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Ordinary Meeting: 21 February 2013: ‘Without Whom … 200 Years of Northern Antiquarian Endeavour’, by Lindsay Allason-Jones, FSA

Public meeting: 5 March 2013: ‘Reading Medieval Child Monuments', by Sophie Oosterwijk, FSA

Ordinary Meeting: 28 February 2013: ‘Seeking Salvation: commemoration of the dead in the late medieval English parish’, by Sally Badham, FSA

Ordinary Meeting: 7 March 2013: ‘Motor-bicycling Around England: archaeology and architecture in the early Victoria County History’, by Chris Lewis, FSA, and Paul Stamper, FSA

Ordinary Meeting: 14 March 2013: ‘An English Coach in the Moscow Kremlin: a forgotten Jacobean masterpiece’, by Julian Munby, FSA


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Salon: Issue 293

18 February 2013

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.


Our President Maurice Howard is pleased to announce that Council members Margaret Richardson and Philippa Glanville were appointed Vice-Presidents in December 2012. Margaret and Philippa bring a knowledge of the history of architecture and of the fine and decorative arts across a swathe of time from the medieval period to the modern. This complements the experience and expertise of our third Vice-President, Gillian Andrews, in archaeology and heritage management. All three Vice-Presidents bring a sense of leadership, both in committee and ceremonial roles, from their experience in the public sector.

Forthcoming meetings

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

21 February 2013: ‘Without Whom … 200 Years of Northern Antiquarian Endeavour’, by Lindsay Allason-Jones, FSA
The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle was founded (like our own Society) in a tavern: in this case the Turk’s Head Inn in Newcastle’s Bigg Market in 1813, with the aim of ‘promoting enquiry into antiquities in general but more especially those of the North of England and of the Counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Durham in particular’.

Our Fellow Lindsay Allason-Jones, President of the Newcastle Society, will tell us how those objectives have been met over the last 200 years, and will cover such notable achievements as saving the Castle Keep and Black Gate in Newcastle from demolition (both are currently being transformed under the Heritage Lottery Funded Old Newcastle Project), preserving Tynemouth Castle and Priory, collecting and publishing the region’s folk songs and music in the form of the Northumbrian Minstrelsy, the Society’s involvement in the Hadrian's Wall Pilgrimage, which takes place every ten years, its publication of Archaeologia Aeliana and the acquisition of major collections of books and archaeological artefacts (the latter now transferred to the Great North Museum).

For more on this, see ‘Books by Fellows’ below.

28 February 2013: ‘Seeking Salvation: commemoration of the dead in the late medieval English parish’, by Sally Badham, FSA
The defining doctrine of late medieval Catholicism was that of Purgatory, which held that the soul had to be refined or purified before it could enter heaven. The Christian faithful were taught that the best way of minimising the time spent in Purgatory was meek suffering and good works. They also believed that the refining process could be speeded by the offer of prayers by the living faithful, which were often prompted by requests for prayers on monuments, glazing and wall painting schemes and many other artefacts. This paper examines the complex of liturgical and social acts connecting the living and the dead, collectively termed memoria, which is characterised by the integrated use of objects and texts to examine the various aspects and functions of the commemoration of the dead.

7 March 2013: ‘Motor-bicycling around England: archaeology and architecture in the early Victoria County History’, by Chris Lewis, FSA, and Paul Stamper, FSA
In the late nineteenth century archaeology and architecture stood somewhat apart from history and from one another. The arrival of the Victoria County History in the late 1890s gave the opportunity to formulate a more rounded approach to the history of counties and localities. This joint paper looks at how early volumes treated archaeology and architecture, addressing the ambitions, successes and failures of the first two general editors. It examines how they recruited and where necessary trained a team of expert contributors, and the partnerships that they forged with individual scholars and with analogous bodies, such as the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.

14 March 2013: ‘An English Coach in the Moscow Kremlin: a forgotten Jacobean masterpiece’, by Julian Munby, FSA
The Muscovy Company’s coach taken to Boris Godunov in 1604 survives in the Kremlin Armoury Museum. Despite a long tradition of Russian scholarship, and interest by visiting scholars studying the superb collections of plate, the coach has never before been studied in detail. It is of interest not only as the earliest surviving example of the new ‘coach’ style of vehicle, introduced into England from continental Europe in the late sixteenth century, but also as a superb example of decoration by English and continental artists and craftsmen. A study visit for the V&A with photographer Peter Kelleher has allowed a full examination of this extraordinary machine.

Public lecture 5 March 2013

The next public lecture to be hosted by the Society will take place on 5 March 2013 at 1pm, when Fellow Sophie Oosterwijk will give her paper on ‘Reading Medieval Child Monuments'.

Booking is not required and the lecture is free, but space is limited so it is a good idea to reserve a place in advance by using the online booking service or by calling Jola Zdunek, the Society’s Executive Assistant (tel: 0207 479 7080).

Ballot results 7 and 14 February 2013

As a result of the ballot held on 7 February 2013, we welcome the following newly elected Fellows of our Society:
  • Alixe Bovey, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Kent , specialising in later medieval illuminated manuscripts
  • Andrew F Davidson, Director of the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
  • David Saunders, Keeper of Conservation and Scientific Research, British Museum
  • Michael Phillip Richards, Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, and at the University of British Columbia, specialising in the stable isotope dietary analysis of fossil human bone
  • Shahina Farid, Scientific Dating Co-ordinator, English Heritage
  • Richard Eric Bevins, Keeper of Geology, National Museum Wales, specialising in provenancing British lithic materials
  • Jeanne Marie Teutonico, Associate Director, Getty Conservation Institute, specialising in architectural conservation at such sites as Tutankhamen’s tomb and Herculaneum
  • Alison Rowlands, Senior Lecturer in European History, University of Essex, specialising in the history of witchcraft
  • Scott Nethersole, Lecturer, Courtauld Institute, specialising in in early Renaissance painting and sculpture.
As a result of the ballot held on 14 February 2013, we welcome the following newly elected Fellows of our Society:
  • John Richard Alban, Norfolk County Archivist
  • Sally Elizabeth Cottam, BBC News Senior Broadcast Journalist and Roman glass specialist
  • Anneliese Arnold, independent archaeologist and historian and stained glass specialist
  • Edward Diestelkamp, Secretary of the National Trust's Architecture Panel and specialist in early iron glass-houses
  • Gillian Juleff, University of Exeter Archaeology Lecturer and specialist in prehistoric mineral exploitation and metal smelting
  • Robert Collins, Finds Liaison Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme and Hadrian's Wall specialist
  • David Bomgardner, retired Classics teacher and Roman amphitheatre specialist
  • Bernard (Bill) Cotton, furniture historian specialising in English vernacular furniture
  • William Hadden Whyte, Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, and specialist in nineteenth-century architectural history.

The search for Richard III

The big archaeological story of the moment broke a day after the last issue of Salon was distributed, and so there is little left to say that has not already been said. All the evidence supports the idea that the human remains excavated from the site of the former Greyfriars church in Leicester are the mortal remains of Richard III, who is now likely to be re-interred in Leicester cathedral, in line with the terms of the exhumation licence, unless there is a successful legal challenge.

The members of the York Minster Chapter ruled out offering an alternative burial place at York, despite a petition signed by more than 11,000 people, saying that it ‘commends Richard to Leicester's care’, adding that ‘the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death'.

Our Society played some small part in the proceedings. Many of the archaeologists and specialists who have been involved in the excavation and study of the remains are Fellows, as indeed are many of the members of the Richard III Society, which sponsored this research. And our Meeting Room at Burlington House was the venue for the press conference at which a reconstruction of the face of Richard III, based on the skull found at Greyfriars, Leicester, was unveiled.

Richard III press conference

Our thanks go to Fellow Matthew Symonds for this picture, which shows the Richard III facial reconstruction being unveiled in the full glare of the world’s media at Burlington House. 'What made the event for me’, says Matt, ‘was seeing this most recent depiction of Richard III along with the earliest surviving portrait (the Society’s arch-topped portrait of the king) and the last of the Plantagenet line (Michael Ibsen, a matrilineal descendant of Richard III’s elder sister, Anne of York) all in the same room.'

Another Society link to the event is our Fellow Mary Beard, who managed to maintain her reputation for being a subversive commentator by suggesting that our understanding of history had not been changed one jot by the discovery. Her remarks were reported around the world to cries of ‘spoilsport’, and Mary later said that she had managed through her Richard III comments to lose all the goodwill that she had gained in the previous fortnight for her appearance on ‘Question Time’ and her subsequent stance on internet trolling (for more on Mary, see ‘News of Fellows’ below).

One way in which our understanding of history could be changed — to bring a degree of certainty where there is now doubt — would be through DNA testing of the remains of the Princes in the Tower. The Queen and the Church of England have consistently said ‘no’ to such an idea, saying that ‘it could set a precedent for testing historical theories that would lead to multiple royal disinterments’.

The fact that posthumous accounts of Richard III’s appearance and scoliosis now appear to be supported by the physical evidence suggest that there is more to oral tradition than some historians will allow. In other words, we perhaps don’t need to seek further proof that the Princes in the Tower were ‘stifled with pillows ... by the order of their perfidious uncle Richard the Usurper’, as the seventeenth-century inscription on their monument puts it; of course he did — but what monarch (until quite recent times) did not murder his or her way to the top, or remove rival claimants, including the much venerated Queen Elizabeth I?

As for precedent, the media have been asking what other monarchs or figures from the past might now be disinterred and studied in the science lab. Alfred the Great seems to be the next target: the University of Winchester is seekingRichard III car park sign permission to study the remains that are said to be his in order to find out if they are of the right ninth-century date.

Left: this spoof car park sign was recently spotted on the internet

Finally, for a different perspective on Richard III, you might like to listen to a concert of recorder music of the 1470s and 1480s, including works by John Dunstable, Guillaume Dufay and Johannes Ockeghem, chosen specifically to represent the music that the king would have heard in England and on visits to Burgundy and The Hague. The music was performed by TritonE, a professional recorder trio specialising in the performance of historical music, on Friday 11 January 2013 at the Fraser Noble Hall at the University of Leicester as part of the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Our Fellow Professor Lin Foxhall, Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at Leicester University, says ‘the concert offers another perspective on the life and times of Richard III, presenting the sound world in which he lived, and the different kinds of music he would have heard and known’.

The General, the Scientist and the Banker

The title of this English Heritage exhibition, which opened at the Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London, on 12 February 2013, suggest that the exhibition’s curator, our Fellow Mike Pitts, is a fan of the films of Peter Greenaway. Certainly there is something filmic about the sequence of dramatic pictures that opens the exhibition, consisting of fourteen (out of a set of twenty) large and animated scenes of prehistoric life. Commissioned from the artist Ernest Griset (1844—1907) by Sir John Lubbock (the ‘Banker’ of the exhibition’s title) and painted c 1869—70, they are a real find, not only because they represent one of the first attempts to visualise the prehistoric past based on the latest scientific evidence (the new time depth introduced by Joseph Prestwich, John Evans and Charles Darwin, the latter being the ‘Scientist’ of the exhibition’s title), they also demonstrate Lubbock’s personal passion for prehistory. Who else would have commissioned pictures to hang on the walls of his Kent home of palaeolithic people setting out on a boat journey silhouetted against a vivid dawn sky than a man utterly fascinated by prehistoric archaeology and committed to protecting the noble remains of such monuments as Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and Avebury.

That romantic quest came up against the hard-headed reality of intransigent landowners who saw monument protection as equivalent to the end of the civilised world: they had their own carefully cultivated myths about the state having no business interfering in the rights of landed citizens. This exhibition charts Lubbock’s ten-year battle to get the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1882 on to the statute books, and celebrates the people responsible for helping and supporting him. The upper floor of the Quadriga Gallery is hung with photographs of all twenty-seven of the English monuments that were finally scheduled for protection and guardianship in that 1882 Act.

The Devil's Den burial chamber located on Fyfield Hill near Marlborough, Wiltshire, England

The Devil's Den burial chamber, located on Fyfield Hill near Marlborough, Wiltshire, was one of the first twenty-six monuments taken into care in England under the 1882 Act; this photograph dates from c 1865

The Act also paved the way for the appointment of ‘The General’, in the form of Lubbock’s son-in-law, Augustus Pitt-Rivers, as the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments, at a salary of £250 a year plus expenses and a small sum to be spent on signage and fences. It was a salary that the General did not really need, as he was already a wealthy man, the inheritor of a large Dorset estate whose monuments he excavated with scientific precision: the exhibition has examples of his notebooks, his excavation records, objects from his ethnographic collections, photographs of his excavations (for example, at Wor Barrow in 1893) and some very pleasing watercolour paintings of some of the first scheduled monuments, for it was Pitt-Rivers's practice to take the artist W S Tomkin with him on inspection tours, and between them they created a fine portfolio of ancient monument surveys and views (the Pitt-Rivers family has recently allowed our Fellow Dan Hicks to study a hitherto uncatalogued portfolio of these paintings, which are currently being prepared for publication).

This is a gem of an exhibition, well worth seeing, and the first of four planned for the Gallery to celebrate 100 years since the passing of the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act; it also acts as an aperitif for the fuller collections of the Bromley, Salisbury and Wiltshire Museums from which much of this exhibition’s material was drawn.

Two very different houses

The first is a continental long-house of early Anglo-Saxon date of a type hitherto unknown in England. It features on the front cover of the latest issue of Saxon, the lively newsletter of the Sutton Hoo Society, edited by our Fellow Nigel Maslin, and it was excavated by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Society at Hartismere School, near Eye, in Suffolk. The building is large: 19.4m long by 5.4m wide. Internally, the space is roughly divided into three, with clear space at each end and a central portion that is further subdivided into three longitudinally by pairs of large posts creating what, in a church, would be called a nave and two flanking aisles. Carbon dating results are awaited, but three early Anglo-Saxon sherds from the posthole fills suggests that the structure was built in the fifth century.

Anglo-Saxon longhouse

Above: the long house under excavation; photo courtesy of the Saxon newsletter and Suffolk County Council Archaeological Society

There are further buildings across the site, including at least eighteen sunken-featured buildings, industrial areas, a possible food-smoking house, gullies, cobbled surfaces with wheel ruts, large quantities of animal bone and pottery. Small finds from the site include nineteen brooches, thirteen wrist clasps, a strip of copper alloy with a Runic inscription (guth, or possibly gub), a balance and scale pan, and fifty-eight fourth-century Roman coins, perhaps still being used in commercial activity at the site in the fifth and into the sixth century. The economy of the site is indicated by substantial finds of animal bone (475kg), evidence for antler and bone working, woodworking tools, including an adze head, clay loom weights, needles and spindle whorls.

Roger Bowdler's House

The second dwelling is a rather nice eighteenth-century house in New End, London NW3, that is in need of a new owner. The house was featured in the Sunday Times on 20 January 2013 in the column in which Eleanor Mills visits the featured property as a potential buyer and does her best to find fault with it. On this occasion, the worst she could come up with is that it was ‘artfully cluttered’, and that, although the house was charming and flooded with light, she preferred a minimalist look.

The current owners are our Fellow Roger Bowdler, and his architect / interior-designer wife, Christina. They need more space for their growing children, so if you are looking to move and would like a fine and beautifully restored four-storey house in a quiet part of Hampstead with 1,849 square feet of accommodation, take a look at Hamptons’ website.

Dutch MeMO (Medieval Memoria Online) database now launched

Our Fellow Sophie Oosterwijk (formerly editor of the journal Church Monuments) joined the team of Dr Truus van Bueren in Utrecht to work on the MeMO (Medieval Memoria Online) project in February 2011 and she has been responsible for co-ordinating the Tomb Monuments component of the project for the last two years. Sophie now writes to say that the ‘database was officially launched at Utrecht University on Thursday 31 January 2013. It contains a wealth of material on medieval (or pre-Reformation) memorial culture up to c 1580 within the present-day Netherlands, offering scholars internationally a wonderful new research tool that is freely available to all.

‘The MeMO database incorporates over 400 memorial texts (such as chronicles, vitae, cartularies and registers) and nearly 3,500 memorial objects (not just tomb monuments and slabs, but also memorial paintings and sculptures as well as stained-glass windows). An extensive introduction explains the aims and objectives of the project, and provides instructions on how to browse or search in the database. All entries are in English and contain descriptions, measurements, locations, inscriptions (with translations), biographical information on the persons commemorated, literature and illustrations where available.'

Sophie says that, as part of the project, she has directed the professionally photography of some 800 tomb monuments and slabs across the country. ‘Throughout these photographic sessions the “Tomb Team” received tremendous co-operation from churches, staff and local volunteers. Their help was often vital in locating slabs, which are not always to be found inside churches: in Maastricht (Limburg) four medieval slabs are now in the lobby of the Kruisherenhotel (formerly the convent of the Crutched Friars), while in Leeuwarden (Friesland) the tomb slab of founder Ritscke Boelema (d 1547) was discovered in the courtyard of the modern nursing home for the elderly that now bears his name.

‘More time (and funding) is still needed to complete the mammoth task of checking and expanding the entries for all extant Dutch medieval monuments and to introduce new categories (e.g. liturgical objects), but the present database is already an impressive achievement. And there is scope for yet more work, as there is a wealth of information in antiquarian texts and drawings waiting to be researched and added to what has already been entered in the database, such as the antiquarian drawings by surveyor Korstiaen Bestebroer (illustrated below).'

See the MeMO website for further information. Users are invited to submit comments, corrections and additions that will help improve the database.


Left: Floor slab of Canon Johannes Craghe (d 1524), Sint Maartensdijk, Zeeland, with the indent of a lost brass. Photograph: Chris Booms on behalf of MeMO and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

Right: The same slab showing the lost brass, in a drawing of 1783 by Korstiaen Bestebroer now in the Zelandia Illustrata collection (Zeeuws Archief Middelburg, ZI-II-2051), reproduced courtesy of the Koninklijk Zeeuwsch Genootschap der Wetenschappen

Building financial resilience: Heritage Lottery Fund grants for heritage fundraisers

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has launched a new £2 million investment programme — Catalyst Heritage. Grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 are now available to enable heritage organisations to build their fundraising capacity and develop innovative new approaches to securing funding, whether from corporate sponsorship, private giving or the donation of volunteering hours. There are two opportunities to apply for a Catalyst Heritage grant, with closing dates of 19 April 2013 and 16 August 2013. Further information can be found on the Catalyst website.

News of Fellows

Our Fellow Graham Connah, of the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra, has been honoured by the publication of a special issue of the journal Azania: archaeological research in Africa, published by Routledge for the British Institute in Eastern Africa. This is the second time that Graham’s contributions to archaeological research have been recognised in this way: volume 27 of Australasian Historical Archaeology, published in 2009, was devoted to Graham Connah's field research in rural Australia and his pioneering role in building the foundations of historical archaeology in Australia.

Congratulations to our Fellow Rachel Moss, who has just been elected President of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Dr Moss is the editor of Medieval Art and Architecture, the first volume in a major five-volume study of The Art and Architecture of Ireland to be published by the Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, launching in 2014.

Fellow Caroline Shenton is the deserving winner of the Political Book of the Year Award for her history of The Day Parliament Burned Down. The award was all the more significant for the fact that Caroline beat Alastair Campbell and Nick Robinson to take the prize. Lord Ashcroft presented Caroline with the £10,000 prize. Our Fellow Mary Beard, one of the judges for the award alongside Lord Ashcroft, Chris Mullin, Keith Simpson MP, Carolyn Quinn and Adam Boulton, described the title as ‘microhistory at its best’.

Mary Beard’s recent comments calling into question the value of the Richard III excavation did not stop the excellent Oldie magazine declaring her their ‘Pin-up of the Year’ at an awards lunch on 12 February 2013. She was presented with the award by Sir Terry Wogan, who said that Mary had ‘triumphed against adversity and battled ungentlemanly comments’. James Pembroke, Publisher of The Oldie,  said: ‘Mary is a striking lady. When she walks into a room she has got poise, she has got charisma.' He added: ‘This award is really saying “leave people be”. She’s a gem, leave it at that.’

Fellow Paul Wilkinson has long argued that parts of the poem Beowulf are set in specific locations around Faversham and along the north Kent coast. You can follow his reasoning when 'Beowulf' is broadcast later today (18 February 2013) at 7.30pm on ‘Inside Out’, on BBC 1 South East.

Fellow Christine Finn, another Kent resident, is once again opening the house in Deal that she inherited from her parents and turned into an experimental work of art investigating the themes of ‘home’ and ‘memory’. This year’s Arts-Council-supported exhibition, called Leave Home Stay — Gone, is a collaboration between two photographers: Christine herself, whose images explore the links between Deal (flooded in 1970) and New York (flooded as a consequence of Hurricane Sandy) and Harold Chapman, who documented the transient life at the Beat Hotel, in Paris, in the 1950s and who has since returned to his Deal birthplace to chart the transformation of the town, including the mechanised sea defence work which has changed the town’s seascape. Christine says that the exhibition ‘centres on our responses to the increasingly delicate relationship between coast and sea’.

Leave Home Stay – Gone is at 58 Golf Road, Deal CT14 6QB, on 21 Feb, 6pm to 8pm, 22 Feb, 10am to 4pm, 23 Feb, for the artists' tour and talk at 11am to noon, and a family workshop on resourceful creativity with the artists at 2.30 to 3.30pm; and on 24 Feb, 10am to 4pm; admission and events free; wear warm clothing!

Christine Finn's 'Lasting Memories'

Picture: Coney Island, Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy (October 22 to 29 2012), by Christine Finn

Fellow Francis Pryor has written an archaeological detective novel — The Lifers’ Club — set in the Fens. Rather than publish it via the conventional route (and risk the novel sitting unread in some editor’s in-tray for years), Francis has decided to release it through Unbound, the crowd-funding internet publisher. There you can choose between the digital version at £10, a printed hardback copy at £20, or a signed hardback copy at £50. Subscribers get their names printed in the back and postage and packing is included in the price of the printed books. If, perish the thought, too few people subscribe to make the book viable, everyone who has subscribed will get their money back. Before you decide, you can read a synopsis and an extract and see a video of Francis talking about the book on the Unbound website.

Lives Remembered

The Society has been informed of the recent deaths of our Fellows Michael Stammers, James Tynan Gould, John Stanley King, Leslie Watkiss, Gertrude Seidmann and Reay Robertson-Mackay.

The death has also been announced of Tony Legge who, though not a Fellow, was known to many of us in his various roles as a member of the Cambridge Arch & Anth community, excavating Neolithic sites in Syria and other parts of south-west Asia and teaching at Birkbeck College, University of London, and at the Australian National University. We hope to have a brief tribute to Tony in the next issue of Salon.

Mike (Michael) Stammers, elected a Fellow on 16 May 2002, was formerly Keeper of Merseyside Maritime Museum, serving on a number of national and international maritime historical committees. His many books on books on maritime subjects include West Coast Shipping (1976), Historic Ships (1978), Figureheads (1983), Steamboats (1986), Tugs (1980), Liverpool; the port and its ships (1991), Mersey Flats and Flatmen (1993) and Liverpool Docks (1999).

Just before he died, Mike was about to publish two new books: Emigrant Clippers (252 pages, £25 inc p&p) and Victorian North Norfolk Sailing Ships (64 pages, £8 inc p&p). For an order form or further information, please contact Mike Clarke.

Our Fellow Bob Meeson says that ‘Jim Gould, who died at home on 7 January 2013, aged ninety-four, grew up and lived his entire life in and around Aldridge (in Staffordshire until 1974; now in the West Midlands). He earned a scholarship to attend grammar school but, out of respect for his family's financial circumstances, did not proceed to the tertiary education that he richly deserved, going on instead to work as a railway clerk. During the Second World War he served in the navy without leaving our shores, and shortly afterwards he qualified as a history teacher, eventually ending his career as deputy head of Perrycrofts School in Tamworth.

'Alongside his teaching commitments, he worked unstintingly as a local historian and archaeologist, developing his own knowledge and generously sharing it with others. A product of adult education opportunities that are regrettably now largely unavailable, he metamorphosed from student to teacher of adult education classes for the Workers Educational Association. He went on to lecture part-time for Birmingham and Keele Universities, the latter awarding him an MA (Hon Causa). He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries on 6 January 1966.

‘His highly regarded book, Men of Aldridge (1957), “filled a need for those who like to teach or learn history from a human angle” (Adrian Oswald). However, it is his numerous published papers for which he is chiefly recognised, ranging in subject matter from prehistoric stone axes to a fifteenth-century iron mill. As a founder member and the Secretary of the Lichfield and South Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society he directed excavations on the Romano-British forts at Wall (Letocetum) near Lichfield. Decades before the era of developer funding, he carried out rescue excavations on the line of the Wall by-pass. Later, while our Fellow Philip Rahtz was working on the Anglo-Saxon defences in Hereford, Jim Gould competed with him to be the first to encounter them in Tamworth. Jim also wrote incisive papers on local placenames, and such diverse subjects as the medieval Cannock Forest and the identity of St Edith of Polesworth.

‘A more detailed appreciation of the life and work of a modest, unassuming, scholarly gentleman is planned for a forthcoming volume of the Staffordshire society that he helped to found.’

John Stanley King, who died at the age of eighty on 7 October 2012, was born in Bradford on 7 Feb 1932. After national service spent with the RAF in signals and communications, he worked as office manager at Salt's Mill, Saltaire, until the mill closed, after which he worked for Sanderson's Textiles.

He served on the city council from 1970 until his retirement in 2008, latterly as Lord Mayor (the post to which he was elected in 2000). During that time, he was an unstinting campaigner for public transport, serving as Bradford’s representative on the West Yorkshire Transport Authority for twenty years (Chairman twice) and an advocate for the restoration of electric trams that have since returned to such cities as Sheffield and Manchester.

The grandson of a tram driver, he was also influential in the establishment of the working Tramway Museum at Crich and the Bradford Industrial Museum. He was a member of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society for nearly sixty years, a council member from 1964 and President from 1966 to 1968. He was the author of a number of social and municipal histories relating to West Yorkshire, including The Manor of Horton (1967), Transport of Delight (1972), Bradford Corporation Tramways (1998) and Halifax Corporation Tramways (2005). He was elected a Fellow of our Society on 15 March 2007.

Leslie Watkiss was elected a Fellow on 14 April 2005. He was a Classics scholar who made an important contribution to the study of Roman and medieval Latin texts. His works include editions and studies of the Thebaid of Statius (1966) and Sallust Bellum Jugurthinum (1971) and we have him to thank for a number of translations in the Oxford Medieval Texts series, including the Waltham Chronicle (1994), the Book of the Foundation of Walden Abbey (1999), Thomas of Marlborough’s History of the Abbey of Evesham (2003) and the St Albans Chronicle (2003).

Fellow Martin Henig writes to say that ‘Gertrud Seidmann, elected a Fellow on 6 March 1986, died on 15 February 2013. Her achievements are partly detailed in Classicism to Neo-Classicism: essays dedicated to Gertrud Seidmann (BAR Int Ser 793, 1999), edited by Martin Henig and Dimitris Plantzos. She was an authority on jewellery, ranging from Jewish marriage rings to the exquisite gems catalogued by Nathaniel Marchant (which she published with the Walpole Society). She wrote a large number of entries for the Dictionary of Art and the new DNB.

'She was immensely proud of being a Fellow of the Antiquaries. In Oxford she was a great friend of the Institute of Archaeology and of the Beazley Archive. In her long life, she was loved and respected by a great many people ranging from those to whom she taught German at Southampton University to many scholars, both young and old in Oxford and elsewhere. We will all miss her ready wit and wisdom. Until a few years ago she would undertake massive days in London visiting three or four exhibitions after which she would exclaim “My dear I feel rather exhausted. Age is catching up with me!” Really? even in her late 80s she seemed to me to be perennially young!’

Reay Robertson-Mackay, elected a Fellow on 2 May 1996, died in Cambridge on 21 October 2012, at the age of eighty-two. Fellow Terry Manby says that 'Reay was proud to be a Scot, did his MA at Edinburgh under Stuart Piggott in the early 1950s and his PhD (something to do with beakers) at the London Institute of Archaeology in 1954—6 under V Gordon Childe, during which time he also found time to dig and publish Recent Excavations at the Cluniac Priory of Saint Mary, Thetford , Norfolk (1957).

'Subsequently, as Assistant Inspector in the Ministry of Works during the 1960s, he excavated such major sites in southern England as Winklebury hillfort (PPS, 53, 23—128) and Staines causewayed camp (PPS, 43, 31—154). Fellow Roger Mercer, in his memoir in Antiquity (‘From Digger to Director, Cornwall to Caithness’, vol 80, no. 310, 987—95), records that ‘in 1961 I was working at Fishbourne for Barry Cunliffe and in 1963 worked at the Neolithic causewayed enclosure site directed by Reay Robertson Mackay at Staines (cycling every day along a route from Harrow that would now probably mean certain death)). Reay was moved up to Inspector in the 1970, dealing with prehistoric sites in northern England. He continued with English Heritage, based at Fortress House, down to the late 1980s, when he retired and moved to Cambridge.'

Lives Remembered: Jonathan Scott

The Times carried an obituary for our late Fellow Jonathan Scott CBE (7 February 1940—28 December 2012) on 31 January 2013, from which the following extracts have been taken.

'Ian Jonathan Scott was born in 1940 to a family with a long tradition of army service. He was two months too young to be called for National Service and though he tried to volunteer early, Balliol would not hold his scholarship. His ancestry, however, offered much material for the research he enjoyed, looking into the lives of distinguished figures in the eighteenth-century East Indian service, and that of Thomas Brassey, the remarkable Victorian railway contractor and early promoter of the Channel Tunnel.

'Jonathan made a considerable success of his time in the City, as a director of Charterhouse Japhet from 1973 to 1980, followed by Barclays Merchant Bank and Barclays de Zoete Wedd, where he remained until 1992 and led the teams privatising British Steel and National Freight.

'Before he left the City, without undue regret, he was appointed Chairman of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art. This was one of the most effective appointments made by Lord Gowrie during his brief tenure at the Arts Ministry. Scott was a formidable interrogator, a model of fairness to all parties and always complete master of his brief. His financial acumen proved invaluable; for the first time, he insisted that all objects were actually examined by committee members. The “Waverley criteria” on which the committee operated were originally intended to prevent the flight of capital during wartime, and covered items of national interest in terms of historic and aesthetic value; Scott widened the brief by insisting that regional and local importance should also be considered. The Scottish and Welsh archives and museums owe him much.

'At the same time he served as a trustee of the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he was Deputy Chairman from 1997 to 2003. In 2000 he moved on to chair the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) panel, succeeding Sir Jack Baer, one of London’s leading art dealers. This body seeks to ease the burden of death duties by transferring works of art to the nation, and, with decreasing museum purchase funding, is now their most important conduit. He followed Baer’s lead in making full use of the expertise available in the trade. Here again, diplomacy and sensitivity to owners and the Treasury were vital to success. He was mindful that in situ agreements, whereby ownership is transferred but the objects remain in the places where they are most important, should not be abused, and, before retiring in 2010, he also arranged for the Cultural Gift Scheme, providing tax relief for living as well as post-mortem owners, to be administered by the AIL when it is eventually implemented. Particular triumphs include the in situ arrangements for the chattels at Houghton Hall, and the transfer of Vanbrugh’s Seaton Delaval from the estate of Lord Hastings to the National Trust, thus saving one of the North’s greatest houses.

Jonathan Scott

'Scott published three well-regarded books, Piranesi (1975), Salvator Rosa (1995) and a pioneering study in its field, The Pleasures of Antiquity (2003), and he had recently finished a history of the Lasborough Valley. Two days before his death he had been out for his favourite ride around the hills surrounding that valley. On the death of his grandmother after the Second World War, Scott’s parents had been forced to sell the family seat, Lasborough Park, with its land and contents, to meet death duties, but his love of the Gloucestershire valley was enduring. In 1983 he bought back part of the estate, without the house, and restored the original manor just along the valley.

'This Jacobean structure was in a state of ruin: the ceilings had gone and the nearest thing to what might be termed “facilities” was a bathroom installed by Australian forces during the First World War. Despite this, restoration was achieved in a year. The creation of the gardens was a continuing project, led by Scott’s wife. Scott himself was passionate about building stone walls, making compost and lighting bonfires. He was rightly proud of his skill at coaxing flame from thoroughly sodden materials.'


First of all, apologies to our Fellow John Camp, whose role as guest curator of the new British Museum exhibition, In search of Classical Greece: the travel drawings of Edward Dodwell and Simone Pomardi 1805—6, was mentioned in the last issue of Salon but without making it clear that he is, of course, a Fellow of our Society.

Salon 292 also highlighted the important role played by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle in collecting folk music in the nineteenth century. Our Fellow Stephen Briggs has responded by pointing to a petition being organised by students at Edinburgh University who are greatly concerned by ‘plans to disintegrate the School of Scottish Studies, home of the Scottish Folk Revival and internationally renowned centre for research in Ethnology and Celtic Studies’. A campaign is under way to persuade the University that the School of Scottish Studies and its resources must remain intact and accessible to researchers and the wider public: details of the petition can be found on the website of the School of Scottish Studies Campaign.

Salon 292 also asked how many Fellows might have been inspired to pursue an archaeological career by watching Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Glyn Daniel on ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’. Fellow Matthew Spriggs responded to say that ‘My mother was a keen fan of the programme and I remember watching it as a small child and deciding (aged six or thereabouts) to become an archaeologist. With her encouragement, I joined the Middle Thames Archaeological and Historical Society at the age of eight. Then, in late 1972, my careers adviser at Slough Grammar School recommended that I apply to St John's College, Cambridge, on the basis that Glyn Daniel was Director of Studies in archaeology there, and his was the only archaeologist's name he recognised (he had, of course, seen him on AVM).

‘Prior to that, when a Parent-Teacher organisation was formed at Slough Grammar School in the late 1960s, the person invited to launch it with a public lecture was Sir Mortimer Wheeler. I was thirteen at the time and was invited to meet the speaker in the headmaster’s study just before his talk because I was the school's only declared archaeologist. Sir Mortimer was standing by the mantelpiece, a glass of sherry at his lips (or could it have been a whisky?). Having been introduced, he clapped his hands firmly on my shoulders in approval of my career course and declaimed some encouraging comment. I guess this “laying on of hands” must have worked!’

Fellow Peter Durrant, Berkshire County Archivist, writes in response to the report in Salon 292 on the recent acquisition by the Berkshire Record Office of an important Reading Abbey manuscript to say that ‘this is a very exciting discovery, and I am delighted that it has been possible to bring it back home (or as near to home as is today possible). I should like to add, however, that that happy outcome was greatly assisted by the work of my fellow Fellow Professor Brian Kemp, who examined the manuscript last summer when it first appeared on the market and on whose scholarly report I relied heavily when preparing my bids for funding. I am greatly indebted to Brian for his support and encouragement throughout. We are planning to put the manuscript on temporary display in the Record Office later this month, after which I hope that we will be able to examine it in detail and uncover more of its secrets.’

As ever, the last issue of Salon contained a number of errors: the review of The Berkeley Estate 1281—1417: its economy and development should have said that the book arises from our Fellow David Smith’s long-standing interest in the Berkeley muniments (not monuments). General Pitt Rivers' appointment as Inspector of Ancient Monuments was not in 1893, but ten years earlier: he took up the post officially on 1 January 1883.

And in the context of the 100th anniversary of the Ancient Monuments Act 1913, several more Men from the Ministry have come forward to offer reminiscences. Fellow David Neal says: ‘Even I, as a humble archaeological illustrator at the time, was a member of the Ancient Monuments Inspectorate, and what a wonderful world it was — especially during extended tea breaks, listening to archaeological controversy. The tea cosy was made from layer upon layer of brown wrapping paper! Geoff Wainwright's tea mug was always heavily tanned. Other members of the Inspectorate at that time included Fellows Jeremy Knight, Ian Stead and Sania Butcher. Together with Fellows Peter Curnow and Michael Thompson they are also still going strong and were in the Inspectorate before Martin Biddle, if my memory serves me correct.’

Fellow Geoff Wainwright adds to the list: 'I joined in 1963 and had the huge honour of hot-desking with Fellow Martin Biddle in Lambeth Bridge House; Martin had joined the Inspectorate, along with Fellows Ian Stead and Brian Davison, in 1961. Inspectors who preceded 1961 would have been Fellows Peter Curnow, Michael Thompson and John Lewis, all of whom are still with us.’

Indeed, Fellow Michael Thompson was one of the guests of honour who attended the opening of The General, the Scientist and the Banker (see above) on 12 February; Salon's editor heard him remark rather pointedly to our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, that ‘it was all very different in my day’.

Finally, Fellow Alastair Maxwell-Irving was reminded by the title of the lecture to be given on 21 February 2013 by Deborah Lazarus called ‘A Future for the Past: enabling the use of built heritage assets’ that the same title was used in 1961 for a book by the late Moultrie Kelsall, the distinguished actor and producer, and his architect, Stuart Harris, published in Edinburgh by Oliver and Boyd. This was a pioneering work, advocating the conservation, rather than the demolition, of even the ‘humblest sort of old buildings’, which, the authors argued, could ‘be made into the most comfortable of homes, suited in every way to our modern pattern of living, while yet preserving their character and individuality’.

A Future for the PastAlastair writes: ‘one of the case studies in the book was a group of derelict cottages in the village of Blairlogie (where I live). Kelsall and Harris restored these cottages to make the home, now called Kirklea Cottage (shown below), in which Kelsall lived for the rest of his life. His son, Robin, a retired musician, still lives there.

'Moultrie Kelsall felt very strongly about the subject, and went on have Blairlogie listed as the first official “Conservation Village” in Central Scotland. If the cottage looks familiar, it was because, through Moultrie’s influence, Blairlogie later became the location for the popular TV series, “Dr Finlay’s Casebook”. The villagers are proud of this heritage, and to protect it have established the Blairlogie Community and Heritage Trust to look after communally owned land and buildings, such as the Reading and Recreation Room in the centre of the village and to undertake buildings history research.'

Kirklea Cottage

Call for papers: the 47th Arabian Studies Seminar (deadline 15 February 2013)

The 47th Arabian Studies Seminar will be held at the British Museum from Friday 26 July to Sunday 28 July 2013, and it will be dedicated to three researchers of great standing in Arabian studies: our Fellow Beatrice de Cardi, Walter Müller and Peter Parr. In addition to the normal range of subjects, the organisers would welcome papers relating to the pioneering work of these three scholars.

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.

If you wish to offer a paper, please send an abstract to the Steering Committee by 15 February 2013 (abstracts submitted after this deadline may be accepted at the discretion of the Committee). Abstracts of up to 200 words (for 20-minute presentations and 5 minutes of discussion) should include: the name(s) and full contact details and affiliation(s) of the contributor(s), the title of the proposed paper, a summary of what the proposed paper intends to cover, an outline of the approach it will take, an indication of the significance of the topic, five keywords and up to three relevant bibliographical references.

Call for papers: Rust, Regeneration and Romance: Iron and Steel Landscapes and Cultures (deadline 28 February 2013)

Hosted by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham, and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, this conference will take place from 10 to 14 July 2013 at Ironbridge. Abstracts of 300 words with a clear title should be sent as soon as possible but no later than 28 February 2013 to the conference organisers; further information can be found on the conference website.

Papers are particularly sought on the following themes: understanding iron and steel landscapes — historic and contemporary perspectives; human/technology relationships; challenges in the presentation and interpretation of iron and steel heritage; tourism in iron and steel landscapes; histories and ethnographies of iron and steel communities; architectural tropes surrounding mining and fabrication; representations of iron and steel cultures in the ‘popular’ media; the ‘cultural industries’ (arts, sport, tourism, etc) in the regeneration of iron and steel communities; languages of steel cities — dialects and territories; symbolic economies of iron and steel  iconography, art and design.


25 February 2013: ‘The Serlio (Chinese lattice) floor at Wollaton Hall’, by Ed Morton, Accredited Conservation Engineer, one of a series of lectures organised by the Institution of Structural Engineers’ History Study Group at 5.45pm for 6.15pm at the Institution, 11 Upper Belgrave Street, London SW1X 8BH.

Ed’s lecture is concerned with the Prospect Room at Wollaton, constructed in 1580—8 by the scholar and entrepreneur, Sir Francis Willoughby, and designed by Master Mason John Smythson, who had previously worked at Longleat House and Wardle Castle, and who later designed Hardwick Hall. The timber floor is approximately 20m long by 10m wide, formed as a Chinese lattice structure, of the type described by Sebastiano Serlio; instead of main beams spanning the width of the room, this has shorter lengths of timber tenoned into each other. The talk will look at the history of the building and the floor and recent work to bring the floor back into full use for the first time since the 1950s.

Future lectures include ‘Windsor Castle Round Tower’ (8 April 2013), by Clive Dawson (the structural engineer responsible for keeping the Round Tower standing in 1988—92) and our Fellow Brian Kerr, who excavated the site, and ‘Historic engineering issues in the Upper Ward at Windsor Castle’ (20 May 2013), by our Fellow Steven Brindle, who is editing what will be a comprehensive history of the Castle.

15 and 16 March 2013: ‘Temple and Tomb: re-imagining the sacred buildings of Jerusalem’, the Second Conference of the Temple Church and The Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, being organised by our Fellows Eric Fernie, David Park and the Revd Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple, with a number of Fellows among the speakers. The sanctity and significance of Jerusalem were re-created throughout Christendom in centrally planned churches and architectural motifs, in liturgical forms and in civic myths. This forum will study the expressions of the Temple and the Sepulchre in Christian architecture and medieval devotion. For further details, see the Courtauld Institute website.

22 to 24 March 2013: ‘Archaeometallurgy in Iron Age and Roman East Yorkshire’, the Historical Metallurgy Society’s Spring Workshop 2013, to include a guided tour of prehistoric iron production sites in the region, a guided visit to the Arras barrow cemetery site, exclusive viewing of the South Cave Weapons Cache, a Late Iron Age cache of five iron swords in ornate La Tène scabbards and thirty-three iron spearheads discovered in East Yorkshire, and a guided tour of the Hull and East Riding Museum. For registration details, please contact Yvonne Inall.

9 May 2013: ‘The Enemy Within: Rome's frontier with Isauria between Konya and the Taurus mountains’, by Professor Stephen Mitchell FBA. This free lecture, hosted by the British Institute at Ankara, will take place at The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH, at 6.30pm in the Wolfson Auditorium. Refreshments will follow after the lecture. Reservations are necessary as seats are limited; please contact Claire McCafferty (tel: 0207 969 5204).

The Isaurians, who inhabited the central section of the Taurus mountains of southern Turkey between Konya and the Mediterranean, were regarded throughout antiquity as brigands or barbarians. For more than 500 years, between the first century BC and the fifth century AD, they were a dangerous enemy at the heart of Rome's Asia Minor provinces and a threat to peaceful neighbouring cities and regions. The Romans created an internal frontier to meet the Isaurian challenge, based on strategic road building and the deployment of troops, especially of cavalry units. This was as important to the security of the provinces of Asia Minor as the Empire's eastern frontier along the River Euphrates. The lecture will examine the creation and development of this internal frontier, especially in the region south of Konya, along the northern edge of Isauria.

19 to 21 July 2013: The Future for Ethnographic Museums, a conference to be hosted by the Pitt Rivers Museum and Keble College, Oxford; see the conference website for further details.

Ethnographic museums have a long and distinguished history but they have also been the subject of criticism and complaint. During the second half of the twentieth century they therefore underwent something of an identity crisis. More recently, however, many of these institutions have been remodelled or rethought and visitor numbers have increased. The conference seeks to analyse these shifts and to ask what the remit of an ethnographic museum should be in the twenty-first century. The conference marks the culmination of a five-year research project funded by the European Commission and involving ten major European ethnographic museums.

Books by Fellows: Late Roman Silver: the Traprain Treasure in context

Traprain LawThe huge hoard of Hacksilber (cut, crushed, bent and broken silver plate and ingots) found in May 1919 at Traprain Law, a flat-topped volcanic hill 30km east of Edinburgh, is the starting point for the twenty-seven essays in this book, many of them contributed by Fellows, setting the find in context.

Several very important themes emerge. One is the character of the transitional period from the end of the Roman occupation of southern Britain and the evolution of frontier soldiers serving on Hadrian’s Wall into local gang leaders. Another is the reoccupation and refortification of sites that we call ‘Iron Age hillforts’, such as Traprain Law, in the fourth or fifth century. The role of silver in late Roman society is discussed, along with the evidence from crucibles at Traprain Law that Roman silver was being recycled to create the new kinds of high-status goods valued by the post-Roman elite (neck-rings and bracelets, fibulae and belt fittings, brooches and pins), and to create silver bullion that would serve as a means of exchange and fill the gap left by the disappearance of Roman coins.

In addition, there are studies of the contents of the hoard, and especially of the impressive tableware that was represented by the chopped up material, and what it can tell us about the sort of dishes that graced the tables of the late Roman elite. Comparisons are drawn with similar hoards from different parts of continental Europe and the ancient Near East.

All told, this is an impressive work, copiously illustrated, that draws together scholars from all over Europe in a multidisciplinary and multi-period study that shows just how much can be learned from the study of one hoard.

Late Roman Silver: the Traprain Treasure in context, edited by Fellows Fraser Hunter and Kenneth Painter; ISBN 9781908332004; Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Books by Fellows: 200 Years: the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne 1813—2013

Newcastle Antiquaries Bicentenary bookletThe booklet that the Society of Antiquaries has produced to mark its bicentenary packs eighteen short essays into its seventy-six pages, each one looking at an aspect of the Society’s work, from recording, conserving and campaigning for historic buildings (contributed by our Fellow Grace McCombie) to the Society’s artefact collections (contributed by our Fellow Lindsay Allason-Jones, who relishes the astonishingly eclectic range of objects collected by the Society, from Roman milestones and Anglo-Saxon crosses to Jobling’s Gibbet, named after the last man in England to be gibbeted (in 1832), two years before the practice was ended, and Grace Darling’s cloak, scarf, compass and a lock of her hair).

The link between the Society’s buildings conservation work and artefact collection is explored in another essay (by John Nolan) on Newcastle’s keep, which housed early meetings of the Society, and the thirteenth-century Black Gate, to which it relocated its meetings and collections before the First World War: the archive photographs accompanying this essay show the rooms of the Black Gate stuffed with Roman altars and cases full of small finds, like a glorious attic full of treasures awaiting discovery.

The Society benefits greatly from having Hadrian’s Wall within its territory; our Fellow Nick Hodgson writes about the very important role played by the Society in the early nineteenth century when it was effectively the only body recording and studying the Wall — out of which emerged the towering and influential figures of John Collingwood Bruce (the Society’s Secretary from 1856 to 1863) and John Clayton (Vice-President, from 1856 to 1890), and a series of important catalogues, excavation reports and guides to the Wall. Even so, there is far more to the Society than the Wall: Roger Fern, writing about the Society’s excursions, shows members exploring Holy Island, World War I remains, ruined medieval farmhouses and Spadeadam, the now-redundant testing site for Britain’s Blue Streak medium range ballistic missile.

The booklet is of more than local interest and is a pleasure to read; photographs are a great strength, with two, three or more well-chosen pictures per page. The impression you are left with is of a society that might be 200 years old but is youthful, vigorous, proud and confident that it has a continuing role to play in Newcastle and the wider region — and given the recent news that Newcastle City Council has decided to cut its entire arts budget, with serious consequences for the Great North Museum and  for Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives service, the efforts of the Newcastle Society are going to be needed today just as much as they were in 1813, when the Society was founded.

PS: a new free exhibition — Tales of Antiquarian Adventure 1813—2013 — opened in the Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 16 February, telling the story of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle and including many fascinating objects from its extensive collections.

200 Years: the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne 1813—2013, edited by Fellow David Breeze; ISBN 9780901082671; Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne

Books by Fellows: Great Crowns of Stone

Great Crowns of StoneThis is another book distinguished by outstanding photography, graphics and archival material, as it tells the story of the recumbent stone circles that are Aberdeenshire’s unique contribution to the stone circle typology of the third and second millennia BC. The distinctive feature of the recumbent stone circle is the massive slab, laid on its side, flanked by the two tallest stones of the circle. The author, Adam Welfare, has studied every example in detail, and has looked for patterns that might help explain their function or symbolism, analysing their position in the landscape, their diameters, the numbers of stones in the circles, the orientations of the recumbent stone and its flankers, the views framed by the flankers, the question of whether the shapes of the recumbent and flankers might mirror some significant feature in the landscape, and so on.

Every time you think that Adam has found something that they all have in common — other than the defining recumbent stone — he is quick to emphasise that the perceived pattern applies only to a small percentage of the stone circles and that there are more exceptions than examples that conform to the rule. Even so, some impressive facts emerge that help us understand the architectural character of these stone circles: the recumbent stone is always located in the south-western or southern arc of the ring, which consists of opposing pairs of standing stones, carefully chosen so that the heights diminish the further round the circle they go, just as the distance between the stones also increases the further they are from the recumbent stone. Excavation has further revealed that the outer circles surround an inner circle of kerb stones that are similarly graded in height and that hold in place a cairn that covers a patch of ground that is marked by intense burning.

It looks then as if recumbent stone circles mark the sites of significant funeral pyres, and that the circle is a closing event, that marks and commemorates the cremation site. The book explains why it is very likely that the monument was planned in its entirety at the outset, why it is likely that the positions of the standing stones were plotted and marked out before the pyre was constructed and why the orientation may have lunar and solar significance.

An important overriding theme is of diversity in apparent uniformity: the author questions the broad classifications that we use to categorise monuments and suggests that big categories based on similarities can also disguise small but important differences that could be a clue to regional diversity in monument building in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

Great Crowns of Stone: the recumbent stone circles of Scotland, by Fellow Adam Welfare; ISBN 9781902419558; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

Books by Fellows: A Roman Frontier Post and its People: Newstead 1911—2011

A Roman Frontier Post and its PeopleEdited by our Fellows Fraser Hunter and Lawrence Keppie, this collection of essays has been published to mark the centenary of James Curle’s excavation on the Roman fort of Newstead (ancient Trimontium), near Melrose, a pivotal site for the study of the Roman frontier. The fort, discovered accidentally when a railway was driven through the southern part of the site, has the longest occupation sequences of any in Scotland, and has produced a wealth of material, thanks to its waterlogged state. Finds such as parade helmets, wine jugs, leather goods, horse trappings and scale armour, captured the public imagination: Arthur Conan Doyle even wrote a ghost story (‘Tales of Long Ago’) set around the excavations.

Curle himself was a vivid writer and his excavation report was intended to reach out to general readers as well as specialists; hence such passages as this, describing the abandonment of the fort around AD 180, with definite echoes of the Roman classics that Curle so loved: the end was, he writes, ‘a tale of buildings thrown down; of altars concealed, thrown into ditches and pits, above the bodies of unburied men, defeat, abandonment; of a day in which the long columns of the garrison wound slowly southward across the spurs of the Eildons, leaving their hearths deserted and their fires extinct’.

Revisiting the site 100 years later, the contributors to this volume are keen to place the fort and the finds in the wider context of twenty-first-century knowledge, including its landscape context, its non-military functions and its afterlife. Curle's spirit imbues each of the nineteen papers in the book, each of which is lucid and enjoyable to read (not something that can be said for all archaeological monographs); Fellow Martin Henig’s comment sums up the general tone of the book when he says: ‘In writing a paper reviewing 100-year-old excavations, it might be expected that one would be revising, if not tearing apart, conclusions. Remarkably, I have again and again found myself in total harmony with James Curle.'

The book is thus not a quarrel with the past but an augmentation or enrichment, exemplified by Fraser Hunter’s comments on the striking presence at the fort of objects decorated with what is normally termed ‘Celtic’ art, which could be the result of recruiting local people into the army, but is perhaps also an indication of the degree to which objects of local symbolic and decorative value were absorbed into ‘Roman’ culture. Another result of revisiting the site record is to revel the extent to which the fort was a centre for craft and industry of all kinds, including blacksmithing, bronze-casting, wood, stone, bone and textile working, mortarium production and glass making.

There must be a link here: the adoption of ‘Celtic’ forms and designs is surely the result of the proximity of the manufacturing process to examples of those designs; we think of Roman manufacturing as something that happens at a distance from the consumer, and we talk of Roman imports, but here is a rich subject worthy of further exploration for the light it can throw on the ways in which new styles enter the ‘Roman’ design repertoire.

A Roman Frontier Post and its People: Newstead 1911—2011, edited by Fellows Fraser Hunter and Lawrence Keppie; ISBN 9781905267750; National Museums Scotland

Books by Fellows: From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his collections

From Books to BezoarsThe title of this book is surely meant to intrigue us, and it certainly teases: if you don’t have a dictionary or computer to hand to look up ‘bezoars’, you will search in vain for the word in the index, but will eventually track it down ten pages in, when Fellow Michael Hunter, one of the book’s three editors (with Fellows Alison Walker and Arthur MacGregor), explains all: ‘the volume’s title ... juxtaposes Sloane’s library with one of the greatest rarities that he sought: a bezoar is the concretion found in the intestines of ruminant animals, especially the wild goats of Persia’.

That point settled, the book consists of twenty-one essays explaining different aspects of the background to Sloane’s collection which, of course, is significant because it was the foundation on which the British Museum was built. Changing tastes and priorities mean that material from the collection was discarded, sold or dispersed over the years — where, one wonders, are those bezoars now? — so the conference held at the British Library in June 2010, the 350th anniversary of Sloane’s birth in 1660, which led to this book, was an attempt to recreate his vast collection, and especially the contents of his library.

This objective has been approached in different and ingenious ways: Fellow Barbara Benedict, for example, asks what we can learn from contemporary satire, and demonstrates that Sloane was attacked in his own day for being a mystifier, an inventor of minute categories and Latinate terminology, for using incomprehensible language in describing objects, for being a credulous collector of toys (his collection included, for example, such fairground trifles as ‘a rope snapped by a strong man’) or the opposite, a cunning fraudster, passing off as ‘amazing’ objects scraps of skin and bark, as if they were Biblical relics (of Noah’s ark and the animals on board, according to Alexander Pope).

If that were true, and if Sloane only valued the bezoars, the unusual instead of the natural, we would not have this book, which goes on to show the ways in which Sloane’s collecting, cataloguing, writing, lecturing and experimenting, along with the transfer of his collections into the public sphere, all served to stimulate new ways of thinking in a number of different disciplines and thus did much to shape the more empirical age that was to follow in the hundred years following his death.

From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his collections, edited by Fellows Alison Walker, Arthur MacGregor and Michael Hunter; ISBN 9780712358804; British Library

Books by Fellows: Richard II and the English Royal Treasure

Fellow Jenny Stratford confided to guests at the recent launch of her book that ‘Richard II is a much more interesting king than Richard III’. Certainly, Richard II wins the war of the two Richards in the splendour category, as witness those two great works of art associated with him, the Wilton Diptych and the portrait in Westminster Abbey that formed such a striking exhibit at the British Museum’s recent Shakespeare exhibition.

At the heart of this book is an inventory of Richard’s royal treasure, with Jenny’s detailed commentary and analysis, which reveals in precise detail what contemporary chroniclers hinted at when they wrote of the king’s enormous wealth (in his will, he bequeathed a gold cup worth forty-five pounds to ‘every Christian king’). Only rediscovered in the 1990s (because, ironically, it had been wrongly assigned to Richard III), the inventory is written on forty membranes and lists 2,300 separate items, starting with secular jewels and plate and ending with ‘chapel goods’. It is, the author writes, ‘the fullest known inventory of goldsmiths' work of an English king of the later Middle Ages, unmatched in scope until the Tudor period’.

Only one of these objects is known to have survived: a much-travelled crown, now in Munich, that was sent to Bavaria in 1402 as part of the trousseau of Henry IV’s daughter, Blanche, that was originally made in Paris and almost certainly once belonged to Anne of Bohemia. Other objects in the inventory can be paralleled by similar survivals, such as the enamelled Dunstable swan jewel, which resembles the lost white hart badge worn by Richard in the Wilton Diptych.

Jenny’s commentary is thorough and will serve as a rich resource for scholars who will no doubt build upon her analysis of materials and techniques, the provenance of the objects in the inventory, and in particular Richard II’s use of forfeiture to fill the exchequer with the goods of dukes, earls and archbishops, executed for treason, the gifts that were made to him by courtiers as the price for not suffering a similar fate, and the means by which this vast treasure was then lost or dispersed.

The latter is an astonishing tale that archaeologists will find interesting as well as art historians for the account it gives of the way that medieval kings took with them on military expeditions everything they needed to maintain and enhance their dignity, including their treasures and the craftsmen whose job it was to repair damaged valuables. Thus it was that the king’s peripatetic valuables were plundered or lost during a series of wars in Richard’s time and in that of his successors, leaving us just an inventory and one crown as reminders of all that worldly splendour.

Richard II and the English Royal Treasure, by Fellow Jenny Stratford; ISBN 9781843833789; Boydell


English Heritage: Planning and Conservation Director, London
c £59,000 per annum; closing date 24 February 2013

English Heritage is seeking a new Planning and Conservation Director for its London Office. As a member of the national leadership team, with delegated national responsibilities, a leader of the local team and a senior representative of English Heritage, with an obligation to achieve through delegation, the post holder will be a leading advocate for the sustainable management of change in the historic environment within their area. He or she will take overall responsibility for adding value to decision-making in relation to the historic environment, for leading and facilitating projects that reduce the risk to the significance of heritage assets, and for working with local communities to maximise the benefits of heritage assets.

The challenges of this role — from Battersea power station and tall buildings to the archaeology of the ancient and permanently changing capital and from advising Ministers on achieving growth in World Heritage Sites to managing an office of nearly fifty expert professionals — represent an exceptional opportunity for the right candidate. For further information, see the English Heritage website.

Cadw: 18-month secondment opportunity in heritage publishing
Salary £21,120—£25,200; closing date for expressions of interest 25 February 2013

Cadw — the Welsh Government's historic environment service — is offering a secondment opportunity for a publishing/heritage professional to join the publishing team for eighteen months in support of the Public Engagement section, which promotes public interest, understanding and appreciation of the historic environment. The work includes a variety of interpretative, promotional and corporate publications in conventional and digital formats. Candidates should have excellent written and editorial skills and an eye for detail when authoring, editing and proofreading texts as well as experience of publication design and print production. Familiarity with Welsh history, archaeology and culture and a knowledge of Cadw sites and the work of Cadw is also desirable. For more information, please contact our Fellow Diane Williams, Cadw’s Head of Publishing.

Institute of Historical Research, Victoria County History: Editor and Training Co-ordinator
£31,383 to £38,073; 2 years fixed term, secondments will be considered; closing date 17 March 2013

The VCH is looking for a proactive and enthusiastic individual to assist in maintaining the standards of excellence for which the VCH is renowned, through editing content and giving guidance and training in research and writing to VCH contributors. Candidates will be considered who have a strong interest in the Victoria County History, research and writing skills to a high level of scholarship and strong experience in academic research, editing and publication. In addition, a good knowledge of British history and topography, with a particular focus on the medieval period of English history, is required.

For further information, please visit the University of London website.
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