Thursday 3 December Christmas Dinner at Avenue House
Tuesday 12 January
The opening lecture for 1999 will be. given by our new President, Dr Ann Saunders F.S.A., Ph D. Dr Saunders joined HADAS shortly after the Society was formed in 1962. She is a historian, ,writer, editor and lecturer and Hon. Editor to the London Topographical Society. Her lecture is entitled:
The Royal Exchange. Particular attention will be given to the building of the third, present, Exchange and to the archeological discoveries and arguments surrounding it.
Tuesday 9 February
Villa of the Mysteries by Paul Roberts
Tuesday 9 March
Sam Moorhead will give a lecture on a prehistoric subject (title to be confirmed)
All lectures are held at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3 at 8.00pm for 8.30pm
TO LET/FOR SALE
Part of the largest Roman theatre in Britain, built around AD190, has been discovered in Canterbury beneath an estate agent’s premises. A major section was found 47 years ago, under another estate agents. “Extensive accommodation, to seat 3,000. Should be seen.”
NEWS OF MEMBERS
Mrs Banham, a founder-member, who was reported to be recovering from a fall in the last Newsletter, has unfortunately fallen again and fractured her other pelvis. Following another spell in hospital she is back in her residential home and being well cared for. She has her own phone if anyone wants to contact her. She was still cheerful but fed up when Dorothy spoke to her in mid November.
Bill Bass has just returned from an archeological holiday in South America . Fortunately the dreadful hurricane and floods only curtailed his last two days when he was due to visit Belize.
Pat Bromley – sadly, we report her death. Several members attended her funeral held on 11 November. Pat, her husband David and their son, Graham were regulars on our weekends away and at Christmas parties. Graham, now in his last year at Bangor University, was a member of the digging team at Church Farmhouse Museum. Our deepest sympathy goes to David and Graham and we hope to see David again at lectures in the New Year.
Ted Sammes F.S.A. founder-member, Vice-President and mine of information on any archeological subject, died of pneumonia in hospital on November 7. Tributes to him appear within this Newsletter.
Andrew Selkirk, our Chairman, is now in Guatemala for an archeological conference, so he has also missed the devastation that has hit that part of the world.
St Stephen’s Hospital, Mays Lane, Barnet
English Heritage have waived any further requirement for archaeological assessment and evaluation of this site. The hospital, now demolished, stood on a large area of land to the north of Mays Lane where evidence of medieval settlement might have been expected. However, it is now thought that the southern half of the site, adjacent to Mays Lane “has been significantly affected by previous development”, while the northern half “although open land, is likely to have been open field throughout history, and it would not seem that earlier occupation evidence would lie there”.
45 Rowsley Avenue, Hendon, NW4 (Planning application)
Excavations at nearby Church Terrace revealed Saxon, medieval and Roman material. A cremation urn was found close by at Sunny Gardens Road.
35 Southbourne Crescent, Hendon, NW4 (Planning application)
Neo-Jadeite axe and a coin of Probus have been found nearby.
Wood Farm, Wood Lane, Brockley Hill, Stanmore
Rob Whytehead of English Heritage tells us that the Oxford Archaeological Unit have undertaken desktop assessment and subsequent field excavation. New opinion is that the site does not appear archaeologically promising in spite of finds made nearby.
Northgate Clinic, Goldsmith Avenue, NW9
A field excavation has been recommended as Roman pottery finds were made close to
Stewart J Wild reviews “THE BIG DIG”
Subtitled “Archaeology and the Jubilee Line Extension”, this attractive, well-illustrated book was published last summer by the Museum of London. It gives an overview of how London Transport’s £2.6 billion engineering project was driven through some of the most archaeologically sensitive areas of London, ending up on top of a medieval abbey in Stratford. The excavations and finds at Westminster, Borough High Street and Stratford get the most coverage and are presented in an easy-to-read-style calculated to have broad appeal. There are panels on archaeological techniques and snapshots of the capital’s history from the last Ice Age to the 20th century – quite an achievement in 44 pages. At £4.99 The Big Dig is good value for money and would make an attractive Christmas Present, especially for children.
SULLONIACIS – A DAMPENER FOR SUN-WORSHIPPERS ? Pamela Taylor adds some cautionary notes to October’s article
Stephen Aleck’s article in Newsletter No.331 Sulloniacis found – at Hendon? is a stimulating essay, but a few notes of caution need adding.
The idea that St. Mary’s, Hendon, was founded on a centre of pagan sun-worship derives from Fred Hitchin-Kemp, an enthusiastic local historian active in the 1920s. Mr. Hitchin-Kemp did valuable pioneering work on some actual documents, but his wider theories were, even by the standards of the time, wildly ahistorical. This is perfectly demonstrated by his derivations for the place-names of Ravensfield – where the Danes raised their standard- and the Silk Stream – from a market or souk held at Hendon. Both concepts add to the gaiety of nations, but to nothing else, and his association of Hendon church and Sunny Fields with pagan sun-worship similarly proves nothing beyond the strength of his local patriotism and imagination.
English place-names, usually, and to a truly remarkable extent, derive from Anglo-Saxon, not Romano-British, settlement. Watling Street, for example, takes its name from the Waeclingas not from their Romano-British predecessors. Even if the connection between the Roman Sul/ – of Sulloniacis and Sol/sun is acceptable, the jump from this to an Anglo-Saxon tribe of Sonningas is extremely dubious. There were indeed such tribes, and they gave their names to Sunbury (West Middlesex) and Sonning (Berkshire). Hendon, however, is resolutely Hendon – “at the high down”.
The first reference to Sunny Hill Fields comes only from the 18th century, and is both late and minor. A significant name might perhaps have surfaced on the earlier manorial surveys. Looking at the 18th century maps, I am more impressed by the way in which the Sunny Hill Fields seem to be taken (cleared?) from the surrounding woods of Downage.
It is true that there are good examples of estate-continuity between Roman and Anglo-Saxon England and also, doubtless, that early churches were sometimes endowed with their pagan predecessors’ estates. The surviving 10th century Westminster Abbey charters with their detailed boundary clauses show beyond any possible doubt, however, that neither situation applied to Hendon. This area must have been converted to Christianity, if not at the start of the 7th century then certainly by its end, and this is not a statement about lingering private beliefs but about the guaranteed destruction, or conversion, of cult centres. Even if Westminster Abbey was around at the time, which is doubtful, it did not receive these lands then. Indeed, as late as 957 land in Lotheresleage and Tunworth, much of which was soon to become the northern part of the abbey’s manor of Hendon (hence the charter’s preservation) was granted by the king to one of his thegns. Not only was the unified manor of Hendon recorded in Domesday Book made up of at least four separately acquired components, but the 957 boundaries make it clear that at that stage almost the whole of the Watling Street stretch, and on both sides of the road, lay not within Hendon but within Lotheresleage and/or Tunworth. A meticulous examination of these documents, along with helpful maps, is provided by David Sullivan in his book The Wesimister Corridor (1994).
The staging post of Sulloniacis recorded in the Antonine Itinerary, on the probably safe assumption that it was on this route at all, must have lain actually on Watling Street. If it was separate from the pottery works at Brockley Hill, then Harvey Sheldon’s suggestion of Redhill has much to recommend it. All the early maps show this as a significant hill, normally a criterion for any early settlement on our heavy clay, and probably equally as attractive for a staging post (as with the later Chipping Barnet). Redhill became the standard name for this area from the 17th century onwards, but deeds and other references from 957 through to the 19th century make it clear that it was the original centre of Tunworth, one of the subjects of the 957 grant referred to above and was a large and important estate covering the whole of northern Kingsbury. If continuity were to be sought, and I personally wouldn’t, then this would be a better bet.
The ealden tunstealle of 957 is convincingly located by Sullivan at the northern edge of Tunworth. Place-name study has made considerable progress since 1910, and the name is very unlikely to mean anything more than an enclosed farmstead.
The HADAS dig at Church End in 1973-74 under Ted Sammes’ exemplary leadership, triumphantly proved both Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon habitation at the top of the high down. There is certainly more to be discovered, not least the explanation for the Romano-British spoil pit at Thirlby Road – both the obvious exception to the generalisation about early habitation seeking high ground and fairly close to Redhill. Wider theories about continuity, though, have to take full account of the already existing and surprisingly detailed documentary evidence.
Christmas exhibition at The Museum of London
Favourite toys from the past fifty years will be on display from 1 December until 4 January 1999. Toy-giving to children is a recent phenomenon, although Londoners have a long history of giving gifts at the winter festival. The earliest display will feature a Roman ‘good luck’ New Year oil lamp and New Year finger rings from Tudor times. More modern ‘must haves’ include Mecsano and Hornby trains from the 1950s right up to the Teletubbies and Nintendo of today. Special attention will be given to long-standing favourites, such as Christmas annuals, dolls and the teddy bear – first introduced in 1933.
The Museum is open 10am-5.50pm Monday to Saturday and 12noon – 5.30pm on Sundays. Charges: £5 adult, £3 Concessions, £12 Family (5 people, maximum 2 adults), under 5s free. All tickets valid for 1 year. Free admission after 4.30pm.
a new exhibition at
Church Farmhouse Museum
12 December – 14 February
Jigsaw puzzles have been a popular pastime for over 200 years. This exhibition displays hundreds of examples, from simple early 19th century “push-fit” models to the elaborate 3D puzzles of today. In addition there will be lots of puzzles for the young and not so young to try.
Edward Sammes F.S.A., A.R.P.S.
1920 – 1998
Cereal scientist, photographer, amateur archaeologist and local historian
John Enderby, a Founder Member and Vice President of HADAS writes:
It was with much sadness that I received the news of Ted’s death on 7 November. He will always be remembered with respect and affection as a rare if somewhat austere character, whose long service to HADAS never faltered until he experienced serious heart problems some two years ago.
I first met Ted in 1960 when, along with Brigid Grafton Green and Mr. Constantinides, he attended Professor Zeuner’ s archaeology lectures at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute. Ted quickly proved himself to be an outstanding student whose well-researched written work shamed the others. I immediately struck up a rapport with him and, as a comparative newcomer to the area, found him to be a fund of knowledge on Middlesex and Hendon in particular.
It was Ted who persuaded Mr Constan (as he was always known) to found HADAS in 1961, the early meetings being held in his home in Hendon.
Ted’s working life involved the scientific study of yeast, and I have often wondered if his occasional tetchy outbursts were the result of the fermentation process! Certainly they were instantly forgiven by the HADAS committee on which he served for over thirty years and where he initiated many worthwhile endeavours. Articles, such as Milestones (1976) flowed from his pen on a variety of subjects, while his camera recorded hundreds of artefacts. I fervently hope that when Ted’s home in Taplow and flat in Hendon are cleared, all this valuable material will be preserved to cherish his memory.
In a long life, one of Ted’s happiest moments was when he earned the accolade of being made a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries – a rare honour for an amateur archaeologist. LAMAS, too, was much indebted to him, not only for his regular attendance, but often for knowledgeable and often pithy contributions.
Earlier this year HADAS happily decided to “come down my way” and Ted, bless him, although already very ill, typically wrote to me apologising for not being able to journey down to Dorset with what he called “The John Enderby Fan Club”.
We shall all miss him and have our own memories. Personally, I feel privileged to have known a man of stature intellectually who belied a fragile frame with courage and determination in an active retirement.
From Percy Reboul, HADAS member and Hendon resident:
I cannot think of Ted Sammes (I always called him Uncle Ted) without remembering his delightful old mother and father who walked regularly in Sunnyhill Park. All three seemed to me to be the very epitome of Hendon Past. Ted, I think, took after his father who was a master craftsman. Ted’s great strength was in practical matters which provided a nice balance with other HADAS members who had more intellectual pretensions. He was, for example, a fine photographer, much travelled and well read on a variety of historical and archeological subjects.
Text Box: LHis digs at The Burroughs and Church Terrace will always be the highspots of HADAS activities for me. With hindsight, they were not as sophisticated as today’s digs but they were enormously enjoyable, with afternoon tea being brewed on a wood fire rather than being brought in flasks. Ted’s decision to publish his findings in the form of a booklet rather than a more traditional report was not liked by some but I believe that Pinning Down the Past (what a marvellous title) and its associated exhibition at Church Farmhouse Museum did more for local archaeology than almost anything else.
With Ted’s death, another great character and talent has left our ranks. We shall not see his like again. May he rest in peace.
A tribute from Pamela Taylor, Archivist for London Borough of Barnet:
Ted was unique and utterly irreplaceable . A Hendon resident for most of his life, and with a father both active in local politics and a keen photographer of events and places, he must have imbibed a sense of the importance of history and its recording from his very earliest days. One of the photos he gave the Local Collection shows him as a suitably angelic choirboy at St. Mary’s, and is typically and helpfully endorsed: “Four members of SL Mary’s Church choir about 1933+, since my diary for 1933 says ‘April 16th, Easter Day, we started wearing frills’. Previously it had been stiff Eton collars which we laundered at our own expense!”
Among a great range of interests, archaeology was his abiding passion, and to it he brought all his formidable qualities. He was absolutely right to be furious that before the 1944 Education Act, someone of his outstanding talent had been denied a university education. Anyone who knows anything about the digs he led, or ever called on him for help, will know the range and depth of his knowledge, organisational skills and energy – all constantly and generously shared.
The last time I saw him, earlier this year, was completely typical. Despite all his undaunted will-power, he never fully recovered from his heart bypass operation and accepting that he was never going to manage to organise all his collections fully before handing them over, decided to transfer the St. Mary’s churchyard survey to us. I arrived to find the table covered with boxes, brought downstairs at heaven knows what cost, and full of archival material for HADAS and us. After we had gone through them, and refusing the rest he needed, he let down the ladder
Ted Sammes was cremated at Slough Crematorium on 18 November. Over 100 former colleagues and friends attended his funeral including representatives from Weston Research Laboratories Ltd where he worked, the Maidenhead Archaeological Society and HADAS. Weston Laboratories generously provided tea and refreshments after the service and this gave people the opportunity to share their memories of Ted. The society will be making a donation to the British Heart Foundation in Ted’s memory and if you would like to contribute please contact Sheila Woodward
NEW LIGHT ON LONDON’S PREHISTORY
Study Day at The Museum of London reported by Stewart J Wild
On Saturday 7 November I enjoyed a well attended full-day seminar at The Museum of London, part of the Museum’s ongoing
Education Programme. Jon Cotton, Curator of Prehistory, introduced the six speakers by saying that in the last few years a whole
new generation of sites have come to light in Greater London and that prehistory can now be seen as a worthy study in its own right.
John Lewis, a specialist in prehistory spoke of his excavation and analysis of late Palaeolithic and early Mesolithic sites in the Colne Valley at Uxbridge. Hunter-gatherers, migrating out of the pre-Ice Age North Sea Plain had moved up the river valleys in search of reindeer and red deer. Bone artefacts, tools and flints had been found, while flints and a hand axe found at Stamen near Heathrow Airport had been dated to around 22,000BC.
Reader in Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, John Barrett’s previous excavations include Highgate Wood, and he is currently involved in the archeological programme connected with the proposed development of Terminal 5 at Heathrow. He illustrated his paper with slides showing his work at a pair of late Bronze Age sites at Mucking in Essex, stressing that sites should be seen in relation to each other and the surrounding landscape in order to understand the evolution of the political and social evolution changes of that landscape.
John Dillon joined The Museum of London in 1983 and worked on a number of complex sites, including deeply stratified waterfronts. He has also been involved with the Jubilee Line extension. He revealed the secrets of a well-sealed and well-preserved Bronze Age site at Rammey Marsh, Enfield, on a former sewage works just south of the M25 alongside a tributary of the River Lea. Along 80 metres of channel-edge excavation finds included late Bronze Age pottery and metalwork, a Romano-British ditch and bones including a complete cow skeleton. The site is now being developed as a business park.
Jane Sidell of the Jubilee Line Extension Paleo-environmental Research Project spoke of the great opportunities afforded by the extension of the line to Stratford – more precisely of the excavation required for new ticket offices and approach passages, for the running tunnels are deep in London clay. Many of the fifty or so sites were very complicated, including Westminster, Borough High Street, North Greenwich and Atlas Wharf and Rotherhithe. Some contaminated sites had to be avoided. Knowledge was gained of fluvial history, sedimentary processes and prehistoric ecological development. Radiocarbon dating and pollen analysis were helpful and the study of prehistoric diatoms revealed salinity and therefore tide levels. The site at Union Street, Southwark contained 140 different types of pollen revealing much about early agriculture.
After a wide-ranging career including work in Peru, Frank Meddons is now a Director of Pre-Construct. Archaeology Ltd based in London. His presentation featured his work on a number of Bronze Age sites on gravel terraces along the Thames: Rainham, Dagenham, Barking, Beckton, Silvertown, Southwark (Hopton Street) and Runnymede Bridge. Trackways dating from 1600120013C were found almost always to be made of alder, and evidence of ancient ploughing has been revealed, along with a quantity of stone tools and artefacts.
Mike Webber is a Curator in the Museum’s Early Department and the co-ordinator since 1995 of the Thames Archeological Survey. Thousands of objects have been found in the river, often as a result of dredging. Further ongoing study of the Thames foreshore has revealed many sites of interest. The most ancient are those furthest up-river. They include Richmond (dating back to 7000BC), Syon Reach, Chiswick Eyot, Hammersmith Bridge, Putney and Vauxhall Bridge (could the wooden relics revealed at low tide and dated to around 1630BC be the foundations of London’s lust bridge?). Remains of submerged forests have come to light at Westminster, Southwark, Bermondsey and Rainham, and the constant erosion of estuarine mud continues to reveal more.
Jon Cotton summed up a fascinating day by thanking the speakers for casting a lot of light on London’s prehistory and reminding us that this also served to show us bow much more there is to know.
There was just time afterwards to take a quick look at the Museum’s current exhibition – London Bodies. This major presentation, which runs until 21 February 1999, explores the changing shape of Londoners from prehistory to the present day. Including skeletons from different periods as well as other artefacts and images, the exhibition examines how fashion, environment, human migration and invasion have all played a part in changing the appearance of the average Londoner. If you’ve an hour or so to spare, this is well worth a visit. The Museum closes at 6pm but is free of charge after 4.30pm.
APACHE AUTUMN 1998
Derek Batten reports his latest exploits in New Mexico
Once again, I am indebted to my good friend Charlie Haecker for notifying me of this dig in Mescalero Apache Country in the Guadelope Mountains of south east New Mexico. His postcard arrived in early September giving me the dates. A diary consultation showed, almost unbelievably, a completely clear week. No further encouragement needed.
Historical background – a brief outline
The Lipan, Chiricahua and Mescalero Apaches occupied this inhospitable land for centuries before the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the area. They lived by hunting, gathering, trading with and raiding their neighbours. Their reaction to increasing white incursion into their land was much the same as other Indians – they didn’t go much on the idea!
We were particularly concerned with the Mescaleros, so called because of their partiality to a staple diet of mescal, made by roasting or steaming the mescal plant – a somewhat evil looking cactus type flora, still to be seen today. Their homelands were in and around the Guadelope and Sacramento Mountains in the south-east corner of New Mexico. The famous John Butterfield Stagecoach Line skirted to the south of these mountains and was sometimes attacked by the Mescaleros, just like the last but one reel of John Ford’s Stagecoach. Raiding and stealing horses and cattle from white settlers was another nuisance pastime. Eventually, the frontier army was called on to stop these deprivations.
The Mescaleros lived in tipis, somewhat similar to the Plains Indians and in wickiups made from branches of trees. These were grouped together and given the Spanish name Racheria_ Army tactics were simple. Locate these settlements, move in and scare away the Apaches – preferably in winter, destroying everything: tents, animals, food, cooking pots, clothing, and leave the harsh climate to kill off the scattered families. Such ‘attacks’ were made before and after the Civil War.
We were concerned with two such punitive expeditions by F Troop of the 3rd Cavalry under the command of Lt. Howard Bass Cushing. The first of these was in November 1869, locating and fighting a band of Mescaleros who had stolen cattle and horses from up on the Rio Hondo. In December the same year two other engagements took place on 26th and 30th. (I have copies of Lt. Cushing’s reports if anyone is interested).
This had two objectives: the site of Cushing’s November engagement had been located in Last Chance Canyon, but the parameters of this were unsure and as this area is likely to be opened for public access with an interpretive trail, more detailed on-site investigation was needed. The location of the fight on 30th December is known but that on 26th, probably in Dark Canyon, is less sure. Hence our week’s work. I discovered late in the week that this whole project was part of the Forest Service’s Passport in Time programme, where volunteers (such as me) become involved.
Our leader is a youngish guy – very dark, black beard, long black hair, bandanna and the unbelievable Anglo-Saxon name of Christopher Adams. The other volunteers are the usual mixed bunch including two archaeologists from Wyoming (husband and wife, both experts on rock art); my old friend Larry Grimes from Oklahoma City (who worked with me on the Washita Battlefield and La Glorietta digs); a Swedish guy (very good looking and a Western devotee). Altogether about twelve of us. Accommodation is better than average with bunk beds, comfortable mattresses, a good living area with TV, adequate kitchen and bathroom. I arrive more or less on time after a night in Albuquerque and a basin of Mexican food at La Hacienda on the terrace overlooking Albuquerque’s old Town Square, still a lot more comfortable than the better-known main Plaza. in Santa Fe.
My first real conversation with Chris proceeds as follows:
Me: (ever mindful of my first Little Big Horn discomfort) What’s the mosquito situation round here?
Chris: They’re no problem this time of year but we do have a plague of rattlesnakes.
Me: Rattlesnakes! (gulp!)
Chris: Yes, we’ve seen several recently. The rock rattlers are the worst as they don’t actually rattle to give you a warning they’re about to strike.
Me: Sorry Chris, I’ve just remembered I’ve a vital appointment on Tuesday …
Actually, in the end, none of us saw a rattlesnake. I learnt an old Apache trick. I cut a stout stick from an Agave plant and kept it with me all the time, banging it constantly on the ground. Sound travels more through solids, as my old physics master, Potts Murphy, taught me and the constant banging of the base of the stick on the ground frightens away the rattlesnakes. It certainly worked for me. At the end of the week I was more sorry to leave my stick than to say farewell to some of my compadres.
Last Chance Canyon
A pretty desolate place. I’m not sure why anyone would choose to live here but they did. Our first day out involved a visit to the local beauty spot: Sitting Bull Falls. A curious name as the great Oglalla Sioux chief was never within hundreds of miles of the place. Here we met some real Mescalaros, one of whom claimed to be a direct descendant of Cochise. They were interested in the project, so Chris showed them, and us, the extent of his findings to date and the skirmish line that F Troop had formed. After lunch, a small party of us climbed up to a promontory to look for Apache breastworks. A rear view, no breastworks but hard going for me as the elevation here is 6,000 – 6,500 feet up.
The next day we start metal detecting in earnest. Chris is anxious to establish the extent to which F Troop penetrated the canyon, so we set to beyond his established skirmish line. I’m very apprehensive about the snakes but when we gather for lunch we’ve found nothing. After lunch we move up to a widish flat area of land and lo and behold, I make the first major strikes, unearthing an Apache tinkler and a flat piece of metal from which they made their arrow heads. Other finds in the area seem to indicate that this is a Racheria site undisturbed by Cushing. Another piece in the jigsaw puzzle. By the way, a tinkler is a piece of metal, rolled roughly into a cone shape and about 1″ long. They were used by Apache women to decorate their clothing.
This seems to conclude our Last Chance Canyon investigation. The extent of Cushing’s incursion has been established. I suggest it should be called “The Battle of Last Chance Canyon” because both sides exchanged fire and both side suffered dead and wounded.
This occupied our last three days. I’d expected Dark Canyon to be a forbidding place. Not so. Last Chance had been rocky (rattlesnakes?) and vegetated with desert plants: yucca, cholla, sotal, agave, luchuguilla and plenty of prickly pear. By contrast Dark Canyon was pleasantly wooded, mainly with ponderosa pine, oak, juniper and ladrone with cholla here and there. This was pleasant terrain with isolated clearings. The trees afforded shade which was just as well as we hardly saw a cloud during this time and suffered temperatures in the upper eighties.
We began in an area Chris reckoned Cushing might have been. We set off metal detecting across an incline, gradually increasing to quite a steep slope. Unlike previously, we investigate our own hits. I keep going upwards and very soon find myself alone. Do I continue up, move left or right or what? Oh for Irvin Lee’s regimented procedure! I can still see our vehicles some 550 feet below and a figure nearby. My binoculars tell me it’s Bill, so I decide to go down – not easy on the loose stony soil underfoot. Somehow we all meet for lunch, all recording nil information.
Bill is a quiet guy, born in Plymouth, his mother a G.I. bride. He has a hunch about a flat area of land closer to the mouth of the canyon. So we have a go at that and within minutes locate an Apache bracelet. Who finds it? Need you ask? Seems we’ve stumbled on another Racheria site which yields a great deal of Apache goodies, plus the odd button, musket ball, minnie ball and tinklers by the score.
We work this area for the next two days finding the odd arrow point, more buttons but alas no Spencer Cartridge cases or slugs. We survey in the major finds by a curious mixture of prismatic compass bearings and pacing. Goodness knows how accurately these will plot. The prevailing theory is that this may have been the site of an 1858 fight and the Cushing location remains a mystery. There’s a lot of private land hereabouts and the owners don’t much care for archaeologists. At that point the week’s project ends. Some more refinement of history has taken place and, from my viewpoint, it’s been just great.
Billy the Kid
I could have flown into El Paso which is slightly nearer to the Guadelopes than Albaquerque. I chose the latter not only because of my affinity with the town but because the journey south would take me through the heart of Billy the Kid country. So, on the Sunday, I detoured to Fort Sumner first to visit the grave and see the remains of the fort itself. The grave is now inside a large cage – rather like an old fashioned jail – as the headstone had been stolen in the recent past. The nearby museum is full of memorabilia but arranged in a haphazard way, poorly documented and displayed. Fort Sumner, built to guard the Navajos on the adjacent Basque Rodondo Reservation, was abandoned years ago but there is an interpretive trail and a nice small display manned by a most helpful, well informed, State Trooper. The house where Pat Garrett shot Billy is gone but a plaque marks the spot.
My original journey back was to have been to El Paso but having made good time in the first hour or so, I considered returning to Albuquerque. I rearranged my flight and was able to visit Lincoln, centre of the Lincoln County War. Many of the important buildings are still extant and I was able to visit them all. The museum is one of the best. “Why is your flag at half mast?” I asked. “Because we’ve heard today that the Board of Governors have decided to close down the museum”. Unbelievable!
The drive to Socorro for an overnight stop was spectacular. A good genuine Mexican meal with half a carafe of Inglenook Blush, the wine costing just $4.50. (Gosh! prices in California are a rip off!). Problems in Albuquerque, but all sorted out eventually. Homeward bound!
This was my seventh dig. I feel I’ve made a modest contribution towards the project and I’ve certainly learnt a lot about Apache history and culture. I have a Forest Service magazine with details of similar schemes, all asking for volunteers and most providing free food and accommodation, so it looks as if I have a choice of digs for the future.