Newsletter-530-May-2015

 

No. 530                                                 MAY 2015                       Edited by Dot Ravenswood

__________________________________________________________________________

 

HADAS DIARY 2015

 

Lectures are held at Avenue (Stephens) House, East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE, starting at 8pm, with tea/coffee and biscuits afterwards. Non-members welcome (£1.00). Buses 82, 125, 143, 326 & 460 pass nearby. Finchley Central Station (Northern line) is a short walk away. 

 

Tuesday May 12th: The Knights Templar and their London Connections. Lecture by Robert Stephenson (COLAS member). Starting as humble warrior-monks protecting pilgrims in the Holy Land, the Knights Templar developed a global support network and became rich and powerful. A look at London sites connected with their headquarters and their brutal suppression. Robert Stephenson is a qualified City of London guide and a tour leader at Kensal Green and Brompton cemeteries. He has taught on London for 20 years.

 

Monday 8th to Friday 12th June: HADAS dig at Cromer Road School, New Barnet. We have permission to dig on the green space in front of the school. We know that there was a building there, which is shown on the 1967 Ordnance Survey map. 

 

Tuesday 9th June, 7.45 pm: HADAS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, Avenue House

Exciting news: our President, Harvey Sheldon, is going to give a post-AGM lecture on “The Roman Pottery manufacturing site in Highgate Wood”. This should be a very interesting lecture on an important local site. So do come along. 

Tuesday 15th to Saturday 19th September: HADAS trip to the New Forest, based at Lyndhurst and including visits to Salisbury, Old Sarum, Winchester, Beaulieu and Bucklers Hard, and Croft pre-Victorian pumping station on the Kennet and Avon Canal. It may not be too late to join, if hotel rooms are still available. Contact Jim Nelhams (details on back page).

 

Tuesday October 13th: Scientific Methods in Archaeology Lecture by Dr Caroline Cartwright of the British Museum. Dr Cartwright’s primary areas of scientific expertise cover the identification and interpretation of organics such as wood, charcoal, fibres and other plant remains, shell, ivory and bone from all areas and time periods in the museum’s collection.

 

Tuesday November 10th: The History of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution

 

Sunday December 6th: HADAS Christmas Party

 

Excavations at the former Inglis Barracks     Lecture by Ian Cipin

 

Report by Roger Chapman

 

Ian Cipin of Pre-Construct Archaeology (PCA) gave the most recent HADAS lecture on “The Former Inglis Barracks, Mill Hill: a small dot on a very large landscape” to a packed Avenue House audience. He set the scene describing the location of the site and its topography which rises some 30 – 40m to the top of the hill abutting Partingdale Lane. The site is being developed for over 2000 dwellings, a primary school, and a GP surgery. All that will remain of the barracks is the listed officers’ Mess.

Ian ran through the background to the early twentieth century development of the barracks, which were named after Lieutenant General Sir William Inglis. They were built in 1905 as the depot for the Middlesex Regiment. Many men enlisted at the barracks during the early stages of the First World War. The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers also moved on to the site in 1943 during the Second World War and the headquarters of the British Forces Post Office was established there in 1963. The barracks ceased to be the home of the Middlesex Regiment when that regiment merged with three other regiments to form the Queen's Regiment at Howe Barracks in Canterbury in 1966. The British Forces Post Office left the site and moved to RAF Northolt in 1988. 

A bomb was planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army killing a soldier and injuring nine others at the barracks in August 1988. A two-storey building containing the single men's quarters was completely destroyed. The Ministry of Defence sold the site for residential development as part of Project MoDEL in 2012. For some of the years 2007 – 2013 the site was used as a TV and film location venue. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Inbetweeners; New Tricks; and EastEnders were amongst the titles filmed on the site. 

PCA was commissioned to undertake archaeological work at the site in advance of its redevelopment. The evaluation works were carried out, in three phases, between February 2012 and July 2013. On each occasion they had only a brief time to excavate. 

In two weeks, with three people on the first dig they excavated 24 trenches measuring 1km in length. Told all services were cut off, they merrily chopped through some cables, and BT services to residents in Partingdale Lane were severed for some hours. What did they find? Plenty of groundwater, topsoil, some subsoil and lots of clay. There was a hint of medieval farming activity and a few sherds of medieval pottery. In trench 3 they did find evidence of the old barracks buildings and over the rest of the period through a strip and map exercise they uncovered, surveyed and drew the foundations of many of the early barracks buildings. Very few finds were made – a fact that Ian put down to the military efficiency with which they clean their buildings during use, and this view is supported by a similar lack of finds on other military barrack sites. 

In July 2013 the excavation moved to the sports field adjacent to the Scout camp. This time they had a week. Trench 27 came up trumps. A pit full of charcoal was found. Further >>>>> extension of this trench revealed a total of 19 cut features, 9 post holes, 6 pits (5 of them fire pits), and a bleached area of clay which Ian considers is an animal penning area. He awaits environmental analysis of samples taken from this area to see if it will prove his thesis that the bleaching of the clay, associated with 3 stake holes, is caused by animals urinating in a penned area. Carbon dating of the samples from the pits showed that one goes back to the Bronze Age and one is Iron Age so there is use of the same site by humans over 600 years.

Ian drew the lecture to a close by trying to answer the question: What is going on? He speculated that the area in the Bronze and Iron ages, on heavy clay, was largely wooded with limited human activity. Could an area of the slope have been cleared of woodland for grazing, creating a drier area on the slope up to the top of the hill during the summer months? A lack of bone finds suggests husbandry rather than hunting and the site is close to Dollis Brook, a good water source, so perhaps we are looking at a simple example of summer pasture grazing accompanied by humans tending their animals. 

There are more questions than answers about this site. The planning permission for the primary school site adjacent to the sports field did not contain a condition requiring archaeological evaluation so PCA were unable to open four trenches that they had originally planned. HADAS has a good record of working with schools so perhaps here is another project for us. Working with the school we can help them to explore the possible Bronze and Iron Age history of their playing field.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

● Avenue House will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day on Sunday 10th May with live music, stalls and food. HADAS will have a table with finds from our digs there.




 

 

                                           HADAS dig in Avenue House Gardens last year (see pages 4-8)


Continuing excavations in Avenue House Gardens              Bill Bass

Avenue House, East End Lane, Finchley N3

TQ 25282 90177, HADAS excavation July 2014, site code: SVH13.

 

The land was purchased by H.C. Stephens in 1874 and the gardens were landscaped by Robert Marnock c1880. The Water Tower and associated glasshouse/laundry – the subject of our investigation – was built in a similar period and partially demolished c1915. For further history of the area and the original 2013 excavations please see the reports in HADAS Newsletters January and April 2014. 

 

Following excavation done here on a laundry/glasshouse and water-tower complex, a further excavation took place in July 2014. This took place over the glasshouse/laundry foundations nearby to trench 2 of 2013. In July 2014, three trenches were dug – numbered 3, 4 and 5. 


Trench 3

Trench 3 was placed on the north side of the glasshouse structure, to test the shape and size of adjoining east-west running rooms or passageway seen on maps and on the ground via the footings left after demolition; on an 1896 map all this area is shown as glassed over. The area here between the path and the fence facing East End Road has been “banked-up” and overlooks the garden, while internally the ground slopes inwards to the demolished heart of the structure, so we are working on a “ridge” of ground following the foundations. 

 

The main part of trench 3 was 2m x 2m (with additional north and east extensions). This took in the west wall of the “passageway” and north wall of the main glasshouse (see plan, above).

A 15-20cm of topsoil overlaid a 20cm compact clayey layer with some ceramic building material (CBM). Below this was context [003], which consisted of a “dump” of various finds including substantial amounts of pot, glass and animal bone (see bone report, page 6), together with CBM and iron fittings/fixtures. This dump of material was 45cm thick and laid on top of a concrete floor; the remains of some wood may have been a cover over the floor as a metal water-pipe appeared to run underneath.  The pottery included vessels in China – one vessel, marked on its side Frank Cooper’s “Oxford” Seville Marmalade, Est 1874; on the base – Marling Newcastle. Another China jug was signed W. Adams & Sons, England. Of the Stoneware, one vessel was a Stephens’ inkbottle. Other fabrics were of porcelain and earthenware.

There was a wide variety of glassware, including medicinal, alcohol and domestic bottles with window glass and thicker roof glass. Many of the medicinal bottles were marked and measure calibrated. The assemblage of bottles may point to the area being used for dumping immediately post demolition with possible connections to Avenue House being used as the RAF Central Hospital during WW1. This will form a separate article in a future Newsletter.

Just to the east in trench 3, below floor levels, a large semi-circular cistern was discovered, approximately 5m in diameter. It was probably part of the water management of the site and supply to the glasshouse area. A camera was lowered into the void; the photos showed the shape of the cistern and that it still held water. Some articles suggest that cisterns such this could be used to regulate the temperature of glasshouses, also a supply of water was needed for boilers used to heat such structures. Other than the water-tower we know there are other cisterns and wells in the general area.







Cistern as found beneath trench 3

 

Over the cistern, trench 3 uncovered part of the main east-west wall together with a “platform” type structure which appears to covers the east side of the glasshouse building; the platform is c47cm above the west area slate floor seen in 2013 and again in 2014. The west wall of the passageway was inspected; the excavation showed it was “butt” jointed to the main glasshouse side wall and not quite square, so may have been a slightly later addition. 

 

Trench 4

Trench 4 was placed over the south side of the glasshouse structure. The 2m x 4m trench uncovered the main (southern) east-west wall and a possible outside abutment. Below dumps of building demolition concrete/plaster/CBM etc. the trench was divided in half. To the west, the sunken slate floor was seen (as noted in trench 5 and excavations in 2013); the slate had “slots” cut into it for a fitment, perhaps benches or bedding troughs of some kind. To the east, the painted plaster-faced concrete platform (seen in trench 3) which continued into the east section. Finds from trench 4 included cast-iron fittings, red and black floor tiles, thick lumps of bitumen (possible heavy-duty damp-proofing) and more of the thick roof-glass, all part of the demolition layers (as in the other trenches).

 

Trench 5

Trench 5 was a northern extension of trench 4, with the same platform and slate floor and much the same finds. A substantial amount of clinker here may relate to the heating purposes mentioned above. All part of the late 19th century glasshouse/laundry.

 

Summary

We are learning more of the type of building, its use and function. The large cistern has added to our knowledge of the water management system. Research is being carried out on its post-demolition phase and the use of Avenue House during the First World War. Future work will include investigating the “platform” structure, including its association with the watertower. Many thanks to all those who participated in the dig, and to Geraldine Missig for the animal bone research. 

 

Report on the Animal Bones from Avenue House excavations                 

SVH14                                                                                                              Geraldine Missig

 

A small group of twenty-five animal bone fragments were excavated from trench 3 in SVH14. The number of identified specimens (NISP) totalled twenty, which weighed 1290g.  The three identified fragments from context 001 weighed 6g, and the seventeen identified fragments from context 003 weighed 1284g. Five additional fragments from 003, which weighed 60g, lacked features sufficient to identify them.

 

With an assemblage of such minimal size, it must be acknowledged that it cannot be considered representative of what has been discarded on the Avenue House site nor of the patterns of meat processing and consumption at the time of deposition. It is but a very small aspect of a much larger invisible whole.    

 

Method

The animal bone fragments were identified by reference to the bone collection at Birkbeck, University of London, and recorded on a spreadsheet as to species, anatomical part, side, state of fusion (following Schmid 1972), proportion of bone present, weight, and any modification such as dog or rodent gnawing, burning or butchery. Each identified specimen was allocated a specimen number (SpNo), and, in principle, if two pieces had joined together they would have been counted as one. However in this assemblage although many fragments were of the same type of bone, none joined together. 

 

The wear stages of the only tooth of the group were recorded following Grant’s illustrations of tooth wear stages (1982), with Legge’s suggested age attribution for eruption/wear state (1992) for cattle.  

 

Boessneck’s (1969, 339-341) descriptions of the features which distinguish the bones of sheep from goats were applied to the humerus, the only diagnostic caprine bone of the group, confirming that it was sheep. Cohen and Serjeantson’s manual (1996) was used to aid the identification of the bird bone present.  

Discussion

The identified bone fragments emanating from the two contexts from trench 3 consisted predominantly of cattle (65%), with a small representation of bird (20%), and caprine (sheep/goat) (15%). The bones are, regardless of species, high quality meat-bearing bones, composed as they are of the upper fore and hind limbs. Their quality is reinforced by the youth of the animals at death which would produce a meat more tender than an older animal. 

 

Twelve of the twenty fragments (60%) are unfused; the animals from which they had come were still young at the time of death and had not yet reached full growth when the articular ends (epiphyses) of their long bones would ossify with the shafts and fuse. 

 

While ten of the thirteen cattle fragments (77%) display an unfused surface, these types of bones – the femora and sections of the pelvis, the pubic symphysis and iliac crest – are those which ossify at a later age, around 3.5-4yrs for the femoral epiphyses and slightly later for the pelvic areas. However, the one tooth that is present in the group is that of a slightly worn cattle upper deciduous third premolar of an animal under six months.

 

Although fused, which would have occurred when the animal was around three months old, the sheep’s distal humeral fragment is still showing its line of fusion indicating that the process of fusion is not yet completed.

 

The three fragments from context 001 are the humerus, ulna and femur – the wing and leg bones – of domestic fowl. The bones are porous, not full size, and their articular ends, if present, are unformed, signs that the birds were young at death (Cohen & Serjeantson 1996, 8). Both articular ends of the femur and the proximal end of the humerus appear gnawed by humans which suggests domestic consumption. The one bird fragment from 003 is a fully developed, chopped humerus from the smaller bantam hen.  

 

Butchery marks are evident on twelve of the twenty pieces (60%) in the assemblage. Saw marks are visible on nine (75%), three of which have additional chop marks, and three other bones (25%) have chop marks only. In the case of the cattle, sawing was responsible for the fragmentation of the bones not the lack of fusion. Sawing for butchery purposes is thought to be a late post-medieval development (Albarella 2003, 74). Repetition of the same type of bone fragment occurs a few times with the cattle, and in each case the style and location of the butchery marks are similar. This might suggest that all had been butchered by one individual or, more likely, that there had been a standardized method of butchery. 

 

Bone fragments from the area of the body where there is a variety and abundance of meat, particularly the awkwardly shaped or the articular ends, limited representation of anatomical parts, concentrations of skeletal parts, and evidence of systematic butchery, point to the cattle fragments being likely to be the waste product of butchery. This suggests that the beef was not brought on to site as finished cuts but that some part of the butchery took place there.  

 

Conclusion

Animal bones are generally dateable by reference to the material with which they were buried. There were, with the 003 bone fragments and other things, a number of glass vessels of a medicinal nature possibly associated with the RAF Central Hospital which occupied Avenue House from 1915 to 1925. The bone fragments, which are predominantly those of the meat-bearing sections of young cattle, are entirely consistent with the requirements of provisioning such an establishment. They suggest that part of the process of turning cattle into consumable meat took place on site. The collection is too small to shed any light on whether that process started with the slaughter of animals or whether it was limited to the carving up of the carcasses into smaller portions suitable for consumption. 

 

Additionally, the presence of immature fowls in the assemblage may signal that birds were being bred on the grounds (Coy 1989), evoking an image of Avenue House when it was a hospital as the hub of a community of small auxiliary services existing to sustain it. Sheep bones are very poorly represented in the assemblage, but in light of the miniscule size of the assemblage, this may not accurately reflect the actual proportion butchered, consumed or discarded at the time.

 

Although the sample is small, which can skew the picture it conveys, it has been rich, particularly with the cattle fragments. Larger samples in the future may corroborate what has been suggested by the cattle and bird fragments and amplify the role the estate played in provisioning RAF Central Hospital.

 

● References were supplied by Geraldine and lie with the main archive.

 

Current Archaeology Conference                                                                by Peter Pickering

As in previous years, I went to the Current Archaeology Conference in the University of London Senate House on the last weekend in February. It was very well attended – there were said to be 400 people there – very largely people from outside London, some of whom I had met before.

 

The keynote address was a typically personal one from Martin Biddle going over the past half-century. Among the wealth of papers presented was Neil Faulkner describing his continuing community excavation at Sedgeford, which he believes shows a steady increase in the authority of kings and church over the middle Saxon period; that was followed by two papers looking at evidence of rural settlements from all over England for that period, seeing developments in farming and land-surveying techniques.

 

From outside England we heard Ian Hodder telling us about his continuing work at Çatalhöyük, with many amusing anecdotes of things that had gone wrong, and Brian Fagan describing the colourful life of Lord Carnarvon, the indefatigable financial backer of Howard Carter in his eventually successful search for the tomb of Tutankhamun. Neil Holbrook told us of his excavation in advance of the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, where he has found a large and enigmatic cemetery, perhaps from sub-roman times, with evidence of feasting and only one sherd of pottery – from an amphora of Aegean origin; and Roger Bland with some of the most important recent finds by metal detectorists, brought to light under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. 

 

A session on the prehistoric went back to the very beginning of human settlement in Britain, with the footprints brought to light and then eroded away by the waves at Happisburgh (correctly pronounced Haysbru); we learnt that there had been at least ten colonisations of Britain by humans, with nine or more extinctions due to the cold. This was followed by talks on the mesolithic site of Blick Mead near Stonehenge, and Silbury Hill (the motte of Marlborough Castle is apparently of the same date as Silbury). There was a particularly fascinating account by Karl Brady of the National Monuments Service, Ireland, of work in Lough Corrib, where shallow but rather treacherous waters contain a large number of logboats, which sank or were scuttled. We also looked at Roman frontier studies, with constant change and development of ideas about the purpose of Hadrian's Wall. 

 

The conference ended with an account of the thinking behind the new First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum.

 

Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe                                          by Sandra Claggett

Conference at UCL, March 31st  2015

 

This conference was looking at cultural evolutionary theory and method to apply to largescale case-studies of early societies in history or prehistory. Its aim was to focus on specific questions concerning the links between demographic, economic, social and cultural patterns and processes. In particular it was looking at the role of farming in transforming early western European farming societies, c.6000-2000 cal BC. 

 

Some of the themes discussed were (i) What is culture? Boyd and Richerson looked at how biological, psychological, sociological and cultural factors combine to change society over the long term. This in turn leads to diversity in human cultures. (ii) How do you identify culture? We rely on evidence from material culture such as ceramics and see how certain traits in these correlate over space and time. >>>




 

Pottery and ornament types defining cultural groups: fig. 1 from EHB EUROEVOL report

(Citation Shennan, S.J. et al. Isolation by distance, homophily and “core” vs. “package” cultural evolution models in Neolithic Europe, Evolution and Human Behaviour [(2014])

The Euroevol project looked at looked at ancient land use and climate indicators at 123 sites in North-west Europe between 4,500BC and 2,000BC by comparing cultural groups and 1784 site phases with 5594 radiocarbon dates correlated with 350 samples of dendrochronology dates from wetland and lake shore sites.

Peaks and declines in artefacts from cultural groups indicate population increase and decrease in regional populations. Also fluctuations in the density of radiocarbon dates indicate population peaks and declines; these were correlated with pollen analysis to show high density periods were related to forest clearances and an increase in human presence. These revealed in Western Europe that initially there was a population boom with the start of farming, and it was a real advantage with a population peak at 4000BC. As more people farmed, the soil became depleted, they could not produce as much as before and it was a disadvantage to be a farmer. There was a reduction in production around 3300BC and a reduction in population.

Archaeobotanical and geoarchaeological data in North-west Europe shows that there was an increase in production of oats, barley and spelt crops that could cope with colder, more marginal, and less fertile soil. This marginal land would have produced low yields. There was a smaller second boom in 2800BC which could be linked to the rise of dairy farming. This indicates that the introduction of farming was not a straightforward easy transition for people living during this time.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************



The old barn at Church End Farm, Hendon: one of the two waterclours painted by the lat Erina Crossley, a long term member of HADAS, which were left to HADAS by former vice-president John Enderby in his will.

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

● We launched our latest publication A Hamlet in Hendon last August with a free copy to members who wished to have it. By now most members who wanted a free copy have had one. In order to control our stocks and sell copies not taken up, we will cease the free offer to members on 9th June 2015 after the AGM.


******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Outings, Outings, Outings

● It has been a feature of HADAS’ year that one or more day trips have run during the summer months to visit current excavations, archaeologically interesting sites, museums and so on. Unfortunately in the last few years there has only been a couple of outings. This is largely due to there being nobody volunteering to organise them - as well as potentially the cost. A coach now costs between £500 and £600 a day! Perhaps it is a consideration also that with “Freedom passes” and better transport links, members have already visited most of the “interesting” sites, reducing the potential uptake. If these outings are to continue we need a volunteer or volunteers to take up the challenge and organise imaginative day trips. Please contact a member of the committee if you are interested, otherwise the tradition of HADAS day trips will cease.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Other Societies’ Events                                                  Eric Morgan

Thursday 14th May, 7.30pm. Correction: Spies at the Isokon, the talk by Dr David Burke for the Camden History Society, will take place at Burgh House, New End, Hampstead NW3 1LT, and not at Holborn Library as stated in the last edition of the Newsletter.

Friday 15th May, 7pm. COLAS, St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3R 7LQ. Saxons at the Adelphi, Talk by Dougie Killock (PCA). Visitors £2. Refreshments.

Wednesday 3rd June, 6pm. Gresham College at Museum of London, 150 London Wall EC2Y 5HN. The Last Stuarts and the Death of the Royal Powerhouse. Talk by Simon Thurley (EH) on the buildings of a royal chapel and palaces. Free.

Thursday 4th June, 7pm. St Pancras Lectures, St Pancras Old Church, Pancras Rd NW1. Magna Carta: A Cause for Celebration? Talk by Dr Julian Harrison. Tickets £10 (incl. drink) via sosstpancras.org.uk or available at the door. Bar open 6pm. 

Friday 12th June, 7.45pm. Enfield Archaeology Society, Jubilee Hall, 2 Parsonage Lane/junct. Chase Side, Enfield EN2 0AJ. Updates from the Thames Discovery Programme. Talk by Elliott Wragg. Visitors £1. Refreshments, sales & info, 7.30pm.

Friday 12th June, 6.30pm. Friends of the Petrie Museum, UCL Lecture Theatre G6, Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square WC1H 0PY. Excavating Amarna’s Cemeteries. Talk by Anna Stevens.

Monday 15th June, 3pm. Barnet Museum & Local History Society, Church House, Wood St, Barnet EN5 4BW (opp. museum). Dickens in Barnet. Talk by Paul Baker (HADAS member). Visitors £2.

Thursday 18th June, 6pm. Gresham College at the Museum of London, 150 London Wall

EC2Y 5HN. Waterloo: Causes, Courses and Consequences. Talk by Prof. Sir Richard Evans (Provost) on the battle’s actual 200th anniversary. Free.

Friday 19th June, 7pm. COLAS, St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane EC3R 7LQ. Excavations of the Bronze Age Landscape at Must Farm. Talk by Mark Knight (CU Arch.

Unit). Visitors £2. Light refreshments afterwards.

Friday 19th June, 7.30pm. Wembley History Society, English Martyrs’ Hall, Chalkhill Rd

Wembley HA9 9EW. Ernest Trobridge – Kingsbury’s Extraordinary Architect. Talk by Philip Grant (Brent Archivist) on Trobridge’s cottages and castles. Visitors £2. Refreshments.

Sunday 21st June, 12 – 6pm. East Finchley Festival, Cherry Tree Wood (opp. station, off High Rd N2). Lots of stalls. Also entertainment, food and drink.

Wednesday 24th June, 7.45pm. Friern Barnet & District Local History Society, North Mddx. Golf Club, The Manor House, Friern Barnet Lane N20 0NL. Stained Glass. Talk by Helene Davidian (Finchley Soc.). Visitors £2. Refreshments.

Thursday 25th June, 8pm. Finchley Society, Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Rd N3 3QE. AGM, followed by A Dip into the Archives. Non-members £2. Refreshments from 7.30pm & afterwards.

With thanks to this month’s contributors: Bill Bass, Roger Chapman, Sandra Claggett, 

Don Cooper, Geraldine Missig, Eric Morgan and Peter Pickering 

Comments