Newsletter-337-May-1999

 



 

HADAS DIARY

 

Tuesday 9th March   Sam Moorhead — Letters, curses and the landed gentry in

Roman Britain

 

Tuesday 13th April   Eric Robinson — Archaeology of local building materials

 

Tuesday 11th May    HADAS AGM

 

The Royal Exchange                                                                      by Roy Walker

 

Our January lecture was delivered by our recently appointed President, Ann Saunders. Ably qualified to speak on a range of topics, her theme that evening was The Royal Exchange, and we benefited from Ann's wide-ranging, in-depth knowledge of history and archaeology, coupled with the entertaining addition of anecdotes and insights into the lives of the associated characters. Her own involvement with the Royal Exchange began in 1989 when its Curator/Keeper telephoned to ask if she could research a 400 page book in eleven months! The Queen was to re-open the Exchange after refurbishment and the book would be needed by then. A publication was produced but Ann, having realised that the subject required a much broader approach, contacted thirty experts (including Ralph Merrifield) who agreed to contribute to a definitive history.

The story starts with Richard Gresham, Lord Mayor in 1538. He was impressed by the Bourse (the covered market) in Antwerp and requested Thomas Cromwell to obtain Henry VIII's support for such a building to be constructed in the City of London. He was unsuccessful. Richard's son, Thomas, working as his father's representative in Antwerp was also impressed by The Bourse. Wars with Spain created trading difficulties in Europe which heightened the need for an Exchange in London. The death in 1654 of Thomas's only son left no heir to the family name and Gresham then proposed that if the City provided the land he would build an Exchange, the income passing to his wife during her lifetime then to the City. This application was successful and an architect from Antwerp, Van der Paesschen, designed the first building which was opened in 1569. It was very basic -a courtyard with shops around. It was to have been called Gresham's Exchange but following a visit by Elizabeth I in 1570 was renamed The Royal Exchange which did not please Sir Thomas! Gresham died in 1579 but had not left the Exchange solely to the City as promised. After his wife's death, it passed jointly to the Mercers Company and The City provided that his own house in Broad Street was used as Gresham College.** His name was finally perpetuated - the College still operates today from Barnard's Inn, High Holborn. This first Exchange was destroyed in the Great Fire but was rebuilt within three years, only to be destroyed by another fire in 1838. The third (and present) Exchange was designed by William Tite.

The lecture was enlivened by many interesting asides, most of which could have been the subject of lectures in their own right. For example, the portrait of Thomas Gresham held by the Mercer's Company was the first full-length portrait of a commoner; part of the land compulsorily purchased for the construction of the third Exchange belonged to Charles Roach Smith, the Father of London's Archaeology, who had been a thorn in the side of the City Corporation over their failure to respect the archaeology revealed during building works; the first Exchange was prefabricated in Antwerp - much to the annoyance of London's workmen; William Tite published a book on the archaeology discovered during the excavation of the site, which led eventually to the formation of the Guildhall Museum.

The Royal Exchange is a building that I pass almost every day, but, since Ann's lecture, I am now much more aware of the reasons for its existence and of the personalities that brought about its construction. And I eagerly await our President's next lecture, hopefully in the not too distant future.

** Gresham College provides free hour-long, lectures on the topics of astronomy, divinity, geometry, law, music, physic, rhetoric and Commerce. For the lecture programme, contact Gresham College, Barnard's Inn Hall, Holborn, EC1N 2HH —0171 831 0575

 

Rescue Excavation at Saracen's Head Yard, Holywell Hill, St Albans — 29th June to 17th July 1998                                                                                by Jack Goldenfeld

 

Following an evaluation prior to a redevelopment scheme, an excavation directed by Simon West, Field Archaeologist, was mounted by the St Albans Museum's Archaeological Unit, in which I took part. The official part of the investigation is still being compiled, so this summary is merely a very brief and un-detailed overview of the project.

Structures

Walls dating to the 16th century and the Victorian circular drain more or less provide a bracketed time period for the site's surviving structural remains. Also found were many medieval roof-tiles.

Features

There were a number of 12th/13th century pits and wells, and some possibly medieval post-holes. The pits and wells could only be excavated down to the level of 1.2 metres, the limit beyond which shoring up would have been required under current health and safety legislation. The expense involved, plus the limitations of the time-frame precluded going down any further

Finds

The pottery included 12th & 13th century wares, medieval grey wares, 17th and 18th century glazed and decorated wares, plus Victorian types. Two broken Saracen's Head Inn glazed tankard pots with part of the name of the inn and a depiction of the Saracen's Head were also found, one of which bore a date reading 177- (the last digit was missing). Three coins were found, the earliest of which was an issue of Henry VII (1490-1510), the two others being late 18th century issues of George II. There were, unsurprisingly, lots of bottles and bottle-glass fragments, also of late 18th century date and pieces of tobacco-pipe bowls and stems.

The best small find was a late Saxon bone thistle-head pin dated c.1000 AD, whilst the largest was the completely articulated skeleton of a horse that had died at a considerable age, probably after a lifetime of hard work. The back bones were fused and the lower limbs, which must have suffered injury at some time, showed signs of new bone growth. Arthritis was also present. The fact that Dobbin hadn't been sent off to the knacker's yard and that he had been formally buried might mean that he had been in service with his owner for quite some time and was affectionately regarded as almost a member of the family! During the very last minutes of the very last day, I came across a small tin quatrefoil-shaped belt or harness decoration in a

shallow pit that I was excavating - a fitting end to an interesting and enlightening, if all-too-short, archaeological episode.

(Jack joined HADAS in 1987 and has dug on many professional excavations with MoLAS, Bucks Archaeological Unit, and the St Albans Unit in the UK, also in France and the USA. He lectures on archaeology at West Herts College, and is a key member of our Avenue House finds processing team.)

 

Membership News    Vikki O'Connor

 

We have had another boost to the membership numbers - Dr John Navas, Dominic and Maja Green, Philip Bailey and Yvonne Melnick have all signed up in

1999. Yvonne has already visited the Garden Room to see what we are up to - and was soon put to work marking up pottery! (No arms twisted, honest, guv!)

We are pleased to tell you that Marjorie Errington is back at home again after a spell in hospital, and we hope to see her at Avenue House and on summer outings again soon.

 

Obituary         by Rosemary Bentley

 

PAT CALLAGHAN  1926-1999

 

Pat, a Canadian, loved London and settled in Golders Green with his Greek wife, Angela. They joined HADAS a year later, intrigued by our varied programme.

We met last September, at the start of the trip to Bristol, when I shared his ashtray.
After that, we pariahs, with our loyal spouses, stuck together. But one didn't need an

excuse to speak to Pat, a teacher of literature, an accomplished musician, a collector
of paintings and a gently humorous humanist. As Vicki has said, he was a man who

knitted people together. He had had pneumonia, but his death on 21st January was unexpected. Listening to the funeral tributes from recent friends and a companion of

his youth come all the way from Canada, I was struck with a sense of loss. Not because of old memories, but for a rewarding friendship that might have been.

 

Site Watching

 

The Environment Agency have contacted HADAS, via Committee Member Brian Wrigley, notifying us of proposed 'heavy maintenance in the form of dredging to .... the Silk Stream at Colindale, NW9'. Brian has replied suggesting that, as this

particular area does not fall within the Areas of Archaeological Significance noted on
the LB of Barnet's Unitary Development Plan, sufficient archaeological coverage

might be provided by organised observation and recording of features of possible
archaeological interest which may be revealed by the works, and asking when they

will commence. Brian has also discussed this project with Robert Whytehead, the Borough's archaeological adviser from English Heritage, to confirm that EH had no plans to undertake this work and that they support HADAS's proposal.

We have been supplied with a copy of the Environment Agency's location plan and will be contacting our members living close to the proposed works who may wish to participate. If you live a little further afield but are interested, please contact

Brian Wrigley 0181 959 5982 or Vikki O'Connor 0181 361 1350. (Brian noticed that, according to A Place in Time, a mammoth bone was found in this area a century ago!).

 

News from Bill Bass

 

During January, noted pottery specialist Jacqueline Pearce from Finds and Environmental Specialist Services paid a visit to both Barnet Museum and the HADAS archive at Avenue House. She is currently working on a monograph dealing with South Herts Greyware and local coarse wares, as part of a type-series of medieval pottery mainly found in the City of London. Jacqueline inspected a number of assemblages from sites such as Kings Road, Arkley, the ex-Victoria Maternity Hospital, Wood Street, Barnet, 19-29 Barnet High Street, and Church Farm Museum, Hendon. The meetings were useful, with an exchange of ideas and information on all sides.

On Thursday, 28th January, Andy Simpson gave an entertaining lecture to the Finchley Society at Avenue House about HADAS during the last ten years. He explained a range of our activities with excavations, including 1264 Whetstone High Road, The Forge Golders Green Road, and others mentioned above, fieldwalking at Brockley Hill, finds processing, exhibitions, publications and so forth. For some reason, most of the slides appeared to have a public house I them. A thirsty Andy then led a small contingent of HADAS members to the Queens Head for further research into this strange phenomenon. Late in January, earthmoving contractors in the Northampton area uncovered some stone footings and, being 'Time Team' watchers, they contacted the local archaeological unit who were maintaining a watching brief on the large site. The footings in fact turned out to be a hitherto unknown Roman villa — the most visible feature of which was part of the bath house complete with hypocaust pilae (part of the cold plunge bath was later rescued from the contractors' spoil heap). Of two parallel trenches, one had evidence of at least two Iron Age roundhouse with Roman ditches cutting them. This trench was excavated immediately by the Northampton Unit as it had no planning condition (pre-PPG 16). The other trench contained most of the 'front' section of the villa, whilst this was not under immediate threat, the are needed to be rapidly exposed to ascertain the full extent of the structure. A call came through the archaeological grapevine for volunteers to help at very short notice. Thus Andy Simpson and myself found ourselves on site with 20 or so other volunteers from various other sources for a weekend's digging on the recently discovered villa. The idea was to basically clean the mud left by the earthmoving with trowel, mattock and hoe down to the top of the pitched stone footing. Andy comments — "The villa seems to be of the classic winged corridor type with the bathhouse at one end and a channelled hypocaust in the centre of the main building. Deeper surviving foundations on the outside wall of the corridor suggest the building stood on a slight slope with a good view of the wide adjacent valley. The date of the building is suggested by 3rd century tile in the footings and pottery (including Nene Valley Ware) and coins covering the first to the fourth century, indicating occupation of the side throughout the Roman period." By the end of the weekend, most of the main plan had been revealed so that the developers and English Heritage could decide what to do next. Funding was forthcoming to record what has been found so far and for geophysical work.

The Archaeology of the new Millennium Bridge — the first pedestrian bridge is being built across the Thames

Mike Webber, Co-ordinating Officer for the Thames Archaeological Survey is speaking at series of seminars and foreshore visits during March. Unfortunately, these are fully booked, but Mr Webber, who has lectured to us at Hendon, is trying to arrange a special visit for us in April. Will interested members please contact

Dorothy Newbury on 0181 203 0950. If a visit can be arranged, an application form will be included in the April Newsletter.

36th Annual Conference of London Archaeologists

Saturday, 20th March 1999    Museum of London Lecture Theatre

11.00 Chairman's opening remarks and presentation of the Ralph Merrifield Award 11.10 Excavations at Atlas Wharf, Isle of Dogs (Bronze Age trackways and Thames flood defences) David Lakin, MoLAS

11.30 Excavations at Monument House, City (Roman culvert and Great Fire deposits (Ian Blair, MoLAS)

11.55 Excavations at Charter Quay, Kingston-upon-Thames (Medieval High Street and backland activity) Phil Andrews, Wessex Archaeology

12.20 Excavations at Blackfriars House, Fleet Valley (Fleet River reclamation and

17th century Bridewell burials) Catherine Kavanagh, AOC Archaeology

12.40 Excavations at Deptford Power Station, Deptford (Post-medieval ship building

and Trinity House almshouses) David Divers, Pre-Construct Archaeology 1.0         LUNCH (not provided, available in the café)

2.15 The Thames Archaeological Survey 1995-98: A review, Mike Webber, field Officer, Thames Archaeological Survey

2.45 An Archaeological Research Framework for the Greater Thames Estuary, John Williams, Kent County Council

3.15 Topographic modelling of the Thames flood plain, Martin Bates, University of Wales, Lampeter

3.45 TEA (provided)

4.30 Towards a Museum in docklands, Chris Ellmers, Museum in Dockands

5.0 Recent excavations at the Eton Rowing Lake, Tim Allen, Oxford
Archaeological Unit

HADAS will be providing a display of our recent work.

• Cost: £4.00 — enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your cheque

Ticket applications and general enquiries to: John Cotton, Early Department, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN

 

More Time Team programmes

 

Sunday 7th March: Kemerton, Worcs — significant Bronze Age settlement Sunday 14th March: Bawsey, Norfolk — hunt for ceremonial or religious site Sunday 21st March: Nevis, West Indies — search for evidence of the slave trade Sunday 28th March: Nevis (pt 2) — the culture of the Amer-Indians

Summer Activities

A course on 'Ancient Crafts & Technology' run by the University of Sussex, 26th 30th July J I at the Iron Age Activity Centre, Michelham Priory, covers pottery, metal and woodworking, textiles, building technologies and boat building.          Fee £125
(concession £100). To enrol, phone Lisa Templeton on 01273 678527.

UCL Institute of Archaeology courses at Bignor Roman Villa offer training in Excavation Techniques (5 days £120), Surveying for Archaeologists (5 days £120 or 2 days £50), Archaeological Conservation (1 day £30), Planning and Section Drawing (2 days £50) and Timber-framed Buildings (2 days £65). The dates fall between 5th July and 15th August - full details from Mrs Sheila Maltby at the UCL Field Archaeology Unit in West Sussex, tel: 01273 845497.

The University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) is offering two archaeology weekends:

19th- 21st March — Settlement and landscape in the mid- to late Bronze Age Britain


April — Understanding medieval towns.

 

Cost in a shared room - £115. Contact the Administrator, Day and Weekend Schools, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA — 01865 270 380

In conjunction with Distant Horizons, OUDCE has arranged a study tour of Norman Sicily from 6th-13th September, led by Trevor Rowley, author of Norman England. The price is £1,050 per person. Contact Daniel Moore, Distant Horizons, 4 Amherst Road, Manchester M14 6U0— 0161 225 5317.

 

Little known museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute Museum, Lensfield Road, Cambridge, open Monday to Saturday 2.30-4.00, admission free, was founded in 1920 as a memorial to Scott and his companions. Exhibitions include Shackleton's photos, letters from Oates to his parents and from Wilson and Scott resigned to their deaths, snow shoes, skis, sledges, Eskimo and whaler carvings, geological finds — and specially designed food, for instance Huntley and Palmer's "Antarctica" cream crackers.

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