Newsletter-472-July-2010

 

HADAS DIARY

Sunday 11 July HADAS Summer Outing
The booking form for the coach trip to visit Charles Darwin's home near Down, in Kent, was included in our last newsletter.  There are still some places available and friends of members are welcome too, so if you didn't book, but are still interested, please contact Jim Nelhams.  His full address, e-mail etc, are on the last page of this Newsletter.  The day includes a visit Lullingstone Roman Villa.

 

Digging in Hendon   

By the time you receive this newsletter, our digging with UCL at Hendon School will be complete. But do not forget the digs at the back of Church Farm House museum starting on Monday 12th July and continuing until July 23rd. It is planned to open an old air raid shelter in Sunny Hill Park, and to open a small trench in the museum grounds to further investigate the medieval ditch.

 

Most digging will be during the week. HADAS members are welcome to join in, but please let us know in advance. For the air raid shelter, please contact Gabe Moshinska (UCL) on 07752 154791.  Contact Bill Bass on 020 8449 5666 for the ditch.

 

As the weekend falls during the Festival of British Archaeology, we will hold an Open House on Sunday 18th from about 11am to 3pm, and would love to see any HADAS members during this time.

 

HADAS long weekend to Norwich – Saturday 28 August to Wednesday 1 September.

There may still be a couple of places available.  Apply to Don Cooper, again,details on last page.

 

For your Diary:  The last two lectures of 2010 will be:

 

Tuesday 12th October 2010  Behind the Scenes on “Time Team”  Raksha Dave 

  and:

Tuesday 9th November 2010 Archaeology and the Olympics  David Divers – English Heritage

 

 Lectures are held at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley, and start promptly at 8 pm. Nearest tube station is Finchley Central. Non-members: £1. Coffee, tea and biscuits available.  Buses 82, 143, 326 & 460 pass close by.

 

 

Annual  General  Meeting Report                                                   Jo Nelhams

 

The Society’s 49th Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 8th June 2010 at Avenue House.  There was a very good attendance, with 39 members (but just 5 apologies).  The Chairman, Don Cooper, introduced the President, Harvey Sheldon, who proceeded with his usual high efficiency.  The Annual Report and Accounts were approved by the meeting and the Officers remained unchanged and were duly elected.  The current members of the committee plus two new members were then duly elected too.

 

In the closing discussion the Chairman referred to 2011 which will be the 50th year since the formation of the society and various possible plans were suggested to celebrate this forthcoming anniversary.

 

A reminder of who is who on the elected committee:  

 

Chairman:           Don Cooper                                     Vice-Chairman:   Peter Pickering       

Hon. Treasurer:  Jim Nelhams                         Hon. Secretary:    Jo Nelhams

Hon. Membership Secretary:  Stephen Brunning

Committee:     Bill Bass, Andrew Coulson, Eric Morgan, June Porges, 

                        Mary Rawitzer, Denis Ross, Andrew Selkirk, Tim Wilkins

                        and welcome new members Vicki Baldwin and Sue Willetts.

 

The meeting was followed by presentations of the activities in which some members had participated.  Bill Bass presented an update on digging at Church Farm Museum.  The dig that took place at Hendon School was presented by Vicki Baldwin.  There will be a further digs in both of these locations this year.  Andy Simpson reported on the long weekend trip to Hereford.  Don Cooper updated members on the work concerning Hendon churchyard in collating the information from the burials, many of which were not of people that had lived locally, but were purchased as a cheaper alternative on the outskirts of London.  The presentations concluded with Bill Bass showing members participating in an excavation in Wheathampstead.

 

Our thanks to those who contributed and informed us of the many activities in which different members have been involved during this last year. We look forward to our anniversary year and hope to see as many members as possible actively participating in digs, outings, lectures and other events organised by the society.

 

 

Roman kiln to be returned to its home in Highgate Wood          

 

A 2,000-year-old kiln is to be returned to its original home in Highgate Wood.  The Roman clay kiln, the only one of its kind in London, was discovered during excavations of Roman pottery across half a hectare of the northern end of the wood between 1966 and 1974 and has since been housed at Bruce Castle Museum in Haringey.

 

Archaeologists believe the kiln was used by craftsmen between 50AD and 150AD to produce a type of pottery called Highgate Wood Ware. The pots were a dark colour, often in a shape that resembled a poppy seed head. They were traded at markets and have been discovered in excavations as far away as Colchester and Lincoln.

 

Young people from across north London will re-enact the use of the Roman kiln during two weeks in July with a professional potter who will help design, make and dry clay pots, and build a replica of the original kiln to fire pots using the same methods the Romans would have done.

 

 

 

The £20,000 project is a collaboration between the Museum of London, Haringey Council and the City of London Corporation, the managers of Highgate Wood, and is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme "Stories of the World" which aims to encourage museums to team up with young people to re-interpret museum collections and historic sites.

 

The site was dug by HADAS President Harvey Sheldon between 1966 and 1974 and another member, Mike Hammerson, was a site supervisor.

 

Exhibition at Lambeth Palace Library                                                   Jim Nelhams

 

The Library at Lambeth Palace is celebrating its 400th anniversary by mounting an exhibition of some of its special treasures.  Jo and I visited this exhibition and would recommend it.  We spent about 2 hours looking at the items on show.  The display cases are within the main hall of the library and are clearly displayed and annotated.  Admission includes a free audio guide with good supporting information.  There were plentiful chairs for sitting down when required.

 

The exhibits are mainly but not exclusively connected with church history and include:

 

·                     The Lambeth Bible (12th century)

·                     A Gutenberg Bible printed in 1455

·                     Books owned and used by Richard III, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles I.

·                     The Babylonian Talmud (Early 16th century)

·                     A copy of the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots

·                     A number of illuminated manuscripts and early printing

 

The Library is located in Lambeth Palace Road, close to Lambeth Bridge.  Nearest underground stations are Waterloo or Vauxhall. Admission is £8 for adults, concessions £7.  Tickets can be pre-booked on 0871 230 1107 or on website www.lambethpalacelibrary.org .

 

The exhibition continues until 23rd July, Monday to Saturday, 10:00 to 17:00 (last entry 16:30).

  

 

Caldey Island (or Ynys Pyr)                                                            Sue Willetts

 

I was recently invited to spend 5 days on Caldey Island which is now owned by a Community of Cistercian monks and lies off the coast of Tenby in South Wales.  The island is just about.1½ x ⅔ miles and is of geological and archaeological interest.  A website, http://www.caldey-island.co.uk, provides information about this rugged, beautiful and peaceful island, the background to the Monastery, the spring/summer 20- minute ferry service for day visitors and the longer stays available for those interested in a retreat.  There are good walks, including ones through woodland, and, if you are lucky, you might see seals basking on the rocks.  There are masses of seabirds and an extensive sandy beach.  The island is formed from two distinct types of rock:  the northern part is mountain limestone, with old red sandstone in the south and along the line where they adjoin fresh water springs have been found. 

Documentary evidence suggests there was a Celtic monastery dating from the sixth century founded by monks from Llantwit Major in Glamorgan. The name of the first Abbot was recorded as Pyro and it is said that he died after falling into a well due to drunkenness!  Subsequently, there was a Benedictine foundation from 1136 until the dissolution of the monasteries, with the current Monastery built in 1906 by Anglican

 

Benedictines.  In 1913 the monks joined the Roman Catholic Church, but due to financial problems the island was sold to the Cistercians from Scourmont in Belgium and the Benedictines moved away to Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire. 

Sites of interest are the Old Priory containing an Ogham stone from the 6th century, a Norman Church, a Watchtower Chapel, a lime kiln and a Lighthouse built in 1828. There is a small museum in the Post Office which has displays covering geology and archaeology, including roman coins found on the nearby island of (now uninhabited) St.Margaret’s. It is possible to attend services in the plain Abbey Church of the Monastery (the rest of the Monastery is not accessible) and hear the beautiful chanting of the Monks wearing their traditional white habits.  Services in the Abbey Church start at 3.30 am and continue at intervals throughout the day, ending with Compline at 7.35 pm.  During the day, the monks usually wear practical working clothes as they perform manual tasks on the farm or kitchen.

Refreshments for visitors can be found in a tea shop beautifully situated next to the village green and duck pond.  A video-hall (free) shows a DVD about the life of the Monks and visitors can buy souvenirs of perfume and chocolate both made on the island (also available on the internet!).  I would thoroughly recommend a visit if any HADAS members are in the Tenby area, but note that boats do not sail in rough weather.  I have booklets available on loan for anyone interested.

 

 

THE STAFFORDSHIRE HOARD

A detectorist’s dream find                                        Christopher  Sparey-Green

 

One thing is certain about the latest bullion from the English countryside, it is an unusual hoard and contains some unique objects, but another Sutton Hoo it is not.  And it is hardly the archaeological equivalent of the Book of Kells.  But how so much rich metalwork could come to be scattered in the topsoil of a recently cultivated pasture is unexplained, since apparently no primary context or burial pit has been identified. 

 

The weight of bullion (6.3kg) as compared with Sutton Hoo (4kg) is not exactly an important factor in the archaeological interpretation of the site, but the quantity of items, mostly fittings from Anglo-Saxon swords but including some magnificent bent and desecrated crosses and jewelled fittings, will be the cause of much speculation.  The presence of something like 650 scraps and 56 earth lumps containing tiny fragments of metal suggests detritus from an early jeweller – a precursor of more recent metal workers in the Birmingham area.  This writer wonders if it is the product of Viking raids on some royal hall decked with museum pieces from past battles, the rusty and antiquated blades discarded, the gold and silver fittings in the process of re-working.

 

One decorated gold strip is of particular interest in view of the inscription it bears, a biblical quote from Numbers 10 v. 35.  This is a particularly militaristic phrase of Moses calling on the Lord to rise up and scatter those who hate Him, the text in Insular Miniscule lettering of the seventh or eighth century.  As viewed on line the text may contain some errors or abbreviations in the Latin and there appears to be a blundered inscription on the reverse, perhaps a trial.  The text would have been an appropriate quote for a Christian Anglo-Saxon combating the unconverted of the period, the form of the lettering and the source of the exact quote perhaps one of the most useful aids in tying down the source and date of at least one item in what must be the most expensive treasure find recently bought for public display.

 

The Staffordshire web site is well worth looking at - http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/interview - if only for the very appropriate quote placed on page 1 and there is a comment in the Editorial of Antiquity  84(2010): 295-296 (http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/84/ant840295.htm).

 

 

Brunel’s Great Eastern Construction Site                           Jim Nelhams

 

At the recent meeting of CBA London, we were given information about an open day of the London Foreshore Project in Docklands, including information about Brunel’s Great Eastern steamship which was built at Millwall.  As Brunel fans, this was not an opportunity to be missed.  

 

We reached the small exhibition at The Docklands Settlement in East Ferry Road by Docklands Light Railway, using the amusingly named Mudchute station.  If you had seen it when they were constructing the DLR tunnel from the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich, you would understand the name.

 

A small but interesting exhibition showed some of the finds that had been discovered along the foreshore of the river, and a few other items from the Museum of London.  Then at midday we were guided down to the river where we were met by Professor Gustav Milne from UCL, shortly afterwards joined by the director of the Brunel Museum, cleverly disguised as Isambard Kingdon Brunel (without cigar).  We were led on a conducted tour of the on-land parts of the Great Eastern construction site, which were discovered by accident as recently as 1984.  As the tide reached its lowest point, we were able to see parts of the launch ramps which still exist in the river.

 

The tour had a second purpose.  The Great Eastern commenced its first Transatlantic voyage on 17th June 1860, so we were celebrating the 150th anniversary of this event.  Using the original charts, the outline of the ship had been marked out with chalk and we could see it's considerable size - 25 metres wide and 211 metres long.  The Great Eastern was the largest ship of its time, and nothing larger was built for over 50 years.  Its size enabled it to carry enough coal for a return voyage to Australia, since little coal was then available en route.  Because of its size, the ship was built along the shore and launched sideways.

 

The ship was powered from five steam boilers.  Four of these, in two pairs, powered a large paddle wheel on each side of the vessel, with the fifth separately powering a screw at the stern.  The steam technology being still relatively new, backup was provided by six masts with sails, the masts being named Monday to Saturday.  The positions of the funnels, masts and paddle wheels had also been marked in chalk, and members of the tour party were invited to position themselves as funnels, masts or part of the paddle wheels. Then on the command from Mr Brunel, “Start engines”, the funnels simulated smoke, the masts raised their sails, and the paddle wheels propelled water towards the stern.  This was recorded on film, presumably to be used for publicity.  Should you come across this, I was Wednesday and Jo was Boiler No 2, or was it 3.  A lot of fun for all involved, and a great way to illustrate the size of the leviathan.

 

When you pass the site on a riverboat, the commentary may tell you that the Great Eastern was built on the banks, but nothing is visible from the river because of the concrete embankment.  It has been proposed to decorate the riverside embankment with a profile of the Great Eastern, including a paddle wheel.  The area is already public land and it is hoped to plant trees in such a way that, seen from the river, they will appear as the funnels and masts of the great ship.

 

The Great Eastern was ahead of its time, being built with a double hull, and with keel to deck bulwarks separating it into 5 sections.  Had the Titanic been similarly constructed, it would likely have survived its collision.  Unfortunately for Brunel’s ship, by the time it was launched, the market for passenger voyages was not to be found, and the ship was put to a different use.  Her size made her very stable, and with a stern screw and side paddle wheels, she was easily manoeuvrable.  This made the ship ideal for cable laying, a need not known when she was designed,  and thus she was used to lay the first Transatlantic telephone cable on the ocean floor.  From 1865 to 1872 she laid four telegraph cables under the Atlantic, and others to link Bombay and Aden.

 

Brunel is well known for his bridges, but perhaps his greatest bridges were those cables, bridging the gap by telephone from England to America.

 

Eric Morgan’s  Monthly Round-Up of What’s On, especially the Festival of British Archaeology

 

Fri. 2 July 10.30am.  350 Years of Church Farm House. Talk by Gerrard Roots.  South Friern Library, Colney Hatch Lane, N10.

Sat. 3 July 11am - 5.00pm.  Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery Open Day.   Harrow Rd, NW10/Ladbroke Grove W10.  Tours, displays, refreshments, stalls, including Willesden Local History Society & Friends bookstall.

Sat. 3 & Sun. 4 July 12-7pm, East Barnet Festival.  Oak Hill Park, Church Hill Rd, East Barnet.  Lots of community stalls, including Barnet Arts Council.

Sun. 4 July 3-5pm, The Bothy Garden Open Day.  Avenue House Grounds, East End Rd, N3, including The Alyth Youth Singers and Pandamonium, performing 3.30pm.  £5 on gate.

Sun. 4 July 2.30pm, Fabulous Finchley. 2hr guided walk through 1000 years of Finchley Central & East Finchley. Meet Finchley Central tube, Ballards Lane exit, finishes East Finchley tube. Led by Paul Baker.  £7

Fri. 9 July 7pm, Oddities Along a London Leyline.  COLAS.  Guided walk exploring a short stretch of a famous London straight track.  Meet outside National Gallery, Trafalgar Squareed by Roy Walker.

Sat. 10 July 7pm, City Churches Walks.  The Friends of City Churches give a rare chance to visit historic churches within the City.  Choice of different 90-minute walking tours, each visiting 3 churches and taking in places of interest en route.  Itineraries announced on the day.  Meet St Mary Aldermary, Bow Lane, Cannon St, 10.30am or 1.30pm.  Details on www.London-city-churches.org.uk.  Churches open 10am-4pm. £7. 

Sat. 10 July 12 noon-3pm, on the hour, Guided Tour , Forty Hall, Enfield.    Free costumed tour lasting c.45min.  Booking required.  Information:  forty.hall@enfield .gov.uk or 020 8363 8196.

Sat. 10 July from 12 noon, Finchley Pentland Community Festival.  Lots of community stalls, including the Finchley Society.  Victoria Park, Ballards Lane, N3.

Sun. 11 July, 2.30-47pm, The Hidden River Fleet.  London Canal Museum guided walk exploring part of the course of the river around St Pancras/Grays Inn Rd.  12-13 New Wharf Rd, Kings X, N1.  £7.

Tues. 13 July 8pm, Talks: Around Hitchin 100 Million Years Ago (Mike Howgate) and The La Brea Tar Pits Museum, Los Angeles (Mike Cuming).  Amateur Geological Society , The Parlour, St Margaret's Church, Victoria Ave., N3 (off Hendon Lane).

Wed. 14 July 12.30pm, Paddington's Industrial Heritage. Walk, wharves, windings, train sheds & the early days of railway development.  Meet Starbucks, 15 Sheldon Sq, W2.  Also on Wed. 25 July 12.30pm.

Fri. 16 July 12-2pm, World Archaeology and Archaeology in Action.  Also: Sat. 17th July - Sun. 1st August, Festival of British Archaeology.  Many events at the Museum of London. Details on www.museumof london.org.uk  including special hands-on events 24th & 25 July. Also:

Sat. 17/Sun. 18 July, Excavating at Elsynge Palace (& pageant). Forty Hall, Enfield: forty.hall@enfield .gov.uk/020 8363 8196.

Sat .17/Sun. 18 July11.30am-4pm, COLAS at the Tower. Foreshore events, Tower Beach, finds handling, etc.

Sat. 24/Sun. 25 July, Dig at Theobalds Palace. Cedars Park ,Cheshunt.  Enfield Archaeological Society

Sat. 24 July 1-3pm,  Myddelton House:  History, strolls, garden viewing. Bullsmoor Lane, Enfield.

Wed. 28 July – Sun. 1 August 2pm, Royal Society Science Walks, Science in the City.  Led Mike Howgate. Start Museum of London, finish St Pauls tube. Booking essential:  mehowgate@hotmail.com, 020 8882 2606.

 

Thanks to all our contributors: Stephen Brunning, Eric Morgan, Jim Nelhams, Jo Nelhams,

                                                      Peter Pickering, Sue Willetts, Christopher Sparey-Green.

 

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