newsletter-056-october-1975

Newsletter

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October Lecture

The first lecture for Winter 1975/1976 will be on Tuesday 7 October. Mr Geoffrey Toms, M.A. from Attingham Park, Shropshire Adult Education College, and secretary of Shropshire Archaeological Society is coming to talk to us on Archaeology in that county and particularly Wroxeter. Many members will remember visiting the Roman Settlement there during our Shropshire weekend last October, and the first class talk and slides given by Mr Toms. He has been associated with the direction of the excavations over a number of years. This will be an excellent lecture -- don't miss it.

In AD 48, the line of advance of the 12th and 14th legions reached the River Severn, and a base camp from which to subdue the Welsh tribes was established. Viroconium, the civil settlement on the site, where Watling Street crosses the Severn, probably dates from AD 75. By the middle of the second century AD the city had become very prosperous and was the fourth largest in the country. Gradual decay from the second half of the third century led to final abandonment.

Location of Lectures

For the benefit of our many new members, lectures -- usually accompanied by slides -- are held on the first Tuesday of each month in the Winter (except December), at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4 at 8.00p.m. We start with coffee and biscuits -- £0.05. The lecture commences about 8.20 to 8.30. Members are welcome to bring friends for one lecture, but if they wish to come to subsequent lectures they should be encouraged to become members of the Society. Buses 83 and 143 pass the door, 113 and 240 pass a few minutes' walk away, and Hendon Central Underground is ten minutes' walk. Will new members please introduce themselves to any committee member present.

Beware the Treasure Hunters

By Paddy Musgrove.

Every archaeologist is on the lookout for chance finds. A scatter of gravel or sherds in a ploughed field can lead to the discovery of a Roman road or villa. Sometimes the articles found can have an intrinsic interest or value, such as the rare type of Neolithic jade axe, recently founded by a small boy in Hendon (July Newsletter), or the staggering horde of church silver found near Peterborough (Sunday Times, 14 September). Dated back to the third century, the latter is by far the earliest church plate found anywhere in the world, and it has been estimated that the lucky finder may collect £70,000 as an award for treasure trove.

The possibility of financial gain has swollen the numbers of amateur and professional "treasure hunters", now with their own clubs, publications, and specialist dealers who promote the sale of metal detectors and other equipment. Regrettably one such dealer recently received favourable publicity in the Barnet Press. Although most supporters of treasure hunting profess high ethical standards of behaviour, this one had no such scruples. Claiming to have found "hundreds" of valuable items, some dating back to the first century, within a 10 mile radius of Potters Bar, he advocates research to establish the sites of old settlements. He then advises: "Once you find a good site, you don't even tell your best friend where it is."

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100,000 metal detectors are in use in this country, mostly in the hands of unskilled and irresponsible people. Their use on our beaches to find holiday-makers' lost coins is a comparatively innocent occupation, although even here finds of archaeological importance have occurred, only a fraction of which can have been reported. The pillaging of protected sites has, however, reached such a stage that the government is considering raising the fine for such activities from £20 to £400. The usefulness of this can, however, be judged by the fact that although over 100 such sites have been damaged, in the past ten years there have been only half-a-dozen successful prosecutions. And what of the hundreds of thousands of sites which are not "protected" or even yet discovered?

Excavation of a site, whether by a skilled archaeologist or by a vandal with a metal detector, is an irrevocable act. The archaeologist, however, accumulates knowledge and publishes it. The treasure hunter destroys for ever the possibility of useful investigation. At best, he fails to record the actions he has taken; at worst, he conceals them.

Each of us can play an important part in ensuring that chance finds, however made, are properly noted and protected. By being known in our neighbourhoods as HADAS members, we may well be approached for identification of objects or for advice. Information so gained can then be passed on to the Society so that appropriate action can be taken.

The September Outing

A report by Ted Sammes.

There was good support for the last day-outing of the season which was to West Kent, and it was a pity that the organisers Ann and Colin Evans were prevented by other commitments from being present to enjoy the day.

We set off on a sunny morning and stopped for a coffee break at Badgers Mount. First visit to was to Knole, one of the largest private houses in England. It was begun by Thomas Bouchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1456, and was greatly extended about 1603 by Thomas Sackville in whose family it to remained until being given into the care of the National Trust.

The house has three courtyards and after passing these we entered the very impressive great hall. In the state rooms we saw a large collection of pictures, rare furniture, rugs and tapestries. The silver was possibly the greatest attraction, both where used to ornament firedogs and that in the Kings Room where the furniture was heavily covered with patterned silver.

Time was next allotted to eating our lunch, and for those of us who were elected for the fresh air we found that nice though the deer might look, they had very aggressive ways of getting fed!

The Roman Villa at Lullingstone was next stop, and after a few introductory remarks we were free to wander and look at the site and the exhibits. The fourth century mosaic pavements were very fine and an even better impression was gained of these and the villa as a whole when we climbed the stairs to the upper floor of the exhibition. The painting of the water nymphs in the deep room came in for some discussion, as also did the simple display of roofing (Imbrex and Tegula).

Our final visit was to Eynsford Castle, probably first built about 1088. Much of the massive curtain wall is still standing but in a very much heightened condition. In the centre we saw the remains of the undercrofts of the solar and great hall -- a small and easily comprehended castle. Tea was provided in the village hall by the local Women's Institute and consisted home-made fare -- this was voted a winner. After tea some of the party visited the church, parts of which have Norman work but is more obviously 13th to 14th century. As we left the rain started, surely a day could not have been better timed?

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Down on the Farm

Shire Album 10: Old Farm Buildings, 32 pp booklet by Nigel Harvey, MA., ARICS., 45p.

Many members will have become familiar in recent years with Shire Publications "Discovering" series, particularly in their excellent Regional Archaeologies. What may not be so well known are the Shire "Albums", devoted to topographical and rural themes and presented in a mixture of photos, prints, engravings and text. We are happy to say that the latest of these, No. 10 is by a HADAS member of long standing, Mr Nigel Harvey. It is on the subject of Old Farm Buildings, on which Mr Harvey is a considerable expert. His full-length History of Farm Buildings in England and Wales (published 1970) is already considered a standard work, and he was for many years advisor on farm buildings to the Ministry of Agriculture and then to the Agricultural Research Council.

His present booklet covers barns, granaries, cartsheds, cattle buildings and urban cowhouses, dairies, stables, piggeries, dovecots and oasthouses, finishing off with some notes on "how the farmhouse fitted together." There is also a "further reading" list, and a list of places to visit to see old farm buildings at their best. The booklet is lavishly illustrated with photos of high quality and interesting prints. Altogether a good buy.

Some of the other Shire "Album" series might also interest members: Vintage Farm Machines; Fire-marks; Canals and Canal Architecture; Old Farm Tools; Old British Livestock; Bottles and Bottle Collecting; Haunted Houses; Canal Barges and Narrow Boats; and Pillow Lace and Bobbins.

Mr Harvey has kindly presented a copy of "Old Farm Buildings" to the HADAS book box, for which the Society is most grateful.

Type-fossil of the 1930s

What would you choose as the type-structure of the late 1930s -- the sort of thing which, when an archaeologist of the future excavate a twentieth-century site, will make him pinpoint it with near certainty to the years 1938-41 in the same way that a prehistorian, coming upon a round barrow, begins at once to mutter "Early Bronze Age" and to discuss Beaker cultures?

HADAS's experience this summer suggests that the Anderson shelter will be the characteristic building. Already it is starting to crop up surprisingly often as a "find". In July we were invited to inspect a "structure" found in the front garden of a house in The Burroughs, NW4, by a patriotic citizen intent on putting her front garden down to cabbages. This proved to be a concrete rectangle, about 6 ft by 4 ft, with walls standing some 18 in. high, and sunk to a depth of 3 1/2 ft. below ground surface. The thing above everything else which gave it away, however, was the fluted surface of the exterior wall.

A few weeks later an excited resident of a house in Cotswold Gardens, NW2, telephoned to say that in the dry spell his sons, playing in the back garden, had warn both grass and away to such an extent that walls were appearing where once the grass had been. He started to describe the walls which sounded interesting until the adjective "fluted" again crept into the conversation -- and then the measurements, material and wall-type all came together to produce another Anderson. We predict that this particular enquiry is going to crop up at regular intervals from now on.

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Woodlands Dig

The excavation commenced on Sunday 17 August, 2 three-metre square trenches been opened at right angles to the Golders Green Road. Both have produced dark gritty medieval pottery and a small piece of Surrey ware in trench 2. At a depth of 32-50 cms a compacted uneven road surface has been reached. This will be fully uncovered before going any deeper. Because of the limited number of diggers that can be accommodated, diggers are asked to ring Alec Jeakins beforehand. There will be no digging on Sunday 28 September.

Exhibition News

Newsletter 53 reported a forthcoming exhibition in which HADAS members are playing a large part -- the Suburb Heritage exhibition to be mounted soon in Hampstead Garden Suburb in celebration of European Architectural Heritage Year.

This is just to remind members that the exhibition will take place at the Henrietta Barnett Junior School, Bigwood Road, NW11, from 27 October to 1 November. It will be open each weekday from 2 p.m. until 9.00p.m. and on Saturday, 1 November from 10.00a.m. to 9 p.m., and should be well worth a visit.

The main emphasis will be on the architecture of the Suburb, with displays of house plans by the early architects -- and house plans at the turn-of-the-century were hand-coloured, meticulously drawn in great detail and altogether more interesting to look at house plans today. There will also be biographical material on architects such has Sir Raymond Unwin, the "father of town planning", Sir Edwin Lutyens, acknowledged as the greatest English architect of this century, Baillie Scott, with his close links with the Arts and Crafts movement, and many others. The more general history of the early Suburb will also be shown, with information about the Suburb's founder, Henrietta Barnett, and the circle of co-founders who helped her to launch the venture.

This autumn will also see a display by HADAS at the Turret Gallery, 37 Friern Barnet Road, N11. The gallery has been kindly lent to us by the Barnet Borough Arts Council, to which HADAS is affiliated. The gallery has an attractive shop front on Friern Barnet Road, and we plan to display archaeological material from various parts of the Borough in the windows. On Saturdays we hope to man the shop, so that inquirers will be able to come in and get any details they want about the Society. Helen Gordon and Paddy Musgrove will be organising this exhibition, and will be very glad to hear from any members who would like to help, either with setting up or with stewarding on Saturday mornings.

The American War of Independence

By Christine Arnott. In view of the bicentenary of the start of the American War of Independence (1775-1783), there is currently a fascinating and comprehensive exhibition at the British Museum. Maps, manuscripts, cartoons and prints combine to illustrate graphically the history of the war and the attitudes of contemporaries. The skirmish between Redcoats and Minutemen at Lexington in 1775 that sparked off of the rebellion, ended in a revolution. All this is covered by the exhibition in at the King's Library at the British Museum. It is open until 11 November and I urge you to visit it. A fully illustrated catalogue is available, also facsimilies and slides.

Subscriptions Reminder

Our Treasurer asks all members who have not yet paid their 1975/6 subscriptions to do so at once. The rates for the year from 1 April are: full membership, £1; under 18, £0.65; senior citizen, £0.75. Subscriptions should be sent to Jeremy Clynes.

Assyrian Palace Reliefs

Members may be pleased to hear that the booklet on the Assyrian Palace reliefs ---

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