newsletter-090-august-1978

Newsletter

Page 1

GOOD RESULTS FOR HADAS MEMBERS

This Newsletter must start with congratulations and commiseration: the first for those members who have just heard that they have passed their exams in the Diploma in Archaeology; the second for the few who have failed.

Particularly, all honour to three members who have now completed the 4-year Diploma course -Janette Babalis, one of our students at the West Heath training course this summer, who passed her two 4th year papers with Credit and Merit respectively; Helen Gordon, a member of the Research Committee, who passed the two Roman Britain exams with a Credit and a Distinction; and Anne Thompson, long a member of HADAS, who got a Credit and a Pass.

The remaining results - as far as we know them - are:

Elizabeth Aldridge (2nd Yr. Diploma with Merit)

Denys Franzini (1st Yr. Dip. with Credit)

Geoffrey Gammon (1st Yr. Dip. with Credit)

Alexis Hickman (1st Yr. Pass)

Carol Johnson (2nd Yr. Dip. Fail)

Dave King (3rd Yr. Dip. Pass)

Robert Kruszynski (2nd Yr. Dip. with Merit)

Shirley Korn (3rd.Yr. Dip. Pass)

Teresa Macdonald (2nd Yr. Dip. Fail)

Sally Spiller (1st Yr. Dip. with Merit; 2nd Yr. Dip. Pass)

Anne Watson (2nd Yr. Dip. Pass)

Dave King -who kindly chased up the above results for the Newsletter tells us that they are by no means exhaustive. He has not been able to get details from several members who are away; and the results of the Certificate in Field Archaeology are not yet published.

MORE COURSES FOR AUTUMN

No sooner does one academic year end than plans for the next begin. In the June Newsletter we gave details of classes next winter at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute. Here is news of other local classes:

Archaeology of Celtic Roman and Saxon Britain. Lecturer Tom Blagg. Mons. starting Sept. 1 7.30 pm, Camden Inst, Haverstock branch. Fee £7.50

Archaeology and the Roman Empire. Margaret Roxan. Thurs. starting Sept.28, 8pm. Golders Green Library. £8

The Bible Lands - the origins of civilisation. Miss R L Harris. Thurs. starting Sept. 28, 8pm. Edgware Library. £9.


Celtic Art and Architecture in Britain 500 BC-1000 AD. Mrs. E S Eames. Thurs. starting Sept. 2, 1.30 pm. Glebe Hall, Glebe Rd, Stanmore. £8.75

An Architectural Historian in Hertfordshire. F H Bradbeer, Mons, starting Sept. 25, 8 pm. Queen Elizabeths Girls School, Barnet. £8. The same series will be given on Tues. from Sept. 19 at 7.45 pm at Copland Senior High School, Cecil Av, Wembley.

Page 2


The Architectural Heritage of the Greater English Church. R. M. Ridlington. Thurs. starting Sept. 2, 7.30 pm. Minchenden Lower Sohool, Fox Lane, Palmers Green, N13. £8.

Social History of England & Golders Green in 20th c. P W Kingsford. Tues, starting Sept 26, 1.30 pm, 103 Hampstead Way, NW11. £8.

Social History of London. Mrs. G C Clifton. Weds. from Sept. 27, 9.45am Henry Burden Hall, Egerton Gardens. NW4. £9.

Most of the above courses are organised by the local WEA branch; HADAS members who would like further details can get the name and phone number of the relevant WEA secretary from Brigid Grafton Green. The list docs not include continuing tutorial classes, many now in their second or third years; they usually do not accept new members.

We mentioned in the June Newsletter details of Diploma courses at HGS Institute. There are no other Diploma courses in the Borough of Barnet; there are, however, central courses for each of the 4 years of the Diploma - usually held either at the Institute of Archaeology; the Extra-mural Centre, Tavistock Square, or the Mary Ward Settlement, Tavistock Place. Details of these can be obtained from the Dept. of Extra-mural Studies, 26 Russell Sq, WC1.

The Department will also provide details of courses for the 3-year Certificate in Field Archaeology. A 2nd year course (The Romano-British period in SE England) is being held at Barnet College in Wood Street on Mons. at 7.30 pm, starting Sept. 18, lecturer E C Hill. This year our Borough has no first year course; the nearest venue for that is the City Lit, where Paul Craddock (incidentally, a HADAS member) is taking The Prehistory of SE England on Thursdays, starting Sept. 21.

HADAS'S OWN COURSE

Last year Hendon College of Further Education, in Flower Lane, Mill Hill, invited HADAS to arrange and give a course of 23 lectures under, the title Beginning Archaeology. This was a bit of an experiment, both for the College and for us. The lectures were given by 14 members, some of whom provided two or three, others just one. Seventeen students signed on at the start, and 14 stayed the full course - which is said to be a successful statistic. That the College was happy, as well as the students, is suggested by the fact that we have been asked to devise a further course for this coming winter.

This will have the general title of Introducing Archaeology, and will be suitable as a continuation course for those students (the majority) who intimated that they would like to do a second year, as well as for new students just joining. Again, the lectures will be given this year by a number of HADAS members (most of them Diploma holders) and the course will offer a simple general background to archaeology from Palaeolithic to Roman times.

HADAS members who are fairly new to archaeology, and would like to add to their background knowledge, might well find this course of interest. It will take place on Tuesday evenings, starting Oct. 3, from 7.30-9.30. Anyone who is interested in enrolling should get in touch with our Hon. Secretary for further details, - including a list of the lectures and a reading list.

Page 3

THE AUGUST OUTING - SUFFOLK'S RURAL PRIDE

John Enderby will lead the August outing to the lovely central plateau of Suffolk on Sat. Aug. 12. Details and application form are enclosed - please apply at once if you would like to take part. Among the places of historic interest to be visited (all in the care of the DoE) are Saxtead Mill (a fine example of an 18th c. post-mill), Framlingham Castle, 12th c. home of the Dukes of Norfolk, and Heveninghal11 Hall. This last is one of the finest Georgian mansions in England, with rooms of outstanding quality designed by James Wyatt and a 50O-acre park and lake laid out by Capability Brown.

SAT. SEPT. 16 will be the final outing of this summer, to the Cotswolds. Further details in the September Newsletter.

TOWN HALL DIG

As announced in the last Newsletter, digging will start behind the Town Hall, The Burroughs, Hendon, on Sat. Aug. 26 at 10 am and will continue for the three days of Summer Bank Holiday. This will be a short exploratory dig, directed by Ted Sammes, to assess the archaeological potential of the area prior to a proposed development by Barnet Borough Council.

On the following weekends of September digging will be from 2.30-5 pm on Saturdays and 10 am-5 pm on Sundays. How long the dig will last cannot be estimated at this stage, but non-regular diggers are advised to contact Jeremy Clynes before coming along, in order to get the latest information. Access to the site is through the entrance to The Grove. Walk down the avenue of lime trees, turning left at the bottom. The site is at the far and of the car park, between it and The Grove.

RECORDING HENDON CHURCHYARD

This will continue on Sunday afternoons, from 2.30 pm, until the start of the Town Hall dig on Aug. 26. It will resume when that dig is over. Again, ring Jeremy Clynes and let him know before you come along.

CLEANING CHARCOAL

A different slant on work at West Heath, by our "resident botanist," Dr. Joyce E. Roberts.

What an absurd idea to make black white; but at West Heath "cleaning" means removing the sand grains adhering to the charcoal which has been taken out of the "star" find of last autumn: the hearth. In fact the charcoal is blacker at the end than at the beginning! Once cleaned, it will be used for a c14 estimation, hopefully giving us a date for the site.

The charcoal came to me in metal foil packets, labelled according to the area of hearth from which it had been dug. It was important before starting to close the windows, keeping away any draughts which might bring carbon contamination, such as smoke or modern dust; fortunately I do not myself smoke.

I tended to open first the packets which seemed to contain large lumps. I withdrew one of the larger piece of charcoal with forceps {the largest was about l 1/2 cms long) and closed the packet while I scraped the piece all round with a sharp scalpel. This removed tree roots and sand. Then it was brushed all over with a camel-hair brush to remove further sand and the loose charcoal; all the time it was drying out, so the sand came away more easily at the end.

Page 4

Many of the pieces were tiny, though naturally one tended to ohoose the biggest. In shape many were flat and thin; some curved pieces were smooth inside and rough and uneven on the outside, suggesting they may be burnt bark. Some lumps were gritty and firm; others fragmented because they were too soft to scrape, so that it was a fiddling job. While I was scraping I looked for any indication of the kind of tree from which the pieces had been derived. Any which appeared to be different from the most common type of charcoal were examined further under a low power dissecting microscope; if a piece was almost certainly not oak (the commonest form) it was saved for future identification, since this may provide important information as to the nature of the forest " in which the Neolithic men lived.


Each piece, as it was cleaned, was placed in a clean foil envelope until at least 15 grms. had been cleaned. The charcoal was weighed on a Victorian letter balance. Then the foil packet was closed and labelled.: It takes at least two hours to clean 15 grms, longer if the pieces are small. Eventually 105 grms, in 7 packets of at least 15 grms. each, were given to Desmond Collins to be taken to Cambridge for dating.

When they excavated the hearth, Laurie Gevell and Margot Maher recovered about 250 grms of charcoal in all. Some pieces are parts of twigs; in two instances the ends are smooth at an angle to the axis, as if cut on the slant before being thrown onto the fire. Is it too much to believe that somewhere among the West Heath finds we may have the very flint tool which cut them?

DIGGING will continue at West Heath during AUGUST and SEPTEMBER, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, except for Aug. 12 and Sept. 16, both Saturdays, when there are HADAS outings. Work will be from 10 am to 5 pm, and all diggers will be most welcome, there is still much to be completed before the season ends.

FAMILY HISTORY

One of the "growth" hobbies of the 1970s is family history. As evidence of this, witness the increasing number of family history societies at regional, county and even district level.

The Federation of Family History Societies was founded in 1974 to encourage the setting up of local societies, to co-ordinate their activities and to provide a clearing house for information about family history and genealogy. Today there are close on 50 regional societies and an additional 30 groups with similar aims, including "one-name" societies whose members research a single surname (figures given in the current issue of Local Historian, vol. 13 }No. 2, p.l00). The largest regional group is Birmingham and Midland {over 1000 members). The Federation publishes a twice-yearly Family News and Digest at 75p per issue, inc. postage (obtainable from Mrs. Ann Chiswell, 96 Beaumont' St, Milehouse, Plymouth, PL2 3AQ). We mentioned as a stop-press item in the last Newsletter that family history is rapidly creeping up on us in our area. The North London branch of the Family History Society was holding its inaugural meeting on July 17 at Enfield. Four days later the Central Middlesex branch held its first meet1ng at Brent Town Hall, Wembley. We who live in the London Borough of Barnet therefore have new family history societies to right and left of us. There may well be HADAS members interested in genealogical studies who will like to participate in the activities of either our western neighbours (apply for information, enclosing an sae, to D E Williams, 17 Northwick Ave, Kenton) or our eastern ones (Hon. Sec. Miss G C Watson, 38 Churston Gdns, New Southgate, Nl1 2NL.

Page 5


NEW BOOKS

Two books recently published by the Stationery Office may- be of interest to members.

2000 Years of Brentford is a London Museum archaeological report by an old friend of HADAS, Roy Canham, who was until he left London a few years ago the Field Officer to the Museum. The report covers fieldwork in the London region, excavations at Brentford and historical and geological background. Finds are dealt with in detail, from Neolithic; flints to post-medieval pottery.

Early Man in West Middlesex is by our Director at West Heath, Desmond Collins. It describes the prehistoric finds made in the gravel workings at Yiewsley, mainly between 1885-1935, said to be "one of the richest Palaeolithic sites in Europe."

It is suggested that members who are interested in buying either of these books might ring our Hon. Secretary, so that we can send in a collective order.

THE ADVENTURES OF HADAS IN ORKNEY

By PADDY MUSGROVE.

Orkney claims to be the richest archaeological area in Britain, with three recorded places of antiquarian interest to every square mile. That makes a total of 1129 sites, or one site for each 16 inhabitants. These are just the recorded sites. Even during HADAS's brief visit (Ju1y 8-15) we saw a number of sites which had only just come to light.

We must admit things didn't begin too well. Even from Scrabster pier the sea looked churlish. Two hours later, when the Old Man of Hoy loomed up through the mist, it was for many a very welcome sight - a promised of dry land soon to come. Despite this, there were no absentees at supper that night in the Kirkwall School Hostel, nor at 8.50 next morning when we set off for a pipe-opening 35O-ft. climb up Wideford Hill to visit our first chambered cairn.

These stone-built Orkney neolithic tombs fall into two main types. Both have central chambers, reached by low passages, often about 6m. long. One type, known as the Maes Howe group after its most famous example has a number of small cells opening off the main chamber. The cairn on Wideford Hill is of this type.

The second type is characterised by the division of the central chamber by pairs of upright stone slabs into a number of compartments or "sta11s." Of the cairns we visited, Blackhammer, Knowe of Yarso , Midhowe and Taversoe Tuick, all on the island of Rousay, are examples of the stalled cairn, but within these categories there are many variations. Taversoe Tuick, for example, is two-storied - surely a neat piece of one-upmanship - while Unstan chambered tomb on Mainland perhaps represents a transitional phase: essentially a stalled tomb, it also has a single small side cell. Although small, Unstan has yielded the most important pottery assemblage, dated to the mid-4th millenium BC, and has given the name of Unstan ware to pottery of this type found on other Orkney sites.

Page 6

The ease with which the local stone can be split into slabs or flags suitable for dry-stone architecture has helped Orkney builders for more than 5000 years, right up to the present era of breeze blocks and corrugated iron. Nevertheless, the design and craftsmanship of Maes Howe is awe-inspiring. Anna and Graham Ritchie, in their newly published guide to the Ancient Monuments of Orkney, call it "one of the greatest architectural achievements of the prehistoric peoples of Scotland."

Maes Howe was excavated by J. Farrer in 1861, but he was not the first to break into the chamber. 700 years earlier Vikings recorded their presence there by scratching messages on the wall. Some of these refer to searches for treasure. One is about a girl called Ingeborg. Runic inscriptions cannot be read by many people, but we know that this one refers to the lady's attractions. Daphne Lorimer told us that a Scandinavian historian had confirmed this but after laughing heartily, had refused to provide a literal translation.

Our visits to a number of Orkney's 100-odd brochs enabled us to study Iron Age architecture of a type found only in the Scottish highlands and islands. These circular defensive dry stone towers had stairways and galleries built into the thickness of their massive outer walls. Two of the best-preserved brochs visited. Midhowe and Gurness, also have formidable surrounding ramparts and ditches. Despite the number of brochs excavated, many problems remain unsolved about their design and use, partly because all have been substantially robbed to provide stone for later buildings around them and even within their walls, which make interpretation of the remains more difficult. We therefore were delighted to have the privilege of being shown over a recently excavated broch by John Hedges of the North of Scotland Archaeological Unit, who believes that his forthcoming report will answer some outstanding questions, particularly regarding the plan of ground level living accommodation.

At a farm near Stromness John Hedges discovered that the farmer proposed to remove "a little mound" about 2m. high. Simply recorded as a "cairn," it was not scheduled or otherwise protected. With only a few days before demolition, a rescue dig with mechanical equipment was organised. Only after a considerable trench had been cut was it realised that the digger was going through the walls of a broch which had been robbed down to the level of "a little mound."

When the importance of the site became clear, demolition was postponed - it will, however, be destroyed any day now - and arrangements were hurriedly put in hand for a major excavation. Thirty inexperienced volunteers and schoolchildren were mobilised to empty the centre of the broch to obtain the floor plan. 15 tons of rubble were removed. At one stage activities had to be curtailed when the volume of work became too much for the few experienced supervisors available.

The work revealed concentric rings of living accommodation on the floor of the broch. In the centre was a large D~shaped hearth with a stone curb. Outside this, marked by vertical stone slabs, was a surrounding "service area" containing, postholes. Beyond this again was a ring of outer compartments. A dirty unpaved area to the left of the entrance door could have provided emergency shelter for animals: to the right of the entrance, an area of neat paving undoubtedly indicated the "lounge area."

Page 7

The excavation of "Bu broch" (as John Hedges has christened his discovery) should also enable a date to be put on the mysterious Orkney "earth houses" – small subterranean chambers, whose purpose is still unknown. One of these, built into the wall of the broch, contained dateable material. Another day John Hedges took us to see a Bronze Age "kitchen," next to one of Orkney's 250 "burnt mounds." Until now, he explained, people had dug into these hitherto puzzling mounds, but had not searched for nearby sources of the burnt material. A little distance away he showed us, too, a fine chambered cairn, initially excavated by a local farmer, and dramatically poised in an amphitheatre above the cliffs. He also provided an exhibition of Unstan ware pottery.

The day we visited the Brough of Birsay to see the remains of Orkney's first cathedral, the Norse longhouses and the palace of Earl Thorfinn, we again had the most authoritative guide possible - Chris Morris of Durham University, who has been digging the Viking settlements there for the past 5 years. He showed us the current excavations on an eroded cliff face where a cist grave has been recovered and where possible Pictish buildings are now emerging.

To most students of archaeology, Orkney means Skara Brae, but what more can be written about this most famous of Neolithic villages? Now protected against the sea and the sand storms which both buried and protected it, it stands there after 4000 years with fitted furniture intact - its stone dressers, hearths, beds, cupboards and water tanks.

It is possible only to list some of the other sights seen: the Standing Stones of Stenness and the spectacular Ring of Brodgar with its great stones dark against the sky; "Cobbie Roos" castle and the l2th c. chapel on the small island of Wyre; the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm (built ingeniously from odds and ends, by Italian POWs); St. Peter's Kirk on South Ronaldsay; the Earl's Bu and Round Church, Orphir; the impressive cliff walk at Yescanaby. And, for the botanically minded, there was the successful search for the rare primula scotica and the oyster plant.

Our most grateful thanks are due to the many people we met in Orkney who made, our stay so enjoyable: to Messrs. John Hedges and Chris Morris for their explanation of sites; to Mr. Bryce Wilson, who opened the Tankerness House Museum to us; to Mr. J. Halcro-Johnston for showing us the cist at Orphir House; to Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson for re-opening the souterraine on their land; to Mr. & Mrs. Bichan for allowing us to visit the Broch of Breakna and providing tea for the whole party, also to Miss Mardi Bichan for making the Swanbistcr pottery from which we drank it; to Mr. J. Troup, who talked to us on Orkney's Norse heritage and escorted us on a tour of Stromness; to Mr and Mrs. Robinson, who were our guides in Kirkwall, and Mrs. Sue Flint, who led the long march on Rousay; to Miss E. Bullard of the Orkney Field Club, who told us about Orkney plants in history. And there was our coach driver, Bert, whom we led into many a tight corner, but who remained helpful and cheerful throughout.

As ever, tribute must be paid to the staff work of Dorothy Newbury, before and during the expedition. Unflappable and sympathetic, she solves our problems and discreetly organises order out of anarchy. To Daphne and Ian Lorimer our thanks are due for planning and super- vising all our activities in the islands. The disruption to their lives must have been considerable. The gracious manner in which they entertained our large party (still in mandatory "stout walking boots") to lunch in their charming house at Orphir made it a very Special occasion. Daphne briefed us in an advance talk on some of the sights we were to see and acted as courier throughout the week. Ian introduced us to the natural history of Orkney and provided a back-up transport service. To both of them, our many, many thanks.

Page 8


At our special "Farewell to Orkney Dinner" at Tormiston'Mill, the talk was all about "Where shall we go next year?" Where, indeed? Our Orkney trip will be hard to follow.

ACCESSIONS TO THE BOOKBOX

- The following have recently been added to the HADAS Bookbox ,(references are to the categories and numbers on the Hon. Librarian's master list):

Anthrop 4 Ramapithecus (rep from Scientific American May 1977 Elwyn L. Simmons
5 Archaeology of Early man. J.M. Coles & E.S. Higgs
Arch. Foreign F31 Swans Hellenic Cruises handbook 1976
F32 ditto 1964
F33 ditto 1974 (presented by Daphne Lorimer)
Arch. Gen. 23 Archaeology, Science & Romance (1966} H E L Mel1ersh
24 A History of the Vikings Gwyn Jones
25 Excavation Records. Occ. Paper No. 1. Directorate of Ancient
Monuments and Historic Buildings
Arch. GB 201 The Green Roads of England R Hippisley Cox (not Roman)
Brit. Hist. 70 The Icknield Way (1916) Edward Thomas (presented by Rhona Wells)
74 Medieval England: 1066-1600 AD Colin Platt (anonymous donation)
Loc. Hist. 191 Pamphlet on the operating Theatre of
Old St. Thomas's Hospital, Southwark (presented by Rhona Wells)
192 London- the Northern Reaches (1951) Robt. Colville (presented by Paddy Musgrove)
193 Time on Our Side? Survey of the
archaeological needs of Greater-London (GLC, DoE, Museum cf'London , 1977)
194 Middlesex, revised 1952, pub. Middx. CC, (presented by Harry Lawrence)
Rom. Brit. 182 Britain- Rome's Most Northerly Province (1969) G M Durant
183 Britannia (revised ed. 1978) Shepherd Frere (anonymous donation)
Misc. 155 Industrial Archaeology Guide ed. W Cossons & 1969-70 K Hudson
156 Historic Architecture of Northumberland and
Newcastle upon Tyne (1977) (anonymous donation)
Unnumbered Longthorpe Tower (Lincs) 6th imp. 1976 DoE (presented by Christine Arnott)
World Archaeology, vol. 9 ~To 3 Feb. 1978 (anonymous donation)

Our Librarian, George Ingram, wishes warmly to thank those who have donated books; members who wish to borrow books should ring him.


Comments