newsletter-372-march-2002

Newsletter

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HADAS DIARY

Tuesday 12 March - Clive Orton: "Great Lord Novgorod (Digging in a Russian Medieval City)." The Lecture covers the history of Novgorod, methods and achievements of the excavations and something about today's city. Clive Orton is Professor of Quantitative Archaeology at UCL Institute of Archaeology., and part of an international project to assist the long-running excavations in the Russian city of Novgorod.

Tuesday, 9 April - Neil Faulkner: "The Decline and Fall of Roman Britain".

Lectures start at 8 pm in the drawing room (ground .floor) of Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley. N3. Buses including the 82, 143, 260 and 326 pass close by along Ballards Lane, a five to ten minute walk from Finchley Central Tube Station.

THE TED SAMMES PROJECT

In September 2001 a series of evening classes was set up on Wednesdays from 6.30-8.30 pm at Avenue House, Finchley, in collaboration with Birkbeck College, University of London and professional archaeologists from the Museum of London. The object of the course was to re-examine HADAS's excavations in the 60s and 70s at Church End Farm and Church Terrace, Hendon., neither of which has been published in full. This is a hasty, brief note. Read Jacqui Pearce's fuller account of what has been taking place in the next Newsletter. Visitors are welcome to drop in and sample what is a very good evening, which might tempt them to join the next course. More information is available from Jaccqui Pearce on 020 8203 4506 (evenings), or e-mail: jpearce@ museumoflondon.org.uk.


PROGRAMME NEWS from Dorothy Newbury

The programme card is late this year as the outings have not yet been confirmed. June Porges has completed the year's lecture programme (and even has a couple lined up in 2003). As always these are on the second Tuesday of the months February, March, April, May (June (AGM), October and November. For the Saturday outings, dates so far are June 15 and July 20th and our long weekend to Ireland with Jackie Brookes is provisionally Friday to Tuesday July 12th-16th. Jackie will include a leaflet and application form (either with this newsletter or the next. Ed)


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ROMAN LONDONERS - February Lecture by Francis Grew Graham Javes

Our February lecture attracted the largest attendance of the season, delaying the start whilst extra chairs were brought in, Our lecturer, Francis Grew of the Museum of London, began by expressing his pleasure in returning to HADAS where he had begun field archaeology on the West Heath mesolithic excavations. Francis Grew introduced his subject by showing six modern illustrations of Romans, ranging from two paintings by Forestier of 1907, an exhibition model of a Roman soldier, to 1990s interpretations of Roman life and buildings. His purpose was to show how artists overlaid archaeological detail with biblical and medieval ideas. This was modern interpretation; what we have to attempt is to discover what was important to Romans. He mentioned the written sources: Cassius Dio and Tacitus, which were good for looking at the microcosm of the Roman Empire, but the best way to understand Roman people was to study the writings of the people themselves. He used examples of these: writing tablets, tomb inscriptions, curse tablets and pottery inscriptions. Thanks to these artefacts we now have two or three hundred names.Romans saw these writings in their daily lives. Inscriptions were a way of getting one's name known. A funerary monument bore the name of the deceased person, his family, and most importantly, the name and position of the person who erected it, so that his name was seen about town during his own lifetime. Names were important to the Romans, a high proportion of whom had three names: the prenomen, nomen or family name, and cognomen. Large number had two names, probably Roman citizens but less fashionable. Ordinary Londoners, who names just occasionally occur as graffiti on pottery, probably had only one name, though women didn't put their names on pottery. There is evidence of a governor of Britain London, but it is hotly debated if London was the capital. Seventeen tombstones are available for study. Tomb inscriptions are formulaic, which means that missing words can often be filled in. They are also highly abbreviated. Monuments didn't represent all sections of society but mainly the army and governing class, with few women. The Spitalfields excavations, however, show that women were commemorated more extravagantly, with more women of high status having lead coffins. Once, a man portrayed on a monument carrying a writing table was considered to have been a clerk, now it is thought to indicate that he was literate. Similarly a man reading a book is not necessarily a teacher. A writing tablet records the sale of a property in Kent. Lower down the social scale, curses, written on lead tablets and subsequently rolled into a small size and thrown into water by their writers, are interesting and often amusing. Previously these may have been overlooked as just scrap lead Many have been found recently on the Thames foreshore by the Mudlarks. A request by one Demetrius is for protection from the plague. Today two to three hundred names are known, thirty years ago this would have been incredible.


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CHURCH FARMHOUSE MUSEUM Gerrard Roots

Responding to the Holocaust - the new exhibition at Church Farmhouse Museum - opened to coincide with the second Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January. The exhibition features two series of paintings by Morris Weidman - "Prisoners" and "Auschwitz" - which have never been displayed en bloc before The paintings are accompanied by Children and the Holocaust: a remarkable group of photographs from the Wiener Library, as well as books and videos on the Holocaust. The exhibition, which is free, runs until 7th April. For further details please ring 020 8203 0130

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HADAS member honoured

Dr Ann Saunders, ex-president of HADAS, was awarded an MBE at the start of this year for her services to the Topographical Society and the Costume Society. Dr Saunders, who lives in Guiders Green, has held the same post for the journal of the Topographical Society since 1975, Dr Saunders, who studied history at University College London, is President of Camden History Society, Dr Saunders is at present writing a short history of St Paul's Cathedral

VICTOR JONES - An appreciation

As news of Victor's death last week, in his ninetieth year, filtered through to the HADAS membership, we thought it would be nice to share a few memories of one of our Vice-Presidents and Treasurer from 1983 to 1992. Victor joined the Society in 1978 after taking retirement on health grounds. However, he showed no signs of being retired and became involved in the HADAS excavation at West Heath. then served for several years on the Main Committee, in every way an active member. Victor was to be seen helping with the HADAS displays at LAMAS alongside Ted Sammes. These two did, however, disagree about 'archiving' and it is rumoured that during tidy-ups at Avenue House, as fast as Victor put things aside for the bin, Ted would pick them out again - or did they go in the bin after Ted saved them? Victor was a regular member of the excavation team throughout the 1980s, particularly with digs in the Whetstone and Barnet areas. He was probably the only person who came near to handling the Society's museum-piece computer which churned out the newsletter labels with bits missing, a real nightmare to use. He managed to produce reports for the Newsletter on this erratic machine but no-one else had the patience to use it, so we coaxed him to take it home to give us some much needed space in the Garden Room at Avenue House. Then we didn't see so much of Victor for a while, not because of the computer but because he was suffering from a narrowing of the spinal canal. In the mid-1990s he underwent major surgery to his spine but, being a determined and highly practical person, he willed himself back to mobility, seemingly treating it as a minor setback. His enthusiasm for archaeology soon led him back to the trenches and we were delighted to include Victor in our fieldwalking exploits at the Brockley Hill scheduled monument site where he assisted with maintaining the finds register. He joked that although he couldn't do the fieldwalking he used his walking stick to unearth some nice pieces of pottery whilst sitting at the finds table. Many newer members got to know Victor at the Wednesday and Sunday sessions at Avenue House, finds processing or preparing for events. More recently, we were preparing clay for a pot firing and approached the serious business of pot making with playgroup humour; it was debatable whether Victor or Dennis Ross made the most 'rustic' pot. On a more serious note, it was always interesting to draw Victor on to a scientific tack from astronomy to medicine, geology, etc. We were fascinated to learn that he had worked with John Logie Baird on television development at Alexandra Palace, and during the Second World War was one of the 'boffins' working on communication equipment for agents working in occupied Europe. Victor was disappointed to have to miss HADAS's excellent trip to Bletchley Park but, fortunately, Pat Alison who belongs to both societies, arranged a visit there for the Barnet Local History Society, and Victor was delighted to spot two pieces of apparatus which came under his remit. He gave a quiet satisfied smile as he handled an `S-phone' for the first time in almost sixty years. The person who left his hats behind at Avenue House and told many anecdotes at his own expense was the same person who had designed a mobile operating theatre. The person who did not take kindly to being 'cut up' on the road and who honked irritably at offending motorists was the same person who offered to help in any way he could - and meant it - when new projects came up. There are, of course, many other Society members who will have their own memories and impressions of Victor; perhaps they would like to share these in a future newsletter. In the meantime, we just wish to say how fortunate we feel to have known and spent so many pleasant hours in Victor's company. Victor spoke often, and fondly, of his family - daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and, more recently, the great-grandchildren. The members of the Society offer their condolences. Vikki O'Connor & Roy Walker Victor was always buzzing with ideas for things for the Society to do. For instance, he was very keen to get our displays into schools and local museums very much regretting we no longer did this. And if any of you are stuck for research ideas, could you take on one of Victor's 'bees-in-bonnet' and do some work on that somewhat neglected corner of Barnet - Cricklewood? Victor Jones's funeral, held at Golders Green Crematorium on Monday 18th February was, as expected, weIl attended by family and friends including many from HADAS. It was Humanist service in which his life was remembered with affection. His two daughters and four grandchildren shared their thoughts through poetry and personal reminiscences. Anyone wishing to pay their last respects to Victor may do so by making a donation, to be split between three of the many charities that Victor supported. Funeral Directors, Leverton & Sons Ltd at 624 Finchley Road, London NW 1 1 7RR (020 8455 4992) are accepting donations on behalf of Victor's family until the end of March, when they will be sent to The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research and the Samaritans


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TRANSPORT CORNER Andy Simpson

Obviously inspired by my mention of the "Feltham" tramcar in the last couple of newsletters, (and a lot of enthusiast pressure) those nice folk at Corgi have made a splendid addition to their The Original Omnibus Company" range of die-cast metal models. This is a 1/76-scale model of a Feltham tramcar, No. 2104, in full pre-war London Transport colours. With North London enthusiasts in mind, the side destination blinds are marked for Route 21, North Finchley-New Southgate-Wood Green-Finsbury Park-Caledonian Road-Kings Cross-Holborn, On Saturday 5th March 1938, the same date as the last tram to High Barnet, Route 21, worked by North .Finchley and Wood Green Depots, converted to trolleybus operation (Route 521/621), the Felthams moving to other depots. The model features twin moveable trolley-poles and trucks, interior detail, and side adverts for The Morning Post and Whitbread's Ale and Stout. It retails at £24.99 - though only £19 on one stall at the recent Camden Town Hall Transport Enthusiasts' Fair. We can look forward to versions of it in Metropolitan Electric Tramways, Leeds City Transport and Post-war London Transport colours in due course. Back in Barnet itself, those tram tracks buried at the foot of Barnet Hill, disused since March 1938, have reappeared again,. About 15 years ago, roadworks at the junction just north of the Northern Line bridge revealed about 100 yards of double track. This time, narrow contractor's trenches were cut across the road on the weekend of 26/27 January. Bill Bass noted tram track being exposed for lenght up to 10-15 feet at a depth of about a foot beneath the present road surface, heading up the hill. By the time 1 visited the following Tuesday, the trenches had been backfilled! I am always interested to hear of any other such stretches of tram track being exposed in the area. In tram days, the Felthams could not reach Barnet and had to terminate at Whetstone because of the closeness of the tracks beneath that bridge which could have caused problems if two of these very long trams tried to pass at the same time, swung out and caught each other.


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CAN YOU GIVE A TEN-MINUTE TALK?

if so, contact LAMAS by till March The LAMAS 2002 Conference is to be based on London Shops and Shopping from Medieval Cheapside to the development of the department store. As part of the event, LAMAS would like to include contributions from local society members, in the form of a short ten-minute talk with 4 or 5 slides about a local version of the subject. This could be anything from a surviving medieval market hall, street market, a 1930s parade, a local branch of a national chain store, to changes in the high street layout etc. LAMAS Local History Committee would welcome all any any suggestions and contributions, (says Ann Hignell, the Secretary). Speakers will be given a chance to practice their presentation - and get the hang of the slide control before the meeting.

FROM THE PAPERS

The Times of February I reported the finding of a very fine 1,900-year-old Roman wall painting 25 ft below ground in an excavation in Gresham Street in the City. Seven pieces of plaster show Bacchus and maenads, framed by grapes, vine leaves and myrtle, while a smaller scene depicts a pair of prancing horses. Martin Henig of the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford was quoted as saying the quality of the painting was comparable to the Roman paintings which had survived in Pompeii and elsewhere in Italy.

Dr Simon Thurley, formerly Director of the Museum of London, has been appointed Chief Executive of English Heritage, Dr Thurley led an upturn in the fortunes of the Museum of London and instigated the setting up of LAARC. Sir Neil Cossens of English Heritage is quoted as saying "Simon will help them (English Heritage) to drive forward their modernising agenda."

HANDEL HOUSE MUSEUM

George Frideric Handel's house at 25 Brook Street opened to the public last November, the result of years of planning, donations and specialist knowledge channelled through the Handel House Trust. He lived there for thirty-six years until his death in 1759. Visitors first go to an upper floor by lift to be shown an introductory video, then thread their way downstairs, passing through the adjacent property which was, for a short time, home to 1960s rock star Jimi Hendrix. The rooms at number 25 are not over-large; Handel must have been a noisy neighbour a couple of centuries before Hendrix. Handel owned many paintings, including two Rembrandts, and the Trust have chosen to illustrate the composer's life through portraits of his contemporaries, on loan from several sources including the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A. Historic textiles expert Annabel Westman helped to re-create original window treatments and Handel's full tester bed. Two replica harpsicords were especially built, a single- manual by Michael Cole and a double-manual by Bruce Kennedy. To date, the furnishings are somewhat sparse. However, the project will continue to develop under the direction of Jacqueline Riding with the support of English Heritage. The museum has an 'Education and Events' programme and a small souvenir shop, not the first time in the house's history that there has been a retail outlet - Handel's music was sold there during his life-time. If you want to stand in the room where he composed the Messiah, details are: The Handel House Museum, 25 Brook Street, London W1F 4HB. Tel: 020 7495 1685. Tues. to Sat. 10am - 6pm, Sun. & Bank Holiday Mondays 12noon - 6pm. Admission: adult £4.50, Concessions £3.50, Children £2.00. Disabled access.

THE TOWN OR HAMLET OF HIGHGATE

Hornsey Historical Society has produced a video (running time 132 minutes) on the history of Highgate Village. It draws on rare archive material as well as paintings, engravings and photographs to present in fascinating detail the growth of the village through eight centuries. This is a professional production, written and directed by Andy Attenburrow with narration by Bill Paterson, Juliet Stevenson and Tim Pigott-Smith, actors who live locally. The video is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the historical development of north London generally not just Highgate. The Town or Hamlet of Highgate is available from The Old Schoolhouse, 136 Tottenham Lane, London. N8 7EL, price £14.99 plus £.1.00 post and packing - cheques payable to the Hornsey Historical Society. Website: www.hornseyhistorical.org.uk

LAMAS CONFERENCE - Saturday 16 March 2002,

Museum of London Lecture Theatre Ticket applications (enclosing an SAE) and general enquiries : Jon Cotton, Early Department, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN jcotton@museumoflondon.org.uk LAMAS members £3, non-members £4. Cost includes afternoon tea. (NB: HADAS has a stand at the Conference) 'Be Ralph Merrifield Award is to be presented: and topics include excavations at Woodthorpe Road, Staines; (Tim Carew, Pre-Construct Archaeology); at Rammey Marsh, Enfield; at 10 and 30 Gresham St, City (Julian Ayre; Ian Blair, both of MoLAS); an item on medieval bones from Spitalfields Markets (Brian Connell, MoLLS) and Jacqui Pearce on Publishing London's Tudor and Stuart Pottery.



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STOP PRESS POST BOXES

Information is beginning to come in from around the borough (writes Bill Firth) but I have not had time to do more than list it yet. Many thanks to those who have helped, but somehow 1 have the impression that some members never post a letter. I intend to produce more information in the next Newsletter.


OPENING OF LAARC Peter Pickering

Andrew Selkirk, Brian Wrigley and I were privileged to be at the opening of the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre, Mortimer Wheeler House, Eagle Wharf Road on Thursday 7th February. The ceremony was performed by Sir David Wilson, former Director of the British Museum whos enormous admiration for the Centre was tinged by nostalgia for the museum stores of yesteryear, which he had visited throughout the world, in dark and musty basements, some infested by snakes. Dr Thurley, to whom is due much credit for the vision and determination which led not only to the reversal of his predecessor's decision to close the archive, but also to its massive expansion, gave what will probably be his last public speech before he moves to become the Chief Executive of English Heritage. The formal opening was followed by tours of the building, whose sheer size and mazelike qualities stunned and confused by turns. Just think of the amount of space taken up by cardboard boxes from 100 years of archaeology in the London area, and the amount of space for more (twenty years' worth is the estimate) plus the Museum's social and working history collections, plus accommodation for the Museum of London Specialist Services (MoLSS) and the Museum of London Archaeological Services (MoLAS), plus the library of the London Society, plus rooms for the use of archaeological societies and individual researchers - the Visitor Centre, the Stuart Waller Room (names to commemorate the major bequest from the estate of Stuart Waller which helped fund the project) and the Society Room. Following the tours came refreshments and an opportunity to talk with old and new acquaintances, including descendants of the legendary Sir Mortimer himself (ail, how that took me back to "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral" and the early days of television), Finally, in the afternoon was the inaugural meeting of the London Archaeological Forum, which it is hoped will breathe new life into the old Local Societies Meetings and the Local Area Groups, enabling archaeological societies, contractors, the Museum and English Heritage to get together and keep each other informed of what is going on. The number of people attending this first meeting was encouraging. I hope that the future will see fruitful use of this impressive new facility by HADAS.

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BBC SCOTLAND PLANS DISCOVERY SERIES

BBC Scotland is planning a series of half-hour programmes for BBC2 called "Time Flyers" about archaeological sites found through aerial observation. Each programme is to have an element of mystery to it, which over the course of thirty minutes the programme seeks to resolve. Assistant Producer Chris Paton is looking for discoveries ranging from the neolithic to the second World War ("The more black death, industry, Anglo-Saxons, Picts and Romans, the merrier!") and he is asking archaeological and historical societies to let him know of any excavations planned in the spring and summer of this year, based on findings from the air. (Chris Paton: 0141 3382631, e-mail:chris.paton@bbc.co.uk).

OTHER SOCIETIES' EVENTS compiled by Eric Morgan

Wednesday 6 March (8pm) Stanmore Harrow Hist. Soc. Wealdstone Baptist Church, High Road, Wealdstone "Moorish Cities of Andalusia" - talk by Mr and Mrs L Collins.

Thursday 7 March (7.30 pm) The London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, "Fellows, Morton & Clayton (Canal Carriers)" talk by David Daines, concessions £1.25.

Monday 11 March (3 pm) Barnet & District Local History Society, Wyburn Room, Wesley Flail, Stapylton Road, Barnet: "Barnet Inns and Alehouses" - Graham Javes (HADAS member) (change of programme).

Wednesday_ 13 March (8.15) pm Mill Hill Historical Society, Harwood Hall, Union Church, The Broadway, NW7 "History of the Chelsea Physic Garden" - talk by Letta Jones.

Wednesday 13 March (8 pm) Hornsey Historical Society, Union Church Hall, Corner of Ferny Park Road and Weston Park, N8 I8th Century Costume" - talk by Harry Matthews, Li entrance.

Friday 15 March (7.30 pm) The Wembley Historical Society, St Andrews Church Hall, Church Lane, Kingsbury, London NW9 "The Grange Museum (of Barnet)" Talk by Caroline Abel (Curator).

Friday 15 March (7.30 for 8 pm) Enfield Archaeological Society, "The History and Operation of the New River", John Cunningham, Jubilee Hall, Chase Side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. Visitors £1.00

Monday 18 March (8.15 pm) Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote LHS, St Martin's Church Hall, Ruislip, "Research Group Presentation". Visitors £2 admission charge.

Wednesday 20 March (6.30 pm) London & Middlesex Archaelogical Society Interpretation Unit, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2 "Medieval Churches of Middlesex" Bridget Cherry (Pevsner Guides).

Wednesday 20 March (8 pm) Edmonton Hundred Historical Society, Jubilee Hall, Junction of Parsonage Lane/Chase Side, Enfield, "London's Churches" Graham Dalling (preceded by AGM).

Thursday 23 March - Transport Collectors' Market, Church Hail, Regent Square United Reform, Wakefield Street, London WC 1, £1.

Tuesday 26 March (8 pm) Friern Barnet & District Local History Society, Old Fire Station (next Town Hall) Friem Barnet Lane, N12. "The Rise and Fall of New Southgate" Talk by Colin Barratt.


Thursday 28 March: The Finchley Society, drawing room, Avenue House, East End Road, N3 "Old Finchley and its Surrounds," talk by Graham Burgess.


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