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Salon: Issue 354
30 November 2015

Next issue: 14 December 2015

The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of heritage news. It focuses on the activities of the Society and the contributions that the Society's Fellows make to public life. 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.
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Inside this issue

From the Desk of the General Secretary

Update on the HLF Application for Kelmscott Manor

Stuart McLeod, Head of Region for HLF South East, reported that our application for Kelmscott Manor was not successful. However, we have been encouraged to reapply. Our challenge is to work within the limitations of the conservation constraints and limited visitor numbers. Stuart McLeod recommended that we reapply again soon, and that we strengthen our case for reaching targeted groups and for providing better virtual access. Although this is disappointing, we will be resubmitting the heritage grant application in April 2016.

Glastonbury Abbey in the News!

The Society’s recently published book on Glastonbury Abbey has been in the news this past week. The book’s author, Fellow Roberta Gilchrist, was interviewed by BBC's John Kay on 24 November,  where she accused the monks of Glastonbury Abbey of fabricating myths connecting the abbey King Arthur in order to attract free-spending pilgrims. She also dismissed as a forgery their claim that the abbey was founded by Joseph of Arimathea in the first century AD and was thus the oldest church in Britain. The monks reinforced these claims to an ancient heritage by designing their church to look older than it was, using archaic architectural styles and reusing material from earlier abbey buildings to emphasise the Abbey’s mythical feel and its pre-eminent place in monastic history. Roberta said: ‘Glastonbury Abbey became the second richest monastery in England by the end of the Middle Ages.’ Watch the interview here.

Further coverage of the story of Glastonbury Abbey appeared in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, and Fellow Simon Jenkins referred to it at length in his comment column in the Guardian on 26 November; he congratulated the canny monks of Glastonbury on creating the medieval equivalent of Disneyland.

The newly published book, Glastonbury Abbey: archaeological investigations 1904–79 (by Roberta Gilchrist and Cheryl Green), has been published by the Society of Antiquaries of London and distributed by Oxbow Books (ISBN 9780854313006).  It reveals the non-mythical fact that Glastonbury probably was one of England’s earliest monasteries: There is firm radio-carbon dating evidence that stained glass was being made at the site in the 680s, probably in association with a major rebuilding of the abbey undertaken by King Ine of Wessex. The extensive remains of five glass furnaces have been identified, together with fragments of clay crucibles. It is likely that specialist glassworkers came to work at Glastonbury from Gaul (modern France) and that they brought ancient Roman glass with them to be melted down and recycled into vivid blue-green window glass.

The book is currently on sale at 20% discount (only £36) as Oxbow’s Book of the Month.

Roberta will be giving a public lecture on the Glastonbury Abbey excavations on 31 May. Book a seat today!

Conservation of the Society's Cocked Hat

We are thrilled to announce that funding is now in place to conserve the Society’s 18th-century Cocked Hat – thanks to a very generous donation by Fellow Dr Edward Harris. Dr Harris decided to help while attending an Ordinary Meeting of Fellows at Burlington House. ‘I saw quite clearly how the last 300 years had not been kind to the Cocked Hat. I’m delighted that my donation will ensure that it remains in pride of place at the Society’s meetings for another 300 years’.

If you would like to learn more about the Society's other conservation campaigns and how you can help, please email Head of Development Dominic Wallis.

Spending Review: Devil in the Detail

‘One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums and heritage.’
With all that’s going on, we might not have expected to have heard George Osborne, the Chancellor, say that to Parliament last week. To be fair, the complete sentence ended, ‘our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport’, but that fuller phrase if anything highlights the word ‘heritage’. For then its origins in the name of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) are apparent: Osborne is defining Culture in a way that might be seen partly as a nod to the efforts of Historic England’s chairman, Sir Laurie Magnus, to have Heritage added to the departmental name.
The Chancellor gave his Spending Review and Autumn Statement speech on 25 November. It’s a political event, setting out the Government’s spending plans from 2016–17 to 2019–20 (the last year of the current Government, with the Chancellor a possible contender as leader of the next) and mostly does not interest us here. Several things were said, however, that directly concern Fellows (you can read or watch the speech here, and find the full Review and Statement here).
First the obvious. Cuts to the DCMS (which earlier in the year, if it continued to exist at all, was projecting its future spending on heritage to be about a third of that on arts and museums) were lower than had been anticipated. Britain, said Osborne, is ‘brilliant at culture’.
‘£1 billion a year in grants’, he said, referring to one of the best investments we can make, ‘adds a quarter of a trillion pounds [£250,000 million] to our economy – not a bad return. So deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy.’ In practice, the DCMS’s 5.1% was proportionately almost the highest departmental cut. Nonetheless, there was cash to spare.
This allowed a number of things. The Arts Council, expected by many to be hit by further major cuts, will get more money (this is not mentioned in the Review and Statement, though the delighted Council ‘understands’ this means an extra £10m annually – ‘a 5% reduction in real terms’). Overall, it was said, arts, museums and galleries will ‘have the same amount of government funding in cash terms in 2019–20 as they do today’.
Free access to national museums and galleries will continue. A few weeks ago a rumour that the British Museum was considering charging overseas visitors, quickly denied by the Museum, suggested at least one institution was worried about this.
Osborne named three free-access museums, the British Museum (Director Neil MacGregor FSA), the Science Museum (Director and Chief Executive Ian Blatchford FSA), and the V&A. They will receive help to move their collections out of storage and onto display. The Government will invest £150 million to replace outdated stores at Blythe House with ‘new world-class storage facilities to preserve and protect over 2 million fragile and sensitive objects’. MacGregor and Blatchford both declared themselves ‘delighted’ that the Chancellor had recognised the importance of museums and galleries.

Blythe House is currently used jointly by the three museums. A huge, chunky Edwardian Gothic edifice near the west London Olympia Conference Centre, it was bought by the Government in 1979 for £6.5 million – little more than the price of a nice London flat now, so the Chancellor can expect a tidy profit from its sale. The V&A hopes to move its reserve collections to ‘a state-of-the art, accessible collections centre’ near the projected V&A East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, said to be opening in the cultural and education quarter by 2021. The British Museum, on the other hand, is thinking about how it might consolidate its collections on its main Bloomsbury site.
Significant funds were also promised for museums outside London, including the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (£2.5 million); a South Asia Gallery which the British Museum is helping to create at Manchester Museum (£5 million); the Great Exhibition of the North (£5 million to help it expand, and £15 million for a Legacy Fund); and the Burrell Renaissance project in Glasgow (£5 million). £1 million will be shared by Hull for its UK City of Culture 2017 and the next UK City of Culture. £500,000 will help Plymouth celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey to Cape Cod in 2020. The British Library has been asked to develop a business case for a print collections management hub in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.
Additionally, the Government will ‘work with museums and galleries to explore the case for introducing a new tax relief for the sector.’ This will ‘encourage’ them to ‘develop creative new exhibitions and display their collections for a wide audience.’
Historic England (HE), it seems, was also handed a smaller cut than it had feared. It will lose about £2.2 million to its baseline by 2020, some 10% in real terms – small fry compared to the pummels English Heritage had received before the former organisation was split into two.   
‘The government has recognised the significance of Historic England’s role in caring for our spectacular historic environment,’ said Duncan Wilson FSA, HE’s Chief Executive, ‘and we are grateful for this. We fully appreciate that we have been given some protection in comparison to many other public sector bodies.’
‘A 10% cut is not an insignificant challenge,’ he continued, ‘and other aspects of today’s news will create further challenges for us as we care for the historic environment during a time of change. But public recognition and support for our mission is high, and we intend to press on with vital initiatives to increase our impact. This settlement will enable us to support the English Heritage Trust during its first years of operation, while it becomes financially self-sufficient. This is very welcome news.’
More welcome news was the announcement (under the heading ‘Security’) that the UK will provide international support for cultural heritage in global conflict zones. £30 million official development assistance will go into a new Cultural Protection Fund between 2016–17 and 2019–20. John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, had announced the creation of this fund in June. Perhaps then we can continue to hope that the UK will sign up to the 1954 Hague Convention, which Whittingdale had promised when he made that announcement. Not unrelated, and further welcomed, is increased funding for the BBC World Service.
Conflict history is recognised at home. The Royal Marines Museum gets £2 million to help it move to the Historic Dockyard within Portsmouth Naval Base; a further £600,000 goes towards Portsmouth’s D-Day museum, which will reopening as the International Museum of D-Day, Portsmouth in 2019 (Dominic Tweddle FSA, Director General, National Museum of the Royal Navy, is ‘absolutely delighted’).

Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust receives £1 million, to facilitate a learning and access project in the Battle of Britain Museum at the former headquarters of RAF Fighter Command. The National Army Museum also gets £1 million, for ‘a radical transformation ready for 21st century audiences’. With £350,000 Hooton Park Trust will be able to restore one of the few First World War aerodromes remaining as built. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission receives £2 million to renovate and maintain post-Second World War graves, the Victoria Cross Trust £600,000 to look after graves of those awarded the VC, and the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, working to commemorate the Crimean War nurse who died in 1881, has £240,000.
Unsurprisingly, Ed Vaizey’s Twitter account (rarely a dull place) was particularly busy, as the Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport ticked off one success after another.
Except for the Arts Council settlement, all of that is described in the Statement, and adds up to a lot – not least as it comes as part of a package of cuts. There are other things with less explicit implications for Fellows, one good, two perhaps not.
First, the Chancellor liked to talk about building. ‘For we are the builders,’ he said, twice, earning himself the press nickname George the Builder. Some of this building was described. There will be ‘the biggest house building programme by any government since the 1970s’, including £300 million for ‘the first garden city in nearly a century’ at Ebbsfleet. Kent. There will be ‘the largest road investment programme since the 1970s’, including a further £250 million for Kent. There will be railways and flood defences. £23 billion will be invested in school buildings.
And some of the building was implied. ‘Old Victorian prisons in our cities that are not suitable for rehabilitating prisoners will be sold’ – and developed.
Two days before the Chancellor's speech (see below), archaeologists were in Westminster celebrating 25 years of development-led excavations, made possible by Government planning policy. All that building will create work for commercial archaeologists – and significant contributions to the country’s cultural capital in the form of heritage knowledge, and material that will feed future museum displays.
That is, if two briefly noted proposals do not turn against heritage.
To speed up the building, the Chancellor promised ‘further reforms to our planning system so it delivers more homes more quickly’.
Should archaeologists worry about that? And what might it mean for historic buildings?
Secondly, there was this:
‘Local government is sitting on property worth quarter of a trillion pounds. So we’re going to let councils spend 100% of the receipts from the assets they sell to improve their local services.’
Will some councils, forced by squeezed budgets to make ends meet how they can, see this as an incentive to sell their museums? The point emphasises that, notwithstanding headline news, support for museums and heritage, from prehistoric earthworks to decaying World War Two remains, lies mostly with local owners and managers. The archaeology and planning system depends on local authority backing. Even David Cameron, the Prime Minister (as his local paper The Oxford Mail discovered) had complained to his authority that it was failing in its support for museums (among other things), which he saw as part of the ‘frontline’ to be protected by ‘making back-office savings’.
‘I am open to all suggestions that will help,’ wrote back Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council. ‘Our revenue support grant funding has fallen by almost 50 per cent in the first half of this decade.’ He listed in some detail the financial cul-de-sac into which the Council had been forced by central Government. Still, he can now, as he told Cameron in his letter he could not, legally sell off his assets and use the cash for services.
Finally, Fellows at universities will have noted that Sir Paul Nurse has been asked to review the seven Research Councils, with a new body, Research UK. The Research Excellence Framework will be reviewed 'in order to examine how to simplify and strengthen funding on the basis of excellence’. ‘In the modern world’, said Osborne, ‘one of the best ways you can back business is by backing science.’
Scientists asked to comment by The Guardian were pleased that things were on the whole better than they had expected, and welcomed a commitment to science. But they repeated like a mantra, ‘the devil is in the detail’. Apply to all of the above.

The Coded Register of Hammersmith

Here’s a curious thing. Cliff Webb FSA has been looking at the 17th century parish register of Hammersmith. Surrounding the normal entries is a large corpus of coded material. ‘I have looked at many hundred such documents and never seen anything remotely similar,’ he says. ‘Can any Fellow shed any light on the matter?’
The photos show a sample spread and a detail from one of those pages. There are many such pages, says Webb. ‘I have copied the whole book, so anyone who knows what it is and is interested can have copies of them with pleasure. Some parts do seem to be accounts, possibly the vicar's, but much of it is totally incomprehensible to me. Perhaps it is a small version of Pepys' diary?! Indeed, I have never seen the original of Pepys, and wonder if anyone who has can say if this is a similar code.’

Caring for 20th-Century Murals 

I reported in the previous Salon the Alan Sorrell cover-up at Myton School in Warwick. Myton is an Academy School which thinks its master of history painting’s mural, commissioned in 1953 when the school was built, irrelevant to ‘developing the key learning habits for [its students’] employability’, or apparently anything else. Instead pupils are encouraged to seek inspiration in slogans such as ‘Enthusiasm and zest’, ‘Self control’ and ‘Curiosity’, or, for the less literate, drawings of a lightbulb and a football. In the meantime, the school’s art department can turn to photos of the mural in a chapter by Alan Powers FSA in Alan Sorrell: The Life and Works of an English Neo-Romantic Artist, edited by Sacha Llewellyn and Richard Sorrell (Sansom 2013). The photo here shows Alan at work on The Seasons, with his young son Richard as often in attendance.
Duncan Wilson FSA took up the cudgels by writing to The Times (subscription required), after the paper published a paragraph about the incident (‘Artist’s daughter angry over mural cover-up at school’, 23 November). The mural, says Wilson, ‘is among many postwar public art works that are now at risk. Historic England is working on a major project to recognise the best examples of this postwar public art. We see a worrying trend towards it being destroyed, covered up or simply ignored in its context. These works are by some of our best 20th-century artists and make up a national collection of art available to all. …. They deserve our care and protection, and we are assessing Sorrell’s mural for listing.’
The letter drew several comments online, including one from a Peter Hobday. ‘The covering of Sorrell's gift of the mural to celebrate the opening of the school’, he writes, ‘just goes to confirm that “no act of kindness goes unpunished”. The mural depicts an adult passing down fruit from a tree to children. Perhaps the “school management” are so used to seeing it they have forgotten its relevant message will be seen by new children who enter the school each year.’

The incident reminds me of a visit to Lincoln I made as a student. I was there to work in the museum, but my real goal was the cathedral, and murals commissioned from Duncan Grant the year Myton School (as it now is) was opened. In my innocence I imagined the paintings would be a star of the cathedral’s firmament, but I couldn’t find them. Neither could a helpful cleric I enlisted, until eventually we opened a storeroom door. There in a dark chapel behind cupboards, mops and a ladder, was Grant’s glorious depiction of a young, athletic Christ on the Sussex downs, shouldering a lamb; in another scene, ships unloading in Lincoln docks are reminiscent of one of Sorrell’s early canvas murals at Southend. Much of the work was covered and invisible. I didn't have the heart to tell the surprised gentleman that on that very day the artist’s obituary occupied a prominent page in The Times. I understand things are better now, though a long entry for the cathedral in Wikipedia has yet to catch up (it does, however, tell us that murals and polystyrene monument replicas created to give the appearance of Westminster Abbey for The Da Vinci Code film, have been auctioned off).

Battle of Jutland Commemoration

The large deck gun from the German destroyer B98, and a smaller deck gun from HMS Opal, are travelling from Orkney to Portsmouth for what will be the UK’s main exhibition telling the story of the Battle of Jutland (1916). The guns are usually on display at the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Lyness.
Orkney is hosting the national commemoration, with a service of remembrance at St. Magnus Cathedral, a major exhibition at the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall, and revamped displays at Scapa Flow. As part of the loan arrangement, the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth will carry out extensive conservation work on the guns.
Commemorative events for Jutland 2016 start in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with the formal opening on 24 May of a blockbuster exhibition 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle that Won the War. The exhibition is a unique opportunity to bring together material from across the UK and Germany, and is linked to the opening of HMS Caroline in Belfast.
The Battle brought together the two most powerful naval fleets of the time in the pivotal maritime engagement of the war, with 6,000 British and 2,500 German personnel lost.

News of Fellows

 The BBC will broadcast a special interview next year, presented by Kirsty Young, to mark the 90th birthday of Sir David Attenborough FSA (left, with fireflies in another 2016 film). Recorded in front of a studio audience, the one-hour programme will celebrate his contribution to our understanding of the natural world, and to the development of TV broadcasting, with film makers, zoologists, conservationists, biologists, anthropologists and broadcasting pioneers.
A Chasm in Time: Scottish War Art and Artists in the Twentieth Century, by Patricia Andrew FSA, won the 2015 Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award, presented at Central Hall, Edinburgh on 26 November. The Saltire awards are made annually by the Saltire Society, an independent, non-political organisation promoting and celebrating Scottish culture.
John Goodall FSA, architectural editor of Country Life and writer of the magazine’s weekly articles on country houses, has teamed up with photographer Paul Barker to create Parish Church Treasures: The Nation’s Greatest Art Collection (Bloomsbury). The result, says the publisher, tells afresh the remarkable history of the parish church. It celebrates the special character of churches as places to visit whilst providing an authoritative and up-to-date history at a time when the use and upkeep of these buildings and the care of their contents is highly contentious. Clover blurb includes quotes from Sir Roy Strong FSA (‘an important book at a crucial time’), Simon Jenkins FSA (‘superb eye for the exquisite and eccentric detail’) and Loyd Grossman FSA (‘elegant and erudite’).

Ian Baxter FSA is guest editing the Heritage Alliance’s online newsletter, Heritage Update. Professor of Historic Environment Management at the Suffolk Business School and Trustee of the Alliance, his second and last issue will be on 11 December, pending a new regular appointment.
Peter Yeoman FSA (right) has recently resigned from Historic Scotland to establish an archaeology and heritage consultancy, and to pursue his own research interests. He writes:
‘This is not an entirely new departure for me, as I had set up the first independent archaeology consultancy in Scotland in 1987, before leaving that to become County Archaeologist for Fife. Latterly I was Head of Cultural Heritage and then Principal Heritage Researcher at Historic Scotland, dedicated to developing archaeology and the knowledge base for the estate of 345 properties in care. During this time I led the research programmes which underpinned major interpretation projects and permanent exhibitions at James V’s Renaissance Palace within Stirling Castle, Whithorn Priory, St Vigeans Pictish stones, Iona Abbey, and Edinburgh Castle.
‘I had been an Inspector of Ancient Monuments, but went on to develop wider expertise in programmes of assessment of cultural significance and World Heritage Site conservation and management. I have expertise in the analysis and recording of historic buildings, as well as in the investigation and conservation of major churches. A particular research interest has been the archaeology of pilgrimage, and I have recently completed a chapter on that subject for the OUP Handbook of Late Medieval Archaeology in Britain, currently being edited by Alejandra Gutiérrez and Christopher Gerrard FSA at the University of Durham.'
Yeoman can be contacted at
The 51st volume of Furniture History, the journal of the Furniture History Society (FHS), founded in 1964, takes the form of a festschrift for our Society’s former President, Simon Swynfen Jervis FSA. He was FHS Chairman for 15 years (1998–2013) and its Editor from 1987 to 1992. Starting with his 18-page bibliography the book comprises 20 articles by 22 authors, of whom half are Fellows of this Society, on subjects ranging from the 15th to the 20th centuries, and spanning Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany as well as England and Scotland. It is introduced by the FHS President, Sir Nicholas Goodison FSA, who notes Jervis’s conception and leadership of the FHS’s Fiftieth Anniversary Appeal, which punctually in 2014 reached its target of £250,000, creating a fund dedicated to education, research and publication.

Jeremy Montagu FSA has written a detailed study of the ancient ram’s horn instrument, in The Shofar: Its History and Use (Rowman and Littlefield). This is the first work of its kind to detail the full range of historical, musical, antiquarian, and religious issues surrounding the horn with all relevant citations from the Bible, the Talmud, and key post-Talmudic sources. Montagu examines horn types, sound characteristics, liturgical uses, and community functions to illustrate how the shofar has reflected local custom, regional needs, and religious practice. There are more than 60 photos from the author’s personal collection, but, he says, no General Index – which Fellows can obtain by emailing A new printing, retorts the publisher, will include an index.

Marcus Binney FSA, Executive President of Save, told The Times (subscription needed) that ‘Clandon is a much-loved and valued place. It would be a terrible waste to leave it as a ruin.’
The Grade I-listed Clandon Park was destroyed by fire in April. Rupert Onslow, the 8th Earl of Onslow whose family gave the house to the National Trust in 1956, told the paper he’d rather it was left to ruin than be restored. ‘Do not watch your family home burn down, it’s a very emotional experience,’ he said. ‘The last thing we want now is a replica.’
‘The citizens of Venice showed great spirit when St Mark’s Campanile fell down in 1902’, said Binney, ‘and they decided to rebuild it as it was. As for spending the money elsewhere, you’ll be very lucky if the government don’t snaffle it to rebuild the Houses of Parliament.’

The Railways: Nation, Network and People (Profile), by Simon Bradley FSA, is The Sunday Times’ history book of the year, where it is described as ‘a magnificent achievement… [that] covers almost every subject imaginable, from sleepers and signal boxes to station newsagents and on-board lavatories, in a gorgeous Christmas pudding of a book.’ Also on the list is The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India, 1805-1905 (Simon & Schuster), by Ferdinand Mount FSA (‘Overflowing with drama and anecdote, this book is a perfect marriage of the personal and the political, the highbrow equivalent of a Downton Abbey-style Sunday night serial’).
Samuel Palmer: Shadows on the Wall (Yale), by William Vaughan FSA, is among art books of the year. (Subscription needed for online links.)

Kariya Wuro: A Late Stone Age Site in Northern Nigeria (Africa Magna Verlag), by Philip Allsworth-Jones FSA, is the first full site report on Kariya Wuro, a rock shelter in north-east Nigeria excavated in the 1980s and studied by a team of researchers from the University of Ibadan. Late Stone Age occupation (both aceramic and ceramic) is described and illustrated in detail. Also described is the society, in particular masquerades, of the Kariya people (or Wiihe as they call themselves), although it does not seem likely that any direct link can be established between them and the rock shelter’s former inhabitants. Full descriptions of excavated rock shelters in West Africa and Nigeria in particular are rare, says the publisher, and the database recorded here should provide a useful point of comparison for researchers in the region as a whole.

The British Archaeological Association (BAA) launched the first of two volumes in the Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster Abbey, on 10 November. Edited by Warwick Rodwell FSA and Tim Tatton-Brown FSA, together they are the proceedings of the BAA’s 2013 conference on Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster. It also embraced Westminster School, which was founded at the Reformation in the Abbey precinct. The BAA held a conference at Westminster in 1902, but this was the first time that the internationally important complex of historic buildings had been examined holistically. Part I of Westminster: The Art, Architecture and Archaeology of the Royal Abbey and Palace, is dedicated to the Abbey.
Simon Sebag Montefiore FSA presents a new series of three ‘rich and thrilling’ films on BBC Four about the history of Spain. The first episode in Blood And Gold: The Making Of Spain With Simon Sebag Montefiore (to be broadcast on 8 December) explores the early years of the country, when Iberia was a minor province of Carthage, through to the glories of Spain's Moslem age and the Córdoba Caliphate.

Lives Remembered 

Vin Davis FSA, teacher, school inspector, Professor of Education (at the University of St Joseph in Macau, China) and a leading force in British ancient stone implement petrology, died on 19 November, aged 73, after a short illness.
For almost 30 years Vin Davis had a varied teaching career – in schools, at Bristol City Museum, at Kendal Teacher Centre (including a three-year secondment to the Australian Commonwealth Schools’ Commission), and at North Riding College of Education, Scarborough. His innovative teaching style was marked by enthusiasm, passion, infectious humour and pragmatism.  He was especially interested in practical learning and fieldwork, usually achieved with much goodwill, and supported by funds won from a variety of unlikely sources.
In 1990 he was appointed to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools, working nationally and internationally.  He had wide-ranging responsibilities in teacher training, school improvement, research and international affairs. After his official retirement, he was a visiting lecturer in Macau, where he subsequently held a Personal Chair in Education.
Archaeologists, often barely aware of his proper jobs, knew Davis best for his work on stone tools. Implement petrology, what might to some seem an eccentric backwater beyond the lands of archaeology and geology, was a subject pioneered in mid-20th century Britain in a vision of science triumphant over antiquarian collecting. Stone axe blades of simple shape, finely flaked and ground or pecked to a smooth finish, were long ago recognised as a leitmotif of the European Neolithic age – the polished tools that felled the trees that created the fields in which the first crops were grown. They had been found in their thousands on the surfaces of fields and in disturbances to the ground, and were common in any self-respecting archaeological collection. They looked nice. But what could they teach us about the past?

In 1941 the first regional implement petrology committee published its first report. By examining microscopic thin sections of blades, it was found the materials could be arranged into a handful of groups, some of which matched suspected prehistoric quarries in north and west Britain. Here was a way to see into the prehistoric mind: to identify where people went for their stone, to map trade routes and perhaps to understand what was especially valued and why. To work, the project required, or so it was thought, an almost total analysis of all stone blades across the whole of the country.
It was a struggle. Wherever there were individuals with the energy, enthusiasm and time, hundreds and soon thousands of blades were tracked down and examined, and detailed lists published describing the results. Davis was one of those tireless workers. He became the South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries’ Implement Petrologist in the early 70s, taking over from one of the original scientists who had helped found that particular committee in 1936. Soon he was working on blades from Cumbria, location of some of the most spectacular ancient stone quarries in Europe. Up there, having analysed almost 400 axe blades, he identified a new group, with a source on Carrock Fell (the subject of his M.Phil.). He corralled other workers into holding conferences and publishing their research, and was instrumental in shaping the ultimate Implement Petrology Group.
Vin Davis obtained his B.Ed. in 1975 and his M.Sc. in 1981 at the University of Lancaster; he studied for his M. Phil. at the University of Liverpool (1984) and a Ph.D. at Murdoch University, Western Australia (1989). As well as a Fellow of this Society (1993), he had been a Fellow of the Geological Society of London since 1969. He was appointed a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York last year.
The funeral will be on Monday 7 December at 10.30 am in St. Olave's Church, Marygate, York (YO30 7BH), followed by an informal buffet lunch in the Hospitium, next to the church, in the Museum Gardens. His wife Rosemary and daughter Amy write:
‘Dad was hoping for a jolly good send-off so please circulate the details widely – and anyone who would like to come is very welcome.  However if you are hoping to attend, it would be a big help if you could just let me know (for planning purposes) at
‘As many of you are aware, Dad held a life-long interest in prehistoric stone tools and was a very active member of the Implement Petrology Group, and its associated research. To commemorate his life, we are establishing a bursary fund to support doctorate research in implement petrology, at University College Dublin. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to this fund (either at the funeral or details will be available via email in due course).’

The photo of Vin Davis was taken in Shetland this summer by Mik Markham.

Olaf Olsen FSA, the former State Antiquary of Denmark, died on 17 November. Sir David M Wilson FSA has written this obituary:

‘Olaf Olsen was elected to our Fellowship in 1979. Born in 1928, he was the son of a professor of history in Copenhagen University, who much influenced him both academically and politically. Like his parents, Olaf was left-wing, an orientation he kept well hidden in his later years. His family was partly Jewish and, during the German occupation, they fled to Sweden, where Olaf was a rather assertive pupil at the Danish school in Lund. After the war he returned to Denmark and in 1953 graduated in history and geography from Copenhagen University. Already fascinated by archaeology, he joined the staff of the Danish National Museum and in 1958 was appointed to a post in the Museum’s Second Department (Medieval and Renaissance).
‘Here he worked in various important new fields, particularly in the excavation of medieval churches, at that time being (over-)enthusiastically restored under the supervision of the Museum. One product of this work was his ground-breaking doctoral thesis Hørg, Hov og Kirke (1966), a critical examination of the archaeological and written evidence of the pre-Christian religion of Scandinavia. He demolished many fondly held theories. Through his work on churches he most importantly demonstrated that there was no evidence that Christian churches were built on the sites of pagan temples. By close examination of early Old Norse literature he also redefined the interpretation of pagan cult-places, including the romanticised account by Adam of Bremen of the temple at Old Uppsala and all the fancy reconstructions of it, and, further, demolished the theory that practically all the hundred or so sites in Iceland containing the place-name element hov had been cult-places. Although some of his theories are not now accepted, the work is still a valuable source. A few years later he took part in the excavation and recording of the Danish stave-church at Greensted, Essex, the results of which were published in our journal.
‘He is, however, perhaps best known to archaeology today for the excavations of the Viking ships from Skuldelev, a task which he passed on to Ole Crumlin-Petersen. He, importantly, continued the work on the circular Viking fortress of Fyrkat, and rescued the documentation of the digs of the much larger site at Aggersborg. The report on Fyrkat (1977), which he wrote together with Holger Schmidt and our fellow Else Roesdahl, corrected some of the misconceptions in Poul Nørlund’s innovative work on the Viking site at Trelleborg, particularly in relation to the form of the houses. This must be one of the most extraordinary reports ever written, as the simultaneously published second volume, by Else Roesdahl, challenged Olsen’s interpretation of the date and function of the fortress. Both authors accepted the other’s right to publish their theories, and it did not really affect their friendship and ability to work together. Later he broadly accepted her views, as may be seen, for example, from, his review of the report on the Aggersborg fortress excavations which was published last year – a review which appeared a few days before his death.

‘In 1971 Olsen left the National Museum and became the first Professor of Medieval Archaeology in Demark, building a new department at Aarhus University. Leaving Else Roesdahl in charge of the department, he returned to Copenhagen in 1981 as Director of the National Museum and State Antiquary, a post he held imaginatively for 14 years. Here he modernised and restructured the Museum and brought it back into the centre of Danish academic and museum life. In retirement, often from his house on the island of Alrø in Jutland, he continued to read and write energetically, almost till his death.
‘I first met with him in the mid-1950s and, as our careers followed similar trajectories, we became good friends and colleagues; particularly as we were both into Vikings. His generosity to me and to many foreign colleagues was legendary. I last saw him and his wife Rikke, the castle historian, a few weeks ago in Alrø, a bright, but sadly immobile man. We discussed museums and books and talked of his ever-growing private library. It is a happy memory.’
The photo shows Olaf Olsen in 2014 receiving the Ragna Rask-Nielsen Research Foundation Prize, with Queen Margrethe.

Kate Owen FSA, the Society’s Publications Manager, has written this appreciation of James Brown, who died in October:
‘Those of us who knew James Brown were shocked to read the short announcement of his death at the age of 43 in The Times and The Guardian. James worked on a number of Antiquaries publications in the 1990s and 2000s, starting with the transcript of Henry VIII’s inventory. He was chosen to work on this book because he alone of all the designers considered had the ambition to reproduce as accurately as possible the marginal annotations in the Tudor original – accurately, that is, not only in terms of textual content, but also in terms of its position in relation to the main text: in other words he wanted to get as exact a facsimile as he could using the desktop-publishing software available at that time. And therein lay the challenge – the software was designed for relatively simple design tasks – preferably pages of type of the same size – and not for historically authentic transcription. Undeterred, James battled until he won: the result is an elegantly designed publication as well as one that has helped to transform our understanding of the material culture of the Henrician court.
‘James went on to work on several more Antiquaries monographs – perhaps most strikingly, the Romano-British Mosaics corpus, representing the lifetimes’ work of Stephen Cosh FSA and David Neal FSA, and needing the kind of subtlety of design that the authors had themselves brought to their mosaic drawings and analyses. Above all, these books demonstrate great sensitivity in linking text and image – one of those aspects of good design that readers tend to take for granted and that designers will tell you is difficult to achieve: there is a world of difference between a designer like James who reads and understands the text and places images accordingly, and one who sees text as something to slap down on the page. The result was a series of books of a beauty and opulence that had scarcely been seen in antiquarian publications since the glory days of the 18th century.
‘It is sad that our Fellow David Starkey has lost his partner as such a tender age and that the world has lost a craftsman in design: in another age he might have been a typesetter, or one of William Morris’s assistants. James was also great fun, and (again like Morris) loved a robust debate. Those who worked with James respected him for his commitment and his craftsmanship; the books he worked on are his monument and a lasting contribution to the grand story of our Society’s antiquarian enterprise.’

Martin Dean FSA, a leading underwater archaeologist and Director of the Archaeological Diving Unit (ADU) at the University of St Andrews, died in June aged 71. He was Curator of Underwater Archaeology at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (1981–86), at which time he conducted an underwater evaluation in Hampshire of the wreck of Henry V's Grace Dieu. When the Archaeological Research Centre at Greenwich was disbanded, he moved to the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies at St Andrews. Until 2002 the ADU was the Government’s assessor of historic wrecks (the important records of this work have recently been prepared for public access at the Historic England Archive in Swindon). Under Dean’s direction the ADU was central to the development of professional UK marine archaeology.
For the rest of his career Dean was a Senior Research Fellow at the University. With colleagues he launched Advanced Underwater Surveys (ADUS), of which he was Managing Director, to further the archaeological use of multibeam sonar imaging; recently it became ADUS DeepOcean Ltd, and Dean its Special Projects Consultant. Their pioneering work led to the growing use of high-resolution survey in marine accident cases, including the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico and the Costa Concordia in Italy, as well as at World War Two wrecks such as The Royal Oak, historic wrecks such as Stirling Castle and Invincible, and prehistoric wreck sites including Langdon Bay and Moor Sands.
In The Archaeologist (Autumn 2015) Antony Firth, Director at Fjordr Ltd and previously Head of Coastal and Marine at Wessex Archaeology, writes:
‘Martin's impact on the practice of marine archaeology encompassed standards in fieldwork, archaeological diving, the introduction of new technologies for position fixing and geophysical survey, and the improved standing of marine archaeology within the wider practice of archaeology in the UK. … Particular milestones include his Guidelines on Acceptable Standards in Underwater Archaeology (1988), the first edition of Archaeology Underwater: the NAS Guide to Principles and Practice (1992), his introduction of the routine use of Surface Supplied Diving Equipment, early experiments with differential GPS, and his powerful advocacy of multibeam survey. But what I will remember most are his irreverent sense of humour and his forthright commitment to the ethics of archaeology.’

 The latter is well illustrated by a critique he wrote for the Museums Journal in 1993, of a prospective (and subsequently very successful) touring exhibition to be mounted by RMS Titanic Limited at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich:
‘The museum is allowing itself to be sold an exhibition, the prime motive of which is to recoup the costs of the Titanic company. This is just trophy hunting. We did it with lions and tigers early this century, and it endangered those species. Shipwrecks are another non-renewable resource and plundering reduces the stock of information for the future.’

Memorials to Fellows

John Goodall FSA sends us a photo of this ‘startling monument’ to Richard Woolfe FSA, in the north nave aisle of Worcester Cathedral. Woolfe was only 55 when he died in 1877.
‘Mr. Woof’ [sic], the Society recorded in its Proceedings for 1878, ‘(or, as he called himself a short time before his death, Mr. Woolfe) has given a tangible proof of the interest which he took in this Society, by bequeathing to us in his will a silver fac-simile of the Woolfe Tankard, sundry collections he had formed relating to his own family, together with whatever books and manuscripts relating to Worcestershire he might die possessed of. This bequest has not yet reached the Society. As Town-Clerk of the city of Worcester, Mr. Woolfe rendered a lasting service to the cause of history and archaeology, by carefully arranging and cataloguing the municipal archives. It is an example which the custodians of similar collections in our great cities would do well to emulate.’

Gifts to the Society's Library

The Society is very grateful to Fellows who have donated the following books to the Library in the period from July to September 2015. Full records for all are on the online catalogue, and all books are available in the Library.  
  • From the author, John Blatchly, FSA, Isaac Johnson of Woodbridge: Georgian Surveyor and Artist (2014)
  • From the author, Peter Cormack, FSA, Arts & Crafts Stained Glass (2015)
  • From the author, Barry Cunliffe, FSA, By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean:  the Birth of Eurasia (2015)
  • From George McHardy, FSA, Scotland: Mapping the Nation by Christopher Fleet, Margaret Wilkes and Charles W. J. Withers (2012)
  • From the editor, Marjan Grinwis, In het spoor van Lukis en Dryden:  twee Engelse oudheidkundigen tekenen Drentse hunebedden in 1878 by Wijnand van der Sanden (2015)
  • From Vincent Megaw, FSA, Les necropoles dans leur contexte régional (Thugny-Trugny et tombes aristocratiques) 1986-1988-1989 by Bernard Lambot, Muriel Friboulet and Patrice Méniel (Monographie du site protohistorique d’Acy-Romance (Ardennes) 2) (1994)
  • From Gwyn Meirion-Jones, FSA, Murol: La Forteresse Muette sous la direction de Dominique Allios (Collection:  Archéologie & Culture) (2015)
  • From Adrian Olivier, FSA
    • Pompeii painted by Alberto Pisa, described by W. M. Mackenzie (1910)
    • Prehistoric Times as Illustrated by Ancient Remains and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages by Rt. Hon. Lord Avebury (7th edition) (1913)
  • From the author, John Owen, FSA, Percy Beale Neame and the Shepherd Neame Brewery Faversham 1836 – 1913 (2014)
  • From the author, Mark Purcell, FSA
    • The Library at Ham House (National Trust Libraries, 2) (reprint from The Book Collector, volume 55, no. 4, Winter 2006)
    • The Library at Penrhyn Castle (National Trust Libraries, 4) (reprint from The Book Collector, volume 59, no. 2, Summer 2010)
    • Allnutt at Lanhydrock (reprint from Bodleian Library Record, volume 18, 2003-5)
    • The Country House Library Reassess’d:  or, Did the ‘Country House Library’ Ever Really Exist? (reprint from Library History, volume 18, November 2002) 
    • ‘A Lunatic of Unsound Mind’:  Edward, Lord Leigh (1742-86) and the Refounding of Oriel College Library (reprint from Bodleian Library Record, April-October 2001)
  • From Mark Purcell, FSA, The Library at Wallington by Felicity Stimpson (National Trust Libraries, 3) (reprint from The Book Collector, Spring 2009)
  • From the author, Ann Saunders, FSA, Arches of Triumph: James VI and I’s (Unfortunate) Ceremonial Entry into the City of London, 1604 (offprint) (n.d.)

Forthcoming Ordinary Meetings of Fellows

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

3 December 2015 (14:00): ‘Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society’*
*Please note: Advanced booking is required.

3 December 2015: ‘The King's Chocolate Kitchen at Hampton Court Palace’, by Mark Meltonville.

10 December 2015: ‘Miscellany of Papers’. Fellows and guests will have the opportunity to hear about research that has taken place on the Society's collections this year during the miscellany meeting, including a short lecture by Dr Kathy Haslam on the 'Homestead and the Forest' cot quilt that has been on loan to Kelmscott and an on update on the progress of the Kelmscott Manor 'Lost Treasures of Kelmscott' research project.

10 December 2015: ‘Mulled Wine Reception’. Following the success of last year's Christmas carol singing during last year's reception, a small choir will again be leading carols at the Christmas Miscellany reception (the Society's Treasurer Stephen Johnson will conduct, and Fellow Deborah Priddy will assist). Do come along and join in! Tickets to the reception are £10.00 per person and can be booked online or by calling 020 7479 7080.

Forthcoming Public Lectures

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

19 January 2016: ‘The Waddeson Bequest at the British Museum, A New Look’, by Dora Thornton FSA, and Tom Fotheringham. Unfortunately, this lecture is now fully booked. But we hope to post a recording after the event!

There will also be a public tour of Burlington House on this day (booking required).

23 February 2016: 'The Camera and the King: Photographing the Excavation of Tutankhamun's Tomb', by Christina Riggs FSA. Unfortunately, this lecture is now fully booked. But we hope to post a recording after the event!

There will also be a public tour of Burlington House on this day (booking required).

22 March 2016: 'Denim: Fashion's Frontier', by Emma McClendon, Janet Arnold Award Recipient (for research into historic dress). A few places are still available! Book now!

There will also be a public tour of Burlington House on this day (booking required).

Click here for the full programme of public lectures 2015-2016.

Society Dates to Remember


Forthcoming Closures

The Society's apartments (including the Library and Fellows' Room) will be closed to Fellows and visitors on Friday, 18 December for a staff training and development day.

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

Introductory Tours of Burlington House for Fellows

The next in the Society’s regular series of introductory tours will take place on 28 January 2016. Additional tour dates include 24 March and 23 June.

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

Other Forthcoming Heritage Events

15 December: Paul Balin 1832–98: Master of illusion, Master of Marketing (London)
Paul Balin was one of the most celebrated wallpaper manufacturers in the second half of the 19th century. A major exhibition opening in April in Germany provides the first-ever exploration of both the sources of inspiration for his products and their world-wide popularity. Astrid Wegener, Curator of the exhibition, gives the Wallpaper History Society’s illustrated Christmas lecture, with a not-to-be-missed opportunity to see some of Balin’s extraordinary imitations of gilt leather, historic silks and other textiles, the paper surfaces of which were often embossed to imitate gold thread embroidery and other embellishments. At The Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, 7.30 pm after AGM. See Eventbrite for bookings.
23 January 2016: New Insights into 16th- and 17th-Century British Architecture (London)
There are still a few places remaining for the sixth conference in this series, to be held at the Society of Antiquaries. The conference themes are Sacred and profane imagery, Building types old and new, From modest to majestic, and Churches and churchyards. Programme and booking forms are available from Claire Gapper FSA ( and Paula Henderson FSA (, or online on the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s website.


Editor of the Archaeological Journal
The Royal Archaeological Institute is seeking an editor for our multi-period, peer-reviewed Journal to succeed Howard Williams FSA, who has recently produced the first volume in conjunction with our new publishing partner, Routledge. We hope that the newly appointed editor will shadow Howard during 2016, and will then edit Volume 175, to be published online in January and June 2018, and in print in July that year. We anticipate that the appointee will commit to the publication of a minimum of four volumes.
Membership of the Institute will be expected. Current members, or those at subscribing institutions, may review publications online. Those unable to familiarise themselves with the Institute’s published work may contact the Administrator on for login help.
The position attracts an annual emolument of £4,000, and is supported by an Editorial Committee who will consider expressions of interest at its meeting on 9 December. The person appointed will be expected to attend the next editorial meeting, at Burlington House, London, on 11 May.
Please submit expressions of interest to the Institute’s Administrator at by Friday, 4 December. For further information, please contact Pete Wilson, Hon. Secretary, on
National Trust Historic Environment Advisory Group Volunteers
The National Trust is embarking on an ambitious new phase. Our ten-year strategy commits us to change, including the way we present, interpret and open up our properties to the public. It will be a huge challenge to realise the kind of transformation we aspire to, while maintaining the highest standards of conservation, and commissioning great new design.
We are looking for new members to join the Historic Environment Advisory Group, one of four new voluntary Advisory Groups, to share their expertise and act as critical friends. We are looking for people whose expertise and interests cover one or more of the following areas:
• Historic Parklands – conserving these important landscapes and designing sensitive interventions within them.
• Garden Design – a designer with a track record of innovative design in sensitive and historic environments.
• Landscape Architecture – someone with experience of design issues in heritage landscapes
• Structural Engineering – someone with experience in the conservation of historic buildings, the sensitive adaptation of historic buildings to new uses, and/or the design of sustainable architecture of today.
• Architecture – an architect with experience of creating sympathetic new design within the historic environment
• Planning – a planning professional with high level experience of masterplanning.
The role requires a commitment of up to 15 days a year, and is for an initial term of three years with the potential for renewal. The positions are voluntary, but expenses will be paid.
Applicants should submit a short CV and a covering letter expressing why they feel motivated to join the Group. For further information please contact Ian Barnes, Convenor, 07795 115568 or
To apply email a brief CV and covering letter to Becci Shanks, Group Administrator, or 0207 824 7138. Closing date 15 December 2015

Conservation Projects Manager with The Churches Conservation Trust
Following Neil Rushton FSA’s imminent departure, an opportunity has arisen for a Conservation Projects Manager to take responsibility for the care of 114 outstanding churches in the West of England. This is a full-time salaried post, base in Bristol or the region.
Details and application form can be found here. Closing date 14 December 2015.

Libraries Curator at the National Trust
Following the imminent departure of Mark Purcell FSA to Cambridge University Library, the National Trust is appointing a Libraries Curator, as noted in the previous Salon. Details can now be found at (Libraries Curator, IRC29301). Closing date 13 December 2015.

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.


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