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Salon: Issue 447
22 April 2020

Next issue: 12 May 2020

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.

Fellows may occasionally find they do not receive email notification of a new Salon. There are suggestions for solving this, and an online archive where new editions are posted. You can also unsubscribe at any point, by following this link.
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Inside this issue

From the Desk of the General Secretary

Anniversary Meeting

This week should have seen our Annual General meeting being held on St George’s Day, Thursday 23rd April at Burlington House. The present situation makes it impossible for us to hold the meeting on the date specified by the Statutes, but we are examining options for holding the AGM in the Autumn, hopefully in September. However, it is extremely difficult to make firm plans for anything given the present extraordinary and uncertain times we are experiencing. However, we will be looking at ways in which the AGM, when it does take place, can be opened up via the internet, to include Fellows wherever they are in this country and around the world. 

I hope that all Fellows, their family, friends and loved ones, stay safe through these troubled times.
John Lewis 

Back to the beginning of the report

Covid-19 and the impact on the Kelmscott and Morris: Past Present and Future project

The present restrictions caused by the COVID-19 virus has meant that all repair and construction work at Kelmscott Manor has been suspended and will not recommence until Government advice changes and the contractors are satisfied that their staff can work safely.

Obviously, this has delayed our project, which had been making excellent progress. A major impact has been to our 2020 limited open season, which had been planned to run from July to October and would have been aimed at allowing tours around the Manor House while it was being repaired. Unfortunately, the delays to the programme mean that we have had to take the decision to cancel entirely the 2020 open season.

We had planned to re-open the repaired and rejuvenated site in July 2021, but even this is now highly unlikely, with an opening date slipping further and further towards autumn 2021. This, coupled with the uncertainty over exactly when work will be able to recommence, has forced us to plan for re-opening in April 2022.

Instead, in 2021, we hope to run the sort of restricted tours of the Manor House that we had planned for this season. In addition, delaying the re-opening of the completed project to April 2022 would allow us to hold our postponed Kelmscott fundraising exhibition at Burlington House in July and August 2021.
We will obviously be keeping all of these plans under review as events unfold and notify Fellows of any changes.

Back to the beginning of the report

New Library Management System

We are delighted to announce that we have signed a contract for a new library management system to replace Voyager, our existing library catalogue.

Koha (Maori for ‘gift’ or ‘present’) was first developed in New Zealand in 1999 and today it is an advanced, yet cost-effective, open-source system used by thousands of libraries worldwide. Our system will be hosted and supported by PTFS Europe, who count the British Museum, Dr Williams’s Library, Lambeth Palace, the Royal Armouries, the Royal Asiatic Society, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales and the Scottish Poetry Library among their long list of clients.

Koha will bring in features that we do not have with Voyager. For example, on Koha our Fellows will have their own personal accounts, which will enable them to see which books they have out on loan. They will also be able to renew their loans, and request or reserve books that are out on loan to other Fellows.
Over time, we will also be making full use of Koha’s serials management features so our Fellows will be able to see the publication frequency of each journal title, together with a comprehensive list of our holdings and whether a particular issue has arrived or is expected.

Another very important Koha feature is its compatibility with a discovery layer, which will enable Fellows to interrogate the Library’s catalogue of print books and journals together with our electronic resources (including the forthcoming JSTOR resources) in a single search. The discovery layer will also provide seamless access to any articles in electronic journals among the search results.

Access to the full functionality of the new system will require a login and we realise that our Fellows already need logins for OpenAthens as well as the Fellows’ Platform on the Society’s website. Rather than introduce a third set of usernames and passwords we are exploring ways of simplifying access so that our Fellows will only need a single login to access all areas and resources.

We have recruited a fixed-term Library, Museum and Archives Systems Manager to deliver this project. Will David worked for 29 years at The London Library where he was Head of IT. Over the next few months Will and the Library team will continue to work very hard on the transition from Voyager to Koha. Such are the wonders of modern technology that the current pandemic should not have a great impact on the project, and we hope to go live with Koha at the end of July.

In addition to migrating our library catalogue, Will is also working on setting up a new system for our archive and museum collections. We will provide more information on that facet of the project very soon.

Back to the beginning of the report

Online Resources 

More and more publishers have been making their subscription resources available for free - or are offering an expanded range of free content - for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The Library is pleased to have arranged temporary access to several subscription packages offered by Bloomsbury until the end of May 2020. Fellows can now access the following via their OpenAthens account: 

Arcadian Library Online
a digital version of the Arcadian Library - an exceptional, privately-owned library which focuses on the shared cultural heritage of Europe and the Middle East. In addition to rare printed books, it contains manuscript and documents of great importance and rarity. 

Bloomsbury Architecture Library 
a digital resource of fully-searchable text and image content, incorporating the new edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s 'Global History of Architecture', produced in partnership with the RIBA and the University of London. 

Bloomsbury Collections  
contains over 6,000 titles, featuring content from Bloomsbury’s latest research publications as well as a 100+ year legacy. Subject collections include Anthropology, Classical Studies & Archaeology, History, Middle East, Art & Visual Culture, Architecture and more. 

Bloomsbury Cultural History 
a fully cross-searchable digital resource that engages with culture throughout the ages from antiquity to modernity. 

Bloomsbury Medieval Studies 
a new interdisciplinary digital resource which includes access to 165 scholarly books, visual sources (including digitised incunabula and medieval maps), reference works and more. 
We have also set up a free trial subscription to Archaeopress Digital which runs until the end of July 2020. Archaeopress is devoted to publishing serious academic work on all aspects of world archaeology, and their range of publications includes monographs, conference proceedings, catalogues of archaeological material, excavation reports and archaeological biographies. 
Archaeopress Digital offers access to over 600 downloadable ebooks and several international journals. Fellows will find our subscription log-in details in OpenAthens.  
The Library would be very grateful for your feedback on these resources over the coming months! If you have any comments as to their usefulness (or otherwise), please pass them to Becky Loughead, Serials & E-Resources Librarian, at    

The Online Resources list has been updated with more content that can be freely accessed by anyone.

Additions this week include: 
ProjectMUSE – over 70 publishers worldwide have temporarily made their content available for free. ProjectMUSE is an online database of peer-reviewed academic journals and ebooks of digital humanities and social science content, from over 250 university presses and scholarly societies around the world. 
Archaeopress Open Access – a large collection of free archaeology books and content published by Archaeopress that can be downloaded as PDFs to your own devices. 
DS (Digital Scriptorium) – an online catalogue of pre-modern manuscripts (both catalogue records and high-resolution images) from a consortium of American libraries and museums. The DS database is an Open Access resource that enables users to study rare and valuable materials of academic, research, and public libraries. 
Manuscripta mediaevalia – this German-language site offers a searchable database of medieval manuscripts held in German libraries (over 90,000 documents), some of which are also digitised. The site also includes digitised copies of print library catalogues for over 100 libraries, including the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, and many others. 
DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books) – a searchable database of Open Access peer-reviewed monographs submitted by academic publishers. 
DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) – an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality Open Access peer-reviewed journals. Almost 15,000 journal titles from over 130 countries are available. 
Internet History Sourcebooks Project - hosted by the Fordham University, the sourcebooks are a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented for educational use. The main collections are the Ancient Sourcebook, the Medieval Sourcebook and the Modern History Sourcebook, but there are many other pages of primary sources relating to particular regions, demographics, and major historical events. 
UK Medical Heritage Library - funded by JISC and the Wellcome Library, the project digitised some 15 million pages from European medical publications of the 19th and early-20th century. The scope of the subject is broad and includes items about medical sciences, consumer health, sport and fitness, diet and nutrition and historical medical practices. 

Back to the beginning of the report

Church Closures: A Covid Conservation Crisis?

This striking photo shows a detail of a monument to Sarah Otway-Cave, Baroness Braye (died 1862) by Mary Thornycroft. It’s in St Nicholas’ Church, Stanford on Avon, Northamptonshire, and the staining on Lady Braye’s face is bat faeces – the greyhound at her feet not being up to the job of keeping the winged furballs at bay.
The photo was taken by Jean Wilson FSA, Vice-president of the Church Monuments Society. She recently wrote to
the Times (13 April) to comment on a discussion about the closure of churches, which had focused on the the ‘opportunity to hear sublime sacred music performed in inspiring buildings’ (Richard Morrison) and the unprecedented phenomenon of ‘empty pews’ throughout Easter (leader). Wilson’s concern was bat excreta: no longer ‘kept at bay … by regular cleaning’, they ‘may cause extensive damage to the national art heritage [the buildings] contain, to which the Church has, on the whole, shown itself to be indifferent’.

‘Why the churches cannot be opened for streamed services and maintenance checks’, she added, ‘baffles me: to spiritual bankruptcy the church authorities have added practical incompetence.’ I thought
Salon should allow Wilson to expand on her point, she agreed, and kindly sent this advocacy of parish churches as important repositories of art and cultural history (though her piece does not, she notes, ‘include any consideration of the spiritual impact of the closures of the churches’):
‘An unforeseen consequence of the decision to close and bar all Anglican churches during the Covid-19 lockdown may be a crisis in conservation. British churches contain much of the nation’s cultural heritage – sculpture, paintings on stone and wood, glass, metalwork and textiles. All are vulnerable to theft, damage and neglect. What we have is underestimated and underappreciated. We are exercised at the spoliation wreaked on other societies during the colonial period: parallel destruction is currently occurring in our churches, and the Covid-19 measures will only make things worse.
‘I am qualified only to write about sculptural riches – other Fellows may care to add things from their own expertise. The majority of British sculpture from the medieval, early modern, and baroque periods is found in churches, mostly in the form of funerary monuments. A substantial amount of 18th- and 19th-, and even some important 20th-century sculpture is also to be found in churches.
‘Memorial art is consistently underestimated in accounts of our national heritage (although of course highly rated when it’s in Italy). But memorial brasses can be exquisite, and our great sculptors deserve far more respect. Masterpieces by sculptors such as William Austen and John Massingham (Richard Beauchamp, at Warwick); Nicholas Stone (Lady Carey, Church Stowe, Northants); John Bushnell (Lady Ashburnham, Ashburnham, Sussex, right); Roubiliac (George Lynn, Southwick, Northants), Flaxman (Mrs Browne, Badger, Salop), Chantrey (Isaac Hawkins Browne, also Badger), Boehm (Lord Cardigan, Deene, Northants), Hamo Thornycroft (W O Stanley, Holyhead), and Charles Sargeant Jagger (Lord Worsley, Brocklesby, Lincs) are all in parish churches, some small and remote.
‘Heritage bodies may not appreciate what is in their care – the stunning signed monument by Boehm to the Countess of Home at Douglas (left) is dismissed by Historic Environment Scotland in the Statement of Significance as “a late 19th-century alabaster tomb and effigy” and its authorship goes unmentioned. English Heritage consistently opposed moving the unique and beautiful late 13th-century female effigy from Wolferlow, Herefordshire, when that church was placed on the market for conversion to a dwelling. The church remains unsold, its contents unprotected, as does the church at Horton, Northamptonshire, which contains, besides the important tomb of Lord Parr, uncle of Henry VIII’s last Queen, the only funerary monument known to have been designed by Horace Walpole, a charming and elegant exercise in rococo classicism.

‘The interior of Horton (above) is sad – filthy, decrepit, and obviously inhabited by bats. Bats are, after institutional indifference, probably the major threat to all the artworks housed in churches, but particularly to monumental brasses (eg to John Russell, d 1405, in Strensham, Worcs, right) and marble and alabaster sculpture. With churches locked, regular cleaning is unlikely to take place, so that there is every chance that congregations will be faced with unspeakably filthy churches and artworks where bat excreta will have been leaching into materials for weeks, if not months – as at Westhall, Suffolk (below left), showing damage to a ledger stone, or Deene, Northants (below right), to Minton tiles.

'Added to this is the possible absence of regular checks on the building: wardens and incumbents may go in, but there is no guarantee that they will do so. The absence of such checks means that thefts may not be discovered for some days – if the stripping of roof lead is involved, then rain-damage can be devastating. Commoner damage may also not be spotted in good time – falling plaster, structural cracks in walls and monuments – all part of what happens to an ancient building, but easiest remedied if dealt with early.
‘The parish churches of Britain provide an enormous unappreciated cultural resource which, if properly maintained and publicised, might contribute to struggling rural economies. Church tourism brings benefits to petrol stations, pubs and cafés and local accommodation. The buildings can be used by local communities for meeting places, libraries, concerts and art-classes. The Church of England has for years engaged in a melancholy long withdrawal from its protestant history, its spiritual duty and its responsibility for the heritage. The mindless closure of churches during this pandemic may well present congregations with tasks and repair bills which they cannot meet.’

The Festival of Archaeology Continues

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) had planned to hold its annual Festival of Archaeology between 11 and 26 July, with talks, tours, demonstrations and digs around the country. With hundreds of independent events, it might have been designed to be scuppered by the lockdown and its effects, and the CBA has responded with a revised programme. It has been divided into two: there will be digital events between 11 and 19 July and, the CBA hopes, a second week of outdoor activity between 14 October and 1 November.
This year’s theme is Climate and Environment. Online events in July will include A Day in Archaeology (13 July, when working archaeologists blog about what they are up to) and Ask an Archaeologist Day (15 July), with new offers from the CBA and the Shout Out Loud project. Event organisers who had planned to be out and about in July are invited to join the October element of the Festival, and there may be opportunities to take part digitally in July: information about this will be posted on the Festival website soon. The website is live, and you can sign up for an e-newsletter and get in touch at
The Festival of Archaeology is coordinated by the CBA in partnership with Historic England, with further support from Cadw, English Heritage, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Towergate Insurance. The Festival is also part of European Archaeology Days.

Manx Memories

‘Thanks so much for highlighting the memorial to my predecessor at the Manx Museum and some of our current work on the Manx Crosses,’ writes Edmund Southworth FSA, Director of Manx National Heritage. ‘We were delighted to follow in Philip Kermode’s footsteps by funding the scanning of the crosses and indeed Sir David Wilson FSA’s latest publication on the topic.
‘The Manx Museum and National Trust now uses the trading name of Manx National Heritage, but the Charity occupies a key role in preserving the heritage of the Island as Kermode intended. We combine many functions which would be undertaken in our surrounding jurisdictions by multiple organisations. For example we designate Ancient Monuments, manage the National Library, Museum and Archive collections, and look after 3000 acres of land in our capacity as the National Trust for the Island.
‘I am delighted to add to your list of institutions making digital content available. Some years ago we digitised the entire corpus of newspapers published on the Island from 1792 onward. We have since added a range of other published material including, for example, the journals produced in German at the WW1 internment camps on the Island from 1914–19. These sit alongside more ephemeral material such as the Football and TT results specials. The corpus is keyword searchable and sits alongside our other online resources which hold over a million records including images. It may be worth reminding people that the Isle of Man is not part of the UK, and its central location in the Irish Sea means it often has a unique perspective on its interaction with its neighbours.
‘The newspapers are normally only available on subscription but are now available free in response to the current pandemic. We will review access in due course based on feedback and usage.’ 


A Journal of the Plague Year: Part 3

The coronavirus lockdown, it seems, mutates at it progresses. We adjust to one thing, only to find something new we have to get our heads around, and mostly it becomes worse rather than better. The future is more uncertain and the past not so much foreign as fantastic: TV dramas filmed when people talked in the streets, queued in cafés and sat on park benches look like science fiction. Two months ago I wrote about the carnyx, a strange animal-headed bronze horn wielded in musical menace against Roman armies. We now live in a world where the sight of someone playing a carnyx (rather well as it happens) from a flat window onto an empty street seems normal. This is what Abraham Cupeiro did. A trumpet teacher and musician in Lugo, north-west Spain, who specialises in early and odd wind instruments, he tweeted a video of himself to prove it. Ánimo!!
Earlier I wrote how automatic email responses I received at the launch of a new Salon had changed from ‘I’m researching a beach in the Aegean’ (I paraphrase) to ‘I’m on strike’. Now I hear that many of you have been furloughed. Salon, which has long been produced mostly in my attic bedroom, is so far little affected by these events, and will continue as I hope you will continue to send me your stories.
The options for online activity keep growing. On 17 April Rob Wiseman launched what he calls Archaeologists on Furlough, a platform for ‘professional archaeologists with access to volunteer projects that can be done from home’. He has in mind primarily those who work in commercial archaeology who have lost their jobs or been placed on furlough, and his proposed projects assume knowledge of how archaeology in Britain works. He sought people with appropriate skills who could analyse archived information from excavations. He suggested six projects – one was about Roman cultivation beds, another about new-found henges across Britain. Within days all six were fully subscribed. I logged in on the first day, and was told they had ‘many more people registered than we expected! Our first day live online has been overwhelming.’ New projects are being designed, and even if you don’t take part, the website is set to collect much of interest.
Most striking in our field, however, and worrying, is a concern that some museums and galleries, especially those run by smaller and independent organisations, may have to close not just for the duration of the lockdown, but forever. The Mapping Museums Website and Database, which went live on 17 March after years of researching the UK museum sector from 1960–2020, immediately found itself with a new mission.

First it dropped a planned panel discussion and wine reception at London Transport Museum. ‘It is disappointing’, wrote Fiona Candlin, ‘but given the current spread of Covid-19, it was better to err on the side of caution and to postpone the event’. Barely a week later and Jamie Larkin wrote that ‘The rapid spread of COVID-19 has led to virtually all UK museums being closed.’ Soon Larkin had created a Google Map ‘showing UK #museums that have self-identified as at risk of permanent closure due to COVID-19’. His aim is to highlight those in need of financial support, and help professional bodies and policy-makers to understand what’s required.
There are currently 19 museums on his map. They include Creswell Crags, whose plight I highlighted earlier; the Mary Rose Museum, which on 1 April said it faces a £2.2 million cash hole, with around 90 per cent of its annual income coming from visitors, most of whom arrive between April and August; and Discovery Point (home of RRS Discovery) in Dundee and Brunel's SS Great Britain in Bristol. On 19 April Holburne Museum in Bath, not yet on the map (above left), announced it was hoping to raise £50,000 to avoid permanent closure. But perhaps the most shocking prospect comes from Sussex.
Charleston House, the entrancing Bloomsbury Group home, has cancelled its Festival and launched an Emergency Appeal. ‘It costs over £1m a year to conserve the house and garden,’ it says. ‘Every penny we need to do this we have to raise ourselves through ticket sales, through spend in our shops and café, and other fundraising activities. And that’s stopped – overnight.’
All the other sites are owned by the Sussex Archaeological Society, a rare organisation that usually benefits from its property portfolio. This includes Fishbourne Roman Palace, Michelham Priory, House and Gardens, and Lewes Castle and Museum (below). ‘As a charity,’ says the society, ‘we receive no core Government funding and rely solely on the generosity of our members and the public. These closures will result in the loss of revenue from our visitor admissions, events, shops and cafes at one of the busiest times of the year.’

Historic England is offering some help. On 17 April it launched a Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund, to ‘extend a safety net to small heritage organisations at this challenging time’. Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to £25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from Coronavirus, and up to £50,000 for wider concerns; the fund total will be up to £2 million. The deadline for applications is midnight on Sunday 3 May.

‘British heritage could be “lost forever” after coronavirus pandemic, Historic England warns’, headlined the Evening Standard over a photo of Stonehenge. ‘Almost 80 per cent of heritage groups have reported short-term losses’, reported the paper, ‘and around 60 per cent said they have been forced to cancel events due to the pandemic.’ ‘Centuries-old skills required to safeguard historical spots across the country risk wipeout if craftsmen lose their jobs,’ said Duncan Wilson FSA, head of Historic England.

Historic Environment Scotland launched a survey on 9 April aimed at understanding the impacts of the epidemic on the country’s historic environment sector. ‘The results’, it says, ‘will inform our own actions in response to Covid-19, add value to other consultations and calls for information HES and other organisations are making, and provide material to promote the continuing value of the sector during the crisis.’ The consultation is open until 30 April.

Fellows (and Friends)

Aubrey Burl FSA, writer and student of prehistoric megaliths, died in April.
Jocelyn Hillgarth FSA, historian of medieval Spain, died in April.
Hugh Sackett FSA, Classical archaeologist, died in April.
Geoffrey Gaunt, Quaternary geologist and geoarchaeologist, and a former Fellow, died in April.
Appreciations appear in Fellows Remembered below.

The first printing of London's Waterfront 1100–1666 by John Schofield FSA, Lyn Blackmore FSA and Jacqui Pearce FSA with Tony Dyson FSA (2018) has run out. Reviewed by Tim Tatton-Brown FSA in the Antiquaries Journal 90 (‘It is to [Schofield’s] credit that this volume has been published at all, because the early years of the Department of Urban
Archaeology were, at times, fairly chaotic’ – the site was dug between 1974 and 1984), it has been reissued in paperback.

The University of Stirling has launched a new MSc in Heritage. Taught by four lecturers at Stirling's Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy – Sian Jones (Professor), Sally Foster FSA, Jennie Morgan and Chiara Bonacchi FSA – the degree programme aims to provide a critically informed interdisciplinary education in heritage with three Pathways: cultural heritage studies, heritage and environment; and digital heritage. Students can also take the broad MSc heritage without specialisation. See online for details.

Sally Foster FSA and Sian Jones have written My Life as a Replica: St John's Cross, Iona. Fifty years ago a concrete replica of St John’s Cross, an eighth-century Celtic stone carving, arrived on Iona with the island’s annual coal supply. The book tells its story, how it relates to the world’s first ringed ‘Celtic cross’, an artistic and technical masterpiece, and what it tells us about the authenticity and value of replicas. It is, they say, ‘the first in-depth cultural biography to give primacy to the rich life of replicas,’ inviting ‘new ways of thinking about authenticity, value and significance of replicas by uncovering the values that replicas hold, whether for locals, visitors or heritage professionals’. • Foster adds that Historic Environment Scotland has awarded the subject of their case study Category A designation, informed by the outcomes of their research, ‘having specifically excluded it from a designation review of Iona Abbey in 2015’.

Susan Greaney FSA, a 2019 Radio 3 and AHRC New Generation Thinker, contributed a Short Feature to BBC Radio 3 on 19 April. She recently travelled to Japan, preparing for an exhibition at Stonehenge that would tell the story of the ‘parallel civilisations' of Neolithic Britain and the contemporary (if much longer lasting) Jomon culture. Covid-19 has delayed the show, but in the programme Greaney describes her visits to a museum full of Jomon artefacts, which include distinctive clay figurines – in a local train station; to an excavation of circles of arranged stones and timber structures, with Simon Kaner FSA; and to Komakino, a stone circle aligned on midsummer dawn, exactly as seen at Stonehenge. As I reported here last year, David Dawson FSA, Director, Wiltshire Museum, was on the same trip last autumn, and his museum in Devizes was also planning an exhibition, originally scheduled to open on June 21.
Susan Greaney will talking about Stonehenge on 22 April at 11.30 am, and answering live questions, in the first of a series of online broadcasts by English Heritage to help families who are home schooling. Other topics are Hadrian’s Wall and the Romans (29 April, Mark Douglas), Castles (6 May, Jeremy Ashbee FSA), 1066, the Battle of Hastings (13 May, Roy Porter FSA) and Dover Castle in World War II (20 May, Paul Pattison FSA). The free-to-watch videos can be seen on English Heritage’s Facebook, Twitter, Twitch and YouTube channels, and will be fronted by children’s TV presenter and comedian Ben Shires.

Following Greaney on Stonehenge, a little later in the day Matt Pope FSA will be talking live about his UCL fieldwork at La Cotte. ‘Return to La Cotte: Protecting the Record of Ice Age Jersey from Climate Change’ will be online on 22 April at 1 pm.
A couple of months ago Richard Brooks revealed in the Observer that the government had declined to approve Mary Beard FSA as a new Trustee for the British Museum: ‘Whitehall sources,’ said Brooks, blamed ‘her pro-European views’. Political interference with such an appointment seems to be unprecedented in modern times, but it was a doomed attempt. Beard was apparently proposed by the British Academy (of which she is also a Fellow), who, like this Society, can nominate one Trustee for approval by the government. But if the latter enjoyed wielding its power to quash the suggestion, the British Museum had another option, which was to ask the Trustees to appoint her themselves (five such positions are available). Which they did. And on 8 April newly appointed Trustee Mary Beard blogged about her favourite five objects in the museum, among them this brass head of an Ooni of Ife, Nigeria. She recalls on her first visit, aged five, ‘being amazed by the sculptures from the Parthenon’. There was a piece of ancient Egyptian cake in one case. As her mum tried to lift her up to see it, a man stopped by, opened the case and held the cake out in front of her eyes. ‘He played a big part in setting me on the road to a career in history,’ says Beard. Do you have a story like that?

A new study by Peter Forster, Lucy Forster, Colin Renfrew FSA and Michael Forster identifies three central variants in SARS-Cov-2 genomes distinguished by amino acid changes. Two of these are found in significant proportions in Europeans and Americans, while the third is the most common type in East Asia. The scientists use a phylogenetic network analysis previously applied to the reconstruction of language prehistory. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United Sates, the research was immediately criticised on social media. ‘There are many things that are terribly wrong about this paper,’ tweeted Andrew Rambaut, Professor of Molecular Evolution at the University of Edinburgh, suggesting the analysis relied on an exaggerated claim about the proximity of a bat virus to SARS-CoV-2. Mark Thomas, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics at UCL, commented, ‘science is story testing, not story telling’. I asked the paper’s authors what they made of this. ‘It sounds to me like surprised off-the-cuff comments’, said Peter Forster. ‘I don't really understand (or welcome) [Rambaut’s] aggressive tone,’ said Renfrew. ‘It seems he has a paper on a related theme in preparation, and perhaps sees ours as some sort of rival. Yet it does bring out structure in a clear way, which is easy to visualise.’

Fellows Remembered

Aubrey Burl FSA died on 8 April aged 93. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in November 1981.
Harry Aubrey Woodruff Burl was an unusual archaeologist for our times. The enthusiast’s megalithic expert and a field explorer bar none, he combined the advantages of experience as a university lecturer and excavator, a redundancy package and a literary fluency, to build an independent career as a successful writer. He published some 30 books, almost all of which he had researched and written on his own, with a single-minded focus on the prehistoric standing stones of north-west Europe. In his 70s he turned to subjects of historical mystery, launching his last book – on Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’, who he identified as the self-centred and sex-enjoying wife of John Florio – when he was 88. He was, writes Terry Manby FSA, ‘a scholar and a gentleman of the old school in the very best sense’.
Aubrey Burl was born in London, the son of Harry (an engineer) and Lily (née Wright). Called up in 1944, he joined the Royal Navy, where he became a sub-lieutenant, surviving an explosion at sea which left him with a slight lisp. In 1947 he joined the University of London, taking a BA there in 1953. He had moved to Leicester the year before to teach history and archaeology, and in 1970, the year he obtained his MA at Leicester University with a thesis on stone circles, he took up the post of Principal Lecturer in Archaeology in the Department of Evolution and Prehistory, Kingston-Upon-Hull College of Education. The college Principal then was Cyril Bibby, author of The Evolution of Man and His Culture (1938) – ‘a readable outline,’ commented Stuart Piggott FSA, ‘animated by the political theories of the Left’ – and better known as a sexologist and eugenicist.
At Hull for a little over a decade, Burl entrenched a research focus on Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual monuments, and established a reputation as a readable and informed writer. His first of many academic papers – on henge earthworks – was published in 1970. Between 1971 and 1982 he directed five successive excavations: at the Three Kings stone circle in Northumberland; at a Neolithic mound at Boghead, Fochabers, Moray; at Berrybrae recumbent stone circle, Aberdeenshire (a project he regretted not seeing in print); at two stone circles on Machrie Moor, Arran; and at Strichen recumbent stone circle, Aberdeenshire (as well as which, in 1972, he excavated at two sites ahead of housing development in Hedon, East Yorkshire, finding medieval pottery). And it was at Hull that he wrote some of his key books.
The first of these (The Stone Circles of the British Isles, 1976) was reprinted and praised in equal measure, launching an enduring partnership with Yale University Press, which published a revised edition in 2000 as The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. The future pattern of his writing was also set with Prehistoric Avebury (1979, Yale again, with a revised edition in 2002), a fond analysis that mixed antiquarian and his own personal observations with striking black and white photography, much of it by Fay Godwin and Mick Sharp; Prehistoric Stone Circles (1979), a small guide; Rings of Stone: The Prehistoric Stone Circles of Britain and Ireland, a text to accompany photography by Edward Piper (1979); Megalithic Rings: Plans and Data for 229 Monuments in Britain, the academic publication in two volumes of surveys – many of which he had a part in – by A Thom and AS Thom (1980); and Rites of the Gods, a story of prehistoric Britain told as a vision of primitive religion and bleak living (1981).
In the early 1980s what was by then Hull College of Higher Education (and is now part of the University of Lincoln) decided to close down Burl’s department, encouraging him with a continued salary, which he accepted. He moved to Birmingham, where he stayed for the rest of his life, using his time for exhaustive archive and library research, travelling to visit what must have seemed like every megalithic site in Britain, Ireland and northern France, and writing a new book every year or so (and being close to Stratford-upon-Avon, enjoying the benefits of Royal Shakespeare Company membership). He also fitted in lecturing, guiding and broadcasting, though as a quiet man who preferred the company of friends and fellow enthusiasts over a pint of beer or a glass of Laphroaig to the limelight of cameras, he was not destined to become a television personality.
There were few books without ‘stone circle’ in the title, and he wrote several papers about individual megaliths at Avebury and Stonehenge. He commonly received the double compliment of reviews in the press and in academic journals. Prehistoric Avebury, for example, was reviewed by, among many others, the New Yorker (‘an admirable balance of scholarship and literary skill’), the New York Review of Books (‘Civilized and modest,’ written ‘with skill and charm’, said Geoffrey Grigson), the Christian Science Monitor, the Independent and Nature (‘a breadth of knowledge and vision rivalled only by Stukeley’, Richard Atkinson FSA). The Economist and the London Review of Books featured Rites of the Gods, as did Archaeological Review from Cambridge (‘Beneath the smooth surface of this book’, said Richard Bradley FSA, ‘there is hard work and a shrewd selection of materials’). The Stonehenge People (1987) was widely reviewed, including in the Times Educational and Times Literary Supplements, the Religious Studies Review, Nature and Antiquity.
Without the resources of a university department, Burl’s research was restricted to what he anyway most enjoyed, burrowing deep into antiquarian books and manuscripts and engaging with ancient sites on the ground. These joys were never more embraced than in a book about his oft-quoted hero, John Aubrey & Stone Circles: Britain's First Archaeologist, From Avebury to Stonehenge (2009); his gratitude expressed there to his wife, Judith, who ‘as always … endured the endless months-cum-tedious years of visits to places, churches and, inescapably, stone circles,’ was another recurrent theme, expressed in early books with equal praise for his previous wife, Margaret.
In his hands, his dependence on largely pre-modern literature made for entertaining reads and brought him a large audience. He found a balanced path between academic dismissal or indifference and naïve amateur obsession, no more so than in his discussions of ley-lines and prehistoric astronomy and measuring systems; his willingness to engage with archeoastronomy in its early years brought rare archaeological sense when the nascent discipline needed it most. His writing appealed to archaeologists, but also to fans of the more eccentric John Michell or the unbounded enthusiasm of Julian Cope, no mean feat. Archaeologists, however, were aware that he paid less attention to new research and fashionable thinking, and sometimes said so.
‘Imagination, with which Aubrey Burl is certainly not under-endowed,’ wrote Julian Richards FSA of The Stonehenge People, ‘is vital in order to grasp the nature of the society that created Stonehenge, but this does not give those with adequate vision the right to abuse the data, gently massaging the reported truths into a form acceptable to their ideas.’ ‘There is little sense of time or change,’ complained Bradley of Rites of the Gods. ‘The approach is literary, not analytical.’ His unfailing support for a theory that the Welsh stones at Stonehenge had been brought to Salisbury Plain by glaciers rather than carried there by people, seemed based more on a conviction that Neolithic people would have been unable and undesirous of moving stones over such distances than on geological evidence. He could deliver a good put-down, too: ‘It is no pleasure to review a book so adversely,’ he wrote in 1978 of a study by John Barnatt FSA, ‘but so much nonsense is appearing these days that its lack of logic needs to be exposed.’
Yet in the long term, it is Burl’s thorough and determined research that will endure, maintaining stone circles as a proper archaeological subject which before his work had been shunned by academics. Before the internet arrived, he seemed to find every observation and commentary ever made on his ancient sites, and there is much of value in those early records. Perhaps he achieved his apotheosis with his last seven books, when he abandoned the archaeological tour and focused exclusively on literature. His first target was an 18th-cenury pirate, described in That Great Pyrate: Bartholomew Roberts and His Crew 1718–1723 (1997, re-editioned in 2006 as Black Barty: Bartholomew Roberts and His Pirate Crew 1718–1723). He wrote about Franc̦ois Villon (2000), the Albigensian Crusade (2002) and Catullus (with poems translated by Humphrey Clucas, 2004). Courts of Love, Castles of Hate: Troubadours and Trobairitz in Southern France, 1071–1321 (2008) was followed by his last, Shakespeare's Lover (2014) – ‘Solved’ (Daly Telegraph).
Aubrey Burl was the Prehistoric Society’s Meetings Secretary 1983–88, organising a very successful and well-attended 50th anniversary conference at the University of East Anglia in 1985. Alex Gibson FSA and the late Derek Simpson edited a tribute, Prehistoric Ritual and Religion: Essays in Honour of Aubrey Burl (1998), highlighting his ‘humour, eloquence and observation’. He was also an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
He married first Olwen Hughes, a teacher and artist, with whom he had a son, Christopher; then Margaret O'Neil, a lecturer, with whom he had a son, Geoffrey; and finally Judith Lawson, an Administrator at the University of Birmingham.
• The photo by Angie Lake shows Burl in 2005 at the King's Men, Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire, after officially opening a new footpath (The Megalithic Portal).

Jocelyn Hillgarth FSA died on 12 April aged 90. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in November 1986.
Jocelyn Nigel Hillgarth has been described as the leading historian of medieval Spain. His wide range of publications include A Critical Edition of the Prognosticum Futuri Saeculi of Saint Julian of Toledo (1956), Ramon Lull and Lullism in Fourteenth-Century France (1971), The Spanish Kingdoms, 1250–1516 (2 vols, 1976 and 1978), The Mirror of Spain, 1500–1700: The Formation of a Myth (2000), Spain and the Mediterranean in the Later Middle Ages: Studies in Political and Intellectual History (2003) and The Visigoths in History and Legend (2010). He edited The Conversion of Western Europe, 350–750 (1969), with a revised edition published as Christianity and Paganism, 350–750: The Conversion of Western Europe, in 1985.
Jocelyn Hillgarth was born in London, the son of Alan Hugh (an intelligence officer and novelist active in Spain during and after the Spanish Civil War) and Mary (née Gardner). He studied at Cambridge University, achieving a BA at Queens’ College in 1950, an MA in 1954 and a PhD in 1957. He began a teaching and researching career as a senior research fellow at the Warburg Institute (1959–62) before crossing the Atlantic to join the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, in 1963. From there he became an Assistant Professor of History at Harvard University (1965–70), an Associate Professor (1970–73) and Professor of History (1973–77) at Boston College, and finally Professor of History at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. He was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Texas, Austin (1964–65) and Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1980).
In 2008 he presented the University of the Balearic Islands with some 250 books on Ramon Llull, a medieval Catalan philosopher from Majorca, and the history of the Balearics. His connection with the islands were more than through an interest in history, as his family had owned Son Torrella, a 17th-century Manor House and working farm, in Santa Maria del Camí since the early 1930s. The City Hall posted a tribute on Instagram (14 April) to the ‘adopted son of Santa Maria del Camí … [who] specialised in Catalan and Hispanic history and culture in the Middle Ages, and was a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Barcelona and the Institute of Catalan Studies. Known as an important Lullist, in 2001 he won the Ramon Llull Prize and was an honorary member of the Lulliana Archaeological Society’ (translated from the Catalan).
He was also a Fellow of the British Academy, a Guggenheim Fellow (1968–69) and a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (1976–77). He married Nina Pantaleoni (a university administrator) in 1966.
• Photo above UIB Newspaper, taken on the occasion of Hillgarth’s library donation in 2008.

Hugh Sackett FSA died on 12 April aged 91. He was a Lifetime Fellow of the Society, having been elected in May 1973.
Leyland Hugh Sackett was a distinguished teacher of classics and archaeology and an active fieldworker throughout Greece, with a long association with both Groton School, Massachusetts and the British School at Athens. As the Archaeological Institute of America put it in 2014 when presenting him with its Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement – making him the first recipient to be either a school teacher or British – he was ‘a scholar of great vigor, astute judgment, and endless patience … [who] served our field well for more than 60 years as teacher, field archaeologist, and advocate for Greek heritage – and he has done it all with great humility, loyalty, and generosity of spirit.’
Hugh Sackett was born in Oxford, son of Alfred and Dorothy (née Salter). He attended Kingswood School in Bath, where his father was a progressive headmaster, and studied at Merton College, Oxford University, achieving a Lit Hum (1949–53) and Dip Ed (1954). He won a student Rotary Foundation Fellowship to the British School at Athens (1954–55) and in 1955 moved to Massachusetts to teach classics (Latin and Ancient Greek) and Greek archaeology at Groton School, Groton. By the time of his retirement in 2018 he had become the school’s longest-serving faculty member, and it created the Hugh Sackett Visiting Scholar Fellowship in his honour. Former pupils include Seán Hemingway, John A and Carole O Moran Curator in Charge, Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Jennifer Stager, Assistant Professor of Art History at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore.
Meanwhile in a parallel career he maintained close links with the British School at Athens (BSA), becoming Assistant Director (1961–63), Visiting Fellow in 1968 and Honorary Vice-President in 2008, and a director of BSA excavations and surveys. He was founding President of the British School at Athens Foundation in the US.
‘In the best traditions of the BSA,’ writes Gerald Cadogan FSA in a tribute, ‘almost everything he tackled was in partnership with colleagues (including John Ellis Jones FSA, Sandy MacGillivray and Mervyn Popham FSA) and reflected his generosity, his love of Greece of any period from the Stone Age till today, his emphasis on precision (he was a master of the art of excavating) and his readiness to share with others of all ages.
‘The many BSA excavations he (co-)directed, and the Supplementary Volumes and articles in the Annual of the BSA that have followed them, show a remarkably prescient diachronic approach, and a rare breadth of vision. They range in time and place from Minoan Crete (Palaikastro) through prehistoric and Early Iron Age Euboea (Lefkandi, following survey) to Classical Attica (the Dema House, following survey of the Dema Wall, and the Vari House) and back to Roman Crete (Knossos): an extraordinary list of major contributions.’
Andres Reyes, a former pupil and a Groton Classics teacher since 1993, singled out three Greek discoveries in a tribute published in the Groton School Quarterly in 2018: a terracotta centaur-figure from Lefkandi; a building known as the Heröon, also at Lefkandi; and a statuette of a standing young male from Palaikastro, known as the Kouros. ‘The centaur and the Heröon’, writes Reyes, ‘changed the way Classical and Near Eastern archaeologists think of what were once called the Greek “Dark Ages”,’ while the Palaikastro Kouros, ‘made from a combination of ivory, gold, serpentine, and rock crystal, is considered one of the great artistic achievements of the ancient world’.
‘People may not agree about which aspect of Sackett’s work represents his most significant legacy,’ wrote the Archaeological Institute of America in 2014. ‘Some would point to the major Cretan site of Palaikastro and the impact of discoveries there on our conceptions of Minoan Crete, others to the revolutionary discovery and exploration of Iron Age Lefkandi and the light cast on a so-called Dark Age. It is a wonderful thing to be able to have such a debate about a single archaeologist.’

• Top photo Badger Funeral Homes, Inc. The other shows (from the left) Jan Driessen, Hugh Sackett and Sandy MacGillivray at Palaikastro (BSA).


Geoffrey Gaunt died on 12 April aged 89. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in November 2009, and resigned in 2016.
Geoffrey Douglas Gaunt was born in Bradford but grew up in Galloway, Morecambe and Cleveleys. After National Service in the RAF Air Traffic Control Branch, he studied geology at Leeds University, graduating in 1955. He joined what is now the British Geological Survey, first in Newcastle upon Tyne and then Leeds, conducting fieldwork in the 1960s and 70s successively in County Durham, the northern Peak District, the Vale of York and around the Humber.
In 1964 Geoff Daunt was part of a group that inaugurated what became the Quaternary Research Association, an organisation of archaeologists, botanists, civil engineers, geologists and others interested in the past 2.6 million years of Earth’s history, which in the UK includes nearly a million years of early human presence. One of his achievements was to contribute significantly to the identification and dating of a former Lake Humber, at its greatest extent covering 4,500 sq km between York and south of the Wash, which had formed south of permanent ice fields in the Last Glacial Maximum some 20,000 years ago.
He took early retirement in 1984 after a heart attack, but continued working as a geoarchaeological consultant, reporting on stone artefacts and building stones from many archaeological excavations, among them Wharram Percy in West Yorkshire, Anglo-Scandinavian and medieval York, and Pontefract Castle. He contributed his specialist knowledge to the Yorkshire Quern Survey project, and was an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford. In 1998 he was made an Honorary Member of the Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum, from which most of the information here is taken.
He was a keen archer, winning the Yorkshire Archery Champion in 1966, and acting as Archivist to the Society of Archer-Antiquaries.

The Wisdom of Fellows

‘I wonder if I could engage Fellows in some more detective work?’ asks Charles Hind FSA. ‘This English watercolour perspective for a new church probably dates from the 1820s or early 1830s. It was never finished and some of the foreground figures are just pencil outlines. It appears to be in a brick town to judge by the surrounding buildings. Is it a wholly new church or a rebuild of an old church attached to a surviving tower? The detail (below) shows what appears to be an almshouse or perhaps a school behind it in a matching style. I shall be grateful for suggestions as to identification.’


‘How very pleasant to be able to congratulate Jean MacDonald on her hundredth birthday!’ writes Catherine Johns FSA (see the last Salon). ‘At my age, all too often I am lamenting the deaths of friends and colleagues, often younger than myself. And all good news is especially welcome at a time like this.
‘I met Jean MacDonald in 1961, when I spent a few weeks during the summer vacation in the London Museum, the Guildhall and also the British Museum, tinkering about in their Samian ware collections in order to put together my undergraduate dissertation, and she was the person who facilitated my work in the London Museum. Such a competent and kind person! I am delighted that she has reached her century.’

‘I am very fortunate in that I and my wife are well,’ writes Clifford Webb FSA, ‘but also that my personal interests and projects involve much work which can be done from the Internet. Thus I am upgrading (and often correcting) details in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, providing transcripts to the unindexed counties in the Protestation returns of 1641/2 and abstracting PCC wills from Surrey prior to 1700. Being in the “vulnerable” class of the over 70s I may finish the middle project but am unlikely to finish the last, and the first is impossible to finish as new resources appear all the time! So, while missing my children and granddaughters’ hugs, I am immensely grateful.’

Edward Impey FSA generously suggests that my incorrect dating in the last Salon of the demolition of an obelisk-like chimney at the Temple Works flax mill in Holbeck, Leeds was ‘a typo’. I’d said 1852, Impey says ‘at least 1952? It certainly survived the War,’ he continues. ‘Pevsner and Radcliffe note it in 1959 (Yorkshire: The West Riding second edition, 1967, “Obelisk-shaped chimney”, p 335, publication having perhaps lagged behind observation). From various poor views I think it was square in plan and tapering – thus far, obelisk-like, but without the sharply tapering-in top of the real thing, although this might have been impractical in a chimney or have been thanks to alteration. The site features in Betjeman’s blunt and magnificently opinionated BBC item, A Poet Goes North: Sir John Betjeman Discovers Leeds (1968).’
Betjeman walks among the glass roof cones in the film, which has been put online by the Yorkshire Film Archive and is well worth a watch (‘that noise you hear is old Leeds being destroyed around us’). Interestingly, Nikolaus Pevsner FSA claims that the architect Ignatius Bonomi's ‘immediate source at Leeds is supposed to have been the paintings of David Roberts, who had been in Egypt in 1838’ – rather than his own Egyptian experiences.

Thank you’, says Jonathan Musgrave FSA, ‘for a jolly, morale-boosting issue in these gloomy times.’

‘Many many thanks, Mike – another superb Salon issue,’ writes Paul Cartledge FSA, suggesting we might enjoy a blog by a NYC colleague, Jennifer Roberts. She has written ‘an analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic as I suspect that the astute psychologist Thucydides might have written it’. ‘Like all crises,’ reflects Roberts/Thucydides, ‘this one brought out both the worst and the best in human nature. For the same upheaval that led some to put self-preservation above all else moved others to a contemplation of the human condition and concomitantly to new heights of compassion.’ You can read the whole thing here.
Salon is a most useful and I am sure labour-intensive communication and well fulfils a crucial function in keeping the Fellows informed.’ Thank you, Diana B Tyson FSA. It’s tough, but worth the effort to hear things like that. I hope … ‘But it is too long and too wordy, and more so it seems with every issue. Whereas I used to read most of it I now just skip through, picking up a word or sentence here and there at random. This means not only that your labour is, as far as this reader is concerned, largely in vain but also that I may well miss something that IS important, hidden in all that verbiage. Remember that the attention readers pay to texts is in inverse ratio to their length: the longer the text, the less people will read it. So edit ruthlessly, please, impose word limits, KEEP IT SHORT!’
Well, I admit that on occasions Salon does get rather long, if only partly because of a glut of necessary notices and new event listings. Apologies. But on the whole it’s a consistent length (as a nerdy editor, I have figures to hand and can reveal that my contribution – below the line after the General Secretary’s introduction – to all but one of the past 13 issues has been about the same length). But really, don’t worry if you can’t read it all. There’ll be more along in a couple of weeks.

Forthcoming Events for Fellows

You can catch up on meetings you've missed by visiting our YouTube Channel.

Ordinary Meetings of Fellows

Interested in proposing a lecture? Please download the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Danielle Wilson Higgins, Communications Manager ( 

Our Autumn programme is available on our website here Our Ordinary Meeting/Evening Lectures are Free for Fellows & their guests to attend but are £5 for non-Fellows. There are 20 places available at each lecture for non-fellows to book. 

Forthcoming Public Events

All upcoming events have been postponed. Please keep an eye on our website for updates on our event programme. 

Our Autumn programme is available on our website here.

Upcoming Public Lectures: 

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? Please see bulletin above regarding potential upcoming activities. You can sign-up to hear about future activities, here.

Welsh Fellows

Want to join the Welsh Regional Fellows Group? Please see bulletin above regarding potential upcoming activities. You can sign-up to hear about future activities, sign-up here.

York Fellows

Want to join the York Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings in York, sign-up here.

 Call for papers

Integrating Recording & Understanding

 A one-day conference for early-career researchers at the Society of Antiquaries

Friday 23 October 2020, 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
The Society of Antiquaries of London is keen to bring together early-career researchers in the field of historic building recording to see how the latest methods of digital recording, laser-scanning and photogrammetry can be used effectively with other historic sources, including the study of original design and survey drawings, topographical views, documentary material, and the results of archaeological investigation. What are the models of ‘best practice’ in this field? The aim is a sharing of knowledge among leading and recently qualified practitioners.
We invite presentations at a one-day conference in the Society’s lecture room in Burlington House, Piccadilly, on Friday 23 October 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., chaired by Dr Gordon Higgott (an architectural historian and member of the Society’s Research Committee) and Rodolfo Acevedo Rodriguez (an independent historic buildings investigator).
By ‘early career’ researcher the Society means an individual who is within eight years of the award of their PhD or equivalent professional training, or within about six years of their first academic appointment.
Please submit a proposal to the Society’s Communications Manager – – in the form of a short abstract (up to 250 words) for a paper of 30 minutes in length that describes a recent or current project of historic building recording. As well as standing fabric, subjects can include monumental sculpture, garden structures, below-ground remains and architectural models. Proposals should be submitted by 15 May 2020. The final programme will be announced in mid-June.  Please include a short biography with your proposal. Travel and other expenses of up to £100 are paid to each presenter. 

Image: Laser Scan of Thornton Abbey Gatehouse, Lincolnshire © Rodolfo Acevedo Rodriguez/Historic England

Back to the beginning of the report


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.

Presently we are scheduled approximately a year in advance. 

Other Heritage Events

This section, normally updated in every edition, lists cultural heritage meetings and talks. I have retained events scheduled from 1 September, while deleting those previously listed before this date. The latter can be found in Salon 444. Do not assume that anything featured will actually happen, and consult organisers.

14–18 September: From College Library to Country House (Cambridge)
This residential course directed by Andrew Moore FSA for the Attingham Trust at Clare College, University of Cambridge, focuses on iconic libraries. These include the historic libraries of Houghton Hall (created by Robert Walpole) and Holkham Hall (home to one of Britain’s greatest private manuscript and printed book collections); the library designed by James Gibbs for Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford at Wimpole Hall, and Anglesey Abbey, created by the Anglo-American oil magnate Huttleton Broughton, first Lord Fairhaven (both now owned by the National Trust); the barely known and privately owned Narford Hall, Norfolk (Sir Andrew Fountaine’s library, built after his return from Europe in 1718); the Old Libraries of St John’s College and Queens’ College; the Wren Library, Trinity; the Pepys Library, Magdalene College; the Parker Library at Corpus Christi; the Founder’s Library at the Fitzwilliam Museum; and historic book collections in the University Library designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. Lecturers include James Campbell FSA, David McKitterick FSA, David Pearson FSA and Mark Purcell FSA. Details online.
16–17 September: Photographing Historic Buildings (Oxford)
Digital cameras have greatly changed the way we record our architectural history, simplifying the process and reducing the cost of image capture, thereby encouraging a scatter-gun method of photography. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online.
23–25 September: Heritage Values and the Assessment of Significance (Oxford)
Significance is now a core concept within our planning process. Its assessment is a key part of management and development within the historic environment. This course will introduce the process, show you what is involved in preparing assessments of significance, teach you how to read and judge such assessments, and explore the ways in which they can be used. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online
28 September: Germanic and Gentle? The Foundation and Early Collections of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg (London)
Heike Zech FSA, Head of Decorative Arts before 1800 and History of Craft, Germanisches NationalMuseum, Nuremberg, will talk in the Wallace Collection’s 2020 History of Collecting seminar series. Details online.
8 October: Project Management in Archaeology: An Introduction (Oxford)
Project management has become a core function for those working at senior levels within the historic environment sector, but many historic environment professionals still progress into management roles with little or no formal management training. This course is designed for those who are new to the project management role and will draw on the extensive experience of the tutors in development-led archaeology. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online.

26 October: The Paintings by Horace Vernet in Louis-Philippe's Private Collection: Commission, Purpose, Display and Destination (London)
Valérie M C Bajou, Chief Curator, Versailles Palace, will talk in the Wallace Collection’s 2020 History of Collecting seminar series. Details online.
25–27 November: Public Inquiry Workshop (Oxford)
This course introduces potential witnesses and advocates to the techniques and procedures of public inquiries dealing with the historic environment, including preparing proofs of evidence. A mock inquiry will be staged. An Oxford University Department of Continuing Education course at Rewley House. Details online.
30 November: Creating a Market: Dealers, Auctioneers and the Passion for Riesener Furniture, 1800–1882 (London)
Helen Jacobsen, Senior Curator, the Wallace Collection, will talk in the Wallace Collection’s 2020 History of Collecting seminar series. Details online.


The Heritage of London Trust seeks a Project & Partnerships Leader – Proud Places. Closing date 15 May 2020.
The Heritage of London Trust is launching a new schools’ programme based around its heritage restoration projects across the city. The Trust is looking for an inspirational educational professional responsible for building partnerships with primary and secondary schools, delivering a programme of site visits and workshops in and out of the classroom, and presentation-skills workshops in conjunction with corporate mentors. You will need a passion for London’s history, some classroom experience and exceptional communication skills.
Contact Details online.


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