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Salon: Issue 335
2 February 2015

Next issue: 16 February 2015

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

Forthcoming ordinary meetings

Unless stated otherwise, tea is served from 4.15pm and meetings start at 5pm. Guests are welcome if accompanied by a Fellow. Details of all forthcoming meetings up to June 2015 can be seen on the 'Events' page of the Society's website.

5 February 2015: ‘Britain’s medieval episcopal thrones’, by Charles Tracy, FSA, and Andrew Budge
This lecture, based on the newly published book of the same name, will principally focus on the early fourteenth-century timber throne at Exeter Cathedral and the two stone thrones at Wells and Durham. The Exeter throne is the largest and most impressive in Europe. It is a distinguished and early example of the English Decorated style and it exemplifies most of the historical and formal strands that characterise medieval episcopal thrones generally in terms of visual appearance, distinctiveness within the building, prestige, construction, stylistic context, finance and the patronage and personal role of the bishop himself; as well as the subtler issues of the individual and collective politics of bishop and chapter, the throne’s liturgical role, its relationship with the cathedral’s relics (where applicable), its symbolism and what it tells us about the aspirations of the institution within the existing ecclesiastical hierarchy.

12 February 2015: ‘New Light on early nineteenth-century art and industry: South Wales iron making’, by John Van Laun, FSA
South Wales was in the vanguard of the iron industry from the end of the eighteenth century, and remained so until the advent of steel in the 1850s. During this period pictures of industrial holdings were commissioned by owner ironmasters. Through the application of industrial archaeology, it is possible to establish that their content is accurate. Furthermore, the inclusion of documentary evidence reveals more, such as date and location. However, artistic treatment varies by coinciding with prevailing values. Up until the 1830s ironmaster patrons required artists to temper the apocalyptic in their quest to be accepted as ‘country gentleman’. Paradoxically, as the march of industrialisation gained respectability, ironmasters shifted their ground from ironworks being portrayed as country estates to one for celebration of what might be seen today as feral. It was thus that by the 1840s the ironmaster was declaring his empire as an ennobled industrialist with an avenue to power at Westminster beyond county interests.

19 February 2015: ‘Archaeology, community and university: the East Oxford Project’, by David Griffiths, FSA
This lecture will focus on the ‘Archeox: Archaeology of East Oxford’ project, which Dr Griffiths has been directing since 2010 and that engages the community of East Oxford in researching their own history and archaeology, in combination with Oxford University departments and museums. A leper hospital and a nunnery have been excavated, along with a cluster of prehistoric pits. The project, which was Highly Commended at the 2012 British Archaeological Awards in the ‘Best Community Engagement Project’ category, has contributed to methodologies for researching built-up residential areas, engaged a range of communities and groups in archaeology and furthered the university’s outreach mission in less-advantaged areas of its own city.

26 February 2015: ‘The Syon Abbey Herbal: the last monastic herbal in England’, by John Adams, FSA, and Stuart Forbes
In the 124 years between its founding and its dissolution, Syon Abbey gained a reputation for preaching, teaching and publishing in English. Thomas Betson, Abbey Librarian from 1481 until his death in 1516, was a major figure in that process, best known as the author–compiler of A Ryght Profytable Treatyse ... to Dyspose Men to be Vertuously Occupyed in Theys Myndes and Prayers, a devotional miscellany printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1500. Betson was also the author of the last monastic herbal to be compiled in England, with entries for some 700 plant and 425 remedies, many for female ailments. Fellow John Adams and palaeographer Stuart Forbes will describe the herbal (Cambridge, St John’s College, MS 109) and explain what was involved in transcribing and editing it for publication.

Forthcoming public meetings

Public meetings are from 1pm to 2pm on Tuesdays. These meetings are very popular, so advance booking is advised to be sure of a place. Details of all forthcoming meetings up to June 2015 can be seen on the 'Events' page of the Society's website.

10 February 2015: ‘Monuments of the Incas’, by John Hemming, FSA
John Hemming will speak about some of the work illustrated in his latest book relating to new research into Incan architecture, particularly focusing on Inca masonry techniques, new thinking about the functions of Incan sites, and developments in the discovery, excavation and conservation of Incan ruins. John Hemming has been awarded Peru’s two highest honours: Gran Oficial de El Sol del Peru (South America’s oldest order of chivalry) and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit.

10 March 2015: ‘“Stitches in Time”: recreating Captain Cook’s waistcoat’, by Alison Liz Larkin
With the help of the Society’s Janet Arnold Award, Alison has travelled to Australia to examine a waistcoat and other objects belonging to Captain Cook at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Based on her research there, Alison has been able to create a facsimile, to be displayed by the Captain Cook Memorial Museum Whitby in 2015. Alison will talk about her research project and its significance.

Our Richard III portrait as a learning aid

Fellowship News recently reported that the Society’s arched-topped Richard III portrait has been included in the British Museum’s ‘Teaching History in 100 Objects’ project; the learning resources associated with the portrait have now been posted on the BM website, with content written by the British Museum’s education team, edited and fact-checked by the Society’s Collections Manager, Anooshka Rawden. You can see more on this on the Society’s website.

Kate Mavor to be English Heritage Chief Executive

The Trustees of the new English Heritage Trust have appointed Kate Mavor to the post of Chief Executive. Kate moves to the English Heritage Trust from the National Trust for Scotland where she has been Chief Executive of Scotland’s biggest conservation charity since 2009. She arrived at the National Trust for Scotland at the height of the economic recession and at a moment of financial crisis for the Trust. She was instrumental in transforming the charity’s fortunes, introducing a five-year plan to restore its financial stability and giving the charity a new sense of purpose.

Prior to that, she was Chief Executive of Project Scotland, the pioneering youth volunteering programme that encourages young people to volunteer with more than 300 charities around the country. Originally from Glasgow, she studied Modern Languages at Oxford.

Sir Tim Laurence, Chairman of the English Heritage Trust, said: ‘I am delighted that Kate will be joining us as our chief executive, bringing a wealth of experience from within and outside the heritage sector. Kate is exactly the right person to lead the new charity at this important time.’

Kate Mavor said: ‘It is a privilege to lead English Heritage on the first stage of its new journey as a charity. I look forward to building on the great successes of my predecessors.’

The press announcement also said that the new Chief Executive of Historic England will be announced in the spring and that, when English Heritage separates into two organisations, our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage in its current form since 2002, will step down to take up a Senior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research.

Historic Environment Scotland board members announced

Jane Ryder, OBE, former Chief Executive of the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator and Chair of Arts & Business Scotland, is to be the first chair of the new Historic Environment Scotland board, the new public body that is being tasked with delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, ‘Our Place in Time’. In addition, nine trustees have been appointed, including our Fellow David Gaimster, Director of The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow.

In announcing the appointments, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: ‘Jane brings with her immense experience in setting up a new body from her time with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and in-depth knowledge of Scotland’s museum and historical assets. The new board contains the breadth and strength of the skills and knowledge required to make the most of Scotland’s rich heritage.’

Historic Environment Scotland has been established as the new body to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment. This will build on the strong and long-established performance of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

The Welsh Royal Commission

In Wales, John Griffiths, then the Minister for Culture and Sport, announced a year ago that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales would remain as separate organisation for the time being, and that it would continue to operate as an arm’s-length body sponsored by the Welsh Government, rather than being merged with Cadw. The Commissioners have now announced that Fellow Christopher Catling has been appointed as the Commission's Secretary with effect from St David's Day, 1 March 2015.

Following the announcement, our General Secretary John Lewis said: ‘I am delighted for Christopher and wish him the best in his new post. He has spent many years developing Salon into a popular e-newsletter valued for its news of the Society, Fellows and the wider heritage sector. Christopher will continue to produce Salon until he joins the Commission in March. I am currently working with the Society’s officers and staff to ensure a smooth transition and continued distribution of the e-newsletter. We will keep Fellows and readers informed of future changes.’

More senior arts and heritage jobs

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) announced in January that Nicholas Cullinan was to be its next Director, in succession to our Fellow Sandy Nairn. After graduating from the Courtauld Institute, Nicholas started his career at the NPG fourteen years ago as a front-of-house assistant. He then went on to work at Tate Modern for six years, becoming Curator of International Modern Art and working on such exhibitions as Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons (2008) and Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye (2012). He is currently Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and he co-curated Tate Modern’s Matisse Cutouts exhibition last year. Despite being only  thirty-seven, Nicholas is still not the youngest of the twelve Directors to be appointed in the NPG’s 158-year history: that distinction belongs to our Fellow Sir Roy Strong, who was appointed at the age of thirty-two.

Another Courtauld graduate, Gabriele Finaldi, who is currently the deputy director of the Prado in Madrid, is hotly tipped to be the next Director of the National Gallery in succession to our Fellow Nicholas Penny. The Financial Times reported last week that: ‘it is understood that David Cameron has agreed the appointment — because the gallery is a major British cultural institution, prime ministerial assent must be given to the selection of a new director’. An expert in Italian and Spanish painting, Gabriele Finaldi studied the seventeenth-century Spanish baroque artist José de Ribera for his PhD, and was made Curator of Italian and Spanish painting at the National Gallery in 1992, before moving to the Prado in 2002, where he oversaw a revamp and expansion of the displays, giving more emphasis to the museum’s renowned collection of nineteenth-century masterpieces. In 2013 he collaborated with the Dulwich Picture Gallery in a joint exhibition of the Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, transforming part of the gallery into a baroque church.

White smoke has yet to emerge from the BBC and the HLF, organisations that are in the process of recruiting people to two of the best jobs in the world: Director of the BBC Proms and Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Newly listed buildings

Fellow Chris Miele told a seminar hosted by the Society last year that developers often ask their architects not to give them a building that will be listed thirty years hence because they want to retain the flexibility to demolish and rebuild if that yields greater profits. That may be true today, but in the case of the fourteen office blocks constructed between 1954 and 1984 that have just been designated as Grade-II listed buildings, design quality clearly was an important consideration, at least in the 1970s, when most of the following were constructed:
  • Brown Shipley, Moorgate, City of London, Fitzroy Robinson & Partners, 1973—5
  • 30 Cannon Street (formerly Crédit Lyonnais), City of London, Whinney, Son & Austen Hall, 1974—7
  • 1 Finsbury Avenue, City of London, Arup Associates’ Group 2 led by Peter Foggo, 1982—4
  • Civil Aviation Authority House (formerly Space House), Kingsway, Camden, London, George Marsh of Richard Seifert & Partners, 1964—8

  • Mountbatten House (formerly Gateway House), Basingstoke, Arup Associates’ Group 2 led by Peter Foggo, 1974—6, including the roof gardens (above), which have also been added to the Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade II
  • The IBM Pilot Head Office, Cosham, Portsmouth, Foster Associates, 1970—1
  • Gun Wharf (built as administrative headquarters for Lloyds of London, now civic headquarters for Medway Council), Chatham, Kent, Arup Associates, 1976—8
  • The former office of Ryder and Yates, Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne, Ryder and Yates, 1964—5
  • MEA House, Newcastle upon Tyne, Ryder and Yates, 1972—4
  • Bank House, King Street, Leeds, Building Design Partnership, 1969—71
  • The former Midland Bank, Dale Street, Liverpool, Raymond Fletcher of Bradshaw, Rowse & Harker, 1971
  • St James’s House, Frederick Street, Birmingham, John Madin, 1954—7
  • Alpha Tower, Birmingham, George Marsh of Richard Seifert & Partners, 1970—2
  • The former Central Electricity Generating Board Building (The Pavilions), Bristol, Arup Associates, 1975—8

30 Cannon Street, City of London; Whinney, Son & Austen Hall, 1974—7.  Listed at Grade II. Photograph: © James O Davis, English Heritage

Commenting on the new listings, our Fellow Roger Bowdler, Director of Designation at English Heritage, said: ‘These offices show how architecture has adapted to recent radical changes in how we work. These are all remarkable designs, capable of years of commercially vibrant use.’

He also said that the assessment and listings process ‘has been notable for its extensive research, and for close dialogue with owners’, a point reinforced by Tim Roberts, Head of Offices at British Land, who said: ‘The Grade II listing of 1 Finsbury Avenue has been arrived at after a constructive dialogue between British Land, English Heritage and the City of London Corporation. The rigorous and detailed analysis and assessment of elements contributing to the significance of 1 Finsbury Avenue means that British Land will have the flexibility to adapt the building to keep pace with the continued evolution of Broadgate as an exemplar of flexible and adaptable commercial place making.’

In reporting the new listings, the Guardian newspaper quoted Peter Rees, former chief planner in the City of London, who has been critical in the past of ‘the meddling of the “Heritage Taliban”’. Echoing Chris Miele’s words, Rees once threatened to give planning permission only to architecturally mediocre buildings in the knowledge that they would not be listed because he saw the City as like a vegetable plot: ‘you cultivate each specimen, then harvest it and move on.’ Now, however, he has revised his view and believes that it is right to keep ‘good-looking specimens’, pointing to the (in this context aptly named) Gherkin as an example of a building he would keep.

Two bronzes in the Fitzwilliam are identified as works by Michelangelo

There was great excitement at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, lest week when a press conference was held to announce that two metre-high bronze sculptures of naked muscular men riding on the backs of panthers have been identified as early works by Michelangelo, and the only two known bronzes of his to survive.

Long admired for the beauty of their anatomy and powerful expressions, their first recorded attribution to Michelangelo was made in the nineteenth century, when they were in the collection of Adolphe de Rothschild. Lacking documentary evidence, this attribution was dismissed and the bronzes have been attributed to a variety of talented Renaissance sculptors over the last 120 years, including Tiziano Aspetti, Jacopo Sansovino and the circle of Benvenuto Cellini. More recently, they were dated to the 1550s and associated with the Dutch sculptor Willem Danielsz van Tetrode. When they appeared in the Bronze exhibition in 2011 at the Royal Academy, Fellow David Ekserdjian called them ‘Circle of Michelangelo’.

Bacchants Riding on Panthers, c 1506—08, bronze, each 93 x 80cm

What changed last autumn was the discovery of a copy of lost sketches by Michelangelo drawn by one of his apprentices; now in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France, the ‘Sheet of studies with the Virgin embracing Infant Jesus’, of c 1508, shows a muscular youth riding a panther in a similar pose to the bronzes, drawn in the forceful manner that Michelangelo employed in designs for sculpture.

Professor Paul Joannides, Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Cambridge, who made the discovery, consulted international experts on the work of Michelangelo, who agreed that the bronzes are similar in style and anatomy to his works of the period 1500 to 1510; further work is continuing and the results will be presented at an international conference on 6 July 2015.

Michelangelo is documented as having made bronzes throughout his life, including a two-thirds life-size David and an over twice life-size statue of Pope Julius II. The first disappeared during the French Revolution; the second was melted down for artillery less than three years after it was made.

Our Fellow Dr Victoria Avery, Keeper of the Applied Arts Department of the Fitzwilliam Museum, commented: ‘It has been fantastically exciting to have been able to participate in this ground-breaking project, which has involved input from many art historians in the UK, Europe and the States, and to draw on evidence from conservation scientists and anatomists. The bronzes are exceptionally powerful and compelling works of art that deserve close-up study.’

The bronzes are currently on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum from a private collection and they will be on display in the Italian galleries at the museum, along with a selection of the evidence, from 3 February to 9 August 2015.

University leaders call for exemption from anti-terror laws

Twenty-four university chancellors and vice-chancellors have written to The Times urging the Government to exempt universities from the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, which was debated in the House of Lords last week and would, if passed in its present form, give the Home Secretary legal powers to force universities to ban ‘extremist’ speakers. The bill puts a duty on specified public authorities, including universities, to ‘have due regard, in the exercise of its functions, to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’.

The letter’s signatories say that they are ‘profoundly concerned about the consequences for UK universities ... which are at their most effective in preventing radicalisation by ensuring that academics and students are free to question and test received wisdom within the law’. The letter continues: ‘to be truly effective in countering terrorism and radicalisation, universities must continue to be independent from government. The new statutory duty should not apply to universities and they should be exempt, as proposed for the security services and judicial bodies. This would safeguard the unique status of universities as places where lawful ideas can be voiced and debated without fear of reprisal.’

Crossick Report on monographs and open access

HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) has published the long-anticipated Crossick Report on the question of whether monograph publications resulting from publicly funded projects should be made available free to all in open-access format.

Geoffrey Crossick, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and the main author of the report, concludes that it is too early for such a move and that ‘the monograph publishing world is not yet at a stage where it could support an open-access requirement. We have listened to this advice; monographs and other longer publications will not need to be made available in an open-access form to be eligible for submission to the next REF (Research Excellence Framework).’

The report goes on to say: ‘we remain keen to understand the issues better and to support efforts to solve them wherever possible. We are optimistic about the potential for open access to sustain and enhance scholarly communications in the humanities and social sciences, and we are confident that open-access monograph publishing initiatives will continue to grow over the coming years. Furthermore, the long timescales for monograph publishing mean that policy decisions would be needed now if requirements were to be introduced for the REF after next.’

HEFCE said: ‘the Crossick report identifies the issues that must be addressed if open-access requirements for monographs are to be introduced, and sets out a number of areas for further work to be undertaken by research funders. The community of research funders in the UK is mindful that any next steps must follow a period of discussion and consultation with the relevant stakeholder communities. Further details of this will be published in the coming months.’

Campaign news

Salon has not reported on the Castle Mill development in Oxford because it seemed that nothing could be gained from campaigning against something that was already built, but news from Oxford suggests that others are not accepting that this controversial development (which ‘blots out the unique view of Oxford’s Dreaming Spires from Port Meadow’ and that has been likened to ‘building a skyscraper beside Stonehenge’) is necessarily a fait accompli. A debate is to be held in Congregation (the university’s formal assembly of senior members) on 10 February 2015 on a motion proposed by Fellow Diarmaid MacCulloch, seconded by Professor Jane Caplan.

The motion refers to the fact that a retrospective environmental impact assessment (EIA) was commissioned by the university after a High Court challenge in 2012; this found that the buildings had a high ‘adverse impact’ on views of Port Meadow, the Oxford skyline, the Thames and St Barnabas Church, and it offered three options for mitigating the impact. The motion says: ‘Congregation welcomes the conclusions of the EIA, resolves that of the three options that it offers for mitigation of the environmental damage caused by the Castle Mill Development, Option 3 is the only one that offers substantial mitigation, and therefore instructs Council to proceed with mitigation work according to the recommendations of Option 3.’

Above: the Port Meadow development was described as 'something of which the university and the council should be profoundly ashamed' by Planning Minister Nick Boles when he visited in 2014. Fellow Diarmaid MacCulloch describes it as 'a long line of ugly Stalinist blocks where there was once the skyline with its spires.

Option 3 involves lowering the height of the buildings by removing the top storey. This would cost the university £12 million, remove thirty-eight student rooms and require all the student residents to vacate the buildings for a year. Diarmaid told the Oxford Student newspaper that although such action would be ‘deeply regrettable’, it ‘would not have happened if the university administration had not gone ahead without fulfilling all planning conditions’ during the initial stages of the Castle Mill project and that his aim was to ‘restore the good name of the University in the city of Oxford and beyond, a good name which has been so sullied by these two years of disastrous public relations’.

The university management will oppose the motion and favours a less radical option: that of toning down the colour of the buildings and adding timber cladding and mature trees to the western side. Their proposal will be presented to the City Council in February or March, who will then decide whether or not to accept it.

Fellow Tim Malim drew attention in Salon in March 2014 to the threat to Old Oswestry hillfort in Shropshire resulting from the county council’s plan to build houses around the south-eastern edge of the hillfort. A subsequent petition was signed by more than 8,000 people (cf the c 18,000 population of modern Oswestry) and letters of protest came from Rescue, CPRE and many other organisations. Tim now reports that matters are about to reach a head: the campaign group HOOOH (Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort) gave evidence at a public inquiry held in November and December 2014 over Shropshire’s housing allocations plan, as did Tim Malim himself, Dr George Nash (University of Bristol) and Fellow Rachel Pope (University of Liverpool). An open letter signed by twelve leading academics (including Fellows Colin Renfrew, Barry Cunliffe, Geoff Wainwright, John Creighton (our Society’s Director) and Alison Sheridan (Emerita President of the Prehistoric Society)) was presented to the inspector, resulting in an article in The Times on 31 December 2014. The BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Making History’ will shortly broadcast an examination of the issues, and the Inspector’s decision will be published during February: the HOOOH campaign is calling for a public show of support at the hillfort on 14 February 2015.

Blick Mead team demands to see Stonehenge road tunnel impact reports

Fellow David Jacques, supported by the University of Buckingham, has made a formal ‘Freedom of Information Request’ asking that the relevant report(s) concerning the proposed Stonehenge road tunnel be placed in the public domain within the next forty days. The request has come about because David and the team studying the Blick Mead spring are concerned that tunnelling and drainage works at the eastern end of the proposed tunnel is likely to destroy or degrade the recently discovered Mesolithic site, which David describes as ‘a nationally important natural archive which is crucial for new dating and appreciation of the Stonehenge World Heritage landscape’.

Material excavated at the site shows that it was the major focus of ritual activity during the period 7596 to 4695 BC, which links it to the Mesolithic posts that are the first evidence for ritual activity at Stonehenge. The Mesolithic residential and activity site recently discovered adjacent to the spring has had a radiocarbon date of 4336 to 4246 BC, placing it at a transitional point between the Mesolithic and Neolithic in the area.

David says: ‘despite the above results from the spring, which have been published at every stage since 2010, and our proximity to the cutting, we weren’t invited to be part of the consultation process for the tunnel at any point. An opportunity has thus been lost to take into account work at Blick Mead by Reading University’s Environmental Science team (headed by Fellow Dr Nick Branch), Durham University’s analysis of the large fauna (Fellow Professor Peter Rowley-Conwy and Bryony Rogers), the Natural History Museum’s analysis of the small fauna (Simon Parfitt) and algae and spring dynamics (Professor David John), the advice of leading experts from a range of institutions on hydrology, lithics, geology, ZooMs and GPR, plus our experience of the site and its surrounds gained since 2005.’

Protocol for archaeological discoveries: offshore renewable projects

Fellow Niall Brady, Director of the Archaeological Diving Company Ltd, based in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, contributed an item to the Newsletter of the Society for Medieval Archaeology recently, which he wishes to share with a wider readership, as it expresses concerns about new guidance relating to the Offshore Renewables sector, published by the Crown Estate as a ‘Protocol for archaeological discoveries: offshore renewable projects’ (a copy of which can be downloaded here).

Niall writes: ‘based on a revised document of 2010, the protocol’s stated aim is “to satisfy anticipated conditions relating to the reporting of archaeological discoveries across the offshore renewable energy industry, if followed correctly, where an archaeologist is not present on site”. The protocol requires developers working on an offshore energy site to nominate a “site champion”, who is “usually the senior person on site” (i.e. the vessel skipper or senior engineer), who is tasked with identifying material of potential archaeological interest and reporting it to the archaeological regulator and/or consultant, both of whom are far removed from the project area. In other words, responsibility for conducting the marine equivalent of a terrestrial watching brief lies entirely with a person with no archaeological qualifications.

‘This is a development that has been gathering momentum in the UK in recent years. It begs the question whether any new substantive discoveries will ever be forthcoming during the implementation phases of such development projects. The guidance note appears to be encouraging a backwards step, does not appear to be in the interests of archaeology, and is surely something we need to challenge.’

Fellow Heinrich Härke’s ‘Letter from Russia’

‘There is very little cheer in the news coming out of Russia these days, and that unfortunately includes archaeology and related disciplines. While senior academics received salary increases just before the festive season, savings have to be made elsewhere in the system to pay for this pay rise as well as for Russia’s increased military budget and the financial black hole that the Crimea is turning into. There are rumours that a wave of redundancies on the lower ranks of the academic hierarchy is imminent, and that President Putin may not be afraid of the backlash because he is aware of the fact that his popularity among academics is somewhat lower than in the population at large (although there are more krimnashi (supporters of the occupation of the Crimea) than one might expect among people who should be able to see through President Putin’s spurious historical arguments). At the State Historical Museum on Red Square, vital laboratory and technical support staff have already been made redundant over the last few weeks, among them a top photographer who has done the photographic work for several outstanding exhibition catalogues. He has reportedly been offered re-employment — as a cleaner.

‘Meanwhile, an unsettling development is emerging in the southern provinces. A leading monument protection and rescue archaeology firm, which has so far worked independently but under government oversight, has been seized by the incoming Governor of Stavropol region, who sacked its director and merged it with other institutions of his Ministry of Culture. The ostensible reason was “financial impropriety”, the usual catch-all charge against dissidents and against people or firms with attractive bank accounts and city centre properties. So far so bad — but there may be more than meets the eye here. Insiders whisper that a rival excavation firm located at Rostov and run by an ex-agent of the FSB (the Inland Secret Service, the successor to the KGB) is attempting to monopolise the allocation of rescue archaeology contracts in the south of Russia. Suddenly a rule change put in place three years ago (see Salon 247) makes perverse sense: the scrapping of the requirement that firms bidding for archaeological excavation contracts must demonstrate relevant expertise — now they are only required to have an accountant.

‘This development raises the deeply worrying prospect of rescue archaeology in Russia falling into the hands of “firms” run by the mafia or the FSB (if they are not one and the same already) to generate income for themselves and (via kickbacks) for their political masters. The switch to a bidding process for the award of excavation contracts — including contracts for research excavations — is also happening in some ex-Soviet countries in Central Asia (e.g. in Kazakhstan), so far with less dramatic consequences, but with declining excavation standards.’

Moscow’s plans for the country’s higher education sector

By way of an addendum to Heinrich’s letter, the Times Higher Education Supplement reports this week that President Putin has launched an ambitious plan — Project 5-100 — to place five Russian universities in the world’s top 100 by 2020. Another key objective is to recruit at least 10 per cent of Russia’s academics and researchers and 15 per cent of its 7 million students from outside Russia.

Currently, Moscow State — Russia’s highest-ranked university — is 196th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014—15, while Siberia’s Novosibirsk State University is the only other Russian institution in the top 400. Saint Petersburg State University — the alma mater of eight Nobel laureates, dozens of world-renowned scientists and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself — does not feature in the list. Some commentators say that these low rankings reflect the way that league tables are compiled, and do not reflect the high-quality research undertaken in such institutes as the Russian Academy of Sciences, home to 45,000 researchers. Others say that the low standing reflects chronic under-investment over several decades.

Even the investment in Project 5-100 is modest, at about 44 billion roubles (currently worth some £448 million). By comparison, Germany has committed €1.9 billion (£1.4 billion) to the first stage of its 'Excellence Initiative' and France has put €7.7 billion into plans to improve higher education (UK please note!). Sanctions on Russia in the wake of its invasion of Crimea and warmongering in eastern Ukraine, combined with low oil prices and the falling value of the rouble, will no doubt make efforts to recruit researchers and students from overseas even more of a challenge.

£1 million awarded for collections research at the University of Glasgow

Glasgow University has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships grant of more than £1 million for research on the theme of ‘Collections: an enlightenment pedagogy for the twenty-first century’. The grant is one of fourteen awards given by the Leverhulme Trust in a nationwide competition and is designed to fund fifteen PhD researchers over three years. The aim is that the students ‘will work together to articulate an innovative pedagogic model that should serve as a paradigm for post-graduate collections research and engagement elsewhere’ and that will ‘respond to a crisis in contemporary scholarship where subject specialisation has led to an increasingly narrow focus for researchers in Science, Arts and Humanities, creating an impoverished response from the academy to the complexity and scale of collections and object data’.

The intellectual and operational hub for the project will be provided by the Collections Study Centre at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. This is being developed by The Hunterian, which functions as the University of Glasgow’s museums and galleries service. Supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £4.85m, the Kelvin Hall development will open in September 2016, bringing together under one roof The Hunterian’s collection of 1.3m objects and specimens. Fellow and Hunterian Director David Gaimster said: ‘The Leverhulme Award creates the first dedicated community of doctoral researchers for university collections in the UK, if not in the world. We anticipate the individual projects forging new methodologies and practice in collections research and fully exploiting the opportunities for cross-disciplinary investigation and collaboration.’

For more on this, see the University of Glasgow website.

Smithsonian to launch London satellite

The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research institution, looks set to expand beyond the USA for the first time in its 168-year history, having announced on 27 January 2015 that it is considering building a 40,000-sq-foot gallery space on the Olympicopolis cultural quarter planned for London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The BBC reported on 27 January that negotiations are underway over the terms of a lease on a 4.5-acre site. If all goes according to plan, the satellite museum could open in 2021 and be used for rotating and permanent exhibitions drawn from the Smithsonian’s collection of 138 million objects. The Victoria and Albert Museum already plans to create an art and design space called V&A East, the largest element of the cultural quarter, while other partners include Sadler’s Wells Theatre, University College London East and the University of Arts London.

John McCarter, Chairman of the Board of Regents, the Smithsonian’s governing body, said that no details have yet been finalised, but the Board authorised Acting Secretary Al Horvath to develop terms of a partnership agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation on 26 January 2015. ‘This is an opportunity for the Smithsonian to move into a global context and to tell America’s story’, McCarter said.

OASIS consultation

The team behind OASIS is looking for feedback on its plans for a new user interface by 8 February 2015. The overall aim of the OASIS project is to provide an online index to the mass of archaeological grey literature that has been produced as a result of the advent of large-scale developer-funded fieldwork and a similar increase in fieldwork undertaken by volunteers. Work has been going on all summer to make the interface more responsive to the needs of different types of user — contractor, HER, museum and so on; providing feedback will give you an opportunity to influence the redevelopment of OASIS. For more on this, see the OASIS home page.

News of Fellows

Fellow Richard Wendorf (former Harvard Professor and now Director of the American Museum in Bath) has been appointed Visiting Professor at Bath Spa University. His newest publication, an extended essay entitled The Three Laws of Portraiture, is shortly to be published in a limited edition by the Thornwillow Press in New York.

Fellow Peter Spufford writes to say that ‘I had the privilege of making the presentation speech when Fellow Professor Nicholas Mayhew was given a retirement Festschrift on 20 January 2015 in the rooms of the Society. Edited by Fellow Dr Martin Allen and Dr D’Maris Coffman (up for election in the ballot of 12 February 2015), the volume is titled Money, Prices and Wages and the contents reflect Professor Mayhew’s work as both an economic historian and as a numismatist.’

Fellow Sean Ulm is the joint winner of the Australian Archaeology Association’s 2015 Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement in Australia. The award has been made for Sean’s ‘tireless commitment to working closely with Aboriginal research collaborators and for his guidance of others — students and colleagues alike — to emulate his high ethical and moral stand in ensuring appropriate collaboration with Indigenous colleagues and research partners.’

Sean has worked with Indigenous peoples since his undergraduate days at the University of Queensland (UQ) when he instituted a number of initiatives to encourage Indigenous student recruitment and to mentor these students through their studies. Indigenous student retention rates, and consequent Indigenous student graduations, increased as a result of Sean’s initiatives. Sean subsequently joined the UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, mentoring the hundreds of student volunteers in the Gooreng Gooreng community research project in appropriate ways in which to work with Traditional Owners, including the importance of showing respect for Aboriginal ways of knowing, even when such knowledge may have been confronting for those trained in scientific approaches to the past.

Now on the staff at James Cook University, Sean’s research focuses on cultural and environmental change in coastal regions of the Pacific Basin over the last 10,000 years. In his work with Wellesley Island communities in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria he insists that all researchers engage with the Traditional Owners of the land on which the research is conducted; he presents his research results to the community in a form they can understand; he collaborates respectfully to ensure research questions of relevance to the community are addressed; and he and his students make sure to bring their families with them to Bentinck Island in respect for the community’s traditions of helping young people learn from older generations.

For more on this, see the Australian Archaeology Association’s website.

As an addendum to this report, the British Museum has just announced that it is mounting a major exhibition later this year (23 April to 2 August 2015) called Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation. This will be the first exhibition in the UK devoted to the history and culture of Indigenous Australians; it will present Indigenous Australia as a living culture, with a continuous history dating back over 60,000 years. Many of the objects to be shown were collected from Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders through early naval voyages, colonists and missionaries dating as far back as 1770, at a time before museums were established in Australia; they represent tangible evidence of some of the earliest moments of contact between Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders and the British. The exhibition will not only present Indigenous ways of understanding the land and sea but also the significant challenges faced by Indigenous Australians from the colonial period until to the present day.

Pearl shell and charcoal pendant with dancing figures (before 1926) from the Kimberley region, Western Australia. Photograph: © The Trustees of the British Museum

Lives remembered: Lawrence Butler, FSA

Lawrence Butler at Dolforwyn Castle, near Newtown, mid-Wales. Photograph: Lucie Guilbert

Salon’s editor is very grateful to Fellows Paul Stamper, David Stocker, Sian Rees and Julian D Richards for the following obituary.

Lawrence Butler, who died on 10 December 2014, was one of the pioneering first generation of medieval archaeologists that came to prominence in the 1960s. Born in Nottingham in January 1934, he was the younger brother of Ronald Butler, FSA (d 2012), also a notable archaeologist and RCHME staff member. Lawrence attended Nottingham High School, then Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read History. National Service in the RAF within Fighter Command from 1955 to 1958 was spent tracking high-flying Russian aircraft while simultaneously working on a PhD on medieval funerary sculpture.

Lawrence’s archaeological career began in 1959 when he served as an investigator with the Welsh Royal Commission in Aberystwyth. In 1965 he moved to Leeds as the university’s first lecturer in Medieval Archaeology, helping to building a new department there and becoming its head in 1991.  When that department was closed he transferred to York University as Senior Lecturer and Head of Research in the Archaeology Department, where he remained until his retirement in 2001.  

Lawrence’s research activities focused on castles, abbeys and churches. He excavated Sandal Castle (Yorks) with Phil Mayes between 1964 and 1972 and from 1981 to 2000 he directed annual excavations for Cadw at Dolforwyn Castle in mid-Wales. He published extensively on medieval castles, monasticism, settlement, houses and grave slabs. He also edited several county volumes of Sir Stephen Glynne’s ‘Church Notes’, valuable for their descriptions of churches just before Victorian restorers began their scrapings. He served on the Cathedrals Advisory Commission for more than ten years and for many years was Consultant Archaeologist at Lincoln, Wakefield and Sheffield cathedrals, as well as York Minster.  

While not a specialist in medieval settlement (or ‘DMVs’, as the topic was then labelled), Lawrence did direct one of the key early excavations of the then largely (now wholly) deserted village of Faxton, in Northamptonshire. In advance of levelling for agricultural improvement by the farmer, several tofts were excavated in 1965—7 under Lawrence’s direction. The results were reported, briefly, in interim reports in (for instance) Current Archaeology, as was normally the case in those days, when funding was rarely available for post-excavation work. A draft monograph was prepared in the mid-1980s, but its length caused problems and no further progress was made. Now, with Lawrence’s blessing, the materials and responsibility have passed to our Fellow Professor Christopher Gerrard at the University of Durham, and discussions are under way about how, finally, to bring this important excavation to publication.

While on casual acquaintance Lawrence came over as a somewhat reserved person, everyone who worked with him or were taught by him soon discovered a kindly and considerate man with a warm sense of humour, who was active, often as officer, in numerous groups and societies, including the Castles Studies Group, the Society for Church Archaeology, the societies for Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology and the Cambrian and Yorkshire archaeological societies. A devout Christian all his life, he became much involved in church life on retirement to Swaffham Bulbeck (Cambs) and in the investigation and archaeological management of the church itself. Cultured and erudite, he sang, danced and acted, and from boyhood onwards remained a keen supporter of Nottingham Forest football club.

Fellow Julian Richards adds: ‘Though Lawrence retired from York on 30 September 2001, his virtual presence continued to occupy one of our lecture theatres in the form of a garden gnome, to which he bore a striking resemblance. This had been picked up at a filling station by a couple of our students who immediately spotted the similarities whilst on a Devon field trip. Over the years further generations of students added to the gnome collection, until “Lawrence” was surrounded by a small excavation team, armed with shovels, picks and a wheelbarrow.

'Lawrence’s Dolforwyn project became a popular destination as the summer training excavation for many York undergraduates. His encyclopaedic knowledge of every castle in the country meant that his field trips were (in)famous for the alarming habit of continuing to drive whilst picking out features of passing sites, even to the extent of turning regularly to point out of the back window of the minibus.’

Lives remembered: Radomír Pleiner, HonFSA, 1929—2015

Salon’s editor is very grateful to Fellows Henry Cleere and Janet Lang, as well as Peter Crew, Vera Souchopova and Brian Scott, for the following obituary.

Radomír Pleiner was born on 26 April 1929. He studied prehistory and history at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague, graduating in 1952, and from 1953 to 1955 he carried out postgraduate work at the Institute of Archaeology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science, for which he obtained his first doctoral degree. An equally significant event during this period was his marriage to fellow archaeologist Ivana in 1955. He continued his researches into the earliest production of iron at the Institute, acquiring considerable skills in metallography to facilitate his research on early smithing techniques, and this led to the creation of a metallography laboratory at the Institute in 1963.

From this time onwards Radomír took part in many excavations and much experimental work in Czechoslovakia and in Poland, Russia, England, Scandinavia, Austria, Germany and France, as well as contributing widely to symposia and conferences. In 1966—8 he participated in American expeditions to Iran and Afghanistan, and three years later he spent half a year in the USA on an internship. These experiences led to the publication of four studies of iron-making in the Middle East, which became the subject of the dissertation for which he was awarded his second doctoral degree in 1981.

In 1966 the Comité pour la Sidérurgie ancienne (CPSA) was founded, under the auspices of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Science (UISPP), with Walter Guyan as President and Pleiner as Secretary. He held this position for the next forty years, creating a wide range of international and interdisciplinary contacts with scholars engaged in the archaeology and the archaeometallurgy of iron, most of whom became corresponding members of the CPSA.

During this period he played a vital role in the rapid development of the discipline by collating new research, publications and information on work in progress, and by publishing abstracts in the ‘CPSA Communications’ printed twice yearly in Archeologické Rozhledy. These abstracts comprise several thousand items, forming a crucial source of information in the pre-internet age. Key factors in this were Pleiner’s linguistic skills, enabling him to act as a bridge between the (old) east and the west, combined with his enormous energy. The contacts which he made and encouraged through this work resulted in him being a guiding light for several generations of scholars.

Radomír maintained his connections with the Charles University in Prague: in 1968 he was appointed Docent (Associate Professor) of prehistory and in 1992, after the so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’, he was appointed Professor. Unfortunately, he had to retire in 1993, along with other colleagues, due to the reduction in the Institute’s budget. Although he was no longer in full-time employment, his research continued unabated and his output of publications remained prodigious, with more than forty publications in several languages since 1993, including his three classic works, representing the fruits of his many years of research: The Celtic Sword (Oxford, 1993), Iron in Archaeology: the European bloomery smelters (Prague, 2000) and Iron in Archaeology: early European blacksmiths (Prague, 2006).

The latter volume was produced under particularly difficult conditions due to the loss of his archive of samples and notes, and the library in the basement of the Prague Institute of Archaeology, during the disastrous floods of 2002. This would have destroyed the spirit of a lesser man, but the fact that Radomír was able to complete this volume with little delay is a tribute to his determination and to his thorough knowledge of the source material.

In total Radomír wrote twelve books and a remarkable 250 papers, in Czech, German, English and French, an average of nearly five a year. Many of these papers were published in the proceedings of conferences held all over Europe, some of which were organised under the auspices of the CPSA. Despite the travel and currency restrictions, at least before 1992, Radomír managed to attend a remarkable number of conferences, sometimes three or four a year. His continual presence acted as a bridge across several generations as well as a means of attracting new members of the CPSA.

He was a member of The Historical Metallurgy Society for many years, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a corresponding member of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin, and a member of the Unité propre du CNRS, Sévenans. For his co-operation with the Polish Republic in the field of science and in recognition of his valuable contribution to the development of European science, the former President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, decorated Radomír Pleiner with the ‘Knight’s Cross of Merit’ on 28 April 2005.

It would be no exaggeration to assert that the study of ancient iron-working owes the high level of esteem that it commands in the academic world of archaeology at the present time to Radomír Pleiner. His research and the dissemination of the results of that research have been exemplary, and he has inspired many young archaeologists to enlarge and refine our knowledge of the making and working in antiquity of iron and to demonstrate its immense significance in the development of human societies. At the same time he has been the most generous of scholars, willing to share his ideas and his results with colleagues and students alike.

Most of all he has been the warmest, most welcoming, steadfast and entertaining friend. It was a conceit of his for many years to complain lugubriously and sonorously that ‘I am an old man’ — often described by his family and friends as proof of his Russian genes (his mother was of Russian origin; his father was a Czech artist). This was, of course, nonsense: he was as young in heart and mind as ever, even in 2011 when the Festschrift volume on The Archaeometallurgy of Iron, edited by Jiri Hošek, Henry Cleere and Lubomír Mihok, with papers from many of Pleiner’s colleagues and admirers, was presented to him for his eightieth birthday.


Apologies to Pete Smith for neglecting to point out that he too is a Fellow, like his co-author Rosalys Coope, in Salon 333’s report on the publication of their new Thoroton Society Record Society Volume on Newstead Abbey: a Nottinghamshire country house, its owners and architectural history 1540—1931. The book (price £20, or £25, post paid) can be ordered from the Thoroton Society’s Hon Treasurer, John Wilson.

The last issue of Salon contained a report on a petition calling on West Dorset District Council to ‘ensure that a full archaeological investigation is carried out at the Charles Street redevelopment site [in Dorchester] before [redevelopment] work commences’. Claire Pinder, Senior Archaeologist at Dorset County Council, has since clarified the position, which is that there is in place an existing planning approval for the site that requires total excavation as a condition. The petition relates to a new application to vary some of the conditions, one of which is archaeology. The developer considers that the cost is prohibitive and his archaeological consultant has proposed a less extensive piece of fieldwork involving the excavation of several trenches and an ‘intensive watching brief’ elsewhere on the site. This planning application has yet to be determined by West Dorset District Council. English Heritage has written formally to the effect that it cannot support the new application in its current form.

Many Fellows were saddened to read the news of the death of our late Fellow Richard Morris in the last issue of Salon. That obituary was an edited version of a much longer tribute written by our Fellow Linda Monkton, and Salon will provide a link to the full version once it is published. In the meantime, Fellow Neil Birdsall has written to add a note on Richard’s work at Tewkesbury Abbey, where Neil was Architect for more than thirty years, ‘a period that almost exactly coincided firstly with Richard’s informal involvement and later as the formally appointed Consultant Archaeologist to the Abbey. Everyone with whom he came into contact experienced Richard’s helpfulness, his encyclopaedic knowledge and an enthusiasm that knew no bounds. Tell him scaffolding was to be erected and one discovered he had invariably climbed it before anyone else. Not only that but he had probably already measured and drawn the mouldings, and had a theory regarding their place in the history of related moulding designs in other buildings elsewhere.

‘During his involvement at the Abbey he entirely reorganised and catalogued a large collection of artefacts of all ages, and of carved and worked stones. This collection he established in the parvise chamber over the north porch. Subsequent to his retirement, he continued as honorary Curator of the Abbey’s archaeological collection with characteristic meticulousness.

‘In 2003, as co-author with our Fellow Ron Shoesmith, Richard was involved with the book Tewkesbury Abbey: history, art and architecture, a compilation of a number of essays on various aspects of the history of the Abbey, several chapters of which were by Richard himself. This is the most comprehensive, thorough and accurate discussion of the building to have been written for a century, and Richard’s hand can be detected throughout. Woe betide anyone who did not come up to his high standards — though admonishment was always kindly and constructive! A more recent enterprise saw him as editor-in-chief of a series of booklets, which, though written by others, were very much overseen by him. These are mainly intended for visitors, have been well reviewed and remain available in the Abbey. Yet more were to have followed; Richard Morris will be sorely missed at Tewkesbury Abbey.’

Fellow Mark Samuel says ‘it is sad to learn of “RKM”’s death.  His 1978—9 Architectural History articles still constitute the “bible” for anyone studying later medieval mouldings in north-west Europe and his work laid the foundations for the study of architectural fragments as an archaeological resource. I can concur with his generosity with his time, having frequently imposed on it in the course of my work, very much as a “flea on his shoulders”. Developments in CAD and databases have given the subject “nine-league boots” to help those travelling in Richard’s footsteps along the “dusty road” to which Linda Monkton refers, but Richard’s primary love was for mouldings as a means of understanding the flow of influences in stylistic ideas (how this goes on to reveal institutional and patronage links is proving of huge importance, but this concerned him less). Although he was a pioneer in the use of computers in moulding analysis, it is unfortunate that the database that he created is now essentially obsolete. It would be a fitting tribute to RKM if the means could be found of transferring the “Warwick Archive” to modern media and making it available via the internet.’

By coincidence, ‘The Essay’ last week on Radio 3 addressed the theme of ‘The Rise and Fall of the English Castle’. On Tuesday 27 January, Fellow Nicola Coldstream (like Richard Morris, one of Fellow Peter Kidson’s first PhD students at the Courtauld Institute of Art) spoke about Master James of Savoy and Master Hugh of Chester, two medieval masons who played a major role in the construction of Edward I’s castles in Wales. The following evening, Benjamin Wild spoke about Henry III’s siege of Kenilworth Castle, to which Richard Morris devoted a lifetime of study. On Thursday evening it was the turn of Fellow Roberta Gilchrist to talk about ‘A Woman’s Place’ in the British castle, arguing that traditional interpretations of castles focus on the masculine and ignore the role of women, some of whom played a key role in the defence of medieval castles, in the absence of the lord. All the programmes in the series can be heard on iPlayer and are available as podcasts.

Salon reader John Lock writes to comment on two ‘natural heritage’ reports that appeared in the last issue of Salon: firstly to cast doubt on whether you could hide a stag beetle in a hollow apple for a practical joke (see Salon’s report on The Syon Abbey Herbal AD 1517), because of the mismatch in size and in season, stag beetles typically abounding in late May and June, while apples begin to ripen from mid-August. (Salon’s editor assumes that neither the Syon herbalist nor his source were naturalists; nor had they actually tried to secrete a stag beetle in an apple, but rather had picked on the stag beetle because of the prodigious mandibles from which it derives its name and their resemblance to the horns of the devil.)

John also says that legislation permitting better control over bats in historic places of worship is long overdue — and that ‘given that the Church of England is often said to be the Conservative Party at prayer it is a shame that it is only a private members’ bill. Bat protection legislation is very necessary because bats do need protection from some developers. However the legislation needs to be balanced; at present it creates a one-sided conflict of interest not only between bat and church conservation, but also between bats and other creatures that
are actually much more threatened than the bats themselves.’

In response to the request by Fellow Roger Leech for information on the church depicted in a watercolour by Helen Proctor, an artist working in Newcastle upon Tyne in the mid-nineteenth century, several Fellows suggested that it might be St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury. Fellow Mark Samuel says that the drawing shows the Tower of St Ethelbert before its collapse in 1822 and the gable end of the chapter house (also since gone; cf John Bulman’s view, c 1780), which is readily confused with the chapel of St Pancras, which still exists today but well to the east. He adds that the Proctor picture is reproduced in the current English Heritage guide to the abbey.

Fellow Philip Lankester agrees and says that the view is similar to that in the anonymous eighteenth-century pen-and-wash drawing in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Gough Gen. Top. 61, folio 236e), reproduced on page 152 of Fellow Richard Gem’s St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury (Batsford / English Heritage, 1997).

Roger is now wondering whether the watercolour sketch is by Helen Proctor at all: Proctor was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 15 October 1824, could not have seen the the Tower of St Ethelbert before its collapse in 1822. As Roger says, ‘almost all of her topographical art is of northern England and the Borders — for instance Kelso Abbey, Dilston Mill near Hexham, and Redcar — the one exception being Leigh Woods in Bristol, where she had a brother and nephew’. Research continues...

Fellow Martin Clayton writes following on from Frances Lynch’s anecdote in Salon about photographs of Garstang’s head of Augustus being used as scrap paper to say that Fellows might be amused by this tale of Sir Owen Morshead, librarian at Windsor 1926—58, with reference to Carl Ruland’s great catalogue of the Prince Consort’s Raphael Collection, privately printed in 1876. Morshead’s memoir begins: ‘this is a true story and worthy of all men to be believed. Told me by Barry [library assistant], 6 March 1937. O.F.M.: “I see we’ve got several copies of that catalogue of the Raphael Collection in the Library.” Barry: “Yes; we did have hundreds; oh, hundreds, yes; all done up in big sheets, unfolded. Piles of them there were, taking up heaps of room ’till Holmes [Sir Richard Holmes, librarian 1807—1905] said we couldn’t afford the room and I must get rid of ’em. So I sold them to a butcher to wrap his meat in. Yes; took ’em down Peascod Street to a chap there who kept a butcher’s shop. Oh he was delighted — well, they was so clean: been done up there for years, you see; all in mint condition.’

Fellow John Nandris says that ‘Salon’s review of Fellow Tim Clayton’s book about the Battle of Waterloo is timely; Fellows may like to be reminded that reconstructions of the battle are taking place at Waterloo on a large scale this year, between 17 and 21 June, with many ancillary events. Fellows may also enjoy the game of trying to find any mention of Wellington in the Gift Shop, wherein they may acquire any number of tasteful mementos of Napoleon.’ See the Waterloo 2015 website for further details.

Can you identify this bookplate?

Ortrun Peyn, the Society’s Head of Library Cataloguing, is seeking help to identify this bookplate, which is pasted in to an early sixteenth-century book on Magna Carta in the library. Ortrun says: ‘we would like to know whose bookplate (or family crest) this is. So far we have no provenance information for this intriguing item’.

The book in which it is found has the title ‘Magna Carta’ and it was published by Richard Pynson of London in 1514. The catalogue entry describes the bookplate as ‘containing a coat of arms: on a shield a saltire; above the shield a dexter arm, the hand grasping a sceptre; beneath the crest in an escroll the motto “Fuimus”.’ Literally translated, fuimus means ‘we have been’, but in this context, as a family motto, it can be interpreted as meaning ‘we have made our mark’.

Call for Papers: 49th Seminar for Arabian Studies

The Seminar for Arabian Studies is the only international forum that meets annually for the presentation of the latest academic research in the humanities on the Arabian Peninsula from the earliest times to the present day or, in the case of political and social history, to the end of the Ottoman Empire (1922). The Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies are published the following year in time for the next Seminar. The 2015 Seminar will be held at the British Museum from 24 to 26 July. Abstracts of 200 words (max) for 20-minute presentations should be sent to the Steering Committee by 28 February 2015. For further details, see the seminar website.


31 January to 19 April 2015: ‘Cotton to Gold: extraordinary collections of the industrial north west’. If you have not yet discovered the sumptuous neo-Gothic interiors of Two Temple Place (built in the late nineteenth century as a private home for the first Viscount Astor), make a date to see this exhibition showcasing objects donated by Lancashire cotton magnates to the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Haworth Art Gallery and Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum. Among the exhibits on display are a complete run of Roman Imperial coins, medieval manuscripts, ten Turner watercolours, life drawings by John Everett Millais, carved ivories, Byzantine icons, Japanese prints, Tiffany glass and a twelfth-century Peruvian mummy. The Two Temple Place website has more details.

February 2015: ‘The Alfred Jewel returns to Somerset’.
The late ninth-century Alfred Jewel, found near North Petherton, Somerset, in 1693, is returning to the county for the first time in nearly 300 years, having been presented to the University of Oxford by the antiquary Thomas Palmer in 1718. Among the associated events will be a talk on ‘Alfred the Great and the Alfred Jewel’, by our Fellow Simon Keynes, on 11 February 2015.

Also on display will be an important Anglo-Saxon sculpture (above) depicting St Peter recently acquired by the Museum of Somerset with grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and ACE/V&A Purchase Grant. The sculpture, which dates from the late tenth to early eleventh century, was first noticed in a garden at Dowlish Wake, Somerset, in 2004. Fellow Leslie Webster will give a talk on ‘The Dowlish Wake sculpture: the new face of Anglo-Saxon art’ at the museum on 25 February.

Details of all these events can be found on the website of the Museum of Somerset.

5 to 8 February 2015: ‘Alan Sorrell 1904—74: “the man who created Roman Britain”’
, a loan exhibition curated by Alan Sorrell’s daughter, Julia Sorrell, and Philip Athill, of art dealers Abbott and Holder at the Works of Paper Fair 2015, 11am to 6pm, the Science Museum, London SW7. Our late Fellow Alan Sorrell is widely remembered as the artist who visualised our archaeological heritage with his atmospheric drawings that were used extensively by the Ministry of Works, the Illustrated London News and many museums. Following on from the acclaimed exhibition of Sorrell’s work held at Sir John Soane’s Museum in 2014, this exhibition shows some thirty illustrations from Alan Sorrell’s books Roman Britain (1961) and Imperial Rome (1970), none of which have previously been seen in public. Julia Sorrell will give a talk at 3pm on the works on display as part of a detailed discussion of her father’s life and work. Further information is on the website of the Works on Paper Fair.

5 February 2015: ‘Making our past work for our future: recognising the value of our industrious past’, by Dr Miles Oglethorpe, Head of Industrial Heritage and Digital, Historic Environment Scotland, 6.15pm, hosted by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage in Room G01, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN.

Citing examples from both the UK and overseas, this presentation will refer to places where the re-use of our industrial heritage has been successfully achieved, and will consider how, through the development of an Industrial Heritage Strategy for Scotland, it can contribute significantly to the government’s National Priorities, including regeneration and sustainable development.

All are welcome; please confirm attendance via Eventbrite. The full lecture programme of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage can be seen here.

6 February 2015: ‘Bishop Henry Compton: militant gardener’, a free lunchtime lecture (1pm to 2pm) to be given by our Fellow, The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, in the Wren Suite, St Paul’s Cathedral Crypt. This lecture marks the 300th anniversary of the arrival at the rebuilt St Paul’s of the library of Bishop Henry Compton (1631/2—1713), whose bequest of half his library to St Paul’s was delivered in 1715. This was a transforming gift from a major, up-to-date, scholarly collection: the bishop’s books — many with handwritten notes in the margins showing just how much he used them — remain the core of St Paul’s library collection today.

To book, see the Eventbrite website.

9 February 2015: In ‘Italian Venice: a history’, R J B Bosworth, Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, will explore the city’s modern Italian history from the fall of the Republic in 1797 and the Risorgimento to the present day. This Venice in Peril fundraising lecture will take place at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BE, at 6.30pm for 7pm. Further details of this and of future lectures, including the 2015 Kirker Lecture, to be given by Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, on ‘Venice in trust: Venetian stories from National Trust properties’ on 12 May 2015; see the Venice in Peril website.

14 to 22 February 2015: The 2015 Jorvik Viking Festival programme features a lecture by Dr Søren Sindbæk and Dr Nanna Holm on the Viking fortress at Borgring (19 February at York Guildhall, starting at 7pm), one of five royal fortresses built by Harald Bluetooth that ultimately provided the military might that led to his grandson Cnut becoming King of England and York an important part of the Viking empire. On 17 February, Fellow Julian D Richards will give the Helen Thirza Addyman Lecture on ‘The winter camp of the Viking Great Army, Torksey, Lincolnshire’. Details of these and further events can be found on the Festival website.

21 February 2015: King John and Magna Carta Study Day, 10am to 4pm at the Avenue Campus, University of Southampton; the three speakers / tutors (Chris Woolgar, Nicholas Karn and Tim Tatton-Brown) are all Fellows. Further details can be found here.

5 March 2015: ‘Introducing Philip Webb’, by Fellow Peter Burman. As part of SPAB’s celebrations for the centenary of architect Philip Webb (1831—1915) this year, SPAB’s Spring Lecture Series starts with this introductory lecture at 6.15pm for 6.30pm at St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London. On 12 March, Tessa Wild (National Trust) will speak about ‘Philip Webb, William Morris and the Red House’; on 19 March, author John Aplin will look at ‘Webb through his letters’ and on 25 March, architect Michael Drury will examine ‘Webb’s enduring influence’. For more information and booking details see the SPAB website. For more on Philip Webb centenary events, see this press release.

Drawing of an Etruscan mirror, late fourth century BC, formerly Townley collection. Photograph: © The Trustees of the British Museum

29 and 30 May 2015: ‘An Etruscan affair: the impact of early Etruscan discoveries on European culture’. This British Museum conference, organised by our Fellow Judith Swaddling, Senior Curator, Department of Greece and Rome, will consider how the rich and exciting Etruscan discoveries made in Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria from the Renaissance period on inspired artists, architects, scholars and some of the earliest tourists. The conference includes The Barker Etruscan Lecture, funded by numismatist Graham Barker, which will be given by our Fellow Tom Rasmussen, of the University of Manchester, on the subject of ‘Burials, bandits and bucchero: Dennis of Etruria’ (a reference to George Dennis (1814—98), whose written accounts and drawings of the ancient places and monuments is among the first studies of the Etruscan civilisation in the modern era). Further details are on the BM website.

Announcing a new online journal: British Art Studies

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Yale Center for British Art have announced the launch of a new online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. The editors are keen to encourage submissions that will make the most of the journal’s online format and want to publish articles that propose visually stimulating ways of presenting art historical research. They hope that, as one of the few completely open-access journals in the field of art history, British Art Studies will provide a forum for the growing debate about digital scholarship, publication and copyright.

The first issue of British Art Studies is planned for autumn 2015. The call for submissions can be downloaded here and guidelines for writing are available to download here.

ABC Bulletin: winter 2014—15 issue

The winter 2014—15 issue of the ‘arts|buildings|collections BULLETIN’ has been published by the National Trust; copies can be downloaded from the Trust’s website. This issue includes a two-page feature on ‘Chinese Wallpaper in National Trust Houses’, following the Trust’s publication of a book on this theme by Emile de Bruijn, Andrew Bush and Helen Clifford, plus an intriguing story about efforts to track down a pair of eighteenth-century globes (celestial and terrestrial) formerly in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall. They appear in early photographs up to about 1927, before being replaced by the two smaller globes that are there now. Yvonne Lewis, Assistant Libraries Curator, was eventually able to show that they were formerly the property of the earl of Hardwicke (1690—1764) and that the terrestrial globe has had the track of Lord Anson’s voyage round the world of 1740—4 added by hand; George Anson subsequently married the earl’s daughter, Elizabeth Yorke (1725—60), in 1748. How does Yvonne know this? Because the globes have been traced to the National Maritime Museum; they were sold by Viscount Clifden in 1939 and bought by Sir James Caird (1864—1954), who included them in his generous donations to the National Maritime Museum, which had opened two years previously.


British Museum: Curator, South Asia
Salary: £42,993; closing date: 16 February 2015

To curate, develop (including through acquisition), present and interpret, care for, research, lecture and publish on the British Museum’s South Asian, especially Indian, collections and play a leading role in shaping and running the museum’s strategic engagement with South Asia, in particular with India, including building and deepening relationships with key partners in South Asian countries such as museums, government agencies, universities, and research foundations. For more information, see the BM website.

York Civic Trust: Chief Executive
Salary: up to £50,000; closing date: 16 February 2015

York Civic Trust is a charitable membership organisation dedicated to protecting and enhancing York’s architectural and cultural heritage and to championing quality in York’s future development. The Trust also operates Fairfax House Museum (with its own Director), which is regarded as one of the finest Georgian townhouses in England. The Trust values its independence, but works collaboratively with the City of York Council and other organisations and stakeholders in pursuit of its aims.

The Chief Executive will have overall responsibility for operational management of the Trust as determined by the Board of Trustees, in addition to acting as Company Secretary. The Chief Executive will prepare medium- and long-term strategy, policy proposals and analysis for the Board, and act as the public face of the Trust, working with the Board to enhance the Trust’s effectiveness and reputation within the community at large

For further information, see the York Civic Trust’s website.

Propose a lecture or seminar

Please email Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer if you are interested in giving a lecture at one of the Society's Ordinary Meetings (Thursday evenings at 5pm) or as part of our Public Lecture series (occasional Tuesday afternoons at 1pm).

We welcome papers based on new research on themes related to the Society's field of interest: the study of the material past.

You can view our current lecture programme in the Events section of our website.

Fellows are also encouraged to propose topics or themes for conferences or seminars that bring scholars and professionals from a variety of disciplines together to explain, discuss and debate our material culture. Please email Renée LaDue, the Society's Communications Officer, if you are interested in helping us organise such an event.


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