NEWSLETTER NO.274 – JANUARY 1994 Edited by D.L. Barrie
Tuesday, 11th January, 1994 – Visit to the Newspaper Library, Colindale NW9, 2 pm. This is now full, but anyone wishing to join the waiting list please ring Dorothy on 203 0950.
Tuesday 1st February, 1994 – “History and Restoration of the SS “Great Britain” – John Robinson, A treat for the industrial
archaeologists in the Society.
Our speaker, John Robinson, is Senior Curator, Maritime Collection, at the Science Museum. He has been involved throughout with the continuing restoration of the ship.
The SS “Great Britain’ was first built as an Atlantic liner. Designed by Brunel, she was the first ship built of iron and driven by a propeller to cross to America. The journey took nearly 15 days and the fare was about £30. Her seagoing life ended in 1886 in the Falkland Islands, and she was used as a coal and wool store until 1936 when she was finally towed away and scuttled. In 1970 she was salvaged and towed back home on a platform to the Great Western Dock in Bristol where she was built 150 years ago.
Many of our members will remember our tour of the ship in 1977 when HADAS spent a weekend at Bristol University.
Tuesday 1st March – Lecture to be confirmed.
Tuesday 5th April – “Archaeology at St. Bride’s Church 1952-1993” –
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, GOWER STREET
HADAS CHRISTMAS DINNER, TUESDAY 7th DECEMBER Mary O’Connell
I don’t know how she does it Year in, year out; Dorothy comes up with a new venue of great interest.
So – having identified our friendly coach driver David, behind his hirsute disguise, we were conveyed safely to Gower Street, there to meet up with the rest of our party (64 in all) for another HADAS Christmas feast.
I thought that the standard of fare provided by Mr Brudney and his team was of especially high standard, and I’m sure it was enjoyed by all. Thanks to Dorothy’s research the menu contained an article on UCL.
Our guides, Gill, Michael and Belinda, provided more on-the-spot information about the fine features of the building, the treasures of the history library and about Jeremy Bentham. And what a character he was, already an accomplished linguist and scholar in his tender years,
he was a voracious reader all his life. A bon viveur – who thought nothing of laying out 13 pence when dining out at “The Three Tuns” in Guildhall Yard (with 1d for the waiter.)
His interests were wide-ranging, from politics: – his “Fragment on government impressed many people to legislation principles:- “Laws should be for the total happiness of the community,” to prison reform:- his revolutionary design for the Panoptican and its management and discipline. (This inspection house was later developed as Millbank Prison, on the site now occupied by the Tate Gallery.) His brilliant philanthropic mind -loved the Truth!’ and he corresponded and debated with many of the leading figures of his time.
Because of his fascination with all things scientific, he left his body for dissection. The auto-icon was his final vanity and his instructions to clothe his skeleton and seat it on display may be an example of the opinion held by his friends that he was a boy to the last.”
A marvelous evening – thanks from us all, Dorothy, and here’s to next year!
HENDON, CHILDS HILL, GOLDERS GREEN AND MILL HILL
A Pictorial History by Stewart Gillies and Pamela Taylor published by Phillimore, £11.95
Last month the Newsletter included a short notice of this hardback book with an attractive dust cover.
It does not of course cover the whole of the old Hendon Borough, Edgware being conspicuous by its absence. Perhaps Phillimore will be covering this elsewhere. I liked the end photos, both of different subjects, but feel that an earlier drawing of the Old Smithy could have been found – it all looks too clean:
It’s very nice to see the arms of the Borough of Hendon, but what a pity this could not have been in colour:
Between the covers there are 166 black and white photos which are well produced and with captions for each one. In this respect it is nice to see old friendly photos and many that I had not see before. I would, however, have been happier if more of the photos had been deployed across two pages – the fold in the middle almost makes two separate photos.
There seems to my mind to be a lack of industrial sites, i.e. Rawlplug Co., Railways, Johnsons of Hendon and above all a few more shots of the Hendon Air Display or early tube trains at Golders Green. I realise it is difficult to give coverage to everything, but did we have to go to Italy for a representation of ox-roasting in 1932? (No.155). I remember the day very well and did get a slice of the ox. Maybe also church interiors did not get their fair share. The picture of the Silk Stream (No.115) widening out into the Welsh Harp is extremely interesting, as is also No. 120, Hendon Central Underground Station standing all alone in 1923, and on No.121 where is all the traffic down the Watford Way?
Yes, it includes cinemas, but for personal “fleapit’ nostalgia (minimum price 4d) I would also have liked to have seen the Classic Cinema just off Brent Street. The Edgware Road being surfaced with wood blocks is an interesting picture, all forgotten today, I fear. They often came up when there was prolonged rains
Maybe the biggest contrast of all is No.62, the Burroughs Pond, into which horses and carts could be driven.
The task of selecting these pictures must have been very interesting, time-consuming and at times I fear frustrating. Despite my above little carping comments, this book should be on the shelves of everyone with memories of Hendon past, and more importantly to those who are new to the old Borough of Hendon. Good value at £11.95p from Public Libraries and Church Farm Museum, etc.
HADAS MEMBERS ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL Bill Bass
Our expectant excavation team finally managed to gain access to the former Victoria Maternity Hospital site in Wood Street, Barnet. Delays were caused by massive concrete foundation blocks that had to be extracted and broken up on site by contractors. On a cold November 28, base-lines and trenches were laid out according to the plan and scheme of works as this is a Field Evaluation on behalf of the contractors (Oliver & Saunders). Three trenches were machine-dug on December 1 and 2 by JCS – this operation was overseen and directed by Mr. K. Tyler of the Museum of London Archaeological Service with HADAS assistance. Demolition and rubble over-burden was carefully scraped off with the
JCB using a toothless “bucket”. Digging stopped when any archaeological features were revealed or the natural sand/gravel/clay reached. We seem to have features in all three trenches including a possible ditch, pits and brick footings. Saturday and Sunday 5 and 6 December saw volunteers involved in initial cleaning/trowelling of trenches with one or two sherds of our ubiquitous medieval greywear pot appearing, also a spot
of surveying to establish a “level” or height above sea level, on site. Volunteers are welcome, please see the November Newsletter 272 for more info. Intensive care is given at the ‘Black Horse” over the road.
“A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD”
Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote Local History Society is organising the 11th Local History Conference on “Roof Over Your Head” on
Saturday, February 26 1994 at the Winston Churchill Hall, Ruislip, from 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
There will be illustrated talks on a variety of subjects concerned with the development of domestic building, particularly in the Middlesex area, but also of general relevance. They have secured the services of some expert speakers, and are confident that the audience will enjoy an interesting day.
Tickets are £4, and include tea/coffee. Ample free parking and
access for the disabled available. Enquiries please to Mrs. E.C.Watling, Secretary, Ruislip, Northwood & Eastcote Local History Society, 7 The Greenway, Ickenham, Uxbridge, Middx. U810 8LS (0895) 673534. Please make cheques payable to ‘RNE Local History Society” and enclose SAE.
BUSINESSES IN BARNET – AN EXHIBITION BARNET MUSEUM
“Businesses in Barnet” is an exhibition at Barnet Museum, running in tandem with “Made in Barnet”, the exhibition at Church Farmhouse Museum reported in last month’s Newsletter.
Elliott & Sons, the former photographic film manufacturers of Park Road, are represented by boxes of “Barnet Dry Plates” and copies of “The Barnet Photographic Book”, which later became the world-famous ”Ilford Manual of Photography.’
Watsons, the scientific instrument makers which closed in Bells Hill in 1981, is also featured. Regrettably it third industry from turn-of the-century Barnet town, that of denture-plate making, is unrepresented.
A large number of local firms have loaned or donated material to augment the museum’s own collections. Charles Neale & Sons have lent tokens made in its North Finchley factory which are used in London wholesale markets, as well as being keenly sought by collectors. Drawings for stained-glass windows at Knowle Church and tools of the trade of Luxford Studios, now The Glassery in East Barnet Road, record a family whose associations with stained glass go back some 300 years.
Commerce in Barnet is represented by the chain of office of the now defunct Barnet Chamber of Commerce, recently acquired by the museum.
A large brass shield with the words: Funerals to suit the Requirements of all classes” has been lent by W. Nodes, then Holmes & Sons, funeral directors. .Space precludes the many other businesses featured in this exhibition which runs until 31 January.
BODIES, BONES AND BURIALS BILL BASS
On the 13th November at Oaklands College, St Albans the Council for British Archaeology (CBA),Anglian Region, held their AGM with a conference on ‘Books, Bones and Burials”. HADAS are affiliated to the CBA as a society and is now covered by the Mid Anglia region which reaches London North of the Thames. Herts. Cambs., Essex members also belong on an individual basis. The CBA produce a magazine, ”British Archaeological News”, which comes out ten times a year, and a bi-monthly information supplement – “Briefly”. This has useful listings including forthcoming excavations for professionals and volunteers, training digs, events, exhibitions, conferences, lectures, day schools etc.
Talks at the AGM were given on Royal-Warrior burial at St Albans and Colchester, work on the Spitalfields Project – techniques and conditions on how to clear a crypt and record over 1,000 18th century and early 19th century coffins in various states of preservation (rather them than me); Reconstruction of ancient faces from skull casts by John Prag. Dr Ann Birchall spoke on China’s Terracotta Army, more of which is being found, including bronze figures. Martin Biddle talked on “The Search for Alban” (See “Current Archaeology” No.130). His search has led him to excavate beneath Alban’s shrine in the Abbey while it was being renovated. No evidence was found here except an unknown Georgian vault. Martin now believes that there may have been an early Saxon church or late Roman cemetery under the present nave, or further south downhill, possibly next to a (projected) Roman road, running east/west around the hill joining Verulamium’s north east gate.
SITE WATCHING IN THE NORTHERN AREA BILL BASS
Several sites have come to the attention of English Heritage for which they are recommending Field Evaluations or Watching Briefs.These include:
Nos. 143, 145 and 147 Friern Barnet Lane, N20 (possible site of a manor)
Nos. 1182-1228 High Road, Whetstone, N20 (near to the medieval village)
Land to rear of 176-204 High Street, Barnet Nos.63-67 Wood Street, Barnet (1 2407 9636)
On November 22nd 1993 several members from HADAS managed to observe foundation trenches for a two-storey house being dug at land to the rear of 63-67 Wood Street, Barnet. Trenches were opened by JCB and were approximately 1 metre wide by 1.5 metres deep. Nothing of archaeological significance was found. Garden topsoil approximately 60 cm deep was sitting directly on top of natural (undisturbed) orangy sands and gravel to the north, with yellow clay to the southern end. This information, though negative, may help us when excavating at the Victoria Maternity Hospital site also in Wood Street. Thanks to Andrew Scott (architect) and J. Clark (Builder) for their help.
AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM TED SAMMES
Two exhibitions of note and currently running:
1) The Arts of Hinduism. This religion is over 2,000 years old, and in that time has developed its own art form to serve the many Hindu gods and goddesses. This when it comes to sculpture may be good for veneration or for the outside adornment of the temple.
The exhibition covers all forms from works on paper, large scroll paintings on cloth and all are centred round the major deities, Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi. It is open until April 10th 1994. Admission £2, concessions £1. I spent an interesting hour in another world.
2) A small free exhibition in the basement of the British Museum shows some of the latest finds from the Jordanian site of Tel es-Sa’idiyeh which Jonathan Tubb and others have been excavating for the British Museum for several seasons.
Finds range from iron work to well-fired pots. Of especial note is the fish in a small dish. On display also are the various tools used in recording the site.
Well worth a visit.
THE BUTSER ANCIENT FARM JEAN BAYNE
HADAS members visited the Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire some years ago. As I recently spent a couple of days there, I made a few notes as an update.
Butser, a reconstruction of an Iron Age farm, has been situated in its present picturesque site near Chalton since 1991 and in that time has both recreated work from the old site and developed new ‘projects and ideas. It continues as a unique experimental research establishment and educational centre welcoming the general public, school pupils and serious students of archaeology. Informal volunteer participation is encouraged alongside more formal courses. The current economic climate has, however, imposed constraints, but as long as no research work is ever compromised or general access limited, Butser enjoys becoming involved in more offbeat pursuits such as a programme on cookery for the BBC and Hallowe’en Celtic entertainments.
The large Celtic roundhouse, on the Longbridge Deverell Cowdown model, is the most obviously striking feature. It is the largest roundhouse ever constructed in Europe and contains artefacts relating to the lifestyle of the Celts. Two smaller roundhouses nearby are b based on evidence from the Glastonbury Lake Villages and would have been used as extra rooms.: at present they depict aspects of Celtic life like weaving. A four post structure used for drying out grain is a recent construction and a second granary is now under way. The grain would have been initially stored for several months in two large round pits like the two dug into the chalky ground outside the main enclosure At the moment, the pits are “demonstration models” as there is not e enough grain in bulk to warrant this type of storage. Other new items -on the farm include a circular sheep pen, haystacks, drying racks and a working pole lathe to help make wooden objects.
The smelting and pottery areas are just outside the enclosure and used for both activities and experiments. The earthworks round the enclosure are the subject of continuous research and comparative study. A pollen study group is being set up and will be developed this year. Crops of emmer wheat, spelt wheat, barley and oats are sown and experiments relating to sowing times, climate patterns, and natural weed growth are well in hand. Woad abounds, grown in a labyrinth layoutand is used for dyeing.
It is planned to develop the Romano-British aspect of the site. Two Roman surveying instruments, the Roman Groma and the Aqua Libra or water spirit level have already been set up. The base for the cottage Roman villa, probably to be based on the excavation of Sparsholt, has been laid, and it is planned to build a hypocaust using Roman-type bricks and tiles.
Animal husbandry is also very much part of Butser. Two Dexter cows are used for ploughing, five types of ancient sheep – the Soay, the Hebridean, the Mouflon, the Manx Loghtan and the Shetland – live alongside numerous old English goats and two bristly pigs. The roost, however, is ruled by Georgina, an old English Game Fowl hen, who sees humans as part of one great flock of chickens and keeps an eye on all that is going ant She occasionally passes on her opinions with a series of clucks and grunts. More chickens are currently being introduced to the farm.
The emphasis on educational activities is impressive, ever expanding and imaginative: over 5,000 schoolchildren visited Butser last year and it is hoped to increase that number to 20,000 in the future. It is the research and educational programmes which are carefully nurtured above all else and which underpit all the other activities.
If anyone is interested, there is a brochure available for 1994 courses from the farm. There is also a “list of wants” which Butser needs. If anyone can help and would like a copy, the Director can be contacted at the farm, using the following address. The list includes such things as teaspoons, a Tilley lamp and paintbrushes.
DR. PETER REYNOLDS
BUTSER ANCIENT FARM,
NEXUS HOUSE, GRAVEL HILL,
HORNDEAN, HANTS. Tel. 0705 598838
DISEASE FROM THE MIDDLE AGES HALTS DIG AT HISTORIC SITE
read the headline in the “Evening Standard” on 13th December. One of the team of archaeologists involved in the excavation under Guildhall Yard, EC2, has been referred to Brampton Hospital as he has contracted “farmer’s lung”. The surprising thing about this is that the disease may have been caused by spores which have survived in a stratum of the dig surviving from the time of William the Conqueror. The disease is rare in modern central London and is caused by an organism which grows on fermenting or rotting hay. The Museum of London (said the Standard) stopped the dig after the diagnosis was made and has called in experts in fungal diseases to test the site. The Council for British Archaeology and the Institute of Field Archaeologists believe that there are no previous cases where an organism has survived for so long.