the iconography tell us about the nature of worship in the 15th century church? How and when were they destroyed? The event will take place in the Lecture Hall at Wells and Mendip Museum. See blog for more about the project, and Eventbrite for tickets.
12 December: ‘Business as Usual’: The Great War and the Ceramics Trade (London)
The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology’s Geoff Egan Memorial Lecture 2016 will be given by David Barker, at the Society of Antiquaries, Piccadilly, at 7pm. The lecture considers the impact of events of 1914–1919 on British manufacturing industries. The pottery industry was not alone in feeling the effects of labour shortages – and the need to fill male roles with women workers – and it suffered from the closure of markets, shortages of raw materials and difficulties in pursuing the all-important export trade. The lecture will be preceded by the SPMA’s AGM at 5.30pm and a wine reception at 6pm. See online for details.
15 December: In the Footsteps of the Ancestors – Excursions into the Gorham’s Cave Complex World Heritage Site (London)
Clive Finlayson, Director of the Gibraltar Museum and of the Gorham’s Cave Complex, will give the ICOMOS-UK annual Christmas lecture at the Gallery, 70 Cowcross St, to celebrate the inscription of the UK’s latest World Heritage Site. Conventional wisdom tells us that competitively superior modern humans were responsible for the demise of all who they came across in their relentless path towards global colonisation. The story of humanity is much more complex than this, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the evidence does not support this simple model. New technologies, and sites which have survived the attention of Victorian archaeologists and their contemporaries, have the potential to reveal the secrets of the ancestors. Booking online.
12 January 2017: Grave Disturbance in Early Medieval Europe (Stockholm)
An international symposium to be held at the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, organised by Alison Klevnäs, who won the Kent Archaeological Society's Hasted Prize in 2011 for her Cambridge PhD on the symposium’s theme. One of the most intriguing chapters in early Medieval archaeology is an outbreak of grave disturbance from Hungary to England, peaking in the seventh century. Thousands of recent burials were reopened and rifled, with grave goods and human remains removed or scattered. This will be the first conference on Merovingian-period grave disturbance since 1977. Substantive new research is being carried out into this phenomenon in England, Germany, France, the Low Countries, and Austria. See online for more information.
21 January 2017: New Insights into 16th- and 17th-Century British Architecture (London)
The programme and booking form for the seventh in this conference series are available. The conference will be held at the Society of Antiquaries, and many of the speakers are Fellows. For more information, please contact Paula Henderson FSA (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Claire Gapper FSA (email@example.com).
18 February 2017: The Man who Collected Oxfordshire (Oxford)
A day school at Rewley House, exploring the life and collections of Percy Manning (1870–1917). Manning amassed an enormous wealth of materials covering the whole county, which he gave to Oxford University, where they are held by the Bodleian Libraries and the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums. His collections range from prehistoric to modern times, from Stone-age implements and truncheons to historical records, plans and drawings. Kate Tiller FSA will chair a panel of five speakers. See online for details.
Call for Papers
31 March–2 April 2017: Post-Medieval Archaeology Congress 2017 (Hull)
The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology is building on the success of its 50th Anniversary Congress in Sheffield with a similar event in Hull as it celebrates being UK City of Culture. The event is open to all researchers at any stage of their career, whether academics, students, commercial or community archaeologists, to report recent research on any aspect of post-medieval/historical archaeology. We encourage contributors to offer 15-minute papers or poster displays which will be grouped by the organisers into themed sessions. Please send offers of papers (title and abstract of up to 150 words) to Harold Mytum FSA by 1 December, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about the conference is available online.
19–21 April 2017: Archaeology: A Global Profession (Newcastle)
The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists’ annual conference and training event will be hosted at the University of Newcastle next year. The three broad themes are professionalism, protection and discovery. Archaeology should be without borders, and professional archaeology must be without borders. We hope the conference will provide an opportunity to report on some of the progress made and to explore both the opportunities and difficulties of professionalising across borders. Deadline for proposals 14 October 2016. See online for further details.
29 April 2017: The Changing Parish Church: from Saxon to Victorian c 600–1900 (Lewes)
Against a background of declining congregations and large numbers of listed churches with uncertain futures, this day conference considers the emergence, use and decoration of the early parish church, how the parish church has changed, and what might lie ahead for rural parish churches. The delegates’ handbook will include illustrations and other information to help ‘read’ a church when you visit. See online for details.
May 17–18 2017: Archaeology and History of Lydia from Early Lydian Period to the Late Antiquity (Izmir, Turkey)
This symposium will take place at the Dokuz Eylul University. Lydia was an ancient region, located in inner western Anatolia, and compared to the coastline of western Asia Minor its archaeology is not well known. We warmly invite contributions by scholars and graduate students from a variety of disciplines of ancient classical studies related to this region. The aim of the symposium is to report on the state of research concerning Lydia between the 8th century BC and 6th century AD. See online for details.
16–17 November 2017: The Black Prince and Canterbury Cathedral (Canterbury)
Proposals are invited for a conference at Canterbury Cathedral, part of a wider project to preserve and research the material culture of the Black Prince held at the Cathedral through The Canterbury Journey project. The conference will explore and appraise current and developing studies of the Black Prince, his life, his influence past and present, and will contextualise him within the cathedral setting. A keynote address will be complemented by a series of presentations and panel discussions and unusual access to the Cathedral’s architecture. The aim is to offer a vibrant and challenging perspective on the field, review ongoing projects and public and scholarly engagement. Original proposals are welcome from professionals, rising and established academic scholars and graduate students. Email Sarah Turner and Heather Newton by 30 January 2017, at email@example.com and Heather.Newton@canterbury-cathedral.org. See online for details.
The National Trust is looking for new members to join the Collections and Interpretation Advisory Group. Closing date for applications 3 November 2016.
The Trust’s ten-year strategy commits us to change on many fronts, including the ways in which we present, interpret and open up our houses and collections to the public. We are looking for potential members who can make a contribution in one or more of the following areas of expertise: curatorship of decorative or applied arts, curatorship of fine arts, and the history of historic interiors. We are looking for colleagues who have a passion and deep knowledge about heritage and history; about curatorship, conservation, education and engagement; significant experience of leadership, innovation and critical reflection in these areas; and a collegiate and curious outlook.
The role requires a commitment of about ten days per year, and is for an initial term of three years, with the potential for one renewal. The positions are voluntary, but expenses will be paid. For further information please contact Jess McGurk, Convenor, 07342084865 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or see online.
To apply email a brief CV and covering letter to Becci Shanks, Group Administrator, email@example.com 0207 824 7138.
Propose a Lecture or Seminar
Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Renée LaDue, 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 Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Manager, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.