ISSUE No 233: Edited by Vikki O’Connor AUGUST 1990
Saturday 25 August PIDDINGTON ROMAN VILLA & TOWCESTER (Details & application form enclosed)
Friday 31 August – SHROPSHIRE WEEKEND
Sunday 2 September 44 Members have booked for this trip. Due to cancellation two places have become available. Please phone Dorothy Newbury on (081) 203 0950 if interested.
Saturday 29 September CAMDEN TOWN WALK – Muriel Large
Tuesday 2 October LECTURE “Excavations in West Africa” – Dr Paul Craddock
Saturday 6 October MINIMART – only a month to go, goods are coming in thick & fast!
19-25 HIGH STREET, CHIPPING BARNET – ANDY SIMPSON
“MAD COWS & ENGLISHMEN” (with apologies to Noel Coward)
After bemoaning the heavy rain in the last note, your scribe can now whinge about it being too hot… But seriously folks, work on the 19-25 High Street site at Chipping Barnet is continuing, with effort concentrating on the centre and rear trenches. A considerable amount of medieval pottery has been recovered and identified by Jennie Cobban as being mostly South Herts ‘greyware’, South Herts variant, and London-type ware, of the period 1150-1350, i.e. very similar to the range and date of material recovered from the ‘Mitre’ as recounted in the report accompanying this newsletter.
The excavation team have been much amused by the rutted nature of the presumed medieval pebbled yard surface revealed in the centre trench, giving rise to dubious jokes about medieval mad cows. It keeps us sane, I suppose…
With the time allotted for the excavation coming to a close, we would be very grateful for extra ‘hands’ for the final weeks – details, as ever, from: Brian (081-959-5982); Arthur (081-368-6288) or your scribe (081-205-6456).
THE MITRE DIG BRIAN WRIGLEY
The final report on this dig appears as a supplement to this issue of the newsletter. To acknowledgements formally recorded there, I would like to add our further thanks to the Willcocks family who provided the Kanga Hammer, and Victor Jones for organising the initial surface breaking with it; also to all those who dug and drew – Anna Fraser, John Heathfield, Graham Javes (who also worked on the finds), Fred King, John O’Mahoney, Brian McCarthy, Vikki O’Connor, Peter Pickering, George Sweetland, Don Watson, plus Ann, Lisa, Miriam, and Peter (whose surnames unfortunately did not get recorded!)
I would like to add a small point of correction to the historical record: the aptly-named licensee of The Mitre, Mr Bishop, told us his house had in the past had a bad Press – I think it was Pepys and Dr Johnson who referred to the poor victuals provided by The Mitre. We must put this right by putting on record that we found The Mitre’s victuals most enjoyable, and I particularly commend their excellent crusty cheese sandwiches!
THREE RIVERS PIPELINE PROJECT VICTOR JONES
Several sections are completed and the remaining work has now been re-programmed.
As some Members will know, rather more than half of the project is finished and we have walked all of it several times. Finds of various kinds were made and are sorted by section. No work has so far been undertaken on the section between the M1 and the A1000. This has to cross a golf course and part of the Scratchwood open space and its woods. The main works on this will not be started until mid-September as much of this is in the golf course area, and is delayed due to the Club’s match programme. This work is expected to take two or more weeks.
There is also the smaller section between the A1000 and the Barnet Road. This crosses the north-west corner of Hiver Hill and should commence when the Arkley section is finished.
The section from the A41 to Watling Street and on to the Wood Lane side of Brockley Hill was started in June. The topsoil removal finished three weeks or so ago but Watling Street crossing was not undertaken as arrangements had to be made first for the road to be closed. This is now planned for the August holiday weekend (4th – 7th August).
When we discussed the project with the Consultants to the Water Company it was agreed they would ask the contractors to give us access to both sides of the road and to clear ditch and banks to road level before this work so that we might look for possible remains of the Roman road foundations, and examine the “Hollow Way” to the east of Watling Street. It may possibly be the continuation of the road we discovered during our 1987 dig and was thought to be of Middle Ages construction.
Members interested in taking part in these walks or the Watling Street work, should this prove possible, can phone Tessa Smith, Brian Wrigley or Victor Jones for information.
MEMBERS’ VIEWS: “HADAS” – THE NAME
The following Members’ views have been received for publication in the Newsletter. The Hon Secretary has received more letters on the subject which will be duly placed before the Committee for consideration.
“Our name HADAS is widely known by people in the archaeological world, as meaning a North London society practising and promoting archaeology. The name is a kind of password among the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society and similar groups; in the Museum of London, and among senior staff of the Departments of Urban and Greater London Archaeology. It is known to the Council for British Archaeology and to readers of such reputable journals as Current Archaeology and the London Archaeologist. If we were to be differently named I believe many would ask “but what happend to HADAS?” Let us stay the same but with a sub-title, eg HADAS, FOR ARCHAEOLOGY IN BARNET.”
“I am wondering whether I attended the same AGM as Joan Wrigley! As I remember it, the motion was printed on the agenda papers and I heard it read in clear tones by both the Hon Sec and the Chairman. In short, the proceedings were properly and meticulously adminstered.
The reason why the motion succeeded so overwhelmingly was that members found it reasonable and pertinent, not that the back row was enjoying a zizz. Resistance to change is the curse of this country. We see it, and have seen it historically in medicine, agriculture, politics, the arts, archaeology … you name it. For goodness sake let’s accept the fact the HADAS has changed. It has little in common with the aims of its founding fathers – all honour to their memories. It has grown in every sense of the word thanks to the skill and dedication of a number of people – including some whom I know object to the name change. But we must keep moving with the times. There is nothing sacrosanct in a name: the Amami, Drene, Oxydol and Passing Cloud of my youth, like trams and steam engines, are now part of history – treasured memories but replaced by more relevant products and services.”
“I would confirm what I tried to say at the recent AGM of the Society in Hendon Library. I am still of the opinion that if a suitable note be printed on HADAS stationery, membership cards etc – to the effect that “HADAS ACTIVITIES INCLUDE THE WHOLE AREA OF BARNET BOROUGH” it would solve the controversy.
As you know, HADAS has established itself in several publications, etc and is known to many people and organisations – any change of name might necessitate the loss of this acronym. Also the ‘logo’ might have to go.
I appreciate there may be some feeling among our members who live in the northern parts of the Borough of Barnet – Hendon is a few miles to the south, but it is the base from which the Society was established and no doubt there are some members who still live in the area which once ‘came under the Borough of Hendon – it was from 1st April 1965 that the new London Boroughs formed, but the Councils of Barnet and Hendon could not agree on the title, nor could the other 3 Councils of Finchley, Friern and East Barnet – so the Minister of Housing & Local Government confirmed “Barnet” as his decision! (One good suggestion, I think, was ‘Northgate’ which if adopted would have avoided troubles of identity!)
It would be nice if the Barnet Corporation could let us use their title, also to fund us perhaps, but as that seems unlikely I think our present title should be
retained with that little note re. Barnet.”
GEORGE W INGRAM
(As an ‘outsider’ to the Borough, born and raised in Bounds Green, still living in N11 just within the Barnet boundary, I thought I could view the identity issue with detachment but on reflection this is not true. I feel privileged to belong to HADAS – a name synonymous with the best traditions of local voluntary archaeological groups – the HADAS stand flying the flag at LAMAS conferences is a tradition in itself. (Jean Snelling makes the point about our reputation with various bodies.) Boundaries come – and go the “& District” not only provides for the inclusion of Barnet but there is room for expansion if that were ever appropriate. Barnet already has a thriving local history society bearing its name -a Barnet Archaeological Society could cause confusion. – Ed)
A FURTHER VIEW FROM JEAN SNELLING:
“We need to be better known in our London borough. This means steady hard work to show local people what we do. Rescue digs are mostly brutish and short. Local shows, lecture opportunities and press reports may have to be our bread and butter at present and probably we should build up our exhibition material. There is great interest in the recent and probably more understandable past such as the Water Pipeline, the Whetstone medieval house and the Icehouse, and in our publications about the present and last centuries. Roman kitchen ware and prehistoric stuff are less persuasive, yet the West Heat site fascinated primary school children who visited it. We could do with a demonstration set of flint tools that people could actually handle (feeling is better than just looking), and how helpful a local Roman villa or a really spectacular and prolonged excavation would be. At exhibitions people like to take our Newsletters. So let us send Newsletters regularly in rotation to our public libraries for readers to take away.”
TRIBUTE TO A ROYAL MUM AND GRANDMA TED SAMMES
Opening to the public on the Queen Mother’s Birthday, August 4th will be an Exhibition at the Guildhall, Windsor. The exhibition, Ninety Glorious and Memorable Years, traces the life of Her Majesty and includes mementos of her visits to diverse countries. It will be open daily from 10am to 5pm until August 31st. The exhibition is being staged by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and will cost £2 for adults and £1 for senior citizens and children. Visiting this also gives a chance to see other parts of the Guildhall, which is not normally open to the public.
SOME THOUGHTS ON METALLURGICAL FOLKLORE BRIAN WRIGLEY
For anyone interested, as I am, in ancient swords and daggers, it is impossible to ignore early metallurgy, and not to become conscious of the varying characteristics of metals used in prehistory – which, as one not formally trained in metallurgy, I may see in the same sort of terms as a prehistoric metalworker might have used in the instruction of his apprentice son
COPPER, (my lad, he might have said) is surely feminine – the red harlot of the metals; the first, so all say, to attract Man’s attention in her native state, by the dull gleam of her Red Light in the earth. And once in Man’s service, she shows herself, malleable and ductile, ready to adopt any pose or contortion her master’s whim should dictate, after only little firing and gentle beating. She faithfully strives to stay in her master’s service; when other elements attempt to corrupt her, she uses them only to clothe herself in protective coverings, often of eye-catching electric greens and blues; only old ever-present Oxygen and underworld Sulphur can cover her in drab greys and browns, and even then beneath her dull garb, she keeps her shining copper-red spirit, ready for her master to admire whenever he should choose to give her a little polish.
But she is weak; her very willingness to bend and stretch are against her being firm and strong; to stiffen her up into BRONZE, she needs the help of her sister, TIN, who is far to seek and hard to find; her cousin ARSENIC (who is always around and often found with her) can help in this, but he is untrustworthy, giving off fumes deadly to Man, and should only be made use of with care and at arm’s length.
(Our prehistoric smith, of course, could not have known that, millennia later, COPPER would show her worth yet again as Man’s hand-maiden in fetching and carrying his newly-discovered electric currents.)
IRON, on the other hand, is definitely masculine. In its native state, as pure iron, it simply does not exist on this Earth, apart from some meteoric strays from outer Space. He exists here, as metal, only in the service of Man, who has torn his ore from Earth, put it to intense fire, much fiercer than that needed for COPPER, and beaten him hard and mercilessly to make him emerge as a metal. Not for IRON is the readiness my lady COPPER shows, to become a fluid and take the shape of the mould Man provides; in the fiercest heat, he will glow and soften, but still has to be beaten with heavy blows to form into the shape Man wants. (When we say, the smith a might man is he, it is the IRONsmith we speak of.) This very obstinacy is of course also the strength we so prize. But IRON is an unwilling slave; he ever wants to quit Man’s service, and must be closely overseen; left to himself for the shortest of times, he can be seen to strive to change himself back into rust – the ore from which he came – hoping to creep unnoticed back into the womb of Mother Earth.
GOLD, of course, is also masculine and indeed the King of metals. Disdaining to combine himself with any inferior element, he nonetheless will on occasion deign to alloy himself, in nature, with his Queen, SILVER, in the form known as electrum. (SILVER in passing, is prone to dubious alliances with some of the lower orders, such as smelly old Sulphur which alliances get black marks, as sometimes shown on our eggspoons, for example.) GOLD does not serve Man; he makes Man serve him – grubbing in the earth, quarrelling, lying, fighting and slaying to acquire this sovereign metal. However, conscious of his regal duty to his subjects, he is willing to be spread very thin to lend to objects of common stuff an aura of wealth as gold leaf; he only insists that the beating to achieve this should be gentle, and under the protection of layers of leather, as befits his royal status.
Now, my lad, (the smith might have gone on to say) I have told you some of the secrets of our craft, which you have sworn never to betray to any outsider. As a sign of this, we must go down to the river and make a votive offering by throwing in a bronze dagger.
MEMBERS who visited Southside House, Wimbledon last year with Mary O’Connell may like to know it is now open to the public on Saturdays for guided tours at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. (Phone: 081-946-7643) Other Members may have seen Lucinda Lambton’s programme on TV recently and want to go there. Built in 1687, with an exciting history, descendants of the same family still live there.
OUTING REPORT – RICHMOND, JUNE 23 MARY BARNETT
Only 34 of us turned up for the June outing to Richmond. Illness accounted for a few absentees and possibly many members have done Richmond under their own steam.
The town and its stately homes were well worth a first or second visit and our itinerary was relaxed by HADAS standards. Gracious living, art collections, the beauty of the river, woodlands and meadows made a welcome change on a sunny day from our habitual dogged treks across muddy fields and windswept hills, much though we enjoy that sort of outing.
Richmond is well preserved in all its elegance made up of the cream of domestic architecture of the past several centuries. This is due to the vigilance of the local organisations and to the royal dimension. Much of the area is Crown land not up for grabs. Queen Elizabeth lived at Richmond Palace, built by Henry IV or V, and in fact she died there. Nothing remains of the palace now except the Tudor gatehouse and buildings known as Wardrobe Court.
Our small party enjoyed the luxury of three guides, members of Richmond Voluntary Guides, who met us from the coach outside the Star and Garter Hotel and led us down Richmond Hill and round the town. The views from Richmond Hill were spectacular, the hill itself lined with gracious terraces and houses. Our guide pointed out the residences of illustrious figures from the past, such as Sheridan and Kean, who settled in Richmond to enjoy the good air and pleasant environment.
In these days of rampant development and market forces the people of Richmond have to work hard to preserve their town. The well-known architect, Terry Quinlan, has introduced the styles of 17th and 18th century into the new Riverside Development that bears his name. Evidently local opinion is sharply divided about the complex of office buildings. HADAS members weren’t sharply divided; some thought Richmond had got off lightly.
At any rate the development does not stick out like a sore thumb as does a stark office building not far from the Thames – “That’s one that got away, before Richmond was declared a conservation area,” said our guide, who lives near the offending block.
We managed to fit in Richmond Green, the town museum housed in the Old Town Hall, and coffee, before being taken in our coach to visit Marble Hill House, Orleans House and gallery and finally Ham House.
Marble Hill House is an early 18th century Palladian villa where the mistresses of George II and George IV lived for a time. It was restored by the GLC and houses a fine collection of furniture, paintings and Chinese porcelain. It is administered by English Heritage. At Orleans House Gallery we viewed the collection of paintings and prints of Richmond and Twickenham bequeathed with the house to the locality by Mrs Ionides on her death in 1962. An interesting feature of the house is an octagon room richly decorated and containing the Royal medallion portraits and busts.
In three groups, we took the historic Richmond ferry, a small boat with an outboard motor and a lively boatman who told us “We’ve not lost a person overboard yet”! Across the Thames we went to Ham House, the spacious 17th century home of the Duke of Lauderdale and his second wife, Countess Dysart. Ham House is one of the best preserved houses of its period with much of its original furnishings and a large collection of pictures, including Lely’s picture of the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale. The property is now owned by the National Trust and administered by the Victoria and Albert Museum. The garden has recently been restored to its original design.
The Duke was a minister in Charles H’s secret court, the Cabal; (the ‘1’ in Cabal stands for Lauderdale). Before Ham House, he lived at Lauderdale House, the 16th century mansion, now a community centre, on Highgate Hill.
We enjoyed a thoroughly interesting and pleasant day, the more so because we had a real peach of a coach driver. On his way to pick us up he was diverted back to base for a change of coach. We started half an hour late but he managed to get us to our starting point to meet our friendly and very well-informed guides on time. And our driver did not complain when we returned to the coach for the journey home dripping wet from the first rain of the day. Our thanks to Dorothy Newbury for arranging the outing.
MAPS AND PLANS For the Local Historian & Collector – David Smith
Batsford Local History series, paperback, 0 7134 5192 0 £15.95
WHARRAM PERCY: Deserted Medieval Village – Maurice Beresford & John Hurst
This title is one from a new series from English Heritage/Batsford edited by Stephen Johnson, Academic Editor at English Heritage.
Paperback, 0 7134 6114 1 £10.95 (also in hardback £19.95)
COURSES IN ARCHAEOLOGY 1990-91
For details of enrolment & other courses, contact: Birkbeck College (University of London) Centre for Extra-mural Studies, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ, telephone 071 636 8000 ext 3854.
(D /T = daytime, E = evening)
CAMDEN AEI, Longford St, NW1: Digging up the Bible (D/T)
CITY LIT, Stukeley St, WC2:
Greek Civilisation: Writers in Translation (D/T)
Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs (E)
Aztecs & Maya, Ancient & Modern (D/T)
Industrial Archaeology (E)
MUSEUM OF LONDON, London Wall, EC2
The Prehistory of the Thames Valley in its British Context – NICK MERRIMAN (E)
INSTITUTE OF ARCHAEOLOGY
The Rise of Civilisation: World Prehistory & Protohistory – NICHOLAS JAMES (E)
WEA, BARNET, Ewan Hall, Wood Street, High Barnet
Industrial Archaeology – 1st Year Tutorial Class – D P SMITH, (Monday evenings)
WEA, MILL HILL & EDGWARE, Union Church, Mill Hill Bdwy, NW7
The Celts & Their Heritage – MRS D SERJEANTSON (Friday mornings)
WEA, SOUTHGATE, United Reformed Church, Fox Lane, Palmers Green, N13 Byzantium and the World of Late Antiquity – TONY ROOK, (Wednesday mornings)
Courses for the 4-year Diploma in Archaeology will be held at the Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square; courses for the 3-year Certificate in Field Archaeology will be at the City Lit (and other venues less accessible from North London).
George Ingrain, our Birthday Boy of the month (July) has reached his 90th. Still a regular participant in outings and lectures, and in the past a digger on excavations at Church Terrace, Hendon, Fuller Street, Woodlands, West Heath, Finchley Old Rectory, White Swan, Golders Green and Cedars Close, he was on the Committee for several years and ran the Library from 1974 to 1980. To start with he would turn up at lectures with his little attaché case full of books and when he handed over to June Porges in 1980 it had become a real library. Happy Birthday George!
Brigid Grafton Green – we are pleased to see Brigid back on the Outings Circuit. For the information of new members, Brigid was Secretary of HADAS for 14 years and Editor of the Newsletter for 16 years. She was the Master Cook at our various functions Roman, Arabian Night and the “historical feast” at our 21st Birthday Party.
Desborough Brooks. Those members of the Society, mainly in Hampstead Garden Suburb, who knew Desborough Brooks will be sorry to learn that he died suddenly in July. He had joined the Society 3 years ago on retiring from business. He enjoyed our lectures greatly and had hoped to take part in other activities.