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Salon: Issue 319
28 April 2014

Next issue: 12 May 2014

The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of news from the heritage sector. It focuses on the activities of the Society and the contribution that the Society's Fellows make to public life. Like the intellectual salons of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it aims to amuse and to stimulate debate as well as to inform. A copy of Salon’s editorial policy can be found on the Society’s website. News and feedback for publication in Salon should be addressed to the Editor, Christopher Catling.
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Inside this issue

The Society Medal and the Society’s Gold Medal

Our President Maurice Howard has announced that he will be presenting Society Medals to John Maddison, Merlin Waterson and Pamela Tudor-Craig at the Anniversary Meeting on 30 April 2014. The Society Medal was instituted in 1996 and is awarded for outstanding service to the Society or to the aims of the Society. Our Fellow Beatrice De Cardi will also be presented with the Society’s Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished services to archaeology. The presentation will be made to Beatrice on 5 June 2014, her 100th birthday.

Forthcoming meetings

30 April 2014: Anniversary Meeting
The first part of the Society’s Anniversary Meeting is reserved for Fellows; it begins at 3.30pm with the ballot for the election of members of Council, Officers and President to serve during 2014—15. At 3.45pm, the Treasurer and General Secretary will report on the Society’s activities during the past year. The public meeting begins at 5pm when the retiring President will announce the names of those elected in the ballot and deliver his Presidential Address.

The reception will begin at 6pm, and will include an exhibition in the library of material from the Prattinton collections of Worcestershire history, which have been in the possession of the Society since 1841. For the first time, part of the fine collection of original coloured drawings of Worcestershire churches and chapels executed by Thomas Rickards between c 1810 and 1815 will be on display; some of these buildings have since been demolished, others drastically rebuilt, and in many cases the detailed sketches made by Rickards are the only pictorial record we have of them.

2 May 2014: ‘Church Treasures: perils and possibilities’
Co-sponsored by the Society of Antiquaries and the Churches Conservation Trust, this half-day conference (9.30am to 12.35pm) will examine the status of church fixtures and fittings that are greatly threatened not only by theft and church re-ordering schemes, but also by the sale of the churches themselves, or their valuable works of arts and artefacts by cash-strapped parishes tempted by the dizzying prices that collectable objects are achieving on the open market (see ‘Court of Arches rules that parishes are not free to sell off Church Treasures’ below). Arguably the treasures of our parish churches are communal assets with the ability to enhance our enjoyment and significantly increase our understanding of the past rather then assets to be monetised for temporary and short-term gain.

The speakers will include Fellow Loyd Grossman (Churches Conservation Trust), Fellow John Goodall (Country Life), Janet Gough (Church Buildings Council), the Revd Nigel Done, and Crispin Truman (Churches Conservation Trust). For further information on the speakers and their themes, see the Society’s website.

Admission is by ticket only (£10, including VAT). To reserve your place, please call 020 7479 7080 or send an email.

8 May 2014: ‘Shelters for Eternity: recording ancient Egyptian coffins in British and foreign collections’, by Aidan Dodson, FSA
Objects that languish unpublished in museum collections are in many ways as ‘lost’ as those still concealed under the ground. Amongst such pieces are many ancient Egyptian coffins which, although popular as museum exhibits, have often received little or no specialist attention since arriving from Egypt, whether as tourist souvenirs or the fruits of proper archaeological excavations. Dr Dodson is currently undertaking a long-term project to record such objects in UK provincial collections, as well as having been invited to publish those in the national collections in Edinburgh and Stockholm. This lecture will give a brief overview of the history of Egyptian coffins through the lens of collections studied to date, also highlighting some interesting (and some cautionary) tales regarding the collection and conservation of ancient Egyptian antiquities.

15 May 2014: ‘Hoarding in Iron Age and Roman Britain’, by Roger Bland, FSA, Adrian Chadwick and Eleanor Ghey
Some 340 hoards of Iron Age coins and 2,591 of Roman coins are known from Britain, probably a greater concentration than anywhere else in the Roman Empire. This is a fast-expanding dataset, as 600 of the Roman hoards have been found in the last twenty years. Hoards have long attracted the attention of scholars, but mostly they have been concerned with their contents and have paid less attention to their contexts. An AHRC-funded project, a collaboration between the British Museum and the University of Leicester, will try to redress the balance by studying hoards in their context to understand better why they were buried through a systematic GIS-based analysis of their findspots and survey of selected sites. The paper will look at some of the issues involved and some of the early results.

22 May 2014: ‘London in 1712 as recorded in the letters of Samuel Molyneux, FRS’, by Paul Holden, FSA
In October 1712, Samuel Molyneux travelled from his native Dublin to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society in London. During his stay in England he corresponded with his learned uncle, Thomas Molyneux, communicating well-measured accounts of some of the most noteworthy connoisseurs of the day as well as first-hand descriptions of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, historic royal palaces, parks and gardens and notable public and private libraries and collections. Before the next half-century was over, many of these collections and libraries had become the nuclei of the British Museum and British Library. For the modern reader these seven meticulously written letters offer an intimate, erudite and discursive analysis of early Enlightenment London and a fascinating insight into the cultural and scientific world of the time.

29 May 2014: A Miscellany of Papers and Summer Soirée
This year’s Miscellany will include papers from Sasha Ward, Kelmscott Manor’s Artist in Residence, who will update Fellows on her work-in-progress, and from Jan Marsh, curator of the small exhibition showing in Room 28 of the National Portrait Gallery called Janey Morris: Pre-Raphaelite Muse. Jane died 100 years ago, on 26 January 1914, and the centenary display includes rarely seen portraits of Jane, her family and her close friends, including the photograph shown left, taken by John Robert Parsons in July 1865 when Jane Morris (1839–1914) was twenty-six years old, six years after her marriage to William Morris.

The Summer Soirée follows at 6pm. Fellows and Guests are welcome to both; admission to the soirée is by ticket only: booking details will be available shortly.

3 September 2014: Stonehenge private tour and evening reception
This is a special opportunity for Fellows and their guests to explore the new visitor centre at Stonehenge. Admission is by ticket only, and will include access to Stonehenge (3pm to 7pm) and admission to a private reception in the new visitor centre with wine and canapés (7pm to 8.30pm); Fellow Susan Greaney and Melanie Coussens, both of whom have been closely involved in the design of the permanent and temporary visitor centre displays, will be on-hand to answer questions.

Tickets are £10 (including VAT) (the normal admission charge is £13.90) and can by contacting Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant (tel: 0207 479 7080). Adding a £5 donation to your ticket will help to pay for conservation work in the Society’s Library, which has five printed books currently on loan to the temporary exhibition at the Stonehenge visitor centre.

Court of Arches rules that parishes are not free to sell off Church Treasures

The Church of England’s court of appeal, the historic Court of Arches, has stopped the sale of a sixteenth-century Flemish helmet (or armet) that used to hang in the church of Wootton St Lawrence, in Hampshire.

In a judgement released on 14 April 2014, three senior ecclesiastical judges (Charles George, QC, Dean of the Arches, Timothy Briden, Vicar-General for the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Professor David MacLean, Chancellor of Sheffield) said: ‘It is our view ... that the strong presumption against disposal of Church treasures, which we have applied in this case, is both soundly based and generally beneficial in its consequences.’

The ruling means that parishes cannot, under ecclesiastical law, convert valuable gifts or funerary artefacts into money. In the words of the Church Buildings Council, had the Court ruled otherwise we would have seen ‘cultural plundering on the scale of European collectors two centuries ago’ (a reference to the vast quantities of Continental church property looted and sold on during and after the Napoleonic wars).

The Wootton St Lawrence armet once formed an integral part of the monument to Sir Thomas Hooke (died 1677, aged thirty-six), in St Lawrence’s Church, Wootton St Lawrence, Hampshire. Hooke is portrayed as a white marble effigy in plate armour, resting on one arm with his other hand on a carved helmet. His real helmet itself was placed above the monument, on an iron bracket bearing the initials of Sir Thomas Hooke and the date 1677. When the accompanying dagger, spurs and gauntlets were stolen in 1969, the parish asked the Royal Armouries to take care of the helmet, since when it has been in storage for most of the time.

The parish was granted a faculty to sell the helmet in 2011, and it was auctioned for £45,000, selling to a private buyer based in the USA. At this stage, arms and armour experts joined forces with the Church Monuments Society to question whether the correct Church of England protocol for the sale of Church Treasures had been observed. Faculty Jurisdiction Rules (2000) prohibit the removal or disposal of a range of items from churches — including Royal Coats of Arms, unfixed hatchments, heraldic achievements, paintings, historic textiles, historic silver and base metal work — without a reference to the Church Buildings Council. This had not happened in the case of the armet, nor had prior permission been obtained from Sir Thomas Hooke’s living heirs.

Because the proper procedures had not been followed, the faculty was set aside and a new hearing took place; this time the Chancellor of Winchester, Mr Justice Christopher Clark, QC, granted a new faculty permitting the sale. It is this faculty that the Court of Arches has now overturned.

Anne Sloman, Chair of the Church Buildings Council, said: ‘We are delighted that the Court of the Arches has reaffirmed the principle that Treasures from Churches, including those on loan to museums, should only sold in exceptional circumstances. This armet is one of an internationally significant collection of funeral monuments which have been lent for many years by parish churches to the Royal Armouries. As a church we are the guardians of a very significant part of the nation’s heritage and we are pleased that the judgement has recognized that this is a responsibility we take very seriously.’

Campaign news

A petition has been sent to Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, signed by more than 800 Southampton residents and supporters asking him to intervene in the proposed sale of works of art by Southampton City Council, and to support the creation of an independent trust to manage the city’s art collections. Two of Southampton Art Gallery’s most popular exhibits — Rodin’s Crouching Woman and Munnings’ After the Race — have been removed from display. Campaigners say that if they are sold, the collection could also lose its accreditation and so could no longer apply for grants. Southampton City Council Leader Simon Letts defends the proposed sale by saying that the £10m raised would pay the £2m repair bill for the gallery roof and leave £8m for ‘art projects’ in Southampton.

Crimean consequences

Our correspondent Heinrich Härke writes with a few observations from an archaeological perspective on the recent developments in the Crimea.

The Crimean crisis is having a deleterious effect on archaeology in the peninsula, and on scholarship in the region, in general. While a splendid exhibition on the archaeology and ancient history of the Crimea featuring objects from five Ukrainian museums (The Crimea — Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea) is successfully touring western European museums (previously at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, now at the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, until 31 August 2014), the organisational and financial foundations on which the exhibition had been built are rapidly disappearing in the east.
A friend based in the Crimea reports that, in late March 2014, the Crimean branch of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences was transferred to the control of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Crimea. The pervasive atmosphere in the Institute of Archaeology at Simferopol, the leading institution of archaeological research in the peninsula, is one of uncertainty about future administrative and funding arrangements. At the beginning of April, the director of the Institute, a respected scholar, was replaced by an administrator without academic credentials, but with a criminal record for ‘economic crimes’. Members of the Institute are apparently unwilling to accept this change without a fight, irrespective of their various ethnic backgrounds.

During a conference visit to the Crimea in September 2012, I saw no evidence, and heard of no cases, of ethnic tensions there, and it was obvious that local Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar colleagues cared jointly for the rich heritage of this historical crossroads region: Greek colonies, early medieval Gothic ‘rock towns’, Byzantine monasteries, Genoese fortresses and Ottoman palaces, to name just a few. It remains to be seen if the apparent sense of common purpose among Crimean scholars from all backgrounds will survive the whipped-up ethnic tensions that are surely one of the worst consequences of the current crisis. But joint efforts by all concerned will be needed not just to prevent a decline of monument protection in this period of uncertainty and transition, but also to lay the foundations for the future of the heritage sector in the peninsula, such as expanding heritage tourism, which has so far been curiously underdeveloped.

Given its long-running budget deficit, the Crimea will find it hard to fund research institutions and monument protection without continued support from the political centre, which has now shifted from Kiev to Moscow. In the deteriorating economic situation and heated political climate in Russia, it is unlikely that this support will come without strings attached. By way of justification of the annexation, President Putin has repeatedly referred to ‘one thousand years of Russian culture in the Crimea’ and called for an intensification of research on its Russian history. This will fool few archaeologists and historians aware of regional history (a reminder: Empress Catherine the Great wrested control of the peninsula from the Ottoman Empire in 1783), but it might still tempt opportunists. One is reminded of Hitler’s reference to the Gothic history of the Crimea in his war-time ‘Table Talks’ (‘Our demands are not unreasonable — after all, we only want back what once belonged to us’), and to Himmler’s dispatch of a task force of SS-Ahnenerbe archaeologists to record a propaganda film about the Crimean Goths.

The exhibits in The Crimea exhibition — including sensational Chinese lacquer boxes of the first century AD found in five female burials of the cemetery of Ust’-Al’ma — will return to a different country. Some exhibits came from a museum in Kiev; others from museums in the Crimea, including the Taurida Museum Simferopol and the Bakhchissaraj Khan Palace. Political discussion about their return destinations started in late March. The Culture Minister of the new Ukraine government, Jevhen Nishchuk, has stated that the finds are the cultural property of the Ukraine and should all be sent back to Kiev. The Crimean museums involved would face irreplaceable loss if that should occur, and the museum directors involved have expressed deep concern about the exhibits being kept ‘hostage’ abroad. Russian media have already reported a cultural ‘ultimatum’, and Putin’s special envoy for cultural affairs, Mikhail Shvydkoj, has weighed in, demanding that 530 of the 550 exhibits be returned to the Russian Crimea, saying that anything else would be a ‘violation of museum ethics’.

The Director of the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, Wim Hupperetz, has reasonably explained that, in the run-up to the exhibition, guarantees of safe return had been given to the Ukrainian government at Kiev (at the time, the pre-revolution government under Yanukovich), and that the Dutch administrators now face a thorny legal question. The first step has been to extend the exhibition from its original planned closing date of 18 May 2014 to 31 August, buying time for lawyers and politicians to come to grips with the issues involved. The ultimate irony of the wrangle over the exhibits has been pointed out by the initiator of the exhibition, Dr Valentina Mordvintseva, an ethnic Russian archaeologist working in the peninsula: the Crimea exhibition had been intended to showcase the peaceful co-existence of cultures and peoples.
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Art Fund Museum of the Year

The shortlist for the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year Award has been announced. The big hitters seem to be more in evidence in this year’s list, with the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft as the only ‘minnow’. The newly redeveloped East Sussex Museum displays material created by the artists, weavers, silversmiths, engravers, sculptors and typographers (including Eric Gill) who made Ditchling such a creative hub in the first half of the twentieth century. Otherwise, those competing for the award are London’s Hayward Gallery, Portsmouth’s Mary Rose Museum, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, Tate Britain and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Our Fellow Anna Somers Cocks, chief executive of The Art Newspaper, is one of the judges who will now visit all six museums before the winner is named on 9 July 2014.

Salon’s editor has a soft spot for the Ditchling Museum, not least because this 'Kettle's Yard of Sussex' has been created and developed since 1985 almost entirely on the basis of voluntary effort and funding, without the advantages enjoyed by the major museums. The founding collection was donated by sisters Joanna and Hilary Bourne, the last remaining members of the artistic colony founded by a group of artists and craft-workers who followed Eric Gill to Ditchling in 1907. Gill moved to Wales in 1927 but he left behind him a strong heritage of craft making in the village. This was a Morris-inspired arts and crafts community that developed along semi-religious lines, though, as Ewan Clayton, the last member to join (in 1982) has written, this was ‘an ordinary spirituality rather than an extreme one’; the core idea being that making art was a spiritual act.

The core collection was augmented by donations from other people in the village: everything from looms and clothing made from hand-spun, hand-woven, vegetable dyed clothing to furniture and pewter, calligraphy and hand-printed books. At first it was housed in a converted schoolhouse, once described as ‘a touchingly amateurish local museum’. The new museum (so new that it doesn’t yet have a website) was created by converting a group of farm buildings. The design, by Adam Richards Architects, was described in a Spectator review as ‘a welcoming building with a beguiling air of good fellowship and a pervading belief in the value of a shared culture’, so very much in the spirit of the community whose heritage it celebrates.

Above: The Pond, Ditchling (c 1940), by Charles Knight © Ditchling Museum Art + Craft
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Retired army general wants Egypt’s St Catherine’s monastery demolished

The holy monastery of St Catherine at Mount Sinai.
Photo: courtesy of the official website of the monastery

Fellow John Nandris spotted this extraordinary but apparently true report in the English-language version of the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram. It says that the founder and former head of the Egyptian army’s special operations unit, Ahmed Ragai Attiya, has filed a court case calling for St Catherine’s Monastery to be demolished and its mainly Greek monks to be deported on the grounds that they pose a threat to national security. He further claims, via his lawyer, that the monastery is a fake, built in 2006, while, in a TV interview, he levelled a series of accusations against the monks, alleging that they have changed the names of landmarks in the surrounding area and tried to hide an underground water source known as Moses’ Well (Oyun Moussa).

The interesting part of the story is Attiya’s claim that the ‘Bedouin’ inhabitants of the region have betrayed Egypt by guarding what he calls ‘the Greek occupants’ (ie the monks). John Nandris says that the Jebeliyeh referred to here are ‘my favourite Bedouin tribe’. In the 1970s, John led an expedition funded by the British Academy that undertook fieldwork in the rocky desert landscape around St Catherine’s Monastery, one aim of which was to undertake an ethno-archaeological study of the Jebeliyeh (whose name means ‘Mountain People’). John explains that the Jebeliyeh are descended from the people of Vlah, the mountainous area south of the Danube in Romania. According to historical sources and oral tradition, they were sent to serve as monastery guards soon after St Catherine’s was founded by the Emperor Justinian, between AD 548 and 565, on the site associated with the burning bush, where Moses spoke with God and was told that he was to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

John’s report, published in Quaderni di Studi Arabi, 8 (1990), 45—90, makes fascinating reading, confirming that persistent historical traditions are supported by DNA and blood group evidence. The report examines the ways in which the Jebeliyeh have radically changed their way of life, material culture, language and religion whilst retaining a strong sense of separate identity, raising questions about what constitutes the identity of any human group.
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News of Fellows

Our Fellow Richard Ovendon has been appointed to the post of Bodley’s Librarian, the senior executive position at the Bodleian Libraries. He is the twenty-fifth person to hold the title since the appointment of Thomas James (1572/3—1629) in 1600, chosen by Thomas Bodley himself as librarian for his re-founded library.

Richard’s previous roles include positions at the House of Lords Library, the National Library of Scotland and at the University of Edinburgh, where he was Director of Collections, responsible for integrating the Library, the University Museums and the Art Gallery. In 2003 he joined the Bodleian as Keeper of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts; he was subsequently appointed Associate Director, and (from 2011) Deputy Librarian. He is also Director of the Bodleian’s Centre for the Study of the Book and he holds a Professorial Fellowship at Balliol College.

Richard is a member of the Board of the Legal Deposit Libraries and of the Expert Panel of the National Heritage Memorial Fund; he was Chairman of the Digital Preservation Coalition between 2009 and 2013. He is a Trustee of Chawton House Library and the Kraszna Kraus Foundation and a member of the Church of England’s Advisory Panel for Libraries and Archives. Richard writes on the history of libraries, the history of the book and the history of photography; he is the author of John Thomson (1837—1921), a major study of the Scottish photographer, published in 1997.

Our Fellow Peter Clayton has been re-appointed by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, to serve a further two years (until 6 February 2016) as a member of the Treasure Valuation Committee (TVC). He will then have completed ten years as a member of the TVC, the maximum period permitted. Our Fellow Lord Renfrew chairs the TVC and other Fellows presently serving as members of the Committee are Tim Pestell, John Cherry and David Dykes (for full details see the Portable Antiquities Scheme website.

The last two will complete ten years’ service later this year and the Public Appointments Unit is currently seeking to fill three vacancies: those of Finders’ Representative, an Expert in Medieval and Post-Medieval Coins and an Expert in Medieval and Post-Medieval Objects. The closing date for applications has now passed but details can still be seen on the Public Appointments website. The previous Finders’ Representative was Trevor Austin, National Secretary of the National Council for Metal Detecting. It is expected that the member appointed will not search with a metal detector during their term of office in order to avoid potential conflict of interest.

Fellow James Symonds is to be congratulated on his appointment to the splendid-sounding post of Professor of Historical Archaeology (North of the Alps) at the University of Amsterdam. James’s very wide research interests include the archaeology of capitalism, colonialism, landscapes of improvement and diaspora, urban and industrial archaeology and the archaeology of poverty. As Director of Archaeological Research and Consultancy at the University of Sheffield (ARCUS) from 1992 to 2009, James has extensive experience of urban excavation in the UK. He has also undertaken field research projects in the Isle of South Uist (Scotland), Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island (Canada) and Lapland (Finland). He is currently working on two research projects in the Czech Republic: one on the changing nature of the Iron Curtain between the 1950s and the 1980s, and the second on the impact of the Thirty Years’ War on rural settlements in seventeenth-century Bohemia.

Anyone listening to BBC Radio 4 on Holy Saturday might have caught our Fellow Christine Finn presenting ‘Atlantic Crossing’, an ‘Archive on 4’ programme that looked at the role of Shannon airport, in County Clare, in the history of transatlantic flight. Prior to the age of the jet engine, seaplanes and piston-engined propeller-driven aeroplanes had to touch down at Shannon airport to refuel before or after the 3,000-mile transatlantic flight. Christine described as an ‘archaeological site’ the now abandoned buildings of the once elegant Lindbergh Restaurant, where, in the 1950s and 1960s, US Presidents, Fidel Castro and Hollywood celebrities once sampled Irish hospitality while waiting for their departing flights.

Christine’s interviewees reminded us that Irish Coffee was invented here by the restaurant’s head chef, Joe Sheridan, when a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s looking for warmth (Marilyn Monroe is seen rather nervously tasting a Sheridan special at Shannon in the photograph shown here). We also learned that the world’s first duty-free shop opened at Shannon in 1947: the second picture shows Gene Kelly buying Irish butter from the shop, which more resembles a Women’s Institute market stall than the perfume and cognac duty-free shops of today. You can ‘listen again’ to this atmospheric and entertaining programme for an indefinite period using BBC iPlayer.


Vincent Megaw’s eightieth birthday party

Family, friends and luminaries of the many worlds that Fellow Vincent Megaw has inhabited, from Celtic and Aboriginal art to book editing and music, gathered in Oxford on 25 April 2014 to celebrate his eightieth birthday (‘I hate that song’, Vincent scowled, but despite his objection, all the guests joined in a lusty rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to You, accompanied by Fellow Stephen Briggs on piano; Stephen even managed to overcome Vincent's dislike of the sentimental melody by performing variations in the style of Mozaet, Beethoven and a flamboyantly romantic Brahms).

Vincent (left) was then presented with a cake and the proofs of a Festschrift called Celtic Art in Europe: making connections, edited by Fellows Christopher Gosden, Sally Crawford and Katharina Ulmschneider. In presenting the bound proofs and apologising for the fact that the volume itself had yet to be printed, Sally Crawford said that there was a precedent for this: she held up the handsome Festschrift, To Illustrate the Monuments, that was presented to Stuart Piggott and edited by one J V S Megaw back in 1976 — apart from the title page, this consisted entirely of blank pages, as the printing schedule had also managed to slip somewhat behind the day long set in everyone's diaries for the presentation.

Piggott’s Festschrift had thirty-three contributions; Sally Crawford said that Vincent deserved no less: she approached forty-four potential authors — and every one said yes. Chris Gosden pointed out that many of the contributors came from the other side of the terrible divide that had rent Europe during the post-war decades. The subtitle, ‘making connections’, was intended to honour the fact that, at a time when British archaeology was especially parochial, Vincent had established a cross-border community of scholars interested in Celtic art that extended across the continent and that had gave great succour to those colleagues trapped on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Thanking everyone for the Festschrift, Vincent said that it was just as much a tribute to his co-author Ruth. As reported in Salon 318, he had been very touched not just by the recent establishment by Flinders University of the annual Ruth and Vincent Megaw Lecture in Archaeology and Art, but also by the fact that the students had, at their own initiative, set up an additional annual award, to honour those of their number who were ‘especially good at collaborative work’.

The last word came from Vincent’s son, Jonathan, who spoke briefly about growing up as the son of an archaeologist. ‘What you learn from archaeology’, he said, ‘is that we are all family.’


The last issue of Salon reported on an article in BBC History magazine in which our Fellow Martin Biddle, amongst others, was quoted as saying that an inquest should be held to hear all the evidence surrounding the human remains from Leicester that have been claimed as those of Richard III. Fellow John Ashdown-Hill says that the central idea put forward in the BBC magazine article — that the remains could have been those of any number of Joan Beaufort’s descendants — has already been considered: ‘Joan’s own sons all died too early to match the carbon dating of the Leicester bones. Joan’s daughters produced a number of grandsons who would have shared Richard III’s mitochondrial DNA. We can ignore all Richard’s own brothers, because all of them died at the wrong date or at the wrong age or in the wrong manner, and / or were buried at the wrong place. As for his female-line male cousins (Joan Beaufort’s other grandsons), there were twenty of them, all of whom would have shared Richard III’s mtDNA, but sixteen can immediately be excluded from identity with the Leicester bones on the same grounds as Richard III’s brothers: ie they died at the wrong time, at the wrong age, in the wrong manner, and / or were buried in the wrong place.’

‘This’, John says, ‘leaves only four possible contenders apart from Richard III. I am still working on those four, but none of them is likely to have been buried in Leicester or (given their status) buried in such a high-status location as the choir of a priory church, but without a coffin or any other signs of a high-status burial (consistent with the contemporary accounts of the burial of Richard III).’

The last issue also carried a report on what has been called a curatorial ‘brain drain’, characterised by UK-based museum and gallery curators being tempted to work in the USA by higher salaries. The flow of talent is not all in one direction, however. As Fellow Tessa Murdoch points out, Paul Thomson, former Director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York is now Rector of London’s Royal College of Art and a Trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Do they celebrate April Fool’s Day in Spain, Salon asked in the report on the ‘discovery’ of the Holy Grail? Fellow Andrew Breeze, who teaches in the University of Navarre, says that ‘the equivalent day for playing pranks, such as papering over someone’s car with jocose messages, is 28 December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents’.

Fellow Peter Hinton says that he too once had the Holy Grail in his grasp, and is now regretting that he did not tell the world and make his fortune. ‘I’m feeling guilty now for not sharing some important news earlier’, Pete writes, ‘as I recall that when working for the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Excavation Committee back in the 1980s a trying day was enlivened by an enthusiastic correspondent wishing to share with us not only news but also a photograph of the Holy Grail, found in his back garden. To my untrained eye it looked like a sherd of medieval pottery. I know now that I should have given it more attention, as its publication would have contributed so much to antiquarian studies as well as to the image of Dudley where it was found. Sorry.’

Salon’s report on the award of the Society for American Archaeology’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal to Fellow Jeremy Sabloff contained a couple of errors. For the record, Fellow Robert McCormick Adams was also awarded the Drexel Medal (in 2000), and our late Fellow Gordon R Willey was not an Honorary Fellow but, from 1996 until his death in 2002, he was the Society’s first (and so far only) Honorary Vice-President. For many years he presided over the Annual Meeting of the American Fellowship, held in Boston, and attended over the years by the Society’s last five Presidents (to whom, when they were present, Gordon Willey ceded the chair).

Memorial events for our late Fellow Thurstan Shaw

Some of the information given in the last issue of Salon was out of date. The public lecture, to be delivered by Professor Susan Keech McIntosh, Herbert S Autrey Professor of Anthropology, Rice University, USA, entitled ‘The Enigma of Igbo Ukwu: exploring the origins of West African civilization’, is to be held on 9 May 2014, at 4.30pm, in the Biffen Lecture Theatre, University of Cambridge. The lecture will be preceded by tea at 3.45pm in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and followed by a welcoming reception for all in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Free tickets can be booked here.

The Memorial Service for Professor Thurstan Shaw, to be held in the manner of the Quakers, will take place the following day, from 2.30pm on 10 May 2014, in the chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

On Sunday 11 May, the McDonald Institute will host a conference, ‘West African Archaeology: papers in honour of Thurstan Shaw’, from 10am to 4.30pm for which pre-booking is not required.

Full details of all these events have been posted on the website of the McDonald Institute.

Lives remembered: Professor Sir James Clarke Holt (26 April 1922 to 9 April 2014)

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, has announced the death of our Fellow Professor Sir James Holt, third Master of the College from 1981 to 1988, at the age of ninety-one.

Portrait of Professor Sir James Holt, by Michael Noakes, 1988

Sir James served successively as Professor of Medieval History at the University of Nottingham (1962—5), Professor of History at the University of Reading (1965—78) and Professor of Medieval History at Cambridge (1978—88). Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1978, he was Vice President from 1987 to 1989, having previously been President of the Royal Historical Society (1981—5). He was known particularly for his work on Magna Carta and his book on the charter and its political context, first published in 1965, is still considered authoritative. The transcript of an interview with Sir James, on the changes in the discipline and the academic profession of history that took place over the course of his career, recorded on 16 May 2008, can be found on the ‘Making History’ project web pages of the Institute of Historical Research.

Consultation on Sentencing Guidelines

Fellow Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Adviser at English Heritage, writes to say that the Sentencing Council for England and Wales (which promotes greater consistency in sentencing, produces guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary and aims to increase public understanding of sentencing) has announced a public consultation on its theft sentencing guidelines.

Mark writes: ‘we are pleased to note that the consultation document contains specific references among the questions to heritage crime and to damage to heritage “structures”. Of particular interest are Questions 16 and 37. Q16 relates to the assessment of harm caused by the offence; damage to heritage “structures” is specifically included as one of the potential effects of such theft. Q37 relates to the assessment of harm caused by the handling of stolen goods; again, damage to heritage “structures” is included as one of the detrimental effects of the offence. English Heritage considers that the consultation offers an excellent opportunity to ensure that the significance of heritage assets is taken into account in national sentencing guidelines and to introduce greater rationale and consistency to the process. English Heritage will be working with key partners in responding to the consultation, which closes on 26 June.


London Archaeological Prize 2014

The prestigious biennial London Archaeological Prize 2014, worth £250 to the winner, is open for nominations up to 16 May 2014. Any type of publication, for any audience, whether published commercially or not, in printed or digital form, can be nominated — the aim is just to encourage the best possible writing on archaeology in London. So if you have read — or indeed written — anything outstanding that was published in 2012 or 2013, do send in a nomination. More details and an application form are available to download on the home page of the London Archaeologist.


15 May 2014: ‘Towards a National Collection? Ownership, access and enjoyment in an age of austerity’. As reported in Salon 318, the National Trust for Scotland is hosting a free conference in Edinburgh on the future of Scotland’s nationally significant collection of historic sites and the current challenges faced in funding and resourcing. You can book a place here.

Questions to be discussed during the day include: how might Scotland best conserve its most important historic sites in the face of reducing budgets and with a changing institutional landscape; what can we learn from conservation practice in other countries and in other fields; since we already have national collections for art, for books, for artefacts, amongst others, do we also need a national collection of historic buildings and places?

15 May 2014: ‘Bloomberg Bonanza’. This annual London Archaeologist lecture at the Institute of Archaeology in Gordon Square will be given by Sadie Watson, who will bring the latest post-excavation findings from the exceptionally significant Bloomberg site in the heart of the City of London and news of the exhibition space currently under construction on site, designed to display the remains of the Mithraic temple in its original location. The lecture and short AGM at 7pm are preceded by a wine reception at 6.30pm. For catering, please let Becky Wallower, Secretary, London Archaeologist, know if you wish to attend.

7 June 2014: St Margaret’s Church, Sotterley, Suffolk: The Monumental Brass Society and the Suffolk Institute of History and Archaeology Joint Symposium. This one-day symposium chiefly focuses on the highly important collection of brasses located in Sotterley church. Remotely set in rolling parkland, this presents a rare opportunity to gain access to this astonishing church, and to learn about the brasses from a range of experts, including our Fellows, Martin Stuchfield, President of the Monumental Brass Society, Diarmaid MacCulloch, who will talk about Catholic recusancy in Elizabethan Suffolk, and Toby Capwell, who will talk about the representation of armour on this important series of funerary brasses. A flyer can be downloaded from the MBS website.

The  Image of Venice: Fialetti’s View and Sir Henry Wotton

One of the many highlights of 2012’s Shakespeare exhibition at the British Museum was the vast bird’s-eye view of Venice, painted in 1611 by Odoardo Fialetti.This was purchased by Sir Henry Wotton and donated to Eton College, of which Wotton was Provost from 1624 until his death in 1639, where it has hung ever since, all but for its six-month sojourn at the British Museum.

Restoration to its original colour in 2010—11 by the conservator Ruth Bubb provided the opportunity for our Fellows Deborah Howard and Henrietta McBurney to bring together a group of scholars to research and write the history of this remarkable work, which is no mere map of the Venetian lagoon and its islands but rather a series of stories set within the squares, canals and courtyards of the city. As the eye scans the eight square metres of Fialetti’s canvas, it takes in merchants and turbaned dignitaries, street-traders and courtesans, dogs, a dwarf and money changers acting out their daily lives, as well as gondoliers and all kinds of watercraft, from war galleys to sturdy cogs, as well as half-built vessels in the Arsenale shipyard and fishermen casting their nets into the limpid blue water that is, in contrast to the burnt umber of the buildings, the dominant colour of the painting.

The superb illustrations and the accompanying commentaries in this book draw attention to the sources that Fialetti might have used for his composition: contemporary prints and engravings of Venetian life, and earlier depictions of a city whose fabulous other-worldly qualities attracted the attention of such artists as Vittore Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini — setting saints’ lives and Biblical stories against a vividly realised Venetian backdrop — and cartographers, such as Jacopo de’Barbari, celebrating the city’s peculiarities from the 1480s.

Ruth Bubb, who perhaps knows the work better than anyone, having cleaned the formerly grimy surface to reveal myriad hidden details, believes the work was intended to capture the world within a frame: not so much to convey precise information about the city, but more to enable the ultimate owner to visit Venice in his or her imagination. It was probably painted as a speculative work, rather than a commission. Was the blank area in the bottom right of the canvas intended to be filled in in due course with the coat of arms of whoever purchased the work?

In the event, it ended up being bought by the philosophically inclined diplomat Henry Wotton, a man of wit, charm and a developed sense of taste, says our Fellow William Waldegrave, in the book’s Foreword, who ‘only just escaped the wrath of the king when he made his famous joke about the mendacious purpose of an ambassador (“an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country”)’. His fishing companion and friend Izaak Walton said of Wotton that Eton was ‘to his mind as a quiet harbour to a seafaring man after a tempestuous voyage’, which conjures up a nice image of Wotton sitting in the calm and stillness of the Provost’s Lodge, or entertaining his friends, enjoying this souvenir of his earlier life and spinning anecdotes about is life as England's ambassador to the Venetian Republic.

The Image of Venice: Fialetti’s View and Sir Henry Wotton, edited by Deborah Howard and Henrietta McBurney; ISBN 9781907372483; Paul Holberton Publishing, 2014

Elihu Yale: merchant, collector and patron

Elihu Yale (1649—1721) was another traveller who endured literal and figurative tempests. As the self-penned epitaph on his tomb in St Giles churchyard in Wrexham, Wales, puts it, he was:

Born in America, in Europe bred
In Africa travell’d and in Asia wed
Where long he liv’d and thriv’d; In London dead
Much good, some ill, he did; so hope all’s even
And that his soul thro’ mercy’s gone to Heaven.

Such a succinct inscription cries out for expansion and explanation, something that Fellow Diana Scarisbrick and co-author Benjamin Zucker undertake in their entertaining biography. In true antiquarian fashion, this charts the life of Yale as much through his possessions as through documentary evidence.

This is not only a novel and rewarding approach to biographical research, it is also fitting: for Yale is best remembered as the patron of the university in New Haven, Connecticut, that bears his name, and his singular contribution to that educational institution was to donate ‘two trunks of Indian textiles to be sold for the benefit of the college, 417 printed books for the library, a portrait of George I by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and an escutcheon with the Royal Arms’. The sale of the textiles raised the handsome sum of £800, enough at the time to give the trustees of Connecticut Collegiate School, renamed Yale College in his honour, the confidence they needed to go ahead and build what would subsequently become one of the world’s top ten universities.

The authors have based their account of Yale’s life on the huge collection of books, works of art, jewels and fine furniture that he built up over his lifetime. Little studied until now, his ‘divers rich and valuable effects’, numbering more than 10,000 objects, were sold over a series of seven sales held in the two years following his death and are recorded in sale catalogues.

Detective-like, the authors have traced many of them to the galleries and stately homes in which they now reside, including museums from Sweden to Japan and numerous National Trust properties in England and Wales. To take just one example, the State Bedroom at National Trust-owned Erddig, built by Yale’s neighbour, Joshua Edisbury, has a coromandel screen and Chinese bed hangings that once belonged to Yale, just a tiny fragment of the ship full of goods that he brought back from India in 1699 when he was removed from his post as Governor of Madras (modern Chennai). Settling at first in London’s Queen Square, and later near his father's family home in Wrexham, Yale continued to spend large sums on European works of art and objects — this book is illustrated with many examples of his taste.

Inevitably one has to ask how Yale could afford to collect on such a scale. Our authors are convinced that Yale was not ‘corrupt’ in the sense of helping himself to East India Company funds. Instead he traded on his own account, in a manner perhaps more honest than the majority of his colleagues. The authors do not dwell at length on the subject, but are broadly sympathetic to Yale, arguing that he was an enlightened and efficient governor, but not a diplomat, and not a man who took much trouble to win the support and good opinion of his colleagues. That was to prove his undoing when ‘the dour Scottish lawyer William Fraser’ took a misliking and set out ‘systematically to destroy Yale’s reputation’.

Scarisbrick and Zucker conclude that Yale’s life is the more interesting if we see him not as the corrupt and brutal administrator of his enemy’s report, but as ‘an outstanding Englishman in the history of British India ... [rising] to every challenge, as well as to great opportunities to make, honestly, slowly and not easily, the money that underpinned the next phase of his life, that of a dedicated art collector, churchman and philanthropist’.

Elihu Yale: merchant, collector and patron, by Diana Scarisbrick and Benjamin Zucker; ISBN 9780500517260; Thames & Hudson), 2014


English Heritage Historic Environment Placements: buildings survey, investigation and assessment
Salary: £17,094 pro rata; deadline 2 May 2014

Two new professional work placements are available, each for six months, under the English Heritage Historic Environment Placements scheme, overseen by the Institute for Archaeologists. This placement offers training through applied research projects and other tasks relating to the investigation and assessment of the historic built environment. This includes gathering, analysing and interpreting buildings survey data and research material, and (with guidance and supervision) reporting on findings to high professional standards. The placements are designed for those with some experience of historic environment practice through study, work experience or both, but who have not had the opportunity to develop more specialist skills and competencies.

For more information, go to the English Heritage website.

Propose a lecture

Please email 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 5pm) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 1pm).

We welcome papers based on new research on themes related to the Society's field of interest: the study of the material past.

You can view our current lecture programme in the News and Events section of our website.


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