NEWSLETTER l33: March 1982 21st Anniversary Year
Tuesday March 2 – The Frozen Tombs of Siberia by Kenneth Whitehorn
Mr Whitehorn will be remembered by members for his excellent lecture last year on Sutton Hoo, and his topic this year is certain to be another Winner. He provides this introduction: “The frozen tombs of Siberia are of exceptional interest to archaeologists because the frozen soil preserved all kinds of perishable organic material which is never found elsewhere — decorative leatherwork, woodwork and silk. The art styles are similar to the famous Scythian gold which will also be shown. The lecture will start at 8.20 pm.
Tuesday April 6 – Prehistoric Burial Rites in Britain by W.F.Grimes
All tickets for Professor Grimes’ lecture have now gone, writes Dorothy Newbury. Will any members who have tickets and subsequently find they cannot attend PLEASE LET ME KNOW so other members can use them (ring me on 203 0950).
Saturday April 24 – 21st Birthday Party
A few tickets (E7.50) remain for the anniversary party, to be held at St Jude’s Church Hall, Central Square, .Hampstead Garden Suburb, starting at 6.30pm. They will be available at the March lecture or, before March 3, from Dorothy Newbury, 55 Sunningfields Road, NW4.
Tuesday May 11 HADAS AGM Details later
A NEW HADAS DIG
The site behind the Old Bull pub – now a community centre – in the heart of old Barnet could hardly be more different from West Heath, reports Philip Venning, who is directing the society’s rescue dig there.
Work began on the weekend of February 13-14, with some back-breaking concrete shifting as well as more gentle excavation. After two weekends and a full week of effort, four significant trenches had been opened and finds were appearing in appreciable quantity. The site should have been in use – possibly as an ale house – back into medieval times- but the ground is heavily disturbed and depth of excavation is limited (by agreement with the architects of the small theatre to be built there) to a maximum of one metre over most of the available digging area.
Features noted so far include two areas of evenly-laid brick floor and a tiled area, perhaps a pathway, but it has not yet been possible to date them. Most finds are 19th century, but some earlier pottery and clay pipes have appeared. Clearly, lots of sea food was consumed nearby in the past, with oyster, mussel and scallop shells recovered – plus the “winkle pit”, which appears to contain a winkle seller’s unsold stock.. Wine bottles indicate thirsts were quenched, too.
As the Newsletter went to press, it was uncertain whether the beginning of March deadline for excavation could be extended. If it has been, diggers will be welcome on site, both weekdays and at weekends. Ring Phillip Venning to check..
Bryan Hackett, junior representative on the HADAS committee urges young members to join the Young Archaeologists’ Club.
The Young Archaeologists’ Club is the only national club for all young people interested in archaeology. The annual subscription is £2, for which members receive four copies of Young Archaeology, a fully-illustrated magazine, with news about excavations and discoveries, information about monuments and museums to visit and much more.
There are field-study holidays all over the country, from which groups study archaeological monuments in the surrounding area. There are activity days throughout the country, including one in London on March 6, so if you want to go hurry up and join (I will be going on this outing). YAC members can work on excavations throughout the country, lists of which are published in the magazine.
If you would like further information, please send a stamped, addressed envelope to Bryan Hackett, 31 Temple Fortune Hill, NW11 7XL.
… AND A REMINDER
Entries for the HADAS poster competition – title, “Scenes from History” – close on March 31. Schools or individual junior members may enter, with no limit on school entries and a maximum of three from individual members & Posters should be either double crown size (20 in by 30 in) or crown size (15 in by 20 in). There’s a prize worth £10 for the school from which the winning entry comes, or a small prize if a junior member wins. Entries should be sent to Brigid Grafton Green, 88 Temple Fortune Lane, NW11 7TX.
WEST HEATH AND OTHER MATTERS PREHISTORIC
Members of the Prehistoric Group are continuing indefatigable work on the West Heath material and slow but steady progress is being made towards the report, says Daphne Lorimer.
The group is also very interested in participating in a series of field walks in the autumn with the Roman Group. Those members who heard Dr Kinnes’ theories of Neolithic settlement in Hertfordshire at the CBA Group 7 meeting last autumn will scour the clay fields and heavy soils of the borough with renewed enthusiasm – especially where Neolithic axes have already been found. Nearby, Dr Kinnes assured us, we should find a Neolithic farm!
There’s just a fortnight left of the Silents to Cinerama exhibition .at Church Farm House Museum, Greyhound Hill, Hendon, based on the collection of cinema-related material built up by Maurice Cheepen, manager at some of London’s best-known cinemas from the end of World War I until his death in 1980.
THE MOST IMPORTANT NEOLITHIC BURIAL SITE OF OUR GENERATION
Daphne Lorimer reports on the February lecture
“The most important Neolithic burial site of our generation” was how Dr Ian Kinnes described Les Fouaillages at the February meeting. His profusely illustrated and fascinating lecture revealed how the total excavation of a hitherto unknown (and thus untouched) dolmen on L’Ancress Common in Guernsey had uncovered new and exciting evidence of Neolithic settlement in Europe.
The site was discovered by two members of La Societe Guernsiaise and a small trial excavation was undertaken. This revealed a built stone wall in a man-made mound, some Neolithic pottery and the corners of two horizontal stone slabs. Total excavation was undertaken by the society, under professional direction from the British Museum, over a period of 13 weeks during 1979, 1980 and 1981. Mechanical aids were available to assist with the raising of heavy boulders but the “rope and roller” method proved effective, provided a plank trackway was laid. The site was situated on fertile loess soil but had once been forested. A scatter of mesolithic flakes were found and the excavation continued down to the archaeologically-sterile raised beach.
Dr Kinnes considered the Neolithic farmers to be a highly organised, very civilised and sophisticated people. They travelled all along the North Atlantic seaboard from Spain to Northern Ireland, their settlement being distinguished by the building of exceptional funerary monuments. These monuments, Dr Kinnes said, were obviously very important to their makers, a number contain superb carvings (possibly a symbolic language), and they may well be our only available avenue to the way of thought of their builders.
In the 13th and 14th centuries at least 70 chambered tombs were known on Guernsey according to the references compiled by Lt. Col. T.W.M. De Guerin and the Lukis family, of which only 11 remain. Dr Kinnes wondered how many more than 70 would have been present in prehistoric times.
The standard monument is a simple passage grave – a round mound with a passage into the central chamber. The monuments survive along the rock coast in the northern part of the island where fairly recent sand-blow has rendered the land useless for farming.
Other monuments include the very fine late Neolithic figure (dated to about 2,400 – 2,000 BC) found buried in a church (a very similar carving, found in Southern Brittany, showed the connection between the two communities). A figure, La Grandmere, was also found outside another church, the lower half being Neolithic but the carving from the chest up Iron Age.
Returning to Les Fouaillages, Dr Kinnes said the earliest structure proved to be a triangular turf-built mound surrounded by a well-built boulder wall with a slab facade. Down the centre was a series of funerary monuments only 20 metres long. These consisted of a semicircular paved area at the rear with a trapezoid cairn in front which separated it from an open-roofed chamber in which three pots were found. It appeared that the two rear sections had been covered by a mound from their inception and soil analysis sugests that human bones were found only in the second chamber.
The chronological date is put at about 4,500 BC, which makes it the earliest megalithic tomb in Europe, so far, and indicates that other even earlier tombs are waiting to be found on the mainland. These might not, however, be in stone as the monument is, in many ways, the stone rendition of work in timber. The tunnel chamber in the centre of the mound is very small and was possibly used for the storage of bodies. It was found filled with beach sand which must have been brought from two miles away. The early stage of the site served about 12 generations and then went out of use.
A decorated pot sherd (Bandkeramik) was found, then a whole band-keramik pot. The indication that the grave was built by bandkeramik people was, Dr Kinnes considered, startling as, elsewhere, the culture does not include the building of graves. The only other known triangular graves come from Poland (but Dr Kinnes did not propose a Guernsey-Poland connection!). The other unusual fact was that the grave stood in the middle of a settled farming community and not at the edge of a fertile area as considered up to now. In all 35,000 Linde were made, including fragments of a stone bracelet.
About 3,000 BC (500 to 600 years after the first monument went out of use) the site took on a new form. The old flat facade was concealed by a semi-curved structure and consisted of laid blocks of stone and turf with a capping of boulders. The blocking had no chamber to go with it but, when excavated, a series of circles of recumbent boulders were found, in the centre of which were the post holes for massive oak timbers (two holes were 80 cm in diameter). These circles defined mortuary areas. The posts had rotted and been replaced by dry-stone enclosures. This phase lasted until about 2,000 BC when the monument went out of use.
This phase produced many finds including complete pots, three whole stone axes and fragments of 15 or 16 others, a polissoir and the base of a bow-drill. A final votive deposit was made of eight very fine barbed and tanged arrowheads – four were honey-coloured Grand Pressigny flint and four of dark Normandy flint – and the whole area was covered by a mound of black earth. Dr Kinnes thought the mound had been meant to last for ever. No structures were associated with it but the excavation of a sample area adjacent to the mound revealed a Beaker settlement with very fine beaker pottery and flint work.
Finally a ruined monument 50 metres away was examined. It proved to be very disturbed but consisted of a closed chamber with orthostats decorated with cup marks and enclosed in a stone circle. Beaker pottery was found.
Dr Kinnes dry humour, fascinating account and superb photography produced an evening memorable even for HADAS.
GLC RECORDS: CHANGES IN OPENING HOURS
One immediate effect of the forthcoming upheavals as the GLC Record Office prepares for its autumn move to Clerkenwell (see Newsletter 131) is the closure of the County Hall Search Room all day on Mondays. Access to the History Library and map, print and photographic collections is available only after 2pm on Mondays. There will also be some other “disruption”, as the head archivist puts it, advising a preliminary phone call (Search Room 633 6851, maps and prints 633 7193, photographs 633 3255 and History Library 633 7132) to avoid a wasted journey.
To HADAS junior member Simon Coleman, currently at University College School, Hampstead, who has won a scholarship to St John’s College, Cambridge, where he will read archaeology and anthropology.
CLUES TO FINCHLEY’S PAST Paddy Musgrove reports on a dig at Finchley Manor House
A short, sharp dig on January 4 and 5, in which five HADAS members took part, answered one outstanding question concerning the history of the Manor House in East End Road, Finchley. The present building dates from 1723 only, but references to the medieval manor house and the existence today of the remains of a substantial moat in the grounds have contributed to the popular belief that the present building replaced an earlier one on the same site and, in particular, that the extensive basement with its well-worn flagstones belonged to that earlier building. On the other hand, there have been those, such as Frank Marcham (Barnet Press, June 1, 1936), who believed that the earlier manor house was elsewhere.
Extensive repairs currently being carried out at the Manor House provided an opportunity of excavating part of the cellar floor. A passage runs roughly north-west to south-east down the middle of the basement area, providing access to various store rooms and domestic offices. In this we lifted two areas of flagstones, each 180 cm by 115 cm. The mid-point of one trench was 12.75 metres from the main exterior south-east wall of the building and the other was 16.95 metres.
The underneath faces of all ten flagstones showed no signs of wear, such as might be expected if they had been reused. They were set on large blobs of red sandy mortar, which rested on 12 cm of rubble, the upper surface of which in places formed a roughly concreted mass. Beneath the rubble in the more westerly of the two trenches, a 1 cm layer of brick dust was spread neatly over the surface of the undisturbed chalky Finchley boulder clay. A similar layer in the other trench lay in part on a few centimetres of dirty sand and gravel, presumably introduced to level the clay surface.
The rubble Consisted on broken bricks, hand-made roofing tiles and a considerable amount of plaster, much of which had been painted. It also contained animal bones, shells, fragments of wood and charcoal, together with pottery and other artifacts which can be dated to the 17th century or later, thus confirming that the flagstones examined definitely did NOT represent the floor of an earlier manor house cellar.
Among finds retained for future reference are the following:
Rubble: Portion of a dark brown overfired brick, 3⅝ in (92 mm) broad and 2 in (50 mm) thick, with no frog; fragments of roof tiles 6¼ in (158 mm) wide, some with circular peg holes (10 mm diameter) and one with two square holes (13 mm square); pieces of wall plaster, painted light blue and red/brown, some showing marks of laths.
Glass: Neck of wine bottle with wide string ring (17th century); fragment of very thin ancient clear sheet glass; portion of clear glass decorated stem of (?) goblet.
Bone: 10 pieces animal bone, none showing signs of butchery, but one split lengthwise.
Pottery Nine sherds of white and blue-and-white “delft”; seven other glazed sherds, two possibly of Surrey ware; three pieces of stoneware, including one of Bellarmine showing parts of mask and seal.
Clay pipes: Eight portions of tobacco pipes, including one bowl of 1640-1660 type.
Shells: 12 oyster shells; one cockle shell.
We are very grateful to the Leo Baeck College and its architects, Messrs Hildebrand and Glicker, for permission to dig on this site.
THE SUBURB IN PRINT AND ON SHOW
Two events occur this month which concern the south-eastern corner of our borough – particularly the Garden Suburb, writes Brigid Grafton Green.
One is the publication, on March.1, of a book by Kitty Slack, a HADAS member, called “Henrietta’s Dream”. The book is sub-titled “A chronicle of the Hampstead Garden Suburb, 1905-1982”.
It deals, particularly with the Suburb as a social experiment, and tries, from that aspect, to say whether the dream of the founder, Henrietta Barnett has come true. It contains, among other things, many quotations taken from the tapes which Miss Slack has made of interviews with Suburb residents. “Henrietta’s.Dream” costs £2.50 (plus 30p postage, if required) and can be obtained from Kathleen Slack, 17 Asmuns Hill, NW11 6ES.
The other event is an exhibition called The Making of the Garden Suburb, which opens at the Hampstead Museum, Burgh House, on March 6. It contains maps, photographs old and new, objects, documents, posters and other material which tell the history of the Garden Suburb.
The exhibition – in which a number of HADAS members have had a hand – celebrates the 75th anniversary this year of the Suburb’s founding. It will be open until Sunday April 24, from Wednesdays to Sundays each week, noon to 5pm, admission free. Burgh House is in New End Square, Hampstead.
ANOTHER 21st ANNIVERSARY
Ted Sammes, chairman of the Maidenhead Archaeological Society, tells us that it too is celebrating the achievement of its majority this year.
To start with there will.be a celebration dinner at the Kings Arms, Cookham. Later in the year Maidenhead itself is commemorating 400 years since Queen Elizabeth I granted the town its’ charter. During the year there will be many events and to which the archaeological society will contribute a four-week exhibition at Maidenhead library, starting on March 16 and continuing until April 8, This will show some of the early days of the society and also finds, documentary and historical material dealing with Maidenhead in medieval and later’times.
For further details contact Ted Sammes Burnham 4807, who hopes that some members may be. able to visit the exhibition on a Saturday morning. The exhibition closes at 1pm on Saturdays.
HADAS ANNIVERSARY MUGS
A reminder from Jeremy Clynes that there are a few HADAS anniversary mugs remaining. They cost £1 each from Jeremy at lectures or by post (add 50p for postage) from him at 66 Hampstead Way, NW11 7XX.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR from Nell Penny
If the chairwoman of Hornsey Historical Society congratulates the Newsletter, it is time a member of HADAS did the same. I always read my Newsletter soon after I get it. The February issue did not disappoint me. A meticulous analysis and history of Barnet Physick Well; an encyclopaedic article about digging at St Mary’s, Finchley; .a promise of goodies to come and many other interesting items – I must find time to go.to a lecture at the Museum of London.
So thank you contributors, editors, duplicator, distributors, et al. And next time the treasurer has to ask for an increased subscription, reflect that you can get £1.38 of postage, xp of paper and many labours of love to produce 11 sheets of very interesting material.
NUMBER 1 TOTTERIDGE LANE
Daphne Lorimer reports on site-watching
Investigations into the Dissenter’s Burial Ground in Totteridge Lane, some years ago, revealed the fact that the Dissenters originally held their services in an old barn in a field adjacent to the present junction of Totteridge Lane with the High Road, Whetstone. An elderly member of the Whetstone United Reformed Church told the minister that she remembered grave stones in this field when she was a small girl although the barn had long since disappeared. When the premises of James and Sons, builders, at No 1 Totteridge Lane were sold for redevelopment, careful site–watching was undertaken, but no evidence of graves was uncovered. It is, of course, possible that the graves had been removed before the original development took place.
A BIT OF A. WHORL...
Tessa Smith is keen to investigate spindle whorls and is appealing to any fellow HADAS members who can help her research to contact her – phone 958 9159.
FOR POTTERS AND OTHERS
Rural kilns and furnaces is the title of the London Kiln Study Group’s eighth seminar, to be held at the Museum of London on April 3 and 4. The fee of £12 includes morning coffee and afternoon tea and the Saturday evening wine and cheese party. Cheques to, and more details from, the London Kiln Study Group, c/o Cuming Museum, 155 Walworth Road, London SE 17.
THE LATER PREHISTORY OF BRITAIN
There’s one lecture left in this excellent series organised by the University of London’s Extra-Mural Department and held at 7pm on Thursday evenings in the Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury. The final subject, on March 4, is The Udal: A Scottish Tell, by I. Crawford.
There are hopes, however, that the lost 11 February lecture, by J. Barrett on the Origins of the Iron Age, might be fitted in the following week. It could be worth a call to the Extra-Mural Department (636 8000) to check.
The enterprising part-time B.Sc in Archaeological Sciences course currently under way at the North East London Polytechnic is in danger of collapsing unless more students come forward. It’s designed particularly for holders of the University of London Extra-Mural Diploma in Archaeology, but entrance requirements are flexible, as is the whole arrangement of the course. Reports from those already following it are favourable, so what about more HADAS interest? The man to contact is John Evans at the polytechnic, 555 0811 extension 41.
A century of London silver design and production is to be celebrated in the Museum of London exhibition London Silver 1680 – 1780, which opens on April 19 and runs for six months. A main feature will be the reconstruction of an 18th century silversmith’s workshop.