newsletter-299-February-1996

 

No: 299                                                                                                      FEBRUARY 1996                                                                                                                                                              Edited by ANDY SIMPSON

DIARY

 

Tuesday 6 February

Second evening visit to The Royal Institution and Faraday Museum. Meet 6.30pm at 21, Albemarle Street, Wl, Our January visit was overbooked, so a return visit has been arranged Phone Dorothy Newbury (018 L203. 0950) if you would like to join this second group price S4. (Recommended/ See report on first visit on page 5 - Ed)

 

Tuesday 13 February Lecture: Archaeological finds from the Jubilee Line -

by Mike Hutchinson, the Archaeological Project Manager with the Museum of London, which is conducting the work on the Jubilee Line extension. Much of interest has been found including not only medieval, but also artifacts dating to between 4,000 & 8,000 years BC, in the Westminster area, and Roman finds in the London Bridge station site.

Tuesday 12 March                                        Lecture: The latest news from Boxgrove - Simon Parritt

You've visited the site, watched the TV programme - now hear the lecture!

Tuesday 9 April                                                                     Lecture: The Thames Archaeological Survey - Mike Webber

An update on last summer's work on the Thames foreshore, undertaken mainly by volunteers and students.

Tuesday 14 May                        Annual General Meeting

Important Reminder - Lectures are now on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, in the Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3. The room is on the ground floor so has easy access for anyone with walking difficulties, We meet from 8pm for coffee and a chat, and the lecture begins at 8.30pm.

Your 1996 programme card should be with this Newsletter; if you haven't received your copy, please contact either Vikki O'Connor or Dorothy Newbury.

The 33rd LAMAS Conference of London Archaeologists - Saturday 23rd March 1996. Morning session: recent work in the City and Southwark, Thames Archaeological Survey and the new Roman Gallery at the Museum of London, Afternoon session: the 50th anniversary of the Roman and Medieval London Excavation Council, instituted by the late Professor Grimes, To be held at the Lecture Theatre, Museum of London, commencing at 11 am and finishing at 5.00pm. Tickets are S3 (members), £4.00 (non­members) and are available from Jon Cotton, Dept of Early London History & Collections, Museum of London, London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN. HADAS will have a display at the conference; please visit our stand - constructive comments welcomed!


MEMBERS NEWS                                                                                                                                            Dorothy Newbury

We have been receiving enquiries about the whereabouts of some of our sick members:

Ted Sammes - was transferred from the Royal Brompton to a Slough hospital before Christmas and is hoping to return home by the end of January, so he will be pleased to hear from you.

Victor Jones is home from the rehabilitation centre in Surrey and will also be pleased to hear from friends.

Enid Hill - on top of her other problems, we are sorry to hear she has developed shingles and is in hospital at present but hopes to be home again before the end of January, and looks forward to hearing from friends.

Mary O'Connell - hopes to get clearance on her knee replacement and returns to London soon to arrange our Whitechapel visit in September.

Helen Gordon is in the wars again. She was out of action last summer with a broken shoulder but has fallen again, broken a leg and is hobbling around on crutches. Marjorie Errington - a new casualty was hospitalised while away over Christmas, but is back home now and we hope it won't be too long before we see her back serving tea at lectures.

And as for me, Dorothy, the plaster is off my arm, but it is crooked and painful and awaiting further X-ray results. Jean Henning, who did the same in the summer (broke her wrist) says I'm too impatient!


CLASSICAL SHIPS at Church Farmhouse Museum

An amazing collection of carved model ships goes on how for the first time at Church Farmhouse Museum from 3 February until 17 March. They will be leaving the country this summer for permanent display abroad. This unique collection, which took over 20 years to make, was created by Hendon barber, George Fantides, Each model has taken hours of research and months to carve and assemble. The result is an incredibly detailed miniature ancient port and an extraordinary fleet of scale model ships.


If you want to see the type of warship that literally smashed the Persian navy to pieces at the Bathe of Salamis 500 years before the birth of Christ, you will find a four-foot long model of an ancient Greek warship, under sail with three banks of 90 minute oarsmen on show. There is also a five-foot long model of the type of Roman galley that carried Julius Caesar and his army to invade Britain. Vessels from Ancient Egypt, Crete and Phoenicia also feature together with a Roman merchantman. Three ships, loaded with grain from Egypt, tin from Britain, wine, marble, olive oil and dozens of other commodities from the corners of the Roman Empire, sailed to and from the Roman port of Ostia. The 3ff by 4ff model of Ostia depicts a bustling dock-side scene, complete with slave market, butcher's shop, brothel, a miniature replica of the sea god Neptune and a tiny copy of a mosaic pavement found on the site. Using power tools, the mode! took George Fantides nine months to assemble, carved out of paving stones, with six kilograms of Italian clay and 14 kilograms of special glue to hold it all together.

All the classical ships in this exhibition show how one man using the evidence of the past has created three thousand years of history - in miniature.

(Liz adds that some of the HADAS collection of Brockley Hill Pottery will be Included in the exhibition to relate the exhibition to local events and sites and provide some publicity for HADAS - Ed)

 

HENDON AERODROME                                                                                                           Bill Firth

About two months ago a proposal was put to Barnet Council by the Mercury Group, a property development business, for a massive "American-style 'auto-mall' and a 20-screen cinema" on the Hendon Aerodrome site (East Camp) together with the offer of a £2 million sweetener.

Barnet Council's immediate response was to "look forward to seeing what the planning application actually sets out and hope it fits in to the planning brief for the area and meets the criteria for development following consultation with residents."

"To discuss money on the table is totally the wrong approach. Barnet Council and indeed no council sells planning approvals."

This seemed such a controversial proposal that I have been expecting more reaction from the council but there has been none. For the present we must be content that the council is awaiting a planning application and has said that applications are not for sale. This is one to watch

PLANNING APPLICATIONS                                                                                                                                        Bill Firth

English Heritage have commented on two recent planning applications.

The first is 140-150 Cricklewood Broadway which lies beside Roman Watling Street and in the extent of the medieval village of Cricklewood. This might prove to be an interesting site.

The second site is 86-100 West Heath Road and is of interest for its proximity to the West Heath dig and the possibility that there could be interesting finds.

OTHER LECTURES AND COURSES

Miss A M Large reminds us that residential weekend courses, many of them historical with strong archaeological connections, are run by the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA. She recommends these university-level lectures with good accommodation and food, all easily accessible in the centre of Oxford - a free mailing list gives further information.

The Historical Association - the Hampstead and NW London Branch meet at 8pm on Thursdays at Fellowship House, Willifield Way, NW11. On 15 February their speaker is Dr Margaret Roxan of University College, London, speaking on "Life in Britain's OTHER Roman Army - the Auxiliaries". Details from Association Secretary, Mrs J Wheatley, 177 Hampstead Way, NW11 7YA.

The Museum of London offers 40-minute Gallery talks on Thursdays at 2.30pm, including:

15 Feb: Time Out: entertainments & leisure in Roman London

29 Feb: Dormice, Peacocks and Fish Sauce - food and cooking.

From 13 Feb - 31 March the "Londinium Live" event offers visitors to the new Roman London Gallery the chance to meet actor/interpreters "bringing Roman Londoners to life". (A similar scheme at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden, proved successful with Victorian streetsweeper, navvy building the Underground and wartime 'clippie').

RESCUE - The British Archaeological Trust

Following their mid-day AGM on Saturday 17 February, RESCUE are holding an open meeting entitled Archaeology Today. Public Service or Secret Society? The invited speakers are: Andrew Selkirk, Bill Startin, John Walker and Jan Wills. Views will be invited from all attendees. Venue: Museum of London Lecture Theatre, 2pm.

 

INSTITUTE OF ARCHAEOLOGY, Gordon Square, 7pm - £4 per lecture, pay at the door, Continuing the excellent series arranged by Harvey Sheldon,

Thurs 8 Feb                                    Roads & Communication in Roman Britain - Prof Barri Jones

Thurs 15 Feb Coinage in Roman Britain - Dr Richard Reece

Thurs 22 Feb Revealing Roman Suffolk - Judith Plouviez

Thurs 29 Feb Religion in Roman Britain - Dr Martin Henig

STUDY DAY Roman London - Sat 2 March 10am - 5pm, Museum of London, to mark the launch of the Museum's new Roman London Gallery. Tickets £15, concessions £7.50 available from the Museum's Interpretation Unit (tel: 0171 600 3699, ext 200),

ROMAN FORT AT DRUMANAGH

A Sunday Times article (21.1.96) revealed details of a 40-acre coastal site, some 15 miles north of Dublin, which has been known to the National Museum of Ireland for over 10 years but kept secret due to legal problems. The heavily defended fort is interpreted as a beach-head supporting military campaigns, developing into a large trading town, and coins found on the site date it to AD79 - AD138. It is the first positive evidence of the Roman frontier in Ireland, and will probably link in with various small finds of Roman material - some finds have previously been explained away as 'imported'.

CIFLIK

The University of Warwick January '96 newsletter reported on the 1995 (2nd) season of their excavations at Ciftlik, Turkey, (sited by the Black Sea) carried out in collaboration with the Sinop Museum, and directed by Dr Stephen Hill of Warwick. The site is under threat of erosion, 7 metres of land having been washed away since their first season -fortunately they had already lifted a mosaic pavement from that area. The '95 excavation concentrated on the early Byzantine church, dating from the 5th to 14th centuries, after which it fell into disuse and was then robbed out, Marble was burnt to make lime for mortar and for agricultural use, parts of the church was re-used for building this century, and the western area was used for road-building.

The excavators found that the mosaic floors were well-preserved, and the finds included fragments of very fine mosaic wall and vault decoration and fragments of architectural sculpture. The patterns are described as a "vast range of geometric motifs, which, in the central nave, were arranged in the squares of a regular chequerboard". These were photographed and computer imaging will be used to re­create the original patterns.

An underwater survey was carried out to plot the line of the ancient coastline, also, to recover some architectural sculpture. They were able to confirm that the area is not only suffering coastal erosion but is also sinking.

The University is planning a third season this year, and are currently fundraising to this end.

HOW WAS THAT? - as the Guardian entitled its recent report that archaeologists investigating a cluster of 500,000 years old chalk balls found in a Chichester gravel pit are considering whether they were used for a form of cricket or boules. Presumably umpired by a sort of Palaeolithic Dicky Bird...

Mary Wood, a member of HADAS since the early 1980s, wrote to advise that she has moved to a new address at Canterbury and sends her best wishes to us.

A MONUMENTAL MISTAKE                                                                                                                         Andy Simpson

Archaeology and Politics continue to make sometimes uneasy bedfellows. A recent Guardian article under the above title highlighted the role played by modern-day travelers and anarchists in protecting archaeological sites from development. We are all familiar with these members of an 'alternative society' as seen on TV at Newbury By-Pass and other road schemes. The Dongas 'tribe' of travelers actually named themselves after a set of archaeological features. They and their fellow protesters face farmers who argue that the granting of class consents to plough over ancient scheduled monuments is part of the historical process in pursuit of EEC grain subsidies. The process continues - a recent survey found that 145 of the 202 schedules hillforts and earthwork enclosures in Dyfed had been substantially degraded since scheduling. The CBA has criticised the Government's Rural White Paper which scarcely mentioned the historical environment, and called for consideration of the wider landscape and for environmental protection to be firmly linked to farm subisdies. This month, collection of data will be completed for Bournmeouth University's "Monuments at Risk" survey, which is expected to show there are some one million recognised archaeological sites in England, of which some 15,000 are scheduled - some may be protected by English Nature and English Heritage's "countryside character programme" recommending that certain landscapes be given special treatment by planners. The Government's proposed Heritage Green Paper has, however, been delayed - it remains to be seen whether this will rectify any of the anomalies.

The above article generated a leered response from academics and the CBA; one correspondent called it's simplistic and glib' and argued for a sense of proportion in a crowded island where any ground disturbance could affect evidence of past activity. Asking what are archaeological remains for - material for helping us understand better our remote past, or a playground for alternative lifestyles. Other discussions centred on the problems of much archaeology now being funded by developers and the presence of 'cowboy' archaeological contractors who will supposedly do the bidding of developers cheaply and with minimal fuss. The CBA points out that whilst wildlife can still be regenerated in protected environments, elements of the historic environment cannot be replaced. Forthcoming changes to social security entitlements may well thin out the numbers of travelers involved in environmental schemes - it will be interesting to see who replaces them.

THE ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN and THE FARADAY MUSEUM Andy Simpson Some two dozen HADAS members met at the Albemarle Street, W1, home of the Royal Institution for a most informative evening. The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, an American who had served as a British spy in the American War of Independence and moved to Britain when the British lost the war. He was an able scientist in his own right, interested particularly in the study of heat and light. The Institution has occupied the same premises since 1799 and received its Royal Charter in 1800. A public appeal raised funds to buy the building - originally a private house, first mentioned in 1746 - and it was converted to house laboratories, libraries and lecture theatres. The famous Lecture Theatre, home of the annual Christmas lectures was added in 1800-1801 and the facade of Corinthian columns in 1838. The adjoining 18th century house was acquired in 1894 and this now contains a Wedgwood plaque from 32 Soho Square, the home of Sir Joseph Banks.

Our expert guide, Mrs McCabe, the Institution's Libraries and Information Officer, informed us that the lecture theatre is acoustically near perfect and was built to accommodate 1,000 people - reduced to 450 today due to modern safety regulations. It now accommodates teachers' workshops, Open University lectures, and many of the 20,000 school children that visit the Institution annually. The Christmas


lectures have run since 1826, except for a break during the last war, and have been televised for some 30 years. Also in 1826 began the Friday Evening Discourses - from the beginning open to both women and working people, but at first kept out of the way in the balcony until an experiment went wrong and choked some of the ladles. Gallant as ever, Faraday invited them downstairs, away from the rising fumes. The workers stayed where they were, presumably.

Michael Faraday (1791-1867), the bookbinder's apprentice who went on to discover electromagnetic induction, is commemorated at the Institution in paintings, by a statue, and by his magnetic laboratory, restored in 1972 to how it was portrayed in paintings of 1845. The museum adjacent to the laboratory contains some of Faraday's personal effects as well as a unique collection of original apparatus illustrating his 50 years' work at the Institution; he built the first transformer in 1831. now displayed in the museum.

The lecture theatre ambulatory contains display cases commemorating other members of the Royal Institution including Humphry Davy, inventor of the miner's lamp and Faraday's first scientific employer (he began by washing bottles for Davy). John Tyndall (1820-1893) was the first to measure the absorption and radiation of heat by gases and vapours, explained the flow of glaciers and recognised what is now called the greenhouse effect. Sir James Dewar invented the vacuum flask in 1902; Thomas Young, who lectured at the Institution 1801-3, first translated the Rosetta Stone; he also established the wave theory of light. The last display was on Lord George Porter's work on photochemistry. Faraday, incidentally, used to ride his bicycle round the ambulatory - but we weren't told why!

The Institution's library contains over 60,000 books, reflecting the emphasis on popular science and bridging the gap between Science and the Arts, with scientific literature going back to 1500. Many books are also contained in the elegant "Conversation Room, and we spotted a book on Hampstead Heath in another room. Altogether splendid evening, particularly for a certain ex-BT employee who was greatly taken by the static electricity generating "Wimshurst Influence Machine" - an early precursor of modern particle accelerators. Thanks again to Mrs McCabe, also to Mary O'Connell for initially arranging the visit. There is much 1 have had to leave out of this brief summary, so, book now for the repeat visit on February 6th!

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