newsletter-057-november-1975

Newsletter

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The Boundary Marker Survey - Help from Queen Elizabeth's

Welcome, if unexpected, help was obtained this summer by the Boundary Marker Survey team from pupils at Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet. It was with great pleasure that we include an account of their activities by Elizabeth Eveleigh this Newsletter: --

At the end of the 1975 Summer Term, Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School Barnet, allowed the pupils who had finished their "O" level examinations to partake in out-of-school activities. Four of us were very interested in archaeological work. I therefore contacted Mrs. Grafton Green who knew that Mrs. Arnott was in charge of a survey of the boundaries of all the local parishes. Paddy Musgrove, who very kindly organised everything for us, gave us the section of the Finchley parish boundary that lies in Hampstead Heath -- which proved a very lovely section.

Armed with maps and dressed for battling our way through the holly and bracken of Hampstead Heath, we started the survey. A large number of the boundary stones lay in the grounds of Kenwood House. A great amount of our time was enjoyably spent in these beautiful surroundings and in glorious summer weather. We cleaned up the boundary stones (some of the earlier ones dated from the eighteenth century), photographed them and later, in the comfort of our homes, compiled a report for HADAS and for the School.

We were unable to find some of the stones as they had been taken away by the owners of the land in which they lay or because we were refused entry by owners. We were, however, generally accepted with helpful enthusiasm; one lady telling us the history of her house, and another cleaning out a broom cupboard where the boundary stone lay so that we could record it. To us, the survey was a worthwhile and enjoyable project and taught us a great deal and we hope that efforts have been of some use to the Society.

Cast Iron Boundary Markers

By Raymond Lowe.

Fixed to an oak tree in the corner of 33 Denman Drive,NW11 is a cast iron plate. The boundary of the garden was, (until our masters saw fit to make our Borough larger than several well-known sovereign states) the boundary between the old boroughs of Finchley and Hendon and the plate marks the spot. The plate has been on the tree for 40 years -- possibly longer. The tree, however, has made no growth around it thus possibly indicating that the plate does not pre-date the foundation of the Garden Suburb. Below is appended a description of the plate in the hope that one of our members may know of a similar one and be able to help with identification.

Shape: rhomboid with four straight sides. The height is 10 1/2 inches, the top width 9 in. and bottom width 9 3/4 in.

Description: there is a 1 in. border at the bottom and side borders which are 1 in. wide at the bottom but only 5/8 in. at the top. The corners are raised. A large downward pointing arrow is situated immediately above the centre of the bottom border. Top centre, there is a rectangular shield 4 1/2 in. by 4 1/2 in. bearing on the device of, on the left hand side, a deciduous tree and on the right hand, a tower with a possible twin turret on its right. They both stand on raised ground. On and parallel to either side are two words.

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The plate is fixed to the tree by a bolt through each of its four corners. Also found in the same garden under a compost heap is another cast iron object 3 ft 10 in. tall by 9 in. wide with a beaded edge 1 1/2 in. thick and having an internal depth of 1/2 in. The remains of a legend runs round the top, inside the beaded edge, and the word PARISH can possibly be deciphered across the face together with the date 1864 underneath. The post has a foot, 14 in. wide and 1 in. thick to prevent it from being pulled from the ground. The piece is obviously not in situ and raises doubts about the bona fides of the other -- is there is a collector's corner for boundary markers?

Should any members have ideas or help to offer, I would be glad to know. It is hoped to show photographs at one of the lectures. Finally, I must express my thanks to Mrs. Nell Penny for allowing access to her garden.

Hadrian's Wall - September 26/28 1975

By Helen Gordon.

When a brand new coach swept us off to Hadrian's Wall early on the morning of Friday 26 September, we began a weekend's expedition which fully matched the Romans' military campaigns in the brilliancy of execution. From small details, such as the ready typed labels for our thermos flasks, to the provision of the excellent Mr Timothy Newman, research assistant at the University of Newcastle's Museum of Antiquities, as mentor throughout, the weekend went without a hitch -- save for the weather on Saturday. How it rained! As Mr Newman stood, cheerfully lecturing, on one Roman pile after another, cap on head and coat flapping in the wind, looking not unlike a young Lenin haranguing the multitudes, we became more and more sodden; but undaunted, we missed nothing of our programme.

Briefly, our itinerary included a visit to the Newcastle Museum of Antiquities on our arrival on Friday, followed by a drive along the wall to our HQ, the Twice Brewed Inn; visits to Hexham Abbey, Corbridgre (Corstopitum), Chesters (Cilurnum), and Chesterholm (Vindolanda) on the wet Saturday ; and visits on Sunday morning in perfect weather to Carrawburg (Brocolita) - fort and Mithraeum - and Housesteads (Vercovicium), followed by a walk along the beautiful stretch of the wall climbing high along the cliffs overlooking Carg Lough between Housesteads and Steel Rigg car park; milecastles and turrets and the native settlement of Milking Gap were examined on the way.

We were thus enabled to follow the history of this, the furthest northern Roman frontier; first, the pre-Hadrianic Stanegate, the road with its line of forts including Corstopitum and Vindolanda built by Agricola, just south of where Hadrian subsequently put his wall. Hadrian's wall was originally intended to be used in conjunction with these forts, but as the 80 Roman miles of wall were built, plans changed; it was found more suitable for the forts to be actually on the wall, the Cavalry forts even jutting out to the north, as we saw at Cilurnum and Vercovicium.

The forts themselves provide much interesting evidence of the Roman army's way of life -- the care devoted to the storage of grain in the large granaries with their raised, ventilated floors; the well-designed water and drainage systems, with bath houses, water tanks (lead lined), and latrines equipped with a flow of clean water for dipping the sponges used in place of toilet paper and the contrast between the comfortable, heated quarters of the Commandant and the barracks of the lower ranks. We saw also the evidence that, as time went on, women were allowed to live with their men in domestic quarters. Much else deserves mention: the scraps of cloth, the leather and shoes, the fragments of writing on tablets excavated and on display at Vindolanda and much sculpture and quantities of inscriptions which are, of course, a mine of information about troop movements and individuals.

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The Wall demonstrates the grandeur of Hadrian's vision and under his reign the Roman Empire reached its greatest prosperity. Yet there was a sadness in him and he wrote this, is only poem to be preserved, shortly before he died:

O blithe little soul, thou, flitting away
Guest and comrade of this my clay,
Whither now goest thou, to what place,
Bare and ghastly and without grace?
Nor, as thy wont was, joke and play.

Report on the October Lecture

By Derek Grant.

Question: what have a BBC transmitter on the Wrekin, the XIV Legion, a fire in a market place, a gymnasium larger than Canterbury Cathedral, a sixth century palace and a lion a ring in common?

Answer: the erection of a BBC transmitter on the Wrekin was preceded by a small excavation which showed that the iron age inhabitants (the Cornovii) lived in square huts at a considerable population density and that the hill forts were permanent settlements to the hill towns of Italy today.

The XIVth legion constructed a military fortress at Wroxeter, whose existence and shadowy outline in the basal sand were only discovered a few years ago. When the Legion advanced to Chester, Wroxeter was developed as a planned town of 200 acres with a magnificent Civic Centre. The move from the closely packed hill fort to a large stone built town was literally entering a new world where one could pass the time exercising in the gymnasium and recover with a leisurely and convivial bath. The forum or market place, surmounted by a fine inscription to Hadrian, was likewise a source of wonder -- especially one market day when it was dissolved into flames, spilling stall loads of merchandise into the gutter, to await archaeological rediscovery centuries later.

After Roman control slackened in the fifth century a native resurgence took place with a return to vernacular building styles, though judging by the dimensions of a sub-chieftain's wooden palace on the site of the demolished gymnasium, they were capable of erecting generous structures.

Mr Toms, having recharged the memories of those of us who toured Wroxeter with him last year (and filled with envy the uninitiates who missed it) enlightened us with pictures of some of the most recent small finds -- someone probably wept over the loss of the fine lion intaglio, the centurion may have been disciplined for losing his belt plate and who knows what happened to the husband who returned without his front door key?

Woodland Dig

By Alec Jeakins.

The possible road surface has been cleared and work lifting the pebbles has now started. More medieval pottery and two very worn and unidentifiable coins have been found, and it is hoped that the pieces of Herts ware (Medieval) from within the road surface may give some indication of a date. Digging will take place every Sunday (weather permitting) until the start of the processing weekends (November 15/16). I need more diggers on Sunday mornings, please come along if you are free -- previous experience is not necessary.

Processing Weekend

Material from Brockley Hill and Hendon sites will be processed on the weekends of 15/16, 22/23, 29/30 November and the Teahouse of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute. All members who would like to work with this material and help with this project, will be most welcome.

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November Lecture - World Archaeology

For the second lecture of the season, we are lucky to have a Dr John Alexander who is lecturer in Archaeology at The University of Cambridge. He will stimulate us and them make us think of this wider approach to Archaeology. Dr. Alexander is well known to many of us who have learnt from him in the course of taking the Diploma in Archaeology. Let us have another good attendance on November 4th.

Christmas Party - Friday December 5th

7.45p.m. at 166 Station Road, NW4. Superb Buffet with Wine! For our new members, come along and meet each other; for old members our annual festivities. Price: £1.20. Senior Citizens and Juniors £1. If transport is a problem, please ring any committee member and we will see if a lift can be arranged. If any member can offer something for the buffet or a raffle prize or item towards a Christmas hamper, please ring Mrs. Frauchiger or Mrs. Carrell. Tickets will be available at the lecture on November 4th from committee members, or at the door.

Mesolithic Dig/Lectures

Mr Desmond Collins will give a course of six weekly lectures on the Mesolithic period at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, commencing on Tuesday 27 April 1976. Priority bookings for this course will be given to members of HADAS provided they apply, in writing, to Mr John Enderby at the Institute before the end of February. Cost: £1.50 for the course. The excavation of the Mesolithic site on Hampstead Heath will run concurrently with these lectures, starting on Saturday 1 May for two weeks and then every weekend.

Exhibitions and Lectures

FINCHLEY SOCIETY is sponsoring a Public Meeting at Christ's College Finchley on 7 November on "Conservation and Rehabilitation of an Architectural Heritage". The principal speaker will be Mr Donald Insall who will make particular reference to his work in Chester.

LAMAS. The 10th Local History Conference will be held in the Livery Hall at Guildhall, EC2, on Saturday 15 November. An exhibit by HADAS will be included. Doors open at 1.30p.m. conference starts at 2.30p.m. admission by ticket only obtainable from to the Hon. Sec., Local History Committee. Cost £0.50 (including tea). Cheques payable to London and Middlesex Archaeological Society.

CHURCH FARM HOUSE MUSEUM. The Hendon times is celebrating its centenary with an exhibition of photographs and reproductions which show "The Changing Times 1875-1975" in the north and north west of London. Closes 23 November.

BRITISH MUSEUM - ANATOLIAN ROOM. Christine Arnott writes: I would like to draw your attention to the new Iranian and Anatolian Rooms that are now open to the public for the first time, as part of the major rearrangement in the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities. These rooms on the upper floor of the Museum are designed to demonstrate cultural changes in Iran and Anatolia over a period of 3,000 years. Those members who are taking the second year Diploma in Archaeology will be pleased with the material displayed in the Anatolian section. I found the simplicity of the exhibit focussed more attention on the objects shown -- for example the clay tablets from Kultepe, a trading colony in Cappadocia (Central Anatolia) established about 1800 BC, were shown with enclosing "envelope". Their writings translated for us give details of the business transactions and private problems of one man. One of the more attractive finds is a silver bull with gold inlays, possibly from Alaja Huyuk, c. 2500 BC, although some members may find the Urartian furniture fitting in the form of a human-headed winged bull more fascinating (8th-7th century BC).

Don't Forget - HADAS has for sale

"Blue Plaques of Barnet"
"Chroniclers of the Battle or Barnet"
Ball-point Pens and Notelets


See Yellow Insert.

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