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Salon: Issue 320
12 May 2014

Next issue: 2 June 2014

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

Forthcoming meetings

15 May 2014: ‘Hoarding in Iron Age and Roman Britain’, by Roger Bland, FSA, Adrian Chadwick and Eleanor Ghey
Some 340 hoards of Iron Age coins and 2,591 of Roman coins are known from Britain, probably a greater concentration than anywhere else in the Roman Empire. This is a fast-expanding dataset, as 600 of the Roman hoards have been found in the last twenty years. Hoards have long attracted the attention of scholars, but mostly they have been concerned with their contents and have paid less attention to their contexts. An AHRC-funded project, a collaboration between the British Museum and the University of Leicester, will try to redress the balance by studying hoards in their context to understand better why they were buried through a systematic GIS-based analysis of their findspots and survey of selected sites. The paper will look at some of the issues involved and some of the early results.

22 May 2014: ‘London in 1712 as recorded in the letters of Samuel Molyneux, FRS’, by Paul Holden, FSA
In October 1712, Samuel Molyneux travelled from his native Dublin to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society in London. During his stay in England he corresponded with his learned uncle, Thomas Molyneux, communicating well-measured accounts of some of the most noteworthy connoisseurs of the day as well as first-hand descriptions of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, historic royal palaces, parks and gardens and notable public and private libraries and collections. Before the next half-century was over, many of these collections and libraries had become the nuclei of the British Museum and British Library. For the modern reader these seven meticulously written letters offer an intimate, erudite and discursive analysis of early Enlightenment London and a fascinating insight into the cultural and scientific world of the time.

29 May 2014: A Miscellany of Papers and Summer Soirée
This year’s Miscellany will include papers from Sasha Ward, Kelmscott Manor’s Artist in Residence, who will update Fellows on her work-in-progress, and from Jan Marsh, curator of the small exhibition showing in Room 28 of the National Portrait Gallery called Janey Morris: Pre-Raphaelite Muse. Jane died 100 years ago, on 26 January 1914, and the centenary display includes rarely seen portraits of Jane, her family and her close friends, including the photograph shown left, taken by John Robert Parsons in July 1865 when Jane Morris (1839–1914) was twenty-six years old, six years after her marriage to William Morris.

The Summer Soirée follows at 6pm. Fellows and Guests are welcome to both; admission to the soirée is by ticket only, costing £5 per person. To book, contact Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant (tel: 0207 479 7080).

3 September 2014: Stonehenge private tour and evening reception

This is a special opportunity for Fellows and their guests to explore the new visitor centre at Stonehenge. Admission is by ticket only, and will include access to Stonehenge (3pm to 7pm) and admission to a private reception in the new visitor centre with wine and canapés (7pm to 8.30pm); Fellow Susan Greaney and Melanie Coussens, both of whom have been closely involved in the design of the permanent and temporary visitor centre displays, will be on-hand to answer questions.

Tickets are £10 (including VAT) (the normal admission charge is £13.90) and can by contacting Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant (tel: 0207 479 7080). Adding a £5 donation to your ticket will help to pay for conservation work in the Society’s Library, which has five printed books currently on loan to the temporary exhibition at the Stonehenge visitor centre.

York Fellows’ meeting, Hull, 28 June 2014

This day-long visit to Hull will begin with a talk on ‘“The Poor Captives in Algiers”: Hull Seamen and the Barbary Corsairs’, by Martin Taylor, Hull City Archivist, followed by a visit to the birthplace of William Wilberforce and its museum telling the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its abolition. After a buffet lunch at the Wilberforce Institute, there will be a guided visit to the Arctic Corsair, Hull’s last surviving sidewinder trawler, and its visitor centre. There is no charge for the meeting; the lunch will be c £7, payable on the day. Please let Stephen Greep, Hon Secretary, York Antiquaries, know as soon as possible if you wish to attend, and guests are most welcome.

Getting to know the Society: introductory tours of Burlington House

The next tour of Burlington House for recently elected Fellows will take place on Thursday 26 June 2014. Fellows will be welcomed by the General Secretary, who will give an introduction to the Society, and its current activities. This will be followed by an introduction to the Society’s library and museum collections and a tour of the building. To conclude there will be a display of items from the Library. The tour starts at 11am and lasts about one and half hours. A light sandwich is available at a charge of £5. To book a place, please contact Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant (tel: 0207 479 7080).

Anniversary meeting report

At the Society’s Anniversary meeting, held on 30 April 2014, the following were elected to serve as Officers for the year 2014—15:
  • Gill Andrews, President
  • Stephen Johnson, Treasurer
  • John Creighton, Director
  • Brian Ayers, Hon Secretary

and the following were elected to serve as members of Council:
  • David Adshead
  • Geoffrey Bond
  • John Catell
  • Stephen Church
  • Paul Drury
  • Helen Forde
  • Philippa Glanville
  • Anthony Harding
  • Gillian Hey
  • John Hines
  • Stephanie Moser
  • Kate Pretty
  • Christopher Scull
  • Heather Sebire
  • Jeremy Warren
  • Barbara Yorke

Ballot results: 9 May 2014

The Society welcomes the following new Fellows, who were elected at the ballot held on 9 May 2014
  • Zoe Opacic, Senior Lecturer, Dept of History of Art, Birkbeck College, London, expert in medieval architecture, especially of central Europe
  • Janet Nelson, Professor Emerita of Medieval History, King’s College London, historian of medieval Europe, known for her writing on Charlemagne, kingship, government and political ideas; co-director of the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
  • Elizabeth Clitheroe-West, Head of Cultural Tourism, Dept of Culture, Media and Sport, with a research interest in English Egyptian Revival architecture
  • Rosa Maria Bacile, archivist and art historian, formerly Acquisitions Manager, Tate, specialising in Norman Sicily, particularly the porphyry tombs of the Norman kings
  • John Robert Hall, Dean of Westminster, currently leading the project to open the Abbey’s triforium as a major new museum
  • Jane Perry, independent scholar specialising in traditional and regional jewellery from Europe and beyond
  • Caroline Astrid Bruzelius, Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University, North Carolina, specialist in French and Italian Gothic architecture
  • Alastair John Lacy Blanshard, Professor of Classics, University of Queensland, an expert on Greek culture and the classical tradition, on Hercules and on eighteenth-century travellers to Greece
  • Benjamin Roberts, Lecturer, Dept of Archaeology, Durham University, co-author of many of the programmes in the BBC series ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, specialises in the early metallurgy of western Europe
  • Susanne Hakenbeck, Lecturer, Dept of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, researching social transformations following the collapse of the Roman Empire

Public lectures

On 27 May 2014, from 1pm to 2pm, Nancy Hills, a Janet Arnold Award recipient, will talk about ‘Historical Dress: a project inspired by Janet Arnold’.

On 17 June 2014, from 1pm to 2pm, Fellow David Jacques will give an account of his recent excavations at the Blick Mead spring (shown above), at Vespasian’s Camp, Amesbury, entitled ‘The Cradle of Stonehenge? Major Mesolithic Homebase discovered near Stonehenge’.

A report on the Amesbury excavations appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 1 May 2014 in which David says that the discovery of a major Mesolthic site at Blick Mead helps explain the location of Stonehenge: ‘the area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself. The first monuments at Stonehenge were built by these people.’ Rather than being built in an empty landscape, Stonehenge should be viewed as a response to the long-term use of the area by Mesolithic and early Neolithic people.

Reservations for any of the above talks can be booked online.

Portraying the Past: paintings from the Society of Antiquaries of London

This summer the Society will hold the first in a programme of annual temporary exhibitions when visitors will be able to see the paintings on display on the ground floor of our apartments at Burlington House (30 June to 1 August, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, free admission). These include the outstanding group of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century panel paintings bequeathed to the Society in 1828 by Thomas Kerrich, FSA, including portraits of Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII, as well as such works of international importance as the portraits of Jan van Scorel, by Antonis Mor, and of Mary I, by Hans Eworth. Further information about this exhibition, and about the forthcoming ‘Jane Morris: a Centenary Exhibition’ at Kelmscott Manor, can be found on the Society's website.

Please do consider working as a volunteer room steward at the Burlington House exhibition. Details of volunteer opportunities can be found here.


News from the General Secretary, John S C Lewis

Heritage Policy: new President Gill Andrews and I attended an English Heritage consultation ‘workshop’ on the next National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP) on 25 April. We provided detailed comments at the event and followed this up with a letter to the NHPP team (now posted on the Society’s website) in which we welcomed EH’s desire to ensure the next Action Plan has the widest possible applicability but expressed disappointment that there is no intention to consult further within the sector. We would have expected to see a draft of the Action Plan inviting comment before issue and without this it is difficult to see how the ambition to achieve ownership of the document by the sector can be met.

On 28 April I wrote to Ministers at the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support the recommendation by the British Academy and the Honor Frost Foundation that the UK Government should ratify the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. It was thus a happy coincidence that on 1 May the MoD and DCMS issued guidance on the Protection and Management of Historic Military Wrecks outside UK Territorial Waters. Whilst this guidance is confined to historic British military wrecks, it is an extremely welcome initiative and, we hope, a step toward ratification of the 2001 UNESCO convention.

Changes to Burlington House: during April we took advantage of the break in our Ordinary Meetings programme to begin making some improvements to Burlington House. In response to the Fellowship Surveys last June, we are making an effort to improve on-site signage with a new poster display by the front door and a digital display in the entrance hall that provides information to Fellows and guests on the Society and its charitable objectives as well as forthcoming events and newsworthy announcements. We’ve also upgraded several doors to comply with fire regulations. In addition, Fellows who have visited Burlington House in the past month will have noticed that the staff pantry, with its sink and dishwasher, has been relocated from the ground floor to the former kitchen in the basement. This will provide more room for the kitchen appliances and an improved workspace for our catering partners during events. The now-empty space on the ground floor will be converted into a secure cloak room and storage facility for Fellows and guests visiting the library or attending lectures, meetings and other events.

Unfortunately the cost of running Burlington House continues to increase and will do so for the foreseeable future. Annual increases in rent, as well as the growing costs of maintenance, repairs and conservation, cause greater strain on the Society’s finances each year, particularly in the current economic environment. To reduce this strain, the Society must explore all areas of income generation so that we can cover our operational costs and focus on our core charitable objectives. The expansion of our venue hire offer to corporate and private clients is one of the most effective ways we can make our Burlington House apartments an asset rather than a strain on our limited resources. Hence our partnership with Create Food and our efforts to promote the apartments as a venue for corporate and private clients have all been in pursuit of securing our future at Burlington House. Nonetheless, we remain committed to supporting the many learned societies and heritage groups that use Burlington House as a venue for their meetings (eg by continuing to offer charitable room hire rates and low-cost catering options). We hope that the changes we’ve implemented will improve our ability to do so.
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Antiquaries Journal first view

The first four contributions to volume 94 of the Antiquaries Journal have been posted on the Cambridge Journals website, along with seventeen book reviews. Fellows can view and download them for free by going to the Fellows’ Area of the Society’s website, selecting ‘Library Resources’ and then clicking on the link to the Antiquaries Journal.

In ‘A fragment of Cosmatesque mosaic from Wimborne Minster, Dorset’, Lawrence Rees and Fellow Michael J T Lewis write about the rediscovery of a fragment of Cosmatesque glass mosaic that is comparable in style to the famous work in the Confessor’s Chapel at Westminster. The authors conclude that it dates, like that at Westminster, to the 1270s or 1280s and they suggest that it adorned the shrine of Wimborne’s Saxon founder, St Cuthburga, while the patron who commissioned it was most likely to have been Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, lord of the nearby manor of Kingston Lacy, and close associate of Edward I.

Edward I features again in the paper by Fellow M A Michael on ‘The Bible Moralisée, the Golden Legend and the Salvator Mundi: observations on the iconography of the Westminster Retable’, in which the author analyses the miracle scenes in the Retable and argues that the artist was French, or trained in France, not an English artist working under French influence, and one thoroughly familiar with French models and iconographical sources; in turn, the artist of the Retable appears to have trained others, or inspired them to change their view of the world, as in the case of the artist of the Douce Apocalypse, where close comparisons can be made between the Retable’s style and that of the initial containing portraits of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile.

Christopher Pickvance has pioneered the recent study of medieval church chests and in his paper on the chest from the church of St Mary Magdalen, Oxford, with its striking tracery-carved front, he concludes that the chest was probably imported from north Germany and Sweden around 1320—30. Several areas for future research into the features of English and continental medieval chests are identified.

Finally, Fellow Mike Pitts, James Miles, Hembo Pagi and Fellow Graeme Earl invite us to take a much closer look at the Easter Island statue in the British Museum that anyone entering from the museum’s back door will pass on their way to the Great Court. Taken from the remote Pacific island in 1868 and delivered to the British Museum the following year, it has been on public display in central London almost without break for more than 140 years. Based on their recently conducted digital survey, combining photogrammetry and reflectance transformation imaging, the authors are able to separate out the original carving and polychromy from the later bas-reliefs that narrate the island’s birdman myth.
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Bishop of Bath and Wells

Having recently reported that the Bishop of Bath and Wells was being evicted from his modest apartment in the thirteenth-century Bishop’s Palace in Wells and asked to live instead in a rectory in Croscombe, Somerset, it is good to be able to report now on a change of heart on the part of the Church of England: the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, who will be formally enthroned as the seventy-ninth Bishop of Bath and Wells in June 2014, has been told that he will now live and work at the Bishop’s Palace alongside the Bishop of Taunton. Originally it had been claimed that living in the palace was not ‘conducive to ministry’ and that it lacked privacy for the bishop and his family. Now, following an unprecedented protest by the diocese itself, a specially convened tribunal acting on behalf of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York has thrown out the decision and ruled that the new bishop should live within the city of Wells itself.

The panel of the Archbishops’ Council said officials had failed to make the case for the move out of the palace. In a nine-page judgment it also noted that the commissioners had been warned that exiling the bishop from his palace was likely to lead to uproar in the diocese. ‘The Commissioners failed to anticipate the impact of their decision in Wells and in the wider diocese,’ the panel ruled.

Bishop Hancock said: ‘I’m pleased that the Archbishops’ Council has brought things to such a swift conclusion. It’s now time to look to the future and I can’t wait to get on with the job. The Palace will be at the heart of my ministry as the place where I live, study, pray and work, alongside the Bishop of Taunton.’ Tessa Munt, the local MP, who campaigned against the episcopal relocation, said: ‘The city of Wells will give a collective jump for joy and can’t wait to welcome the new Bishop, and his family, to his house in the palace.’
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Postgraduate Diploma in Heritage, History and Fabric of the Parish Church

York University’s Department of History has just launched a new postgraduate diploma course for those wanting to improve their understanding of the history, use, care and conservation of parish churches. The course is taught across two years and consists of two core and two optional modules. In the first year students undertake a two-term core module on ‘Sources and Issues for the Study of the History of the Parish and the Parish Church’, followed by a choice of modules on ‘Churches and Churchyards’ or ‘Parish and Community’. In the second year students choose from ‘Worship and Ritual’ or ‘Use, Care and Conservation of Parish Churches’, followed by a core two-term study project researching a church or churches of their choice. Further information can be found here.
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Hungarian Government acquires half of the Sevso Treasure

Viktor Orbán (left), Hungary’s Prime Minister, and József Pálinkás, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, unveil the Hunting Plate in Budapest’s parliament building, where the seven pieces of treasure will be displayed until July, after which they will go to the Hungarian National Museum.

The latest twist in the long-running saga of the Sevso Treasure is the news that the Hungarian government has acquired seven pieces from the hoard of fourth- or fifth-century silver for €15m (£12.3m), plus the copper cauldron in which the treasure was buried. The announcement was made by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on 26 March 2014, who was keen to stress that the pieces had not been ‘purchased’ because ‘the hoard has always been the property of the state of Hungary’. Instead, the payment is being represented as a ‘transfer fee’. The fourteen-piece hoard was once valued at more than £50m. Previous attempts by the owners to sell the treasure have foundered on export regulations and cultural heritage laws. This time a UK export licence was granted; this was not eligible for deferral as the treasure had not been in the UK for more than fifty years. The full details of the troubled history of the hoard can be read in the Art Newspaper.

Our Fellow Visy Zsolt gave a lecture to a packed meeting of the Society of Antiquaries on the treasure in 2008, and has since published a volume seeking to establish the provenance of the treasure (this can be downloaded for free here), which may have once have belonged to the owner of a large villa estate located on the shore of Hungary’s Lake Balaton, since the Hunting Plate inscription includes the Roman name, Pelso, for the lake. The Hungarian authorities believe that Jószef Sümegh, soldier and antiquities enthusiast, found the hoard in 1975; his death in 1980 is the subject of a criminal investigation.

The pieces purchased by the Hungarian government include the gilded Dionysiac Ewer and two out of four spectacular plates, including the one with the Sevso inscription. The government has said that it is keen to purchase the remaining seven pieces, though there is speculation that there are many more smaller pieces from the hoard locked away in Swiss bank vaults.
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National Portrait Gallery acquires Van Dyck self-portrait

Thanks to a £6.3m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, plus substantial donations from Simon Sainsbury’s Monument Fund, the Art Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and individual donors, the National Portrait Gallery has been able to buy Van Dyck’s Self-portrait, 1640—41, for £10m. The NPG and Tate had tried to buy the self-portrait jointly for £9.5m in 2010; the price then rose to £12.5m when the Los Angeles-based British billionaire James Stunt offered to buy the work, but he then pulled out and the work was re-valued. The self-portrait is on show at the National Portrait Gallery until 31 August, after which it will undergo minor conservation work before going on a three-year tour of museums and galleries across the UK.
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News of Fellows

Congratulations to our Fellow Kate Clark on her appointment as Chief Executive of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. Kate will take up the post in late summer, in succession to Marilyn Lewis, who will retire in August 2014.

Originally from Australia, Kate studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University before working for Ironbridge Gorge Museum, the Council for British Archaeology, English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and Sydney Living Museums. As conference convenor and as the author of such influential works as Informed Conservation: understanding historic buildings and their landscapes for conservation, Conservation Plans for Historic Places, Conservation Plans in Action and Capturing the Public Value of Heritage, Kate has already done much to set the agenda and to frame the terminology and concepts used in modern conservation practice. In her new role she will put those ideas into practice, helping people to understand, enjoy and value the history and distinctive character of Wales’s heritage.

For further comment on the challenges that Kate will face at Cadw and thoughts on how she might deal with them, see the NewsBlog of the Institute for Historic Buildings Conservation.

Maya archaeologists from across the world gathered in Austin, Texas, on 24 April 2014 to take part in a day-long symposium honouring our Fellow Norman Hammond’s contribution to Maya studies. Organised by Astrid Runggaldier of the University of Texas and our Fellow Francisco Estrada-Belli, and hosted by the Society for American Archaeology, the symposium’s theme was a quotation from one of Norman’s articles of the early 1980s: ‘Preclassic Maya civilisation is no longer a contradiction in terms’. This reflected the revelation that the period before AD 300 in the Maya Area was one of an already-complex society, albeit without inscribed monuments detailing Maya dynastic history. German, Italian and Japanese archaeologists joined those from Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, three of the countries where Maya civilisation flourished, as well as Canadian and American scholars, in presenting new evidence of Preclassic complexity and celebrating Norman’s forty years of investigation of Maya cities in the tropical forests of Central America

Radio 4 listeners might have heard our Fellow Aidan Dodson on ‘In our Time’, last week. Aidan, who also gave the lecture at the Society’s weekly meeting on 8 May on ancient Egyptian coffins in British and foreign collections, was answering Melvyn Bragg’s questions on ‘The Tale of Sinuhe’, the poem, written around 4,000 years ago, about an Egyptian palace official who, while on a mission to Libya, hears of the death of his patron, King Amenemhet I, and decides to remain in exile because of some unknown and unstated fear. Settling in what is now part of Syria, he marries well, his sons become chiefs and he defeats many powerful opponents in combat, before praying for an end to his exile, receiving an invitation from King Senwosret I of Egypt to return, and spending the rest of his life basking in royal favour before being buried in a splendid tomb. You can download a podcast or listen again to the programme using iPlayer.

Fellow Nigel Clubb has been appointed a member of the six-member Wales Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which makes decisions on applications to the Fund for grants of £100,000 to £2m. Born and brought up in Wales and now living in Brecon, Nigel began his working life with the Greater London Council, eventually becoming Head of Housing Policy. After switching to the heritage sector, he became a senior archivist at the Berkshire Record Office. He subsequently set up the Greater London Historic Environment Record, before being appointed Director of the National Monuments Record (now the English Heritage Records Office).

Congratulations to Fellow Tim Earle, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University, who has just been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recognising his ground-breaking work on the rise of early chiefdoms and states. Tim is one of 204 new members recognised this year by one of America’s most prestigious learned societies. The Academy membership of 4,600 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Fellows Robin Simon, Martin Postle, Brian Allen and Andrew Wilton are all contributors to the first major exhibition of British art in the Eternal City, Hogarth Reynolds Turrner: Pittura inglese [sic] verso la modernità, on at the Fondazione Roma Museo, in Palazzo Sciarra on via del Corso, until 20 July. The catalogue, edited by Carolina Brook and Valter Curzi, is published by the Fondazione Roma and Skira. The exhibition advertising is quite something: Robin Simon snapped the back of this bus on the Corso.

English Heritage opens first submarine dive trail

Britain’s first underwater submarine dive trail opened at the end of April 2014 on the protected wreck of HMS/mA1 — the first submarine to be designed and constructed in the UK. Built in July 1902 by Vickers Sons & Maxim Ltd, the submarine was used by the Royal Navy, but sank in the Solent in 1911 in only 39ft (12m) of water while unmanned and being used for underwater target practice.

Designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in 1998, the wreck lies complete and upright on the seabed and can be toured by licensed divers on a trail that has been set up by English Heritage and the Nautical Archaeology Society, the first to feature a submarine. The three existing trails have attracted hundreds of licensed divers on tours of HMS Colossus, a 74-gun warship built in 1787 which sank off the Isles of Scilly in 1798; the Coronation built in 1685 and lost off the coast of Plymouth in 1691; and the ‘Norman’s Bay Wreck’, possibly a Dutch ship which sank during the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690 near Bexhill on Sea in Sussex. A fifth dive trail is due to open in June for the paddle steamer Iona II, which sank off Lundy Island en route to the Bahamas in February 1864. English Heritage plans a total of twelve trails by 2018.

Terry Newman, Assistant Maritime Designation Adviser for English Heritage, said: ‘Protected wreck sites are as much part of our national heritage as castles and country houses, although they are not as widely accessible. By giving licensed divers access to these historically and archaeologically important wrecks, we are encouraging greater understanding and recognition of England’s underwater heritage.’


Fellow Michael Liversidge adds a footnote to the Holy Grail reports that have featured in the last two issues of Salon. He says: ‘our late Fellow Basil Cottle, the distinguished Reader in Anglo-Saxon Literature at the University of Bristol, medievalist and expert on heraldry and proper names (who, before becoming an academic, served at Bletchley Park where, inter alia, he compiled the first Albanian—English dictionary for use by the Foreign Office) was an adroit inventor of witty limericks which he often composed during departmental and faculty meetings. One I recall him reciting concerned the fate of the Holy Grail’:

A vicar received in the mail,
The authentic and certified Grail;
He said: ‘It’s too garish,
For use in the parish’,
So sent it to Sotheby’s for sale.

Fellow Peter Saunders, Curator Emeritus, Salisbury Museum, says that he was ‘amused to read about Vincent Megaw’s eightieth birthday party in the latest Salon. Fellow Sally Crawford’s reminder to Vincent Megaw at the presentation of the proofs of his Festschrift, Celtic Art in Europe: making connections, that when Stuart Piggott had received his Festschrift, To Illustrate the Monuments, it comprised but a title page and blank pages brought vividly to mind Piggott’s reaction to another incident involving blank pages. Having sent him a copy of Bronze Age Metalwork in Salisbury Museum to be reviewed back in 1972, I was surprised to see it returned. With it was a note from Stuart suggesting that the review might be just a trifle more favourable if I were perhaps to send another copy. Only then did I discover that a printing error had created a rogue copy deprived of every fourth page!’

Fellow Mike Pitts (whose latest book is reviewed below), writes in response to Salon’s report on the BBC History article questioning whether the remains identified as being those of Richard III really are so. ‘The key issue with the argument that the remains in question excavated in Leicester are not those of Richard III, is that it picks at separate details without seeing the bigger picture’, Mike writes. ‘Michael Hicks demands an altogether higher level of evidence for archaeology than he does for history: analysed in the way he deconstructs Leicester’s research, his own writings would surely not survive scrutiny. Of course — for example — on its own, the radiocarbon date does not prove the skeleton to be Richard III’s. But no one has said that it does, and as part of the package of data — it may span eighty-five years, but it’s the right eighty-five years — it’s an important element.

‘Martin Biddle asks perfectly reasonable questions about the archaeology, but they can in fact mostly be better addressed from available evidence than he appears to suggest. Contrary to his claim, the grave was excavated pretty much as any good, modern forensic study would have been conducted. We should remember that the burial was found as recently as summer 2012, and the site was still being investigated less than a year ago.

‘I wrote a blog about this and I also talked to Emma McFarnon, the BBC History journalist who interviewed Hicks and Biddle (see interview here). As it happens, I entitled the final part of my new book about the research (Digging for Richard III: how archaeology found the king, Thames & Hudson) “An Inquest”. I explicitly question each line of evidence that might be used to identify the skeleton — including that of the portraits, two of which are owned by our Society — and bring the lines together for a considered conclusion.

‘Any day now we should hear the outcome of the judicial review into the legitimacy of the excavation licence, specifically whether or not the applicant (the University of Leicester) had the right to determine the reburial site. If the answer to that question is no, the possible implications for the practice of field archaeology in this country are immense. Fellows who wish to be up to speed might like to read my description of the review proceedings, an entertaining event in its own right, on my blog.’


19 May 2014: Rufus Bird, Deputy Surveyor of The Queen's Works of Art, Royal Collection Trust, will give a talk on ‘Gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain in the British Royal Collection’, at 5.30pm in the lecture theatre at the Wallace Collection. Further details of this and other ‘History of Collecting’ events can be found here, and details of the related seminar on Collecting and Display can be found here.

27 May 2014: ‘Abbey to City: early printing and the Stationers’ Company’, the 2014 Stationers’ Archive Event to celebrate the publication by Cambridge University Press of Peter Blayney’s book, The Stationers’ Company and the Printers of London, 1501—1557.

The event includes an exhibition, from 5.30pm to 9.15pm, curated by Liveryman and Fellow Matthew Payne, Keeper of the Muniments at Westminster Abbey, illustrating the first years of English printing, including William Caxton’s arrival in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, and the move by Wynkyn de Worde, Caxton’s successor, from the Abbey to Fleet Street in 1500. Exhibits from the archives of the Stationers’ Company and the Abbey will include examples of printing by Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, Richard Pynson and other early stationers, as well as their fine bindings. Three distinguished speakers (Peter Blayney and our Fellows Julia Boffey and David Pearson) will give short papers from 6.30pm and there will be a finger buffet at 8pm.

Further information can be found here. Matthew adds that, although the closing date for tickets has now passed, late bookings will be accepted if made as soon as possible.

28 May 2014: The Equatorie of the Planetis (Cambridge, Peterhouse College, MS 75.1) is an important Middle English scientific manuscript that describes the construction and use of an instrument for calculating planetary positions. Sometimes attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, there has been considerable speculation regarding its authorship. This workshop marks the publication of a digital version of the manuscript, with accompanying transcription, commentary and a fully functional model. To be held at 2.15pm to 5pm, at the Whipple Museum, Free School Lane, Cambridge, it will examine the authorship, content and history of this manuscript. For further information contact our Fellow Scott Mandelbrote.

4 June 2014: ‘Beneath the Tribal Hideage: the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of Southern Britain’, by Fellow Sue Harrington. This seminar in the UCL Institute of Archaeology / British Museum Medieval Seminar Series will be held in the Institute’s Room 612 at 6pm, and will be followed by a reception to launch the book of the same name, completed by Sue Harrington based on the work of our late Fellow, Martin Welch. All are welcome.

7 June 2014: ‘Visualisation of the Late Antique City’. This conference to be held at the Society of Antiquaries presents the results of a Leverhulme-funded project looking at everyday life in Mediterranean cities between AD 300 and 650, exploring urban experience in terms of architecture, clothing and the use and meaning of objects. To register, please contact Jo Stoner by 25 May 2014. Further information here.

7 June 2014: The Summer Symposium of ASPRoM (Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics)
will be held at Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire), from 2pm to 5.30pm. The meeting will be hosted by the National Trust and will focus upon the spectacular animal menagerie mosaic from Lod (ancient Lydda), in Israel, which is currently touring Europe and will be on display in the Coach House at Waddesdon from 5 June to 2 November 2014. Found in the remains of what was probably a large villa, and dating from around AD 300, the panel measures roughly 8m in length and features wild animals from across the Roman Empire, such as lions, elephants and giraffes, as well as an elaborate marine scene.

The symposium speakers are J Neguer, on ‘The long journey of the Lod Mosaic: from Roman times to today’; Ilona Jesnick, on ‘Lod: the missing puzzle piece’; Janet Tatlock, on ‘Roman mosaics and the English country house’; and John Stewart, on ‘Mosaics: to lift or not to lift’.

Details of booking can be found on the ASPRoM website.

If you are unable to attend the ASPRoM symposium, tours with the curator of the exhibition, Astrid Johansen, will take place on 12 and 19 June 2014.

27 June 2014: FAME Forum: Remodelling the Market. This year’s FAME Forum will focus on design and value in development-led archaeology. It will bring together influential speakers from archaeology and related fields to discuss current issues affecting the industry, including John Eynon, of Open Water Consulting, on ‘Building information modelling’, John Orrell, of DLA Design Group, on ‘The RIBA Plan of Work’, Jay Carver, of Crossrail, on ‘Project design in infrastructure archaeology’, Fellow Steve Trow, of English Heritage, on ‘The English Heritage New Model’ and Fellow Peter Hinton, of the Institute for Archaeologists, on ‘The IfA Royal Charter’. The Forum will take place in York’s Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. Full details and a booking form are available on the FAME website.

10 July 2014: ‘Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac and the portrait bust’. Another good reason for visiting Waddesdon Manor this summer is this exhibition of painted portraits and portrait busts of the poet Alexander Pope that runs from 18 June to 26 October 2014. Malcolm Baker, the curator of the exhibition, will lead a study day at Waddesdon Manor on 10 July 2014: further information can be found on the Waddesdon Manor website.

18 October 2014: Paul Courtney Memorial Conference, to be held in the Frank and Katherine May Lecture Theatre in the Henry Wellcome Building at the University of Leicester in memory of Paul Courtney, long-standing member of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology and former editor of the Society’s journal Post-Medieval Archaeology. The meeting, held jointly by the Finds Research Group and the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, in collaboration with Yolanda Courtney, will be a celebration of Paul’s many interests, including his contribution to local history, finds research, ceramic studies and fortifications both here and abroad, and there will be a chance at the end of the day for those attending to raise a glass in Paul’s memory.

Among those speaking will be Neil Finn, on ‘The Civil War defences of Leicester’, Fellow John Allan, on ‘Church woodcarvings and the archaeology of immigrant communities in south-west England, 1500—1600’, Fellow Hugh Willmott, on ‘Bawdy joke or refined dining? The problems of assigning status and meaning as exemplified by phallic jugs’ and Stuart Campbell on ‘The archaeology of a subculture: the material culture of the Georgian army’. Full details here.

‘Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower’: artists’ books and the natural world

Currently showing at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut, this exhibition, curated by our Fellow Elisabeth Fairman, Senior Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, examines the intersections between artistic and scientific interest in the natural world and especially the scientific pursuits of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that resulted in the collecting and cataloguing of the natural world. Also investigated are the activities of self-taught naturalists during the Victorian era, particularly those of women who collected and drew specimens of butterflies, ferns, grasses, feathers, seaweed and shells, and assembled them into albums and commonplace books.

The exhibition also includes work by contemporary artists in a range of media, including sound, video and interactive multimedia. A number of key historic works will be on loan from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Examples of early microscopes used by natural historians will also be displayed, on loan from the Lentz Collection at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

The accompanying book, published in association with Yale University Press, is designed to evoke an early naturalist’s field guide.


Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting

Another exhibition currently on at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, devoted to the work of Richard Wilson (1714—82), will close on 1 June 2014 and move to Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum Wales, where it will be on show from 5 July to 26 October 2014 to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Wales’s greatest artist.

Fellows Robin Simon and Martin Postle have collaborated on the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue, with contributions from Fellows Oliver Fairclough, Paul Spencer-Longhurst and Jason M Kelly (among an international cast). Robin says that: ‘the book sets Wilson firmly at the heart of developments in Rome in the 1750s circle that included Cardinal Alessandro Albani, the painter Anton Raphael Mengs and the writer Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Wilson's companion Thomas Jenkins, FSA, is revealed as having been instrumental in the establishment of Wilson's reputation in Rome (where Wilson lived for most of his seven-year stay in Italy) and in Britain. As some Fellows will already be aware, Jenkins also engineered the election of Cardinal Albani and Winckelmann to the Society of Antiquaries as Honorary Fellows.’


A pot in the shape of Tláloc, the Aztec rain god. Tláloc is a Nahuatl word that translates as 'He Who Makes Things Sprout'.
Image: Michel Zabe
Source: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes - Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

This special exhibition brings together objects from the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico (which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year) and from twenty other museums in Mexico. The result is an extraordinarily rich collection of material related to every aspect of Aztec life and death, which is on at the Melbourne Museum until 10 August 2014, after which it moves to the Australian Museum, Sydney, from 13 September 2014 to 1 February 2015.

See the Melbourne Museum’s website for full details of the Aztec symposium, the accompanying lecture series and the exhibition itself.

Scottish Gold at the Hunterian Art Gallery

Currently on at the Hunterian in Glasgow, this major exhibition featues Scottish gold drawn from the Hunterian’s rich collections of mineralogy, archaeology and history, supported by key loans from around the UK. Several of the largest nuggets of gold ever found in Scotland are displayed along with gold torcs from the large hoard found at Law Farm, Moray, in 1857. Other key objects include gold lunulae and penannular bracelets, Roman gold coins and jewellery and a crossbow fibula found in Moray, as well as treasures associated with Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, Charles I and Queen Victoria.

James VI and I portrait badge, c 1620; © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2014

The William Hunter Visiting Fellowship

Heritage Lottery funding has recently been secured for the transformation of the historic Kelvin Hall, on the edge of Glasgow University’s campus, to house a new centre of excellence for the cultural heritage, creating improved public access to the collections and driving research, teaching and learning. At the heart of this project, the creation of a Hunterian Collections Study Centre by the academic year 2016—17 will offer excellent access to collections and world-class facilities for visiting scholars.

In preparation for this, and for the tercentenary in 2018 of William Hunter’s birth, the Hunterian is offering residential awards (between one and four months) to scholars working in any discipline to undertake research related to its rich and diverse collections. Proposals are particularly sought that offer fresh approaches to the collections, particularly interdisciplinary ones.

Visiting Fellows are expected to conduct a discrete research project during their appointment and to participate in the academic programmes of the Hunterian and the university through seminars, workshops and lectures. Relevance to the Hunterian collections and their history will be the primary consideration of the Hunter Fellowship panel, and as well as consulting the website for further information, applicants are encouraged to contact the Director, our Fellow David Gaimster, or the Deputy Director, Mungo Campbell, to discuss potential research projects.

Although the website says that applications should be received by 30 April 2014, the deadline has now been extended to 31 May 2014.

Forty years of Viking archaeology in York: celebrating the life and work of Fellow Richard Hall

Viking scholars from across northern Europe gathered in the Department of Archaeology at York on 21 March 2014 for a joint conference with York Archaeological Trust to celebrate the life and work of our late Fellow Richard Hall, the internationally renowned Viking expert responsible for the excavation of Coppergate, and for the creation, together with our Fellow Peter Addyman, of the popular Jorvik centre visitor attraction. A report on the conference can be read here.

The highlight of the conference was the launch of the final Coppergate volume: Anglo-Scandinavian Occupation at 16—22 Coppergate: defining a townscape, part written by Richard and completed by with D T Evans, K Hunter-Mann and our Fellow Ailsa Mainman. The dig revealed the remains of thirteen houses, some standing almost 2m high, with the waterlogged remains of leather, clothing, tools and the archaeologically rich deposits in the waste pits.

The book is available from York Archaeological Trust’s online shop.

A Maritime History of Somerset

The Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS) has just published the second volume in its series on the maritime history of Somerset. Edited by our Fellow Adrian Webb, Volume Two covers more than 1,000 years of history, including chapters on the fate of the men who operated the river ferries at Pill and Rownham across the River Avon until the motor car and the Avon Bridge put an end to their livelihood, on the history of travel along the Somerset coast, down the Bristol Channel, and on the devastating storms at the end of the seventeenth century that forced the Luttrells to rebuild their pier at Minehead. The civil engineer employed, who rode from London to Minehead to survey the harbour works, left letters, accounts and drawings that are included in this book, including an account of the local sea fishing fleet, whose catch kept hundreds of Somerset folk in employment, but that today is represented only by a handful of Somerset fishermen. Of a more cheerful nature is the chapter on Somerset tourism, and the beaches at Minehead, Burnham, Weston and Clevedon that once thronged with visitors in the era before cheap foreign holidays.

The book is available in Taunton from Brendon Books or by post from SANHS.

The Impact of Rome on the British Countryside

Fellow David Breeze is the editor of this booklet summarising the papers delivered at the Royal Archaeological Institute’s 2013 conference held in Chester. In the past, the RAI has published an Acta volume devoted to all the conferences of the previous four or five years, but this new publishing venture is designed to encourage speedier publication. Feedback is very welcome.

The ten papers in the 55-page booklet cover recent research on the Romano-British countryside, with comparisons between Britain and the Netherlands and Romania being drawn by Nico Roymans and Ioana Oltean respectively, to the effect that Britain is far less homogeneous in its settlement and land-use evidence, with marked regional differences. Fellow Dominic Powlesland illustrates one regional form: his astonishing ladder settlements in the Vale of Pickering, which show only subtle changes between the Iron Age and the Anglo-Saxon period: Rome’s impact is seen more in the availability of mass-produced goods, while life otherwise continued ‘as normal’.

The scale and nature of those goods is indicated in the paper by John Pearce and Fellow Sally Worrell on finds logged by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, showing once again distinct regional variations in the pattern of loss of coins, pendants and brooches, patterns that have yet to be explained, while Fellows Mike Fulford and Neil Holbrook present a picture of rural settlement based on developer-funded archaeology, whilst warning that the map might represent modern commercial and development activity more than the reality of Romano-British rural life.

Fellow Brian Roberts’s summary of the conference picks out some of the themes that emerged: the Romano-British countryside was populous and that there was a high degree of continuity from the late Iron Age to the late second or early third century but it was less clear what happened through the later Romano-British to the post-Roman / medieval centuries (though Dominic Powlesland had hinted at ‘an essential sameness of arrangements and systems’). Fellow David Breeze singled this out as an area for future research focus, and the question of whether Roman material culture was an indication of a military or administrative presence, with a noticeable fall-off in artefacts as the distance increases from town or fort.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Roman Britain

Following on from this theme, the British Museum has just published a report by Tom Brindle that seeks to quantify the value of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database as an archaeological resource — in particular, the extent to which the geographical distribution of finds helps us locate hitherto unknown sites, and the degree to which PAS data overlaps with or complements data from other sources, such as that held in Historic Environment Records (since it would be too large a task to cover every HER, the report analyses data from Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire, north and east Lincolnshire and Cumbria).

The report is packed with tables, graphs and distribution maps that are not easy to summarise, and it is difficult to draw conclusions because, as the author warns, find spots only tell us about metal-detector activity in the final analysis, not about what sort of site the finds might represent. Even so, a few broad conclusions are drawn. Fellow Martin Millett has good reason to feel pleased that his own estimate of the density of rural settlement at its height in Roman Britain, published in 1990 based on the very limited data then available, is borne out by the much greater quantity of data now available: Millett and Brindle both agree on a figure of between 0.8 and 0.5 sites per square kilometre, with a population of between 20 and 50 people per individual rural site and a population for Roman Britain of 3.7m.

There is currently, warns Brindle, ‘a very unsatisfactory understanding of the social and economic relationships between different types of rural Romano-British settlements’. Add to this the comments made by Brian Roberts in The Impact of Rome on the British Countryside that it is hard to research the invisible aspects of land ownership, land tenure, kinship and inheritance practices, clientage and social hierarchies, and we have the makings of a very juicy large-scale research project that has important implications for the Iron Age to medieval longue durée.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Roman Britain, by Tom Brindle; ISBN 9780861591961; British Museum Research Publication 196

Digging for Richard III

Writing this must have been a real challenge because nobody buying the book is likely to be unaware of the story’s ending, such has been the publicity surrounding the discovery of the remains of Richard III. Fellow Mike Pitts gets round this by deploying a battery of techniques for building drama and tension. Like an Elizabethan play, his book has five Acts, each with several Scenes, and an Epilogue. He has an acute eye for telling visual details as he sets the scene; he creates believable characters out of the dramatis persona, reporting their conversations, describing their mannerisms, the clothes they wear and the cars they drive, the smiles on their faces or the cast of an eye that betrays the inner thoughts. Indeed, the book reads like the screenplay of a TV drama and is full of tense moments, when everything seems to be about to go wrong, or of comedic scenes, such as the erection of a gazebo tent large enough to accommodate half a dozen journalists in case it rains on the occasion of the first press conference at the excavation site — a thoughtful touch, except that, of course, all the media in the world turn up.

And so the story unfolds, as Mike grips the reader with the story of how the remains of Richard III were found, subjected to a battery of tests and declared to be the real thing, history become tangible in a way that would not have been thought possible even ten years ago. Many Fellows played a part, and in a sense the subtitle of this book is wrong: it is not the story of ‘how archaeology found the king’ because archaeology — the excavation of the site — is such a small part of the overall narrative. This is a portrait of antiquarian activity in the twenty-first century, name-checking the many Fellows of this Society who brought their skills in documentary history, art history, monastic and battlefield archaeology, geophysics, genealogy, genetics, osteology, carbon dating and bone isotope analysis, facial reconstruction and much more to the project.

At one stage in the story, Philippa Langley, the writer whose passion for Richard III sparked off the whole project, says that archaeology is ‘just the best job in the world’ and declares that ‘If I’d known it was like this, I might have been an archaeologist’. The diggers all look at her and say no: archaeology is about being wet and cold, hurting your back, getting blisters, finding very little and surviving on meagre breadline pay. ‘This dig,’ they warn her, ‘is not normal’. They are absolutely right, and normal digs do not end up with heated parliamentary debates, nor with city councils and cathedrals fighting in court to decide where the royal remains should be laid to rest.

Like all the best stories, the ending of this one leaves open the very real possibility of a sequel: no doubt Mike Pitts, with one potential best-seller on his hands, is already taking notes, compiling files, observing the telling details in preparation for the next episode, being the story of how the king raised from the soil of Leicester was laid to rest in the soil of ... (to be continued).

Digging for Richard III: how archaeology found the king, by Mike Pitts; ISBN 9780500252000; Thames & Hudson, 2014

Thinking Big

Thinking Big is about the big questions: what does it mean to be human, when did we become human, how and what does the history and archaeology of the human brain suggest is the future for us humans? To answer such questions, Fellows Clive Gamble and John Gowlett joined forces with neuroscientist Robin Dunbar to set up a seven-year research project, called ‘Lucy to Language: the archaeology of the social brain’. This book is the story of that project, but it is written in a style that so admirably avoids technical vocabulary and sociological jargon that you need no more than an ordinary human brain to read and understand it — how rare it is that that can be said of any project funded by the UK research councils. Where specialist terms are needed to make key points — such as the key distinction between the rational problem-solving aspects of the mind and the relational aspects that are to do with social skills — care is taken to explain the differences and why they matter, using boxes that intersperse the main text.

If nothing else, the book thus serves as a very valuable summary of what we currently know about human evolution and the possible origins and development of such human attributes and skills as language, music, clothing, cooking, art, religion, ritual, morality, symbolism and metaphor, memory and self-awareness, attitudes to death, curiosity, exploration, navigation and global colonisation. Again and again, though, the authors argue that all the evidence points not to humans as rational beings but as social beings: we do not do what makes best sense judged in as objective a manner as possible, we act according to social ties. Take Pompeii as an example: rationalism says don’t build on the slopes of a volcano; instead, we build in dangerous places because of family, social, economic and historical ties, and we trust to religion, ritual or luck to see us through.

This conclusion is supported in the book by large volumes of evidence to the effect that the human brain evolved to its current advanced stage as a response to the growth in community size. Once a group grows beyond a certain number, it is no longer possible for every member of the group to maintain a social relationship with all the other members of the group; as the group thus begins to atomise, techniques for staying in touch and for sharing experience develop: call it communication, call it gossip, it is all about building bonds, and it leads to the development of language and such social skills as understanding what might be in the mind of another, to nuances of judgement, to the idea that another person might think differently from you and to a desire to explore those differences, to read another person’s moods and respond accordingly.

The book also deduces that ‘the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything’ is not 42 (sorry Douglas Adams) but 150. Called Dunbar’s number (because it results from the research outlined in this book conducted by Robin Dunbar), this is the maximum number of meaningful relationships that the social brain evolved to cope with way back in deep prehistory, and it continues to set the limit for human social capacity: as a result, the world is built up of multiples of 150 and ‘much of the last 11,000 years [of human history] has been about learning how to make large numbers work, through using the old small numbers’. Society consists, in other words, of social networks of 150 or so, and these provide the framework for larger institutions and polities.

The arguments presented in the book are challenging, but the evidence used to support them is convincing: most of us will recognise that relationships are more important to humans than any other driver, and that the social and emotional part of the brain is dominant. We can also see in certain conditions such as autism and Asperger syndrome what people are like who suffer from the opposite, having a dominant rational brain that leads to intense or focused behaviour and high achievement in areas such as music, mathematics or chess combined with a lack of empathy and significant difficulties in social interaction.

All in all, Thinking Big is like the Big Bang: it probably isn't the total answer, but there is no doubt that it answers a large number of observable phenomena, and it will serve as the dominant model for debating and refining our ideas about the origins and evolution of human cognition for decades to come.

Thinking Big: how the evolution of social life shaped the human mind, by Clive Gamble, John Gowlett and Robin Dunbar; ISBN 9780500051801; Thames & Hudson, 2014

The Archaeology of Hollywood

Fellow Paul Bahn’s latest book could well be prefaced by Sousa's 'Liberty Bell' march and the announcement: ‘now, something completely different’. Turning from his more usual subjects — cave art, Easter Island and the archaeological humour — Paul has revealed in this book an fascination with the Golden Age of Hollywood, an obsession that has caused him to dig into the material traces of the early days of Tinseltown in an effort to document and save such treasures as remain, from the industrial zones of the film studios to the celebrity mansions, elite hotels and iconic restaurants, where glamorous stars lived and partied, and the cemeteries where they are now buried. The result is part history, part archaeology — enlivened with pop culture, reminiscence, and whimsy — and a unique guide to the material culture and built heritage of Hollywood in its heyday.

The Archaeology of Hollywood, by Paul G Bahn; ISBN 9780759123786; Rowman & Littlefield, 2014


Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft: Director
Salary not stated; closing date: 14 May 2014

As featured in the last issue of Salon, one of the museums on the shortlist for the 2014 Art Fund Museum of the Year Award. Further information here.

Dig It! 2015 Communications and Administration Officer
Salary: £17,058; closing date: 18 May 2014

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is looking to employ an enthusiastic Communications and Administration Officer to work full time to the end of March 2016 on the national Dig It! 2015 project, a year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology. Dig It! 2015 is being co-ordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in partnership with Archaeology Scotland. A voluntary Advisory Panel, drawn from project partners (including Historic Scotland, Glasgow Museums, RCAHMS, the Society, Archaeology Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland, NMS, University Museums, the SCAPE Trust, ALGAO: Scotland, University of Glasgow and NTS) helps steer the project.

The post-holder will be part of a small professional staff team working for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The Society is a charitable organisation registered in Scotland (SC010440) and governed by a voluntary elected Council of Trustees. The post-holder will report to and be line-managed by the Dig It! 2015 Project Manager, Dr Jeff Sanders, to whom requests for further information should be addressed (tel: 0131 247 4138). Further information here.

National Maritime Museum, Cornwall: Director
Salary: c £60,000; closing date: 23 May 2014

Further information here.

The Battlefields Trust: Magna Carta 800 (MC 800) Development Officer
Salary: £30,000; closing date 30 May 2014

The Battlefields Trust, a registered charity in the heritage sector, will be appointing a development officer in support of MC 800 to work on an 18-month contract from July 2014 to December 2015. The role requires a good communicator with the ability to lead and motivate volunteers in interpreting the impact of 1215 and the Barons’ Wars and building capacity for the organisation. Outcomes will include: creating a nationwide awareness of the military aspects of the Magna Carta and the Barons’ Wars; developing volunteer competencies in the localities of battlefields and sieges and a sustainable programme of interpretation of the events; and producing information in range of media.

The post is home-based but will require travel, for which a car is necessary, weekend work and the ability to stay overnight, as the situation requires. Requests for further details should be sent to Peter Burley, The National Co-ordinator, Battlefields Trust, as should applications, in the form of letter supported by a CV.

The Landmark Trust: documentary research into Llwyn Cleyn, nr Abergavenny
The Landmark Trust is seeking expressions of interest from experienced documentary researchers in a project to investigate the history of Llwyn Celyn, a Grade I listed, late fifteenth-century timber-framed gentry hall house in the Brecon Beacons National Park, associated with Llanthony Priory. The successful candidate is likely to have a proven track record researching late medieval Welsh and / or monastic documentary sources, plus a familiarity with building research. A stipend will be paid, for research to be conducted and reported upon between the end of June and the end of August 2014. See the Landmark Trust website for an outline description of Llwyn Celyn, considered by CADW to be ‘the most at risk inhabited building in Wales’. Interested applicants should send their CV / credentials to our Fellow Caroline Stanford by 13 June 2014.

Propose a lecture

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 News and Events section of our website.


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

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