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Salon: Issue 313
3 February 2014

Next issue: 17 February 2014


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

New Year Honours 2014


Two more Fellows were mentioned in the New Year Honours list, in addition to those that have already appeared in Salon.

Leslie Weller was made an MBE for services to Chichester Cathedral and to the arts in West Sussex. Fellow John Manley says that ‘Leslie’s connection with Chichester Cathedral goes back thirty years to when he was appointed as the first Chairman of the Cathedral Restoration Trust. He remains a life Governor of this Trust. He also became Chairman of the Fabric Advisory Committee for the Cathedral, a post that he still holds. He has always been passionate about the arts, having started an antique and fine art saleroom in West Sussex in the early 1960s. That saleroom became one of the leading provincial rooms in the country and when Sotheby’s subsequently purchased it in 1978, Leslie became a Senior Director, responsible for the Furniture and Works of Art Department in London and Europe. He left Sotheby’s twenty years ago and now runs his own busy practice — Weller King Fine Art Agents, Consultants and Valuers — carrying out valuations and acting for clients in various ways.’

And in the Papua New Guinean part of the honours list, Australasian Fellow Professor Glenn Summerhayes, of Otago University, New Zealand, was made an Officer of the Order of Logohu (OL), for ‘service to the community through his significant contribution to the archaeology of Papua New Guinea, particularly in East Sepik, Sanduan, New Ireland, West New Britain and the Central Provinces’ (the Logohu, or Bird of Paradise, is the official national symbol of Papua New Guinea since its independence).
 

Fellow Willem Willems to be knighted


Congratulations are also due to our Society’s Honorary Fellow, Professor Dr Willem J H Willems, who retired in September 2013 from his post as Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University, and who has been created a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion by HRM King Willem-Alexander. The honour was given in recognition of Willem’s many services for archaeology and heritage in the Netherlands and at European and international level. The Order of the Lion is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a civilian in the Netherlands.
 

Forthcoming meetings

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

6 February 2014: ‘The triumph of music and time: George Frideric Handel and musical clocks by Charles Clay’, by Tessa Murdoch, FSA, and Anthony Turner

This lecture complements the current exhibition at the Handel House Museum (until 23 February 2014). Historian Anthony Turner provides a contextual and biographical introduction to the work of Charles Clay; Fellow Tessa Murdoch will then provide a curatorial overview of the exhibition.



13 February 2014: ‘The Iona Abbey Research Project: a new understanding of Scotland’s most sacred place’, by Peter Yeoman, FSA


This lecture will focus on recent research into the abbey’s archaeology and collections, carried out as part of the Historic Scotland project to help the visitors and pilgrims who come to Columba’s isle from all over the world to achieve a better understanding of the unique contribution that Columba’s monastery made to European Christian scholarship, theology, creativity and law-making. One result is a new permanent exhibition (see above) of the largest and most important collection of early medieval high crosses and cross slabs in Britain and Ireland. The completion of this project formed part of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Iona Community, as well as the 1450th anniversary of the arrival of St Columba on 19 May AD 563.

20 February 2014: ‘From Ark to the New Ashmole: collecting and cataloguing sculpture at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, by Jeremy Warren, FSA
In this paper, Jeremy Warren will share some of the insights that he gained during the many years he spent working on the Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum 1200—1540 (to be published in three volumes early in 2014). With more than 500 entries, this will be one of the most significant museum sculpture collection catalogues to be published in many years. The origins of the collection lie in ivories, alabaster carvings (many exhibited at the Antiquaries in 1910) and plaquettes collected by the Tradescants in the early seventeenth century and given by Elias Ashmole in 1683. Other objects come from the eighteenth-century antiquary Richard Rawlinson, while the core of the collection is made up of the Renaissance sculpture collected by Charles Drury Fortnum, a former Vice-President of our Society. Acquisitions made in recent years have complemented the achievements of these earlier collectors.
 

From the General Secretary’s desk


I am delighted to share with Fellows the Society’s official response to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s consultation on the ‘English Heritage New Model’. The Society’s response has drawn on the wealth of experience within Council to produce a detailed and informed consideration of the issues that this proposal raises. In short, The ‘New Model’ proposes to split English Heritage into two bodies. One part will become a charity focused on the conservation and public enjoyment of the ‘National Heritage Collection’ of buildings and monuments. This charity will retain the name ‘English Heritage’. The other part will continue to fulfil the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission’s duties and responsibilities for preserving England’s wider historic environment. Those services will be delivered under the new name of ‘Historic England’.

This proposal will have far-reaching consequences for the care and protection of England’s heritage. Fellows can find our official response to this proposal on the home page of the Society’s website.

Salon's editor adds: this week’s issue of Third Sector magazine has an ‘In Depth Analysis’ feature on the ‘New Model’ and an interview with Sir Laurie Magnus, Chair of English Heritage. One point emerges that has not yet been widely appreciated within the heritage sector: though English Heritage will be granted an initial eight-year licence to manage the ‘National Heritage Collection’, there will be a review of licensing arrangements and future contacts in 2019. A DCMS spokesperson is quoted as saying that ‘the review will consider all options’, including external tendering, and that English Heritage ‘will not necessarily be the preferred bidder’. DCMS points out that Historic Royal Palaces was established as a charity in 1998 on a similar eight-year licensing agreement.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 7 February 2014.
 

Please nominate Kelmscott Manor for the Museum + Heritage Awards 2014 by 7 February 2014


Renée LaDue, our Communications Officer, is urging Fellows and their friends, family members and colleagues to consider nominating Kelmscott Manor in the Guardian newspaper’s competition to find the UK’s most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction. As the Guardian puts it, ‘this is an opportunity to nominate the UK institution you think is a shining example within the sector for its ground-breaking approach to engaging with audiences and visitors in 2013—14’.

The Society would like to think that Kelmscott Manor fits the bill. Already this year we have launched a successful Friends scheme; the Manor won Cotswold Tourism’s ‘Small Visitor Attraction of the Year’ Gold Award for 2014 and was named in the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Top 10 places to see great English Art’ alongside Tate, the National Gallery and Sir John Soane’s Museum. We are also about to embark on an innovative ‘Artist in Residence’ programme.

It takes two minutes to complete the nomination form, and all you have to do is give a reason for your nomination in less than fifty words. Nominations close on Friday 7 February 2014.

Here are some of the reasons why people say they like visiting the Manor:

1) Everyone who visits Kelmscott Manor is charmed by the special atmosphere of this house: it bowled William Morris over when he first saw it and continues to have the same effect on visitors today.

2) Kelmscott Manor feels like a home, not a museum, and it is easy to imagine the Morris family living and working there, or D G Rossetti painting there.

3) Kelmscott Manor contains an internationally important collection of textiles, furniture, paintings and other decorative arts that beautifully showcase William Morris’s influence within the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts movement.

4) The dedicated staff and volunteers at Kelmscott Manor are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the collections, property and local area, which provides an exceptional experience for every visitor.

5) Kelmscott Manor is a lovely family day-out. Aside from the guided tour, the homemade lunches and teas are superb and children adore climbing the ladder to the attics to explore the little rooms in the roof. The lawn, gardens and fields make it acceptable for children of all ages and dog-friendly.
 
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‘A Very English Swiss’: Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (1733—94)


In a letter written on 28 September 1777, our Fellow Francis Grose (1731—91) (whose friendship with Robert Burns has been discussed in the last three issues of Salon) said that Samuel Grimm was ‘very nearly the best draughtsman in London’. We have a Swiss museum to thank for putting Grimm’s achievements in front of the twenty-first-century public: the Kunstmuseum, in Bern, is exhibiting more than 100 of his works in an exhibition curated by William Hauptman called ‘A Very English Swiss’ (he was born in Burgdorf, in the Swiss canton of Bern, studied art in Paris and moved permanently to London in 1768) that is on until 21 April 2014.



Grimm's sepia sketch of the King’s Bath and Pump Room, Bath (1788), from the collection of the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

The Society has loaned five key works to the exhibition. One of them is Grimm’s copy, commissioned by our Society in 1787, of Joris Heofnagel’s painting, the Wedding Feast at Bermondsey (c 1570), a detail from which was used for one of our Society’s Christmas cards this year (shown left). The entrancing original painting, now at Hatfield House, was one of the star exhibits at the recent National Portrait Gallery exhibition curated by our Fellow Tarnya Cooper called ‘Elizabeth I and her People’.

Grimm’s skill in creating reduced versions of the massive originals without loss of nuance and detail is evident in the other four works that we have loaned to the exhibition: his copies of Henry VIII’s campaign paintings at Cowdray House (the Departure of Henry VIII from Calais on 25 July 1544, the Encampment of Henry VIII at Marquison, and the Siege of Boulogne) plus his first (and most famous) work for the Society, his watercolour copy of the Royal Collection painting of the Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover (c 1520). All these works (along with another Cowdray House copy that he made for the Society of The Procession of Edward VI) are of immense antiquarian interest because of the sheer amount of detail they contain about customs, dress, topography, court manners, ship design, Tudor war apparatus, armour and armaments and military garb.

The remainder of the Bern exhibition illustrates the great diversity of Grimm’s output, being a choice selection from the many thousands of watercolours and drawings that he created as he scoured Britain for unusual or neglected sites of antiquarian interest. Not for nothing did his obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine say: ‘he will be remembered by all the lovers of our national antiquities’.
 
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Historians of British Art book prize awarded to The Inventory of King Henry VIII: textiles and dress


The Inventory of King Henry VIII: textiles and dress has been awarded the Historians of British Art book prize for the best multi-authored book published in 2012. The splendidly illustrated monograph contains nine chapters contributed by Fellows and other textile history specialists on the ways in which textiles were made and used by Henry VIII and his court, from the elaborate tents and pavilions of The Field of Cloth of Gold and the linen used at table or for the royal beds, to the vestments and altar clothes made for the participants in divine worship in the Chapel Royal, not to mention over 2,000 pieces of tapestry. The book was edited by Fellow Maria Hayward and Philip Ward under the General Editorship of our Fellow David Starkey, produced by our Fellow Kate Owen and published by our Society in partnership with Brepols. The book shares the award with The English Prize: the capture of the Westmorland, edited by Maria Dolores Sanchez-Jaurequi Alpanes and Scott Wilcox.

Announcing the award, which will be presented at the CAA conference (billed as ‘the world’s best-attended international art conference’) in Chicago on 13 February 2014, Elizabeth Alice Honig, Chair of the Historians of British Art book prize committee, said that ‘this is the first time we have split an award but we liked the way that both of these books used art history to animate an archive: it made them a particularly meaningful pairing’.

Textiles and Dress is the second volume in the planned four-volume series based on the Society’s copy of the post-mortem Inventory of Henry VIII’s possessions, the first being the transcript of the inventory, edited by David Starkey and Philip Ward and published by the Society in 1998. The Society’s Publications Manager, Kate Owen, says that good progress is being made in preparing the final two volumes, on The Military World: arms, armour and ordnance and The Decorative Arts and Everyday Objects, including musical instruments, books, paintings, furniture, glass, jewellery, clocks and scientific instruments.
 
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V&A’s Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion


Wool and silk tapestry depicting Perseus and Andromeda (detail), designed by Francis Cleyn and woven at the Mortlake tapestry manufactory, England, about 1635—6; from the Victoria and Albert Museum's internationally renowned textile collection. Photograph © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (cat. no. T.228-1989)

Opportunities for young people to encounter historic textiles are essential if the discipline is to thrive and produce prize-winning monographs in the future, which is why Salon’s editor has heard much muttering in textile history circles about the V&A’s new Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion. The V&A’s world-class textile collection is no longer available for study on open access in the museum, but has moved to a new home — Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road — in Olympia, west London.



Blythe House might be familiar to anyone who saw the 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; built between 1899 and 1903 as the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank, it featured in the film, based on the John le Carré spy novel (published in the 1970s but set in the 1950s), as the fictional headquarters of MI6. Some are now saying that the collection is as difficult to penetrate as the secret service and that the openings hours are also redolent of the 1950s: the Clothworkers’ Centre is closed to visitors on Mondays, lunch times, throughout August and on public holidays. You can visit by appointment, but only ‘for the purpose of study and research’, from Tuesday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm, so three hours at a stretch is the most you are allowed for study at any one time.

Even this is generous, compared with the guided tours that are now the only means by which ordinary members of the public with a general interest in textiles rather than a specific research need can get a sense of the richness of the collection: these take place on the last Friday of the month (except August) and last a mere 45 minutes. Oh well, you can always browse the online catalogue. Meanwhile, budding textile enthusiasts are best advised to visit the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, where the excellent Art Textiles exhibition has just opened (on until 17 May), or the Macclesfield Silk Museum. Manchester's Whitworth Gallery also has a fine collection of textiles, but is closed until autumn 2014 for redevelopment.
 

History libraries open day


The UCL School of Advanced Study is organising a history libraries open day on Tuesday 18 March 2014. It is open to all postgraduates and early career researchers, not just to UCL students. Our Society will have a stand at the fair in the afternoon to promote the Library. Full details and booking instructions can be found on the website of the Institute of Historical Research. The day includes a programme of workshops and talks on practical research skills, including reference management and digital imaging.
 

Fellow Henrich Härke’s ‘Letter from Central Asia’


Salon 312 saw our Fellow Heinrich Härke declaring that one visit to Uzbekistan in a lifetime is more than enough. Unfortunately, his next stop — Turkmenistan — seems not much better...

I headed for Turkmenistan in November 2013 for a conference entitled ‘One-Thousand Year Tradition of Building Culture of Turkmenistan’. It all started well enough, with tickets and hotel accommodation for foreign delegates paid for by the organizers (the Ministry of Culture), and VIP treatment at the airport of Ashgabad, the capital. But we had to pay a price for it, and in the end we realised that we were just extras in the choreography of power of a dictatorial regime which is built on gas-fuelled generosity, and which is hungry for international recognition.

It turns out that there is only half a day allocated to our papers, in four parallel sections, and in order to accommodate all speakers from abroad, the length of our papers is severely curtailed (Russians get 3 to 5 minutes, westerners 10 to 15 minutes) while the numerous Turkmen scholars whose papers are included in the programme are not given any time at all. By way of compensation, the opening and concluding sessions are long and elaborate, with the huge hall behind us filled with some 500 extras from the Ministry of Culture and the university, and with students of all subjects brought in by minders to fill every single seat in the hall.

The welcome message from President Berdimuhamedov is given a standing ovation turning into rhythmic clapping, North Korean style, which many of the confused and surprised conference delegates in the first two rows join while TV cameras are being pointed at them. The opening lectures by the three foreign scholars on the panel, on the stage in front of us, had been drafted in the Ministry of Culture (as one of them confirmed to me afterwards) and were full of references to the achievements of the President.

The Ministry official chairing the concluding session creates the impression that all 100-odd scheduled papers had actually been presented, and the critical comments in English by the only non-Turkmen section chair are simply not translated. In between these shows, we are shepherded by our minders to the opening of an exhibition on ‘Sport, Leisure and Education in the Prosperous Epoch of the Powerful State’, where we are given green rosettes to wear, are required to listen to the opening speech by a cabinet minister, and to tour the incongruous collection of displays by tourist agencies, foreign universities, sports equipment manufacturers and diplomatic missions which is already being dismantled by the time we come back from our sumptuous dinner on the top floor of the new exhibition centre.

All the time, we are asked to give interviews for TV and radio, never knowing what Turkmen ‘translation’ of our utterings will be broadcast. In one case, we do find out later what was made of a televised ‘Round Table’ with architects and archaeologists from Canada, Austria and Germany, chaired by Turkmen scholars whose introductory comments and concluding observations in Turkmen were not translated for us: a video on YouTube shows the Turkmen version where my foreign colleagues appear to refer to the President several times — I was there, and I know they never did.

This seems to be the price that foreign archaeologists have to pay for working in Turkmenistan. Is it worth it? Some clearly think it is, and they include Britons, Italians, French, Russians, Germans and others. And the archaeological potential of the country is, indeed, tremendous. We are taken on excursions to the Parthian capital of Nissa, a World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Ashgabad, where we see evidence of the relatively new concern with site conservation (now a constituent part of every contract with foreign excavators). We are flown to Mary for a visit to the impressive Silk Road town of Merv, which is not really a single town but a series of successive overlapping towns dating from the sixth century BC to the thirteenth century AD (see our own Society’s research monograph, the Monuments of Merv). British archaeologists, led by our Fellow Tim Williams from UCL, have worked here for a decade or so, taking the lead on this site as well as in another project that aims to obtain World Heritage Site status for the entire Silk Road, not just single sites along it. Backwaters such as the small town of Mary would benefit from the expected increase in heritage tourism, hopeful beginnings of which are already reported by local archaeologists there.

It is a thoughtful and tired group of foreign conference delegates that is taken to Ashgabad airport at the crack of dawn on departure day. The constant activities, visits and excursions, from dawn to nightfall, and the absence of conference sessions (boring or otherwise) during which one might have had a brief nap, has led to virtual sleep deprivation — which may or may not have been part of the plan. While we are being driven through the marble desert that is the centre of Ashgabad today (the town was destroyed in a disastrous earthquake in 1948, and the post-Soviet dictators have ‘improved’ on the Soviet reconstruction by cladding all buildings old and new in marble), I suddenly realised what the megalomaniac architecture reminds me of: Hitler’s plans for post-war Berlin. The architects in our minibus concur. But Hitler did not have Turkmenistan’s gas, which allows the authoritarian government here to bribe foreigners and to keep the population quiet (no taxes, free gas, free electricity, etc). In that sense, it is not a Central Asian North Korea, as Kazakh friends would have it: it is less openly brutal, but in a way even more sinister. As a Russian archaeologist commented quietly: ‘Now we know how easily it can happen’ — I know she meant collaboration.
 

And a Foreign Correspondent reports from home


Our Fellow Christine Finn usually reports from trouble spots around the world (most recently, for example, Timbuktu), but on the BBC World Service recently, her ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ broadcast came from close to her home in exotic Deal. In a programme first broadcast on 9 January 2014, Christine questions the value of a multi-million pound scheme to ‘shore up the shore’ and protect 1,400 homes (see below). She remembers school history lessons concerning the fate of three local castles built in the sixteenth century: while Deal castle has stayed where it was built, Walmer now has a large stretch of beach in front of it; but Sandown has been reduced by coastal erosion to a mound of pebbles. Christine reminds us that Sandown’s roads are named after ancient kings: Aethelbert, Alfred, Athelstan and ... Canute.


 

An important collection of Greek and Roman gemstones goes on display in Leiden


Fellow Professor Dr Ruurd Halbertsma has provided these photographs of two splendid imperial cameos that have just gone on permanent display at the National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden, where Ruurd is Curator of Classical Antiquities. He explains that they have come to his department following the closure in 2013 of the Money Museum (GeldMuseum) in Utrecht: ‘that museum’s rich collection of coins and medals has been transferred to the Netherlands’ Central Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank, or DNB), in Amsterdam, but little known to the public was the Money Museum’s collection of around 3,500 ancient gemstones, once part of the Royal Coin Cabinet in The Hague, which merged with the Money Museum in 2004. For a long time this precious collection has been buried in the depths of the Money Museum, but they have now been assigned to the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, and a selection of the most important pieces have been on display in the Roman Gallery since the start of the year.

‘They include the striking examples of ancient craftsmanship shown here: witness the utmost skill with which the hairstyle has been cut in the white-blue agate portrait of the Empress Livia (60 x 60mm), probably dating from the reign of Augustus (27 BC to AD 14), although some scholars assign the piece to the reign of Claudius (AD 41 to 54), who restored her honours and raised Livia to the rank of Diva in the year AD 42.

‘An even more important piece is the grand cameo cut from agate (220 x 300mm), which shows an imperial triumph. A chariot with four occupants is drawn by two centaurs, who raise a tropaeum (trophy) and trample the enemies of the state. The style of the centaurs and of the winged Victory is strongly reminiscent of the art of the reign of Constantine the Great (AD 306 to 337) (compare, for example, the reliefs on the sarcophagus of Helena in the Vatican), but memories of the Julian—Claudian age are to be found in the portraits of the main characters: Constantine (styled as Jupiter), his wife Fausta (as Juno Pronuba), his mother Helena (with a Livia hairstyle), and his son Crispus, heir to the throne.



‘Considering the age of Crispus (born around AD 300) and the pagan iconography, the triumph may be the one over Maxentius in AD 312. Thus the large cameo may be part of the honours bestowed on the new emperor by the senate, together with the Arch of Constantine (about which see Salon’s report on the book by Fellow Iain Ferris below) and the colossal statue in the Maxentian basilica on the Forum Romanum. On the basis of its size and iconography, this Gemma Constantiniana ranks with the imperial cameos in Vienna (the Gemma Augustea) and Paris (the Grand Camée de France).’
 
 

East Anglian Archaeology marks a publication milestone


East Anglian Archaeology (EAA) has just celebrated the publication of its 150th report: Tyttel’s Halh: the Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Tittleshall, Norfolk, by our Fellow Penelope Walton Rogers, marks an important milestone for the series that began in 1975 with the now out-of-print report entitled Suffolk, various papers, on burial mounds at Martlesham and Kentford, the Roman rural settlement at Hollesley Bay, the Exning moated site, a Stowmarket medieval farmhouse, redundant churches, the Bury St Edmunds archaeological assessment and Middle Saxon Ipswich. Since then, EAA has published the results of important archaeological research in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire at an average rate of one every three months. Best-selling titles include reports on West Stow Anglo-Saxon village, Norwich Castle, Great Chesterford Roman town, the Kelvedon warrior burial and the Research Framework for the East of England.

Supported by the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (East of England) and English Heritage and hosted by Norfolk County Council, EAA is the only peer-reviewed regional monograph series in the UK. It is published under the direction of an editorial board of professional archaeologists from the eastern region, and distributed by Oxbow Books.



The EAA editorial board: Maria Medlycott, Jess Tipper, Fellow Deborah Priddy, Fellow Adrian Tindall (Chairman), Jenny Glazebrook (Managing Editor), Fellow Brian Ayers, Fellow Stewart Bryant, Fellow David Gurney, Will Fletcher and Zoe Outram. Missing from the photo is Kasia Gdaniek (photograph: English Heritage)

The 150th monograph reports on excavations carried out by Network Archaeology on the Bacton to King’s Lynn gas pipeline at Tittleshall, in west-central Norfolk, which revealed twenty-eight burials dating from the fifth to seventh centuries. They included a young boy in fine linen with a sword scabbard and two knives, and a young girl in adult clothing, but with the sharp brooch-pins removed. Among the adults were a woman wearing an ornate gilt brooch and fur-trimmed cloak, and an older man buried with his head on a shield. The volume places Tittleshall in the context of the changing social and political landscape of East Anglia, and includes an analysis of women’s burials in the Wensum-Yare-Waveney river system and reviews of local place-names and landholding patterns.

Tyttel’s Halh: the Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Tittleshall, Norfolk, by Penelope Walton Rogers; ISBN 978 0 9572288; East Anglian Archaeology 150 (December), 2013
 
 

A discovery at Much Marcle




‘A discovery at Much Marcle’ sounds like the title of an Agatha Christie novel, and this discovery certainly involves a body: that of Blanche Grandison (d 1347), which was discovered, shrouded in lead sheet, during work to conserve her tomb chest in Much Marcle church. As Fellow Sally Badham, of the Church Monument Society explains, medieval tomb chests are usually surmounted by effigies of the deceased, but the actual bodies were usually buried under the church floor, beneath the monument or nearby. The chest itself is usually hollow or filled with rubble. It was therefore something of a surprise to discover Blanche Blanche’s lead-encased body lying within the Much Marcle chest, on a rough shelf of rubble and earth in a recess that had been created within the north wall of the chancel when the monument was built.



The discovery, was made last year during work carried out by Michael Eastham to dismantle the subsiding tomb chest and excavate its filling so that the front panels could be re-assembled on a firmer base to provide better support for the effigy. Michael has since reconstructed the internal shelf using stone and lime mortar to provide a sounder platform for Blanche’s body; a specially designed marine-grade stainless steel frame has been inserted to create a more securely protected space into which the body has now been safely returned intact.

A fuller assessment of the discovery will appear in the Church Monuments Society’s spring Newsletter. In the meantime, Sally advises that work is continuing on the monument, which is still boarded up.

The monument to Blanche Grandison (d.1347), wife of Sir Peter Grandison and daughter of the 1st Earl of March, Sir Roger Mortimer. In his book England’s Thousand Best Churches our Fellow Simon Jenkins refers to her as Much Marcle’s ‘sleeping beauty’. She lies in a recess beneath a fourteenth-century canopy carved with the Mortimer and Grandison arms. The body is beautifully carved with fine hands holding her rosary and dressed in a loose fitted gown with tightly buttoned sleeves and headdress. Pevsner described her as ‘strikingly beautiful, eyes closed and lips slightly parted. Beautiful hands with long fingers ... moreover the most surprising demonstration of realism in the way the train of her long skirt hangs down over the tomb-chest.’ (Photograph © English Heritage)
 
 

Erotic tiles go on display for St Valentine’s Day


Salon’s editor remembers waiting with some degree of excitement for the 1976 volume of Post-Medieval Archaeology; subscribers had been warned in advance the volume would contain a paper by our Fellow Martin Henig and Katharine Munby on a subject that some might consider offensive and giving subscribers the opportunity to decline the issue. The precaution of sending a letter in advance was necessitated by the law then in place prohibiting the use of the Royal Mail for sending unsolicited pornography through the post; perhaps the law still exists, the chief difficulty today being the precise definition of pornography.

Certainly the Museum of London seems to have decided that the eighteenth-century erotic tiles that were the subject of that scholarly paper are no longer quite so shocking, so they are putting them on display as part of an evening event called ‘Late London: City of Seduction’, to be held on 14 February 2014. Described as ‘cheeky artefacts’, the eight tiles were found boarded up in an upper room at the celebrated Cheshire Cheese pub, off Fleet Street, during restoration following a fire in 1962. Curator and Fellow Jackie Keily said the tiles are made out of plaster of Paris, relief moulded, probably produced very cheaply, but sold at a premium, and that it was ‘very rare for them to survive’.

Sadly they are deemed to be ‘too explicit’ for the museum to put on permanent display: after their Valentine’s Day outing they will be returned to ‘the deep, dark depths of the museum’s store’, but Salon readers curious to know more should have a look at the gallery on the Independent’s website, or seek out the Revd Henig’s original paper online or in the Society’s library.
 
 

Six new trustees join the National Heritage Memorial Fund/Heritage Lottery Fund Board


Six new trustees have been appointed to serve on the Board of the National Heritage Memorial Fund/Heritage Lottery Fund. Joining the Board immediately are Sir Roger De Haan, philanthropist and former Chairman and Chief Executive of Saga, David Heathcoat-Amory, Chairman of London and Devonshire Trust, and Dr Tom Tew, Chief Executive of the Environment Bank. Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain, and Steve Miller, Head of Norfolk Museums Service, will join later this month, and Perdita Hunt, Director of the Watts Gallery Trust, will join in July. The new Trustees will be part of a fifteen-strong Board that runs both the NHMF and the HLF. Its role is to steer the policy and direction of the two Funds and take decisions on grant applications.
 
 

Feedback


Fellow Peter Guest is a better mathematician than Salon’s editor: he points out that if the British Museum is indirectly responsible for generating £670 million of tourism expenditure, and receives grant in aid from the Government of £42.7million, the return is not 150 per cent (as Salon said) but 1,569 per cent. No doubt, says Peter, any organisation achieving that sort of return would be paying ‘modest’ bonuses to their staff, not making even further cuts.

Following up Salon’s report on the publication of The Iron Age on the Northumberland Coastal Plain, Fellow Rob Collins points out that the fieldwork reported in this book is one of the projects nominated in the ‘Rescue dig of the year’ category of the Current Archaeology awards. Voting for the awards is open to everyone: there are no panels of judges, only members of the public, and voting closes on 7 February 2014, so there are five more days left to vote.

Following Salon’s report on ‘Moanhenge’, Fellow Neil Jackson rightly moans that Salon failed to identify the architects responsible for the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre: ‘credit please where credit is due!’, he says. The answer is that the architects are Denton Corker Marshall and there are some excellent pictures of the building on their website. In addition, the latest edition of Current Archaeology (CA 288, out next week) features reviews of the new Stonehenge, written by Fellows Christopher Catling (ed: who he?), Matthew Simmonds and Andrew Selkirk; the current edition (CA 287) has a feature by Fellows Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright on why the Preseli hills in Wales are central to attempts to deduce the meaning of Stonehenge.

Finally Fellow John Nandris writes to say that he is very grateful for all the help and guidance that he has received from Fellows regarding the proposed housing development adjacent to Merton church in Oxfordshire following his appeal for advice in Salon 312.
 

Lives remembered: John Basil Hennessy, AO, BA, DPhil, DLitt (honoris causa), FAHA


Our Fellow Matthew Spriggs writes to say that John Basil Hennessy, a leading light in Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Sydney for many years (and a Fellow of our Society until he resigned due to ill health), died on 27 October 2013. There will be a memorial service at 2.30pm on 18 February 2014 in the Great Hall, University of Sydney. All are welcome to attend and to pay respects to a man who was the founder and driving force behind the establishment of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation. RSVP to Elia Mamprin, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, by 10 February 2014.
 

Lives Remembered: Christopher Fyson Stell, OBE, FSA



Elected a Fellow fifty years ago, on 9 January 1964, Chris Stell, the pioneer of nonconformist architectural history, died on 16 January 2014, just ten days short of his eighty-fifth birthday. The following obituary is based on the one that appeared in The Times on 30 January 2014.

Christopher Stell’s lifelong scholarship is reflected in the four volumes that comprise his epic Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting Houses, which covers the whole of England. Nothing like the inventory, which was published between 1986 and 2002, had existed before and it is revered by those working in the field of architectural history. It remains indispensable for anyone trying to track down English chapels from the seventeenth to the late nineteenth century.

The publication of the final volume led The Times to remark: ‘this is one of the key architectural records of our time’. The inventory was illustrated from the huge photographic collection Stell helped to amass at the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, as well as by his own superb line drawings and plans. These were in turn based on his massive archive, much of it handwritten, which records all remaining pre-1800 chapels as well as many from the nineteenth century. The archive is housed at the English Heritage Archive in Swindon where they form an important reference work, because (as the Historic Chapels Trust reminds us) ‘Stell’s measured drawings and descriptions are the final record of many chapels that have since been lost or altered out of all recognition’.



Stell received his architectural education at Liverpool University and in an architectural practice in Liverpool; he liked to claim that he was the last person to have been employed by Pugin & Pugin, the family firm of church architects founded in the nineteenth century by the Gothic Revivalist A W N Pugin. He soon decided that architectural practice was not for him and opted for architectural investigation and history. He worked as a senior investigator with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England from 1955 to 1989 and as a consultant thereafter.

His work on chapels, which he began on his own initiative, was crucial in securing recognition of the historical importance of the previously neglected buildings of religious dissent in all its varieties, from the Baptists (to which he belonged) and Methodists to Unitarians, Quakers and such lesser-known sects as the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion and the Catholic Apostolic Church. Such was his concern for detail that he insisted that English Heritage reprint the jacket of the final volume of the inventory so that the titles on the spine of all four volumes lined up on the shelf. Colleagues recalled that ‘only Chris could have argued them into doing it’.

Stell was instrumental in the founding of the Chapels Society in 1988, serving as its President and Editor, and in the establishment in 1993 of the Historic Chapels Trust, of which he was an active trustee until last year. It was his lobbying that led, before the HCT existed, to the vesting with the Friends of Friendless Churches of the (then derelict) Old Baptist Chapel of 1760 at Goodshaw in Lancashire in English Heritage and the Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel of 1792 at Waddesdon Hill, Buckinghamshire.

He made his expertise readily available. When a particular chapel anywhere in the country came up at any meeting, all would turn to Stell, who would probably have visited it, catalogued it and formed a view as to its historical significance. Fellow Matthew Saunders, a former trustee of the Historic Chapels Trust, recalled a time when the threat was ‘so tsumani-esque that I would contact him once a month as yet another chapel closed and faced demolition or conversion’.

Stell also published Nonconformist Communion Plate and Other Vessels, and numerous articles on individual chapels, their architects and their patrons. He was active on behalf of the Dr Williams’s Library, the Royal Archaeological Institute and the Ancient Monuments Society, as well as our own Society.
 

Call for papers: Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600—1500




This conference will take place between 30 October and 1 November 2014 at the Paul Mellon Centre and the British Museum. It will explore the ways in which artists and patrons in Britain devised and introduced new or distinctive imagery, styles and techniques, as well as novel approaches to bringing different media together. It is concerned with the mechanisms of innovation, with inventive and imaginative processes, and with the relations between conventions and individual expression. The conference will also address the notions of sameness and difference in medieval art and architecture, and how these may be evaluated and explained historically.

Topics for discussion can include authorship, creativity, experimentation, envisaging, representation, and regulation by guilds or patrons, as well as case studies of particular objects, buildings, commissions or practices. Papers should be of twenty minutes’ duration. Proposals/abstracts of 500 words should be submitted to Ella Fleming by 25 March 2014.
 

Events


22 February 2014: 'Up, up and away: new approaches to landscape archaeology'. The Cambridge Antiquarian Society is holding a conference to discuss some of the latest scientific techniques of reconnaissance used for archaeology, in particular how aerial photography, geophysics and lidar are being combined to look at historic landscapes. Topics will include remote sensing in the New Forest, transforming perceptions of Norfolk and Suffolk landscapes, photo-interpretation in Europe, English Heritage's National Identification Survey in Cambridgeshire, studying villages in Oxfordshire and mapping trenches of the Great War. For full programme details and to book, contact the Cambridge Antiquarian Society.

24 January until 1 April 2014: ‘Wondrous to Behold: treasures of early science books at Dulwich’. Fellow Robert Weaver has mounted this small exhibition focusing on the antiquarian science books within the Wodehouse Library at Dulwich College. The material is drawn from sixteenth- to eighteenth-century volumes of astronomy, metallurgy, natural history, medicine, warfare, physics, chemistry and mathematics, with medieval and nineteenth-century ‘controversy’ material to set them in context. Robert says that ‘few of these fifty or so texts, many finely illustrated, have been shown before and they attest to active collecting and study by contemporary Fellows and donors’. The exhibition is open to public view and Fellows are especially welcome (simply ask for a Visitor Pass at reception).

26 and 27 April 2014: ‘Winchester: archaeology and memory’, a major conference organised by Winchester Excavations Committee, Winchester College and the University of Winchester in which Fellows will feature large among the contributors. Full details will be available shortly: to register your interest, please email Susanne Haselgrove.

Winchester is the most thoroughly excavated city in Britain, and its excavations among the most fully recorded. It is also a city that has played a central role in the drama of English history as well as in British myth and legend. Much of the last fifty years of archaeological work in the City has been published in the ‘Winchester Studies’ series, written and edited under the direction of our Fellow Professor Martin Biddle. In addition, the material presented within them has wider implications for the study of Winchester, its people, landscape, topography and history. Thus the aim of this two-day multidisciplinary conference, and of the planned volume of essays that will emerge from it, is to make a wider reading of the archaeology, and one that also connects the material past with modern memory. Areas for discussion and debate will include memory and identity, myth, legend and history, power, space, place, architecture and fabric, communications, landscape, art, literature and piety, charity and devotion.

28 April to 2 May 2014: ‘Archaeology Survey Week'. English Heritage’s long-running annual training week, designed to cover a range of archaeological landscape survey techniques, will take place this year at the University of Warwick. The five-day course, incorporating three days of fieldwork, introduces participants to a range of techniques for observing, surveying and interpreting the historic landscape. The closing date for applications is 28 March 2014. For more information and an application form, contact Alice Sirrelle.

9 and 10 May 2014: ‘Understanding the Marches’. The Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust is holding a Day School in Shrewsbury to mark the retirement of our Fellow Bill Britnell, preceded by a dinner to celebrate Bill’s twenty-five years as Director, with our Fellow Richard Bradley as guest speaker. The lectures will look at the archaeology of the Welsh Marches through the lens of Bill’s excavations and publications. Speakers will highlight particular sites and will review the impact of the work on the then-current understanding and on subsequent work in Wales and elsewhere. This is a day that will look back on how much has been learnt, but also look forward to new work and new questions. For further information see the CPAT website.

6 September 2014: ‘Shedding New Light on the Dead’, a study day organised by the Ledgerstone Survey of England and Wales, at Little St Mary’s, Trumpington Street, Cambridge. The ledgerstone has all too often been neglected as an art form. Used and abused, they have frequently been carpeted over and dismissed as unimportant features of a parish church. However, they were the preferred form of marker for middle-class intramural burial from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century and are an invaluable source of social, genealogical and heraldic information, as well as letter-cutting styles.

The Ledgerstone Survey of England and Wales was set up to record them and promote their study under the chairmanship of our Fellow Julian Litten. The speakers at the study day include Fellow Roger Bowdler on the function and purpose of ledgerstones, Fellow Neil Rushton on ledgerstones in Churches Conservation Trust churches, and Jon Bayliss, of the Church Monuments Society, on ledgerstones and letter-cutters in Norfolk and Suffolk. There will be a visit to St Botolph’s church for a demonstration of the ledgerstone recording and imaging techniques and a discussion chaired by Jane Hedley of NADFAS. For further information, see the Ledgerstone Survey’s website.
 
 

Art of Merit: studies in Buddhist art and its conservation


Edited by Fellow David Park, Kuenga Wangmo and Fellow Sharon Cather, this book is the result of the Buddhist Art Forum, a major conference held at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2012, sponsored by the Robert H N Ho Family Foundation. This brought together for the first time a representative group of those with a stake in Buddhist art — including art historians, conservators, curators and officials, a monk from Nepal and a contemporary artist — to address such issues as the nature, creation, function, conservation and contemporary manifestations of Buddhist art.

The twenty-eight papers consider Buddhist art from the earliest Indian stupas to contemporary Himalayan thangkas, as well as its ritual use and audience, its tourist consumption in expanding economies, its often ill-conceived conservation, and its influence on modern and contemporary western art. A stimulating range of viewpoints is expressed in this lavishly illustrated volume, making a significant contribution to the awareness and understanding of these issues and developments that goes beyond regional and specialist boundaries.

Art of Merit: studies in Buddhist Art and its conservation, edited by David Park, Kuenga Wangmo and Sharon Cather; ISBN 9781904982920; Archetype Publications, 2014
 
 

Gristhorpe Man: a life and death in the Bronze Age


Found in July 1834, at Gristhorpe, near Scarborough, Yorkshire, ‘Gristhorpe Man’ has attracted interest and study ever since because his is the best-preserved example of a Bronze Age tree-trunk burial to have been found in Britain. As well as the human remains, the waterlogged oak coffin contained the animal skin in which Gristhorpe Man was wrapped for burial, three flint artefacts, a bronze dagger with a whalebone pommel and a bark vessel containing food residue.

Gristhorpe Man has been on display in the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough since his discovery, but the refurbishment of the museum in 2005 provide the opportunity for a new study, the results of which are published in this volume, edited by Nigel Melton, Fellow Christopher Knüsel and Janet Montgomery. Using the array of scientific tests now available, this establishes the probable appearance of Gristhorpe Man, suggests that he was born locally, was a member of a warrior elite, given weapons training from an early age and enjoying a diet rich in meat. CT scanning revealed that he suffered from a brain tumour that, though not life-threatening, may have seriously altered his personality in his later years. He probably died around 2000 BC at the age of sixty, and the remarkable state of preservation was partly due to tannin in the hollowed-out tree that was used as his coffin, which appears to have a face carved on to one end.

Gristhorpe Man: a life and death in the Bronze Age, edited by Nigel D Melton, Christopher Knüsel and Janet Montgomery; ISBN 9781782972075; Oxbow Books, 2013

This book is currently on special offer, at £40, a 20 per cent discount on the normal price of £50.
 


 

Ham House: 400 years of collecting and patronage


We visit stately homes for all sorts of reasons, but underlying most of them is a desire to learn something new through an encounter with historic architecture, furnishings, works of art, gardens and designed landscapes and the stories of the people who created all of these. It is interesting to speculate, as we come away sated with the information presented to us in the guidebook, displays and audio-visuals just what proportion of the total we might have learned about the house and its people as we skim the surface in an afternoon’s visit.

Under his Chairmanship Fellow Simon Jenkins has been encouraging the National Trust to develop ‘spirit of place’ statements that encapsulate the significance and unique character of each property: using that as the catalyst for the presentation of the property, he argues that visitors should ‘get’ what the place is about within five minutes. That is, perhaps, the sad but inevitable result of having to compete for visitor pounds and of an age of instant gratification, fed by digital technology. Diametrically opposed to such an approach is a huge slab of a book that Christopher Rowell has edited for the National Trust on just one property: Ham House, located by the Thames near Richmond, in Surrey. The book helps to answer that earlier question — how much of the bigger picture do we get from an afternoon's visit or the guide book? Weighing in at 536 pages, this book is the equivalent to 33.5 average National Trust guidebooks; the point of this comparison is to say that the simple and highly selective narrative that we get from a visit comes nowhere near to summing up the rich story of the house. Every property (even a quite humble vernacular home) is a mesh of multiple histories.

How do you tease them out into some sort of navigable route through this mass of material? Christopher Rowell adopts a broadly chronological approach, but one that interweaves accounts of the major architectural phases and the remodelling of interiors with studies of specific classes of object (decorative woodwork, metalwork, textiles, ceramics), adding in profiles of the key individuals involved (and not just the aristocracy: various makers and craftsmen are given their due; for example, Christopher Nobbs contributes the riveting tale of a harpsichord maker who set out to pass off his instrument as the work of the leading workshop of the day (that of the Flemish Ruckers family) but who made an instrument so innovative that it is worthy of being celebrated in its own right, not as a ‘fake’).

Christopher Rowell himself contributes a chapter on ‘Romantic Antiquarianism’ at Ham House, which is full of revealing and amusing extracts from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century diaries and letters written by would-be visitors whose desire for an encounter with the house and its time-honoured collections was frustrated by the eccentricities of the owners, the earls of Dysart. George III himself was refused entry, and Horace Walpole (who only got in because his niece, Charlotte, married the fifth earl) complained that even as a family visitor: ‘you are locked out and locked in, and after journeying around the house, as you do around an old French fortified town, you are at last admitted through the stable-yard to creep along a dark passage by the housekeeper’s room, and so by the back yard into the great hall’.

A century later, Augustus Hare makes a similar point, echoing Walpole’s French theme: ‘no half-inhabited château of a ruined family in Normandy was ever so dilapidated as this home of the immensely rich Tollemaches ... the vast house is like a caravansary; in one apartment lives young Lord Dysart, the real owner; in another his Roman Catholic mother, Lady Huntingtower, and her two Protestant daughters’.

This sets the scene nicely for the chapter (by Fellow Simon Jervis) on the triangular relationship between the Tollemaches, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Trust that was established in 1954. If one is ever tempted to criticise institutions for the way they can sometimes over-restore houses, stripping them of patina and character, the pictures in this chapter will remind you of the reverse side of the coin: 'before' and 'after' photographs of mouldering rooms and objects show what miracles of restoration were worked on the furnishings. For romantic tourists, the very decay was part of the appeal, being sensually evocative of the past, but Augustus Hare perhaps speaks for most of us when, describing Ham House in 1879 as ‘so ancient, dreary and decayed that at every step one’s spirits sank’, leaving him drained of his passion for antiquity.

Salon's report can only hint at the riches of such a large and generously illustrated book; let us hope that copies are liberally scattered around the house itself so that visitors can sink into the chairs (encouraging visitors to use the less significant furniture being another Simon Jenkins’ innovation) and read about what they can see. Let us hope, too, that this is the first of a whole new series of equally comprehensive, well-researched and revealing accounts of major National Trust properties.

Ham House: 400 years of collecting and patronage, edited by Christopher Rowell; ISBN 9780300185409; Yale University Press, 2013
 
 

East Dorset Country Houses


From one house to many: Fellow Michael Hill’s book on East Dorset was intended for the well-reviewed series published by Phillimore & Co, to which Michael (with Fellow Nicholas Kingsley) had already contributed volumes on country houses in Gloucestershire. The admirable Spire Books stepped in to publish this volume, which was already in preparation when the Phillimore series was terminated, with financial support from the Marc Fitch Fund and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art.

The book follows the approach of the earlier volumes, with an introductory essay on the development of buildings of high architectural stature in the eastern part of the county from Corfe Castle (c 1080) to the Arts and Crafts mansions of the inter-war period, built (despite the rising tax burden imposed on house and landowners through super-tax and death duties) by the likes of Charles St John Hornby (with money from the growing W H Smith chain) and Sir Charles Hambro (who, having succeeded to the Milton Abbey estate in 1925, was forced to sell the model village he built in the 1930s in order to hold on to the main house).

The gazetteer section of the book consists of studies of thirty-six ‘major houses’, each of which is provided with a plan and a detailed analysis of its origins and development, with sources for further reading. These expand what might in Pevsner be a laconic paragraph into an extended essay and, whereas Pevsner deals exclusively with the architecture, Michael Hill tells us much about the people who made the house.

The last quarter of the book deals with ‘other houses’, giving a page (and often a photograph) to each; the selection ranges from fourteenth-century Fiddleford Manor, with its delightful cusped wind-braced hall roof, to ‘Landfall’, the modernist house designed by Oliver Hill in 1936 for the documentary film-maker Dudley Shaw Ashton, set amongst the pine trees of Poole Harbour, forerunner of all those trophy homes that now crowd that waterfront.

East Dorset Country Houses, by Michael Hill; ISBN 9781904965466; Spire Books, 2013
 
 

Château Gaillard news



Fellow Penny Dransart reminds us that the most recent volume in the Château Gaillard series (vol 25) has now been published. Called L’origine du château médiéval, it contains thirty-four papers (several contributed by Fellows) exploring the origins of medieval castles and is based on a conference held in 2010 at Rindern, in Kleve, a frontier zone near the German border with the Netherlands.

The next Château Gaillard Colloque will be held from 23 to 31 August 2014 and is being organised by Dr Reinhard Friedrich of the Europäisches Burgeninstitut and Professor Dr Peter Ettel of the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, on the theme of ‘Castle and Commerce’. It will be based in Bad Neustadt, north east of Frankfurt. Penny is happy to supply further information.
 
 

Clogh Oughter Castle, Co. Cavan


One of the papers in Château Gaillard 25 concerns thirteenth-century circular towers in Ireland, just like the one on the cover of this book, written by Fellow Conleth Manning, showing Clogh Oughter Castle, sitting on an island scarcely bigger than the castle itself, where it guards the convergence of several waterways. The full complexity of the castle’s architectural history is revealed through the book’s report on the petrographic analysis that has enabled the major phases of the castle to be reconstructed between the 1220s and the 1650s.



Above: Clough Oughter Castle. Photograph © Oliver Dixon

The excavation and finds reports provide an unexpectedly rich account of late medieval to early modern life at the castle: harp-tuning pegs testify to the music that was heard within its walls, while book clasps and mounts suggest that a large printed book, or a bound manuscript, was kept at the castle. Cooking pots, candle holders and an iron fireback, spurs, keys and curry combs, scabbard chapes and knives, gold and silver lace, all add to the picture, as do the remains of a plumb bob and tools that were used, perhaps, in the tower’s construction. A meeting of the Catholic bishops of Armagh Province held at the castle in 1651 could explain the discovery of half a papal bulla outside the entrance.

Canon ball and mortar bomb fragments, lead shot and firearms (snaphaunce pistol fragments, for example) provide testimony to the siege of the castle in 1653, when the castle was the last in Ireland to surrender to the Cromwellians, four years after Cromwell and his army landed in Ireland. The damage that was wrought by bombardment left the castle roofless, and after the defenders had surrendered, the highly theatrical sleighting, using explosives, took away the southern third of the tower, leaving it to accumulate ivy to become the romantic ruin of the last 350 years, now, though, carefully consolidated and repaired by the National Parks and Monuments Branch of Ireland’s Office of Public Works.

Clogh Oughter Castle, Co. Cavan: archaeology, history and architecture, by Conleth Manning; ISBN 9781406427776; Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Archaeological Monograph 8, 2013
 
 

Ireland in the Virginian Sea


The intriguing title of this book by Fellow Audrey Horning refers to the book’s examination of the political and material impact of the British colonisation of North America and Ulster during the reign of James I. Jamestown, founded in 1607, and the Ulster Plantation, colonised by freelance planters from 1606, and an official plantation from 1609, are directly contemporary, and so invite comparison.

As Audrey demonstrates, the rather naive notion that the colonisation of Ireland was in some way a dry run for America, and that the expansion of Britain into Ireland was a dress rehearsal for the founding of the United States, cannot be sustained. If anything, some of those who ventured to the New World and later came back to estates in Ireland were influenced in their Irish dealings by their Virginian experiences, rather than the other way around. And for all that English and Scottish planters deployed rhetoric that put the ‘superstitious Irish’ on a par with the ‘barbarous Indians’, there was a world of difference between people with whom you shared a language, religion and legal framework and those who were so different that people speculated whether they were even human.

On the other hand, it is instructive to make comparisons, and what Audrey teases from the archaeology and from historical records is an account of how each culture impacted on the other; what each learned from the other, for example, about house building or ceramic techniques, and what they chose to adopt from each other’s material culture; the impact of new ideas of land ownership, farming practice, social hierarchy, social organisation and the rights of individuals; warfare and aggression, the use of alcohol and tobacco; the ways in which the British responded to invisible but important cultural and religious aspects of the landscape; poetry, music and song.

In the blending that results, it often looks as though the influence of the coloniser was the stronger of the two: after all, America is now the land of neo-liberal capitalism and the private ownership of land, not social democracy and communal ownership. But the bitterness and anger that exists on both sides of the Atlantic to this day on the part of New World and Gaelic natives as a consequence of the events of four centuries ago shows that minds have not necessarily been won, that important differences exist and that this book is more than just an interesting historical exercise.

Ireland in the Virginian Sea: colonialism in the British Atlantic, by Audrey Horning; ISBN 9781469610726; University of North Carolina Press, 2014

Salon readers who order this book from the Eurospan Bookstore will receive a 20 per cent discount by entering the code ‘horning’ at the checkout.
 
 

Historical Archaeologies of Cognition


Something of the same themes and material occur again in this collection of papers edited by Fellow James Symonds, Anna Badcock and Jeff Oliver, asking to what extent it is possible to find in archaeology the evidence for religious faith and its impact on people’s lives; not for ritual, but rather for the benevolence that is supposed to flow from the Christian cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Informing the papers is the sense that all material culture is, to a greater or lesser degree, the product of thought. The challenge then is to try to infer the thought mixed in with the product — if such a separation is possible.

Greig Parker has a go by looking at Huguenot clothing and what it says about notions of modesty, decency and group cohesion; Fellow Harold Mytum, who has been interested in churchyard memorials since his schooldays, examines epitaphs, symbols and biblical texts on graveyard monuments for evidence of the belief in predestination that characterises some Protestant faiths or in ultimate salvation (assisted by prayers for the soul of the deceased) in the case of the Roman Catholic faith. Sam Walls undertakes a similar exercise for World War One memorials, contrasting public and private monuments. Gillian Carr and Jeffrey Burton, examin German and American World War Two internment camps, and Laura McAtackney, looking at Northern Ireland’s Maze prison, all point to the subtle physical traces of resistance, co-operation and altruism, from hidden V for Victory signs that convey to fellow prisoners the message ‘don’t lose heart’, to the creation of gardens and ponds that bring beauty and tranquillity to a regime of terror.

Historical Archaeologies of Cognition: explorations into Faith, Hope and Charity, edited by James Symonds, Anna Badcock and Jeff Oliver; ISBN 9781845535346; Equinox, 2013
 
 

The Arch of Constantine


Though this book by Fellow Iain Ferris has a civic monument in Rome as its central subject, the book is an excellent all-round introduction to the life and times of Constantine, whose victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and tenth anniversary as emperor the Arch of Constantine commemorates. A curiosity of the Arch, completed in AD 315 (hence 1,700 years old when the book was published in 2013), is that it is largely made up of spolia — reused architectural and sculptural fragments. Iain sets the use of spolia in context as an important phenomenon of Late Antiquity and argues that, far from that being the sign of cultural exhaustion, or the lack of talent and imagination to create new work, this is deliberate and purposeful.

Core to the book is Iain’s unpicking of what he calls this ‘sculptural collage’, summarising his own ideas and those of other scholars on the meaning of the parts and the whole. He sees the Arch as a work of conscious antiquarian propaganda, referencing imperial ideology and ceremony from the past to bolster the present. As well as being an actual gateway, he contends, the arch was a metaphorical ‘portal through which past, present and future’ were brought together. Not only do the spolia incorporate strong references to Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, three of the five so-called ‘good’ emperors who presided over the Roman Empire at its most glorious, it shows them doing the sort of things that good emperors should do: defending Rome and its people, defeating foes, negotiating peace, undertaking solemn civic and religious duties, as if Constantine wanted to show his pedigree and co-opt their achievements.

In a chapter on the way the Arch has been depicted and interpreted in more recent times, it is interesting to discover that it was a favourite with a long string of artists stretching from Botticelli and Perugino through Claude Lorrain to J M W Turner, and not just for its picturesque qualities, but as the backdrop to Biblical events, the Arch representing the very foundations of Christianity. Reading this book, you begin to share the author’s fascination for the monument and can well understand why one might spend a large part of one’s life engaged in academic debate about its multiple meanings.

The Arch of Constantine: inspired by the divine, by Iain Ferris; ISBN 9781445601298; Amberley Publishing, 2013
 
 

The Archaeology of Andover


Fellow Nick Stoodley has brought together in this volume the results of excavations undertaken by the late Max Dacre, self-taught archaeologist and stalwart of the Andover Archaeological Society that he helped to found; it has since merged with the Andover Local History Society to create the Andover History and Archaeology Society, who have published this volume, partly to put on record what was found and partly to inspire others to explore Andover’s archaeology.

Dacre is something of a local hero in Andover: the museum has a room dedicated to Max and his wife, Peggy. The work that he directed in and around Andover between 1964 and 1989 was often carried out in the teeth of the bulldozer in the days before developer-funded archaeology. He kept meticulous notes and had planned to write a monograph of his work, but his untimely death prevented this.

Rescue work inevitably lacks the cohesion of research archaeology, but Nick Stoodley draws the fifteen excavations in this book together into a final synthesis. This suggest that the Andover hinterland — a mix of easily worked upland chalk soils and pasture in the clearly defined river valleys — was densely occupied by the early Iron Age, with farmsteads located at regular intervals. If being close to a water source was important in prehistory, it was the crossroads that attracted small settlements in the Roman period; elsewhere, the distribution of villas and non-villa settlements suggest a high degree of landscape organisation, with agricultural estates covering much of the land. Early Saxon settlement was more diverse, and more like the Iron Age, with relatively dense settlement beginning in the late Saxon period, along with the beginnings of today’s landscape organisation.

The Archaeology of Anover: the excavations of the Andover Archaeology Society 1964—89, edited by Nick Stoodley; ISBN 9781903152324; Threshold Press, 2013
 
 

Vacancies


Emery Walker Trust and William Morris Society: Project Manager
Salary c £30,000 pro rata (4 days per week for 6 to 7 months); closing date 4 February 2014

To support the two organisations in the development of their Stage 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. See the website of the William Morris Society for further details.

Museum of London: Director, Content
Salary c £75,000; closing date 10 February 2014

To be responsible for the curatorial Departments of History and Archaeology. Further information on the Museum Jobs website.

University of Cambridge, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: Senior Assistant Curator in Archaeology, ref. JU02068
Salary range: £37,756 to £47,787; closing date 14 February 2014

Applications are welcome from research-active archaeologists with museum experience. Requirements include expertise in European (including British) archaeology, experience of curatorial work, research and public engagement. See the Cambridge University website for further information.

English Heritage: Head of International Advice
Salary £45,000 to £52,000, dependent on experience; closing date 18 February 2014

Our Fellow Christopher Young is retiring shortly, so English Heritage is seeking an enthusiastic and motivated individual for the full-time post of Head of International Advice. Based in the London office, the post holder will provide strategic advice to EH, Government and the national and international heritage sectors on strategic historic environment issues. The post holder will act as an advocate and influence international heritage policy within England, the rest of Europe and in relation to world heritage issues.

The successful candidate will have a high standard of academic and/or professional qualification in heritage or a relevant heritage-related subject. He or she will need to demonstrate significant experience of strategic heritage and advocacy work, ideally with a substantial international element; be confident at operating and influencing with political sensitivity at a senior level; have strong skills in policy analysis, synthesis and evaluation; and be able to communicate successfully with a wide range of stakeholders.

Applications should be made online via the English Heritage website.
 
 

Gifts to the Library, October to December 2013


The Society is very grateful to the donors of the following books, given to the Library in the period from October to December 2013. The online catalogue has full records for all these books, which are now available in the Library.
  • From the author, Beverley Ballin Smith, FSA, The Udal: Iain Crawford’s excavations on the machair 1963—1994 (2012)
  • From Alex Bayliss, FSA, Tara — from the past to the future: towards a new research agenda, edited by Muiris O’Sullivan, Chris Scarre, FSA, and Maureen Doyle (2013)
  • From Charalambos Bouras, Hon FSA, Heaven and Earth: cities and countryside in Byzantine Greece, edited by Jenny Albani and Eugenia Chalkia (2013)
  • From Peter Boyden, FSA, Ludlow 1085—1660:  a social, economic and political history, by Michael Faraday (1991)
  • From the co-editor, David Breeze, FSA, The Crosby Garrett Helmet, edited by D J Breeze and M C Bishop (2013)
  • From the co-author, David Breeze, FSA, Frontiers of the Roman Empire: the African frontiers, by David J Breeze and Sonja Jilek (2013)
  • From the author, Bill Britnell, FSA, Walton Basin: archaeology and conservation (2013)
  • From the author, Alexandrina Buchanan, FSA, Robert Willis (1800—1875) and the Foundation of Architectural History (2013)
  • From John Cherry, FSA, Royal Seals of the Árpád Dynasty, by Takács Imre (2012)
  • From the co-authors, Anne Curry, FSA, and Glenn Foard, FSA, Bosworth 1485: a battlefield rediscovered (2013)
  • From John Goodall, FSA, Petworth: the people and the place, by Christopher Rowell, FSA (2012)
  • From Norman Hammond, FSA, Chan: an ancient Maya farming community, edited by Cynthia Robin (2012); Past Presented: archaeological illustration and the ancient Americas, edited by Joanne Pillsbury (2012); Early evidence of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing at Kichpanha, Belize, by Eric C Gibson, Leslie C Shaw and Daniel R Finamore (1986)
  • From the author, Bill Harriman, FSA, The Bicentenary of the Birmingham Proof House 1813—2013 (2013)
  • From the author, Jan Hietala, Inconclusive Evidence: spatial gender politics at Strawberry Hill 1747—58 (2013)
  • From the author, Michael Hill, FSA, East Dorset Country Houses (2013)
  • From Jeremy Hodgkinson, FSA: Beiträge zur Geschichte der schweizerischen Eisengiessereien, edited by Hans Boesch and Karl Schib (1960); La métallurgie normande XIIe-XVIIe siècles: La revolution du haut fourneau, by Jean-François Belhoste et al (1991)
  • From the author, Julian Hunt, FSA, A History of Halesowen (2004)
  • From Chris Kitching, FSA, Harvey’s Keepers: Harveian librarians through the ages, edited by Leon G Fine (2007)
  • From Jonathan Marsden, FSA, Of Neighing Coursers and of Trumpets Shrill: a life of Richard, 1st Lord Dingwall and Earl of Desmond (c 1570—1628) by Timothy Wilks (2012)
  • From the author, John Newman, FSA, The Buildings of England Kent: north east and east (2013); The Buildings of England Kent: west and the Weald (2013)
  • From Patrick O’Keefe, FSA, Realising Cultural Heritage Law: festschrift for Patrick O’Keefe, edited by Lyndel V Prott, Ruth Redmond-Cooper and Stephen Urice (2013)
  • From G Meirion-Jones, FSA, Cluny: les moines et la société au premier âge féodal, by Dominique Iogna-Prat et al (2013)
  • From the author, Nicola (Schreiber) Stacey, FSA, The Cypro-Phoenician Pottery of the Iron Age (2003)
  • From Sir David Wilson, FSA, The Image of the Ordered World in Ancient Nubian Art: the construction of the Kushite mind (800 BC—AD 300) by László Török (2002); Fontes Historiae Nubiorum: textual sources for the history of the middle Nile region between the eighth century BC and the sixth century AD. Vol 1: from the eighth to the mid-fifth century BC, edited by Tormod Eide, Tomas Hägg, Richard Holton Pierce and László Török (1994)
 
 

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