Newsletter-307-November-1996

DIARY

Tuesday 12th November

Lecture: RECENT WORK in GARDEN ARCHAEOLOGY

Brian Dix of Northamptonshire Archeaology : The subject of this lecture is a growing trend in archaeology with the excavation and restoration of several formal gardens such as King William 111's Privy Garden at Hampton Court and Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire.

 Tuesday 3rd December          CHRISTMAS DINNER and TOUR of TOWER BRIDGE Further details and application form inside.

Lectures are at AVENUE HOUSE, EAST END ROAD, FINCHLEY, N3, 8pm for 8.30

Ralph Calder MA., B.D. 1905-1896

Mill Hill has lost one their most active members of its community. A devoted minister of the church still giving thoughtful sermons, a member of HADAS, Mill Hill Bowling Club, the Mill Hill Preservation Society, and chairman of the Mill Hill Historical Society, He was a man of wide learning and a lifetime of valued experience, always able to make a stimulating contribution to the many societies to which he belonged. He will be greatly missed but he has left an enduring memorial in his influence in Mill Hill.

From  Richard Nichols, Secretary Mill Hill Historical Society.

Note: Before HADAS was created in 1962, several of our older members were already members of The Mill Hill and Hendon Historical Society. The Historical Society then dropped the name Hendon, and we became separate entities. But we retained a close relationship and several of Ralph Calder's research projects have appeared in our HADAS newsletters.

Minimart

Thanks to Dorothy Newbury's unflagging effort, this year’s event once again went successfully, boosting HADAS's funds by between 1900-1000 (a final amount will appear in December's newsletter, providing Dorothy hasn't gambled it all on the 3.30 at Haydock). Despite rival events the turnout was good but perhaps being slightly quieter this time around. Thanks are also due to the many helpers or those who otherwise contributed towards the day.

Freida Wilkinson kindly contacted us before the minimart - she is now much brighter and perkier. 

Excavation News

At present the excavation team is ensconced at Avenue House processing finds from the summers dig at Church Farm House Museum. They've now been washed and are being catalogued and weighed before being marked. Once again the bulk of the material comprises of several hundred medieval pot sherds from the 'ditch's this little lot should keep us busy through the winter months identifying and reconstructing vessels. Some material has been recognised as Roman including two rim sherds from a small mortaria bowl together with a fragment of tegula and bonding' tile. Also of interest is a copper-alloy object that we are trying to identify.

Talking of Roman material - the team have been inspecting the scheduled kiln-site at Brockley Hill with a view to field-walking it in Aug/Sept of next year. We would encourage as many members as possible to take part and if successful it may become an annual event .

Due to these other commitments and the lack of a reliable resistivity meter, our survey of the boundary ditch at Kenwood, Hampstead has taken a back-seat somewhat. If the weather's half decent this autumn we may continue this work, if not then it will be early next year.

Please feel free to call by at Avenue House, admire the outlook, have a cup of coffee, see what we’re doing, inspect or borrow books from the library - especially useful if you've just started evening classes etc. We're usually there Sundays from 10am to 1pm, after which, we may be persuaded reluctantly to have a drink in the 'Catcher in the Rye'.

BM news

The Department of Prehistoric and Romano-British Antiquities at the British Museum is currently working to create two completely new galleries, one on the late Bronze Age and Iron Age of Europe and the other on Roman Britain. These will open in the summer of 1997, but the existing displays are already being denuded (especially Roman Britain).

Furthermore, both the Bloomsbury and Shoreditch sections of the Department are to be rehoused in a new building just to the south of the museum. This is due to happen in 1999, but the demolition of tBloomsbury..) part of the Department as part of the development of the Inner Court is due to happen early in 1998. This will mean that a substantial part of the collections will be unavailable for study purposes for a period, which those engaged in relevant research will wish to bear in mind . (British Archaeological Briefing)

Meanwhile, the BM's 250th anniversary programme of development proceeds apace with the recent announcements of three large grants, of £30m from the Millennium Commission, of £6m from the Annenberg Foundation and of £4m from the Sainsbury family.

The first grant brings the amount awarded to the Museum's Great Court Project to £51m, of the £72m needed. The project will covert the 2-acre courtyard at the centre of the Museum to an Educational Centre, new galleries, restaurants and cafes. Further work will include restoration of the Reading Room combining the Library with a multimedia database, making it easier to access parts of the collections which for conservation reasons, can rarely be displayed, via a keyboard.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry by Roy Walker

On the last Saturday in September a small  group of HADAS members visited the Whitechapel ell Foundry, birthplace of Big Ben and the Bow Bells. According to the Guiness Book of Records, this is the oldest manufacturing company in the United Kingdom having being established in 1570, although 1420 could be the true date, our guide informed us. The 18th century was the golden age for bells and the company moved into the present building in 1758, the site of the Artichoke coaching inn. The premises had been enlarged but still only cover one quarter of an acre. The smallness of the premises was surprising and the payroll comprises only thirty - such is the nature of the industry. In 1820, when demand for bells decreased, Whitechapel acquired four of its competitors and closed them down but took over the manufacture of bell hangings which previously was a separate industry. Around this time the production of small bells commenced, an aspect which now accounts for 20% of turnover.

Bell-making is undertaken in batches with an individual mould for each bell. The outer mould (the cope) is made first in a bell-shaped flask using a template (profile) cut to the outer form of the bell. The mould comprises of sand, clay, goats' hair, manure and water. It is broken after use although some of the material is re-used. After shaping it is left to dry overnight in an oven. Any lettering is engraved and then dusted with graphite so that the hot metal will not stick to it. The inner mould is then constructed as a hollow core. The two are married, touching only at a base step leaving a hollow in the centre to receive the molten bell-metal-a bronze of copper and usually 22% tin, The metal contracts with cooling but the hollow core of the mould shrinks with it.

The bells are tuned by cutting away metal from the inside, a thinner bell vibrates at a lower frequency. Out of the bell's hundreds of harmonic tones only five or nine tones are tuned depending on the size of the bell. These are "applied" to various parts of the bell such as the shoulder (second partial), middle (the hum note) and the thickest part (the strike note).

In England bells are rung in changes, the most difficult method of ringing. For this the bells need to be upside down to start to take advantage of the fixed swing, hold on to the balance and give control of the time interval. Eight bells take only two seconds to ring a peal therefore to change the order in which the bells are rung, an individual bell can only change one position in the sequence at a time or keep the same position. If it was third then it can stay third or go second or forth.

The frame for carrying the bells is basically two trestles supported by steel beams embedded in the church tower walls. Careful planning is needed to ensure the combined weight of the bells is evenly distributed and that the bell ropes form a circle clockwise from smallest to largest.

In an upstairs workshop where the bells were fitted out and tuned we were told the handbell ringing might have arisen from the need for practising the ringing of changes - handbells being easier to use than church bells.The practice nearly died out in the 20th century but there was a revived interest in the United States in the 1950s. The clapper is designed not to rest on the bell after ringing and is made from soft felt for the lower ranges and increase in hardness to nylon for the higher ranges.

Our guide a member of the owning family, spiced his talk with anecdotes about the company, about the industry - "we have no competitors only colleagues" - and about the art of bell ringing which gave this visit something for every one. It was part old London, part industrial archaeology and part church history.

Mary O'Connell who had organised the visit then led us along Whitechapel High Street to our lunch venue, the Blind Beggar pub. We passed the London hospital where the Elephant Man died and where his bones still remain. We entered the courtyard of the Trinity House almshouses at the western end of Mile End Road . Built for "28 decay'd Masters & Commanders of Ships or ye widows of such" in 1695, the almshouses were badly damaged in the last War and were then used as local authority and are now in private hands. The two rows of houses face each other across a lawn, with a chapel at one end. Two models of ships adorn the entrance to this quiet corner of the East End.

HADAS is very fortunate to have Mary O'Connell as a member. We are offered delights such as the Bell Foundry but with the "O'Connell extra" -a tour of the area to see some of the history. It was commented afterwards that you are not taken on a tour by Mary, you are part of the tour with Mary. Thanks Mary for looking after us so well. 

SCOLA Conference on - Dark Age London - at the Museum of London.

The Conference was well supported and was partly organised by our own Peter Pickering, other HADAS members also attended. Below is summary of some of the speakers.

Dr Martin Welch spoke about the important Saxon cemetery at Croydon and why it should be excavated instead of the present English Heritage and PPG's policy of preservation 'insitu'. Finds from the site include military belt accessories and Quoit 'B' style jewellery which point to an early 5th - 6th date. Martin argued that because of the fragile nature of the finds; bone and environmental evidence, much information would be lost due to heavy machinery on site, future ground disturbance, drying out of the sub-soil and other reasons. As it stands, where offices are to be built there will be excavation, but the greater area of car-parks and it's underlying archaeology will now be sealed by several layers of sand, polythene, mesh and bitumen. In future the site will have to be constantly monitored for stability and soil deterioration, so time will tell if preservation insitu is an effective method to protect the archaeological record.

Bob Cowie's paper was on Middle Saxon London (650-850AD) and it's development, he mentioned the general re-emergence of 'towns' such as Ipswich, Southampton (Hamwic) and York togetherwith their continental equivalent's. All these 'towns' had several features in common e.g port facilities, a gridded road system, industrial areas - pottery/leather/bone and metalwork with evidence of foreign traders, these centres may have operated under Royal supervision or charter. Although mentioned by Bede, evidence for Saxon London was no forthcoming, until finally it was recognised not in the old walled City, but slightly west at Aldwych. Firstly r cemetery at Covent Garden and now covering 30 sites. This work shows that Lundenwic started in the Strand area in the 7thc (one dendro date gave 679AD) then expanded.

A current dig at the Royal Opera House is revealing more of this later settlement, here, the remains of a number of Saxon buildings have been partially revealed. Some are the traditional 'grubenhausen' types constructed of timber with earthen floors and wattle and daub walls. In some cases, destruction was apparently caused by fire -it is known that Lundenwic burnt down on at least three occasions. Environmental evidence from rubbish and cess pits etc. shows a diet of various fish-eels-oyster and mussels, cattle-pig-sheep-goat, together with wheat/barley seeds plus nuts and berries. Saxon industry included textile production (rows of loom-weights and a bone shuttle for weaving were found), antler and bone working, metalwork was also practised.


It is suggested that a large steep sided ditch found at the ROH may have been a boundary or defence against the dastardly Vikings, this and coin evidence shows a shift from the Lundenwic area back towards the walled City during the later 9thc. Peter Ransome spoke on this transitional period. A site at Bull Wharf, Upper Thames Street featured two burials, one laid between pieces of bark of late 9th or 10thc date these were placed on the silted foreshore, the same surface yielded rare London-minted coins of King Alfred, who established Queenhithe as a port or landing-place after the resettlement


of London in the late 880s. Land reclamation including a dock then covered this foreshore, this was achieved by dumping earth and huge quantities of timber held together with post and plank revetment. Some material from Embankment was exceptionally well preserved, the earliest phase contained three sculpted aisle posts from the "'arcades of a late Saxon hall or church (mid 10thc), other timbers were from various boats, one, a 10thc Friesian vessel of a type hitherto believed to be incapable of sea crossings. At Peter's recent excavation at No 1 Poultry Saxon structures were built against remains of the Roman wall and a Saxon cobbled market area was approached by a rutted and worn Roman road. Further evidence came from 75 Cheapside (918 AD dendro date) and the Guildhall where the Roman amphitheatre influenced the placing of a possible Saxon hall - 'landscape continuity'. All the above and other evidence shows the establishment of a thriving Saxon community were none had been before within the old Roman walled City.

Alan Vince who along with Martin Biddle first suggested a Saxon settlement outside the Roman walls (which was a controversial idea at the time, and still viewed with suspicion by some) rounded off the conference by saying how thrilled he was at being able to walk along actual Saxon streets currently under excavation at The Royal Opera House (until December). He mentioned that finds such as brooches and their different styles indicated that London was still central to post-Roman settlement during the 5th-6thc and that much more work needs to be done - giving several ideas for future research.

or further detailed information/reading of these sites and issues see Alan Vince's book 'Saxon London', also "MoLAS 96 - their annual report and 'London Archaeologist' Vol 7, No 16, 1996 for an article on the Croydon Cemetery discussion. Late London Saxon map - drawn by Barry Vincent after Alan Vince.

Also in the MoLAS report is a mention of their excavation at the Church Farm Industrial School, East Barnet founded by Lieutenant-Colonel William Gillum in 1859, a Crimean War veteran, for the training of destitute boys of good character. There was however no sign of the 17th-century faun which preceded the school. There's a picture of the dig with St Mary's Church in the background.

One of the Borough's oldest standing buildings - c1500, at 1264 High Street Whetstone, is nearing its conversion into a 'Pizza Express', it will be interesting to see the final result.

Lord of the Rings

At last, you can now have your Stradivarius checked-out, according to The Daily Telegraph it seems people have been on the fiddle - flogging fraud classic violins, those orchestrating this trade are about to be rumbled. A Cambridge student who has developed a computerised technique to date wood accurately may have put a stop to this multi-million pound trade in forged antique instruments. Anthony Huggett has come up with a mathematically-based computer program that can identify a violin's place and exact year of manufacture, using photographs to examine the tree rings in the instrument.

The high-resolution images are compared with known chronological data-bases of tree rings and can, for the first time, take into account the phenomenon of lost rings and other defects caused by unusual climatic conditions . Mr Nuggets technique, which surpasses previous methods of dating instruments by laborious microscopic examination, has already been received with enthusiasm by dendrochronologists around the world. The system, which has numerous applications, including the forensic study of DNA and samples taken for geophysics, as well as painting on wood and wooden furniture, is known in the university's engineering laboratory only as the Tree Ring Project.

Early Barnet

Pam Taylor and John Heathfield have recently found an early mention to the place name of Barnet. Whilst reading a paper on St Albans, in the Journal of Medieval Studies (OUP 1971, p57) John came across a reference, to a Papal Bull called - Religiosium Alter Elegentibus (Religious Properties Outside the Boundaries), from Pope Adrian IV dated 1157. It gives a list of churches in the possession of the Abbot of St Albans including a church at 'Barnette'. It is not known which Barnet this would refer too - Chipping, East or Friern , East Barnet is the earliest at c1140. This document provides one of the earliest written references to Barnet yet known.

John also mentioned that a Bill Bass owned The Three Horseshoes pub at Whetstone in 1701 !

Cutting Comments

Antiques dealer Terry Lewis is trying to sell a 3,000-year-old mummy from the tomb of King Tutankhamen for £13,000. It has been in his shop in Wiscasset, Maine for three years. (Pyramid selling ? - BB)

The frozen mummy of an Inca child, thought to have been sacrificed to mountain gods 500 years ago, has been found on a peak in the Peruvian Andes.

An expedition, led by American high-altitude archaeologist Johan Reinhard and accompanied by a team from BBC TV's Horizon, unearthed the body 18,000ft up Mount Sara Sara, where legend says the Incas sacrificed more than 2,000 human victims.

A record number of Inca artefacts, including a dozen perfectly preserved silver statuettes and a llama carved from an oyster shell, were found strewn around a sacrificial platform in a mortuary chamber. (Daily Mail).

Sir Jocelyn Stevens, Chairman of English Heritage is calling for £100 million of National Lottery money to improve the environment around the Tower of London. Ideas include - tidying up the approaches from Tower Hill tube station which are thought to be 'shabby', improving access to surrounding sites such as St Katherine's Dock, burying the adjacent five lane highway in a tunnel (!) - and flooding the famous moat.

Flag Fen

From all the publicity Flag Fen had during the past year you may have seen or heard that during the early part of 1996 they ran into a major financial crisis, £92,000 were needed to enable them to continue keeping this important wetland site open.

Apparently their appeal was very well supported and the immediate threat has been successfully averted. Visitor numbers, part of their main revenue (including a coach load of HADAS members), have increased thus helping to swell the coffers.

One of the oldest known wheels in England found on the site in 1994 is now back at Flag Fen after freeze drying at the English Heritage laboratories and would be a good excuse for members who could not make the outing, or have not been before, to pay a visit.

Did you know that?

What's the connection between Nicholas Hawksmoor (famous architect) and Graham Hill (famous racing driver) 7

They're both buried in the same private garden!. Hawksmoor died in 1736 aged 75 from a 'mysterious stomach gout' and was interned in a simple tomb in Shenleybury, Herts. Hill died in 1975 aged only 46 in a plane crash whilst trying to land at Elstree Aerodrome, he lived nearby. Both were buried in what was once the cemetery at Shenleybury, but since then the church, St Botolph's, has closed down and been converted into a house. Hawksmoor lies in the back garden, Hill lies in the front - R.I.P.


Out of context

On 13th May 1983, a well preserved skull was found in Lindow Moss in Cheshire. A local inhabitant promptly recognised the skull as being that of his wife, whom he had murdered in 1960. He confessed his crime, and was subsequently convicted of murder on the basis of that confession. The skull was then sent to the Oxford Radiocarbon AMS dating laboratory who dated it to 210 AD. The body of the wife has still not been found

Current Archaeology 148 (June 1996).

Dragon Hall                                                                                                                                                         BB

On my travels this summer, I visited Norwich and the splendid survival of a medieval merchant's hall dating to the mid 15thc. It's full significance was not realised until 1979 as it had been partitioned-up over the years into several smaller rooms and business's.


In the mid 1300s a hall-house had been built consisting of a screened passage dividing the living hall which was opened to the roof, from the servants quarters reached through a pair of decorative ogee arches, a third arch led through to a lean-to kitchen. In the mid 15thc Robert Toppes a wealthy wool merchant and Mayor of Norwich four times, bought and converted the earlier hall, which had convenient access to the River Wensum. With its proximity to the river and status as a mercantile centre, this (King Street) was obviously an ideal location, he retained the existing living hall as accommodation for his steward. Toppes then built his trading hall at right angles to this earlier structure fronting the street, an archway was inserted next to the ogee originals giving access by stairway to his masterpiece - the Great Hall.

On entering the hall you are immediately struck by the magnificent full length crown-post roof, a series of spandrels would have contained intricate carving similar to the last remaining one - a dragon. The decorative scheme was even more elaborate in his time than it is today; the beams and timbers were stained with red ochre, other mouldings and lighting would have added to the effect

 

Toppes died in 1467 and the hall was sold on. Today the structure is slowly being restored - a painstaking and   complex job. It's well worth a look if you’re in the area, there was a very helpful and enthusiastic guide when I called by.

Roman Discovery

Continuing the Norfolk theme - (as mentioned in the last newsletter) - a massive and previously unknown Roman fort has been spotted, in a potato crop, during an aerial survey over central Norfolk. Thought to date to 60 or 61AD the fort was built across the Pedders Way and had formidable features and ditches - it had an outer defensive ditch, maybe 20-30ft wide, then two inner ditches, a wooden palisade on the mound and unusually for the 1st century, was probably defended by troops armed with artillery. The site covers 40 acres and although the area was recognised as a Roman settlement in the middle of the last century, by the finding of buckles, coins and other artefacts, the size and scale of the site was not realised until now. It seems as if the fort was built as a semi­permanent structure in the heart of Iceni territory to subdue the local population in the wake of Boudicca's revolt.

So keep an eye out when next pulling-up the spuds in your garden.


FURTHER DATES

The Provinces of the Roman Empire, Institute of Archaeology, 7.00-8.30.

This series of public lectures continues every Thusday until the 12th Dec, Spring Term will then run from 16th Jan to 20th March 1997, £5 / 2.50 concessions - on the door. Current term lecture topics include Syria, Arabia and Judea - Roman Spain - Roman Egypt - The Danube Lands - Beyond the Imperial Frontiers. Further details from Debbie French, Birkbeck College, 0171-631 6627.

LAMAS Local History Conference, held at the Musuem of London, 9th Nov, 1996, 10am to 5pm.

This year's theme is "London Industry - Workshop to Factory", tickets, £3.50, from the museum or on the door.

Kings, Queens and Nobles: Personalities of Ancient Egypt

A day school on Sat 9th Nov, 1996 at Harkness Hall, Malet Street, London. Fee £25/12 concessions, once again Debbie French, Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, Birkbeck College, 26 Russell Square, London WC 1B 5DQ will furnish you with details.

Medieval Building in Towns, at the Netteswellbury Barn, Harlow, Essex, Sat 9th Nov, 10am to 4.30pm. Speakers: John Scofield, David Stenning, Adrian Gibson and Philip Aitkens, cost £15. Contact John Walker, 48 Theydon Grove, Epping, Essex CM16 4PZ, tel. 01992 574961.

CBA Conference on Roman London

Sat 16th Nov, 1996 at the Museun of London from 10.00am.The theme is recent archaeological results from the City. Tickets at £5.00 each are available from Derek Hills, CBA Mid Anglia, 34 Kingfisher Close, Wheathampstead, Hens, AL4 8JJ.

Museum of London lunchtime lectures, Fridays at 1.10pm

Nov 1st : Excavations at Regis House, the port of Roman London re-examined.

Nov 8th: Roman & Medieval discoveries at 7-11 Bishopsgate.

Nov 15th: A Medieval horse burial ground and other discoveries in ancient Westminister. Nov 22nd: Recent research into early ship & boat building in the London area.

Nov 29th: No.1 Poultry Excavations: Roman, Saxon & Medieval occupation in the middle Walbrook area.

Planning Applications, areas which may involve archaeological interest:

98-140, High Street, Barnet (land rear of).

176-204, High Street, Barnet (land rear of).

Workshop, Victoria Lane, Barnet - near to where previous HADAS excavations produced a fair amount of medieval pottery.

Borderside, Hendon Wood Lane, NW7 - overlies an ancient boundary of Saxon origins.

Comments