Newsletter-294-September-1995

HADAS DIARY

Tuesday 3rd October

Lecture: "The Spitafields Project"

Presented by Theya Mollison of The Museum of London.

 

Thursday 5th October

Visit: Morning walk and visit to the Travellers' Club, Pall Mall. Guided by Mary O'Connell.

A booking form is incorporated within pages 5 & 6

 

Saturday 14th October

Minimart at St Mary's Church Hall, Hendon

See enclosed sheet for details

 

Tuesday 7th November

Lecture: "Not What They Used To Be"

Presidential Address by Michael Robbins, FSA.

 

HADAS Lectures are held in the Stephen's Room, 1st floor, Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley Central. Doors open at 8.00 pm for refreshments, lectures commence at 8.15 pm. The Society's library in the Garden Room will be open on lecture evenings and can be accessed via the ground floor of Avenue House.

 

CHANGE OF DATE OF HADAS MONTHLY MEETINGS FOR 1996

HADAS has settled in at its new meeting venue, Avenue house, without too many problems and the Committee will be renewing the hire of a room in the House for 1996. However, one inconvenience is the location of the room - it is too high up requiring several flights of stairs to be negotiated. There is a slightly larger room on the ground floor, which has wheelchair access, that would suit our purposes but unfortunately it is booked regularly on the first Tuesday in the month. As intimated at the AGM (when June Porges took a rough poll on the wishes of the members present) the Committee has been considering changing the date of our monthly meetings so that this new room could be used.

The Committee has now decided to change our meetings to the second Tuesday in the month  commencing with Tuesday 13th February. 1996. The remaining 1995 meetings will be on the 1st Tuesday of the month in the 1st floor room in accordance with the Programme Card.

This change has the additional advantage of being able to hold meetings in the month of January although the 9th January, 1996, has been already allocated to an evening at the Royal Institution and Faraday Museum with Mary O'Connell.


VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED FOR HAMPSTEAD HEATH SURVEY

Preliminary work has commenced on the HADAS survey of the Anglo Saxon boundary ditch at
East Heath, Hampstead, prior to the undertaking of a long-term recording project and contour survey with the likelihood of subsequent excavation across the ditch itself. The contour surveying will involve the placing of a level line across the ditch and recording at intervals the depth from the line to the surface of the ditch thus obtaining on a scale drawing the profile of the ditch at that place. This needs to be located on the map and its height OD ascertained. This work can be carried out in several places at the same time and requires teams of three for each location. The work is not difficult (honest!) and requires accuracy rather than technical ability. Further resistivity testing will also be undertaken, this also requiring a team of no less then three, so there is a need for more members to assist in this project. The work is carried
out mainly at the weekends, working Saturday mornings from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm_ On Sundays we shall work from 10.30 am till about 3.00 pm taking a refreshment break (picnic lunch) at about 1.00 pm. Please contact Brian Wrigley, Roy Walker or Bill Bass for further details.

 

"OLD KING COLE WAS A MERRY OLD SOUL - A MERRY OLD SOUL WAS HE . .." Ann Trewick

Setting out from Felixstowe at 9.00 am on Saturday, 15th July en route to Colchester I felt very happy to be going to meet a merry band of souls from Hendon! The weather could not make up its mind - sunshine and showers alternated. But of course it did not deter the well-experienced members of HADAS.

The first visit was to Colchester castle and museum. In my opinion this is one of the best local museums in the country. There is a wealth of information well-displayed and the Roman exhibits are particularly informative with very fine examples of artefacts from all aspects of Roman life. There is much to interest all ages and I especially liked the "hands on" experiences so good for children. This adult enjoyed them too, going so far as to try on a Roman helmet and immediately deciding that I was not prepared to walk 20 miles a day wearing it! The chain mail was even heavier! From jig-saws, language puzzles and coin-rubbing to feeling a mortarium and a lovely Samian bowl or reclining on a "Roman" chaise-longue there was plenty to excite one's interest. The museum is housed in a building which is fascinating and I never cease to be amazed at its history. We started our tour in the Roman vaults, the basement of the temple built in honour of the emperor Claudius. As there is no local stone the Romans had to go to the in coast - Harwich, Walton and Felixstowe - to obtain septaria, a mixture of hardened mud and stones,with which to build. (The Roman fort at Felixstowe was also built with this. The fort has, unfortunately, disappeared into the sea.) Because septaria is poor building material it was reinforced with layers of red Roman bricks. These can be seen in several buildings around the town as well as in the Norman construction of the castle. The Normans used the Roman foundations for their castle, thus building the largest Norman, keep in Britain. Later, when the castle had fallen into ruins, one John Wheeley regarded it as a stone quarry but luckily he ran out of money before the building had entirely disappeared! It was rescued by a landowner in the town who bought the castle. He delighted in having a magnificent folly on his estate. He was responsible for some of the restoration, including the dome, a study, library and some arches. He must be the only person, too, who could boast an ice house in Roman ruins!

The castle was roofed over in 1935/36 after it came into the possession of the local authority in order to protect the fabric. Yet another surprise was to come when this roof was removed to effect repairs in 1988. The remains of the Norman chapel were recognized and it is believed that the chapel in the White Tower at the Tower of London was modeled on this one at Colchester. Continuing the tradition of imaginative design shown in the museum, the new roof brilliantly suggests the chapel without reconstructing it. There is even a touch of stained glass window. The visit to the roof, however, would not be complete without viewing the sycamore tree planted in 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. The castle is altogether a very satisfactory place to visit.

After lunch we set out in three groups to explore the town of Colchester. From Roman "colonia" times to modern days, Colchester has been a thriving town with interesting stories and people connected with it. Legend has it that St Helena, the mother of that Constantine who decreed that Christians could worship freely, was born here, the daughter of Old King Cole. William Gilbert, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, was born in Colchester and is buried in Holy Trinity churchyard. He wrote about magnetism - years ahead of his time. Part of his house is still in the centre of town, in a quiet backwater. It was later owned by Bernard Mason who collected clocks and watches made in Colchester. He left this collection to the town when he died. John Constable was a regular visitor because his solicitor owned the house which is now the Quaker Meeting House. The legend of Humpty Dumpty is reputed to have begun in this town at the time of the Siege of Colchester in 1648. A one-eyed gunner named Thompson was manning a gun on St Mary's church tower when the top of the tower was blown off by the Parliamentarians. The gun was reputed to be a shaker gun, shaped a bit like an egg! And there's an elephant! The weather-vane on top of the water tower sports an elephant. This is in memory of Jumbo, the largest elephant ever in captivity. It commemorates the Rector complaining about the elephant-like water tower built just outside his garden in 1882. It was about this time that Jumbo was bought by Barnum and transported to America the animal eventually met a sad end after a collision with a train.

Our final visit was to Gosbecks Archaeological Park. This is a new, exciting venture. A Romano-Celtic temple and theatre have been discovered very near to the Iron Age settlement of Camulodunum, home of King Cunobelin, about 2 miles from Colchester. A huge area has been acquired so that it can be explored, studied and preserved. What an exciting concept! Finally we enjoyed tea in the nearby church. Our thanks to the ladies who provided it. Our thanks also to our guides at the castle and in the town for making the history come so alive. Our thanks to Janet Lumley and Steve Benfield for their interesting talks at Gosbecks. Although I where frequently visit Colchester both for shopping and because I belong to the Colchester Archaeological Group, I thoroughly enjoyed my day with HADAS both because of the opportunity to see old friends and because of the chance to learn so much about the castle and town. On behalf of us all, I would like to thank Tessa and Sheila for making all the arrangements and for leading on the day to create a very happy and interesting experience.

Ann Trewick has been a member of HADAS for many years and was one of our active diggers before she moved to Felixstowe. She directed the HADAS excavation at xxxxxxxx in the early 1970s and was digging at Sutton Hoo when we had an outing there several years ago.

 

TILL'S HANDY HINTS FOR DIGGERS No 1

The need to leave grid markers in position on sites accessed by the public can cause problems which can be overcome by the use of the plastic tops from toothpaste tubes. Instead of leaving highly visible, easily vandalised (and potentially hazardous) metal spikes in the ground, the planning co-ordinates can be
marked by nails poked through the centre of the white plastic tops, the lids can then sprung back into position before being pushed into the ground. The colour makes then simple to locate even when hidden beneath vegetation but their size and apparent unimportance protects them from unwanted interference.

 

BOXGROVE - A STEP BACK INTO THE DISTANT PAST                                Jack Goldenfeld

HADAS was privileged to visit this c500,000 year-old site on July 30th, 1995, a brilliant summer's day, thanks to Percy Cohen, our organiser June Porges and our hosts, English Heritage. Our able guide, Simon Parfitt, provided the background to the site by explaining the way in which the geology reflected the changing landscapes over millennia. Successions of stratified beach and cliff-lines were laid down as sea levels responded to climatic changes with the evidence of a long series of intermittent floral, faunal and human activities present, trapped within the layers and frozen in time, revealed only now through massive commercial gravel and sand extraction processes. We learned of the way in which random surface finds of chipped flint artefacts led to Boxgrove's inclusion in Andrew Woodcock's survey of palaeolithic sites in the 1970s and early 1980s, and the ongoing yearly investigations there by Mark Roberts through the late 1980s for English Heritag. After a tour through three separate areas to familiarise us with the general topography of the site ,and its differing stratification patternings we were taken to the area designated Quarry 1B where the excavation team were hard at work in the baking heat and dazzling white sand. This area had anciently been a source of spring water which had channelled the landscape, creating a marshy environment, probably with pools and perhaps extensive enough to be an inland lagoon or fenland. Bone small remains of carnivores, bear, rhino, red deer, bison, equids and bird varieties were plentiful and in a good state of preservation, together with flint debitage and finished hand-axes, showing that tool-making butchery practices occurred upon these light silt and marine sand surfaces. The unmistakable association of these two classes of data, in an undisturbed context, and with a clear indication of a series of have been able to see this working area. It was from this part of the site that the human tibia was recovered and, of course, the search continues for other skeletal evidence, particularly cranial or mandible fragments. The high levels of expertise and precision demonstrated by the archaeologists in their excavation and recording techniques were very apparent. It was clear that they were operating under skilled direction with pinpoint plotting accuracy and clear time/space relationships of faunal and artefactual data as prime objectives. Our visit ended with a close look at some of the processed finds - flaked hand-axes, both finished and "rough-outs", bones and teeth of rodents like vole and mink, rhino teeth and larger bones with humanly-made butchery marks. We also saw a cast of the famous tibia - Homo Boxgrovensis something that we may never be able to see and again!

The Society was fortunate indeed to have had the opportunity of visiting Boxgrove, even though only eighteen members were able to be present. Those of us who were there have a very special and enlightening experience to remember.

 separate events but each within a relatively short time-span, is rare to say the least, and I was thrilled to

Those who attended were impressed by the clarity of Simon Parfitt's explanation of the geology and archaeology of this complex site making the day very worthwhile indeed. It was unfortunate that the time factor did not allow a fully-fledged HADAS outing to be organised which led to the small turnout. However, if you were unable to visit the site don't despair! It is hoped to arrange a lecture by Mark Roberts or Simon Parfitt (of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London) on the subject of the Boxgrove excavations early in 1996.

 

TILL'S  HANDY  HINTS  FOR  DIGGERS  No  2

 

HADAS work on Hampstead Heath has required stringing lines across well-used footpaths with the danger of tripping passersby or the fairly frequent jogger. Originally these danger points were highlighted by taping red card to the string but more convenient is the use of coloured plastic clothes pegs as they are reusable and easily transferrable to other locations on site as necessary.

 

Arthur Till recently contributed to the Society an extendable auger that he made from an army-surplus 1 inch drilling bit, two pieces of gas pipe, much solder and drilling. This has enabled us to probe to a depth of 1.5 metres on Hampstead Heath and is a much-welcomed and appreciated addition to our excavation equipment. The digging team is hoping he will now make a solar-powered motor to assist in pulling the auger from the ground.

 

 

WOT,   NO   CASTLE?                                                                                                                                                                                     ROY   WALKER

 

The August outing fell neatly into three historic and gastronomic sections - Roman Silchester and coffee in the morning, rural Tilford and tea in the afternoon with lunch in late-medieval Odiham sandwiched in between. Perfect organisation by Bill Bass and Vikki O'connnor who also laid on suitable weather for a totally outdoors day.

First, after a refreshment stop at the Red Lion Inn, Mortimer West End, we headed for Silchester Museum where our two guides provided a choice of long or short tour of this Roman settlement. The cooling breeze on what would have been another very hot day perhaps encouraged the majority to opt for the longer perambulation of the walls. Rampier Copse, the pre-Roman bank and ditch was pointed out to us as we followed the remains of the Roman walls from the west gate around to the turn of the south gate. Calleva Atrebatum was abandoned around AD 450 and was never fully reoccupied by later settlement although the amphitheatre which we visited had signs of a 12th century

hall which may have had the defensive advantage of the surviving seating bank. A short stop in the neighbouring 12th century church of St Mary the Virgin completed the morning of this leisurely visit to Hampshire. We departed for lunch at a village which combines an ambiguous mixture of those peaceful days of yore with the intrusive 20th century. Odiham is the home of the RAF's helicopter training school but as the RAF sleeps at weekends we did not see or hear the twin-rotored Chinooks that regularly overfly the village. We were not able to see the 13th century, much decayed, octagonal keep of Odiham Castle. This unfortunately is quite a distance from the village, over stiles and through fields, alongside the Basingstoke Canal. The Canal was originally designed in the 18th century to link London with Bristol and Southampton but was never completed. Lunches were mainly taken in the vicinity of the much-restored 13/14th century church of All Saints which was open as was the Pest House in its churchyard, once used to isolate victims of contagious diseases such as the pox. This village had all the charm of rural Hampshire - timber-framed buildings, flowers in bloom, 17th century almshouses behind the church, and, most-importantly as this was lunchtime, pleasant public houses. Feeling sentimentally bucolic, we left Odiham in search of more of our rural heritage. The Rural Life Centre at the Old Kiln Museum near Tilford is a collector's dream. It might also be

a restorer's nightmare judging by the number of items awaiting attention on the periphery of the ten acre site! Henry Jackson has superbly transformed his collection of rural artefacts into discrete groups representing various aspects of country life. And what a collection it is - a shepherd's hut, a wheelwright's shop, two forges, farm vehicles and carriages and assorted household items. Hands up those who said"my grandmother had one of those"? Th was even a special VJ Day exhibition. One feature is the craft demonstrations, this time a lace-maker and a wood-turner although upto thirty have displayed on special craft days. The turner showed the 3 feet long object illustrated and asked "What is it?" It was a joke walking stick designed to be used in either the left or right hand! An enhancement to the site was the hundred or so trees from around the world planted by Mr Jackson. This was an the ideal stopping point to recharge our batteries with a cup of tea (or two) and slice of cake, have a stroll round the grounds or just sit and imagine a rustic life far from London before we rejoined the madding crowd on the M25.

 

 

MARY O'CONNELL'S MORNING WALK AND VISIT TO THE TRAVELLERS' CLUB, PALL MALL
THURSDAY 5TH OCTOBER, 1995
MEET 10.30 am AT THE TRAVELLERS' CLUB, 106 PALL MALL

The Club was built 1829-32 to the Italian Renaissance designs of Sir Charles Barry who also was responsible for the Reform Club next door. Our morning will start with a tour of the building and a welcoming glass of sherry. Afterwards we shall undertake a short tour of the Pall Mall area, the heart of London's clubland.

Please complete the booking form overleaf and return as soon as possible

 

WHY THERE WAS NO CASTLE   Vikki O'Connor

In the course of arranging the Hampshire trip we visited Odiham twice. The first visit was on early closing day and we were unable to get any detailed information on the area, so the plan was to learn the lay-out, visit the canal and find King John's castle. The canal was no problem, but, the Canal Authority information board was ambiguous regarding orientation - so we went in the opposite direction from the castle and ended up on the wrong side of the towpath hacking through the undergrowth with a Swiss army knife. ....An hour or so later we backtracked to a small marina and guzzled several cans of Perrier. Not to be defeated by this off-the-beaten-track castle, we tramped through the village, along the B3349 to North Warnborough and found a clue - a c1550 terrace of timber-framed buildings called Castlebridge Cottages. Some 600 yards down a small turning on the other side of the main road, we came to a deep muddy puddle overhung with trees, and just a few yards further  was the ford proper a foot or so deep with such clear running water it could have come from a tap. If only all streams were this pure. The castle was not signposted and we followed a footpath over a stile, field and second stile on to the towpath of the

Basingstoke Canal. A few yards away was the entrance to the site where a lone English Heritage board gives basic details about the castle which is surrounded by high trees and is only visible when you stand before it.Having trekked thus far it would have been

useful to have seen a detailed plan of the total castle area. Can we assume that the canal cut across it? The ruins have a slightly mystic quality about them, I imagined visiting them on a misty November afternoon... The second time we visited was, frustratingly, to confirm that there were no way a coach could get to the ford from either end of the, road. So we couldn't share with HADAS our visit to the swing bridge (which wasn't freshly greased and didn't look as if it had swung for some time), or the swans with their ten(!) or so young, the horse and buggy trotting through the ford leading a foal, or the sight of the local children paddling in the ford. Yes, I did join them - on both occasions. That cold fresh water performed miracles on red-hot feet; I wish I could have shared that bliss with you all. The stream is in fact the aptly-named Whitewater, but in the past it bus was known as the Weargeburna or felons' stream - where wrongdoers were drowned. Odiham is now a village, not a town, the market house having been demolished last century. In the course of “researching” the local pubs for lunch stops, we spent a hour or so at The Crown chatting with Chris, a retired wheelwright who lives in a house the edge of a chalk quarry where French prisoners of (the Napoleonic) war worked and were housed in his cellar. The Crown sells a monthly newsletter called The Voice (news with a from all the villages) with a real community flavour. In one article we learn that Odiham police are testing an electric 'stealth' Ford Escort van; then, in the local Bobby's column that the same vehicle is having its front end repaired. Was it so stealthy that the vehicle in front didn't see it?

If any members are interested, our HADAS library holds a book called Odiham Castle by Patricia McGregor - one of the several interesting books donated by Jean Snelling. Having read it you may wish to visit the castle: by car, head for North Warnborough; on public transport, trains from Waterloo to Hook leave half-hourly and the Hampshire from Hook to North Warnborough (5 minutes journey) leaves hourly. Nearest stop: The Jolly Miller - we don't recommend the beer, but the local architecture is interesting.

 

NEWS FROM FONTMELL MAGNA, DORSET

We have received from Dorset the following item from The Gossip Tree., a monthly village magazine produced by HADAS Vice President, John Enderby.

In the Parish Churchyard, near the remains of the massive ivy clad Yew, said to be the oldest tree in the village, is the headstone of Sapper II J Whiteman who was accidentally killed by a traction engine at Iwerne Minster on 29th August 1898. The wording on the memorial has invoked the following verse from a reader of the Gossip Tree:

How on earth it happened

Must be considered weird

For carelessly he crossed the road

as the huge Steam Roller neared,

He did not see it coming

and he's truly in a fix,

Now he's in the local hospital

in Wards 4, 5 and 6!

 

ROMAN GARDEN AT FISHBOURNE

A new feature at the Roman "Palace" at Fishbourne, near Chichester, is a reconstructed Roman garden which includes an outdoor dining area, a 1st century water feature and trellis work. Research into works by Pliny and Dioscorides has led to the selection of 500 authentic plants and the layout was the product of study of the ruins of Pompeii and Herculanium. A museum of Roman gardening which exhibits replica horticultural tools is associated with the garden.

 

"ANTIQUARIANS INTO ACADEMICS"
St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society 1845 -1995

Four commemorative public lectures are to be held at St Albans School assembly hall under the Chairmanship of The Rt Rev Lord Runcie MC, DD. Tickets for each lecture (Members £1, public £2) are available at the door, tickets for the full programme (L3 & £6) can be obtained from David Aubrey, 28 Faircross Way, St Albans, Herts, AL1 4SD (tel 01727 855843). The four lectures which commence at 8.00 pm are :

13th September         RAILWAYS, RELIGION & ROMANCE: Antiquarians & Architects around 1845

John Cherry FSA, Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries.

11th October  THE  EVOLUTION OF ENGLISH LOCAL HISTORY

Professor Christopher Ellington FSA, Former General Editor of the VCH.

8th November STOWE AND THE TEMPLE OF CONCORD AND VICTORY

Peter Inskip RIBA, Consultant Architect to the National Trust.

 

29th November DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN ARCHAEOLOGY: The St Albans Experience Martin Biddle FBA, Professor of Archaeology, University of Oxford.

BIRKBECK COLLEGE - ASSESSED COURSES IN ARCHAEOLOGY

Birkbeck's Extra-Mural programme now includes courses with a lesser element of assessment than the traditional certificate and diploma courses. For example, two pieces of work (essays, logs, case studies etc) for a course of 20 meetings. Full details are in the 1995/96Prospectus but the following "assessed" courses to be held locally may be of interest to HADAS members.

 

INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY (Denis Smith) Ewan Hall, Wood Street. 20 meetings from Monday 2nd October, 1995, 7.45 - 9.45 pm.

BRITAIN'S INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE (Denis Smith)

Cuffley Junior School, Theobalds Road, Cuffley, Herts.

20 meetings from Tuesday 26th September, 1995,8.00 - 10.00pm.

BRITAIN AFTER THE ROMANS (B D Adams)

Borehamwood Community Centre, Allum Lane, Elstree, Herts. 20 meetings from 26th September, 1995,7.30 9.30 pm.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF ROME (Janet Corran) The Stable Room, Rudolf Road, Bushey. 24 meetings from Wednesday 20th September, 1995,10.00- 12 noon.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF EARLY LONDON{ John Maloney) Barnet College, Wood Street site. 24 meetings from Thursday 21st September, 1995,7.30- 9.30 pm.

For beginners to archaeology who may find the prospect of a three year certificate course daunting, there is an assessed course in METHOD AND PRACTICE IN ARCHAEOLOGY run by Tony Legge at 26 Russell Square, London, WC1. it commences Monday 2nd October for 18 meetings, 6.30- 8.30pm

The Extra-Mural Information Bureau can be contacted on 0171-631 6633 for further details.

 

 

 

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