Season’s greetings to all o members and their families
and all good wishes for a happy New Year
Tuesday 9 January An evening with Derek Batten sharing the Time Team’s Visit to his Castle in Towcester prior to the programme’s showing on TV.
Tuesday 13 February Lecture Aspects of Roman Tunisia by Kader Chelei
Tuesday 13 March Lecture Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills (an outing to this site is being planned for August)
All lectures start promptly at 8,00pm at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley. N.3 and are followed by questions and coffee. Meetings close at 10.00pm
One Man and His Castle by Derek Batten
In life it’s amazing how one thing leads to another. Had I not mis-spent my youth in the Gaumont and Odeon cinemas (not to mention the New Bohemia and the Rex) I would never have developed an interest in the American Wild West, never taken part in the archaeological work done
at Little Big Horn in 1985 and subsequently, and never have seen myself as a very amateur archaeologist. Thus it was in 1997, with a substantial windfall jangling in my pocket, I saw an estate agent’s board advertising “Castle and Moat For Sale”, within two miles of my Northamptonshire home – and I never knew it was there! I had to submit a sealed bid and wondered whether I’d fixed on the right number. The rest, as they say, is history…
The Mount (my castle) covers some 1.72 acres, is sort of triangular in shape and has a very deep (25 feet in places), well-preserved and quite dramatic moat, There is quite a bit of tree cover, particularly around the edges, and it occupies a dominant position on a ridge overlooking the valley of the River Tuve in south Northamptonshire. It was certain- ly used in Norman times as a ringwork. a sort of squashed motte with all the buildings inside the perimeter moat.
How nice, I thought, to do the odd day’s digging on my own castle to while away my declining years. Alas, I had reckoned without English Heritage, as I has bought a Scheduled Ancient Monument and I’m not allowed to go up there and break wind without their consent.I also realised the need for a proper earthwork survey, geophysical investigations and and professional control. All very expensive.
In conjunction with Northamptonshire Heritage a management plan was produced. This is a detailed document which sets out the history and plans for the future, including a report from the local Tree Officer recommending that certain trees be removed because they were a danger to the archaeology, or to persons or property. I sent a copy of the management plan to the village but, of course, no-one really bothered to read it. Then I applied to have twenty of the one hundred and thirty trees removed and the balloon went up! Nasty letters, petitions, protests, a bit in the local newspaper and general bad feeling. This was not helped by the fact that two neighbouring gardens were encroaching on my land. More bad feeling, verbal and physical confrontation and worst of all, horrendous lawyers’ bills.
I suppose it was Bridget’s idea and persistence that made me approach Time Team. Nothing much happened but I had another go as a member of the Time Team Club at the same time as they were in touch with the County Archaeologists about a possible location. Two lovely researchers came to look at the site in February, Bridget plied them with home-made soup, bread and cheese. I opened my best bottle of Cab. Sauv. and it all happened from then.
April, then October and finally the end of July were suggested as likely dates and I was rewarded with three of the most exciting days of my life. Everyone involved with the project, Tony Robinson, Mick Aston et at could not have been nicer. There are a number of human stories that space does not permit me to recall but I have promised Dorothy to speak at the HADAS meeting in January and to show the professional video that we took of the whole exercise. Incredibly, and because of Time Team’s influence, I made peace with the village and settled my boundary dispute in front. of the cameras. Quite how much will appear in the Time Team fifty-minute programme remains to be seen. At this moment I do not have a date for transmission but I promise that HADAS members will know as soon as I do.
(Readers of the SAGA Magazine will have read about Derek and his castle in the September issue.)
KING ALFRED’S GRAVE
In King Alfred’s day, monastic life was not flourishing, a fact of which he was very aware, having received little formal education himself as a boy, although he had made two journeys to Rome by the age of ten.
After the society’s lecture in October about Archaeology in Winchester, and the search for King Alfred’s grave on the site of Hyde Abbey, I referred to the book “The Life and Times of Alfred the Great” by the late Douglas Woodruff, who gained first class honours in history at New College, Oxford. As we heard in the lecture, Alfred did found New Minster, Hyde Abbey in Winchester and intended it to be a place of learning where learned monks from abroad were to be encouraged to reside, there being a shortage of scholars in Wessex. To quote from Douglas Woodruff:
At the time of Alfred’s death ” the New Minster was not ready and he was buried in the old, and when, a year or two later, the New Minster, soon to be Hyde Abbey, was ready, his body was transferred there, apparently with the full acquiesence of the canons of the Old Minster, because, they said, he troubled them by appearing at night and walking in their cloisters on a way which much alarmed them. At the Reformation, when Hyde Abbey like all other religious houses was suppressed and then despoiled, the tombs of the Saxon kings were not spared. Some of the bones were later gathered into wooded caskets and placed above the chancel in Winchester Cathedral, but all mixed up. There they remain.” I hope this may be of interest to members of HADAS.
Margaret E. Phillips
SPECIAL OFFER TO MEMBERS
Some years ago Bernard H. Oak, a local resident, published a book entitled “A History of Mill Hill in its Environment”, which was sold through local bookshops and libraries at £17.50. Bernard is now able to offer copies to members of HADAS at a special price of £3.00. If you would like a copy please ring Brian Wrigley on 020 8959 5982 and he will arrange for all orders to be delivered to one address for collection.
58 Gervase Road, Edgware, Middx, HAS OEP for front, rear and side extension;
81 Gervase Road, Edgware, HA8 OEW for rear extension.
Gervase Road joins Thirleby Road where sherds of Roman pottery have been found and this area is close to Hanshaw Drive where HADAS is involved in an excavation.
WANTED: A PROFESSIONAL INDEXER
Is there a professional indexer in the Society? We need one to continue the index of Newsletters started by Bridget Grafton Green in 1961, which reached 1976, This provides an invaluable reference tool to past events and activities of the Society. Can anyone help complete the job? Please contact Dorothy Newbury an 020 8203 0950.
NEWS OF MEMBERS
A sad note to end the year, with the news of the deaths of three longstanding members, each of whom contributed much to the Society in their own way:
Olive Banhain, a founder-members, died on 11 October, her 94th birthday.
In her last letter to me she said she was going to reverse her age from 93 to 39, Olive and her husband, Jim, were very active in the Society. HADAS started with fifteen members and was very soon producing a newsletter, for which Jim addressed the envelopes and then delivered them by hand. Olive outlived Jim by many years and she came on all outings including out first week-end away to Ironbridge and Wroxeter in 1974. On day trips many members will remember the large tin of sweeties she always brought to pass round the coach. On our first trip to Orkney in 1978 she came round with a bottle of sherry which she shared round the dormitory. We felt like naughty schoolgirls having a midnight feast! Olive often reminded me of the fun we had in Orkney all those years ago.
She never forgot HADAS and only a couple of months ago she sent a donation for the Minimart, which she has done every year since she left Hendon to live near relatives in her home village in Norfolk.
Olive was a school-teacher by profession and started her career in the same village to which she returned. June Porges and I attended her funeral at Hendon Crematorium on behalf of HADAS.
Janet Heathfield died on 16 September. She had been a HADAS member for over thirty years and in spite of being disabled, joined enthusiastically in whatever HADAS activities were available to her. An abiding memory is of her at the exploratory dig near the well at East Barnet Church. Because she was partly paralysed she could only ‘dig’ by lying prone on her left side and scraping with her good arm. Each of her ‘finds’ was greeted with a whoop of delight.
Janet’s most recent activity was to try to get the 17th century village clock in East Barnet restored.
Arthur Till, a Committee Member and digging team stalwart, died suddenly in October at the age of seventy-four.
Arthur and his wife, Vera, joined HADAS in July, 1988, two year’s after his early retirement from British Telecom. He brought to the Society his immense practical skills and a marvellous sense of humour coupled with a willingness to join in and to offer assistance and guidance as necessary. He participated in most of our excavations and would often arrive with items of site equipment prepared at home from odds and ends – the auger, safety tops for pegs and the red and white pegs themselves made from reinforcing rods “liberated” from the site of an earlier dig! The bookcases and shelves at Avenue House garden room were Arthur’s handiwork. His specialities were clay pipes and building materials and he had recently benefited from the training in ceramic building materials identification given to HADAS by the Museum of London. There is no doubt that his humourous sayings. usually attributed to his Grannie, will long be repeated by members of the digging team! Several HADAS members attended his funeral at New Southgate where condolences were passed to Vera and her family.
Vikki O’Conner and Roy Walker
COMMORATIVE PLAQUES by Liz Holiday
Many thanks to the dozen or so members who flew to their reference books and cudgelled their brains to help with answers to my outstanding queries.
I can confirm that a love and knowledge of cricket is alive and well among our gentlemen members, at least five of whom have filled me in on the life and triumphs of Ranjitsinhji – The Black Prince of Cricket.
Three plaques I had not included in the list have been brought to my attention, including a new one erected by The Finchley Society in March this year.
Percy Reboul has very kindly offered to check the Local Collection for suitable illustrations, so it looks as if the final draft is not too far off. I did manage to get the text of the book I have been working on this summer to the printer in time – just- and it is due to be published on 9 December. Entitled “Chipperfield Within Living Memory”, it is based on recorded interviews with 64 long-standing residents of the village and (hopefully) gives a picture of life in a small Hertfordshire village during the 20th century. As a community project it must rate a gold star as well over 100 people have been involved in it!
BOUNDARY STONE REPLACED
An inscribed stone dated 1896 which marked the boundary between the parish of St. John’s, Hampstead and St. Pancras disappeared during roadworks in May has now been found and replaced.
PROGRESS 2000BC By Arthur Till
” Dad, I’m cold . . .”
“So am I, Little Ug.”
“Well, can I put some more wood on the fire, Dad?”
“Sorry, Little Ug, but I’ve promised all that wood we collected yesterday to old Smog for a couple of spears and a few arrows.”
“What happened to our last spears, Dad?”
“They went rusty, son.”
‘What’s ‘rusty’ Dad?”
“It’s what happens now that we’re in the Iron Age. If you don’t keep your iron things in the dry, the next time you go to use them they’re just a heap of red rust.”
“That never happened to the old ones we used, did it Dad?” “Well, they were bronze, son, and that didn’t go rusty.”
“Why are we using the iron ones then, Dad?”
“Well, Little Ug, it’s what’s called Progress. These iron things are supposed to be sharper and harder than the bronze ones were, and Old Smog says that there’s not much call for the old bronze ones any more. It was just the same when we changed over from flint to bronze –
your mother and I didn’t have a decent shave for years when that came about!’
“Didn’t people complain about it, Dad?”
“They did try to, Little Ug, especially Old Chipper and his tribe. They used to supply all the people around here with their flint axes and things. But they were reckoned to be backward so they were all sent to a place called Knapsbury, so people didn’t complain much after that and bronze gradually took over. Anyway, Old Smog seems to be doing alright for himself – he’s taking over another new but and for some reason he’s calling it ‘Santa Fe’.”
“I’m still cold, Dad.”
“OK, son, bung a little bit on the fire, just to keep the wolves away!” “Thanks Dad.”
“What now, Little Ug?”
“Where does all the smoke go to?”
“Ask your mother, son, she knows everything!”
NEW SOCIETY MUSHROOMS
Welcome to a new local history society in the Borough. John Donovan, who lived in Friern Barnet for thirty years, fulfiled a long-held ambition when he organised the inaugural meeting of The Friern Barnet & District Local History Society at Friern Barnet Town Hall in September. Forty members of the public attended and heard Andrew Mussell talk about the Borough’s Archives and Local Studies collection. With the support of local resident Dr. Oliver Natelson, another keen local history enthusiast, the society has mushroomed and now boasts 95 members. The next meeting will be held at 8.00pm on Wednesday 10 January in Friern Barnet Town Hall when our own John Heathfield will he speaking.
If you would like to join the society or find out more about their aims and objectives contact John Donovan, 19 Cringle Court, Thornton Road. Little Heath, Herts, EN6 IJR or telephone him on 01707 642886
DECEMBER EVENTS Wed. 6 Dec. at 2pm Highgate Wood
Children’s Events, Christmas Tree Sale, Cream Teas, Band, Shop. Guided winter walk from the Information Hut.(For map & details see page 3 of July Newsletter)
Wed. 6 Dec. at 5pm British Archaeological Association at Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W.1 Channel Island Churches a talk by Warwick Rodwell.
Thur. 7 Dec. at 7.30pm London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, N.1 Enchanted Waters of the Basingstoke Canal a talk by Arthur Dungate. Admission £2.50 (£1.25 concessions)
Sat. 9 Dec. 10.15am-3.30pm Amateur Geological Society at St. Mary’s Hall, Hendon Lane, Finchley, N.3 Annual Bazaar (Rocks, minerals, fossils, crystals, gemstones. jewellery) Admission 50p.
Wed. 13 Dec. at 6.30pm LAMAS at The Museum of London. London on Ice: the Thames Frost Fairs a talk by Jeremy Smith.
Wed. 13 Dec. at 8.15pm Mill Hill Historical Society at Harwood Hall, Union Church, Mill Hill Broadway. Art History a talk by Ian Littler.
Thur. 14 Dec. at 7.30pm Camden History Society at Burgh House, New End Road, NW3. The Monuments of St. Paul’s Cathedral a talk by HADAS President Dr. Ann Saunders
Fri. 15 Dec. at 8pm Enfield Archaeological Society. The Archaeology of the Jubilee Line Extension a talk by James Drummond-Murray (£1 visitors