Newsletter-269-August-1993

Newsletter No. 269              Edited by Anne Lawson         August 1993

 

Saturday 14 August: PINNER AND HEADSTONE MANOR AND STANMORE OLD CHURCH  (Details and application form enclosed). Members in the Harrow area can pick up the coach at Stanmore Old Church and return for their cars at the end of the tour. 

Monday evening, 16 August: HIGHGATE CEMETERY VISIT. Westminster and central Middlesex Family History Society are organising a tour of the Eastern and Western sections of Highgate Cemetery, 7.20 - 9.00 pm. Nearest tube station: Archway. Price £5 per person. Apply to Margaret Skelton, Programme Secretary, on 081-866 5490. 

Sunday 29 August: HADAS OPEN DAY. National Archaeology Day. 

Friday to Sunday, 3-5 September: CHESTER AND LLANDUDNO WEEKEND 

Saturday 18 September: MUSEUM OF LONDON - Private viewing of Brockley Hill pottery plus talk and walk with Francis Grew. 

Tuesday 5 October: "ASPECTS OF ROMAN POTTERY" - Dr Robin Symonds. First in new series of HADAS lectures. 

Saturday 16 October: M I N I M A R T - at St Mary's Church House, Hendon. Members with items to donate please contact Dorothy Newbury (203 0950). 

Tuesday 2 November: "FUN AND GAMES IN THE ROMAN BATHS" - Mark Hassall,FSA Institute of Archaeology. 

Saturday 6 November: VISIT TO ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL with Mary O'Connell 

Tuesday 7 December: CHRISTMAS DINNER at University College, Gower Street. 

Tuesday 11 January, 1994. Afternoon midweek visit to the Newspaper Library, Colindale NW9. This was advertised in the "British Library Newsletter" (via Ann Kahn). Visits have to be arranged in advance, so please phone Dorothy Newbury (2030950) if you might be interested. 

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

We are pleased to welcome the following new members: Ms A Baker-Rogers: Mrs F. Semlyn: Mrs J E Gray; Mr S Mitten; Ms B Qamar, and Mrs D Dicker. Evelyn Semlyn has become a regular on the Church Farm House museum dig, and we have made several other new friends on the dig, including juniors who are making an enthusiastic contribution.

Mary Valentine has resigned from the Society as she is moving to Surrey. We are sorry she is leaving, but are pleased to hear that she has found our events interesting and enjoyable.

Are the details on your Newsletter address label correct? If not, please advise myself or Dorothy Newbury so we can keep our records up-to-date.

Do you know someone who is interested in joining the Society? If you let me know, I will send an application form either direct or to yourself.

Vikki O'Connor - 081-361 1 350


HURRAH, AT LAST - an archaeological course at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute. Course 355, "An Insider's View of Egyptian Culture", to be given by Okasha Eldlaly BA, a HADAS member. Eleven meetings beginning 28/9/93. Fee £31 (concessions £10). 

From the June Newsletter

"I have only just seen the reference in the June Newsletter to the crane damage at St James Gerlickhythe. This was not however part of the so-called 'annus horribilis' - it actually happened on September 20, 1991, and the church is now fully restored and looking beautiful and open for visitors in the middle part of most weekdays. Services of worship have been taking place there since mid March - the church is the official church of no fewer than 11 City Livery Companies, as well as being the 'home' of the Prayer Book Society - and there is currently a regular Sunday service at 10.30 am. The official service of rededication was on 30 April in the presence of the Lord Mayor of London, HRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Bishop of London and all the City clergy.

"Any HADAS members who have the chance to visit the church will find a great deal of historical interest in this beautiful Wren building."

MARGOT THOMPSON,

Hon Sec of the Prayer Book Society

 

COMMENT FROM THE JUNE NEWSLETTER

"With regard to Miss Liz Holliday's description of Henry VII as the 'Welsh usurper', I quote from Trevelyan's 'History of England' regarding Richard ITT:

'But the glittering bait of the crown ensnared his soul; he murdered his two nephews and the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower following on the violence of the usurpation, lost him the loyalty of common people.'

"I hold no brief for Henry VII, he may have been Welsh, but he did nothing for Wales, and is no hero of ours. Both these men were usurpers but Richard's hands were bloodstained."

AUDREE PRICE-DAVIES 

OUTING TO BIGNOR AND CHICHESTER

The outing to Bignor and Chichester was marked by bonus extras. Not that the main fare needed any such, as the promise of a fascinating archaeo­logical trip was more than fulfilled. The coffee stop in Compton was the first bonus. The Church of St Nicholas - a solid building having a Saxon tower of stone and flints and here and there pieces of red tiles, taken probably from a local Roman villa.

Inside the nave, the early Norman pillars and arches stood on the line of the original Saxon walls. Being made of hardened chalk, they shone white. Above the chancel arch, a three-dimensional mural - a lozenge pattern dating from the twelfth century has been uncovered. On the north side of the chancel is a small square window, through which an anchorite or hermit in his cell could watch the altar day and night. The Normans added the present sanctuary and moved the altar so the anchorite could no longer see it. A new stone cell was built on the south side with a quatre­foil window and beneath was the ancient board blackened by constant use, on which he knelt when he prayed.

Through the chancel arch can be seen the double sanctuary, one altar on the floor above the other. The upper sanctuary, reached by a small stair­case from the anchorite's cell, is unique. Its purpose is unknown. In 1953 it was reopened for worship and dedicated to St Michael. Communion is celebrated there on Michaelmas Day.

On the south side of the chancel is scratched in the stonework the figure of a knight, who can be dated by the shape of his helmet to the twelfth century. In his hand is a St George's cross with a St Andrew's cross superimposed. Perhaps this was a knight of the village, who vowed himself to a crusade and carried out his vigil in this church and then scratched the figure of the knight and the cross. Three years later he returned and put the St Andrew's cross on the other, as a sign of having performed his vows.

There was an enduring aspect to this church, used for over a thousand years. The theme was continuity by absorbing the changes. The spirit was lifted and the mind refreshed.

Then we left for Bignor. The Sussex Downs were green, washed by so much rain, but no drop of rain marred our day. At Bignor, iron-age sherds hint at a pre-Roman settlement, but the discovery of part of a field system under the villa suggests that the actual pre-Roman farmstead was not on the same site. The high quality of the agricultural soil and the proximity to the Roman market town of Chichester meant that the occupiers had the opportunity to become wealthy farmers. It is noteworthy that the plan of the villa was altered to accommodate a family of increasing size, housed in several domestic units around the enclosed courtyard. In its final form Bignor Villa was one of the largest in Britain with an inner garden courtyard and an outer yard containing farm buildings to the east.

The mosaics are covered in thatched buildings and the outlines of the farm buildings on either side are marked. This makes it easier to under­stand the relation of the mosaics to the farm and to see the complex as a whole. The first timber-framed house with outbuildings was probably erected in AD 190-200. The first stone-built house was probably erected in the middle of the third century. A north wing was added later and then extended and the baths were added. Later still the mosaics and hypocaust were added to the north wing.

There are several large mosaics. In one room - a triniclium which was not heated - is a piscina surrounded by a mosaic of six dancing girls ­followers of Dionysos, with flowing veils. Above is another mosaic which depicts an eagle carrying off Ganymede from Mount Ida. The next room had underfloor heating and contained a pair of geometric mosaics with 12 three-dimensional cubes, each formed by a central square with adjoining pairs of diamonds. A large apsidal room to the north had underfloor heating and was probably used as a winter dining-room. This contains one of the finest mosaics in Britain. At the top is a finely-executed head of a goddess flanked by long-tailed birds and green leaves. Below the head is a long panel filled with winged cupids dressed as gladiators. The central panel has collapsed into the hypocaust. The hypocaust has a central chamber which contains columns of tiles to support the concrete floor and was fed with hot air from a channel on the east which led to a stokehole on the outside of the building. Eight channels radiate out from the central chamber until they meet box flue-tiles which run up through the walls behind painted wall plaster.

To the south there is a mosaic of winter and one of a dolphin and the signature TER - perhaps the designer of the mosaic. To the south of this there is a courtyard with a mosaic of the four seasons and the north corridor mosaic measuring 24 metres, thought to be the longest in Britain.

The baths served the whole of the villa complex and were altered and extended on several occasions. The first room served as a heated changing room and in the mosaic the head of Medusa is surmounted by snakes and surrounded by four circular panels and a series of interlocking square geometrical patterns. To the west was a large room containing a cold plunge bath. Unexcavated are the warm room, the hot bath and the hot room.

The baths were heated under the floor by a series of furnace rooms and stokeholes.

After a picnic lunch we went to Chichester. The guided tour of the Cathedral revealed that the original church was at Selsey, where St Wilfrid was granted land from Caedwalla, King of Wessex, on which to build a church. After 1066 the Norman policy was that cathedrals then in small communities should be moved to larger centres of population. In 1075 the See of Chichester was established in what had been an important Roman city. Bishop Luffa directed the building and the eastern end was dedicated in 1108 to the Holy Trinity. The romanesque design is owed to Luffa. Bishop Siffrid (1180-1204) added the elegant Retro-choir. This was Transitional and Early English in design, and there are later additions in the Decorated and perpendicular style.

Inside are 16th century paintings by Lambert Barnard, one by Graham Sutherland, and a font designed by John Skelton. The tapestry behind the high altar was designed by John Piper and there is an Anglo-German tapestry in the chapel behind the high altar, which is the shrine of St. Richard. This chapel is increasingly used as a centre of pilgrimage. A stained-glass window by Chagall can be seen near the Ft John the Baptist Chapel.

The two greatest artistic treasures of the cathedral are the 12th century stone carvings depicting the arriving of Christ at Bethany and the raising of Lazarus. Originally the panels were highly coloured and there were jewels or semi-precious stones in the eyes.

In Chichester there is a large and elaborate mediaeval market cross, and Pallant House, a Georgian building with a fine collection of furniture and pictures and the best collection of Bow pottery in the country, also a small town museum traces the history of the area from the age of the dinosaurs through prehistoric, Roman, Saxon and Mediaeval times to the present day.

The Morris dancers on the church green created a colourful and spirited ending to the tour of Chichester.

Tea, in the cathedral refectory was a bonus with delicious scones, and chocolate cake and the drive home in the coach was enlivened by a raffle. Who are these people who buy five tickets and win three prizes? Our thanks go to Micky Cohen and Micky Watkins who organised the outing end also to Dorothy Newbury, as well as to Tessa Smith for the raffle.

AUDREE PRICE-DAVIES 

A VISIT TO MONUMENTS, CASTLES AND HOUSES IN SOUTH WALES

every year the Royal Archaeological Institute holds its summer meeting in a different part of the British Isles. The meeting this year was No139 during the week we visited some 27 sites. On Sunday we had a perambulation of the Cardiff dock area, part of which is being preserved as an industrial area museum.

During the week we also visited Blaenavon Ironworks. This was one of the key sites for iron production. It is claimed to be the only survivor of the first generation of multi-furnace ironworks in Britain. It was interesting to see that site again. Dorothy Newbury took us there in September 1987 when we stayed at Abergavenny.

The weather was fine and the highlight for me was the visit to Caerphilly Castle with its "tottering" bastion and surrounding moats. We had an added bonus there in the form of a demonstration of three siege engines sited to fire missiles up to large stones. This part of warfare must have been a very slow business, but once a wall was breached no doubt things hotted up.

I went down earlier and spent some time wandering round Cardiff and had a good look in their fine -museum. Most of the galleries have been rearranged and later this year they hope to add more. An evening visit to Cardiff Castle with its pseudo-medieval interior was something which is difficult to describe, with its knights, maidens and colourful decoration. We also visited Castell Coch, which like the main castle had been rebuilt by Lord Bute. Both buildings are by the architect William Surges.

There were visits to prehistoric sites like Linkenswood burial chamber, and some of the party went on to Caerleon Roman Legionary Fortress and Caerwent Roman Town.

I found the collection of inscribed and sculptured stones in Margam Park well worth seeing, as was also the church and park with its restored orangery.

I can say we all found it absorbing, but at the end of the day were glad to be back for excellent food at the University of Wales.

TED SAMMES 

SITE REPORTS

GAS PIPELINE FOLLOW-ON

Further to the report in the July Newsletter, the pipeline was visited by Bill Bass, Brian Wrigley and myself on an afternoon of torrential rain where we were made very welcome by David Bonnor, the archaeologist working for British Gas. Work had already begun on land adjacent to Dyrham Farm (off Trotters Bottom) and after the topsoil had been stripped, an elliptical­ shaped feature of darker soil had produced a quantity of 13th Century medieval pottery. A few more sherds were retrieved from two nearby shallow pits.

Following his normal procedure, David had sectioned the features, drawn and photographed them. In the shelter of his caravan we were shown the drawings and the pottery was laid out for us to see and handle. It was clearly the same type that had been found associated with a kiln in Kings Road, Barnet, at my house in Galley Lane and also at the top of the Lane. Also shown were one or two mesolithic type bladelets. Similar examples were found some 10 years ago at Galley Lane but the proximity of pebble-dashing on the house had made me cautious. However there is no building of that sort near the pipeline and, furthermore, good quality flint is available in the area of the Barnet Lime Company about a mile away.

A very interesting discussion ensued about general recording methods and the tactical problems of site-watching. Briefly, British Gas divides up the map of an area using road intersections as convenient markers making it easy to identify the boundaries of each section. Thus the section at Dyrham Farm where the pipeline begins is RDX1 (road crossing 1) and so on. The use of large scale maps enables the position of finds to be pinpointed and heights are surveyed in. Recording of finds such as the features and pottery referred to above obviously has to be carried out speedily and accurately in all weather conditions and, because of the enormous expense of machinery hire, with as little disruption to the construction activities as possible. However, if a major find is made work is suspended and this happened last year on another pipeline where soil stripping led to the discovery of a Roman villa.

A few days after our initial visit, Bill Bass returned and spent an afternoon "fieldwalking" a further area where the turf had been removed. The following week I took down some samples of the Galley Lane pottery for comparison and the similarity with the RDX1 sherds was confirmed. The fabric looked almost identical, and in both assemblages coarse and finer wares were present. However there were some differences. The Galley Lane pot was found in a conglomerated mass with little soil matrix and had the appearance of "wasters" from a kiln. The RDX1 sherds were generally larger, more separate and, with obvious signs of localised burning, looked far more like broken domestic pottery, although no traces of a dwelling house were seen in the area. Furthermore the strap decoration, seen on sherds from Kings Road and both Galley Lane sites, was almost absent. However, evidence of perforations, presumably to enable the pot to be suspended, was found on the RDX1 pot but not at all on the other group.

I walked the Galley Lane section with David almost to Rowley Lane, and he told me that a few more knapped flakes had been found and some more of the medieval pottery but no archaeological features. Interesting geological evidence had emerged, however, in the form of areas where the soil was far more sandy in contrast to the usual thick yellowish clay. Furthermore distinct large patches of grey gravel were apparent which were not recorded on the geological maps. I was later told that extensive patches of the gravel had appeared further along the pipeline.

Turf stripping and the stringing out of the pipes has now been completed and the digging of the trenches is about to begin. Some of the local roads are to be closed and safety regulations mean that it will not be possible to visit again because of the movement of heavy machinery. However our visits proved to be mutually interesting and informative and, on behalf of HADAS, I should like to record our thanks to British Gas and particularly to David Bonnor for their amicable co-operation.

            MYFANWY STEWART 

CHURCH FARMHOUSE EXCAVATION

Digging is continuing in the Museum grounds, between 10-15 participants have been enjoying (I think) a spell of very hot weather on Thursdays and weekends. Attendance has included a mixture of regular and newer members, a gang from Gunnersbury Museum, and several younger excavators experiencing archaeology at first hand, attracted by one of the few voluntary digs in London.

After initial turf stripping we have concentrated on the trench nearer the Museum. Results so far have been mixed with in the western section topsoil over-laying a disturbed possible natural clay layer cut about by levelling roots and odd post-holes. The western half seems to consist more of re-deposited clay and soil layers from which several sherds of medieval pottery have been turning up. Apart from some "burnt'' areas there may be a pit or hearth feature to associate with this pottery. Overall finds have included good examples of clay-pipe bowls, 19th C bottles, a. possible human skull fragment - Hendon man? There is also a fair amount of glass material. Do any members know of glass production in the Hendon area?

Further work includes the northern trench and bank sections, also on-site finds processing. Members are still welcome to join in with any aspect of the dig.

On Saturday 10th July we will be entertaining members of Young LAMAS, and on the 28th August there will be an open day as part of National Archaeology Day.

            BILL BASS

 

SITE NEWS

There seems to be some movement concerning the former Victorian Maternity Hospital site in High Barnet, development of which has been delayed due to planning negotiations, Depending on the outcome, HADAS hope to conduct a site-watching evaluation in the Autumn.

The Tudor and Georgian timber-framed house at 1264 Whetstone High Road is being revamped and may give HADAS a further chance to inspect and record any more exposed areas of the timber construction..

WE HAD A FEN DAY

Ely. The Island of Eels, lies in the Cambridgeshire fens with its Cathedral acting as a beacon on July 17th to guide fifty-one HADAS members on a day's outing to see monuments ranging from the Iron Age to Medieval with a reference to Roman on the way. The rain which damped our coach on route did not reappear during the day - our organisers obviously had good contacts. This was confirmed by the excellent break for refreshments in the 12th century vaulted undercroft of the Almonry restaurant a short walk away from the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely where our party was next taken for a guided tour in two groups. St Etheldreda. a Queen of East Anglia, founded a religious house on this site in 673 AD for both nuns and monks. The Danes in 870 AD totally destroyed this original Saxon foundation which was revived one hundred years later by a community of Benedictine monks. Abbot Simeon, appointed by William the Conqueror, started work on the present church in 1081 as he regarded the Saxon church as inadequate. As an archaeological group, we were amused by the nature of the discovery in the 18th century of the Saxon memorial cross to Ovin, Etheldreda's steward. It had been buried upside down for use as a mounting block. Amusement turned to awe when we were shown the Octagon and Lantern - a massive construction of oak with corner posts of single trees each weighing some 10 tons, spanning a diameter of 72 feet to replace the central Norman tower which had collapsed in 1322. Its total weight is 400 tons. The design was a masterpiece and the implementation of the work, the lifting of the timber to the roof for instance, with the limited technology of the period, enhances the craftsmanship.

More woodworking craftsmanship was in evidence in the Choir with 14th century stalls and fifty-four miserere seats now in their third position within the Cathedral. Craftsmanship in a different medium was to be found in the triforium. The Stained Glass Museum was an option open to our party and taken up by most. Opened in 1979, it was founded to preserve glass from redundant churches but has expanded to include exhibits on techniques and materials as well as more modern examples of the art. A second group opted to visit the Ely Museum with its small local collection and a special feature on Hereward the Wake and interestingly a display of items relating to the history of the museum building itself, part of the Old Choir House. There was a delightful mid-40s film about the local eel industry which unintentionally featured a cat determined to hook an eel every step of the way from netting weighing and packaging.

After lunch the coach headed northwards to Stonea Camp. Throughout the organisation of this visit Stonea had been pronounced Stonier. This quickly switched to Stoney when our guide to this site of the lowest hillfort in Britain (2 metres above sea level) started his tour and provided the correct pronunciation. The site had been scheduled in 1922 but a change in agricultural use from pasture to arable led to the levelling of the banks and ditches with much subsequent damage to artefacts from metal detectors, ploughing and agricultural chemicals. In 1990 the site was returned to pasture and the County Council's archaeology section excavated and restored this hillfort to its height as at 1960. Tim Malim, the County Archaeologist and our guide to this part of the fens explained the history of the site and the nature of the restoration as we walked the perimeter. Stonea Camp, built by the Iceni, was attacked by the Romans in 47AD according to evidence from a British Museum excavation in 1980. In the Hadrianic period an administrative centre was constructed next to the Camp, the main feature of which was a large tower with a piazza in front of it. There were around thirty houses and a regular street layout but Stonea Grange, as it became known, did not succeed as a settlement.

We thanked Tim for allowing us his time and for bringing the site to life. Stonea Camp was left to the sheep who were protecting the site from further agricultural damage as we headed southwards to Huntingdon, the birthplace of OliverCromwell. for our final refreshment stop at the Old Bridge Hotel, a Georgian building possessing a fine 18th century doorway. The eponymous 'Old Bridge' lies adjacent. It is early 14th century, linking Huntingdon to Godmanchester and built simultaneously from both banks of the river by the two Town Councils accounting for the two styles of architecture and the need for a levelling layer on the centre parapet. On the other side of the Hotel are the earthworks of Huntingdon Castle, established by William the Conqueror but only used for around one hundred years.

This was our final refreshment stop and allowed us time to stretch our legs or just rest in the comfort of the Hotel lounge. The weather was fine enough for a walk over the bridge or around the motte of the Castle. It was the ideal way to end another perfect HADAS day. Bill Bass and Vikki O'Connor received our sincere thanks for arranging this outing and rumour has it that even before we had left the coach at Barnet, Dorothy was suggesting possible destinations for them to take us to next year.

Roy Walker 

Programme enquiries to Dorothy Newbury, 55 Sunningfields Road, Hendon London NW4 4PA (081-203 0950)

General enquiries should be addressed to the Hon Secretary, Gorse Cottage The Common, Chipperfield, Herts WP4 9RL

PLANNING APPLICATIONS IN THE NORTHERN AREA

These sites may be of archaeological interest and may need watching: The "Griffin" pub, Whetstone High Road (side extension)

The former "Two Brewers" pub, Hadley Highstone, Barnet (new housing)

REPORT IN THE JULY ISSUE OF "ENGLISH HERITAGE" MAGAZINE

Stonehenge has been designated by UNESCO as a "World Heritage Site". The National Trust and English Heritage are to form a trust which will be responsible for the managing of the site and the 13 acres surrounding it. It is proposed to remove the present horrors existing at the moment once planning is approved. If you would like to see the proposed plans, a leaflet may be obtained from English Heritage Membership Department, P.O. Box 1BB, London W1A 1BB.

Newspaper cuttings supplied by members tell of ... THE LOST RIVER

Some time about 5,000-11,000 years ago, almost the whole of modern Kuwait was covered by an enormous river. It was 500 miles long and three miles wide, and ran from the Hijaz Mountains, across Saudi Arabia and into the Persian Gulf.

This discovery was made by Farouk El-Baz, a geologist studying satellite photographs of Saudi Arabia. What effect would this river's disappearance have had on the emerging civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt?

The site of the river is covered by thick sand, but it is proposed to drill down and see if any water remains in the rocks below.

and   

THE LOST FOREST

Dr Paul Buckland of Sheffield University did not hear about it until it had been almost completely destroyed.

A Bronze Age forest under Thorne Moors on the Yorkshire/Humberside borders decomposed as it was exposed to the air by employees digging up peat for sale to gardeners. Unfortunately the diggers at Fisons did not appear to appreciate the uniqueness of the find. However, remains of three long-extinct insects were found, and valuable information about Bronze Age people's farming methods and use of fire.

Dr Paul Buckland said he had not heard about the forest until six months after its discovery, when the trees and their bark and cones had decayed. 'It is a unique site,' he said. 'What little has been salvaged is fascinating and throws new light on the Bronze Age." But he added that priceless evidence had been lost.


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