No. 621 December 2022 Edited by Don Cooper
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year.
HADAS Diary -Forthcoming Lectures and Events
Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has subsided, it is time to return to having our lectures at Avenue House, so as from January 2023, lectures will start at 7.45 for 8.00pm in the Drawing Room, Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE. Buses 82, 143, 326 & 460 pass close by, and it is five to ten minutes’ walk from Finchley Central Station (Northern Line). Tea/coffee and biscuits follow the talk.
Tuesday 10th January 2023 at 8pm: Tim Williams Archaeology of the Silk Roads
Tuesday 14th February 2023. The Dorothy Newbury Memorial Lecture: Signe Hoffos
Lost City Churches
Notes on a lecture by Ian Jones, Chairman of Enfield Archaeological Society given on the 8th of November 2022.
The November lecture was supposed to be on the Ness of Brodgar, but due to a bereavement in the lecturer’s family was cancelled at short notice. Fortunately, Ian Jones, Chairman of Enfield Archaeological Society stepped in and gave an excellent talk on Enfield Palace. We owe our grateful thanks to Ian.
Ian has been researching Enfield Palace for many years and has amassed a large amount of evidence of its history from the earliest documentary evidence in 1439 to its destruction in the early nineteen hundreds. The remains of the palace lie under Pearson’s department in the centre of Enfield town. Ian gave us a fascinating account of the people who lived there from royals to trades people. The building became a school from 1841 to 1899. Ian was continuing to research the pupils who attended it, many of whom went on to have interesting and notable careers. He also discussed the architectural layout of the building over its long history. When the building was demolished in 1927 a number of rooms were dismantled and reassembled at the Grade ll listed Little Park in Enfield where they can be occasionally seen on Open Days.
Ian hopes to publish the Palaces history in due course.
Notes on the London Archaeological Forum Peter Pickering
In person archaeological conferences have started again. I have been to three recently. One was the London Archaeological Forum, which was held as a hybrid event – there were some forty of us in the lecture room of the Institute of Archaeology, and fifty participated by Zoom. It was organised impeccably. The London Archaeological Prize for the best publication of 2020-2021 was won by the article in the LAMAS Transactions “Syon Abbey: archaeological investigations in Syon Park, Brentford, 1997–2018” by Bob Cowie. The talks included one by Antonietta Lerz of MOLA about the remarkably productive excavation at Landmark Court, Southwark.
That site, with two well-preserved, though not complete, mosaics with attractive pattern, was also the subject of Antonietta’s talk at a conference “Reconnecting Roman Britain” in the London University Senate House. Several other important papers were given at the conference. One was about a Romano-Celtic temple at Caistor-by Norwich (Venta Icenorum). – one of the few major Roman towns which have not been built over (HADAS, incidentally, visited it in 2010).
Most intriguing was a talk entitled “A Zoo at the edge of the Empire”, by Naomi Sykes, the Lawrence Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter; she had analysed the animal bones from round the Fishbourne Roman palace; many of them were of subspecies or varieties that were not those usually found in England (fallow deer, hare, chicken, cats). Her conclusion was that exotic animals had been deliberately imported from distant parts of the Roman world, whether for hunting or simply to demonstrate prestige; was this within the means of a client king like Togidubnus, (who had of course spent much time in Rome) or could it indeed have been intended for the emperor Nero?
We learnt much about torcs (neckrings with many local variants), which may have become adopted by Romans from Iron Age people. There were also contributions on Roman glass; the Winchester aqueduct; turf buildings; the wider context and post-Roman use of the building in Rutland with the Iliadic mosaic. Nor was the social context forgotten – there were talks on the lives of those ordinary men who worked on the excavation of Corbridge before the First World War, and on the representation of female archaeologists at the Limes congresses since 1949. It was a very impressive conference, but it was hard to take all of it in; it lacked the hand-outs that can aid comprehension.’
Finally, the last LAMAS Local History conference to be held in the Museum of London was, appropriately, devoted to that Museum. We learnt about the foundation of the Museum in 1976 (by the amalgamation of the Kensington Palace Museum of London with the Guildhall Museum); its redesign more than once over the forty-six years since then, with changing ideas about the proper focus of it and of museums generally; and the many special exhibitions it has held. Our President, Harvey Sheldon, ran through the most significant of the archaeological excavations in London over the period. The culmination was a breathtakingly enthusiastic talk by the Director of the Museum, Sharon Ament, about the new London Museum that is to be opened by the King in 2026.
HADAS Excavation at ‘Hopscotch’ 88 High St, Barnet EN5 5SN (Part 2 the excavation)
Bill Bass & Fieldwork Team Site code OPS22
As mentioned in ‘The Introduction’ (Newsletter 620 Nov 2022) the proprietors of Hopscotch wanted to re-landscape their small garden area in the backyard and offered us the chance to dig there. A HADAS Fieldwork Team was assembled fairly quickly to carry-out the task.
The site was in the small space in the rear yard of the shop, it was mainly laid with paving stone but with a small gardening plot that measured approx. 1.70m north-south x 2.00m east-west. A Temporary Benchmark (TBM) of 130.06m OD was established just outside of the gate to the site. See map above.
This was 20-40cm mixed/disturbed sandy humic-clay topsoil with a series of dump layers containing plastics, concrete lumps, pottery, bone, Ceramic Building Material (CBM) and glass. Intriguingly a number of ‘Tudor’ style bricks had been found by Alice Kentish in previous digging of their garden.
In the north baulk of the trench the footings of a red-brick wall at 129.91 OD, context 004, were uncovered running east-west with a corner turning north, it was fairly insubstantial being one or two courses high in possible ‘English Bond’. The bricks had little or no ‘frog’ (indentations in the top of the brick). The type of brick may date to the 18th century but perhaps reused in this context. This may have been the remains of an outbuilding associated with an adjoining property to the north.
Just to the south of the footings the outline of what at first was thought to be an irregular pit started to appear, the ‘fill’ was similar to context 001 – bands of clay, burnt material and sand, all at least 40cm thick. Doubts on the pit theory were cast as the ground became unstable with voids heading off here and there, also a 1946 photo taken from the church tower showed a large tree in the same spot as the ‘pit’ so we were dealing with a ‘tree-bowl’ and root damage.
Fairly modern finds including large amounts of pottery, glass, building materials together with smaller amounts of clay-pipe, metals, and bone etc were recovered.
This had implications as we did not have the time to properly excavate and sort out this disturbance at the northern end of the trench, so we tended to concentrate on the southern half. A section of the southern half of the trench was measured at 1.00m (north-south) from the southern baulk and 1.70m wide.
At approx. 0.50m below surface level (129.56 OD) we came across a substantial pebbly layer, context 002, this was around 20-25cm thick consisting of pebbles up to 10cm across in a brown-grey sandy-humic matrix, with occasional flint nodules. Finds in the context included large lumps of butchered bone, dumps of roof tile, glass, metal and Post-medieval Redware (PMR) and other pottery, generally 17th century in date. A number of clay tobacco bowls and stems were recorded. The evenness and make-up of the context led us to believe this may have been a pebbly floor surface.
Under context 002 we revealed a dark-brown sandy/humic/clay layer with occasional pebbles and charcoal flecking. This was interpreted as a buried garden soil approx. 40cm thick which contained some flint nodules, brick and tile fragments including peg and pan type roof tiles, a worked piece of limestone was also recovered.
The pottery assemblage included PMR some with glazing and probably bowls. Further down in the context we started to uncover small amounts of medieval dated pottery – 1080 to 1500AD (see report elsewhere). A flagon neck was possibly identified in an as yet unknown pottery fragment. Several animal bones and oyster-shell were identified.
The last layer we excavated was a grey-brown clayey sand with small regular pebbles and charcoal fragments. The top of this context was at 1.20m below ground level, approx. 128.86OD, we excavated this context down to approx. 1.50m below ground level (including a small sondage trial-pit) but this was our safety limit and time limit as it happens, so this layer was not fully dug but it felt substantial, the ‘natural’ was not reached.
The finds consisted of an amount of roof tile with small amounts of oyster-shell and bone fragments. Three sherds of medieval dated pottery – 1080 to 1450AD were recovered.
So was this a medieval occupational layer? Perhaps a bit difficult to say from such a small area, but the finds didn’t appear intrusive, and we have context from the surrounding excavations in the district.
We appear to have a fairly good sequence from the modern topsoil 001 with its dumping of glass/pottery etc, to the pebbly 002 context with post-medieval pottery and clay-pipe, to 003 with its post-medieval phasing.
into medieval pottery and finally context 005 including medieval pottery and roof tile. This seems to reflect the working nature of the area with nearby shops, pubs and commercial premises.
Michael and Alice Kentish
HADAS Fieldwork Team
Bill Bass, Roger Chapman, Melvyn Dresner, Janet Mortimer, Andy Simpson and Susan Trackman.
In the next article we will have a closer look at the finds.
Arbeia Roman Fort David Willoughby
HADAS visited Arbeia Roman fort during the long weekend summer trips to the north in both 1995 and 2005. A report of the 1995 visit is to be found in the October 1995 edition of the Newsletter.
Sue and I visited during the 2005 trip and since my move to Northumberland I have used public transport to visit on two more occasions, the second of which was to see a re-enactment of Roman cavalry in action.
Arbeia is located on a low headland, close to the mouth of the Tyne, in South Shields, South Tyneside. It originally likely fulfilled two purposes, the first of which was to protect the (yet to be located) Roman port below through which goods and Roman troops flowed on their way to both the south and west. The second function was to protect against incursions from the north across the
Tyne beyond the eastern extent of Hadrian’s Wall which meets the Tyne on the north bank at Wallsend, some four miles upriver from Arbeia on the south bank.
The earliest occupation of the site dates from 3000-4000 BC, and an Iron Age farmstead dating to the third century BC has been recently excavated. By the end of the first century AD the Roman army was well established in the north-east. The earliest known Roman buildings on the site are from about AD 125 but are civilian in nature. These are thought to represent a vicus serving a yet to be discovered early Roman fort located near the current site.
The building of Hadrian’s Wall commenced in AD 122 but the wall was abandoned after a few years following the building of the Antonine Wall between the Forth and Clyde some 100 miles to the north.
This reduced the strategic importance of the Arbeia site, whose garrison was either depleted or completely removed. In about AD 158, Hadrian’s Wall was reoccupied, and a new fort built on the current site of Arbeia. It covered an area of 4.1 acres and had a garrison consisting of 480 infantrymen and 120 cavalry. Two cavalry barracks from this period have been excavated but are now not visible on the site. Towards the end of the second century the garrison was greatly reduced but in AD 205-7 most of the buildings were demolished and replaced by thirteen stone granaries. The south wall of the fort was demolished and replaced by a new one situated further to the south thus increasing the area of the fort to 5.2 acres. The southern part of the fort was separated from the grain stores by a wall which was interrupted by the headquarters building. The southern area housed the Fifth Cohort of Gauls along with two additional granaries to supply them with food. The fort was now functioning as a supply base for the campaigns of the emperor Septimus Severus in Scotland in AD 208-10. There is archaeological evidence from lead seals that the emperor may have actually stayed at the fort.
During the Severan campaign the internal dividing wall of the fort was demolished to allow room for seven more granaries and a little later a new headquarters building was built. Following the death of Septimus Severus in York in AD 211 and the Roman withdrawal from Scotland the fort continued as a supply base, but now for the Hadrian’s Wall garrison. The supplies themselves were mostly shipped in by sea to the nearby port.
In the late third century the fort was attacked and destroyed. The fort was rebuilt with the southern granaries being converted into barracks buildings and two new granaries built to the south. There was a large courtyard house in the southern corner which probably housed the commanding officer. This house had private quarters, a dining room and baths. A new headquarters building was built on the site of the original which had been converted into a granary during the previous rebuilding period.
The fort retained its division into two areas with the supply base to the north and the garrison housed to the south. The southern area was arranged around two streets crossing at right angles. This is a typical plan for the late Roman period. The headquarters building was situated on the side of the fort opposite the main gate and stood at the end of a street lined with columns. This period was the last period of major rebuilding of the fort and probably marked the arrival of a new garrison formed of Tigris Bargemen (numerous barcariorum Tigrisiensium) and it is from them that the name Arbeia (meaning ‘the place of the Arabs’) was probably derived, replacing the likely earlier name of Lugudunum.
Throughout the fourth century the fort appears to have declined. Only minor alterations were made to buildings and the heating system and at least one dining room in the courtyard house fell into disuse. During this period a small building containing a table altar was built in the courtyard of the headquarters building which may have been an early Christian church.
The fort appears to have remained occupied following the departure of the Roman Army in the fifth century. It was probably a stronghold controlling the local area and it appears to have subsequently become an Anglo-Saxon royal house associated with King Oswin of Deira. Archaeology indicates it was finally abandoned sometime in the ninth century.
On the site today can be seen the remains of several of the later Roman buildings as well as imaginative reconstructions of barrack blocks, the commanding officer’s house and the western gateway. On site is an excellent small museum which houses amongst other things the tombstone of Regina, a freed slave girl of the British Catevellauni tribe who married her master, Barates, who was originally from Palmyra, now in Syria. It bears an extremely rare example of a bilingual inscription which, is both in Latin and Aramaic.
Entry to the site is free!
Interesting object in the Olympia Museum, Greece Don Cooper
We recently (October 2022) visited Olympia, the ancient site on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula that hosted the original Olympic Games, held every four years from the 8th century BC to 4th century AD. It is an enormous site with excavated remains of athletic training areas, a stadium, temples and many other monuments from ancient Greek and Roman times. Excavations have recently started again to expose more of the site. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia exhibits finds from the site. Among the wonderful statues (including the “star” of the museum, the statue of Hermes by the sculptor Praxiteles from 4th century BC), friezes, and everyday artefacts, one object caught my attention.
This ceramic early Bronze Age vessel would have contained smoke-making embers that were used to calm the bees. The explanation of why beekeepers use smokers is apparently not fully understood. The common explanation seems to be that the bees smell fire and swiftly start eating as much honey as they can in preparation for possibly having to abandon the hive and that this leaves them calm and docile. Another part explanation seems to be that the guard bees and bees injured in the beekeeper inspecting the hive give off a pheromone which agitates the bees, however using smoke masks this signal.
Whatever the scientific reasons the ancient Greeks had worked out that smoke works to calm the bees and reduces the chances of a beekeeper being stung while inspection his/her beehives.
Other Societies’ Events Eric Morgan
Tuesday 10th January,6.30p.m. L.A.M.A.S. Talk on Zoom. London in the Roman World. by Prof. Dominic Perring. (I.O.A,U.C.L.) Please book via www.lamas.org.uk/lectures.html.
Wednesday 11th January 2.30p.m. Mill Hill Historical Society. Trinity Church, 100, Broadway, NW7 3TB. The history of hat making in Luton. Talk by Elise Naishe. Please check www.millhill-hs.org.uk.
Monday 16th January, 8p.m. Enfield Society joint with Edmonton Hundred Historical Society. Talk on zoom. Dickens’ Magic Lantern. By Julie Chandler. On a with the c19th novelist and hear his life story, whilst discovering the London that sparked his imagination. Please visit www.enfieldsociety.org.uk.
Wednesday 18th January 7.30p.m. Willesden Local History Society. St. Mary’s Church Hall, bottom of Neasden Lane, NW10 (round corner from magistrates’ court). The History of Chess in Brent. Talk by Anthony Fulton. From the late c19TH to the present day. May also be on zoom. If not a member buy a ticket (£3). For details please check www.willesden-local-history.co.uk.
Thursday 19th January 7.30p.m. Camden History Society. May also be on zoom. The Mercenary River; A History of London’s Water. Talk by Nick Higham. On the New River flowing through North London. Please visit www.camdenhistorysociety.org.
Thursday 19th January, 8p.m. Historical Association; Hampstead and N.W. London branch. The Hugenots, with emphasis on those of Soho and Westminster. Talk by Paul Baker, Barnet L.H.S. (and Guide) on their cultural and historical importance, and their contribution to British life, to illustrate their skills and artistic contribution in silks, gold, silverware, furniture, etc. Meet at Fellowship House, 136A, Willifield Way NW11 6YD (off Finchley Road, Temple Fortune). Hopefully also on zoom. Please e-mail Jeremy Berkoff (chair) on email@example.com or tel. 07793 229521 for details of zoom link and how to pay (there may be a voluntary charge of £5) Refreshments afterwards.
Wednesday 25th January 7.45p.m. Friern Barnet and District Local History Society. North Middlesex. Golf Club, The Manor House, Friern Barnet Lane, N20 0NL.How Trams Changed London. Talk by David Berguer(chair) Please visit www.friernbarnethistory.org.uk and click on programme or phone 020 8368 8314 for up-to-date details (David Berguer) Non-members £2. Bar available.
Thursday 26th January 7.30p.m. Finchley Society. Drawing Room, Avenue (Stephens’ House, 17, East End Road, N3 3QE. Petrie’s People- Famous People in Barnet. Talk by Hugh Petrie (Barnet Heritage Development Officer) including inventors, sports people, artists, musicians, etc. For further details please visit www.finchleysociety.org.uk. Non-members £2 at the door. Refreshments in interval.
With thanks to this month’s contributors: Bill Bass, Eric Morgan, David Willoughby, Peter Pickering
Hendon and District Archaeological Society
Registered Charity No 269949
Chairman Don Cooper, 59, Potters Road, Barnet, EN5 5HS
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Hon. Secretary Janet Mortimer, 34, Cloister Road, Childs Hill, London, NW2 2NP
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Hon. Treasurer Roger Chapman, 50 Summerlee Ave, London, N2 9QP
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