newsletter-415-october-2005

Newsletter

HADAS Diary

The winter lecture series takes place at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE. Lectures start promptly at 8pm – non-members £1, Coffee or tea 70p.

Tues. 11th October, 8pm Lecture by Jill Cook: Palaeolithic Art: soft curves & fuller figures - images of women in the Old Stone Age.

Tues. 8th November, 8pm Lecture by Edwin Baker: The Photography of Small Archaeological Finds.

Early notification of the LAMAS local history conference

The annual local history conference run by the London & Middlesex Archaeology Society will take place this year in the Museum of London’s Lecture Theatre on Saturday the 19th November 2005 from 10.00am to 05.00 pm. This is the 40th conference and is entitled “When LAMAS began: London in 1855”. There are fascinating speakers including Eileen Bowlt, Barney Stone, Anthony Burton, Peter Street and Charles O’Brien among the distinguished cast. The presentation of the Annual Local History Publications Award will also take place during the day. As usual there will displays of recent work and publications by the many London based Local History Societies and, of course, afternoon tea is included in the cost. The tickets are £5 each (£4 for LAMAS members). Please send your application with an appropriate cheque and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for your tickets to Local History Conference, 36 Church Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7PX

A generous bequest

Majorie Errington, a long standing member who died last year, left a bequest of £ 100 to the society. Miss Errington was noted for “doing the cream” for the Minimart and participating in many of the society’s outings.

A Local connection by Steve Brunning/Don Cooper

One of the more interesting finds from the HADAS “dig” at Church Farm Museum on the 6th/7th August 2005, are two adjacent decorated pieces from the stem of a clay pipe. Bits of clay pipe are one of the most common finds on excavations in the UK. This is mainly because clay pipes were delicate and broke easily. They were also very cheap and, indeed, in many pubs “a pint and a fill” meant a pint of beer and a “free” clay pipe filled with tobacco. They can range in dates from about 1570 to essentially the beginning of the First World War. Although produced right up to the present, once cigarettes were introduced clay pipes declined and are rarely seen nowadays. Clay pipes were also used by children to blow bubbles (remember?). Although many clay pipes are plain and unmarked, during the 19th century they were used as an “advertising” medium. The names of pubs, pipe makers, organisations, societies, anniversaries and jubilees were all recorded on pipe bowls and stems both in images and in letters. Our two pieces of stem turned out to have very interesting marks – on one side are the words “Old Welch (sic) Har (p)” and on the other “W P Warner”. William Perkins Warner was the proprietor of the “Old Welsh Harp” from about 1859 until 1898. He had served with distinction in the Crimean War, and on his return had transformed the “Old Welsh Harp”, previously an old coaching inn, into a place of mass entertainment. He was helped by the fact that the Kingsbury Reservoir (later called the Brent Reservoir and now called the Welsh Harp Reservoir after the pub) had been constructed in 1834/5 by damming the Brent and the Silk Stream to form the large body of water. When it was built he bought exclusive fishing rights. As well as fishing, he introduced pigeon shooting, horse, greyhound racing and cycle racing, boxing and wrestling together with swimming competitions. In horse racing, he was the originator of the Kingsbury Steeplechase Meetings which even the then Prince of Wales attended, although Brett-James in his book “The story of Hendon” says that “the races attracted crowds of a very mixed character”. One of the many races was for the Volunteer Vase - presented by the proprietor of the Marylebone Music Hall, which gave rise to the appearance of the Old Welsh Harp in this music hall song: “You couldn’t find its equal if you walked for miles about, There’s no mistake about, it’s the jolliest place that’s out.” Borough of Brent’s web site The races were held five times a year from 1870 to 1878. They and the entertainments of the Old Welsh Harp were so popular the Midland Railway opened Welsh Harp station to cope with the crowds. On one Bank Holiday it is said that 5000 came by train!! The station was in existence from 1870 to 1903.Then there was greyhound racing where according to Barnes (1994): “Also in 1876, greyhound racing began at the Welsh Harp, Hendon, England, when six dogs raced down a straight track after a mechanical lure. The image at right depicts this race. This attempt to provide a humane alternative to coursing failed, however, and the experiment would not be tried again until 1921.” This was apparently the first use of a mechanical lure. In cycling, one of the earliest races in Britain was held near the Welsh Harp in 1868 and the winner, Arthur Markham (who afterwards had a cycle shop at 345 Edgware Road) was presented with a silver cup by the said W P Warner of the Old Welsh Harp who had sponsored the race. Markham himself claimed that it was first velocipede (cycle) race in the country. When W P Warner died in March 1889 aged 57 and his cortege is said to have been a mile long on its way to his burial in St. Andrew’s Old Church, Kingsbury. The Old Welsh Harp itself began life as the “Harp & Horn” in the 1750s and was demolished in 1970 to make way for the M1 motorway. How sad!! 

All the above was triggered by the two small pieces of inscribed pipe stem from the Church Farm Museum excavation. I wonder if the then residents of Church Farm had had a “pint and a fill” at the Old Welsh Harp! Clay pipe remains are important archaeologically as they can usually be tightly dated and there are always lots of them on post-medieval sites. As well as pipes made for places, events, etc., 17th century makers of clay pipes often recorded their initials on the heel or spur at the base of a pipe bowl. When looking at the initials, if you imagine you are smoking the pipe, the initial on the left is the forename of the maker and the initial on the right is the surname. These initials can be looked up in a gazetteer of clay pipe makers.

Bartleet, H. W. 1931. Bicycle Book. London: E. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd.

Barnes, Julia. 1994. (ed.) The Complete Book of Greyhounds. New York: Howell Book House.

Brett-James, Norman G. (undated but after 1931) The Story of Hendon: Manor and Parish. Hendon: Warden & Co. Ltd.

Follow-up on ROMAN multiplication Jim Nelhams

This time last year, I posed the problem of doing multiplication with Roman numbers. I hoped that I would get lots of response. That the response was very low perhaps gives a clue to the answer. I did get two letters, both from non-members who had read our newsletter. Nice to know that it is of interest, and my thanks for their contributions. I have not responded earlier because I found the need to read more on the subject and to talk to a number of other people.

So how did they do it? This is my thinking.

The system we use to multiply today depends upon two things that Roman numbers do not provide. The first is having a digit that represents zero. This is not necessarily essential – indeed, the "invention" of zero is credited to Indian mathematicians a long time after the Roman Empire disappeared. More important is the concept of place values, those hundreds, tens and units columns that I was taught at school.

Another problem posed by Roman numerals is that depending upon the sequence, a number in the middle can be negative. For example, in XIX (19), the I is negative.

What we can be certain about is that Roman numbers are fine for writing down numbers, particularly for engraving them on stone, though you rarely see very large numbers. And addition and subtraction was likely done on sand trays with counters (using place values). But that is still tricky for large multiplications.

So my conclusion, which seems to be agreed by a number of people with whom I have discussed this, is simply that the Romans did not do large multiplications. What they did was to delegate this work to skilled "slaves", probably

Greek or Arab, who did the sums using their own number systems, and then wrote down the result in Roman numerals.

I'm hoping for a large mailbag telling me that I'm wrong.

HADAS Outing on Saturday, 13th August 2005 by Sheila Woodward

The outing took us into Kent with a first stop at the recently regenerated Swanscombe Heritage Park, Situated on the sands and gravels of the ancient terraces of the Thames, the site is famed for the mid 20th century discovery of the skull of “Swanscombe Man” (now thought to be a woman), at the time the oldest human remains to be found in Britain. It was Victorian quarrying which first brought to light flint implements, the fine Acheulian hand-axes which attracted the attention of collectors and scientists and eventually led to the discovery of three pieces of skull in 1935/36 and 1955. Periodic excavations since have revealed abundant stone tools and faunal bones but no further human remains. Quarrying ceased in 1939 – though it is rumoured that late in WWII gravel from Swanscombe was used to make concrete for the “Mulberry Harbour” for the final invasion of Europe. Maybe missing pieces of skull will be discovered in France! Despite its archaeological importance the site had been neglected and become overgrown and rubbish-choked. Now it is well laid out as a nature reserve, leisure park and site of scientific interest. The so-called “educational signage” is attractive and simply informative and there has been much local involvement especially with schools. There is a small archaeological display (replica skulls, flints etc.) in the leisure centre foyer – and they serve excellent coffee. The Swanscombe visit was nostalgic for me as I dug there in 1971 as part of my practical work for the Diploma in Archaeology. We were working in the lower gravel and lower loam strata ie below and therefore earlier than the skull level (dated about 400,000 BP) The flint implements were Clactonianm, much cruder than the skull-associated Archeulian. The animal bones were mostly deer and ox, though there was excitement over possible elephant and rhino. It was an interesting and instructive dig but my most vivid memory is of the intense heat of those sun-baked and unshaded gravels. Mid-day work was impossible so we dug early and late and had a three-hour siesta. For me that meant leaving Edgware at 5.30am by the first tube and returning between 9.30 and 10.00pm – a long tiring day but definitely worthwhile. Sheila Woodward.

After our break at Swanscombe, we made our way down the A2 (Watling Street) to a site 1¼ miles west of Faversham (TQ992614). Here, after some magnificent manoeuvring by our driver, we parked up a side road off the A2 and “marched” across a ploughed field to the site of the famous Stone Chapel. We were met by Dr. Paul Wilkinson, Director of the Kent Archaeological School, who has been excavating in the area for many years. Many will recall the excellent lecture he gave us last February (newsletter number 407) on the “lost” Roman Town of Durolevum. This year he and his team are excavating in and around the Stone Chapel. Paul gave us an introductory talk about the site and about the excavation which at the time of our visit consisted of 13 trenches many manned by trainees. He then introduced us to one of his supervisors who showed us around the remains of the church.

The Stone Chapel, as it is known, consists of the remains of the ruined Church of our Lady of Elwarton. It went out of use in the mid-16th century, probably at the time of the reformation. A visitation there was noted in 1511, when it was said to be in disrepair. The remains consist of walls standing about a metre above ground level, and up to two metres at the east end. The walls enclose three distinct areas; the nave to the west, the chancel to the east, and a section linking the two. The walls of the nave and the chancel are mainly of flint, bonded with a mortar rich with broken seashells. The construction of the centre section is quite different; the walls here rest on a foundation of flint and consist of layers of tufa blocks, each around 30cms square, separated by a double layer of red tile 3cms thick. This construction is typically Roman, and the discovery of Roman coins by previous excavators dating from the 3rd and early 4th centuries AD confirms this section as Roman in origin. The size and nature of the foundations revealed during the previous excavations suggest that this was possibly a mausoleum. Stones which formed the door frame can still be seen, reused in the 13th century buttresses. The sill of the door is still in situ. The entrance was located on the west side. So what can be seen on the ground today is a central section which is of Roman construction, an extension to the east which is the nave and part of the chancel of the Anglo-Saxon or medieval church. There are the remains of a stone altar along the east wall. On the exterior under the corners of the east wall are large greensand stones (the nearest greensand is approximately 20 miles away). At the base of the centre of the east wall is a large block of sandstone (also not a local stone). We were shown another one like it in situ in one of the trenches. It is not known why they are there. Buttresses were added in the 13th century “because the wooden beams had rotted” to support the north wall indicating that the structure was already old at that time. Unravelling the history of such a site that was in use for about 1000 years and has been a ruin for the last 500 is a daunting task. Over its period of use it would have been altered and repaired, time and time again. On the evidence so far, it appears that the Romans erected a structure here from around the middle of the 4th century and that it was likely to have had a religious or funerary function. It is quite possible it was an early Christian church or it may have been a pagan structure, possibly a mausoleum, which subsequently became a Christian church. It is thought that it became a church not later than the 8th century, and, after many alterations and repair lapsed into disuse around 1550 or so. After hearing the story of the Stone Chapel we were handed over to Sara Woollard, a site director, who showed us around the rest of the site. Most of the trenches were between the south side of the Stone Chapel and the A2 (Watling Street) a 100 metres away. Digging was difficult as the ground was “rock” hard. The remains of a number of walls had been located – most of them largely robbed out – which suggested structures in and around the church. Perhaps there was a perimeter wall originally which had enclosed it. Disarticulated human bone had been found in a number of trenches and bizarrely the neatly laid out skeletons of three dogs buried together, the dogs had apparently had their tails docked. Sara then took us to the trenches nearest Watling Street which had only been opened for three days but were already yielding interesting results. It appears that in Roman times there had been a ribbon development of shops, small industries and perhaps eating places along the side of the road. Up to 60 Roman coins, as well as Roman pottery, had already been recovered and the outlines of a number of these premises exposed. The rubbish pits at the back of these structures were expected to yield a lot more information in the two remaining weeks of the dig. After we expressed an interest in the coins, Andy Fisher, the metal detectorist on site gave us a brief talk and showed us some of the tiny Roman coins, and a large sestertius, which had just been found. The talks and tours were so interesting that many of us forgot to eat our packed lunches!! Our thanks go to Paul, Catherine, Sara and Andy and all the people at the excavation for making our visit such an interesting and informative one. We reluctantly left the site and proceeded to Ospringe nearby to visit one of the remaining buildings of the Hospital of Blessed Mary of Ospringe known as Maison Dieu. The building, under the guardianship of English Heritage, not surprisingly is a mixture of dates and styles. The oldest part is from the late 13th century, with much alteration – almost a rebuild - in the mid-16th c, and the removal of the front and forward side in 1894. The upstairs chamber timber roof is a good specimen of king-post type. In the basement there is the (well-preserved) undercroft from the 13th century. The building houses a museum of local finds including a very good collection of complete Roman pots, many of them are from the area of the Stone Chapel site. They were mostly recovered from burial sites both inhumations and cremations. On our way back to the coach Stewart Wild pointed out a pillbox from WW11 attached to the local pub with slits that would have enabled “Dad’s Army” to defend up and down the A2 had the Germans invaded. And so to Faversham and a welcome tea and cake stop. Faversham is a lovely old town with a long history both as a medieval port and early industrial centre. It is the location of Britain’s oldest brewery – Shepherd Neame – which was certainly around in 1698 but perhaps goes back another 100 years. Abbey Street is one of Britain’s finest medieval streets, full of interesting buildings. Unfortunately the rain came and curtailed much of our explorations of the town giving us an opportunity to sample the local brew!!! Back on the coach for the trip back to Barnet and all that remained was to thank Sheila and Tessa for a wonderful trip and our driver for looking after us. Don Cooper

Barnet’s Buildings at risk

In early July 2005 English Heritage published an update of their Greater London Buildings at Risk register. It contains details of 19 structures in the Borough of Barnet that are considered to be at risk as follows: • Colindale Hospital Administration Block, Colindale Avenue, Barnet, • College Farm Dairy, Fitzalan Road, Barnet, • College Farm - main building, Fitzalan Road, Barnet, • Friern Hospital, Friern Barnet Road, Barnet, • Monument to Major John Cartwright, St Mary at Finchley Churchyard, Hendon Lane, Barnet, • Golders Green Hippodrome, North End Road, Barnet, • Physic Well, Well Approach, Barnet, • Silo, Fitzalan Road, College Farm, Barnet, • The Water Tower, East End Road, Finchley, Barnet,• Hertford Lodge, 15-17, East End Road, Finchley, Barnet, • The Bothy, East End Road, Finchley, Barnet, • St Mary's Churchyard, Hendon Lane, Finchley, Barnet, • St Mary's Churchyard, Church End, Hendon, Barnet, • King Edward Hall, 331-343, Regents Park Road, Hendon, Barnet, • Grahame White Company offices and factory, Aerodrome Road, Hendon Aerodrome, Barnet, • Access gate to Hadley Common, Camlet Way, Monken Hadley, Barnet, • Gate to Hadley Common, Hadley Common, Monken Hadley, Barnet, • Access gates to Hadley Common, The Crescent, Monken Hadley, Barnet, • The Manor House, 2, Totteridge Common, Totteridge, Barnet, All the above structures are grade II listed except for the two churchyards. Many of the structures are currently being worked on and it is hoped that by the production of next year’s list Barnet will have reduced the number of structures currently on the at risk register. See also an article by Alex Galbinski in the Barnet Times of 21st July 2005.

Kingsbury High School Archaeology Project (KHSAP) by Andy Agate

The Kingsbury High School Archaeology Project (KHSAP) in the London Borough of Brent is an ongoing heritage project run jointly by the Institute of Archaeology (IoA) at UCL and Kingsbury High School with help and support from HADAS. As part of this year’s National Archaeology Week the Churches Conservation Trust allowed us access to one of the churches in their care, St. Andrews Old Church, in order to carry out a building survey. This church holds a unique position in Brent as the borough’s only grade one listed building; with walls sprinkled with Roman tiles and Saxon features attesting to the comings and goings of past multi-cultural inhabitants. In this modern, culturally diverse borough, this building clearly shows the similarities between past and present!

The ethos of the KHSAP is to engage the school’s pupils and the local community in heritage issues through active participation in local archaeological projects. Thus, students at the IoA carry out projects for inclusion in undergraduate dissertations, which in turn brings opportunities for participation by the school. There are few better ways of bringing the past to life than uncovering it for yourself! Perhaps there are other university archaeology departments who could be contacted to undertake similar work?

The project at the church demonstrates that an archaeological perspective can shed new light on redundant churches. Much more than that, the activity around the church brought the otherwise passive building to life, exciting the interest of teachers and pupils from the school and of the many local people who passed by the building each day.

Whilst St. Andrews Old Church may be redundant as a place of worship, our new investigation shows that as an actor in its community, it is merely between roles.

What’s on. By Eric Morgan

6th October 2005 at 20.00 – “The men of Trafalgar” a talk by Derek Ayshford at Village Hall, Chapel Lane car park Pinner.

7th October 2005 at 20.00 – “19th –Century Gentry” a lecture by Elizabeth Buteaux at Barnet Local History Society, Church House, Wood Street Barnet.

12th October 2005 at 20.00 – “The Cuffley Airship” a lecture by John Higgs at Hornsey Historical Society, Union Church Hall, corner of Ferme Park Road/Weston Park, N8.

17th October 2005 at 20.00 – “Musical memories of World War II” a talk by Edna Jury at Friends of Barnet Borough Libraries, Church End Library, 24 Hendon Lane N3.

19th October 2005 at 20.00 – “Hands-on History” a talk by Chloe Bird at Willesden Local Historical Society, The Scout House, High Road. Willesden NW10.

21st October 2005 at 20.00 – “Royal and Monastic sites in West London” a talk by Bob Cowie. At Enfield Archaeological Society, Jubilee Hall, Junction of Chase Side and Parsonage Lane, Enfield.

21st October 2005 at 1900 – “The Tudor Wreck from Prince’s Channel near Gravesend” a lecture by Jens Aver, at City of London Archaeological Society, St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane EC3.

21st October 2005 at 20.00 – “The History of Bushey” a talk by Hugh Lewis (British Museum) at St. Andrew’s Church Hall, Church Lane, Kingsbury, NW9.

26th October 2005 at 20.00 – “History of Incognito Theatre” a talk by Mike McKie at Friern Barnet & District Local History Society, St John’s Church Hall (next to Whetstone Police Station) Friern Barnet Lane, N20.

27th October 2005 at 20.00 – “Spike Milligan” a talk by Bill Tyler at Avenue House, East End Rd. N3


Thanks to our contributors: Steve Brunning, Eric Morgan, Sheila Woodward, Jim Nelhams and Andy Agate.


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