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Salon: Issue 436
18 October 2019

Next issue: 29 October

The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of heritage news. It focuses on the activities of the Society and the contributions that the Society's Fellows make to public life. A copy of Salon’s editorial policy can be found on the Society’s website.

Please send news, comment and feedback for publication to the Editor, Mike Pitts, at Salon EditorSalon doesn't review books, but the Editor is pleased to receive details and cover images of new titles written by Fellows. Scholarly publications are reviewed in The Antiquaries Journal.

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

Welsh Fellows Weekend 

I was glad to be able to attend The Welsh Fellows Regional Group annual study weekend on 11th to the 13th October. This year we were based in Fishgurard, Pembrokeshire, and an excellent programme of lectures and site visits had been arranged by Alan Lloyd FSA. We began on Friday evening with a lecture by Chris Capel FSA on his excavations at the 12th century Nevern Castle and followed it with a tour on Saturday morning, during which we were able to see the complex evolution of the site that took place within a single century. A packed Saturday afternoon consisted of a visit to the famous Iron Age fort at Castell Henllys and its reconstructed round-houses, led by its excavator, Harold Mytum FSA. After lunch in Newport we explored the medieval kiln. in the centre of the town accompanied by a talk by Reg Atkinson, Chair of the Newport Memorial Hall Trust. In keeping with the medieval theme, we next climbed the hill to view Newport Castle, with a brief introduction from John Kenyon FSA. Finally, it was back down the hill and back in time to the Early Neolithic burial chamber of Carreg Coetan, where Sian Rees FSA, the excavator, explained the phasing. After dinner, Harold Mytum gave as a more detailed exposition of the history of Castell Henllys, before he embarked on an epic late-night drive back to York!

Sunday morning dawned to traditionally wet west-Walian weather and a visit to the early Christian burial ground and chapel at White Sands, where Ken Murphy explained the fascinating history that the on-going Dyfed Archaeological Trust excavations have revealed*. The event was rounded off by a tour around the 19th-20th century industrial archaeological complex at Porthgain which was led by Richard Keen.

As usual, the weekend proved to be very enjoyable and informative and characterised by good company and camaraderie amongst Fellows and their guests. I would like to thank Alan Lloyd FSA for his hard work in organising such an excellent weekend, and I would also thank all those Fellows who put so much time into organising the events of all our Regional Groups.

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£2,000 needed to begin conservation of the Society’s Wax Portraits.

We have raised £5000 from The Association for Independent Museums (funded by The Pilgrim’s Trust) and The Essay Club to conserve the Society’s 8 wax portraits and would be grateful for donations to help us with the remaining £2000 needed to complete the work. Conservation treatment will see the portraits removed from their frames for cleaning; repair of structural damage and restoration of frames; resealing of frames; and the addition of proper backing board to frames to support and strengthen, and to create an effective barrier to environmental changes. 

The relief portraits will be initially displayed in the Entrance Hall as a temporary exhibition introducing and exploring the interesting lives and careers of those depicted with information on the conservation project and treatment. After this they will be permanently displayed on the landing by the library for all to view, alongside the portraits of our past presidents.

If you would like to help please contact Dominic Wallis, Head of Development on 0207 479 7092 or

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Join us for events aimed Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers

Friday 25 October & Saturday 26 October

Join us for two events at the Society aimed at early-career researchers and students currently undertaking or about to begin postgraduate studies. On Friday 25 spend the day learning about our collections and resources that can help you with your research at our Postgraduate Open Day. Hear from Fellows of the Society who are experts in their fields. Network with other postgraduate students and early-career researchers and spend time in the Library, exploring our collections. Some highlights from our collection will be on display in the sessions including the Winton Domesday, Magna Carta, our collection of Seals and our Bronze Age sword. 


On Saturday 26 we are holding our inaugural New Researchers ConferenceRecovered from the Shipwreck of Time. This conference is on the history of collecting and the role of the antiquary. The conference is part of our public outreach programme with a specific focus on engaging with ‘new’ researchers, postgraduate and early career academics. Key items for our collection related to the papers will be on display throughout the day. 

Dr Arthur MacGregor FSA will deliver the keynote paper.

List of speakers and papers below.  

  • Angela Websdale Replication and Reproduction: The Westminster Cult of Saint Edward the Confessor at Saint Mary's Church, Faversham, Kent.
  • Elizabeth Chant Corsairs, Conflicts, and Coastlines: The Derrotero General del Mar del Sur (Panama, 1669)
  • Katy Whitaker FSA 'Shipwrecked mariners on some foreign shore': recovering sarsen stones from the Society’s Sarsen Stones in Wessex project archive MS953.
  • Gavin Francis Stoneystreet Kelmscott Manor: The legacy of a Plantsman’s garden.  
  • Sam Bromage Past Perspectives: Preserved cartographic and illustrative depictions of urban space in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
  • Dr Madeleine Pelling Negotiating the Portland Vase: Mary Hamilton, Sir William Hamilton and the Duchess of Portland
  • Kayleigh Betterton A Duty to Encourage, a Duty to Advance: Institutional Collections and the Society of Antiquaries in the Nineteenth Century
  • Liam Sims FSA 'For the encouragement of learning’: collaborative antiquarianism & the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society
  • Eloise Donnelly The Society of Antiquaries, the British Museum and collecting networks 1850-1913

We encourage Fellows to support (and attend) these events and share with interested parties. It is a great opportunity to open up the Society to a wider audience.

For more information or to book visit our website

*Images: MS13 f84v-85r Resurrection Last Judgment & MS 221 Maritime Direction Book


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The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey

On 13 October 1269, after the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey, the present shrine of St Edward the Confessor was dedicated by Henry III. With precise timing, 750 years later a project instigated by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster with a decision to conserve a medieval floor in 1996 has been published in two monographs, The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey: Volume 1 The Pavements, and Volume 2 The Royal Tombs. Written and illustrated by Warwick Rodwell FSA and David S Neal FSA, with further contributions by Paul Drury FSA, Ian Freestone FSA, Kevin Hayward FSA, Lisa Monnas FSA, Matthew Payne FSA, Ruth Siddall, Vanessa Simeoni and Erica Carrick Utsi, the books, published by Oxbow, are an astonishing achievement.
The Abbey’s two Cosmati mosaic pavements, said to be the only intact examples of their kind outside Italy, were laid in the sanctuary in 1268 and around the same time in Edward I’s shrine chapel. The shrine pedestal was also inlaid with Cosmatesque decoration, in 1269, as was the tomb of Henry III (who died in 1272) and a tomb-chest now in the south ambulatory. The latter is large enough only for a child, whose identity in the absence of an inscription or other record has been debated for centuries. The intended occupants are here named confidently as Edward’s young sons John and Henry, who died in 1271 and 1274 respectively. Other inlaid fragments include a slab and a pair of spiral shafts thought to be from the shrine altar, and a grave-cover slab, and there are further possibly lost examples of Cosmati decorations.
All this and more is described in authoritative detail in the books for the first time, with contemporary and subsequent histories, comprehensive technical descriptions, petrological analyses, archaeological research and 550 diagrams, photos and illustrations. The amount of work behind the pictures alone almost beggars belief, but David Neal’s meticulous, tessera by tessera paintings are simply outstanding. Rodwell, Consultant Archaeologist to Westminster Abbey, and Neal, formerly Head of the Archaeological Drawing Office at English Heritage (right and left respectively, below), describe how their partnership came about.
After completion of a substantial conservation programme on the sanctuary pavement in 2010, it was decided to publish a monograph on the project. Efforts to create a detailed photograph of the floor ‘were consistently disappointing’. In 2012 Neal, famous for a lifetime of painting Roman mosaics with intricate precision, confessed to Rodwell that he’d never seen the Cosmati mosaics. They entered the abbey and peered under the lino and carpets hiding the floors. One thing led to another, and after initial reticence, between 2012 and 2017 Neal painted all the surviving mosaics. In 2018 they persuaded the Dean and Chapter to close the chapel of St Edward so they could lift the canopy of the shrine to record its interior. Neal’s work, requiring intimate examination of the mosaics, raised new questions about their histories. No part of the abbey structure has ever before been studied and described in such detail.
Like Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey is part of a World Heritage Site, visited by millions and widely regarded as one of the UK’s distinguishing heritage landmarks. And like Stonehenge, the abbey has a shocking history of neglect, vandalism and official indifference that at times crossed over into blatant disregard of the public interest. That you could once hire hammers to help you acquire your personal souvenirs at Stonehenge, and that the stones are covered in graffiti, have long been known (and the effects revealed to be greater than imagined by a recent laser survey of the stones’ surfaces by English Heritage). Archaeologists are well aware that a significant Neolithic earthwork near Stonehenge was ploughed up in the last century to benefit an Army officers’ pheasant shoot, and that precious archaeological remains at the very site were dug up without record to lay a useless system of cables supposed to detect intruders (it was set off by moles). But how many know of the horrors to which Westminster Abbey has been subjected, revealed in these monographs?
Over centuries, we read, pilgrims and visitors left their marks, sometimes inadvertently through the pressure of feet wearing away the mosaic floors, and sometimes intentionally, carving graffiti and prising out or knocking off mementos (‘all but one of 26 Corinthian capitals were stolen from the arcade on the upper chest’ of Edward’s tomb). But recently the worst effects were due to the abbey’s curators and visiting antiquarians, and the worst of that occurred when Stephen Dykes Bower FSA was Surveyor of the Fabric, between 1951 and 1973: during that time, Rodwell has written elsewhere, more historic fabric ‘was damaged or destroyed’ than in the rest of the 20th century, not excluding the impacts of two world wars.
In 1954, for instance, after the theft and recovery of the Stone of Scone, a wrought-iron railing was installed, ‘securely anchored to both the floor and the stone screen’ in the shrine chapel: six holes were dug through the floor and filled with concrete, four of which went through areas of the Cosmati pavement. In 1958–60 the shrine canopy was ‘restored’ (‘the principal account of the work appears to be a newspaper article’) leaving ‘no trace of the historic decoration’. A 16th-century timber feretory that crowned the shrine was discarded without record. Most notoriously, Dykes Bower ‘repaired’ the abbey’s medieval high roofs, which in a self-inflicted disaster redolent of the recent tragedy at Notre Dame de Paris, were taken out and burnt.
No more forgivable were the ‘huge opportunities for architectural recording and archaeological research … created by the [second world] war damage’, which were entirely missed thanks to Dykes Bower’s policy of deliberately excluding scholars. At least we can be thankful that one of his plans was seen off: a proposed new stone floor in the nave and transepts would have wiped out a ‘rich palimpsest of monuments and paving that had progressively accumulated since the Middle Ages’. And it didn’t stop there. In 1976 Peter Foster, the new Surveyor, drilled holes through the shrine’s pavement in search of a vaulted crypt, but, ‘Unsurprisingly, no crypt was found’.
The Victorian and medieval Westminster Palace opposite the abbey also has an appalling history of poor research and curation. The welcome Restoration and Renewal Programme that should soon start is getting underway not because Members of Parliament recognised the international public interest in the heritage of the premises they are privileged to occupy, but because, after decades of persuasion, they finally accepted that the Palace will burn down if they don’t act.
In this, Westminster Abbey is far ahead of the Palace. These two monographs are testament to that, but they didn’t spring from nowhere. A few proper archaeological excavations were allowed in the 1970s and 80s, and with Donald Buttress as Surveyor, major restoration programmes occurred in the 1990s. Tim Tatton-Brown FSA was brought in to record and analyse the works, and in 1998 he was appointed the abbey’s first consultant archaeologist. Warwick Rodwell succeeded him in 2004. The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey can only suggest what else there might be to learn about this fabulous building's story.
The top photo shows the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Westminster Abbey in April 2011, the first major event to occur on the newly conserved Cosmati pavement in the sanctuary (both photos Dean and Chapter of Westminster).

From the Commons to the Lords: 'The House is on Fire'

From abbey to palace. In the last Salon I featured am elaborate wooden post-box recently acquired by the Palace of Westminster. Apparently designed by Augustus Pugin, the box had been found in a country-house outbuilding by an auctioneer. It has no documentation. I asked Mark Collins FSA, Estates Archivist and Historian in the Parliamentary Estates Directorate, who he thought might have taken it home with them – perhaps after new boxes had been installed? – and he replied: ‘The former owner had no idea how it came to be in their possession.’
Another letter-box mystery, however, has been solved by Fellows – appropriately enough with the largest email correspondence on a single topic I have yet received while editing this newsletter. With apologies to everyone else who wrote, what follows contains but a selection from that correspondence.

The box had at least one inscription, painted onto a ribbon at one end (unrolled above). No one, it seemed, had been able to read it. Nigel Kirk, of Mellors & Kirk auctioneers, suggested it began, ‘The Post Shall Go At …’ I had wondered if it opened with ‘One post…’ Within minutes of Salon going out, Fellows had cracked it. First up was Serena Cant FSA.
‘Just seen the latest Salon’, she wrote, ‘and I think I have the text: “One post shall run to meet another” (Jeremiah 51:31, Authorized Version).’
‘I’ve got a bit of experience with deciphering this type of lettering fairly readily’, says Cant, ‘and thought a Bible verse would be quite typical for Pugin. He has cropped up fairly regularly in my life in one context or another – I’m a specialist in documentary research into shipwrecks, so a few years ago I studied Pugin’s involvement in wrecks on the Kent coast. A fascinating man in so many respects.’
Cant wonders if, as Collins suggested, there were two boxes, ‘whether they were part of an internal mail system between the Commons and Lords?’ As she says, that would fit the context of the quotation, which reads in full (as Ann Payne FSA was first to spell out), ‘One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end.’
‘What a wonderful box’, Cant adds, ‘and so pleasing to see it has returned to its former home. I’m a great fan of Salon.’
Isobel Thompson FSA was among Fellows who took up the Babylonian connection. ‘This wasn’t necessarily good news’, she writes (one reading is that the king of Babylon is alerted to the fact that his city has been invaded at each end, ‘and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted’), ‘but in essence it’s a biblical reference to a postal service, so very Pugin. I don’t suppose I’m the only one to come up with this…’ No indeed. ‘I would love to make a connection between Parliament and the Divine vengeance on Babylon,’ writes Jeremy Ashbee FSA, ‘but Brexit discussions in Salon have been contentious enough already.’
Richard Fisher was among several correspondents who are not Fellows. ‘In Biblical commentaries,’ he notes, ‘this is taken to mean that one messenger would run swiftly to the next, to pass on the news as it happens. Could the carved bird at the side of the box perhaps anticipate the arrival of Twitter!?’
As an aside, Fisher adds a grateful note for Fellows:
‘Three years ago I attended your Postgraduate Open Day, where I met Dr Adrian Ailes FSA, who was giving a presentation on the Society’s heraldic collections. He subsequently came to Bristol as a visiting lecturer and advised me on some aspects of my PhD research. I was awarded my doctorate earlier this year. I would like to thank the Society and its Fellows for encouraging postgraduates inside its hallowed portals and making us feel both welcome and worthy to have access to its resources. The Open Day also introduced me to Salon, and I have been an avid follower ever since.’
Oliver Harris, who is also not a Fellow (‘just a fellow-traveller … It isn’t Shakespeare, but the other one: the King James Bible’), comments on the monument to Thomas ‘Mummy’ Pettigrew (Thomas Pettigrew FSA), which featured in the same edition of Salon.
‘My favourite story about him (certainly apocryphal) is that he was once conducting one of his dinner-party unrollings, and announced to his guests: “And now I am able to tell you the name of the mummy, which I have learned by deciphering the hieroglyphics!” This was overheard by a maid, who went back to the kitchen to report to her fellow-servants: “Master says he’s found the name of the mummy, and it’s Harry Griffiths!”’
Finally, a wistful note from Max Craven FSA, who knew all along:
‘I read the inscription when I went to the preview at Mellors & Kirk as “One post shall run to meet another”. I should have passed this on to Nigel (for whom I worked for five years as clocks consultant after I was made redundant from Derby Museum in 1998) but he seemed to be very busy and I was due elsewhere at the time. Whether my interpretation clarifies a thing, I am quite unclear!’
The photos at the top seem to suggest the two ends of the box are in different condition (on the left from UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor, on the right Mellors & Kirk), and any colouring on the right end might have been lost. One can’t help wondering, however, whether the other ribbon with the bird on the right also had an inscription. If so, will it ever be known? Guesses by falcon.


Ernest Gimson and May Morris Feature in New Book

Annette Carruthers FSA, Mary Greensted and Barley Roscoe have written Ernest Gimson: Arts & Crafts Designer and Architect, described by Yale Books as ‘An authoritative and insightful study, surveying the life and work of “the greatest of the English artist-craftsmen”.’ The book combines biography (tracing the full arc of Gimson’s creative career, ideas, and legacy) with analysis of his work as an architect and designer of furniture, metalwork, plaster decoration, embroidery, and more.
Ernest Gimson (1864–1919) worked in London in the 1880s, joining the circle around William Morris FSA at the Art Workers’ Guild and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He later moved to the Cotswolds, where he opened workshops and established a reputation for style and quality. Gimson’s work ‘influences designers today’, says the book's blurb, ‘and speaks directly to ongoing debates about the role of craft in the modern world; this book will be the standard reference for years to come.’
‘For a while’, Carruthers tells Salon, ‘I thought that Gimson must have been a Fellow himself because the sale of his house contents after the death of his widow included 41 volumes of Archaeologia. Sadly, Adrian James FSA told me that he was not, so I don't know where he acquired them. Fellows may be interested, however, in Gimson's links with Kelmscott.

'In 1914 May Morris asked him to design a pair of cottages in memory of her mother Jane. They are in the village next to the Philip Webb cottages that commemorate William Morris. Gimson and May became friends and collaborated on a joint display as part of the 1916 Arts & Crafts Exhibition at the Royal Academy. For May and her sister Jenny he also designed a village hall for Kelmscott which was only built – altered from the original design – in 1934 after Gimson's death. It was opened with ceremony, and with speeches by George Bernard Shaw and the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and remains in use today.’
‘It is the centenary of Gimson's death this year’, adds Carruthers, ‘so we are pleased the book is out.’ A flier or discount code can be obtained from Marketing Executive Charlotte Zaidi at

String Theory

I have already written about The Art of Innovation, a major project created by the Science Museum and BBC Radio 4, but the free exhibition continues. The radio series ends on 18 October with a final, 24th, hour-long programme presented by Ian Blatchford FSA and Tilly Blyth. A recent broadcast captured well the complex relationship between art and science: it was about string models.
In the 19th century, said Tilly Blyth, there was an escape from the old Euclidian geometry towards a spherical or curved world in which space was not flat and new rules applied. But 3D space could be represented solely with straight lines by stretching strings across a curved frame – what mathematicians called ‘ruled surfaces’ – in real-world models. The Science Museum has a set of models that were first displayed at the 1872 International Exhibition in London. They can be manipulated to create forms, said Blyth, that could otherwise be expressed only in complex, abstract equations.
As maths moved yet further away from 3D representation, the models became scientifically redundant. But they found a new role in art galleries. Henry Moore, said Blyth, was introduced to them at the Science Museum. In 1935 Barbara Hepworth wrote that John Summerson FSA had directed her to a collection at the University of Oxford. Blatchford reported from Oxford Street in London, where Hepworth’s sculpture, Winged Figure (1963) dominates a corner of the John Lewis building. Followers of the Constructivist movement in the 1930s, said Blatchford, believed that arts and science should be socially useful. Mutual ignorance of the two fields had to be overcome in the quest to defeat fascism: string models and geometry offered a shared visual vocabulary. The steel ‘strings’ spanning the two curving sides of Winged Figure could be said to represent this well. The work was made to a commission on the theme of ‘common ownership and common interests in a partnership of thousands of workers’.
One of many highlights in Tate Britain’s Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World (2015) was a group of rounded, polished and painted wooden sculptures, some of which incorporate arrays of string. Other works hinted at Hepworth’s awareness of science and mechanics; the catalogue illustrates a 1949 diagram comparing a sculpture to the movements of a pendulum, a stringed work apparently standing in the lobby of the Mullard Electronics Centre, and a large helical sculpture rotating on a turntable. What such allusions meant to Hepworth, however, are not discussed in the book (Barbara Hepworth, edited by Penelope Curtis and Chris Stephens). The only reference there to the great John Lewis figure, surely one of Hepworth’s most seen works and a 20-minute tube ride from the exhibition, is in an aside about building commissions (‘not her best pieces [that] do little to enhance their sites’). The sense that art and science remain separate worlds is sometimes hard to dispel.
Photo YellowFratello/Wikimedia.

Fellows (and Friends)

Alan Harding FSA, historian and archivist, died in August.
Peter Boughton FSA, art curator, died in October.
Charles Jencks FSA, landscape architect, died in October.
Appreciations appear in Fellows Remembered below.
John Hampton FSA, air photographer, died in October. An appreciation will follow in a future Salon.

Congratulations to 10 new Fellows who were elected on 18 October:
Victor Ambrus, award-winning illustrator and reconstruction artist with the Channel 4 TV series Time Team, whose work helps to bring archaeological and historical evidence to life.
Jago Cooper, archaeologist and Curator of the Americas at the British Museum, specialising in the indigenous cultures of the Americas and the historic effects of climate change on human development.
James Corke-Webster, Roman historian at Kings College London specialising in early Christian and late antique history and literature, joint winner of the Conington Prize (2018).
Nancy Thomson de Grummond, Professor of Classics at Florida State University, director of the university's excavations at the Etruscan/Roman/ medieval site of Cetamura del Chianti in Tuscany, and editor of An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology.
Helen Farr, Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, an expert in maritime archaeology who works on the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project and is on the editorial board for the Journal of Maritime Archaeology.
Svante Fischer, Associate Professor and archaeologist at the University of Uppsala, whose research includes Gallo-Roman urban architecture, Early Byzantine numismatics, Anglo-Saxon ring swords and Viking Age runology.
Marta Lorenzon, archaeologist and architectural specialist at the University of Helsinki who is looking at sustainable architecture and the relationship between power and architecture in the Ancient Near East.
Wolfgang Neubauer, Professor at the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science, Editor of the journals ViaVIAS and Archaeological Prospection, who has championed new technology for archaeological uses in key European sites.
James Nye, Chairman of the Antiquarian Horological Society and a recognised authority on the international history of electrical timekeeping and the subject of time distribution.
Daniel Stewart, Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Leicester specialising in the history and archaeology of Ancient Greece, co-director of the British School at Athens' project on Roman Knossos.
As always, I'm particularly keen to hear about the activities of new Fellows: please email your news to Salon at

Jane Kershaw FSA is among five archaeologists awarded a 2019 Philip Leverhulme Prize, the Leverhulme Trust announced on 14 October. The prizes recognise outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition, and whose future career is deemed to be exceptionally promising. In all each of 30 winners receives £100,000, to be used for research over two or three years. Other subject areas this year were chemistry, economics, engineering, geography, and languages and literatures; in 2020 the Trust will invite nominations for six different subjects, including biological sciences, history and law. Kershaw specialises in Viking-Age material culture and is the Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-funded Project Silver, based at the University of Oxford. The project is studying silver artefacts to better understand the early stages of Viking activity and expansion. Archaeological collections are ‘poorly characterised’, they say, ‘and because silver has rarely been analysed from a scientific perspective, it remains vastly under-utilised as a historical resource.’ The other four archaeologists awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize this year are Kate Britton, Enrico Ryunosuke Crema, Jessica Hendy and Ben Russell.

National University of Ireland, Galway has awarded Chris Stringer FSA its William King Medal, named after the first Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at NUI Galway (then Queen’s College Galway), who in 1863 gave the name Homo neanderthalensis to newly identified human remains. The award recognises Stringer’s contributions to our understanding of human evolution, and was presented on 10 October; he gave a public lecture on the subject of Neanderthal evolution and extinction. The university said that Stringer is ‘best known for his work on the Recent African Origin theory of modern human origins, and also with projects concerned with the ancient human occupation of Britain. He actively collaborates with a large and diverse international network of archaeologists, dating specialists, and geneticists in attempting to reconstruct the evolution of modern humans globally. Planet Earth is effectively his field study area, and his research has addressed one of the most fundamentally important questions that can be asked in science – what does it mean to be human?'

The Wallace Collection announced on 24 September that, for the first time in its 119-year history, it will make temporary loans within the UK and internationally. The Board of Trustees (who include Ashok Roy FSA and Timothy Schroder FSA) and the Director Xavier Bray successfully asked the Charity Commission for the power to lend, a decision supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, saying that ‘the terms of Lady Wallace’s bequest do not expressly forbid lending or borrowing’. The Collection is ‘thrilled’, but not everyone shares the joy, among them the former Chairman of the Trustees. Responding to his criticism, Peter Saunders FSA wrote to the Times (7 October) in support of the new polilcy. ‘I doubt that the trustees of the Wallace Collection are, as Sir John Lewis implies, in breach of trust by agreeing to lend from it,’ he said, ‘but, even if they are, I admire their desire to extract greater public and art benefit from the collection. Benefactors cannot second-guess how strict conditions might harm their true intent.’

Aidan Dodson FSA has written Rameses III, King of Egypt: His Life and Afterlife, due to be published on 19 November. Rameses III – often dubbed the ‘last great pharaoh’, says the blurb ­– lived during the first half of the 12th century BC, when there was an almost complete overthrow of established order in the eastern Mediterranean. His achievements included the preservation of Egypt as a nation-state in the face of external assault. However, his reign also saw economic challenges and increasing dissatisfaction, which culminated in the king’s own assassination. This well-illustrated book follows Rameses from birth to resurrection through modern research, describing the key events of his reign, his major monuments and the people behind their rediscovery and reception in modern times.

The public image of archaeology may not be as positive as some would like to think. Britain Thinks, an independent consultancy, published What makes a great leader? on 11 September, drawing on surveys of what the public identifies as necessary leadership qualifications. The report’s key findings included that people think a ‘great leader demonstrates integrity, decisiveness and effective communication’, and that current leaders do not have those qualities. None commands respect. Views on Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, for instance, ‘are settled and overwhelmingly negative’. Quite how low these are is illustrated with a comment from Walsall: if Corbyn wasn’t a politician, he’d be an archaeologist.

Chris Skidmore MP FSA remains apparently undaunted by the storms of politics, continuing to talk up the future of universities. On 30 September he told a meeting at the annual Tory conference that he wants the approach of UK research funding to parallel that of the EU. There should be ‘strategic missions’, reported Times Higher (1 October), within a five-year financial framework programme to promote public understanding of the benefits of research funding. He added that ‘my ambition and the government’s ambition is still to associate into Horizon Europe’. The Guardian reported on 7 October that Skidmore was to meet representatives from universities and developers providing student accommodation, on news of students arriving to study only to find promised accommodation unfinished. On 9 October the BBC reported Skidmore’s view that there should be a ‘zero-tolerance culture’ to harassment on campus. And on the same day he spoke at the British Academy, hosted by David Cannadine FSA, about the future of international research collaboration, and the government’s ‘willingness to continue our partnerships with our European research partners and universities after Brexit’. The photo shows Skidmore (with blue tie) meeting students at Kingston University on 10 October  to discuss Black History Month.

An Earthly Paradise: William Morris and the Thames is an exhibition celebrating William Morris FSA and the river in his life – a setting for angling and boating, inspiration for designs and writing, an environment for making textiles and a location for his two homes, Kelmscott House in London and the Society’s Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. ‘Readers of Salon who missed seeing the exhibition earlier in the year at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley,’ writes Carol Anderson FSA, ‘might like to know that it is now showing at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock until November 10. We are grateful to the Society for its generosity in lending its Kelmscott Press edition of News from Nowhere, signed by Morris to his daughter, May, and skeins of wool hand-dyed by Morris for inclusion in the exhibition.’ Details online.
‘Whether digging makes you happy or not’, say the editors of this book about mental ill-health, ‘is a moot point’ – something with which archaeologists currently working in the field in some of the wettest weather this year might agree. Historic Landscapes and Mental Well-Being, edited by Timothy Darvill FSA, Kerry Barrass, Laura Drysdale, Vanessa Heaslip and Yvette Staelens FSA, takes a wider view of archaeology and heritage. With a substantial collection of papers the book argues, as Sara Lunt FSA writes in a foreword, that the ‘healing experience’ of ancient landscapes ‘can be life-changing and long-term’. It was inspired by gatherings at Cardiff and Bournemouth universities and in the landscapes of the Avebury and Stonehenge World Heritage Site (the Human Henge project), and illustrates with schemes from conservation of a Roman bath-house near Glasgow and volunteer surveys of the Thames foreshore, to working with army veterans on the site of the Battle of Waterloo in France. Such projects, Darvill tells Salon, deserve wide recognition for ‘using the historic environment in novel ways, the significance of what is being achieved in changing people’s lives for the better, and the rigour that has been applied’ to how they are put together. Hopefully, he adds, all this will prompt debate about the contribution that the historic environment can make to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 (good health and well-being). The printed book can be bought, or a PDF is available for free from Archaeopress.
Susan Greaney FSA is the first Fellow to appear in a new BBC podcast series called You're Dead To Me, written and presented by Greg Jenner, author of A Million Years in a Day and adviser to BBC’s Horrible Histories (and occasional cast member). Jenner talks to ‘the best names in comedy and history to learn and laugh about the past’. In the 13th of the series he joined ‘podcasting legend’ Richard Herring (who apparently worked on excavations before going up to university) and Greaney, who works for English Heritage, to talk about Stonehenge. A torrent of on-the-nail information, humour and silliness was broken at one point with Jenner’s ‘nuance window’, when the specialist is allowed to talk about a pet grievance. Greaney said she would like us all to drop the word ‘prehistory’ in favour of ‘history’. Thanks to more precise radiocarbon dating, she said, we can now identify events within the span of a human lifetime: dividing the past into two categories on the grounds of narrative friendliness has become passé. Other podcast subjects to date include The Witch Craze, Jon of Arc and The History of Football.
On 2 October David Starkey FSA unveiled a portrait of Richard III at Hever Castle. The painting joins 18 other Tudor portraits in the castle’s Long Gallery, in what is said to be its first public display: Starkey said he was ‘delighted that the gap has now been filled by this intriguing picture’. Dendrochronological analysis of the wooden panel, the castle said in a press release, ‘suggests an earliest possible usage date of 1586 upwards’. The castle bought the painting, but released no other details. It appears identical to a portrait sold to private buyers by Sotheby’s in 1986 and again by Christie’s in 2015 (see Salon 350), when its £3,000–5,000 estimate was exceeded by the sale price of £12,500. Other recently traded portraits include a similar, heavily restored version shown by a dealer in 2015 (Salon 347), and another that had last been seen publicly at a sale at Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, in 1921 (Salon 346). As Jill Franklin FSA, Bernard Nurse FSA and Pamela Tudor-Craig FSA say in the Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2015), the Society’s two portraits of the king are among the earliest. • The National Portrait Gallery’s touring exhibition Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits will open in the National Maritime Museum in April 2020, with ‘over 150 portraits of five royal dynasties’.
On 8 October, a week after Sir Ian Blatchford FSA and others wrote to the Times on the subject, there was a brief discussion in the House of Lords about the future of museums and galleries. Lord Lee of Trafford asked the Government what assessment they had made of the current financial sustainability of national museums and galleries? Referring to the Times letter, he wondered if ‘the fires in Notre-Dame and the Glasgow School of Art, and, indeed, the costs and upheaval we now face on the Parliamentary Estate, point to the dangers and extra costs of putting off vital necessary work? I urge DCMS Ministers to shake the Javid/Johnson ​money tree for extra resources to protect our national treasures. If the Government wish to maintain free entry,’ he added, ‘they surely have to pay for it.’ Lord Cormack FSA responded to the Earl of Clancarty, who asked if the Government would pledge to cover the funding shortfall when museums, ‘as is inevitable,’ cease ‘to be shackled by association with fossil fuel companies’. ‘I believe it is very important that museums and galleries should receive sponsorship,’ said Lord Cormack. ‘Where does one draw the line? I do not mind saying to my noble friend that I would be delighted to receive some sponsorship from BP for the art gallery that I am struggling to save in Lincoln.’ ‘Our broader view’, said Baroness Barran for the Government, ‘is that we expect museums and galleries to continue to be funded by a mixture of public money, philanthropic money and other forms of fundraising.’

Ruurd Binnert Halbertsma FSA and Despina Pilides FSA have co-edited Cyprus – A Dynamic Island, published on the occasion of an exhibition with the same name in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands, which opened on 10 October (until 15 March 2020). Both the exhibition and the publication, Halbertsma tells Salon, cover the archaeological history of Cyprus between the Neolithic and early Byzantine times. Nine specialists have written chapters on the island’s archaeology, and various authors have highlighted the most important pieces in the exhibition. The Department of Antiquities of Cyprus has granted the biggest loan of objects ever for an exhibition abroad (around 350 pieces). These are supplemented by objects from Stockholm, Amsterdam and Leiden.

Fellows Remembered

Alan Harding FSA died on 30 August aged 87. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in August 1982.
Harding was honoured by the universities where he had worked, as Emeritus Professor of Medieval History and Honorary Fellow of History at the University of Liverpool, and as Honorary Fellow in History at the University of Edinburgh. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
His many publications include A Social History of English Law (1966), The Law Courts of Medieval England (1973), England in the Thirteenth Century (1993), Medieval Law and the Foundations of the State (2001), The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion: A Sect in Action in Eighteenth-Century England (2003) and Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (2014).
A memorial service was held on September 18 in St Columba's by the Castle Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, where Harding had been a member of the congregation. He had researched and written extensively about the church, partly, as he wrote, ‘to put the foundation of the church of which I was a member in the context of church extension and mission to the poor, for a congregation largely ignorant (as I had been) of the social as well as the church history of mid-19th-century Scotland’; and partly to consider the context ‘of the liturgical argument in the Episcopal Church over the Scotch Communion Office’. He wrote seven articles on the subject, and a book, A Victorian Church in Edinburgh’s Old Town: St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Context (2005).
The photo is from the St Columba's by the Castle website.
Peter Boughton FSA died in October aged 59, after a short illness. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in July 2002. In August the University of Chester awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters for his contribution to the visual arts in Chester, where he had been Keeper of Art at the Grosvenor Museum since 1983. What follows is taken mostly from the citation.
Peter J Boughton studied history with ancillary history of art at the University of Hull (1978–81), followed by a postgraduate diploma in History of Art at Goldsmiths College, London (1981–82). He worked briefly at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, before joining the Grosvenor Museum, where he built a distinguished career curating exhibitions, assembling a substantial collection, and strengthening the museum’s facilities and its presence in Chester. At the university, said Vice-Chancellor Tim Wheeler at the D Litt presentation, Boughton ‘worked in partnership for 20 years, collaborating with staff from the departments of Art and Design, History and Archaeology, Modern Languages, Performing Arts, and the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services.’ His specialist interest was in visual arts from Late Gothic to the present, with a particular passion for the Baroque and Rococo.
Under his watch the Grosvenor Museum acquired 1,590 works of art since 1990, more than doubling the number of paintings. He acquisitions also included sculptures, silverwork (publishing a Catalogue of Silver in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester in 2000), historic works on paper – most notably with extensive holdings of etchings by George Cuitt and William Monk (he was working on his fourth book, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Etchings of George Cuitt (1779–1854): England’s Piranesi) – and modern and contemporary art, especially prints. He enlarged Chester’s topographic collection, not least through an imaginative programme of contemporary commissions. He also built a new art store, and added to the collection’s significance through conservation, framing, documentation and research
He curated 10 permanent displays, among them eight period rooms in No 20 Castle Street (a 17th- and 18th-century house attached to the museum), filling them with pictures, furniture and other decorative arts illustrating changing interior fashions. He also created the Silver Gallery, showing the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Chester-hallmarked silver. He further curated 124 temporary exhibitions, among them the show for which he wrote Picturesque Chester: The City in Art (1997). Robin Ironside: Neo-Romantic Visionary, for which he wrote the catalogue with contributions from Virginia Ironside and Simon Martin (2012), opened in the Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, before moving to Chester.
Peter Boughton was an expert adviser to the Art Fund and to Arts Council England’s Acceptance in Lieu Panel, a Council member of the Chester Civic Trust, a member of the Chester Conservation Area Advisory Panel, a Trustee of the Beecroft Bequest, consultant on art and silver to the Chester Diocesan Advisory Committee, and a member of the Chester Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee and the Art Fund Cheshire Fundraising Committee. He held a Visiting Fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and an Associate of the Museums Association.
At the ceremony in August, Boughton described his D LItt award as ‘the crowning achievement of my career as Keeper of Art at the Grosvenor Museum, during which I have striven to create an ever-richer and more rewarding visitor experience and to make a lasting contribution to public understanding and enjoyment’.
Charles Jencks FSA died on 13 October aged 80. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in October 2008.
Charles Alexander Jencks had degrees in English literature (Harvard University, 1961) and architecture (Harvard Graduate School of Design, 1965) when he moved to London aged 26, to study for his PhD in architectural history at UCL under Reyner Banham, while teaching at the Architectural Association. He developed the ideas in his thesis in Modern Movements in Architecture (1973) and, among many other influential writings, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977, sixth ed 1991, re-issued in 2002 as The New Paradigm in Architecture), What is Post-Modernism? (1986, fourth ed 1996, re-issued as Critical Modernism, 2007), The Story of Post-Modernism: Five Decades of the Ironic, Iconic and Critical in Architecture (2001) and Critical Modernism: Where is Post-Modernism Going? (2007).
Through his designs and constructions, lectures around the world (not least as Lecturer at the AA for 30 years and Visiting Professor at UCLA for 22), television programmes, books and sheer energy and charisma, he established himself as a leading and well-known cultural theorist, and a proponent and historian of postmodernism – a style which, as Oliver Wainwright describes it in his Guardian obituary (15 October), was destined to ‘return content, meaning and metaphor to the built environment’ after the perceived failure of modern architecture. The Society’s Blue Certificate, under ‘grounds for election’, refers to his research and teaching on ancient architecture from Egyptian to Baroque, and the way in which ‘his historical interests motivate[d] his acclaimed design work’. The high regard in which he was held by the Society is encapsulated in the distinguished signatories: Alan Borg FSA, John Hemming FSA, Simon Jenkins FSA, Neil MacGregor FSA, Colin Renfrew FSA (now Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn), Charles Saumarez-Smith FSA (now Sir), and Anna Somers-Cocks FSA.

Jencks's own home on Lansdowne Walk in Holland Park, London (Thematic House), a 19th-century villa whose conversion by him, Terry Farrell and his wife Maggie Keswick was completed in 1983, was listed Grade I by Historic England in 2018. Plans are underway, says the Scotsman (14 October) to convert it to an archive museum called The Cosmic House, open to the public by appointment. Robert A M Stern, a New York architect remembering Jencks for Architectural Record (14 October), describes Thematic House as ‘the only house realised in our time that can truly compete with [Sir John Soane's] Museum in presenting the ideas of a great master educator in such a startling, enlightening, and irresistible manner.’

Jencks was, as his Times obituary puts it (16 October), ‘one of the world’s most respected architectural theorists’. But this was only one of the achievements for which he was known. The Times, the Telegraph (15 October) and the Guardian all lead their obituaries with the story of Maggie’s Centres, a charity which he co-founded with his wife and continued to direct after her death in 1995. This ‘most lasting physical legacy’, writes Wainwright, ‘lies in the programme of building beautiful and uplifting cancer care centres that he initiated with Maggie, when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1993. Now counting 24 locations across the UK and abroad, the Maggie’s Centres mark a stark contrast to most clinical hospital environments, providing warm, welcoming homes-from-home for people living with cancer to receive support, and not “lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”, as Maggie put it.’ The first was opened in Edinburgh, and leading architects of the day ‘queued up to help,’ says the Times, ‘waiving their usual stellar fees’.


Jencks promoted an architecture that abandoned what he saw as the anonymous and repetitive linearity of post-war planners, in favour of variety that channelled history and location. In the view of the Times, ‘ironic historical references such as classical pediments or Egyptian-style columns … were the worst excesses of the [postmodern] movement’ (the obituarist perhaps is not a fan of the basement jacuzzi in Thematic House, which Piers Gough designed as an upturned dome echoing Borromini’s church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome). But history infused Jencks’s own work in the landscape. Theoretically invoking science and cosmology – fractals, DNA, chaos theory and black holes – his monumental creations are visually embedded in antiquity. Northumberlandia (2012), said to be the world’s largest depiction of a female form, combines elements of chalk hill figures and Neolithic earthworks. Rounded and banked mounds evocative of ancient North American Mound Builder constructions dominate The Garden Of Cosmic Speculation at Maggie Keswick’s family home in Dumfries. The vast Crawick Multiverse, a transformed Scottish coal mine, parades stones that variously echo great rows of Neolithic megaliths, ruined Bronze Age houses and a Classical amphitheatre. Jencks has left his mark like no other architect.

The photo above shows a small corner of the Crawick Multiverse known as the Amphitheatre, designed to ‘capture the beauty of a total eclipse, replicating its iconic shapes and forms with a circle of boulders and ridges, representing the Sun’ (The Crawick Multiverse Trust). The portrait at top is from World Architecture (Crichton Foundation).

The Wisdom of Fellows 

Julian Bowsher FSA has spotted someone of interest in my list of featured Memorial to Fellows. He writes:
‘I was delighted to see in Salon 434 that Tubby Clayton was an FSA! He met my grandfather in the First World War, and they remained firm friends for the rest of their lives – indeed he married my grandparents. I met him a number of times as a boy, even being invited to have tea with him at All Hallows. I have a lovely archaeological memorial of his that has come down to me – a bunch of Roman nails from Inchtuthil wrapped in a letter which Tubby sent to my grandfather, reminding him that they might have been the same sort of nails used in crucifixions!’
• eBay, where any old rusty nail seems to be Roman, offers a window on the curious world of a hoard found at the Inchtuthil fort. It was dissipated soon after discovery by Sir Ian Richmond FSA in 1960, and nails said to have been part of it still circulate: the ‘promotional paperweight’ (top) was apparently presented to British Steel workers (sold for £24.99). Roddy Fraser wrote a booklet in 2018, detailing his interest in the hoard, which began after he’d bought a box of five nails. Over 20 years he’d seen a lot of nails, and heard a lot of stories – there had been a million nails, the hoard had weighed ten tons, and it had been melted down to make cars. ‘With hindsight,’ he concludes, it ‘should never have been split up.’ A bargain at £2.99 (‘You are not buying the actual nails !!!!’ advises the seller.)

My apologies for being later than usual with this Salon, due entirely to (continuing) computer problems in my office.

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 ( We are currently scheduled a year in advance for our Ordinary Meeting Lectures. 

Ordinary Meetings are held from 17.00 to 18.00 on Thursdays. Open to Fellows and their invited guests.  

Forthcoming Public Events

Conferences and Seminars

  • 25 October: Postgraduate Open Day Spend the day learning about our collections and resources that can help you with your research. Hear from Fellows of the Society who are experts in their fields. Network with other postgraduate students and early-career researchers. Spend time in the Library, exploring our collections.
  • 26 October: New Researchers Conference This conference is on the history of collecting and the role of the antiquary. The conference is part of our public outreach programme with a specific focus on engaging with ‘new’ researchers, postgraduate and early career academics. Key note speaker: Dr Arthur MacGregor FSA
  • 1 November: Publishing The Staffordshire Treasure: Impacts and Implications, organised by Prof Leslie Webster FSA, Dr Sam Lucy FSA & Dr Tania Dickinson FSA 

This event is now fully booked. 

Aimed at the archaeological, wider academic and interested lay communities, this day conference will be a chance to hear from those directly involved in this field and discuss the issues and challenges faced. Speakers will include Prof Peter Stone OBE FSA, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University; Lt-Col Tim Purbrick OBE FSA, the newly appointed commander of the British Army’s Cultural Property Protection Unit; Dr Paul Fox FSA, secretary of the UK Blue Shield Committee; Maj Mark Dunkley FSA, SGMI, Dr Emma Cunliffe, Newcastle University, Dr Nigel Pollard FSA, Swansea University and Lt-Col James Hancock, NATO/SHAPE.  

Public Lectures

Public Lectures are held from 13.00 to 14.00 on Tuesdays, with advance booking advised to be sure of a place.

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

The Welsh Regional Fellows’ Group of the Society is holding a one-day symposium on Raglan Castle, Gwent  (Monmouthshire), in the Beaufort Arms, Raglan.

The meeting is being organized in honour of the late Rick Turner OBE, FSA, formerly of CADW, who died in June 2018. It will report on a new project of research into the castle and grounds of the exceptional very late medieval and Renaissance-period castle at Raglan and its role as a cultural and political centre, which Rick himself had been involved in planning.

We shall have a programme of papers and reports from leading specialists in the field from 9.45 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and propose to discuss future prospects for research and publication, including the aspiration to bring together a comprehensive volume of the scope and quality of Rick Turner’s own co-edited volume on Chepstow Castle (with Andy Johnson, Logaston Press, 2006). The cost for the day will include coffee/tea morning and afternoon and a buffet lunch. You can book tickets through the Society website here

Want to join the Welsh Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to attend any current events, please email Bob Child at If you wish to be added to the mailing list, sign-up here.

York Fellows

Want to join the York Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings in York, sign-up here.
  • 29 October: Fellows Evening. Lecture by Dr Andrew R. Woods FSA, Senior Curator, York Museums Trust. 'Detecting power: Interpreting the coinage from Anglo-Saxon Rendlesham
Join us at the Bar Convent, (17 Blossom Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO24 1AQ) at 6-6.30 pm for a glass of wine followed by a lecture by Dr Andrew R. Woods FSA. Fellows are welcome to bring guests but, for catering purpose, it is useful to have an idea of numbers to expect, and it is essential to let me know if you would like to join us for a meal afterwards. Please contact Ailsa Mainman FSA by email:

Detecting power: Interpreting the coinage from Anglo-Saxon Rendlesham
The elite Anglo-Saxon site at Rendlesham, Suffolk has been subject to a large-scale archaeological investigation, including a detailed metal-detector survey, over the past decade. Amongst the material recovered is one of the largest mid-Saxon coin assemblages from England. This paper will offer analysis of this assemblage, seeking to interrogate the economic networks of an elite residence at the very outset of Early Medieval coin-use in England.
This paper is part of the Landscape and Lordship in East Anglia project, supported by the Leverhulme Trust (
  • 30 November: Christmas Dinner, SAVE THE DATE.This will once again be held at the Dean’s Court in York. Details to follow.

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. 

Temporary Reduced Library Services 


Rebecca Loughead & Barbara Canepa have joined the Library team as Serials & Electronic Resources Librarian and User Services Librarian respectively. We will be continue to operate with reduced library services until October, when the new Head of Library and Collections will take up their post.
Research visits: Research visits by Fellows will continue as usual during the Library’s normal opening times (Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm). Fellows wishing to consult material that needs retrieving by staff (manuscripts, archives, prints and drawings, and printed items on closed access) are asked to order material in advance.
External researcher visits will be limited to no more than 2 researchers per day and will be strictly by appointment only. Our Guidelines for Researchers on our website give information on how to make an appointment.

Image services: From 10 September the images service will resume and we will be accepting requests for images and licenses from the library and museum collections.
Other library services to Fellows will operate as normal (book loans and electronic resources service)
Please check our website at for dates of planned closures.

Society's Digital Presence 


Fellows received a notice from the Society regarding our new digital overhaul last month. Unfortunately there have been delays with the website go live which was scheduled for October 14th. 

Our new members database will be going live in the coming weeks and Fellows will receive further information on this soon. 

As there have been delays we have reopened the balloting system to allow Fellows to submit blue papers and vote in any upcoming ballots. 

During this crucial time there are aspects of the current website that may not be fully functional but we ask you to bear with us and if there is any urgent to contact us on

Other Heritage Events

• Entries new to this Salon are marked by The Veil of Time, the keystone over the entrance to the Society’s premises in Burlington House

21 October: Heritage Debate 2019: Reaching for Net Zero? (London)
The Heritage Alliance’s annual debate, to be held in the Waldorf Hilton, will focus on the relationship between heritage and the environment at a time when countries around the world, including the UK, are making commitments to move to a net zero emissions economy. The panel will feature David Saddington, environmentalist and climate change communicator, Keith Jones, National Specialist on Climate Change at the National Trust, Hannah Fluck FSA, Head of Environmental Research and Meredith Wiggins, Environmental Analyst, both at Historic England, Tim Heatley, Capital & Centric's co-founder, and Faith Kitchen, Heritage Director for Ecclesiastical Insurance. Details online.
21 October: Accademia - Recent Acquisitions and the 'Grandi Gallerie' Project (London)
Paola Marini will talk for Venice in Peril at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House. As Director of the Accademia between 2015–18, Marini oversaw a major programme of exhibitions, conservation and remodelling of the galleries. Setting this work in context she will offer a preview of the new Cinquecento Rooms in the light of recent acquisitions and conservation, before reflecting on her new role as Chair of the Association of Private Committees for Venice. Details online.
28 October: Architectural Salvage from Cairo to London: The Pivotal Role of the Paris Exhibitions of 1867 and 1878 (London)
Moya Carey, Curator of Islamic Collections, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, and Mercedes Volait, Research Professor at CNRS, based at InVisu, INHA, Paris, speak in a series of Seminars on the History of Collecting, in the Wallace Collection Lecture Theatre. Details online.

29 October: Fire: Friend or Fiend in Human History? (Bournemouth)
The Third Annual Pitt Rivers Lecture at Bournemouth University will be given by the internationally renowned anthropologist Ruth Tringham (University of California at Berkeley). She will explore how archaeologists can and do act as arson investigators centuries or millennia after the event, focusing on the burned houses of Neolithic Southeast Europe, and earlier examples in Neolithic Anatolia (Çatalhöyük, Turkey), in order to consider how fire has been managed and controlled, and why fire is chosen as a means of destroying places, urban or rural, public or domestic. Details online.
31 October: Developing Fire Prevention Guidance for Historic Properties (London)
In the wake of recent devastating fires during major conservation projects, this timely workshop with Christopher Marrion and Fiona Macalister is aimed at the development of guidance on a coherent approach to fire management. Organised by ICOMOS-UK. Details online.
31 October: Archaeological Writing for Publication (Oxford)
A short practical course at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, designed to provide training in key skills and concepts for archaeologists and built heritage professionals. This course will introduce the standard types of published reports currently produced by archaeologists, and how the scope and content of a report is planned. The course will then focus on two key components, the stratigraphic narrative and the discussion, and the most effective and successful ways of approaching the planning, writing and illustration of these. This will include a critical review of a number of examples, to identify common mistakes and how to avoid them. We will also look at the special requirements that apply to writing in a professional and academic context. The course will involve some preparatory reading before the training day. Course Director: Elizabeth Popescu, Post-Excavation and Publications Manager, Oxford Archaeology East. Details online.

2 November: Archaeology Live! (Sleaford)
Discoveries and Research from Lincolnshire and beyond will be presented at the 2019 Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology day conference. Speakers include Adam Daubney FSA, Mark Gardiner FSA, Colin Haselgrove FSA, Tom Lane FSA, Natasha Powers FSA and Duncan Wright FSA. Details online.
5 November: Blessed be the Springy Turf – The Story of Commons and our Rural Roots (London)
Common land still covers extensive proportions of rural England and Wales and survives in the heart of most of our cities. This lecture by Terry Robinson will explore the extremely important place common land occupies in the way our landscape has evolved and how our land management has developed. Organised by ICOMOS-UK. Details online.
6 November: Charles I: The Court at War (London)
Second in a series of free lectures at the Museum of London on the theme of Theatres of Revolution: Stuart Kings and the architecture of disruption, by Simon Thurley FSA for Gresham College as Visiting Professor of the Built Environment. During the Civil War Charles I’s court, denied access to its country residences, set itself up in makeshift locations. Oxford, and other temporary ‘palaces’, had to be both elegant court centres and efficient military headquarters. These unusual royal houses cast new light on the key protagonists in England’s Civil War. Details online.

6–8 November: Victoria and Albert at Osborne (Isle of Wight)
This English Heritage conference at Osborne House commemorates the 200th anniversary of the births of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. There will be papers about the house, gardens and collections, and the significance of Osborne from a political, cultural, technological and aesthetic perspective. Speakers include Joanna Marschner FSA, Marilyn Palmer FSA, Roy Porter FSA, Michael Turner FSA and Rowena Willard-Wright FSA. A N Wilson will give a keynote address. Details online.

9 November: Exploring Medieval Wales: Power, Language(s) and Literature (Cardiff)
This free public event at St Fagan’s National Museum of History is tied to Llys Llywelyn, ‘Llywelyn’s Court’, the reconstruction of the 13th-century royal court of the Princes of Gwynedd in north Wales. There will be a site tour with the museum’s curator and lectures by specialists in medieval Welsh history and literature, including Helen Fulton FSA. Details online.
9 November: Sunrise Over the Stones: Recent Research into Neolithic and Chalcolithic Wessex (Bournemouth)
The CBA Wessex 2019 Annual Conference will be held at Bournemouth University. Roland Smith FSA will give the welcome address, and other speakers include Tim Darvill FSA, Mike Parker Pearson FSA, Josh Pollard FSA, Julian Richards FSA, Miles Russell FSA, Alison Sheridan FSA and Ann Woodward FSA. Details online.
11 November: Glorious Things: John Ruskin's Daguerreotype Photographs of Venice (London)
During his 1845 visit to Venice, Ruskin became aware of the power of the recently invented daguerreotype camera to make accurate records of endangered buildings. To mark the 200th anniversary of his birth Sarah Quill, a Trustee of Venice in Peril, will look at Ruskin’s involvement with photography during his researches for The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice, at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House. Details online.
11 November: Animals and the Rise of the Georgian West End (London)
In this Spencer House Lecture Tom Almeroth-Williams, author of the recently published City of Beasts: How Animals Shaped Georgian London, will explore the dramatic role played by horses, livestock and dogs in West End life in the Georgian period. Details online.
14–15 November: Collecting and Collections: Digital Lives and Afterlives Workshop (London)
To be held at the Royal Society, this is the last of three international workshops organised by Collective Wisdom, which is exploring how and why members of the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Leopoldina (in Halle, Germany), collected specimens of the natural world, art, and archaeology in the 17th and 18th centuries. How can we integrate extant digital databases? How did early modern scientific journals, priority of discovery and ‘matters of fact’ shape the organisation of knowledge? How do we consider those early modern models in digital reconstructions of early collecting? Speakers include Anna Marie Roos FSA. Details online.
15 November: Curating Decay (Waltham Abbey)
This will be Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills’ first course, with three morning talks covering a range of issues in the management of vulnerable heritage sites, and reimagining how we might adopt an ethical stance that allows us to collaborate with natural processes and decay, rather than fighting against them. Lunch will be provided, followed by a chance to visit the Royal Gunpowder Mills exhibition and a guided tour of the site led by Wayne Cocroft FSA. Details online.

16 November: Discovering Anglian York: Digging in the Dark (York)
This year’s York archaeology conference will focus on Eoforwic, Anglian York. Talks will review current knowledge and recent discoveries, and will ask where should we be looking and why have we so much yet to find. Speakers include Richard Morris FSA, John Oxley FSA and Julian D Richards FSA. Details online.
23 November: HS2 Archaeology (Winslow)
Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society is arranging a second HS2 Archaeology event at Winslow Public Hall, Elmsfield Gate, MK18 3JG. HS2 archaeologists will speak on discoveries made in the course of recent investigations in Buckinghamshire. Open to all, admission £3. Doors open 1.00pm, talks start 1.30pm.

24–25 November: Books at Work: Books and Libraries for Professionals and Tradesmen since the 15th century (London)
Among themes to be addressed at the 41st Annual Book Trade History Conference will be book-trade strategies aimed at particular professional groups and specialisation in genres of publications useful for work, as well as the libraries of professionals, including doctors, lawyers, clergy, architects and heralds. Speakers include David Pearson FSA and Nigel Ramsay FSA. Details online.
25 November: A ‘Fauve de la Curiosité’: The Hybrid Career of Edouard Jonas (1883-1961), Dealer and Curator (London)
Barbara Lasic, Lecturer in History of Art and Coordinator of Postgraduate Programmes, University of Buckingham, speaks in a series of free Seminars on the History of Collecting, in the Wallace Collection Lecture Theatre. Details online.

26 November: William Holcot's Books: Recantation and Repentance in Reformation England (London)
John Craig will talk about William Holcot, a mid-Tudor gentleman, bibliophile and lay reader in the early Elizabethan church, whose experience of recantation during the reign of Queen Mary powerfully shaped his thoughts and actions during the Elizabethan period. The few pieces that survive from Holcot's life enrich our understanding of a particular stream of Elizabethan Protestantism. At Lambeth Palace Library in association with the University of London seminar on the Religious History of Britain 1500–1800, this event will be followed by a drinks reception. Details online.
27–29 November: Art of the Lost Conference (Canterbury)
Over three days curators, conservators, scientists, historians, archaeologists and artists from the UK, Europe and the USA will gather at Canterbury Cathedral and look at how, and why art is defaced, destroyed or lost within architectural settings. With a particular focus on art within the context of cathedrals and other places of worship, the conference considers changing ideologies, iconoclasm, war, fashion and symbolism. It will discuss art from the sixth century to the present. Delegates will have exclusive access to the Cathedral’s collections, with behind-the-scene tours of conservation in action, and wall paintings and graffiti. Speakers include Gerry Alabone FSA, Paul Bennett FSA, Kate Giles FSA, Tessa Murdoch FSA, Sandy Nairne FSA and David Rundle FSA. Details online.

27–29 November: Public Inquiry Workshop (Oxford)
A short course at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, designed to provide training in key skills and concepts for archaeologists and built heritage professionals. This course is a practical workshop carefully designed to improve the performance of anyone who might be called upon to participate in a Public Inquiry concerned with the historic environment. It will present the terms of procedure, the roles of the participants and the general feel of a Public Inquiry. A mock Public Inquiry will be mounted using a genuine case study. Training for potential witnesses will be given in how to prepare evidence for a Public Inquiry, how to produce proofs of evidence, and to experience them being given and tested under realistic conditions. You will be allocated a role to play in the Inquiry and asked to prepare a proof of evidence to fit this role. Active participation limited to 14 participants. There will also be a limited number of places available for observers. Course Directors: Roger M Thomas, Barrister and Archaeologist; George Lambrick, Independent Archaeology and Heritage Consultant. Planning Inspector: Richard Tamplin. Advocates: David Woolley QC and Allan Ledden, Solicitor. Details online.

28 November: Monks, Hermits and the Natural World: 300–650AD (London)
Robin Lane Fox will speak for the Saint Catherine Foundation at the Royal Geographical Society about holy men and hermits of late antiquity, distinctive features of early Christianity often linked to its monasteries such as St Catherine's of Sinai. The lecture will consider the realities and textual representations of their relations with animals, landscapes, birds and plants, and contrast the use and presentation of such items in pagan history, literature and philosophy. Details online.

29 November–1 December: Romans in North-East England: Recent Research (London)
This joint Royal Archaeological Institute/Roman Society conference will feature lectures on Aldborough, Corbridge, Scotch Corner, the Tees Valley, Dere Street, Piercebridge, Catterick, Binchester, Brough and Norton. Speakers include Richard Brickstock FSA, Hella Eckardt FSA, Peter Halkon FSA, Ian Haynes FSA and Martin Millett FSA. Details online.

30 November: Greater Manchester Archaeology Day 2019 (Manchester)
The University of Salford will be hosting its eighth annual Archaeology Day with a programme for practitioners, professionals and especially members of the public, with highlights from archaeological projects undertaken in Greater Manchester over the last year. Guest speaker for the Brian Grimsditch Memorial Lecture will be Mike Heyworth FSA. Other speakers include Ian Miller FSA, Mike Nevell FSA and Norman Redhead FSA, and talks will range from a newly discovered prehistoric site above Rochdale to the excavation of industrial remains in Castlefield. Details online.
18 January 2020: Fifty Years of Archaeology at Rewley House (Oxford)
This day school will look back at a half century of archaeology at Rewley House, to assess and celebrate the department’s achievements, discussing in particular its involvement in field archaeology from the training excavation at Middleton Stoney in the 1970s through to its recent and current community archaeology work in East Oxford and Appleton. In addition, present and former directors of archaeological studies, alongside others who have played significant roles in Rewley House archaeology, will talk about their work with the department. Speakers include Malcolm Airs FSA, Anne Dodd FSA, David Griffiths FSA, Tom Hassall FSA, Gill Hey FSA, Gary Lock FSA and Trevor Rowley FSADetails online.

31 January 2020: Places of Worship in Britain and Ireland: Prehistoric and Roman (Oxford)
A long-running series of weekends at Rewley House on Places of Worship in Britain and Ireland returns to the beginning, and examines evidence for prehistoric and pre-Christian Roman places of worship. Speakers include Kenneth Brophy FSA, Tim Darvill FSA, Chris Gosden FSA, Seren Griffiths FSA, Martin Henig FSA, Fraser Hunter FSA, Tony King FSA and John Pearce FSA. Details online.
18 March 2020: Charles II: The Court in Exile (London)
Third in a series of free lectures at the Museum of London on the theme of Theatres of Revolution: Stuart Kings and the architecture of disruption, by Simon Thurley FSA for Gresham College as Visiting Professor of the Built Environment. For a decade after the execution of Charles I the Stuart courts were based in the Low Countries and France. Determined to maintain splendour and dignity, though short of money, Charles II used rented mansions as headquarters for the exiled monarchy. In these hitherto unknown royal ‘palaces’ the king and his courtiers developed tastes that were to fundamentally fashion the art and architecture of Restoration England. Details online.
23–27 March 2020: Histories of Archaeology (Canberra)
The Collective Biography of Archaeology in the Pacific (CBAP) Australian Research Council Laureate Project, led by Matthew Spriggs FSA, will be hosting this conference at the Australian National University in Canberra, airing new ideas on the history of archaeology worldwide. Invited keynote speakers include Margarita Diaz-Andreu FSA, Stephanie Moser FSA, Lynn Meskell, Tim Murray FSA, Lynette Russell and Nathan Schlanger. The conference launches the CBAP-linked international museum exhibitions under the title of Uncovering Pacific Pasts: Histories of Archaeology in Oceania, which will take place at approximately 40 museums and cultural institutions worldwide. Enquiries to, details online.
1–3 May 2020: The Great House in the Twenty-first Century (Oxford)
The popularity of the great house for the hereditary aristocracy, aspiring owners and the visiting public has continued to blossom in the present century. A weekend (not the May bank holiday weekend) at Rewley House will provide an opportunity to explore some of the themes about the great house which have emerged since the turn of the millennium. It will cover new and established houses and their garden settings, and will examine the ways in which houses are managed and presented to the public. Speakers include Malcolm Airs FSA, Tarnya Cooper FSA, Ben Cowell FSA, Jeremy Musson FSA and Alan Powers FSA. Details online.
10 June 2020: William and Mary: The Court Divided (London)
Fourth in a series of free lectures at the Museum of London on the theme of Theatres of Revolution: Stuart Kings and the architecture of disruption, by Simon Thurley FSA for Gresham College as Visiting Professor of the Built Environment. Like James I, King William III was unhappy with the formality of England’s vast crumbling royal estate. But unlike James, who virtually abandoned Edinburgh, William maintained a second court, and a parallel suite of royal houses, in the Netherlands. Mostly ignored by English historians, these houses are the key to understanding the style that we now know as William and Mary, and its impact on England. Details online.

Call for Papers

16–18 April 2020: Wall Painting Conservation and its Dilemmas in the Twenty-first Century (York)
A conference in memory of Sharon Cather FSA will take place in the surroundings of the Tempest Anderson Hall of the Yorkshire Museum, the Hospitium in the museum’s 19th-century gardens, and the King’s Manor, University of York, to take stock of the current state of wall painting conservation internationally, and consider potentially productive developments in the future. Contributions will cover all periods of wall painting from ancient to contemporary, and will take the opportunity of reflecting on the type of issues that were of such concern to Sharon Cather. The number of papers will need to be limited to about 18. Many have already been offered, and others are now invited. Speakers will be asked to commit to contributing to the follow-up publication. Details online.

8–10 July 2020: Early Modern Conference (Durham)
The Durham Early Modern Conference is an annual event organised by the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham University. It offers a broad and inclusive interdisciplinary forum for any aspect of early modern studies, covering the period c 1450 to c 1800. We welcome proposals for panels comprising at least three papers, and strands which will run through the conference and should generally comprise at least two and no more than five related panels. The deadline for submissions is Monday 11 November 2019. Details online.


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