Newsletter-265-April-1993

NEWSLETTER 265      Edited by Micky Watkins   APRIL1993

 

DIARY

TUESDAY APRIL 6 EXCAVATIONS AT FULHAM PALACE Lecture by KEITH WHITEHOUSE Keith Whitehouse is Director of Rescue Excavations for the Fulham Archaeological Rescue Group, a voluntary and unfunded group like ourselves. The group was formed in 1972 to investigate the Fulham and Hammersmith area, formerly the Manor of Fulham. Nothing was known about the area earlier than AD 704 when it was acquired by the Bishop of London. Fulham Palace was their residence until 1973. Excavation and site-watching has continued since then and their discoveries include Neolithic and Iron Age, 3/4 centuries Roman settlement, the site of a medieval chapel, a medieval moated corner within the earlier moat, dating the Great Hall to at least 1480. We saw many of their finds in the Palace Museum when we went there for our Christmas Dinner last year. This will be our last lecture before next autumn.

TUESDAY MAY 4 HADAS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Hopefully we can get the business over quickly and enjoy nostalgia from past events on film followed by some HADAS 1992 slides presented by Daphne Lorimer, Bill Bass and Ted Sammes.

SATURDAY MAY15 SEMINAR prior to Church Farmhouse excavation. 2pm-5pm at St Mary's Church House, Hendon. Finds from Ted Sammes excavations at Burroughs Gardens, Church Farm and Church Terrace will be on show.

Saturday May 22            BOSWORTH FIELD - Outing with Sheila Woodward and Tessa Smith.

 (not Fishbourne as previously advertised).

Saturday July 17       STONEA AND ELY - Outing with Vikki O'Connor, Roy Walker and Bill Bass.

Saturday Aug 14       PINNER WALK AND HEADSTONE MANOR - Outing with Dorothy Newbury

Friday, Saturday,      WEEKEND IN CHESTER AND LLANDUDNO (See separate slip) Sunday Sept 3-5

Saturday Oct 16         MINIMART

Saturday Nov 6          ST. PAUL'S VISIT with Mary O'Connell.

We still cannot find a venue for our Christmas Dinner that is within our price range.

'We have received several suggestions where the hall hire alone is anything from £289 upward! We'll find somewhere in the end_


DIGGING BEFORE THE FLOOD: REPORT ON MARCH LECTURE
by DIANA ROOKLEDGE

Members welcomed the return visit of Dr John Curtis of the Western Asiatic Department of the British Museum to talk in detail about three of the six sites explored by the Museum in Northern Iraq between 1983-6)

It was literally before the Flood We saw slides of a bleak, hilly region northwest of Mosul, part of Kurdistan, with few signs of human habitation, past or present. An open invitation had gone out from the Iraq Government to explore and record the area before it was covered in 1985 by a 60-mile lake behind the new Saddam Dam.

The first two sites described by Dr Curtis were small rural sites from the Hellenistic period until then very little known in this area. These rural sites seemed to be touched only superficially with a veneer of Hellenism unlike the large urban sites Finds were described as unexciting in the main, though we saw slides of characteristic Hellenistic loom-weights with small stamps at the top, and shards of high quality highly-glossed red painted pottery, with stamps of floral designs and palmettes. - The first time this type had been found in a, small rural area. There was also painted pottery, and from the 4th level of Tell Der Situm, coins of the local ruler of Antioch around 150 BC. Dr Curtis had been drawn to this site partly because of a surface find of a beautiful terracotta figurine of a man in a belted tunic, the cloak over his shoulder fixed by a brooch. Another beautiful surface find on the last day was the fragment of a fibula of Assyrian type the bust of a lady with hands clasped under her bosom. No other Assyrian context was found in the area

The site of Tell Der Situn (‘mound of the monastery with columns') may have been a small fort or police post on a promontory with a water course on three sides. We saw beautiful stone walling, a metre thick and up to 6 courses, making a substantial building 20 metres long, with two large internal buttresses The second Hellenistic site was Grai Darki ( `mound of trees', though not a tree in sight). The archaeological deposits made on the top 2-3 metres of a 10 metre high mound. Three areas of work were spaced along the length of the mound. There appear to have been two small but very prosperous Hellenistic villages, with luxury painted pottery. An interesting feature was a number of massive grain silos, though these contained no grain, 3 to 4 metres wide and 2 to 3 metres in depth. Similar have been found elsewhere in Iraq.

There were many other Hellenistic sites in the area, but little from other periods apart from the modern village abandoned ahead of the dam. It was perhaps only in the Hellenistic period that there was enough peace and security to settle the area and exploit its agricultural potential.

The third site was very different its buildings of rubble and gypsum mortar showing it to be of medieval date. Kherbet Der Situn 'ruins of the monastery with columns') was a much gentler site, only 13 miles from Nineveh with mulberry trees and a spring still visited by the Bedouin with their flocks. Dr Curtis' slides traced for us the development and various stages of the church. Interestingly, the Church was oriented to the East, and not to the West towards Jerusalem, suggesting the founders came from the West.

But just as interesting, though somewhat involved, were the theories about the foundation and history of the building. It was visited in the 1960s by Father Jean Fiey (qv). an expert on the history of the Syriac Church who suggested that it was the Church of ONE column, built c. 598 by St. Michael, Soldier of Nineveh, who built a, column in front, on top of which he sat until his death.

Alas. the excavators found no trace of ANY column. And the pottery associated with the earliest phase of the building was the multi-coloured incised painted Straffiata ware probably dating it to the second part of the 13th century

HIGHGATE CEMETERY
by LIZ SAGUES

To visitors, nothing has changed at the ever-popular Victorian Valhalla of Highgate Cemetery. The Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon still have a romantic atmosphere of decay ­thanks, in part, to archaeological expertise.

Bulging rendering, cracked pediments. a wingless stone eagle, these are exactly the required results of a £150,000 investment, a new approach to building conservation which makes no attempt to put back what has gone but concentrates instead on consolidating what remains. "The fact that it looks as though nothing has been done is entirely to the point," says cemetery general manager Richard Quirk. English Heritage has met two-thirds of the cost of the conservation programme, which was completed at the end of last year, and the Friends of Highgate Cemetery have funded the rest.Ten years ago there would have been no alternative but to hack off all the render and replace it, to mould new pediments, to cast a replacement wing for the flightless eagle. The new approach is possible largely because of increased familiarity with the use of lime-based materials, which have the advantage that, unlike previously popular cement, they do not introduce salts which lead to damaging cracking and they have a slight inherent flexibility, allowing old structures to move.

Archaeology has also played a part, with skills developed for conserving excavated remains being used by the specialist companies now able to take on such projects, and archaeologists were among the Nimbus Conservation staff involved at Highgate Cemetery. The company, founded in 1982 by a group of specialists who had worked on the West Front of Wells Cathedral, now covers the country and runs a four-year building conservation apprenticeship scheme teaching the new skills.

At Highgate the deterioration which had occurred was inevitable, given the construction method used 150 years ago when the cemetery was established — the catacombs had a brick core dug into banks of wet soil and covered with a hard surface rendering. Brick and render cracked apart and after shrubs and trees took root in the cracks the crumbling became ever more serious. A priority of the conservators has been to stop further cracks appearing, to prevent the cycle of destruction beginning again.

They have gone further, however, restoring function as well as appearance. At the Circle of Lebanon, the ingenious integral drainage and ventilation system has been made to work again, avoiding potentially-fatal disturbance of the roots of the magnificent 300-year-old central cedar. All that is new is an additional waterproof membrane, carefully concealed under a lime mortar capping, to ensure the vaults remain watertight.

The same patience, care and respect for the traditional methods will characterise the next major repair project at the cemetery — the mausoleum of newspaper owner Julius Beer, one of the three buildings whose Grade 2* listing reflect their historic importance.

But there is much more to do, and the Friends of Highgate Cemetery hope to carry it out, as funds and grants permit. They welcome new members: write to FoHC, Highgate Cemetery, Swains Lane, N6 6PJ, or phone 081-340 1834 for details.

This article is based on one originally written by Liz Sagues for the Ham High.

ACTION!

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE 1939-45 WAR       from BILL FIRTH

I am not sure if this is a recognised branch of archaeology but it has been suggested that there should be some record of Civil Defence, Home Guard and other sites connected with the 1939-45 War in the Borough. Of course many of them have long since disappeared but there are still some remains.

I do not regard this as part of industrial archaeology but I have agreed to coordinate the listing of sites. Will anyone who knows of sites which should be included in the list please let me know? It occurs to me that there may be sites from 1914-18 which should also be included.

BILL FIRTH, 49 WOODSTOCK AVENUE, NW 11 9RG, 081-455-7164

SITE WATCHING AND PLANNING APPLICATIONS from BILL BASS IN THE NORTHERN AREA

English Heritage have asked for an Archaeological Assessment of a site at Builder's Yard, Barnet Road, Arkley. It lies within the likely extent of the medieval village at Barnet Gate. Some of the Barnet courts were held there, which suggests that it was then a larger settlement than now, and that it was, or had been of some special importance. (See 'A Place in Time' p 59.)

English Heritage has also given notice of a proposed route for a gas pipeline. The route starts at Moat Mount Open Space, runs north past Barnet gate, joins Rowley Lane then heads along the Barnet By-pass as far as Dyrham Lane. A similar line was laid in 1970 (ish).

HADAS hope to site-watch an area behind 63-67 Wood Street, Barnet. This site lies about 200m. due west of the former Victoria Maternity Hospital, another site of HADAS interest.

MORE DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY1993 will be from Saturday 28th to Sunday 29th August. The aim is for young people and their families to visit a site and perhaps take part in activities. Venues may be Excavations, Monuments, Museums or Resource Centres. This is promoted by the Young Archaeologists Club, but depends on local organisation.

BURGH HOUSE in Hampstead has an interesting exhibition of old maps of the Hampstead area, showing its development over the centuries 13 April- 27 June.

FENTON HOUSE, also in Hampstead, is the nearest National Trust property for many Society members. This year is its tercentenary, which will be celebrated in the week beginning 7 June.

ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM, Hendon. The present special exhibition is on Biggles, and on 13 May this will be followed by “On Target", an exhibition which features the 'Dambusters' as well as the Gulf War.

For children, Flight Activities Week, 14th-22nd August, provides plenty of interest, including a parachute display on 17th August.

PRESS REPORTS

At TROY in Turkey, archaeologists are finding that the city was much larger than they previously supposed. According to a report in the Evening Standard, this means the city was important enough for Greeks and Trojans to fight over and so provides evidence that Homer's account of the Trojan War in the Iliad may be based on actual events.

Near HERTFORD. site-watching where a bypass is being planned has resulted in the discovery of a Bronze and Iron Age site. The settlement may be 2,500 years old, and pottery, flint and a cremation pot have been found. Report in Hoddesdon Hertford and Ware Herald and Post.

At MONKEN HADLEY Common land is being transferred from Barnet Council to the Parish after a long legal wrangle over ownership. Church wardens successfully claimed that the Parish owned the Common under an Act of 1777. Now they are dismayed to find that Barnet Council is unwilling to continue to pay the E10.000 maintenance needed for this public open space.

At CANTERBURY four previous cathedrals have been unearthed! Buried under the present Cathedral lie remains of:

An 8th century cathedral, possibly built by Archbishop Cuthbert, the first archbishop to be buried there.

A 9th century cathedral, built after the destruction of Canterbury by the Vikings in 850. A 10th century cathedral, probably built by a Viking warrior's son called Oda who became archbishop in 941.

An early 11th century cathedral, probably built by King Canute. This was very large with 112ft wide west front and two towers.

Archaeologists may yet find evidence of the original 4th century Roman church at Canterbury. As a massive Anglo Saxon cathedral has also been found at Winchester. it seems likely that others are hidden below Norman cathedrals elsewhere in Britain.

MEMBERSHIP         from VIKKI 0' CONNOR

To date a third of our membership has renewed for 1993-94 - an excellent response' Sadly, the following members have now resigned from the Society: Marian Berry, Leonard Devenish and Mrs F Gravatt who are no longer able to attend meetings; Ronald Bevan and Mr & Mrs David Kay now live too far away to attend meetings, Mr & Mrs Hacket have also resigned. We wish them all the best and hope they will not forget us!

Finally, we welcome another batch of new members: Mrs Isobel Beazley, Mr Jeffrey Sheaf, Mrs Brenda 0 'Mahoney. Mr °kasha Edlaly and Mr John Moreton.

 

Members News

Bryan Hackett One of our younger members for many years till he went to Magdalene College, Oxford to study history was a keen digger at West Heath. We learn that after working for a charitable trust for the handicapped he is now completing his theological training at Westcott House.

Frieda Wilkinson We are sorry to learn that Frieda is back in hospital for a short while.

A letter from friends would be welcome I am sure. These can be sent to her home address for forwarding if necessary.

Andy Simpson has contributed to a book on Midland Bus operations, especially Trolleybuses. Didn’t HADAS do some research on the same subject in Barnet? (Brian Wibberley I think)

Mrs L. Garnier has written to say her husband died last December. We are sorry to hear this sad news and offer our sympathies.

Iohn Enderby has received a note from the North London Hospice thanking the late Jean Snelling’s HADAS friends for their cheque for £44 as a gift to the Hospice in tribute to Jean instead of flowers. Their letter reads "Jean received much loving care from the specialist staff of the newly opened hospice in her last all important days and passed away in peace".

Alec Jeakins. We owe thanks to Alec for at long last managing to get the 1977 Television Film of our West Heath excavation entry on the Chronicle Programme converted to home viewing. All earlier efforts with the BBC had failed and private conversion would have cost over £100. We will enjoy Alec’s effort at the AGM.

Betty Jeakins  (Alec's mother ) Another member in hospital for a long awaited knee replacement. We wish her well and hope to see her on our summer outings again this year.

Stephen Conrad has mentioned that thousands of old spectacles are needed by his Rotary Club for despatch to Africa. Dorothy Newbury says she often receives these for the Minimart ( not easily sold ) So could any members who have any OLD SPECS lying about in drawers send them to Dorothy now, or bring them to the April lecture, or take them to Stephen 's tailor's shop, 45 Brent St.. Hendon NW4 The consignment leaves for Africa at the end of April.

Daphne Lorimer Hits The Media!  During renovation at St Ronan’s Church, Iona, foundations were being laid for a museum. Bones from a post-medieval cemetery were found, and Daphne the Scottish expert was called in to report on them. Because it was Iona it caught the public’s imagination. A reporter from the Sunday Observer interviewed Daphne. She said one bone could be female and that's when the excitement started - what were a woman's bones doing in a monastery cemetery? Daphne back-tracked, but later found that all the seeable bones proved to he female Then it was found that a female cemetery existed in Ireland near a Nunnery in post-medieval times, and there used to be a Nunnery as well as a Monastery on Iona. Interest increased and all the newspapers got in on the act. Daphne was photographed in 'The Scotsman' and the Orcadian Grampian TV put it in their programme. Orkney Radio snapped it up and Daphne was called in to participate in two Scottish chat shows. Scottish TV are now showing an archaeological series on Scottish excavations starting with Scarabrae (memories of HADAS week in Orkney in 1978) and ending in Iona with Daphne 'in situ '. And finally the 'Sun' contacted her - not for page 3, I might add -but she never dared buy a copy just in case! D.N.

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