newsletter-047-january-1975

Newsletter

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As well as wishing readers a happy and interesting 1975, this also seems a suitable moment for the Newsletter to provide details of the Society's research plans for the coming months. First, however, let us bring you up to date on the second of the 1974 digs -- the trial trench across the Fuller Street site at Church end.

This has proved unrewarding. Neither the objects found, nor the traces of structures such as a gravelled yard and an early pond, merit further work on the site. It has accordingly been discontinued.

The next site earmarked for HADAS attention during the Church End development is not yet ready for excavation. It is at the corner of Church End and Church Road, and is still covered with buildings. Work there is unlikely to start before the middle of the year, or later.

New dig at Friern Barnet

Meantime, we are hoping to start work in another part of the Borough. Some time ago HADAS was approached by the authorities of the Church of St. James the Great at Friern Barnet, who wanted advice on a problem which had arisen in their churchyard. Just near the outside of the east wall of the Church they had lifted a tombstone, in order to take it inside the building. The stone, which was not in its original position over a grave, commemorated Sir William Oldes, Knight Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod to Queen Anne.

When it was removed a whole about 5 ft long and 2 ft wide by 2 ft deep was made, and in this was revealed that the corner of a brickwork structure. The Rector, Canon Norman Gilmore, was anxious that this brickwork should be further investigated. He felt it might have some connection with the earlier church on the site, demolished when the present church was built in 1853. All that now remains of that original church is the restored Norman south door and some memorials in the south aisle. (Notes on the church's history are on page two of this newsletter.)

When first approached, HADAS was fully occupied with the Church Terrace dig. The hole at St. James was backfilled and we promised to excavate there as soon as a lull occurred at Church End. That time has now come.

The new dig will start on Saturday 1 February, continuing in each Saturday (weather permitting) from 10.00a.m. to dusk. The area to be cleared at first is very small, so that only three or four diggers can be accommodated. That situation may change as the dig progresses, depending on what is found. Canon Gilmore clearly hopes we may uncover interesting evidence; he tells us in a recent letter that "we are a singularly poorly documented parish and know very little about the physical antecedents of our present parish church. We do hope that your work may help us to extend our knowledge of what sort of place we used to be."

Ann Trewick -- who has already done some research on this part of Friern Barnet, as members will know from her notes on the subject in newsletter 34 -- will be responsible for the dig. Members who are interested are asked to get in touch with her before actually going to St. James. If more members wish to dig than can be fitted in, a rota will be introduced.

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Urgent note for your new diary

PLEASE MARK THE LAST THREE WEEKENDS OF JANUARY FOR ROMAN POTTERY PROCESSING.

Following our November work-in on the finds from the early digs at Brockley Hill, three more weekends have now been arranged for this present month. These will be at the Teahouse, Northway, NW11, on:

January 11/12, January 18/19 and January 25/26 each day from 10.00a.m.-5.00p.m.

We have purposely chosen three successive weekends because it takes a little time to get into the swing of handling Roman Pottery and particularly of recognising quickly and accurately the rim and base-types of Brockley Hill vessels. Any member who can come regularly to these sessions will therefore be doubly welcome -- and their work doubly useful.

The weekends have a certain urgency. The Brockley Hill finds may have to be moved from their present storage places, where easy access to them is (thanks to Mr John Enderby) always available and where they can be dealt with under ideal conditions. We feel that an all-out effort over three weekends might enable us to get close to completing the full index of the finds before this removal takes place. The preparation of the index is the second stage of the Society's Brockley Hill work (the first was the washing, checking and marking of the pottery) and is essential before the third stage – re-study and preparation for possible re-publication -- begins.

While some basic knowledge of Roman Pottery is required for the Brockley Hill work, beginners will also be welcome; marking of medieval and later pottery from the Church Terrace dig is also planned. We look forward therefore to seeing as many members as possible that the Teahouse on 11 January.

HADAS February lecture

This will be on Tuesday 4 February when Brian Hobley will talk on The Lunt Roman Fort: Excavation and Reconstruction.

While Mr Hobley was Field Officer of the Herbert Museum, Coventry, he conducted a successful programme of excavations on the site of the Roman Fort at The Lunt, Baginton, uncovering structures and finds that appeared to contradict all former ideas of Roman military headquarters. The importance and interest of the site was greatly increased by a brilliant reconstruction of part of the fort's defences and buildings. Mr Hobley (now Chief Urban Archaeologist for London) will talk on these two main aspects of the fort; his fluent style and exuberant ideas should provide a most enjoyable meeting.

Succeeding meetings (all meetings take place at Central Library, The Burroughs, NW4 and start at 8.00p.m. with coffee) will be:

Tuesday March 4 - Medieval Jewellery and Pottery - John Cherry
Tuesday April 1 - Are We Fair to Neanderthal Man? - Desmond Collins
Tuesday May 6 - Annual General Meeting

A further date you may like to note is Saturday March 8th: the HADAS Minimart, Henry Burden Hall, Egerton Gardens, NW4 10.00a.m.-12.00p.m.

St. James the Great, Friern Barnet

The official guide-book provides the following information about this church, in whose churchyard HADAS will soon be digging.

There may have been a church on this site as early as 1086, although no mention is made of the Friern area in Domesday Book. One reason for this omission may be that Friern was (as was also Finchley) a detached portion of the Bishop of London's Manor of Fulham.

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During the twelfth century the Manor was given by the Bishop of London to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. It is not known whether the Church, of which the south door alone survives, was built by the Knights or if it was already there when the Knights arrived. It was small -- no larger than the south aisle of the present church. One of the Knights took the services, as they did also at the two other churches of the area, St. Mary's East Barnet and St. Mary's-at-Finchley.

Soon after the suppression of the Order of St. John in 1540 the Manor of Friern passed to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, under whose patronage the living still remains. The first Rector, appointed in 1549, was George Shipside.

The oldest monument is now in the church is an epitaph to Sarah Rose, who died in May, 1668. Over the south door is a monument to Thomas Leve, Fishmonger (d. 1699); at the east end of the south aisle is a tombstone to Thomas Bretton, Wine Cooper (d. 1714). Other memorials include one to Helen, Countess of Gifford and another which links Friern and Hendon. It is to John Nicoll, of Hendon, also Lord of the Manor of nearby Halliwick (d. 1731).

In 1795 the Church of St. James is described as "of very small dimensions and of Norman architecture except for the chancel window which is Gothic. At the west end is a small wooden turret." It contained overhanging galleries, two at the west end and one on the north side, and high backed pews. In that year Friern Barnet consisted of 78 houses and 275 inhabitants.

By 1852 the population had nearly doubled, and the church was inadequate. In 1853 the Rector, the Rev. Robert Morris, commissioned architects W.G and E. Havershon to rebuild the church. The foundation stone was laid in May 1853 and the church was consecrated by the Bishop of London the following November. In course of building, the original church had been almost totally destroyed, much of a material from it was re-used in the core of the new church.

Mr. A. V. Turner

It is with much sadness that we announce the death of Mr A. V. Turner. He had been a member of HADAS for only a short while, but in that time he made a definite contribution to the life of the Society, joining outings and lectures and taking part in such exercises as the Brockley Hill Pottery sessions. His particular interests were prehistoric and Roman Archaeology, and he liked to contribute notes in connection with these to the Newsletter. In fact one of his contributions -- "a little fantasy to start of the New Year," he called it -- was waiting for this issue. Here it is:

Those members who took part in the HADAS outing to Warwickshire last September and visited the strange circle of Ancient Rolright stones may be interested to learn the local myth about their mysterious origin.

At the time of the Roman invasion that part of England was inhabited by the Atrebates section of the Belgae tribe. As the Roman legions advanced the local chieftain gathered an army to resist. When, however, the elders saw the might of the approaching legion they realised that they could never meet it in battle. The chief and his officers thus faced the terrible dilemma either of running away or else surrendering to a life of slavery under Rome. Darkness was falling as they formed themselves into a circle to discuss the situation. The only decision they could reach was that they would neither run nor surrender. There was no third course.

When dawn came, however, their dilemma had been solved for them -- all had been turned into stone. And there, for 2000 years, they have remained as a constant and permanent reminder that Britons will neither run a way in the face of the enemy nor surrender into servitude.

It is said that if one stands in the middle of that circle at midnight one may still catch the words as the stones whisper one to another that Britons never, never shall be slaves.

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Saxon Kingly Burials and Others

Ted Sammes provides this note.

Recently opened at the British Museum is a new and exciting section, the Early Medieval Room, covering the period 5th to 7th century AD. It is adjacent to the Roman room and is one of a series planned to cover the medieval period in its many aspects.

The new room displays material from a number of key burial sites, much of which has not previously been on permanent display. Pride of place is given to the Sutton Hoo ship "burial" excavated in 1939 and recently re-examined. Some of this material has been looked at again and modifications to the reconstructions had been carried out.

Of special interest is the material from the Taplow Burial Mound excavated by J. Rutland in 1883. Hanging bowls, drinking horns, four clawbreakers, a bucket, a large cauldron and a Coptic bowl are on view. Of particular interest are the examples of gold textile from this excavation. Whatever we may think today of Rutland's excavation methods, with such a list of finds one feels like saying "Didn't he do well".

HADAS Christmas party

The scene, at the outset, bore some resemblance to Aladdin's Cave. The lights, dimmed and crimson, made even Hendon South Conservative headquarters look mysterious -- quite a feat. Luxurious dishes (the French onion tart was specially memorable for its melt-in-the-mouth quality) appeared magically at one's elbow, gently and expertly served by elegant handmaidens in flowing robes. It was hard to recognise some of our Amazonian diggers who spent weekends last summer shifting brick, tile, and earth by the barrow full at Ted Sammes' command.

A flowing bowl of deep ruby liquid was dispensed at one end of the room by various genial genies wielding a fine silver ladle; and at the other, forming an eye-catching piece-de-resistance, were most of Aladdin's veritable treasures, in tier on tier of bottles, packets, parcels, boxes, each with its cryptic number attached -- a beautifully arranged Tombola.

So it was at the start of the party: later the lights went up; the handmaidens continued their ministrations through all the permutations of sweetmeats, mince pies and coffee; Eric Grant and Margaret Musgrove tickled into activity such wits as we had left after the ruby liquid has done its stuff. They asked us to answer teasers like "what is the 'saucy' county?" "Where is the nearest naked lady on view -- Soho, the bathroom next door or Henley's Corner?"

In fact, this was the HADAS Christmas party, now an annual event, and as before, a most enjoyable one. Over 60 members -- about the limit the room could comfortably hold -- met to give each other Christmas salutations and to celebrate another year of archaeological endeavour. We can't possibly single out everyone who contributed, in one way or another, to this pleasurable occasion: but we want to thank them all for the trouble, time and thought they expended on our behalf at every stage -- decorating the hall, making and serving the food, engaging in front-of-house activities like selling tickets or entertaining and playing the self-effacing part of back-room boys who washed up and brewed punch while others revelled.

Three names to stand out and should be mentioned -- those of Christine Arnott, who master-reminded the operation, Joan Bird, who organised the food (taking a bread strike in her stride) and Dorothy Newbury, who produced the splendid Tombola.

Old Houses of the Borough

We hope this Newsletter will reach you in time to send you a hot-foot to Church Farm House Museum to see a fascinating exhibition of this subject. It deals with all kinds of dwelling houses (not shops or pubs) and includes evidence of court rolls, plans and maps, sale catalogues, leases and other legal documents, as well as prints and photos. You'll have to hurry, though -- the exhibition closes on January 5th.

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