Newsletter-314-May-1997

No. 314                                                       MAY 1997                EDITED BY ANN KAHN

DIARY

Tuesday May 13:

Saturday June 7:

Morning - tour of the Garrick Club with Mary O'Connell Details and application form with this Newsletter Evening - A.G. M. 8.00pm for 8.30pm in the Drawing Room (Ground Floor) at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N.3.

see also note below

Outing to Cirencester and Chedworth Roman Villa with Micky Watkins and Micky Cohen Details and application form with this Newsletter

 Saturday July 12:           Outing to Hastings and Battle with Tessa Smith and Sheila Woodward

September 4 -7:             Weekend in York. We are fully booked for  this , with a short waiting list. Members are welcome to add their names to this list if they wish.

HADAS Annual General Meeting                                               June Porges

As usual we shall keep the AGM business as short as possible - HADAS has quite a good record in this respect! Afterwards Steward Wild, who has recently returned from that area, will give a talk entitled "From Palmyra to Petra". There will also be a display of recent work done by the Society including some Roman pottery and building material found at the Church Farm House Museum site.

Our Library is housed at Avenue House, so if anybody would like to visit it please come early.

MEMBERS LIST                                                                             Dorothy Newbury

My apologies to those members who asked for a list last year. This is now in hand but if any member would prefer to have their address and/or phone number deleted pleas ring Dorothy Newbury (0181 203 0950) immediately. The list is only available to members.

JANET FARADAY                                                                                     Mary Begg

We regret having to report that Janet died on March 11th. She had major surgery two years ago but rarely talked about her illness and was still working part-time as a physiotherapist this January. Her speciality was hand therapy. She loved life, had a positive outlook and had many interests ranging from Spanish and Scottish dancing, to learning Russian, astronomy, theatre and travel. She supported numerous animal welfare causes. She was young for her 66 years and will be greatly missed. Some members of HADAS were at her funeral.


34 Annual (LAMAS) Conference of London Archaeologists, Museum of London, March 1997.

HADAS attended with our exhibition boards and book stall - and sold quite a few, the general attendance appeared very good this year. Proceedings kicked-off with the presentation of a new award - the Merrifield Award, for archaeology in London. Richmond Archaeological Society were the winners for their work on the Thames Foreshore Survey. Harvey Sheldon was the conference chairman.

WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE...

Cue Mike Webber - Thames Archaeological Survey Officer to provide us with a 1996 update. Sites included a wooden log platform at Rainham Marshes, a Saxon structure at Chelsea, remains of a pair of substantial reused timber rudders and an important early jetty at Greenwich. Concern was expressed at the rapid erosion of these features by dredging, tidal action, and 'historical landscaping'.

PERRY OAKS and the STANWELL CURSES

From water to air or more precisely the environs of Heathrow. This area is rich in sites from all periods attracted by the well draining gravels and fertile overlying soils. These same attractions are now leading to the destruction of such sites through ploughing, gravel extraction and general urban sprawl. A review of the area is being undertaken by MoLAS and other agencies, this comprises of a large-scale, multi-discipline investigation, the strategy being to find human occupation and its influence on the landscape. Firstly, past records such as the Sites and Monuments Record, earlier excavations and finds were extensively consulted with the results plotted on a computer mapping system. Other methods included trial trenching and comprehensive soil-sampling to find features over a large area. One site was Perry Oaks, west of the airport, bounded by the River Colne, north and south runways, not far from the sludge works (very exotic). Initial results here found truncated features dating between 4000-1000 BC with finds of worked flint and eroded pottery sherds, unfortunately environmental evidence from sampling has not survived well. Iron-age and Roman activity has also been detected.

A wider landscape of another area looked at was the Stanwell Curses - excavated in the 1980s. The earthwork lies within a Neolithic landscape of monuments, timber avenues and barrows (many ploughed out), post-holes were found to predate the curses. A later Middle Bronze-age community continued to focus on this location with a boundary ditch (4m wide by lm deep) crossing the Neolithic monument, other find spots avoided the curses respecting its presence. The Middle Bronze-age layout constantly changed over time with ditches, droveways, huts and field systems perhaps reflecting different agricultural practices such as winter & summer crops, stock management, storage and so-forth. Overall this evidence is useful as much previous MBA material usually comes from cremation cemeteries, this being an occupation site can add further ideas.

ROMAN ROAD RAGE - Robin Taylor-Wilson

This site at Lefevre Road and Parnell Road, Old Ford in east London was already known for its Roman activity by excavations in the 1970s & 80s. They found Romano-British field systems and burials, a Roman road section was partly dug and pre-Roman features were also seen, some containing post Deverel Rimbury pottery of 1100­900 BC.

The more recent excavations by Pre-Construct Archaeology divide the area up into two zones

Zone 'A' - early Roman material possibly within a decade of the invasion.

Zone 'B' - prehistoric activity and further Roman evidence.

In zone 'A' a quarry for the agger was found beside what appears to be a " 3 lane highway" defined by ditches at 80 ft wide. The road section consisted of redeposited brickearth with sand and gravel over a 4.6m wide camber of conquest built date. Beside the road to north and south were two hollow-ways with metalled tracks which were resurfaced periodically, the north track elevation was then abandoned at some time. Of the bordering ditches a palisaded example preceded one of a 'V' shaped type. Also in this zone the wall and floor remains of a

Roman structure were recorded. By the 4th century field deposits began to overlie the road surface which showed the road going out of use. In zone 'B' more of the field system was revealed plus an inhumation burial of the 4th century dated by pottery. An interesting find was a gold finger-ring with intaglio which had a mouse inscription. The road here had some use in the post Roman period, but not into the Saxon area,

Other lectures included the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Saxon site, and reappraisal of the Grimes Cripplegate sites. The afternoon reviewed - Full time archaeology in Southwark; the first 25 years.           Bill Bass

FROM SOMERSET TO SIMRIS - A conference in honour of JOHN COLES

The Prehistoric Society conference 1997.

Five members of HADAS, including our Chairman Andrew Selkirk, were at Exeter University for the weekend 4-6 April to enjoy this most instructive and sociable Conference. I would describe its theme as being an updated round-up of the results of new approaches, encouraged and worked on by John, to archaeological investigation in the last few decades. For example, detailed scientific examination of organic materials made possible by their preservation at wetland sites; from Scandinavia, sites preserved by windblown sand; and experimental archaeology, not only in trying out bronze age weapons (we saw quite a number of slides of John with bronze sword and shield in hand!); but also in trying out prehistoric technology such as the distillation of pitch and tar from wood and bark in Poland - not to mention the charming recital we had of tunes on prehistoric-style birdbone pipes.

The contributions indeed came from worldwide - not only from Scotland (now established neolithic), Ireland (trackways over bogs) and Denmark; but also from France, Northwest America, and of course, Poland. It was the Polish delegation, in fact, who managed to stop John in his tracks (m' m) in his speech of thanks after the Conference dinner when he described how sometimes in his work he had felt he wished he had a sword in his hand - by presenting him with a handsome bronze-age sword as a token of appreciation - to heartfelt applause of all

present!                                                                                                                               Brian Wrigley

MEMORIAL FOR THE BATTLE OF BARNET

John Somerville, a Barnet sculptor, has designed a battle-weary horseman to commemorate the Battle of Barnet in 1471. It is designed to be a one and a half times life-size bronze statute; one side showing triumph, the other defeat, and the whole entitled Pyrrhic Victory. The original maquette was exhibited at the Royal Academy recently. The only existing memorial is the obelisk at Hadley Highstone and this sculpture could be a fitting celebration for the millenium locally. It is estimated that £100,000 will be needed, some of which might come from the National Lottery. The project has the full support of the Borough Council and its arts body, Barnet College, the local Historical Society and Chipping Barnet Traders' Association. (Barnet Borough Times 13 March 1997)

HENRY VIII'S FISHING BASKET

A wicker fishing basket, shaped like a fish trap, has been uncovered in
the West Moat of the Tower of London. The West Moat, west of the White Tower, was a fishing area used exclusively for the Royal Household in the 16thc. Graham Keevil, director of the excavation, said the basket dated from the late 15thc to the middle of the 16thc and that this discovery backed up all the documentary sources we had for this period. Artefacts made from organic material such as wicker rarely survive due to bacterial decay from the soil. Preservation was probably due to water levels in the clay and being buried four metres below the surface. The basket will be taken to Hampton Court for conservation treatment. (The Times 9 April 1997)

WHAT NOT TO DO WITH A ROMAN MOSAIC      Roy Walker A cautionary tale was told at our March lecture. Stephen Cosh (with David Neal) has been researching the Roman mosaics of England in preparation for a definitive guide soon to be published in four volumes. His studies had revealed many cases of mishandling and these became his topic for the evening. The worst case was to excavate, not record and to fail to publish. Before photography this was quite usual with only brief notes being made of the event. However, a good written description enabled drawings subsequently to be made such as that of the Oldcotes mosaic excavated in 1870. Drawing would seem to be the most satisfactory medium for recording in the absence of photography but the mosaic at Micklegate Bar, York, drawn in 1814 was claimed at the time to represent "not what it was but what it should have been." It was fragmented and the artist had put in his own interpretation substituting "joints of venison" for, possibly, the four seasons.

The East Coker, Yeovil, mosaic saga showed that even museums cannot be trusted! The mosaic was drawn then sawn off its bedding. It fell to pieces, was reconstructed, then decayed. It was placed in Taunton Museum but comparison to the drawing showed that a dog had lost its head and that it had gained another section. One mosaic found at Spaxton, Somerset, was divided into three sections, two went to a museum the third to the finder.

The provision of a cover building does not guarantee preservation. At Preston, Dorset, in 1852, a small stream was diverted away from the mosaic and a building constructed over. The mosaic slowly disappeared as visitors stole the tesserae. The building was then used for chickens, then by a gang of thieves. The roof collapsed and the stream flooded. By 1932 there v was nothing left. A mosaic discovered at Dorchester Prison in 1858 fared little better. It was relaid in the prison chapel but in 1884 the chapel was demolished leaving the mosaic exposed to frost damage. It was transferred to Dorchester Museum but was restored "with changes" and was no longer the genuine article. It now has a painting over it! One now in Winchester Museum was drawn, the tesserae were shovelled up and the mosaic recreated from the pieces - our lecturer thought this mosaic now should be regarded as Victorian rather than Roman. Some sites had not been adequately published. Three mosaics recovered near Yeovil had been drawn for publication but had no indicaton as to the extent of the reconstructed elements within the illustration. The site photographs showed not only that very little had actually survived but that conversely the coarse border to the mosaic had not been included in the drawing. The excavator had used just a tidied-up sketch plan when publishing another mosaic from the site. The photographs too were unhelpful - selective, oblique shots of mosaics that had not been cleaned for the occasion. Stephen showed us his own reconstruction of how the mosaic should have looked.

The Newton St Loe villa, Bristol, had a railway constructed through it. The mosaics were drawn and lifted. The Orpheus pavement was relaid in Keynsham railway station but was, ( later moved (with a pickaxe) and stored at Bristol Museum in chunks but a fire in the store was not helpful to its preservation. Another piece from the villa is now in a coffee table, another piece is assigned to the wrong site. An interesting example of incorrect provenance was presented later in the lecture. A villa at West Dean, Hampshire, was excavated in 1841. In the 1870s the local vicar working at the site excavated an aisled building with 4th century mosaics which were drawn, lifted and presented to the local museum. The mosaics were subsequently lost but the description fitted that of a mosaic held in Bristol Museum which was claimed to be from Gatcombe. Additional research showed that the cleric later had been posted to Gatcombe and had even participated in the excavation of Gatcombe villa.

The Keynsham Villa (or palace) was partially excavated and the mosaics lifted although no illustrations were made at the time only tracings of part. They were found in Taunton Castle Museum, untouched since the 1920s. The mosaics, in two hexagonal rooms at the end of one range, were considered by our lecturer to be among the best examples of Romano-British mosaics - they are now in the cellar of Keynsham Town Hall.

When the Hendon Roman villa is excavated by HADAS (we know it's out there somewhere) its mosaics will be given the best treatment ever - we would not wish to be included in one of Stephen Cosh's future lectures!

 

ROMAN VILLA

A fragment of mosaic floor was discovered in the garden of Thatched Cottage in Wortley, Gloucestershire. In 1982, Keele University took over the management of the site as a student training centre. Several rooms have since been discovered, including a cellar and the remains of an irrigation system.. The villa could be quite extensive, but though accepted as an important archaeological site, it is not recognised by English Heritage. Unfortunately
the owners have to sell and there is nothing to stop the new owners from discontinuing the dig and filling in the site. (Daily Telegraph 2 April 1997)

TUTANKHAMEN

Professor Bob Brier, from Long Island University in New York believes that Tutankhamen may have been killed by his tutor and regent Aye. Brier re-examined an old X-ray of Tutankhamen's skull, and thinks that either Aye or a trusted servant delivered a fatal blow to the ruler's head. Aye was ambitious; but as a commoner, he could not become ruler except by marriage to Tutankhamen's queen, Ankhesenamen. Evidence indicates that Tutankhamen lingered on long enough for Ankhesenamen to write to a neighbouring Hittite king, begging for one of his sons as a husband - an unheard of request. That letter, now in a Turkish museum, states:

"Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband.

I am very afraid."

The Hittite king sent one of his sons to marry Ankhesenamen, but near the border the son and his party were ambushed and killed. What happened next is unclear, but a ring found in Cairo in 1831 bears an inscription indicating that Aye and Ankhesenamen had married. The young queen was not heard of again, and Professor Brier believes that she too was murdered. Aye, on the walls of his tomb at Amarna, left this message:

"I was one favoured by his lord every day, great in favour from year to year, because of the exceeding greatness of my excellence."

Aye's tomb showed his wife at the time of his death was called Tiy. She eventually became queen of Egypt. (Daily Mail, 20 March 1997).

EGYPTIAN TREASURES TO REMAIN IN BRITAIN.

The Egyptian government has dropped its demand for the return of the Rosetta stone and other exhibits in the British Museum, and of other antiquities such as Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment. This may modify the Greek demand for the Elgin marbles. (Sunday Times 23 March 1997)

INTERNET NEWS FOR COMPUTER BUFFS

Computer literate members who have access to the world wide information network may be interested in the following:-

THE MEDIEVAL VILLAGE is part of the Camelot International site. Camelot is a travel agency which claims that "about 90% of our site is non-commercial, providing information. THE VILLAGE, complete with local yokels to act as guides, together with jesters and knights,        will add to a vast amount of historical detail which exists
on the site already." (Times Interface, 5 March 1997)

THE INTERNET LIBRARY OF EARLY JOURNALS aims to provide full texts of eighteenth and nineteenth century journals. The first title is Notes and Queries from 1849 and is ready for use. The organisers would like to hear from interested researchers in this area. (Contact: Bill Jupp at the Edward Boyle Library, University of Leeds (+ 44 (0) 1132 335 565)

(Aslib Management Information, March 1997) 

FROM HERE AND THERE                                                                         Vikki O'Connor

UNDERWATER SITE DETECTION

A research project at Southamnpton University is aiming to find new methods to detect archaeological sites beneath the sea. Rising sea levels since the last Ice Age have caused sediments to bury coastal sites of human activity. The profile of these hidden landscapes can now be detected by acoustic methods which are sensitive enough to study minute changes associated with landscape identification.

A GENETIC LINK WITH THE PAST

A team from the University of Bristol has established a direct genetic link between Cheddar Man (9,000 years old) and a 42 year old local resident. The test used mitochondrial DNA which only descends through females therefore both subjects must have had a common female ancestor - which indicates a remarkable continuity in the local population. It has enabled archaeologists to claim that the introduction of European techniques of farming around 7,000 years ago was a local initiative not the result of mass immigration from Europe.

THE SWEDISH MARY ROSE

Using a diving bell, a team of archaeologists has been excavating the wreck of the Kort Konig's Kravel, a 75 feet wreck once part of the fleet of Gustav Eriksson Vasa, the first king of modern Sweden. The warship, which sank in 1525 in a fjord in the Stockholm archipelago, is believed to contain the largest amount of early 16th century naval wrought iron guns ever found.

THE PRINTS OF POTTERS

Archaeologists on the site of an ancient pottery workshop near Taranto, southern Italy, have found about 400 fingerprints on fragments of forty vases. The Greek potters, working around 2,400 years ago, left their prints in the damp clay and paint of vessels. Analysis has enabled four potters to be identified ­one was a modeller, two were painters and the other a touch-up expert. Other prints indicate that around fourteen people were employed by the workshop.

Jeannie Lee Cobban. "The legend of Geoffrey de Mandeville" Barnet and District Local History Society - Wyburn Room, Wesley Hall, Stapylton Road, Barnet: Wednesday 7 June at 7.45 for 8pm

 

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