Tuesday 11 November 2003: Roman Silchester. Lecture by Professor Mike Fulford. Professor Fulford, from Reading University, is the Chief Archaeologist of the impressive dig at Silchester which we visited during the Summer and will bring us up to date on what is happening.
Tuesday 9 December 2003: HADAS CHRISTMAS DINNER at the Pavilion On The Park Restaurant, Barnet College, Colindale NW9 Tuesday 13 January 2004: Portable Antiquities. Lecture by Nicole Weller Nicole is the new Portable Antiquities Liason Officer and Community Archaeologist at the Museum of London and will talk about her work, the Treasure Act and other related matters. She has also agreed do discuss any small finds that members would like to bring along, so look out those bits you have dug in the garden over the years.
Tuesday 10 February 2004: London Burial Grounds. Lecture by Dr Roger Bowdler Lectures start at 8pm in the Drawing Room of Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley N3, and are followed by question time and coffee. We close promptly at 10pm.
Recent finds from Barnet Museum reported by Bill Bass
HADAS member John O’Mahoney has found a medieval axe in a neighbour’s garden in Cedar Lawn Avenue, Barnet. The axe was identified by the Museum of London as being ‘made of iron, roughly straight-sided triangular shape With a tabular sock– et. This form of tool is commonly represented as a carpenter’s axe from the 13th to 16th centuries as depicted in medieval art’. The socket of the axe was split in half which may be a reason why it was dis¬carded. A metal detectorist who has been surveying areas to the north and north-west of Barnet has brought his finds into the museum for identification. Some of the finds include coins – one a Georgian sixpence of 1817, also a Roman coin. A decorated copper finger ring was found as well as what seems to be a plumb-bob of possible medieval date. Other finds including pottery are still being processed. A resident of East Barnet has made inquiries to Barnet Museum about the date of a well in her back garden. Unfortunately it was not possible to closely inspect the brickwork of the structure – approx 1 metre across, as it was (not surprisingly) full of water and the above-ground brick was modern. A look through the maps in the museum showed that the land was once part of the Danegrove and subse¬quent Littlegrove estate (in the Cat Hill area), Danegrove originated in the early 16th century and was probably medieval. Eton Avenue where the well is located is shown to be empty fields on maps of 1817 and 1840 with no signs of estate workers dwellings, out houses or workshops which might account for the well. For now the well is a bit of a mystery, but further work may throw new light on the matter
BRIAN WRIGLEY remembered
It is with great sadness that we have to tell you that Brian Wrigley died on October 25. He had been ill for some time and had just been admitted to the North London Hospice. He was a much respected Officer and member of the Society and he will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Joan, and his sons.
Dorothy Newbury has news from a long-standing member of HADAS A story from John Enderby in Fontmell Magna
John Enderby, our only remaining HADAS founder member from way back in 7961, wrote to me last month enclos¬ing an interesting piece about the lovely village at Fontmell Magna where he now lives. Members who came on an out¬ing to his village in 1998 will remember the wonderful place it is. He now tells me that out of 49 villages in Dorset, Fontmell Magna has won first prize for best-kept historic village, and is now entering a country-wide com¬petition. Not only was he a HADAS founder member, but also Principal of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute for 31 years and served on 14 other committees, as well as being a prolific fund raiser for the North London Hospice. If his wife Barbara thought he was ‘retiring’ in 1992 she was mistaken, as he is now on ‘only’ 7 local committees! He is looking forward to HAD AS making another visit to Fontmell Magna in a year or two as he has so much more to show us, including a ‘hush-hush’ proposed Roman exca¬vation on a nearby farm – more about that in the next newsletter. In the meantime here is the interesting piece he sent me. THE ORIGINS OE THE GOSSIP TREE AT FONTMELL MAGNA. Originally, a monumental Stone Cross which was known to the villagers as the ‘Cross Tree’, existed on the present day site of the ‘Gossip Tree’. It was used by the villagers as a meeting place where events, gos¬sip and jokes could be shared. It was also the meeting place for news of events from afar which would be brought by travelling horseman to the gathering. During the Civil War the inhabitants sided with the Royalists cause against Cromwell and in 1643 the Cromwellian army eventually took their reprisal against the villagers for siding with the Royalists and blew the cross u p and the community lost its impor¬tant gathering place. The cross was replaced with a witch elm; a paint¬ing exists within the village to this day which shows that the elm grew in magnificence and girth and it was this tree that first gave name to the ‘Gossip Tree’. This great elm stood for almost 250 years with vil¬lagers still meeting there to air their feelings and dis¬cuss matters of pigs and cows. The year 1976 saw the advance of the dreaded Dutch Elm disease and the disastrous drought of that year to which the great tree eventually fell victim. Only the hollow stump survived from which saplings eventually sprouted but one night local lads set fire to these remains and all was lost. There is legend that anyone taking part in the old tree’s destruction would have bad luck and one can only ponder what became of the youths ! The story does not end here though, as the wood from the tree was used to make small crosses and sold to raise funds. Part of the tree has also been pre¬served in a lovely carved form and is believed to be owned by one of the villagers, John Gadd. To this day the origins have not been lost within the village and a lime tree now stands where the orig¬inal stone cross once stood all those years ago and a ceremonial plaque can be found commemorating the site origins. What of the stone cross? Well this still exists – albeit in modified form – as part of the garden rock¬ery at Foss Cottage where John Enderby and his wife live.
Roman treasure ‘near Baldock’
The Townley Group of the Friends of the British Museum met recently to celebrate a year of support for BM projects and to review the activities during the year. One of these activities has been work at the Roman temple site near Baldock The ‘near Baldock’ hoard of Roman temple treasure is a discovery of most exceptional importance. Intrinsically, the objects in the hoard – gold jewellery, a silver figurine, and votive plaques of gold and sil¬ver – have revealed a wealth of information and have’ shed fresh light on religious practise in Roman Britain. Perhaps most exciting is the appearance of a new goddess, Senua, who is named in the inscrip¬tions on the plaques, and who may have been a water goddess. The limited fieldwork that has already taken place; fieldwalking, geophysical survey (some excel¬lent results) and small-scale excavation, has estab¬lished that the site probably comprised a temple com-plex with an adjacent settlement. It proved very pro-ductive both in terms of the archaeology and the finds, some of which had clearly been ritually deposited. Amongst them was an inscribed silver base that almost certainly belonged to the figurine in the board and identifies the image as Senua. It is evident that the site is well-preserved and clearly warrants further investigation. In particular, it is desirable to excavate more fully the feature provi¬sionally identified as a shrine. The hoard had been buried very close to this feature, and its excavation will deepen our understanding of the context of this fascinating treasure. Further geophysical survey should elucidate the extent of the settlement, while conservation and analysis of the finds will undoubt¬edly bring new and significant revelations. Throughout, this has been a joint project with local archaeologist Gil Burleigh, and there has been full cooperation from the landowner. For further information contact Sharon Daish: 020 7323 8648 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you read about. . .Stewart Wild
keeps an eye on the media for items of archaeological interest. Here are a few of his recent finds.
Treasure hunters unearth “unique’ Roman pan
Metal detectorists have found a bronze pan with Celtic motifs, described as ‘unique’ by experts because of an engraved inscription just below the rim. The exquisite enamelled vessel dates from the second century and it lists the four forts at the west¬ern end of Hadrian’s Wall: Mais (Bowness), Coggabata (Drumburgh), Uxelodunum (Stanwix), and Cammogianna (Castlesteads). It also carries a Greek name – ‘Aelius Draco’. Sally Worrell of the Portable Antiquities Scheme suggests that Aelius draco was perhaps a veteran of a garrison of Hadrian’s Wall and, on retirement, had this pan made to recall his time in the army. The finders are under no obligation to give the pan to the authorities because it is not con-sidered treasure trove.
English Heritage saves Stone Age ‘picnic site’
English Heritage has paid £100,000 for the disused quarry close to Boxgrove, West Sussex which is Britain’s most valuable Stone Age site. The purchase will allow its preservation and let archaeologists explore its secrets. 500,000 years ago the quarry lay on a raised beach at the foot of an 80ft chalk cliff. The discovery of Boxgrove Man in 1993 was one of the archaeological finds of the last century, but it is only one of the trasures unearthed at the site. Over the past decade thousands of bones and tools have been uncovered. The preservation is so good that researchers have found the undisturbed remains of a seaside `picnic’ – including flint tool scrapings that reveal the ‘shadow’ of the individual hunters as they knelt on the ground making butchery knives.
Oldest writing in English found on Anglo Saxon brooch
What is believed to be the oldest form of writing in English ever found has been uncovered in an Anglo Saxon burial ground. It is in the form of four runes respresentating the letters N, E, I, and M scratched on the back of a bronze brooch from around AD650. The brooch is among one millions artefacts recovered from a site at West Heslerton, near Malton, North Yorks, since work began there in1978. The meaning of the writing is not, as yet, understood. English Heritage has provided £55,000 to display the finds at Malton Museum.
A plea from Don Cooper
The HADAS/Birkbeck course processing the Ted Sammes material has started work identifying and analysing the artefacts from the Church Terrace, Hendon excavations in 1973/4.The work is potentially being hampered by the lack of documentation either about the site, the details of the excavation, or the artefacts found.I am therefore making a plea for any infor-mation that might be lurking out there and might be able to shed further light on these important excavations that could potentially tell us much more about Hendon’s Roman and Saxon past. Please ring, write or email Don Cooper, 59 Potters Road, Barnet, Herts. EN5 5HS Email: email@example.com.