Newsletter-318-September-1997

DIARY

September 4th to 7th — Long weekend in York, No vacancies at the moment, but if any member would like to join us, please phone Dorothy 0181-203­0950 in case we have any last minute cancellations.

September 26th (Friday) — Visit to Thomas Comm Foundation, WC1, (The Foundling Hospital) and a morning walk with Mary O'Connell. Details and application form inside.

October 11th (Saturday) — The fabled Minimart. St Mary's Church, Hendon.

October 14th (Tuesday evening) — First lecture of the new season: Iron Age Working in Wales by Peter Crew.

October 19th (Sunday) — An Invitation from The Finchley Society, see inside.

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

Ground Probing Radar at The Priory, Totteridge Lane — Roy Walker

In September, 1996, the Museum of London Archaeology Service undertook a Ground Penetrating Radar Survey at The Priory, a 17th century manor house in Totteridge Lane, Barnet. The cellar of the building had suffered problems with water seepage and it was thought that the cause may have been due to the presence of a tunnel traditionally supposed to link the Priory to nearby St Andrews Church. The owner of the property commissioned the Clark Laboratory, based at MOLAS, to locate the tunnel by use of Radar. Basically, the system sends a radio pulse into the ground which interacts with the immediate surroundings and is reflected back. This interaction is recorded by a receiver and analysed by computer. The interaction is varied depending upon the medium through which the pulses passed and a value can be given for the type of medium - for instance, air has a value of 1, concrete 7. Changes in the reflected signal are "recorded as anomalies. The transmitter and associated receiver are moved across the area in a series of survey lines. In this instance twelve lines laid out and the anomalies were noted. In two areas the anomalies were considered to reflect underground services such as drains, power cables and so forth. In one area, however, a possible buried structure was thought to be present -perhaps the tunnel - and a limited excavation was recommended. Text Box: IIn July this year, a small pit (about lm square) was dug by the owner's contractors with HADAS attending by way of a limited watching brief. It was located in the area of the unknown anomaly but as the sketch shows, there was no significant archaeological deposits although disturbances were present including a patch of tile and brick rubble. There was no tunnel. Six days later we were notified that a further pit had been dug with the same negative result. The sequence of layers was in a slightly different order but it bottomed-out on the same sandy/clay as the first pit.


MEMBERS NEWS

Pat Bromley - In July we reported that Pat was in hospital and we were missing her and the Bromley family oel our outings. Recently she had a second operation, and again we all wish her well.

Congratulations to Stephen Wrigley on working with the Prince's Trust as a guitar Tutor. He will be remembered by West Heath diggers where he regularly dug with his father Brian.

Congratulations to Julius Baker who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, several members attended his party.

Gareth Bartlett has passed his Diploma course of Physical Data in Archaeology, well done to him and other members who have passed exams recently.


Hendon Aerodrome Part 4 - Transporting the masses

A noted local railway historian Mr J..F.Aylard mentions in a recent 'London Railway Record' (July 1997) that "a regular event on the (now closed) ex-GNR Edgware branch which occurred every summer from the 1930s up to WW2 was the use the LNER made of it to assist passengers to attend the Hendon Air Force Pageant which was held in June. From 1.00pm to 7.30pm the normal Edgware service was replaced by buses and the end of the branch was used to store the trains, which stretched nose to tail from Mill Hill The Hale to Edgware after the passengers had been decanted at The Hale from a succession of nine special trains". In the evening locomotives that were used to pull the afternoon trains were simply attached to the rear of the previous train' before setting back off down to Finsbury Park, signalled by men with green and red flags stood at intervals. Mr Aylard says " I think one must give the LNER full marks for ingenuity in arranging this system".


VISIT TO HASTINGS & BATTLE, July 97, by — Pat O'Connell


The passengers and coach were all on time and off we went on a fine misty morning, which was soon gone when the sun came out for a glorious day.

We drove straight through London on clear roads to Kent and the village of Goudhurst and The Vine for a welcome coffee. Giving us time to explore the interesting village built on a hill in the 17 & 18th centuries including Kentish houses, an oast house, shops and the old church with its graveyard on top of the steep hill. As we returned to the coach, we passed the village green and duck pond. Then we were off again passing the lovely green fields and hedgerows for Hastings and the old part of town.

In no time we were there by the Net Shops and the "-L- de (shingle beach). In fact they were not shops at all, but stores for the Hastings fisherman - tall wood huts, mostly three stories high used for storing nets and tackle, 45 net shops still survive, they are unique in Britain.

THE SHIPWRECK HERITAGE CENTRE Created in 1986 by the Nautical Museums trust, a registered educational charity. Funding from the Government, local authority, charitable sources and admission charges. Staffed with volunteers, in 1989 it received the Museum of the Year Award. I must say it deserved it.

Its aim was to illustrate the history of ships and seafaring in north-west Europe primarily from

archaeological remains rescued and preserved. It is in the right area as there are thousands of sunken ships known to lie off south-west England, because for 2000 years the channel has been one of the busiest seaways in the world. We could see part of the channel navigation on the radar,/ would never make a coast guard!.

Being a large party we divided into two groups. I went to the Annex to see the Primrose a small
spritsail barge that sailed the rivers Rather, Tillingham and Brede in East Sussex and along the Royal Military Canal in Kent. The Primrose was the last to be built in the 1890's and the only one to be built with a spritsail (- a great spar supporting and crossing the mainsail diagonally from the base of the mast) by Mr Clarks yard at Winchelsea Road, Rye. It carried up-river coal, chalk, sand, corn, lime and salt. Returning with timber bark, stone, bricks and hop-poles.

Being sold in 1937 to J & T Mackey for harbour works. In 1954 when restriction on access to the river banks were lifted it was found abandoned in the River Rother near Rye Harbour. But it was not recovered and rescued until 1992 by the Centre. Having been totally submerged by all the tides, all the planks and fittings loosened, the stern and stempost being ripped . They had a crew of two, a master and mate usually father and son. They had a cabin in the bow with a stone base for the stove, to boil their kettle on.

MUSEUM

Then on into the museum to see the Cognac brandy bottles part of a cargo of French wine and spirits, bound for the Caribbean in the Danish tombstone wreck of 1862 there were 100's of bottles minus labels. The tombstone was carved in England for a mother and son who died on the Virgin Islands where the ship had been due.

There was so much to see and touch for the children - a Saxon dug-out, a piece of London Bridge built by the Romans c85 AD, a 15th century pot and sherds some imported, Medieval rivets used in Saxon and Viking ships, animal hair for caulking and English clay tobacco pipes from 1610 to 1750. There were Spanish silver Pieces of Eight minted in Mexico City. Carried in Spanish treasure galleons from Central America to Amsterdam, bought by a Dutch merchant ship (an East Indiaman) the Hollandia, bound for Java to buy silks and spices but the ship sank in the Isles of Scilly in 1743 while on the way to Java.

Another East Indiaman called the Amsterdam sank off Hastings in 1749, outside of the centre we had seen its anchor and also some planks wrapped in plastic, the wood felt like stone. Two-thirds of this ship is now buried in mud. Owned by the Dutch Government and a protected monument the remains are well preserved..


Finally in the theatre we saw a show of slides and talk by the ships Captain Klump giving his points of view on the loss of the Amsterdam. His 16 year old cabin boy Adrian Welgevarem from Leerdam died in the ship in 1749 Before we left the theatre we saw the much repaired timbers of the 15th century Blackfriars Bridge.

Battle by Beverley Perkins

Our tour of Battle Abbey, led by the able and enthusiastic Jane Fraser Hay , started at the imposing gateway. She explained that the original gateway had been smaller, but had been enlarged and fortified in the 1330s in the face of increasing unrest and raids by the French.

We then watched a video explaining the background to the Battle of Hastings. Edward the Confessor had died in early 1066 without a clear succession. There were three claimants to the throne: Duke William of Normandy, related through Edward's mother, whose claim was backed by the Pope; Edward's brother-in-law, Earl Harold of Wessex; and Harold Hardrada of Norway who based his claim on a treaty made with an earlier English King. In the September following Earl Harold's coronation, Harold Hardrada invaded but was soundly beaten at Stamford Bridge. While King Harold was occupied in the north, William invaded, landing at Pevensey. King Harold rushed his army southwards and met William's army on 14th October 1066. Our guide explained the Battle. The English army of foot soldiers occupied a narrow ridge backed by woodland. The Norman army, including 2-3000 mounted knights, was spread out on the opposite side of the marshy valley. The battle raged inconclusively for several hours, but finally the Normans lured the English off the ridge by feigning retreat. Harold was killed (though not by the arrow in his eye, as legend has it) without their leader the English army collapsed and fled.

Battle Abbey was built on the orders of William I both to mark his victory and as a penance, imposed by the Pope, for the regicide and slaughter. The Benedictine monks who came over from Marmoutier to: supervise its construction were horrified by what they found: a swampy, uneven site with only a narrow ridge to build on, and no water supply. They started to build to the west, but William was adamant that the abbey be built where King Harold had fallen. With great labour the site was levelled and water was brought in on an aqueduct. The abbey church, 225 ft long and built of Caen stone, was constructed first and consecrated in 1076. The complete abbey became the fifteenth wealthiest religious house in the British Isles and owned the surrounding land to a distance of 3 leagues - about nine miles.

Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII gave Battle Abbey to Sir Anthony Browne, who demolished the church, chapter house and part of the cloisters and turned what remained into a residence (now a school). He had the guest range restored for use by the royal princesses, Elizabeth and Mary, but they never visited Battle. We inspected the undercroft of the guest range, a series of barrel-vaulted rooms used for storage by the abbey cellarer.

Further along the ridge are the remains of the reredorter and the latrines, backed by the infirmary. The arches carrying the latrine seats may have been supplied with wooden gates which could be raised to allow the night-soil to be removed on carts. On the Abbey's sloping site, the water supply was arranged so that it reached first the kitchen, then the abbot and monks, then the infirmary and finally the latrines.

The ground floor of the dorter is in a good state of preservation. Impressively high at the south end, the vaulted ceilings of the rooms become progressively lower as the site slopes upwards. This building housed the monks' sleeping quarters on the first floor and the common room and novices' room below. At the back was the parlour, the only room in which the monks of the silent Benedictine order were allowed to speak.

Finally we saw the outline of the vast church, now marked out only by a line of stones. The site of the high altar is believed to be the spot on which King Harold died.

Our visit to Battle ended with a delicious cream tea at the picturesque Pilgrims Rest, an ancient building originally built to accommodate the abbot's guests. A great end to a thoroughly enjoyable day - thank you, Sheila and Tessa, for organising what everyone agreed was a most successful and interesting trip.


BOOKS

An extract from "Among the New Books" Antiquity March 1997 — from Peter Pickering

A singular approach to understanding the past is offered by JOHN IVIMY in Lives relived Like many other respected people, IVIMY advances the case for reincarnation. The successive lives of individual psyches can be reconstructed from outstanding similarities in character traits and resultant deeds. There are rules to reincarnation, and a distinct patterning in time and place; souls follow the centre of gravity of civilisation and so progress from the East to the Classical world and from thence to Northwest Europe. IVIMY's classical background is ever apparent . Suggested probable reincarnations are the great Athenian Pericles, as John Churchill first Duke of Marlborough and, in a familiar vein Julius Caesar as Winston Churchill, possibly by way of William the Conqueror (succeeding in conquering Britain at that time). "A mass of purely objective historical evidence in the form of biographical sketches" supports these identifications. In favour of the reincarnation of Felix Sulla and Pompey's souls, together, as Franklin D. Roosevelt is that all three were political men less concerned with ideology than with practical measures determined " to restore vitality to an economy that was running down through fear and uncertainty".

EGYPT: ANTIQUITIES FROM ABOVE by MARILYN BRIDGES , Published by Bulfinch , £27.

If your interests take in Egypt, black & white plus aerial photography then this may be the book for you. This


well produced volume contains 68 plates of Egyptian monuments some world famous, to others less so but still rich in

 interest. Mostly taken between 1992-3 using the raking morning or evening light every, shape and shadow of this

 countries ancient buildings - pyramids, temples, tombs and other ruins can be seen, set amongst the desert, valleys and the Nile. The authors pictures are clear and sharp allowing the contrasting light to pick-out a myriad of detail from upstanding monuments to those still lying beneath the sand.

Obtaining these images is a story in itself - after a scouting mission in 1984 this accomplished photographer of many previous exhibitions and books managed to return in the early '90s. Permission to over-fly this security conscious land was very difficult, eventually a flight in light plane became available (you can't hire your own) the pilot being distinctly unenthusiastic. The ride was bumpy due to hot thermals rising from the desert floor, then at one time Bridges was asked to take the controls as the pilot turned the plane east and fervently prayed! other flights were undertaken by military helicopter. Whatever method used the results were worthwhile.

The Royal Commercial Travellers Schools 1845 - 1965 — from Ted Sammes

These schools when they existed have recently been drawn to my attention by Dorothy Newbury. With a little more vision and interest they might still be functioning at Hatch End.

Richard Nichols - Secretary of the Mill Hill Historical Society, pupil of the schools 1927-1934 has written a book charting their demise in 1965. He has more recently produced a supplement to this. The original publication gives great details of the schools and the recent supplement gives eight pictures showing the inside of some classrooms and outside views. The last entry for the United Commercial Travellers Association was 1981 when it moved to Knutsford.

In a thesis by a Mrs Halsey, she stated that in 1880 there where 80,000 commercial travellers. There was camaraderie amongst the "The Knights of the Road", who were away all week and longer. In 1880 these travellers raised £80,000 on Orphans Day that year. It is probable that the Schools were closed too quickly, possibly to achieve a commercial advantage perhaps another case of "selling the family silver"!

Today much of the re-furbished site has been sold and is now a Supermarket, but much of the park remains to give the local residents pleasure.

This was a self supporting, charitable school and in many ways can be compared with Mill Hill School, the Bushey School and the Royal Masonic School at Bushey, to mention a few others with the welfare of orphaned children at heart. Richard Nichols MSc is a life governor of the schools

For further details and copies of the book please contact Mr Nichols on 0181 959 3485


EXCAVATIONS AT THE VERULAMIUM MUSEUM, ST ALBANS — a brief account

Between August '96 and June '97 excavations were conducted at this well known museum at the centre of the Roman town. The building itself is to be extended providing improved facilities for general visitors and school parties (they come from all over the south-east), to increase the display space and shop area as well as extending the workshop and lab.

Much of the area has of course been dug previously most notably by Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler, Lowther and Frere amongst others. Some of their trenches were re-excavated (mostly Lowthers's) which enabled some re-interpretation of previous ideas , however large parts still lay relatively undisturbed. The most recent work was overseen by the St Albans Museum Service, with contract archaeologists and help from local volunteers. Two trenches were opened-up, the largest , trench 'A' on the north-west side of the museum (adjacent to the car park) and a smaller one, trench 'B', to the south hidden behind the pavilion.

               

            Trench 'A'     

After the clearance of modern drains, soakaways, walls and so forth there were the remains of a farm (St Germain's) originally founded c1500 and lasting several centuries. This took the form of a hard rammed pebble and chalk floor/yard surface, this took some time to uncover, plan, then excavate. No obvious Saxon or Medieval features were seen although some Saxon (St Neots Ware) and Medieval pottery was recovered. Once the farm­yard surface had been removed the Roman road could now be revealed, in fact there were two roads in evidence here, Watling St and a road leading from the south-western Silchester Gate forming a junction. The road's camber could well be seen together with its silted-up ditches, in section there was a depth of a least 1 % to 2 m deep - over 400 years of relaying, patching and heavy use (sounds like the M25), again the fabric consisted of assorted compressed pebbles in a clayey sand. Channelled into the metalling were drain and water-pipe systems, with iron-collars - their wooden pipes long decayed tracing their direction.

BASILICA

This major establishment was on the west corner of the junction, in fact its northern end can now be slightly extended by several metres due to a wall uncovered during the present dig. Hopefully a small section of this building will be on display near to the new entrance. Over the road from the basilica on the southern corner several walls were found, some substantial others less so, and of different phases. Within a 'room' layers of a number of slumped clay floors were excavated, burnt areas could also be seen.

Trench B'

This trench was smaller and more shallow, excavation nearby in the '70s had revealed rooms - some with mosaics, this time floors uncovered were made of plain red tesserae, these had been re-laid over the years, one area showed signs of burning and may have been the site of a brazier and a hearth was also present. Interestingly a pile of animal rib bones were discovered sitting directly on the floor surface seemingly as left by the last Romans ? or by later Saxon inhabitants living in the old premises. Also a substantial section of fallen decorated wall plaster was lifted for conservation. Again walls of different phases pointed to these rooms being changed or converted over their life time.

                       

FINDS

Conveniently all the artefacts that needed stabilising were only a few steps away from the laboratory. Finds include - hundreds of coins many 3-4th century in date some earlier, either found insitu or metal detected from the spoil heap, several brooches, a fine hippo sandal (to protect animal feet), toilet instruments, a ligula (for extracting medicine or cosmetics from narrow bottles), bone counters/buttons/pins and a carved knife handle. A large selection of the usual Roman pottery types were excavated most notably a complete poppy-head beaker and near complete indented beaker For the duration of this dig members of the public could observe the work proceeding and would ask questions, some must have followed it from beginning to end. Coach loads of school children would pass by every day (found anything yet ?) was a universal greeting - a good way of seeing archaeology in action followed by a tour of the finished result in the museum. One day members of the Ermine Street Guard were seen in full regalia marching up and down a genuine bit of Watling St looking very at home.

 

"Warwick the Kingmaker at Waltham Forest Refuse Depot — by Roy Walker

The Museum of London Archaeology Service has been excavating the site of Low Hall, Walthamstow, adjacent to the council's rubbish depot! The site is some relevance to Barnet's history. Low Hall was a moated manor house first mentioned in 1825 which from 1532 was the property of the Earls of Warwick. In the mid 15th century it passed to Warwick the Kingmaker who was slain at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. The manor, not unexpectedly, then passed to the Crown which in the 1560s passed it on to the Argyll family. By the 17th century it was no longer a manor and became a farmhouse. The original building had been extended in the Tudor period by the addition of a wing but the excavation strategy is to ignore the later works and to concentrate on the earliest activity on the site. There are very few small-finds, few pits to contain datable evidence, much undatable building material and accordingly much interpretation to be undertaken at the post-excavation phase. The moat was infilled in 1890 and in 1Vindolanda,e was damaged by a V1 flying bomb. Parts of the bomb have been recovered! The house had been totally demolished leaving MoLAS to machine-clear the top soil to find the sub­surface foundations of chalk, Reigate stone and Kentish ragstone. The moat is visible, edged with an orange gravel band, and what is probably a bridge abutment has been revealed.

The British Museum

The BM Magazine reports that earlier this year a new suite of galleries has been opened at the museum: Later Bronze Age, Celtic Europe and Roman Britain. General themes covered include the way that different cultural groups interacted, whether between Etruscans, Greeks and Celts, between Romans and Britains, or between more remote communities of prehistoric times. "Our galleries seek, therefore, to set out material evidence for the very beginnings of British history, and place it within the wider European protohistoric background".

Along with the well known displays there are new sites and finds which have been found and interpreted more recently, including from the Roman gallery - many more tablets and inscriptions from Vindolanda_, the Hoxne hoard and most spectacularly a section of the barn-like building from a 4th century villa estate at Meonstoke, Hants. It was lifted by the museum in 1989, and proved not only to be colourfully and elaborately decorated, but to have an uncanny resemblance to the elevation of an early Romanesque church.

In the not to distant future it is hoped to complete the galleries with the Department's rich holding of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and earlier Bronze Age periods. The prospect is a 100-metre range of rooms  which take the visitor down a logical cultural sequence spanning some three million years.


OTHER SOCIETIES' NEWS

 

The Barnet Countryside Centre in Byng Road, Barnet has focused primarily on providing an environmental educational facility for school children for the past 24 years. However, this did not deter Barnet & District Local History Society who held their annual summer Garden Party at the Centre, enjoying the company of snakes, rabbits, donkeys, guinea pigs, frogs , gerbils, bees and a tarantula !

 

B&DLHS's next lecture is - With Dr. Johnson to the House of Charles Townley 1737-1805, Wednesday 10th September, 7.45 for 8.00pm. At the Wyburn Room, Wesley Hall, Stapylton Road, Barnet.

They also have an outing on Wednesday 17th September to COLCHESTER AND THE WORKING SILK MUSEUM, BRAINTREE, cost £12.00. Contact Pat Alison on 01707 858430 (no later than 10th Sept please).

The London & Middlesex Archaeological Society are holding their 32nd LOCAL HISTORY CONFERENCE - The London of Human Frailty - The Weak the Wicked and the Well-Meaning. Saturday November 29th 1997 at the Museum of London 10.00 am to 5.00pm. Cost £5.00 tickets and details from Local History Conference, 36 Church Road, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 7PX.

 

The Archaeological Group of the St Albans & Hertfordshire & Archaeological Society are at present digging

a site at Harpenden. The nature of this site is not yet certain but it consists of a substantial burnt flint layer in a very dark matrix which includes charcoal, beneath this is a pebble-surfaced depression in the natural subsoil clay. Finds include struck flint at all levels (Late Neo/Bronze Age), the large parts of a Middle Bronze Age bucket urn stratified in the burnt flint layer, Roman sherds from the top soil. Nearby is a man-made pit probably for clay extraction.

THE STANWAY BURIALS

There's a chance to visit the cemetery site at Colchester which has been producing remarkable finds such as the gaming boards and 'doctors' medical kit amongst other objects. The site consisttheseveral enclosures containing wooden chambered tombs - where all finds were cremated or smashed. But other secondary burials, are the intact ones with the fine grave-goods.

Excavations started on July 13th for 10 weeks. There will be site tours, replicas of some of the finds, and video presentations. Visitors are welcome any time, Wednesdays to Saturdays. The site is near Colchester Zoo, on the opposite side of the road, and about 100 yards back towards Colchester

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