Newsletter-310-February-1997



No: 310                                   FEBRUARY 1997                        Edited by ANDY SIMPSON

DIARY

Tuesday 11 February An archaeological History of Herffordshire- Tony Rook Tony is known to many of us from previous lectures and evening classes and has excavated widely in Hertfordshire. We can be assured of an entertaining evening.

 

Tuesday 11 March Tuesday 8 April Tuesday 13 May September

What not to do with a Roman Mosaic - Steven Ceosh Claude Graham-White - Hendon Aerodrome- Bill Firth HADAS Annual General Meeting

Our proposed Summer Weekend this year will be in York - a leaflet with further details is enclosed.

 

Important Reminder - Meetings are held 8pm for 8.30pm in the Drawing Room. (ground floor), Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3. Members can also take the opportunity to visit the library, both on lecture nights and, presently, most Sunday mornings when the digging team are in residence working on finds.

Members' News - from Dorothy Newbury


ALEC JEAKINS - one of our long-standing members, and the original discoverer of our Mesolithic site at West Heath in the 1970s, has moved with his young family to Gloucester. We will miss you, Alec.

Mrs Betty Jeakins (Alec's mother) had a fall recently and broke her hip. She is at present staying with her other son in Norfolk. We wish her a speedy recovery.

CHRISTMAS DINNER REPORT: Tower Bridge                                              Audree Price-Davies


This is the first time I have understood what hydraulic pressure means. It seems that if water is heated and thereby converted into steam, this steam acts as a source of energy. It is harnessed to motivate pistons which in turn activate the shorter weighted end of a bascule, (Bascule is the French word for see-saw.) Downward pressure is exerted on the short end of the bascule, which swings down, and the longer end which is the road itself, swings upward. This opens the bridge over the river, which allows ships to pass through, along the river. The source of heat used to convert the water into steam was Welsh anthracite coal - virtually smokeless, clean-burning, and almost ash-free.

That the bridge needed to be built was evident from the views we were shown of the congestion in London's streets from horse-drawn vehicles which frequently broke down. There was also the problem of the rise in population which occurred during the Victorian period. Subways were built under the Thames between Rotherhithe and Wapping in 1843, which were converted to a railway tunnel in 1871 and in 1871 a subway from Tower Hill to Pickled Herring Lane was built, but this was plagued by technical difficulties. A new bridge was necessary, but there was opposition from the wharfingers and all those with shipping interests and also from the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Henry Isaacs who delayed the building of the bridge for 20 years, because of his shipping interests.Pressure mounted, however, and in 1876 the Corporation of London took action. The Act of Parliament defined the leading dimensions of the Tower Bridge as follows:


1 A central opening span of 200 ft clear width with a height of 135 ft above Trinity high water when open, and a height of 29 ft when closed against vessels with high masts. (The centre arch of London Bridge is 29.5 ft above Trinity high water,)

2 The size of the piers to be 185 ft in length and 70 ft in width.

3 The length of each of the two side spans to be 270 ft in the clear.

The bridge was made from the best steel available; some was hand-riveted on site but a great deal was accomplished using Sir William Arrol's new hydraulic riveter, one of a number of labour-saving devices he had developed himself. With its highly ornate masonry of grey Cornish granite and Portland stone, backed by brickwork, it is easy to forget that Tower Bridge is essentially a steel bridge - and the most complicated ever to have been erected. The stonework wasn't purely for aesthetic reasons, however. It also protected the framework from the weather. As additional protection from rust, the corner pillars had also been wrapped in oiled canvas and coated in cement. When the stone cladding was complete, the whole bridge was then decorated with ornate cast iron work, high pitched Welsh slate roofs and gold leaf pinnacles.

Earth has not anything to show more fair, 

Dull would he be of soul, who could pass by 

A sight so touching in its majesty

This city now doth like a garment wear 

The beauty of the morning, silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie, 

Open unto the fields and to the sky,

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Wordsworth's view from Westminster Bridge was composed in 1807 in the early morning: HADAS members viewed London from the walkways on Tower Bridge in the evening. There is a difference in time and place but Wordsworth was as impressed as we were. The galaxy of lights defining the streets, and the lights on Canary Wharf, the Post Office Tower, the Design Centre, the dome of St Paul's - this was a panoply of the city. This was something that Wordsworth could not see, as electric light was not used until the end of the century. The river silently gliding between the banks of lights, was a permanent thread in the history and the archaeology of London.

We descended the Tower, in fact but not in spirit, but we were not disappointed in the next phase of the evening. The Anchor Tap had gaiety and warmth. The drinks and the conversation flowed. Past dinners were recalled, past outings were talked over, personal details recounted, future projects discussed. The meal was good and the service willing and cheerful. The speech of thanks by Dr O'Flynn was witty and to the point. The journey home was quiet and peaceful in a snug coach. The large number of people who attended - and who made their own way to the bridge and home - bore witness to the popularity of the evening and our grateful thanks must go to Dorothy who organised this interesting visit and offended in spite of personal physical pain,

Post-Script: It was announced on December 8th, 1996 that the "competition to design London's first pedestrian bridge was won by the British team of architect Sir Norman Foster and sculptor Sir Simon Caro. The bridge, an arc of stainless steel and cable will run from below St Paul's Cathedral on the north bank to the Bankside power station, the site of the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art, on the south bank." ,

Meanwhile, at Bloomsbury - the British Museum Magazine reports that during 1996 is has acquired, or hopes to acquire, several important Iron Age coin hoards found in Southern Britain, reports Bill Bass...


The South Worcestershire Hoard

This hoard is one of the largest and potentially most interesting groups of Iron Age coins ever found in this country. In late 1993, 977 silver and 7 gold coins were discovered by a metal detectorist on farm land in south Worcestershire. Subsequent archaeological excavation recovered a further 13 gold and 489 silver coins, as well as two fragments of Iron Age gold, one of which has been identified as part of a torque. The coins are from two or more hoards.

The vast majority of the silver coins belong to the Dobunni, a tribe thought to have varied provenances, and include one of Cunobelin, king in south-east England, and one from Normandy. All these coins fall within the general period of the late 1st century BC and the early 1st century AD.

An unusual aspect of these boards is the fact that one of them was recovered during an archaeological excavation in what appears to have been a 3rd century AD Roman oven -raising the possibility that the hoard was found and then reburied in antiquity.

The Fish King

Study of two exciting new Late Iron Age hoards from Alton in Hampshire has re-named a king of part of Britain. One coin among a total of 256 gold staters shows that the Atrebatic king Tincommios has been misnamed by 19th and 20th century historians. His name was actually Tincomarus, "Tinc" is the equivalent of our word "tench", while "Marus" means "great". Tincomarus' name can therefore be reasonably translated as "big fish".

The Alton hoards are exceptional in other ways, too. A Roman gold finger ring and folded

Roman gold bracelet were found with the larger of the two hoards, This is the only Roman

jewellery ever found in an Iron Age context in Britain. Such evidence of contact between late iron Age Britain and Roman Gaul is supplemented by the coins in the larger hoard, every one of which has a "Romanised" style. This contrasts with the coins in the smaller hoard, all of which have ❑ more traditional "Celtic" style. Both hoards contain many rare or unknown coin types. One hoard, for example, contains twenty-one extremely rare coins of a king called Eppillus; until now only two comparable examples were known.

MILDENHALL TREASURE                    Andy Simpson

It will be interesting to see how the BM magazine records the recent Sunday Times report about the British Museum's magnificent hoard of Roman silver could be wartime booty from North Africa or Italy. Supposedly discovered whilst ploughing a field near West Row Village in the winter of 1942, the collection of 4th century silver plate is one of the BM's most prized exhibits. A forthcoming paper in Antiquity by Dr Paul Ashbee, retired lecturer in Archaeology at the University of East Anglia, suggests it may have been plundered by American soldiers in Europe and the claim that it was ploughed up concocted to explain its possession, the 'findspot' being close to the air base at Mildenhall, from whence it may have been illegally imported after the Second World War, and passed to a local dealer in antiquities who kept

it for five years until a visiting historian forced him to declare it to the police. It was then

 

declared Treasure Trove. The Paper suggests BM curators were aware of its doubtful origins

but kept quiet to avoid a diplomatic row - looting was associated with the Nazis, not the victorious Allies. Ashbee quotes conflicting inquest evidence and lack of evidence at the supposed findspot, though the BM stands by the original account, although conceding the silver was probably manufactured abroad, possibly the Mediterranean area.

PLANNING APPLICATIONS

Tessa Smith reports on information sent by Robert Whytehead of English Heritage.

A planning application has been received for demolition of part of the Government offices on land at London Road, Brockley Hill. English Heritage have done an Initial evaluation; 2 possible Roman sites located, which include a metalling surface, oolitic limestone, ditches and both early and late Roman pottery. Wessex Archaeology Consultants will now do a fuller excavation prior to residential development.

English Heritage has also recommended a watching brief on any earth-moving at playing fields adjoining Dollis School, Pursley Road, NW7. This area is just west of Copthall Fields where HADAS excavated Roman sherds and interpreted the results as a possible Roman road.

We also need to keep a watching brief at Belmont Riding Stables, Mill Hill, which now owns ahuge 130-acre tract of green belt land from Highwood Hill (where HADAS members walked part of the Viatores' suggested Roman road) to Mill Hill Village and Totteridge. The "needs" of this riding stable include "facilities for accommodation of staff and students". any HADAS members walking in this area please keep an eye open for any large scale earth-moving activity and let me know.


The Somatization of Archaeology: Institutions, Discourses, Corporeality

This paper examines archaeology's Somatization. New conceptualizations of sex and gender in philosophy, anthropology and queer theory are discussed. Current formulations of the body within our discipline, such as the fascination with Foucault and power-based interpretations, are at the expense of human agency and individuality. One way of engaging with the lived body, bypassing existentialism and social constructionism, is to view embodied persons as individuated sites of interface and resolutions between the biological, cultural and personal. To illustrate these notions, Egyptian concepts of the body, self and death are explored in a mortuary context at the site of Deir el Medina.

Norwegian Archaeological Review

Pardon? Ed.

 

ROMAN HENDON

As mentioned earlier, the digging team continue to process finds most Sunday mornings at Avenue House. We are presently working though the Church Farm Museum material from the 1993 and 1996 excavations: included in the finds from the fill of the medieval ditch (the main feature on the site) are at least three sherds of Roman mortaria, one sherd of Roman greyware and several fragments of Roman tile, both flanged roofing tile and fiat bonding tile. It will be interesting to compare this to other Roman material from Hendon Meritage Club and other nearby excavations. 

TV GUIDE

And For Your Family Viewing Entertainment ....

HADAS members will possibly have seen, at the time of writing, the new 1997 series of Time ream with Tony ‘Baldrick' Robinson and all the regulars. So far, the team's visits to a colonial site in Maryland, USA, Burials in Launceston, Cornwall, and Industrial archaeology in Birmingham have been shown: still to come are programmes on the Norman Castle and Jacobean Mansion at Malton, North Yorkshire, the search for a holy well and Viking remains in Govan, and a Romano-British site beneath the disused army base at Netheravon near Salisbury.

FORTHCOMING DAY SCHOOLS

Neolithic Landscapes in Britain and Beyond - University of Oxford Dept For Continuing Education at Rewley House, Wellington Square. Oxford - Saturday 22 February 1997, £23.00, Lunch Extra. For details, telephone 01865 270369.

Iron Age Britain - University of Oxford Dept for Continuing Education. Subjects include the Upper Thames Valley in Prehistory and Wessex in the light of the Danebury Environs Programme. 7 - 9 February at Rewley House, Oxford, fee E121 (residential). Details on 01865 270369

ALSO, 34th Annual Conference of London Archaeologists

Saturday 22 March, Museum of London Lecture Theatre, 1 lam - 5.30pm (approx). Tickets for non-LAMAS members are 5A.00 each. Applications/general enquiries to:

Jon Cotton, Early Dept, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 6HN. Programme includes progress on Southwark and the Rose Theatre.

HADAS will have a display and bookstand at this event.

AVIATION ARCHAEOLOGY - HENDON PEGASUS                                                                        Andy Simpson

Those who know me will not be surprised that l have taken the opportunity to combine aviation with archaeology. As many readers will know, during the last war 'Spitfire Funds operated all over the country as an expression of local pride, giving people the chance to purchase 'their' Spitfire - or Hurricane - or bomber aircraft - ❑ nominal £5,000 being the usual sum for a Spitfire. (This, when a skilled man might earn £5 a week!).

During 1940 the Borough of Hendon initiated the 'Hendon Four Fighter Fund' to purchase four Spitfires, and the fund was so successful that the required £20,000 was raised in under three months. A boxing tournament, a 'Mammoth White Elephant Sale' and 'a thousand tea parties by the women of Hendon' (how did they manage their sugar ration?) were among the fund-raising ventures. Also, 'Hendon Four Fighter Fund' stamps were sold and could be mounted on a 'Card of Honour'. When the card holder filled his card with stamps he was presented with a coloured stamp of honour, depicting Britannia, ❑ lion passant, four Spitfires and the cliffs of Dover.

One of the aircraft purchased was cannon-armed Spitfire VB. serial no W3333 named 'Hendon Pegasus` after the Pegasus on the Hendon coat of arms. The aircraft flew with no 129 Squadron from Westhampnett, Sussex.

On 7 September , 1941, flown by Sgt P Boddy, in a formation exercise, it lost position and collided with the formation leader's Spitfire, which managed to glide back to base and land safely. 'Hendon Pegasus', however, lost a propeller blade and a portion of wing, forcing Boddy to bale out. He landed safely but his aircraft dived into the sticky mud of Chichester Harbour where it lay until some parts were salvaged by the Wealden Aviation Archaeological Group in 1978. Parts recovered included engine cowling panels, cockpit components, wing fragments and the radio mast. A few years earlier local 'enthusiasts' pulled up part of the tail and an undercarriage leg - then sold them for scrap, an all too common occurrence in the somewhat less disciplined world of aviation archaeology.

In 1981 further parts were recovered by the excellent Tangmere Military Aviation Museum. This exercise recovered the tailwheel and oleo leg, undercarriage selector box, both rudder pedals, instruments, engine cranking handle, armoured windscreen and other smaller components, plus the propeller with Iwo blades still attached. So at least something remains of all those 1 d stamp investments paid by the people of Hendon, albeit displayed by the Tangmere Museum in West Sussex.

ARCHAEOLOGY, HISTORY AND POLITICS DON'T MIX - part 2                                                    Derek Batten

(We read the first part of Derek's adventures out west in the December newsletter. In this, concluding, chapter he continues his account of work on the American Civil War baffle site at Camp Lewis).

It was a long drive north to the Wilderness Inn at Pecos, described as a Territorial style Hacienda built about 1836. Greer G❑rson owned that some time past as well. This was to be the headquarters of our small metal detecting group and here I met up with old friends, Doug Scott and Dick Harmon, as well as Charlie himself.

This survey was also to make use of a device known as a fluxgate magnetometer which measureslocal disturbances or anomalies underground. Something similar to the machine used in the Time Team programmes on Channel Four TV.

We started work on site on the Monday and the weather was even hotter, 930 F I am told, and some 7,000 ft above sea level. All part of the 'fun' of field archaeology.

The major snag to the whole project soon became apparent. As stated we were working on National Park Service land, under the control of the Local Superintendent, one Duane Alice, a smallish man of Spanish-American descent, with the obligatory Poncho Villa moustache. A sort of cross between Eli Wallach and Groucho Marx. Despite the sweet words on the surface, it was obvious to me that there was no love lost between Duane and his Assistant, and Charlie Haecker and our team. So much so that we were forbidden to remove more than 300 artefacts from the site. (At Little Big Horn we found well over 3,000 despite the area being 'gone over' for years after that battle). By the end of day two, and taking only the most obvious, we had recovered 283 artefacts. By the third day, Wednesday, the six-day project was virtually over. As I say in the title to this piece "Archaeology and Politics don't mix".

Nothing is ever all bad, however, and I had spare time to take a good look at the remains of the Pecos Pueblo and to journey out to Ford Union and to appreciate the isolation of that place.


From the historic view point our efforts have not been entirely wasted. It seemed to me that the extent of Camp Lewis may well be outside the road widening proposals. The proton mag, had picked up some mysterious circles which may indicate encircled wagon locations. One very interesting artefact found was part of a Spanish spur showing that we were certainly on or very close to the Santa Fe Trail.

The internal personal friction with the powers-that-be at the Park engendered an 'us and them' situation cementing the bonds between us mad archaeological volunteers. But Charlie Haecker deserved better.

Anon

Archaeologists excavating a Scottish kilt factory could not find anything underneath._ (gr o o o oan.... Ed)

For our October lecture, members will recall, John Shepherd of the Museum of London talked to us about the work of Professor Grimes at the Temple of Mithras (and Cripplegate Fort); here Audree Price-Davies gives us details of the beliefs that formed the basis of Mithraism.

MITHRAISM                                                                                                          Audree Price-Davies

Christianity in the 3rd century was confronted not only by official persecution but by the conflicting claims of a variety of philosophic and religious faiths. The times were favourable to a revival of religious enthusiasm. The empire presented a melancholy spectacle. Without, there was the barbarian menace, within, financial exhaustion and civil discord, and in men's hearts, mingled apathy, world-weariness and fear. To Pagan and Christian alike the wrath of heaven seemed to have fallen upon the world. In their distress they sought salvation, not from the emperor, but from supernatural powers. The crying need was for direct communion between the soul of the individual and the gods.

There were many faiths which catered for this need. Neo-Platonism had its gospel for the philosopher, Mithraism for the legionary and the cults of ancient Egypt for the women of the capital. There was a move to harmonise all faiths and devotion to Mithra could be reconciled with the respect due to the ancient gods of Rome. It was a question of live and let live, except for the Christian, in whose eyes all pagan faiths alike were false and idolatrous.

The most widespread faith, other than Christianity, was Mithraism, which came from the primitive Aryans of Iran. The faith was spread by the army in the second and third centuries. A bas-relief showing Mithra plunging his dagger into a bull, dedicated in London by a discharged veteran of the Britannic army may be seen in the British Museum. Sixty chapels to Mithra existed in Rome. In this country, there is the temple in London and the temple at Carrawburgh at the fort of that name on Hadrian's Wall. (Others are known at the forts of Rudchester and Housesteads on Hadrian's Wall and at Caernarvon in North Wales - Ed).

The doctrines of resurrection, immortality and final justice appealed to soldiers. There were rites of initiation which were militaristic. Women had a very subordinate role. Mithraism was a purely practical creed in which the life of contemplation found no place. It had much in common with Christianity - the faith in a divine mediator, the hope of resurrection, the efficacy of prayer, sacramental union with God, and his presence in all events of daily life.

The main aspects of its teaching was the belief in Mithra as the mediator between God and man, and as the redeemer of the human race from the powers of evil. He was the unconquered warrior, identified often with the sun-god, eternally young, under whose banner men could fight victoriously against evil passions within and evil demons without. Certain rites were similar to those of baptism, confirmation and the eucharist of the Christians. The adoration of Mithra by shepherds and his ascension were borrowed from Christianity. Sunday was observed as a holy day and December 25th, as the festival of re­birth of Mithra.

But there were basic differences from Christianity. The religion appealed to the heart and not the head, and there was no historical foundation such as Judaism and the historical Christ. The worshipper of Mithras could believe in other faiths but the Christian could not. So that, while Christianity flourished in persecution, Mithraism died of weakness. It failed to appeal to the intelligence and developed no theological or sacred literature. The attempt, for instance, to identify the sun with the supreme intelligence of the universe is not a serious philosophy.

The successes of the barbarians hastened its decay and in the 4th century it had yielded to Christianity even in the ranks of the legions.


NEWS FROM OUR NEIGHBOURS

Barnet & District Local History Society meet in the Wyburn Room, Wesley Hall, Stapylton Road, Barnet (an acoustical improvement on their previous venue at the Library). Their February lecture is 'Nola by Gay Potter, Monday 10 Feb, 2.45 for 3pm).

Enfield Archaeological Society welcomes Stephen Gilburt as their February lecturer, speaking on ' The Vikings. Farmers, Traders or Looters? Friday 21 Feb. 8pm at the Jubilee Hall, junction of Chase Side and Parsonage Lane, Enfield.

The finchlev Society will be hearing Andrew Byrne of the Spitalfields Trust talk about London's Georgian Houses' on Thursday 27 February, 7.45pm at the Drawing Room, Avenue House.

The series of Thursday evening lectures organised by Harvey Sheldon, entitled The Roman Empire and its Provinces continues into the Spring with the following tiles. It continues to be worthwhile attending, as a new subject or to 'brush up your Roman'.

6 February Coinage and the Empire (John Casey)

13 February Public Buildings in the Roman Empire (TFC Blagg)

20 February The Army of Rome (Simon James)

27 February Christianity and Late Empire (Richard Reece)

6 March                  Making Sense of the Western Roman Empire (Martin Millett)

13 March Art in the Roman World: Unify in Diversity (Martin Henig)

20 March The End of the Empire in the West (Simon Esmonde-Cleary)

The cost is £5 per lecture, payable at the door, at the Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, WC1, starting 7pm and finishing promptly at 8.30pm .

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