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Salon: Issue 350
5 October 2015

Next issue: 19 October 2015

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. Like the intellectual salons of 18th- and 19th-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.

Send news, comment and feedback for publication to the Editor, Mike Pitts, at Salon Editor (if you are reading this in an email, please do not reply directly as we will not receive your message). 

Salon does not review books, but the Editor is pleased to receive details and front cover images of new titles written by Fellows. Scholarly publications are reviewed in The Antiquaries Journal: for details see Publications.
Lamp flame

Inside this issue

From the Desk of the General Secretary

News from Kelmscott Manor

It is with great regret that I have to report that Sarah Parker, our Property Manager at Kelmscott Manor, has left the Society to take up a new post with the Churches Conservation Trust.
Sarah has had a tremendous impact at Kelmscott over the last three years. Under her leadership, the Manor has won major national and international awards; received overwhelmingly positive visitor feedback online and in the Visitor’s Book; raised the Manor’s status and profile; hosted our student intern programme and our first Artist in Residence, attracted more visitors, widened and diversified the Manor’s audience and  increased our income.
Sarah has been a model professional and a great pleasure to work with. She will be greatly missed by all the staff and volunteers at Kelmscott, and also by all the staff at Burlington House. I hope you will join me in wishing her all the very best for the future.

Society’s Volunteers Receive Award for ‘Volunteers for Museum Learning’

The Society is delighted to announce that its dedicated team of volunteers for its 2014 exhibition Portraying the Past have been awarded the 2014 Marsh Award in 'Volunteers for Museum Learning' (joint recipients of the London regional award with Ham House's Still House volunteers). The award celebrates the work and achievements of museum volunteers throughout Great Britain, recognising the hugely valuable contribution that volunteers make in helping museums engage with their visitors. The Society applied for the award on behalf of its 2014 team of exhibition volunteers, which included a few Fellows, because of the essential contributions the volunteers made to the Portraying the Past exhibition. Without this dedicated and enthusiastic team, the exhibition would not have been possible and the Society could not have embarked upon its Magna Carta Through the Ages exhibition this past year.

The ‘Volunteers for Museum Learning’ award forms part of a programme of awards presented by the Marsh Christian Trust in the fields of science, ecology, conservation, heritage, literature and volunteering. Each one of these awards recognises individuals and organisations who devote their lives to improving the world today and the world in the future. Read the full story on the Society’s website.

Forthcoming Ordinary Meetings

Unless stated otherwise, tea is served from 16.15 and meetings start at 17.00. Guests are welcome if accompanied by a Fellow. Details of forthcoming meetings and events can be found on the 'Events' page of the Society's website.

8 October 2015: SPECIAL MEETING IN YORK: ‘The Lost Twelfth-Century Choir of York Minster Reconstructed’, by Stuart Harrison FSA. Please see the website for details regarding this out-of-London meeting (normal meeting times will not be followed).

15 October 2015: ‘William Worcester (1415-c.1480), Topographer and Antiquary’, by Nicholas Orme FSA*
*Please note, the Treasurer will read out the proposed changes to the Statutes and the consequent changes to the Charter at the close of this meeting.

22 October 2015: ‘Digitised Diseases’, by Dr. Jo Buckberry and Dr. Andrew Wilson.


Forthcoming Public Lectures

Public Lectures are held from 13.00 to 14.00 on Tuesdays. These lectures are very popular, so advance booking is advised to be sure of a place. Details of forthcoming lectures can be found on the 'Events' page of the Society's website.

27 October 2015: ‘Agincourt: The Battle, Myth and Memory’, by Anne Curry, FSA
Unfortunately, this lecture is now fully booked. But we hope to post a recording after the event!

24 November 2015: ‘Folk Carols of England’, by Yvette Staelens, FSA
Places still available! Book now!

19 January 2016: ‘The Waddeson Bequest at the British Museum, A New Look’, by Dora Thornton FSA and Tom Fotheringham. Places still available! Book now!

Society Dates to Remember: Mark Your Calendars


Forthcoming Closures

The Society's Library will be closed on Friday, 9 October for a special event: a Postgraduate Open Day to introduce student researchers to the wealth of resources available in our collection.

The Society will close for the Christmas holidays from 24 December 2015 to 1 January 2016 (inclusive).

Demonstration of the Tools Used to Digitise Vetusta Monumenta

Interested Fellows are welcome to join the Society's staff for a presentation on Scalar open access digital humanities authoring tool: Monday, 26 October, 13.00 - 15.000 (Meeting Room). Craig Dietrich, co-developer of Scalar will give a demonstration and showcase the digital edition of Vetusta Monumenta. A team from the Department of English at the University of Missouri led by Noah Heringmann has been working on a digital edition of Vetusta Monumenta, creating high-quality scans of the original copperplate engravings, with full text and commentary, and freely available to scholars and the public. You can find out more about the project and its progress at
Vetusta Monumenta [Ancient Monuments], published prints commissioned by the Society in seven volumes between 1747 and 1906, and was the first of four major publication series launched by the Society of Antiquaries of London in the 18th century. The objects selected for inclusion in Vetusta Monumenta form a large and varied set, ranging from artifacts such as a Romano-British Marble bust and medieval monastic seals  to architectural monuments including Fountains Abbey in age from roughly the 3rd to the 17th century CE.

Introductory Tours of Burlington House for Fellows

The next in the Society’s regular series of introductory tours will take place on 29 October 2015, and three more are scheduled for the spring programme in 2016: 28 January, 24 March, 23 June.

Tours are free, but limited to 25 people, so places should be booked in advance. Please contact the Society’s Executive Assistant (call 020 7479 7080 or email Tours start at 11.00, and coffee is served from 10.45. Lunch is available at the end of the tour for £5, but must be ordered in advance. There will be further tours scheduled in the autumn.

Order a William Morris Fruitcake for Christmas by 16 November —
Kelmscott Manor Will Receive £5.50 From Each Purchase

Award-winning artisan baker Ursula Evans follows Morris’s fruitcake recipe almost to the letter, soaking the vine fruits in brandy, baking slowly in her AGA. ‘The luxury glace fruits used in the original William Morris fruitcake mixture are used as a topping now’, she says, ‘but otherwise, these are the cakes that the Morris family enjoyed for tea in the 1880s.’
You may think it's a little early to begin planning for Christmas, but you need to order soon to guarantee it arrives in time! Each order supports the future care and development of Kelmscott Manor, Morris's 'heaven on earth'. To enjoy a William Morris fruitcake with family and friends this Christmas, please place your order no later than 16 November via the My Cottage Kitchen website.

Change at the Museum

We learnt on 25 September that Hartwig Fischer will replace Neil MacGregor FSA as director of the British Museum in Spring 2016, following the latter's retirement in December. The news was broken by The Times (subscription needed) ahead of an official announcement and before formal approval by the Prime Minister (since given), in a well-prepared piece by Elizabeth Rigby and Jack Malvern (“The museum appointed headhunters”, they wrote, “but the recommendation may have come from Mr MacGregor”). Simon Thurley FSA, former chief executive at English Heritage, had commonly been mentioned as a possible contender.
Knowing little at all about Fischer – hacks turned to Wikipedia to find no English entry – headline writers went for nationality. ‘German put in charge of British Museum’s treasures’, said The Times. ‘German art historian to become first foreign director of British Museum’, echoed The Guardian, contradicted by The Daily Mail’s ‘Art historian is first foreigner to take charge of UK's most popular tourist attraction for more than 200 years’.
Confusingly, The Guardian itself concluded that ‘The last foreigner to hold a senior post at the museum was the Italian Sir Anthony Panizzi’, who, it continued, ‘was principal librarian between 1956 and 1966.’ In a revised and extended article, The Guardian corrected itself, listing three previous directors born outside the UK, adding ‘since 1827’ to its headline. Which – the museum’s Italian-born Director having stepped down in 1866 – is also wrong.

For clarity, I turned to The British Museum: A History, by former Director (between 1977 and 1992) Sir David Wilson FSA – published in 2002, it’s one of those books I have to put at the end of my Ikea shelves which otherwise bend under the weight. Marjorie Caygill FSA contributed an invaluable 14-page listing of curatorial staff. From this we learn that Fischer will be the institution's 20th Director. Down the years the job title – unlike gender – has changed. In 1756 the first governor was Principal Librarian. From 1898 he was Director and Principal Librarian. In 1973 the British Library went its own way, bequeathing the museum a Director, and Fischer an iconic Reading Room in need of a mission.
Of the 19 Directors to date (Fischer will be the 20th), eight have been Society Fellows. The first of these was Charles Morton FSA (Director 1776–99), who Wilson describes as ‘no ball of fire’, and ‘lazy and self-seeking’. By contrast, the first foreign-born Director, and only the second Director in the museum’s history, was, says Wilson, ‘by far the most original and bright mind among the founding appointments’. This was Matthew Maty (1772–76), born near Utrecht in the Netherlands, but (said Edward Gibbon) ‘by descent and education … a Frenchman’; he knew Voltaire.
Morton was succeeded by Joseph Planta (1799–1827). Born in Switzerland and having studied at Göttingen and Utrecht, Planta, says Wilson, oversaw ‘some of the most significant [years] in the history of the Museum’. Among other things, he persuaded the government of the time to pass a copyright act that ensured the Museum was given a copy of every book published; he saw the Parthenon Marbles join the collections (and enter a temporary gallery built by Robert Smirke), along with ‘the first coherent assemblage of cuneiform inscriptions’ and ‘the first major collection from Africa’; and, perhaps his main achievement, he opened the Museum to a ’new, more popular public’. Under his rule the number of visitors rose more than sixfold, the first guides were published, and the staff nearly doubled.
Planta was succeeded by the London-born Sir Henry Ellis FSA (1827–56), who was Secretary of the Society. Ellis, it seems, was kind and industrious, and ‘could not have presided over a more selfish, partisan, devious and brilliant group of colleagues’. One of those colleagues succeeded him, and became the Museum’s third overseas Director: Sir Antonio (Anthony) Panizzi (1856–66).
Panizzi was born in Brescello, Reggio Emilia, Italy. He fled political strife to Switzerland, from where, condemned to death in absentia, he moved to England ‘with not quite a sovereign in his pocket’. At the British Museum he rose through the ranks as a librarian, and when Director was not always popular for his fondness for books. ‘It does not seem right’, he told the Trustees in 1857, ‘that such valuable space should be taken up by Esquimaux dresses, canoes and hideous feather idols, broken flints called rude knives, and so on.'
Nonetheless, he achieved much for the Museum as a whole, not least through his insistence that it should cater at the highest level for even the poorest student – and that it was the state’s responsibility to pay the costs of doing so. He obtained substantial government funding. He re-organised a struggling Department of Antiquities, splitting it into four new Departments. And one evening, it is said, he sketched out on a scrap of paper an idea for a circular building to be raised within the Museum’s empty quadrangle. Less than two years later the Treasury approved the money for what became Sidney Smirke’s Reading Room, opened in 1857.
So Fischer will be the British Museum’s fourth overseas Director, after Maty, Plant and Panizzi, all of whom distinguished themselves. Like MacGregor, who before moving to the BM in 2002 had been director of the National Gallery, London, Fischer is an art historian. He studied the history of art, history and classical archaeology in Bonn, Paris, Rome and Berlin. After starting out as a Research Associate at the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland, he rose there to become Curator of 19th century and modern art. He was then Director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, where he oversaw a new extension designed by the British architect Sir David Chipperfield, whose practice has offices in Berlin, among other cities. He is currently director of the Dresden State Art Collections, Germany.

There has been much recent change at the top in London’s public galleries and museums; the pattern should make an overseas appointment to the BM of little surprise. Fischer’s predecessor in Dresden was the German-born Martin Roth, Director of the V&A in London since 2011. London’s National Gallery is run by Gabriele Finaldi, who came from Madrid in August to struggle with staff disputes (which have led to a drop in summer visitors by a third). At the National Portrait Gallery round the corner the Connecticut-born (and Yorkshire-raised) Nicholas Cullinan, Director since April, was last at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Belgian Chris Dercon is to leave his present post as Director of Tate Modern in 2017, where he will join Neil MacGregor in Berlin – the former at the Volksbuhne Theatre, the latter as Artistic Director of the Humboldt Forum.

For the record, the other four British Museum Directors who were also Society Fellows, were Sir Frederic Kenyon (1909–31), Sir Thomas Kendrick (1950–59), Sir John Pope-Hennessy (1974–77), and Robert Anderson (1992–2002).

Carole Souter Leaves Heritage Lottery Fund

In its latest accounts, the British Museum shows an income of a little over £74 million from donations, legacies, trading and charitable activities, and Â£40 million in grants from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
That adds up to less than a third of the £375 million pounds given annually to the public by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which describes itself as the ‘largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK’. On 30 September it was announced that Carole Souter FSA will step down at the end of April 2016 as chief executive of the HLF and the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). The NHMF was set up in 1980 to save – generally meaning to acquire – outstanding British heritage in memory of those who gave their lives for the UK, and has been administering the HLF since the latter’s foundation in 1993.
Souter has been leading both funds since 2003, overseeing the distribution of more than £4.8 billion of National Lottery money to over 28,000 projects. ‘As we begin to think about our next Strategic Framework,’ she said, ‘this feels like the right moment to wrench myself away and to start planning my own new projects.’ ‘Our loss will be someone else's gain’, said Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the HLF and the NHMF. Does he know whose? Perhaps not. ‘The process for recruiting Carole’s successor’, said the HLF, ‘will begin in the next few weeks’.
Before joining HLF/NHMF, Souter was Director of Planning and Development at English Heritage, preceded by 13 years in the Department of Social Security (where her last post was ‘running an Area Directorate of the Agency with thousands of staff in nearly 40 different office locations’). She took an MA in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, after a first degree at the University of Oxford in politics and philosophy.

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, tweeted his compliments: ‘The brilliant @CaroleSouter retiring from @heritagelottery after more than decade @ the helm. Been great working with her – will be missed!’

Celts: Art and Identity 

The British Museum’s new big show put together with National Museums Scotland is now open. It’s distinguished by a lot of space to move around in, little text, and an unmatched display of beautiful things from prehistoric to modern. Critics liked it.
Martin Gayford, writing in The Spectator, thought the Gundestrup cauldron ‘marvellous – worth the ticket price on its own’. In The Telegraph, Mark Hudson (once he’d got over the opening, which ‘sound[ed] like an extract from some cringe-making, politically correct policy document’, and the ‘dirge-like racket’ of the ‘mood music that throbs away throughout’) judged it an example of what ‘the British Museum has always done very well: bringing together a stunning array of ancient artefacts.’ The Evening Standard called it a ‘show that fires the imagination, and The Guardian gave it 5 stars.

The first in a series of three programmes in The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice, presented by Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver (‘less a team than alternating shift workers,” says The Financial Times) will be broadcast on BBC2 on Monday October 4.

Richard III at Christie’s 

Christie’s (London, South Kensington) hope to find a buyer for a portrait of Richard III at their sale of Old Master & British Paintings on 29 October. This is the third such painting, all apparently copied from similar portraits in the early 17th century, to have appeared in barely a year. One was sold in June for an asking price of £55,000. A second, described by James Mulraine and in relatively poor condition, had been bought at Christie’s for under £2000. The new portrait (estimate £3000–5000) is similar to Mulraine’s, and apparently not included in the lists of either Pamela Tudor-Craig FSA (Richard III, National Portrait Gallery 1973), or Catherine Daunt. The Society owns two of the earliest portraits of the king (Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of the Society of Antiquaries of London, by Jill Franklin FSA, Bernard Nurse FSA and Pamela Tudor-Craig, Brepols 2015).

Cambridge Archaeologist Jailed for Fraud

On 23 September David Barrowclough, a Fellow of Wolfson College in the Department of Archaeology, was jailed for six years after being found guilty of stealing £238,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Barrowclough, who pleaded not guilty on all counts, made false representations to the HLF between 2006 and 2013, as well as forging letters, issuing false invoices and using fake names and addresses. His deception came to light when a letter about money he had received for an Ely project was incorrectly delivered to Ely Museum – which knew nothing of the project. Other programmes for which he had obtained funding were Pendleton Past and Present, Preston's Proud Past and Origins of Winslow.
As an adult student Barrowclough had completed an undergraduate degree and a PhD in archaeology at Wolfson College, after which he became a Junior Research Fellow and a Tutor. Before turning to archaeology, he had been a solicitor. He was struck off in 1997 when he was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting to 12 counts of theft.

‘The Proper Study of Mankind is Man’

On 21 September Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, unveiled Pope's Urn in Twickenham, a new memorial sculpture surrounded by inscriptions on the backs of specially designed wooden benches. The quotations from the 18th-century poet’s works, part Ian Hamilton Finlay and part Cranks signage, are mostly so familiar as to seem designed to make you say, ‘I didn’t know that was Pope!’ (or doubtless for many Fellows, ‘Huh, Pope again’). The heading above was employed by Jacquetta Hawkes FSA in a famous fulmination against changing archaeologies in an article in Antiquity in 1968. The new garden, a project created by Richmond Council working with Poet in the City, a charity, takes its place beside a grotto which Pope created in Twickenham, where he lived from 1719 until his death in 1744. 

Nearly two centuries ago, his writings and character were the subject of a public spat involving a Fellow. Octavius Gilchrist FSA wrote about the poet in The Quarterly Review in 1825. He was none too kind about the Rev. W. L. Bowles, who in turn let his feelings pour forth. Gilchrist, he wrote, had ‘called into question [Bowles’s] taste in poetry’. Bowles responded (with frequent use of capital letters and exclamation marks) to ‘the greatest personal abuse’ and ‘the peculiar slang of this gentleman’, by castigating Gilchrist’s writing as ‘filthy caricature’, ‘disgusting obloquy’ and much more. ‘I did not believe that any man in the kingdom could assert’, shrieked Bowles in a long list of such sentences, that ‘I had the “effrontery” to accuse [Pope] of ATTEMPTING A RAPE’ except ‘the modest Octavius Gilchrist, Esq., F.S.A.’ The exchange ran on for several ‘letters’. After you've read a few pages of this stuff, contemporary online newspaper comments seem quite polite.
Gilchrist was not the only Fellow to address Pope. The remarks of Alexander Chalmers FSA were published in Volume IV of William Lisle Bowles’ Works of Alexander Pope (1806). Thomas Park FSA (‘the poetical antiquary’ commemorated by a plaque at his house in Hampstead) edited The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope (1808). And Theodore Alois Buckley FSA, himself a translator of Homer, annotated Alexander Pope’s translation of The Odyssey (1877).

Finally Walter Leo Hildburgh FSA, an American collector known as The Egg for his shiny pate, gave the V&A one of Louis-François Roubiliac’s marble busts of Pope. It was among over 5,000 of such gifts from Hildburgh, and he is himself commemorated at the V&A with a Portland Stone memorial tablet engraved by David Kindersley. 

'Have We Forgotten PARIS?'

David Gurney FSA, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist) at Norfolk County Council, read the last Salon piece about the number of excavations in Britain with concerned interest.

‘I’m not sure if the item How Many Digs? is a good news or bad news story’, he writes. ‘If there are indeed around three to five thousand intrusive archaeological investigations every year in the UK, then that is undoubtedly good news for the gainful employment of archaeological consultants and contractors, for archaeologists giving advice on planning applications, for (I hope) our knowledge and understanding of the historic environment and for Historic Environment Records, where grey reports and published reports should be deposited and used to add or enhance monument, event and source records. It is possibly less good news for Museums, who increasingly struggle to find space for the volume of archaeological archives that are currently being created.
‘Many of the interventions in the UK will be evaluations to inform planning decisions, and it’s likely that a reasonable percentage of those will prove to be negative (which may itself be useful evidence) or record deposits of no great significance. I’m not sure that watching briefs, where archaeologists monitor groundworks and record what’s being destroyed by developers, should be included, even if that does rather worryingly “produce some of the best archaeology”.
‘Of those investigations that do encounter significant sites or deposits, especially during evaluations, to what extent are these preserved for posterity instead of being excavated and “preserved by record”?. Have we forgotten PARIS (Preservation of Archaeological Remains In Situ)? Do we know how much of the archaeological resource is actually left, especially under our historic cities and towns where often the deposits are deepest, most complex and best preserved? How quickly is what’s left being lost? I wonder if high numbers of excavations are a measure of our success or failure?’
Gurney attached the photo above, showing archaeologists somewhere in Norfolk doing their bit for museum storage.

Rome Matters 

‘It’s tempting’, says Mary Beard FSA in a long Guardian feature on 2 October, ‘to imagine the ancient Romans as some version of ourselves.’ ‘But it is not so simple. To study ancient Rome from the 21st century is rather like walking on a tightrope – a careful balancing act, which demands a very particular sort of imagination. If you look down on one side, everything does look reassuringly familiar, or can be made to seem so … On the other side of the tightrope, however, is completely alien territory.’
That does not, however, make ancient Rome irrelevant.
‘Ancient Rome still matters for very different reasons – mainly because Roman debates have given us a template and a language that continue to define the way we understand our own world and think about ourselves, from high theory to low comedy, while prompting laughter, awe, horror and admiration in more or less equal measure … since the Renaissance at least, many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, beauty, and even humour, have been formed, and tested, in dialogue with the Romans and their writing.’

Lives Remembered 

Juliet Clutton-Brock FSA, an archaeozoologist with a special interest in cats, dogs and horses, died on 21 September, aged 82. The Times published an obituary on 2 October (subscription needed), headlined ‘Eminent researcher at the Natural History Museum who shed light on the social history of cats and dogs’.
‘The relative novelty of Clutton-Brock’s chosen discipline of archaeozoology’, thought the paper, ‘perhaps partly accounted for her formidable drive [she was ‘A fiercely intellectual and wryly humorous woman’]. As she told The Independent in 1992, “What I feel very privileged about in my career is that I was in on the beginning of archaeozoology really, and it has grown into quite a massive science.” She published more than 90 scientific reports, papers, books and articles, concluding as recently as 2012 with her final book, Animals as Domesticates: A World View Through History.’
‘Her lifelong interest in nature, archaeology, mammals and domestic animals began when she was evacuated to stay with relations in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the Second World War. There she learnt to shoot crocodiles and would examine the heads of game lined up on the veranda wall – although she later became concerned about livestock facing extinction and was a founder member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.’

The Times carried an obituary on 24 September (subscription needed) for Malcolm Colledge, who died in June and was a Fellow until 2011. Under the heading ‘Daring archaeologist who explored the Middle East and wrote definitive books on the art of Palmyra in Syria,’ the writer said that despite ‘many TV appearances’, Colledge was ‘perhaps best known for his documentation of the intricate artwork of Palmyra’.
‘It was “love at first sight,”' he told friends of his feeling as he first set foot in the majestic city, adding “this was my place”. Colledge learnt to speak the Palmyra dialect of the ancient language Aramaic, giving him a unique knowledge of the grave reliefs and architecture he was documenting. In the opening lines of his book, The Art of Palmyra (1973), he wrote: “The art of Palmyra has long fascinated, and puzzled.” It is one of the only books to document the Unesco World Heritage site’s artwork: a precious resource since Isis has taken chisels and grenades to the statutes that they call “idolatrous”.’
Sir Mortimer Wheeler FSA â€˜â€gave a lecture on his digging activities when I was a 12-year-old pupil [at Dulwich College] and I became hooked on it ever since,” wrote Colledge. Wheeler later helped him to become a published author and recommended him to [Sir David] Frost. With the encouragement of his father, who told him to be a “daring laddie”, Colledge pursued his dream of archaeology.’
David Mattingly FSA’s obituary of his father Harold Mattingly FSA, ‘a colourful and controversial scholar of ancient history’, was published in The Guardian on 28 September.
Also in The Guardian (24 September) is Paul Stamper FSA’s obituary of Colin Platt FSA, a ‘Historian whose many books changed our perception of the middle ages’.
The Times published Platt’s obituary on 29 September (subscription needed), under the heading, ‘Historian of the Middle Ages who wrote accounts of urban life and helped dig up clues to Southampton’s medieval wine trade’.
‘He established a rhythm of working as a young man,’ said the paper. ‘Mornings were for writing at home. After reviewing what he had written the previous day, he would daily compose a further 1,000-2,000 words. Lunch with colleagues followed. Afternoons were for teaching. Evenings were for marking and for reading — or for generous entertaining, especially the enjoyment of fine wines. As a teacher he was patient but questioning and firm, not least on matters of style. Afflicted intermittently by a stutter, he arranged for his lectures to be read out by an actor: students would listen to recordings while watching a sequence of slides.’

Alan Wilkins FSA recalls that 5 October 2015 will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Ian Richmond FSA (below left) aged 63, while in office as the Society's President.
‘I met him quite by accident’, he writes, ‘at Lancaster in 1949 when I was in the Classical Sixth at the Grammar School, and he invited me to join his 1950 excavation of Lancaster Roman fort. Years later Brian Hartley FSA told me that we were the first two of the young students that Ian allowed on his excavations. I became his field assistant on several of them, including four years at Inchtuthil. I attach a photograph of Ian and Kenneth St. Joseph FSA [above] that I took at Inchtuthil in 1955, showing him in good health and ebullient, with the smile that his countless friends and colleagues remember him by.
‘When ten years later at the end of the last season at Inchtuthil he waved goodbye to us at the site gate, he had only a few days to live. In the margin of the last letter to me dated 6 July 1965 he had written, “PS. I wanted to explain that I have not yet told my sister-in-law about my heart and don’t propose to worry her, for the present.” The action that damaged his heart muscles was his insistence on lifting heavy paving slabs round the well at Chedworth Roman Villa, quite unnecessary because he had, as always, fit workmen helping him. As Jocelyn Toynbee FSA remarked, his doctor, having given him the bad news, should have insisted that he cut back on his volume of work, preferably taking many months rest. But that was not Ian’s style: as Eric Birley FSA says at the end of his long and affectionate tribute in The Proceedings of the British Academy LII, “but he could not throw off the habits of a lifetime, and he was soon hard at work again.”
‘One of the most perceptive obituaries was that written in Nature Vol. 208 November 27, 1965 by his friend and colleague John Gillam. The last paragraph reads:
‘“He was not merely an able man, but a good man. He took an unconcealed delight in success by others, but was never ambitious at the expense of others. He would spend hours with the writer of a paper or report, going through it with him sentence by sentence improving the language. On meeting an acquaintance he never failed to ask the right question about him and his family. He could be stern, but was always open; his normal mood was of robust good humour and impish wit. He would help a friend or colleague when he needed it most and seemed to deserve it least. It was his explicit policy to do things for other people; he did so as if he was indefatigable, which unfortunately he was not.”
‘I am preparing a paper for the Society’s Journal as a personal appreciation of his very great kindness, career support and affectionate friendship over a period of 17 years. By lending me a copy of Schneider’s book on the Saalburg Roman catapults he fired my interest in Greek and Roman artillery, and it is appropriate that this tribute to him will include a discussion of the most important Roman catapult find to date and its relevance to the conquest of Britain.’

Regarding the confusing death of Henry Corbould FSA, Cliff Webb FSA has sent Salon a cutting from The Kentish Gazette of 24 December 1844 which might be held to clear up the mystery. He was ‘on a visit to Lady Chantrey, at St. Leonard’s,’ says the paper, ‘and was riding over to Hawkhurst on Sunday morning, when he was struck with apoplexy, fell from his horse, and almost instantly expired. He was in excellent health and sprits not an hour before.’ The writer praised his recent composition for the New Water Color [sic] Society, "The Britons Deploring the Departure of the Last Roman Legion”.' ‘For some months past’, they added, ‘there were reports that Mr. Corbould was about to be married to Lady Chantrey.’

News of Fellows

Christopher Ramsey FSA and Tom Higham FSA are respectively Director and Deputy Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, which dated two leaves of parchment on which a fragment of the Qur’an is written, to between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy; the Prophet Muhammad is thought to have lived between 570 and 632. The date confirmed textual analysis by research student Alba Fedeli, making the four pages among the earliest of the Islamic holy book known to survive, and giving the find at the University of Birmingham global significance. Many of the local Muslim community were overwhelmed by the experience of seeing the manuscript ahead of the opening of an exhibition, wrote Maev Kennedy FSA in The Guardian. It can be seen in the Bramall Music Building at the University’s Edgbaston campus until 25 October.

Barry Cunliffe FSA talked about Celts: Art and Identity at the British Museum on Radio 4’s Start the Week on 28 September, with Julia Farley (co-curator of the exhibition with Fraser Hunter FSA, and co-editor of the accompanying book), and writers Tom Holland and Matt Ridley. Cunliffe thought the show ‘absolutely stunning’ – he had never seen the familiar objects so well displayed. The texts make us think about identity, he continued, but ‘perhaps the objects were so beautiful that people would miss the message’.
They had an interesting studio discussion on the subject of Cunliffe’s new book, By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia (Oxford University Press). He hadn’t appreciated how important the steppe was, he said, until spending time on a horse in Mongolia. Judging from Amazon, where you can see almost the entire book for free in a striking marketing ploy, it looks lavish and fascinating.

Warwick Ball FSA has also been out on the steppe. His The Gates of Asia: The Eurasian Steppe and the Limits of Europe (East & West Publishing) is the last of four volumes examining the spread of cultures from the east into Europe. ‘The Urals are no Himalayas or even Alps', says the blurb. ‘They are a low range of hills that has never acted as a barrier to “Asia” or a limit to “Europe”, and throughout history communities on both sides have shared common identities and history. Without natural barriers, attempts have been made to impose artificial ones, most of which have been notable for their ultimate failure … the gates of Europe have been wide open to the movements of peoples since earliest antiquity – there is no boundary, along Europe’s longest “border” with Asia.’

Nicholas Kingsley FSA writes to say that he retired from the National Archives in May, ‘and will be spending more time with [his] blog’, Landed Families of Britain and Ireland. This details the results of his research into landowning families and the country houses which they owned, with impressively huge indices. He hopes also to do more voluntary work for the Victoria County History.
If you were fortunate enough to be in London over the weekend of 25–27 September with nothing else to do, you could have spent the time in the Wellcome Collection, which hosted live music and discussion broadcast from a pop-up Radio 3 studio in the foyer. One of the sessions in ‘Why Music? What makes music a vital part of being human’, featured Steven Mithen FSA, author of The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body (Harvard University Press 2007). Mithen was in discussion with presenter Tom Service, and Philip Ball, Ellen Dissanayake and Andrea Ravignani.
Kristian Kaminski FSA has been appointed a Trustee of Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery Trust. The Trust’s part-HLF-funded project will fully restore Sir John Soane’s Grade I-listed Regency villa; upgrade the 1930s gallery for major contemporary art exhibitions; create a new restaurant and event space in the kitchen garden; and improve visitor facilities and make the whole house fully accessible to all visitors.
Benjamin West and the Struggle to be Modern (Merrell Publishers) is the subject of Loyd Grossman FSA’s new book. When he died in 1820, says the blurb, ‘West was the most famous artist in the English-speaking world ... instrumental in the foundation of the Royal Academy of Arts and ... history painter to George III, and his work was much admired by the exhibition-going public. However, his posthumous reputation took a critical mauling, and he remains one of the most neglected and misunderstood of Britain’s great 18th-century artists. … His ... The Death of General Wolfe (1770), was a thrilling and revolutionary work thanks to its depiction of a heroic contemporary event … as a modern rather than a classical scene.’

Rosamund Cleal FSA guided auctioneer Raj Bisram around Avebury and Alexander Keiller’s manor house, in an episode of BBC1’s Antiques Road Trip on 14 September. The National Trust’s restoration of the house was followed in a BBC TV series, The Manor Reborn, in 2012.

Christopher Hartop FSA has written Art in Industry: The Silver of Paul Storr (John Adamson, Cambridge). The first book on one of England's most famous silversmiths since Norman Penzer's Paul Storr (1954, reviewed by G.R. Hughes in the Antiquaries Journal), ‘it offers a new look at the work of this prolific silversmith who … should be ranked with Josiah Wedgwood and Matthew Boulton as one of the great “artistic entrepreneurs” of the Georgian period … [Storr] was the last in a long tradition of goldsmiths, including Cellini, the Jamnitzers and Thomas Germain, who coordinated huge teams of specialist designers, modellers and craftsmen before mass production took over.’

Warwick Rodwell FSA, Consultant Archaeologist to Westminster Abbey (along with Bristol, Lichfield and Wells cathedrals), told Maev Kennedy FSA that ‘at many ecclesiastical sites … you find the remains of women and children in places where you might not quite expect them’. Archaeologists had uncovered the remains of a child in a wooden coffin during work at the Abbey. Nearby was a crush of human bone seeming to support Victorian pipework, thought to be charnel dating from the time Henry II rebuilt the Abbey. St Edward the Confessor fared better: his remains were moved to a new shrine.

On 28 September Dominic Tweddle FSA, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, greeted D-Day veterans at the recently raised vessel LCT 7074, ahead of on an assessment of her conservation needs. The landing craft, said Tweddle, ‘is one of the last of these vital workhorses known to have participated in D-Day. Ordinary vessels, they performed an extraordinary task; carrying up to ten Sherman tanks, and transporting almost all the heavy artillery and armoured vehicles that landed in Normandy’ Ron Smith, a wireman on LCT 947 (a later model than the 7074) said, ‘Memories immediately came flooding back as soon as I saw her. We can't wait to see her restored.’

Neil MacGregor FSA, ever busy as Director of the British Museum, joined Lisa Burger (Executive Director of the National Theatre) and Sir Tim Smit (founder of the Eden Project), among others, in accompanying the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on his week-long tour of China in mid-September. ‘I want us to forge closer economic and cultural links with China,’ said Osborne.

In August Nicholas Reeves FSA proposed, on the basis of high-resolution scans of the wall plaster, that Nefertiti’s tomb lies hidden at the back of Tutankhamun’s. ‘The theory is a very good theory but it doesn’t mean it’s true,’ he told the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry. ‘But I think it’s definitely worth checking.’ Now he has the chance to do just that, as the Ministry has given him permission to examine the tomb with thermal imaging and ‘non-invasive radar’. You can see Reeves in a video interview with CBC Egypt ('Filmed at the end of a long, long day,' he tells Salon). If it turns out there is a concealed chamber, he says, ‘The Ministry has to decide how to move forward … It’s not a straightforward process.’ In the way would be two of ‘the most important paintings in Egyptian art history’.

Forthcoming Heritage Events

Until 6 December: Following Hercules: The Story of Classical Art (Cambridge)
Caroline Vout FSA has curated an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum which explores the story of classical art through 40 objects depicting Hercules, at the centre of which is a colossal polystyrene statue by contemporary artist Matt Derbyshire. The Fitzwilliam will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2016.

8 October: Monasteries in the Somerset Landscape (Taunton)
James Bond FSA will give the Mick Aston Memorial Lecture at Taunton Castle, Castle Green, Taunton TA1 4AA. Tickets available from the museum on 01823 255088 or online. Profits will go to the recently formed Somerset County History Trust, a charity set up to continue the work of the Victoria County History in Somerset.
16 October: Michael Robbins Centenary Symposium (London)
In the year of the centenary of the birth of Michael Robbins FSA, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden, is celebrating his contribution to London history and the old county of Middlesex, pioneering railway history and transport preservation, and to the Society of Antiquaries and London museums. For details see online or call 020 7565 7298.
17 October: Archaeology along the North Kent Coast (Canterbury)
The Kent Archaeological Society and the Council for Kentish Archaeology (CKA) will be holding a joint conference at Rutherford College, University of Kent. Among the speakers will be Gill Draper FSA, Associate Lecturer, University of Kent and Brian Philp FSA, who will discuss ‘The Search for the Tomb of King Stephen and the Lost Royal Abbey’. Tickets £10 from CKA, 7 Sandy Ridge, Borough Green TN15 8HP (cheques payable to CKA, S.A.E. with all applications).
21 October: Maurice and Shelagh Bond Memorial Lecture (Windsor)
Jane Geddes FSA’s talk, previously listed as occurring on 21 September as a result of incorrectly supplied information, is in fact on 21 October. For details see Salon 349 and St George's, Windsor.
22 October: Mainstreaming Cultural Heritage: Global Approaches (London)
An international conference to launch a Cultural Heritage Manifesto in the 50th anniversary year of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and ICOMOS-UK, at Arup Headquarters, London W1T. For more information and how to book email
23 January 2016: New Insights into 16th- and 17th-Century British Architecture (London)
Bookings are being taken for the sixth meeting in its series, to be held at the Society of Antiquaries. For details contact Paula Henderson FSA ( or Claire Gapper FSA (

Propose a Lecture or Seminar

Please email Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer if you are interested in giving a lecture at one of the Society's Ordinary Meetings (Thursday evenings at 17.00) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 13.00). When proposing a lecture, it is helpful to provide a working title, a few sentences about the topic and its significance, and how you will make it relevant and accessible to the entirety of the diverse Fellowship. We welcome papers based on new research on themes related to the Society's field of interest: the study of the material past. You can view our current lecture programme in the 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 email Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.


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

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