newsletter-048-february-1975

Newsletter

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News first of an activity which is vital to our Society's existence -- fund raising.

Christine Arnott, who chairs the HADAS Fund-raising Committee, sends these details of the Minimart which is to be held on March 8th, 1975, at Henry Burden Hall, Egerton Gardens, NW4 from 10.00 a.m.-12.00 p.m.

She looks forward to welcoming many members of the Society there that morning.

There will be 6 main stalls; contributions to any or all of them are will be most gratefully received. The following members are in charge:

George Ingram will deal in books, hard and paper-backed, and stamps. If you have any used stands for him, it will be much appreciated if you have time to separate British from foreign.

Elizabeth Holliday, organising the plants and cuttings stall, will be glad of contributions of established cuttings, indoor plants, bulbs or seedlings.

Nell Penny would like for her stall cosmetics, stationery, any "unwanted" gifts you care to offer and jewellery and trinkets.

Daphne Lorimer will be in charge of home-made cakes, jams, biscuits and sweets.

Dorothy Newbury will have the Good-As-New stall (sections for ladies', gentlemen's and children's clothing).

Christine Arnott will specialise in Bric-a-brac.

The three last-named stall-holders will be at the next HADAS lecture on 4th February and will be happy to accept any articles which members care to bring.

In addition to the main stalls, Joan Bird will dispense coffee and biscuits throughout the Minimart, so please come with your friends and spend a pleasant morning at the Society's "shop".

Looking ahead with HADAS

The lecture on Tuesday 4 March will be by John Cherry, Assistant Keeper of the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities at the British Museum.

He will talk to us on Medieval Jewellery and Pottery, and hopes to include among his slides the Swan jewel found at Dunstable in 1965 and the jewellery from Fishpool, in Nottinghamshire, discovered in 1966. Among the pottery he will discuss finds from several nearby Hertfordshire sites.

Further dates for meetings are:

Tuesday April 1 - Are We Fair to Neanderthal Man? - Desmond Collins
Tuesday May 6 - Annual General Meeting

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All meetings are at Central Library, The Burroughs, NW4 and start with coffee at 8.00p.m.

And don't forget the Friern Barnet dig. As announced in the last Newsletter, it starts on 1 February at the Church of St. James, Friern Barnet Lane. It will continue thereafter each Saturday till further notice. Digging will be (weather permitting) from 10.00a.m. to dusk each Saturday. Members wishing to take part are asked first to get in touch with Ann Trewick, as the area of excavation is small and the number of diggers may have, at the beginning, to be limited.

Pottery Processing

As this Newsletter is being prepared, two of the three January pottery weekends arranged at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Teahouse have taken place, with an average of a dozen members present at each morning and afternoon session, and a total of 24 different people taking part.

The solid work put in by these stalwarts has made the pottery processing situation much brighter. For these sessions the Teahouse was metaphorically divided into two (sheep at one end of the big room and goats at the other -- though I'd neither care nor dare to say which was which!). On one side the Medievalists scratched away, marking sherd after sherd with the details and depths of the Church Terrace trenches; on the other the Romanists checked and indexed the shapely cream, pink and buff ware, sandy-feeling to the touch, that was turned out by the Brockley Hill potters of the late first/early second centuries AD. At a table linking the groups two members showed their skill by carefully sticking broken pots together and drawing them to scale.

After these two weekends it looks as if the Church Terrace marking might even be complete by the end of the third week end; and though the Brockley Hill indexing will not be finished, a major part of that work should be done too. Many thanks to all those who helped in this valuable exercise.

HADAS BOOK BOX

Recent accessions, most gratefully received by the Society, include:

Introducing Archaeology, Magnus Magnusson, 1973 edition. From Albert Dean.

The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Diaz, trans 1963

The Norman Conquest (booklet for the ninth centenary of the Battle of Hastings, 1966)

The Quest for Arthur's Britain, edit. Geoffrey Ashe, 1968.

(The three above from Mrs. Lewy.)

The Baths of Wroxeter Roman City, Graham Webster, 1968. From Ann Thompson.

Discovering Monuments, J. Bennet. From Ted Sammes.

Our Hon. Librarian, George Ingram, wears a slightly worried look just now, because one or two books are being borrowed for rather longer stretches. He asks that members who borrow a book at one meeting should return it at the following meeting or (if they cannot come to that meeting) that they should renew the loan by a phone call or letter to him.

Mucking -- the January lecture

A report by Colin Evans.

The flood of questions that followed the Society's lecture on 7 January was testimony to the interest engendered in members by a site which, among other features, has produced a Bronze Age round barrow, a late Bronze Age Hill fort, Roman para-military enclosures and Saxon halls, sunken huts and burial grounds. A tantalising glimpse of these was provided by the Director of the site, Mrs. M. U. Jones, and her husband, Mr W. T. Jones, who have revealed them in nine years of digging ahead of a gravel quarrier's dragline at Mucking in Essex.

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Archaeologists were first drawn to the 100 foot terrace on the North Bank of the Thames by extensive crop marks -- which a local farmer has complained are all that he can grow in such poor soil! Using techniques familiar to the gravel quarriers, approximately 30 acres have been cleared of brick top-soil and the stains in the gravel beneath explored carefully. The acidic nature of the gravel has destroyed all but the most durable remains, both human and environmental, but as Mr Jones pointed out, the finds still fill 3,000 boxes in the basement of Thurrock Museum. (He might have added that the most important of them have also helped to fill the showcases at the British Museum.)

Approximately 6 acres of the site remain. It was interesting to note that the rate at which these are dug will depend upon the economic prosperity of Britain, since greater prosperity implies more building and hence a greater need for gravel.

In May members will be able to follow up this introduction to Mucking, as the site will be on the itinerary for one of the Society's day trips.

The Physic Well at Barnet

Here Jane Butler, one of the younger members of the HADAS Buildings Survey Group, describes a building, hitherto unlisted, which she suggests should be Listed because of its historic associations.

The Physic Well is covered by a pseudo-Tudor "hut" -- even that looks quite impressive. It is of red brick with wooden beams, has an Elizabethan look and was probably built around 1840. About 1808 a subscription had been raised by neighbouring gentlemen for arching over the Well and erecting a pump. The house formerly built above it had by then had begun to fall into decay and was finally demolished in 1840.

The mineral spring had been discovered about 1650 and had become a fashionable resort for Londoners. It was visited by Samuel Pepys, who recorded his visits in his Diary: July 11th 1664; and August 11th 1667.

In 1677 Mr Owen, an alderman of London, gave 20 shillings a year to Barnet in trust to be paid by the Company of Fishmongers for the repair of the Physic Well. Under George II an Act of Parliament for the enclosure of part of Barnet Common contained a special clause preserving to the inhabitants of Barnet the right to use the medicinal Well FOR EVER.

The parish accounts show that the water, which Chancey says "is supposed to be alom, but most certainly is a mix'd fix'd salt of great use in most weakly bodies, especially those who are Hypocondriacal or Hysterical", was sold and the money given to the poor of Barnet.

The water has been analysed several times this century with varying opinions. In 1907 the County Analyst reported it was quite unfit for drinking and did not possess any medicinal properties. In 1912 (NOTE - corrected to 1812-- see newsletter 51) it was analysed by Dr Trinder, who stated that 1 gallon contained:

96 gr. Sulphate of magnesia
12 gr. Muriate of magnesia
16 gr. Carbonate of lime
24 gr. Sulphate of lime.


A further analysis in 1922 found and that the water retained its high medicinal properties. A suggestion was made by Barnet Urban District Council that they should restore the Well to its former position as one of the attractions of Barnet. They got as far as opening the Well and found -- what no one knew existed -- an underground chamber and a flight of stone steps leading thereto.

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The Well chamber is perfect and undisturbed, preserved by the earth that had covered it. It is brick built; walls, floor and barrel shaped roof alike. The bricks are small, red, hand-shaped and well burnt. The room would hold about 20 people. Two sumps, stone-lined, are sunk a foot or so in the floor for convenience in dipping out the water. Into them the spring is led by channels and pipes penetrating the surrounding ground.

It is a pity that the Council did not carry out their intention. If the Well were re-opened, cleared and cleansed, its medicinal value might again be appreciable. The same spring has been tapped in the cellars of a nearby house, "The Whalebones": it appears to be efficacious and as unpalatable as of yore.

Two styles of exhibition

By Raymond Lowe.

Grimes Graves (until 29 June, 1975): Greek-Illyrian Treasures from Yugoslavia (until March 2nd, 1975) -- both at the British Museum.

Both these exhibitions are well worth seeing. Should you have the time, see them on the same day. They make an interesting comparison.

The Yugoslavian objects have a beauty and interest of their own but there is little to learn from the captions. Perhaps the Yugoslavs didn't give the British Museum much to go on, but whatever the reason, the knowledge to be gained is minimal, in the very worst traditions of the B.M. Yet the exhibition is still a "must". The gold is remarkable, though the craftsmanship is unimaginative. The bronze work shows greater craft but much of it could do with a work-over by the British Museum laboratories. The pottery is so poor one wonders why they bothered to send it.

GRIMES GRAVES is perhaps one of the best exhibitions to date and there is much to learn. It is an interim report on work now in progress at this famous prehistoric flint-mine site. One comes away knowing much more about phosphate soil fertility surveying, resistivity tests, soil sampling and analysis and the study of flint core samples. Amongst objects on show is a plaster cast of a wooden shaft from the mines, a fingerprint on antler pickaxe and some unusual Bronze Age pottery. Don't miss the slides projected on top of the first central column.

We must mention a third exhibition, although its short run -- just the last two weeks of January, 1975 -- means that you may have missed it in London. It is PRESERVING THE FUTURE OF THE PAST, on show at the Fine Rooms in Somerset House from January 15th until February 1st.

It describes the activity of the Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings, and aims to show 5,000 years of British architectural and engineering history. It is one of nine or so exhibitions which the Department of the Environment is mounting in connection with European Architectural Heritage Year. As it is mobile, and will tour the country, you may catch up with it somewhere else later this year. If you do, it is worth a visit.

CBA on the move

The members may like to have a note of the Council for British Archaeology's new address -- they moved on 6 January last. It is:

7, Marylebone Road, London NW1. The phone number remains the same.


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