newsletter-446-may-2008

Newsletter

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HADAS DIARY – Forthcoming lectures and events

Saturday 17th May -Trip To Avebury and Bath Liz Tucker

There are still a few places, do come along and bring friends if you wish. Micky and I are visiting Avebury shortly to look around – it sounds a fascinating place. We would hope to have all the bookings by now, but may be able to accept latecomers if necessary.

Tuesday 10th June – HADAS Annual General Meeting. 8pm. At Avenue House, followed by some interesting talks and snippets relating to members' recent activities.

Sunday 22nd June 13.00-15.30 Don Cooper

As we have done for the last couple of years, we are going to have a members' get-together in the Dining Room at Avenue House. Do come along for a chat and a glass of wine or a soft drink. There will be books to browse and, if the weather is kind, we will demonstrate our updated Resistivity Meter, GPS equipment and Metal Detector in the Avenue House garden. This get-together is an opportunity for members to make their voices heard as to what they would like HADAS to do in the coming year and to hear from members of the Committee how the various activities we are involved in are going.

Saturday 5th July – Outing to West Sussex Stewart Wild

Join June Porges and Stewart Wild on a summer outing through the lovely Surrey and Sussex countryside, visiting Butser Ancient Farm and Experimental Archaeology Site and Fishbourne Roman Palace. It’s many years since HADAS has visited either of these sites and in each case there have been new discoveries, improvements and additions. Mark your diary now to make sure you don’t miss out on all the latest news! Full details and booking form with the June Newsletter.

Wednesday August 27th to Sunday August 31st – Annual HADAS Long Weekend

Staying at Bishop Burton College near Beverley, Yorkshire (see February Newsletter for fuller details or contact a Committee Member)

As usual lectures & the AGM take place at 8pm at Avenue House, 17 East End Rd, Finchley N3 3QE. 15-min walk south from Finchley Central tube. Buses 82, 143, 260, 326 & 460 pass close by. Parking very limited directly outside, plentiful nearby. Non-members £1. Tea, coffee, biscuits 80p

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STUCK FOR SOMETHING TO DO THIS SUMMER? Don Cooper

One of the features of the summer season at Birkbeck College is the range of archaeological courses on offer. This year’s “crop” seems especially interesting. They are the Archaeological Summer Schools: Revealing Prehistoric Britain – Monday 12th May to Friday 16th May and Revealing Roman Britain – Monday 19th May to Friday 23rd May. Then there is the Syon Archaeology Training Excavation, which is uncovering the remains of Syon Abbey. There are five similar excavation courses, each lasting for one week starting 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th June and 7th July. Beginners welcome. Cost £185 for the week. There is also a five days Geophysics Course at Syon House from Monday 30th June to Friday 4th July. Birkbeck also run archaeological walks in London: Sat. May 17th 11am-4pm "Lundenwick and Westminster”; Saturday June 7th 11am-4pm “Royal Greenwich”; and Saturday June 21st 11am-4pm “Medieval City of London and Monastic Precincts”. To enrol or for details: phone 020 7631 6627 or 0845 6010 174, or email archaeology@fce.bbk.ac.uk or www.bbk.ac.uk/ce/archaeology

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS

Irene Owen 1912-2008 by Margaret Maher

Members will be saddened to hear that Irene died at St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey on March 22 aged 95 years. She had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for a number of years. She had been enjoying a very happy day in Chertsey visiting family members with her daughter, Myfanwy Stewart, to whom we extend our sympathy. Irene worked on the second phase of the dig at West Heath as Finds Assistant, which could be very boring, but her hard work and unfailing cheerfulness were much appreciated. Many West Heath regulars will remember her as she and Joan Wrigley also took care of that other essential on an excavation – tea and biscuits. It seems such a long time ago now since we dug.

Membership Renewals by Stephen Brunning

Renewals from members who pay by cheque have been pouring in, and just over half have now paid. Many thanks for paying so promptly. For those who normally pay by this method and haven’t yet returned the renewal form, please “keep ‘em coming!” If you prefer to pay at one of our meetings and save on postage etc, I will be attending both the May lecture and the AGM in June.

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MARCH LECTURE Report by Andrew Coulson

CHLOE COCKERILL: THE WORK OF THE CHURCHES CONSERVATION TRUST

Chloe is the Trust’s Regional Development Manager responsible for the counties of Buckinghamshire, Cambridge, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and London. Apparently there are about 16,000 parish churches in England, of which 1,600 are no longer needed. In country districts especially they may be too remote, their congregation too small, or non-existent, and the building too expensive to maintain. Or, contrariwise, there may be too many churches to serve the parish. Old St. Andrew's in Kingsbury for example, was superseded by the new St. Andrew's church, brought brick by brick from Well Street. When two manors shared the same town or village each may have endowed its own church, leading to later superfluity. Of these surplus churches around a fifth have been demolished, and the rest converted to other uses. The procedure for demolition may have begun with an application for a “Petition to Ruin” followed by the removal of the roof, the burial of the altar in the churchyard, and the use of the remains as a quarry. More recently the tendency is to convert to other uses by creating houses, flats, community centres, offices or shops within the shell of the old building. This process can create a hybrid use when a “holy bit” continues to in close association with parts devoted to secular activities. The number of “Petitions to Ruin” gave rise to fears for the preservation of the national ecclesiastical and architectural heritage. Initially these fears were addressed by groups concerned only with their own localities. For example, the preservation of the cell and apse in a farmyard in Winterbourne Thompson, Dorset, under the patronage of Thomas Hardy. Organisations such as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings became involved, and in 1969 the Redundant Churches Trust was formed. The con-servation movement was given national impetus in 1977 by Sir Roy Strong’s exhibition at the V&A entitled Change and Decay: The Future of our Churches, sponsored by the Mercers Company and Country Life. It was not however until 1994 that the Churches Conservation Trust was set up as a national charity to care for and preserve English churches that are no longer needed for regular worship and to make them fit for use as an educational resource and means of public enjoyment. Needless to say, its funding is limited and of the approximately 1,300 candidates there are only 330 vested in the charity. These are carefully chosen for their historic or architectural importance, but room is made for compromise. St. Michael's Berechurch, for example, was not taken on by the Trust because too much was done to it by the Victorians, and it is now a solicitor’s office. But the Trust does care for a chapel dedicated to Sir Henry Audley on the north side of the building. The Trust expects to take into care about 30 churches each year and describes them as being “in retirement” rather than “redundant”, as they are still consecrated and services are still held in them. About 85% of the Trust’s churches are small and in rural areas, but also some large ones in towns. An example in London is St. Luke’s in Kentish Town, which boasts William Morris windows and architecture by Basil Champness. It also boasts a conservation bill of about £¼ million sterling. Other curiosities abound. There are the round towers on the Norfolk and Suffolk border – the Devil likes to hide in corners; the medieval wall paintings of Little Welham, with its oxidised pigments blackening the faces of Saints Catherine, Mary Magdalene, and Margaret of Antioch; or Broughton, east of Milton Keynes, where a pietà expounds the evils of playing backgammon on the Sabbath. The list is endless. There are human stories too. Why for instance, did it take an Archbishop’s casting vote to determine that you can’t have an abandoned church next to a theological college? – try Cambridge. And where will you find uncomfortable red kneelers? Try Lakenheath. Anecdote followed anecdote but we had to stop somewhere. We stopped with questions. Mr. Javes wanted to know if there was ever a problem with bats. Answer: “yes”. Mr. Coulson wanted to know if the little chapel we saw at the beginning was the one under the hill at Towton where the river ran red with etc., etc. Well he would, wouldn’t he, and the answer was: “yes”. And everybody wanted to know why Miss Cockerill referred to churches as “she” and not “it” or “he”. A bit like ships in a way. And then Don proposed a vote of thanks and there was much applause. Opening arrangements for the churches vary. Full details can be found on the Gazeteer on the website at www.visit churches.org uk or in the information booklet for selected churches. As Miss Cockerill said, any opportunity for a day in the countryside and a “church crawl” should not be missed.


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SUTTON HOO NEW EXHIBITION

The National Trust has unveiled a substantial new exhibition at Sutton Hoo, in it's Tranmer House building. Entitled Life and Death of a Kingdom it explores the history of the Kingdom of East Anglia, using a wealth of treasures on loan from regional and national museums. The exhibition is open until 2 November 2008 (more details on www.nationaltrust.org.uk/suttonhoo or phone 01394 389700).

SOME USEFUL WEB SITES

COPAC: free access to the merged online catalogues of both the Consortium of Research Libraries and other important research collections in the UK. Records date back to c.1100AD in many languages. http://www. copac.ac.uk.GLAAS (Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service) Don Cooper One of the major sources of information on archaeology in London is GLAAS. It is now on-line. This English Heritage organisation reports on excavations in each of the London Boroughs as well as recording recent discoveries in London with an up-to-date record of recent publications. GLAAS also maintains the SMR (Sites and Monuments Record) for greater London. The web site is as follows: http://www.englishheritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.8900.

AEROFILMS COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS

English Heritage, in partnership with the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Historic Buildings of Scotland and Wales, has acquired the most significant body of oblique aerial photography remaining in private hands. . The prints and negatives, which were owned by Blom ASA, date from 1919 to 2006 and are now in specialised archival storage to await conservation, cataloguing and digitisation.

BRADING ROMAN VILLA

The Times reports that Sir Barry Cunliffe is to explore Brading Villa on the Isle of Wight, one of the most important Roman villas in Western Europe. Five years ago the newspaper's readers apparently contributed substantially to saving its spectacular mosaics after it had been placed on the World Monument Fund’s list of the most endangered sites. Many HADAS members will remember the Portsmouth "long weekend" which included a trip to this lovely site.

EMPEROR AUGUSTUS’S FRESCOES

Exquisitely preserved frescoed rooms in the ruined house of Augustus in Rome are now open to the public. The future emperor lived in the house on the Palatine Hill above the Forum in about 30BC. The wall and ceiling paintings are in vivid red, blue and ochre and were discovered in the 1960s by the Italian archaeologist Gianfilippo Carretoni. The restoration cost nearly €2 million (£1.5 million).

KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN HOSPITALLERS MUSEUM

The order has launched an appeal for funds for a new museum on the Clerkenwell site to be opened next year. From a new entrance to the iconic gatehouse there will be a continuous history from the foundation in the 1040s to the St John's Brigade’s role as the official first-aiders at the 2012 Olympics.

TUDOR SCRIBE’S QUILL

A Tudor quill pen, which may have dropped through the floorboards of Whitehall Palace, was one of the items discovered to the astonishment of archaeologists in one of the 4,000 cardboard boxes in the archives of the Museum of London. The boxes are full of material excavated from the Palace. The excavation was in the 1960s by the Ministry of Works who never got round to studying their finds. Roy Stephenson, the Museum/s archaeological archive manager, is now wading through the boxes. (The Times 22 March 2008)


EVIDENCE OF PAGAN RITUALS

Since 2003, 35 pits have been excavated near Truro, Cornwall, dated to the 1640s, which contain swan pelts, part of an iron cauldron and other material. No written or anecdotal evidence of the rituals has been found. Jacqui Woods, who is leading the excavation, will deliver a paper on the feather pits at the World Archaeology Conference in Dublin in June. (The Times 10 March 2008)

CUNEIFORM TABLET DECIPHERED

A Times report details the exciting decipherment of a clay tablet found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal palace at Nineveh in the mid-19thC. According to the researchers, Mark Hempsell of Bristol University and others, the tablet is thought to be a 700BC copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky and to be a witness’s account of an asteroid more than half a mile across which swept through the sky before dawn on June 29th in 3123BC, before crashing in the Austrian Alps with a force equivalent to 1000 tonnes of TNT. Many ancient myths preserve stories that might derive from the devastation and fires that could have been the result of such an impact.

THE SWEET POTATO MAY BE CLUE TO AMERICA’S ANCIENT PAST

The versatile and widespread sweet potato, which is of tropical American origin, is widely cultivated across the Pacific islands. Until a few years ago, it was assumed that this was due to Spanish transmission, dating from the early colonial period. But archaeological discoveries at Mangaia in the Cook Islands yielded carbonised remains of sweet potato dating to AD1000, five centuries before Europeans entered the Pacific Ocean and have started a new debate: was it carried deliberately, whether by one-way voyagers from South/Central America or by either of the possible two-way voyages, or could the seeds have drifted on their own. Alvaro Montenegro and his colleagues in the Journal of Archaeological Science have now shown by computer simulation experiments that accidental drift of seeds - or of South American voyagers - could have been responsible. The jury is still out.

HADRIAN'S SUMMER

As well as being the protagonist of the British Museum's forthcoming summer exhibition (April Newsletter), Hadrian is being celebrated on his very own Wall. His one-and-a-half times life size bronze head, found in the Thames in 1834, has been installed for the time being at Wallsend, at one end of his 73-mile barrier against the troublesome Scots. It is thought he actually visited the area in AD 122 to oversee the design of "his" wall, though he never saw it completed.


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OTHER SOCIETIES’ EVENTS Eric Morgan

Sunday 4th May & Sunday 1st June 3-5pm Finchley Society The Bothy Garden Open Day

Thursday 8th May 6.30pm LAMAS The History and Architecture of Clerkenwell: a summary of The Survey of London's findings ColinThom (English Heritage) Terrace Rm MoL LondonWall EC2

Sundays 11th, 25th May & 1st June 12-4pm, & guided walk Sat. 31st May 1-3pm EA Bowles's Open Days Myddelton House Garden Bullsmore Lane Enfield (we've done a resistivity survey here)

Monday 12th May 3pm Barnet & District Local History Society Donovan's Hertfordshire Talk by John Donovan Church House, Wood Street, Barnet (opposite Museum)

Monday 12th-Sunday 19th May Barnet Borough Arts Council Paintings and What's On (including HADAS) The Spires (outside Waitrose), High Street, Barnet Thursday 15th May 7.30pm joint Hampstead Museum & Jewish Museum Exiles, Emigrés & Eccentrics, Artistic Life in Hampstead in the 1930s & 40s Monica Bohm-Duchen Burgh House, NW3

Friday 16th May 7pm COLAS New finds at New Change and the Cheapside Hoard Dave Saxby (MOLAS) St Katherine Cree Church Hall, Leadenhall Street, EC3 £2 Friday 16th May 8pm Enfield Archaeological Society's Presidential Address Harvey Sheldon (who is also our HADAS President) Jubilee Hall, 2 Parsonage Lane, junction Chase Side, Enfield

Friday 16th May 7.30pm Wembley History Society The Valley Farm Estate, Kingsbury, from 1930 to the Present Philip Grant St Andrew's Church Hall, Church Lane, Kingsbury NW9 £1

Tuesday 20th May 7pm London Archaeologist - Annual lecture meeting Institute of Archaeology 31-34 Gordon Square Refreshments 6.30pm

Wednesday 21st May 7.30pm Willesden Local History Soc. The Mayhew Homes – Then and Now Talk by Sue Barrett. Scout House, High Road (corner Strode Rd), NW10 Wednesday 21st May 8pm Edmonton Hundred Historical Society The National Census: a House in Clerkenwell Talk by Marlene MacAndrew Jubilee Hall, 2 Parsonage Lane, Enfield

Thursday 22nd May 7.30pm Camden History Society “Good God! Women!” Suffragettes and the Enfield Military Hospital Talk by Jennian Geddes Burgh House, New End Square, NW3

Thursday 22nd May 7.30pm Finchley Society: Local History Group Meeting for anyone interested in Local History, particularly of Finchley Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Road, N3

Monday 26th May till 5pm. Kingsbury Open Day. St. Andrew’s Church Hall and both old & new churches open. Wembley Hist. Soc, etc. Church Lane NW9 (HADAS worked here with Andy Agate)

Wednesday 28th May 8pm Friern Barnet & District Local History Society AGM plus Donovan’s Hertfordshire - Talk by John Donovan (President) St. John’s Church Hall (next to Whetstone Police Station) Friern Barnet Lane, N20. Refreshments. £2

Thursday 29th May 8pm Finchley Society The Stephens Collection. Talk by Eileen Kenning Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Road, N3.. Visitors £2

Friday 30th May 7.45pm St. Albans and Herts Architectural and Archaeological Society. The First Battle of St. Albans, 1455. Talk by Harvey Watson (Battlefields Trust) College of Law, Hatfield Road, St. Albans (HADAS are much involved with this Trust)


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