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Archaeology in Action

The new HADAS exhibition, or Archaeology in Action, got off to a flying start at Church Farm House Museum when the Mayor of Barnet, Mr Andrew Pares, came on 19 February to open it. He was accompanied by the Mayoress, who has been a HADAS member for some time.

We knew that the exhibition was to have this auspicious send-off only ten days or so before it happened. Despite the short notice, however, the occasion was splendidly stage-managed by Christine Arnott and Dorothy Newbury. Our chairman, Brian Jarman, who presided, warmly welcomed several Vice-Presidents -- Mrs. Rosa Freedman, Miss Daisy Hill and Mr Andrew Saunders -- the Borough Librarian, Mr David Ruddom, representatives of the press, many members of the Society's committees and those who had helped to design and mount displays.

This is the Society's 4th exhibition at Church Farm House Museum, and the first to have the honour of being opened by the Borough's first citizen. HADAS appreciated the mayor's visit very much, and the appreciation was mutual -- as this note from the Mayoress, dated the day after the exhibition, shows:

"The Mayor and I would like to thank you most sincerely for your welcoming hospitality on Saturday, and to congratulate everyone concerned in mounting such a comprehensive and stimulating exhibition at Church Farm.

We hope very much that the great number of people in our area will take the opportunity to see it, and we shall certainly recommend it to friends and acquaintances."

The exhibition continues until 27 March, so we hope there will be ample opportunity for all members to see it. To whet your appetite, we asked Research Committee member Helen Gordon to go round and described what she saw. This is report:

The Archaeology in Action exhibition illustrates well the scope of HADAS's work. It brings alive the history of our Borough right back to Roman times. Indeed the Church Terrace dig, only 100 yd from the Museum itself, reveals that in Roman times Hendon may have been a centre of some little importance. There are straws of evidence which suggest that it may have been the site of the Roman Temple, or some other building where religious rites were carried out. When you visit the exhibition, notice particularly in one of the Church Terrace showcases the neck of a redware flagon with a face on it, and the fragments of a possible multiple vase -- both types of vessel probably used in religious ceremonies.

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Church Terrace was one of several digs conducted by HADAS in the last few years, and on show now are finds from the St. James the Great, Friern Barnet: Woodlands, Golders Green Road: and, just outside the Borough, West Heath Mesolithic dig. Out of the 6,000 man-struck flints found at West Heath a selection of shining, delicately-shaped artefacts are on show. Their workmanship would do honour to any modern display of arts and crafts. Detailed legends make plain both the subject matter and the archaeological processes by which the information is obtained, while the many excellent photographs portray vividly the bewitching magic of a dig, come rain or come fair weather.

Other aspects of HADAS's work are also on view -- a case full of material picked up on field walks, another of chance finds; one section illustrates the recordings of the relics of our industrial past; another describes the tombstones in the Dissenters' Burial Ground at Totteridge and the people those tombstones commemorate. Yet another illustrates the Parish Boundary Survey, including photos of the beating of the bounds, and one of the bumping of the Mayor of Finchley in 1935. We are glad admirable Mayor was prepared to risk the danger of this custom being revived when he kindly opened the exhibition, with a warm appreciation of the work HADAS dollars in the Borough of Barnet.

Volunteers Needed

The Department of Urban Archaeology, Museum of London, is calling for volunteers, and will be happy to help hear from any HADAS member who is interested.

Finds from recent City digs have accumulated and work on the backlog is just starting. Volunteers prepared to help clean and sort pottery, bones, leather and building material will be welcome. Many finds come from waterfront sites where wood, leather, cloth, iron, bronze and pewter to have been preserved intact.

Work takes place at Old Guildhall Library on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9.15a.m.-4.45p.m.; within those hours volunteers may come and go as is convenient to them. This is an excellent opportunity for those who want to gain practical experience of dealing with finds and learning different techniques of processing.

Any HADAS member who is prepared to help should get in touch.

One HADAS member, Clodagh Pritchard, has already signed on for this voluntary work. Here she describes what it is like:

I started working at the Old Guildhall library just before Christmas for the Department of Urban Archaeology, Museum of London. Since January I have been going there on Wednesdays. I arrive about 10.30 and leave about 3.30 to avoid the rush hour.

I have been working on finds from the various City digs dating back to 1974, washing leather, pottery, bone and building material, or marking sherds. On my first morning I was excited to find a small buckle; later its pair turned up -- both on pieces of leather that I was washing. Shoes, soles and sandals are often found, as well as belts, straps and off-cuts.

Pottery ranges through early shell-tempered coarseware, Medieval green-glazed ware, Samian and even occasionally Victorian Pottery. I have been marking pottery for several weeks now. Some pieces, showing a clean break, can be stuck together. The experts from another department often come down to see what we are doing; they will always identify your pieces and point out the differences between lead, tin or salt glaze -- something I hope to learn more about.

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I work with four or five general assistants (GAs for short); sometimes two other volunteers turn up. We are down in the basement of the building, where files are stored tier upon tier in labelled boxes. The building itself is a formidable Gothic structure belonging to (and I believe still partly used by) the Corporation of London. An extra floor has been inserted, so that the once huge Gothic pillars are truncated and looked very squat; arched doorways leads to a labyrinth of other departments; and the books which remain on the shelves are huge dusty tomes containing the Minutes of the Court of Common Council, or Law Reports of the Probate Division back to 1875.

Operation Minimart

A most important event in the HADAS calendar is coming up -- the Minimart, on Saturday 12 March at the Henry Burden Hall, Egerton Gardens, NW4 from 10.00a.m.-12.00p.m. This year, with all our costs sky-rocketing, the minimart fund-raising capacity will be more important than ever. Its success will depend on members being able to help every way they can.

The more goods we have for sale, or more funds we shall raise, so first and foremost:

If you haven't done so yet, please turn out whatever you don't want and let us have it for sale;

If you have already had a turn-out, how about taking a final look in case you've missed anything?

If you have time, please make something for the produce stall -- scones, sausage rolls, pies, marmalade, chutney, sweets, cakes.

Let the organisers Christine Arnott or Dorothy Newbury know what you have and where and when it can be collected.

There are other ways to help too. Could you display a poster advantageously at your house? Or could you persuade a local shopkeeper (specially in the Hendon/Golders Green area) to do so? Will you make sure to come along yourself on 12 March and have morning coffee at the Minimart, and patronise any stall you fancy?

One innovation will be a notice board, which members can place "For Sale" or "Wanted" postcards, at £0.05 the time. Should a transaction result, a small donation to HADAS funds by the buyer or seller would be very welcome!

Tailpiece: after the Minimart comes the clearing up. If you would like to take over any unsold goods for the use of your pet charity, please let Christine or Dorothy know and be prepared to remove the leftovers from the hall by twelve noon on Minimart day.

The Next Lexture

On Tuesday 1 March, this will be by a Dr John Kent, FSA, on the Coinage of Pre-Roman Britain -- the subject of much of Dr. Kent's current research.

Dr. Kent takes a considerable interest in local archaeology. He is a of Vice-President of the Barnet and District Local History Society and of the Stanmore and Harrow Historical Society. He directed the excavations which took place over several years at South Mimms. He is Assistant Keeper of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum and is an outstanding authority on his subject.

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His lecture will be preceded by a brief Extraordinary General Meeting, details of which have already been circulated.

Dates Ahead

April 5 - Denmark - Ted Sammes
May 24 - Annual General Meeting

All meetings will be at central library, The Burroughs, NW4 at 8.15p.m.

Provisional Summer Programme

Many members like to jot down the summer outings in their diaries as early as possible. The following is a provisional programme only: and the later outings, particularly, are subject to possible alteration. We hope to publish the final program in the April newsletter.

April 23 - St. Albans
May 14 - Stanstead/Saffron Walden/Long Melford
June 18 - Northampton
July 16 - Grimes Graves
August 20 - Swindon

This year all outings are on Saturdays.

Members will also be delighted to know that Dorothy Newbury is already hard at it planning a weekend away towards the end of September.

Mr. Geoffrey Corlet

It is with deep regret that we record the recent death, after a long illness, of Geoffrey Corlet, who was a member of HADAS for seven years and served on the main Committee of the Society from 1973 until illness caused him to resign in 1976.

Mr Corlet's work at the Public Record Office had made him an expert palaeographer. On HADAS's behalf he began transcribing, in 1972, the early parish registers of Hendon St. Mary's -- a long-term task which, alas, he was never able to complete.

Our warmest sympathy goes to his widow, Joyce, also a HADAS member of a long-standing; and to their son, Andrew Kirkwood, who was a member of the HADAS main committee, 1970-72.

New Thoughts on Ancient Britain

A report by Elizabeth Holiday on Andrew Selkirk's February lecture to HADAS.

In a controversial and ingenious talk, Andrew Selkirk urged his audience to erase traditional thinking about prehistory from their minds and to reconsider the accepted divisions of the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. Mr Selkirk maintained that the periods of British prehistory should be redefined, for the present conventions are not only arbitrary but unsubstantiated by recent evidence and far from being the neat categories suggested by many scholars.

Mr Selkirk suggested that the identification of the periods of development of our prehistoric forebears from their technology and artefacts is a narrow and misleading approach; and that the key to understanding the changes that occurred during the 2000 years before Christ is a better understanding of the social organisation of the groups and tribes which produced such monuments as Stonehenge, the barrow cemeteries and the hill forts.

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The Age of Stonehenge, he suggested was the age of a dynasty of priest-kings and was followed by a period of instability and insecurity -- the Age of Excalibur -- during which the population kept its wealth in a portable form (jewellery, and particularly swords) rather than lavishing it on extravagant building projects. The building of hill forts identified the return to a stable society and immediately preceded the greatest change of all -- the introduction of money, and with it the development of the market place and the beginning of a market economy. It was this last factor, Mr. Selkirk suggested, that destroyed the previously unassailable chieftain system.

The lecturer concluded with yet another challenge to traditional thinking, by suggesting that not only did the Roman conquest of this island make much less impression than is generally supposed, but that far from imposing servitude to Rome, the conquerors provided the first taste of freedom for the native inhabitants. Food for thought indeed!

Queen's Jubilee Booklet

A reminder from the Hon. Treasurer.

So far we have received £125 in loans towards the Society's next Occasional Paper, which will be called a Queen's Jubilee and will tell the story of how Queen Victoria's two Jubilees were celebrated in the areas which now make up the Borough of Barnet. We greatly appreciated the response of all those who have sent contributions, and to thank them warmly.

Any member who would like to lend the Society up to £5 for the booklet, but has not yet got round to doing so, is invited to send his or loan to the treasurer as soon as possible, with the form which was attached to the last Newsletter. If you have lost your form, the Treasurer will gladly supplier another.

Running the Mail

The production of this Newsletter involves members from all parts of the Borough. One problem that arises to is the transportation of material between members. It usually needs to be done promptly to catch deadlines.

The Hon. Secretary would therefore be happy to hear from any members who commute through the borough, and would be willing to collect and deliver an occasional envelope on their way to or from work. One particularly vital run is between Edgware and the Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Patents in the Borough of Barnet

By William Morris.

Patents form a basis for studying Industrial Archaeology. Often they show what industries have been present in an area, throwing light on the products made by various companies. In some areas patents may fall within a limited field of industry. In other areas, mainly non-industrial, the pattern is different, as there are often private inventors working on very disparate ideas and the range of invention is much wider.

The residents of the area which we now call the London Borough of Barnet -- from Edgware to Chipping Barnet, from Arkley to Cricklewood – were in days gone by (and no doubt still are) an ingenious lot, as a study of the records at the Patent Office shows. Indeed, for its size our area has been granted an almost disproportionate number of patents. If you take a sample year like 1916, for instance, to this is what you find.

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Early that year a patent was granted for an apparatus for disinfecting, perfuming and purifying air in theatres. It was invented by A. Jackson, of "Woodleigh", Temple Gardens, Golders Green. This device took the form of a tank, which was filled with an appropriate as liquid and provided with the nozzle on a vertical tube depending (?) into the tank. A horizontal tube supplied compressed air to the nozzle to blow the liquid out, in the manner of a giant scent spray. One wonders if it was ever considered for use in the Ionic or the Hippodrome at Golders Green!

Next came a patent for a sign illuminated by varying coloured lights. This was invented by R. Atherton of 16 Cavendish Avenue, Church End, Finchley. Each lamp on the sign was surrounded by a multi-coloured chimney or funnel, which was to be rotated, through the hot rising from the lamp, by means of vanes.

To A. Claflin of 30 Corringham Road, Golders Green, went a patent for a soundproof typewriter cover. This has an opening at the top covered by a pivoted, counterweighted cylindrical window which allowed access to the platen but left the keyboard exposed.

Another local patent went to H. Webb of 38 Meadway Court, Hampstead Garden Suburb, for his hand truck, designed to mount curbs. This had an auxiliary pair of wheels whose axle position was variable along truck to take into account variations in kerb heights.

Interest in dairying is revealed by the parent granted to C. Harrison of 22 High Road, East Finchley and R. Cole of 98 High Street, North Finchley, who jointly invented a novel milk churn lid which snap-fitted onto the churn. Spring biased bolts in the neck of the churn slotted into the holes in the lid. (Incidentally, would High Street, North Finchley, now correspond to some number in High Road, N12?)

An electric torch patent was granted to A. King of 65 Lichfield Grove, Finchley. This had an electrically conductive ball in a conical tube between its two its cells. The ball would roll to make contact between the cells and so light the torch -- but only when the latter was tilted downwards.

J. Cooper of 6 Sunnydale Gardens, Mill Hill, and his co-patentee, Mr Kay, acquired a patent for a method of making metal hoops for wheel rims. They round a strip of metal round and round the rim and then welded together the superimposed layers.

The last local patent granted in 1916 was to H. Gregory of "Al-Araf", Dudley Road, Church End, Finchley, for a novel tobacco pipe. This had two separate smoke-bores, one of which could be stopped and cleaned by a rod secured to the mouthpiece of the pipe, while the other was still in use. Withdrawal and rotation of the mouthpiece allowed insertion of the rod into the other smoke-bore, while the cleansed one was used in its turn.

Recently Acquired for the Book Box

-- "Leakey's Luck" – The Life of Louis Leakey, 1903-1972, by Sonia Cole. excellent and readable account of the work of one of the most colourful of archaeologist-anthropologists, and his finds act Olduvai Gorge which have radically changed our thinking about the evolution of man.