newsletter-114-august-1980

Newsletter

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FUTURE OUTINGS

August 16 - Brixworth & Raunds. Northamptonshire

Isobel McPherson writes: At Raunds excavation is still in progress on an interesting group of late Saxon buildings and an extensive cemetery. From there we drive to Earls Barton and then on to Brixworth where the impressive and complicated Saxon church of All Saints is celebrating its l300th anniversary. After lunch and a look round the exhibition of local history and archaeology we visit Harrington, a fine Medieval manorial site.

September 13 - Southampton trip. Details later.

WEST HEATH

Report on two weeks' full time digging, plus future plans by Daphne Lorimer.

Despite the worst the weather could do, the first full time week's digging at West Heath was a successful and enjoyable venture. HADAS members turned up in very respectable numbers, new trenches were opened and a rich assortment of flint flakes, blades and cores were recovered. Two pits were sectioned:, one of which contained four tools and is the cause of some speculation. It also seems likely that the northern and southern boundaries of the site are being reached as there is a marked (at the moment) diminution in the number of finds in the northern and southern quadrants of the trenches now being dug in these areas.

The first three days were enlivened by a visit from 16 girls from Camden School under Mrs Collins. The first day, alas, it rained steadily and depressingly all day, so they were taken to the Museum of London (which was shut). HADAS members in true style dug until even they could cope with the mud no longer. The next two, days however were pleasant and the girls were initiated into the mysteries of trowelling, sieving, processing and even (in a secluded corner on a ground sheet) into the noble art of flint knapping. It is to be hoped that some, at least, will develop an abiding love for archaeology.

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Another week's digging is being arranged for the second week in September, (starting Monday 10th Sept).

Digging during August will continue as usual on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays (except for HADAS outing days). Contact Brigid Grafton Green to find out who is running the dig each day.

DIARY NOTE

We now have a subject for the lecture on Tuesday January 6th by Dr John Alexander. It will be: Recent Excavations at Qasr Ibrim, a fortress on the Nile. Please add this to your programme card.

HADAS EXAM RESULTS

Congratulations to Dave King, Margaret Maher, and Jill Braithwaite, on success in their first year on the Degree course at the Institute. Also to Liz Aldridge on completing her Diploma, and Eileen Haworth on passing her second year. Apologies to other HADAS members whose results we do not know.

SOME COURSES FOR THE COMING WINTER

Once again we have selected a few of the hundreds that might be of interest. Details of WEA courses will come later.

Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, Central Square, NW11

Enrolments in office hours in August and September.

As usual the Institute offers classes for years one and two of the London University Extra-mural Diploma in Archaeology:

The Archaeology of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Man: by Desmond Collins. Weds 7.30 to 9.30 pm from 24th Sept, 24 lectures & 4 visits. £10.

The Archaeology of Western Asia: by David Price Williams. Thurs 7.30 to 9.30 pm from 25th Sept, 24 lectures & 4 visits. £lO.

Among other courses of historical interest are:

London's Heritage - by Ron Phillips. 22 lectures on London's past: plus 4 visits. Fri 11 to l2.30 pm from 26th Sept. at Fellowship House, Willified Way NW11. £9.

People and Places - by Kathleen Slack. 10 lectures on the birth & growth of the Hampstead Garden Suburb. Thurs 11 to l2.30 pm from 2nd October. Fellowship House, Willifield Way, NW11. £6.75

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Barnet College, Wood Street. Barnet.

Enrolment on 16th Sept from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm & 17th Sept from 6.00 to 8.00 pm.

The college has just completed one three-year course of the London University II Extra-mural Certificate in Field Archaeology, which it undertook at HADAS's suggestion. It has decided to repeat the course, which will be held on Wednesdays from 7.30 to 9.30 pm, starting on 24th Sept. Each course consists of 24 lectures plus visits, and concentrates on the field archaeology of south east England.

The lecturer will be David Williams who took his degree at the Institute of Archaeology and then worked in the British Museum and in Turkey for three years. Fees will be £10.

The college is also running a three term course in local history, on Mondays starting 29th Sept, from 7.30 to 9.30 pm £9 a term, and a two term course at Finchley Manorhill School, Summers Lane, N 12 called Trace Your Family History, on Wednesdays from 7.30 to 9.30 pm, also £9 a term.

Hendon College of Further Education. Flower Lane, Mill Hill.

For the fourth year running HADAS is organizing lectures on archaeology at the college. From 1977 when the society first began arranging these courses, they have been designated as "beginners" lectures -something to start people off on archaeology, and to get them sufficiently involved to want to go on to more advanced studies.

The 1980/1 lectures in the autumn and spring terms will in fact form two separate courses, each complete in itself. This is at the suggestion of the college, who have had to put up their fees sharply this year - to £9 a term. They felt that some students might prefer to sign on for just one term of 10 lectures, although they hope most students will want to do both terms.

The autumn course is called Digging Up the Past and is described as "back to basics in archaeology" .It is chronological, and summarises the course of events from the early Palaeolithic through to the Roman occupation of Britain. It touches on such special topics as dating and the pros and cons of field work and excavation. The spring course - "Aspects of Archaeology" - deals with particular subjects, such as farming, megaliths, burial practices, Mediterranean island communities, Egypt.

Lectures are on Mondays, starting 22nd September and 12th January, 1981, from 7.30 to 9.30 pm. Five HADAS members are lecturing: Nicole Douek, Brigid Grafton Green, Daphne Lorimer, Ted Sammes, and Sheila Woodward. In addition Christine Arnott hopes to arrange a museum visit each term. We hope that other HADAS members, either new to archaeology or those of longer standing who want to brush up on elements will join the classes as students. Enrolment is at Hendon College, The Burroughs, NW4 on Tues 9th Sept (2 to 8.30 pm) or Wed 10th Sept (2 to 8.30 pm).

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RESEARCH COMMITTEE

Get out your notebooks and walking boots, brush up on surveying techniques, and get your eyes trained for spotting pottery in ploughed fields. The Research Committee is planning a programme of field walking and surveying of potential sites of various periods and at various locations in the borough. Details will be announced in later issues of the newsletter.

Meanwhile, the background work of the groups investigating particular periods or subjects - prehistoric, Roman, mediaeval, industrial, documentary - continues. Among projects under way are the study of Roman finds from field walks, documentary investigation of brickworks and field names, work on the West Heath finds in anticipation of the site report, and surveys of industrial remains. Research Committee chairman Sheila Woodward or secretary Liz Sagues will put would-be researchers - experience is not necessary -in touch with the group or groups which most interest them.

JULY OUTING

A Report on the visit to Bignor & Fishbourne by Audrey Hooson.

Although there is no archaeological or historical reason to connect these sites, the fact that they are both near Chichester and have good examples of mosaic floors in situ made them an excellent combination for a full day outing.

Our leader Raymond Lowe; had carefully planned the route from London to Chichester to follow as closely as possible the line of Stane Street. This enabled us to pass several Romano-British sites such as the settlement at Ewell and the villa at Ashstead.

Like all Roman villas Bignor went through several phases of development over quite a long period. The villa was first discovered in 1811 and partially excavated. It has been open to the public since 1815 and is privately owned. Further excavations took place in 1935 but it is the more recent work between 1956 and 1962 by Professor SS.Frere that provided the evidence of the building history of the villa and its gradual expansion from a Romanized form in the 2nd century to its final form as a Romano-British courtyard villa covering 4.2 acres during the 4th century.

The modern buildings covering the mosaics have stone walls and thatched roofs, and use the standing remains of the villa walls. Fortunately it was a bright day and all the rooms were well lit giving a good impression of the variety of colour and design in the mosaics. The well known Venus mosaic which has been re-laid on a level foundation looked magnificent and the recently uncovered and re-laid North Portico with its regular blue/grey, red and white design was impressive in its present visible length of 82 feet. It is estimated that it originally extended the full 231 feet of the northern corridor.

On arrival at Fishbourne our impression was its contrast with Bignor. Fishbourne, to quote the excavator Prof Barry Cunliffe, was possibly but not incontrovertibly the Palace of Cogidubnus.

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Much of the large area originally covered by the palace and its outbuildings is now lost beneath the A27 and neighbouring houses although trial trenches made in gardens have helped to delimit the site and give evidence of its many developments and changes in fortune. The north wing and the northern parts of the east wing, west wing and ornamental garden are in the preserved area and a walk across the garden courtyard gives a good impression of the size of the main palace.

Excavation has shown that the original garden was planted out by cutting bedding trenches and filling them with marled loam or black soil and this has enabled the shape of the beds to be reconstructed. The north wing was built soon after AD 70 and remained in use for 200 years during which it was altered, repaired and partially re-floored several times. The mosaics on view are therefore from several periods with some areas showing two layers. The Black and white geometric forms are of most interest since they are the earliest surviving mosaics in the country. Other early floors have in addition red, yellow, and grey tesserrae with simple guilloche and running scroll borders. During the second and third centuries new polychrome floors were laid with a far more complex use of figures, designs. Unfortunately the best known of these the Cupid on a Dolphin has been taken up prior to re-laying.

After tea in Chichester in the Vicar's Hall Restaurant, which is not only an interesting re-use of part of the claustral buildings but also the site of the first HADAS outing tea, we returned to London by a more direct route.

INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY GROUP

Report by Bill Firth.

A small group of industrial archaeologists, not all HADAS members, met on 25th June to discuss plans. We had a wide ranging discussion out of which we concluded that the immediate aim must be to collate what we already know. However this is an ideal - threatened sites will not wait for us, and it seems that there will be pressing needs to research the remaining historic buildings at Hendon aerodrome and the Public Health Laboratories at Colindale.

Even in a largely residential area an organized field walk is an excellent way of spotting possible sites for investigation and we hope to arrange some walks in the autumn.

APPEAL FOR PHOTOGRAPHS

Percy Reboul would be pleased to hear from any members who might be prepared to let him borrow for a short time any photographs or postcards which could be used to illustrate a forthcoming book about the borough of Barnet in the 20s and 30s. His primary interest is in people at work or events, rather than places: for example, a carnival, a cinema opening, shops" builders at work, trams - anything that might be regarded as typical of the period. The book will be a HADAS publication and the best possible care would be taken of anything borrowed. Please contact him before sending anything.

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CHURCH TERRACE REPORTS No. 7

By Ted Sammes.

PENNIES

This report is the last one dealing with coins from the dig.

"See saw, Marjorie Daw, Johnnie shall have a new master, He shall have but a penny a day, Because he can't work any faster."

We all know this rhyme and never stop to think about it. By the time the jingle was written (traditional or possibly 16th century) the penny was obviously not the valuable coin it had been in earlier days.

During the 7th century coinage was resumed in England with the issue of small silver coins called sceats, which took current Frankish coins as a model. In the 8th century Pepin the Short, father of Charlemagne, introduced a silver coin called a denier, named after the previous Roman denarius. Charlemagne improved the coinage striking 240 deniers from a pound of silver. It is an interesting thought that at this remote period the seeds of the £ s d system, which was discontinued in 1971, were sown. From this also comes the abbreviation of "d" for penny. Copies of the coin replaced the sceats in England during the period e.g. King Offa produced coins of standard weight and good quality. During the Saxon and Norman periods coins were minted in many towns, 107 sites are known in England.

The use of the cross, in embryonic form, in the design on the reverse side of the penny in the 8th century, gradually grew and was well established by the Norman conquest. Henry II introduced the short cross penny in 1180 AD. In 1247 Henry III introduced the long cross which continued in use until the reign of Henry VIII, when the royal coat of arms was superimposed on the cross. The use of the long which extended to the edge of the coin, made it more difficult for people to "pass off" coins which had been clipped.

During the l2th to l4th centuries pennies were popularly called "easterlings" or "sterlings", possibly due to those coming in from the Hanseatic towns on the Baltic. From this possibly comes the use of the name "sterling". The silver penny survived the Commonwealth period but shortage of small change resulted in the introduction of traders tokens in brass and bronze by 1648.

From the doorway areas of the demolished shops at Church End came Victorian and later coins, dropped through hole in the boards of the floors.

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Pride of place must be given to the hammered silver penny of Edward II, 1307-1327. This is a long cross coin, type 10, minted in London about 1309, and inscribed RX. CIVITAS LONDON.

A second coin is of Henry VIII. It has Lombardic lettering and was minted in Canterbury about 1549. Henry died in 1547, hence this is one from his posthumous coinage. Edward VI issued coins in his father's name until 1549. Henry VIII had also debased the coinage in 1526 to compete with the great number of inferior foreign pieces in circulation. (This has a somewhat familiar ring today). Debased silver coins tended to crack on striking and part of our coin is missing and there is an evident crack in the remainder.

Decimalization saw the end of the penny with Britannia seated. This again broke a pattern started with the coins of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and re-adopted by Charles II on both the halfpenny and farthing, and finally George III on the penny of 1797.

I am indebted to Keith Howse, Conservation Officer, and Stephen Castle, both at the British Museum, for the cleaning and identification of these coins. For further reading - the books mentioned in Church Terrace Report No. 6 plus:

Milne J G et al - Coin Collecting, OUP 1951

Piggott W - Twelve Centuries of the British Penny (article in Coins & Medals, July 1970}

A VENUS OBSERVED

By Percy Reboul.

I think readers may be interested in an unusual sequel to my last month's story about the tunnel miner. After the recording, we were discussing some of the unusual things found in tunnelling , when my subject referred to a Roman "dolly" he had found in the city of London many years ago. I asked to see it, and he produced a very nice figurine, obviously Roman, and in exceptionally fine condition.

On his behalf I took it to the Museum of London, and they declared immediately that it was "A museum piece": in fact, a pipe-clay Venus figurine, about six inches high, dated between the first and second century and made in SW France.

They showed me their display case in the museum which contained about half a dozen similar objects, none of which were comparable in condition to "our dolly". Even her base is in perfect condition and she was possibly used, or intended for use, in the lararium of some poorer home, which could not afford the bronze equivalent.

The museum has made an offer to purchase which has been accepted, and I for one will look forward to seeing Dolly Venus housed in a style befitting her dignity as a goddess. Where will HADAS activities lead next?


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