newsletter-339-july-1999

 BRITAIN'S OLDEST ROOF

 

Advances in dendrochronology reveal that the oak roof in St. Mary's Church at Kempley, Gloucestershire, could be dated 1120 to 1150, to be the oldest in Britain and one of the oldest in Europe. According to Francis Kelly of English Heritage it was the earliest and most complete roof structure on any building to be dated using scientific methods. (Guardian 25 May 1999)

 

ROMAN SHIPS FROM PISA 

British and Italian classical scholars have found eight almost perfectly preserved ancient Roman ships buried in the mud of what was once the harbour of Pisa. Stefano Bruni, the Tuscan archaeologist was in charge of the dig; Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, director of the British School in Rome, said the ships were in pristine condition. About a fifth of the boats had been uncovered so far, there could well be more. The ships range in length from 24ft to 90ft and seem to date from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. (Times 21. 4. 1999)

 

HEROD, PATRON OF WINE SNOBS 

A new exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem concentrates on the often copious drinking habits of the people in biblical times and on the paraphernalia they used. Apparently the wine bibbers of Greece, Lebanon and Israel looked down on the beer drinkers of Egypt and Iraq as their equivalent to modern day "lager louts". This was especially true of King Herod, a frequent party giver, who imported wine from Italy as supposedly superior to the local supply and who had his own "wine butler". (Times 28.5. 1999)

 

DIARY

Saturday July 10 (11.15am till lunchtime)      Brockley Hill Finds Processing

Scout Hut (beside/behind Hertford Lodge, next to Avenue House)

Ian Betts, Museum of London finds specialist, has agreed to instruct us on the finer points of identifying brick and tile. Some 35 boxes need sorting. Anyone interested please contact Vicki O'Connor (0181 361 1350)

 

Saturday July 17 - Outing to Gloucestershire with Tessa Smith and Sheila Woodward. Details and application form enclosed

 

Saturday/Sunday July 24/25 - National Archaeology Days [details overleaf]

 

Saturday August 14 - Outing to West Stowe and Framlingham, Suffolk with Bill Bass

 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday September 3,4,5 - Weekend in Portsmouth and Isle of Wight. Places still available. (Ring Dorothy Newbury 0181 203 0950)

 

Monday October 4 - Walk with Mary O'Connell

 

Saturday October 9 - Minimart


NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAYS - Saturday 24th, Sunday 25th JULY

 

To celebrate National Archaeology Days, HADAS will be returning to Church Farmhouse Museum grounds for a Training Weekend. Two new trenches will be opened to extend our knowledge of the ditch feature that we excavated in 1993 and 1996, which runs parallel to the churchyard. Members with digging experience will be asked to pair with first-timers, under the direction of their trench supervisor. 'Trainees' will be instructed in excavating and recording methods, and a finds processing team will be at work on site during the weekend, with visitors offered the chance to participate.

A selection of finds from HADAS excavations in the Church End locality will be displayed in Church Farmhouse Museum and a resume of the Church Farmhouse digs to date will be available on site. Demonstrations of surveying and resistivity testing will be given on both days so, if you always wanted to try it yourself, please come along. We are hoping to generate some outside interest - the event will be publicised in Barnet libraries and, hopefully, in the local press. The success of the weekend depends on our members committing to one or two days so that we can complete the excavation to time, with new excavators gaining experience, and Barnet borough residents have the opportunity to see what we do.

TIMETABLE:

Friday 23rd - surveying in the grid and laying out

grid, de-turfing trench one.

Saturday 24th

9am Diggers report to get equipment set up

9.3Oam Open to visitors/external participants

1 0.30am Surveying demonstration

11.00am Finds processing table open to visitors

11.30am Resistivity demonstration
I pm - 2pm Lunch

2.3Opm Surveying demonstration 3.3Opm Resistivity demonstration 5pm Close

Sunday 25th -

9.30am Diggers report to get equipment set up

10am Open to visitors/external participants

1pm - 2pm Lunch

2.30pm Surveying demonstration 3.30pm Resistivity demonstration

 

 

The editor of 'Current Archaeology', aka HADAS Chairman Andrew Selkirk, will be visiting site on Sunday afternoon.

5pm Close.

Monday 26th

9am Complete recording, backfill trenches.

WE NEED • our experienced diggers • pot washers,  'old hands' from previous Hendon digs,
 anyone who knows a probe from a ranging rod,  someone to make the tea??? (We’ll be lucky)

a couple of stewards - the press gang - armed with charm, facts and application forms

site photographer • visitors - come along in the afternoons to encourage the troops

fitness freaks required to back fill trenches on the Monday morning!

SIGN UP NOW!
CALL OUR FIELDWORK CO-ORDINATOR BRIAN WRIGLEY ,


A VISIT TO HIGHGATE CEMETERY                                            by Stewart J. Wild 

Highgate West Cemetery is a gem. It isn't a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it ought to be. Seventeen acres of North London hillside, laid out on a private estate 160 years ago, are now the permanent home of thousands of the great and good of the Victorian era, plus a few later arrivals from more recent times. Some of the splendid funerary monuments, saved from decay and in many cases restored, are Grade 1 listed, undergrowth has been stopped from becoming overgrowth, trees and creepers have been trimmed and wild flowers have been planted to encourage the butterflies and the Victorian atmosphere.

On a lovely Spring evening at the end of April some two dozen HADAS members gathered in Swains Lane for a guided tour. We were lucky that one of our guides was Mrs Jean Pateman MBE, Chairman of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, an organisation founded in 1975 to rescue and care for the cemetery when the owning company gave up. Mrs Pateman and her colleagues, nearly all volunteers, have done a magnificent job over almost 25 years to raise funds, maintain the cemetery and keep it going as an important part of our heritage and a living memorial to the dead.

Mrs Pateman was ably assisted by her Vice-Chairman Mrs Yuille who shared the guiding duties. We entered through the gates of the two brick chapels - whose architecture has been described as Undertakers' Gothic - and, after an introductory talk, climbed the hillside. It's amazing how different each grave and its accompanying monument, heavy with symbolism, can be; we saw stone wreaths, truncated columns, heavenly angels, upturned torches, carved effigies, and representations of things the deceased enjoyed in life, like a cricket bat, a musical instrument or an adored pet.

One monument, complete with whip and horn, commemorated James Selby (1843-88), a noted coachman who covered the 108 miles from London to Brighton and back again in a record-breaking seven hours and fifty minutes, then died of exposure. Other notable tombs included those of Charles Spencer (1837-90), an early hot-air balloonist; Gabriele Rossetti (1783-1854), poet, scholar and London University professor; Thomas Sayers (1826-65), a noted bare-knuckle prizefighter whose dog, frozen in stone, still guards his master's grave; and famous scientist Michael Faraday (1791-1867), the genius who discovered electro-magnetism.

We proceeded along Egyptian Avenue, between splendid mausolea whose heavy doors protected the mortal remains of some of Queen Victoria's most eminent subjects. We saw the Columbarium, not for pigeons, but a part of the Circle of Lebanon with niches to hold cinerary urns. The conservation of the Lebanon Circle, which gets its name from the 350-year-old cedar tree which towers above it, cost a fortune, was partly funded by English Heritage, and recently won a Europa Nostra award.

Close to the rear of St. Michael's church, at one of the highest points in London, we peeped into the colossal mausoleum of financier Julius Beer (1836­1880), once owner of The Observer, and of his half-mad family. The German-born magnate had his memorial designed to resemble the tomb of King Mausolus in Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Descending the hill, we saw the more recent graves of actor Patrick Wymark (1926-70) and of polymath Jacob Bronowski (1908-74). There was just time to cross the road to the East Cemetery to view the memorials to novelist George Eliot (1819-80) and to Highgate's best known resident, Karl Marx (1818-83). He'd surely be happy to know how well his last resting place and its surroundings are cared for today. So ended an enjoyable and educative visit: once again our thanks to Dorothy Newbury for the organisation.

 

INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY – CHIMNEYS 

A group, organised by Vikki O'Connor, is taking a new look at the industrial archaeology, particularly that of the 19th century, in the Borough. The aim is to produce a publication to celebrate the HADAS ruby anniversary (and correctly), the millenium in 2001.

One way of identifying a factory is by a chimney and we would urge all members to look out for factory chimneys and to let Vicki (0181 361 1350) or Bill Firth (0181 455 7164) know about them. Do not be alarmed, we will not ask you to do more than report the chimney and its location. the group will do the research. Please do not hold back because you think a chimney has already been reported. We would rather have multiple reports than none.

You will also be doing the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society a favour by contributing to their London wide chimney survey. Bill Firth

 

SECRETARY'S CORNER

 

The last meeting of the Committee took place on 8 June. Matters of over­riding importance will doubtless be referred to elsewhere in this Newsletter but the following general items may be of interest:‑

The increased publicity about the Society and its activities has generated more enquiries and applications for membership. Tim Wilkins has been responsible for the publicity and for placing posters in libraries, press contacts and other means. A revised leaflet about the Society is in an advanced state of preparation. Steps have been taken to improve the presentation and layout of the Newsletters.

Barnet has convened a meeting to consider the future management of Avenue House at which the Society will be represented. Our lease for the Garden Room comes up for renewal at the end of the year.

The following appointments were confirmed:

Membership Secretary and Research: Vicki O'Connor; Field Work: Brian Wrigley; Site Watching: Myfanwy Stewart; Publications: Andrew Selkirk; Publicity: Tim Wilkins; Newsletter and Programme: Dorothy Newbury with June Porges; Librarian and Archivist: Roy Walker Call posts except the last include 'Co-ordinator' in their titles - Edl. Denis Ross

 

MILLENIUM ACTIVITIES 

Barnet Council is planning to mark the event. It would like to hear of any activities planned by the voluntary sector. (Contact: BVSC, 1st Floor, Hertford Lodge, East End Road, N3 3QE) (The Archer May 1999)

USEFUL WEB SITES

Historical Manuscripts Commission - http://www.hme.gov.uk

 

Human mummification - Egypt to Peru 

The Bloomsbury Summer School of University College, London, ran a study day on May 15th on Human. Mummification - from Egypt to Peru.

The first presenter was Ms. Roxie Walker, a Director of the Bioanthropology Foundation, the Sponsor of the new Galleries of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology in the British Museum. She used a selection of case studies to emphasise the goal of funerary archaeology as showing how the peoples at the time lived their lives, and what can be determined about their health and medical practices.

Ms. Walker was followed by Dr. Sonia Guillen, Director of the Centro Mallaqui, Peru, who gave an astonishing presentation of mummification practices from several ancient Peruvian peoples.

The Chinchorra, who lived 10,000 - 4,000 years ago in the coastal plains near Peru's border with Chile, practised mummification by natural means, using the dry desert and its naturally occurring salts. However they also removed the skin from the body, removed all the soft tissues and flesh, strengthened the skeleton with wooden rods, refilled the body with clay and fabric, and replaced the skin. These 'remade mummified bodies they then placed up-standing on a frame to take their place in society.

The Chiribaya, lived 1000 years ago in the desert and also used natural mummification from the dryness and desert salts. They wrapped the bodies in mummy bags made from exquisitely decorated fabrics which were then buried with foods and everyday artefacts. Much evidence is being lost as the remains are robbed by looters, and sadly, as Peru is a poor country trying to develop its industrial wealth, they are also at risk from industrial and infrastructure development.

The Chachapaya, also from 1000 years ago, lived in the Andes, near the border with Equador. Many tomb sites were recently found around a magnificent lake. One tomb alone had 219 mummies in, but only 3 intact as the result of looters. Another 19 tomb sites were found in the same district, but when the news reached Lima, despite the remote and inaccessible location, tourists started arriving wanting to their pictures taken next to the mummies. This again highlights the problems of needing to blend the demands of archaeology and wealth creation, in this case tourism, especially in under-developed areas. As the local village headman said "there's no money in archaeology for us, but there's lots in tourism" Also the news brought more looters - one tomb site when they got to it had been completely cleared by looters who had flown in by helicopter. The Chachapaya mummies were mummified naturally, but when the region was conquered by the Inca, they took over the same tomb sites and also used them for storing mummies - this time mummified by extremely effective methods, such that the Spanish described them as being completely life-like. There are Spanish engravings of the mummies being carried through the villages on ceremonial occasions.

After the lunch break, during which there was a special opening of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Dr. Joann Fletcher, Lecturer in Egyptology at the Centre for Extra-Mural studies at the University of London, continued, fresh from her successful TV programme on mummies in the Canary Islands. She examined in more detail the decoration of both the Chiribaya and Egyptian mummies, especially the information they give about how hair was used and decorated in these cultures. She also looked at body tattoos - the Chiribaya liked having frogs tattoed on their thumbs and she got very excited about head lice - one of the Chiribaya was found so full of lice that the resultant infection and blood loss could well have been the cause of death. This has also been found in a pre-dynastic Egyptian mummy.

Finally Dr. John Taylor reviewed the concept and content of the new Roxie Walker galleries in the British Museum, which were then opened for a private viewing after the formal lectures were completed. Tim Wilkins

 

OLDEST CHARITY IN THE UK? 

The Finchley charities of Wilmot Close in East Finchley was established in 1488 and may be one of the oldest in the country. (The Archer May 1999)

 

BARNET LOCAL ARCHIVISTS 

Members will be interested to learn that the following posts have been advertised recently in the professional press - 'Local Studies and Heritage Officer' and 'Archivist' both for 18 hours pw. (Library Association Record Vacancies Supplement March 1999

 

LOCAL NEWSPAPERS SAVED 

The Local Newspapers in Peril project has netted the largest preservation grant ever made in the UK from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The most fragile newspapers dating between 1800 - 1950 will be microfilmed, readers will be placed in libraries throughout the UK and there will be information on the Internet on library holdings. (Library Association Record May 1999)

 

SUMMER DIGS 

SIGNOR ROMAN VILLA, near Arundel, West Sussex (July and August)

Archaeology and field courses. Five day, two-day and one-day training courses suitable for beginners and for the more experienced (contact: Mrs, Maltby, University College, London, Field Archaeology Unit, 1 West St., Ditchling, Hassocks, West Sussex. BNE 8TS (Tel: 01273 845497 Fax: 273 8441873

e-mail: fau@ucl.ac.uk) (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/fau)

 

CYPRUS, Pyrgos tis Reginas, The Queen's Tower, Akamas peninsula, West Cyprus

The University of Wales will begin excavation at this archaeological site this summer. There will be some thirty students working on the site under the direction of the site director. John Howells, Head of the Department of Archaeology, and of the site manager, Dr. Paul Croft, a professional archaeologist resident in Cyprus. The site is almost certainly a medieval monastic community, but there are possibilities of much earlier finds being made in the area. "Paying guests" to work alongside the students would be welcomed; Heritage Participation Ltd (Archaeological and Heritage Tourism), in cooperation with the Cypriot Tourist Office and their "Agra Tourism!' initiative have organised transport and accommodation at the Amarakos Inn at Kato Akourdia, a family run hotel with a pool and "wonderful home cooking”. Other accommodation is available, also visits or staying in other parts of the island. Work would start early in the morning with the afternoons free for relaxation or further explorations. There is one week minimum stay. (Further details from Heritage Participation Ltd„ The Old Post House, Leashaw, Holloway, nr. Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 5AT (Tel 01629 534072, Fax 01629 5344332, E-mail: hpldigs @ hotmail. cam)

 

IT'S NOT ALL DISNEY (A short stay in Northern Florida)

 

I have just returned from a trip to the United States, during which I visited a dig in the oldest city in America, St Augustine, on the north-eastern seaboard of Florida. A team of local archaeological society volunteers were working under the direction of the City Archaeologist, excavating an urban site prior to development - a not-unfamiliar scenario! They worked in much the way that we do, of course, trenching, platting, recording by drawing and black-and-white photography plus colour transparencies.    All spoil is sieved ('screened' as they term it there) immediately after the trowel work, in fact the screens are positioned right next to the trenches so that trowelled finds can be immediately related to micro-finds which may have escaped the eye of the excavator. The terrain is all sand, unlike our soil in which we can usually detect changes in soil-type, colour and texture. Nevertheless, they have taught themselves to recognise such differences which can quickly disappear in the heat (it was 91°F), as the moisture evaporates. They mark the outline of stratigraphic colour differences with lines of nails, linked to each other with a brightly-coloured cord to form a continuous line thus recording the soil 'event' .

The finds were mostly 16th and 17th century European pottery from the days of the earliest settlers - (St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1585) - so there was Spanish majolica ware, English blue-on-white ware, and some Dutch and Rhine ware sherds.

They were especially proud of their most spectacular find - the flint-lock mechanism of a (British) 'Brown Bess' musket.

Whilst in Florida, I crossed over the state to the Gulf of Mexico coast on the west, to visit the Crystal River State Archaeological site in Citrus County. This six-mound complex covers about 14 acres and is considered to be one of the longest, continually occupied sites in Florida, dating from about 200BC to AD1400. Various culture groupings have been identified there with successive occupations becoming increasingly concerned with ceremonialism, involving cremation burials, the manufacture of grave goods, tomb construction and chiefdom societies. There are are large, rectangular, pyramidal and flat-tapped temple mounds constructed primarily of oyster shell and earth. The largest of these is Temple Mound A which is 30 feet in height with a base 182 feet long and 100 feet wide with a ramp 80 feet long and 21 feet wide. In shape and size this form of structure has similarities to the monumental stone temples and palaces of the Mesoamerican cultures like the Olmec and the Maya of the Yucatan peninsula, with the painted and stamped pottery of both areas showing a resemblance to each other. Also, there are two limestone stelae, or carved ceremonial stones, standing in situ at Crystal River which, according to one authority, form the back-sights for a giant calendar created by the orientation of the mounds with the function of marking solstices, equinoxes and north-south alignments-of the stars - in other words. a primitive solar observatory. Shades of Stonehenge! Altogether, a most interesting and thought-provoking short trip which I would thoroughly recommend to any society members who are looking for somewhere a little different to visit.

JACK GOLDENFELD


SUMMER READING

 

BERMONDSEY AND ROTHERHITHE PERCEIVED: a descriptive account of two riverside localities, with historical notes and engravings, contemporary photographs and drawings. Compiled and written by Peter Marcan. Peter Marcan Publications, PO Box 3158, London, SE1 4RA (0171 357 0368) price £9.95 plus £1.50 p&p

 

GREENWICH MARSH; the 300 years before the Dome; the industrial and natural background. By local historian/industrial archaeologist Mary Mills. With details of ships, big guns, barges, steam engines, tide mill, and 'the biggest gasholder in the world'. Copies available from: M. Wright, 24 Humber Road, London, SE3 7LT (0181 858 9482) price £9.95 including p&p.

 

VISIONS OF SOUTHWARK: a collection of nineteenth and twentieth century pictures and photographs by Lesley McDonald, with historical notes and descriptive imaginative writing. Peter Marcan Publications, PO Box 3158, London, SE1 4RA (0171 357 0368) price £9.95 plus £1.20 p&p

 

EVENTS ELSEWHERE

JEWISH MUSEUM, 80 East End Road, London, N3 2SY (0181 349 1143)

--- Till 7 November 1999 - Exhibition. Behind the scenes at the Museum

-- Sunday 25 July and 22 August 10.15am - Walking tour of the Jewish East End

KENWOOD. A programme of informal guided walks has been advertised by the Kenwood Visitor Information Centre. The walks will start outside the Mansion Cottage and must be booked in advance by phone (0171 973 3893) cost £2 includes hot drink in the Restaurant.

--- Wednesday 14 July 10am - lecture and walk: Heath invertebrates, butterflies and other bugs. Ray Softly of the London Natural History Museum

--- Sunday 25 July llam - guided walk of the estate by an Estate Ranger

--- Wednesday 18 August 7.30pm - evening lecture and guided walk of the estate by an Estate Ranger

 

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