Newsletter-255-June-1992

NEWSLETTER 255: JUNE 1992      Edited by Jean Snelling

DIARY

 

Saturday June 20th: Outing to Loughborough, Rushton and Geddington

 (Details and application form enclosed with this Newsletter)

Saturday July 11th: Outing to Witney - to see the recently excavated 12th C Bishop's Manor which opens to the public in June. Also North Leigh Roman Villa on the outskirts of Witney.

Saturday July 25th: Visit to Bentley Priory. Contact Bill Firth, 49 Woodstock Avenue, NW11.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday August 21/22/23: Weekend in Dorset. We are awaiting confirmation of bookings from a couple of members who are abroad at present, so there may be vacancies still. In any case we have NO waiting list if anyone would like to be added to it. Accommodation is at Sherborne School Study Centre. We plan to visit Avebury Village and Stone Circle on the way out, spend a day visiting Cerne Abbas, Dorchester, Maiden Castle and Abbotsbury. On Sunday we shall see the Visitor Centre and reconstructed prehistoric Somerset Levels Trackways and Lake Village at Meare. This year is the centenary of their discovery by Dr Bulleid in 1892. Many of his and John Coles' finds will he on show. Our final stop will be at romantic Glastonbury to see the Abbey ruins, the Glastonbury Thorn, and the Tribunal museum which houses the Lake Village canoe.

(Ring 081-203 0950 if you want to go on the waiting list.)

Saturday September 26th: a walk in Southwark with Mary O'Connell.

Saturday October 10th: MINIMART

 

Lectures start Tuesday October 6th with "The Roman Pottery Manufacturing Site in Highgate Woods" - Harvey Sheldon.

 

Tuesday November 3rd: "Excavating in Northern Iraq - From the Greeks to the mongols" - Dr John Curtis

 

THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - MAY  5TH 1992

An amiable though hardly over-crowded meeting was chaired by the President, Dr Ralph Merrifield.

The following elections were made: Chairman, Andrew Selkirk; Vice-Chairman Brian Wrigley; Honorary Secretary, Liz Holliday.

Committee: Bill Bass, Micky Cohen, John Heathfield, Victor Jones, Margaret Maher, Dorothy Newbury, Peter Pickering, Edward Sammes, Andy Simpson, Myfanwy Stewart, Micky Watkins. Two vacancies remain.

Retirements from the Committee: Christine Arnott, Alan Lawson, Jean Snelling.

Vice-Presidents confirmed in office: Miss D.P. Hill, Mr. Brian Jarman, Mrs. Daphne Lorimer, Mr. Edward Sammes, Mr. Andrew Saunders. Councillor Mrs. Mary Phillips was elected as Vice-President.


Great regret was expressed at the departure of John Enderby, the former Vice-Chairman, whose understanding of HADAS and of the area and leadership of Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute contributed so much for many years.

At the meeting we missed Dorothy Newbury, unwell and breaking attendance for the first time ever.

Where are our new Membership Secretary and Hon. Treasurer? Could one be you? They are needed greatly. Let modesty not inhibit; if you are stirred, please explore possibilities with one of our officers. You will have friends for life, as have our retiring two, Phyllis Fletcher and Victor Jones.

We were warned of and agreed to a rise in subscriptions from 18 April 1993. Consider how little we pay in comparison with other societies generally. And how many supply a monthly Newsletter, lectures, outings and excavations? The Minimart does wonders but we need a reasonable income.

Selling our products could be helped by members are you in touch with other people or societies who would be interested in our Mesolithic West Heath Report, now accepted as a serious scholarly work? Would your local bookshops sell our book "A Place in Time"? It could help borough residents to more awareness of Barnet as a whole entity and less of an odd collection of parishes.

Visit our Garden Room at the back of Avenue House, East End Road, N3 (not N2). See our HADAS Nibelung activity, on Sunday mornings. The room, having an excess of corners, houses library, finds, archives, the computer and looks out on the lovely garden. We hope we can continue to pay a reasonable rent.

Our meeting ended with slides of digs - the Old Forge, Golders Green Road, with its fragments of medieval road; the medieval house of 1264 High Road, Whetstone, sadly disintegrating as its history continues to intrigue. And lots of glorious local mud.

See you at the next AGM.

 

CATCHING UP WITH LAMAS (London & middlesex Archaeological Society)

Our slightly ambiguous relationship requires an update from time to time. HADAS is an Affiliated Local Society, which opens LAMAS Conferences, visits etc. to our members. In addition, a number of us are also Ordinary (Individual) members of LAMAS with direct access to its activities.

Cash List. Ordinary members should subscribe £10.00 as from 1st

October 1991 through to 30th September 1992. Joint members, £11; Students (full-time education) £3 (Newsletter only). Affiliated Schools £6.50. Subscriptions to Mrs. Anne Curtis, 34 Alexandra Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 7JZ.

Full members are entitled to receive LAMAS publications. Volumes 39 and 40 are expected soon, and a Special Paper Series on Aspects of Saxon and Norman London will be available. The May 1992 Newsletter (75) is out now

We can expect to hear more of SCOLA, the new Standing Conference on  London Archaeology; this is being formed by the Surrey Archaeological Society, the Council for British Archaeology, the Society of Antiquaries, and the Joint Working Party on London Archaeology. MOLAS and English Heritage are giving support, also LAMAS.

This move is stimulated by the replacement by MOLAS (Museum of London Archaeological Service) of the Museum's former Departments of Greater London Archaeology and of Urban Archaeology. SCOLA would aim to provide a forum for debate and resolutions on archaeology in London; to advance study and practice in London and its hinterland; to commission a report to assess the value of existing research agendas and point the way to a


more comprehensive research framework, acknowledging archaeology as a cultural and educational resource; the report to set a standard against which future work can be measured. Thus SCOLA would monitor the quality of archaeological work in the London area. It is envisaged that member­ship would be open to invited representatives of organisations concerned with archaeological and historical research and fieldwork including

planning in the London region.

Affiliated societies of LAMAS are encouraged to get their trowels out again. We can claim that ours are never retired.

The May Newsletter of LAMAS includes an article on Great Stanmore Old  Church c. 1040, and the Lord Aberdeen burial (see also HADAS Newsletter February 1992).

Two LAMAS visits may tempt HADAS members. Saturday, September 12th to Minster Abbey, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, arrive 12 noon. Independent travel, Victoria to Sheerness, change at Sittingbourne, then cab to Minster, about £14, or by car. Those intending to go should telephone Malcolm Harden, 0895 638060 before September 1st.

Saturday October 24th - Visit to Bromley-by-Bow House Mill (restoration in progress), West Ham Parish Church and the Passmore Edwards Museum. Meet at Bromley-by-Bow Station at 11.00 am. No charge, donations welcome. If you intend to go, please telephone Pat Wilkinson on 081-472-4785 before 14th October.

Recent local publications: Palace on the Hill - a history of Alexandra Palace and Park by Ken Gay. £3.00 (p & p 60p). Published by Hornsey Historical Society 1992. From HHS, The Old Schoolhouse, 136 Tottenham Lane, London N8 7EL.

The Building of Bradford Park by T & A Harper-Smith. £3.00 (p & p inc.) from 48 Perryn Road, London W3 7NA, 44pp illustrated.

The Story of Ealing Common by T & A Harper-Smith, £2.50 (p & p incl) obtainable from above, 3Opp illustrated.

Both books are part of the"Acton, Past and Present"Series.

 

A  VISIT TO SYRIA                                                 by PETER PICKERING

We have recently returned from a week in Syria, the wealth of whose ancient remains is staggering. I will mention them chronologically. Earliest we saw was Ebla, where a great archive of the later 3rd millenium was found in 1974, and the mud brick buildings are quite well preserved. The second millenium produced Ugarit, with a rather confusing mass of wall-foundations. Then a neo-Hittite site called in Dara, with a gorgeous and beautifully preserved black lion, lying where it had been quarried, and enigmatic giant footprints in the floor of a temple. The Phoenician settlement of Amrit with a shrine in the centre of a sacred pool. Then the Seleucid city of Apamea, of enormous extent to judge by its walls.

Yes, I am coming to it. We had a day in Palmyra, deservedly renowned, and not just because of its celebrated Queen Zenobia. The existence of such an oasis in the desert is remarkable, but the extent of the remains and the quality and quantity of the distinctive sculpture, much more so. One of the tower tombs, and one of the hypogea, are well restored and displayed, with all those expensively dressed Palmyrenes looking impassively at us from their funerary banquets. How well, how very well, one can do out of trade, until an over-ambitious queen tries to take the Roman Empire on. The temple of Bel is halfway between decent, human-scale Greek temples and the elephantiasis of the Egyptians.

The Roman period also has a most impressive, but far from straight, stretch of road, Philippopolis, the birthplace of the Emperor Philip the Arab,(244-249) and, perhaps more amazing than Palmyra because less anticipated, Bosra with the best Roman theatre in the world, besides a massive reservoir, a ruined cathedral, gates, colonnades etc. The people of present-day Basra live all round, just as in nineteenth century Oriental prints. Then from the Christian period, several functioning, but rather musty, churches of the fifth century, and the very fine and extensive ruins of the Basilica of St Simeon, who stood on top of a pillar, whose base is still there, for thirty years until his death in 459.

Then the Ummayad mosque of Damascus, the most wholly admirable castle in the world, as T.E. Lawrence called it, of Crac des Chevaliers, the citadel of Aleppo, and its historic houses. Aleppo was an unexpected delight, a much more attractive city than Damascus. The collections in the museums of Damascus, Aleppo and Soweida are as impressive as you would imagine, though a guided tour is not the best way of seeing any museum, and there are also many fine collections of mosaics. The Syrian antiqui­ties department is to be congratulated on its maintenance and management of a heritage which is of enormous richness. It scarcely seemed to be doing it for the tourists, of whom there were very few about.

 

DISCOVERING AND RECORDING EARLY REFERENCES   R. HYATT

TO ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS

An original publication made at the Hague, Holland, in 1697 is abstrac­ted here from the "Monthly Mercury", to illustrate the pleasure of noting such references.

"There has been a remarkable discovery lately made at CARHAIX in BRETAGNE. Carhaix is a small city in the Diocese of QUIMPER, seated upon the top of a little hill, and watered with the little RIVER YER, which gliding at the foot of the hill, by the suburb ROUG le BIZAN, waters a great number of meadows, that render the country very fertile pasturage, and fruitful in cattel (cattle?).

This city, though at present of a mean extent, was anciently one of the biggest and most considerable in Bretagne. It was plundered, and almost reduced to ashes by the English, in the year 1578, though the Counts of Bretagne made it the usual place of their residence. There are still to be seen ruins of an old castle; and the Ways that lead to the city still retain the names of the ancient streets. The Convent of the Austin Friars, which is very large, and very ancient, is a convincing proof that the place was formerly very considerable.

Near this City it was, that M. Estienne, a Burgess of the same place, and a person of very great understanding, having employed certain labourers to work in a garden which he had made near adjoining to the city, which is one of the most neat and curios pieces of workmanship in all those quarters, found a well, the entrance into which was closed up. But after he had caused it to be opened, and digged about two fathoms deep, the labourers met with a very fine Vault, well painted, and about eight foot wide, of a round figure, and between six and seven foot high. Upon which, digging on, they discovered a subterraneal passage which was arched, and about six foot broad, which seemed to lead a man very far, with an easie descent, that was hardly perceptible presently notice was given of this to

M. de la Raudiere Kaguideau, the Seneschal or Chief Magistrate of the city, who repairing to the place, with the most considerable of the inhabitants, sent for several wax candles, with which being lighted, he ordered several men to go into the said passage; but they had not gone above thirty or forty foot, before they observed a kind of descent, and that it was very cold. In short, all the lights went out; which obliged them to make use of lanthorns, wherein they put several lighted candles, by means of which they went on about fifty paces, still descending; and it was observed, that then the cold increased. The candles also went out in the lanthorns, and


they that were in the passage, found that they should all perish, if they went any farther, for they found themselves ready to swoon, so that they were forced to make bast back again. Which is the reason that it cannot yet be known whither this subterraneal passage leads, no body daring to venture any more. But this is proof, that formely the city was very large. However 'tis said, that new attempts will be made, in order to the making

of farther discoveries."           

 

STOW'S SURVEY OF LONDON, 1603      (Editor)

Following Mr. Hyatt's line of thought, let me draw this extraordinary Survey to the attention of those who have never poked about in it. A book for poking, not for wholesale assault. John Stow, Elizabethan historian, reflected that during his long life London had changed beyond recognition. How would people like us know what had been there if he and others did not tell us? He drew on his notes and those he had gathered carefully from others in 1598, to record all that he could.

See Stow hurrying after Roman cremation burials in Spitalfields, and after Roman finds in St. Paul's Cathedral. His well-thumbed book is still a great source for the London excavations of today and yesterday.

As a bonus he gives us Walter Fitzstephen's recollections of his London boyhood under Henry II. The old monk, companion of Becket, looked back on Sunday walks, classroom cockfights in school holidays, and the great takeaway restaurant on the bank of the Thames.

 

HAMPI, INDIA         by BEVERLY PERKINS

"The city of Bijanagar is such that the eye has not seen, nor ear heard of any place resembling it upon the whole earth."

"What I saw….seemed to me as large as Rome, and verybeautiful to the sight ... "

So wrote visitors to Hampi in Karnataka, South West India, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Also known as Vijayanagar, the city was founded around 1336 as the capital of one of the largest and richest Hindu empires in history. Surrounded by seven lines of massive fortifications, Hampi and its satellites covered an area of 12 square miles and sheltered a population of half a million. It was reported to have a standing army of at least 90,000 men (rising to over 1,000,000 in times of war), 20,000 cavalry and 900 elephants. Its wealth derived from its monopoly of the spice and cotton trades, its bazaar was world-famous for its splendour. But all this came to a sudden end when, in 1565, the army was defeated by the Deccan Sultans and the city was ransacked and destroyed. Its popula­tion fled, and six months after the battle an Italian visitor found nothing but wild animals roaming its deserted streets.

Excavations were started in 1976 and around 500 monuments have so far been identified, most dating from the city's golden age, the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-29). Scattered widely over a partly barren, partly lushly-cultivated landscape, the atmospheric ruins are dominated by huge granite rocks. They require at least a day to visit, preferably two.

Although the civic buildings are largely in ruins, numerous temples survive, some dating as far back as the 9th century. The tallest is the Virupaksha temple (16th C) with its impressive, richly carved 9-storey "gopuram". The temple complex is still in daily use, and is the focus of an annual Temple Car festival.

The Vijaya Vittala temple is one of only three in India designated as a World Heritage site. Its outstanding feature is its exterior pavilion known as the Hall of Musical Pillars. These slender columns produce three or four different musical notes when struck with the fingers, but it seems that their musical properties are due to the crystal structure of the stone, rather than to any skill on the part of the masons. In front of the temple stands a stone cart similar to the wooden carts still used in religious processions. Its wheels, also of stone, were designed to turn and so give the illusion of movement.

The Vijayanaga emperors fought bitter battles against their Muslim neighbours who had established supremacy in the Deccan; but by the mid-15th century Muslims were accepted at court and had taken service in the army. A mosque was built and Islamic architectural styles began to  blend with those of the Hindus. This is evident in a number of buildings at Hampi, notably the Lotus Mahal, a small palace in the Queen's Quarters, the layout and the lower storey of which are Hindu, the upper storey Islamic.

The imposing Elephant Stables also incorporate Islamic elements. This long rectangular building housed 10 elephants, each in its own vast compartment entered by a high arched doorway and topped by a dome.

Clearly also Islamic in style is the Queen's Bath, an enclosed bathing pool fed by a channel surrounding the building which supplied constant running water. Balconies on each side of the interior overlook the pool. Regrettably this graceful building is being inexpertly restored with crudely applied concrete ...

Built on the banks of a wide river, Hampi had no shortage of water and was famed for the sophistication of its waterworks. Aqueducts intersect the Royal Enclosure or Durbar area, supplying its extensive network of channels, wells and pools. The most fascinating of these is a stepped pool: like an inverted ziggurat, it descends in four steps to a depth of 20 feet, each stage decorated in turn with rows of small, upright stepped pyramids. Its precise geometric design and near-perfect state of preserva­tion (it was excavated only recently) make it hard to believe that it was constructed over 400 years ago.

Inside the Royal Enclosure is one of Hampi's most impressive monuments, a massive granite and greenstone podium rising to a height of 75 feet. It is believed to have been topped by a wooden pavilion in which the ruler would have sat to receive homage and review parades involving thousands of people and animals. These parades are reflected in the carvings which cover every stone of its walls - horses, elephants, camels, soldiers, hunters, merchants, dancing girls forming a never-ending procession. It must have been a truly awe-inspiring sight - small wonder that a Portuguese visitor to Hampi in 1500 described the city as "a second paradise”.

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