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Excavation at St. James the Great Friern Barnet

A report by Ann Trewick.

On 1 February we opened 2 trenches, each 2 metres square, and at the east end of the church, under an ancient yew whose roots provide a definitive digging hazard.

By the end of the first day some of the brickwork which we have been asked to investigate was already revealed in trench A, which lies nearest to the church. The following week similar brickwork was uncovered in trench B. It appears to be a continuation of the same structure as that in trench A. the east/west span of the revealed brick is 2 metres. Three courses of bricks have been uncovered to date, but we are not yet at the base of the structure. Its top was covered with a layer of mortared tile. As yet it is too early to be certain what the brickwork is.

Daphne Lorimer has been making a survey of the site, using a plane-table and alidade, so that we shall have a precise scale-plan of all features, including tombstones, paths, trees, church wall, drain covers and rises and falls in ground surface. Peter Clinch is responsible for the photography.

We have been sustained by tea and coffee provided by Mrs. Malcolm Smith, whose husband takes a particular interest in the history of St. James's and who has been of great help in arranging the dig. Our thanks go also to the Rector, Canon Gilmore, for his continued interest and encouragement. The dig will go on until further notice on Saturdays (weather permitting) from 10.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m. except for 22 March, when it will be closed to allow members to attend the Conference of London Archaeologists at Guildhall. Members who wish to dig (numbers are limited owing to the small size of the site) are asked to ring Ann Trewick.

Footnote: does any HADAS member know of legends of a tunnel (or tunnels) leading to St. James the Great from houses in the vicinity? We had heard, before the dig began, of a tunnel from the now-vanished Friary of the Knights of St. John to the Church; but since digging started the story has come from several independent sources -- including a circumstantial tale of a lady who, in her childhood 80 years ago, was allowed to explore the opening of a tunnel near the Church for an entrance fee of 1d. Any further details of his legend would be most interesting.

Minimart **** Minimart **** Minimart

Just to remind you that this vital contribution to the Society's financial resources will take place on Saturday March 8th from 10.00 a.m.-12.00 p.m. at the Henry Burden Hall, Egerton Gardens, NW4 (opposite Hendon Library). Entrance 5p, coffee and biscuits £0.10.

Details of the stalls were given in the last Newsletter. Any contributions can be brought to the next lecture on 4 March; or collection can be arranged by telephone either to Dorothy Newbury, Daphne Lorimer or Christine Arnott.

Conference of London Archaeologists

This annual event will take place at Guildhall on 22 March from 1.30-6.00 p.m. Mr Ralph Merryfield, now the doyen of London Roman scholars, will take the Chair. There will be five short talks on various aspects of London Archaeology, and displays of recent excavations and research projects. Among the latter, HADAS will be represented by an exhibit, arranged by Ted Sammes and Jeremy Clynes, on the Church Terrace dig.

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HADAS April lecture

Few members of HADAS need any introduction to last lecturer of the season, Desmond Collins, who will talk on 1 April on the theme of "Are We Fair to Neanderthal man?" He has already lectured to the Society several times in recent years, and a number of members have taken part in is conducted tours of the Dordogne and Spain.

Mr Collins has been, for the last ten years or so, one of the most popular lecturers for the Extra-mural Department of London University. Most HADAS members who have obtained, or are in the course of obtaining, the Diploma in Archaeology, will have taken their first serious steps in the subject under his guidance. His lectures at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, on "Early man -- the Archaeology of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic times" have said many a HADAS foot on the archaeological path.

His bubbling enthusiasm for his subject is infectious; his wide-ranging knowledge illuminates those early years periods which are, to many archaeologists, the least well known. Flint tools, the evolution of homo sapiens, the effects of ice ages and inter-glacials on developing species become, as he speaks of them, matters of vital and immediate interest. We can say one thing with confidence: if you come to the HADAS lecture at Central Library, NW4 On 1 April (coffee 8.00p.m. lecture 8.30p.m.) You won't be bored.

Other Dates For Your Diary

May 6th 1975. Annual General Meeting, Central library, 8.00p.m. Business meeting, followed by a film.

The Programme Committee announces the following dates for this summer's coach outings:

Sat May 17 - The excavations at Mucking, Essex.
Sat June 14 - Maiden Castle and Dorchester
Sat. July 12 - Norwich
Sat Sept. 13 - Lullingstone Roman villa and Knole

And on Sunday 20 April, an additional half-day outing to Willington, St. Ives and Godmanchester. Daphne Lorimer, who is arranging this outing, gives us some hints of what we shall see:

John Bunyan preached in a stable (a magnificent Tudor stable) in Wilmington, and left his name scratched over a fireplace to prove it. The medieval bridge at St. Ives (home of Oliver Cromwell) has a minute chapel in the middle of it; on the wall of the thousand-year-old church at Godmanchester is a Mass-dial which tells the time of the tides. Come and see these and other curiosities of an antiquarian nature on this Spring outing, the first of the season.

An application form for this outing is enclosed. Please complete and send it, with remittance, as soon as possible to Dorothy Newbury.

A Coin found in Edgware

A note by Raymond Lowe.

A short while ago Mrs. Hall, who lives in Farm Road, off Hale Lane, Edgware, found a coin in her back garden (O.S. Grid Ref TQ 201 924). She kindly offered it to HADAS for study.

It proved to be a Tetrachm of the Emperor Aurelian. The obverse carries his portrait and titles in Greek. The reverse has an eagle with a wreath in its beak with the year of the reign 275 AD and the mint: Alexandria.

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The mint of Alexandria was the largest of the Imperial Greek mints and second only in size to the Imperial Mint of Rome. It struck "Imperial Roman" coinage from the time of Tiberius (14-37 AD) until the reformation of Diacletian (295 AD) and its coins are amongst the commonest found. More than 130 have been recorded in Great Britain but none have come from a true Roman context. They are all considered to have been lost in this century or the last by returning travellers or soldiers.

The condition of this present coin rules out any possibility that it has lain in the soil for 1600 years. In addition the tetrachm circulated only in the East. Its weight and value were not on a par with coinage circulating in the West. It was heavier than the western double denarius, the antoninianus; but it was valued only at 1 denarius.

Thanks for help in identification are due to Dr Carson and Mr Castle of the British Museum. (Further reading: Coins of Greece and Rome, R. A. G. Carson).

The Lunt

Elizabeth Holliday reports on the HADAS February lecture.

Brian Hobley (now London's Chief Urban Archaeologist) provided a crowded HADAS meeting on 4 February with inside information about this Warwickshire site, for which he was responsible when Field Officer to the Herbert Museum, Coventry.

It was hoped that the excavation of The Lunt would provide a complete plan of a typical Roman Fort. However, eight years work on the 4 1/2 acre site at Baginton provided that this particular fort was far from typical.

The site is in a commanding position on elevated ground near the confluence of the rivers Sowe and Avon. The discovery of curved eastern defences was the first indication that this particular fort was somewhat unusual. As the dig progressed, a large circular area just within the curved wall was uncovered (which explained in the unusual alignment of the defences). This feature was eventually interpreted as a cavalry training ground, or gyrus. Subsequent discovery of horse equipment, an ablution block adjacent to the stable block near the gyrus and special cavalry barrack blocks indicate that the fort was almost certainly a Roman cavalry training centre.

The chronology of the fort is complex, although the site was occupied for only 20 years, between AD 60 and 80. In that short time the alignments were altered at least three times, probably reflecting the changing demands made upon the Roman occupying force.

The first encampment, possibly covering as much as 26 acres, was founded at the time of Boudicca's rebellion; within a few years this huge camp was replaced by the 4 1/2 acre fort which occupied the site for the main period. This fort in turn was contracted, probably as the Roman Army moved northward, until finally it was demolished with great care about AD 80. The site lay abandoned for almost 200 years, but was probably retained by the Roman Army on a care and maintenance basis, for the fourth, rather crude, series of defences will build in almost the same position during the troubled times of Gallienus in the second century AD.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Coventry Museum's work at The Lunt has been the simulation of various structures and the establishment of a special museum –The Lunt Roman Interpretive Centre -- housed in a rebuilt granary. When the reconstructions are complete, The Lunt will provide an unique example in England of a Roman timber fort and will interpret, for both scholar and a layman, the two-dimensional remains found on the ground.

(A more detailed description of The Lunt excavations and the reconstruction which followed may be found in Current Archaeology 44.)

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Frith Manor Farm

It was recently announced that Frith Manor Farm, N12 – "60 plus acres of agricultural land with farmhouse and buildings" according to the blurb, is to be sold. We are asked to Daphne Lorimer to research the history of this estate, and here are her preliminary notes.

The present house at Frith Manor Farm is a Victorian building of no particular distinction; a dwelling house for the tenant farmer has, however, been in existence in the area for a very long time.

It has not, so far, been possible to pinpoint the first erection of buildings on the site, but the earliest map in the Borough Archives (James Crow, 1754) shows a cross-shaped building and a construction which appears to be in the position of the existing timbered barn. All this abuts onto field No. 620 in Isaac Messeder's Survey Book which accompanies the Crow map. This is at the head of Frith Lane, and was stated to have been reclaimed from swamp. This area is covered today by the junction of Frith and Partingdale Lanes and it is still usually running in water. In 1754 much of the Frith Manor Estate was held by the Peacock family; on the death of Richard Peacock it was sold to John Lade Esq. whose son became Sir John Lade Bart.

In 1796, Cook's map and field book show that much of the property had been split up among private owners, but that Sir John Lade still owned Frith Manor Farm, then let to a tenant named Johnston at a yearly rental of £115. Sir John, in fact, used Frith Manor Farm and Dollis Farm (in the occupation of John Edgar at annual rental of £127) as security for a loan of £7,517.2.6. The mortgage was dated 5 December 1796 and between that date and 9 December 1809, when he sold it to Sir Charles Blick, Sir John appears to have taken possession of Frith Manor Farm, built himself a manor house on the site and converted the farm into servants quarters.

In 1811 Frith Manor was sold to Thomas Fentham who, in 1828, is recorded as holding Frith Manor House and about 80 acres. In the Tythe Book of 1842 he was tythed on over 91 acres.

The maps of the latter half of the nineteenth century show little change in the buildings. The circular lawn had been laid down by 1864. It was adorned by two magnificent cedars which, we are assured by the Estate Agent's brochure of the 1920s, were planted by Queen Elizabeth or Charles II (they were obviously too small for Charles to have hidden in them!). The poor remnants of these trees are to be seen today behind the stables of the Frith Manor Riding School.

Frith Manor Farm was eventually sold to the Express Dairy for a rest home for horses and the site of the old manor house is now covered by the stable yards of the riding school.

All these buildings lie on the East side of Partingdale Lane; but to confuse matters still more, on the west side a house existed called Frith Manor which was demolished in the 1960s. The site was subsequently used as married quarters for Mill Hill Barracks. This Frith Manor appears only on one map and no records of it had been found to date. If memory serves, it was of Victorian period and may possibly at one time have been the farmhouse for the farm.

Earlier History of Frith Manor

The Manor of Fryth or Newhall was a sub-Manor of the Manor of Hendon. It was gifted by the Abbot of Westminster to the le Rous family who, in the twelfth century, were in possession of Hendon north of the Brent. In 1312 Richard le Rous exchanged Hendon north of the Brent for Hendon south of the Brent with the Abbot of Westminster. The Abbey then granted Fryth Manor to its steward, Sir Richard Rook, Knight of the shire of Middlesex.

The estate was thickly wooded. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon "fyrthe: wooded country". Frith wood ran from north to south, was enclosed on three sides by water and was a favourite hunting ground of the Abbot of Westminster until the Dissolution. Bishop Thirleby, to whom Henry VIII granted Hendon on the Dissolution, claimed Frith to have been given to him as his own personal property.