Newsletter-293-August-1995

ISSUE No. 293                                                                        AUGUST 1995

EDITED by ANNE LAWSON

DIARY

Saturday, 10th August                                                              SILCHESTER and ODIHAM and TILFORD

with Vikki O'Connor and Bill bass

(Details and application form enclosed.)

Thursday,3lst August to Sunday 3rd September                              LONG WEEKEND in

DURHAM, SOUTH SHIELDS and HADRIAN'S WALL                     with Dorothy Newbury.

Tuesday, 3rd October                                                        Our LECTURE SEASON begins with a TALK

by Theya Mollison on 'The Spitalfields Project'.

Lectures will resume at Avenue House, East End Road, N.3. 8 for 8.30 p.m.

Any new members requiring a map or details, please ring June Porges on 0181 - 346 - 5078.

Thursday, 5th October                                          MORNING WALK and VISIT to THE

TRAVELLERS' CLUB, PALL MALL, with Mary O'Connell.

Saturday, 14th October                        MINIMART ! MINIMART

OTHER DATES FOR YOUR DIARY AT THE CHURCH FARMHOUSE MUSEUM - see Page 7.

STOP PRESS         STOP PRESS !

DURHAM WEEKEND

Four members who have booked for this trip may have to drop out due to medical or work commitments.

Please ring Dorothy Newbury on 0181 - 203 - 0950, if you would like to go, or to have your name put on the waiting list.

 


Text Box: THE FOUR BURYS Roy WalkerAndrew Reynold's lecture to the Society in March this year had certainly fired our members' enthusiasm for landscape archaeology - the complementary outing to Wiltshire on 17th June was oversubscribed by more than twenty.

The first stop was for refreshments at Marlborough, thought by some to be the ideal centre for a future outing, and then we moved into the vicinity of the Compton Bassett Area Research Project (CBARP). At Yatesbury Manor Farm we were shown the results of several season's careful excavation in a field containing residual earthworks plus parts of dismantled aircraft. CBARP has been investigating settlement patterns and by excavation together with extensive map and historical research has shown how the village has been replanned through the ages. Our guide pointed out the remains of an enclosure which had been maintained from the late Roman period through the early Anglo Saxon period and survived until the mid-18th century. Within the farm area, traces of Anglo Saxon house platforms and terraces had been located and the existence of a pathway through the site was confirmed by a gap within the enclosing earthwork.

One puzzle which we were asked to help solve was the mortared platform lying half a metre below the surface. There was no dating evidence and no local knowledge of it having been a base to any structure. Geophysical survey had ruled out any adjoining archaeology. The team cannot interpret this feature. My view was that it may have been linked to the nearby airfield, a large training base during the war. It was noted with some amusement that in the field next to the excavation was a mixed flock of rare breed sheep which included a Wiltshire which had the build and stance of a bull terrier!

We moved on to Avebury for lunch and a tour of the locality, this time not to look at the monument but to see the work carried out by the team. However, a brief history was given,plus details of the reassessment of the Avebury road patterns which show that four roads possibly led to the site. The church had been surveyed by the team as had the ones at Yatesbury and Cherhill. St James's, Avebury, is of Anglo Saxon foundation, dated to around 1000 AD, and displays building features of the period - side-alternate quoins; round-headed windows; original plaster within the north aisle and a long string-course. A piece of the shaft of a late Anglo Saxon stone cross has been incorporated into the west wall of the church. The tour took us to edge of the village where the movement of the settlement since Roman times was explained. It was interesting to see Silbury Hill from a new viewspot and perhaps appreciate this prehistoric landscape a little better.

Our final port of call was another "bury" that of Malines. Malmesbury Abbey, founded on the site of a 7th century hermitage, competed with Salisbury to be the most splendid ecclesiastical building in the west country and required a superb tower surmounted by a spire in order to eclipse its rival in height. Predictably this tower collapsed at the end of the 15th century demolishing most of the east end of the Abbey. The west tower, dating from the 14th century collapsed two hundred years later taking three western bays with it. Accordingly we were shown around a severely diminished church with a disproportionately high ceiling but its splendour is still apparent. Here among the late Romanesque pillars and arches of the nave we were presented with another problem. Jutting out from the triforium was a large stone "box", with windows. Its purpose was obscure - was it a lookout post for the medieval security guard ensuring the faithful did not misappropriate any holy relics or was it a penance chamber or a screened seat for a visiting dignitary? My view on this one was that it was where Elmer the flying monk was locked away for his own safety. In the early 11th century, Elmer made a pair of wings and "flew" 200m from the Abbey tower, being severely injured upon coming down to earth. lie is commemorated by a stained glass window.

This was truly a HADAS outing, covering as it did a range of archaeological periods with the bonus of being linked to a lecture. Micky Cohen and Micky Watkins were thanked for the work that went into preparing the way and finding two ideal refreshment stops, the second next door to the Abbey. There was only one problem - we went a day early. Summer started the following day, we caught the last of the April showers!

There is a fifth "Bury" - Dorothy Newbury - who co-ordinates the arrangements for outings and our thanks go to her as well.


WHAT HAPPENED ON CHAPEL HILL ?                                        AUDREE PRICE-DAVIES

Excerpts from an account written by Father Cuthbert in 925 A.D. (Translated from the Latin.)

MONDAY                                                     I was up early for my morning prayers - earlier than usual.

The light was just breaking through into my cell in the woods - a wattle and daub structure with a reed roof. I live here away from my keeil to escape the notice of the Vikings.             I go down to the keeil
every morning, and although it is ruined and roofless, I say my morn­ing prayers, and where the altar would be, I use a simple cross of twigs as a focus, and if I am sure I am not detected I burn a taper.

Recently I have noticed - in the semi-darkness - that they are digging opposite the keeil inside the hill-fort enclosure. There is a boat alongside the digging       

TUESDAY                                                      To-day I went - in ordinary clothes - to visit Edwin, the

Celtic chieftain in his round-house. He was worried and pale. Seeing the Viking long-house near the shore on my way to visit Edwin, I saw that they were making a pyre - wood and brushwood were piled up. I mentioned this to Edwin, who told me that Ericson the Viking chief has been killed in a raid on Ireland.  His body has been brought back for
a ship burial. The warriors have laid out the body on a wagon in the long-house. Ericson married Branwen, Edwin's daughter, and they have

a son, Anund, who is four years old......................................

The Vikings used to raid our shores and rob and pillage. They burnt the keeil and stole the cross and the communion plate and they killed Father Aidan. I have been here ten years - in hiding        Now, the
Vikings no longer return to Scandinavia in the winter after the raid­ing season - they have settled here and married our women. We are a conquered people - we work for them, collect and store the grain and herd the cattle. They make raids on Ireland and on Meirioneth in North Wales and they bring the treasure back, but we are no longer free ..........

FRIDAY         Even through Odin's day, Thor's day and Frey's day,the digg-

ing goes on. The boat is 11 metres long and 3 metres wide, so Mordant tells me.     He is one of Edwin's nephews and he lives in the round-

house, but he oversees the slaves who are digging.........................................................

They have built a wall around the space to hold the boat - this is to hold back the earth. Mordant had been upset because they have un­earthed Christian graves in the digging. The remains were in stone-lined graves, with no grave goods. Morcant wanted to stop digging

and move the graves, but Leofric the Viking warrior in charge, insisted they dig on. The covering slabs of some graves and even the wall slabs have been removed he says. Some of the bones have been disturb­ed and spread out over the earth ........................................................................

SUNDAY        The burial is fixed for Wednesday - Odin's day. The warr-

iors believe that Ericson will go to Valhalla and live feasting and fighting. Each night his wounds will be healed and he will fight again the next day. It has been decided that Branwen must accompany her husband's passage to Valhalla as his companion.

WEDNESDAY                                                 Yesterday the feasting of the warriors in the long-house

carried on into the night and into the early hours of to-day. They lit the fire and what was left of the bones and what they did not eat, was thrown onto the pyre and burnt - joints of pig, ox, horse, cow, were all consumed by the fire.

Two wagons have been loaded - the first one with the body of Ericson and his grave goods. With him will be buried his shield and his sword,

Contd


CHAPEL HILL (Contd.)

his knife and the hone for sharpening the blades and a flint flake. There are also his stirrup irons, his spurs and mounts, and the straps and buckles of his horse and the bridle mounts of his horse. There is also a cauldron. His cloak is fastened with abronze ring-headed pin, a Celtic brooch fashioned to Viking taste.

The other wagon is loaded with the calcined bones and the ash from the pyre.

The hill is steep and the horses strain and pull with the heavy wag­ons. The Vikings, in full armour with shields and swords, stride cheerfully past us as we make our way sadly but steadfastly to the enclosure. Branwen holds Anund's hand. He talks excitedly, amazed at the number of people - Branwen makes no attempt to silence him. She is quiet and composed, as is also her father. We are the ones who feel sick and trembling. We file into the enclosure at the top of the hill and no-one seems to notice me.

The boat is in position in the hole and the space between the retain­ing wall and the boat has been filled with earth so that the boat is firmly in position. We look on silently and uncomfortably, and then a woman, veiled and dressed in black, steps towards us and takes Branwen's arm. She offers no resistance and walks towards the circle of warriors - seven or so - who are standing in front of the burial place. Two warriors appear with a rope which they twist round Bran-wen's throat, each taking one end. As they pull at the rope, the other warriors beat their shields with their swords, so that no screams are heard - but Branwen would not scream. A warrior slides his sword under Branwen's ribs as she slides lifeless to the ground, and the shield-beating stops. There is a stunned and sustained sil­ence. Anund, frightened by the noise and then the silence, runs screaming to Morcant, who picks him up and takes him away.

The warriors place Ericson in the boat with the grave goods alongside him and then place Branwen in the boat. She still wears her cloak with the belt and her ankle bracelets. A layer of stones is placed across the dry-walling and the boat, and on top of this the calcined bones and the ash - the remains of the previous night's feast. On top of this, the slaves are placing stones ......................................................................

Unable to watch any longer, Edwin moves away down the slope and the Vikings also move away. There will be more feasting to-night, but later they will sleep with their wives in the Celtic round-houses ...

THOR'S DAY                                                       On Chapel Hill, a white sail flies above the burial

place, which is now 12 metres long by 5 metres wide. The sail is att­ached to a post erected where the prow of the boat would be.

Ericson is sailing to Valhalla.

 

The characters are fictitious, the story is imaginary.

The archaeological details are in accord with the account of the ex­cavation as recorded in "Three Viking Graves in the Isle of Man"

by Gerhardt Bersu and David Wilson.

other material is taken from "Vikings" by Magnus Magnusson,

12The Vikings" by James Graham-Campbell and Dafydd Kidd,

"The Celts" by Nora Chadwick, and "Celtic Britain" by Charles Thomas.

 


SITE WATCHING                                                                         Bill Bass

Bridgedown Golf Course, Barnet

This was a large-scale evaluation undertaken by the

Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust (HAT), on a site just north of Chipping Barnet, adjacent to the west of St Albans Road but on the Hertsmere side of the boundary.

They found very little in the way of archaeology due to "a reflection of the underlying geology, an unattractive heavy clay which is prone to waterlogging". They did, however, locate a small number of 'features' containing Roman or Saxo-Norman pottery.

It would be interesting from a HADAS point of view to find-out the nature of this pottery and types of feature, even if they are ephemeral. As in the case of any Roman finds, these are very few and far between in the area (Chipping Barnet). I will ask if there is a report available.

HAT have also carried out evaluations at 311-313 Regents Park Road, Finchley (April '94), nothing found. And at the junction of Regents Park Road and North Circular Road (Oct. '94), "one early post-medieval ditch".

English Heritage have written to confirm that Barnet's War of the Roses battlefield is included on their Register of Historic Battlefields, published by EH on 7th June 1995.

A DIFFERENT ANGLE ON WESTMINSTER                                         A.M. LARGE.

Westminster Abbey is reaching the end of a 23-year restoration, and is looking resplendent, with stonework cleaned or restored as necess­ary.

Until 30th September there is a small but fascinating exhibition on the work, finds, etc. Entrance is via the north door in St. Margarets church nearby. The modest admission fee includes a chance to visit the stonemasons' yard, where some work is still in progress, and, for a small extra fee, visitors may be lifted by hoist to see part of the work on the roof at close quarters, 90 feet up. The modern grotesque animals are a delight.

You will be issued with a 'Hard Hat':                                                                     hildren may also like to do

the trip - the view over Westminster is one that is rarely seen.

GARDEN SUBURB WEEKEND

A worthwhile £30 worth of various books were sold on the HADAS stall in the Suburb Tea House during the Suburb Weekend, 24th and 25th June.


Text Box: BOOK NEWS Bill FirthBARNET AT WAR - Percy Reboul & John Heathfield. Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd. £7.99.

To write an account of the Second World War in an area as large as the present London Borough of Barnet, which at the time was administered by five separate councils in rather disparate areas, would seem to be either impossible or to require at least five volumes, but John Heathfield and Percy Reboul, who are both well known to members, have succeeded admirably. By taking typical examples they have succeeded in recounting the effects of the war throughout the borough so that a missing favourite story from one area is compensated by an equally apt one from another.

The story too seems to be comprehensive. It starts with preparations for the expected air attack, not in 1938 when such preparations became more obvious to the public, but in 1935 with the formation of a sub-committee of the Imperial Defence Committee to consider what needed to be done and we can see whether the plans succeeded or not.

It ends in October 1945 under the heading "Home at Last" with the finding of 11 Salvation Army nurses, "now fit and well" in Java but I was a little disappointed that there was nothing about the returning servicemen.

In between, every possible subject seems to have been covered, some of which few of us would ever have thought of. It may sound macabre, but to cope with the vast numbers of casualties, which it was thought would materialise but thankfully did not, temporary mortuaries were built. In 1942 the, furnishings at Hendon mortuary behind the town hall were valued for insurance at £85.

The ethnic and religious mix of the area led to particular problems. The Jewish population in Golders Green and Hendon was particularly affected by the shortage of fish, a situation whch was aggravated because they could not always get kosher meat. Long queues occurred at fishmongers and the local food committee in Hendon reported "an added irritation is that the queues are often substantially composed of foreigners".

The involvement of the civilian population in total war with the bombing, both high explosive and incendiary, and the Vls and V2s is reported with many personal stories often of great courage but also showing the fortitude and humour shown by the people - " we were all suffering from shock, but you can soon shake that off with willpower and a cup of tea".

There has been a spate of books commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. This one does not claim to be an anniversary publication but it is timely in that we can still record the memories of some of those who took part in the momentous events of the time. This is local history at its best.

No doubt the book will be available at many outlets but it can be bought at local libraries. I urge you to go out and get your copy now.


HADAS LIBRARY AND HADRIAN'S WALL                                                                                                                  Roy Walker

There are two books in the library at Avenue House which may be of interest to members participating in the outing to Durham as they are likely to be out of print. The first is "A walk along the Wall" by Hunter Davies (1974). It is a chatty traveller's guide which recounts the author's experiences at Hadrian's Wall and should make good bedtime reading before the outing. The second is "The monks of Durham" by Anne Boyd (1975), an ecclesiastical history, more specialised in its subject but not too technical in its content. Please contact me on 0181­361-1350 if you would like to borrow either of these.

A recent guide to Hadrian's Wall is the English Heritage/Batsford "Hadrian's Wall" by Stephen Johnsons one of the excellent series covering all aspects of British archaeology from individual sites to regions and periods. This costs round £15 paperback but English Heritage also publishes a much cheaper "Souvenir Guide, the Roman Wall" which is a very adequate guide for short trips. Guide books are available for individual sites on the Wall such as "Corbridge Roman Station" by Eric Birley and "Roman Vindolanda" by Robin Birley. These are best purchased at the Wall where a full choice is available.

Finally, one warning: in 1990 the Ordnance Survey issued a map of Hadrian's Wall for the non­specialist market. Professor Sheppard Frere called the map "disgraceful" as it contained historical errors. For example, it stated that the Wall was attacked by the Scots at a time when they were an obscure group in Ireland; that it was abandoned in 383 AD instead of after 400 AD and that it was built by two legions instead of three. The lack of field boundaries made it difficult to know whereabouts on the Wall you were and evidently the scales were wrongly printed further adding to the confusion. The earlier OS maps (1964 and 1972) are considered accurate. You are therefore advised to check the date of any map before making a purchase.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS AT CHURCH FARMHOUSE MUSEUM

'Spirit of Place'

Saturday, 16th September to Sunday, 5th November - an exhibition of water colours and etchings of local important houses, by Peter Hume.

Also included in the exhibition are water colours of Venice, by the same local artist.

 1 A Small World of Mini Mansions'

CHRISTMAS EXHIBITION this year at the Borough's Church Farmhouse Museum in Hendon will feature dolls' houses over the last 20D years.

The museum is keen to include examples owned by local resident s in the Borough, and would be very pleased to hear from anyone who wou ld be prepared to lend material for the exhibition. Dolls/ houses a nd mini-ature furniture of all types and periods would be of interest, but early examples and any made within the Borough would be particularly welcome.

If you have anything suitable for the exhibitio n, please conta ct the museum's Curator, Gerrard Roots, as soon as po ssible on 0181- 203-0130. All loans and assistance will be gratefully ack nowledged.

The Christmas Exhibition will open on 25th November, and be on show until Sunday, 14th January,1996.

 


WASHDAY IN THE SCULLERY AT THE CHURCH FARMHOUSE MUSEUM

The museum is gradually developing its collection of artefacts re­lating to washing and cleaning, so that the kitchen scullery can be completely re-arranged with new displays. If you have any items you would be prepared to give, or to lend on a long-term basis, please contact the curator, Gerrard Roots, at the museum.

Small objects like clothes-pegs, soap packets and cleaning brushes will be very useful, but most urgently the museum needs white sheets - to

be put in the linen press and through the mangle to show how they worked.

Does anyone have a collarless shirt or a pair of 'long johns' they no longer need ? If you have anything you think may be suitable, please phone Gerrard on 0181-203-0130.

 

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