newsletter-067-september-1976

Newsletter

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Looking Ahead to Winter

As the days shorten and the end of summer comes into sight, many HADAS members begin to plan their winter activities. Will you sign on for a series of archaeology course this year? Or shall it be local history? Or an allied topic -geology, heraldry, palaeography? We Londoners are lucky in having a very wide choice, particularly if you don't mind travelling across the city for the class you want.

Even if you confine yourself to the borough of Barnet, however, there is still quite a varied choice of classes. The Newsletter has been investigating what is available within our Borough, and here is a run-down:

Archaeology

London University 4-year Extra-mural Diploma in Archaeology:

Year 1. Palaeolothic and Mesolithic man. Desmond Collins, MA. Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute. Wednesdays 7.30-9.30. 24 lectures and four visits from 22 September, 1976. Fee £6.

Year 2. Western Asia. D. Price Williams, BA. H.G.S. Institute. Thursdays 7.30-9.30 24 lectures and four visits from 23 September 1976. Fee £6.

(Note: Years 3 and 4 of the Diploma cannot be taken in the London Borough of Barnet. Year 3 lectures are either at the Mary Ward Centre or Morley College; Year 4 back to the Institute of Archaeology or Morley College. Zero, unfortunately are there any classes this year LBB in the Certificate in Field Archaeology. Indeed, to take that you have to travel as far afield as Croydon, Isleworth or Brentwood.)

Extension and Tutorial Classes in Archaeology.

ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE OF EARLY PREHISTORY. List class, lecturer Desmond Collins, Director of the HADAS West Heath dig, was mentioned in last month's newsletter. HGS Institute, Thursdays 7.30-9.30, thirteen in meetings from 23 September, 1976. £3.

BRITAIN AS PART OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. Continuing WEA tutorial class. Mrs. M.M. Roxan. Middx Poly, NW4. Wednesdays 7.30-9.30, 24 lectures from 28 September, 1976. £5.

DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. Continuing WEA tutorial class. Mrs. M.M. Roxan, - 2 , Hillside Crescent, Barnet. Fridays 10.00a.m. 24 lectures from 8 October, 1976. £5.

(Note: continuing tutorial classes are normally closed to new members, but I am assured that, as HADAS members already have some background of Roman knowledge, they will be welcome. Applications to Mrs. Neville, WEA secretary.

HISTORY OF THE EARLIEST CULTURES OF TURKEY. WEA. 321 Coney Hatch Lane. Mrs. A.T.L.Kurht. Thursdays 10.30a.m. 24 lectures from 23 September, 1976. £5.

ROMAN LONDON. WEA Golders Green Library. Thursday 8.00p.m. 24 lectures from 31st September, 1976. £5 (OAPs £3).

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  • ARCHAEOLOGY. Barnet College. Wednesdays 7.30p.m. 10 weeks from 6 October, 1976.
  • INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY. as above, but starting 19 January, 1977.

Other Subjects

The following is a selection from the many courses in subjects other than Archaeology which might interest members:

DEVELOPMENT OF ENGLISH ARCHITECTURE FROM 1500. Fellowship House, Willifield Way, NW11. Wednesdays 10.30a.m. 24 lectures from 22 September, 1976. £6.

HISTORY OF ENGLISH SILVER AND OLD SHEFFIELD PLATE. HGS Institute, Tuesday 10.30a.m. 24 lectures from 21 September, 1976. £6.

WILDLIFE ECOLOGY. HGS Institute, Wednesday's 8.00p.m., 20 meetings from 22 September, 1976. £6.

LONDON, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. HGS Institute, Mondays 8.00p.m. 12 lectures from 20 September, 1976. £3.

HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE. WEA, Queen Elizabeth's School Barnet. Mondays 8.00p.m. 24 weeks from 24 September, 1976. £5.

ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE. WEA, Council Chambers, Wood Street, Barnet. Mondays 10.30a.m., from 24 September, 1976.

GREEK ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT. WEA. Queen Elizabeth's School Barnet. Tuesday 8.00p.m. of 24 lectures from 21 September, 1976. £5.

ENGLAND'S ANCIENT CHURCHES. WEA. Queen Elizabeth's school. Wednesday's 7.45p.m. 12 meetings from 22 September, 1976. £3.

ARCHITECTURE OF LONDON FROM 1800. WEA. 44 Rotherwick Road, NW11. Thursdays 10.00a.m. 24 meetings from 30 September, 1976. £5.

ANCIENT MYTHS AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE. EA. Middx Poly, NW4. Thursdays at 7.30p.m. 24 meetings from 30 September, 1976. £5.

  • LOCAL HISTORY. Barnet College. Mondays 7.30p.m. 20 lectures from 4 October, 1976.
  • RESEARCH INTO LOCAL HISTORY. Totteridge Village Hall. Mondays 7.30p.m. 20 lectures from 4 October, 1976.

If you want any further information about winter courses, please ring the Hon. Secretary -- who doesn't promise, but may be able to help. The for courses in the above lists which are marked * can be applied for at Barnet College, Wood Street, Barnet.

HADAS Winter Programme

And so to our own winter lectures, which are, as usual, on the first Tuesday of each month. All, except Dec. 7 start at 8.00p.m. with coffee and take place at the Central Library, The Burroughs, NW4. Details of Dec. 7 - dinner at the Tower - will be circulated with the next Newsletter.

Members already have their programme cards, but here is the list again. It contains one change from the list circulated in the programme card. Dennis Mynard cannot, after all, give the opening lecture on Oct. 5. We have been extremely fortunate in getting Don Brothwell to talk on Bones - he is a leading authority on that subject.


October 5 - Bones and Archaeology - Don Brothwell
November 2 - Pompeii - Dr. Malcolm Colledge
December 7 - Dinner at Tower of London and watching
the Ceremony of the Keys.
January 4 - From Muscle to Steam - - Denis Smith
the Archaeology of Energy.
February 1 - Continuity or change: a fresh look at - Andrew Selkirk
Prehistoric Britain.
March 1 - Coinage of Pre-Roman Britain - Dr. John Kent
April 5 - Denmark - Ted Sammes


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As well as lectures, HADAS has a number of other winter engagements. Two were mentioned briefly in the last Newsletter -- the processing weekends at the Teahouse and Barrie Martin's proposed sessions on practical surveying. Here are further details of both.

PROCESSING OF WEST HEATH FINDS will take place at the Teahouse, Northway, NW11 (near HGS Institute) October 2/3, 9/10 and 16/17 from 10.00a.m.-5.00p.m. each day. Facilities exist at the Teahouse for making tea and coffee, and members may bring a picnic lunch if they want. All volunteers will be welcome, particularly those who have helped with the dig and to know something of the material they will be handling. Even if you know nothing about flints, however, please don't let that stop you coming -- we shall find something for you to do!

Many members have helped this summer keeping up-to-date with the washing, recording and marking of finds. At the Teahouse we shall be going on to other work, including typology studies - e.g. the numbers of tools found, numbers of cores, density of flakes per square metre, etc. It is hoped to reconstruct an original flint nodule from its core and its associated flakes (an ideal project for jigsaw experts!)

Groups will work on burnt flint, manuports, posthole evidence and charcoal. Flints which had been frost-fractured, not struck by a man, will be isolated and discarded. Measurements of all blades and bladelets will be checked; large flakes will be examined for visible wear. Site plans will be constructed under various headings, e.g. concentrations of waste flakes, charcoal and burnt matter, postholes, etc.

If you plan to join us at the Teahouse it will be most helpful if you can let Daphne Lorimer know your intention in advance; but if you decide on the spur of the moment, come along unannounced.

SURVEYING SESSIONS. Sufficient members have expressed interest in learning elementary surveying for us to decide to go ahead with this project. Hon. member Barrie Martin, FRICS, is kindly taking charge of the experiment, and is lending equipment.

It is proposed to start with two Saturday morning meetings, December 4th and 11th, beginning 10.00a.m. Further meetings, if wanted, will be arranged after discussion with the group. The venue for the first meeting will be announced later. It has been suggested that practical work might be done in areas already thought to be possible sites, such as Friary Park -- the suggested site of the twelfth century Friary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. As the equipment being used will be easily damaged by damp, it is hoped to make alternative under-cover arrangements in case of rain.

Will any members who have not already indicated their interest in joining the group please let either Daphne Lorimer or Brigid Grafton Green know?

Field Walking

The walks held earlier this year proved both popular and successful. They produced one scatter of some 70 pieces of Roman Pottery, suggesting that we had discovered a possible Roman site. It has been decided to arrange further field walks this winter -- whenever we can sandwich them between other engagements.

The first walk will be on Sunday the 26 September, at 10.00a.m. probably in the same area we walked earlier -- one of the fields of Edgwarebury Farm, near Brockley Hill. Organisers are Ann Trewick and Daphne Lorimer, and members who are interested should contact one of them for further details.

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Friern Barnet Summer Show (Aug 20/21)

Brian Favell send this report.

Once again considerable interest was shown in the HADAS exhibit of material from the dig at St. James the Great -- the church which is only a few hundred yards away from the Show tent. The farm bygones from Totteridge, kindly lent for display by Mr. And Mrs. Morley of Laurel Farm, also drew much attention -- we even had an offer to buy!

The Society showed a wider range of publications than usual, including many of the excellent Shire publications. HADAS sells these on Shire's behalf and takes a percentage of the profit. The booklet on tracing a family trees was particularly popular, and we sold out. On the lighter side, we were offered many suggestions for attracting more attention, ranging from selling knitted trowel covers to starting a dig in the marquee.

HADAS would like to thank all those who acted as stewards during the two days, especially Mrs. Hooson and Mr. & Mrs. Vause, who spent long periods on the stand in a Turkish bath atmosphere. Ann Trewick supplied exhibition material and Daphne Lorimer kindly set up. Brian Wibberley, Sue Craig, Julian Sampson, Duncan McMillan, Jeremy Clynes and Brian Favell all did sterling work.

Fund Raiser's Corner

A note from Christine Arnott.

The following interesting items have recently been donated to the Society for fund-raising. As we are not planning a fund-raising effort until next year's minimart, this note may alert any member who fancies a bargain before then:

8mm projector for home movies. Second hand, but in good working order -- £3.

Basket, lined, with yellow nylon (washable) for keeping baby's etceteras ... new -- £1.50.

Pair lady's brown court shoes, slim fitting size 7, as new £1.

Continental coffee set for 4, with pot and jug, in "old gold" pottery -- £1.

For further information, please ring Christine Arnott or Dorothy Newbury. Prices quoted are a guide -- any reasonable offer will be considered.

West Heath Dig – The Posthole Saga

One question that many passers-by ask at the West Heath dig is "What else have you found besides flints?" In fact there have been a number of other finds, the archaeological significance of which has yet to be fully assessed.

The principal subsidiary findings have been burnt stones, charcoal scatters (sometimes containing quite large pieces of charcoal), stones which are not natural to the site (dubbed by our Director "manuports", which has become one of the "in" words of the dig) and ?postholes. We hope to discuss more about all these in the Newsletter from time to time, starting this month with ?postholes (the "?" Is important, by the way, just to remind ourselves that we haven't yet satisfactorily proved that they are postholes).

The evidence for possible postholes has grown steadily. One was found in the second week of May; since then we have notched up between 30-40, some more convincing than others. The first sign of a ?posthole usually appears towards the base of layer 2, about 15 cm below modern ground surface, as a circular mark, 5-10 centimetres in diameter, where the soil is noticeably soft and usually paler than the surrounding packed orangey sand. The smaller examples could perhaps be better described as ?stake rather than ?postholes. At this stage the soft circle is marked with a wooden marker and left with about 6 cm of orange sand all around it, while the rest of the trench is cleared.

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Each ?posthole is then dealt with individually. All the soft filling is removed with a teaspoon or "widger" (a tool as invaluable on a dig as it is when singling seedlings in the garden). The soft material is dug out until hard orange sand is reached in all directions, sideways as well as downwards. This is the first stage in showing whether the supposed posthole looks convincing. Sometimes the soft area spreads out under the hard sand to form a rough-edged horizontal trough or depression, such as might have been made by a root or small animal; when this happens it can be eliminated as a posthole. Sometimes, however, the hole retains its shape and size and still looks like a genuine posthole for a further 15-20 cm in depth. Usually about half the ?postholes noted in initial digging are disapproved by this individual treatment.

Those that are left are measured for depth, diameter and their angle in the ground, and are then cast in fine plaster of the type used for ceiling mouldings. The plaster is mixed to the consistency of thick cream and poured into the cleaned hole. The official name of this process is "gravity casting." A wire hook, for use in handling the cast of later, is inserted before the plaster sets. The cast normally dries completely within an hour or two. It is removed and labelled with its trench and posthole numbers.

The fill for each excavated posthole is kept separately in a labelled plastic bag. It is hoped to test one or two fills for acidity, to see if the pH reading differs from that of the surrounding sand.

A further examination of the cast can also suggest whether or not the ?posthole still looks convincing. In one trench – No. VIIIK -- 15 possible postholes were noted during preliminary excavation. Eight of these, when the fill was spooned out, seemed worth casting. Of the casts, three now look as if they are of holes made by wooden stakes cut to serve as posts. The remaining five are dubious.

Few of the convincing postholes (of which there are some 15-20) are vertical in the ground. If these did contain posts, these were pushed in at an angle, usually between 60° and 75°.

The first post hole discovered was sectioned, not cast. We dug a small trough in front and to each side of it, and then cut across the posthole itself so that it was halved. This posthole could then not be cast, but it could be photographed; and it gives quite a remarkable picture of the lowest 10 cm or so of a stake, cut obliquely across the base to a point at one side, which had been stuck into the ground at an angle of about 80°. The posthole fill stood out clearly pinkish-grey against the surrounding orange sand. The decision not to section succeeding postholes, but to cast them, was taken because it was felt that casts provide more lasting and informative evidence.

During the winter further work will be done on the ?posthole evidence: for instance, we shall plot the acceptable postholes onto a large plan, to see if they make any discernible pattern. This, and an analysis of the angles, may suggest whether or not the posts could have been used to support some kind of shelter or windbreak of skins. The "dubious" casts also need study to see if they could perhaps represent a posthole whose shape has been disturbed by root action or, with one or two which might be double postholes, whether there may have been two separate insertions of a post at slightly different angles. You can be sure that if any more deductions are made from this evidence, the Newsletter will carry another thrilling instalment.

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The West Heath dig will continue on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays till Wednesday 15 September which will be clearing-up day. Volunteers are still very welcome -- please come whenever you can. Digging 10.00a.m.-5.00p.m., and any member who does not know the site can get details from either Daphne Lorimer or Brigid Grafton Green.

The August Outing – To Cotswold Country

By Vincent de Paul Foster.

Crickley Hill, Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is a mere 2-hour coach ride from Hendon. It was our first port of call on the August outing. The hillfort has truly magnificent views across the Vale of the Severn. Those old hillfort builders certainly knew how to pick a site.

We were met at the entrance of the outer ramparts by Philip Dixon, Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology at Nottingham and Director of the Crickley Hill excavations. After explaining the layout of the fort, he told us its history. The site was occupied during both Neolithic and Bronze Ages, and is in area of approximately 3.6 hectares, enclosed by a ramparts rising to 2.7 m at the east end, with a ditch some 2.4 m deep. The other sides are so steep that additional defences there were unnecessary.

The earliest defences were constructed in the 6th/5th centuries BC of timber lacing. This method, also usable with stone revetting, obtains maximum strength by securing horizontal cross timbers through the body of the rampart, with connecting vertical posts at front and rear. This rampart was destroyed by fire. The northern entrance, in the last phase of construction, consisted of stone bastions with an enormous curving defensive hornwork.

Inside the fort Iron Age longhouses, unique to this country, have been excavated. The more common roundhouses have also been found. There are also 2 sets of Neolithic ditches; the earlier is of the usual causewayed camp type, with interruptions. The later is continuous and deeper than usual with a bank behind it. This season's 5-week dig has about 100 volunteers, mostly very youthful. We ate our lunch at the outer ramparts, and were startled to watch, from a distance, the mad rush of diggers to their lunch, at the nearby Civil Defence camp, as soon as klaxon sounded. Philip Dixon had warned us of his daily stampede, but I thought he was joking. British Olympic Selection Committee, 1980, please note -- this is a hot-bed of potential 3 1/2 minute milers.

We travelled partly along the Fosse Way to next stop -- Chedworth Roman Villa, accidentally discovered in 1864. It lies in an attractive, secluded, wooden niche at the head of a small valley, facing east and overlooking the River Colne. From being a rather utilitarian domicile in the second century AD, the villa was later enlarged and made more luxurious. It has some notable fourth century mosaics. One has geometric pattern bordered by scrolls emerging from vases. Another, of the seasons, shows Spring as a girl with birds and flowers, Summer as Cupid with a garland, Winter as a cloaked man with a dead branch and a hare. Autumn has almost disappeared. Finds of coins show that life continued at the villa until at least the last quarter of the fourth century.

Eric Grant has returned from the seclusion of Harpenden (we have greatly missed him at many HADAS occasions since he went to live there a year or two ago) to plan and lead this outing. As always, both staffwork and compering were excellent, and for this many thanks both to Eric and to Dorothy Newbury.

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