Issue 271 October 1993 Edited by Micky Cohen
Tuesday 5th October “Aspects of Roman Pottery” Our lecture season opens
with a return visit of Dr Robin Symonds, who came and talked to us at our Brockley Hill/Roman Pottery seminar at St. Mary’s Church House in February this year. Robin Symonds was educated in the U.S.A. and Oxford, where he took a D.Phil. degree. His thesis has been published on RHENISH WARE. He was a Roman pottery researcher for Colchester Archaeological Trust for eight years, and a Roman pottery specialist for the Museum of London Archaeological Service since 1990.
Saturday, l6th October MINIMART at St. Mary’s Church House (top of Greyhound
Hill) Hendon. N.W.4. – our only fund-raising event each year. With rising costs, particularly Newsletter dispatch, our excavation expenses, hall hire for lectures and our room at Avenue House, it is even more essential that we make this event a success. Please see enclosed leaflet for details.
Tuesday, 2nd November Lecture: “Fun and Games in the Roman Baths” by Mark
Hassall, F.S.A. A return visit by this entertaining speaker, who is Reader in Roman Archaeology, University College. His interests include Roman inscriptions, the Roman army, and classical technology. This month’s subject will be Roman Baths. Baths and bathing were an essential element of Roman social life, and in this talk Mr Hassall looks into the remains of Roman Baths from Scotland to the Sahara and examines some of the activities that went on in them !!
Saturday,6th November Visit to St, Paul’s Cathedral, with Mary O’Connell.
Details and application form enclosed.
Tuesday,7th December Christmas Dinner at University College, Gower Street.
With guides, talks, viewing of the College.
Tuesday, 11th January,1994 Afternoon visit to the Newspaper Library,Colindale,N.W.9 Please phone Dorothy Newbury (081-203-0950) if you wish to join this group visit.
HADAS CHURCH FARM HOUSE DIG The OPEN DAYS on 28th and 29th August were a
great success. A detailed report will appear in next month’s Newsletter.
BRITISH MUSEUM The HOXNE HOARD is on display until 16th January in Room 69A.
Catherine Johns will lecture on the HOXNE TREASURE jewellery and plate on 7th Oct. at 1:15 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre.
OUT AND ABOUT WITH HADAS IN NORTH LONDON A report on visit to Stanmore, Pinner.
and Headstone Manor will appear in next month’s Newsletter.
HADAS British Tour ’93 – Chester and Llandudno
DATE – 3rd September, 8.15 A.M..
Arrangements are set and battle-lines drawn for my first HADAS weekend trip, we leave Golders Green on time. A slight problem arises as the coach was supposed to have been a 53 seater but we ended up with a 48 one instead, tricky as there are 49 of us; its then realised one of our party is Joining later by train and all is resolved. Driver David points us towards the MI.
Leaving the M1 we pass through pretty villages and country lanes, the odd tractor having to take avoiding action, eventually Claybrooke Magna appears and a sign – Agricultural Merchants and Flour Millers marks our first visit Claybrooke Mill.
We have to negotiate a tight narrow lane which opens into a small yard with very little turning space; our party alights muttering how on earth driver David was going to get out of this one. The mill has been owned and restored by Mr. & Mrs. Mountford over 14 years, the present building dates from 1760 but corn may have been milled here up to 800 years ago. After tea a site tour shows a 3 storey structure built around a large water-wheel supplied by a mill-pond, this drives through gears, one of several sets of millstones which have been rescued from other sites and re-cut, resulting flour is sold to natural food shops etc.. Miraculously driver David has turned his coach and we head off towards Stoke.
Past Ashby de la &ouch with its castle, Burton-on-Trent – Bass Breweries etc.,(no relation and no time for a visit, shame), Tutbury Castle (15thc) is also glimpsed on our Journey.
Stoke on Trent’s industrial outskirts signal arrival at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Langton. Lunch first, then a video describes the growth of six original towns which form Stoke-on-Trent; the core of Burslem still survives, as do those of Tunstall, Hanley, Stoke, Langton and Fenton. North Staffordshire was ideally situated when the craft of pottery came to be industrialised, here there was a variety of clay for pots, lead and salt for glaze, coal for firing, and plentiful water to mix materials. Successful farming areas in nearby counties of Derbyshire and Cheshire created a major market, by the Victorian era pottery had become affordable for everyone and factories like Gladstone China were producing vast quantities of medium-quality ware for both home and abroad. A system of canals and turnpike roads were used to transport goods, many of the canals are still in evidence today. Adoption of clean fuels in place of coal not only changed the air above Stoke, it sealed the fate of the city’s characteristic bottle ovens.
Gladstone comprises several huge bottle-shaped kilns (shaped to
create and control the upward draught), cobbled yards, original workshops and offices. It’s a working museum and many of the pottery techniques can be seen, one room, the ‘slip–house’ contained a very Heath-Robinson machine of pulleys, guide ropes, gears, driven by an adjacent steam engine to wash (blunge), sieve and strain clay, iron is also removed from it by magnets. Ted Semmes reckons HADAS should have one for finds processing! There is also extensive display of Tile – Victorian fireplaces etc., Sanitaryware – baths, sinks and rows of highly decorated water-closets, also galleries of Colour and Glazing.
We set off for Chester, a small diversion takes us to Beeston Castle a 15thc ruin spectacularly placed on a rocky cliff, part of the Mid Cheshire hills. A short drive following the Shropshire Union Canal brings us to Chester College, the college was founded in 1839 by the Church of England, here we set-up camp in comfortable accommodation amid a pleasant garden setting. There’s no rest for the wicked, after dinner a lecture with slides given by Mike Morris – Chester City Archaeologist. Mike explains that there is little or no evidence of prehistoric activity, present day Chester stands on the site of a Roman Fortress built c AD 79 as a base for military operations against the Welsh. This Fortress was constructed on a sandstone plateau surrounded by marsh land in a bend of the River Dee (hence DEVA) where a natural moat was formed on two sides. This was the lowest point at which a bridge could be built and the highest point to which sea-going craft could navigate. An original Fortress of turf and timber was eventually replaced with stone. Streets linked the four main gates to the central Principle; excavations elsewhere have revealed evidence of bath-houses, granaries, barracks, temples, ovens and an amphitheatre. First occupation was by the 2nd Adiutrux Legion and then by Agricola’s XX Valeria Victrix Legion. Saxons are believed to have settled in AD 650, King Aethelred of Mercies is credited with founding two churches – St. John outside the walls and St. Peter and St. Paulh, site of the present Cathedral. Cellared timber framed buildings with post-holes dug into the sandstone have been found, pottery (Chester Ware) once thought to be Roman can now identify Saxon levels, later there was a mint. After Viking invasion and Norman settlement the wall was extended and a medieval castle was built near the river and the port of Chester flourished. Mike also explained the Archaeology Unit employed 9 people and was one of the few units still funded by local Government and their emphasis to cover the district around Chester and all periods.
This morning we are split into two groups for guided walk around part of the wall and town. Our knowledgeable guide is Keith who looks like Nigel Kennedy the musician but without the violin. We start at Roodee Open Space where the Romans had a harbour (now silted up), a large section of quay wall still stands on the race-course below the city wall. Nearby is Gosvenor Bridge at one time the largest single span stone arch in the world, next is Chester Castle which apart from the motte is now mostly 19thc. At Bridgegate we observe the old Dee Bridge built 1380, a weir originally built by Earl Hugh the first of Chester (William Conqueror’s nephew) to provide water for powering his mills. Further along is the Groves a popular riverside promenade with pleasure boat trips, ducks, swans etc., a suspension footbridge of 1852 crosses here.
Keith leads us to the Amphitheatre which held about 8000 spectators, the largest military Roman Amphitheatre in Britain so far, remains of a shrine to the goddess Nemesis by the North entrance. Unfortunately only half of its structure is on show, the other half survives under a listed Georgian building.
We’re now standing in the Church of St. John, an original church was probably founded in c865 evidenced by a discovery of Celtic crosses in 1870. Once a seat of the Bishop of Mercia, we can observe the transitional architecture between the massive Norman columns and 13thc Clerestory above; there’s also a medieval wall painting. In 1881 St. John’S west tower collapsed and is now in ruins.
A short stroll northwards past Eastgate and its famous clock leads us to Chester Cathedral, after Saxon origins it became a Benedictine Abbey in 1092 attracting many pilgrims until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540. A year later the Abby Church became a Cathedral. Although essentially medieval, most of the original building has been replaced over the centuries, of note were 12thc restored Cloisters, elaborate 14thc choir stalls and recent stained glass windows.
Being a Saturday there’s a bustling town centre including a town-crier, street artists and musicians, shops are contained in the unique ‘Rows’. These are covered walkways which are thought to have started when Saxons built dwellings on top of Roman derelict rubble, the cellars of these were then dug out and eventually over many years formed into a remarkable shopping area of ranging architecture. There are timber framed balconies, walkways, pubs and shops, some dating to the 16thc, some having Roman hypocaust etc., on view in their basements.
We were then free to visit the Grosvenor Museum including a fine collection of Roman tombstones, altars and inscriptions (the Graham Webster Gallery), also Victorian, Georgian etc., period roams. Others visited the Deva Roman Experience or Chester Heritage Centre or Just browsed around the shops.
Earlier Keith said it was impossible to get lost in Chester that evening after closing time several members did the impossible.
On the Third Day
An early start finds us heading down the A55 towards Llandudno, approaching the town, on our right the majestic sweep of Llandudno Bay, sun
shimmering off the sea, hotels and promenade, to our left .a car-boot sale ‑
Dorothy’s eyes light-up, its mini-mart time again lest you forget. Driver David manages to navigate through more narrow streets to deposit us at Victoria Tramway Station.
The tramway was opened in 1902, original tramcars haul our party up steep roads and track to the summit of Great Orme [had, 679 feet above sea level. This is the only cable hauled street tramway in Britain. On top it’s a nice sunny day with panoramic views of Anglesey, Conwy Bay and the Irish Sea.
Halfway down from the summit is the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mine, there’s an introductory talk by Tony Hammond (Director) and a dramatic film. The mines were first discovered by 19thc miners who broke through earlier workings, these were long thought to be Roman. In 1976 Duncan James a local amateur began exploring the ancient workings and later obtained radio-carbon dating of 990 BC from charcoal, confirming Bronze Age origins. Tony with associates then formed the Great Orme Mining Company, building a visitor centre, and shifted thousands of tons of rubble to reveal the original Bronze Age entrances. The tunnels go at least 300 metres into the hillside and down 70 metres below the surface. Bone tools were used – over 8000 have been found, stone hammers were also used, the heaviest being 64 lb. in weight. On entering the tunnels we’re issued with a hard hat, our party follows single file a circular route down two levels out of eleven altogether. The passages are worked-out seams of copper, some so narrow they could only have been worked by small children. A huge underground cavern is the highlight, an intersection of several workings.
Back out in bright sunshine we’re given a tour by Frank Jowett the resident archaeologist, he explains the surrounding geology, current excavations and years of work yet to be done as the Bronze Age workings are much more extensive then yet known.
Our route home passes Conwy Castle and follows the Vale of Conwy, through a picturesque Betws-y-Coed, here we observe driver Davids technique of expertly guiding the coach through holiday traffic with a microphone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Seriously he’s an excellent driver who also gave informative commentaries.
Finally Paul O’Flynn gives deserved thanks to Dorothy for another well organised HADAS epic outing; Where to next year, we wonder?
RECENT DONATIONS TO THE LIBRARY
Members will be well-acquainted with the products of Shire Publications, pocket-sized books at pocket-money prices, and in particular with the Discovering Regional Archaeology series published in the late 1960s and early 1970s – especially as Ted Sammes was the compiler of the volume covering Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In 1983 the Roman sites were collated into one volume, “Discovering Roman Britain”, edited by David E Johnston, and this year “Discovering Prehistoric England” edited by James Dyer has been published at the very reasonable price of f6.99 (296 pages, paperback). This book would make a suitable replacement for those well-used, dog-eared, twenty years old regional copies currently on your bookcases. However, if you would like a preview, Ted has very kindly donated a suitably inscribed copy to the HADAS library for which we thank him.
Thanks must also go to John Enderby for the donation of the following publications which has enlarged our local history collection:
The Story of Golders Green, C R Smith & J P Hall, 1979
Village into Borough, Old Finchley Series No 1, G R P Lawrence,1964
Finchley Manor: influential Families, F Davis, 1982
The Story of Hendon St Mary’s Church of England Schools, 1957
The Brasses of Middlesex, Part 16: Hendon, Heston, H K Cameron, (LAMAS Trans), 1975
An investigation of Roman Road No 167, B Robertson, (LAMAS Trans), undated
John also donated “An introduction to the Archaeology of Jersey”, I Cornwall & D E Johnston,1984; “Archaeology in Wales – volume 26”, CBA Group 2, Wales,1986 and “Siluria”, the newsletter of the Friends of.the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, 1989.
If you are interested in any of the above, the number to ring is 081-361 1350.
We are pleased to announce another ‘batch’ of new members from our recent Church Farm House Museum dig: 4 junior members – Joanna Haigh, Laura Sanford, Danny Murray and Seb Lemon. Also joining us from the dig – Ian Haigh. We hope they will take part in our next dig (hopefully in October). We also welcome new members Mrs J Goldsmith, Mr L Amner, Mr G Scott, Mrs F Nieberg, and Mr M Cohen.
Not to forget our ‘established’ members – is anyone involved in something of interest which we could share – the newsletter editors would welcome articles, snippets of information etc. Looking forward to meeting you all at the new lecture season.