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Salon: Issue 367
4 July 2016

Next issue: 18 July 2016 

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 Editor (if you are reading this in an email, do not reply directly as we will not receive your message). 

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

Inside this issue

From the Desk of the General Secretary



A note on the special edition of Brexit from the Society's President, Treasurer, Hon. Secretary and Director of Research and Publications:

A number of Fellows have written following the issue of the special edition of Salon devoted to Brexit. We wish to emphasise that the views expressed in the special edition (and in the follow-up article included later in this newsletter) are those of the Fellows who wrote to the editor, and not necessarily those of the Society of Antiquaries of London, which does not have a position on Brexit per se. Fellows' views reflect the broad division of opinion across the cultural and heritage sectors and provide an interesting snapshot of immediate reactions. Briefings prior to the referendum such as those from The Archaeology Forum, CIfA and Heritage Alliance have already drawn attention to the possible impacts and consequences of leaving the European Union, and doubtless there will be further analysis in the weeks and months to come. Amidst concerns about future funding prospects, however, it is worth noting that a number of European initiatives which benefit the heritage sector will not be affected by the UK's withdrawal from the European Union: the European heritage conventions, Valetta (archaeological heritage), Granada (architectural heritage), Florence (landscape) and Faro (values of cultural heritage for society) are under the auspices of the Council of Europe, whose membership is much wider than that of the EU. In accordance with our objectives to promote the study, understanding and conservation of the past, the Society will be keeping a close eye on developments and will continue to advocate for the best legal and policy environment for heritage research and conservation.

Burlington House Courtyard Lates

The Society is delighted by the success of the first Courtyard 'late' event this summer (24 June), and by the enthusiastic response we had from the diverse audience in attendance.  We attracted nearly 230 people, and more than half of the audience (according to a survey issued on the night) was aged between 16-50, which means we were successful in reaching one of our audience development goals and engaging a new age demographic. We shared the story of our Enlightenment origins and early history as a tavern society by re-enacting one of our meetings at the Mitre Tavern, c. 1719, and our purchase of Stow's Survey of London (one of the earliest Library acquisitions), in addition to displaying objects from the Library and Museum collections, hosting introductory tours to the Library, and giving visitors the opportunity to meet President Gill Andrews and learn about the Society's regalia.

We'd like to thank the staff, volunteers and Fellows who made the event possible (Fellows who volunteered included Anthony Davis, Desmond FitzPatrick and Robert Weaver), and would like to encourage Fellows and readers of Salon to join us for the next event on 15 July.

The event in July will focus on the Society's 19th-century history and early contributions to archaeology, while acknowledging that the Society of Antiquaries (and indeed, other learned societies of the day) were sometimes subjected to satirical criticism. It will feature an interpretation of Samuel Foote's play, The Nabob, which demonstrates 'how admirably discerning and replete with learning' our Fellows were. The play caused such a sensation that Horace Walpole resigned his Fellowship. Our interpretation will also draw inspiration from the satirical 19th-century cartoon, The Antiquarian Society. Again, visitors will be able to explore small exhibits, join an introductory Library tour, meet Fellows, and enjoy cake and prosecco from the cash bar. Activities will also be held at each of the other five organisations surrounding the courtyard, and our visitors are also strongly encouraged to take this opportunity to experience the full variety of art, history and science available at Burlington House.

Details are online at

Crafty Smiths

Eleanor Blakelock, Susan La Niece FSA and Chris Fern FSA have published one of the first peer-reviewed analyses of items from the Staffordshire Hoard. They believe they have identified depletion gilding, which they say would probably have been a widespread Anglo-Saxon practice, but one not previously recognised by historians. By purifying the surface of sheet gold, depletion gilding would have enhanced the contrast between decorative components, and given the appearance of an unadulterated and more precious metal.
The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest ever find of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver, made with a metal detector in 2009. The collection, weighing a total of about 6 kg, comprises many hundreds of objects, in some 3,900 pieces. Most things are sword fittings, but there are also fragments from at least one decorated helmet, and a small but significant group of Christian artefacts. Standards of design and craftsmanship are very high. Most of the items were made between AD 600 and 650.
An initial study of 16 gold objects had suggested that a form of deliberately induced depletion gilding had been employed to remove both silver and copper. In the largest quantitative survey of Anglo-Saxon gold yet conducted, Blakelock, Niece and Fern now report in the Journal of Archaeological Science (subscription needed) on the analysis of over 222 components, of which over 100 were judged to be deliberately depleted in silver.
They could see no clear relationship between alloy quality and object date, as determined by style. A low copper content is consistent with the use of recycled coins as a source of gold.
Fern’s continuing detailed study of the hoard has dispelled early suggestions that it may have been loot from a single battle, despite the martial nature of the objects – the wide date range and sheer quantities argue against that theory. It was found in the Midlands on the western edge of Anglo-Saxon territory, yet metalworking techniques and styles are best matched in the south-east of England, particularly in East Kent and at the famous Sutton Hoo ship-burial in Suffolk. The hoard is not releasing its secrets without a struggle.

Busy at the British Museum

The British Museum launched its Annual Review on 1 July, claiming 2015/16 to be its ‘most successful year ever’. Nearly 7 million visited the Bloomsbury site, and 7.7 million people in the UK saw British Museum objects outside London under the Museum’s National Programmes partnership scheme. The BM was the leading UK visitor attraction for the ninth year running, and the second most visited museum in the world.
Hartwig Fischer (above), Director of the British Museum since April, acknowledged the achievements of his predecessor Neil MacGregor FSA, paying ‘testimony to the extraordinary efforts of Neil and his team’. The Museum has some 30 Fellows among its curatorial staff.
The BM, it said in a press release, ‘lends more objects more widely than any other museum in the world’. In 2015/16, as well as over 3,000 pieces loaned to nearly 170 UK venues, over 2,000 objects went out to more than 100 institutions overseas.. A touring version of A History of the World in 100 Objects has been seen by 850,000 people in Australia and Japan; in 2017 it travels to China.
The International Training Programme welcomed 24 participants from 13 countries in 2015. The first part of the Museum’s Emergency Heritage Management Programme, fronted by Jonathan Tubb FSA and made possible by a grant of £3 million from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, is just concluding. The programme focuses on Iraq, and is designed to establish a dedicated corps of Iraqi heritage professionals who can deal with the aftermath of the destruction of archaeological sites.
Coming exhibitions include South Africa: 3 million years of art (27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017; photo shows 19th-century brass ceremonial armlets from South Africa). Next year will see major exhibitions on American printmaking, Japanese art and Russian archaeology.
The Museum will open two major new galleries in 2017/18.

The Joseph E Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia will bring the story of this region up to the present, with new objects from the collection including paintings and textiles, sculpture, ceramics, lacquer, jade and metal ware.
The Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world will open in October 2018. The BM’s outstanding collections encompass the art and material culture of the Islamic world from Africa to China, including archaeology, decorative arts, the arts of the book, Middle Eastern and Central Asian ethnography and textiles, and modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art. The photo shows an 18th-century model of the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
These new galleries, says the release, will be ‘at the heart of the British Museum’. In May the Art Newspaper said ‘Fischer must … make a decision on how to use the Round Reading Room’, the historic circular space at the centre of the Great Court that has been closed for nearly three years. 'The most likely use', wrote Martin Bailey, ‘would be as some sort of introduction to the collection.’ On 1 July Fischer said he he would be consulting over the Reading Room's future.

Islamic Sate ‘Formidably Ignorant’ about Archaeology

On 8 June UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, said it had analysed satellite images collected a few days before over the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq. ‘Compared to imagery collected 12 January 2016,’ said UNITAR, ‘we observe extensive damage to the main entrance of what is known as Nabu Temple.’ The announcement followed release of two videos by Islamic State, in which it claimed to have blown up the 2,800-year-old temple, featuring a massive explosion. A man threatens to destroy the Egyptian pyramids and the Sphinx. The footage also shows bulldozers demolishing the Mashki and Nergal gates at Nineveh, but Christopher Jones, who writes in Gates of Nineveh, an archaeology blog, noted that it was already known that IS had bulldozed the Mashki gate in April.
On 28 June the Art Newspaper published comments on the episode from Colin Renfrew FSA.
‘In general,’ he said, ‘it seems that they [IS] do not have the knowledge to distinguish between modern reconstructions of buildings and the ancient remains. They display a formidable ignorance. But when explosives and bulldozers are used, some serious damage can be done.’

In the Times on 2 July (subscription needed) Jonathan Tubb FSA talked about the British Museum’s Emergency Heritage Management Programme, which, he said, began in 2014 as an idea he sketched out on the back of an envelope at a meeting with Neil MacGregor FSA. ‘The truth is there’s very little that anyone can do on the ground now,’ said Tubb. ‘The only thing we could do positively was to prepare for the aftermath.’

Cultural Protection Fund Open

The Cultural Protection Fund is now open for its first round, says the British Council. ‘The new £30 million fund, managed by the British Council in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, is designed to help create opportunities for economic and social development through the fostering, safeguarding and promotion of cultural heritage in conflict-affected regions overseas. Applicants for this initial round of funding will be required to have existing partners in one or more of the target countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. The next fund round will be launched on 1 September 2016 and all applicants, including those who are still developing partnerships in target countries, will be able to apply.’ Full details can be found on the Fund’s webpage.

Save a Bit More of London

Over a dozen Fellows are represented at organisations asking the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark), and the Minister of State for Housing and Planning (Brandon Lewis), to call in the demolition of Soho conservation area structures, among them the former Foyles building. The Victorian Society (whose Trustees include David Cannadine FSA, Simon Jenkins FSA and Alasdair Glass FSA), SAVE Britain's Heritage (Executive President Marcus Binney FSA, Trustees Peter Burman FSA, John Harris FSA and Simon Jenkins, Casework Advisory Committee members Philip Davies FSA, Jenny Freeman FSA, Kristian Kaminski FSA, Matthew Saunders FSA and Adam Wilkinson FSA) and Historic England (Chief Executive Duncan Wilson FSA, and who knows how many Fellows on its committees and staff) have failed to convince London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, to save the historic buildings.
Khan supports the Greater London Authority’s argument that public benefits outweigh the harm to the Conservation Area caused by demolition. However, say the objectors, this advice did not consider Paragraph 133 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which states that local planning authorities can give consent where substantial harm would be caused, only if that harm is necessary to achieve greater public benefits.
The Victorian Society says that predicted benefits to London’s economy, affordable housing and public realm, ‘could clearly be achieved by a scheme which incorporated … the existing historic buildings. Consequently, as demolition is not necessary to achieve those benefits, permission should have been refused.’ SAVE notes that the proposed nine-storey office development is ‘in marked contrast to the fine grain of the surrounding streets. Conservation Area status is meant to protect sites like this from insensitive development.' As I write, SAVE’s petition to ‘Stop the Demolition of Soho’ has 4,915 signatures.
This is not the first time central London’s historic buildings have recently been the focus of conservation disputes. In June last year King’s College London withdrew approved plans to demolish buildings on the Strand. In May this year a judge upheld former Mayor Boris Johnson's decision to intervene at Norton Folgate in Spitalfields, where he over-rode a council decision not to allow a development to proceed in a historic area.

Bikes and Badbury Hill

The National Trust has proposed a new bicycle trails scheme for Badbury Hill, Oxfordshire, which it claims ‘will make Badbury safer and more peaceful for walkers’. Among other benefits, it will, says the Trust, take cycles away from the Iron Age hillfort and minimise erosion.
Not everyone is happy about the scheme. Lauren Gilmour FSA lives near the hill, and wrote to Salon to express her concerns. I showed her complete piece to the National Trust, and asked for a response. Below is their full text. First Gilmour’s, which I have cut down slightly without losing any of her points. As always in Salon unless specifically stated, no views should be taken as necessarily representing the Society’s. Pictures are from the National Trsut.
‘Badbury Hill lies at the centre of Great Coxwell parish in the western Vale of Oxfordshire, being oriented directly to the north of the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age Uffington White Horse on the north face of the Berkshire Downs. Visitors who come to the site this summer seeking the “new cycle trails” will not find them, as the planning application for their construction was temporarily withdrawn in the face of massive and clearly unexpected local opposition.
‘Now a slightly modified application has been formally submitted for planning consent; it was available for comment until 27 June. Summaries on the NT’s website give the flavour of the revised proposal. The new cycle trails scheme will “allow cycle access to new parts of the wood” being “designed to have a low impact on the site as a whole”, “walkers can continue to walk the routes they love” having “a quieter and more peaceful experience as cycles will be redirected to different parts of the wood”.
‘Your Fellow resides half a mile to the south of the place in question, in the tiny village of Great Coxwell which still retains its ancient layout of cottages and where pottery of the Early Iron Age, comparable to finds made on the western slopes of the hill fort (sadly only the top of the fort has been Scheduled), has been found in back gardens on the bank of a stream. The statements made on the website are far less than truthful. The 6.935 km of cycle paths will cross popular footpaths, bringing walkers and mountain cyclists into direct physical confrontation mitigated only by discretionary signage. The design of the cycle trails is particularly intensive on the most archaeologically sensitive slopes of the Hill, also an Ancient Woodland. And being designed to attract advanced, as well as intermediate and family, mountain cyclists, and to be used at intervals throughout the year for “meets” designed to attract competitors within a radius of at least an hour’s car journey, considerable construction - and destruction - are involved.
‘Proposals describe constructional-destructional building methods for the trails. A “strip and fill” method would be used for low gradient trails, involving removal of the topsoil and significant disturbance of the levels immediately below, both in the course of the removal and through compaction and infiltration by the crushed stone layer to be pounded into them. Even less desirable is the “bench cut” method on steeper gradients, involving more significant removal of soil. An alternative mentioned, an overlying boardwalk proposed for wet and/or archaeologically sensitive areas, would involve digging 450cm-deep postholes, some to contain concrete.
‘Evidence brought together in the excellent archaeological desk-top survey accompanying the application demonstrates that in addition to its role as a hillfort, the site surrounding the Scheduled Monument is an important and largely undisturbed early agricultural landscape.
‘An alternative, constructional-non-destructional approach would be to build up earthen banks where trails cross prehistoric remains. This is to be strongly advocated, as would be the production, sharing and agreement, with local people and Oxfordshire’s archaeologists, of a detailed management plan for “meets”, in advance of any planning decision. Otherwise, laying these tracks will involve significant disturbance and potential destruction of an area of at least 9,047 square metres of very sensitive archaeology. The whole project, far from achieving its stated aims, will wreck the peacefulness of this ancient place for visitors on foot, forever.’
Richard Jackson, National Trust Estate Manager, West Oxfordshire portfolio, responds:
‘The National Trust’s proposal for cycle trails at Badbury Hill was conceived in response to what we were told by the people who regularly walk there: namely, that they were concerned about the current situation where mountain bikers roam the site in an unregulated way, using and crossing footpaths without warning. Designated cycle trails will allow us to separate walkers and cyclists, minimise crossings and give walkers due warning when they’re approaching one.
‘Part of the woodland at Badbury Hill is designated Ancient Woodland, but the majority was planted post-war as a commercial crop by the Forestry Commission. The cycle routes have been planned to avoid tree-felling where possible, but the intention is to revert the plantation back to native broadleaf woodland in any event.
‘The National Trust has carefully considered the impact of cycle trails on archaeological features. Protecting the Scheduled Monument from erosion and preventing the existing unauthorised use of the fort by cyclists was a key driver to the cycle trails proposal. The Trust recently commissioned detailed LIDAR and geophysics surveys of the hillfort, which have considerably enhanced our understanding of the area.
‘Oxford Archaeology was also commissioned for an independent assessment to support the planning application. This identified a number of features including earthworks such as prehistoric and medieval lynchets to the north of the scheduled hill fort.
‘National Trust’s consultant archaeologist Gary Marshall says:
‘“These features have been recorded and where possible, the cycle routes avoid them. Where they do coincide, the cycle trails will be built over the top using driven (not dug) postholes 100 x 100mm x 450mm depth. If features have to be cut through, this will be at right angles to minimise the loss of archaeological evidence and will be carried out under an archaeological watching brief.
‘“I disagree that the site is a largely undisturbed agricultural landscape. Much of the northern and eastern sections of the hillfort ditches have been destroyed by 19th century ploughing, as has the interior of the fort. The lynchets in the wooded areas have been denuded by 20th century plantations, quarrying and wartime use of the site.”
‘We are confident that the proposed cycle trails offer a unique opportunity to safeguard the historic features at Badbury Hill, whilst encouraging local families to get outdoors and active in a safe, green space.’

Temporary Export Bar on Italian Table Top

In December last year Sotheby’s London sold a striking inlaid stone table top for £3,509,000 (with buyer’s premium, but before VAT), a world auction record for such an item. Lot 201 was described as ‘an Italian pietre dure table top inlaid with the arms and symbols of the Grimani Family, probably to a design by Bernardino Poccetti (1548–1612) Grand Ducal Workshops, Florence, circa 1600–1620.’ It is 1.5 metres long. The sum was achieved, said Sotheby's, after ‘a 10-minute bidding battle, driving the final price high above its pre-sale estimate of £400,000-600,000’.
On 13 June Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar on the table top, so a buyer might be found to keep it in the UK. In a release from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Christopher Rowell FSA, a member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, described the table as ‘a tour de force both of design and of craftsmanship.’
‘It is executed in bold colours’, he continued, ‘making dramatic use of expensive blue lapis lazuli as a foil to the reddish orange, yellow and green of exotic agates and jaspers. The arms and attributes of the patrician Grimani family are proudly and prominently displayed and the table is described in a will of 1623. Each individually cut piece of marble or semi-precious stone is framed – like jewellery – in silver, as in the so-called “Pope’s Cabinet” at Stourhead, Wiltshire (NT), which was made in Rome around 1580, probably for Pope Sixtus V. The Grimani table top represents a pinnacle of perfection in the history of hardstones manufacture. It was purchased for Warwick Castle in 1830 by the 3rd Earl of Warwick, who provided a new wooden frame to support it because the Grimani retained the original giltwood table base. Its Venetian, Florentine and English history increases the lustre of this masterpiece. Every effort should be made to keep it in Britain.’
The decision on the licence application will be deferred until 12 September. This may be extended until 12 February 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £3,509,000 (plus £701,800 VAT).

Trouble with Archaeology Archives

On 26 June the Sunday Telegraph said that ‘Britain risks losing a large part of its precious historical heritage as archaeologists are forced to dump their finds because of a lack of storage space.’ ‘Thousands of objects which could shed light on the lives of our ancestors’, wrote Patrick Sawer, ‘are being abandoned or lost because there is nowhere to store them properly.’
Peter Allen (above), Chairman of the Bingham Heritage Trail Association, Nottinghamshire, said groups such as his “have had to throw their finds away because they could not store them. In other cases the collections have been thrown away by the new owner of a property where they were being kept.” The BHTA has had to return 14,000 historic artefacts excavated during a community field project to the owners of the properties in whose grounds they were found. ‘Even when museums agree to store the archaeological finds dug up by local groups’, said the Sunday Telegraph, ‘they will usually charge anything from £20 to £600 per box.’
“The problem is getting worse”, Carenza Lewis FSA told the paper, “because county councils have lost funding and museums have shut down or don’t have the staff to curate and look after archaeological finds.”
Lorraine Mepham FSA, Chair of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CifA) Archaeological Archives Group, and Senior Post Excavation Manager at Wessex Archaeology, thinks a lot about archives. She doesn't dispute what the Sunday Telegraph reported, she told Salon, but feels it presented only part of the story. Here is her perspective:
‘The Sunday Telegraph article raised the awful scenario of Britain’s archaeological archives ending up on the scrapheap due to lack of museum facilities to curate them. The newspaper was picking up on a feature published in British Archaeology (May/June 2016) by myself and Peter Allen, which highlighted the problems that community archaeological groups face in collating and depositing fieldwork archives. While it is encouraging to see the problems of archaeological archiving discussed in the national press (perhaps as light relief from post-referendum hysteria?), the article did present a somewhat skewed view. I should point out that this is in no way a criticism of either Allen or Carenza Lewis, whose comments, given in all good faith, were not set in their proper context.
‘First, the Sunday Telegraph is quite correct in stating that museum facilities are stretched due to cuts in funding. But the implication is that all museums are in the same boat, and that finds are being thrown away wholesale as a result, while those that do make their way into museums are abandoned in dusty stores, never to be seen again. Yes, the situation is serious, and may worsen, but there should have been some mention of the museums, both large and small, that are still doing their best not just to accept archives, but to use and interpret them for the public benefit. The levying of an archive deposition charge, presented by the Sunday Telegraph as somehow unfair, misses the point that archive storage costs have to be met somehow. All archaeologists have the responsibility of making financial provision for the results of their fieldwork.
‘Second, the general public might gain from the article that archaeology in Britain is carried out solely by community groups in a haphazard fashion, and not by trained professionals within a carefully monitored planning framework. Moreover, the profession is not just sitting back and ignoring the situation, but is actively discussing possible solutions, from a more selective approach to finds recovery and retention, to deep storage options in the salt mines of Cheshire. Organisations that are involved in such discussions include CIfA, the Society for Museum Archaeology (SMA), Historic England, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employees (FAME). It might have been helpful to include comment from some of these.’

Photo from the Sunday Telegraph.

Brexit: Most People Voted to Leave

I sent out a special edition of Salon devoted to Brexit, the UK’s potential departure from the EU, on 28 June. It consisted almost entirely of Fellows' words submitted over the previous two days, but was the longest edition of Salon I have posted. Brexit has touched Fellows deeply.
Comments have continued to arrive. Previously I published all submissions, and with only superficial editing. I will now be selective. People wrote to say how pleased they were to read the edition (thank you), and to realise how many shared their own thoughts.
‘All my own personal worst fears confirmed,’ writes Matt Champion, and ‘So much agree re disastrous misled vote,’ Sir Donald Insall FSA. ‘A long read but very worth while!’ writes Anthony Barnes FSA, suggesting Fellows might care to share their concerns with their MPs. ‘It will serve as an historical document in itself, when/if the dust settles,’ says Christine Finn FSA. ‘I read all the responses’, says Neil Jackson FSA, ‘and then returned to the one sent in from Cottbus by Leo Schmidt FSA. Isn't that really the point?’
‘Whilst it's interesting for a historian to be living through a pivotal historical moment,’ writes Ian Friel FSA, ‘such moments are seldom good for education, libraries, scholarship, the humanities, archaeology, science and the arts. They are likely to be among the first casualties of economic contraction and government cuts. The anti-intellectual stance of the Leave campaign suggests that if they take over government, cuts to cultural areas will be delivered with a visceral relish. Leave campaigners have appealed to the past – e.g., 'Make Britain Great Again' – but there is little sign that this is a more than a selective use of history as a prop for their prejudices.’
‘I got my first job in archaeology three months before the 1975 referendum,’ says Clive Gamble FSA, ‘and will be retiring three months after this one in 2016. In those 40 years I have seen nothing but expansion in research funding and opportunities for collaboration and travel, as walls came down, European institutions grew and archaeology became an example of how identities, bigger than the nation state, could be built on the diversity of traditions. The vote to leave is a body blow to all young researchers now setting out on their career paths. Their opportunities are diminished and their horizons flattened by this terrible outcome.’
‘Susanne Hakenbeck FSA wonders whether it’s realistic or hysterical to fear the rise of fascism,’ writes Nigel Brown FSA. ‘That fear is not unreasonable. Historically the referendum (aka plebiscite) was a useful tool for fascists to override or quash constitutional opposition. It appears that many of those who voted Leave in our recent referendum were drawn from communities which have borne the brunt of neoliberal economics. Stifled by the success of the greatest lie of our time, “there is no alternative”, they were presented with the EU/immigrants as a cause of their predicament, and told voting Leave would change it.
‘I went to see The Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre recently and a line from that production stood out: “If you give the despairing a mission, they’ll do anything you want.” We should take heed of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, and keep in mind the message implicit in that play’s title. Political acts are not inevitable, resistance is not futile.’
‘Coming from Bermuda, one of the 13 Overseas Territories (OTs), I concur with Edmund Southworth FSA,’ says Edward Cecil Harris FSA. ‘Gibraltar, another OT, was allowed a vote, but the rest of us have been dragged out of the EU without any vote whatsoever. In heritage terms, particularly with regarding to research, studies and work, Bermudians will likely lose the present right, as EU-UK passport holders, to enter the countries of the EU without visas. That is a potential disaster for young people today wishing to study archaeology and history in all its facets, and for coming generations of OT citizens. This is one of the most significant anti-heritage acts by politicians in many a generation.’
Some Fellows wish to point out that a majority voted for Leave in a fair process.
‘Although I voted to remain, and fear that some of the Fellows' worries may be well founded,’ says Peter Pickering FSA, ‘I was unhappy at the lack of recognition that a clear, though not overwhelming, majority of the people of this country voted to leave the EU. This was a democratic decision. If the vote had been restricted to those with University degrees (Platonic Guardians, perhaps), no doubt Remain would have triumphed. But for all its failings, “one person one vote” is surely preferable.’
‘”Ignorant and aberrant”; “stupid”; “deluded”? Just look at yourselves and your mandarin arrogance, guys,’ writes Mark Stocker FSA from New Zealand. ‘You lost, and Brexit won, nyah nyah! Even if the campaign was disappointing, the process itself was democratic (unlike Florida 2000), and voter turnout was healthily high. Had I been eligible, I would have voted for Bremain. Indeed, I found the outcome personally saddening. But I don’t believe in the ineffable superiority of my point of view, and I’m not contemptuous of my fellow voters, however much I may disagree with them.’
‘I've been disturbed to have read such a large number of moving cris de coeur from those with a vested interest in the continuation of Britain's membership of the EU,’ says John Titford FSA. ‘However... Given the heartfelt reactions of your correspondents, the effort must be made to explain why over half of those who voted backed Brexit. At least some of your correspondents must be secretly angry with those downtrodden working-class oiks who had the temerity to express their true feelings about the EU. The visceral loathing which has long been felt towards Le Grand Projet (and maybe towards globalisation, too) by great swathes of the North and of the Midlands (and by Wales) needs to be understood.
‘I love Europe deeply, I have a master's degree from the Sorbonne, and I haven't always been an “outer”. But I've watched the EEC/EU become increasingly autocratic, unaccountable, profligate and bullying, and I've had enough. The EU is unreformable, and the only door to take is that marked Exit. I have arrived at this conclusion with great regret – and will now duck while FSA brickbats are aimed firmly at my head. How I do hate to find myself in such a minority!’
What next?
‘How do we go forward?’ asks David Breeze FSA. ‘It seems to me that we must put our differences aside and speak with one voice. This will not be easy, but it is essential. But who will speak for us? Perhaps a first step is for the national [archaeological] societies to come together, and then to articulate our views. That will require funding, a secretariat of some form which will maintain the momentum, which will write letters to the newspapers, co-ordinate lobbying, and so on. Our national societies are far from broke, and could fund such a body and thereafter support it through, not least, the provision of appropriate information.’
‘I, too, was shocked by the result of the referendum,’ says Penelope Walton Rogers FSA. ‘I fully sympathise with academics concerned for grants and students. I applaud those Vice-Chancellors (such as our own here in York), who instantly began a process of damage limitation. However, for those of us who tender for Eurozone contracts commercially, there is a silver lining. The falling pound has made us even more competitive than before. When The Anglo-Saxon Laboratory last tendered for (and won) an EU contract, our rivals were all offering a similar schedule of costs to our own. As of this week, we are much cheaper. In addition, those of our Eurozone clients who have obtained fixed grants in order to cover our fees will be finding that they have money left over in the budget – and we are just the guys to help them spend it! Of course, the reverse of the coin is that the work we sub-contract to scientists in Eurozone countries will cost us more, but since our company has always given preference to UK contractors, the balance is firmly in our favour.
‘The UK’s Department of Trade and Investment will no doubt be getting a handle on the legal issues. For those archaeologists new to selling overseas, their website provides a range of useful advice and information.’
Finally, two Fellows wrote with effect to The Times.
‘The referendum has no legal force,’ said Sir Malcolm Jack FSA (Clerk of the House of Commons 2006–11, London N19, 28 June), ‘parliamentary sovereignty is the key principle in our constitutional arrangements. Therefore prior to any action taken by the government on Article 50, there should be a decision in Parliament and members should exercise their judgment, as our representatives, on a free vote.’
Michael J H Liversidge FSA (Bristol, 30 June), felt differently. ‘Since 1970,’ he wrote, ‘when I first cast my vote, I have often been disappointed by the result, but accepted that in a democracy the side that wins will prevail. If I have learnt anything at all from the EU referendum it is that in future I can simply ignore the outcome if it is not what I wanted and demand an immediate reversal, and that if I fail to vote altogether I have the right to an immediate reply.’

Brexeamus: A Romantic Folly

After putting together the above, I received a message from Alan Sutton FSA, known to many Fellows as a publisher of local interest, specialist history and archaeology books, based in Gloucestershire and going back to 1978. I copy his unedited piece here, to conclude Salon's current debate on the Brexit issue.
‘As historians we are, in a way, among those who are better able to make judgments relating to the issues surrounding the Referendum and all of its consequences. The simple reason for this is that we have, within our knowledge, an empirically built panorama of past events that provides a more comprehensive foundation on which to build the relevant pros and cons – within the wider context. Unfortunately it is now too late; we are now approaching a new dark age. We are a society that is deeply divided.
‘I believe our descendants in the generations and centuries to come will remain aghast that the Leave campaign succeeded and will ask themselves how this could possibly have come about? Why did the Roman legions have to go? Who was the early 21st century Honorius who needs the legions in Gaul? Who was to protect us from the invading Irish and Saxons (a neat reversal of the current Leave argument)? Did the new Dark Ages come about because everyone was so busy looking at iPhones that they did not see the new Inquisition looming and the beatings down dark alleyways?
‘Let me quote Fritz Thyssen. He was the largest and wealthiest of the German industrialists who funded Hitler, only to regret it later. He quickly vacated Germany on 1 September 1939 and wrote a book, I Paid Hitler, which was eventually published in November 1941 in the UK and USA. He was arrested by the Vichy French, handed over to the Nazis and was held in captivity, the latter part of which was at Dachau, but he survived the war.
‘If human civilisation is not to perish, everything that is possible must be done to make war impossible in Europe. But the violent solution dreamed of by Hitler, a primitive person obsessed by ill-digested memories, is a romantic folly and a barbarous and bloody anachronism.
‘Europe must definitely be given political security such as exists, for instance, in America. Otherwise this will be the end of our old continent and of the civilisation of which Europe is the cradle. If the present ordeal is to have any meaning whatever, it must lead to the foundation of the United States of Europe, in one form or another. That is my conviction.’
Fritz Thyssen, June 1940
‘If we are to be polite in selecting only mildly from this quote, could we say of one or two of the “Leavers” that they might be: “a primitive person obsessed by ill-digested memories … a romantic folly”.
‘The calling of the referendum was a big mistake. The decision was taken with the aim of quieting the right wing of the Tory party, but instead it was hijacked by that same right wing Tories who then whipped up the hysteria of an ill-informed, bigoted and often tattooed element of the population who have been failed by our education system and who live in less than privileged areas.
‘To my mind comparisons with the Third Reich are too numerous to be ignored and take on frightening proportions as has already been shown by attacks on Poles and Pakistanis. We should never forget Kristallnacht, 9 November 1938.
‘Furthermore, in the past few days we have seen would-be Tory Leader hopefuls arguing that the next Leader must not be a “Remainer”. Are we now to have retribution and vendettas? As Graham Chapman of the Monty Python team said:
‘No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise, fear and surprise; two chief weapons, fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency! Er, among our chief weapons are: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and near fanatical devotion to the Pope! Um, I'll come in again...’
‘I truly wish we could come in again.’

News of Fellows

Four distinguished Fellows died in June:
Rodney Mackey FSA, university teacher and archaeologist.
Alan Saville FSA, archaeologist, curator and specialist in prehistoric stone technologies (please note that a funeral service will be held in the Lorimer Chapel at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh, at 12 noon on Monday 4 July).
Randolph Vigne FSA, anti-apartheid activist and historian of refugees and the dispossessed.
Harry Cobb FSA, archivist and historian at the House of Lords.
Appreciations appear below.

A Slave Who Would Be King: Oral Tradition and Archaeology of the Recent Past in the Upper Senegal River Basin, by Jeffrey H. Altschul, Ibrahima Thiaw and Gerald Wait FSA, is published by Archaeopress, in print for £60 and as an e-book for £19. The book charts the results of what began as a routine cultural heritage management project in the Sabodala region of eastern Senegal, say the authors, and became a model for the country, being the first such designed to meet international standards. ‘We overcame many obstacles,’ they continue, ‘demonstrating that archaeology existed in the region, that archaeology did not have to be about monuments and world heritage, and that the recent past is just as important, if not more so, to local communities than the far reaches of prehistory. In so doing, we also showed that local lore was vital not just to understanding the past but essential for maintaining the present, and that local knowledge about farming not only coincided with science, but was key to issues of resettlement and compensation.’

The landmark Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, edited and researched by Martin Harrison FSA, was published on 30 June. Harrison curated Francis Bacon: Monaco et la Culture Française, which opened at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco on 2 July. He can be seen talking about the artist, with a French voice-over, on the Grimaldi Forum website.

Excavation by Dyfed Archaeological Trust at St Patrick's Chapel at Whitesands Bay, St Davids, has found early sixth-century Christian burials. Phil Bennett FSA, Culture and Heritage Manager at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said, ‘Without doubt some of the people buried in St Patrick's Chapel would have been contemporaries of St David – they might even have known him.’ However they may, he added, have come from Ireland. Excavations over the past three years have been conducted to record remains being lost to the sea, after winter storms in 2014 exposed graves.

The Story of Hereford (Logaston Press), edited by Andy Johnson and Ron Shoesmith FSA, brings the results of recent research and archaeological investigation to a wider readership, from more familiar aspects of the city’s history – how it fared in the Civil War, the foundation and history of the cathedral, the navigation of the Wye – to new material on Anglo-Saxon Hereford, Medieval trade, Georgian Hereford and the activities of freehold land societies in Victorian times. Contributors include Keith Ray FSA (prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon Hereford), David Whitehead FSA (Medieval castles, trade and commerce), Malcolm Thurlby FSA (Hereford Cathedral), Pat Hughes FSA (Medieval buildings) and John Eisel FSA (literature and arts); there are several chapters by Shoesmith. Ray talked about Hereford at the Hay Festival of literature in June.

Bannockburn, 1314–2014: Battle & Legacy (Shaun Tyas), edited by Michael Penman, is the proceedings of a 2014 Stirling conference. Peter Yeoman FSA, whose chapter ‘demonstrates how the archaeological evidence from recent work at Stirling Castle has informed a better understanding of the immediate aftermath of the battle’ (among discoveries were ‘the remains of a woman warrior who may have died an especially violent death … and who was of sufficient rank to warrant burial under the floor of the private royal chapel’), writes to commend a chapter by David Caldwell FSA, President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. It is ‘especially important’, he says, ‘as it sets out to debunk the most important “facts” in Scottish history, that is, that Bruce did not want to take on Edward II in open battle, and that the Scots were significant underdogs.” Other contributors include Derek Hamilton FSA, in a chapter about ‘landscape dynamics and climate change’. 

Lives Remembered

Rodney Mackey FSA died on 7 June, aged 80. Peter Halkon FSA, a friend and colleague, has written this tribute. Mackey was elected a Fellow of the Society in 2011, of which, says Halkon, he was very proud.
‘With the death of Rod Mackey, the Yorkshire region has lost one of its most active and well-liked archaeologists. A founder member of East Riding Archaeological Society (ERAS), he undertook excavations with John Bartlett of Hull Museums on a number of sites, and in his own right directed the excavation of a round barrow at Easington on the Holderness coast. He revisited the site in 1996 and 1997, in a project co-led by Kate Dennett with over 60 ERAS members, often working in extreme weather conditions, braving sand storms and tidal flooding. The discovery of an Earlier Neolithic structure, probably a house, was of national importance; it held pottery, flint tools and a large group of querns. In 2004 Rod and ERAS were presented with the British Archaeological Awards Pitt Rivers Award for the excavations.
‘Rod was no stranger to the Humber banks. In 1963 he assisted Ted Wright with the hazardous excavation and recovery of Bronze Age planked boat Ferriby 3, later shown by radiocarbon dating to be one of the oldest of its kind from Western Europe. Between 1967 and 1969, working with John Barlett, he excavated the Walkington Wold round barrow. Apart from the expected prehistoric material, they found skeletons minus skulls, which turned up nearby in the most northerly example known of an Anglo-Saxon execution cemetery.
‘In the early 1970s Rod directed the excavation of the 17-acre Iron Age settlement and Romano-British villa complex at Welton Wold, followed by collaboration with Ian Stead FSA in the British Museum’s fieldwork on the Iron Age cemeteries around Burton Fleming/Rudston and the Champagne and Ardennes regions of France.
‘In 2001 a developer-funded assessment in Wetwang village revealed a prehistoric chariot burial – that of a female with an iron mirror and other items – which was featured in the BBC Meet the Ancestors TV programme. This was just one of many watching briefs and assessments he undertook up to relatively recent times, the nearest being only two doors away from his house in Beverley. At Newbald what was thought to be a Neolithic henge on cropmark evidence, was shown by resistivity survey to be a geological feature: due to its shape, it became known as Rodney’s Ear!
‘In 1981 he was site supervisor and photographer on the Anglo-Peruvian Cusichaca project in Peru exploring Inca settlements. He was still digging with great skill at the age of 78. In 2014 it was a privilege to co-direct with Rod and James Lyall his last excavation in the Elloughton area, on a site which has produced Neolithic pottery, an Iron Age Arras burial, Roman structures and a branch road, and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery.
‘Rod always gave great encouragement to students in his “day job” as a teacher and college lecturer, and as a tutor on the Part-Time Archaeology Degree at Hull University (1993–2011); the sight of his dormobile arriving was welcomed on any excavation, as he was always happy to help and advise. Facebook has been full of tributes. John Collis FSA noted “The loss of another friend.”
‘He was a Trustee of the East Riding Archaeological Research Trust, former Chair and long-time Vice-Chair of ERAS and many other organisations, including the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.
‘His death “is a great loss to archaeology”, said Neil Adamson of Humber Field Archaeology. “Rod was, well, Rod; always there, always knowledgeable, always helpful. East Yorkshire has lost a landmark.”’


Alan Saville FSA died on 19 June after a long illness, aged 69. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1981.
His most enduring single achievement will perhaps be an excavation in Gloucestershire. In other respects a project of its time, it was run with an unusual determination to record and publish every detail – which included every stone in a part-levelled burial cairn some 60 m long. Such meticulous work, along with some exceptional finds, gave the previously ignored site international significance.
The Committee for Rescue Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset (CRAAGS), one of many local groups fighting to ‘rescue’ ancient remains in the 1960s and 70s at a time of low public awareness and little state support, had highlighted the agricultural destruction of prehistoric burial mounds in the Cotswolds. Saville focussed concern with a carefully planned excavation of a Neolithic long barrow at Hazleton, funded, one season at a time, by the Department of the Environment. The dig ran from 1979 to 1982, while Saville was based at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. Analysis continued in his museum office. On several occasions, he said, he and his colleagues signed on for unemployment benefit to keep going, and in 1984 they were made redundant when CRAAGS’s successor closed down. Cheltenham Borough Council stepped in, the work was largely done by 1988, and he lost his job again.
English Heritage published the report in 1990 (Hazleton North: The Excavation of a Neolithic Long Cairn of the Cotswold-Severn Group). Looking back on the project in 2010, when the Ministry of Justice had decided that excavated human remains should be reburied, of whatever age (a policy that was dropped in 2011, after pressure from archaeologists), he did not mince his words. Successful scientific studies had been conducted on the Hazleton remains long after the dig (one of which confirmed his earlier hypotheses). This would have been impossible had the bones not been available in a museum, he said. ‘Applying quasi-religious funerary sanctions to prehistoric human bone assemblages is simply nonsensical.’
He was no more convinced by the imaginative reaches of contemporary prehistoric archaeology (‘He had no truck with phenomenology,’ a Scottish colleague tells me). His passion was ancient stone technology and typology. At Hazleton he was able to analyse his own finds, but more usually he reported on lithic artefacts from other excavations, particularly those of Roger Mercer. Reports on Neolithic artefacts from Mercer’s Cornish excavations at Carn Brea (1981), Helman Tor and Lostwithiel (both 1997), were outdone by Saville’s study of finds from Grime’s Graves flint mines (Grimes Graves, Norfolk, Excavations 1971–72, Vol 2: The Flint Assemblage, 1981) and Hambledon, a Neolithic enclosure complex in Dorset.
Excavation at the latter was conducted between 1974 and 1986, and finally published by English Heritage in 2008. Saville’s report begins: ‘The excavations at Hambledon Hill produced a collection of over 89,000 struck lithic artefacts (weighing over 900 kg), almost entirely of flint.’ He analysed every one. His 93-page report included a defence of his approach, which advocated ‘caution in view of the limited potential which lithic artefact assemblages can have for answering specific questions’. He could see no signs that Hambledon was a ‘centre of social power’. Mercer, in his interpretation of the site, took a different view.
Saville studied Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham. He worked in the South West as a freelance finds specialist, curator and field archaeologist, moving to Edinburgh in 1989 as Head of the National Museums Scotland (NMS) Artefact Research Unit. When that was closed in 1995, he became Head of the Treasure Trove Secretariat/Treasure Trove Unit, and in 2008 Senior Curator, Earliest Prehistory (Paleolithic/Mesolithic).
He made significant contributions to the study of Scottish prehistory, especially through his lithic expertise. Suspicious of the vision too grand, he nonetheless believed that stone tools were worthy of analysis for what they might tell us about people in the past. It was for that that I invited him to join a group of specialists in 1978 when we formed what became the Lithic Studies Society (LSS), of which he was soon Chair. It was that that led him to excavate Scotland’s only prehistoric flint quarries, at the Buchan Ridge gravels (1991–96), and to embrace the discovery of a collection of 14,000-year-old flint blades found in fields by a local archaeology group at Howburn Farm, South Lanarkshire, the oldest certain evidence for humans in Scotland.
Saville’s achievements for and through the LSS are clear in a history he wrote in 2010. The Society published The Illustration of Lithic Artefacts: A Guide to Drawing Stone Tools for Specialist Reports, which he wrote with illustrator Hazel Martingell (1988). At the NMS he curated The St Andrews Sarcophagus (1997) and Prehistoric Japan: the Collections of Neil Gordon Munro (2001–02). He sat on many archaeological committees. He was President of the Council for Scottish Archaeology, Editor of the Journal of European Archaeology, President of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, and President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Photo at top shows Saville at the Hambledon Hill excavations; above, he welcomes delegates to a Society of Antiquaries of Scotland conference on Scotland in Early Medieval Europe (2013).


Randolph Vigne FSA, the great-grandson of an Irish Huguenot settler, was born in Kimberley, South Africa, and died in Canterbury on 19 June, aged 87. He fled to Britain in 1964 having been outlawed for his anti-apartheid activities, and spent 26 years in exile campaigning against the government in South Africa and for the liberation of South West Africa (now Namibia). A prolific writer on Huguenot and African history, and on refugees and migration, he was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1986, listing his interests as ‘Artefacts relating to immigration into Britain and Ireland, post-reformation; Southern African history and archaeology.’
Vigne (pronounced Vine) came to the UK to study English at Wadham College, Oxford, and returned to Cape Town in 1946, working as English editor at Maskew Miller, an educational publisher, until forced to flee the country. He was a founder member of the underground National Committee for Liberation, later renamed the African Resistance Movement, established in 1960 by members of the Liberal Party; the group’s focus was on sabotaging apartheid infrastructure. He stood for Parliament in 1961, while helping Nelson Mandela prepare for a ‘stay-at-home’ strike campaign by the Congress Alliance. He actively fought the apartheid Bantustan (homelands) policy in the Transkei, working with the Pan-Africanist Congress and its leader Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.
Such activities attracted the attention of the security police. In 1963 he was arrested and charged with holding an illegal meeting, and he was banned for five years under the Suppression of Communism Act for organising opposition to the Transkei Bantustan. In a much-related incident, he narrowly escaped further arrest, shortly before his family home was burnt down. In 2011, during a book promotion tour, he was asked about a legend that said he ran out of the back door as police came in the front. ‘It’s a good story,’ he replied, ‘but like many good stories, not quite right.’ He’d been tipped off that the police were coming. ‘I lived in Clifton House on the side of Alliance Head, and I nipped up to the contour path. And then I had a glorious period without being caught.’ After a year he fled to Britain.
His efforts on behalf of oppressed Africans continued on a wider front. As a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, he worked with Canon Collins of the International Defence and Aid Fund. He was President of the London-based Friends of Namibia, which championed the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and was founded on his initiative in 1969, against the wishes of South African campaigners. In 1974 it changed its name to the Namibia Support Committee, and became more radical; Vigne remained Honorary Secretary until he returned to South Africa in 1990. He became Founding Chairman of a new Friends of Namibia Society in 1996, backed by the Namibian government. President Jacob Zuma presented him with the South African Order of Luthuli in Silver in 2010.
In 1962 Vigne and three colleagues launched The New African, a radical monthly journal which published articles from known writers such as Nadine Gordimer, Dan Jacobson and Alan Paton, new writers and, frequently, pseudonymous writers. The contents of its offices were seized by South African security police in 1964, and publication continued in London until 1969 with Vigne as Managing Editor.
Early writings included the pamphlets, The Transkei – A South African Tragedy (1969), The Future of Namibia: Information Notes (1971, with Peggy Crane) and Dwelling Place of Our Own: The Story of the Namibian Nation (1973). After he left South Africa, his books were historical, often based on transcriptions of documents. Among these were The Trials of Tiger Roche: Sequels to the Killing of Captain Ferguson in Van Plettenbergs Cape Town (1983); A Gesture of Belonging: Letters from Bessie Head, 1965–1979 (1991); and Guillaume Chenu de Chalezac, The ‘French Boy: The Narrative of his Experiences as a Huguenot Refugee, as a Castaway among the Xhosa, etc (1993).
In 1997 he published a substantial study, Liberals Against Apartheid: A History of the Liberal Party of South Africa, 1953–58. In 2001 he edited, with Charles Littleton, From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland and Colonial America, 1550–1750, and in 2009, with Tessa Murdoch, The French Hospital in England: Its Huguenot History and Collections (he was a Director of the Hospital for 30 years, and its Treasurer for ten). Two studies of a Scottish-born poet and fighter for human rights in the Cape Colony followed, The South African Letters of Thomas Pringle (2011) and Thomas Pringle: South African Pioneer, Poet and Abolitionist (2012). In 2013 he edited The Huguenots: France, Exile and Diaspora (2013) with Jane McKee. Meanwhile he was President of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland, editing its Proceedings – to which he was a frequent contributor – for 18 years. His latest articles (on the natural history of the Cape in the 18th century, and on the Congress Alliance) appeared this year.
Among many tributes from South Africa and Namibia, Namibian founding president Sam Nujoma called Vigne ‘a struggle hero and an independent thinker’, acknowledging that he had ‘played an instrumental role in drafting [his] autobiography, Where Others Wavered’ (2001). A historian to the core, he gave his carefully ordered archive, rich with anti-apartheid documents and correspondence, to the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Obituaries have been published by The Friends of Namibia, The Namibian New Era, The Namibian, and the Johannesburg Sunday Times (subscription needed). The African Activist has posted online a 53-minute video interview made by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2004. Photo at top from Sunday Times.


Harry Cobb FSA died on 27 June aged 89. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1967. David Prior FSA, Head of Public Services and Outreach, Parliamentary Archives, has written this tribute:
‘Harry Cobb spent almost all of his career as an archivist and historian at the House of Lords, where he rose to become Clerk of the Records, retiring in 1991.
‘He was a leading member of a generation of archivists who made significant contributions to the development of the archive profession in the years after the Second World War. Born in 1926, he decided to become an archivist whilst studying at the LSE, and took the postgraduate diploma in archive administration at Liverpool University. After briefly working for the Church Missionary Society in 1953, he took up the post of Assistant Archivist at the House of Lords Record Office, where the Clerk of the Records, Maurice Bond, was embarking upon an ambitious programme of refurbishing the Victoria Tower records repository and making the archives of both Houses of Parliament accessible to the public.
‘Harry Cobb played an important part in these developments, and acquired an in-depth knowledge of the collections. After a period as Deputy Clerk he eventually succeeded Bond in 1981. In many ways the culmination of his career was the part he played with David Johnson in organising the exhibition marking the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution at the Banqueting House in 1988. Amongst many publications on the history of Parliament and its records, was his definitive catalogue of the Braye manuscripts which appeared in 1993. In addition his interest in Medieval economic history resulted in The Local Port Book of Southampton 1439–40 (1961) and The Overseas Trade of London: Exchequer Customs Accounts 1480–81 (1990). He served terms as Chair and President of the Society of Archivists, and as Chair of the London Record Society. Upon his retirement he was awarded a CBE.'
For details of funeral arrangements please email
Julian Bennett FSA, who was taught by the late John Casey FSA at Durham, would welcome any news of a memorial service, to pay his respects.

The Wisdom of Fellows

Julian Munby FSA objects to my use of the word ‘antiquarian’ to describe ‘the great antiquary Petrie’. ‘Unless as an adjectival reference to old books,’ he continues, ‘this generally has been and is used as a term of abuse that should be avoided.’ He recommends a conference to be held in October, which celebrates Walter Scott’s novel The Antiquary: see ‘Other Forthcoming Heritage Events’ below.

Forthcoming Ordinary Meetings of Fellows and Other Exclusive Fellows' Events

You can catch up on meetings you've missed by watching our lecture recordings (visit the events page and filter the results list by choosing 'past events'). The next meeting will be Thursday, 6 October 2016.

Interested in proposing a lecturer? Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer (

Forthcoming Public Events

Burlington House Courtyard Lates

Explore 300 years of learning and discover at the Society of Antiquaries of London! Discover what's behind the doors at the six learned societies at Burlington House. Visitors will be welcome to enjoy a variety of activities at different societies around the courtyard this summer. Forthcoming dates are 15 July and 26 August (18.00 - 21.00).

Photos from the Society of Antiquaries event (now past) on 24 June are available in this online album, and a video recording from the dress rehearsal for the re-enactment of an early meeting in the Mitre Tavern (c. 1719) is also available.

To find out more, visit


Public Lectures

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

23 August: 'Armour and the Afterlife: Knightly Effigies in England and Wales', by Dr Tobias Capwell FSA

20 September: 'A Copy of a Copy: Leek's Replica of the Bayeux Tapestry', by Dr Brenda King, Chair of the Textile Society.

18 October: 'The Relics of Battle Abbey', by Dr Michael Carter FSA (English Heritage).

22 November: 'Motherboards and Motherloads: The Evolving Excavation of the Digital Age', by Christine Finn FSA.

Click here for more information on our public lectures. We also run public tours of our building and collections (£10 per person) preceding the lectures above.

Filming Antiquity

The Filming Antiquity project was funded in spring 2014 to digitise, research and present the home movies of the British archaeologist Gerald Lankester Harding FSA. Harding began his career in archaeology with Flinders Petrie in 1926 at Tell Jemmah, in what was then British Mandate Palestine. The footage currently being researched by Filming Antiquity dates to the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Harding was working on the sites of Tell Fara, Tell Ajjul and Tell ed-Duweir.

23 September (17.30-19.30): In this presentation Amara Thornton FSA and Michael McCluskey (University College London) will discuss the life and work of Harding as captured on screen, setting the footage in the context of interwar excavations and the history of cinema. The presentation will include screening of footage rarely seen since the 1930s, as well as fascinating materials from Harding’s archive showing his experiences on these digs.

For more information, including booking (£5 per person), please visit the website.

Forthcoming Events at Kelmscott Manor

23 July 2016: Make Your Own Miniature Book Family Activity Day (12.00-16.00). No need to book. Included in cost of admission to the Manor. Create your very own miniature folding book, inspired by the Kelmscott Manor garden and William Morris's own designs. med at 3 to 83 year-old visitors, the sessions will run on a drop-in basis. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Society Dates to Remember


Burlington House Closings

The Society's apartments, including it's Library, will be closed for its summer conservation and maintenance programme from 1 August to 2 September (inclusive), reopening on Monday, 5 September.

Regional Fellows Groups


South West Fellows

Want to join the South West Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings, you can subscribe online at:

Welsh Fellows

Want to join the Welsh Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings, email Bob Child at

York Fellows

Want to join the York Regional Fellows Group? If you would like to receive email updates about forthcoming meetings in York, you can subscribe online at:

Other Forthcoming Heritage Events

See end for 'Call for Papers'

7 July: Van Dyck in London (London)
The Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck lived and worked in London during the 1630s. Supported by his studio, he produced many remarkable portraits. In this lunchtime talk at the National Gallery, Karen Hearn FSA, Tate’s former Curator of 16th and 17th-century British Art, considers some of Van Dyck's British works, and examines the influence on them of his art collection.

8–9 July: Assam: Textile Transmission and the Performance of Dance (London)
A conference at the British Museum featuring textile history and technique, and the Hindu monastic dance of Assam, which is still practised and which is closely linked to the imagery on the Vrindavani Vastra textile displayed in Room 91 (see above). At the end of the first day there will be a performance by a troupe of monastic dancers in the Museum’s Great Court which will be open to the public. The conference will be introduced by Hartwig Fischer, Director, British Museum, and concluded by Richard Blurton FSA, with speakers from Assam, Texas, Paris and the UK and the dancing monks of Uttar Kamalabari monastery, Majuli Island. Booking online.
14 July: Silver in Focus (Durham)
A free study day at Durham Castle Museum offers the chance to learn about and discuss silver with five speakers in a museum setting – how it is made, how it can be researched, ways it can be used and the kinds of stories that can be drawn out, how to look after silver collections, and contemporary collecting. See the Museum website for details.
17 July: Handel at Boughton (Kettering)
Burlington House (Handel's home for three years) features in a day among the gardens and 18th-centruy collections of Boughton, hosted by the Duke of Buccleuch to celebrate the composer. Paris dance company Les Corps Eloquents, with counter-tenor James Laing, will recreate scenes from Handel operas (the Duke of Montagu’s collection of original choreographies survives in Boughton). Book at 01832 274734 or on the house’s website.
19–22 July: The Great Household 1000–1500 (Harlaxton)
The theme of the 2016 Symposium convened by Chris Woolgar FSA is the medieval great household, from the 11th to the early 16th century, with a focus on elite contexts in the British Isles. Delegates will be given a guided tour of Harlaxton Manor and the afternoon outing will be to Gainsborough Old Hall, one of the finest and best-preserved 15th-century manor houses in England. The conference banquet will feature food inspired by medieval cuisine. The keynote will be delivered by Chris Dyer FSA, University of Leicester. See website for details.
2–4 September: Sussex Memorials: The County's Occupants and Occupations (Hailsham)
Father Jerome Bertram FSA will give the welcoming lecture, on ‘Monks, friars and canons: Some Sussex clerical monuments,’ at this conference at Herstmonceux Castle, a striking moated red-brick fortress built in the 15th century and restored by Walter Godfrey FSA in the last. Other speakers include RGW Anderson FSA (‘Scientists’ monuments or monuments to scientists?’), Adam White FSA (‘The Johnson family, at Eastbourne and elsewhere’), Jeremy Hodgkinson FSA (‘Wealden iron and church monuments’) and Mark Downing FSA (‘The medieval effigies of St Thomas, Winchelsea’). For details and booking forms see the Church Monuments Society website.
9–11 September: Capability Brown: Perception and Response in a Global Context (Bath)The influence of Capability Brown and the naturalistic landscape design style on landscapes across the world will be presented at a major ICOMOS-UK conference at the University of Bath, as part of the first-ever national Capability Brown Festival. Speakers include David Thackray FSA, President of ICOMOS-UK and Megan Aldrich FSA. For more information see the ICOMOS website.
24 September: Anglo-Saxon Rendlesham A Royal Centre of the East Anglian Kingdom (Bury St Edmunds)
A one-day conference to present the results of archaeological investigation at Rendlesham 2008–14, at the Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Speakers include Chris Scull FSA and Jude Plouviez FSA, and discussions will be led by Martin Carver FSA, Catherine Hills FSA and Leslie Webster FSA. For details see Suffolk Heritage Explorer.

24 September: 2016 Deerhurst Lecture (Gloucestershire)
The 2015 Deerhurst Lecture will be given by Matthew Townend of the University of York, under the title 'The Road to Deerhurst: 1016 in English and Norse Sources'. The lecture will commemorate the millennium of the peace-meeting at the island of Olney between Kings Edmund Ironside and Cnut after the many battles in the course of the year. Tickets will be available at the church door or visit the Friends Of Deerhurst Church website.
5–6 October: Auricular Style: Frames (London)
An international conference at the Wallace Collection will be the first dedicated to the Auricular style, centring on one of its most significant manifestations, the picture frame. Speakers currently include Karen Hearn FSA, Christopher Rowell FSA and Jacob Simon FSA. Displays to run simultaneously with the conference are planned with the Guildhall Art Gallery, and Ham House, London. Relevant topics include connections between countries, the Van Vianens, Fontainebleau, the grotesque. ‘Medici’ frames. the influence of prints, Auricular settings, craftsmanship, the style’s decline and its revivals, and more. Enquiries and submissions (300–400-word abstracts) to by 29 January, 2016. Convenors Gerry Alabone FSA and Lynn Roberts, in association with the Institute of Conservation (Gilding & Decorative Surfaces Group). Early bird registration (after which prices rise) ends on 30 June.

7–8 October: Sir Walter Scott the Antiquary (Edinburgh/Melrose)
The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (SAS) and Abbotsford House are holding a conference to celebrate the bicentenary of The Antiquary, at the Auditorium, National Museum of Scotland on the Friday (chaired by Iain Gordon Brown FSA and George Dalgleish FSA), and Abbotsford House, Melrose on the Saturday. Published in May 1816, The Antiquary’s 6,000 copies sold out within three weeks, and went through a further nine editions in Scott’s lifetime. Scott was a Vice President of the SAS, and his interests in the material culture of Scotland and their contemporary research form a core element of the novel. This unique event will uncover a different side to Sir Walter Scott, the antiquary and collector, and the physical culture surrounding and inspiring him.
14–16 October: 1066: Interpreting the Norman Conquest in 2016 (London)
In this 950th anniversary year, a conference on the Norman Conquest is to be held by the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London, running from the day of the battle. The conference is intended for a general audience, but the contributions will be delivered by prominent experts, including David Bates FSA, author of a forthcoming biography of William the Conqueror, and Elisabeth van Houts, who has edited and translated several Anglo-Norman chronicles and has published on women and gender in the Middle Ages. Subjects will include the background to the Conquest, arms and armour, architecture, landscape, government, aristocracy, the church, society, the Bayeux Tapestry and the task of studying the period today. To register interest and obtain further information please contact or call 0113 220 1888.

15 October: The Age of Luxury: the Georgian Country House c 1700-1820 (Lewes)
Between 1700 and 1820 old houses were transformed and new ones built, some on a spectacular scale by owners who would now be regarded as multi-millionaires. The influence of the Grand Tour on country house owners was considerable, not least as many of them travelled abroad themselves, seeing European fashions at first hand. This Saturday conference chaired by Maurice Howard FSA address such aspects of the Georgian country house. Speakers include Sally Jeffrey FSA on the influences on early Georgian garden design, Geoffrey Tyack FSA on architecture and planning, Susan Bracken FSA on interiors and Jonathan Yarker of Lowell Libson on the Grand Tour. Other topics include servants, guidebooks and how such spending was paid for.
The Age of Luxury is part of a series of day conferences organised by Sue Berry for the Sussex Archaeological Society at Lewes. New ideas from Fellows are welcomed (and she is seeking an expert on the impact of the Reformation on the English Parish Church). Please contact Speakers are paid a fee and expenses and can bring a friend free. The watercolour by J. Lambert of Lewes (1780, detail) shows Newick Place near Lewes, the home of Lady Vernon (Sussex Archaeological Society).

Call for Papers 

12 September: Objects & Possessions: Material Goods in a Changing World 1200–1800 (Southampton)
Chris Woolgar FSA is organising a conference at the University of Southampton, 3-6 April 2017, to focus on objects and possessions between AD1200 and 1800 across Europe and its overseas colonies, the connections and relationships facilitated by the exchange of goods, the importance and interpretation of the inheritance of goods and objects, and the ways in which goods brokered relations between Europe and the wider world. He invites proposals for single papers and whole sessions (three papers). Abstracts (maximum 200 words) to Keynote speakers include Chris Briggs (Cambridge), Giorgio Riello (Warwick) and James Walvin (York).

3–4 November: Society for Museum Archaeology Annual Conference 2016 (Worcester)
The Society for Museum Archaeology Annual Conference will take place at The Hive, offering an opportunity to network with colleagues while hearing about and discussing the latest developments in the field. This year’s theme is ‘A World of Archaeology: from local to global’. Have you worked on projects with international partners? Do you work on a World Heritage Site? Do you engage overseas audiences online? Or do you concentrate on working with local communities, and use imaginative approaches to open up the world? Gail Boyle FSA, Chair of the Society, says they would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to share the innovative ways they work with archaeological collections. Please send proposals or queries to the Society’s Secretary Kat Baxter at by 31 July.
21 January 2017: New Insights into 16th- and 17th-Century British Architecture (London)
This seventh conference in a series will be held at the Society of Antiquaries. Proposals in the form of short abstracts (up to 250 words) are invited for 30-minute long papers. While the emphasis remains on new developments in architecture, we welcome proposals on related themes, such as decorative arts, gardens, sculpture and monuments. The proposals should be submitted by mid-August and the final programme will be announced in September. For further information, please contact Fellows Paula Henderson FSA ( or Claire Gapper FSA (


The Council for British Archaeology, a UK-wide charity based in York, has three job vacancies. This is an opportunity for new individuals to become a key part of the CBA’s work to protect our archaeological heritage and encourage public participation in line with the aim of delivering ‘archaeology for all’.
1. CBA Deputy Director (permanent, full-time, £30k), to raise the CBA’s profile and deliver its aims through partnerships and projects, and to lead public engagement work.
2. Listed Building Caseworker for England (permanent, full-time, £24-26k), to develop the CBA’s role as a national amenity society and advise on heritage-related casework.
3. Local Heritage Coordinator (15 month contract, three days a week, £24-26k pro rata), to join a team developing a network of local advocates for the historic environment.
Full details, with application packs, are available on the CBA website. Closing date for applications is 10am 18 July 2016.

Propose a Lecture or Seminar

Please download and complete the Lecture Proposal Form, and email it to Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, if you are interested in giving a lecture at one of the Society's Ordinary Meetings (Thursday evenings at 17.00) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 13.00). 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 Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.


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

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