NEWSLETTER 238: JANUARY .1991 Edited by D. Barrie
Tuesday January 22nd Private Tour of Museum of London’s Private Collection. Fully booked, with short waiting list.
Tuesday February 5th “Discovering Little-Known London” by Mary O’Connell. Mary’s talk and slides will reveal a new realm of London’s History.
Tuesday March 5th “Digging in Assyria – the work of the British Museum” by Dr. John Curtis.
Tuesday April 2nd “Valley of the Kings: Burial of the Pharaohs” by Peter Clayton.
HADAS DINNER AT THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS, 4TH DECEMBER
We set off by coach on a cold night, arriving at 6.30 pm at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, to be greeted by the Curator of the Museum, Miss Elizabeth Allen. After her greeting, we were taken into the Hunterian Museum where we looked at many exhibits in cases. I was fascinated to see all the little stillborn babies at various stages of growth preserved in bottles. Some were quite large, but others almost as tiny as a pinhead. We then moved on to look at Siamese twins and other mishaps of nature, and cases of lungs destroyed by disease. Some of us braved going into the Odonatological Room where we met Dr. Grigson, who told us about the collection, which derives from the museum started in 1856 by the Odonatological Society of Great Britain – this collection was acquired by the PCS in 1907. We looked at showcases of tooth wear, injuries and diseases of the jaws in animals and humans. Dr. Grigson then told us about the connection between the Piltdown man and the Society.
After a while I decided I had had enough of looking at innards etc. and feeling slightly off-colour, sat down with friends and announced, “I hope we are not having liver for the meal.”
We then went into the Webb Johnson Room where we had an excellent meal with quick service by pleasant staff. We were pleased that Dr. Grigson and Miss Allen joined us. John Enderby gave a great vote of thanks to our Dorothy Newbury for once again arranging such an excellent Christmas Dinner. In her reply, Dorothy said she is already thinking about Christmas 1991.
On my part many thanks, Dorothy, for this interesting evening, and yes, I did enjoy the meal after seeing the Museum etc. PHYLLIS FLETCHER
FINISHED AT LAST:
The programme of excavations at the 19-25 High Street, Chipping Barnet site is now complete, since we feel that we have sampled the site and recovered a sufficient cross-section of finds to enable the activities on the site to be securely dated, although the seeming lack of structural features remains a problem.
Working both at Barnet Museum and Avenue House, we have now completed the initial sorting of the 19-25 High Street and “Mitre” material. This has meant ensuring that all finds bags are properly labelled, ordered by context number, and the material from each context sorted by type; detailed pottery analysis and recording will follow at a later stage.
We have just started a similar process on the material covered in 1989 from the Studio Cole site, 1264 High Road, Whetstone. Initial work indicates that there is some early medieval pottery present, including a few grey-ware sherds c. 1150-1300, similar to. those recovered in such profusion from the “Mitre” and 19-25 High Street sites a mile or two north at Barnet. Since the building itself is estimated to date from c. 1500, this could indicate activity on the site up to 300 years earlier. More detailed analysis of the finds should elucidate this point. By ANDY SIMPSON
Eric Ward died on October 16th after a long and distressing illness.
Eric and his wife Ella were familiar figures at the West Heath dig. Eric, an electrical engineer by profession, always worked with a sense of thoroughness and took pride in a job being well done. Not a tall man, he was extremely neat, and worked on site wearing a suit. I used to joke with him that at the end of the day he looked as if he had been to his office, while the rest of us were characteristically grubby and dishevelled:
He was an accomplished photographer who kept meticulous notes. He has given his photographs and negatives of the West Heath Excavations and flint to the Society, as well as a set of HADAS Newsletters.
Eric was a man of many talents, and he built a beautiful model of the 17th century warship the “Vasa”, which he saw being raised from Stockholm Harbour. The model will go to the National Maritime Museum, who have commented on the very fine standard of the craftsmanship.
Not a man of superfluous words but always kind and courteous, Eric will be much missed. In the hope of helping others, he donated his brain to medical research. HADAS extends its sympathy to Ella, who nursed him so devotedly, and also to his family in their sad bereavement. By MYFANWY STEWART
HENDON ON THE MAP – AT LAST:
The latest addition to Alan Godfrey’s series of Old Ordnance Survey Maps is HENDON 1895. As many HADAS members may know, Alan has been searching for an original in good condition for a very long time. His persistence has been rewarded and we can now all enjoy the reprint, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.
The map (Middlesex Sheet XI.7) fills the hole between maps of Finchley and Holders Hill (1895), East Finchley (1894) and Golders Green (1894), all of which have already been published and are still available.
HENDON 1895 covers the area between The Burroughs and Regents Park Road (west to east) and Hendon Hall to Shire Hall (north to south). As usual, the map is full of fascinating details (extensive glasshouses behind the Salvation Army Barracks), is accompanied by an extract from the Street’ Directory 1895-6 (remarkable number of laundry ladies) and excellent notes by Pamela Taylor.
You can buy your copy (price £1.50) from the libraries, or by post from the Local Studies Library (£1.75 including p & p). Worth the investment for rarity value alone: by LIZ HOLLIDAY
GILLIAN BRAITHWAITE WRITES FROM RUSSIA
Newsletter readers will remember that Gillian Braithwaite, who directed excavations at Brockley Hill in 1987, has gone to Moscow with her husband Rodric, who was appointed British Ambassador in 1988. (See July 1988 Newsletter). She writes:
“Georgia would be a wonderful place to take a HADAS trip.
Another idea I have, which I don’t know if HADAS people would be interested. There are a number of elderly Russian ladies (age 50 or so) who have taught English or English Literature all their lives and have never ever been to England. Now it is possible to go, but they are too old to get on the lists of those who are invited. Would any people in HADAS be prepared to have some of them over as guests, and in return I’m sure the Russians would invite them back. It’s just a thought. A friend of mine who heads the English teaching at Moscow University is very keen to do something for them.
If any HADAS members are interested in this venture, please contact Dorothy Newbury (081-203 0950) for further information.
(Footnote: a HADAS member has just sent a cutting from “The Guardian” of 7th December 1990, “Hunger or Hope in the Candlelight” by Lydia Grafova. This tells how food parcels are being sent from all over the world to help the poor and needy in Russia, and mentions that Lady Braithwaite is a member of a Community Volunteers committee set up to discuss the idea of a helpers’ task force to help distribute the parcels.)
Review of PREHISTORIC LONDON by Nick Merriman
Published by the Museum of London
Printed by HMSO 1990
This is an attractively produced publication that, in 48 pages, covers the occupation of today’s London area over the past 500,000 years. Obviously aimed at the general public, the book is very successful in its exposition of this long period of time and its order of events with which many people are unfamiliar.
The text is divided into three main parts, viz. “Introduction; The Hunters of the Ice Age and Farmers and Traders.” There are no formal chapters, but each of the sixteen sections begins with a ruler-like time-scale. The relevant period is coloured in red and so it is quite clear to the reader how far we have come and where we are now in the story. Anyone who has dealt with queries from the general public, as at West Heath for example, will appreciate the value of this approach.
The geology of the London Basin, the complexities of the changing position of the Thames in glacial periods and the formation of the river’s terraces are amongst the subjects dealt with in the first part. Explanations are clear and are supported by good illustrations. In general the strength of this book is that a great deal of information, including environmental evidence as well as the reports on excavations and finds, is presented in an easily understood format. References to the various parts of London are always interesting, and such captions as “Elephants in Trafalgar. Square” have immediate appeal.
HADAS members will be particularly interested in the references to West Heath that are in the second part, “Hunters of the Ice Age”. A good photograph shows a selection of artefacts from the excavation although, as in all of the illustrations, no scale is used. An imaginary reconstruction depicts five determined hunters stalking two somewhat unobservant deer. The text is unclear in parts, and I quote:
“After an early phase of occupation in a more open landscape, which was subsequently abandoned, a small camp was set up near a stream. The excavators found the remains of several camp-fire hearths and thousands of flint tools.”
The following points should be made. Firstly, the evidence for an open landscape is not given. The earliest environmental evidence for West Heath post-dates the Mesolithic occupation.
Pollen diagrams of samples taken from the boggy area 300 m to the southeast of West Heath Spa were supported by the seed and beetle assemblages, which showed lime-dominated closed forest dating to approximately 4000 BC at the lowest level. No earlier evidence was retrieved. (Girling and Grieg, 1977,45-47)
Secondly, the text appears to infer that the thousands of struck flints came from the later occupation, whereas they are associated with an earlier phase and approximately only thirty came from the later one.
Thirdly, although concentrations of burnt stones are clear and fire was obviously used, no hearths in the sense of deliberately arranged constructions such as a circle of large stones, for example, have been identified at West Heath.
The third section of the book deals with the development of farming, village life, ritual, defended sites and finally the coming of Rome. With the exception of the reconstruction of two Bronze Age men ploughing and apparently wearing natty suits in red and blue respectively, the text is enhanced by very good illustrations. Reconstructions such as the Heathrow temple and village and the Carshalton enclosure bring the book to life and the photographs are of a high standard. The Bronze Age axe-hammer and macehead, the hoard of metalwork and the Iron Age boar figurines are but three worthy of special mention.
In all, this hook is very good value at £4.95 and should be a very popular buy for both adults and older schoolchildren. By MYFANWY STEWART
REP: Girling G. and Grieq J., Palaeoecological Investigations of a site at
Hampstead Heath London.
In Nature Vol. 2613, 7 July 1977 pp. 45-47.
MYSTERIOUS MEDICINE WHEEL, WYOMING
June Gibson writes: ‘The piece by Stewart Wild in the HADAS December 1990 Newsletter reminded me that the ‘wheel’ was a location much used in the film ‘Pet Sematary’ (sic), a film based on the fantasy/horror novel by Stephen King. Just thought HADAS members would like to know: (Prospective viewers should have strong stomachs.
Does anyone have an electric kettle, teapot and a set of scales they could donate for use in the finds processing room at Avenue House? If so please contact Brian Wrigley (08.1-959 5982) or Andy Simpson (081-205 4546).