Newsletter-178-December-1985

News Letter No. 178 December 1985

 

 

COMING EVENTS.

 

 Tuesday December 3rd, 7:30pm. Christmas Party at The Meritage Club Church End Hendon.

Come and enjoy our informal buffet, with good food, wine and a variety of homespun activities which we hope will amuse you. There will be plenty of time to talk and revive old memories. Bring those HADAS snaps along: - we see plenty of cameras in use on our expeditions, but never see the results!

If you ring DOROTHY NEWBURY, quickly, on 203 0950, there is still time to book.

Numbers are flexible since there is no seating problem but we must know how much food to provide. ACT NOW.

 

Tuesday January 7th. The Archaeology of Hedges and Woodlands by Dr. Oliver Rackham.

Tuesday February 4th. Neolithic Arran by Dr. Eric Grant.

 

SEARCH YOUR  CONSCIENCE

 

Some time ago, Daphne Lorimer lent, and lost track of, some precious slides of an Iron Age village at Skaill Earth, Deerness, Orkney.They show, among other things, a series of Round Houses was it to you she lent them? She would very much like to have them back. RING 458 5674.

 

STAR CARR REVISITED.                                      Report by Michaele O'Flynn. B.Sc.

TONY LEGGE was unfortunately unable to give the November HADAS lecture, but we were exceedingly lucky that Dr. Peter Rowley-Conwy was able to take Tony's place at very short notice. Dr. Rowley-Conwy is working with Tony on the re-analysis of Star Carr. This is the most famous Mesolithic site in Northern Europe and maybe even the World, and is of great interest to us as it is of very similar date to our West Heath Site: Star Carr is radio­carbon dated to c7500 BC and West Heath T L dating - to c.7675 BC. It is only due to the excellent work in 1949/1951 of Graham Clarke that this re-evaluation can take place, as they are looking at the original data and building on the work.

 

Star Carr is in the Vale of Pickering and it has been suggested that it was a lake shore camp where refuse was discarded into the prehistoric lake. Due to the wet alkaline conditions there is excellent organic preservation and the following varied assortment of items have been found: a tree with axe marks, a 'platform' (which some have argued could be just a chance natural accumulation of wood rather than for habitation), a paddle (implying the use of canoes perhaps), plenty of early Mesolithic flint, antler points, animal bones, and the famous antler skull caps.

 

Answers to two questions are presently being sought. Firstly, at what time of year was the camp occupied? And secondly, for what purpose? The recent re-analysis has concentrated on the animal bones of which there are decreasing numbers of red deer, elk, aurochs (wild ox), roe deer, and wild pig. The bones have been compared with modern bones of the same species of known animal age, in order to determine the age of the prehistoric. bones at the time of the kill. The jaws have also been compared with modern jaws, for tooth wear analysis, and can be aged from this. Knowing at what time of year the young are born one can then use the ages of the animals to assess the approximate month of the kill. The roe deer mandibles gave a striking pattern.of a one year old summer kill, two year old summer kill and third summer kill with no winter roe deer. The red deer and elk data also shows a mid-summer kill for the young, but adult red deer cannot be differentiated.

 

This interpretation as a summer occupation is in contrast to Clarkes' own theory of a winter camp based on the concept of deer migration. Red deer are now not thought to migrate in woodland areas, and the implication is that they were present at the lake shore all year round and were killed in summer due, to the presence of man at that time. Frazer & Kings' other classic argument of a winter/spring site based on the antler analysis has also been disputed, as antler being a very important raw material could be carried from site to site at different times of year. Indeed two-thirds of all antlers (shed & unshed) found at the site are worked.

 

In trying to answer the second question the bone assemblages were compared with those of modern Eskimo and Caribou hunters, from kill sites, hunting camps and villages. The best match was with a hunting camp, and the argument put forward is that the heads were left in the place where the animals were killed, hence the low proportion of skull bones; but the jaws were brought back to the camp for the meat and then left. The front legs were eaten at the camp by the hunters and the bones left, and then the best meat from the back legs was taken to the village. This would be a compact load to carry containing good meat, and fits with the low proportions of rear leg bones in the assemblage at Star Carr.

 

Dr. Rowley-Conwy then talked a little of the Danish Mesolithic sites, where the prehistoric shoreline '.as been preserved due t. the land having risen. Unlike in England where our Mesolithic coastal sites have been drowned in the North Sea, the bones are lucky enough to have inland sites and coastal si-ces, and they show the range of possible functions for a Mesolithic site. Some have been shown to be large all year round base- camps with_no', particular specialisation, others were specialist hunting camps only occupied at certain

seasons where afew people went for a short time for local reasons; for example       Ring loster was a pine marten camp of winter/spring occupation. Other sites show large amounts of whale, seal, small cod, oyster and even swan bones.

In summary it has yet to be resolved definitely whether Star Carr was a permanently, settled base camp, seasonal base camp or seasonal hunting camp: but Dr. Rowley-Conwy showed us how through their research they have come to the conclusion that star Carr was a hunting camp occupied in the Summer.

 

ENFIELD AND WORLD WAR II.

Our colleagues in Enfield Archaeological Society have just published the second instalment of 'Enfield at War'. The first part dealt with 1914-18, and was published 1982. Now comes 1939-45: both booklets are by EAS Chairman, Geoffrey Gillam.

The booklet is abundantly illustrated with evocative photos: photographs are what will make the history of 1850 onwards so much more vivid and comprehensible to future historians than any earlier century can ever be. The pictures in Enfield at War show, too, how soon one forgets - for instance, what food shortages were really like. A picture of a food queue a good hundred yards long in an Enfield suburban street brings it all back; and what 'an insight you gain into the reality of the Blitz from a photo of a communal grave for 1940 air raid victims at Lavender Hill cemetery. Photographs of flattened buildings may look much the same in Beirut, 1985, or High Road, Ponders End, 1940 - it's the Censor's instruction on the Ponders End picture to "block out" the identifying features he has marked that brings it all home.

 

Mr. Gillam starts with the early signs of possible conflict in 1935 and takes the story right through, in nearly 60 pages, to the clearing up in 1945 and the healing of the physical scars of war since then. He ends with this note:

"Attempts are being made by the Enfield Archaeological Society to protect at least one communal shelter in the Borough. The events which caused these sites to be built have now faded into the respectability of history, and the surviving monuments of the Second World War have an equal claim for preservation as do Roman forts, medieval castles and other archaeological sites."

Enfield at war, 1939-45, costs £4 (including postage) 'from Geoffrey Gillam, 23,Merton Road, Enfield, Middlesex.

 

WEST HEATH ROUND - UP 1 9 8 5.                                               by Margaret Maher.D

espite appalling weather it was a successful season, with the site open 6 days per week for 3 months - June, July and September.

 

27 sq.metres were excavated in an area to the NE of and butting on to the 76-81 excavation. All trenches were dug to a depth of 40 cms in 2 cms levels. All finds were recorded with three co-ordinates, with the exception of chips of less than 1 cm, which were recorded by the quadrant and level only. As in 1984, volunteers learnt to use the Quick Set level easily and rapidly. All spoil from the top 30 cms was sieved through 8 mm and 4mm racked sieves and the residue wet-sieved in 2 mm sieves.

A total of 12500 flint finds have been recorded and entered and a small number (c.200) remain to be marked. Myvanwy Stuart has started work on the burnt stone and numbers are expected to reach between  8-10,000. The most notable finds were a tranchet axe, two fabricators and several lumps of ochre.

 

39 people took part in the digging and another 10 participated in other ways such as surveying, finds processing and photography. Volunteers included this year 3 from the Institute of Archaeology, 4 from U.C., and 5 Extra-Mural diggers. West Heath is thus an approved site for U.C.C, and the Institute and for the Extra-Mural Diploma and Certificate.

 

Sales of information leaflets and offprints from the site were less than in 1984. £40 in 1985, £70+ in 1984. This was due to several factors --the-most important being the summer weather which I am assured is not the wettest since records began. There were far fewer walkers on the Heath as a result. The information table was at a greater distance from the trenches this year, and this resulted in the theft of some leaflets, and in numbers of people reading and then replacing the leaflets without buying. More volunteers prepared toman the table at weekends would partially solve the problem.

Up to the time of writing, no permission for excavation in 1986 has been received. However, Mr. Challen has expressed his willingness to maintain the enclosure fence and to keep an eye on the site until we re-start work next year. As he says: "HADAS is part of the place now, after all these years".

 

LAST WORD ON ONIONS?

Dear Brigid,

I may as well add my 'two penn'orth' to the scallion discussion.

There never was any doubt in my mind about the strong onion connection, my mother - ­a Hertfordshire lass - always called small spring onions scallions; and also the leggy shoots which come up from onions stored in the larder when she noticed an onion starting to shoot she would let it grow and in due course we would get it in a salad.

I note that the Concise Oxford Dictionary lists them as 'Shallot: long-necked onion without normal bulb.' yours, TED SAMMES.


 

SITE-WATCHING.

The following applications, which might be of some Archaeological interest, have appeared on recent planning lists:

1266-82, High Rd, N20 & land at rear in Athenaeum Road 3-storey block

Land adj. 131, Marsh Lane, NW7.     Detached house with basement (amended.)

Ambulance Station Site 165 High Street Barnet

Elstree Moat House, Barnet By-Pass, Boreham Wood

Old Central Public Health Laboratory. 175 Colindale Avenue NW9

 

1 Pipers Green Lane, Edgware.          2 detached houses

The Hawthorns, Barnet Rd. Arkley.   3 detached houses

Land adj. Oakwood, Oaklands Lane, Arkley detached house (outline).

Members who observe signs of activity on any of these sites are asked to inform n Enderby (203 2630).

COMMITTEE CORNER.

The Committee met on November 1st. The following matters arose during discussion:

£25 will be sent as a donation to the Hampstead Garden Subury Institute Rebuilding Appeal.

Phyllis Fletcher reported a rise of 22 in paid-up Membership: 370, as compared with 348 at the same time last year.

A liaison group has been set up to discuss the monitoring of the proposed Water Board pipeline across the North of the-Borough (see Newsletter 171, May, 1985, p5). The group consists of representatives of HADAS, of the Stanmore & Harrow Historical Society, of the Borough of Barnet and of the Greater London Archaeological Service.

Documentary work on maps of the Stapylton Road area of Chipping Barnet, where HADAS hopes to dig, has been completed.

The lecture course on 'Aspects of Archaeology' which has been provided by HADAS lecturers during the autumn term at the Hornsey Historical Society's headquarters will continue for a second term after Christmas.

 

HISTORIC FARM BUILDINGS GROUP.

The recently formed Historic Farm Buildings Group held its first conference in October its inaugural AGM during that conference.

The Group's first Chairman is a HADAS Member of longstanding - Nigel Harvey,

recently retired from the Ministry of Agriculture, who lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb. He

sums up the inaugural weekend, held at West Dean Collge, Sussex, as showing 'a good spread interest from many disciplines;' and adds that 'wherever people look, there is much more to be found in the way of old farm buildings than one at first expects.'

 

As Author of The Industrial Archaeology of Farming in England and Wales .(published by Batsford in 1980) Nigel Harvey seems an excellent choice as Chairman, and we send him HADAS's warm congratulations. We also look forward to hearing from him from time to time about the activities of the Historic Farm. Buildings Group. Meantime, he has sent the Newsletter a copy of the new Group's first press release which sets out the objects of the Group as 'the advancement of the study of the history of farm buildings in the British Isles, including their related equipment and the agrarian and economic systems of which, they formed part, and the promotion, where appropriate, of their conservation!

 

The press notice also points out that old farm buildings are 'the structural documents of agrarian history with much to tell us about the pattern of rural settlement, reclamation and enclosure, about farming systems, building techniques and the lives and work of our rural ancestors. The fact that these buildings are rapidly disappearing as modern farming abandons their use, adds urgency to the task of recording and examining those which survive.

Membership is open to all interested in the past, present and future of old farm buildings. The Annual Subscription is £5, payable on January 1st.

 

COMING EVENTS.

Barnet & District Local History Society will hold their AGM in the Council Chamber, Wood Street, Barnet, on November 27th at 8:p.m. After the business meeting there will be talk on-Hadley Wood, by Andrew Pares, whom many Newsletter readers know - he has been a HADAS member for more than 10 years.

The BDLHS 54th Annual Report mentions with proper and justified pride that Barnet Museum has comfortably exceeded the figure of 5,000 visitor during the past year.

 

SPRING TERM COURSES AT THE CITY UNIVERSITY (TELEPHOLE 253 2399 Ext.3268J9)

The Ancient World II. Mediterranean Civilization from Early Greece to the fall of the Raman empire. Tutor Geoffrey T. Garvey. Wednesday 6:30 - 8:30

Archaeology in Roman London. Recording and dating techniques. Roman town, planning, building methods. Londinium as a unit in Brittania. The legacy of Rome as it affects the modern City. Tutors. Ken Steedman, Simon O'Connor Thompson. Thursday 6:30 -'8:30.

 

UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD. Dept. of External. Studies.  Rewley House, 1, Wellington Square, Oxford.OX1 2JA.

In January 1987, an impressive lecture series on the Seaborne Trade in Metals and Ingots

Lecturers include Barry Cunliffe and Paul Craddock.

 

The Late Roman: Town.-Weekend course, 17th - 19th January, 1986.

 

Study Tour of Normandy 21st- 28th .June,, 1986.

 

DETAILS OF ALL THESE COURSES FROM THE ABOVE ADDRESS.

 

Members who are increasingly aware of the overlap of Archaeological and wildlife interests in undisturbed areas will be interested in a volume recently published by OUDES.,

Archaeology and Nature Conservation is available from Rewley House, price £7, including £1 postage.

MARY LEAKEY'S FOOTSTEPS

There were some 15 familiar HADAS faces at the Prehistoric Society's well-attended 50th anniversary lecture on Nov 15.

The speaker was Mary Leakey over from Kenya for the occasion. She spoke particularly about work at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli, but began by saying that not only was this a celebration for the Prehistoric Society but also for her, too, because 50 years ago this year she took part in her first dig, on a Clactonian site with Kenneth Oakley: she must have started archaeology at a pretty youthful age.

The most famous thing from Laetoli of course, are the footprints.

Potassium argon tests have given the Laetoli tuffs dates between 3.59 and 3.77 million-years. About three and a half million years ago an active volcano Sadiman near Laetoli (it is still there, but extinct today) puffed out a very fine ash. .This covered everything nearby to a depth of about half an inch. Then came rain moistening the ash so that it began to take footprints of every, animal and even every bird that walked across it.

Among the animals were elephants, rhinos, giraffes, antelopes, pigs and hares; birds included ostrich and guinea fowl. Most important of all were three hominids who already, at that remote date, were walking with a fully upright, bi-pedal gait: two were side by side, one with a much larger print than the other; while a third came in at an oblique angle to cross the trail of the first two. Reckoning the length of a human footprint at 15% of normal stature, the largest hominid stood about 4½ ft tall.

The hot sun dried the footprints quickly, almost as if they had been in cement and within days Sadiman erupted again and deposited another half-inch layer, sealing them. In fact, the process of deposition, rain and hardening went on for some little time, so that when the first of the foot-prints was found some 8 years ago there was a layer about 8 ins thick, made up of a series of these very thin depositions. Something that required the most delicate excavation, particularly since Laetoli is well covered in vegetation and there were problems of root damage well. Ultimately hominid footprints were uncovered over a distance of 77 feet.

 

This is not the first time that Mary Leakey has told the Prehistoric Society the footprint story. That was at an ordinary Prehistoric Society lecture some years ago, and one HADAS member who had been present on that first occasion reminisced about it. It was, she said, an electrifying lecture - particularly since Mrs Leakey had laid out casts of the prints across the

floor of the hall, exactly as found.

 

Mary Leakey had come to England not only for the Prehistoric Society meeting but also for the opening by the Queen on Nov 20 of an exhibition called The Human Story, on human evolution over millions of years. It is at the Commonwealth-Institute in Kensington High Street until Feb 23 and should be well worth a visit. Open Mons-Sats 10-5.30 pm, Suns 2-5 pm; admission £1, OAPs/under 16s 50p.

OUT AND ABOUT IN ST ALBANS

Members may be interested in this letter from the St Albans & Herts Architectural and Archaeological Society about a book they are publishingon Dec 9: :

"At a tribute to the memory of Geoff Dunk, for years our Publicity

Officer; we are publishing a collection of some 40 of his articles on local history, entitled 'Around St Albans with Geoff Dunk.' The book will be A4,60 pp of illustrated text, price 4.50 from Dr Norman Kent, 20 Jennings Rd,St Albans, packing and postage free."

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