Newsletter-228-March-1990

            

NEWSLETTER 228 March 1990                                                                   Edited by Jean Snelling

DIARY

 

Tuesday March 6 Constantinides Memorial Lecture Views and Voices of Old Whetstone. Percy Reboul and John Heathfield will be looking at Whetstone as it was in Victorian and Edwardian times.

 

Saturday, March 10th LAMAS 27th Annual Conference of London  Archaeologists. 11.0.-5.30. Museum of London. See following pages.

 

Tuesday, April 3rd      Recent Monastic Excavation in North London  by Barney Sloan , DUA, Museum of London. Mr Sloan has taken part in the excavations.

 

Tuesday, April 24th    Afternoon Visit to British Museum New Exhibition Fake? - The Art of Deception,,with Paul Craddock.           Application form enclosed.

 

Tuesday, May 8th       Annual General Meeting, With slides of Whetstone Dig.

 

Sunday, May 20th      Outing Quainton including Steam Railway Museum and ride on steam train.

 

August/September      Weekend trip to Shropshire Several members have indicated interest in this weekend but we need more to make it viable. Details and application form enclosed. The agricultural college where we shall be staying has to have confirmation by the end of March.

 

Saturday October 6 MINIMART An awful omission on the programme card - sorry. Please mark it on your card now.

 

AN EXHIBITION OF HADAS FINDS, related to excavations, is now on show in the Central Library, the Burroughs, Hendon. It is at the far end of the lending library on the ground floor. Tel. 202 5625. Buses 143, 183.

Material is shown from Brockley Hill - prehistoric and Roman; Church Farm and Terrace, Hendon - Roman, Saxon, medieval; and on to the recent digs at High Road, Whetstone and the Mitre, High Barnet ­medieval. Much help with organising, selecting, assembling and illustrating has been given by Helen Gordon, Tessa Smith, Brigid Grafton Green, Ted Sammes, John Heathfield and Victor Jones. Our thanks to Liz Holliday for her original idea.

It is possible that a reduced version will appear later at certain local libraries, but for the time being the show stays at the Burroughs and members should not miss its full impact.

 


                BULLETIN ON THE MITRE     Andy Simpson

            Despite the recent bad weather tending to interrupt the digging the hardy perennials of the 'excavation unit' continue their quest for traces of medieval High Barnet.

    An area at the northern end of the trench (reported earlier), measuring some 4 metres long and 2 metres wide (the full width of the trench) has been particularly                 productive.  In what appears to be the bottommost archaeological layer, a very pebbly grey-black content, there have been found upwards of 150 medieval potsherds,  South  Hertfordshire ware of about 1200 AD being predominant (the familiar globular cooking pot form); plus sherds of pitchers and some glazed fragments. This layer  also contains charcoal flecks, some metalworking residue, and one or two fragments of bone. Its function or origin is still unclear; if it was a midden layer one would  expect  more bone. The concentration of pottery in such a small area is striking.

Some of the material from this layer has been taken to the Museum of London for identification; they indicate that it includes three possible Roman sherds. Now where did they come from? Meanwhile Jenny Cobban is surveying the pottery overall.

As ever, would-be diggers should contact Brian Wrigley, 959 5982.

 

            FRIENDS AND MEMBERS

            It is a pleasure to hear from Miss Vivienne Constantinides, daughter of the founder of HADAS.:- "Themistocles". She writes:-I was so delighted to receive a copy of A Place in Time, which I am reading with great interest. What a long way - back as well as forward - since t he early days of the first dig at Church Farm. I still remember      the excitement, and cooling off the young diggers with ice creams on a very hot day.This book will be treasured on my bookshelf, along with my copy of The Story of           Hendon St Mary's Church of England Schools (1957) and a small booklet, Hendon's Parish Church (1942), in both of which my father had a hand.I wish that distance did     not prevent me from visiting Hendon and joining in some of HADAS' fascinating activities. But at least I have extremely happy memories. With kind regards and best           wishes to HADAS for the years ahead.

            Ann Kahn hopes to be able to leave hospital before too long. She is seeking a suitable flat. Our very good wishes, Ann.

                Dorothy Newbury has been in Leningrad - but cannot escape long from HADAS.

 

            LONDON & MIDDLESEX ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY - LAMAS

                1) Conference of London Archaeologists Saturday March 10, 11am-5.30pm Museum of London Lecture Theatre, London Wall, EC2.

                Morning session: reports with slides on work at Shepperton, Sanderstead, Orpington, Fleet Valley (City), and Middle Saxon Lundenwic. Afternoon session: Huggin  Hill Baths and the Rose Theatre. There will be a display of recent work undertaken by local societies and archaeological teams. (Victor Jones would welcome help   with  the HADAS stall, displaying A Place in Time, etc. Tel.458 6180.) Tickets including afternoon tea, £2.50 for members of LAMAS; £5.50 for non-members. Pay  at the  door if no ticket got in advance. Many people take a picnic lunch.


            2) Victor Jones has become a member of the Council of LAMAS.

He is concerned that too little of the lectures offered and also
the visits to sites both in and outside London are known to members of the affiliated societies, which includes HADAS. He has taken steps to ensure that information and posters are spread in future.

Lectures on Wednesdays at 6.30 pm are held in the Lecture Theatre of the Museum of London, London Wall. Coffee, tea and sherry are available from 6.0 onwards.

March 14. New light on Roman London, by Nicholas Fuentes, ranging April 18. The Middle Saxons, by Keith Bailey (Middlesex c400-c850)

May 16.    Pepys and his music in London by Christine Brown. Readings

with music played on virginals.

 

LECTURE - FROM SHRINE TO TEMPLE       Andy Simpson

HADAS mustered an excellent turnout on February 6 to hear Mr Ian Jones'entertaining and informative talk on the Temple of Minerva at HARLOW. As curator , of Harlow Museum Mr Jones' enthusiasm for the site came across well.

A scheduled ancient monument, the site was originally dug in the 1920s and 30s, and was visited by Mortimer Wheeler who used it as his. type-site when establishing the distinctive form of the Romano-British temple. The site was re-excavated in 1962-71 and was then landscaped. This damaged the archaeology, and an outline was laid in slabs on an incorrect alignment. New excavations began in 1985.

These excavations have provided a history of the site, albeit with many unanswerable questions. The earliest find is a Paleolithic hand axe. Struck flints indicate Mesolithic hunter-gatherer activity with a possible flint working area. Neolithic activity left an axe head and pottery. Signs of religious use begin with Bronze Age cremations, at least half a dozen, with areas of burnt flint indicating intense heat; possibly the site of funeral pyres. From the late Iron Age to the late Roman period the site was in virtually continuous religious use.

An Iron Age round house was the focus for a superb collection of Iron Age coins, nearly a thousand in all, of high quality workmanship, mainly bronze but some silver and gold, mostly struck by Cunobelin, king of the Catuvellauni. There were other coins from Kent and from the Iceni and the Coritanii of Leicestershire. This round house may have beeh a shrine.

The complex stratigraphy of the site was further complicated by extensive Roman disturbance, including votive finds in a ditch. Many iron tools were found, possibly offerings, together with unusual iron strips of unknown function. A lull at the Roman conquest was followed by renewed activity around AD 80, including numerous post holes and a considerable quantity of military metal work including scabbard edge and fittings from armour. These were of both legionary and auxiliary cavalry type. Another military link is the exquisite tiny iron swords of the'gladius'type , only 10cm long.

The first Romano-British temple was built around this period. The cobbled footings of. the central tower, the cella, were well preserved. It had also a surrounding ambulatory and frontal porch with evidence of external painting. South of the- cella lay a cobbled area and traces of a possible second century colonnaded timber structure. The head of a limestone cult statue was found; a helmeted deity identified as Minerva. Also found was a crudely carved Celtic% style figure of a warrior god, together with bronze leaves and an iron chain, possibly from a priest's regalia. Offerings of a medical nature including instruments were found. The coin sequence from this temple stretches from the period of the conquest to Honorius. A Severan rebuilding of the temple, c 200 AD, included reuse of moulded stone, an enlarged porch, courtyard buildings and a substantial gate. The exterior may have been plastered and painted red. Slight traces of an inscription were also found.

Occupation continued at least into the late 4th century. Owl pellets and collapsed plaster indicate partial dereliction in C4, followed by a Roman floor level laid above the collapse extensive renovation in late C4 included new plaster and a possible second storey to the courtyard side, evidenced by external buttressing. The courtyard level was partly raised and tesselated floors installed, of which a tiny piece remains.

There is evidence of a dark age building in the courtyard with stone packed post pits and dark age pottery which is very similar to Iron Age pottery. This may provoke re-examination of supposedly IA pottery from other sites. This site was severely robbed from medieval times, being known as Stonegrove Hall. It now lies at the heart of an industrial estate. This was a thoroughly enjoyable lecture.

(Andy reminds us that memories can be jogged by an article on this site in Current Archaeology, December 1988. Editor)

 

OIL LAMPS AND CANDLES

We are priviledged to reproduce part of an article on Heat, Light and Power by Mr Geoffrey Gillam, chairman of Enfield Archaeological Society. The full article appears in the Society's bulletin for December 1989 and the following issue. Here we pick up Mr Gillam's script on the early history of Oil Lamps and Candles. In our next Newsletter we shall carry on with the later development of lamps and fuel oils.   Our grateful thanks to Mr Gillam and our Enfield friends.

Mr Gillam began his paper by pointing out that, while the timing and places of man's early use and control of fire are unknown Legends on the origin of fire for human use are widespread in world cultures.

 

OIL LAMPS

Oil was being extracted from animals for use in primitive lamps from very early times and in the caves at Lascaux in the French Dordogne a hollow stone had been filled with oil and provided with a moss

wick to give light to the cave painters in the innermost recesses over 12,000 years ago. By the late Paleolithic, Magdelanian people were using lamps with a spout and a wick of moss. In Athens in C7 BC

lamps had been developed with a separate nozzle pierced with a small hole to allow the height of the wick to be controlled to give an even flame. Further developments in the design of clay and metal

lamps took place during the Greek and Roman periods. It was soon found that if more light was required it was of no use to enlarge the wick since this made the lamp smoke, and that the only way to improve the illumination was to add more nozzles; many examples of multi—nozzled lamps can be seen in museums. Two single nozzle Roman lamps were dug up in Edmonton some years ago — unfortunately they were later stolen from the local collection at Houndsfield School. Churches used oil lamps and many gifts of lamps to individual churches enabled them to be brilliantly lit; in the 5 th century churches were probably the only buildings showing a light at night.

 

CANDLES At the beginning of C2 AD a form of candle consisting of flax threads twisted together and coated with wax or pitch was in use . The use of candles for domestic as well as for church lighting was widespread during C3, and their use increased following the loss of lands growing olive oil as the Roman empire collapsed. It was not until 011 that candles were being placed on church altars. Candle sticks of Roman date in pottery or metal or occasionally in wood have been found all over the Roman empire; several have been discovered in London where a metal candelabra was also found.

The best candles were made of half mutton and half beef fat, they did not melt too easily nor break too readily. It has been recorded that a slaughtered ox yielded enough tallow to make three hundred candles at four to the pound. Beeswax as a source of candle material was always three or four times as expensive as tallow and a pound of beeswax cost as much as a day's pay for a labourer in the Middle Ages. At one period officials of the king's household received candles as part of their salaries. Guilds of wax and tallow chandlers were formed during C14. Many householders made their own candles, but this was forbidden under the candle tax laws in 1710. This would have had little effect on the poorer members of society who had always to make do with rush lights consisting of the dried pith of rushes soaked in bacon grease; they gave a very poor light and stank abominably. Sales of candle ends were considered to be one of the perks of the job by servants in some large houses. Sizes and shapes of candles differed and a variety of materials were used in their manufacture. Problems with the wicks were eventually overcome with the production of an improved plaited wick after 1820.

The better lighting afforded by the use of many good qualitycandles dramatically altered social life but there were problems. At receptions, balls and other indoor gatherings the heat from so many candles caused the wax to melt and as one candle used as much oxygen as two people, ladies often fainted. There was also the increased risk of fire in spite of candle guards and even lanterns.

The activities of the whaling industry resulted in the use of spermaceti dandles which burned very easily with a clear steady flame. They became the basis of the unit of light that we know as candle power.

To be continued. 

VARIOUS TEMPTATIONS

Saturday March 17 at Northampton

Andrew Selkirk and Dorothy Newbury are speaking at this event and would be pleased to be joined by HADAS faces and voices. Congress of Independent Archaeologists, Joint Conference organised by-the Upper Nene Archaeological Society and the Middle Nene Group.

10.0-5.30. (Coffee from 9.30) at St    Church room.

Six archaeological societies will present their methods of organisation and accounts of their work, including Piddington Iron Age and Roman site and Prebendal Manor House, Nassington.

Tickets including buffet lunch and afternoon tea £5.50 - or omit lunch £2.50 from 86 Main Road, Hackleton. Northampton NN7 2 AD.

Offers of or requests for transport to Victor Jones tel 01 458 6180. Saturday March 24 A day on the Herts/Essex border.

 

Illustrated talks on and visits to Rye House Gatehouse, Much Hadham Forge and Harlow Bury Chapel. Led by Katharine Chant, Museum Development Officer for Hertfordshire.

Fleet at 10.0 am at Rye House Gatehouse car park (Hoddesdon)

Tickets £12.50 adults, £7.50 concessions - Lunch included. Bookings/information from Lee Valley Park Countryside Service, tel 0992 713838.

We owe news of this outing to Mrs June Gibson of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society. Her husband is Rick Gibson of HADAS so between them they cover a lot of ground. Mrs Gibson says that the Lee Valley Park Countryside Service issue a mailing list on their very varied activities in 1990/91 with some items that might be of interest to HADAS members.

 

Picturesque Hendon Exhibition at Church Farm Museum till March 4

(see February Newsletter)

All is not lost for members who have missed the splendid exhibition of paintings of Hendon. The temporary display, which gives just a hint of the remarkable local artistic wealth in the Borough's Local History Collection, is a sign of things to come.

The aim of borough archivist Pamela Taylor and Church Farm House curator Gerrard Roots is to give more examples from the collection a permanent hanging place at the museum, historical views in a historical location. And as all those who have seen the current selection - which from right-to-the-last-word representations of monuments in Hendon Church to much more impressionistic views of of sun-dappled traffic-free lanes and landscapes that are now under bricks and tarmac - will agree, that must be a good thing.

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