Newsletter-198-August-1987

NEWSLETTER 198    AUGUST 1987                         by  Reva Brown     

 

PROGRAMME

 

SATURDAY, 15 AUGUST: Outing to Royston, Therfield Barrows and Stansted Mount Fitchet with Peter

Griffiths. Itinerary and application form enclosed. If, you would like to join this outing, please return form to Dorothy Newbury, with cheque, as soon as possible. We have not been able to fill the usual 53-seater coaches this year and if we know early enough, we can order a smaller coach.

 

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY, 11, 12, 13. SEPTEMBER:

Abergavenny weekend with John Enderby. Still 2 places left, if any latecomers want to go. For members who have booked, a request for the balance of the payment is enclosed.

 

WEDNESDAY, 7 OCTOBER: Our lecture season opens with Medieval Parish churches in Middlesex.

 

APOLOGIES FOR THE LATE ARRIVAL OF THE JULY NEWSLETTER

Dorothy posted these at lunchtime on Tuesday, 30th  June, but many members had not received them by 8 or 9 July. She learned that they were not franked until 2 July and she is taking it up with the Post Office.

 

VISIT TO WINCHESTER, DANEBURY AND ANDOVER                    E John Hoosen.

 

The principal objective of the HADAS trip of 11 July was Danebury hillfort, excavated by Professor Barry Cunliffe over sixteen seasons from 1969.

Before reaching Danebury, however, we made a stop in Winchester where we were conducted around the current excavations at the Brooks, close by the Cathedral Green. Miranda, an enthusiastic member of the excavation team, explained the current situation of the dig which was showing a range of phases from the Roman to the late Medieval, all contained in a depth of about one metre.

The Medieval, for which much documentary evidence from the 12th century onwards exists, included a large house and workshops of one John Newman, a fuller. The remains of a slate-based shrinking tank could be seen and samples from an area of possible fuller's earth have been sent recently for analysis:

The size of this building was dwarfed by the one next to it where excavation was only just beginning. It had belonged to Jon D'Tyting, a wool merchant who had been the wealthiest man in Winchester.

Over the site, Roman, Saxon and Medieval pits and brick and stone-lined wells as well as many other features were being excavated. The last occupation of the site appears to have been given over to Victorian pleasures as evidenced by 18 pubs in the 19th century. Excavation is scheduled to continue until July 1988 and can be viewed seven days a week.

Our next stop was Danebury Hillfort where our guide was Max Dacre of the Andover Archaeological Society who had an intimate knowledge of the site, having dug there for many seasons. His lucid explanation commenced with the geology of the area and how it was favourable for the production of wheat and barley which could have been the reason for the construction of the hillfort. Next, he covered in detail the development of the defences of the hillfort from its initial univallate stage at around 600 BC, through various phases until it reached its peak in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, by which time outer ramparts had been constructed, the south-west gate blocked and the east entrance strengthened with horn works and heavy gates requiring massive oak posts with a diameter of about one metre. Many hoards of sling stones, which can be lethally accurate at a range of 50 metres or more, had been found.

Excavation of the interior had revealed evidence of round houses, constructed in the rampart quarry ditch, rectangular huts, metalled roads, corn storage pits and granaries. It has been postulated that Danebury could have been a defended market-town. Part of the interior was left unexcavated in order that it would be available for future archaeologists and the excavated areas have been back-filled and can be identified by the regeneration of nettles;

Our picnic lunch was taken at the highest interior point where evidence of buildings but no artefacts were found during the excavation— Prof Cunliffe has suggested that this could be a temple site comparable with that excavated at Heathrow, of a non-material religion.

The end of Danebury Hillfort has not yet been established but it probably coincided with the coming of the Romans. It is known that it was used for rural fairs until the 17th. Century (a continuation of the prehistoric market town use?) and as rabbit warrens.

On leaving Danebury, Max Dacre insisted that we should next visit Bury Hill Hillfort as it was comparable with Danebury in many ways. A very short climb brought us to the interior, now under crops and never excavated. The similarity with Danebury at first eluded us but a short walk along the ramparts revealed a steep rampart and ditch similar to those at Danebury and probably constructed at the same time,.

Our final visit was to the Museum of the Iron Age in Andover. This was only opened in September last year and benefits from the Modern concepts of display with exhibits extremely well set out under good lighting conditions and with concise descriptions. It is principally concerned with Danebury and contains many of the finds and an impressive full-sized reconstruction of a section of the ramparts. It was not difficult to spend the two hours allocated to the visit viewing this impressive presentation.

The visits had been masterminded by Dorothy Newbury aided and abetted by her daughter Marion, with the excellence now associated with them. Consequently, it was disappointing that only 32 members participated, leaving 20 seats on the coach unfilled. This could, however, in part be attributable to certain very late postal deliveries of the final itinerary for the day.

 

NEWS FROM THE BOROUGH ARCHIVISTS

The outstanding donation during the last quarter was several boxloads of abstracts of title from a Golders Green solicitor. These proved to cover most of the areas of 1930s development within the Borough and have already proved useful to Jeremy Frankel in his researches on Edgware.

 

There are two interesting and beautiful new local sheets in the Alan Godfrey reprints of the 25" 0S maps. They are for Hampstead, in both the 1866 and 1894 editions, and as they include West Heath, should be of particular interest to HADAS members. Copies are available through the libraries of both Barnet and Camden.

 

Dr Peter Bigmore of the Middlesex Poly School of Geography and Dr Taylor are co-operating on a long-term research project into the continuity of field systems and larger administrative units in Dark Age Middlesex. They would be delighted to hear from any member who has relevant knowledge or interest.

 

THE PADDOCK; THE BURROUGHS,NW4

Everyone who knows; Hendon Town Hall and The Burroughs will also know the pleasant patch of green at the corner of the Burroughs and Church End. When Miss Henge sold Church End Farm, she expressed a wish that the Paddock, which was part of it, should be left open and undeveloped for 900 years. At present, it is surrounded by the remains of iron railings, repaired with open chestnut palings. Not surprisingly, the Polytechnic, the occupiers of this area, wish to put up a replacement boundary fence. Their first application for permission was for a Close-boarded softwood paling fence, 1.5 metres high. HADAS were not the only ones to object to this, which would have cut the Paddock from view for the passerby and it was withdrawn. Then the Poly applied for a 'palisade' softwood fence, of the same height. It was not clear how big the gaps would be between the palings of the palisade and we reiterated our objections. (We also said we thought the area should be open space with access to the public.)

The Council Planning Sub-Committee have now refused permission for a palisade fence, adding an indication that application for an open metal fence would be more favourably received. At the same meeting (15 July), the Planning Sub-Committee had before them an application for the proposed development of land behind the Burroughs (i.e. in the angle formed by The Burroughs and Watford Way) which includes a quantity of new housing, with a new access road, feeding into The Burroughs. Consideration of this was deferred to a future meeting, to give the Committee an opportunity to view and consider the area.

.           .

AN ICE HOUSE IN HENDON?      Ted Sammes

Many members will have been alerted to the plans put forward, in November 1986, by Barnet Council to develop houses in front of the land 'locked up' in the triangle of The Burroughs, Greyhound Hill and Watford Way. Your Committee has been taking a long look at these proposals and their archaeological implications. Part of the grounds of St Joseph’s will be taken if the development goes ahead.

In Newsletter 88 for June 1978, a full discussion of a mound within the grounds is given, with the suggestion that it probably hides an ice house. Examination of the area on Sunday, 12 July, by a party consisting of Alison Balfour-Lynn, Victor Jones, Paddy Musgrove, Ted Sammes and Brian Wrigley did nothing to dispel this idea. The mound is longer than it is wide and is therefore possibly a long, horizontal ice house rather than one of the vertical ice houses which were common in the 17th to 18th centuries. It was decided to try to survey and perhaps excavate the mound if permission can be obtained.

 

SATURDAY 26: September

MINIMART at St Mary's Church House,Hendon

Please ring Dorothy Newbury (203-0950) or Christine Arnot (455-2751)

if you have any goods available - good clothing, toiletries, unwanted gifts,

bric-a-brac,toys etc.

 

THE PREHISTORIC SOCIETY SUMMER CONFERENCE        by Enid Hill

 

Bala, a small town close to Lake Bala in North Wales, proved an attractive centre for the Prehistoric Society's Study Tour of North Wales. The week there was spent visiting a great variety of sites - Iron Age; hillforts; Bronze Age ring cairns, a Neolithic axe factory, a Palaeolithic cave site, prehistoric tombs of various kinds megalithic, passage and chambered – plus a so-called Druids stone circle. Every minute of the day was happily occupied and we were lucky with the weather - dull at first but hot and sunny later.

So we all struggled.to the top of the various Hillforts,  anything from 1000 to 1500 feet and to add to the ordeal, we sometimes did two a day with the agony of descending, only to go up again later. The views from the top were magnificent, looking over the hills of North Wales often to the sea. I enjoyed two sites especially - Tre'r Ceiri, South Canarvon is probably the best preserved of all the hillforts of southern Britain Inhabited over several centuries, starting with about 20 round houses with surrounding stone wall, still retaining the original parapet and rampart walk in some places. Later, 150 roughly rectangular houses replaced the large round houses and alterations were made to the walls. The other fort was Bryn y Castell near Ffestiniog where Peter Crew, whom many HADAS members will remember from the HADAS weekend in North Wales, showed us his complete excavation-(1979-1965) of a very small stone-walled fort; providing evidence of an industrial settlement specialising in the production of iron from local bog iron ore. A wide range of metallurgical debris was found, representing cycles of iron-working, including smelting, bloom smithing and artefact smithing.

Much to our relief, we had a lowland day in Anglesey and spent the time visiting several tombs. Two megalithic tombs were beautifully situated on the estate of Plas Newydd overlooking the Menai Strait. Another, Bryn Celli, was a polygonal chambered tomb with a long, straight passage leading to it from the edge of the cairn. In the centre was a ritual pit and a decorated stone. Finally; we saw Barclodied y Gawres perched on a headland on the west coast - a passage grave with a cruciform chamber and an important series of decorated stones. Some ritual performance had once taken place as a fire had been lit and then a quantity of stew had been poured over it and the fire quenched by covering it with pebbles and limpet shells. The stew mixture seems unpleasant - ell, whiting, frog, grass snake, mouse, shrew and hare but presumably it was used for ritual only as the central area was not used for burial - only the side chamber.

One other day was memorable as we climbed up the east, end of Penmaenmawr mountain outside Conway to a moorland area where are found the outcrops which provided Group VII axes, and walking across the moor, we found cairns of various kinds, and the so-called Druids circle. This was impressive- thirty granite monoliths are set within a bank except at the south-west where there is a gap. In the centre was found the capstone of a cist which contained a food vessel with the cremation of a 10-12 year old child.

The week was a good one; it was well organised and we had excellent lecturers and specialist speakers.

 

COURSES AND CONFERENCES

THE. BRITISH. ASSOCIATION FOR LOCAL HISTORY is holding a Day Conference on Saturday 19 September. Applications (including a 110mm x 220mm stamped; self-envelope) should be sent to: The Programme Secretary, The British Association, for Local History, Shopwyke Hall, Chichester, West Sussex P020 6BQ - Costs: Members of BALH without lunch £8.00 with lunch £10.00

Non-members  £10.50 £12.50

ASPECTS OF ANGLO SAXON ENGLAND: A day course at the Tower of London on September 26th .Cost: £7.50 (to include admission to the Tower, SAE to the Early Studies Group, 8 Westfield Road.

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON:

Certificate in Field Archeology. A new syllabus and course structure has been approved: The Certificate will be awarded after years 1 & 3 have been successfully completed, with a further (fourth) year of study required to obtain the new DIPLOMA IN FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY. For further details, contact: A J Legge, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, Department of Extra-Mural Studies, University of London, 26 Russell Square, London WC1 5DQ

 

BROCKLEY HILL

All set for August Bank Holiday and September.

As reported in the last newsletter, we plan to start opening trial trenches at Brockley Hill, along the line of the proposed Water Pipe Line, on August Bank Holiday weekend, 29-31 August, and to continue through September on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9.30am to 6.00pm.

We shall also be carrying out resistivity surveys along the route of the Pipe line. We shall be digging in the field on the east side of Brockley Hill (Watling Street) just north of the small turning called Pipers Green Lane where cars can be parked.

If you are interested, please contact Gillian Braithwaite (445-9275) or Brian Wrigley (959-5982). Digging experience is useful but not essential; gardening skills do very well. A sketch map of the area and full details of how to reach the site will be available from Gillian or Brian. Lifts can be arranged. Please note this is the last newsletter notice before digging starts.

 

MEMBERS NEWS

We are glad to hear, via Nell who has been to see BRIDID GRAFTON GREEN in hospital, that Brigid is on the way to recovery and we wish her an easy and speedy convalescence.

 

VINCENT FOSTER, who was a valued committee member for some years, left for Canada over two years ago but has remained a member during that time. We thought it was a spirit of adventure that sent him out there. We now learn that it was True Love. He up and went and was married to a Canadian girl in September 1984. Belated congratulations, Vincent Many members will remember him at our first phase West Heath dig, and again, dressed as a First World War soldier, serving drinks at our 21st birthday party.

 

WESTTHORPE - A RUSSIAN CONNECTION     Ted Sammes

Following the appeal in the May newsletter and Mary Gravatt's note on the Elworthys, Alec Jeakins has made a contribution by forwarding the information to the University of Leeds. Richard Davies runs the Leeds Russian Archive which seems to be looking into past Russia in considerable depth.


I now have two progress reports on their collection. He informs me that there is still a descendant of the Council's secretary, Helen M Elworthy, active today as Chairman of the British Creditors in Russia. The Leeds Russian Archive would also like any information that my friend, F H Harris, can give them.

 

VIKING MASS GRAVE A WINDFALL FOR ARCHAELOGY (The Guardian) Muriel Lam

The only known mass burial of its kind in the Viking world has presented archaeologist with evidence of human sacrifice, women camp followers and the last resting place of a great warrior prince. The Repton (Derbyshire) dig into the winter quarters of Great Army of the Danes, which pillaged England in the 9th century has been in progress since 1974 and is now producing spectacular discoveries.

The burial mound contained the remains of more than 250 bodies originally stacked around a single central body surrounded with jewellery and weapons. It was as if their bones had been laid out in tribute to a great man in the centre, who has not so far been identified. In what looked like a further tribute to the unknown leader, four young people seemed to have been sacrificed in a simultaneous burial. Bones from the mass burial show no signs of the terrible wounds of men killed in battle. English weather and diseases seem to have done for the Vikings. About 20% of the bodies were females and there were few children or old people. Dr Martin Biddle of Oxford University, one of three leaders of the dig, said that measurements suggested that the men had skulls similar to those of Danes today and the women had skulls of a present day English type. This suggested to him that the women were Saxon camp followers.

THE GREEKS IN SOUTHERN ITALY at the BRITISH MUSEUM        Isobel McPherson

Liz Sagues' articles in the 'Ham and High' are great disturbers of the imagination and spurs to action. Her article (10 July) describes the new permanent exhibition. The scope is ambitious its aim is "to outline the story of Greek life and influence in Southern Italy, from the first large-scale visits around 1500 to 1100BC, through the rise of the colonies from about 700 BC, to Rome's gradual assumption of control in the 3rd century BC."

Yet this is achieved largely by, the display, with maps and commentaries, of treasures long owned by the British Museum, over half of them from dusty storerooms. Liz stresses the importance of vase paintings for our under­standing of the times - "scenes of feasting, dancing, fighting, wooing spinning, washing, riding" - and especially the work of the Rehearshal Painter whose vases are a visual Dictionary of Greek Theatre.

"Next in line for such treatment," Liz says, "are the ancient Cypriots and the Etruscans." We can hardly wait:

 

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