Newsletter-352-August-2000

HADAS DIARY

 

August 19       Outing: visiting Iffley and its 12th century church, then to Wallingford, a Saxon

fortified town, finishing at an Iron Age hill fort at Cholesbury. Your Time Lord is Bill Bass. Booking form within.

 

September 13 A stroll around St Lawrence Church, Edgware and Boosey & Hawkes, Hendon, with Sheila Woodward and Mary O'Connell.

 

October 10      New lecture season opens with Archaeology in Winchester by Graham Scobie, a

follow-up to our King Alfred outing in 1999.

 

October 14      Micro Mart - our annual fun fundraiser — be there!

Also in October, we are arranging a Saturday afternoon seminar De-mystifying Resistivity to be led by former MoLAS archaeologist Dr Bill McCann, a leading authority on geophysical surveying. Information about date, venue and time will be announced in the Autumn.


GADEBRIDGE ROMAN VILLA                                                                     A MILLENNIUM EXCAVATION
Our man in Hertfordshire, John Saunders, has news of the Berkhamsted and District Archaeological Society's current project and invites HADAS members to visit the Gadebridge excavation, west of Hemel Hempstead, which runs from 24 July to 18 August.

Gadebridge Villa site was fully excavated by Dr David Neal, FSA,- between 1963 to 1968 and at the time it was one of the most completely excavated villas in the country. Dr Neal has taken advantage of the millennium impetus to organise a four week project in an adjacent area, with the Berkhamsted Society participating. Also playing no small part in the work is Matthew Wheeler of the Decorum Heritage Trust. Matt visited HADAS in April to talk about Ted Sammes Senior.

Two other excavations carried out by Dr David Neal at Box Lane, Hemel Hempstead and Gorhambury, St Albans, have shown evidence of Iron Age structures and it is intended to investigate whether the Gadebridge Villa site is older than was at first thought, using new techniques not available when the first excavations were carried out. The original excavation will not be touched but the main buildings will be discernible having been defined by lines drawn in sand on the site. John Saunders had the delight of ascending in a 60 foot high crane to photograph the site and reports that the sand has been very effective. There is public access, with display boards describing aims and current state of the work. Further details and location map for those who wish to visit the site are on page 2.

It is believed that this villa may have originated around AD75 and was abandoned or destroyed around the middle of the 4th century. Originally it was possibly a farmstead but, being close to Verulamium, it was considerably extended after the Roman invasion of AD43. Up to AD138-161 the building was basically of timber construction but a stone building with corridors and wings was erected by the early 3rd century with additional wings built to create a courtyard and the bath house was enlarged. Between around AD300 and 325 a large bathing poor was added as well as a considerable number of heated pools, suggesting that the villa's main purpose had become that of a bathing establishment.

THE SITE, ENTRANCE IN GALLEY HILL, IS OPEN TO VISITORS DAILY BETWEEN 10.00 AM - 4.00 PM

 

MEMBERSHIP A REMINDER

For those of you who have not yet renewed, we would remind you that subscriptions for the year 2000/2001 were due on 1 April and we are now one third the way through our accounting year.

Next year, 2001, is HADAS's 40th birthday and it is good to see our membership numbers currently are holding steady at over 300.

 

SUMMER IN THE SUBURBS

This year's Hampstead Garden Suburb Festival had to contest with a double whammy of diabolical downpours and Wimbledon finals, both seemingly keeping the punters home and dry, as a damp HADAS crew sheltered under the trees with a slightly soggy display. The crew - Roy Walker, Eric Morgan, Andrew Coulson, Peter Nicholson and Vikki O'Connor have either shrunk or gone curly! On a bright note, however, we sold £30 worth of publications and it was nice that many visitors to our stall were already HADAS members although several membership forms were taken away.

We also had a small presence at the East Barnet Festival (corner of a table run by HADAS member Janet Heathfield for the Friends of the East Barnet Clock). The weather was much kinder that day, and Eric Morgan 'clocked up' a fiver's worth of book sales for HADAS and Janet gained a mention in the local Advertiser with a prize for sweet peas.

 

MORE PRESS

One of Barnet's local newspapers, The Press, has run a feature "The Barnet Story" and in the April 27 edition concentrated on the Romans, Brockley Hill in particular. Wishing to provide the best overview for this important pottery centre, they contacted HADAS and Tessa Smith was able to discuss the history of the site and show some of the pots from the Suggett collection to their journalist Daniel Martin.

The resulting article not only included a lovely colour photograph of Tessa with two complete Roman vessels but also provided excellent publicity for the Society, raising our profile within the Borough.

 

KENWOOD ESTATE - Lectures and guided walks 2000

Wednesday 9th August, 7.30, lecture and walk on Bats at Kenwood led by David Wells, English Heritage, meeting outside the Restaurant.

Sunday 27th August, 11 am, guided walk of the estate by an Estate Ranger.

Further information and booking from Visitor Information Centre on 020 7973 3893.

 

 

SECRETARY'S CORNER

A meeting of the Committee was held on 16 June 2000.

The following were among matters arising:

1 Jackie Brookes, Andrew Coulson, Eric Morgan and Peter Nicholson were

welcomed as new members of the Committee.

2 In order to allow for the previous dispatch to members

of all relevant information, in  future the AGM will be held in June instead of May.

3 The search is still going on for suitable alternative storage premises such as a garage.

4 It was agreed to purchase and renovate a salvaged theodolite and also to consider building a low cost resistivity kit.

5 The Society could become archaeologically involved at a site in Hanshawe Drive, Burnt Oak, and further involved in the Silk Stream Flood Alleviation Scheme.

6 Among events in the pipeline (over and above the normal programme of lectures and outings) are a study day on resistivity in October, kiln building as part of National Archaeology Weekend and a joint meeting with the Manor House Society in June next year.

 

SITE WATCHING AT HADLEY

In July 2000, a new house was built in the garden of Century House, Camlet Way, Hadley some 30 metres west of the present house. The site was watched by John Heathfield, who reports as follows:

The site is important because of its proximity to the site of the Battle of Barnet. It was originally part of Enfield Chase and is shown on the 1777 map as "Mr Smith's new intake". The present site boundary follows almost exactly that shown on the map.

The contractors excavated a hole some 20 metres by 20 metres and 4 metres deep. The baulk showed some 25/30cm of leafy topsoil. All the clay spoil was dumped at the rear (north) end of the site, which was densely covered with 25/40 year old trees with very few mature trees.

Several lorry loads of brick rubble were brought in to the front (south) of the site to provide hard standing for machines. No finds of any kind were made. Where top soil had been put aside for later use it was carefully examined with no result.

 

BARNET GATE MEADOW
John Heathfield has also provided an interesting piece of information to add to our file on the site that we surveyed recently. The old Barnet Militia had a rifle range at Arkley in 1859 which John pinpoints to the actual field we surveyed. Amongst other things, they practised digging trenches. Although John suggested that the anomalies which HADAS discovered could possibly be the result of middle-aged Victorian gentleman playing soldiers, Chris Allen's computer analysis of our data shows a spread out effect which appears to equate with the varying depths of gravel laying on the clay. We only surveyed a portion of the upper end of the field, but if we do return we will be watching out for overshoots.

 

TIME TEAM AT THE MOUNT

HADAS member, Derek Batten, has written from Paulerspury, near Towcester, with some exciting news. For the background see the February 1999 Newsletter.

You have been kind enough to publish from time to time in the HADAS Newsletter reports of my archaeological involvement on various Indian Wars Battlefields in America. Two years or so ago you also reported that I had purchased-- an extensive Norman Ringwork, a Scheduled Ancient monument known as The Mount close to my home here in Northamptonshire. Members may be interested to know that Time Team will be carrying out one of their three- day investigations at The Mount on 27m, 219 and 29m July. Hopefully this will become a TV programme early in the New Year.

The main fascination to me of ownership of The Mount is that so much of its history is unknown. Time Team will, I hope, unravel some if not all of its mysteries and it will be fascinating to see just how they work. I will let you have a report for publication in the Newsletter in due course if you feel this will be of interest.

Derek's original article about the purchase of The Mount told us that he "intended to release the latent archaeological and historical potential of this historic Ringwork" but we never realised it would be carried out in such a manner. We, of course, eagerly await his further report and the Time Team broadcast.

 

A VISIT TO HALLSTATT                                                                                                                                 MALCOLM STOKES

 

It is unlikely that a tourist visiting Neanderthal or Swanscombe would find much evidence of early man, but Hallstatt in Austria is more rewarding. It could well be called "Salt Lake City" as "Hall" and "Salz" (in "Salzburg") mean salt and the settlement is perched precariously on the edge of a 125m deep lake on the steep slope of the 3,000m high Dachstein.

The neighbouring salt mines have been exploited from the Neolithic period (c.3000 BC) and the salt was distributed from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. From about 800 BC the miners started to use bronze and iron to make tools to aid salt extraction. A mine can be visited on the Salzberg, "Salt Mountain", 1030m high and accessible by cable car. A tour and film focus on the remains of a 3,000 year old miner preserved in the salt, discovered in 1735 but then buried in unconsecrated ground.

Hallstatt became famous in 1846 when the salt mine manager excavated 1,000 graves over eighteen years. Half were cremations with rich grave goods. The excavation of a further 1,000 graves led to the naming of the early Iron Age as "Hallstatt" (1000 - 500 BC). Some of the finds can be seen in the local history museum though many have been distributed to Vienna and elsewhere.

The museum displays a wealth of bronze and iron weapons, tools and ornaments as well as Backpack of hide and leather, probably belonging to a salt miner pottery and jewellery.

Amongst organic finds are a shoe, cap, wooden bowl, pieces of fabric, a torch of pine sticks and a large backpack made of leather. A Palaeolithic hand axe illustrates the earliest human activity, but the first evidence of mining comes with the Neolithic tools of 2500 BC.

The Romans arrived in the mid-1st century AD and built a settlement on the shores of the lake. There are records of continuous mining since the end of the 13th century when salt was a valuable commodity providing Salzburg with its wealth and power. From the 18th century salt has been valued as a health cure in spas. Although the salt mines are still exploited  today, the wealth of the area comes from the ever- growing tourist industry to this very picturesque spot.

The Catholic parish church, the higher of the two in the photo above, has a graveyard and charnel house — the Beinhaus. Each skull shown has the former occupier's name written on it; you may be able to make out "Maria Steiner" or "Matthias Steiner" in the picture, whole families being grouped together. 700 of the 1,200 skulls stored here since 1,600 have been decorated with crosses, flowery patterns using ivy, rose and oak motifs, together with additional information such as date of death, age and profession. What makes these skeletons unusual is that the fine bones at the back of the eye sockets have survived.

Malcolm looked up the town sites on the Internet before booking his holiday and recommends this to other would-be European travellers, as you may find the local tourist office offering additional attractions not advertised by the standard holiday companies.


 

BARNET CULTURAL STRATEGY CONFERENCE       Eric Morgan 

On Friday 23rd June I attended on behalf of HADAS this all-day conference organised by Barnet Council at the Middlesex University's Hendon campus in the Burroughs.

The morning started with a talk about the Cultural Strategy Partnership for London, which contains ten proposals for the new Mayor and London Assembly on behalf of London's cultural communities. Archaeology is mentioned in two of these proposals. One is where culture has an important role to play at the local level. This includes researching and promoting interests in local history and archaeology. Cultural organisations such as local museums could not exist without the committed, unpaid work of their supporters. The other is to promote debate on

environmental, heritage and archaeological issues, and

recognition of their value to,

London's economy as well as its culture and communities, and to work with museums and other conservation bodies to ensure that new ways are promoted to allow conservation, contemporary use and access to co-exist. After a short break, we split into several small workshops and seminar groups. I attended the one on Heritage and tourism, which included representatives from local museums, libraries and other historical societies. It emerged from the group that Barnet has more listed buildings than any other London borough and seventeen heritage sites, but all need promotion and transport should be improved to some sites.

At the end of the day, it was revealed what emerged from the other groups. Another one was on cultural diversity, from which it transpired that there was lack of community space and funding, but libraries came off well.

In the introduction to the draft of the Cultural Strategy for Barnet, already produced, mention is made of museums, artefacts, archives, libraries, built heritage and archaeology, etc., and there is a section which lists all of the areas of the borough with a brief history of each. One of its policy objectives in its Regeneration issue is to recognise the importance of Barnet's heritage and history, also one objective in its Community Development issue is to develop libraries, etc. as 'community resources'.

 

HIGH STREET LONDINIUM — An exhibition at the Museum of London, 21 July - 28 January, 2001 has a full-scale reconstruction of three Roman timber-frame buildings found on site - a baker's and hot food shop, a carpenter's workshop and a shop containing a range of produce from around the Empire. Visitors will be able to stroll along the street, into the houses and handle the replica furniture, textiles and tableware.

 

OUTING TO OXFORD AND BROUGHTON CASTLE                                                                   Barry Reilly

Broughton Castle        

A cool and overcast morning in June saw us heading to Oxford by way of Broughton Castle on our first outing of the new millennium. Despite some navigational problems - large coach, small lanes - we arrived at our first destination in good time. The Castle is set in a delightful estate populated largely by sheep, several of which shyly greeted us by the car park.

Broughton Castle, a moated manor house built in 1300, was owned by William of Wykeham before passing in 1451 to the second Lord Saye & Sele (family name Fiennes) whose descendants have lived there ever since. The building was much enlarged in Tudor times when splendid plaster ceilings, oak panelling and fireplaces were introduced. Building activity gave way in the 17th century to political activity. William Fiennes, lord at the time of the Civil War, was a Parliamentarian and after the nearby Battle of Edgehill in 1642, the Castle was captured and occupied by the Royalists. In the 19th century neglect by a spendthrift heir ironically saved Broughton from too much Victorian 'improvement'.

Our tour started in the Great Hall where the original bare stone walls are combined with 16th century windows and a pendant ceiling dating from the 1760s. It contains arms and armour from the Civil War. The Dining Room is in what was the original 14th century undercroft and contains a fine example of 16th century double linenfold panelling.

Amongst other rooms, Queen Anne's chamber is memorable for its magnificent Tudor fireplace and the ‘squint' in one corner looking through to the private chapel. The Oak Room in the Tudor west wing is particularly impressive with its wood panelling and the unusual feature of a finely carved interior porch. At the top of west wing is the secluded Council Chamber where opposition to Charles I had been organised. This gave us access to the roof and a fine view of the knot garden below and the moat, well stocked with fish to judge by the anglers along its banks.

Incidentally, those members who weren't on this trip may nonetheless be familiar with Broughton Castle since it provided settings for the film Shakespeare In Love starring a member of the Fiennes family.

  After lunch we set off for Oxford where our primary destination was the Ashmolean Museum with its diverse collections of British, European, Egyptian and Near Eastern antiquities and Western and Eastern Art. They range in time from the earliest man-made implements to 20th century works of art. The treasures are many, particularly the Egyptian antiquities, the Greek vases and the Chinese stoneware and porcelain. The collection of Bronze Age stamp seals from Babylon and Nimrud are outstanding. With so much to see we could only sample our favourite interests.

Being short of time meant that only a few of us found our way to the Pitt Rivers Museum but we were well rewarded. Cramped and dimly lit, the old-fashioned display cases are stuffed with exhibits and barely legible captions; this is the way museums used to be and it's wonderful. Strange and beautiful objects from around the world crowd the cases: masks, mummies, textiles, toys, shrunken heads, a totem pole three floors high and even a witch in a bottle! All in all an inspiring conclusion to another fine outing from the two Mickys. Our thanks to you both.

 

ROMAN POTTERY FINDS AT DOLLIS HILL                             Eric Morgan reporting for HADAS

For three weeks in June MoLAS carried out a dig in a field in Brook Road, opposite the former Post Office and Telecom research station, and just outside our Borough. It is on high ground not too far from the line of Watling Street and is thought to have been a Roman agricultural settlement with a possible quarry pit.

MoLAS opened up three slit trenches. They found plenty of Roman domestic pottery dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD when the farm was possibly occupied, so is later than Brockley Hill. It is mainly coarse pottery with some other ware. It was reported that, as the dig continued, more artefacts were revealed, including mortaria for mixing pesto, traces of burnt barley and colour- coated pot fragments. The pottery consisted mainly of orange-red Oxford ware and grey Alice Holt (Farnham) ware. They also found plenty of tile including roof, floor and flue tiles, indicating that they had some form of heating.

The site is owned by Thames Water, who plan to build a reservoir there. It was also reported that it's a "hugely significant" find because up till now there has been no real evidence that the Romans were living in these parts. The report continued "But it was not until ancient building materials were found that MoLAS realised that a busy Roman farm once stood on the site." They discovered enough material to suggest the presence of some buildings. There is also evidence of a large farmhouse with a tiled roof. It looks as though the farm had been divided into separate fields used to grow mainly wheat, and pastures for cows and sheep. It is impossible to say for sure, but the farm could have been used to produce provisions for Londinium, taking a day to reach there, and there were enough roads to carry the cargo.

 

SUSSEX ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY AUTUMN CONFERENCE
SATURDAY 21st OCTOBER

Gender, Material Culture, and Us

Women's lives in the past are commonly perceived as "long skirts, childbirth and cauldrons". This conference will explore the reality behind the caricature, from peasants, princesses and priestesses to the pioneers of archaeology in Sussex and further afield.

One of the speakers is Theya Mollison on the subject of the people of CATAL HUYUL at home. Ticket prices, venue and full details from Ian Booth, Barbican House, 169 High Street, Lewes, BN7 1YE, tel: 01273 405737.

 

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS

The HADAS August 1998 Newsletter carried a report from Peter Pickering of his visit to the Roman gold mines at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire. The Summer 2000 edition of The National Trust Magazine now reports that these workings might be up to 3,000 years old which makes them pre- Roman. According to The National Trust, who own the gold mines, this discovery may mean that the site is as significant in archaeological terms as Stonehenge and Avebury.

 

YOUR STARTER FOR TEN... A PIPE PUZZLE

It was a hot sticky day in June and we had just been to the Mitre in Barnet High Street where HADAS excavated in 1990, to view the spoil heap left by recent excavations by a professional unit and it appeared, surprisingly, that one of the HADAS trenches may have been re-excavated On returning to Whetstone to continue the debate, this little clay pipe bowl sat brightly in the flower beds of a nameless hostelry, asking to be rescued. Arthur Till is investigating but could any other members shed some light on the maker and date of this clay pipe fragment? The stamped lettering is: SMITH 49 GIFFORD and the characters appear to be boxing.

 

Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Day Schools

March 2000 marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the excavations at Knossos in Crete supervised by Sir Arthur Evans. A weekend course is to be held in Oxford, 13-15 October, to coincide with the Centennial Exhibition in the Ashmolean Museum and will cover all aspects of this famous site.

Also at Oxford is a 1-day school on Twentieth-century Military Archaeology on Saturday 21st October. This aims to explain how professionals and amateurs are collaborating to analyse how these military sites functioned, what remains today, with examples of specific projects.

Details for both these courses are available from OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA, tel: 01865 270380.



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