newsletter-438-september-2007

Newsletter

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HADAS DIARY

Sunday 30th September 2007, 12.30 to 3pm

Special Event to mark Dorothy Newbury's retirement from the HADAS Committee. A booking form was enclosed with the last Newsletter, but it is not too late. You can still book by contacting Jim Nelhams, HADAS Hon.Treasurer (details on the back page). We hope many longstanding HADAS members will be able to make this lunch-time event. If help is needed with transport, let us know.

Tuesday 9 October 2007, 8pm: Denis Smith (Lecturer & industrial archaeologist)

Thomas Telford (1757-1834): 250th Anniversary lecture

Tuesday 13 November 2007, 8pm: Martyn Barber (English Heritage Aerial Survey)

Mata Hari's Glass Eye and other tales: A history of archaeologyand aerial photography

Tuesday 18 December:HADAS Christmas Do: See further details below and Application Form

Tuesday 8 January 2008, 8pm: Kate Sutton (Museum of London)

The Work of a Finds Liaison Officer

Tuesday 12 February 2008, 8pm: Christopher Sparey-Green MIFA

The Archaeology of Dorset: A time-torn landscape Tuesday 11 March 2008, 8pm: Chloe Cockerill (Regional Development Manager)

The Work of the Churches Conservation Trust

Tuesday 8 April, 8pm: Peter Davey (Bristol Tram Photograph Collection)

The Clifton Rocks Railway

Tuesday 13 May 2008: Still being finalised

Lectures start at 8pm in the Drawing Room, Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE, Free to members visitors £1. Buses 82, 143, 326 &460 pass close by. Finchley Central Station (Northern Line) is 5-10 minutes walk Coffee & biscuits (80p)are served after the lectures

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HADAS CHRISTMAS EVENT

It may seem a little early to start thinking about Christmas, but places get booked up if we don't begin now. This year we are trying something different for the HADAS Christmas party – with a little local interest. The event will begin at St Lawrence Whitchurch, Stanmore, with members of Finchley Chamber Choir giving a short performance of choral music by Handel. Then, after a tour of the church, we will adjourn to the Apollonia restaurant in Stanmore. The enclosed application form gives further details. Final transport arrangements will depend on the wishes and needs of those coming, so please fill in the form now and let us know.

The Society of Antiquaries Tercentenary Lectures

The Society of Antiquaries is celebrating its 300th year by holding a series of seven public lectures at different UK locations. Two will be held in London: on September 26th Dr David Starkey, described as one of the country's most pre-eminent historians, will talk on "The Antiquarian Endeavour" at St James's Church Piccadilly at 6.30pm and on June 26th next year, at the British Museum, Prof Richard Bradley, Prof David Cannadine and Carenza Lewis will consider "The Future of the Past" . Tickets (£5 & £10, respectively) can be had by phone (020 7479 7080) or via their website (www.sal.org.uk).

Metal Detector Find: An important Viking hoard in Yorkshire

A metal detectorist father and son pair has brought to light a magnificent Viking hoard that had been buried in a Yorkshire field probably in the year 927. As reported in the Daily Telegraph (20th July) experts at the British Museum found 617 coins, jewels and ingots packed inside an 8th C silver-gilt pot, itself a 200-year old heirloom at the time of the burial and thought to be an ecclesiastical vessel plundered from northern France. It is ornately carved with vines, leaves and hunting scenes showing lions, stags and a horse. Described as the most important Viking silver and gold hoard found in this country for 150 years, the finds was put on show at the Museum in mid-July. The origins of individual items could be traced as far afield as Samarkand, Afghanistan, Russia, France and Ireland. They have been declared treasure trove and a valuation is underway. The "treasure hunters" maintain that the value matters little, their reward was simply to have found something exciting after spending hundreds of hours over the last three years without locating anything of value.

If you feel the same, HADAS has some metal detectors and has been training members in their use (strictly for proper archaeological work, of course).

The story continues…. by Don Cooper

Many of you will remember the excellent lecture that Andy Agate from UCL gave on his researches at Kingsbury Old Church (St. Andrews) before his recent excavation there in which HADAS members were involved. Andy has now collated all the information discovered and updated his thinking on the history and archaeology of the church. He is coming to Kingsbury Old Church to give a lecture on the subject on 14th September 2007 at 8pm in the Old Church itself. The address is St Andrews, Old Church Lane, Kingsbury (the old church is set back to the right from the modern St Andrews in the old churchyard). There is free parking in from of the modern church. This will be an opportunity for HADAS members to see the inside of this interesting old building as well as listen to Andy’s latest report.

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HADAS AUGUST OUTING TO SUSSEX:

PART 1: ON THE WAY by Sheila Woodward

How did they do it? In this rain-drenched summer June Porges and Stuart Wild organised the only HADAS outing of this year on a perfect day of blue skies and continuous sunshine. Miraculous!

An early start and trouble-free roads brought us to our mid-morning coffee stop at the Copthorne Hotel Gatwick slightly ahead of schedule so we had ample time to enjoy our refreshments and admire the hotel's gardens before resuming our journey to Worth and its extraordinary church.

Worth means "a place in a clearing" and when the church was built (possibly in the early 11th century) the whole region would have been heavily forested. The site would have been remote and it has been suggested that the church was an outpost of Chertsey Abbey, an Edward the Confessor foundation. Today it serves a parish with a population of 30,000, yet it still feels peacefully rural as one approaches it along an avenue of lime trees.

"Worth the name and worth the detour" quips Simon Jenkins in his Best Churches guide, and entering the church by the west door to gaze at its 3 massive Saxon arches one can only agree. The chancel arch is colossal in both height and width and the solidity of its stonework is awe-inspiring. The building conforms to the basic Saxon two-cell plan (rectangular nave and apsidal chancel), but the chancel is unusually spacious and the east end of the nave sprouts two wings (alae, or porticus) north and south which are really mini-transepts. Their entrance arches are narrower than the chancel arch, but no less majestic. High in the walls of the nave are three Saxon windows, unglazed and double with a mid-wall shaft. In troubled times churches were places of safety and high windows would deter marauders. Two further archways near the west end of the nave framed the north and south doors; the former has now been filled in. Legend has it that the tall arches allowed a horseman to ride into the building, bow to the altar, pray without dismounting and ride out through the opposite door without turning his mount.

Later ages have altered and added to the Saxon church. There is a lovely little 12th century stained glass window in the north transept, an unusual rectangular 13th century font, more stained glass from the 14th century to modern times, a 15th century piscina, a 16th century elaborately carved pulpit, a 17th century west gallery and chandeliers, an 18th century Spanish crucifix, a 19th century carved oak lectern and Victorian bell tower, and a 20th century organ. And the 20th century almost saw the end of it all. In 1986, while workmen were "treating" the roof timbers, fire broke out and damaged the nave roof so severely that it had to be removed and replaced. The account of the work which this entailed to protect the rest of the fabric and the church contents makes harrowing reading. But by 1988 all was restored. The new roof is less ornate and less heavy than its Victorian predecessor and may more clearly resemble earlier roof structures. The total cost of the work was about £500,000. I'm quite sure that it was worth it!

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Part 2: PEVENSEY: A HIDDEN JEWEL By Jean Bayne

A small community with a long history and a large walled castle, Pevensey now stands over a mile from the sea it once overlooked. From Roman times till the second world war the castle was variously used as a defensive structure, a domestic establishment and a prison, though not continuously.

Built as a fort by the Romans around 290AD and named Anderida, the impressive fort wall of stone with brick courses still stands to nearly its full height of 30 feet. It covers two-thirds of the original circuit. One of the biggest roman forts, with two main entrances, it is unique in that it eschews the usual rectangular or square plan for an irregular oval following the contours of the high ground on which it stands. Marshland and sea lay to the north and south and the east and west extremes were protected by D-shaped, state of the art, towers. Excavations have revealed little in the way of significant Roman building, though a series of hearths suggest barrack blocks and the site could be dated by oak beams found in the timber and rubble of the 15 ft ditch used as foundation for the walls.

Anderida, mentioned in the 4th century document Notitia Dignitatum, was one of the 9 forts which defended the Saxon shore against pirates. It is likely that a British community lived there after the Roman withdrawal: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a siege in 491AD in which all the inhabitants were massacred. Possibly it then fell into ruins until William the Conqueror landed there in 1066.

Initially William renovated the fort as a campaign castle for his forthcoming battle with King Harold, but later developed it into a strategic defensive post with communication links to the continent. The walls were re-fortified and two enclosures created. A chapel was added later. Changing hands over the next 200 years, the castle experienced sieges in which the inhabitants were starved into submission rather than successfully assailed and eventually it was repossessed by the Crown in the late 12th century. Exchequer accounts show that Pevensey's structures, apart from the walls, were still largely of earth and timber and that the first stone buildings – perhaps the keep and the gatehouse – were probably erected in the 1190s. However, it seems that by 1216 it was partially destroyed and indefensible.

The 13th century witnesses building repair and maintenance and a further siege in 1265 which led to considerable damage. A pattern, of expensive reconstruction quickly followed by ruination, was established – the result of both limited use and neglect and unscrupulous behaviour by officials. One was accused of pulling down the bridge to the castle and selling the wood! During the 14th century the South of England was threatened by the French and an active garrison was in evidence until at least 1372, but John of Gaunt, who then owned it, refused to garrison Pevensey against the French attacks of 1377. The last siege of Pevensey took place in 1399 and it was successfully held by the Pelhams for Bolingbroke, later Henry IV.

During the 15th century the castle was used as a state prison, imprisoning James I of Scotland and Henry IV's second wife, Joan of Navarre. But by 1573 records show that the buildings were again in ruins and remained so until the Armada, when a gun emplacement with two cannons was constructed.

After that a slow decline set in until right up to the second world war. Following the fall of France in 1940, Pevensey was once again seen as a potential invasion point and a command and observation post was set up in the castle while the perimeter defences were re-fortified. Pill boxes and an anti-tank weapon blockhouse were added and the towers of the inner bailey were prepared as garrisons for troops. The alterations were blended in, to camouflage their positions.

I have described Pevensey as a "hidden jewel", because I felt that few people on the HADAS trip were familiar with it. Or it may just be that I don't get out much. However, I was greatly impressed by its state of preservation and its long, eventful history. Seen against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky it towered above us and dominated the local area. You could almost hear the sound of hooves and the cries of battle and imagine the daily life of its inhabitants. Unfortunately, I did not manage a visit to the local museum, which is run by local volunteers, but hope to explore further.

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BATTLE ABBEY by Tessa Smith

On leaving Pevensey Castle we headed north, as William would have done, he with archers, footmen and cavalry, we arriving at Battle by high horse-powered coach. Next, we walked to the ridgeway overlooking the valley and battle area. The valley below looked remarkably intact and peaceful, just a handful of mediaeval tents accommodating a children's fun day camp, with a few children learning archery skills, trying on armour and experiencing mediaeval music and dance.

Now we could only imagine the ghosts of Norman and Saxon warriors. The reality on 14th October 1066 would have been of wounded, dead and dying men, the hillside slippery with blood and littered with bodies, horses and broken weapons, the results of a nine hour vicious battle of assault, skirmish and counter-charge. In the morning of that day King Harold's men had formed a Saxon shield, a wall of men along the edge of the ridgeway where we now stood, a marvellous commanding position. William's Norman troops took the southern hillside, foot soldiers equipped with crossbows and heavy cavalry mounted for battle, never before seen in Britain. They had to negotiate the somewhat marshy valley floor and climb the slope to attack.

A sandstone plaque on the ridgeway marks the spot where Harold was killed. The Abbey Church was later built here on the command of William the Conqueror himself, the high altar overlying the scene of the fiercest fighting of the battle of Hastings, but all that remains to be seen now of that church is a stone outline.

Although little of the original church remains, the imposing Gateway to the Abbey, rebuilt in 1338, remains a symbol of Norman wealth and power. On the day we were there glorious sunshine lit up the great battlements, the arrowslits and decorative stonework of this Gateway, one of the finest in England. All traffic to the Abbey had to pass through the central arched passageway, at each side of which rise two corner turrets containing stairs to the upper two floors, which form substantial private apartments. A portcullis and murder holes provide a defence system for an upper chamber which may have housed important officials concerned with the collection of money. Flanking the Gatehouse stands the Courthouse, built in 1592 and restored in the 1990s. These buildings and the surrounding walls dominate the town of Battle.

The East Range of buildings housed the vast monastic dormitory on the first floor, now only a roofless shell, but the surviving undercroft chambers give an indication of the original size and importance of the Abbey. The novices' chamber, the common room and the inner parlour have magnificent vaults supported by columns of Sussex marble, the rooms face south and certainly when we were there they were gloriously lit up through open lancet windows.

The West Range and Abbot's Lodgings survived as a grand house with 13th century undercroft, the building being substantially intact until 1931 when a severe fire caused great damage and much of the West Range was rebuilt internally. It is now occupied by Battle Abbey School.

During the war Battle Abbey was commandeered by the War Office and on D Day, 6th June 1944 troops from Battle took part in the invasion of Normandy, almost 900 years after William had sailed from Normandy to the Battle of Hastings.

Last year, 2006, to mark an anniversary of the battle, a new visitor's centre was opened. Modern in design and using today's materials of glass and steel it is built on the side of the slope and houses a light and airy restaurant at ground level and an excellent "hands on" exhibition area below. First stop for us was the film show which re-created and explained the Battle of Hastings, told from both Saxon and Norman points of view, and using in part the Bayeux Tapestry, amusingly manipulating the soldiers' limbs, the weapons and the horses' legs to animate the embroidery. The commentary by David Starkey was clear, the seating comfortable and the music good.

Interactive screens enabled us to find out more detailed information, armour and weapons were there to touch and try on, the sword was really very heavy to lift. More information was displayed on the walls and an extract from Beowulf provided something for everyone, making this a very enjoyable exhibition and part of an altogether splendid HADAS day out.

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Limericks: AGAIN!

The now standard HADAS on-the-coach spontaneous limerick competition was won by some very good entries, but many were once more slightly unprintable. The following are printable, thanks to Robert Michel and "Anon"'s post-modern take on the limerick scheme:


Harold thought the battle he'd mastered

He knew that the Normans were plastered

But when push came to shove,

Good Heavens above,

Duke William was really a bastard


We've been to the Castle at Pevensey

The Romans constructed it cleverly

It was at the coast

now the sea is a ghost

The battles are only a memory

OTHER EVENTS ELSEWHERE Eric Morgan

Sunday 2nd Sept, 10.30-4.30: The Jewish Museum, Finchley Sternberg Centre, East End Rd, N3 Free opening, European Day of Jewish Culture: Last chance to see before closure for redevelopment. Various exhibitions & meet & hear Leon Greenman OBE, 96, British born Auschwitz survivor.

Sunday 9th Sept, 3pm: Finchley Soc. at Statue of La Delivrance (aka "The Naked Lady"), nr junction Regents Park Rd/North Circular Barnet Mayor & Deputy Lieutenant unveil new Information Board

Monday 10th Sept, 3pm: Barnet & District Local History Soc Milestones Along the Great North Rd Talk by John Donovan (Member of HADAS) Church House, Wood St (opposite Museum)

Tuesday 11th Sept, 8pm: Amateur Geological Soc. Catching & Analysing Micrometeoroids Prof Anton Kearsley (Natural History Museum) The Parlour, St Margaret's Church, Victoria Ave N3

Wednesday 12th Sept, 7.45pm: Hornsey Historical Soc History & Restoration of North Bank, Pages Lane, Muswell Hill Talk, Gill Simpson Union Church Hall, corner Ferme Park Rd/Weston Park N8

Saturday 15th, Sunday 16th Sept: London Open House Weeekend Free access to 600 buildings Details at www.openhouse.org.uk Booklets cost £3, but are usually freely available in local libraries

Monday 17th-Sunday 23rd September: Barnet Borough Arts Council The Spires, High St, Barnet

Wednesday 19th September, 8pm: Willesden Local History Society Talk by Dr Jim Moher London Millwrights in the 18th & 19th centuries Scott House, High Rd (corner Strode Rd) NW10

Thursday 20th September, 8pm: Enfield Soc A Tangled Web: London's Overground Railways Talk by Peter Hodge, Jubilee Hall , Parsonage Lane, Enfield

Friday 21st September, 7.30pm: Enfield Archaeological Soc The Portable Antiquities Scheme: New rules for metal detectors Talk by Kate Sutton (MoL) Jubilee Hall, Parsonage Lane, Enfield

Sat. 22nd Sept 7.30pm: William Wilberforce: His retirement to Mill Hill & the building of his church Talk by Dr Michael Worms (archivist of the church) St Paul's Church, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7

Wed. 26th Sept, 8pm: Friern Barnet etc Local History Soc. Friern Barnet & The Times Online Hugh Petrie, Barnet Archivist (& HADAS member) St John's Church Hall, Friern Barnet Lane N20

Thursday 27th September, 8pm: Finchley Society How to Research Family History Talk by Ian Waller (Non-members £2) Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Rd, N3


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