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Salon: Issue 307
28 October 2013

Next issue: 11 November 2013

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

Forthcoming meetings

Tea is served from 4.15pm, and meetings start at 5pm

31 October 2013: ‘Death in Paradise: archaeology and the transatlantic slave trade’, by Andrew Pierson, FSA
The tiny, remote island of St Helena was described as nothing less than an ‘earthly paradise’ when it was discovered in 1502. In the centuries that followed it became a vital way-station between Europe and the East Indies, where sailors recuperated and their ships were replenished. Between 1840 and 1872, however, the island took on a new role as a reception ‘depot’ for Africans rescued by Royal Navy patrols from illegal slave ships. But, whilst St Helena had long been the saving of European mariners, the same did not hold true for the freed slaves, who died in their thousands in a bleak camp in Rupert’s Valley. A recent archaeological project has investigated the ‘liberated African’ graveyards that grew up near the depot, now lost amidst a landscape of semi-desert scrub. This project’s findings provide a unique insight into the cruelties of the Middle Passage and into the lives and deaths of its victims.

7 November 2013: ‘Cistercian patronage in late medieval England: a re-evaluation’, by Michael Carter
In the early centuries of the Cistercian Order’s existence, their art and architecture had a characteristic austerity that was enforced by detailed legislation and reflected the desire of the Order to return to what they saw as a pure interpretation of the Rule of St Benedict. However, by c 1300 the full panoply of religious art could be encountered in a Cistercian context: the Order’s art and architecture had, according to the traditional narrative, ceased to be distinctive, and this is seen as evidence of the Order’s decline and spiritual malaise.

The lecture will involve a reinterpretation of some well-known Cistercians buildings and artefacts at a number of northern Cistercian abbeys that were rebuilt at the end of the Middle Ages, demonstrating the vibrancy of the Order in the two centuries before the dissolution of the monasteries rather than showing decline. The financial arrangements that made such expenditure on art and architecture possible will be discussed, as will the motives and attitudes of late medieval Cistercians towards such artistic patronage.

14 November 2013: ‘The Celtic moon-based culture and the burial mound of Magdalenenberg’, by Allard Mees, FSA
A huge early Celtic calendar structure has been identified at the royal tomb of Magdalenenberg, established in 616 BC near Villingen-Schwenningen in the German Black Forest. The order of the burials around the central royal tomb fits exactly with the sky constellations visible between midwinter and midsummer on the northern hemisphere. Rows of wooden posts on the burial mound were directed towards the lunar standstills, which occur every 18.6 years. Several more burial mounds of the Celtic Hallstatt period show exactly the same orientation. Caesar remarked upon the moon-based calendar of the Celtic culture in his commentaries on the Gallic wars. Ptolemy also wrote about the cultural meanings associated with lunar standstills. These early Celtic burial mounds shed new light on the moon-based Celtic culture, which, after the conquest of Gaul, was replaced by the modern sun-based calendar introduced by the Romans.

6 December 2013: ‘Antiquity in a world of change: celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Sir Thomas Smith (1513—77)’
Sponsored by our Society and the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and organised by Fellow Richard Simpson, this seminar will investigate Sir Thomas Smith’s scholarly studies and his practical activities, helping us to understand how the analysis of antiquity in the sixteenth century provoked not only a desire for the recovery of the past, but also a critical and creative questioning of the present.

Registration costs £10 per person and includes lunch and refreshments. To book, please email Executive Assistant Jola Zdunek or tel: 0207 479 7080.

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Public lectures

The Society’s public lecture programme for the next twelve months is now complete. On 3 December 2013, Fellow Martin Brown will give a talk called ‘Spitfires and Pagodas: conflict archaeology in Burma 2013’, about the search for the Spitfires said to have been buried in Burma at the end of World War II. On 28 January 2014, Fellow Robert Hutchinson will speak on the medical history of Henry VIII, while Matthew Champion will talk about his medieval graffiti project and ‘the hidden history of the parish church’ on 7 February 2014. On 3 March 2014, Fellow Peter Marsden and Judy Ridd will talk about ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal in Hastings’, and on 15 April 2014, Fellow Nathalie Cohen will tell ‘Tales from the Thames’, concerning her community archaeology work on London’s river. Nancy Hills, recipient of one of the Society’s Janet Arnold Awards, will talk about ‘Historical dress: a project inspired by Janet Arnold’ on 27 May 2014, and the final lecture, on 17 June 2014, a few days before the summer solstice, will be given by Fellow David Jacques on ‘The Cradle of Stonehenge? A major Mesolithic “Homebase” discovered near Stonehenge’.

The Society’s public lectures are free and open to anyone, but space is limited and reservations are recommended. Lectures begin at 1pm, and are between 45 and 60 minutes in length. Tickets may be booked using the Society’s EventBrite web page.

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Ballot results: 24 October 2013

We welcome the following new Fellows of the Society, elected in the ballot held on 24 October 2013: Paul Andrew Fox, consultant physician and Chairman of the Heraldry Society; Gillian Grant Jones, freelance archaeologist specialising in animal bones and sheep and cattle husbandry; Anthony Stephen O’Connor, field archaeologist and museum professional, specialising in Roman coinage and copper-alloy metalwork; Aidan O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer, School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, specialising in wetland archaeology and co-principal investigator of the Early Medieval Archaeology Project in Ireland; Kenneth Carmichael Hamilton, Senior Historic Environment Officer, Norfolk County Council; Anna Marie Roos, Lister Research Fellow, University of Oxford, specialising in the history of science and medicine in early modern England; Jacqueline Cahill Wilson, Director of the Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project; Richard Hughes, consultant archaeologist and historic building conservator; Christopher James Webster, archaeologist specialising in Somerset and south-west England and the archaeology of World War II; Caroline Dakers, Professor of Cultural History, University of the Arts, London.

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Successful start to Kelmscott Manor Friends scheme

Dominic Wallis, the Society’s Head of Development, writes to say that ‘the Society has succeeded in signing up more than 200 Friends of Kelmscott Manor since the launch of the scheme in April. I am very grateful to everyone who has worked hard to make the scheme a success: the income generated will help us get started on conserving important pieces in our collections over the winter months.

‘Our Fellow Loyd Grossman, who joined the scheme as founder member Number One, has made a new video promoting the various ways Kelmscott Manor enthusiasts can support the heritage site they love; this can be seen on Kelmscott Manor’s YouTube Channel. And as you begin to draw up your Christmas present lists and think about what to give your friends or family members, do consider our Friend of Kelmscott Gift Membership, which might just be the perfect present for somebody you know.

‘Next year will see the launch of a Patrons Scheme, Private Dining and Corporate Sponsorship programmes, and the Society will also begin the first phase of a major fundraising effort to support the Society’s plans for developing the Manor. If you are interested in helping us with the campaign, we would love to hear from you: you can contact me by email or by telephone: 020 7479 7092.’

The Society's outreach activities

Our General Secretary, John Lewis, reports on a busy two months at Burlington House as the Society’s various autumn activities resume. ‘As already noted in Salon, we hosted the “Heritage Past, Present and Future” conference on 16 and 17 September to commemorate the centenary of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act of 1913. Working with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), English Heritage and the National Trust, we brought together academics, advocates, consultants and professionals representing more than thirty heritage organisations — a superb example of the Society’s influence within the sector, providing an opportunity for all four sponsoring organisations to have a more meaningful impact within and beyond the sector.

‘A public debate was organised for the evening of the first day of the conference, chaired by the Society's President, Maurice Howard. This attracted a large audience at the venue and online, demonstrating that the public has a real and lasting interest in the fate of heritage protection in Britain and other countries. You can still participate in the conversations that were begun during the conference by searching for and responding to comments on Twitter using the #debateheritage hash tag. Videos of the conference and the evening debate are available on both the AHRC website and the Society’s website. Full conference proceedings will be disseminated soon.

‘Following the September conference, the Society also hosted an afternoon event, “Political Policies and Archaeology”, organised by The Archaeology Forum (TAF). For the first hour, participants listened to Jenny Jones (Green Party), Lord Stevenson (Labour Party), Lord Redesdale (Liberal Democrats), Peter Hinton (Institute of Archaeologists), and The Rt Hon Ed Vaizey, MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries (Conservative Party). Following that, participants had an hour and a half to ask questions and debate with the panellists. You can watch the event online here.

‘My own challenge to the panel invited them to provide archaeologists and heritage professionals with sound legislation and an effective regulatory framework for the future. Ed Vaizey responded by inviting TAF and the Society of Antiquaries to take the lead in developing and submitting a report to Government on the concerns, needs and expectations of the archaeology sector. Ed Vaizey’s invitation was perfectly timed. The Society, as a member of TAF, is perfectly positioned to call upon its Fellows to work with other heritage professionals on such a report and recently organised a similar project: the Society collected and combined the input from the members of our regional Fellows group in Wales to submit a cohesive response to the Cadw consultation on proposals for a proposed Heritage Bill for the historic environment in Wales.

‘In addition to the September conference and the October TAF panel, the Society kicked off its Thursday evening lecture series with a paper by Dudley Moore, FSA, on Thomas Spratt, FSA, and his travels in Crete and its public lecture series with a talk by Sam Mullins, FSA, on the history of the London Underground.’

News from Burlington House

Heather Rowland, Head of Library and Collections, writes: ‘the Society welcomed a new member of staff to Burlington House last week: Anooshka Rawden is the new Collections Manager. She has a BA in Ancient History from the University of Wales, Lampeter, an MA in Ancient Art (Greece and Rome) from the Courtauld Institute and an NVQ in the ‘Promotion of the Care, Use and Understanding of Cultural Heritage’. Previously, Anooshka managed Chichester District Council’s archaeology collection (approximately 350,000 objects); she also has experience in documentation, collections management, contractor management and project management in museums. Her contact information is on the Society’s website.

‘Don't forget, the Society’s apartments at Burlington House are a veritable treasure trove for antiquarians, and we have an active conservation programme for our library and museum objects, in addition to full programmes of long-term and short-term loans. On your next visit to Burlington House, you’ll be able to see evidence of our conservation efforts. You may have previously noticed a dark painting depicting The Fire of London at Night at the top of the back stairs, outside the Fellows’ Room. The painting went to the conservation studio in June for what we thought would be routine cleaning, but the conservators discovered there had been some extensive overpainting. It has been a great surprise to everyone that once the overpainting was removed the painting was originally a day scene! Now in the final stages of conservation we hope to have the painting back in Burlington House before the end of the year. The painting will be one of eighty-three paintings in a new catalogue to the Society’s paintings to be published in mid-2014.’

Introductory tours to Burlington House and the Society’s Library

Heather continues: ‘We know how daunting it can be walking into our apartments for the first time as a new Fellow. To help you find your way around we run regular introductory tours. The next tours will be from 11am to 1pm on Thursdays 30 January 2014, 20 March 2014 and 26 June 2014. To book a place, send an email or telephone 0207 479 7080.

‘Don't forget, Fellows have unlimited access to the Society’s extensive research library at Burlington House, but anyone with antiquarian research interests can make an appointment to visit. Additionally, we support a range of services for Fellows and researchers who cannot make it to the library in person:
  • the catalogue to printed materials and the digitised subject index are available online (, and all our records are included in COPAC (;
  • if you live in the UK you can borrow up to eight books for three months from the Library through our postal loans service;
  • remote access to more than forty online journals is available exclusively for Fellows; details of how to register for this service are in the Fellows Area of the Society’s website under ‘The Library’ (;
  • photocopies can be made from printed materials and posted to you with an invoice;
  • photographs from library materials can be ordered.

'For more information about any of our services please email the Library ( or telephone 0207 479 7084.’

Martyrs to the cause in Russia

When faced by examples of the wanton destruction of the heritage, conservationists in the UK are apt to think we are fighting a losing battle, but at least we do not get beaten up for our beliefs. The Art Newspaper reports this week that Elena Tkach, a Moscow architectural preservationist, was attacked at a public hearing in Moscow on 16 October and ended up in hospital suffering from concussion. Tkach had attended the public meeting to oppose plans for the development of a site in the Patriarch’s Ponds district by a company called InvestStroiKom. She told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper that as soon as she started to speak, the ‘babushki they invited immediately started shouting at me ... but angriest of all was the developer’s representative (passing himself off as a local resident), who came up from behind me and threw me off the stage’. In her blog, written from her hospital bed, Tkach said that she would continue the battle to save two historic buildings from being torn down to make way for a new apartment building.

This was the second physical attack on an architectural preservationist in Russia this month. Spasgrad, a heritage group in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on the River Volga, reported that Mikhail Karyakin, a cameraman who documented and supported the organisation’s activities, was beaten on 6 October and hospitalised with head injuries and a broken jaw.

Goltho church, Lincolnshire, lost to a lightening strike

The Churches Conservation Trust has announced the loss of St George’s Church in Goltho, Lincolnshire, after lightning struck the church and set it on fire on 20 October 2013. The Trust is now working with English Heritage and other authorities to assess the extent of the damage and to decide what future the church might have. The nave of the Grade II* church dates from about 1640, and the chancel from the eighteenth century. Much of the charm of the church derived from its furnishings, which included a double-decker pulpit, box pews, carved altar rails and carved bench ends. John Piper’s drawing of the church was used to illustrate John Betjeman’s collection of Church Poems (1981).

Endangered sites on the WMF Watch List

The World Monuments Fund has announced its 2014 ‘Watch List’, drawing attention to sixty-seven examples of endangered heritage in forty-one countries with the aim of raising awareness and promoting conservation action. The list includes several examples of heritage under threat that have featured in Salon over the last twelve months, including the gas lamps of Berlin, described as ‘uniquely defining the experience of night-time Berlin and a treasured aspect of life in the city’, and the threats to Venice from mass tourism, and especially the impacts of cruise tourism on the historic fabric and the social well-being of the city.

Four sites in the UK are included in the list. Grimsby’s Ice Factory was built in 1903 to supply ice to the port’s fishing boats; it stands at the heart of the Kasbah district, with its docks, quays, transport infrastructure, industrial facilities and traditional shops (such as the one shown on the left). The Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust was set up in 2010 to try to find new uses for the factory and to promote the revitalisation of the whole port area.

Another site looking for funds is Sulgrave Manor, in Northamptonshire, built in the sixteenth century by Lawrence Washington, a direct ancestor of George Washington, and open to the public, but at risk from rising damp and failing roofs and insufficient income to resolve these and related problems.

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s graceful Art Deco Battersea Power Station has been on the list before, having closed in 1983, and more than once been threatened with demolition. The World Monuments Fund considers that imminent redevelopment of the power station site does not do enough to protect the iconic chimneys and the important views of the power station’s silhouette.

Finally, Deptford Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden are on the list in order to give support to those campaigners (including the Council for British Archaeology) calling on the owners to integrate more of the sites’ historic vestiges into their redevelopment plans. Excavation has revealed the extensive remains of the historic Deptford Dockyard, founded in 1513 by Henry VIII, and of John Evelyn's home, Sayes Court, famous for its gardens and as the residence of Peter the Great during his visit to Deptford in 1698 to study ship building.

Top Ten endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings

Buildings as varied as Plymouth’s Palace Theatre, Hackney’s Haggerston Baths, Heeley Bank School, Sheffield, Ramsgate’s Royal Victorian Pavilion and the Balkerne Water Tower, Colchester (shown above), are on the 2013 list published by the Victorian Society of the ten most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England, as nominated by members of the public concerned about the neglect of these once-proud structures. The Victorian Society runs the campaign annually to highlight the problems facing many of our historic buildings in the hope of both saving the particular buildings listed and drawing the public’s attention to our endangered heritage. For the full list, see the Victorian Society’s website.

Monmouth’s Bronze Age slipway

Above: a reconstruction of the channels in the clay earth by Peter Bere, showing how the channels could have been made in the ground at Monmouth

Fellow Stephen Clarke has just published an account of the 2011 excavations at the Parc Glyndwr housing estate in Monmouth that uncovered the remains of a Bronze Age boat-building community. In his book The Lost Lake, published by the Monmouth Archaeological Society, Stephen describes the discovery of three parallel channels, each 30m in length, marking the slipways along which boats could have been dragged to one of the town’s three rivers. The metre-wide channels in the clay suggest that double-hulled vessels were pulled to the water, with a third smaller channel made by the outrigger. Prehistoric Monmouth sat on the edge of a shallow lake that slowly dried up, leaving layers of clay, sand, gravel and peat as the composition changed from lake to lagoon to marsh and to dry land. For more on this story, see the Daily Mail website.

The gourmet diet of Mesolithic diners

Fellow David Jacques, of the University of Buckingham, says that people living in Mesolithic Wiltshire were eating a ‘Heston Blumenthal-style menu’, following the discovery of food remains at a site near Amesbury, in Wiltshire. Salmon and nuts were a standard part of the diet but so too were frogs’ legs; they feature large in the 650 animal bones from the Mesolithic period recovered from the site so far and analysed by Simon Parfitt of the Natural History Museum.

The Blick Mead excavation, led by the University of Buckingham with volunteers from Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, is looking at a series of ponds and a spring sitting alongside the River Avon, at a site that has yielded more animal bones and flints than any other site of its period in north-west Europe, and that may well help to explain why this part of the landscape was regarded as special, attracting a series of major monuments from the Mesolithic onwards, including a famous group of bluestones and sarsens in a field up the road at Stonehenge.

The excavation is being filmed for broadcast by the BBC in due course, and the digging team is now claiming that not only could Amesbury be the UK’s oldest continuous settlement, but that ‘English’ hunter gatherers might also have discovered the culinary potential of frogs’ legs before the ‘French’. David Jacques will be giving a lecture on the site in June 2014 at the Society (see ‘Public lectures’ above).

Fulham Palace community dig on YouTube

Also filmed for posterity is the community dig that took place in the walled garden at Fulham Palace last summer, under the aegis of the Fulham Palace Trust. ‘The Dig’ can be seen on YouTube, and it features our Fellow Phil Emery along with a cast of hundreds of local schoolchildren and community volunteers having what looks like the time of their lives as well as contributing to the creation of new knowledge about the history of the palace. Word has spread: the next stage of the project — searching for the remains of the octagonal Tudor dovecote using geophysical survey, planned for 5 and 6 November 2013 — is already fully booked, but plans are in hand for a bigger project next year, subject to funding.

Further listening and viewing

Fellow Norman Hammond is currently on a lecture tour of the southern hemisphere, where he was recently interviewed by Radio New Zealand on developments in research into the ancient Maya civilisation: you can listen to the interview here.

Two new video interviews have been released by the Personal Histories Project, the brainchild of our Fellow Pamela Jane Smith. ‘A conversation with Professor Martin Carver’ was recorded in November 2012. The project has also released footage of Tony Robinson remembering his life in ‘Blackadder’ and ‘Time Team’.

News of Fellows

The UCL Institute of Archaeology has announced that our Fellow Sue Hamilton will succeed our Fellow Stephen Shennan as Director when his term of office finishes at the end of August 2014. Currently Professor of Prehistory at the Institute, Sue undertook her undergraduate degree and PhD research at the Institute and has taught there for many years, her commitment to excellence and innovation being recognised in 2010 by the UCL Provost’s Teaching Award. Sue’s research activities encompass landscape archaeology, later prehistory and archaeological practice. She has led large-scale international field projects that combine science with techniques from the social sciences. Since 2006 she has been co-director of the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Landscapes of Construction Project.

Sue said of her appointment: ‘It will be a challenge to follow the directorships of Peter Ucko and Stephen Shennan. By ensuring the Institute is an outstandingly supportive, inclusive, innovative and inspiring environment for all of its staff, students and affiliated academics, I wish to maximise its pre-eminence in global archaeology, in the archaeological sciences, and in heritage studies, and keep it the foremost institution in which to study and research archaeology.’

Following the reorganisation that took place recently at Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales, Fellow Mark Redknap has been appointed Head of Collections and Research for the new Department of History and Archaeology. This post is based at National Museum Cardiff, but serves the history and archaeology collections held at many Amgueddfa Cymru sites.

Two Fellows were honoured at the European Association of Archaeologists’ annual conference held in Plzeň in September 2013. The fifteenth annual Heritage Prize of the European Association of Archaeologists was presented to Vincent Gaffney for his work on the North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project. The citation said that ‘the results of research at Birmingham have demonstrated that the vast landscapes that lie hidden beneath the sea can be explored using available commercial data acquired for mineral prospection ... for the first time they can now be explored and managed as cultural and heritage assets’. Honorary membership of the Association was awarded to Fellow John Collis for his work as ‘a committed member of the EAA, and Chair of the Committee for the Teaching and Training of Archaeologists from 2001 to 2008’, for his record of research and excavation in the UK, France and Spain, for the nine books and 176 articles that he has published and for the work of his publishing house, J R Collis Publications, which has published more than fifty archaeological books over the last two decades.

The EAA has announced that its 2014 conference will be held in Istanbul, from 10 to 14 September, and that Glasgow will host the 2015 meeting, Vilnius the 2016 meeting and Maastricht the meeting in 2017.

Lives remembered

Sadly the Society has lost two Fellows in recent weeks. John Frederick Physick, CBE, former Deputy Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and author of a number of important works on English sculpture, died on 14 October 2013, at the age of eighty-nine. John was a founder-member of the Church Monuments Society, served as its President from 1984 to 1986 and was Vice-President at the time of his death; the CMS website has a full tribute to John and his a career. His funeral service will be held at St John the Baptist Church, Meopham, Kent, on Thursday 31 October at 1pm.

Fellow David Crampton Winfield, MBE, the distinguished Byzantinologist and art historian, died on 28 September 2013 at his home on the Isle of Mull, where he is now buried. David was well known to the Byzantine community for his fresco restoration work at Hagia Sophia, in Trebizond, and, with his wife June, at various sites in Cyprus during the 1960s and 1970s. He returned to England in 1974 to a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls, to undertake restoration work at Canterbury Cathedral, and then to the position of Chief Conservator with the National Trust. David published a number of significant works on Byzantine wall-painting methods and on the art, architecture and murals of the various churches that he and June helped to restore.

Although he was not a Fellow, we should also remember James Dyer who died in early October. As General Editor of the Shire Archaeology series, he touched the lives of many Fellows through the books that he wrote — starting with Discovering Archaeology in England and Wales (1969) — and through those that he edited. Originally suggested by our Fellow David Hinton and begun in 1974, the Shire Archaeology series now numbers nearly one hundred titles, many of them written by Fellows and many of them masterpieces of condensed information on subjects as wide as The Neolithic (by Fellow Josh Pollard) or as specialist as Aviation Archaeology (by Fellow Guy de la Bédoyère). In addition to his writing and editing work, James was passionate about the history of his home town of Luton, and is credited with saving some of Luton’s important historic buildings by campaigning against plans for their demolition in the 1960s and 1970s. He also organised many excavations in the town, uncovering evidence for Roman military occupation and for the site of the castle built by Robert de Waudari in 1139.

Setting a good example: the Norfolk Archaeological Trust

Fellow Peter Wade-Martins was pleased to see that an aerial photograph of the centre of the Roman civitas capital at Caistor St Edmund was used to illustrate Salon’s report on Heritage at Risk 2013. He has written to supply further information on the circumstances under which the Norfolk Archaeological Trust (of which Peter is the Chairman) came to acquire this important monument, and to encourage others to set up similar trusts to protect important archaeological sites.

‘The town centre and surrounding land is owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust which opened the site for public access in 1993 after some 40 hectares of land was purchased with grants from English Heritage, the County Council and District Council. The land was then put into Natural England’s Countryside Stewardship Schemes, which make it possible to generate income through putting all the arable land down to grass and grazing it mostly with sheep. Additional income also comes from Single Farm Payment agricultural subsidies, and the land is managed for the Trust on a day-to-day basis by the District Council in a long-term partnership arrangement. Grants for capital works are also available from Natural England.

‘When a further 22 hectares of land on the opposite bank of the River Tas with strong evidence of late Roman and Anglo-Saxon occupation came up for sale the Trust was successful in obtaining a major grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund with some match funding from English Heritage and the District Council. So, as a result of these acquisitions about two-thirds of the Roman town and its suburbs (some 60 hectares) have been taken out of the plough and put down to grass. We believe that the grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund was the first time the Fund has assisted with the purchase of an archaeological site at risk.

‘The Norfolk Archaeological Trust, we feel, is showing what can be done to preserve key sites in arable land. We have acquired other properties over the last twenty years, including the Roman fort at Burgh Castle, a hillfort at South Creake and St Benet’s Abbey in the Broads. There are about eleven sites in total, all of which are open for public access and research, mostly generating income through agricultural grants and subsidies. We just wonder how long it will be before other counties form conservation trusts to do the same. Every county has a Wildlife Trust. How long will it be before they have Archaeological Trusts as well, to protect important sites through acquisition and good management? It is worth a try.’


Fellow Chris Scull says that the 'Books by Fellows' report on Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods in Salon 306 contained a major error: ‘We do not say or believe that burial with grave goods is indicative of pagan practice’, he writes. ‘This is a hoary and tenacious misapprehension which our results falsify quite conclusively. In England, Christian communities continued to bury their dead with grave goods in the traditional manner for three or four generations after conversion, just as on the Merovingian Continent furnished burial was practised by Christian societies. We argue, rather, that burial practice in the sixth and seventh centuries in England was more diverse and more rapidly changing than was previously thought, and that explanations for the final abandonment of furnished burial cannot be sought in a switch from pagan to Christian but represent social and ideational changes within Christian Anglo-Saxon society of the later seventh century that may have been linked to the institutional consolidation of the Roman church in England under Theodore of Tarsus.’

Fellow Lorna Watts writes apropos the Salon report on the Lego Acropolis displayed at the Nicholas Museum, Sydney, earlier this year to suggest that someone at the Lego Company has a soft spot for archaeology. She remembers the occasion when her husband, our Fellow the late Philip Rahtz, gave a lecture to the Society on ‘Pagan and Christian by the Severn Sea’. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition was on at the time and it featured a vast Lego model. ‘About to write up Deerhurst’, Lorna says, ‘we wrote to Lego, asking them for material from which to build reconstructions of the various phases at Deerhurst, and we were duly showered with an abundance of free Lego. In the event, a cardboard model (still extant) served the purpose, but son Matthew subsequently became an extreme Lego aficionado, with vast constructs being built!’

Fellow Robin Milner-Gulland says that the picture of Foster Hall in Bodmin, featured in Salon 306, ‘stirred memories one didn’t even know one had! That hall, sadly demolished, at the (then) huge mental hospital in Bodmin used to host dances on Saturdays where we — very young National Servicemen at the Joint Services School for Linguists, housed in the camp that has long since become an industrial estate — could go and meet the nurses. This was a welcome alternative to going to the Hole in the Wall pub and drinking Atlantic Rollers — a lethal mixture of rum and Babycham — which we otherwise did. And while down memory lane, I can add my name to those of your readers who were in the Abbey at the Coronation in 1953 — as a Westminster scholar high in the triforium, acclaiming the Queen on behalf of the people of England with shouts of “Vivat Regina Elizabetha!” (something that goes back at least to Byzantine, probably Roman, ceremonies (if you hear Parry’s “I was glad ...” on the radio, it will always be inauthentically sung, not shouted). After this June’s re-enactment, Her Majesty The Queen remarked that hearing the “Vivats” made the hair on the back of her neck stand up, and took her back sixty years.’

Call for papers: Church Monuments Society Symposium 5—7 September 2014

The next Church Monuments Society symposium will be held jointly with the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Canterbury, Kent. The Society and the Centre is interested in receiving proposals of up to 350 words for papers on monuments in Canterbury Cathedral and its environs or on the topic of ‘Monuments of Power’. Those who are invited to speak will receive a discount on the symposium fee of £60 but will be expected to cover their own travelling expenses. The deadline for the receipt of proposals is 1 December 2013, and they should be sent to our Fellow Mark Downing.


Autumn 2013 and spring 2014: Locality and Region Seminars at the Institute for Historical Research. Forthcoming seminars include James Bowen on ‘Cottagers, common land and common rights between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries with reference to Shropshire and neighbouring counties’, on 5 November; Jude Jones on ‘Re-clothing the churches: sensory religious re-investment in the early modern English parish church’, on 19 November; Peter Tann on ‘The Faversham Charters 1252—1685: what they tell us and what they don’t’, on 3 December; and Sara Elin Roberts on ‘Good Fences, Good Neighbours? Corn damage in medieval Welsh law’ on 17 December 2013. Full details can be found on the VCH website.

10 December 2013: ‘The leopard changes its spots: recent work on societal change at Çatalhöyük’, by our Fellow Ian Hodder, being the Alan Hall Memorial Lecture hosted by the British Institute at Ankara at the British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH, at 6.30pm. Tickets for non-members of the BIAA cost £10 and should be purchased online from the BIAA website. Ian Hodder will discuss recent evidence demonstrating that Çatalhöyük was not a stable entity as has often been supposed. In this lecture, he will look at the complex ritual and symbolic world that has become so well known, and explore how it was actually in continual turmoil, linked to changing economic and technological strategies and to the complex problem-solving of everyday life.

12 December 2013: ‘Stonehenge: whose culture?’, the ICOMOS-UK Annual Christmas Lecture at 6.30pm, The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ. On the occasion of the opening of the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre, Fellow Julian Richards will examine how and why Stonehenge has become an international cultural icon whilst remaining an archaeological enigma. Further information is on the ICOMOS-UK website.

1 February 2014: Bridge Chapels, an Ecclesiological Society Conference to be held at Queen’s College, London W1, chaired by Fellow Tim Tatton Brown, with papers from Fellow Bruce Watson on ‘Medieval bridge chapels: an introduction to their form’, David Harrison on ‘Religious buildings and institutions associated with medieval bridges’ and Peter McKeague on ‘A national survey of bridge chapels’. Further details can be found on the Ecclesiological Society’s website.

Books by Fellows: Christine Finn’s contribution to The Library of Lost Books

Birmingham’s new library, officially opened on 3 September 2013, will host an inaugural exhibition from 6 to 23 November called The Library of Lost Books, a project devised by Susan Kruse who rescued fifty books that were being thrown away when the old library closed and invited fifty artists to create works from the material they were sent at random.

Christine Finn explains that the book sent to her was ‘an overview of English, Irish and American literature written in 1914, but not published until 1918. Using the Great War theme I wanted to work with the idea of those lost in the war, but also those lost writers who died in battle, or those many poets and authors who were prominent enough to be featured in 1914, but whose names are lost to us a century later.

‘I took the book with me on a pilgrimage — a timely press trip to French and Belgian battlefields and cemeteries — and (this is where it gets archaeological) collected soil from the Somme and other random objects, including small stones and a pine cone. I was also given a WW1 uniform button by a small museum intrigued by the project.

‘Back in the UK, I pondered the book and the objects while spending summer in the Welsh Marshes, close to Wilfred Owen’s family home. I gathered rust-stained wool from barbed wire, and moss recalling the sphagnum used to treat soldiers’ wounds in WW1. I then slit open the book’s khaki coloured cover and stuffed it front and back with the soil and other finds. The resulting uneven surface represented the battlefield, but also ancient burial mounds. I found a woollen thread, in poppy-red, and stitched the book up, almost completely, but leaving some undone, with thread and needle, to represent lives cut short, potential unrealised, and work unfinished as a result of the Great War.’

Alan Sorrell: the life and works of an English neo-Romantic artist

Last week saw the opening of an exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum of work by our late Fellow Alan Sorrell (1904—74), demonstrating conclusively that Sorrell was so much more than just the master of dramatic archaeological reconstructions of castles, abbeys and Roman towns. In fact, in the early part of his career, he would have described himself as a muralist. It was his design of an allegorical mural on the theme of ‘People Seeking After Wisdom’ that won him the Prix de Rome in 1928, enabling him to spend the next three years at the British School at Rome, where he mingled with classical scholars, engravers, painters, and architects, and where the seeds were sown for his later interests in history and archaeology.

His first large-scale public commission (1932—6) was a decorative scheme for the central library in Southend-on-Sea (now part of the Beecroft Gallery Collection, at Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend), depicting four key moments in the history of the town. He went on to produce superb murals for the parish church at Old Bexhill in 1951 (commissioned by the Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, at the recommendation of E W Tristram, the authority on medieval wall painting) and for Myton (formerly Oken High) School, in Warwick, in 1953, a 52-foot-long work depicting the course of The Seasons (shown above).

Such was Sorrell’s reputation as a painter of large-scale heroic works that he was invited to create a mural for the Festival of Britain on the theme of ‘Working Boats from Around the British Coast’. Two of the resulting panels are on show at the Soane Museum, boldly coloured and comical in mood, complete with jaunty sailors, mermaids and shark with lifeguard ring and umbrella; even so, a concern for archaeological exactitude is also evident in the precise details of the traditional boats that fill the mural, such as the Norfolk Wherry, with its patched ochre sail, and the Falmouth Quay Punt.

Sorrell had made his first specifically archaeological reconstruction drawing — based, that is, on the evidence of excavated remains — in 1936, after a chance meeting with Kathleen Kenyon. Published in the Illustrated London News in May 1936, this drawing of the Roman basilica at Leicester (left) attracted the attention of Mortimer Wheeler, who commissioned Sorrell’s drawing of the Roman assault on the eastern entrance of Maiden Castle, Dorset, incorporating and dramatising the results of Wheeler’s 1937 excavations.

The Festival of Britain brought Sorrell and Wheeler together again, when Alan worked with Wheeler and Sir Leonard Woolley on reconstruction paintings of Ur and Mohenjo-Daro for the Dome of Discovery. Wheeler recognised in Sorrell someone who could assist his mission to popularise archaeology and transform dry pots and bones and dusty foundations into archaeologically informed visual reconstructions of life in the past; before long, this work was to dominate his output, though he continued throughout his life to exhibit new work at the Royal Academy and the Royal Watercolour Society, selling to public and private collections.

Sorrell was punctilious about researching every tiny detail of his reconstruction drawings, as Sara Perry and our Fellow Matthew Johnson have recently revealed in their study of the papers in the Sorrell Archive. Sorrell’s preliminary sketches and correspondence with archaeologists reveal that he was not the ‘outsider’ that he sometimes pretended to be: on the contrary, he was an active agent in the creation of archaeological knowledge, because he asked questions that his archaeological collaborators had not thought about and forced them into new research to provide the answers.

And yet, careful research does not does not make a haunting work: as well as being works of scholarship, Sorrell’s paintings are also works of vivid artistic vision that, once seen, are never forgotten, living on in the memory and the imagination. This exhibition, albeit small, nevertheless succeeds in giving the impression of a much more rounded artist than many of us might have suspected, and the accompanying catalogue, edited by Sacha Llewellyn and Richard Sorrell (one of Alan’s sons), fills out the story and is packed with fine examples of Sorrell’s work. The accompanying essays explain why Sorrell should be considered an artist of some importance, part of that circle of mid-century neo-Romantic artists that includes his contemporaries and fellow Royal College of Art students, Henry Moore, John Piper, John and Paul Nash, Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

Also produced to coincide with the exhibition is a splendid monograph called British Murals and Decorative Painting 1920—1960, with an introductory essay by our Fellow Alan Powers, setting this heroic period in public art in context. Here you will find page after page of outstanding work, almost none of which will be familiar and most of which is depicted here for the first time, so little known is this remarkable legacy of art produced for churches, chapels, schools, libraries, concert halls, workplaces, shops and shopping centres by some of Britain’s leading twentieth-century artists.

Fellows Alan Powers and Mike Pitts are also among the speakers at a study day to be held at the Soane Museum on Friday 15 November 2013 devoted to the work of Alan Sorrell and the artistic climate of his lifetime. Tickets for this can be booked using the Eventbrite website.

Finally, Salon’s editor has written a more detailed account of Sorrell’s life and work that will appear in the next issue of Current Archaeology magazine (CA 285), while a paper by Fellow Matthew Johnson and Sara Perry on the Sorrell Archive and what this tells us about his working methods, his relationships with contemporary archaeologists and his contribution to archaeological knowledge, will appear in the next issue of the Antiquaries Journal (vol 94).

Books by Fellows: The Ebbsfleet Elephant

The most recent issue of Current Archaeology, meanwhile, features another interesting example of archaeological illustration on its cover, this time in the form of a highly realistic three-dimensional diorama from London’s Natural History Museum of the Pleistocene waterhole in Swanscombe, Kent, Britain, with elephant, fallow deer, rhinoceros, bear, bison and humans living in open grassland some 400,000 years ago. The same image graces the cover of the Oxford Archaeology monograph edited by our Fellow Francis Wenban-Smith reporting on the excavation of a Pleistocene butchery site, complete with the carcass of a 4m-high bull elephant, along with all the flints used at the site to clean the carcass of meat.

The discovery was made in 2004 during excavation work close to the site of Ebbsfleet International Station on the route of the High Speed 1 railway link from London to the Channel Tunnel. The report offers a rare glimpse of Palaeolithic hominin activity in Britain — in this case, probably Homo heidelbergensis, the common ancestor of H sapiens and H neanderthalensis, a highly intelligent species, with a brain about 75 per cent of the size of our own, with the stone-tool technology and the language and planning capability to work co-operatively to bring down a large male elephant. The report also includes important environmental data, filling in our picture of the environment of northern Europe at the time — a benign period of interglacial warmth when the Ebbsfleet valley was a lush tributary of the densely wooded Thames.

The Ebbsfleet Elephant: excavations at Southfleet Road, Swanscombe, in advance of High Speed 1, 2003—4, edited by Francis Wenban-Smith; ISBN 9780904220735; Oxford Archaeology Monograph 20, 2013

Books by Fellows: The Romans

Alan Sorrell often depicted scenes from Roman life, on Hadrian’s Wall, at the London Temple of Mithras, at Silchester and at Caerleon, for example, but he admitted in a lecture once that he found their rectilinear architecture rather dull from an aesthetic point of view, and he said that the billowing clouds and ‘drifting smoke, that age-old symbol of habitation’, that features so often in his work, were introduced as a deliberate foil to the rigid right angles and upright pillars of Romano-British buildings. Fellow John Manley is a great fan of all things Roman, by contrast, and has written a book in a new series of short guides called ‘All That Matters’ setting out why Roman culture is still relevant to the modern world. The book packs in a history of the rise of Rome, the expansion and contraction of the Roman Empire and an account of the key sources — historical and archaeological — for the period. His lists of recent ‘sword and sandals’ films and of historical novels set in the Roman period is evidence enough that we continue to be fascinated by the Roman legacy.

All That Matters: The Romans, by John Manley; ISBN 9781444183863; Hodder & Stoughton, 2013

Books by Fellows: The Roman Invasion of Britain: archaeology versus history

Fellow Birgitta Hoffmann has taken on the challenge of comparing the written record for key moments in Romano-British history, from Caesar’s first visit to Britain through to the end of Roman rule, asking such questions as how much of the written account can be trusted, how much is rhetorical or based on literary and historical tropes, and what archaeological evidence exists that might contradict, confirm or complement the written account.

The exercise is fascinating, and Birgitta does full justice to the complexity of the issues, mainly by setting out for the reader what other people have made of written and archaeological record in the past, as understanding has moved from a literal interpretation to a realisation that the historical record is an artifice, and that the archaeological record is equally selective for different reasons, to the various attempts made by more recent scholars to read between the lines and see as much in what is not said as what is. The book thus forms a valuable summary of the historiography of Roman Britain, and is the result of very extensive reading, even if Birgitta is forced to conclude over and again that the ‘truth’ is unclear, debatable, elusive, probable rather than certain and subject to changing fashions in historical and archaeological interpretation.

The Roman Invasion of Britain: archaeology versus history, by Birgitta Hoffmann; ISBN 9781848840973; Pen and Sword, 2013

Books by Fellows: Frontiers of the Roman Empire: The African Frontiers

This 96-page tri-lingual guide (parallel texts in English, German and French) is the work of Fellow David Mattingly, Alan Rushworth, Martin Sterry and Victoria Leitch, in a series edited by Fellow David Breeze and Sonja Jilek that aims to cover the physical remains of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The African frontier, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, is perhaps the least known to European archaeologists, and this book succeeds in opening our eyes to the astonishing variety of these frontier monuments, set as they are in landscapes as varied as the Moroccan and Algerian deserts and the Rif, Atlas and Aures mountains. Their state of survival is equally varied, from walls and towers standing 6m or more in height to little more than lines of stone in the desert sand.

The guide’s authors seek to understand the indigenous peoples of Roman Africa, such as the Garamantes of Libya, and the ways in which Rome’s frontier structures might have been designed to hamper, inhibit, encourage or control their nomadic, transhumance-based ways of life. One interesting result is the type of frontier structure that the authors call the fortified farm, built by indigenous farmers in imitation of Roman fortifications: ‘the transformation of the Roman frontier zone from one where the main fortifications were those of the army to one where the landscape was studded with private defensive works, is a striking one’, the authors conclude.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: The African Frontiers, by David Mattingly, Alan Rushworth, Martin Sterry and Victoria Leitch; ISBN 9781900971164; Roman Society / Society for Libyan Studies, 2013

A Life of Richard, 1st Lord Dingwall and Earl of Desmond (c 1570—1628)

Fellow Jonathan Marsden has commended this book by Timothy Wilks, Professor of Cultural History at Southampton Solent University, because he thinks it will be of interest to Fellows, especially those who study court life and the history of James I’s reign. Richard Preston, the first Lord Dingwall, has rarely featured in the historical record until now despite the fact that he was one of James VI and I’s most enduring favourites, rising from page boy to Captain of the Guard at the Scottish Court and then, after the court migrated to England in 1603, outlasting the Earl of Somerset and the Duke of Buckingham, James I’s other great favourites. Timothy Wilks has reconstructed Preston’s career from Preston family papers, and they throw important new light on what it costs in both monetary and human terms to stay in good odour with a monarch used to having every whim indulged but also intolerant of obsequious behaviour — a difficult path to tread. There are interesting accounts of the Court’s culture of competitive gift-giving, of ambitious theatricals, in the form of plays and masques, dances, martial displays, concerts, weddings, Christmas and New Year festivities and gargantuan all-night banquets.

In 2007, we saw the spectacle of a mechanical elephant taking to the streets of Nantes, the brainchild of two French artists who specialise in giant automata, but there is nothing new in this: Lord Dingwall, as he now was, amused the king in 1610 by arriving at the Whitehall tiltyard on an elephant — constructed of linen canvas draped over a wire frame, soaked in Plaster of Paris and painted, the whole animal and its howdah mounted on a wheeled carriage (depicted on the book's front cover).

Such colourful conceits were the stuff of Preston’s court life, and it came at great financial cost: we learn much from this book about loans (euphemistically called ‘grants’) and the financing of a courtly career, in this case based on the income from vast estates in Ireland, obtained by Preston through marriage in 1614 to Elizabeth, the sole surviving daughter and heir to one of Ireland’s richest men, Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde. Between then and his death by drowning in 1628, on board a ship that foundered in the Irish Sea between Dublin and Holyhead, Preston led an incident-packed life that included a failed attempt to raise an international army to attack and seize the Republic of Venice, and much legal haggling over the inheritance of the Irish estates. All in all, this is a fascinating and rumbustuous story, one that so often verges on the picaresque that at times one has to remind oneself that this is not an ingenious work of fiction!

Of Neighing Coursers and Trumpets Shrill: a life of Richard, 1st Lord Dingwall and Earl of Desmond, by Timothy Wilks; ISBN 9780955282164; Lucas Publications Ltd, 2103

Books by Fellows: Robert Willis (1800—1875) and the Foundation of Architectural History

Robert Willis, founding father of the disciplines of architectural history and buildings archaeology, is a figure of such immense importance and influence that it is surprising that nobody has written his biography before. Perhaps they were deterred by the scale of the Willis archive (Nikolaus Pevsner once observed in a footnote that ‘there are thousands of [papers] and a student in search of a thesis would find them rewarding’) and the fact that they remained uncatalogued until our Fellow Alexandrina Buchanan, the author of this book, was employed by Cambridge University Library to take on that task. Judging by the very long list of Fellows who have helped or inspired Alexandrina in the writing of this book, she will be thanked and congratulated by a keen and appreciative readership, all of them fully paid up members of the Willis fan club: she quotes our Fellow Peter Kidson, for example, as saying that he first read Willis whilst a student at the Courtauld Institute ‘as a refuge from German scholarship’.

What is it that they all value in Willis’s work, and why was it refreshingly unGermanic? Alexandrina points to the ‘prismatic clarity of his prose’ and the fact that in his picking apart of medieval cathedrals and churches, trying to understand how they were built and to establish dated typologies of medieval Gothic architecture, his focus was empirical, and not at all concerned with the abstract issues of style; that is why Pevsner, in the Buildings of England series, owed a huge debt to Willis, and why cathedral archaeologists such as our own Warwick Rodwell and Tim Tatton Brown, turn to his work again and again, because it is factually based and concerned with such primarily functional issues as how the building stands up, the reasons why it was erected this way and not that.

This may in turn have something to do with the fact that Willis was a scientist and engineer, specialising in the study of mechanics, and the design of bridges and mines: architectural history was his spare-time passion. Willis was also quite a compelling lecturer, whose fans included not only Prince Albert but the hundreds of people who flocked to the lectures he gave after concluding his study of a cathedral, summarising his conclusions on the building’s chronology and its place in the wider development of Gothic architecture. Partly this was for the sheer entertainment value of hearing Willis disagree with previous commentators and demonstrate archaeologically that previous accounts were wrong.

This is a very rich book that frequently touches on matters central to the history of our Society (we have a number of volumes of Willis’s scrapbooks, given by his nephew and heir, John W Clark, although Willis was not himself a Fellow) and that more than succeeds in conveying something of the excitement experienced by those mid-nineteenth-century audiences, and the ferocious debates of the age on everything from religion to education in which Willis was a keen participant. One example well illustrates this, and it is Willis’s passionate dismissal of church restoration as 'destructive of antiquity'. 'Every timeworn stone', he argued, even in its 'bruised dilapidation', is a 'voucher for its antiquity and an historical record of the vicissitudes through which it has passed. All these records are daily swept away to substitute a pert and vulgar immitation ... a more intimate knowledge of the subject woud teach such rank destroyers that restoration of ancient work is impossible!'.  Willis was confident that ‘some years hence ... there will be a general outcry and abhorrence of the insane destruction of ancient monuments which is now proceeding with the best of intentions and most sincere zeal but with the most mistaken choice of means’. He was surely prophetic, in addition to all his other gifts, foreseeing the day when William Morris would arise with SPAB manifesto in hand to do battle with the proponents of restoration just two years after Willis's death.

Robert Willis (1800—1875) and the Foundation of Architectural History, by Alexandrina Buchanan; ISBN 9781843838005; The History of the University of Cambridge Texts and Studies Vol 8, 2013


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