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Salon: Issue 413
18 September 2018

Next issue: 1 October

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 EditorSalon doesn't review books, but the Editor is pleased to receive details and cover images of new titles written by Fellows. Scholarly publications are reviewed in The Antiquaries Journal.

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Inside this issue

From the Desk of the General Secretary


We are delighted that West Oxfordshire District Council has approved our plans to carry out conservation repairs to the house, to renovate the gardens and to extend the range of exhibition spaces and visitor facilities.  
The Society’s application for Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent was supported by Historic England.  The following is an extract from the letter of support from Richard Peats, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas:
'The Society of Antiquaries have over many years striven to conserve the character of Kelmscott Manor so that it remains as entrancing and appealing as William Morris found it in 1871. The current proposals represent the latest stage of that process. The repairs proposed are timely and sympathetic to the historic fabric while the adaptations to house would better reveal its significance by returning the interior to a state closer to that in which it was when the Morris’s lived here. The adaptations to the farm buildings and the new learning building are sensitively conceived to improve the visitor experience while retaining both important historic fabric and the agricultural character of the farmstead. Car parking on site is an issue that clearly needs addressing and the proposed new car park is sensitively sited to avoid harming the significance of the manor. It is adjacent to the Kelmscott conservation area and the grade II* listed Church of St George and Morris’s grave is of course in the churchyard and is itself listed grade II. Despite this proximity the natural materials and careful landscaping employed would mean that the car park is likely to have a minimal impact on the significance of these heritage assets. In our view any harm to significance would be heavily outweighed by the gain of better management of parking in the village.'
If you would like to help us visit:

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New Display at Burlington House

Visitors to Burlington House will notice new displays in the Entrance Foyer. Focusing on the Society’s numismatic collections, and to promote the Society’s joining the Money and Medals Network (a subject specialist network), two collections of Roman coins and numismatic material have temporarily escaped from the store. The first, a wonderful rediscovery within the collections, is a personal collection from W J Belt FSA of Republican ‘Aes Grave’, while the second is an archaeological collection of coin moulds from Wakefield, Yorkshire. The coin moulds, created to forge silver denarii in the third century, have gone remarkably unreported in numismatic circles but were part of a series of significant discoveries at Lingwell Gate from the 17th century onwards.

Charles Dickens' Table


This William IV mahogany table was used by Charles Dickens during most of his career, first in his London home at Devonshire Terrace; then his offices on Wellington Street; and finally in his library at Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, Kent, where he died in 1870. It has been sold for £67,600, and unless an alternative buyer can be found by 26 October (extended until 26 January 2019 if a serious intention is made) it will leave the UK.
Estimated to have been made around 1835, the table is thought to have been bequeathed to Dickens’ eldest son Charley, and remained in the possession of descendants until sold at auction in December last year. In a statement, Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest member Christopher Rowell FSA said:

‘On one occasion, when he was abroad, Dickens precisely described this table and its position in his Library so that a friend could locate a set of keys in one of its drawers. His art criticism as well as his descriptive writing reveal his aesthetic sensibility and this elegant, if workmanlike, leather-covered mahogany library table was clearly valued by him. Its associations are of considerable interest to lovers of Dickens’ novels and writings.’

British Academy Awards 2018

Three Fellows have been honoured by the British Academy, which announced its annual awards on 20 August.
John Hemming FSA (Chair of the Amazon Charitable Trust) receives a President's Medal for his work in the field of the colonial history and ethnography of Brazil and Peru, and the promotion of the protection of endangered societies.
Timothy Bruce Mitford FSA receives a British Academy Medal for East of Asia Minor: Rome’s Hidden Frontier, Vols I & II (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Alison Sheridan FSA (National Museums Scotland, pictured with sculptor Tim Pomeroy and his evocation of the Greenlaw Neolithic jadeitite axehead) receives the Grahame Clark Medal for her outstanding research and wide-ranging contribution to the study of early prehistory. Grahame Clark FSA was a Fellow of the Academy from 1951 to his death in 1995.
Other winners include the late Miriam Griffin, who receives a posthumous British Academy Medal for her lifetime’s contribution to Roman history and ancient thought.
The award ceremony will be hosted by Sir David Cannadine FSA, President of the British Academy, in London on 25 September. ‘The British Academy exists to champion the humanities and social sciences in all areas of our national life,’ he said in a statement, adding that, ‘at a time when institutions are distrusted and derided, when expertise is mocked and scorned, and when the humanities and social sciences are all too frequently dismissed in the corridors of power as trivial or recreational pursuits, such achievements ought to be celebrated.’

But Where are the Clowns?

The Gloucestershire-based Giffords Circus has been coming to my home town for several years, setting up its tents and caravans on the common, and for a few days offering laugh-out-loud entertainment that makes running away from it all in leotards seem the only responsible thing to do. It’s an excuse for a family gathering, and we go every year: any Fellow who hasn't been should look out for notices of the 2019 tour and book early.

Earlier this year Edward Cowley interviewed Nell Gifford, who founded the circus 20 years ago with her husband Toti, for Cotswold Allure Magazine. Your performers come from around the world, he said. What are the foreign influences on Gifford’s Circus?
‘It’s a global village,’ said Nell. But ‘The whole Brexit thing is a worry.’ They were behind schedule because a troupe of Cubans from Havana had had their visas turned down. Giffords had had to find another act, which had only just arrived from Romania. ‘It’ll be an absolute nightmare,’ she said, ‘if they put visa restrictions on Europe. I don’t even want to apply for any more visas, I’ve just had enough of it.’
Home Office attempts to implement the Government’s reduced immigration target have led to some puzzling decisions. Whether due to confusion, inadequate staffing or intent, many short-term return journeys have been blocked that would seem to have had nothing to offer the UK but benefit. It’s not just about acrobats. The Society of Authors wrote to the Home Secretary about writers refused visas to travel to this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, noting ‘similar reports of artists struggling to get visas to attend music festivals such as Womad.’ Some of the more bizarre stories concern academics prevented from attending conferences.
The ICOM International Committee for Egyptology invited three Egyptian curators to its annual conference at Swansea University in early September. The 2019 theme was Beating Barriers! Overcoming Obstacles to Achievement. Catching the spirit, the Home Office denied entry to all three curators. One of them was Abdelrahman Othman, who works at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation as an employee at the Ministry of Antiquities. On 26 August he tweeted about Gehad Shawky, Curator at the Egyptian Museum, who had ‘been refused her visa on the stated grounds that she doesn't earn enough. Our guilty as Egyptian is earning little salaries’ (the Twitter account seems since to have closed). Othman was later allowed entry.
Meanwhile Ayman Habib, a conservation technician at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, had been due to attend the Sixth International Mountmakers Forum at the Natural History Museum in London. The Home Office, reported the Museums Journal (4 September), ‘said it could not verify Habib’s salary and could not be sure he would not attempt to stay in the country.’

In an LSE blog (28 August) Donald Nicolson writes of five scholars denied visas to attend the 2016 African Studies Association UK at the University of Cambridge, of African musicians and dancers refused visas in 2017, and of a Turkish academic now working at the University of Groningen who this year nearly missed his PhD graduation ceremony in England because of visa delays.

On 5 September Jennifer Wexler, an archaeologist and US citizen in continuous UK residence for 11 years whose application for Citizenship has come up against barriers, tweeted about the 2018 European Association of Archaeologists in Barcelona. She was due to speak in two sessions, but had to pull out ‘due to my ongoing immigration problems in the UK … I really thought things would be resolved by now – it's been nearly two years without a passport!’
Over at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel, a Digital Scholarship Specialist and Adjunct Professor of Digital Humanities, is hoping she can stay in the US. A British citizen, she has to return to the UK because of recent changes to US immigration policy. A petition to allow her to stay on has some 1,800 signatures.
Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, has said that special visas will be issued to allow farmers to continue to recruit EU workers, after the industry complained that restrictions on seasonal immigrants would cause serious difficulties. We can hope that the Home Office considers the country’s needs for visiting experts too. And clowns.

Fellows (and Friends)

Christopher Gibbs FSA, aesthete and art dealer, died in July.
Paul Latcham FSA, bookseller and bookplate specialist, died in August.
Henry Cleere FSA, archaeologist and heritage champion, died in August.
Robin Birley FSA, founding Director of the Vindolanda Trust, died in August.
David Watkin FSA, architectural historian, died in August.
Christopher Harper-Bill FSA, ecclesiastical historian, died in September.
Appreciations appear in Fellows Remembered below. The section also contains further notices on the late Peter Gordon FSA and the late Rick Turner FSA.

There have been obituaries for Gordon Hillman, who died in July, in the Telegraph (21 July) and the Guardian (23 July). ‘Despite the increasing effects of Parkinson’s,’ wrote Martin Jones FSA in the Guardian, ‘Hillman remained active to the end, still cycling (to the alarm of his family) and pounding acorns for dinner. A part-edited manuscript was found on his dining-room table on the day of his death.’
An obituary in the Times (10 August) for Jessica Mann, who died in July and had been married to the late Charles Thomas FSA, concluded by saying, ‘She sat near Godrevy with [daughter] Lavinia the day before she died. Mann had gone to Cornwall to see the headstone that she had commissioned for her husband’s grave. “It was a peaceful, elegant death,” her daughter said, bringing her life – full circle – back to Cornwall.’
Peter Van Geersdaele, a British Museum conservator who directed the making of a plaster cast of the Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo, died on 20 July aged 85. He was later an Assistant Chief of Archaeological Conservation at Parks Canada, before returning to work in London as Deputy Head of Conservation at the National Maritime Museum. ‘Though essential for documentation,’ says an obituary in the Telegraph (25 August), the Sutton Hoo replica ‘was not a pretty sight and never became an exhibit at the British Museum. It was subsequently transferred to the National Maritime Museum.’ He was also involved in the lifting and display of a 13th-century tile kiln from Clarendon Palace, Wiltshire.
Eileen Reilly, an archaeologist who specialised in archaeoentomology – the analysis of ancient insect remains – died on 27 July aged 48. ‘At the time of her death,’ says an obituary in the Irish Times (11 August) ‘she was poised to become a leading European researcher in environmental archaeology’. She had recently been appointed Adjunct Research Fellow at University College Dublin, where she lectured. She was prominent in the development of the Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture at UCD – particularly in early Medieval and Viking house projects, having previously worked on prehistoric waterfront sites in Dublin – and had been Vice-Chair of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland.
Colin Amery, ‘an architectural historian, campaigner and journalist, and an architectural adviser to the Prince of Wales, with an eclectic range of knowledge, spanning the history of buildings from Georgian London to imperial St Petersburg, to the concrete Brutalism of the National Theatre’ (the Telegraph obituary, 15 August), died on 11 August aged 74. ‘He first came to prominence in the 1970s,’ says the paper, ‘as part of a valiant band of campaigning architectural historians, horrified by the destruction of Georgian London. Along with Gavin Stamp, Mark Girouard and Dan Cruickshank, he was instrumental in saving much of Spitalfields in the East End. In 1975 he co-authored, with Cruickshank, The Rape of Britain.’ He was a founding member of the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust.
Luca Cavalli-Sforza, a major figure in the field of historical genetics, died on 31 August aged 96. Working his way from Italy to Stanford and back, and from bacteria to people, via telephone directories, blood groups and finally to the DNA of modern humans, he sought to map ancient population movements and debunk the notion of race. ‘More than any other human geneticist,’ writes John Hawks in a blog (2 September), ‘Cavalli-Sforza believed in the potential of genes and culture together to trace humanity’s origins.’ Recent developments in DNA lab technology have overturned much of his work. ‘Yet he could comfort himself,’ says the Economist (13 September), ‘that without his original vision for the study of human history through its genes, much of that great debate would not have happened at all.’

Peter Ainsworth – Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust and former shadow Culture Secretary and shadow Environment Secretary – is to be the new Chair of the Heritage Alliance. After election in December he will succeed Loyd Grossman FSA, who has been Chair for nine years. ‘At a time of economic, social and political challenge,’ said Ainsworth in a statement, ‘the values and lessons gifted to us by the past become even more potent. The vast diversity of our historic buildings and landscapes provides thousands of jobs and is the cornerstone of our vital tourism industry. Just as important is the sense of joy, and sometimes awe, to be gained from visiting a great house, a Medieval church, or a humble cottage steeped in history. This is for everyone today; it is the duty of our generation to pass it on to the future.’ The HA will launch its first-ever International Report on 27 September in London. Speakers will include Lizzie Glithero-West FSA, Chief Executive, Ian Baxter FSA, John Darlington FSA, Jonathan Keates FSA and Robert Bewley FSA.

Susan Oosthuizen FSA, formerly Reader in Medieval Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, has been promoted to Professor of Medieval Archaeology. ‘My research focuses on the archaeology and history of the man-made Landscape,’ Oosthuizen tells Salon. ‘I am currently working on two general topics. First, the role of the peasantry in the collective organisation of shared arable fields and non-arable common resources, and the potential for such institutions to persist across long periods of time. And second, the evidence in the landscape for the emergence of the English c AD 400–1100, principally from late Romano-British communities among whom incomers were generally assimilated (rather than being led by migration). Like many landscape historians, my teaching is located in the University's Department of Continuing Education.’

‘Are you thinking what I'm thinking?’ headlined a piece by Laura Kuenssberg on BBC News (14 September) about a suggestion that Prime Minister Theresa May ‘should move on after March’. 'You may think that,’ tweeted Tim Loughton FSA MP. ‘We couldn't possibly comment!’
Kristian Kamiński FSA (left) is the new Properties Curator (London) for English Heritage. He was previously the Deputy Team Leader (Design and Conservation) for the London Borough of Islington.

Archie Walls, FSA will be at the CIAV ICOMOS Conference (1–3 October, Tabriz, Iran) to talk about his research inot Iranian earth structures in the Theme on Vernacular Built Heritage of Iran and the Middle East.
Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths, by Charlotte Higgins FSA, was Book of the Week on Radio 4. HIggins tracks the origins of the story of the labyrinth, says the blurb, in the poems of Homer, Catullus, Virgil and Ovid, ‘and with them builds an ingenious edifice of her own.’ Reviewing it in the Guardian (31 July), Natalie Haynes says there is a long chapter on Arthur Evans FSA, ‘the controversial excavator of Knossos. “There are those who say [she quotes Higgins] that he took great liberties both with what he wrote about Crete and in the way that he reconstructed the artefacts and remains of Knossos. But for me there is something beautiful about this: he shows us that the act of excavation and the act of creation are not so different”.’ It is ‘a serious, substantial, scholarly and yet also highly personal book,’ says Ian Samson in the Spectator (28 July). ‘Red Thread is written in a first person voice that teases autobiography,’ says Jonathan McAloon in the Financial Times (3 August), adding, ‘Considering the current hunger for hybrid long-form nonfiction … this personal history would have benefited from further excavation.’
At the Study Group for Roman Pottery’s annual conference in Oxford their outgoing President, Christopher Young FSA (left), was presented with a replica facepot. As the original excavator of Oxford-region kiln sites, he spoke about how to put the Oxford industry back on the map and make it relevant to schools and the local community. Rob Perrin FSA is the new SGRP President.

‘Is it Ethical to Display Animals in Archaeological Collections?’ asks Howard Williams FSA in a blog (11 September). ‘For three decades and more,’ he says, ‘there has been a complex global archaeological ethical debate about the excavation, analysis, display and curation of human remains and other mortuary artefacts and remains. I’ve been one of the players in this discussion … But what of animals? In addition to debates regarding live animals, the use of dead parts of animals in art and science have received passionate public discussions. Perhaps one of the biggest and most publicly shamed activities has been rich Westerners on safari celebrating and promoting their personal hunting victories by posing with African game ... But what of animals in archaeological research and public displays and public engagement? We certainly didn’t kill animals we dig up, and we aren’t eating them, but does that mean there are no ethical considerations to be tackled?’
David McKitterick FSA has written The Invention of Rare Books: Private Interest and Public Memory, 1600–1840, examining the development of the idea of rare books, and why they matter. He explores how this idea took shape in the 16th and 17th centuries, and how collectors, the book trade and libraries gradually came together to identify canons that often remain the same today. The invention of rare books was a process of selection: as books are one of the principal means of memory, this process also created particular kinds of remembering. Taking a European perspective, McKitterick looks at these interests as they developed from being matters of largely private concern and curiosity, to the larger public and national responsibilities of the first half of the 19th century.

Chris Gosden FSA is the new Society of Antiquaries Trustee of the British Museum. Gosden returned to Oxford from lecturing at La Trobe University, Melbourne, first as a curator-lecturer at the Pitt Rivers Museum and then as Professor of European Archaeology. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Turkmenistan and Britain, and is currently setting up a project in Siberia. He is writing a book on the long-term history of magic.
Drawing with Light: Photographs from the William Morris Society Collection, is at Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, west London until 28 February 2019. The exhibition focuses on four photographers: Emery Walker (1851–1933), Frederick Hollyer (1838–1933), Robert Parsons (1826–1909) and Arthur Halcrow Verstage (1875–1969). It features previously unseen images of William Morris FSA, his family and his homes, as well as Morris & Co art works, including paintings and tapestries designed by Burne-Jones for Morris & Co and tapestry panels designed by Morris and John Henry Dearle. Details online.
David Attenborough FSA, Neil MacGregor FSA and Mary Beard FSA will be among speakers at the Cheltenham Literature Festival (5–14 October). Greg James, Radio 1's new morning DJ, described Attenborough as ‘the greatest guest of all time. He transcends generations, he's 90, Blue Planet got the most people of all generations watching one show of all time.’

To the Fairest Cape: European Encounters in the Cape of Good Hope by Malcolm Jack FSA is due out in October. Crossing the remote, southern tip of Africa, says the blurb, has fired the imagination of European travellers from the time Bartholomew Dias opened up the passage to the East by rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. Beginning with hunter-gatherer inhabitants of the Cape and their culture, Jack focuses on the encounter that the European visitors had with the Khoisan peoples, sometimes sympathetic but often exploitative from the time of the Portuguese to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833. This commercial and colonial background is key to understanding the development of the vibrant city that is modern Cape Town, as well as the rich diversity of the Cape hinterland.
Richard Morrison reviewed James Stevens Curl’s Making Dystopia (noted in the last Salon) in the Times (18 August). ‘Curl,’ he writes, ‘a veteran architectural historian with a string of big books to his name, certainly tells us what he thinks, and doesn’t spare the presses either. This massive cri de coeur must run to more than 250,000 words, including nearly 200 pages of footnotes, glossary, bibliography and index. Argued with a pathological attention to detail, and in a style that might have struck even TS Eliot as being a little over-stuffed with classical allusions, it is intended primarily to shock and awe the architectural establishment itself.’ ‘It’s still entertainingly apoplectic,’ he adds.

Legacies of the First World War: Building for Total War 1914–18 is edited by Wayne Cocroft FSA and Paul Stamper FSA. During 2014–18 Historic England set out to record physical remains left across England by the First World War. The range of what was discovered, says the blurb, is astonishing, reflecting how the home front became as important as the battlefront. Archaeological and architectural remains can be found of practice trench lines, munitions works, government factories, army and PoW camps, airfields and airship stations. The threat of invasion saw the construction of defences down the east and south coasts. Ships and smaller vessels were lost to mines, torpedoes and gunfire, and on the sea bed work is beginning to explore the wrecks from this almost forgotten battlefield. Chapters also explore war hospitals, war memorials, and civic and civilian architecture. As well as Cocroft and Stamper, contributors include Peter Kendall FSA, Serena Cant FSA, Mark Dunkley FSA, Roger Bowdler FSA and Jeremy Lake FSA.
Nominations are open until 24 September for the 2018 Marsh Archaeology Awards, supported by the Marsh Christian Trust. There are three categories. The Marsh Award for Community Archaeology is for research, including fieldwork, led by community groups which have made a substantial contribution to knowledge and wellbeing. The Young Archaeologist of the Year Award recognises an individual or group of young people under the age of 18 who have made an outstanding contribution to community archaeology. And the Community Archaeologist of the Year Award is for an individual who has inspired others to share their love of archaeology. Winners will be announced at the Council for British Archaeology’s Archaeology Day and AGM in November.
Living with the Gods: On Beliefs and Peoples is a ‘panoramic exploration of peoples, objects and beliefs over 40,000 years’ by Neil MacGregor FSA. Like the exhibition with the same title at the British Museum last year, curated by Jill Cook FSA, and an accompanying BBC Radio 4 series, the book was conceived while MacGregor was still Director at the museum. The book, like the show, opens with the extraordinary 40,000-year-old ivory ‘lion man’, and sets out to tell the stories ‘which give shape to our lives, and the different ways in which societies imagine their place in the world.’ Describing ‘intriguing tales from the spreading delta of human religious expression’ (Christopher Howse, Telegraph 8 September), MacGregor’s ideal ‘is a society in which different religions coexist in peace and mutual toleration, so he is unwilling to criticise any religious observance, however horrible’ (John Carey, Sunday Times 16 September). ‘Anyone wishing to deepen, if not change their life,’ says Douglas Murray (Evening Standard 6 September) ‘will certainly benefit from this remarkable book.’

Fellows Remembered

Christopher Gibbs FSA died on 28 July, hours before his 80th birthday dawned in Tangier. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in May 2014.
‘Like many aristocratic Englishmen reared mostly in shivering-cold private schools, Mr. Gibbs seems to find a desire for central heating faintly embarrassing.’ When Christopher Mason wrote this of Gibbs in the New York Times (September 2000), the ‘inveterate collector, antiques dealer, bibliophile and provenance fetishist’ was planning to leave his family home in Oxfordshire, after a two-day sale of its contents by Christie’s, for two houses in Morocco, a London flat (or ‘set’ as his Piccadilly residence was known) and a cottage in Hampshire. ‘Objects that smack of newness or have a gaudy shine are similarly infra dig,’ continued Mason. ‘An elegantly faded George II gilt wood girandole in the front hall has clearly not been regilded since the 18th century -- the way Mr. Gibbs likes it. Similarly, a tatty Victorian buttoned-leather chesterfield sofa beside a William IV red-painted mahogany library table has a faded patina that the catalog politely refers to as “distressed”.’

Gibbs, says the Telegraph (obituary 31 July), ‘was an antiques dealer, interior designer, bibliophile and aesthete who pioneered a style of interior decoration often described as “distressed bohemian” – a mixture of refinement, exoticism and well-worn grandeur.’ He was a ‘Bohemian socialite and dandy credited with introducing fashionable members of the Swinging Sixties to fine antiques, flares and drugs,’ says the Times (obituary 31 July). But, says the New York Times (obituary 3 August), he ‘had more going for him than that. Unlike many of his decadent mates, Mr. Gibbs was wise, worldly and endowed with both a work ethic and a refined if finicky taste that was undiminished by his extensive experimentation with drugs or his predilection for exotica, like a stuffed, two-headed lamb and a collection of whips.’
His mates included Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (who at Gibbs’s suggestion in 1968 drove with him, Marianne Faithfull and Gram Parsons from a South Kensington nightclub to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise, resulting in a memorable photoshoot by Michael Cooper), Sir John Richardson and Bruce Chatwin (‘who lived in my attic,’ Gibbs wrote in the Independent in 2013, ‘with a Jacob chair from the Tuileries and the 18th-century bedsheets of the King of Tonga adorning the wall’). He worked with the likes of Michelangelo Antonioni, Kenneth Anger and Nicolas Roeg; house guests included Allen Ginsberg and Princess Margaret. He edited a quarterly supplement Men in Vogue (1965–70).
Born into a banking family (made fabulously wealthy in the 19th century as a driving force in the Great Peruvian Guano Rush), Christopher Gibbs was expelled from Eton, attended the University of Poitiers and briefly joined the Army before settling in London.  He opened his first shop in 1958 in Camden Passage, moving to Chelsea in 1962.

Writing in the Art Newspaper (obituary, 14 September) Huon Mallalieu FSA describes a ‘Getty connection’. Gibbs advised John Paul Getty on donations to the arts, and supported by his business partner Simon Sainsbury, ‘the driving force behind the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing’, he secured the gallery’s £50m endowment. ‘Gibbs’s knowledge and judgment were rightly valued,’ says Mallalieu. ‘He was a force on Lord Rothschild’s Committee of Taste, which oversaw the regeneration of Spencer House, a trustee of the American Friends of the National Gallery, on the arts panel of the National Trust and advised the Victoria & Albert Museum on its British galleries. He also chaired Getty’s Wormsley Foundation for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts.’

The photo at top (at the Bond Street Gallery, 1985) is from an interview feature on Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, published on the occasion of a photography exhibition in 2016. ‘Morocco,’ Gibbs says, ‘with its fusion of cultures from the Muslim and Jewish worlds, has long been a spark for me. Donald [Cammell] used to come round to my Moorish Chelsea place along with Brian Jones, Anita and Mick, and I'd been helping Mick with his house in the country. I responded to their enthusiasms, learning along the way and gathering an idea of Moroccan aesthetics. Now perhaps it looks ordinary, but all those years ago it was extraordinary.’ ‘Taste is difficult to define,’ an obituary in Vogue (31 July) quotes Min Hogg, founding Editor of World of Interiors, ‘but his is absolute perfection.’

Paul Latcham FSA died on 10 August aged 81. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in November 2007.
He listed his interests in the Fellows’ papers as ‘Bookplates (C18-C19th British); military engineers.' He was President of the Bookplate Society and Editor of their Newsletter and Bookplate Journal. He wrote extensively on bookplates, and was awarded the Udo Ivask Medal and Certificate of Honour in 2011 for his monographs, which included Bookplates in the Trophy Style (2005), with a supplement published in 2016. Over 16 editions of The Bookplate Society Newsletter (1995–2001) he published ‘A bookplate alphabet,’ from A to V.
Paul Latcham opened the Hereford Bookshop with his wife Valerie in 1974. The city’s last such independent shop, it closed in 1998. In 2010, to mark a gift to Hereford Cathedral, he exhibited some of his collection of local history books, covering the River Wye, the picturesque movement, literature, county histories and guides, topography, genealogy and the Cathedral itself. He believed a copy of John Allen Jnr’s Bibliotheca Herefordiensis (1821), possibly the earliest English county bibliography, to be one of only 25 printed. ‘Our wish is to provide an example to others,’ he said, ‘who may possess books that they could present to the Cathedral Library.’

Henry Cleere FSA died on 24 August aged 91. He was a Lifetime Fellow of the Society, having been elected in March 1967.
In his varied career, which ranged from fieldwork in Sussex to World Heritage Site consultancies in China, Kazakhstan and Oman – not to mention a masters in English and nearly 20 years in the steel industry before he switched professions – Henry Cleere became well known to many archaeologists and heritage practitioners. He had a great influence on the development of ideas about global cultural heritage.
He achieved his PhD on the Roman iron industry in 1980 at UCL Institute of Archaeology, where he became Honorary Visiting Professor of Archaeological Heritage Management in 1998; he was also Principal Consultant in Heritage Management and World Heritage at the Institute's Centre for Applied Archaeology. He was President of the Sussex Archaeological Society 1987–92, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Sussex University in 1993.
He was Director of the Council for British Archaeology (1974–91), establishing the CBA as a key advocacy body for the discipline in the UK. He joined the UK National Committee of ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) in 1975, and was instrumental in founding its International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM) in 1984. As World Heritage Coordinator for ICOMOS in Paris (1992–2002) he evaluated some 350 cultural sites in over 70 countries. From 2002 he was World Heritage Advisor to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of the People's Republic of China, and a Senior Advisor to the US-based Global Heritage Fund.

He was a founder member and first Secretary General of the European Association of Archaeologists, edited The European Archaeologist, and received the EAA European Heritage Award in 2002, the year he was awarded an OBE. In 2010 he received the Conservation and Heritage Management Award of the Archaeological Institute of America. In 2012 he was awarded the International Yellow River Friendship Prize for outstanding contribution to safeguarding Chinese Cultural Heritage. He was awarded ICOMOS’s highest honour, the Gazzola Prize, at their General Assembly in Florence in 2015. ‘He was the one of the most encouraging people I have ever known,’ says Tim Williams FSA, Reader in Silk Roads Archaeology at UCL, ‘strongly supporting all the countries and organisations we worked with across China and Central Asia.’
I asked several Fellows if they’d like to contribute recollections of Henry Cleere, and – unusually – almost all have, for which I’m most grateful. First, we hear from Mike Heyworth FSA, the CBA’s current Director:
‘Henry was closely involved in my initial appointment to the CBA in 1990 to succeed the incomparable Cherry Lavell and set up the British & Irish Archaeological Bibliography. I was based in the London office on Kennington Road managed by Henry, and I remember seeing him in front of his Amstrad word processor typing out numerous letters and articles – particularly to create the regular editions of British Archaeological News. He left an astonishing body of work, as he engaged with many varied issues to make the case for archaeology. In a letter written shortly before his retirement, he said, “The last 17 and a half years have been challenging and at times discouraging, but I have never had any complaints on the score of job satisfaction”!
‘He left an enduring legacy for British archaeology. He was closely involved in the creation of what is now the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and the European Association of Archaeologists. Under his Directorship, the CBA was heavily involved with portable antiquities and metal detecting, and Henry was a strong opponent of treasure hunting – though he advocated the responsible use of detectors as an archaeological tool. His advocacy work in the decades leading up to the 1990s was heavily influential in the final passing of the Treasure Act 1996. Henry maintained good relations with civil servants in the Department of the Environment – often over lunch at the Athenaeum – but the CBA archives reveal some of the scars left from tensions between professional and amateur archaeology.
‘Following so closely after the passing of the CBA’s first leader, Beatrice de Cardi FSA, it is sad that Henry is no longer with us as we approach our 75th anniversary, but both the CBA and the world of archaeology have so much to thank him for.’

Rosemary Cramp FSA also got to know Cleere through the CBA, when she was its President:
‘Henry proved an amazing source of information not only about the activities of all the Regional Groups but the archaeological world at large. He certainly opened up the CBA’s horizons, although one of our joint efforts achieved exactly the opposite. We went to try to persuade our Scots colleagues to stay with “British'” archaeology and not to split off. In the event I was “stamped off” the stage when I tried to put the case, and I will not forget how kind and supportive Henry (who could be a sharp task master!) was then. Looking back, if Scotland from the beginning had been CBA Scotland, and not labelled as a regional group, it might have been a different story.’
Justine Bayley FSA:
‘I knew Henry from his time at the CBA as I then worked in the Ancient Monuments Laboratory and, like him, had the good fortune to receive a Churchill Fellowship in 1979. He was always cheerful and helpful to younger people, as I was then! He was a very long-standing member of the Historical Metallurgy Society, so when we celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, he and the late David Crossley FSA jointly cut the cake (in the shape of an early blast furnace!) as part of the celebrations, as they were then the only two surviving founder members. They co-authored The Iron Industry of the Weald (1985).’

Tom Hassall FSA is a former President of both the CBA and ICOMOS UK:
‘Henry’s previous work in the iron and steel industry meant that he brought to the CBA formidable administrative skills, which enabled him skilfully to direct its diverse interests, including national and local archaeological organisations, museums and universities, very active local Groups and Research Committees, and promoting the needs of rescue archaeology and a rapidly expanding profession. As a founder of the Wealden Iron Research Group Henry was also naturally sympathetic to the concerns of local amateur archaeologists (at that time he ran a second-hand clothing stall at the Robertsbridge Archaeological Society’s annual jumble sale).
‘My first contact with him was through the CBA’s Urban Research Committee, which was active in transforming planners’ and developers’ attitudes to archaeology. His arrival at the CBA had an immediate impact. Within a year he arranged with the Society of American Archaeology to take a small group of British archaeologists to the SAA’s conference in Dallas, so delegates could share knowledge of how archaeology was organised in the UK and in the USA. Henry led our delegation, and he was accompanied by the late Andrew Saunders FSA, then Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Peter Fowler FSA, representing the CBA’s Countryside Committee, and myself representing the CBA’s Urban Committee and the world of “archaeological units”. Dallas was a damascene moment for all of us. We learnt about: the concept of Cultural Resource Management; the idea that the “polluter pays” principle could be applied to archaeology; and how archaeologists might be organised into a professional body. Henry applied all these lessons at the CBA.
‘As President of the CBA (1983–86) I was provided with monthly instalments of carbon copies on blue paper of all Henry’s outgoing letters. They related not only to internal affairs, but also to every archaeological issue of the time. The relationship between the Kennington Road HQ and the Groups was not always straightforward. National major issues included the abolition of the short-lived Metropolitan Counties with their archaeological services – some members thought the CBA should actively oppose Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative Government – and damage caused to rural archaeological sites by deep ploughing and metal detecting. Henry wisely advised that the CBA should not become involved in party politics, which some members interpreted as a right-wing bias. On the other hand Farmers Weekly and the treasure hunting media characterised Henry as a hard man of the left, which was much nearer the mark.
‘Not all CBA correspondence was so serious. I recall a reply to a Greek gentleman who enquired about the CBA’s role: “Please find enclosed information about the Council for British Archaeology. As you can see, we are not an agency for correspondence, dating, or any other such activity involving young women.” Henry had a wicked sense of humour.
‘The World Archaeological Congress, founded by the late Peter Ucko FSA, strained our relationship. In 1986 the International Union of Pre- and Proto-Historic Sciences was to hold its 11th International Congress in Southampton with financial support promised by the city council. With the CBA’s encouragement Henry offered to organise a session on “Public Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management.” However the city withdrew its support unless the IUPPS disallowed South African participants from the event. Ucko described the ensuing events that led to WAC breaking away from IUPPS in his book Academic Freedom and Apartheid (1987).
‘Archaeological opinion was deeply divided. The CBA was not immune. It seemed to me, probably naively, that the issue could only be resolved by holding a referendum of the member organisations to decide whether Council should continue to participate in the WAC. We now know only too well that a referendum doesn’t resolve anything or alter entrenched views: following the referendum the CBA duly withdrew its support for WAC, but Henry, undeterred, took part in his personal capacity. His legacy was his edited book of papers, Archaeological Heritage Management in the Modern World (1989).
‘Henry’s “retirement” job as World Heritage Coordinator for ICOMOS was a perfect fit, and a vital role for ICOMOS, which advises UNESCO about the Wold Heritage Convention. I remember seeing him in action in 1999, at the 12th ICOMOS General Assembly in Mexico City. The theme, “The Wise Use of Heritage – Heritage and Development,” was perfectly suited to his interests and experience. On the opening day a controversial issue was discussed in a plenary session. Discussion went on well into the evening, and the interpreters decided to call it a day. Henry, with his wide knowledge of European languages, stepped into the breach. Since he also knew all the protagonists and the heritage jargon, he effectively ended up chairing the session. He was at the very top of his game.
‘I once wrote that Henry’s character might be compared to his favourite pipe tobacco: “slow burning, extra mild, with a fresh aroma of sweet character”. But that was not at all the Henry that I remember. At the reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the launch of English Heritage in 1983, towards the end of the evening Henry spied the Prime Minister’s husband a little the worse for wear. Not one to miss a trick, Henry immediately began trying to sell shares in his Ticehurst vineyard to Denis Thatcher – a never to be forgotten moment, and somehow typical of Henry Cleere.’
Kristian Kristiansen FSA is Professor at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg, and was the European Association of Archaeologists’ first President:
‘I first met Henry when he paid me a visit in Copenhagen around 1980 when I was a new and very young Head of the Archaeological Heritage in Denmark. He was visiting people and heritage institutions around Europe, collecting material for his planned book, Approaches to the Archaeological Heritage (1984). We immediately found each other, irrespective of the age difference, and Henry also brought his wife and small daughters. From then on we would meet at regular intervals in various European initiatives, not least in the formation in the ICAHM, which was Henry’s idea, and where he was also a driving force behind the Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage (1990). He graciously suggested that the Swedish State Antiquarian, Margaretha Biörnstadt, should be first president of ICAHM, also active in the initiating group. These were days of new ideas about a new kind of heritage, cross-cutting borders and nationalities.
‘When I started mobilising people to help create first a Journal of European Archaeology, and then the EAA, Henry of course joined the founding group, where we used his extensive experience in formulating the statutes, and he was a natural choice for EAA Secretary. He was also the driving force behind the EAA Code of Conduct, which is still in force.
‘You were never in doubt about Henry’s priorities, politically and archaeologically, but he always forwarded them with humour and preferably over a good beer. A few times he could explode when founding members repeated arguments he considered ridiculous, but I dare say without his abilities we would not have been able to get the EAA off the ground so efficiently. He was a great negotiator as well, and I always felt safe with Henry at my side. We were fortunate that a man of his many talents devoted his skills to archaeology in his second career. I feel privileged to have worked so closely together with him in the formative years of the EAA. His life spanned much of what shaped Europe, and he contributed in his various life phases to this new Europe. When we were on excursion in the Slovenian mountains during the inaugural meeting of the EAA in Ljubljana, he crossed his own paths from the Second World War, when he spent time in the same region as a member of the allied troops. What a life! I shall never forget Henry and the good times we had together.’
The photo above, taken by Kristiansen at a meeting preparing the EAA in Prague c 1992, shows Cleere (right) with Mike Rowlands (left) and Arek Marciniak. I took the photo at the top in 2006.
Peter Fowler FSA, former Secretary of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England):
‘Henry was a very important person in my life for over 40 years. We worked together at the CBA, though relationships became a little strained during the setting up of what became English Heritage in the early 80s. At the time, we were respectively President and Director of the CBA, an organisation committed to abolishing the RCHM(E) – which just happened to be my employer.
‘A decade later we were working together in Paris on world heritage matters. Henry was in his pomp at his office at the ICOMOS HQ. He was a consummate master in this international field, bringing discipline, professionalism and high standards to ICOMOS’ discharge of its responsibility to advise the World Heritage Committee on cultural aspects of sites and monuments.
‘He was a prime mover at what turned out to be a seminal occasion over a wet weekend in the Vosges in 1992. The meeting’s purpose was to define “cultural landscape”, a new sort of potential World Heritage Site emerging from the UK’s failure to have the Lake District inscribed on the WH List. The trick was to come up with a fool-proof form of words which would allow the WHC to recognise not just sites, but whole landscapes. Henry’s unanimously approved definition was accepted by the WHC the following year, and to this day, without a word changed, remains the WHC’s working definition of a cultural landscape. I doubt that can be said of many international definitions after 26 years.
‘From that arcane but highly politicised world, we went to Dublin to assess Ireland’s nomination of the Bend of the Boyne as a WHS. We were met at the airport by the senior civil servant responsible for WH matters. We partook of whisky. We were driven to meet the Minister, who was also hospitable. We were then wined and dined very hospitably indeed. The following morning we were driven out to see the new Visitor Centre.
‘It was raining and a strike meant that no-one was working. The visitor Centre stood there, forlorn and roofless, its steel stanchions and concrete supports wetly dystopian. We stood there too, somewhat less than overwhelmed – Henry tended not to be thrilled by prehistory even on a sunny day. However George Eogan FSA met us at the tombs and was of course much more convincing. He joined us for another hospitable dinner that evening. Henry edited my draft report into a professional assessment which resulted in the WHS you can now enjoy on the bend in the Boyne. After that Henry sent me on my own to assess an Austrian nomination to inscribe Hallstatt. Thanks, Henry…
‘A trip round the world in 1994, focussing on Australia and the Philippines, opened my eyes to the pace and scale at which Henry worked. He had important business in South America en route, I ditto in Hawaii, so we arranged to meet at Sydney airport. We flew thence to Canberra and gave, so my notes record, “3 seminars in one day!” We then flew to Darwin whence we were transported to Kakadu National Park where the WH cultural landscape was threatened by mining. Over three or four arduous days, we examined parts of a Park – huge by British standards – on the ground, by boat and from the air, while meeting key players in the dispute including the traditional owners. Henry did not stop.
‘After a fruitless trip to Uluru, we returned to Sydney where, early the next morning, we had to crawl all over the Opera House: ICOMOS Australia wondered whether it might become a WHS. Later that day we flew to Manilla where, via the Miss World competition in our hotel, we took a 10 hour bus journey to the WH cultural landscape of Banaue and its remarkable rice terraces high in the mountains of Luzon. And so it went on. Henry was 68.
‘In many ways he was at his best with words: if 1,000 publishable words were needed by lunch-time, Henry would produce them. At Paris ICOMOS he achieved a near-miracle by turning the reports that went to the WH Committee from the numerous ICOMOS missions around the world into standardised and authoritative documents (always edited and often largely written or re-written by him, a practice which did not always win him undying friendship).
‘It is proper to remember too his academic output, much of it empirical – Henry hated “theory” – and mostly about archaeological heritage management, excepting his profound knowledge of the Roman iron industry, particularly in the Sussex Weald. His influence on the worldwide practice of managing the archaeological resource in the field with a conservation objective was very considerable. His insistence that a management plan was a pre-requisite for a WH nomination became a powerful model.
'Henry never talked about his awards – to be so recognised on both sides of the Atlantic is surely a unique achievement – but I am sure he would love me to point out that they went to someone who came into archaeology, in that splendid British tradition, as an amateur with at least three other careers behind him before attaining his first archaeological post in his late 40s.
'The CBA, the Sussex Archaeological Society and members of his extended family from two marriages were well represented at his Humanist funeral in Royal Tunbridge Wells, carried out to his instructions. Atheist, socialist and archaeologist, Henry was enormously proud of his progeny.'


Robin Birley FSA died on 29 August aged 83. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in January 1969, nearly 50 years ago. A date will be announced for a celebration of his life and work.
Robin Birley made a name for himself with the discovery of writing tablets from the Roman fort of Vindolanda, south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. Small, thin slices of wood written on in ink, they are hard to excavate, require special conservation treatment and are difficult to read. But their fragmentary texts have captured the imagination of visitors to the British Museum, where some are exhibited, and television viewers around the world.
The first to be recognised, in 1973, carried a message in which the writer explains they have sent socks, sandals and underpants to someone in the fort. In another, Claudia Severa pleads to her sister, the wife of Flavius Cerialis, Prefect of the Ninth Cohort of Batavians, to come to her birthday party. ‘I implore your mercifulness not to allow me,’ writes ‘a man from overseas and an innocent one,’ possibly to the Provincial Governor, ‘to have been bloodied by rods as if I had committed some crime.’ One tablet details the strength of the First Cohort of Tungrians, whose 752 members included six wounded, ten suffering from inflammation of the eyes, and 15 sick.
There is no other excavation like Vindolanda. Eric Birley, Robin’s father, first dug there in 1930, having bought some of the land the year before. Robin undertook his first excavation in 1949, and work continued, with Robin as Director of Excavations from 1965, until the formation of the Vindolanda Trust in 1970, with Eric, Robin and Robin’s brother Tony among the founder Trustees. Robin gave up his job as Senior Lecturer in History at Alnwick College of Education to become full-time Director, supporting the ‘miserable salaries' with evening lecturing.
He stepped down in 2005 to become Director of Research, and his wife Patricia Birley took over as Director of the Vindolanda Charitable Trust. The Trust became a major operation, funded by, among other sources, Northern Rock, the Heritage Lottery Fund, a friendship scheme, entrance fees to the nearby Roman Army Museum on Hadrian’s Wall, shops and cafes, and volunteer diggers who pay – in 2018 with accommodation – £1,100 a head (‘a strong constitution is required’). Robin’s son, Andrew, is now Chief Executive Officer of the Trust and Director of Excavations.
Under Robin the Trust’s vision for Vindolanda was a centre that would appeal to the public, who could come to learn about life in Roman times and see reconstructed remains. ‘Low-standing ruins by themselves,’ he said, ‘do not have much appeal to the young. You must publicly portray the human story.'
Such desires were not always compatible with more academic values of research and conservation. Writing tablets are but a small part of an extraordinary and ever-growing collection of finds of great interest to the public; the huge complexities of a difficult excavation less so. Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Eric placed the site of the stone fort into State Guardianship for protection. Later plans to rebuild a length of Roman wall came up against both the local council and the Department of the Environment.
In the educational spirit of the Trust, Robin wrote several publications aimed at a wide readership. These included Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Post on Hadrian's Wall (1977, with a new edition in 2009), Vindolanda: Extraordinary Records of Daily Life on the Northern Frontier (2005), and Vindolanda Guide: The Home of Britain's Finest Treasures (2012). On the evidence of his excavations, he defined five key periods of occupation and expansion at the fort, from AD 85 to 130, when Hadrian's Wall was built.
Educated at Clifton College, Robin Birley joined the Royal Marines and taught Prince Charles history at Gordonstoun. In a tribute, the Vindolanda Trust has written that ‘As a proud Northumbrian and socialist with a strong sense of public duty, he served with integrity as a Chair and Leader of Northumberland County Council, a Deputy Lord Lieutenant and senior magistrate. He was an inspirational and generous leader with boundless energy who encouraged thousands of wonderful volunteers from all walks of life to join him in his excavations at Vindolanda.’

Photo Vindolanda Trust.


David Watkin FSA died on 30 August aged 77. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in January 1979.
Watkin, headlines the Times (obituary, 10 September), was a ‘Leading architectural historian and prolific author known for his immaculately tailored suits, theatrical quality and mischievous wit.’ He was better known still, says the Architects’ Journal (6 September) for ‘his 1977 polemic Morality and Architecture, a critique of the Modern Movement which challenged the consensus promoted by his old supervisor,’ Nikolaus Pevsner FSA – and which gave its name to a 1981 album (Architecture & Morality) by the English band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

The book ‘sparked huge debate in the profession,’ says the AJ, ‘and thrust Watkin into the limelight where … he became a “bête noir of Modernist critics and architects”.’ Morality and Architecture: The Development of a Theme in Architectural History and Theory from the Gothic Revival to the Modern Movement, was later expanded as Morality and Architecture Revisited (2001). A ‘critique of the dogmas of the Modern Movement and the historiographical tradition that had supported them,’ says the Telegraph (obituary, 3 September), ‘It was a necessary corrective which shocked many in the architectural world.’ Reyner Banham ‘accused Watkin of “a kind of vindictiveness of which only Christians seem capable,” adds the Telegraph, but ‘the book had a wide impact and opened up the debate which informed the Prince of Wales's intervention in the National Gallery “carbuncle affair”.’
David Watkin was educated at Farnham Grammar School, and took the Fine Arts tripos at Trinity Hall Cambridge. In 1967 he was appointed librarian to the faculty, and became a Fellow of Peterhouse in 1970, from which he retired in 2008. He became a Professor in 2001.
‘He detested the revolution of taste and behaviour brought by the 1960s,’ says the Times, ‘not least the ugliness of tower blocks and brutalism. The social disintegration wrought during the hippy, Heath-and-Wilson years of the 1970s were even worse… Throughout the dismal 1970s, Peterhouse stood out as a crucible of conservative thought.’
Some 30 books included The Life and Work of C R Cockerell (1974), which won the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s Hitchcock Medallion, A History of Western Architecture (1986) and Sir John Soane: Enlightenment Thought and the Royal Academy Lectures (1996), which won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Sir Banister Fletcher Prize.
He was a member of the Historic Buildings Council from 1980 to 1995, and Vice-Chairman of the Georgian Group. A festschrift edited by Frank Salmon, The Persistence of the Classical (2008), contains essays by, among others, the late Gavin Stamp FSA, Alan Powers FSA and Charles Saumarez Smith FSA. He was an honorary fellow of the RIBA.
Remembering her student days with him in her TLS blog (1 September), Mary Beard FSA writes that David Watkin ‘was a clever architectural art historian (of the neo-classical above all), a generous, kind and funny man, an enemy of some of my best mates, a working class lad who spoke posh, and (he would know that I would say this) a frightful old conservative.’
James Stevens Curl FSA has written this tribute for Salon:
‘I knew Professor David Watkin for some 40 years, starting from when I was among the first to write a favourable review of his Morality and Architecture (1977): at the time, that important book, undermining many of the bogus arguments underpinning fraudulent Grand Narratives, and slaughtering many sacred cows and entrenched beliefs, was under hysterical attack. The author and his work were subjected to vulgar abuse by those with vested interests in continuing to promote the Cult of Modernism, so the vicious denunciations of Watkin’s slim volume were for all the wrong reasons. He wrote to me to thank me, and invited me to dine at Peterhouse, thus beginning my long association with a college where I have been twice honoured as a Visiting Fellow.
‘A generous man, he unstintingly shared information with colleagues, and was always supportive of young scholars who entered his orbit. Fastidious in dress and speech, good taste (evident in his aesthetic judgements) was a matter of great concern to him, thus he often attracted opprobrium from those favouring what they imagined to be proletarian attitudes and garb. Such “trendies” (actually ovine conformists) sneered at Watkin’s sartorial style, but, unlike them, he cared about, and was invariably kind, to those less privileged than was he, notably college staff at Cambridge, who were devoted to him.
‘He added lustre to High Table, where his conversation was always witty, and later, in the Combination Room, should a guest, perhaps a relative of one of the young Fellows from a humble background, be insultingly patronised by one of the company, Watkin, if presiding, had no hesitation in requiring the offender to leave.
‘His wit was mischievous. I recall visiting Weimar with him many years ago: he had a 1936 Baedeker with him, and with a completely straight face enquired of a passer-by the whereabouts of the Adolf-Hitlerstrasse. The startled fellow ran off like a frightened rabbit. On another occasion, as a riposte to a forthcoming meeting of the Kelvin Club at Peterhouse, Watkin suggested a gathering of a rival society he dubbed the Kevin Club.
‘Watkin was a complex human being, and a fine scholar. Fiercely loyal and supportive of his friends and those academics he respected, he also loved his immediate family very deeply. He will be hugely missed.’

Photo from the Times.

Christopher Harper-Bill FSA died on 8 September aged 71. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in November 1983. The funeral will be at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium, Periwood Lane, Sheffield S8 0HN, at 2.45 pm on Friday 28 September. A Memorial Service is to be arranged at St Mary's University, Strawberry Hill, where, says Edmund King FSA, ‘he taught with great élan for many years’.
Harper-Bill was Emeritus Professor at the Centre of East Anglian Studies, University of East Anglia, where he taught the history of Western Europe, 1000–1520 and pursued his interests in English Ecclesiastical history, cartularies and Bishops registers. He previously taught Medieval history at St Mary's University College, Twickenham. His doctoral thesis at King's College London (1977) was on An Edition of the Register of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury 1486–1500, with Critical Introduction.
Edited books include A Companion to the Anglo-Norman World (with Elisabeth van Houts, 2002), Medieval East Anglia (2005) and Henry II: New Interpretations (with Nicholas Vincent, 2007). He edited the Episcopal Acta of the bishops of Norwich 1070–1299 in five volumes (1990–2012). He edited Anglo-Norman Studies (which Boydell & Brewer promotes with the line, ‘No single recent enterprise has done more to enlarge and deepen our understanding of one of the most critical periods in English history, Antiquaries Journal’) and (with Ruth Harvey) Medieval Knighthood, containing papers from occasional Strawberry Hill Conferences.
He was also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

The Guardian published an obituary for Peter Gordon FSA, who died aged 90, written by his son David Gordon (26 June). ‘A devotee of Nikolaus Pevsner,’ writes David, ‘and himself a walking encyclopedia of architectural history, Peter spent his holidays exploring the countryside, Pevsner’s Buildings of England in hand. On a day trip to Lincolnshire he visited 22 churches.’
‘He was a keen flautist and singer, and in the 1960s gave concerts with friends at London venues including the Purcell Room and All Souls, Langham Place. He was also an inveterate concert-goer (… he met his future wife, Tessa Leton, at a harpsichord concert at the Victoria and Albert museum), and lieder, chamber music, opera and ballet were part of the fabric of his life. The informal musical education his children received from him unwittingly helped me pursue my career as a musician.’

Rick Turner FSA, who died in June, has had obituaries in the Guardian (6 August), the Telegraph (9 August) and the Times (14 September). All lead on the recovery of the Cheshire Iron Age bog body known as Lindow Man. He and a colleague, says the Times, wrapped the body in clingfilm in Macclesfield Hospital, boxed it in plywood and filled the spaces with polyurethane foam. ‘As the foam set, the pathologist walked in and realised, to his fury, that he wouldn’t be able to perform an autopsy on the body that morning, as he had intended. Turner was calmly unrepentant, saying later: “We had bought time to take a more measured view of our next step”.’

‘Rick Turner made a major contribution to the conservation and study of some of Wales' greatest Medieval buildings,’ says Jon Berry in the Guardian. ‘His innovative approach to conservation, which combined rigorous intellectual understanding with an innate practical style, has been transformational and recognised internationally. His work has also significantly improved both physical and intellectual public access to these monuments.’
He started to read engineering at Christ’s College, Cambridge, says the Telegraph, but ‘switched to Archaeology and Anthropology instead. After graduation he worked as an assistant to Tim Potter FSA at Lancaster University’s Department of Classics and Archaeology, where he supervised several rescue digs in Cumbria and Lancashire. Three years in eastern Scotland and northern England as an archaeological surveyor for British Gas in the early 1980s were followed by three years as a delegated Inspector of Historic Buildings for Cheshire County Council, preparing listing descriptions for English Heritage. He became Cheshire County Archaeologist in 1984.’

Memorials to Fellows 

Paul Stamper FSA sends this photo of the headstone for Edmund Tyrrell Artis FSA (1789–1847) at Castor, Peterborough, which, he says, ‘overlooks the vast hole he dug’. Geoffrey Dannell FSA gave a talk at the Society about Artis in 2010. He was, says Dannell, a self-taught prodigy who rose from a rural background in Suffolk to become a Fellow of our own Society and of the Geological Society. His employment as House Steward to the Fitzwilliam family gave him the opportunity to collect fossils from the coal mines they owned in Yorkshire and to conduct excavations, with the encouragement of his employers on the Fitzwilliam estate at Castor.
The engraving below, reproduced by Stephen Upex in a substantial article in Britannia 2011 (‘The Praetorium of Edmund Artis: A summary of excavations and surveys of the palatial Roman structure at Castor, Cambridgeshire 1828–2010’) is from Artis’ The Durobrivae of Antoninus (1828). It shows the Roman bath-house his excavations revealed south of the church. In all, the buildings covered over nine acres. ‘There are several problems,’ writes Upex, ‘and an enormous number of questions posed by the plans and views produced by Artis, which more recent research and excavations have aimed at answering.’ ‘However one views the site at Castor,’ he concludes, ‘it is exceptional and without close parallel in Britain.’


The Wisdom of Fellows 

‘I was wondering,’ writes Mark Samuel FSA, ‘if anyone could recognise the publication in which these images from Herculaneum [below], almost certainly long destroyed, originally appeared in? The incomplete title reads Arabesquere et Peintures antiques d'Herculanum. The engraver's title reads Terminé­­­ par PP. Chossart. The name Berthault appears at the extreme left and ? ABDP at the bottom right.
‘I came across this poor copy of a print in the market at Naples when holidaying there with my late wife in 2016. My research interest is in the Trellis (above), which closely follows the lines of the Fishbourne Villa “Hedge approach”, and I wish to publish a better quality image.’


Justine Bayley FSA is helping to dispose of the library of the late Vera Evison FSA. Students and researchers wishing to browse with a view to taking away any volumes they would like to have, should go to Ewell, Surrey, on 27 September, 12–4 pm, after contacting

Peter Fowler FSA adds a further comment on excavations on Iona in the 1950s:
‘I'm glad that Peter Yeomans FSA has given the correct version of why our female colleagues were banned from meals and accommodation in Iona Abbey during excavations by the late Charles Thomas FSA. If you had met George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community, you would realise that this was not a matter for negotiation. He did not like females in the Abbey at all, in fact, so just ignored them when he made his rounds of the excavation. Food may indeed have been smuggled from the refectory's high teas (bread, bread and bread) at 5 pm out to famished ladies, and it is conceivable that traffic after dark also went in the other direction. The only tent I remember was up behind the rocks west of the Abbey. It stood beside the trench through the vallum now infamous because re-excavation in 2017 found the ditch bottom to be full of alcoholic bottles. As the person who recorded its long section, I can assure you the trench was empty when I finished my work.’ Photo Joss Durnan.

In the last Salon, we heard from Annie Grant FSA, who wondered if the newly recreated dragons on Kew’s Chinee Pagoda were really wyverns. Polly Putnam, Curator, Collections, Historic Royal Palaces, fesses up:
‘My colleague, Daniel Jackson forwarded on your newsletter,’ she writes. ‘You are quite right of course, that the dragons are technically wyverns because they don’t have back legs. However, as they were always referred to as dragons, we choose to continue to refer to them in that way. I was one of the curators on the project. If the Society would like, I would be very pleased to give a talk about the project. It was my great honour to have the job of working out what the dragons should look like.’

Christine Thomas, a Friend of Bushey Museum, wonders if anyone can help with information about a portrait of Mrs Catherine Gladstone, wife of W S Gladstone, Prime Minister, done by Hubert von Herkomer (1849–1914), ‘a well known artist in Bushey’:
‘In Bushey Museum’s Newsletter for August 2018 No 182, the Chairman, Rita Castle, refers to two Herkomer letters that were found in a junk shop in Wales. The second letter (17 May 1888) to a Mrs Drew referred to Mrs Catherine Gladstone. Herkomer beseeched Mrs Drew (Gladstone’s daughter) to let him see Mrs Gladstone before he commenced a portrait of Mrs Gladstone in his London studio. The portrait was exhibited to great acclaim at Burlington House in 1889 with seven other pictures. Gladstone told Herkomer in a letter it was a unanimous and unqualified success, and the picture he would wish her to be contemplated by her descendants.
‘I write to enquire if the Society has a record of this exhibit? I understand the portrait is now in the family home. In addition does the Society have any information about Herkomer?’

Forthcoming Events for Fellows

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Ordinary Meetings of Fellows

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The next Ordinary Meeting of Fellows will take place after the summer break, on Thursday 4 October 2018. 

Introductory Tours for Fellows

If you've never visited Burlington House or had an introduction to the Library and Collections, please join an introductory tour. You'll meet the Society's staff, learn about your Fellowship benefits, and discover more from the collections at Burlington House. 

Forthcoming Public Events

Conferences and Seminars

Please note the library will be closed on Friday October 19th to facilitate the Postgraduate Open Day. 

Public Lectures

Public Lectures are held from 13.00 to 14.00 on Tuesdays, with advance booking advised to be sure of a place.
  • 15 October (Monday) - 'A re-discovered portrait of Charles Marsh FSA by L.F. Abbott from the 1790s: The image of the scholar, contesting antiquities and the Walpole circle', lecture by Prof Maurice Howard FSA
  • 23 October - 'The Prittlewell Prince: Life, Death and Belief in Anglo-Saxon England at the Time of St Augustine', lecture by Ian Blair & Prof Christopher Scull FSA
  • 6 November - 'Seeing Milton's Voice, or Illustrations to Paradise Lost; a social history of Great Britain', lecture by Prof Howard JM Hanley FSA

Regional Fellows Groups


South West Fellows

Further information on talks at Exeter can be found here.

Want to join the South West Regional Fellows Group? Events are not currently being organised, but you can sign-up to hear about future activities, here.

Welsh Fellows

  • 19 October 2018: Weekend visit to the Hereford area, staying in the Three Counties Hotel in Hereford and visiting places of historical and archaeological interest in the area. 
  • 18 January 2019: The Davies Family of Llandinam with its Burry Dock connection, by David Jenkins FSA
  • 11-13 October 2019: Weekend visit to the Pembrokeshire area. Programme to be arranged.
Want to join the Welsh Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to attend any current events, please email Bob Child at If you wish to be added to the mailing list, sign-up here.

York Fellows

  • 29 November 2018: 'Surveying Shakespeare's Guildhall: a public building in pre-modern England' (Out of London Ordinary Meeting of Fellows, held in York). Find out more online.
Want to join the York Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings in York, sign-up here.

Other Forthcoming Heritage Events

19–20 September: Photographing Historic Buildings (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This is aimed at those who are not professional photographers but wish to photograph historic buildings for the record using a digital camera. By the end students will be expected to know how to choose viewpoint and lighting conditions, correctly set up cameras to capture suitable images and how to post-produce images in software ready for the archive. Details online.
 24 September: Britain, Turkey and World War II. Alliance, Conflict and Neutrality (Oxford)
A joint event at St. Antony's College from the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara and the British Association for Turkish Area Studies. This is the third meeting in a series which brings together Turkish and British historians to explore the two countries’ relations in the 20th century, as they moved from the fatal confrontation at Gallipoli towards a formal alliance and common cause under the NATO umbrella in the 1950s. The conference will examine the origins and effects of the Tripartite Treaty between Turkey, France and Britain of 1939, and the Turkish decision to opt for de facto neutrality in 1940. Subsequent sessions will also address Churchill’s shifting attitudes, and the importance of the roles played by the USSR and the USA in determining the strategic alignment of Turkey between 1939 and 1945. Details online.
24 September: Dr Christopher Dresser, the South Kensington Museum and their 1877 Gift to Tokyo National Museum (London)
In the bicentenary of Richard Wallace’s birth, the Wallace Collection is focusing on collecting in London and Paris in the later 19th century. Chris Morley will speak in one of a series of Monday History of Collecting Seminars organised by Suzanne Higgott FSA. Please note that this is a change of the previously advertised programme. Details online.
26–28 September: Heritage Values and the Assessment of Significance (Oxford)
In the bicentenary of Richard Wallace’s birth, the Wallace Collection is focusing on collecting in London and Paris in the later 19th century. Chris Morley ill speak in one of a series of Monday History of Collecting Seminars organised by Suzanne Higgott FSA. Please note that this is a change of the previously advertised programme. Details online.

28 September: Spotlight on a Royal Dinner Service (Aylesbury)
Pippa Shirley, Head of Gardens and Collections at Waddesdon Manor, will be hosting a Spotlight session focused on Waddesdon’s magnificent silver dinner service. Guests are invited to imagine themselves dining with the King, as they explore this most fashionable dining set commissioned by George III in 1774. Details online.
29 September: Monumental Brass Society Study Day (Cobham)
As Pevsner’s West Kent and the Weald put it, ‘Nowhere in the country is there such a large and coherent group of brasses’. The Study Day provides an opportunity to explore these magnificent brasses and hear from leading authorities on them and Cobham College. Speakers include Jerome Bertram FSA, Clive Burgess FSA and Nigel Saul FSA. Details online.
29 September. Uncovering the Buried Past Beneath the HS2 Rail Line (Aylesbury)
Not surprisingly construction of a new railway line through the Buckinghamshire Chilterns and across the Vale of Aylesbury, has not been welcomed with enthusiasm by all those who live there. However, as with other major infrastructure projects the works do provide extensive opportunities for answering research questions about regional landscape development. Archaeological investigations on the line are still at an early stage but this conference provides an opportunity to hear how HS2 is facing the challenges, and for learning about what has come to light so far. Seven speakers address these issues at a conference organised by the Bucks Archaeological Society, in its 170th anniversary year. Details online.
29 September: Georgian Group Symposium: The Architecture of James Gibbs (London)
James Gibbs (1682–1754), born in Scotland and trained in Rome, was one of the most important British architects of the 18th century, responsible for the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, and many other commissions throughout Britain. He published one of the most influential of 18th-century architectural pattern books, which spread his influence throughout the worldwide British diaspora. This symposium at the Society of Antiquaries and led by Geoffrey Tyack FSA, editor of the Georgian Group Journal, will reassess Gibbs’ achievement and its significance for the understanding of Georgian architecture. Speakers include Charles Hind FSA and Pete Smith FSA. Details online.

4 October: Post-Excavation Assessment in Practice (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This will introduce recent guidance, and review the essential components of assessment and updated project design. In the afternoon we will review examples from current practice and consider how far they meet their purpose and justify funding decisions. Details online.
6 October: Archaeology Live! Discoveries and Research from Lincolnshire and beyond (Lincoln)
A conference organised by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology to be held at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School. Speakers include Andrew Fitzpatrick FSA (Keynote Address on Julius Caesar in Britain), Tim Allen FSA, Adam Daubney FSA, Kevin Leahy FSA and James Wright FSA. Details online.
11 October: Thomas Cromwell – A Definitive Account (London)
Diarmaid MacCulloch FSA will give a talk to mark the publication of his biography of Thomas Cromwell. The subject of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, Cromwell carried through the break with the Church of Rome, the Dissolution of the Monasteries and many other changes in the 1530s. The talk will be given in St Mary's Church, Putney, where he received his religious education. Details online.
11 October: Spotlight on a Royal Dinner Service (Aylesbury)
Pippa Shirley, Head of Gardens and Collections at Waddesdon Manor, will be hosting a Spotlight session focused on Waddesdon’s magnificent silver dinner service. Guests are invited to imagine themselves dining with the King, as they explore this most fashionable dining set commissioned by George III in 1774. Details online.
11 October: Archbishop Bancroft and Witchcraft (London)
Some of Archbishop Bancroft’s remarkable collection of printed tracts relating to witchcraft are currently among the highlights of the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition, Spellbound. This talk in Lambeth Palace by Clive Holmes will discuss the presentation of these rare pamphlets, their style, and the substance of the accounts they contain, particularly in comparison with the case files from the Essex Assize Courts. Details online.

12 October: Recording Britain’s Past (London)
The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme has recorded over 1.3 million finds – each one a unique discovery made by a member of the public. This conference celebrates 15 years of the Scheme, with a day of discussion and debate exploring how the PAS is advancing knowledge, sharing information about the past, encouraging best practice and supporting museum acquisitions of Treasure and other finds. Speakers include Faye Minter FSA and Adam Daubney FSA, with panel discussions led by Carenza Lewis FSA, Mike Heyworth FSA, Helen Geake FSA and Gail Boyle FSA; Barry Cunliffe FSA, Kevin Leahy FSA, Amanda Chadburn FSA, Sam Moorhead FSA, Tim Pestell FSA and Julia Farley FSA are among the panellists. Details online.
13 October: Castle Studies: Current Research and the Future (London)
A conference organised by the Castle Studies Group to be held at the Society of Antiquaries will honour Derek Renn FSA, author of Norman Castles in Britain (1969/1973), and launch a Festschrift, Castles: History, Archaeology, Landscape and Architecture, edited by Neil Guy FSA. Speakers include Oliver Creighton FSA, Bob Higham FSA, Brian Kerr FSA, Neil Ludlow FSA and Pamela Marshall FSA. Details online.

15 October: Finds for the Dead in Roman London and Beyond (London)
A conference jointly organised by the Museum of London, Museum of London Archaeology and the Roman Finds Group will be held at the Museum of the London Docklands, currently featuring The Roman Dead exhibition. Twelve speakers will describe finds from the city and cemeteries of Roman London, as well as important objects from funerary contexts elsewhere in Britain. Details online, or contact Stephen Greep FSA at
18 October: The Broch and the Empire: Re-assessing the Work at Leckie, Stirlingshire, in the 1970s (Glasgow)
Euan MacKie will talk about brochs and the Roman Empire at the Glasgow Archaeological Society. Details online.
20 October: Design and Destiny: Arts and Crafts of the Iron Age (Lewes)
A conference organised by the Sussex Archaeological Society to explore the Iron Age through its artefacts. Speakers will bring varied perspectives on artefact research to enlarge our understanding of social influences and the economics of trade and exchange in this period. Speakers will include Jody Joy FSA, Julia Farley FSA, Melanie Giles FSA, Jaime Kaminski FSA and John Creighton FSA. Details online, or contact the organiser, Lorna Gartside,
23 October: ‘A man of stomach’: Matthew Parker's reputation (London)
David Crankshaw speaks at an event held at Lambeth Palace in association with the University of London seminar on the Religious History of Britain 1500–1800. Crankshaw, co-author of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury (1504–75), is an expert on the English Reformation and the Elizabethan Church. Details online.
24 October: Artefacts and Ecofacts in and out of the Field (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This will provide expert guidance on how key artefacts and ecofacts can contribute to interpretation of archaeological sites, and good practice in sampling and collection. The course is designed for supervisors, project officers and junior managers with responsibility for running excavations, and those new to specialist artefact and ecofact roles. Details online.
25 October: Matters Overlooked: Straightening out the Story of the Reformation (London)
A lecture by Diarmaid MacCulloch FSA to mark the third year of the AHRC-funded project Remembering the Reformation, a collaboration between historians and literary scholars which aims to investigate how the Reformations were remembered, forgotten, contested and re-invented. The project’s digital exhibition includes some of the many treasures of the Cambridge University Library, York Minster Library and Lambeth Palace Library. Some of the Lambeth items that feature in this exhibition will be on display, together with associated material relating to the Reformation. Details online.
27 October: Engaging with Policy in the UK: Responding to Changes in Planning, Heritage and the Arts (London)
The AHRC Heritage Priority Area and RESCUE: The British Archaeological Trust are holding a one-day conference at UCL Institute of Archaeology. This is one of a series of activities drawing together academics, civil servants, private and professional bodies, and civil society organisations to address challenges and uncertainty from changing policies. The aim is to connect researchers, practitioners and policy-makers involved in the arts, culture, heritage and the natural/historic environment around key areas of shared concern. Confirmed speakers include Duncan McCallum FSA, Gail Boyle FSA, Gill Chitty FSA, Jude Plouviez FSA and Taryn Nixon FSA. Details online.
29 October: The Last Great Demidoff Sale of Paintings (London)
In the bicentenary of Richard Wallace’s birth, the Wallace Collection is focusing on collecting in London and Paris in the later 19th century. In a series of Monday History of Collecting Seminars organised by Suzanne Higgott FSA, Alexandre Tissot Demidoff (Independent scholar) will speak about the last great Demidoff sale. Details online.
30 October: Long before Brexit: Reflections on Cross-Channel Connections between the Fifth and Second Millennia BC (Bournemouth)
The Second Annual Pitt Rivers Lecture held In association with the Prehistoric Society will be given by Alison Sheridan FSA at the Talbot Campus, Bournemouth University, on the subject of cross-channel relations between Britain and France during the Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Details online.
30 October: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessments (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This informs participants about the role of desk-based assessments in managing the cultural heritage resource and provides a practical guide to their production. It will also include guidance on the use of desk-based assessments to fulfil the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Details online.
3 November: Dawn: From our Earliest Ancestors to the Hunter-Gatherers of the Mesolithic (Southampton)
The Council for British Archaeology Wessex's 60th Anniversary Conference is to be co-hosted with the University of Southampton’s Department of Archaeology in collaboration with the Prehistoric Society, and will be held at the Highfield Campus. Speakers include Nick Ashton FSA, Vince Gaffney FSA, Steve Mithen FSA, Beccy Scott FSA, Julian Richards FSA, Roland Smith FSA and Chris Stringer FSA. Phil Harding FSA will chair a session, and Alice Roberts will give the keynote lecture. Details online.

10 November: Structured Deposits: Definitions, Developments and Debates (Chertsey)
A conference organised jointly by CBA South-East and the Surrey Archaeological Society will examine how our understanding and uses of the concept of ‘structured deposition’ have developed during the last 30 years, resulting in a perceived tendency for over-use and ‘ritual’ interpretations in analysis. Research from prehistoric to Medieval times will be considered, revealing new discoveries from southern England. Speakers will include Jon Cotton FSA, Mike Fulford FSA and Sam Moorhead FSA. Details online, or contact the organiser, Anne Sassin,

12 November: Spencer House and the Birth of the Neo-Classical Interior (London)
Presented by Adriano Aymonino FSA, Director of Undergraduate Programmes in the Department of History of Art at the University of Buckingham, this lecture at Spencer House, St James’s Place, will focus on the birth of the Neo-Classical interior through the work of James ‘Athenian’ Stuart at Spencer House, and will offer visitors a rare glimpse into this impressive venue. Details online.
15 November: Archaeological Writing for Publication (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This will introduce standard published reports produced by archaeologists, and how a report is planned. It will then focus on stratigraphic narrative and discussion, with a critical review of examples, to identify common mistakes and how to avoid them. We will also look at the special requirements of writing in a professional and academic context. Details online.

24 November: Heritage and Resources in Southeast England (Lewes)
An interdisciplinary conference involving aspects of geology, archaeology and local history. Speakers will include Danielle Schreve FSA and David Rudling FSA. For details contact the organiser Anthony Brook,

25–26 November: Lives in Book Trade History: Changing Contours of Research over 40 Years (London)
In celebration of the 40th year of the Annual Conference on Book Trade History, this year's event at Stationers’ Hall will explore some of the most important themes and developments in this field through the eyes and experience of some of its most widely respected exponents. Leading authorities will discuss their engagement with book trade history, looking back over their own work to identify the significant influences upon them and changes in focus and research methods over time. Speakers include MIrjam Foot FSA, Christopher de Hamel FSA, David McKitterick FSA, Robin Myers FSA and Dennis Rhodes FSA. Details online.
26 November: Sir William Holburne's Display Mounts (London)
In the bicentenary of Richard Wallace’s birth, the Wallace Collection is focusing on collecting in London and Paris in the later 19th century. In a series of Monday History of Collecting Seminars organised by Suzanne Higgott FSA, Catrin Jones (Curator of Decorative Arts, Holburne Museum, Bath) will speak on Piecing Together a Collection: Sir William Holburne's Display Mounts. Details online.
28–30 November: Public Inquiry Workshop (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This is a practical workshop designed to improve the performance of anyone who might be called to participate in a Public Inquiry concerned with the historic environment. A mock Public Inquiry will be mounted using a genuine case study, with training for potential witnesses. Details online.

6 December: Commissioning Archaeology (Oxford)
One of a series of short courses for the historic environment put on by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. This is designed for non-archaeologists who need to work with archaeology within the design and construction process, including architects, surveyors, engineers and other design professionals, planners, and project managers and developers. Details online.

10 December: The Picture Collection of Stephen Alers Hankey (London)
In the bicentenary of Richard Wallace’s birth, the Wallace Collection is focusing on collecting in London and Paris in the later 19th century. In a series of Monday History of Collecting Seminars organised by Suzanne Higgott FSA, Robert Wenley (Deputy Director, Head of Collections, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham) will speak on ‘Rare and Most Magnificent’: The Picture Collection of Stephen Alers Hankey (1809-1878). Details online.

13–14 December: Manuscripts in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms (London)
The British Library is hosting an international conference with 22 leading experts in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to coincide with its Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition (19 October–19 February 2019). Keynote lectures will be given by Lawrence Nees FSA, University of Delaware, and Julia Crick, King’s College London. Confirmed speakers include Catherine Karkov FSA, Simon Keynes FSA, Rosamond McKitterick FSA, Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Susan Rankin FSA, Joanna Story FSA, Elaine Treharne FSA and Tessa Webber FSA. Details online.

Call for Papers

A Matter of Access – Collections and their Availability to a Public (Toronto)
Adriana Turpin FSA and Susan Bracken FSA have been organising monthly research seminars since 2004 on the subject of collecting and display. They are proposing the topic of A Matter of Access – Collections and their Availability to a Public, for the Renaissance Society of America Conference in Toronto in March 2019. If you would like to give a paper, please contact for full details.

Propose a Lecture or Seminar

Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Danielle Wilson Higgins (, the Society's Communications Manager, if you are interested in giving a lecture at one of the Society's Ordinary Meetings (Thursday evenings at 17.00) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 13.00). We welcome papers based on new research or themes related to the Society's field of interest: the study of the material past. You can view our current lecture programme in the Events section of our website.

Fellows are also encouraged to propose topics or themes for conferences or seminars that bring scholars and professionals from a variety of disciplines together to explain, discuss and debate our material culture. Please download and complete the Conference Proposal Form, and email it to Danielle Wilson Higgins (, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.


Follow the Society of Antiquaries on Twitter for news and event updates: @SocAntiquaries

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