Newsletter-237-December-1990

Issue no. 237   December 1990           Edited by Liz Holiday           

Diary

Tuesday 4th December Christmas Visit & Dinner at the Royal College of Surgeons

Tuesday 5 February DISCOVERING LITTLE-KNOWN LONDON by Mary O'Connell

As archaeologists we expect to have to dig below ground to unearth our discoveries; as historians we usually find our objectives more straightforwardly. How often do we pass by some familiar object without questioning it or completely fail to notice things which could tell a fascinating story? Mary's talk and slides will open our eyes to a new realm of London's history.

Tuesday 5 March DIGGING IN ASSYRIA: THE WORK OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM by Dr. John Curtis, Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities.

Tuesday 2 April VALLEY OF THE KINGS: BURIAL OF THE PHARAOHS by Peter Clayton, Principal Lecturer on Egyptology for Swans Hellenic Cruises.

HENDON AERODROME                                                       Report by Bill Firth

Developments at Hendon Aerodrome have edged forward another stage with the submission of a modified outline plan which is expected to be considered by the planning sub-committee at the end of the month.

The overall plan looks little different from that submitted a year ago. The proposals for the listed buildings include alterations, partial demolition and change of use of the factory, office block and control tower, change of use (one might say reversion in use considering its original use) of the officers' mess to a hotel and leisure complex, and relocating the Grahame-White Hanger within the RAF Museum site, which is to be enlarged by 1.32 hectares (which I make 3.26 acres for those more used to Imperial units).

We have been campaigning about the retention of these historic aviation buildings for a long time and it is good to see some progress at the site. The proposals may not be ideal but are acceptable and represent a good compromise. We have not been idle in the last year. Our latest protest was made in August in co-operation with the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) and with the verbal support of the Borough Planning Department, in response to a request from English Heritage for information on neglected listed buildings. It would be nice to think that this precipitated the submission of the modified plans but realistically these were probably on the way anyway. 

"WATERS SWEET & FRESH FOR LONDON" Lecture report by Tessa Smith

An old friend of HADAS, Dr.Michael Essex-Lopresti, entertained us with a sparkling lecture illustrated with his fascinating collection of photographs, maps and old prints of the areas round the New River. Beginning at the springs at Amwell (bringing 22 million gallons of water by gravity feed) and looping southwards, through Edmonton to the New River Head. Dr.Lopresti cleverly counterpointed charming old prints with his own photographs of modern views so that we were continually taken back and forth in time.

It was in 1604 that James I issued letters patent for the development of a new river. It was completed in 1684 but it was not until 1684 that a monument was erected at Chadwell to Sir Hugh Middelton, marking the completion of the project. Although Sir Hugh received all the praise and accolades for being the instigator of the New River, Dr.Lopresti noted wryly that there appears to be no tribute to the actual engineer - Coldhurst.

On reaching London the river water was distributed by 7" elm wood pipes, several pipes lying side by side in order to conduct enough water to highly populated areas. Dr. Lopresti showed us an example of a slice of highly polished water pipe used as a presentation clock mounting. At the time when the Great Fire of London broke out, New River water was not supplied to the area of Pudding Lane and Dr. Lopresti posed the hypothetical question "How might the future of London been altered if the water pipes had been laid to that area at the time?"

We followed the meanderings of the New River through Edmonton, south of Alexandra Palace to Hornsey, Haringey and thus to New River Head near Sadler’s Wells. Pumping stations changed from steam power to electric power. By building aqueducts and digging tunnels loops of the river were cut off and abandoned leaving clues for Dr. Lopresti to photograph - an old bridge in the middle of a field, an iron post inscribed "N.R.C.", the name of a street - Flash Lane.

I liked his humorous comparison of the six men armed with rakes who cleared the river of weeds a century ago, with the modern computer-controlled weed-catcher of today, which is stationed somewhere near where the New River dives down beneath the North Circular Road.

Some members will remember the Sadler’s Wells Walk, round the area of the New River Head, led by Mary O'Connell. It was Mary who gave the vote of thanks to Dr. Essex-Lopresti for a very lively and entertaining talk.

DUNLEWEY:a new museum                              A note from Helen Gordon

Dunlewey - Dun Luiche in the Gaelic - has opened a museum almost overnight in the old home of the well-known Ferry family where Manus, the weaver, his sister Sophie who spun and dyed, and James the sheep farmer, were the centre of a group making the famous Donegal tweeds, following the traditions of their families. After the death of the last Ferry, Sophie, the house and associated buildings have been standing derelict, but now the cottage is shining with fresh whitewash, the rooms furnished as before, the loom in the weaving loft in use and the shop and other sheds preserved. In addition a large reception building to provide ample tourist amenities, cafeteria and shop has been sympathetically erected nearby among the trees. Opened at the beginning of August, 5000 visitors passed through it in the first four weeks, a remarkable number for such a small museum situated miles from the chief attractions in Donegal. The beauty of the surroundings where it lies at the foot of Errigal Mountain near the long lake is reason enough for a visit, though perhaps insufficient reason to draw it to the attention of HADAS members. However, this is only its first stage. It is the museum's intention to record the history and exhibit every aspect of the homespun industry of Donegal (and of the hard lives of the people themselves), which must surely qualify as industrial archaeology?

Obituary

We are sorry to report that Isobel MacPherson died on 9 November. This tribute is by June Porges:

"I have only known Isobel for a few years so cannot write much about her earlier days, but in these few years she became a very dear friend to me and my husband, Hans. We met, through HADAS with which she was involved in many activities - committee meetings, outings (remember the wet but fascinating tour of Cumberland, including Walney Island where she was born?),   Minimarts (always a faithful  member of Tessa's kitchen staff), exhibitions (she set up the Finchley Forum display and was filmed talking about HADAS only last July), the HADAS library   (always glad to lend a hand both before

and after the Avenue House fire), field walks (the latest being  the pipeline) and the eternal search for the Roman roads of Barnet. A couple of months ago when she already knew how ill she was, she stood on the ninth floor of the Royal Free Hospital and declared that from there she thought she could trace the line of the Roman road. Isobel's enthusiasm was enormous, she had been a teacher all her life in schools and colleges - lucky pupils to have Isobel as a teacher - and she continued conveying her vast knowledge. I benefited greatly from it as we travelled through the UK, Ireland, Turkey and Italy together. Words poured out of her, informative, witty, funny, sometimes scathing. She loved words and always had to have her Times wherever we were so that she could do the crossword - she had in fact won prizes in the annual Times competition - and it was ironic that the right words deserted her in the last few weeks.

Most of all Isobel was tremendous fun, we were always laughing. The world will be a darker place without her but her memory will always be bright."

IVER TO ARKLEY PIPELINE

Excerpt by Victor Jones from the Report on Phase I by Trevor Cox for the Department of Greater London Archaeology, Museum of London.

The preliminary report represents an initial assessment of the results of the investigation. It is not intended to give a complete account of the archaeology recorded on site, but represents a summary of findings.

A detailed archaeological investigation was carried out between June and August 1990 during the removal of ploughsoil and grass along the extent of the easement and the dumping area at Edgewarebury Road approximately 4.5 miles in length east to west. It was the first phase of a major scheme some 17 miles in total. It ran from Spring Road near Little Common, then along Wood Lane and Across Brockley Hill and a set of fields to Edgewarebury, where a storage area was set up. From there west over the hill to the Al and across the Mill Hill golf course to the Arkley reservoirs.

The area round Brockley Hill is known to contain the remains of at least fourteen Roman kilns, which were employed in the manufacture of pottery and possibly also tiles and flourished in the later 1st and 2nd centuries. The settlement of Sulloniacae was strategically placed on Watling Street to supply the market at Londinium and Verulamium. The course of Watling Street has been investigated for over 40 years by various archaeological groups and societies, because the excavations and watching briefs were only limited to current works such as pipe laying and the ploughing of fields, followed by field walking, the overall scenario of the occupation on Brockley Hill has been slowly developed.

Two roads have been recorded, one on either side of the modern A5 road running up the hill. The road to the west of the A5 was first outlined by Mr Stephen Castle and the road to the east was outlined by H.O.Neal.

About 300 metres up from the Roman cremations HADAS excavated two trial trenches along the original proposed line of the Iver/Arkley pipeline. This also revealed a gravel road and occasional Roman tile and pot fragments. To the east of the gravel road a ditch was recorded in alignment to the road. 200 metres further up the hill another large area of Roman tile and pottery was recorded around one of the ponds.

To the west of the A5 no significant finds have been recorded until just over half way up the hill, where a Roman kiln was found.

Further up, just past Wood Lane, many more kilns were recorded with post holes and at least one beam slot as evidence of standing structures at the top of the hill. This was at first thought to be the settlement of Sulloniaciae, but now is believed to be associated with the pottery/tile production.

Pottery production seems to have begun in the Flavian period and continued until about AD 160. Products included amphorae, mortaria, flagons, reed-rimmed bowls and perhaps also tiles. Potters who may have had workshops here are:- Albinus, Arentus, Atcirtitus, G.Attius Marinus, Audurdic, Bruccius, Candidus, Castus, Dares, Doccas, Doinus, Driccius, Gissus, Iunius I, Lallaius or Lallans, Marinus, Matugenus, Melus I, Mertuc(us), Mertumarus, Ramotus, Ripanus, Saturninus I,Secundus, Sollus...

After the removal of the ploughsoil and grass along the extent of the easement and the dumping area at Edgewarebury Road, sample areas were troweled off to assess if any barely discernible features, such as postholes or stakeholes survived. One such area produced a spread of gravel, but after investigation this proved to be a natural deposit. The only pottery retrieved from this area was post-medieval and Victorian in date, with some 20th century rubbish dumps. All the pottery was recovered from redeposited, ploughed silty-clay, which was approximately 0.30 metres in depth.

The Brockley Hill area proved to be much more interesting, while the contractors were crossing the A5 and joining up with the already stripped areas, Roman pottery was evident. Unfortunately this was recovered from the spoil heap. During the digging of the trench ready for the pipe to be laid, a deposit of green/grey gravel could be seen in the sections. After cleaning up the faces this indicated that a road of some sort with two ditches to the east side had been cut through. The road surface was thicker in the middle (approx. 0.05 metres in depth) and sloped down at both sides. Unfortunately the western edge was not available for examination due to the dangers of the trench collapsing, and therefore unrecordable. The eastern edge however was well defined and was accompanied by a ditch. The ditch was approx. 0.60 metres in depth and was filled with a gravel material not unlike the road makeup. The sides were gently sloping at approx. 45 degrees, with a flat base. Four pieces of Verulamium ware were retrieved; these came from a Roman flagon and were produced AD 60-160, two pieces of the same ware were also recovered from the surface of the road. Next to the first ditch there was what looked like a second ditch, although much shallower (0.20 metres in depth). It contained a similar fill and one piece of amphora was retrieved, dating to the 2nd century. Underneath the gravel road there was a deposit of silty-sand approx. 0.03 metres in depth the overall width of the road was just under 10 metres. The surface of the road was about half a metre from the ground surface.

CONCLUSIONS: The main course of the Roman road (Watling Street) was assumed to have lain more or less under the Edgware Road and the gravel road that was found to the east of the A5, together with its two ditches, are almost certainly one and the same. One of the two ditches to the east of the Roman road would most probably been a recut, though which one is the earliest is difficult to say due to the scarcity of datable finds.

The gravel dump layers to the west of the A5 are not as easy as the Roman road to explain. Although dating to the same period as the road, their position (approx. 35.00 metres apart) would suggest that they are not linked to each other directly. As they contained quite a high amount of Roman tile, they could have been construction debris, but as no major construction has been discovered in the immediate area this is highly unlikely. The likely explanation is that they were possibly something to do with the kilns, and that some of the kilns were used for the production of tiles, and that the seconds or wasters would be thrown out and deposited down the hill, away from the production area. This would help explain the large areas of pottery and tiles found in the past.

The ditch that was cutting through the dump layers could possibly have something to do with a ditch discovered during the 1970s, when the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society carried out an excavation further up the hill, although no dating evidence was found.

No other major occupation is apparent, due to the build-up of the plough soil, until the dumping of redeposited Roman soil in the fifties.

Most of the pottery retrieved from the excavation was very similar to that of Verulamium ware from St. Albans, but it could be very likely that it was produced locally from the kilns at Brockley Hill. The same could also apply to the Roman tile fragments.

[Trevor Cox records his thanks to the Lee Valley Water Company for supplying the time and money to carry out the watching brief; to Mr. Dudley Steel for his co-operation; to Brian Wrigley and Victor Jones for their invaluable help and information on the site and to Simon Nichols, Aileen Connor and John Mills of the Museum of London.

WYOMING'S MYSTERIOUS MEDICINE WHEEL     By Stewart J. Wild

On a recent visit to Wyoming, I came across one of North America's enduring mysteries which I thought might interest HADAS members. In the Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming, close to the Montana border and about 100 miles from Yellowstone National Park, there is a circle of stones presumed to have been built by early American Indians, about which very little is known.

The site is in a remote and desolate spot at the top of a mountain at an altitude of about 8,500 feet. It is only accessible from about May to September, being cut off by snow the rest of the year.

The Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark (for that is its name) is about 250 feet in circumference <80 feet in diameter), and has a 3 foot high central cairn of slate and stone which probably represents the sun. From this central hub radiate 28 lines of rocks, resembling the spokes of a cartwheel. These may symbolise the 28 lunar days.

Around the perimeter of the wheel are six medicine tepees <stone cairns) that are thought to symbolise the planets, and on the central cairn is a bleached buffalo skull that faces the morning sun. The buffalo has always held great significance for the Plains Indians.

Archaeologists who have studied this strange formation continue to be baffled about its origin and significance. They have no clues as to which Indian tribe constructed the wheel, or when. It is though that it may be some sort of shrine laid out by a primitive tribe of sun-worshipers.

 [Stewart recommends Wyoming for a fly-drive holiday and would be pleased to supply further information. Contact him on 081-346 4166] 

LIBRARY PROGRESS REPORT                  by Victor Jones

Since my last note further work has been completed to make the library a more convenient place in which to work. The books are now all racked and the badly damaged materials cleared away. The place has been cleaned up and even the smell of burnt books eliminated. Thanks to gifts from members and others, we now have a set of chairs, a table (suitable for working at and for holding meetings), two cupboards (for storing finds) and a desk. A fitted convection heater has been provided and we have obtained a fan-heater for rapid warm-up. There is a sink and tea making is possible. Finds can be washed and processed in comfortable conditions. There is also reasonable space to store the new exhibition equipment as well as prepare exhibits.

While all these arrangements have been in hand (longer than I thought), it has not been possible to hold the "books working parties" for people who kindly offered their help after my appeal in October. It will now be possible for this work to be undertaken in better and more comfortable conditions and I hope to re-arrange the working group for the New Year to enable the library to return to full use early in 1991. 

CHRIST'S COLLEGE ARTS CENTRE TRUST

As many members will know Christ's College is leaving its present site between Regents Park Road and Finchley Lane. The school's departure to a new site presents the London Borough of Barnet with a considerable re-development site, which could either give the Borough a one-off cash windfall or allow the provision of an Arts Centre in the heart of the Borough.

The Christ's College Arts Centre Trust has been formed to take advantage of this unique opportunity. It plans to take over the redevelopment site and to construct within the existing buildings an arts centre which will provide a much needed venue for vocational and non-vocational training in the arts from performance arts to pottery as well as providing meeting rooms, a cafe and a creche. The Trust plan to be self-supporting and it is hoped that the funds may extend sufficiently to build a concert hall. To do all this the Trust need your help. By showing your support for the creation of an Arts Centre you will assist in the Trust's negotiations with the Borough. Signatures on the Trust's petition are urgently required in the next two weeks - phone June Porges in the evening or at the weekend on 081- 346 5078 if you would like to support the Trust.

SUTTON HOO?                                        From Brigid Grafton Green

When a diverse group (containing several HADAS members) under the aegis of the Society of Antiquaries visited Sutton Hoo several weeks ago, it was a pleasure to find yet another HADAS member hard at work in one of the trenches. That wasn't an entire surprise, because Ann Trewick has long been a devotee of the Saxon site: she was a volunteer there well before she and her mother left Barnet in 1987 to move to Felixstowe. In the intervals of some meticulous trowelling - Ann has always been one of our top trowellers - she sent fond messages to all her HADAS friends, saying that she keeps in touch with their doings through the Newsletter. She reports that life in Felixstowe is very pleasant, and finds she has little regret for Barnet.

This phase of the Sutton Hoo dig was just nearing its end - Ann was putting in the last four days of her holiday before returning to school duties. Professor Martin Carver, who is directing this assault on the secrets of Sutton Hoo, is emerging from it still with many questions unanswered. The main one that was exercising him as he conducted the Antiquaries group around was how to interpret the Anglo-Saxon burial ground which did not appear to contain a single normal Anglo-Saxon burial. The two types of burial that it does contain are both far from normal.

One type is chieftain burials under barrows which - robbed out or unrobbed - shoe evidence for ceremonial and for rich grave goods. The other type, of which there are two groupings, are shallow graves at the opposite side of the spectrum. There are no grave goods from them, and all trace of bone has vanished, but from the soil composition and soil shadows it is possible to infer that these were probably sacrificial victims. They wre buried with their ankles on top of each other, as were their wrists - as if bound; two were decapitated, the heads being buried in one instance at the feet, in another at the crotch; in another the head was where the head should be, but so displaced as to be almost chin uppermost; one body lay face downwards; another was semi-kneeling.

There seemed to be no particular relationship between the two clutches of "victim" graves and the main group of chieftain barrows. Perhaps in the final dying weeks of the dig Professor Carver will unscramble the problem -- or maybe it will have to await a further dig.

CHURCH FARM HOUSE MUSEUM

"Church End, Hendon" an exhibition based on a project by children of Sunnyfields JMI School.

This exhibition is entirely based on work done by children of Class 5 who were studying the Victorians. Some of the children concentrated on the development of Hendon in the late 19th century, with particular reference to Church End - the area surrounding Church Farm, and the heart of the old village of Hendon. The children singled out buildings of special interest - Church Farm, St. Mary's Church and the Greyhound public house - and traced their history. With the aid of the 1881 census returns, they also looked at the origins, occupations and domestic lives of the people who lived nearby.

The exhibition is on show from 15 November until 31 January 1991.

THE BATTLES OF BARNET AND TEWKESBURY by P.W.Hammond 

This detailed book charts the events which led to the Battle of Barnet and also covers the progress of Margaret of Anjou and her son Edward of Lancaster through the West Country, which led to the Battle of Tewkesbury, the death of Lancaster & Edward IV's victorious return to London.   Published by Alan Sutton, price £14.95.

EXCAVATION AT 19-25 HIGH STREET, CHIPPING BARNET Report by Brian Wrigley & Andrew Simpson

Following the HADAS excavations at the Old Bull in 1982 (Newsletter No.140) and The Mitre in 1989-90 (Newsletter No. 233) we were glad to be given permission by M. Bishop Ltd. of High Barnet, the developers of this site, to excavate and make an archaeological assessment of this site before development. The site is further down Barnet Hill than the two previous sites and on the south side of Barnet High Street. Obviously, following the results of the previous digs, interest centred on the question whether there was evidence of medieval or earlier occupation.

We have now completed enough excavation to make an assessment of the site and feel the best way to report this is to reproduce the two reports we have given to the developers. For convenience of reproduction the accompanying plan has been made in black and white and slightly reduced in size.

We hope that this will serve as the main published record of the excavation itself, whilst detailed identification and analysis of the many medieval pottery and other finds continues. We have hopes that detailed analysis may yield some pointers to the contacts and importance of earliest Barnet. A further report or reports on the results will be made later.

One point, not referred to in the reports below, should be mentioned: the 'natural' occurring below the archaeological layers is in some places sandy, in some solid London clay; it seems that this site is at the level where the sandy gravel capping of Barnet Hill gives out, so that the underlying clay emerges. This might very likely be a spring line and thus a convenient place to site habitation.

GETTING SHIRTY: a progress report on the dig by Andy Simpson

Work continues on the site on a smaller scale, usually during the week. Effort is concentrated on the remaining few trenches, the easternmost of which has been extended, exposing a rough, brick built drain with a tile base running east - west across part of the site, possibly of Victorian date.

The team were pleased to see the site featured in a recent issue of the Barnet Times, under the headline "Medieval Area Unearthed". This featured our own Fred King as 'Page 3 Digger and the interesting comment that we had found three medieval shirts! (We are now looking for the trousers to match!).

Considerable amounts of medieval pottery continue to be recovered ­some have simple thumb or pricked decoration on them.

The team has also started to check and order the finds, now stored at Barnet Museum. Work has also started on finds from the Mitre Inn and we hope to select items from both sites for display at the museum, where the full written/drawn archive for the Mitre dig is now stored.

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